Sunny Sea Gold’s Story

Most of you know my story by now. If you don’t, please read these 2 posts and it will help to fill in the gaps. God Is Going to Give Up On Me and Guest Post on Carole’s Blog. 

Then, enjoy this story. It is a compelling story published in Redbook magazine. Sunny tells how even loving family members can introduce us to terrible fears and longterm bad habits and contagious pain. Sunny’s story has a bright ending, though. She has chose to ignore cultural norms and to raise her daughters with a fearless view toward their bodies.

Sunny Sea Gold: I Was Fat In A Thin Family

 

 

My Love Letter

A friend of mine, Charles Mashburn,  introduced me to this blog today. I’m intrigued, so this post is an interruption of our weekly programing to bring you, One More Love Letter.

 

 

(Magic in the Backyard hosts a weekly Friday Free Write. Please check it out. The above header is featured on her site. )

Dear Friend,

I imagine you’re feeling a little lonely today. If not, save this letter for a day when you are.

Believe me, as a fellow woman, I know: nothing needs to change, the light only needs to reflect differently on the water, a speck of eyeshadow cascade into your eye. Maybe you stub your toe, blink twice or wish you had eaten cereal for breakfast instead of toast. NOTHING needs to change for your peppiness to disappear, the spring in your step to be sprung, your whistle while you work to fade, your happy-go-lucky to go somewhere else. That’s the nature of being a girl – moods.

But think of it, that’s a comfort really. When you know that you simply FEEL one way, that nothing is any different from the way it was when you FELT another way – you can live through it!

“Hear me when I say it: if Loneliness needs to visit then waste no time in pulling up its chair. If Sadness wants to dance today, get on those ballet shoes. If Tire and Exhaustion are demanding that they sit beside you on the train, let one take the window seat and the other the aisle.
They’ll be leaving soon. They’ll make their way out. They won’t stay forever, though it may seem that way right now. But you, you just keep on going, knowing that all you are doing is absolutely enough. You are doing just fine.” (quoted from Free Write Friday)

Remember that time you sat in a circle of glowing sunshine? Then you looked across the street to see your neighbor’s house bleary behind a curtain of pouring rain. The cloud bursts never last long, but in that moment there is undoubtedly a rainbow. Your momentary loneliness is a cloudburst. Somewhere, just across the street, the sun is brilliant, and if you want you can walk right over there and bask in its glory.

ROY G BIV

Arches over the street where you live.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green,

Your loneliness is not as it seems.

Blue, Indigo, Violet,

Every sunrise has a sunset.

Today will soon spin into tomorrow,

The globe round once and joys will borrow.

Copyright: All rights reserved by PelicanPete

Know this, dear one, you have a friend,

Tears, raindrops, sunlight blend,

Into a rainbow.

 

 

 

Too Much Information

This past week I rode out my first earthquake (5.9) and my first real hurricane. Irene and I are pretty much friends, since she left. Kindly, she didn’t take my electricity or internet or trees or lawn furniture. If you like, you can check out a poem I wrote for her here.  But, she also left me something to ponder:

I often (OK, always) listen to either news radio, Christian music, Janet Parshall,  or a podcast sermon. But, as Irene approached, I upped the ante on news. Incessantly, obsessively, I listened to weather updates and hurricane warnings. I almost felt like I was in greater control if I knew what to expect. It was as if I could keep my lights on or will Irene back to sea if I just knew what to expect. I think I might have cursed the meteorologist if she had been wrong. How dare she lie to me!

I know, really I do, that I had no control whatsoever over Irene’s behavior. For that matter, neither did the weather-woman. Suddenly, it dawned on me (albeit slowly) that Irene was going to do what Irene was going to do whether I knew about it or not! Hurricanes have been attacking coastlines for millennium – long before radios and television broadcasted warnings. And the earthquake! it shook my house and the Washington Monument with no forethought. The only forethought given was God’s.

It seems funny to me, as we think we grow smarter and smarter, that ultimately we are no more powerful. Is God chuckling? In fact, perhaps we were better off before we knew enough to frighten us of everything.

– now that we have defined calories – we worry about eating too many

– now that we measure our education by degrees – we worry that we aren’t smart enough

– now that we have games and computers we spend hours lost in ourselves and outside of relationship

– now that we have so much information, we have too much to do and no time for families

Do you see what I’m saying?

Recently, I read a study that determined that the average adult spends more than 8 hours a day in front of some screen – receiving information. And yet, we know that we are scarcely using the vast capacity of our minds. Made in the image of God – should we re-evaluate what type of information we are consuming?

What is a “Good” Person?

