Finally Satisfied

Bowl of fruit

Once upon a time…

I ate because it was fun. And then fun turned into something else.

What does your relationship with food look like? Food. Sustenance and succulent – we all need it and we all want it…some of us more than others. But when the cinnamon rolls replace the Bread of life on the altar of one’s own heart, the hands that once held grace, now knead the dough of lust (yes, lust), working it and pounding it and molding the lump into the shape of a pretend cross.

Yes, food is a blessing from the Creator of it, and as it nourishes the hungry hearts in the spirit of unity, this breaking of bread around a table of thanks is a beautiful thing.

I remember…it was a snowy day – December 24, and I was about seven years old. The anticipation of Christmas Eve festivities tormented me, so I sought distraction by spending the afternoon rolling around in the powdery, white bliss that blanketed my backyard. When late afternoon turned into evening, I shuffled my snowsuit covered self into the house where family gathered.

Ahhh…everything smelled so wonderful.

And the love – the assemblage of my people. I’ll never forget the ambrosial aromas that filled the atmosphere of my childhood home that evening. But the fellowship of family was what really lent itself to the coziness of that memorable night so long ago.

orchid

Over the years there were many nights like this…so many of my cherished memories involve good food and the felicity of family and friends. But somewhere along the way my relationship to food changed. Somewhere, somehow, an ungrateful heart filled my soul and body with a discontentment that bordered on akrasia.

Unholy eating. We should forsake it.

But I didn’t forsake it. No, the lust that filled my heart in rebellion to the manna God had given…it drew me further away from from the natural use of food and I spent many years self- medicating with pizza. (Yeah, I was that cool.)

So whenever my world would turn upside down, I would shove an ooey-gooey brownie in my mouth and hope for the best. My heart was hurting and food was my nepenthe to numb the pain. And the more I did this, the more blind I became to the idolatry that I practiced in the name of a good meal.

One of the definitions of idolatry is “Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.” God should be adored, not food; I should be excessively attached to Jesus, not to food. Hello???

The road to unthankfulness leads to despair and fear and nothingness. Sure does. And that was the road that I was on. Day after day, I would thank God with my mouth, but my heart…it was thankless and unsatisfied.

I should have been satisfied and I should have been able to say, “This is good, and it is enough.” But I left off thanking and took up lusting. And as my butt grew bigger, my faith grew smaller, because God refuses to compete with my idols. And so my days as the poster girl for chubby bubbies continued.

apples and banana

Eden moments…they speak to me. You?

A hungry heart (and stomach) can glean a plethora of valuable lessons from Adam and Eve. That hankering for more than what God has already given is ingrained in us, you know? And I just roll my eyes when I hear women say things like, “When I get to heaven I’m gonna punch Eve right in the face!”

As if we all wouldn’t have made the same bad decision. Me?…I am Eve.

I’m surrounded by Love and I have more than enough, but I listen to the voice of the snake, and all of the ungratefulness that’s been lying dormant in my heart, arises from the not so dead places, and as it does, I yield.

One bite. As that forbidden fruit slides across the top of my tongue, my taste buds awaken and I only want more. And more. And more. Satan is pumped…his mission is accomplished.

chocolate chips

Gluttony, and the lust that goes along with it, shamelessly seduces a girl into thinking that pizza fits into the Jesus-shaped hole of the heart. And so she crams it in there real good, and like a fat foot in a pump that’s too small…it just doesn’t fit. But she pretends that it does.

I pretended that it fit, and I made believe that it made me feel better, but it was only a harbinger of bad health and of an undeveloped relationship with God. And so it was for quite a while.

But then…

I love it how Jesus speaks at just the right time. When that happens, conviction jumps on me like Tiny Tim on a christmas goose!

And you see, He knows when we are ready to receive it – that conviction…and it’s a gift. We should embrace it, thank God for it, and respond to it with an open contriteness. Godly sorrow works repentance, y’all.

And let me tell you…deliverance has never tasted so good.

“Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it”, He says to me, and I do so willingly. And as I do He fills me up with spiritual food that heals, and “He satisfies my mouth with good things and my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103)

Now, the hands hold the daily bread with thanks, and the heart holds the Bread of life… and full cups run over. And as gladness follows a thankful heart, each bite that we put to our lips must be followed by the putting on of Christ.

Bagel

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Let’s put into practice these three things, okay?…

  1. Be grateful. Don’t lust for more.
  2. Put your faith in God and His provision, will, and way for you to eat, and trust in Him for the grace to be satisfied.
  3. Proceed in the strength and power of God, to eat in moderation with a thankful heart. And remember to not only thank Him before you eat, but afterward too.

So today I raise the cup to God’s love and I offer my all to Him. I endeavor to embrace His love and let it fill me up in ways that nothing else can…and be fully satisfied in Him.  Will you join me at the table and be…finally satisfied?

Chronicles of a Lovely Beanpole

Lovely

Once upon a time, I grew up without a dad.

And it did something to me. The need for affection and love from a man – a father – and the lack thereof, can cause a girl a lot of grief, bad decisions, and even despair.

I was just a girl. Too tall for my age, super skinny – a beanpole (but in my mother’s eyes, a lovely beanpole)… and a little totally nerdy. I remember wishing that I was petite and blond like my friend, Rhonda. She was so popular because of the way she looked, and I couldn’t help but envy her for it. She was accepted and I was not, and she had no idea what it was like…to be me.

I had no concept of the fact that I did have a heavenly Father, and in His eyes I was a jewel. No, I saw myself through the eyes of others, and when they teased me and called me things like, “Too Tall Jones”, or, “Beanpole”, or “Olive Oil” (Olive Oil was the skinny brunette from the Popeye cartoons, remember?), I crumbled to little pieces inside and any ounce of self confidence ran for the hills.

And there was Jimmy.

Jimmy…my 6th grade crush. All the girls liked him; he had blond hair and blue eyes and his smile made me melt. But one day while my friend and I were hanging out with him, he looked me straight in the eyes and told me that at least my friend would grow up to be beautiful, but that I on the other hand, would surely grow up to be horribly ugly. And that was that.

Lies

Right then and there I accepted the lie that my worth – my true identity – was found in what others thought of me…and I ached with self disgust.

As I grew into a teenager, I filled out and blossomed into a much less nerdy version of my younger self. As a result, I began to draw attention from the opposite sex and even though it was the wrong kind of attention, I loved it. Nevertheless, that freckle faced, skinny little girl was still trapped inside of me and no matter how many compliments or nice things someone would say about me, I still saw myself as the the “Beanpole”…with a really dorky perm, and Jimmy standing in front of me stomping out the little bit of self worth that I still possessed. Sad, but true.

There are times in a young girl’s life when having a father is both imperative and priceless. Although I did have some very positive male influences in my life growing up, unfortunately there were also the three isolated times that men in whom I was supposed to be able to trust, abused it, and were it not for the protective grace of God, would have abused me too. This, coupled with my terribly unhealthy view of myself, would lead me into adulthood as a broken woman; a woman with a gaping hole in her heart; a woman who would attempt to fill that hole with everything except for Jesus: food, guys, and material things. And like Solomon, I would miserably moan, “…vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (Ecc. 1:2)

As I sit here typing this, I can still taste the salty tears from having my heart broken when I was younger. The pain, the sadness, and the feeling of rejection became a part of who I was and I felt as though nobody would ever be able to love me the way that I longed to be loved.

Grace

Years of emptiness stalked me as I sought refuge in vain things and in vain people, and they did bring me temporary joy…but it was fleeting.

And then…

Enter Jesus.

If words were actual tears, mine, right now, would flow like a river of gratitude right off of this page…and fill the spaces around me.

Why?

Because I am overflowing. Overflowing with a numinous awareness of the perfect love He has shown me – the healing love; the “I am accepted in the Beloved” love; the kind of love that sets you free from allowing the approval of man to define you.

