Nuggets: The Hand That Rocks My Cradle

Today’s little post is for sure a “nugget”. I’ve been hustling my tail to clean, mow, shower and cook while Evie is napping. And I even snuck in 15 minutes of chill time! My window of opportunity is closing.

But my heart wants to share what God spoke to me late last night. Little One has slept through the night (mostly) from a very young age. But since she became super mobile, she’s often very restless at night and wakes herself up. We’ve seen her sitting up rubbing her eyes (still asleep) then slump forward, legs in a criss-cross-applesauce position, but her head down on the pillow.

Several times last night, I hurried to her room to calm her and give her a pacifier before she woke up too much. Finally, she was standing in her bed, crying and mostly asleep. I decided just to make her a bottle and rock her for a while.

Maybe it’s because yesterday was Mother’s Day. Maybe it was just God’s timing anyway, but as I sat there thinking, “Five in the morning is going to be here so fast!” I heard Him whisper:

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.… Psalm 121:3-5

God continued, “You will never rock her with as much tenderness as I rock you. I’m never impatient or confused when you’re upset, awake, or fearful for seemingly no reason. I’m never out of sorts when you need me or even just want me. I’m thrilled to be up all night long with you. And I can’t wait to see you in the morning over coffee when you’re awake and want to talk to me, too.”

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassionon the son of her womb? Even these may forget,but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.… Isaiah 49:15-16

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Reviving The Story

Well, I was just about to hang up the proverbial hat and choose to make writing a well-remembered season. But that’s just it, I guess it was my choice, and not the plan God has for me … yet.

Not two weeks ago, the mere idea of conjuring up fresh content baffled me. Today, ideas are stirring in my spirit. I don’t know how original they are, but if God has rekindled the desire to put words to page, then He must have something valuable for me to say.

Similarly, I once put eating disorder recovery behind me. After I wrote the last chapter of my book, I literally “closed the book”. I haven’t reread it. I haven’t had any desire to continue ministry in that vein. But twice in one week, God has brought concerned family members and friends to me–seeking empathy, insight and hope for their own loved ones now struggling. Again, maybe I have something left to say.

Eve demands a lot of my time and attention right now. There’s scarcely a moment when I can actually string my thoughts together, let alone put them down in a manner respectable for an editor. However, at the same time, I’ve never had so much material as this little provides! I have a feeling she’s going to teach me, all over again and, what it means that God is my Father. She’s going display to me my desperate need for a savior, comforter, counselor and Abba.

I also feared that in my new role as Mommy, my quiet times with the Lord would be greatly diminished. Maybe so … kind of and sometimes … but at the same time, I find spontaneous worship and grateful tears so close to the surface.

I read Psalm 143 this morning and recalled how just within the last week, sweet Eve has begun stopping and reaching for me. When I move too fast, when she can’t keep up. When she hits a hard surface or simply doesn’t know where to go. When she wants out of her bed and when she simply wants to share the mirror with me, enjoy my company and make silly faces–she reaches for me.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me to know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:6, 8

A Teachable Heart, Humility and BIG News

I have BIG news!

I’ve kept quiet for about as long as I can … we’ve passed 14 weeks now and so (drum roll please … )

We are expecting again! Yes! Praise God, He’s gifted us a baby girl! She’s due on August 21, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! So far, all her little black and white pictures are perfect; labs are just as expected and we’re anticipating her arrival with all the jitters that might be expected. I’m not sure if I want time to fly (or if it is) or if I wish it would take a deep breath and slow down.

I’ve been praying for a long time that God will continue to soften my infantry officer husband’s heart. His job is such that it reinforces discipline, structure, stoicism everyday, but I long for the gentleness he shows at home (sometimes) to take root and flourish within his strong, stable personality.

And as I’ve added a new little one to my daily, desperate prayers, I’ve heard God whisper to me, “You’ve asked me to soften his heart. She is all a part of the plan.” But that’s not all God said:

“And if I’m going to soften his heart, I’m going to humble yours.”

Umm … well I have to be honest, I’ve asked God to do that. But am I ready for this? I’ve tried to adopt a more humble heart, to identify selfishness, self-righteousness and slippery, undercover arrogance, but I was not prepared for God to highlight my pride in the way that He did.

