30 Days of Gratitude Day 25 – Loving God’s Mercy

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Today I’m grateful for the glory of God’s mercy.  You see I also struggle with my weight.  I’m going to Weight Watchers and have days when I do program better than other days, but I must confess I still do not like the way I look over 44 pounds lighter than when I began.  That’s because I have about 100 more to shed.  I’m fully aware that this is vanity on my part but I grieve the face and body I once looked at that was so much thinner than this present form before me.

My boyfriend says I’m beautiful and that it grieves him that I feel ugly, mostly because he sees the hurt that causes me.  In that he reminds me of my heavenly Father and this quote I got from a devotional:

But no matter how far off the path or how long we are on it, God is patient with us and loves us as a dearly beloved chid – part of His family (Romans 8:16-17; Galatians 4:7).

This reminds me of a touching story shared by my friend Karen Ehman, who lost over one hundred pounds in the first stage of her journey toward health.  Her friend, Tammy, saw a “before” picture and was encouraging Karen enthusiastically when Karen’s young son, Spencer, walked in.  Tammy said, “Wow, Spencer, can you believe that was your mom?  She’s lost so much weight.  Doesn’t she look great?”  In  confusion, he looked back and forth between the photo and Karen and said, “Hmmm, they both look like Mama to me!”.

Out of the mouth of babes.

We are loved as God’s special girls!  No matter where you are in your struggle with healthy eating.  God looks at you and says, “She still looks like my precious  daughter to me!”  He loves you just the way you are.  But God loves you too much to leave stuck in defeat.  You were made for so much more.  You were made for victory.

This comes from, “Made to Crave Devotional: 60 Days to Craving God, Not Food” by Lysa Terkeurst.

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It’s so good to be reminded that God’s mercy extend into any area of our life that we may be struggling with.  Struggle with food?  God loves you and in His love He’s unwilling to leave you stuck where you are.  Alcohol?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Workaholic?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Shopaholic?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Gambler?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Sexaholic?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Have I made my point yet?  It doesn’t matter what you are struggling with even if it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, or diabetes whatever your struggle God loves you and wants you to live at your full potential.  Now the last two there is only so much that can be done and then it’s learning to live with it.  But both can be helped with healthy eating and exercise.

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God in His mercy doesn’t allow us to be stuck where we are in bondage to anything.  He wants us to live victoriously.  He promises an abundant life and that starts by allowing God to work in our lives and help us out of the muck and mire of our struggles.

Won’t you join me in surrendering our struggles to God and His almighty power.  With Him all things are possible including standing clean on firm ground.  Wouldn’t you prefer that to the muck and mire of the pit that your struggles currently have you in?  I know I would and that is why I cry out; “Abba!  Father!  Rush to my aide and pull me from the pit and set my feet on firm ground and cleanse me from my sins.”

Let me clarify something before I get angry comments in no way am I inferring that bi-polar disorder or any other chemical imbalance of the brain or diabetes are sins.  But if you know that eating healthy and exercise (and I’m talking to myself as well here because I’ve been blessed with both) will help symptoms and we don’t do it, aren’t we sinning?  Missing the mark?  Missing the best for our bodies?  Just something to think about.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Truth Will Set You Free

It is no fun living in bondage.  As a believer that has lived under bondage for far too long let me encourage you to take your fears to the cross and ask Christ for wisdom in what the truth is that has you bound.

With the help of my counselor I did that today and learned a lie that I had been believing for far too long.  The enemy knew my past, something I had hidden much of from myself as a means to cope, and was using it to keep me in bondage.

Today for the first time in decades of therapy  I was strong enough to look at some very difficult things.  It’s not that I hadn’t had inklings that these things had happened but with no memory I doubted myself.  The Lord very graciously brought these things back to memory for me today and with that truth came freedom.

I finally became aware of the lie I had been believing the majority of my life, “If I was pretty, men would hurt me.”  I have been the victim of multiple rapes starting at the age of 10.  But until today, I only had suspicions of them and no actual memories.  God is His goodness knew two things today.  One that I was now strong enough to handle the truth and two that I needed to know the truth for real healing to happen.  I feel finally as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  The self-doubt, questions, confusion is all gone now that I know the truth.

No I would prefer that this had not happened to me but knowing it, explains so many things in my life.  Why as soon as I start getting thin and getting compliments on how pretty I look I turn to food in an attempt to alter my appearance.  Since I believed the lie, “If I’m pretty, men would hurt me.”  I did what I could to make myself unattractive.  Yet another part of me wanted to feel and look pretty because I equated it with love.  Definitely not the right kind of love.

