Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just Keep Going

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
 not lacking anything.”  James 1:4

Dear Adina,
I feel for you. I hope we meet in Heaven so we can talk about how good our Lord was, even in the midst of our wanderings. I used to look down on you crazy Israelites and think, “Why can’t you just obey and get it together?” Sorry. I had no idea.
Your 2013 Gentile sister,

I imagined an Israelite woman in the wilderness, wandering after leaving the slavery of Egypt. I named her Adina. She’d only known the slavery life and now she was on a trip to the Promised Land. She’d seen God’s power and actually walked through the Red Sea as it was miraculously parted. But then, the pain of wandering around the wilderness became a heavy burden. The pain was excruciating. She started thinking about Egypt. The pain of slavery was horrible but it was comfortable. It was all she knew. Maybe she should go back…

Almost 60 pounds gone. I’ve never lost this much weight before. Never have I possessed so much energy and felt such contentment with how I am treating my body.


The pain is excruciating. I have such a long way to go. The Promised Land sounds great, but in order to get there I will have to face endless visits to the gym which always make me hurt. I will have to say no over and over again to the delights of sugary desserts and fried foods. Was being 60 pounds heavier that bad?

My friend Cheryl shared a song with me by Sara Groves called “Painting Pictures of Egypt.” The song talks about this kind of journey. These lines from that song reflect my heart:

The future feels so hard and I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.

I have to go on. I have to persevere.

And I’m not alone.

The other day I was on my way to a personal training appointment and I prayed something like this: God, You do miracles, I know You do. If you wanted to, You could come to the gym with me and take away my pain. You could make it where it didn’t hurt so much.

What I heard in response: Why don’t you take today to thank Me for every muscle that aches and for your heart when you think it’s going to beat right out of your chest. Appreciate your body today.

So I tried. I prayed through every drop of sweat and every horrible burn. At one point, Mona, my trainer, said, “We are now off to the stair-master. Your favorite!” (Sarcasm)

I whispered “Lord Jesus help me.” Mona replied with an evil little laugh. “Oh, he can’t help you here, honey.”

It was a joke, I know, but I was SO in tune with God’s presence I snapped back, “Oh yes, He can! In fact, He is with me every step of the way in here. And there’s this huge body-builder angel who helps me lift things, too.”

Obviously taken aback, Mona held up both hands and said, “Okay, okay.”

So I, like Adina, am wandering in the wilderness. God has pulled me out of slavery, but I am not in the Promised Land yet. I am not alone though. The Spirit is with me and has even assigned George, (my name for that body-building angel) to give me a hand.

If you are in any kind of situation that needs a bit of perseverance, be encouraged friend and don’t give up. Don’t go back. Take His courage and keep going.

Just keep going. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The OTHER Still Small Voice

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

A woman found an old school picture of herself taken in the fifth grade. She looked at herself and thought, “You cute little thing.” The woman turned the picture over and saw that she had written a note to her dad on it.

Dad, to my father who I love and who is wonderful to me.
I love you. I’m sorry I’m so ugly.
Love, your daughter.

That little girl was me.

The words hurt my heart. What a beautiful little girl I was. Why did I think I was ugly? After some soul searching, it occurred to me words like those began earlier in third grade after someone I had a crush on was cruel to me. His words became my words. So began a life of hearing a cruel voice inside my head.

I recently read a new novel called Invisible by Ginny Yttrup. The main character Ellyn deals with “Earl,” an inner voice who tells her she is fat. It was jarring to read at first and then it occurred to me that I’ve dealt with my own “Earl” for a long time.

After I got married, my inner voice came out a lot. I’d bump into a corner or I’d make a mistake and my inner “Earl” would speak aloud.

 “I’m so stupid.”

 “Come on, Robbie, can’t you do anything right?”

After a few months, John sat me down with an extremely serious look. He said, “Listen to me. NO ONE talks to my wife that way, not even you!”

I heard him and began a journey to shut Earl up, in my words aloud and my thoughts. So he doesn’t talk often but he still makes appearances.

