Active Rest, Walking out the “Stuck”

I’m really good at giving advice. And I’m pretty good at taking it from others. I start to struggle a bit when I know that I need to take my own advice. More accurately, when I need to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He tells me something I don’t want to hear.

There are a lot of things going on in my life that I don’t have much control over. Yet, I’m wearing myself out, tangling myself up in my mind trying to get a grip on them, force the proper outcome, demand the delayed response, see the future. But I’m hearing God say “rest”.

How does one rest? What does one do in the meantime? I mean, the world keeps spinning, expectations keep mounting, time marches on and: I still don’t have an answer God! I don’t know what to do about this circumstance, that situation or another relationship.

The One Word God gave me as a lens through which to view this year is walk. I sat with my Bible on my lap, staring out the window at a gloomy, spring morning and waited, as best I could, for God to give me something more. I didn’t know how to get up, or what to do next if He didn’t answer me. Finally, He spoke:

Abby, I want you to see the correlation between walking and rest. Do not charge ahead as if you’re in some race toward a marked finish line. There are no lanes, no finish lines, just a person-goal, Myself.

When I was deeply entrenched in my eating disorder, compulsive exercise was one of my greatest challenges and resting was very hard for me. In “workout vernacular” there’s a term active rest. It is those seconds between sets or days between workouts that capitalize on all your hard work. During those rest periods, the muscles and tissues grow and rebuild. Without them, the body’s ability to perform diminishes.

When those rest periods are used wisely, the body is able to lift more, run farther and perform more efficiently over time. In those periods, it is beneficial to drink water, consume nutrients, stretch—and walk. Stagnant rest is detrimental to muscles, but slow, constructive, mindful movement accelerates healing and increases longevity.

Walk, Abby. This is how you wait. One foot in front of the other; the next right thing.

The exercise analogy can be related to the importance of rest in my daily life and walk with God. So often throughout Scripture, God calls us to wait on Him. Usually, I spin my wheels in those spaces, wondering when He is going to act, or maybe I can just step in and do whatever it is for Him. But God calls me to wait, tells me to rest for my own good.

He knows that when I slow my movement, consume the nourishment of His word and walk mindfully through each day I’ll eventually come upon His answer. And after those seasons of slow movement, rest and recovery, I will be able to serve Him longer, in more difficult circumstances and with a stronger faith.

This was first published at http://www.FINDINGbalance.com

Advertisements

Welcome to Clarksville!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hello Lovlies!

Welcome to Clarksville! It’s my plan to be more spontaneous with our posts again here very soon, now that life is settling into its new, “normal”.

As I peeled my heart away from Columbus, GA and the friends I’ve made there and reacquainted with, the hobbies I’ve begun, my chair at church, the park that I frequented on sunny days and the one more conducive to rainy ones–as I gently wiggled my heart like a well-stuck sticker and tried to loosen it’s adhesive, I realized something. I mean no offense to friends, but I think I grieved the loss of routine more than anything. Does that make sense?

Of course, that routine included dear ones. I am sad for the end of weekly coffee visits with Johanna, for true-southern hospitality at Nanny and Katherine’s house. I am sad for Tuesday/Thursday visits on regular floors at TMC–for smiles with Mailey, Shanna, Nancy, Barbara, Megan, Penny, Daisy, Alex and Amy and others.

But here’s what I’m learning:

God has recently been speaking to me of exposure. My favorite therapist of all time (how many people can say that?) once told me that recovery would become easier with time, that walking in freedom would become my “new normal”. Stacy explained, “When water flows down one side of a hill over and over it creates a channel and nothing will divert it, unless the water is forced down the other side of the hill enough times. Then, it will create a deeper, more compelling channel on the other side. Over time, the water will naturally flow down that opposite side.”

Stacy was right about recovery. Today, healthy feels normal and right to me. But her lesson applies to so many other aspects of life, too.

The day after we arrived in Clarksville, Brave and I ventured to the Upland Trail, their version of a riverwalk. My heart sank. The trail is less than two miles long. Our home is lovely, but it’s situated in a neighborhood with no safe places to walk the dog. There’s more traffic than I expected, no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or farmer’s market.

When our furniture didn’t arrive as early as I hoped, I felt my mood slipping and along with it a half dozen tears down my grimy cheeks. (Did I mention that it’s every bit as humid as Georgia? That leads to grimy cheeks quickly!)