When I had blossomed to 350 pounds I hated myself and the very sight of me.  I avoided mirrors and the scale.  I didn’t want to know the truth of how bad it had gotten.  The things that I wanted to do to myself are too horrible to mention.  Suffice it to say I was miserable. Now 98 pounds lighter I’m learning to love myself.  I’m still not satisfied with my weight but I am hopeful with todays revelation I will stop sabotaging myself on my journey to a healthy weight.

Isn’t this picture true we are the elephant with God’s help big enough to escape the bounds of these chains and these chains are the enemy and all his lies tricking us into thinking that we are stuck in our bondage.

This is the biggest revelation God has given me about how the truth truly does set you free.  I’ve been in bondage to food and I feel it grip released on me.  I praise God for that.  I know that it is nothing of my own it is totally from Him and the gift of showing me the truth of my life.

My part was to be willing and open to His guidance.  Isn’t that all He asks of us on a daily basis?  After this revelation my fear has gone and I’m more willing to trust Him and His will for my life, wherever that takes me.

My hope for you is that you didn’t have to go through the same things I have.  But I also hope that you will learn to be open to God’s guidance and free from fear.  I also pray that you learn the blessed truth of how the truth really does set you free.  So don’t be fooled like the elephant be the triumphant child of God that you are!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 9

Lynn had a fitful night’s sleep. Drank a cup of coffee and headed out for school. Things didn’t get much better there. Curtis was waiting for her at the parking lot. “What’s all this talk about me raping you?” he shouted. “I never raped you, you tease! You know you wanted it just like I did! You lying slut!” Ken had driven in as Lynn did and was privy to most of Curtis’ tirade. He was coming to Lynn’s aid as quickly as his legs would carry him but he didn’t reach her and Curtis until Curtis had called his precious Lynn a slut, this got Ken’s blood boiling, “Look you lousy scum of the earth don’t you dare call her that! You’ve already done quite enough to my woman I won’t stand for you continuing to persecute her any longer! So get into your car and get the hell out of here before I have to get physical with you!” Lynn adored this manly protection never before had anyone stood up for her in such a manner. Oh, how she loved this man. Lynn swooned. Ken caught her before she hit the pavement. As she awoke, Ken asked, “With the stress of all this are you getting enough food? I know you usually eat like a bird but sometimes I wonder if you aren’t too petite?” Lynn replied annoyed, “Oh, you and Diane are such worry warts! I wish you both would just lay off!” Ken could see that this was not the time to discuss this; Lynn was in no way ready.

Dealing with the fall out proved to be very challenging but the support of Ken and Diane, and her family, Lynn made it through. The hardest part was dealing with Curtis. He insisted on a public retraction of the rape charge but she found the courage to tell him that she would not deny the truth and if he didn’t stop harassing her she would press charges; for both the rape and harassment. As she found her voice her eating got better. She also realized what Diane meant that first day by this was an opportunity for healing. It took two years of therapy before she could really grieve all her losses. With the help of not only her therapist but Ken, Diane, and her family, she found healing and came to a point of forgiveness. Lynn realized that She and Lora had their own demons and each needed to forgive the other. She prayed daily for an opportunity to reconnect with Lora. She longed to let Lora know she had forgiven her and to seek that forgiveness from Lora.

While Lynn was healing and growing, Diane continued to remain friends with Lora in hopes that she might be able to one day bring “Sisters Three” together again, especially since she knew this was Lynn’s desire. As much as Diane was attempting to stay close to Lora, she was pulling away. Finally four years after the incident Diane saw something more than just pulling away when she looked in Lora’s eyes, while having Saturday lunch with her. She silently offered a quick prayer to God for wisdom on how to precede, “Lora, I see something when I look in your eyes. I’ve sensed you pulling away from not just from me but it appears everyone now. I see pain and loneliness. Can you tell me what is going on inside of you?” Lora replied, “I’m not positive what is going on I know that the girls at work avoid me and don’t include me for lunch. I used to be popular but over the last three or four years I’ve become more and more isolated.” Diane ventured, “Do you think that the timing of the change could have anything to do with you letting Lynn’s secret out and not forgiving her?” “That was between me and Lora I don’t see what that has to do with the girls at work! Just what are you getting at Diane?” snarled Lora. Oh Lord, please help me with the right words, prayed Diane, “Let’s look at this objectively. You say this started three or four years ago that would put it around the time of you revealing Lynn’s secret. Such an intimate confidence being divulged may have the girls at work worried that if they share anything with you, what will happen if you get mad at them? That is easy enough to understand, isn’t it? Now, as for the pulling away, have you noticed that your language has gotten more and more cutting over the years? This could be a reason why the girls don’t invite you to lunch with them. I love you and I’m here for you in good times and bad but these girls aren’t as invested in you. Even I have been a victim of your increasing harshness but I love you and know how you are hurting.” Lora had a shocked look on her face. Diane took a deep breath and continued, “But my friend you are letting your hurt turn to bitterness and that is an ugly thing that no one wants to be around. It is time to let go of the anger and bitterness. You have let this brew in you long enough and now you are seeing the repercussions of jealousy. It’s time for a new beginning its time to forgive.” The years of hardness of heart was cracking, Lora answered, “I don’t know if I know how. I’ve been living so long with it.”