Accepted

Here’s the thing: a wounded spirit bleeds and it builds walls – really high walls. And nobody was ever brave enough to climb my walls, except for my Savior. Only Jesus was able to summit my mountainous heap of pain, pride, anger, fear, and ungratefulness.

Then…He tore it all down.

As Jesus took that whip and overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple, so in like manner He violently pulverized my impregnable fortress of fear – and there it was, all of my junk lying in a ruinous heap at the foot of the cross.

New

My Savior embraced me there. And His blood – it lovingly flowed down that cross onto my heap, and as the scarlet touched the black, the pain became precious. Like an old piece of fabric, used and worn, His silver and gold threads became woven throughout, and the old became new.

I…became new.

The voice of God is mellifluous and soothing.

Truth

And now I can hear Him telling me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; He tells me that I am created in His image; He reminds me that before He formed me in the womb, He knew me, and because of all of this…now I can see myself through His eyes. And not my own. And not Jimmy’s, praise God.

Now…I see God everywhere. Do you?

He is everywhere

When I run across something with my deceased mother’s handwriting on it, I see her again and the sound of her voice reverberates in the warm and sunny places of my mind. And when I look around – everywhere – there He is – God. I see Him in the tree in the forest next to my cabin – the one that is bent with branches, craggily and crooked…they bow and extend themselves like a gentleman requesting the hand of a lady for a dance. I see the impression of God there, and the familiarity of His handiwork; the love and care and detail of His divinely creative nature.

I also see Him looking out through the eyes of the homeless man, and the rawness of his pain and want…they haunt me. His lack is a mission from Grace that speaks through this human host of destitution standing before me, that I should feed him and clothe him…and love him. Yes, it is Jesus looking at me through those eyes.

Healed

The healing that God gives to me – I want to share it with you. I want to present Mercy’s love to you and watch you drink it in and warm your cold places…and then pass it on. This pilgrimage of metanoia should be shared, not hidden, so that you can lean on the strong arm of Love and take in the quietude –  to forsake the loud lies that are crushing your spirit.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

My identity, my worth – my everything – is found in You. I am accepted in the Beloved, a daughter to the God of peace (a peace that passes all understanding), and His story is interwoven throughout the pages of my life. Even when I didn’t see Him there, He was always lovingly there, guiding, protecting, and directing my steps. And His blood soaked up my agony and made me clean and whole…and beautiful.

Lovely Daughter

He calls me chosen, daughter of His own –
Sister to the Prince of peace, and heir to heaven’s throne.
He calls me holy, pure from filth and stain –
Washed in Red, rose from the dead, because Christ was slain.
HE calls me victorious, high above my foes –
To laugh at fear, to sit with Christ, to live because He rose.
He calls me peaceful, to rise above all fear –
To wield the shield and take the faith and prayerfully draw near.
He calls me onward, to leave the past behind –
To ride the train of mercy and then redeem the time.
He calls me lovely, the apple of His eye –
His baby girl for evermore, to share in love divine.

And He is calling you…right now. Bow the head, bend the knee, and sink in deeply to the waters of His love. He will wash you and hold you and love you…you are complete in Him.  And you are beautiful.

Beauty In the Pause

 

tea cup

What does it mean to you when someone tells you need to rest? Can you see the importance of downtime – of doing something that refreshes you? I am learning that there is beauty in the pause, the “me’ time, and the cozy time-outs.

Balance. I sometimes find it to be elusive in my own life. I walk the fine line between Mary and Martha, and at times I teeter on the brink of neurosis in my attempt to nurture them both. But I am learning to let go and let God, and He is showing me that it is okay to embrace the rhythm of rest in my household. And in doing so I am teaching my children to lay aside the “busy for Christ” mentality that so many Christians deceive themselves into thinking is earning them brownie points with God, when in actuality what He desires is for them to SLOWWW DOWWWN.

Running around while carrying the world on one’s shoulders, joining the various committees, serving in several ministries at once, never saying “no” to others demands on one’s time – and neglecting the all important time alone with God – is not okay…simply, not okay.

So, what does all this mean?

