November 09, 2023
HOW TO GET THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS:
16 Ideas for Hurting Parents
Whether you have a small, medium, or adult child that is sick, deployed, far away from home, living an ungodly life, or is estranged from you, the holidays can be a time of great grief, unremitting sorrow, and bitter loss for parents who had a different vision for how it was supposed to go. You may have beautiful memories of holidays past that you no longer enjoy or dare to think of due to the shards of tragedy and/or broken relationships.
As I give my suggestions, please keep in mind that I have been estranged from at least one child for 15 years and all three for over 3. I have done different things in different phases, depending where I was at spiritually and emotionally at the time. When considering what to do in your own situation, you have to consider.....YOURSELF!
#1 So my first suggestion, which probably most closely represents how I approach the holidays today, is to make the preparations, the decorations, and the celebrations NOT ABOUT ME! Thanksgiving is about thankfulness and Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. My third and youngest son left at the end of April right after Covid hit. Remember, that? We weren't supposed to gather, it was super depressing, and now ALL THREE of my children had abandoned me and left my life. Things also had become strained with my mom and my sister, and they were terrified of Covid on top of it. IT WAS AWFUL! But I had a talk with myself and decided to decorate anyway (not even sure if anyone would even see it beside me and Steve)...not for me, but as an expression of my thankfulness for the many other blessings in my life. I also chose to make my house a home for my husband...who probably would have said he couldn't have cared less if I decorated or not, but I think he deep down likes that I make our home a home. We had family members over from his side of the family for Thanksgiving. It didn't erase my pain, but it shifted my focus. Same thing at Christmas....I decorated and my husband even put up lights....so that when people drove down our street they would see signs of Christmas! I chose to make a BIG DEAL out of Jesus in spite of my loss and pain. I worshipped Him with my decorating and hospitality. My family wouldn't and didn't come to my house, so I invited couples over for a soup bar, games, and a gift exchange. For those few hours, I forgot all about my children and I just loved on God and on people. So this is my favorite suggestion, but it fits where I am at in this stage of the journey.
#2 Establish a new tradition. Copy something that know about someone else doing or make up something new.
#3 Go on a trip--somewhere you love or someplace you've always wanted to go. Or anywhere but home.
#4 Get out in nature..., more than once, like do it a lot. If it's snowing, bundle up and take pictures of snowflakes and plants with ice crystals, or of a flower that is still alive. Look for aspects of what you see in nature that resonates with your current thoughts and emotions, or that inspire hope.
#5 Start a holiday journal and record situations, events, thoughts, feelings, insights, what God is saying to you, etc. Be honest, pour it all out, purge. If there is a lot of sadness, anger, or negativity, spill it, and then use the King David method: wrap it up with a self-encouragement. Do this every holiday and watch how things change over time. This is the seed of the book you're going to write one day.
#6 Have an un-holiday. One year, for Mother's Day, me and two other broken-hearted moms got together and had an "Un-Mother's Day." We gathered at one mother's apartment sat in the sunshine and had lunch together, and didn't talk about our kids much. It was the right thing for the right time, and we enjoyed ourselves even while hurting.
#7 Indulge yourself in non-destructive ways (aka "self-care”). Plan several activities that are nourishing to you in some way--book a massage, a spa day, hair appointment, get your nails done, or all of the above. Schedule a play date with a friend, or several play dates with different people. Engage in a hobby. Enjoy a "nothing day" (no alarm, no schedule, no plans....just wing it according to what you feel like doing, *without guilt*). Read ALL DAY. Work a puzzle FOR HOURS. Tinker. Go to the gun range. Brainstorm and come up with at least 3 things to spoil yourself with.
#8 Have a worship day, a spiritual warfare day, or both (worship is a weapon of warfare). Channel all your negative energy toward putting a hurt on the devil's camp.
#9 Start, work on, or finish a big project. Refinish the bathroom vanity. Paint. Remodel. Create something. Do a demolition. Build a dollhouse and furnish it. Build a sophisticated model airplane or spaceship.
#10 Instead of an advent calendar, do the Random Acts of Christmas (which I will post soon). Each day of December leading up to Christmas, perform a random act of kindness. You could also do a version for Thanksgiving. Be creative and generous.
#11 Adopt a child (not literally, but you *can*), or sow into the lives of other people's children your time, money, energy and/or affections.
#12 Encourage other parents who are hurting. "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." (2 Cor 1:4). Often times giving away what we need also has a boomerang effect.
#13 If you don't have anyone to spend the holidays with, throw a party. Throw one for each holiday you would otherwise spend alone and/or miserable. Play games and give away prizes. Attend a FriendsGiving. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter, feed the homeless. Make Christmas cookies and pass them out with toothbrushes, socks, and a Christmas card filled with scripture, a short testimony, and words of encouragement.
#14 Memorize your favorite chapter in the Bible (the most encouraging one you can find), one line at a time.
#15 Make goodies, crafts, or other gifts for people in the hospital or in nursing homes during the holidays. Take a friend(s) or one of your other children with you
#16 ASK for support! Go to your friend, your spouse, your tribe, your online support group, etc. and express your pain and ask for a lifeline.
Final note: If at some point you overwhelmingly feel like you want to get in bed, pull the covers over your head, and cry yourself to sleep….do that! That may be what you do this year. Next year is a whole year away. With God’s help, your support people, and a little fight in you, you can find yourself in a very different place emotionally and spiritually same time next year.
October 25, 2023
I want to share some encouragement this morning. I am a mom of three sons, all estranged, one identifying trans and another homosexual. I lead a group for broken-hearted but faith-filled parents as well, so my head is fairly in this topic on a regular basis.
I am currently reading the BEST BOOK EVER on how disordered sexuality arises and what transformation is and looks like. This book is especially riveting to me, because I am also a therapist, and the author touches on the science behind change (creating new neuropathways) in your brain...and the fact that it takes time. Her presentation on transformation is phenomenal because she gives it succinctly, in terms anyone can understand, and in complete harmony with the Word of God. It also can be applied to ANY problem of the flesh, LGBTQ or otherwise.
The books is TransFormation, by Linda Seiler, PhD.
This tidbit was in my reading last night:
As we continually die to self, renew our mind, and put on the new self, we EVENTUALLY (emphasis mine) develop new neural pathways, and new desires emerge to replace the old. BUT BEFORE we experience new desires, THERE IS A TENSION in the journey where we must embrace the objective truth of who we are in Christ, ***even when our subjective feelings seem to contradict that.*** The Bible refers to that tension as "faith and patience" through which we inherit what God has promised. (Hebrews 6:12)
OMG....doesn't that help you feel NORMAL? Only a few get what I call the "Magic Wand Treatment," where God supernaturally lifts a thing off of us in a moment. But for most things, it is a process and it takes time for it to roll out.
I have not personally experienced SSA or gender dysphoria, but boy have I been plagued at different times in my life with habits and compulsions that I lost control over. That totally were driven by the lusts of my flesh. Now I teach others how to overcome. Linda said something in the passage above that really captured my attention because it addresses the very stretch in the journey where most people give up, throw in the towel, and assume that freedom is not possible and things will never change: It's in that place of "tension" where what you are believing does not match what you are feeling. And sometimes that place of tension lasts a bit, and it's exhausting, disheartening, and a whole host of other adjectives. That's why we need each other.
