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June 2019
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August 2019

What Hangs in the Balance?

So often as I sit in church listening to a message I feel it was tailor made for me. Yesterday as I sat listening not only to the message, but the worship I thought about how God always knows what we need. I needed to hear the message yesterday and it was once again a reminder that fear and doubt are from the enemy. Galatians 5:1 tells us: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." It was a vivid reminder of how God set me free from a stronghold. 

For many years I struggled with an eating disorder and starved myself in the hope of feeling accepted. I believed thinness was the answer to acceptance. I am sure rejection I felt from family members played a big part in the addiction that placed me on a path to self destruction, but I felt powerless to stop it. At one point I weighed 70 pounds and would look in the mirror and see a "fat Cindie." The enemy had placed a stronghold on my life, but I could not see that all I knew was my thinness would make me accepted. 

The definition of stronghold is: a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack. In reality strongholds are a false sense of security. My addiction kept me focused on myself...what I perceived I needed...what was going to make me happy. The number on the scale was my tipping point each and every day and it is what drove my every emotion. If people told me I was too thin I rationalized they were jealous, not that they might be concerned about me. I feared rejection and craved acceptance and in my mind I could only be accepted if I hit a certain number on the scale. The problem was the number was never right...if I set a goal to hit 75 pounds and I hit it, then I thought well, I would look better at 70 pounds. 

At the time if someone had asked me I would have said I was a Christian, but in all honesty I did not have a relationship with God. My relationship was with starvation, exercise and the weight scale. I never felt freedom. I didn't enjoy family celebrations, eating out, food in general and missed out on so many moments in life. This battle went on for five years and nothing anyone said or did changed my thinking until a friend came to visit us . I had invited my friend and her husband for dinner and made a lovely meal which they all enjoyed. I ate salad. My sweet friend asked my husband if I was dying when she first came in and he told her I wasn't but was not eating very much. We sat around the table talking and catching up and she took a few pictures.

A few weeks later an envelope arrived in the mail and in it was a 8x10 black and white picture. It was a close up picture of me my friend had taken. I looked at the picture and barely recognized myself. In all honesty it was the first time I thought if I keep this up I will die. I didn't know how I could overcome it though and in wasn't sure I really wanted to. I loved my husband and my children,  but there were painful memories I hadn't dealt with that I knew were at the root of this addiction, but I wasn't sure I had the strength to face them.

A friend invited me to church with her and as I sat and listened to the sermon on that Sunday morning I knew without a shadow of a doubt I needed to enlist God's help. I couldn't fight this beast disguised as anorexia on my own, I needed to invite God in. The Pastor preached from 2 Corinthians 10 and all I remembered that day was that I needed to take every thought captive. Thus began my journey of battling the beast with God's help. I had allowed the lie that "you will not be rejected if you are thin" to take up residence in my head and now I had to replace that lie with God's truth. The lie had become my truth and now it was time to defeat it. 

It was a battle...eating was not enjoyable for a long time...the number on the scale it was hard to watch it rise...and often I could not eat without gut disturbances. It was two years before I reached a healthy weight and it was not an easy battle, but God delivered me and it changed my relationship with Him. It taught me to trust believe who He says I am and to know without a shadow of a doubt He will never reject me. In HIs eyes I am accepted, I am loved, and He is faithful. 

There are times when I'll admit I still fear rejection...want to be liked...want to be appreciated...but I don't focus on those insecurities any longer because I am enough in the eyes of the One who created me and does not make mistakes. He is good and He is faithful and in Joshua 1:9 He tells us: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I can boast about what He has done as I walk in trust and obedience. 


The Grandpa Bowl

The Grandpa bowl. When my Dad died he did not have a lot of material possessions, but he had two of these bowls. These bowls have always brought me joy and sweet memories. When I  am feeling “ under the weather” and need some comfort I pour some hot soup into my bowl, sit and reflect and always walk away feeling better. 

Quite a few years back a good friend found 4 of the Grandpa bowls in an antique store so she gifted them to me. I gave one to each of my adult children and pray when they look at them they remember the goodness of their Grandpa. For many years my children and I were deprived of his presence in our lives and while I can never bring back the years the enemy stole I can thank God for reconciliation and healing. I am thankful for the love, laughter and the memories we created before God called him home.

My Dad lives on in so many ways. There are days the memories come in waves...memories of him spending hours on end with me; memories of me sitting on the Padnaram Bridge drawing while he fished; him making eggs and French fries for me and there always being a Hostess treat at the end of lunch! His love for Westerns!

He was a Dad with “ mother qualities” ...he nurtured me and taught me to put others before myself. I see him in my daughter as she has a generous and kind heart... I see him in my middle son’s build, in his eyes and in his inherited love for fishing. I see him in my oldest sons humor and his love of baseball.

I think so often in life we don’t appreciate who and what we have in our lives until it is too late. I believe God has a purpose for every thing that happens in our lives, the sweet as well as the painful. I can walk in His faithfulness and trust He knows His plans for me and for you. He uses all of it to shape our lives so we can reflect His love to others.

