24 July 2012

I Am Second by Bender and Sterrett

An empty white seat marks the front cover of I Am Second.  Real Stories. Changed Lives by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett.  The back cover teases with the following words:
Famous or unfamiliar, these are the stories of real people who reached the end of their strength, the end of their control, and found the most surprising truths. It taught them not to rely on self or substance but to lean on the only completely reliable source of love, hope, and freedom: the God who created them. Shocking in their honesty, inspiring in their courage, these testimonies are critical reminders that no one is too far from God to find him.
Nothing points to the power of God's love like lives that have been touched and redeemed. That is what I found in the words and also in the spaces between the lines.  I was glad to get a taste in the printed pages of what promises to be engaging video taped interviews.  The book provides links to the video clips but with my slower than slow internet connection I am unable to enjoy them.

The words printed have the power to touch hearts but I believe that the words spoken may indeed be supercharged to move spirits.  I pray that many, many more are impacted by the website and all that it links and leads to.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.

The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Hearing or listening?

Are your spiritual ears as active as your natural senses?

I'm sharing over at Internet Cafe Devotions today


 

22 July 2012

He dawns



He dawns on them like the morning light
when the sun rises on a cloudless morning,
when the tender grass springs out of the earth
through clear shining after rain

 
singing in the Sunday chorus with Deidra 

 

21 July 2012

a moment

Stopping for a moment
to bathe in the water of His presence
cool, still
my centre
my peace
my all in all

 
seeking the quiet with Sandy


 

19 July 2012

Flickering around...

I've been fluttering and flickering about blogland...

Today you can find me sharing about my blog at Nikole Hahn's place

While you're there, take a look around, linger a bit....

18 July 2012

Still...

I have been still
in the midst of doing
visiting with my mother

His peace
descends, a thick fog
comforting, healing
sealing Himself in
and the world out

Great, how great is His faithfulness

Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God's faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!  Psalm 117:2 The Message



Joining Jennifer today in breathing in His presence

 

16 July 2012

Flying away...

Only a few hours until I fly from the silence of the Canadian prairies to the hot, sticky noise of the Chicago suburbs.  From green to concrete.

I will pop in and out here as I am able to share what God places in my heart.

14 July 2012

No strange water

There are difficult days ahead, yet in our quiet time together this morning, my Lord spoke words of comfort.

I know My timing is difficult for you to comprehend -
 but remember how clear things look in hindsight
and trust that I have your life well sorted.

Return again and again to Me -
 for here is your rest and here is your peace.

Do not drink form other wells.  Allow no strange water.

Come to Me.  Your source of all that gives life.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life Revelation 22:17 NIV


Resting with Sandy today

 
and joining Deidra in the Sunday Community Chorus

 

12 July 2012

While you may...

Today I feel fragmented and scattered

my heart is listening:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
from To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick

and my spirit hears:

Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord
while He may be found
[claiming Him by necessity and by right];
call upon Him while He is near.

and time stands still and runs away all at once
and I think that trust is often more like this fragile flower
than something hardened

and I will seek
and I will inquire for
and surely I require Him
for every choice, for every breath

and faith is the knowing
that He Is here


 

10 July 2012

When you say "anything"

There are times we pray safe
"Lord, I'll do as you say, go where you send me"
as long as it fits our schedule
as long as we can understand His request

And there are times we pray dangerous
when we declare
"Lord, let Your will, not mine be done
glorify Yourself in my life
whatever it is you want from me
 I'll do anything"
and in that moment of surrender
we think we can imagine what anything might mean

but...
anything means anything

For now, the anything He has chosen
is for me to walk through a medical condition
I would not have expected
that creates the need for skull base and neuro surgery
this will entail much travel between home
and Saskatoon where my medical/surgical team will be based

Perhaps as a dear friend prayed for me on Sunday
this is more than a medical journey
but a mission as well
I will certainly be meeting many new people along the way

in the days, weeks and months to come
if He asks it of me
you may find me writing
about my journey through the trials of an acoustic neuroma
about consults, surgery and the recovery process

I ask for your patience
your questions
your grace
and for your prayers
that He indeed will be glorified
in the way I walk this out.


 

07 July 2012

Secret place

Looking for quiet,
cool, a peaceful
place to grow.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall remain stable and fixed
under the shadow of the Almighty
[Whose power no foe can withstand].


 
Searching for a quiet place with Sandy


and joining the Sunday choir with Deidra

 

05 July 2012

A sense of floating...

