Monday, December 31, 2012

1000 gifts: butterflies and stars

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings are from December, 2012.

552. The Butterfly Pavilion
I've been wanting to take the girls to the Butterfly Pavilion (near Denver) for years now, and it occurred to me this would be a great birthday "party" for the twins' sixth birthday. They were so excited about it! (the older girls, too). We even managed to convince B. to come along with us. We got there just in time for when they release dozens of new butterflies into the pavilion, too. At one point there were so many butterflies they were landing all over us! The girls were all brave enough to hold Rosie the Tarantula too (I wasn't). Later on....Grandpa H. got a great idea for the twins' birthday presents: scooters! (they were definitely a hit, with the older kids too).

553. A walk under the starry sky 
Every once in a while B. asks me to go on a walk with him. He knows I love walks - even at night. This stems from growing up when my parents and I (I was an only child) always went for a walk around the block in the evening after dinner (which reminds me, we always took our dog on our walks of course, but our cat would follow us her own pace, of course, but almost always within sight of us. I think that is pretty unusual, never have heard of other cats doing that!). Anyway, growing up in the city (Buffalo, NY), our night walks were lit by streetlamps. Out here on the edge of a small town in Wyoming, there are no street lamps, our light instead comes from a full spread of stars - something I rarely saw at night in the city.

554. Chime choir
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to the University Art Museum's annual Christmas tree auction, which includes a bunch of school and community performances. This year was Blaze's first year to perform with her classmates in chime choir. 

This website has the neatest charts and ideas for incorporating Scripture into home activities and to resolve disputes and other issues with kids

556. All by myself in a bookstore
I always ask for books for Christmas, but B. is never sure what books to buy me. So this year he watched the kids one night so I could go to Hastings all by myself and spend as long as I wanted browsing through books without any distractions. Oh, it was heaven!  I finally texted him my choices and he got these three books for me for Christmas:  Jesus Lives by Sarah Young (since I love her devotional, Jesus Calling, so much!), Breaking Free Day by Day by Beth Moore, and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.

557. 18th birthday
Stars turned 18 years old on December 24! This is a really tough day to celebrate a birthday, though. She finally decided she wanted to do a shopping spree down in Denver. We went to the Colorado Mills mall and had so much fun together, trying on pretty things. I am not much of a shopper, especially in malls, but the day before Christmas ended up being perfect - not crowded, lots of sales, and beautiful Christmas atmosphere. Stars found some shirts, a necklace (I may have to borrow it), a skirt and a pair of shoes, but the highlight was finding a gorgeous Guess coat that she's been wanting for years - on sale - and a beautiful new coat for me, too! (on sale too).

558. Driving around in a cute little car
I've had some misgivings about the car that Stars bought this fall after her other car was totaled in an accident (not her fault). She bought a tiny little red Mini Cooper. It may not be the most practical car in the world, but driving to Denver and back with her in the Mini was so much fun - I can't blame her for loving it! I was also amazed at how well it handled (with snow tires, fortunately) in the snow storm we encountered on the drive back.

559. Christmas with a dear friend
My beloved friend K.A. and her family stayed with us for Christmas! They actually came to Laramie for Christmas with his parents and siblings and their families, but they made "reservations" to stay at our house since others were staying at the parents' house. This meant on Christmas Eve after Stars and I got home from Denver, K. and her family were just coming back after festivities with their extended family. I still had all my Christmas wrapping to do, and K. insisted on staying up with me and helping me, so we could have more time together to talk and catch up on each others' lives.  Best Christmas gift she could possibly give me.

560. A map mug
But K. did give me another wonderful Christmas present, too, a map mug. And if you think, what's the big deal with that, you don't understand that two of my favorite things in the world are maps and tea, so a map mug is the perfect combination!

561. All the stores closed
Christmas morning B. and the kids and I hauled all the presents out the car and drove to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas with them. I loved driving through the snowy town (a beautiful White Christmas this year!) with all the stores closed, all the roads empty, thinking about everyone snug in their homes with their families celebrating (and praying for those that perhaps don't have families to celebrate with).

562. A knight nutcracker
Besides my map mug and books from B., my favorite presents this year were the two nutcrackers to add to my collection - a knight nutcracker, complete with armor, shield and sword, from Heather L. and an extra big Santa nutcracker from my mom.

563. Memory book for grandparents
The girls worked on a memory scrap book for both sets of grandparents  (yes, even Stars! she wrote some wonderful memories) as Christmas gifts. This was a very time-intensive project (for me, too, helping them) but so worth it! The kids were also delighted with their Christmas presents - some favorite presents were a marble run kit, Webkinz, Dizzy Dancers, a toy truck and horse trailer, and of course lots and lots of toy horses.

We spent five days after Christmas and New Year's Eve with B.'s parents and his sister's family (M.G. and T.G and their kids) and some of their friends too. It was an extra special celebration because B.'s mother is (at least for the time being) cancer free! She looked wonderful and was in great spirits and my daughters were so happy to finally see her (we haven't seen her since May because of all her travel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for cancer treatments).

565. Dancing on my walk
So much fun, games, and food with family while in South Dakota. I was really worried about the food part, knowing that the constant barrage of treats would make it extremely difficult to not keep snacking between meals. I did snack a lot, but also had plenty of time to exercise too so I took many long walks in the beautiful snowy countryside. One time I took my iPod loaded with a bunch of great dance songs that I've discovered (thanks to Stars). The dance songs were so  much fun, and the winter scenery so beautiful, at one point I couldn't just walk anymore - I started dancing. I figured I was out in the middle of nowhere and no one would see me, but of course T.G. happened to see me as he was driving in from town. He didn't give me too hard of a time about it. Besides, who cares? I was dancing and having fun and praising the Lord and it was wonderful being so full of life and joy, why not have someone witness my happiness and silliness?

566. Alive, by Natalie Grant
Who but You, could breathe and leave a trail of galaxies and dream of me?
What kind of Love is writing my story till the end with Mercy’s pen? Only You.
What kind of king would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars to win my heart?
What kind of Love tells me I’m the reason He can’t stay inside the grave?
You... Is it You? Standing here before my eyes, every part of my heart cries

what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is alive.