Still praying, Diane replied, “There is One who has forgiven you for everything you have ever done and He will teach you how to forgive. Would you like to meet Him and start a relationship with Him.” Something in Lora’s heart leapt as she said, “You’re talking about Jesus right?” Diane beamed, “Yes, He is the author of forgiveness. If you want to learn how to forgive He is the one to go to.” Lora questioned, “What do I need to do?” Diane was elated, “All you need to do is ask Him to forgive you for your sins and come into your life and believe. It is that simple.” Lora bowed her head and said, “Jesus forgive me for my sins especially for what I did to Lynn, come into my heart and help to make things right with Lynn. Thank you Jesus.” Almost instantly Lora felt a difference in her heart, the coldness and hardness seemed to be melting away. Looking at Diane for approval Lora asked, “Was that alright?” Diane smiling with a tear in her eye, “Lora that was beautiful and perfect, it came straight from your heart and that is exactly what God wants. You know now “Sisters Three” are sisters in two ways emotionally and spiritually. Lynn became a Christian before she and Ken got married 2 ½ years ago. Ken shared Christ with her and 4 months into their dating she accepted Christ.

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 8

Diane worked 11pm to 3pm that day and thanks to Flossy, news had reached the hospital. Diane went to Lynn’s school straight from work to see how she was holding up. Lynn was busy talking to the teacher’s aide with her back to the door. Once the aide left the room Diane grabbed a nearby chair. When Lynn saw Diane she fell in her arms and wept. Diane stroked her hair and kept repeating “We’ll get through this Lynn, we will get through this.”

Eventually Lynn’s crying subsided and she asked, “Does everyone know what happened?” “I don’t know about everyone but I do know that it has reached the hospital. Lynn not that it changes our friendship and how much I care for you but just so I know how to support you were you raped and did you go through an abortion?” “Yes it is all true.” moaned Lynn. “My boyfriend at the time was drunk and forced himself on me.” A quizzical Diane asked, “Why would Lora betray your confidence like that?” “I’ve been seeing Kenneth Randolph; he turned out to be the new counselor at school. He started the Monday after we meet him at the bar; we’ve been having lunch every day since then. I finally told Lora about it and asked her forgiveness for not asking her permission to see him but she blew up and decided I had destroyed our friendship.” Diane consoled, “I’m so sorry that Lora has decided to do this act of revenge to you.”

Concerned but not wanting to hurt Lynn, Diane ventured, “I’ve known that something has been gnawing at you since college but I never knew how to talk to you about it. I also noticed that you’ve always been on the thin side and life gets stressful you get almost scary thin. I realize now I should have spoken to you in college about the weight thing. I also noticed that at times you would spend a lot of time in your room almost like you were hiding from the rest of the world. Where you hiding?” Lynn answered, “The hiding thing yeh maybe. The thing gnawing at me you now know even Ken mentioned it, is it that obvious?” “I don’t think it’s obvious, only those closest to you would see that deep into your soul.” Diane said.

Lora facing away from the door didn’t see Ken pop in to check on her. Diane gave a quick knowing look assuring him she had things under control. He slipped out and left the two friends alone. Lynn said rather insulted and annoyed, “As for the eating thing I think you are way off base Diane. Just because I eat healthy and don’t have a big appetite like other people and have small bones people think that I’m too thin. I’ve never been too thin in my life! If anything I have had trouble keeping my weight down.” “I’m sorry Lynn; I didn’t mean to hit a nerve with you.” Diane caring for Lynn ventured at the risk of their friendship, “Have you ever dealt with all of this or have you hidden it away hoping it would go way?” “I’ve done my best to put it behind me hoping never to have to think or hear about it again.” replied Lynn. “It might be hard to understand this right now since this has come to light it could be an opportunity for healing.” suggested Diane. Lynn looked at her in shock and horror. “I don’t want to look at this!” Diane continued, “Lynn have you allowed yourself to grieve over the loss of choice? Curtis robbed you of that choice the moment he forced himself on you?” Lynn moaned, “No, I never allowed myself to completely face it. I cried that night and the next day and that was the last of it.” Once again Diane tested their friendship, “That is not all he robbed you of have you grieved the loss of your virginity?” “No.” groaned Lynn.