It’s time to chill, my friends. Seriously. We all need to allow ourselves time to rest and regroup. “And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while…” (Mark 6:31)

 

cake

Hygge. This is a Danish word and it is pronounced “Hue-gah”….and the Danes are the masters of it. There are many definitions for it. Many describe it as togetherness – an intimate gathering of close friends and family; cozy blankets and a good book; candlelight and cocoa; a warm bubble bath and soft music playing in the background. Some say comfort foods epitomize Hygge for them – for me it is a big pot of beef stew and clementine cake for dessert, with candles lit all over the cabin, a fire going in the fire place, and my family gathered around me. Or…when I am feeling that I need quiet time by myself, a cup of tea and a warm bath will revive me. What does Hygge look like in your life?

 

bath

Intentional cozy is my thing right now. Yes, indeedy. I practice it because God knows I need it. And when the dogs bark loud and the kids fight hard and the stupid vacuum breaks…

I walk my little butt to the kitchen and I make a cup of tea and I take a deep breath in and as I exhale, I write down my thanks to my great big God. And it’s okay because tonight I will light the candles and we will sit around my husband as he and our sons build the most amazing Lego rocket ship. And I will remember…

There will always be times of loudness and chaos. And some people thrive in such environments…but I don’t – I crumble. That’s why it is up to me to remember – remember to nurture myself and my family with the gift of calmness, serenity, and to make this home a haven for all of us.

bench with pillow

May I share with you a sad, but true story?

Once upon a time there was a woman and she loved Jesus and she loved her family…very much. But somewhere along the way she believed the lie that she had to be everything for everybody, and the life in her drained fierce. And when her back ached and her pride welled, she thought to herself, “I can do this. If I just keep going, surely I can paint my world, picture perfect, on this canvas called life, and then it’ll really matter…work harder, do more, work harder, do more, work harder, do more.” And so she continued and life and chaos and monotony closed in on her, and joy packed its bags while exhaustion moved in.

Maybe you can relate?

How many people do you suppose live their lives this way…in constant burnout? I refuse to do it. My health, my family, and my relationship with God make me want to rest. And so I will eat that last truffle and say a prayer for you to get out your cozy slippers and put the tea kettle on and read the lines in a book that will soothe your soul and lift your spirit to a place of blessed resuscitation.

God rested on the seventh day. Take that in. Yes, rest was so important that even God did it. And, here’s the thing…(are you ready for this?)…what if we are holding onto the chaos and the constant need to be busy so that we can drown out the voice of God?!!

What will we hear when it is quiet?

Could the loudness and busy-ness and the need to have people around us ALL the time – could our overwhelming desire to be on the go ALL the time – be symptoms of a much larger issue? What are we running from and what should we be running to?

God speaks in a still small voice.  Will you be able to hear Him?

pic of picnic

Quiet. Solitude. Prayer closets. A blanket in the middle of the woods with a thermos of tea, a journal, and an open heart. A paint brush and an empty canvas with a vision of beauty. A warm bath sprinkled with lavender essential oil and an exhale from achy lungs. A midnight meeting with God in an overstuffed chair while everyone else sleeps. Soup and bread and family – eating, laughing, and absorbing the sacredness of such togetherness.

What if we dimmed the lights and lit some candles and just listened…listened to God? Listened to each other? These “Selah” moments bear witness with my spirit, that I need them. You too?

candles burning

So, today. Yes, today. Let’s just embrace the rest, the calm, the cozy, the love, the solitude, the togetherness, the warm bread, the cold cider, the candle-lit moments…and breathe out gratitude.

Repeat after me:
“I am not Superhuman. I am just me and sometimes I need time to myself. I will endeavor, by God’s grace, to etch out moments of solitude, and at other times, moments of quaint togetherness with the people that I love to be with, and in these moments I will aspire to recognize the blessings that are all around me. As I exercise this posture of pause, I will cultivate an environment that encourages warmth, love, peace, and comfort – for myself, and for those precious souls that are a part of my tribe. By God’s grace, I will set aside time for the art of rest.

The Day Is Done
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like the strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long day of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.”

There is beauty in the pause, so go and bask in it!