Who could speak, and send the demons back from where they came with just one Name?
What other heart would let itself be broken every time till He healed mine?
Only You
could turn my darkness into dawn; running right into Your arms

Emmanuel, the promised King
the baby who made angels sing
Son of Man who walked with us, healing, breathing in our dust
The author of all history, the answer to all mysteries
The Lamb of God who rolled away
the stone in front of every grave

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Windows of heaven

Here are some more treasures from "Jesus Calling", by Sarah Young

A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven [what a neat image!] Spiritual blessings fall freely onto you through those openings into eternity. Moreover, as you look up with a grateful heart, you get glimpses of Glory through those windows.

Every time something thwarts your plans or desires, use that as a reminder to communicate with Me. Begin by practicing this discipline in all the little disappointments of daily life. It is often these minor setback that draw you away from My presence. When you reframe setbacks as opportunities, you find that you gain much more than you lost

You seem to think I empower you equally each day, but this is not so. Your tendency upon wakening is to assess the difficulties ahead of you, measuring them against your average strength. I know what each of your days will contain, and I empower you accordingly. Try to view challenging days as opportunities to receive more of My power than usual.

When the patriarch Jacob ran away from his enraged brother, he went to sleep on a stone pillow in a land that seemed desolate. But after dreaming about heaven and angels and promises of My Presence, he awoke and exclaimed: "Surely the Lord is in the place, and i was not aware of it."  His discovery was not only for him, but or all who see Me. Whenever you feel distant from Me, say: "Surely the Lord is in this place." Then ask Me to give you awareness of My presence. This is a prayer I delight to answer.

In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My face.

Talk with Me about everything, letting the Light of My presence shine on your hopes and plans. Spend time allowing My light to infuse your dreams with life, gradually transforming them into reality. This is a very practical way of collaborating with Me. I, the Creator of the universe, wish to co-create with you. Do not try to hurry this process.

Events may seem to occur randomly, with little or no meaning. People who view the world this way have overlooked one basic fact: the limitations of human understanding. What you know of the world you inhabit is only the tip of the iceberg. Submerged beneath the surface of the visible world are mysteries too vast for you to comprehend.

Living in collaboration with Me is a way to instill meaning into your days.

An ongoing problem is like a tutor who is always by your side. The learning possibilities are limited only by your willingness to be teachable.

Once you have become grateful for a problem, it loses its power to drag you down.

On Christmas Day:  I set aside My glory so that I could identify with mankind, accepting the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions. The process I went through is reversed in your experience. As you identify with Me, heaven's vistas open up before you - granting you glimpses of My glory. I became poor that you might become rich.

How much better it is to walk close to Me, depending on My strength and trusting Me  in every situation. If you live in this way, you will do less but accomplish far more. Your unhurried pace of living will stand out in this rush-crazed age.

I care as much about your tiny trust-steps through daily life as about your dramatic leaps of faith.

As you grow closer to Me, I open your eyes to see more and more of My presence all around you. Things that most people hardly notice, like shifting shades of sunlight, fill you with heart-bursting joy. You have eyes that see and ears that hear, so proclaim My abiding presence in the world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Proclaim Christ clearly, as I should

FaithColossians 4:2-6. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned as with salt, that you may know how to answer everyone.

Yesterday I asked God for an answer to the doubts and fears I have about sharing the Gospel. Today, the reading in my devotional, Jesus Calling (by Sarah Young) was based in part on Colossians 4:2. So I looked it up.

First of all, "watchful" jumped out at me. I had asked God for an answer or direction in prayer yesterday. Today as I sought Him, first in prayer then in the Word, He brings me to this verse. "Are you being watchful, my girl? I'm about to give you an answer."

Next I read about Paul wanting another door to open for him to share the Gospel, e.g. the mystery of Christ. I love it that he calls the Gospel a mystery. (That's a whole other post). Then he seems to have a moment of doubt. Hey, I'm in chains because of it.... pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Even though I'm afraid it's going to get me in worse trouble.

That's exactly where I'm at right now. I've been going to a Bible study where we've been watching "The Way of the Master" videos by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. They show how they share the Gospel "the way the Master (Christ) did it" - first speaking to people's conscience about their sin so that, with a realization of their sin, comes a realization of a need for a Savior (examples: Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, and to the rich young ruler).

It's been a very convicting study. I love to share my faith with people who are interested, and I have no hesitation to share the Gospel on this blog - for whoever may be reading. But where I stumble is in everyday conversation with "outsiders" as Paul calls them, those who do not believe in Christ. I don't remember that this might be an opportunity, or if I do, I suddenly freeze up in fear. It's a fear of awkwardness - changing the course of a conversation into an area where I will end up stumbling over my words, or giving up ina half-baked or lame attempt.

I also have a dislike of coming across as judgmental, forcing my opinion (unasked for) on other people. But a lot of that can be circumvented with wording just like what Jesus used:  "it is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick... I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt 9: 12). I keep telling myself that if I practice more I'll get more comfortable with it.

Another thing I keep telling myself is "just share your story."  That's what Paul did, multiple times, in Acts. He'd share how he persecuted believers and then Jesus spoke to him directly, how he lost his sight and three days later regained it at the touch of another believer. I LOVE to share my testimony, even just a short thirty second version. But I almost NEVER get the opportunity (or take advantage of an opportunity).  I need to pray more like Paul - for that open door, and for the willingness to walk through it even though at first it may feel awkward or scary.

 At church, our pastor encourages us to "raise our flag" when we meet other people - let them know right away that you're a believer.  As in, "So what do you do?" "I'm an engineer at such and such company. How 'bout you?" "I'm a pastor."  Hey, it's easy for him! But I've been reminding myself next time I'm asked I could say something like, "I'm a GIS analyst at the university, and I'm also a follower of Jesus."  He says that a lot of time if you just let people know who you are, that will naturally start a conversation and may raise some questions, very often leading to the opportunity to "share your story" and with it, the Gospel.