So I share this for the strugglers and for the moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, and others who are standing in faith for their prodigals, and for those who are battling something else---we are in need of "faith and patience," we are in need of endurance, so that after we have done the will of God we will receive what He promised. The enemy hacks away at my thoughts all the time, but I just hack away back at him. We need our "It is written" statements on hand, and we also need each other to be the Aaron and Hurs in the waiting.
The key is to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever give up! Don't stop standing, and having done all to stand. If you go to your grave, go to your grave believing!
OH GLORY TO GOD!!
October 16, 2023
It’s only in continually seeking his presence that we will discover the fullness of joy and pleasure meant to be our portion as his children. -- First15
If you are a believer and you don't know what this joy is, it might be because you are not seeking His presence continually.
That was me. At different times I was very intermittent. Sometimes Iong stretches would go by without really connecting with my Heavenly Father in an intimate way. I neglected His Word. There were years when I had one foot in and one foot out.
Joy doesn't really manifest much in that kind of relationship with God. It just doesn't, at least not for me.
Extreme pain and difficult circumstances is what it took to drive me more fully into relationship with the God who I professed to be my Lord, but whom I never fully gave my time, attention, and devotion to. I never fully gave Him the reigns of Lordship.
I had to be broken, and broken I was. But in finally, truly bending my knee, I found something--Someone--unshakable, unstoppable, that has become the anchor of my life. And joy is part of that package. A sense that He's got me, He's got the people I am believing for, and everything is going to be incredibly alright....exceedingly, abundantly alright!
I don't think it's completely necessary to go through something traumatic to experience a full relationship with Jesus that is marked by joy. You can do it intentionally, willfully---save yourself a lot of heartache! But for those mules in the bunch, let the ache of your soul lead you to the oasis that can only be found in Him.
Only in Him!
July 26, 2023
For grieving moms and women in general:
I once lost a marriage in part due to grief. As you know by now, my life has been messy. It wasn't over estrangement, but rather a custody battle. My oldest sons’ father decided to sue me for complete custody seven years after our divorce (it didn't end up happening in the end). I was newly married, and my husband (who I found out had a major rage problem) couldn't handle my despair, the crying, the staying up all night writing declarations for my attorney, and I guess my lack of attentiveness. It was especially wounding because he presented himself to me--and even to my parents--as my knight in shining armor. The custody battle lasted a year and a half, my marriage 13 months.
What I have come to realize, and this likely does not fit everyone's situation, but often men feel inadequate and not good enough when they can't be the knight in shining armor, can't fix something because it's just too big. A man with a fragile ego will mask his bruised self-image with offense. A man with a solid, healthy ego might get supremely frustrated, but will not fall apart inside when he can't solve a problem, especially if he has a relationship with God. I suspect that your husband is actually mad at himself for not being able to make you happy, but also mad at you for "making him feel that way." Does that make sense?
Today I am deliriously happily married. I don't hide my grief from my husband, but I don't always take it to him either. That's what my friends in my parents of prodigals group are !!! My current husband is not the father of my children. He married a life partner to enjoy and be good company, not a train wreck. Granted, I am a whole lot further into my journey and healing than I was back in the days of that failed marriage.
We all have different trajectories for processing grief. If you are a wife with a husband who is tired and angry with your grieving, I would just continue making a respectful request of your husband to be patient and understanding with you. While there are arguably exceptions, I do think mothers and women are wired by God to be relationship-oriented, so damage to our primary relationships devastates us to the core in ways that many men cannot grasp. They compartmentalize their lives in ways we are not able to do. That's why they can do war and clean up the dead family pet from the middle of the road and we can't. God made us different for a reason, because those differences are necessary for life to work right. The more we can learn to appreciate, defend, and be sensitive to those differences, the richer a marriage can be.
June 27, 2023
A picture paints a thousand words. It's all about perspective. Are we in harm's way or are we strategically positioned? Am I focused on the dangers, heartaches, and costs, or am I watching God's plan unfold with awe and wonder?
Probably both, depending on the day.
June 19, 2023
What part of “will not inherit the kingdom of God” do we not understand?
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians (6:9-10).
No, it’s not a misunderstanding. It’s not a poor translation. It’s not outdated. It’s God’s Word. As in Creator of the universe. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His thoughts are highest….period!
When we disagree with our Creator, it’s not Him who is wrong.
Verse 11 says this: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
I was once among the guilty in verses 9 and 10. On more than one count. What about you? But thanks to the free gift of salvation that Jesus offered me, I was washed, I was sanctified, I was justified…and I was also set free. But it wasn’t without battles. Unholy desires can be ridiculously stubborn, and the enemy ridiculously crafty with both attacks and temptations, even after being born-again.
We’re not getting away from this inconvenient truth, folks. There is a duty to warn!. When we support and celebrate what God says is sin, when we passively condone, when we say nothing, we are aiding and abetting someone else’s potential ETERNAL demise. Where is the love in that? What many mistake as kindness, as just being non-confrontational, as just trying to safeguard the relationship, can actually be the cruelest thing you could possibly do.
With everlasting ramifications.
I like the commentary in my Bible by Jack Hayford: "Paul declares that the unrighteous, of who he proceeds to give examples (so not an exhaustive list), will not inherit the kingdom of God, thinking of its future consummation. Paul’s point is to warn the Corinthian believers that if they willfully and unrepentantly persist in the evils of the wicked, they face the same final danger as the wicked. As his point is to arrest their attention and stop their deception, he does not address the question as to when such practiced behavior causes saints to cross the line to being “disinherited” in God’s sight, nor does he draw conclusions regarding the issue of Christians yet caught up in the struggle of these sinful habits but who sincerely desire freedom."
God is described as merciful. We also are told that the fear (awe and respect) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Perhaps a good policy is to err on the side of caution with regard to life practices. God isn't wishy-washy. He means what He said.
The two greatest commands are to love God and to love others. Loving others is manifested the most when we pray for and encourage others to take up the cross and follow Jesus in word, thought, and deed. Love is not demonstrated when we turn a blind eye to the path of destruction that the person in front of us is on. When we care more about transitory feelings and comfort (ours and/or theirs) or about our self-image as a "caring person," and less about the actual outcome of unrepentant sin, we are actually haters.
Care enough to be a light.
May 14, 2023
Happy, happy Mother's Day! What an extraordinary sisterhood we are!
On Mother's Day, I always post something to hurting moms and sons & daughters, so they feel seen and understood on a day that is often one of the most difficult. But I also want to encourage these same women to celebrate with the moms and sons & daughters who are enjoying intact, happy relationships today. They deserve a day that is not adulterated by our losses and pain. They deserve a day of honor and exuberant recognition for who they are and their tremendous service to humankind.
This day, whether you are bubbling over with joy or holding back tears, I challenge you to bless other moms with a smile, a word of encouragement or appreciation, or an expression of co-celebration. Also meditate on the goodness of God in your life, His faithfulness, and the many blessings He has bestowed on you.
Family & friends in your life
To name a few...
I will name a few of mine.
He brought me a husband who is everything I dreamed of.
I have made precious, amazing friends on this journey of mine.
A relationship with my Heavenly Father that I maybe would not have experienced any other way.
He has worked in me the answer to desperate prayers for peace, joy, and relief from crushing anxiety-- so much so that it defies logic!
'I've got the joy that's found in a heavenly hope
Peace like a river down in my soul
I'M HELD BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST
Oh what a wonder!"
Spread some Mother's Day faith. And if you're not there yet, know you're seen, and loved, and it's okay.