It’s a common cultural assumption that there is value in being a good person. Indeed, there is value in being well behaved: you will have more friends that if you’re ugly, you will likely stay out of jail, others will usually be good to you and other obvious benefits. But, contrary to this common cultural assumption, there is NO LIFE-SAVING value in being a good person.

Watch this:

This morning I was reading “Table Talk”  a devotional magazine published by Ligonier Ministries. Dr. Sproul explained concisely the impossibility and worthlessness of being a good person prior to faith in Jesus Christ.

“[The] desire to please God is a mark of conversion, and the Bible finds it inconceivable that any regenerate person would lack a desire to please the Lord. Some people might consider an emphasis on our need to do what pleases God incompatible with the gospel of justification by faith alone. Indeed, a stress on pleasing the Lord would be improper if we were to believe that we must please God before He will save us. Our best deeds fall far short of our Creator’s perfect standards, so pleasing Him is not our ticket to heaven. But it is not inconsistent to seek to please the Lord following salvation. In fact, a desire to please God is the necessary and inevitable consequence of the new birth.” (Table  Talk, August 24, 2011)

Christians aren’t always good people, in fact, unfortunately, Christians are often (rightly) held to a higher standard of morality and fall disgracefully short. Good people aren’t necessarily Christians.  Christians are the worthless sinners who have recognized their need for a savior and have recognized Jesus Christ as that perfect, righteous Savior. AFTER believing Jesus, it is a Christian’s reliance on Him that enables goodness. And it is AFTER believing in Jesus that God requires a life that is a worthy representation of His Son.

It’s All In the Numbers

Collectively, Capital Bikeshare participants have burned roughly 382,499,362 calories since September 2010. How do I know that? Recently, the D.C. based effort to reduce its carbon footprint and shrink America’s waistline, introduced the technology to calculate the calories burned each time someone mounts a Bikeshare bike. The bike uses 180 lbs. as the average size adult to make its calculations, although you can change the data to your specifications. Using information beyond my reach, the bikes also indicate how much CO2 each rider spares the atmosphere.

I love working out. Honestly, I am more committed to tomorrow morning’s workout than I am to things I should probably esteem more highly than jumping jacks. But, I am also hyper aware of the numbers plague. This is an insidious disease that attacks indiscriminately, but prefers young women.

It begins with the fine print on the side of a box of Cheerios. Then, suddenly it can be seen glaring from a menu board at McDonald’s, peering up from watch bands, blaring from billboards and murmured by fearful friends. “How many calories are in that pretzel?”

“Seriously, I have to go running (bike riding) so I can burn off my 400 calorie lunch!”

Do you think it’s a good thing that public transportation now measures the success of your commute by how many calories you burn?

But wait! You don’t have to count calories anymore – you can count your bites!  I have serious doubts about the accuracy, but this new little gizmo will tally how many times you use that special wrist movement called “fork to mouth.” Apparently, we humans are so finely tuned that we use the same special movement whether we are eating with a spoon, a fork or our hands. Even eating a whole apple involves this wrist twist. Just don’t stoop to mimicking your dog when you eat – you’ll confuse the bite-o’meter (maybe that’s the point).

Using technology designed to help the military track repetitive body movements involved in clearing buildings in Iraq, (a much more noble pursuit) your new watch can record each 25 calorie bite. There’s the subjectivity – the counter assumes that each bite you take is an average of 25 calories.

In and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with these clever new inventions. I do wonder though, given the state of our floundering economy: How much in government grants went toward research and development?

The only lie I am uncovering here is the repetitive insinuation that we must count our output, tally our intake and monitor our measurements. Are we ever just OK? Is it possible to simply enjoy deeply breathing fresh air while biking to work? (Probably not in D.C.) What if you chew too much? Will your new gadget condemn you for excessive mastication?

Waiting

She is a silhouette,

I am a shadow.

Known, but not knowing

Who is safe, what to do.

She only shows me half her face,

I know she’s longing just for grace.

Grace to give, first must receive,

Oh God! A moment of reprieve!

From thoughts that assail her,

My mind is a cage,

Of wild birds

Thrashing in rage.

She sees light outside,

I share her window.

Waiting, lost pride,

If she leaves, I will follow.

Guilty as Charged?

If hell had water, I’d think I was drowning.

The contents of my head are pounding.

Tears swell up and overflow,

Satan whispers, “I told you so.”

If only I’d done a better job,

At obeying God.

This wouldn’t happen if I were good,

If I would be the Christian I should.

The Lie exposed in chapter 4 of “Ten Things Jesus Never Said,” is: If you really loved God, you’d be good.  Obviously, you don’t love him.  Why do you keep falling into the same sin over and over again?  Why do you keep falling like you do?  You must not be a very serious Christian.  (pg 62-62)

John 9:1-7 “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’
Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.”