For the last eight months or more
I have let my hair grow.
When last cut in the Spring
my hairdresser said
"let's leave the length for a change"

Not only did it grow longer
but thick and wild
layers weighed down yet untameable

Today I chose freedom
the shears and other tools
that in skilled hands
create a sense of order from chaos

Such a little thing
and light emerged from shadow
a spark returned to my eyes
released from the added weight
floating, flooded with new life

it brings back memories
of another freedom choice
that first release from the burden of sin

hairstyles will change
my decision to follow Jesus?
Never!


 

04 July 2012

Learning to live...

Learn to live in the uncertainty
these words from my Lord resound
in shouts, roars, whispers....

because He knows me
the one who used to think she likes surprises
yet clings fast to illusions of control

day after day after day
I wrestle, trying to hold
what cannot rest in my hand

here again I stand, here again I fall
here again I surrender
to thoughts and ways higher
to the One Who brushes each stroke of paint
on this picture that is my life

I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work. God's Decree. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. 
Isaiah 55:8-9 The Message


Joining Jennifer as Godbumps rise up afresh in my spirit...


 

02 July 2012

Emily Wierenga - Weight of fear

Perhaps about two years ago, I ran into a weekly blog link-up called Imperfect Prose written by an artist with a heart that bleeds for Jesus.  I was at once taken with the beauty of her words, her paintings and her struggle to be real about the things life throws at her.  My spirit connected in more ways than I can number. 

If you have never met Emily, hold on tight, for you will never be the same.

Emily Wierenga is a wife, mother of four boys (two of whom are hers), artist, and author of 'Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder' (Ampelon, 2012) available here.   For more information, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.
Today I share with you Emily's piece titled The Weight of Fear - Confessions of an Anorexic

The nurses murmured to each other under fluorescent lighting as I lay shivering on the metal hospital bed, cold. Later I would find out they couldn’t understand how I was still alive. I’d learn of them marveling at my hypothermic, sixty-pound sack of bones, reasoning, ‘She should be dead.’ I was a breach of science; a modern-day miracle.

Yet in that profound moment, all I could think was: “Why can’t I lose any more weight?”

After four years of slow and steady starvation, I had finally quit eating altogether. No longer was I striving to be thin; I knew I was thin. Rather, I was trying to stay thin. Afraid of losing control and gaining weight, I ate less and less every day. And every time I saw the lowered digits flashing red on the weigh-scale, a warm hand rubbed away the fear in my chest letting me ‘go’ for a little bit longer. The cycle was sick.

Laying there that autumn day in 1993, purple under the green sheet, I knew I’d done all I could. For some reason my body was refusing to let me shed anymore invisible pounds. And in some strange, sad way I felt relieved. I was tired of fighting my family, friends, and my heavenly father. I was exhausted from fighting fear.

In those quiet minutes I gave in to the love which had spared my life, and decided to become ‘normal’.

For most, food is a desirable necessity. For me, it served as a temptation. From the age of nine, fear was my master, ordering me not to slip up on the scales of life.

I say nine because that’s the age when I entered public school, after being taught at home with my brother and sisters. It was then that I met my enviably thin peers, and I began to force myself into a mold several sizes smaller than my competition. The more weight I lost, the better I felt: It was a severe addiction.

Baptized at eight into my Dad’s church, I believed in the existence of God, and knew I was created to have a personal relationship with Him. Yet He wasn’t real to me. It was all ‘head knowledge’. And, as I began to dabble in the anorexic occult, my faith became nothing more than a precarious piece in the puzzle that was my life. It was just another element to be controlled.

Everything had to be tiny and orderly: I scheduled what I wore, journalled every step of my day and prayed for everyone I’d ever met for fear they wouldn’t be saved. I had, in short, deemed myself their Savior.

My teachers’ eyes hurt trying to read my handwriting which was microscopically small. My siblings’ ears hurt from the wars which waged between my father and I, and my mother’s heart shriveled up as I refused to hug either of my parents for two years.

Meanwhile, I continued to pray -- a listless length of names recited nightly out of soul-less duty. And for all I knew, my prayers were merely bouncing off the ceiling back into my bedroom where my stomach growled endlessly.

I had completely missed the ever-revealing point: Faith is nothing if not expressed through love. As Galatians puts it, the law is summed up in this: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. I hated myself. I was my own worst enemy, a dictator ruling with a fear-shaped scepter.

When I realized God had, in His grace, saved me from death, I got it. Faith touched my heart, and love transformed my life. Fear was no longer my defining feature. I figured the least I could do was serve the One who’d saved me twice: Once on the cross, and once in the fall of 1993.