A little more about this "Way of the Master" study. They show clip after clip of going out to public places and saying "hello" to strangers and then asking them a question ("hey, have you seen one of these?" while handing them a gospel tract), and then following up with a series of questions that ends with the Gospel. All the examples they show the people listen and answer semi-politely and many of them appear to have a change of heart as they are confronted with their sin.

This is a typical conversation:

Ray: "Hey have you seen one of these?" (Hands a gospel tract.)  "Do you have a Christian background?"

Other person: "I used to go to church, but I don't any more."

Ray: "Do you consider yourself to be a good person?"  (doesn't get sidetracked about why the person doesn't go to church anymore.)

Other person: "Yes, I consider myself to be a good person!" (of course!)

Ray:  "Do you keep the ten commandments? Have you ever lied?"

Other person: "Only white lies. In some cases lies are okay."

Ray: "But you have told a lie. What do you call a person who lies?" (doesn't get sidetracked into argument about whether white lies are okay or not)

Other person: "A liar."

Ray: "Have you ever stolen something? It doesn't matter how young you were or how inexpensive it was."

Other: "Yes."

Ray: "What do you call someone who steals?"

Other: "A stealer." (grin). "A thief."

Ray: "Have you ever looked at another person with lust? Jesus said anyone who even thinks about another person that way has committed adultery with them in his heart; that's another commandment."  (Jesus showed us that God isn't just concerned with the outward keeping of the commandments, He's also concerned with what's going on in our hearts).

Other: "Well, who hasn't?"

Ray: "So you have looked with lust on another person. Have you ever taken the Lord's name in vain? That's called blasphemy."

Other: "Yes." (usually be this time they aren't offering arguments or excuses any more.)

Ray: "So, by your own admission, you've broken at least four of the ten commandments. If God were to judge you by the ten commandments, would you be innocent or guilty?"

Other: "Innocent. God is understanding. We all make mistakes."

Ray: "If you were guilty of a crime and standing in a court room and you told the judge, 'Let me off because I know you are a forgiving judge and everyone makes mistakes', what do you think the judge would do? Just let you go?" (another thing to say is, "if you believe God won't judge you for breaking the commandments, you are basically creating a god you can be comfortable with. That's breaking the 2nd commandment - you shall not make yourself a graven image, or in other words you shall not make another god for yourself").

Other: "No."

Ray: "If God judged you by whether you kept the ten commandments, would you go to heaven or hell?"

Other: "I don't believe in heaven or hell."

Ray: "Okay, hypothetically, if there was a heaven and hell, which would you get for breaking the ten commandments?" (avoids getting sidetracked into argument about whether heaven or hell exists). 

Other: "Probably hell."

Ray: "Does that concern you?"

Other:  "No. It doesn't concern me." (acting a little belligerent)

Ray: "Let me ask you this. If I offered you a million dollars for both your eyes, or even one eye, would you sell it to me?"

Other: "No way!"

Ray: "Our eyes are valuable to us, more than anything else we could buy with money. Now, if our eyes are so valuable to us, how much more so our souls? Jesus said, 'What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?' So, if your soul is in danger of going to hell, shouldn't that concern you?"

Other: "Yes."

Ray: "What if you're in that courtroom and the judge is about to send you to prison for life, and someone steps in and says, 'I'll take the penalty for him, so he can go free.' Would you take it?"

Other: "Yes."

Ray: "That's what Jesus did for you. He died on the cross for our sins, so that anyone who turns from their sins and believes that Jesus took the penalty of their sins, can be set free and be assured of heaven. Will you turn from your sins and trust in Jesus to take your penalty?"

Other: "I'll think about it."

Ray: "Get a Bible and read it and see for yourself. God speaks to us through the Bible, His Word." (Always leave them with the source of the Truth).

Listening to these conversations is the most amazing experience. You see the people start out doubtful or  belligerent. Then their attitude changes as they become convicted (at least in the ones they show. I'm sure there's many a case they aren't showing where people get angry or just walk way).

The thing about these conversations, the ones they show are all with strangers. When I think about trying to have this conversation with my father, who is very, very, VERY opposed to anything Christian, or to my stepdaughter, who lately has taken to rolling her eyes about anything we share about our faith, I could see this conversation turning out very badly, maybe even damaging my relationship with them.

But maybe that's the Enemy whispering to me, too. "Don't even try it, it's going to turn out very badly. They'll hate Christianity even more. They may even hate you for confronting them so directly."

Just like the Enemy surely whispered to Paul while he was in chains. "Don't keep trying to share the Gospel. You'll end up even worse than you are now."

But then again, what about all those times when Paul shared the Gospel at the synagogues and after all the angry Jews had chased him away,  two or three or more found him later and begged him to tell them more? Who am I to guess where a person is in their life, that they might not be suddenly eager to hear of hope, of freedom from the pain and guilt and brokenness they are experiencing? For many years I scoffed at any attempt friends made to witness to me. Then, one day after a long stretch of depression and misery, I remembered what they'd said, and I wanted to learn more.

That image at the top of this post says "Faith is the bridge between where I am and where God is taking me."

Where I am right now: scared to share the Gospel. Afraid of damaging relationships because it is offensive to those who are still blind.

Where God is taking me: excited to share the Gospel because for all the rejections and scorn I may face, eventually there will be one or more people ready to hear it. Or if they aren't ready now, maybe they will remember someday what I shared. So, in the meantime, can I trust him about the "damaged relationships" part? Can I trust Him?

So many things in life we have to ask ourselves, can I trust Him?

In everything else I have trusted Him with, He has always carried me through.

There's my answer.

Friday, November 30, 2012

1000 gifts: heading toward home-schooling

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings are from November, 2012.

540. Conviction during communion to home-school. 
I've been praying about homeschooling for years now. It just never seems like the time is right. God laid such a heavy conviction on me this one Sunday at church, so that every argument I came up with, He seemed to counter with an answer.