Diane risked Lynn’s repercussion once more, “Have you ever grieved the loss of your child?” Lynn hadn’t thought of it but the question put it together for her, she replied, “It never occurred to me but I did feel dead and empty inside after the abortion. I couldn’t talk to Lora about it she thought of it as something to just get over with and so did I until it was over. I never imagined that I would feel even worse after the abortion than I did before it. I wish I had carried it and given it up for adoption.” Diane sympathized, “Lynn I’m so sorry, what you went through was hard enough, the fact that you had to do it alone is even worse. I know that I can’t do anything to change your pain but I want you to know that whenever you want to talk about any of this I am here for you.” Lynn felt relieved she had a friend to talk to when she was ready. She responded “Thanks Diane, I’ll take you up on that but right now I’m more concerned about how these revelations are going to impact my life now. Such as what will Curtis do now that this is out?” Diane replied, “We will deal with each fall out of these revelations as they occur.”

Noticing Lynn’s drawn face and tired eyes Diane said, “You look spent. Would you like to get some dinner so you don’t have to cook or I could bring some take out over?” Wanting to be alone Lynn answered, “Thanks, but I think I just want to take a nice long hot bath and go to bed early maybe I’ll have some yogurt and carrots for dinner.” “Try to eat a little more than just that for dinner you will feel better.” ventured Diane. Lynn quipped, “Thanks Diane but I’m a big girl, and I know how to fix my own dinner.”

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 7

A few days later Lynn got a call from her mom. “Lynn, your dad and I got a letter from Lora, sweetheart she writes that you told her that Curtis raped you and that you got pregnant and she took you to get an abortion. Honey your dad and I are not judging you but we want to know if what she wrote us is true?” Lynn was stunned; she didn’t know what to do. “Lynn are you there?” asked her mom. “Yes mom, um the answer to your question is yes. That is why I broke up with Curtis on New Years. That’s the night it happened.” replied Lynn, her stomach was all in knots. “Mom, who else knows?” “I’m not sure honey but all I do know is she sent letters to dad and I and the boys but I don’t know who else Lora wrote letters to. Lynn, I’m so sorry you didn’t feel comfortable or safe enough coming to us with this. I can only imagine how painful, scary and frightening this must have been for you.” There was the sound of tears in her mom’s voice. Changing thoughts, she asked, “What happened that she would turn on you?” “Oh mom, she’s getting back at me, I’ve fallen in love with a man,” cried Lynn “that she spent the night flirting with and I didn’t get permission to date him from her first. She is furious with me and I can see that by what she’s done she was serious about me ruining our friendship over a man. I don’t want to lose her but I think that Ken could be the one. Mom I’m so torn on what to do.” Trying to sooth Lynn her mom responded, “You and Lora have been through a lot together and hopefully this will get straightened out, but if you really believe that this man is the man for you, I would say to follow your heart.” her mom continued. “Lynn, I also want you to know that your dad and I love you and we support you, especially if the rape and abortion gets broadcast even more. Whatever fallout Lora is working on we are here for you.” “Thanks mom and let dad know how much I appreciate his support. I have a feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better. Excuse me mom but I really must get a hold of Ken before someone else does.” said Lynn.

She tried calling Ken at home but she got his machine. Then she tried his cell phone but he wasn’t picking up. She was apprehensive as she drove to school, parked and walked to his office. She knocked tentatively on his door and he welcomed the knocker in. Ken looked up from a pile of folders on his desk when she walked in. She was even more nervous when she saw him. He came out from behind his desk and took her in his arms saying, “Hi sweetheart, I think I know what you’ve come to talk about but I’m really swamped and I want to give you my full attention, so how about having our usual lunch?” Much relieved Lynn said, “That sounds fine to me.” After a soft gentle first kiss that sent chills through Lynn’s body, she went to her classroom elated.

Lunch couldn’t come soon enough for Lynn. She was barely aware of teaching English; she was watching the clock so much. At the park Lynn started with, “Have you heard some unpleasant things about me?” She didn’t know how else to broach the subject. Ken took Lynn’s hand and looked in her eyes and said in a matter of fact way, “Lynn, there is a rumor that you were raped or more accurately the rumor is that you said you were raped and that you had an abortion. Whether that is true or not I still feel the same way about you darling and we will get through this together.” Lynn felt so comforted by these words of affection, she admitted, “It is true that my high school boyfriend raped me and I got pregnant. I couldn’t face any of it so I got an abortion and never told anyone about it except Lora. Now that she knows about us she’s lashing out. She is using this as a weapon hoping to split us up and destroying my reputation. How is this going to affect us? Will this jeopardize my teaching position? What will be Curtis’ reaction? What is everyone thinking about me?”“Lynn I have seen something in your eyes for a long time now that looked painfully haunting and now I know what it was.” Ken admitted moving a little closer to her, “As far as this affecting us don’t worry my darling we will get through this together. You will always have me by your side and there is nothing that anyone can do that the two of us can’t handle together.” He said as he held the sobbing Lynn.