Anyone who’s been pregnant can tell you–advice is instantly flying from every direction, at all times, with all kinds of conflicts, in all form of tones, with all manner of conviction and from individuals with all levels of experience–from none, to aged to those not so much more experienced than myself.

Now, I’m not one to internalize all of this and find my head swimming and panic beneath the onslaught of suggestions. I have specific people that I ask specific questions of, and blessedly, I have a doctor I greatly respect. I’m covered. But …

Does God care how I answer those who offer unsolicited advice?

On several occasions lately, and one specific one even today, someone I dearly love and respect has offered advice that I didn’t not ask for nor require. My immediate response was one of coolness. At the time, my hackles raised invisibly. I tried hard to keep my bristling hidden.

“You know, I really think you should … ”

“Did your doctor tell you that … ”

“I’d advise against that … ”

Their advice, while sincerely intended, addressed things that I have already thought through and come to a conclusion regarding them in my own pregnancy. And I said so.

“In all due respect, here’s what I think … ” (And basically, I think you’re wrong.)

God let me get away with it in the moment. But when I sat down this afternoon, God brought to mind His precious word.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

Abby, I didn’t say you have to apply their advice, but as you pray for humility, my word instructs you to receive it. Don’t counter with your own opinion; receive well-intended counsel and seek me for wisdom in prayer at home. 

I don’t think my response to these individuals was disrespectful. I do love these people and worked hard to hold my tongue. But, I can’t say that my heart wasn’t railing with frustration and indignation at their assumption that I might not know something. And then God concluded His whispers with this reminder:

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2

No matter my words, expression or the impression I give to others, God knows my heart and He judges my intentions. It is for my heart that I’m held accountable.

Oh Lord, give me a humble and teachable heart!

A National Debt of Gratitude

This is a phenomenal post by Melinda K. 

Have we become ashamed to show patriotism?

It may depend on where one lives and whether or not one was raised to appreciate our military and our freedom they protect. I wonder, however, if most of the holidays established to celebrate our heroes and our country have not been reduced to nothing more than picnics and parties. Have burgers and hot dogs replaced flags and memorials? Do we now ignore their sacrifices and hold “sacred” the three-day weekend?

While we enjoyed the freedom to gather with family and friends for cookouts, did we soberly consider the sacrifices that were made to give us our freedom?

Please read this whole article at The Bottom Line … 

Debt Free

As the holidays loom and my wallet constricts as miserably as Santa on a diet, I came across a familiar verse. I’ve never seen the Lord’s Prayer in this light before…I hope this is fresh to you too.

“And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12a (ESV)

Daddy raised his girls to be debt free. “The borrower is servant to the lender,” he would quote Proverbs 22:7. I’ve been blessed by his instruction and counsel fiscally, but is there another kind of debt? Am I someone’s servant or am I keeping others indentured to me?
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, part of His memorable reply is, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The obvious interpretation is God wants us to forgive those who wrong us. But another version says, “forgive us our debts” and perhaps this is more true to the Greek. The word interpreted as “trespass” or “debt” is opheilēma, meaning: that which is owed. Laying aside for a moment, our individual sins against God, isn’t it true that summarily, “we owed a debt we could not pay”? We owe God worship, obedience and love and we fall miserably short, every, single day. He not only forgives specific sins, He daily forgives our insurmountable debt incurred by simply being human. Now He calls us to do the same—to release others from the burden of what they “owe” us.
It’s so easy to declare that my husband owes me affection, my children owe me respect, my employer owes me a raise. But Jesus prayed that I would not only forgive specific offenses but overall, forgive the debts rightfully owed to us. In 1 Corinthians, Paul says love keeps no record of wrongs and does not seek it’s own way. Love has no concept of what it deserves.
Father, teach me to forgive as you do.

Mine is the Story

After six years of full-blown anorexia, six years of tremulous recovery, three years of painful relapse and three years of telling God that I didn’t want to write a book—I started writing my story.

It was difficult to argue with God when He brought me an agent. It was even more difficult to argue when He brought us a publisher. They believed in my story and believed it had the potential to help others affected by eating disorders. So, I started writing.