Me: Lord, no one thinks I can home-school and still work part time.
His answer: am I not God? If I say you can do it, you can.
Me: my parents are not supportive.
Him: Am I not God?
Me: my husband is not 100% supportive.
Him: Am I not God? I'm working on your husband. Leave him to Me.
Me: my kids are going to miss their school friends and art and gym and...
Him: They will complain, but it will be worth it in the long run. 
Me: As soon as I commit to this, something will change at my job, I'll have to go back to full-time or something else will come along to test me.
Him: Am I not God? Yes, you will be tested. But I want you to teach your children about Me.

541. Pinterest provides inspiration to get me writing
Ah, my favorite time of year - November: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is the month of discovering creative depths that never cease to amaze me (and giving God the credit). However, several times I was stuck starting a new scene, wondering when the creative inspiration would arrive. After scrolling through my Pinterest "ideas" folder at lots of landscapes (real and fantasy), architecture and art, I'd come across something that would get me inspired and off I'd go with the writing again.
Bubbles upon Bubbles by wolfepaw on Deviant Art
542. Counting down days
5 year old Serious insisted on knowing how many days left until her birthday. So I showed her the calendar and we counted 12 days. She counted them down everyday after that.

543. Skids are out of kool
This is what I said to a friend one day when I meant to say the "kids are out of school." (I've also sometimes said things like "I'd like a tup of cea" instead of a "cup of tea."  I once heard that these letter mixups are called Spoonerisms and they always make me laugh!

544. Quips in the hospital
Dad was in the hospital for Thanksgiving, but in surprisingly good spirits, joking with the nurses. "I feel like a million bucks, all wrinkled and green."

545. The girls made a "things we are thankful for" poster to hang in Dad's hospital room.
I found pictures on the internet of things the twins love, and the older girls drew pictures. Many things like playgrounds, pumpkins, elk, waterfalls, toys, horses, family, of course.

546. Friends hosting a thanksgiving dinner at church
Thank you Amy and D.J. for organizing this! So nice not to have to cook more than one dish to share. And good fellowship. Rediscovering my love for Scrabble. Blaze discovering Scrabble for the first time.

547. Scriptures in appointment book
A neighbor of ours, R.D.,  showed me the scriptures she keeps in her appointment book. She comes to our church occasionally, but it was wonderful to see her living out her faith this way too.

548. Plowing through distractions
From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:  "You live in a world that has been rigged to distract you. Each time you plow your way through the massive distractions to communicate with Me, you achieve a victory. Rejoice in these tiny triumphs, and they will increasingly light up your days"

549. Finishing a novel 
On November 30, around 9pm, the last day of NaNoWriMo, I wrote the last words to my novel (started over a year ago, but the idea goes all the way back to when I was 14 years old). This is the third time I have finished a novel, and always the last words carry a weight and joy and bittersweetness about them that is unforgettable.

550. The Word sinking into your heart
Ezekiel  3:10  "Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself."

551. Psalm 104
For many years Psalm 103 has been one of my favorites. How have I missed Psalm 104?
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thoughts on my stories and God's stories

I'm in the midst of NaNoWriMo (November is National Novel Writing Month - a challenge to write at least a 150 page novel in 30 days). This is my sixth year taking on this challenge, and every year I find incredible inspiration in the whole process of seeing ideas come to life. I'm on the homestretch of my 4th novel* right now.

But I've a hit a wall the past few days. The ideas reached a shining peak, then  burnt themselves out.  When I went for my walk this morning (loving an early day off for Thanksgiving) I asked God for a little inspiration. Wonderful things sometimes come to me while walking and I just needed a single image or snippet of dialogue to get me going again with my story.

God gave me something much bigger than I was expecting. Three things, actually.

It was such an epiphany at the time, but now that I sit down a few hours later to try to capture it in words, I don't feel up to the task.** But here goes:

The first thing:

I have always loved stories - reading others' stories and making up my own stories. I encourage my kids to make up stories, too, I love their imagination.  I love fairytales and myths and fantasies but I also love real life stories too. I just never think my own real life stories are exciting enough to share. But during my walk, the first thing I felt God prompting me about was to write little pieces of my life into little stories or vignettes; maybe as a Christmas gift to my family?

The gift of a story from someone in my family is pure gold to me. When Blaze and Dreamer wrote and illustrated their own little Christmas stories  a couple years ago as gifts to their grandparents, I almost wanted to keep them for myself. Blaze wrote about a horse that had no friends until Santa came along needing help with his sleigh, and turned the horse into a flying horse. Dreamer wrote about a Christmas zebra.

I warned Grandma and Grandpa that they had BETTER not lose those precious stories or, heaven forbid, ever throw them away!

For this upcoming Christmas I will try to encourage my kids to write real-life stories for gifts this year, as I attempt to find some interesting things from my past for stories to share, too.   I think our adventures in Estes Park this fall with Grandma H would make a great story for the kids to tell (but part of the fun of letting your kids loose with stories is seeing what surprising ideas or memories they come up with).

The second thing:

This is the harder part to put into words, because the things of God are mysterious; His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. But He is also the original creative genius and I marvel at the insights He sometimes helps me see.

See, as I was thinking about how one of my most treasured things in this life is sharing stories, both fantasy and real, with my loved ones,  I suddenly got a glimpse of how God wants to share his story with us, and wants us to share our stories with Him. The Bible is the Word of God and it's full of his stories, his interactions with people He loved. The stories of King David are some of my favorites. Job's story haunts me with his pain, and thrills me with his encounter  at the end. Another favorite story is the Prodigal Son. When I first realized that this story is an allegory of God's love for us, his wayward children, I was awed and humbled.

I don't think God stopped telling his stories at the end of Revelation. The stories in the Bible are the universal stories for us all, and our operating instructions, a manual for living life to the fullest as we were created, intended to live. But God also gives us our personal stories, our testimonies of His love in our lives.  Even if they are never written on paper, they are written on our hearts, and His.

The third thing:

As I was thinking about how God longs to shares his stories with us, and for us to share our stories with Him, and how He longs for us to realize that His stories and ours are intertwined... it also occurred to me that all too often we aren't interested in His stories.

