Monday, October 27, 2014

A Whole30 and a Half Marathon

Ok people, this is getting serious. I have recently been doing the eight week challenge with my coworkers and so far I've lost 15 lbs and worked up to 5 days a week of exercise. If you know me, you know this is a big deal for me. Let's just suffice it to say that sticking with healthy habits is not exactly my forte. This time, the results are worth it: I feel so much better, my insulin requirement is about half of what it was, and I'm slowly but surely losing weight. Right now, by God's grace, that's enough to keep me going!

Some of you have heard the hype surrounding the Whole30 - it's basically eating Paleo-ish for 30 days to see how the foods you are eating are contributing to how you feel. The point is to eat REAL food, nothing processed, no sugar or grains, no alcohol, etc. It will be hard but I think it's doable - it's only 30 days!

I'm ready for a change. My body is ready for a change. And at this point, after years and years of trying different things, it needs to be drastic.

So, all that to say - Today is Day 1 of my first Whole30! Raeanne is doing it with me so she will be my accountability. I have educated and will continue to educate my hubby (he's not super thrilled about this) since he does most of the shopping and cooking around here.

For real, though, the testimonials are impressive. Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself!

'We cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life.' -Whole30

I am also training for my first Half Marathon! What?!!?!! I know, I know it's hard to believe but it's for real.. I'm using this 14-week plan. Today starts Week 2! Rae and I are planning to run the Charleston Half Marathon on January 17th, 2015. Feel free to join us or at the least come cheer us on! :)

I'm gonna try to blog about this whole experience but I might be cooking or running and not have time to blog.. just a disclaimer :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

new and fun :)

I realized tonight as I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands, that it's been a very long time since I've just processed with written words. I've done a lot of talking in the past few months but not a lot of writing and especially not the kind of writing that feeds my soul. So, I have no idea what this will be about or where I'll end up but here goes nothing...

Today I listened to a sermon by my sweet pastor and friend, Corey, that was full of principles and truths that I've heard a million times. It resonated deeply today. He tells a story about how he cheated his way into the state golf tournament in high school as an illustration for the way that we put our hope in so many other things, begging them to satisfy us and make us happy. We take things that are good and make them ultimate, which immediately makes them bad. We become willing to do absolutely anything to achieve or acquire that thing, disregarding anything or anyone that stands in our way. Whether it's our significant other, our looks, our success, our children, our bank account, our career, etc. you name it, we take these things and put them at the center of our lives and beg them to be enough. The problem is that these things weren't created to support the weight of our souls. The only one who can even begin to support and bear the weight of our broken souls is Jesus. There's one 'weight of glory' that we are called to place in our hearts and say 'deeply satisfy me' and it actually happens. It's Jesus. Only he will ever be enough.

For years I've waited and wondered and dreamed about being married. From the white dress to having babies to old wrinkly hand-holding and even to the arguments and frustrations of living day-to-day life that closely with another sinner. If I'm honest, what I've really longed for is to be known and loved and for someone to stick around long enough to 'do life' with me for more than just a couple years. I have amazing friends, really. I am SO spoiled in the friend department. but reality is, most of my friends live far away or they have their own families or they are too busy to just share life. Now, I'm not nieve. I've walked through the past few years pretty closely with a few families that I love dearly and who love me deeply. I've seen the reality of marriage. I've seen the beauty of grace and forgiveness fleshed out in front of my eyes and I've also seen the power that just a few words have to wound when they come from someone who knows you so deeply. I've seen the laughter and the tears, the fun days of parenting and the days of sheer survival, the excitement of sweet blessings and the weight of bitter suffering. I know it's not easy but I also know that it's wonderful.

I'll be honest, I was skeptical. I couldn't imagine a man who would love me and want to pursue me and marry me. but then I met John. This guy came out of nowhere. Although, I'm fully aware that God knew all about this every night that I cried myself to sleep, terrified that I'd never get married. All along, he's whispered 'be patient, I got this.' I have had seasons of true patience and trust and seasons of sheer unbelief and anxiety but somewhere deep down, I've always known it would be ok. Even if I never got married, I'd be ok. BUT I am so unbelievably thankful for the sweet, abundant gift that God has given me in John.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure this isn't a dream. Life isn't perfect and things are still hard and complicated sometimes but if God has taught me anything over the past year, it's that He loves me and knows what I need. Whether it's through a chronic illness like Diabetes or a sweet man like John, He is merciful to me.