I wrote the true story of this girl who decided at age fourteen that she would define herself by being thin. She would establish her identity as the one with the most self-restraint, physical discipline and iron will, to the destruction of her body. Mine is the story of this girl who spent her sixteenth, then eighteenth birthdays and a total of six years at an inpatient treatment facility in Arizona. I married at age 22 and then discovered my husband’s addiction to pornography; suffered a relapse and nearly lost my marriage.

The best part of the story was the most difficult to write. How to explain the way God rescued this miserable, dying woman? How to explain the way He finally made the truth make sense? How to write about that day when I walked through an open air farmers’ market on Percival Point in Olympia, Washington—the day the world sprung back to life and I could suddenly see apples and glossy, red cherries and fresh caught salmon as glorious, delicious gifts from God?

It was hard to express the excitement and profundity of that day. For so many years I saw food as the enemy, my hunger as something to be fought against and my body as a foe to be buffeted. But on that sunny afternoon, God revealed food to me the same way that He did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the way He intended us to view food.

“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3

The final steps toward the process of publishing have been difficult. On several occasions it felt like I was up against Satan himself. I wondered why? My story seems insignificant. My testimony is small and it doesn’t seem world-changing. But when I shared this discouragement with a friend, she validated my story.

She pointed out, “John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Then she said, “If anorexia’s purpose isn’t to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan, then I don’t know what is! God WILL use your story to open blind eyes and set the captives free. That’s why Satan is trying to sabotage your, no His, story.”

And so, I share my story. It’s not different, no more profound or world-changing than yours. Our lives are uniquely part of God’s purpose and His plans for them are powerful.

If you’d like to read my ebook, or buy the paperback, visit these links on Amazon: Surviving the Predatory Lies of Anorexia (ebook) The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story (paperback)

*Update: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story, was successfully published in March of 2014. To God the glory! Now, I have embarked on the next journey with Jesus, I’m writing a Bible study. I’ll keep you posted on the process and publication. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Lewis Does It…Again

I so wish I could’ve met C.S. Lewis! He “gets” me like he’s inside my head sometimes. Then again, other times, he washes completely over my head and leaves me gasping for breath, dazed and confused.

This arrived in my inbox last Thursday. I love everything about it. From the consideration of redeemed creation to the gentle appreciation for broken-down bodies.

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the resurrection of the body and of all creation; and on the goodness of the bodies we now have.
26 November 1962
My stuff about animals came long ago in The Problem of Pain. I ventured the supposal—it could be nothing more—that as we are raised in Christ, so at least some animals are raised in us. Who knows, indeed, but that a great deal even of the inanimate creation is raised in the redeemed souls who have, during this life, taken its beauty into themselves? That may be the way in which the ‘new heaven and the new earth’30 are formed. Of course we can only guess and wonder.
But these particular guesses arise in me, I trust, from taking seriously the resurrection of the body: a doctrine which now-a- days is very soft pedalled by nearly all the faithful—to our great impoverishment. Not that you and I have now much reason to rejoice in having bodies! Like old automobiles, aren’t they? where all sorts of apparently different things keep going wrong, but what they add up to is the plain fact that the machine is wearing out. Well, it was not meant to last forever. Still, I have a kindly feeling for the old rattle-trap. Through it God showed me that whole side of His beauty which is embodied in colour, sound, smell and size. No doubt it has often led me astray: but not half so often, I suspect, as my soul has led it astray. For the spiritual evils which we share with the devils (pride, spite) are far worse than what we share with the beasts: and sensuality really arises more from the imagination than from the appetites: which, if left merely to their own animal strength, and not elaborated by our imagination, would be fairly easily managed. But this is turning into a sermon!
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack

Courtesy of Bible Gateway

What the Hatmaker Said When She Interrupted Me

God keeps interrupting me.

It started with this appetizer last week. On top of that, having just moved to a new place and flexing my “get acquainted” muscles, I’m looking for the places to plug into my community where I can have an impact for Christ. Then, I was chosen to be one of 250 bloggers to receive an advanced review copy of Jen Hatmaker’s updated book, Interrupted. I was primed for Jen’s book, pondering and praying about God’s next move in my life.

For the next few weeks here on Predatory Lies, I’m going to plow through Jen’s book with you. By the time we’re done, you’re going to have to read it just to see if you agree with my revelations from it. (But that’s okay because through July 31, you can get a 20% discount on the book here. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a copy on Predatory Lies, too!)