One of the biggest insecurities of a writer is: if I write this thing - will anyone read it? Or if they do start to read it, will they scoff and say "this is drivel. Nonsense. Not worth my time."

People say that all the time about God's Word. "Not worth my time." "Out-dated." "Not genuine." I myself said such things for many years, until I was saved.

God longs for a relationship with us. He longs to be part of our story.  I have a teenage stepdaughter who has "outgrown" us - her family - she longs to be off on her own. She is no longer interested in sharing her story with us, or hearing our stories, or seeing how they might be connected (except in a very marginal way). The same thing happened to me as a teenager and into my early twenties. I wanted to live my own story apart from my family and my Christian roots.  I headed off on my own, like the prodigal son.

I think God designed it for parents to experience that same story that He so often experiences with us:  our children leaving us, as our nearly eighteen year old is getting ready to leave us, belittling our values and advice.  We must let them go; we must honor their free will, as God honors our own.  Almost all stories have a journey of discovery in them, whether it's an actual journey across miles, or an internal journey across the heart.

I know this is getting really deep. I'm not even sure if it's even really connected with "stories" anymore. But the way God connected it for me this morning during my walk was sad and beautiful and hopeful all at the same time: just like stories are - with their dark moments and their high moments. I just had to take the time to try to capture it in words - me sharing my story back to God.

*My forth novel is born from my love of Stars Wars and a subconscious desire to switch Luke's and Leia’s places.  What if, instead of a farm boy, it's a  farm girl who gets swept up into galactic adventures and saves the day? Even more, what if its not a farm girl from a galaxy far, far away but an ordinary girl in the middle of suburban America who doesn’t have a clue of the epic galactic story she’s about to star in? (working title: Startripped).

** The first rule I've learned as a writer is that when I don't know what to say or how to say it, when it seems like I can never capture a feeling or experience with mere words - I just start typing one word after another. It's never perfect but it's always worthwhile. Sometimes the words surprise me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1000 gifts: joy strewn on the path

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings are from October, 2012.

528. Joy strewn on my path
From Jesus Calling devotional, by Sarah Young
"Some days joy is generously strewn along your life path, glistening in the sunlight. On days like that, being content is as simple as breathing the next breath or taking the next step.

"Other days are overcast and gloomy; you feel the strain of the journey which seems endless. Dully gray rocks greet your gaze and cause your feet to ache. Yet joy is still attainable. Search for it as for hidden treasure [my theme: Seek Him!].

 "Begin by remembering that I have created this day; it is not a chance occurrence. Recall that I am present with you whether you sense my presence or not. Then, start talking with Me about whatever is on your mind. Rejoice in the face that I understand you perfectly, and I know exactly what you are experiencing. As you continue communicating with Me, your mood will gradually lighten. Awareness of My companionship can infuse joy into the grayest day."

529.  Helen's prayers
Helen is from Kenya and she does housework for one of my friends. She prays through the house as she works. She loves to pray; she considers it her gift. After meeting me, she asked if she could pray for me and my friend D., who had been hospitalized for bipolar, and was separated from her children. Her praying was so energetic and imploring; I wondered how she could not be breathless at the end of it! and I loved how she called on many different names of the Lord: Jehovah-Rovi (shepherd), Jehovah-Rapha (healer), Jehovah-Jireh (provider), Adonai, El-Shaddai. About a week after Helen's amazing prayer, I called D. and was thrilled to hear she was home from the hospital and sounding like herself again.

530. Reasoning, kid-style
One day I heard the kids yelling at each other upstairs. I called out "Hey, what are you guys fighting about up there?"  Blaze answered: "we are not fighting, we are reasoning."

531. Unusual pumpkin decorations
Our school always gives every kid a pumpkin every year, but it was too soon to carve the pumpkins, so I let the kids draw all over the pumpkins instead, and someone had given us some stick-in face pieces for pumpkins. Apparently that wasn't enough though, because one day I came home to find all four pumpkins stuck full of toothpicks.

532. Six snowmen
We got a big wet fall snowfall one Saturday morning, at least six inches of snow, and perfect for building snowmen. The girls rolled no less than six snowmen, some of them quite big! But by noon all six snowmen were gone - the day warmed up too quickly.

533. Ballet and zombies
Mom took me, Blaze and Dreamer to see the Sleeping Beauty ballet in Denver. My favorite ballet and such an elegant, classic experience! After the ballet was over, we walked through downtown to 16th St which is the heart of downtown shopping and restaurants, hoping to find a nice place to eat. Instead, we walked smack into the middle of a  zombie crawl - thousands of people dressed up in zombies walking down the blocked off street. What a contrast to the elegant ballet!

534. Steampunk Dracula
A friend of mine invited me to a local performance of Dracula which had some fun steampunk twists to it, with things like Mina communicating with Jonathan via a steam-powered iPads.

535. Waking up early to put costumes on
The girls were so excited about wearing their costumes to school on Halloween, they all woke up a half hour early at 6:30 to get ready! Blaze was a leopard, Dreamer was Batgirl, Starlet and Serious were Indian princesses (a costume I always wanted when I was a kid - I did get moccasins but never the full outfit).

536. Monster ducks under the pillow
At one house the girls trick-or-treated at, the family handed out rubber duckies - except these were monster versions of ducks with three pop-eyes or antennae. The day after Halloween, I discovered the twins had stashed their monster ducks under their pillows while the slept. I wonder what kind of dreams they had (smile).

537. Praise even when disappointed
From Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young:  "The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise. Remember that all good things - your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time - are gifts from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to all these blessings, hold on them loosely, with gratitude." 

This has been such a year of blessings for me and I am so full of praise. There have been hard parts: my father's progressively worsening Parkinson's disease and B.'s mother's struggle with cancer. Need to continue praising through good times and bad.

538. Lost eight pounds.
Loving my Overeaters Anonymous meetings, and starting to feel comfortable texting C. and L. during the week for additional encouragement. Discovered they are both born-again believers. And C. is also a writer and planning to do NaNoWriMo in November!