I have spent my entire life doubting my own worth and working hard to convince myself and others that I really am unlovable. In case you wondered, that makes accepting, believing, and trusting both God's and people's love for me near impossible. It makes for a lot of fear and a lot of relational work 'earning my keep' as a friend. Those of you who have been best friends with me for a while are all too familiar with this perpetual struggle in my life and I apologize for the way that it has run all of us ragged. It's hard when you fight so hard to love someone through their darkest days and they still doubt your love. I tell you this to set the stage for what has been my most recent adventure. Last year was perhaps the hardest year of my life and the year before that was the second hardest. Let's just suffice it to say it's been a rough few years.

In January of this year, I met John. From the very first Facebook message, I could tell he was quality. I was skeptical, though, because the last 'quality' guy I knew hurt me deeply and that kind of wound doesn't just go away quietly on its own. So, we talked. We talked a lot. After hours on the phone every night for almost 2 weeks, John asked me out. He has spoiled me from day 1. He is more than I ever imagined God would give me in a man. He loves me and he reminds me every day. He has never given me time to wonder whether or not he cares about me or thinks for me. He affirms me in every way imaginable and he loves making me feel special. He listens when I ramble and calls me when he says he will. He cooks for me and asks me questions and holds my hand. He tells me what he thinks about things and answers my questions and hugs me. He watches my favorite shows with me and comes with me to meet lots of people and is so thoughtful. He knows how to love me and he sacrifices for me and he tells me when and why he's frustrated. He talks to me and lets me cry on his shoulder and takes care of me and rescues me from the side of the road when I get in an accident. He brings me lunch and surprises me and adjusts his schedule for me and shaves his face for me. He gives me flowers and cards and he reminds me what's important and every time I'm amazed at his love for me, I'm forced to acknowledge that God's love is even greater and deeper and more satisfying.

I have felt the love of my Savior in a new and different way through John these past few months. I have never once doubted how John feels about me because he doesn't give me time or room to doubt. I can honestly say that I have 'felt' beautiful more often in the past 3 months than maybe ever before in my life. When I spend time with John, I'm constantly reminded of the integrity of his character, the depth of his commitment, the strength of his trustworthiness and dependability, and his willingness to sacrifice his own desires and plans for my sake. The truth is, one day, John will disappoint me or life will throw us a curve ball and things won't go the way we plan. But God will never disappoint and he doesn't give me room to doubt that. Everything in all of creation shouts and proclaims his love and commitment to me. Jesus's life, death, and resurrection is the most profound expression of love and sacrifice known to man yet it blows my mind how easily I forget that or fail to rest in that when life gets hard or I get distracted. He loves me perfectly, pursues me constantly, forgives me, shows me compassion, surrounds me with his hedge of protection, holds me when I'm sad, meets me where I am, rejoices with me when I'm rejoicing, and walks alongside me promising never to leave or forsake me even for a moment. I could talk about the beautiful way that John loves and cherishes me all day long but it wouldn't even begin to compare to the way that the Lord has loved and cherished me these past 27 years and the way that he will continue to keep his promises and prove himself faithful in my life.

I love that he is choosing to use John to show me some new facets of his love and to remind me that he sees me and hears me and knows me deeply. Dating John is so fun. We've been on lots of adventures in our short 3 months and we've gotten to know each other pretty darn well considering that we've technically only known each other for 12 weeks and 3 days. We spend a lot of time together and we just enjoy each other so much. We've had our fair share of disagreement and frustration but even that has been a blessing as we've been able to talk through things and communicate with each other in a productive, loving way.

Last year I begged the Lord to just give me something new. I begged him to let something fun happen in my life because I was so tired of suffering and wrestling through hard things and fighting my illness. Well, I had no idea what he had in store and it's been even better than anything or anyone I could have come up with on my own. So far our relationship has been a beautiful picture of God's grace and provision in my life and I am just excited to see how He uses it to further his kingdom in the weeks and months and years to come.

Monday, December 31, 2012

another year

What is it about January 1st that causes us to take the time look back, examine, evaluate, and analyze the previous year. It's as if we get a fresh start, a chance to do things differently or turn a corner. In God's kingdom, we get fresh starts and second chances no matter what date is on the calendar but there's still something about a new year that feels substantial and significant.

Tonight as I was driving home from a fondue party with friends (yum!), I just felt God nudging me to turn off my music and reflect with him for a few minutes. So I just prayed over this past year and I realized that my initial instinct was to beg God to make 2013 easier than 2012. I wanted to beg him to give me the desires of my heart in 2013, to let some exciting and fun things happen, to let me stop struggling. But, as I thought and prayed through this past year, I realized that the hard things, however abundant, have been God's way of teaching me to trust him. The truth is, this year, my heart has seen the school of suffering in so many ways.