The words we tell ourselves our incredibly powerful. I’m in the middle of a weight loss journey and I have conversations with myself about temptation all the time. Again, God used a line out of Invisible to teach me. Ellyn is eating and God whispers to her heart. “You don’t love food more than me, you trust food more than me.”

For me, it was a profound statement. In my conversations with myself and God, I’ve often commented, “God, what is wrong with me? I love You more than chocolate. I do!”

So my words have changed. This week I’ve said over and over, “God I TRUST YOU more than _________ (chocolate, bread, ice cream) to fulfill me, to heal my restlessness, to calm my fear.”

And these words have made a major impact.

The still small voice of the Spirit longs to be our “go-to” inner voice. His is a voice of gentle love and encouragement. “Earl,” on the other hand, just wants to tear down.

If I had a school picture of myself right now, I’d look at her and say, “You cute woman” and I’d write on the back a note to my Father in Heaven.

Abba Daddy, to my Father who is wonderful to me.
 Thank you for making me in Your Image,
a beautiful woman simply because I reflect You.
Your daughter, Robbie 

Monday, April 01, 2013

My review of Ginny Yttrup's Invisible - I LOVED IT!

I finished Ginny Yttrup’s Invisible yesterday but I know her words will stay with me for a long time. I simply loved her story. The best stories are the ones where a character’s experience reminds you of your own and you find yourself drawn into the pages, living the story with them.

Ellyn Demoss, one of the novel’s main characters, and I became good friends. Sound crazy? A little. But our God who uses all things to draw us to Him, used Ginny’s Ellyn Demoss to see myself a bit more through God’s eyes.

Invisible tells the story of three women who each are hiding. Through their interaction and friendship with each other, hope is born. Through the truth of seeing that each of them are made in the image of God, healing comes.

This isn’t one of those novels I’ve read that made me laugh and cry or try to solve a mystery. It’s not even a story that simply entertained me. This book changed my heart and made me take time to ask God some questions and listen to His answers. To me, that means this is an EXTRAORDINARY book.

I’ve read Ginny’s other two novels, Words and Lost and Found, and both were wonderful in their own right. But Invisible got under my skin and pointed me to Christ’s healing power that serves as a much needed ointment to those of us who deal with insecurity. We have trouble “seeing” ourselves like God sees us.

I’m in the process of losing a big ole pile of weight. I’m up to 44.5 pounds and continuing. Each day what I will eat or not eat and how I will exercise is forefront in my mind. God knew that we He led me to read Invisible.

In an interview Ginny was asked:  “You said in your letter to your readers that this book is not about weight issues or health issues—it’s about freedom. In moments of stress or pain, how do you choose to walk in freedom rather than in shame?”

I attempt to live in freedom by giving thanks in all circumstances. It seems we have an idealistic view of freedom… It sounds so good, doesn’t it? But freedom is often quite difficult and painful. Think of the Israelites freed from slavery—they had a painful road ahead of them. Were they free? Yes. Did it feel good? No. Or think about dieting… Which is freedom—eating as much chocolate cake as you want? Or disciplining yourself to have just one piece of chocolate cake, or one cookie, so you’re free to enjoy good health and a strong body? Personally, eating as much cake as I want feels like freedom. But it isn’t…

So by giving thanks in all circumstances I’m reminded in those painful times that my turmoil here is temporary. By focusing on God and His goodness, even when my circumstances are screaming the exact opposite, I’m able to live with an eternal view and look ahead to that day when freedom will feel like the freedom I’ve imagined. When I’ll trade this temporal life, filled with trials, for eternity spent in the presence of Jesus Christ. I can’t wait!

I’ve been studying Galatians in an effort to find freedom in this weight loss journey. It is the enemy’s aim to tie me up in bondage to numbers on a scale and nutritional facts and reps at a gym. I haven’t achieved that freedom, or balance, as yet, but reading Invisible helped me a great deal.

If you want a great story, read Invisible. If you want to put yourself in a position to have God feed your soul about the fight with insecurity, read Invisible. If you want to take a step toward freedom and believe that God can do that for you through a novel, then go and read Invisible.

I simply loved this book.