539. Listening to others with God's insight
From Jesus Calling devotional, by Sarah Young. "Listen to Me even while you are listening to other people. You need the help of My spirit to respond appropriately. If you respond to others' needs through your unaided thought, you are offering them dry crumbs. When the Spirit empowers your listening and speaking, My streams of living water flow through you to other people."

Oh that I could remember to do this for God and for others more!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Unclear lines in marriage

What do you do when you want out of your marriage? If you think you made a terrible mistake, married for the wrong reasons, or married someone and discover you have differences you can't live with? 

Like, for example, you knew when you got married that he drank once in a while, then come to find out he drinks all the time. 

Or you knew when he got married that he had bad credit, but thought it was as a result of just one mistake or issue, and then come to find out he is  a chronic over-spender? 

Or, another really devastating discovery: come to find out he's emotionally attached to another woman, even though he claims he's not having an affair. You confront him about her, but he insists she's just a friend, and won't give her up.

I faced one of these scenarios shortly after getting married, 13 years ago. I thought I made a terrible mistake. The good news is, we are still married, and more in love than I could have dreamed back then. The hard new is, it was hard. Sometimes it's still hard. He still has issues. I still have issues. The "big problem" is STILL a big problem. I wish could say that it goes away; that after faithfully praying, and trusting God, God delivered us.

In a way, I suppose he did deliver us, but not by taking the problem away. He did it by taking us THROUGH the problem. We're still going through, though the tunnel has gotten lighter and less scary.

But there were moments when I wanted out. It was too much. It was too hard and it hurt, and things got darker, not lighter. 

I have been thinking lately about unclear lines. The Bible is very clear about divorce; God hates divorce. But what about separation? Or what about intervention? When do you resort to these drastic measures?

A strong emotional attachment can lead to an actual affair. But there are degrees of attachment. The other woman might be an emotional crutch, someone to lean on during a hard time because he hasn't learned yet to lean on his wife or things are currently too hard in the marriage to lean on each other, but otherwise he has little interaction with the other woman. How do you determine where "the line" is crossed? When you should go from praying (and maybe asking a few other trusted friends to pray with you) about the matter to seeking active help (such as intervention)?
How do you tell the unclear line between a man who is making unwise and selfish financial decisions, to when it has reached this point in 1 Tim 5:8 where "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever"?

I think we need to pray very hard over these unclear lines. Too often our own hurt gets in the way, clouding our judgment. "Well, his unwise financial choices have hurt me"or "when he sends texts to this woman, how can I trust him?" The "me" and the "I" get mixed in there and make us so hurt and angry that we want to push him over "the line". 

I think, if we honestly and humbly pose these questions to God, He will answer us. "God, has he crossed the line? I will keep praying for him, for us, but in the meantime should I do something else? Should I seek help/intervention for him, for us? Is there something I need to change about myself first?"  

You know a change is needed in him, but we can't force that change. Many times even with intervention other people can't change him. That leaves two options: leave him or stay and trust God to change him (and often while you are trusting and waiting, God changes you too in the process).

Of course this is all very easy to write about, but very hard to do. It is really amazing sometimes when we are hurt very bad how HARD it is to pray, how anger chokes all thoughts of prayer right out of us or makes us feel our prayers are utterly ineffectual. Satan is out to destroy marriages, and he will deceive you to think it's a waste of time to pray. Or why should you pray when obviously he isn't? 

Sometimes Satan might even get you to think prayer just makes things worse. Have you ever prayed about a tough situation and things seem to get worse before they get better? You have to keep going THROUGH the darkness before you see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

The most important thing of all is to remember that you, yourself, YOU can't do this. Jesus can, if you give it to him. Sometimes you need to come to the most basic prayers of all, "Help me!"  "Make me willing to be willing to pray." "I can't keep going. Pick me up and carry me the rest of the way."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tea with my mother

Had a wonderful talk with my mom over tea, out in the backyard (in our jackets - a bit chilly but sunny). The girls raked up piles of leaves to jump in, when they got bored they went inside to watch cartoons. But we stayed outside, Mom sharing lots of memories of her father and her childhood; I tried to remember some. I've been after mom to finish her father's biography she started years ago; I also want her to write her own biography. But in the mean time, I'm capturing as many memories as possible. This blog serves as my own autobiography of sorts, and I hope my children will someday treasure memories of their grandmother too. I know I treasure my grandmother's autobiography (Alfaretta) and wish I had captured more details about my other grandmother's life before she died (Gladys).

Mom remembers during World War II, her dad bringing home balloon cloth from his work at Goodyear, wrapped around his waist and covered by his clothes (because they weren't supposed to take it). Her mom would use it to make sheets, pillowcases, aprons. Mom remembers giving an embroidered aprons as gifts when invited to  birthday parties. One girl received no less than 4 aprons as gifts once. Mom does not like aprons to this day. Her older sisters taught her to embroider.

Her dad was allowed a gasoline ration to drive to work since his job at Goodyear was considered war-essential. He would pick anybody walking along the road to take them into town. He had a big drum that would get filled with gasoline, which he had to provide gas coupons to get; there were few gas stations.

Once one of her dad's friends showed him his "hoard" where he kept a large supply of black market items, sugar and make-up and other hard-to-come-by things. The man told her dad to take anything he needed since he knew they had a large family, but he wouldn't take anything because he disapproved of the black market. 

There was a fire in the part of the house that is now the apartment when Mom was fourteen and her mother was pregnant. Though the fire never reached the main house, it did fill up with smoke, and there was a lot of smoke damage. The first thing her mom grabbed to take out of the house was a radio phonograph that her dad had won in a contest for inventive ideas. Her mom miscarried possibly due to the strain of carrying things out of the house.

Mom remembers her dad giving her an idea for one of her classes, that to transfer goods from the port of Cleveland to outlying towns a huge conveyor belt could be built raised above the ground like an elevated train.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

1000 gifts: my "babies" start kindergarten

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings are from September, 2012.

512. My "babies" start kindergarten
It seems like just yesterday the twins were born, Starlet 5 pounds and Serious 4 pounds, tiny little things nestled together in the same bassinet. Now they are 5 1/2 years old and starting kindergarten! I took them to school and introduced them to their teachers (I decided to put them in separate classes)... tearing up several times during the process. 