There are so many songs that could be the theme song for this year but I think Audrey Assad wins it again with "Wherever You Go." The lyrics to the song are:

There's a train leaving your heart tonight.
There's a silence inside your head and you're running you're running from it.
Down the tracks on a midnight line.
There's a red moon in the sky and you're running you're running from it.

But I'm coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.
I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go.

Wrestling angels till dawn breaks through
There's a blessing in the wound and you're running you're running from it.
When all your demons are at your door
it's a soldier they're looking for and you're running you're running from it.

But I'm coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.
I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go.

I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go
I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go

Across the sea, the space between everything you think you know, 
the things you keep and bury deep underneath the melting snow - 
I'll follow.

Fathers & mothers don't always come through,
but I'm never gonna stop following you

Prophets and lovers don't always hold true,
but I'm never gonna stop falling for you

So, when your wine's all gone and your well runs dry,
Open your hands and look into my eyes; all that you see here,
you'll soon leave behind, so open your hands and look into my eyes

'cause I'm coming for you, coming for you wherever you go

I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go 

Fathers & mothers don't always come through,
but I'm never gonna stop following you
Prophets and lovers don't always hold true,
but I'm never gonna stop falling for you

One of my favorite lines is, "wrestling angels till dawn breaks through, there's a blessing in the wound." How would I live in this world if there wasn't a blessing in the wound? I think Audrey is referring to the story where Jacob is left alone in the wilderness right before he meets Esau. A man wrestles him through the night. Jacob's opponent realizes that he will not overpower Jacob so he touches his hip and wounds him permanently. The man tells Jacob to let go but Jacob clings to his opponent and says "I will not let you go until you bless me." I feel like I've been clinging by a thin thread, just begging God to bless me. And he really has. Not the way I thought he would or the way my fallen heart would've chosen but in the best way.

This year, I've felt like my wine's all gone and my well has run dry...and I've heard my Savior over and over again call me to open my hands and look into his eyes...and each time he's told me "all that you see here, you'll soon leave behind.." This place is not your home..

So, you see, it's a blessing that I don't feel at home here. This place is not my home. He's coming for me, no matter where I go and He's never going to stop following me and He's never going to stop falling for me.

One day, I'll be face to face with my Savior in glory and I won't be sad or overwhelmed anymore, my joints won't hurt, my pancreas will work, my body will be healed and new! I will be able to sing beautifully in any key I can imagine and even some I can't, I will have energy and get to expend it all on worshiping my Rescuer! and I'll probably be a gardener or an artist because there will be no sick kids for me to take care of...Oh how I long for that day...

But, tonight, even as I long for that day, I am also thanking God for the ways that he has let me see His kingdom come here on this earth. I'm thankful that he gives me glimpses of the fulfillment of that promise. I'm thankful that each day, each month, each year, while I see more of the effects of the Fall on this broken world, I also see more of the Fall being pushed back, more redemption and restoration coming to fruition.

Suffering isn't fun. It doesn't feel good. I'm still not sure I would've chosen that if I were God. But, I'm not God for a very good reason. God knows so much more than I do and somehow in the midst of all the hardship and trial and sickness and grief, He has drawn me closer to Him. He has taught me to lean into him in a way that I didn't know before. He's shown me his goodness, his ability, and his delight in providing abundantly for my every need. He has made his love and his presence feel real to me in a way that I haven't felt before. He keeps keeping his promise again and again that he knows me and he loves me and he surrounds me and hems me in and delights in me and rejoices over me and embraces me as his daughter.

Things are still hard and there are things that I long for that I don't have and things that I have that I'd return if I could...but, I have a Father who is coming for me no matter where I go..

Psalm 139 and Isaiah 54 have gotten me through this year.

Psalm 139 says:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

Isaiah 54 says:

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.

He is working on making the night shine like the day. He's pressing into my soul the truth that I don't have to be afraid because He has taken away my shame. He is my Redeemer and he looks on me with deep compassion and everlasting kindness. However dark the path seems at times, that darkness isn't the least bit dark to him. Jesus is the light that confuses the darkness, that shines so brightly that the darkness flees. He's the light that existed before the world was formed and the one who holds it all together. He's the one who wrote every one of my days in his book before even one of them came to be and the one who promised to finish the work that he started in me. So, may 2013 be a year of worship, a year of trusting him even more, a year of running hard after my Redeemer and resting in him, knowing that He loves me and He's coming for me...