Quietly, my Father started speaking to me about exposure. 

Lord, what can that possibly have to do with me, here, now and this achy sense of loss. I have no routine here, no way to plan or expect what happens next. I have no friends to call for coffee or familiar parks to stroll. What does exposure have to do with it?

One week later, from Thursday, May 29 to Thursday, June 5, I understand. You see, in one week I’ve been exposed to spectacular Tennessee thunder storms, friendly neighbors, a new state park with a few miles of trails that emulate a rain forest. I’ve been exposed to new patterns of streets and today found my way home without the GPS. I’ve been exposed to “camping” with my husband for (too many) nights and the welcome hug of a comfy bed again. I’ve been exposed to
wide—–open—spaces that remind me of Oklahoma–ranches, farms and fields of wildflowers between every building, bridge or street. I’ve been exposed to new accents and a different version of southern hospitality. I’ve been exposed to a new side of the hill.

The course of my life has been redirected. In only seven days I’ve begun to wallow out a different bed for my stream. My life is bubbling over new stones, around mysterious curves and tumbling down unexpected bluffs.

Are you getting this?

Exposure is what makes normal. Exposure is what makes familiar and acceptable and good. How does a child know that the neighbor’s mom can’t make chocolate chip cookies? Because they don’t taste “right” like the ones that Grandma makes.

So, I’m discovering our new town, our new home and forming new habits. They will feel deliciously comfortable and right, until it’s time to move again. Then, with a gentle nudge, God will redirect the course of my life again, expose me to what only He foresees and I’ll fall in love all over again.

Sacred Sustenance

Ah, I need more time to talk to you! I’ve tuned my ears on this journey of walking and hearing voices  such that I’m finding so many things to share with you. And the truth is, I’m gleaning so much wisdom from the sages I’ve chosen to “walk” with that there’s scarce enough time to fit a word in edgewise. So then, without further ado, listen to C.S. Lewis’ words:

By the bye, what are your views, now, on the question of sacraments? To me that is the most puzzling side of the whole thing. I need hardly say I feel none of the materialistic difficulties: but I feel strongly just the opposite ones—i.e., I see (or think I see) so well a sense in which all wine is the blood of God—or all matter, even, the body of God, that I stumble at the apparently special sense in which this is claimed for the Host when consecrated. George Macdonald observes that the good man should aim at reaching the state of mind in which all meals are sacraments. Now that is the sort of thing I can understand: but I find no connection between it and the explicit “sacrament” proprement dit [“properly so called”]. The Presbyterian method of sitting at tables munching actual slices of bread is clearly absurd under ordinary conditions: but one can conceive a state of society in which a real meal might be shared by a congregation in such a way as to be a sacrament without ceasing to be also their actual dinner for that day. Possibly this was so in the very early Church.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By

Maybe this doesn’t affect anyone as it does me. But as a former anorexic, the concept of all meals, taken in gratitude, being sacred arrests me. Food, that so-long-enemy, as a means to honor and embrace the Savior…

Took the Words Out of My Mouth, and Old Lessons Re-Learned

There’s something affirming about someone taking the words right out of your mouth, especially when that someone is really Someone!

In July, I wrote a post called, “Love Isn’t What You Thought It Was”.

(To be honest, God has been dredging up a lot of old lessons for the past few weeks: Walking, Loving, Good Works, Calling and Purpose to name a few.)

A few days ago, I received my daily subscription from Desiring God. The sermonette was written by John Bloom, the president of Desiring God.

His title caught my eye: Love is Not a Verb. 

Funny, I think I wrote something like that…

So, I went back through the archives of Predatory Lies and discovered that indeed, God had spoken that same truth to my own heart: “Love Isn’t What You Thought It Was“.

I won’t go so far as to say that great minds think alike, but I will revel in the truth that our God never changes. His truth is always the same, yesterday and forever.

What do you think Love is?

coming SOON, the paperback of The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story

Walking, Hearing Voices

I’ve set my ONE WORD this year as: Walk, and we’ll talk about that much in the coming weeks. It might even be the seed of a new book germinating (very deeply and slowly) in my heart.

At the end of 2013, God brought several new voices into my life. I’d heard the echoes of two of them many times, but only began to recognize their wisdom recently. The other one I’m sharing with you today is a new friend, and in coming weeks you’ll get to “sit” down with Brenna Kate Simonds and get to know her personally.