513. Why she likes kindergarten now
Starlet didn't like the first day of kindergarten, but the second day she says she likes it now, because she won a pair of socks (!) for singing the alphabet and also, this happened: "There's a cute boy at school who loves me. He plays a game, he follows me. His eyes are hazel and he has black hair. My eyes are green-hazel. My teacher told me." (oh boy am I in trouble, Starlet is a flirt already, what will she be like as a teenager?!)

514.Walkie talkies saving the day
My mom and the girls and I always take a fall road trip together, this year to Rocky Mountain National Park. While waiting for a shuttle bus to take us up to a trailhead in the park, Mom helped me make some sandwiches out of the cooler in the back of my car. When we finished, I looked around and realized the 5 year old twins, Starlet and Serious, were missing. We looked in visitor center; we walked around the grounds; I started to feel an awful panicky feeling. Then a park ranger stops me and asks if I'm missing two little blonde girls; they apparently jumped on another shuttle bus along with another large family and they were already halfway up the mountain! Thanks to their walkie-talkies, the rangers and bus drivers were able to coordinate a spot for our bus to meet with the bus carrying the twins and transfer them back into my car in less than 10 minutes. I still can't believe the girls got on a bus without me or their big sisters!

515. Alberta Falls
I'm a waterfall junkie - anywhere we travel, if there's a waterfall nearby, I have to go see it. The hike to Alberta Falls was just the perfect distance for the little kids - and my mom - and bonus, it had one of the most beautiful aspen forests I've ever seen along the way, too.

516. Big Thompson Canyon
As we were driving through this canyon on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park, I had to turn the DVD player off in the back of the car so the kids would take the time to look out there windows. "Isn't this canyon cool?" I asked them. It's narrow and twisty and the rock walls are so high and steep sometimes they almost feel like they are going to fall in on top of you. What a shame the kids would rather watch a movie than admire the dramatic scenery! But Dreamer did at least say this, "It is so cool, I'm just not showing it."

517. Bugling elk outside our window
We stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies, which is adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, and is over-run by elk. Two young bulls were busy eating up the flower beds right outside the main lodge.

Later in the day we saw this giant bull strutting his stuff in front of his herd of cows, and bugling whenever he saw one of the younger bulls. In the morning, he and his cows were right outside the window of our room! No movie could distract the girls when this big guy was around and they definitely all agreed the elk were very cool.

518. I'm the smallest
When the twins were wandering around a gas station convienence store on our trip, the cashier said "You guys are so cute."  Starlet said, "I know I am because I'm the smallest."

519. Streets of gold and confetti trees
B. couldn't go with us on our Rocky Mountain National Park trip, but the next weekend he was free, and it was peak aspen color so we went on a fall color drive along the Flattops Wilderness south of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Stretches of this road were completely covered in gold leaves, and the occasional dark pine tree stood out in stark contrast to all the golden aspen, sometimes their dark branches covered with aspen leaf confetti. So beautiful.

520. Escaramuzas
One of our neighbors asked if they could ride their horses in our round pen, and we were all fascinated when she showed up in a Mexican side saddle (I've seen English side saddles, but never this kind). She explained the type of team riding these saddles are used for, an Escaramuza, which means "skirmish" in Spanish. Eight ladies ride together in patterns with fancy spins and passes, and they are all dressed in beautiful Mexican dresses and spangled sombreros. The girls and I watched some videos of Escamuzas on Youtube.

521. Mashed potato addict
I'm pretty sure my stepdaughter is a mashed potato addict. This is the only food she will prepare (she does NOT like cooking) and she will go through stretches where she eats mashed potatoes every night. Several times I've discovered her making mashed potatoes past midnight (she's also a night owl). And then she confessed when she goes out to eat with her friends she "saves money" by just ordering a side of - yup, mashed potatoes.

522.  Towell trolls
This is what I call my girls after they take a bath. They hunch up underneath their towels  while they wait their turn for me to rub them down and dry their hair.

523. Kitty rubs
Pulling weeds in the garden with a kitty rubbing against you demanding to be petted

524. Spooky toots
B. has traded for another young horse, Rio, which he's been training to resell. Part of the training is to take him on long trail rides, which B. says Rio does really well at, the only thing he spooks at is when B. passes gas. Yeah, I just had  to share that one!

525. Interstellar Banks
You know you're a SF/fantasy geek when you get a check and you misread the issuing bank as The First Interstellar Bank instead of First Interstate Bank. (N. loved that when I shared it with her. She's a SF geek too).

526. Tia on trailrides
We always go on lots of trail rides in September to enjoy the changing colors. We sold three of our well-broke horses this year (Jewel, Folly and Sam), leaving only Ally and Spring as "dependables" for the kids or guests to ride - which means B. and I have to ride the green horses, Rio and Tia. I was thrilled to discover that Tia, who has only been ridden a few times, is a wonderful trail horse and doesn't spook at anything (not even toots). I rode her on a long ride up Sheep Mountain with N. and B.  and B. (N's husband is also a B.) Even when the guys took off at a gallop, she followed along without a fuss. Here's a picture of Blaze riding Tia. We're really happy she's a "keeper" because B.'s mom raised her from a baby.

527.  Walking away from a bad accident
A motorcyclist hit my stepdaughter's car when she was driving 65 mph (long story - still don't know why he tried to cross a highway, but the police determined she wasn't at fault). So thankful she was able to walk away from the accident with only a few minor scratches. Praying for the motorcyclist  who was hospitalized along with his passenger.  Makes you realize how little control we have over our lives; our life could be over in a moment and we find ourselves standing before God.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Surrendering my will, surrendering cravings

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Starting with a verse helps, but there is no other graceful way to start this. It's a common story: I've been trying to lose weight for years, but it's gotten especially hard since I turned forty. A couple years ago I tried Weight Watchers, it worked for a couple months but then I got a bad attitude. I kept hearing the same old stuff at the meetings. They kept talking about what to eat. Well, I know what I should be eating; I know all about nutrition and healthy foods and lifestyle. But no one was talking about will power. Where do you get the will power to eat right or to exercise? I used to have it, if I concentrated really hard, if I kept my focus.