Monday, November 12, 2012


I want to simplify my life.
I want to get rid of some of my crap and start from scratch. 
Maybe I'll reconsider what I want to be when I grow up. I've been joking about having a quarter life crisis but so far it seems like a remarkably accurate assessment of the current situation. 
I'm moving out of my apartment and in with a family from church. They're taking me in when I'm the least likely to contribute anything and the most likely to just mooch off of them (which ironically motivates me to help however I can--isn't that the effect grace should have on us?). But, the point is, I'm getting a chance to get rid of some of the stuff I've accumulated over the years and start over with the things I really need. I have a feeling it will be evident which things aren't necessary over the next few months, since I'm moving from a pretty large living space to a much smaller yet more cozy and comfortable space. There's something about having a whole family down the hall that creates a sense of security that just doesn't exist when you're living on your own. 
My life doesn't look like I thought it would. Has it ever? You'd think I'd get the picture after 26 years of thinking it will turn out a certain way, only to be surprised each time with God's plan being different (and better) than mine. After a while, logic says I should probably stop setting so many expectations for myself and just trust that God is using me in his kingdom the way that only he knows is best. 
I'm moving back in with family at the age of 26, I've spent all of my savings on doctor's appointments and medicine and food,  I've slept through a large portion of the past 3 months, I've taken lots of time off work, and I'm still confused. That feels like failure. The endless refrain that runs through my head says, "why can't you do life like everyone else? Everyone has a hard time, but they can keep going. Why can't you? You're basically worthless." It's sad that the voice spouting those lies is often louder than the whisper that says, "you are worth it. you are loved. you are precious in my sight and I have great plans for you." I'm glad the whisper, though quieter sometimes, is far more consistent and infinitely stronger than the lies.
God wants me to slow down. Simplify. He wants me to calm down and stop trying to figure everything out. Maybe it would be ok to just sit still every once in a while and stop thinking.
I was talking to a friend today, wondering if she had figured out the secret to life making sense. She said, "I think I've come to a place where I've realized that all the wisdom comes from the Lord and that it doesn't have to make sense to me." It doesn't have to make sense. What would it look like for me to be ok with life not making sense? 
Daniel 2:21-22
He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.

He's in charge of the seasons. Both the weather kind and the life kind. He knows what is in the darkness. He is light. I don't think it's a coincidence that to shed light on something often means to cause something to make sense. Right now, life feels hidden and dark. Answers seem to materialize one second and vaporize the next. But God is wisdom and in James, He promises to give us wisdom when we ask. The light I long for dwells with him.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

speak up

Tomorrow's Scripture at church is Philippians 3:12-4:1 and since I'm reading it in the service, I decided to read through it a few times tonight. God decided I needed to hear a few things, too. The other day, I asked him if he could speak up a little cause these days I don't hear so well and I feel like I've been having trouble hearing him. Well, I kinda wanted him to tell me what to do about work and what to do with all of my stuff and the secret key to unlock the mystery that is my health (or lack thereof). Or maybe he could tell me where my husband is or how long I'll have to wait or when Diabetes will fade into the background and not be such a big deal. But, as usual, his thoughts are so much higher than mine, so He said this instead:

Philippians 3:18-4:1
   For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

I am so thankful that I don't live as an enemy of the cross of Christ. SO glad that I've been rescued. Yet, I still live like my God is my stomach and my glory is in my shame. My mind is stuck here in this fallen world, where nothing is new under the sun and we move from dust to dust, endlessly acquiring things that moth and rust will eventually destroy. I'm so discontent at times because I look around and my life is not what I thought it would be. There are so many things that I want that I don't have. A husband, kids, a job that I can do consistently without so much wrestling, a brain that works and produces serotonin, a benevolent donor, a pancreas that actually produces insulin, and on and on. The point is that my mind is so often wrapped up in trying to "figure out my life" that I forget that this isn't my home. Things are never going to be the way they should be on this side of eternity. We are in the between time, the "already but not yet." We are already saved from our sin and freed by the blood of Christ but we are not yet made whole, complete, and without sin the way we will be in the new heavens and the new earth. We live in the tension between knowing we've been made holy yet still struggling with sin. But one day, we will be glorified with Christ and our "lowly bodies" will be like his "glorious body!" 

So, no, I don't have everything I want right now but when I step back for a minute and take my mind off my circumstances, I realize that I have everything I need. My god is not my stomach and my glory is not in my shame. Jesus paid for those things. At the cross, he bought me freedom from my stomach and my shame, the two things that bind me most tightly. Paul says that we should stand firm in the Lord by eagerly awaiting a Savior from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be eager not anxious, hopeful not depressed, expectant not avoidant. I want to walk and rest in the truth that he has everything under control and he's in the business of rescue. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

soaking up God's grace

In 2.5 years, today is the first day that Anne has cancelled an appointment. We've missed weeks but it's always been planned in advance. That is a darn good track record. Add that to the list of 1,017 reasons why she's the best therapist in the entire world. She is so consistent. and her life is such a beautiful picture of integrity. She's congruent. She's brave. She lives what she says and she always keeps her promises. and I can always count on her to say plenty of things that are worth repeating. She is so patient with me and shows me such bountiful grace. So thankful she's mine.