The greatest legacy my Dad left is one of love. He loved us well. He taught us by example to persevere and to stand up for what we know is right. He taught us that obstacles can be overcome and always reach out to others. He taught us that even though our own problems seem large, there are others who are much worse off. I remember once saying, “Dad, I am so sorry you had to have both your legs amputated”...his response, “yes, but I thank God I haven’t lost my eyesight like Bruce because that would mean I wouldn’t be able to see you and my grandchildren.”

 When he moved into our home he didn’t bring many worldly possessions, but he brought us love. He brought his spirit of determination, his sense of humor, his concern for others, and the belief that we can all find our way home... there is always forgiveness. He never failed to show appreciation to his immigrant parent, for their love and the sacrifices they made.

As I sit here today I think that faith, moral values, honesty, respect, love, trust, dignity, character (none of which can be seen with our eyes or held in our hands) are the true realities of our lives. Their true realness can be seen in their power to mold us when we choose to embrace them. And it may just as surely be seen from the emptiness that will result when we choose to scorn them.

My Dad did not go to church very often but I know He believed God was in control of our lives and always went to His Heavenly Father in prayer.When I was a little girl he used to tell me that God sat up in heaven with a great big book and our names were written in it and God knew how our story from start to finish. He didn’t need a seminary education to understand that God is the author of our stories. 

I read this quote awhile back which I think is appropriate on this day we celebrate freedom: “we can’t go to God with our options and expect Him to choose one of our preferences. We need to go to Him with empty hands, no hidden agendas, no crosses fingers. We need to go to Him with willingness in our hearts to do whatever He asks. There is FREEDOM in being obedient to Him.

I don’t believe my Dad ever went to God with his options, He went with empty hands and a willingness in his heart to do whatever His Maker required of him. He was a man whose heart reflected his Heavenly Father’s unconditional love. He went with his empty bowl...knowing God would fill it with abundant blessings!


If Only...

The other evening my hubby and I watched the documentary of Kara Tippetts, a woman whose blog and books  I had read for inspiration. She was a young mother to four children who lost her battle with cancer, but lived each day to the fullest while she had breath. She valued the people and the moments in her life and looked for God in the ordinary moments. Most importantly she left a legacy of love and faith to those who were blessed to be in her circle.

The past few days I have been thinking about the documentary and remembering ...My Momma's last few weeks before she went to her heavenly home were a bittersweet time for me.  One day as I sat talking to her, she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, "I wish I could turn back the clock." I asked her if it was because she was afraid of dying and she nodded her head and then said, "mostly it is because I wish I had lived my life differently and wish I had been a better mother to you." If only...she asked for forgiveness and I did as well because we both needed to be forgiven for things we had said, for things we had done, and for those things we had left undone.

I worried she would not be in Heaven one day because she truly felt her life here on earth was beyond God's ability to forgive her. I assured her many times it was not and that all she needed to do was to ask Jesus to forgive her sins and to invite Him into her heart. One day our grandson Robert Michael who was about 11 at the time came to visit her. He knew his Nana did not think she would go to heaven and it pained him. He told her she needed to ask Jesus into her heart and pray for forgiveness because he wanted the assurance he would see her again one day. She told him she would think about it.

The day before she lapsed into a coma she told me the Hospice chaplain had come to see her and she had indeed asked Jesus to forgive her and to come and live in her heart. For eight days she laid in her bed unresponsive. I sat with her prayed over her and sang to her and the night she died I was holding her hand as she went to meet Jesus. I remember her opening her eyes, looking at me, and then looking up and she was gone. As I reflect on her life I am grateful she finally accepted Jesus' love and forgiveness, but I can't help but think how different her life and mine would have been had that happened earlier in her life. We both could have perhaps avoided lots of heartache.

If only...those words can be the enemy of our souls. There is no way back...we can only move forward in God's kingdom.. I don't have to live in my past hurts, my past mistakes, my past sin. All that the enemy of my soul used to inflict harm in my life can no longer hurt me. Jesus has and continues to use what the enemy meant for harm to bring about His good. None of us is too broken that He cannot redeem our lives.

The ashes of our past can become the fuel that grows our lives into all God designed them to be, but first you have to surrender the ashes. Kara's documentary depicted her faith, her love, and most of all her trust in a God she could not see. Of course, she prayed for healing, but God had a different plan, it was a plan she trusted even if. She reminded all of us who read her blog and books that God makes all things good according to His plans. We all have these moments. We all have these moments in our lives when we have seen answered prayers in ways that surpass any earthly reason, and times when we have seen what we never would have wanted to happen occur. What I have seen is that even in the darkest times of my life God has been faithful and I could take His hand and trust Him.

I lived a good part of my life under the illusion I could control certain outcomes or fix something in my estimation that had gone wrong., but the reality is I have no control over any of it. I have come to the realization that my only real control is letting go of expectations and "being in control" and just letting Jesus take the wheel. My scars and yours are proof  that God carries us through the storms in life. The scars remind us of the importance of leaving behind a legacy of faith, one, and trust...always pointing to the One who has broken every chain that kept us from living in His freedom.