These days I can't keep my focus for more than a couple hours, before I get distracted, or stressed, or hormonal, or tired, or emotional...

I've been praying about it. Why, God, is my will power in this area gone? And why is it now starting to affect my will power in other areas, too?

At some point this spring I felt God give me a direction. He told me, "find some others who are struggling like this too."

So I did a little fishing around with my friends at church - and came up empty. I connect with my other Christian friends and acquaintances on various struggles with marriage, raising children, attitudes, juggling everything that needs to get done... but when I mentioned my compulsive eating problems, there wasn't a connection. In fact, my church has a significantly high proportion of thin women!

But God kept prompting me so I looked online and found an organization called Overeaters Anonymous. There was no local group in my town, but there was a group in Cheyenne, 45 minutes away, that met weekly. Even with gas as expensive as it is these days, a weekly drive to Cheyenne would still be cheaper than starting Weight Watchers again, which hadn't worked for me anyway... so why not try a different type of support group?

So, I tried it. And I've finally found some other ladies (and one of them is a follower of Jesus AND a writer, too!!!) that have the same problem I do. I could totally relate to what they shared, and I could finally share my own struggles without feeling shame. What a relief. How glorious it is to find understanding and acceptance!!!!

I read some of the O.A. literature, and it  pinpointed my compulsive eating exactly. "Our true insanity could be seen in the fact that we kept right on trying to find comfort in excess food, long after it began to cause us misery." And it also leads to other areas of losing control. For instance, I got chills of recognition when I read this: "More self-examination revealed many areas in which our lives were out of balance. We had to admit that we had not acted sanely when we responded to our children's needs for attention by yelling at them, or when we were jealously possessive of our mates" [or their time/other pursuits in my case].

O.A. uses the same Twelve Steps as Alcoholics Anonymous. I was surprised at how the Twelve Steps are a spiritual method of recovery, and remarkably Biblical in their concepts (confession, forgiveness, repentance):

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food, and our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Two:  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Though that last part, God "as we understand Him" basically allows people to come up with any definition of God or a higher power that they want. This is the only part of O.A. that troubles me; it would be wonderful to have a support group that was based completely and forthrightly upon the Bible.

The Twelve Steps don't just address the area of addiction, but require you to take a very deep moral inventory in all areas of life, admitting the same powerlessness over our other character defects as with food, surrendering these to God and asking Him to remove these as well. In my case, so far I've identified my insecurity (fear of not being accepted) as a huge problem that affects all areas of my life.

So I went to my first meeting in mid-August and now it's the end of September and I've been to 6 meetings now. It would be awesome to say I've lost weight, but I haven't (I lost 3 pounds, then gained it back). But for the first time in... well, years, I have finally have hope again in this particular area.  I have new friends with a level of understanding that makes me thrilled and humbled at the same time. And I can say that there has been less binging and overeating; I'm making huge steps in identifying emotional triggers for eating as well as other problem areas, such as right after church, "Pizza Night", and whenever I travel or eat out.

At one meeting I said, "how do I survive Pizza Night? My kids love Pizza Night; I can't turn them down, but I just don't have will-power when it comes to pizza."

One of the ladies, C., said, "Make a plan. Determine to eat one slice of pizza, and tell yourself that the rest of the pizza is for your family."

I groaned. I maybe even rolled my eyes. "Sure, fine, but where do I get the will power to do that?"

Then she said something that opened my eyes. "You don't have will power. None of us do. That's part of this disease of overeating."


She  continued. "You admit to God that you don't have will power. That you know His will is for you to eat a healthy amount and no more,  and you ask for the strength to do His will. Not your own."

This is like living out 2 Corinthians 12:9. By admitting I am weak and powerless, then Christ's power rests on me. This is such a mystery; and yet it works! I admit I am powerless over pizza; and suddenly I can walk away from it after one slice.

From the O.A. Promises: "We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."

From the O.A. Twelve Step book:
As we become aware of what our eating guidelines should be, we ask for the willingness and the ability to live within them each day. We ask and we receive, first the willingness, and then the ability. We can count on this without fail. 
What's different here? I've been praying to God FOR YEARS to be saved from this weakness I have for overeating. Take away my desire for food, please! Then I tried a different approach with my theme for this year, "Seek Him" - instead of just asking for Him to take away the cravings, I've been asking, seeking for Him to make Himself so primary in my life that that He replaces the cravings.

I think that was a big leap in my understanding; and then O.A. provided another link in figuring this out, the need to ask first for willingness to abstain from overeating. Not just wondering where my will power went but realizing I HAVE NO WILL POWER. But He does. Replacing my will with His.

That's exactly what happened to me. In the beginning of September, I went 14 days without overeating, God doing for me what I could not do myself - every day I woke up in amazement.

Then I slipped back into old habits. I got busy; God lost priority. I also got frustrated because after having been "good" for 14 days I had only lost 3 pounds (back in my 20's that would easily have been 6 or more pounds. But I'm not in my twenties anymore; 3 pounds in 14 days is actually right on track). I have to stop equating weight loss with victory: just the fact that I hadn't binged in 14 days was a sweet victory in itself.

But mostly I just letting old habits sneak back up on me. I stopped seeking Him; I skipped reading the Word in the morning; I stopped praying. When I was stressed, tired, angry or hurt, or even just upset with myself for not accomplishing things I wanted to get done (like writing), I turned to food again for instant comfort. I realized what I was doing. I realized something even scarier, that once I had forfeited that sweet freedom of God for my own will, it was going to be even harder to give up my will again and go back to living in God's will.

Hard, but never impossible. Nothing is impossible with God. I gladly surrender my will to Him, again.

"The more total our surrender, the more fully realized our freedom from food obsession."

Update 12/10/12: I have lost 10 pounds! Still going to Overeaters Anon. meetings regularly, also using to track what I'm eating and how much I'm exercising and to journal, helps to identify what situations cause temptation.