May 8, 2023
My reading today began with Luke 15:1:
"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him."
Wow! I stopped right there. What do you think He was saying that made Him draw THAT crowd? Are we saying things that draw THAT crowd? You know THAT crowd of liars, cheats, sexually immoral, drunkards, gluttons, thieves, covetous, and abusers.
The Great Commission is not about going out into the world to get the saved more saved. Yes, there is a duty to preach and to teach the saints....for what? For the equipping of said saints for the work of the ministry. What is the ministry? To preach the GOOD NEWS and seek to save the lost. Not the found.
That is what I got out of one verse. Now to read the rest of the chapter!
May 7, 2023
This is for hurting parents.
Joshua Coleman made this observation in a recent counselor training I took:
It's almost a badge of honor. And where does this badge of honor exist? On social media. And often, unfortunately, in the therapist's office. Social media presents a false reality-- false friends and even a sense of false "family." A kid can sit isolated in her bedroom with hundreds or thousands of "followers" and feel as un-alone and "backed" as she wishes to fantasize she is. She can watch others taking the plunge and hear them on chat or live video extolling their liberation from the tyranny of parents and a childhood viewed through a distorted lens. It doesn't help when actual family members offer support for this "act of courage" by either saying nothing or encouraging it implicitly or explicitly. Why encourage the harder work of relationship repair? It's so messy, so emotionally taxing! Everyone is entitled to feel good and feel good right now. Never mind about what's right. The path of least resistance is more appealing in the moment. And self is king.
NOTE: Not talking about family situations marked by physical, sexual, or dire emotional abuse or neglect. While forgiveness is always right, letting someone back in your life is sometimes not. Imperfect parents, imperfect children, and imperfect childhoods are a dime a dozen, though.
And sometimes, non-parent family members are elected by the EC (estranged child) for continued relationships for various reasons--genuine desire, survival, etc., and sometimes to throw salt in the wounds of their parents. Family members are entitled to have independent relationships with their grandchildren siblings, nieces and nephews, etc., and may struggle on how to best handle the awful situation without alienating, and potentially losing all family connection with the EC. Family members on whom continued relationship is bestowed should be sensitive to how exceedingly painful this is for the estranged parents, on so many levels.
Now for parents questioning whether or not to maintain contact or be reconciled with an EC that has massively hurt, abused, and thrown them away, that is a topic for a different post.
If you're a hurting parent, PM me.
May 4, 2023
I wrote this just now for a struggling mom and thought I would share here in case someone needs it:
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1John 5:14-15).
God hears us not because we FEEL He does or even because we THINK He does. He hears when we ask according to His will and mix it with faith; He hears you because it is His character and nature to do so.
Pretty sure asking for your child's salvation, healing, and deliverance, and for reconciliation of broken relationships IS according to His will. Whether His will comes to pass or not is up to the choices of the people involved. But God can be very persuasive. Think of the story of Jonah!
That being said, answering prayer is God's business and God's way. The Bible clearly says that in order to please God you must believe God, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. A double-minded person should not think they will receive anything from God. So the task at hand for us is to cultivate our faith so we are not double-minded.
God's time-table is not ours, usually. We are in need of ENDURANCE! There are other many verses flooding my mind right now, I wish I could share them all! My encouragement to you, sweet mother, is to make sure you're in a fantastic word-teaching church, and that you make it your life mission to know Him as intimately, closely as you can. He IS the answer, not the enemy. And as I am fond of reminding people, it takes as long as it takes for God to get folks to cooperate with Him, because of the free will He gave us. I have taken on the mantle of intercessor. If the Holy Spirit doesn't succeed in apprehending one, two, or all three of my boys, it's not because God didn't try or that He's not able, but because of their stubbornness.
I am now living quite well "in the meantime" and if you're interested in learning how to do that we can talk more off the platform. May God do as He says He will do---exceedingly abundantly over all you could think or ask. But you have to trust Him with your whole heart. You have to "see" with the eyes of faith.
March 22, 2023
Avert your eyes.
God talks often to me when I'm at the gym. So here's one thing He quickened to my spirit literally just now.
On the gym TV, I just saw a pizza commercial. It was very cheesy. It was....lust-provoking! Then my spirit said, "look away."
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:28)
Sometimes, the "other man" in our life, the other God, is food and pleasure.
“What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)
Someone once said, "Eyes are windows to the soul." We usually understand that to mean when we look into someone's eyes we can peer through the "window" into their soul. What about this interpretation: through the eyes, the thief and robber finds a "window" to crawl through, an entrance into our thoughts?
When I had an eating disorder, I learned to avert my eyes from looking at the magazine covers in the checkout at the grocery store. I stopped buying Cosmopolitan, because I coveted and obsessed about the airbrushed bodies on the cover and littered throughout. I stopped looking at anything that would entice thoughts to spring to life that could lead to sin...
When I was even younger I figured out not to go to the mall or window shop because looking made me want things.
I challenge you, and myself, to consider what you tend to let in through the "eye gate." To think something is not the sin, but to entertain the thought willingly and mess around with it is...because it can so easily lead to the lust and sinful action.
...but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death. (James 1:14-15)
Where do you need to avert your eyes today?
If you need help in this area, consider taking my Break Every Chain course/support group starting May 1st!
January 29, 2023
When I was growing up, my mom and I were very close. We were so very close that I often thought of my mom as my best friend. In fact, at times, she felt like my only friend. Up until I was deep into my adolescence, I shared with her almost everything. I knew that she loved me more than anyone ever would, and so I trusted her. She was my rock.
Mom started taking me and my sister to church when we were young, as early as I can remember. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age 11. Sadly, a church split when I was 14 led to my mother leaving church, and my sister and I along with her. That was not good timing for me, and I went out into the world in the worst of ways.
For ten years, I lived my life totally in the flesh and behaved in some pretty scary ways. During those years in particular, my mom was my “lighthouse.” While I didn’t estrange from her completely, my appetites, apathy, and shame kept me pretty distant. But I always knew that my Mom was there for me, “out there somewhere,” and that if things started to spin out of control I could count on her to help me and be a soft place to land. I felt a sense of protection, and tethered to something stable while I was out crashing around recklessly. She was the lighthouse in the storm that was my life. She was it until Jesus stepped in and took over.
Now, many years later, the storms still come and rage, and Jesus is the Lighthouse that gives me direction and calms my fears. One of the most horrifically painful, maddening, and brutally long storms of my life has been the estrangement of my beloved children. I won’t go into the whole story, but just know that I loved my children fiercely, passionately, and took much pride in mothering. Little did I know they would be stripped from me….not all at once, but in a progressive, torturous manner. With each devastation, Jesus has been there to gather the shattered pieces of my heart and give me the determination, strength, and vision to keep going. At times I have peered weakly through the tears and circumstances to look for the Lighthouse off in the seeming distance, barely able to breathe or move. The pale, remote glow of the Lighthouse gave me something to stumble toward, to tether myself to, until I could get my bearings and learn to ride the waves with wisdom and skill again.