But, these are the voices of a couple of people I plan to walk with this year.

C.S. Lewis: “You do not have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

Rick Warren: “For change to happen in any area of your life, whether it’s financial, vocational, educational, mental, or relational, you have to begin with the physical.

Why? Because your body affects your behavior. Your muscles affect your moods and your motivation. Your physiology can actually affect your psychology.”

Brenna Kate Simonds: Wherever you go, there you are.

Have you ever thought about what this really means? We get so focused on changing our external circumstances that we forget this simple truth: Most external issues flow out of internal issues. So no matter where you go or how much weight you lose, inside you are still you. If we don’t allow God to change the internal, changing the externals will not have the hoped-for result. We will experience the same trials, the same struggles, the same unhelpful thought patterns. We will do the same thing again and again and expect different results.

Obviously, these voices span the ages, but there is wisdom in each. Throughout this year, as you “walk” with me, I will introduce you to many other voices that will influence us to walk in the freedom that Christ purchased for us.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Eph. 5:8

Exploiting Pain’s Privilege

I met Sadie at bootcamp.

A little, blond Curly-locks wandered into the backyard. She was an old-soul. You could see it in her peaceful eyes. Instead of a wild, catch-me-if-you-can grin, like so many kids her age, she confidently walked over to a set of toy trucks and went to work driving over imaginary roadways and through imaginary cities.

Sadie has something I wish had. Sadie has a bearing, a confidence, a quietness, a contentedness, a peace about her. As I learned Sadie’s story, I understood where these qualities come from. Sadie was diagnosed with Stage II Neuroblastoma at the age of 3 months. Praise God, Sadie is now in remission.

Here on Predatory Lies, we have talked a lot about the privilege of pain. Certainly, no one would wish for Sadie’s struggles, hospital stays and the strain it placed on their family. But our Glorious Father has brought beauty from ashes and Sadie and her family have flourished into a sun-ripened, bountiful, life-filled field in the wake of her pain.

I am joining Sadie’s big sister Anna and the rest of their family at the Cure Search Walk for Children’s Cancer, on October 14. If you are able to join us – wonderful! If not, would you consider supporting CureSearch?

I can say with confidence that nearly everyone who reads this post has been touched by cancer in some way. I would be honored and grateful if you would join me as I join Sadie and her family in the fight.

P.S. Brave wants me to tell you that he’s walking too, and he would love your support!

Not Looking for Miracles

Wonders of wonder, miracles of miracles! That’s what we’re talking about this week. I would love to hear your miracles – please send them to me via comments here or feel free to email me personally. Also, if you need a miracle, please let me know. I promise to pray for you.

Let me share the miracle that I mentioned at the beginning of this month:

It was a drizzly, cold Monday morning. We’re still in the fledgling stages of Moms Who TRI. Kristen and I keep reminding each other that God is sovereign over our business’ success – and over the weather. Right now, we’re still training in her backyard, so rainy days effectively cancel our bootcamps.

The bum deal is that I am not omniscient, so I had no idea what the weather would do. I got up early, hustled through my quiet time with the Lord and then at the last minute, Kristen and I agreed, there was no way we could hold Moms Who TRI. So there I was with a whole free morning ahead of me. If you know me at all, you know that’s very disconcerting.

I’m from the Seattle area. I don’t melt. Brave was pacing around my ankles. So, we loaded up in the car and drove to the trails behind South Run RECenter. There’s nothing like a walk in the rain to clear your head. I was actually looking forward to the solitude, but noticed another woman heading toward the trailhead with her dog. Politely, we exchanged greetings and I expected to go our separate ways. God had other plans.

“How are you? How did you come to be walking in the rain this morning?”
“My husband is working out in the gym, but the dog needed to get out.  My husband’s health isn’t such that he should be walking in the rain.”

Then.

“Oh well. I’m going to bear my soul.” Tears filled her eyes and out of the blue, this virtual stranger poured out her heart. “Until the day before yesterday we believed that my husband’s cancer was in remission. He’s been on an experimental drug that made him miserable, but we thought it was working. Then, two days ago, the doctor told us that the cancer has gotten into his cerebrospinal fluid. He may have only a few months to live.”

Oh how my heart broke as this lady continued. I never even got her name as she continued to spill her sorrows. She had already been widowed once. Her children had moved away and her dog was old. “I’m afraid I’m going to be all alone, again.” They had both recently retired at a young age. Looking forward they had dreamed up plans to visit Bulgaria.