I’m only a few chapters in right now, but let me tell you, Jen Hatmaker kept me up last night. No, not reading. I’m pretty good about turning the lights out at a reasonable hour even when I’m reading a great book. But she got under my skin; she kept me awake pondering whether or not I’ve totally missed God, if all my attempts to follow Him, to work out my salvation, to hone my vocation and use my little life for His glory—whether I’d gotten it all wrong.

Here’s Jen’s first epiphany: “And from the heights of heaven, this is what I heard: ‘You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of my sheep will die to day because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are my youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around.’”

Gut punch.

Jen follows that excerpt from her conversation with Christ with dozens of statistics. It’s heart-rending. Honestly, the statistics have always been available, but most of us have learned to scan over them when we see them in print, or change the channel when the Compassion International commercial comes on, or squirm in our seats when they take a special collection for missionaries in Uganda.

Before you squirm now and bail on me, take heart, I’m going to take a different spin on Jen’s message. Yes, she kept me awake, but it wasn’t God leaning into my heart saying, “You’re not doing enough.”

I wrestled all night, “God what do you want from me? Where am I supposed to go, what am I supposed to do? Is all my Christianity filthy to you because I’m not on my knees cleaning a leper’s sores in India?”

No.

(I know I’m kind of all over the board right now, but bear with me.)

Jen’s right and I’m not wrong. I’m not averting my gaze from her statistics and I’m not going to quit reading the book because it makes me uncomfortable. In fact, I’m going to change my prayer life, increase my financial giving and take brutal inventory of my excess. I’m making a commitment today not to buy anything else this year that is not consumable—no new clothes, dishes or decorations. I am committing before God not to live in blissful ignorance of the needs of God’s global, precious image-bearers.

But God hasn’t called everyone to take up Jen Hatmaker’s mission. God hasn’t called every Christian to march under her banner.

A couple years ago, God wouldn’t let me out from under James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

About that time, He opened doors from Brave and I to become a certified pet therapy team and we’ve been visiting the sick, elderly and lonely. I am passionate about this. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s boring or frustrating trying to carry on an encouraging conversation with someone on the brink of senility or trying to appear interested when a lonely child won’t stop talking, or pretending I don’t notice a disfigurement, an ugly wound or the dirty hand gripping mine. But I know that I know this is what God has given me to do—and He’s given me a passion for it as well.

Additionally, God has opened doors wider than I ever thought imaginable to speak hope and healing into the lives of several girls pinned down under the weighty lies of an eating disorder. This is brings me joy, challenges me and affects my heart. This too keeps me on my knees asking God for wisdom, words and grace.

Summation? Jen’s book is going to cost me some sleep. She’s awaking my heart to a deeper level of need that I’ve either been unaware of or not wanted to acknowledge. However, her clarion call will press me deeper into my own calling to serve the least of these, dig my hands deeper into the soil of my own mission field and follow the Servant-Savior wherever He leads.

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Feel the Sunrise

shrimp-boat-sunrise-1445726-mSun rose, bold and brash,
Flaming bronze across the sky.
Horizontal in its peeking,
Not yet determined to push away the night.

I sat still as stone,
My feet grown useless,
A part of the splintered floor beneath them.
I sat still as stone, paralyzed by anticipation,
Awaiting glory.

The air is clear.
Not devoid of color, warmth or sound,
Indeed full of bird song,
Tenderness and blushes, tints, pops of pigment.
Waiting…

It is clear of confusion—
That slept away.
Clear of fear and timidity,
Not yet risen for the day.

Sun bold, streaks upward,
Advancing on the night.
But as I listen and feel for glory,
Eyes close to restrain my sight.

Have I felt the sunrise before?
This so remarkable, could I forget?

First a small toe, then five
As heat seeps up my ankle.
Goosebumps swell, pop and fade
As radiance explores me.

Glory.
I feel it stealing over me, slowly,
Awakening each pore.
Devours knee, thigh, waist,
Shoulder, neck, cheek…
And I am Glory.

Melded one and melted into
Divine joy, newness, declaration.
Life Lives! It calls:
Awaken.