The other day, I was listening for the Lord and He gave me such a sweet insight. My three sons are out in the world, living in harm’s way. And I believe deep down they know it. And for now, it is me, in the role of the lighthouse. They have to know how incredibly deep my love is for them. They have to know that if they ever made a squeak, I would be there and respond. I am the mother cow that would bloody myself bursting through the barn door to get to my baby calf! And they surely know that I am praying for them, and that somehow, someway, I am organizing a rescue effort. I believe they are counting on it! While they might not speak to me or come around, I believe they never lose sight of my light in the distance…
So with that in mind, I walk the floor. I confess the promises. I speak the name of Jesus. I bind and loose. I wield my authority. I storm the gates of heaven and I defy the gates of hell. My children are looking to me, whether they know it or not or admit it or not, to be their lighthouse. Children instinctively know that a parent’s role is to guide and protect. My job is to fight on their behalf, seek protection for them in the spirit, and to pray them to Jesus, the real Lighthouse.
Be encouraged, parents of prodigals! Pray until they come home. Prayer isn’t the backup plan. Prayer is the battle plan!
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous Mom or Dad availeth much. (James 5:16)
September 17, 2022
First of all, let me start by stating I am not a theologian.
But here are some thoughts I had while reading on the elliptical at the gym yesterday (God talks to me a lot there):
…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph 1:4-6)
There is some controversy in the Church about the concept of “predestination.” Now I did not launch a big study on the use of the term in the New Testament. I did look it up in the Strong’s Concordance. In the Greek, it simply means to “determine before” or “to ordain.” Ordain means “to invest with ministerial or priestly authority,” to “authorize,” or to order or decree by virtue of superior authority.” (American Heritage Dictionary).
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it like this: “to destine, decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand.” The Free Dictionary adds, “To fix upon, decide, or decree in advance.”
The Cambridge Dictionary asserts, “If an action or event is predestined, it is controlled by God or by fate.” Is this true???
I think perhaps never in my lifetime have I ever witnessed the accepted meaning of words to undergo more alteration than in just the last few years. In addition, I think it is safe to presume that the definitions in dictionaries are not a result of divine inspiration in the way that the Bible is. I am always saying that the meaning of any Biblical passage must be understood through the grid of Scripture. In my mind, the true meaning of predestination as it is uttered by God through the writers of the New Testament has to reconcile with the Biblical reality of “free will.”
Let me appear to digress. God teaches us a lot about spiritual and natural truth through the experience of parenting. And even if you’ve never been a parent, you have at least been a child of parents, or perhaps have some idea of what the heart of a parent is supposed to be. Each time I gave birth to a child, and even while my babies were still in my womb, I had great plans. I had intentions of striving to be the best mom ever! I greatly desired my children to be healthy, happy, loved, and successful in life. I purposed for them to be in church, raised to know the Lord, and to be born-again. I planned to do everything I could to make all of that happen. You could say that I “predestined” my children to have GREAT lives. This was the destiny “I” had planned for them.
Did all of that happen because I predestined it? Sadly, no. Enter free will and bio-psycho-social-spiritual forces that acted on and in each of my children, apart from my feelings, wishes, decrees, expectations, authorizations, support, and intentions.
I propose that God’s “predestination” might have similar constraints. Just like I have loved each of my sons, regardless of anything, from the moment I knew of their pre-born existence until now, God declares that “He so loved the world” (I assume that “the world” includes everyone). He’s a Father! He loves every single human being He has ever woven in a womb, and His intention was and always has been to include each person into His family and lead them in an amazing, fulfilling life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). But there was a condition, a caveat: willingness and obedience. Of their own volition. Free will. Who was God talking to back then? Unregenerate Israelites in exile, pre-Christ. Who is He talking to now? You and me and, I think, everyone else.
In the song, “Beautiful Boy” about his son Julian, John Lennon offered the lyric, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Boy, howdy!
Does everything “intended” happen?
Does everything “authorized” happen?
Does everything “decreed” happen?
Does everything “willed” happen?
Have you ever “invested” in something or someone who did not rise to their potential? Has God invested in people who did not rise to their potential?
My experience has been that few things, if anything, have gone exactly according to plan. Sometimes very much not so!
But we’re not God, are we? God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, we are decidedly not. He has all power and authority and we don’t. I hear it said all the time, “God is in control.”
I ask myself, does God, as a heavenly Dad, always get what He wants?
Does everyone get saved, or do some choose the path to destruction?
Does God want children to be molested?
Does God want human beings to be sex trafficked?
Does God want natural disasters that kill thousands?
Does God want terrorists to blow up cars and buildings with people in them? Does he want armed robberies and school shootings?
Does God want animals to suffer sickness, torture, or abandonment?
Does God want people to fork themselves to death, or die by the needle, bottle, pipe, or pills?
Does God want broken hearts, loneliness, deformities, disabilities, mental illness, cancer, and car wrecks?
Does He want bone-crushing, life-hemorrhaging loss?
God is in control, but is He controlling? Is He exerting His will over mine or yours or anyone else’s?
If God controls everything, then He must “will” these things, right? He is using it to “teach” or to bend a person’s will, to avenge, or punish. I’ve heard it all. But how do we reconcile those notions with the fact that good and perfect gifts are FROM God (which implies they are willed, or wanted, by God) and that He tempts no one with evil? The testimonies that arise from overcoming hard things can be gifts too, but the horrors like those listed above are not gifts. They are a result of sin, sickness, and death coming into the world through transgression. Not gifts!
What about the people who ARE overtaken?
What about the people who don’t cope and kill themselves?
What about the circumstances that DO overwhelm and destroy?
What about the people who don’t make it, in any sense of the word?
Could it be that God, in all His authority, wisdom, and power to “control” has chosen to self-limit? I think so. Put another way, could it be within God’s ability to control that He chooses not to, and simultaneously that He’s brilliant enough to “work it altogether” for the good of his overarching purposes, down to the minutia and in spite of the choices of individuals, groups, and nations? I temper these ideas with the understanding that I am thinking out loud, based on the encounter I had with Scripture yesterday at the gym. These are evolving thoughts, and I am sort of still just in the “wow” mode. It’s like contemplating eternity.
And the manifold wisdom of God.
He gave us the right and capacity to choose. He wants us to love and choose Him, just like I want my boys to love and choose me.
Verse 4: …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…” Wait, what? Pretty sure the sperm and egg that created my physical body did not exist before the creation of planet Earth. Did my spirit and soul exist before the world did? I don’t know. I’m fairly certain my consciousness did not. But I do know that God exists outside of, and apart from, time. It makes sense to me, then, that He already knew who would exist before they existed and what choices each person would make once they existed. In other words, He already knows who is and who isn’t His. He is at the beginning and at the end of all stories, so of course He knows! Haven’t many of us had the experience of coming back into the fold of God’s family, after a season of indifference, rebellion, or outright rejection, and concluded that God had His hand on us the whole time, even though we could not perceive it? For US, those who love God and are called according to His purpose, He has been and will be “working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). “All things” to include ALL--good, bad, joyful, painful, just, unfair, righteous, evil, and everything in between. I think this promise possibly predates and is active disassociated from our loving Him, in the sense of time.
The benefits of the cross—salvation, healing, and deliverance—in my present understanding, were pre-planned, pre-ordained, and pre-destined for us, God’s spiritual children. While His hand is retroactive, we could not and cannot tap into our inheritance without…..CHOICE.