I am as uncomfortable as anyone else in these situations. I’ve always thought that I lived a charmed life by most standards. But then… I’ve watched loved ones die of cancer. I’ve been completely alone. I teetered on the edge of divorce. I’ve been suicidal. So perhaps my life hasn’t been so rosy. So where does one find the capacity for empathy and sympathy at the same time? How does one identify and comfort and most importantly, what does one say to another?

“You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” Psalm 73:24

“But don’t worry about what you should say. Say the things God gives you to say at that time. It will not really be you speaking. It will be the Holy Spirit speaking.” Mark 13:11b

Honestly, I said very little. I do know that we talked about Jesus. And at the end of our walk, we still never exchanged names, but this sweet woman pulled me into a hug and whispered, “Thank you. Thank you for being here today.”

I had never planned to be.

I’m only slowly learning that God’s destruction of my plans is for the construction of a miracle.

About me: Chicken Christian?

I am not confrontational.  I am a hyperactive, people-loving, tail-tucking golden retriever.  I am the first person to notice when you’re sad; I will happily kiss your tears away, try to make you laugh or just be quiet and listen.  I will also be the one running along behind you, eating your dust if you ignore me.  And, if you kick me on your way out the door, I’m likely to be waiting in the same spot to greet you when you come home.

That said, I’m pretty good at loving people.  Let other Christians be bold as lions.

That said, I have been convicted lately of my good-girl testimony.  Everyday, as I go out into the world, I hope that my lifestyle declares Jesus Christ.  This is good, we are told to live as Christ.  But it is not enough.  It has been a comfortable lie to live with – just let them SEE Jesus in me.

I was talking to my dear friend Chrissy the other day, whom I regard as one of the boldest evangelists I know.  She humbly told me that she is disappointed in herself when she goes into Target, does her thing, and leaves.  “I don’t make the very most of every opportunity to proclaim the gospel.”  OUCH!  If she’s concerned that she doesn’t make Target into an evangelistic opportunity, what have I to boast of in my quiet, good-girl lifestyle?

I listened quietly to the Lord this morning as I prayed.  He told me, “Abby, if good behavior is not sufficient to earn salvation, then how is it sufficient to share and explain so great a salvation?”

Today, as I was doing research for Predatory Lies, I was assaulted by a volley lies.  These two stung me:

Love lets everyone be and do just who and what they want to be and do.  Preach love.  Make no judgements – we are all OK!  

There is no need to fear death.  It is not the end of anything, which ever deity(ies) you choose will happily give you your expected reward. 

CHRISTIAN!  These lies will not be refuted by our good behavior.  Love will not stand for the flagrant disregard of God’s moral law.

“Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel.  Be strong and courageous.  Fear not; do not be dismayed.” 1 Chron. 22:13

2 Chron. 32:7 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him.”

At the exact same time, God commands us, “…to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3:2

I will be honest.  I haven’t replied to either post yet.  When I do, I will be a part of the tiniest minority.

This is so hard!  I have myriad friends who do not believe as I do.  I care deeply for several Muslim people and spend time with them every week.  I have had long conversations and shared drinks with women who don’t believe there is a God at all.  I have worked with homosexuals and laughed with them and cried with them and had sushi with them.  They are wonderful people!

So how to reconcile this in my heart?

Love doesn’t keep the best news to itself.  Love doesn’t watch the object of its affection destroy itself or walk off a cliff unknowingly.  I am convinced that love must declare the truth.

When I was sick and starving myself to death, the last thing I wanted to hear was my family or counselor constantly reminding me that I was wrong and I needed to change.  But would they have loved me if they allowed me to continue deadly behaviors?

How can I keep silent?

Borrowing from another convicted believer, Mike Riley at: The Preacher Files

Conclusion

Yes, preaching God’s truth can, will, and most times offend people. When you offend someone you cause that person discomfort. What more can you ask for? Should we not want to preach that which causes someone to be uncomfortable with their lifestyle of sin? Are we not in the wrong when we allow someone to think that they are okay living the sinful life that they are living (Acts 20:26-27; Romans 6:1,15)?

The Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Those who reject the words of our Lord do so out of offense not from the teacher, but out of being offended by the Lord. God commands us to teach and preach nothing more than His word (2 Timothy 4:2). Brethren, if we become the enemy of someone because we adhered to the word of God, so be it!