That pretty much cinches the whole argument.  The blind man had lived his entire life in dismal circumstances.  Obviously, the world around him, assumed that either he or his parents had sinned, causing his blindness.  But Jesus, dispelled that lie.  I imagine the blind man was as much relieved by the public declaration of his innocence, as he was to instantly see his reflection in the Pool of Siloam.  And his parents, perhaps they had been ostracized by their neighbors for their imagined sin.  Suddenly, Jesus had declared His own glory to be the cause of their son’s blindness – and then He had healed him!  What a relief to know that our shortcomings have always had a place in God’s sovereign plan.

On page 70, Davis asks, “Guilt or God?”  There he explains the difference between a guilty conscience and convicted one:

Guilt condemns; conviction calls you to something better

Guilt tears down; conviction builds you up

Guilt seeks to destroy; conviction seeks to restore 

“Guilt isn’t from God.  Grace is.” (pg. 75)

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF THE BOOK, “TEN THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID: And why you should STOP believing them.”

MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT SO THAT YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING!

Chapter 2, Am I Such a Loser?

By far, the chapter I expected to be most affected by in Davis’ book, “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” was chapter three.

You are constantly letting God down.  With every new day, he has a fresh and full slate of hopes and dreams for your life, but by the end of each day, he’s facing the ugly reality that you’ve failed to be all that he hoped you would.  Once again, you haven’t lived up to God’s expectations.  (pg 51)

Again, well-versed Christian that I am, I don’t really believe this, do I?  Well, if our behaviors are the truest indicators of our beliefs, then yes, sadly, I do believe that God is terminally disappointed in me.

Many children formulate their perspective of God in the image of their earthly fathers.  Ironic, since we are made in HIS image, not the other way around.  My father was generous with affection.  He spent plenty of time with each of his daughters and met every one of our needs. However, like all earthly dads, he is human.  And, consequently, so are his daughters.  We made myriad mistakes.  We let him down.  And I remember his grimace, the downturn of the corners of his eyes and the straight lips that pressed together – that face meant Daddy was disappointed.

According to Davis, disappointment has everything to do with expectations.  We set our hopes or expectations on something or someone, and the inevitable shortfall results in disappointment.  He gave a perfect example: You cheer for your favorite sports team, expecting them to do well, when they don’t play up to your expectations, you’re disappointed.

What’s the good news?  What is the truth that exposes the mantra, “You’ve disappointed God,” for the fraud that it really is?

GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING!  HE DOESN’T HAVE A SINGLE EXPECTATION.  FROM THE DAY YOU WERE CONCEIVED AND BEFORE, HE HAS BEEN INTIMATELY AWARE OF EVERYTHING YOU WILL EVER DO.  Therefore, you can’t fail to meet His expectations.

Davis gives a couple of Biblical examples, that you’ll have to read the book to understand.  The Bible has no shortage of flawed heros and heroines.

On a personal note, as I finished this chapter, I remembered God’s word in Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  In Philippians 2:5, we are told to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ.  Just today, someone I love dearly has disappointed me.  I don’t think I can completely avoid that emotion.  But, Davis’ book has caused me to consider my response to that person.  I don’t want to cause them to despair, as I feel when I believe I have let God down.  I want to love in such a way, that my disappointment resounds with forgiveness, humility and mercy.

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF THE BOOK, “TEN THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID: And why you should STOP believing them.”

MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT SO THAT YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING!

Tell Yourself The Truth

Truth in love.  How real is that?  For me, the truth is either obvious and commonly accepted or a source of contention best buried inside and kept to one’s self.

The truth is, I’m jealous.  The truth is I am angry, my pride is hurt and I’m frustrated that I’ve been this way so long. As I look at the object of my envy, I long so much to be brilliant, valuable, funny, adventurous, creative, spontaneous, intelligent, forceful, strong and independent. The more I stare at her seemingly, carved-ivory perfection, I feel empty, carved out and caving in, but I am never able to simply collapse and rest.

As I sat praying about all this, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Abby, none of these things are the fruit of my spirit. How do you plan to cultivate these things without my favor?” The Spirit also began to speak to me about love. Specifically that I am called to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and that love is NOT jealous, self-seeking, rude, easily angered or bitter. (1 Cor. 13)

Next, He began to whisper short, sweet sentences to me:

– Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)

– Speaking the truth in love rules out giving someone the silent treatment

– Bear with one another in love (Col. 3:13)

– Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) Even fears of caving in, of being empty.

Sometimes I have wondered why Paul insisted that faith and hope remain with love. I have to hope that Jesus will be faithful to create His love in me.