Furthermore, Ephesians 1:13 states, “…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Different translations of this verse word it a bit differently, but I think the KJV gets it right…. the Holy Spirit living inside of us, by virtue of God’s offering and our acceptance, is the “seal” or “proof” of His ownership and is the “earnest” of our inheritance. When I bought a house, I put down “earnest money” --- that is an exceedingly small portion of the total purchase price. This was to indicate my intention and “seal” my promise to move forward with the purchase and pay the whole amount. So, what I recognize this verse is saying is that the “holy Spirit of promise”—and all that He makes available in salvation (another good study)—is but a down-payment, a preview, a miniscule representation of the FULL inheritance that is to come when our redemption is complete at the end of time.
WOW!!!! What does this mean to you and me, and why is it such a potential source of emotional comfort???
Because every blessing named in Deuteronomy 28, the 23rd Psalm, the benefits of the cross, and the many promises asserted throughout the Bible—all of it is included in the combination of the “earnest” (down-payment) and the full inheritance. Whatever you don’t get here you will get there, because every promise of God will be fulfilled when we choose adoption as sons and daughters, heirs with Christ!
2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen.
Isaiah 55:11: So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Matthew 24:35: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…
This has incredible implications for the things we are standing on God’s promises for, which in my case is primarily the salvation, healing, and deliverance of my children and restoration of damaged family relationships. My pastor told me recently that the significance of an intercessor is that it ensures God will avail my loved ones the greatest opportunities possible to accept Christ, and the eternal inheritance that comes with that. Glory to God!!
While I am believing to see the “goodness of God in the land of the living” concerning the healing of my family, I am quite certain that if I go to my grave having not seen it, but open my eyes in heaven and they are there, that anything that happened or didn’t happen down here on Earth will be swallowed up and cease to matter in that moment, or ever again. For example, I was shut out of first apartments and the 21st birthdays of my sons. So many milestones have been missed, so many holiday celebrations and family gatherings have been marred by their absence, and on some occasions I have been uninvited. So much has been stolen from me, from them, from you and from yours.
“What I am doing is better than a thousand 21st birthdays!” is what He told me one day.
So when I say it’s coming, I truly mean I know IT’S COMING!!! The only thing that can get in the way is a choice. And this praying mamma is believing for a Jonah experience, if that is what is necessary to get the job done.
I heard this Sunday school song in my spirit just now as I was typing:
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I have peace today because my eyes are fixed on Jesus, and every day He leaves me manna on the ground.
September 4, 2022
It matters, but it doesn't.
I'm going to talk about being healthy, being fit and trim, taking care of our bodies, eating right. Those who know me know this is an issue that has been a source of trial and victory throughout my entire life. I have been a big proponent of healthy living and "whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. " (1 Cor 10:31) And I still am.
But the Lord has been dealing with me on the subject lately. All of those things--healthy, fit, eating right--those things can become an IDOL. Yes, imagine that! And perhaps not news. But even when we try to be temperate in our focus on it, are we really?
When you don't have time for both, have you ever been faced with the decision, "Should I read my Bible or go to the gym? "
Do you spend more time on being healthy, fit, and eating right than you do on your spiritual life?
Do you spend more time THINKING (aka "obsessing") about it than on kingdom matters?
Have you ever felt worse about an episode of overeating or skipping the gym than about missing a spiritual meal or an opportunity to be a blessing?
I have recently had some struggle in the area of eating and fitness after many years of solid victory, and have found myself intermittently obsessing....and now pondering the questions above.
Being healthy, fit and trim, and eating right matters, but it doesn't.
All I have is this moment.
In counseling couples, I use the concept of the Love Bank developed by Willard Harley, Jr. Every interaction between partners is either a deposit or a withdrawal into the other's love bank. That concept can also be applied to kingdom living. Every choice, every action, is either a deposit or a withdrawal into the kingdom of God. Each and every moment is an opportunity, and I can ask myself what is most beneficial in that moment. If I binged on a boat-load of ice cream last night and feel terrible today, does that even matter when I step into my counseling office? Do any of my clients care if my pants are tight or my arms are flabby? Or are they coming to benefit from my tender compassion, the Word of God, the wisdom, and all the treasures stored up in my heart? When a hurting friend calls me to talk, does the fact that I haven't gone to the gym in two weeks have any bearing? When my husband wants to go for a walk, take a jaunt to Anderson Island, or make love, how does it matter that I experienced a personal disappointment in myself earlier in the day?
It matters if I let it matter.
I am my own worst enemy!
An important tool in the overcoming toolbox is the wisdom and ability to shake off the blunder that just happened and make the next right choice. This tent my spirit and soul live in needs proper care if I am going to stay here on Earth and remain useful. Probably. Some people manage to live to a ripe old age even having sorely abused their bodies. It's definitely a risk, though. But my flesh-and-blood body is not going with me. It's not eternal. PEOPLE are eternal. What I store up in heaven is eternal. This earthly life in a flesh body tends to be fraught with temptations and set-backs, but each moment is still alive with the opportunity for me to choose something with lasting value. When you approach overcoming this way, crappy patterns of behavior lose their muscle. The stronghold loses its ability to impact.
You may have heard me talk about the 12-Step principle of "Act as If." Act as If you are FREE in this moment. Because in this moment you can be.
Then do the next right thing.
August 26, 2022
There is no doubt that I am an over-sharer. I live my life on the transparent side. There is a reason. Over 30 years ago, I requested of the Lord that no painful thing in my life would be for nothing or go wasted. I am here today because certain people, as my husband would put it, would not “shut their hole.” I am here today because in 1935 two men wouldn’t shut up about what and Who helped them to overcome alcoholism, going on to develop the 12 Steps and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am here today because a chaplain in a hospital blew through my resistance and gave me a fresh revelation of Jesus’ love for me. I am here today standing strong because of the many testimonies people aired publicly. I am bold today, because of the dirt others allowed me to see that informed me I am not alone or terminally unique. I am here because of the unapologetic preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
I am sure that there are people who are bothered by me, that have such personal knowledge of my life that they are offended or disbelieving. I decided to not worry so much about that. My kids are not friends with me on FB and probably have blocked me. My sharing personal things is never to shame or embarrass anyone. Maybe some people think my honesty makes me a navel-gazing wallower, or that I am an attention seeker….they can go ahead and think that. Maybe there’s a smidge of truth because I did once want to be a singer in a band! –LOL! But mostly I just want it all to matter and to make a difference. And I want to keep my own sanity! When I share real life, for every twenty people that cringe or roll their eyes, there is one who is inspired or encouraged. I love that!!! I want everyone to know it’s okay to cry in church. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to have days when you’re not okay, and it doesn’t make you weak or faithless, or mean you are a hypocrite. I want to encourage everyone with a hard story--TELL your story so that others may benefit. The picture I have in my head is of being in a boat, and all around me are people drowning, clawing and grasping, choking for air. I am reaching out to any who will take my hand. If you know Jesus and have a story--even if it's a work in progress--you are in the boat and have a life-saving, sanity-saving message!
Some of my best work has been during times when I was personally very sad. It reminds me that it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus in me.
"You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." (2 Cor 3:2-3)
July 23, 2022
When I was a child, my mom took me to church. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 11 years old, and I participated in all the church things, but there was something missing. I couldn't seem to connect with God in a personal way. I didn't understand the Holy Spirit or what prayer was supposed to be or do. God seemed like a satellite in the sky, and me?--a random number on the earth with no real significance. I was too embarrassed to admit I wasn't dialed in, and became increasingly disillusioned over the next several years. At 14 I wandered away in search of something....
Something more impressive, maybe.
As an adult, I heard my own son, who was a church-goer at the time, but in terrible crisis, say, "I cried out to God for years, and He never came."