Bambi is Vicious!!

With twice the proof, I present to you one really big lie: BAMBI IS NOT AFRAID OF YOU!  You’ve been told your whole life that animals are more scared of you that you are of them.  Apparently, that is not true of deer.

Last Saturday, Brave and I were sauntering home from a morning swim (him).  We were walking in the woods behind South Run RECenter, near Mercer Lake.  As usual he was inches outside of my sight, tearing through the woods at break-neck speed.  Suddenly, the thrashing noises got louder than one small dog can make.  Brave began screaming as only a terrified dog can do.

Horrible images flashed through my mind – he’s been bit by a snake and is now roiling on the ground wondering why his mom hasn’t come to save him – he’s been attacked by a bigger dog and is fighting a loosing battle.  The clatter came in stops and starts.  Between his yelps I gained speed as I began running as fast as I could down the path.  I had no idea where to enter the woods; I could tell he was still moving, too.

Then, after what felt like 15 minutes and must have been more like 15 seconds, Brave scampered across the narrow pavement in front of me, followed by a scrawny doe!  I could count her ribs, but she was by no means feeble.  As Brave ran, her hooves pounded directly over him.  She must have struck him once or twice because it was hard to tell the difference between her legs and his.

I don’t remember how they separated, but luckily within the next few strides, she was standing just inside the wood-line and Brave triangulated us in a dog, deer, girl standoff.  I grabbed a thick, 5-foot-long branch and swung like a rabid baseball player.  I used words that I am ashamed to admit here (my mother reads this sometimes).  Reluctantly, the deer jogged away.  She seemed genuinely disappointed that I had ended her game.

As smart as Brave seems sometimes, the furry idiot attempted to follow his predator back into the woods.  I grabbed his scruff and tethered him with the leash.  We did make it home without further incident, only a snapping turtle who at least was willing to mind his own business!

I mentioned that I had twice the proof that Bambi is mean.  A few years ago I wrote a story called, “Disney on the Drop Zone.”  Consider it validation for my position: Deer are NOT more afraid of me than I am of them!

P.S.  Sorry, I didn’t think to grab my camera and record my dog’s potential demise!

Disney on the Drop Zone

I stamped my feet, wiggled my toes and stuffed my hands deeper into my blue-jean pockets.  Hours had passed standing in this barren field waiting for my paratrooper husband to float to the ground so we could go home. A few other wives were around, waiting for their husbands too.  Some had brought their kids and or their dogs.

Early this morning, Patrick had boarded a C-130 for a training jump with the Army Ranger students.  What was supposed to take 30 minutes, invariably lengthened to devour a whole morning! Now I was freezing and desperate to go to the bathroom!

I scanned the horizon for even a tree where I could discreetly create a “ladies’ room” and noticed a crude port potty near the distant tree line.  I conned my friend, Carla, into accompanying me.  I didn’t need an escort, but girls always go in pairs, right?  As we neared the trees, a young deer emerged from the woods and amazingly sauntered toward us!  Any minute, I expected Bambi to realize we were humans and characteristically dart back into his forest.  But no, Bambi walked right up to me and began to rub his rough forehead against my thigh!

Feeling a little like Hiawatha, I returned the affection.  I was entranced by this strange behavior, and continued fondling Bambi’s ears while Carla remained a reserved distance away.  Then suddenly, my new friend lowered his head and slammed viciously into the side of my thigh!  What did I do wrong?

He stepped back slightly and did it again!  What on earth?  I turned to run but the little fiend tried one more time and caught the back of my knee with his two inch antler. It gouged my jeans and sent me sprawling.

Dear Carla was no help!  Comically, she danced around us flapping her arms, shouting undiscernibly and fretting helplessly.  But my hero was on his way; a scrappy little dog, waiting for his master.  His canine ears heard my cries and came tearing across the field!

Bambi saw Tramp coming, ears flying, staccato bark announcing his arrival to save the day.  Before Tramp could even get a nibble of a hoof, Bambi took off like a rocket back to the haven of his trees.  Tramp never paused to check on my wellbeing.  This daring rescue had become a game and he barreled after his prey in hot pursuit!

I stood, uninjured and dusted myself off.  If not for Carla’s witness and the undeniable testimony of the new hole in my jeans, I’d hardly believe it ever happened!