Last week, in the midst of many tears and snot and puffy eyes, she made me look at her. She's never done that before. I mean, I don't know about you but looking someone in the eyes is not my first choice of things to do when I'm weeping and feeling like a total mess. But, I trust her, so I did. and I'm glad I did. I know I've said this before, but I'm reminded every week -- She has kind eyes and the ability to communicate deep concern and caring by just looking. And she said, "This is the cycle of shame starting. Do you hear yourself? Amy, it is OK that life is hard right now. It is normal that you're struggling. You've had a rough couple years. There's a lot of grieving to be done, still. and you are not alone in this." I'm sure she said a lot of other things but that's what I heard. I've been hearing that in my head all week, especially during the times when I feel like a failure at life because I can't work or when I have to lie down in the middle of the day because I'm tired or when I wonder how I'm going to make it through the next month financially.

God provided in a beautiful way today. I've said before that my CDE Susan reminds me a lot of Anne. I asked her once if she was a closet therapist. :) She's just a really great listener and she asks really great questions. She also can read me like a book. She can tell when there's too much information or when I just need to talk or when an hour isn't long enough. Well, I had an appointment with her today. What sweet provision. Susan brings out a part of my personality that most people don't see very often. She makes me witty. It's weird how different people bring out different parts of us. When I'm talking to her, I just feel understood and like it's ok to just be me. I had to tell her about the cake pop, reese's cups, skittles, 2 PBandJs, and distinct lack of vegetables I ate yesterday. I didn't even really notice, to be honest. I'm in survival mode. My new goal is to eat one vegetable a day. My over-achiever tendency would normally try to eat 5 vegetables a day but this time I really only have the energy to think about trying to eat one. Susan treated me to coffee after our appointment today and it was so fun to laugh with her and just get to know each other better. She's a keeper for sure.

I've been spending a lot of time at the church office this week. It's been so good for me. Even if I don't talk to Corey, there's just something about knowing that he's in the next room over that makes me feel safe. It's restful. and I think that's the point of my life right now. I'm trying to slow down and breathe and do things that I want to do. and not feel pressure or stress or expectations. Anxiety is near these days for some reason. Even in little situations, like taking longer at wal-mart than I planned. I'm trying to convince myself in those moments that it's ok to not meet my own expectations perfectly. I don't have anywhere else to be. it's ok.

Anne said something last week that I think is true. She said "I think maybe you're fighting too hard." I spend so much energy trying to get it right and fight to be joyful and happy and content that I end up being just the opposite. How do I just relax and soak up God's grace? How can I just rest in His goodness to me without feeling like I have to DO something?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jesus meets shame

Shame WITH Jesus
David Powlison spoke on what the gospels have to say about shame and guilt. How did Jesus address the issue of shame during his time on Earth. David began with asking a question, “How can a cry of heartache, despair, and hopelessness become a song of love and rejoicing?” These men who are speaking at this conference have a deep abiding sense of life’s messiness and brokenness that coexists with a deeper, more penetrating sense of God’s faithfulness and His ability to mend the broken and clean up the mess. It is beautiful to sit under teaching that flows from that kind of worldview. Powlison pointed out that there is a particular kind of person who comes looking for Jesus. These people are messy and confused and each of them have an all-consuming sense of need. They are working with this pre-Theological notion that they need help and Jesus can help them. They don’t know that he is the Son of God, nor do they know that he is the Messiah who will die to rescue them from their sin. They’ve just seen him work. They’ve seen who he is. They don’t know how he will help, they just have a sense that he will. I love the story of the woman with the alabaster jar washing Jesus’ feet at Simon’s dinner table. Powlison shed some new light on the story for me when he said “Jesus can see that, despite her broken past and her skewed view of relationships, this woman has learned how to love. Love has always been unsafe for her but there is something about Jesus that she trusts. She intuits that he will bless her and not curse her, that he will keep her and not abandon her and as a result, she is freed up to love him in a way that she could never love anyone else.” It is so beautiful how Jesus honors this woman. Can you imagine how she felt? Before all of these men who have labeled her according to her sin, Jesus speaks forgiveness over her and honors her with his words. To know Jesus is to solve what is most wrong with our hearts. The way up is down—humility. Overcoming shame is about knowing your need, asking for help, saying thank you, and loving the one who helps you. What a beautiful picture of the saving grace of Jesus.