Since then, I have heard countless clients tell of similar experiences.
You would think of all people, children would connect easily with the Lord, but it doesn't always roll out that way. God doesn't always rescue us when or in the way we would prefer to be rescued.
I want to speak to those of you today who are believers, but still feel deep down like you are on the outside looking in.
I've been there. Lots of people have been there. There are a lot of pretenders, even in the Church.
I want to encourage you, beg you even, to not give up! There is something there worth having, something worth pressing in for. The something that is missing is there. The power is real. The acceptance you crave is available. The new life others talk about is available for you. That peace, joy, and wisdom you've witnessed in some believers is not an act. Transformation from the parts of yourself you despise is more than possible. Broken pieces, shattered hearts--there is healing for that.
Jesus is a real person, and He actually does want you. Desperately, longingly.
But you gotta go for it. Jump in, all the way in. State your intentions to God and ask Him to meet you where you're at. Admit you're struggling, humble yourself. He will come! Just don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!!
Someone needed to hear this today.
May 6, 2022
One of the scariest things is when a person replaces the Bible with their own understanding and reasoning. If I was the devil, I would do two things: lead people to subjugate the authority of the Bible to their own thoughts and feelings and I would target people in the Church to be enticed into sin, causing others to cry, “hypocrite!” and turn away from the truth and toward their own folly.
Without Biblical authority, there is no definitive right and wrong; there is relativism, chaos and confusion, self-will run riot. Without God’s all-wise and loving boundaries, temporal suffering and eternal death abounds. Paradoxically, there is joy, peace, freedom, and eternal life when we voluntarily enslave ourselves to Christ—that is to simply love and obey.
Wherever there are people, there is imperfection--sometimes gross imperfection. God alone is perfect. His Word is eternal. His prescription is effective. His roadmap is trustworthy.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
April 10, 2022
Front Porch Friends Conference--Cleveland, TN
From my notes, first night, Karen Wheaton
"What the enemy meant to break me has failed!" (from worship)
I don't know about you, but of all the devastating things I have experienced, having a child in peril, having a child turn away and against me, having a child rewrite history and malign my love and character has no equal, no parallel.
BUT HERE I AM, STILL STANDING!!!! Here you are , still standing! The enemy has drug us through fire and water, but we are neither burned nor drowned! HALLELUJAH!
In fact, the opposite is true. Karen called it her "sweet revenge." Not only is it not taking me down, but the enemy is going to wish he'd never messed with me because I'm going to go BIG!!!
Now most of what I just wrote wasn't actually said, this is just one thing that exploded in me during worship.
Miss Karen said, "Only weapons are mighty through God."
These weapons are:
Foolish people (the foolish things of the world) are God's "special forces" to confound the wise. I am chief among those.
For my own self, it started to crystalize in a much bigger way than ever before that all the craziness that has followed me through life....the enemy has been trying to take me out, to abort the call and the mission.....because I am a "transitional person," and perhaps you are too. More on that later, but suffice it to say that many testimonies are hinged on your testimony, on your willingness to persevere and fight. And the devil knows it. He wants to destroy you. He wants you to quit or at least shrink back.
We need to know our enemy's weapons:
Ignorance--not knowing the Word, not knowing who we are in Christ. We should continually seek revelation and wisdom. Fear -- fear is a tormenting spirit and a thief. Worry is a fear that you are meditating on.
"IF YOU WANT YOUR WORST FEAR TO COME TO PASS, MEDITATE ON IT!" (Yes, I am shouting)
Worry is SIN. It doubts and questions God's character and whether or not He will keep His Word.
How do you not worry? Miss Karen says, "Pray about everything!" He that dwells in the secret place--not occasionally, but lives there--surely He will deliver! (Ps 91, Mat 5:6) Furthermore, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Get to know His love. That has been what I have been earnestly seeking for the past couple of years....to know Him like a Daddy.
I would add that you also stop worrying when you meditate on Him, His promises, His love, His faithfulness, His ability.... Fill your mind with HIM!
It is completely our responsibility to keep ourselves stirred up in faith. No one is going to do it for us. It wasn't cheap to go to this conference, but it has CHANGED MY LIFE! Because I am changed, it is going to change the outcome for my children and many others; it is going to change ETERNITY! Think about that!! It was worth a thousand vacations, cars, entertainment, or anything else I could think of to buy or think of as a necessity. I am not saying that you have to spend a bunch of money to have faith, but I am suggesting that you aggressively seek opportunities to stir yourself up so that you can stand against the mental assaults of the devil. One idea is to start an envelope and stash money away, so that when a conference like the one I just attended is announced, you can go without a financial hindrance or crisis. For me, this was a Divine Appointment and God met me there. Start planning your life around what it takes to stay HOT and full of faith and vision for the mighty works of God to explode into your story, and your children's story, and their children's story and other people's children's stories, and whatever else God has called you to.
As Miss Karen rightly stated, "It's going to cost you. It's going to cost you everything."
And it's worth it! They are worth it!
February 02, 2022
"When He (God) becomes your chief joy, all other aspects of life find their proper place." (from the First15 devotional)
I have been thinking about this and what it means for me and for you. What are the "aspects of life that we may desperately want to be in proper place?
I want to lose weight.
I want to go to the gym consistently.
I want to be more organized.
I want to read the Bible more regularly.
I want to cultivate a more fulfilling marriage.
I want to get a handle on my finances.
I want to manage the household better.
I want to finish the project(s) I started.
I want to move up in my line of work.
I want to overcome an addiction or bad habit for good.
I want a better relationship with someone I care about.
I want to worry less and have more peace.
I want to practice better self-care.
I want to find my purpose in life.
I want to __________________________________
Consider that the satisfaction of these things may result as more of a bi-product of prioritizing your life around knowing the Creator and basking in His love and fellowship, rather than being centralized goals in and of themselves. Maybe the gumption and wherewithal to do the things you know to do, and to balance them in a healthy way, results from the mysterious transfer of clarity and strength that comes from walking with God intimately.
When you think about it, what are you trying to muscle your way through in your own power and understanding ? What are you constantly on your own back about?
You may fear that if you let up for one moment, if you shift your focus off of "the thing," that it will only get worse.
What if you tried a different way for, say, six months. An experiment. What if for the whole month of February, you concentrated the most on getting to know your King and Friend better, and opening yourself up to Him like you never have before.
This is my challenge to myself this month. Lay down the whip of condemnation and seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!
October 16, 2021
WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN HE ATTACKED?
This morning I listened to the First15 podcast from a few days ago, about seeking God in solitude. This song was the featured worship. I wrestled with it at first, thinking "NO! This is not my experience! This is HARD, not effortless." But then as I let the words wash over me, and meditated on them, I reflected on some realities. "When You're this close" is not about God being close or not close, for the Bible is clear on that subject. Rather, it's my perception of His nearness, which has everything to do with what I am or am not doing to spend time with Him.
I am just coming out on the other side of a pretty significant battle. One of the questions I have learned to ask myself when I finally realize that I have been attacked by the adversary is, "What were you doing when he attacked?" That will usually provide the answer to what he is trying to distract me from and get me to stop doing. What I was doing this time is I was hot and heavy in intercessory prayer. I had a designated prayer closet (Tyler's old room) and it was a place of incredible power and peace. I was walking around the lakes near my home, interceding. I was worshipping. I was listening to Karen Wheaton on Wednesdays and the World Prayer Network calls on Sundays. I was on FIRE!!!! The first hit was I lost my prayer closet because my step-son moved into it. Then a cascade of other things started crowding out and/or distracting me from my spiritual life and practices. The "want to" started to wane and guilt and condemnation crept in, until I was I pretty depressed and mad at myself.