For the next decade my disease lay dormant. I re-trained myself to eat, watching people who I deemed ‘beautiful’ as they dished up at potlucks or family functions, mimicking their actions like a mindless shadow. I was a copy-cat infant when it came to knowing how to eat.

Similarly I nursed at the breast of God, who reminded me daily of my identity in Christ.

Those were happy years, filled with mission trips, boys and a restored relationship with my family.

Then, like a clap of thunder on a sunny day, “it” reappeared, rearing its ugly head, awakened by a comment.

“You’ve gained a bit of weight.” It was that one remark from an unaware observer which regurgitated four more years of the same battle. Only this time, I was married, and my husband wasn’t able (or willing) to sit back and watch as I destroyed our lives in an attempt to fit the ‘perfect’ mold. And this time, I knew what I was doing. I’d been through the routine before, and realized what I was risking: A wonderful, godly husband who loved me more than life itself; the hope of having children; a ministry to teenage girls who looked up to me, and most importantly, a maturing and fruitful relationship with my heavenly father.

How much worse is it for the person who embraces Christ and then later rejects Him, Scripture says. Perhaps it would have been better for him/her to have never claimed to know God.

The heart of the problem lay here: When recovering from my initial bout of Anorexia, I had failed to train myself in nutrition, to educate myself, finding a healthy lifestyle which suited my body type. Instead I’d settled for mimicking those around me -- which, ironically, was what got me into trouble in the first place. Thus, with the slightest tremor, the flimsy scaffolding I’d tacked together crumbled.

There came a point in the spring of 2006 -- a very dark and deathly point -- which defined my destiny. It happened on the streets of Alberta where, during an ear-splitting fight with my husband over food, I nearly drove our car into oncoming traffic -- on purpose. Our lives were marked by hurt feelings and power struggles. Food was the issue gluing our tension together. Both involved in ministry all day long, we saved up our tiredness and worries to dump on each other at night. I was exercising every morning, skipping breakfast and lunch and drinking six cups of coffee a day. I became an insomniac, unable to sleep for a year and a half.

It was on that breezy Spring day in the middle of the Albertan highway that my husband gave me a choice: It was him or food. He couldn’t do it any longer.

And would you believe that it took more than a minute for me to choose him? But choose him I did, rejecting, once again, the fear which was swallowing up my life.

We ended up dropping everything and leaving for Korea where we taught English. Surrounded by everything foreign except the comfort of each other, we re-mastered marriage. I studied nutrition, and developed a balanced menu for myself. I learned how to eat organically, in a way that hurt neither myself nor the earth. My husband was my rock, the one who helped me on days when anxiety began to re-emerge. The grace of God was our mortar, sticking everything back together.

Once again, love transformed my life, and faith became more than a mental trip.

Every day I continue to battle. Despite being prayed over, counseled and trained, I still struggle with feeling ‘fat.’ The Bible says that if we resist the devil, he will flee. I believe this -- but I wonder, How long will it take?

Every morning, it’s a matter of waking myself up in my Christ-identity, of silencing the negative whisper which sounds through television ads, magazines and song lyrics, of tuning in to the affirming words of Scripture. While God assures us that we are beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), He is also quick to remind us that true beauty comes from within: the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:4)

If you or someone you know is struggling with “a weighty fear” -- afraid of not being perfect, of losing control or becoming fat -- consider this: Shouldn’t we be more afraid of missing out on life as He intended it to be? As often as we mess up, He forgives, but “Don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom” (Galatians 5:14). No one knows the hour in which God will bring us home.

What does God desire? “Faith expressed in love” (5:6). When we have love, we have no need to fear. Christ loved humanity before time began -- before the first calories were counted or mirrors reflected our vanity.

So rather than striving for the perfect size, hunger for perfect love. Then, life will no longer be viewed from behind a thin veil. You will see yourself for who you truly are: A beautiful child of God.

I have never struggled with anorexia, but coming from the opposite side of disordered eating I'm embarassed to admit I often wished that I had.  How often we suffer the sharp pointed arrows from the enemy - whispering, singing, shouting that we are never good enough.

If you need to read this book (and I believe everyone does) or if you know someone else who would benefit, Emily and the publisher are graciously sponsoring a giveway.  All I ask is that you say a prayer for those who walk through the pain of disordered eating and then leave a comment telling me you have done so. Leave a trail so I can contact you.  A winner will be selected at random.

 

01 July 2012

Path...

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy,
 at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore 


In community with Deidra and the Sunday God seekers

 
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