But God is faithful, isn't He? In various ways, He has reminded me that this load I am carrying and the peace I'm craving....it IS effortless when I carve out the time daily to seek Him in solitude. There have been so, so many times when I entered my prayer closet with grief so big I thought I might die, or frustration so overwhelming I couldn't imagine being able to move forward, but then after just a little time in His presence I came out refreshed, empowered, and able to get through the next 24 hours triumphantly.
I am thankful for the support network I am a part of, where I am able to have a sounding board, share in a common journey, and hear from God through others. It is in part because of this important facet of being part of the Body of Christ that I am able to stay in the saddle on this very, very messy journey.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)View More
June 15, 2021
FOR PARENTS of PRODIGAL CHILDREN
You know how you read a passage 100 times and then one day you see it with fresh eyes? OMG, this is what jumped out at me today: We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (1 Cor 8-10) As I have shared in tears with many moms and dads over this plight that has overtaken our children, we often describe it as a death. The death of the child we knew, and an anguish within ourselves that is like a death. Yet here in this passage, Paul speaks of God's deliverance from "death," real or figurative--past, present, and future!!! Furthermore, as we spoke of in last night's share and prayer call, the gift of deliverance, of life, is procured through intercession, in particular CORPORATE intercession. That we come together and intercede for one another and our children is the vehicle through which God operates to His glory in answering our prayers.
March 11, 2021
IT SHOULD TASTE AMAZING Back in the late 80's and early 90's when I was in the process of overcoming an eating disorder, I made a couple of commitments to myself: first, that I am important enough to take the time and effort to prepare delicious meals for myself, even if it's only for me. Second, everything I eat has to meet two criteria: it must be good for me and it must taste amazing! I've been keeping that promise to myself for about thirty years. Those two commitments were transformational. I morphed from fearing food and viewing it as the enemy, to celebrating the gift of eating. I know many of my readers have struggled, and perhaps continue to struggle, with food/eating/body issues, so I just wanted to share this snippet of my testimony to give you hope and maybe some inspiration. I could write a big long article to expound on that, but it's already done for you on my website at https://livrite.com/eating-disorders/ Today, I am going to share some of the quick and easy things I've been eating and enjoying this past week, just as an example. BULLET-PROOF COFFEE: My version, without the added fat. I love my coffee in the morning, and it is an integral part of having "Coffee with Jesus" to start my day. I make it by placing two super tiny pieces of good dark chocolate in the bottom of my favorite 16-oz. coffee mug, adding a fingernail of cayenne pepper, a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia (current favorite brand "plnt") or a pinch of monk fruit, 3 cups organic coffee, Kauai Coffee Coconut Caramel Crunch, or Coconut Coffee, and a splash of plant-based milk, such as unsweetened coconut or vanilla almond milk. Benefits of cayenne: reduce hunger, lower blood pressure, aid digestion, relieve pain, reduce cancer risk, anti-inflammatory, boosts metabolism, and more! BREAKFAST BURRITO: Can be gleefully consumed any meal of the day. I like to grill my filling ingredients on the BBQ, but you can do it stove-top or in a wok (add additional chicken broth, if needed), too. I chop up my favorite veggies: sweet onion, bell peppers, various other peppers including half a habanero (I like everything hot), zucchini, lots of mushrooms, and garlic. I make enough to fill a medium mixing bowl so I can eat this every day for several days and/or share. I tend to have cooked chicken on hand, so I chop up some of that, or shrimp, along with some tomato and cilantro. I then take a medium mixing bowl and add about 2 tsp. of oil and about a T. of chicken broth. To that I add liberal amounts of various seasonings to taste, such as Kroeger Nashville Hot Chicken Style Seasoning, Weber Kickin' Chicken, Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb, Weber Garlic Habanero, Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak, Grill Mates Sweet & Smokey, Trader Joes Chile Lime, and Olivelle Habanero Heat. Yes, I use them all! I toss the veggies in the bowl, with meat if it's raw, and put on the BBQ, stirring occasionally. (I have a great long-handled grilling pan for that). While the stir-fry is cooking, I scramble one whole egg with two or three egg whites and set aside. When the veggies are close to being done, I add the garlic, tomato, and cilantro, along with pre-cooked chicken or shrimp if that's what I am using and heat 2-3 more minutes. When this is finished, I put the stir-fry in a bowl, add the scrambled eggs, and toss well. Next, I take a large whole wheat tortilla (I like the Ole' brand), or wheat/corn blend, and sprinkle it with just a tad of three-cheese blend (grated Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano) and nuke for 25 seconds. Then I place a slice of avocado, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, and a good splash of steak sauce on the tortilla, mash it around with a fork, top with burrito filling, wrap and ENJOY! NOTE: With or without the egg, this stir-fried filling by itself makes an excellent meal. SALMON OR POLLOCK BURGER: I like the Trident brand sold in the frozen section at Costco. Super quick and easy to make. While your frozen fish patty is cooking, sauté some sweet Walla Walla or Vedalia onion in water or chicken broth. Toast a whole-grain thin bun (I like Fred Meyer's brand of 100% whole wheat sandwich thins, usually the cheapest around; it saves about half the calories of a regular bun). I top my burger with the onions, pickled jalapenos, sliced tomato, lettuce and a good dose of Southwestern/Sweet & Hot Sauce sold at most grocery stores under the store brand. ASIAN MEAL SALAD: I use baked or grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, or shrimp for this dish. On a small dinner plate or in a large soup bowl, I tear up red leaf and romaine lettuce and sometimes add spinach. I top with my choice of meat, chopped green onion, purple cabbage, red, yellow, and/or orange bell pepper, pickled jalapeno, and grated carrot. Then I add cilantro, toasted sliced or slivered almonds, and avocado chunks. I make my own dressing (1/2 c. brown rice vinegar, ¼ c. + 2 T. canola oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. sea salt, and ½-1 tsp. rapadura , coconut sugar, or granulated stevia or monk fruit, shaken and chilled). I top with a few croutons, a tiny sprinkle of three-cheese blend (grated Parmesan, Asiago, & Romano) and sometimes a sprinkle of toasted sesame seed. This is especially yummy when the meat is warmed before adding to the salad. Sometimes I add some dried cranberries for fun, but it's hard to find them without added sugar and oil. I might try dehydrating my own in the air-fryer. STUFFED POTATO:I make mine with chopped cooked chicken or shrimp sauteed in chicken broth with minced or mashed garlic. With the meat cooked and set aside, I first cut up some broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms and steam it. While veggies are steaming, if I haven't baked a potato, I nuke a small-to-medium red or Yukon Gold potato. I cut open the potato and mash it flattish, top with the steamed veggies, and meat, pour salsa all over it, and top with a tiny sprinkle of grated pepper-jack cheese for flavor. Then I microwave until heated through and the cheese is melting. I top with a dollop of fat-free sour cream and I go to heaven and am quite full and satisfied. FIT FARE VEGGIE SKILLET: When I think of restaurants I have historically not been very fond of, Denny's is definitely on that list. But a while back I discovered this amazing, tasty Veggie Skillet on the menu, and I have been going to Denny's on purpose and re-creating the meal at home ever since! The Veggie Skillet consists of chunked red-skinned potatoes with the skin on, broccoli, peppers, and onions, topped with spinach and scrambled egg white, and served with salsa (I also add ketchup) on a sizzling skillet. It is the bomb! I eat half and save half for the next day. MOON MILK: I discovered this recipe and modified it to my liking when searching for stress reduction and sleep remedies. Sipping Moon Milk at night is now a much looked-forward-to part of my sleep hygiene. I heat one cup of unsweetened coconut or vanilla almond milk. To it I stir in 1 tsp. Ashwagandha root powder (I bought a 1-lb. bag of Organic Spice Resource brand through Amazon—inexpensive and may be a 20-year supply), ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ginger, pinch of nutmeg, several drops of vanilla stevia, and a super tiny smidgeon, maybe 1/16th of tsp. of coconut oil for mouth feel. Blending with a small hand blender would be ideal, but mix very well by hand at the very least. Smooth, creamy, and comforting. I have read it takes 4-6 weeks to experience the therapeutic benefits, and I am still in that time frame. Benefits of Ashwagandha: boost brain function, lower blood sugar and cortisol, increase energy, increase concentration, reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, improve sleep and help with insomnia ; benefits of cinnamon: loaded with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, reduce risk of heart disease, improve sensitivity to insulin, reduce blood sugar, and protect against cancer; benefits of ginger: help with weight-loss, lower blood sugar, anti-bacterial/viral, lower cholesterol, aid indigestion, help prevent cancer, and protect against Alzheimer's; benefits of nutmeg: pain relief, soothe indigestion, improve cognitive function, aid skin health, detoxification, reduce insomnia, alleviate oral conditions, enhance immune system, prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation. Committing to a life of healthy eating does not have to be a jail sentence or an endeavor in deprivation. Most of your favorite foods can be "healthified" and made to taste AMAZING! Cooking often from scratch, emphasizing "God Foods" (foods that grow on trees, bushes, stalks, or come out of the ground), and portion control has simplified my eating style and obliterated any need for a "diet" to follow. No need to count or weigh anything. With years of practice, I pretty much know what and how much to eat to maintain, and there just isn't a lot of stress around it. I eat to live and enjoy it as well. You can, too!
January 20, 2021
This morning, the Lord led me to Psalm 37. This is a well-worn chapter of scripture that I have often read, meditated on, and decreed over events in my life. But today God invited me to review it with fresh eyes as I lifted up prayers for our nation.
This Psalm is PACKED with good advice and reassurance for the perilous times we have been in and are facing.
We are to:
Trust in the Lord
Dwell in the land
Feed on His faithfulness
Delight in the Lord
Commit our way to Him
Rest in the Lord
Refuse to fret
Cease from anger
Depart from evil
Wait on the Lord
That's it. That's what we're supposed to be doing while God unfolds His plan for this nation and the world in the time we have left. I don't believe this is a call to passivity, for "doing good" and "committing your way" can and should include putting hands and feet to your persuasion. Christians ought to be engaged.
A few quotes to bring comfort and peace:
For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who WAIT on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.
The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall NOT BE ASHAMED in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish; and the enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish, into smoke they shall vanish away.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves JUSTICE, and does not foresake His saints.
The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a native green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more. Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.
But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, BECAUSE THEY TRUST IN HIM.
We are told to trust and to wait, because everything is in God's timing. Don't be moved by what you see and hear, but keep your eyes fixed on God. There is certainly more going on behind the scenes than we can even know. The enemy works by sleight of hand and hopes to deceive even believers that we would become discouraged and cast away our confidence. Don't be charmed!!
Remember, trust is worship and rest is warfare!
And no matter what does or doesn't happen, we know God wins and His children with Him.
March 27, 2020
How Long Do You Want To Chew That Corn?
When my younger sister and I were little girls, there was a policy laid down by our parents that we had to eat at least one bite of the vegetable that was served at dinner time. Now there were a few vegetables that we could get down without too much trouble, but some were more problematic. My sister despised corn in particular, and it happened that she often would still be at the table, a half hour after everyone else had finished their meal, still chewing that bite of corn.
I often wondered over the years, why would my sister chew that bite of corn for so long? Why would she choose to keep on tasting that yucky taste, when she could just swallow it and get it over with so much more quickly? Perhaps she was more afraid of gagging than suﬀering the taste a little longer...
I was listening to a particular Karen Wheaton video this morning for about the fourth time, and this time the Lord brought to my mind my sister chewing the corn. In the video, Karen talks about trials, that some trials are a testing of our faith, and that they each have a date on them. However, our response to the trial, may impact how soon that date is. I got to thinking about the trial I am currently still in and the trials that some of you are facing.
I am the mother of three prodigal children, complete with estrangement from two of them--that's my current ongoing trial. Exceedingly painful! Maybe you are going through something similar, or wrestling with the eﬀects of a painful childhood, a troubled marriage, financial stress, mental health issues, sickness in your body, the death of a loved one, a shattered dream, a betrayal, or something else. How are you responding to your trial?
Some people respond to a trial by running or numbing....coping with alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships,
pornography, gambling, gaming, shopping, sleeping, etc. to momentarily distract and mask unpleasant feelings.
Other people respond to a trial by conceding (at first resisting, but then embracing) because the pressure to accept the trial as fate or even God's will is deemed too intense and the journey of faith too diﬃcult to traverse.
Still others respond to a trial by freezing, unable or unwilling to make a definitive choice about what to think, believe, or do, which amounts to doing nothing and is a choice in and of itself. They perpetually waﬄe between fighting the good fight of faith and caving, and continually gasp for air in the sea of doubt. This is perhaps the
most turmoiled, beat up group of all.
And all of them, in an attempt to spare themselves from gagging, are electing to keep chewing the corn. The date on the trial is being pushed further away.
There is a a better way. There is a way to swallow the corn and usher in the power of God to deliver what has been promised to you.
When Karen Wheaton was facing the trial of her life, God told her this: "Trust is worship and rest is warfare."
When we trust God in the trial and believe that He is faithful to His Word, that is the highest compliment, the highest form of worship we can oﬀer Him. As Karen points out, our prayers made in faith are the "conduit" through which God brings the answers and manifests His promises.
That kind of faith brings a peace, or a rest to our souls, because we know that we know that we know that He has heard us, He is working (even if we can't see or feel it), and He will keep His Word. Then, even while the storm is still raging, we can live our lives joyfully and productively in the waiting. Brothers and sisters, that is when the battle becomes His and not yours!
Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. (2 Chron. 20:15)
Is this an easy walk? No! We need to spend time with God and we need the love and support of each other. God has communicated with me as I've studied His Word and sent many messengers through the body of Christ (sermons, prophecies, conversations with individuals, things in books and articles, videos, and seemingly random other avenues) to strengthen and encourage me as I continue to stand on the promises of God for the miracle I am believing for.
God cannot speak to you to guide and encourage you if you are not seeking Him, listening for Him, and putting yourself in a position to receive. You position yourself to receive by participating in the spiritiual disciplines of studying His Word, worship, prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers through a local church and other ministries.
If you've been chewing corn, make this day the turning point. Commit yourself to earnestly contend for the faith, (Jude 1:3) and run your race with endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive what has been promised you (Heb. 10:36 & 12:1).
When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be. --Josh Grobin