Shelly's Spot

The Words That Tumble Onto The Page

Author: mrscinaz (page 2 of 6)

Looking Forward

Where do you dwell? Where does your mind linger? Where are you going? Are you looking forward or constantly looking back? Is it regret, or a wonderful memory that you can’t let go? Is it joy or sorrow? Is it fear?

In the book of Luke, chapter 9, Jesus talked about the cost of following Him.

Luke 9:57-62Living Bible (TLB)

57 As they were walking along someone said to Jesus, “I will always follow you no matter where you go.”

58 But Jesus replied, “Remember, I don’t even own a place to lay my head. Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Messiah, have no earthly home at all.”

59 Another time, when he invited a man to come with him and to be his disciple, the man agreed—but wanted to wait until his father’s death.

60 Jesus replied, “Let those without eternal life concern themselves with things like that. Your duty is to come and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God to all the world.”

61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will come, but first let me ask permission of those at home.”

62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

You can’t move forward if you are constantly looking back. This is true of all aspects of our lives, we should hold on to good memories, but we should never dwell in the past. Too often we carry with us luggage packed by people who are no longer with us on our journey. A relationship ends badly and for some reason we continue to drag behind us the over stuffed bag that was packed for us by a person who never wanted us to keep moving forward. If the bag is nice, at the very least empty it at the side of the road and move on, stop dragging it into every new relationship and situation expecting to find someone who can help you carry it. If we are not moving forward we are not moving, because in reality we can’t go back. Not all those things that hold us rooted in the past are bad things, some are such wonderful memories that we are afraid if we move too far from them they will fade, but they will always be there, and you can pull them out once in a while and look at them and let those emotions flow through you and wash over you, but you can’t dwell there.

I loved being a mom of little people, the days or bedtimes spent snuggling up with a good book, (Grandfather Twilight, if you are looking for a great bedtime read), the days spent learning new things, when everything was new, those sights and smells, there is nothing like the smell of a clean baby, or a young child when they cuddle in your arms, those days when I could make a boo-boo go away with mommy magic. I loved those days, and I remember fondly every one of those moments, but I am not that young mommy any more and my children are not those little ones any more, to be sure they are still my babies and always will be, but… for one thing they do not smell the same any more. My children have grown, and I remember each milestone and each year with such a fondness and love, I would not have kept them little, even if I could have, because the path we are on doesn’t work that way. I had one child who seemingly didn’t grow up, even at the end, just days before turning 22 she was still like a baby, but she wasn’t and it would have been a disservice to her and the struggles she had faced to pretend she was.

Where do you dwell? Where are you headed? If you are always looking back, you will not see the future that lies ahead of you. If you hold on to who you once were, you will never become who you should be. We are always changing, we have a whole life ahead, no matter how long that might be, to grow and learn and spread our wings, and if we dwell in the past we rob not just ourselves but the world of who we could be. We each have a calling, and we can answer that call and go out into the world and find out who we are, or we can hold back, wait until we are ready, wait for the next bus, and stay where we are, and one day we will discover that we stayed in the past, because time keeps moving, people keep going, and we may find that time left us behind while we waited.

Are you afraid of tomorrow? It is going to come anyway. Are you afraid of failure? Everyone fails, everyone falters. Are you standing at a cross roads, wondering which path you should take, well, don’t stand too long and don’t assume the wider, more worn path is the right one for you, maybe you can wander a little way down, before going back and choosing the other if you want, but choose one, and see where it leads you. Keep moving, allowing yourself to hold onto the good memories, allowing yourself to pull them out and visit with old friends and loved ones, but then… keep going. We are each one of us called to something greater, we need to be moving forward and growing to get there. Even the bad experiences of our lives are part of the tapestry, even those moments we would rather forget but continue to bring out when our fears and doubts surface, those moments are part of who we are becoming, the trick is to learn from them without dwelling on them, to grow from them and then beyond them. To never stop moving forward and looking forward, because the path is narrow, and you could wander off if you aren’t looking where you are going.

Dear Lord,

Thank You for this life, thank You for calling me to serve You and Your people. Please keep me mindful on the future, on where I am going, on where You are leading me. Please help me to discern the path You have placed before me, please keep me from wandering too far away, or from standing still too long. Please help me to make a difference, to go forward without dwelling in fear or hanging on to the things I should be letting go. Please remind me of Your will for my life, please keep me surrounded by others who also seek Your truth, not just the ones who yell the loudest or posture the most, but by those who truly seek You, those who truly listen for Your whisper, those who spend their time moving forward and looking for ways to answer Your call. I live in a world that is noisy and chaotic, and it is sometimes difficult to know if I am moving in the right direction, or if I am hearing Your voice over the din, please give me the patience to seek Your will, the courage to leave the pack and find the narrow path and the faith to step out there and keep moving forward. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Lord and Savior, I pray  – Amen

Eighty Pounds and Two Holidays Later

So, I made it through both Halloween and, the kick off of the Holiday Season, Thanksgiving. I made it through without compromising on my goals, I made it without feeling like I was missing out on something because I didn’t want the things I am not eating. I made it through and continued to not only watch what I eat and continuing to exercise daily but I have continued to lose weight. Since September 3rd I have lost just over 25 pounds, which is a wonderful feeling, not just because of the weight loss, but because of the victory of the will to succeed. In the past I would have sabotaged myself, I would have slipped up, I would have found a reason to give up or cheat myself, but this time I don’t want to sabotage myself, I don’t want the things that would make me slip up, I don’t want to cheat myself, this time I have left those things behind. This time it is my mind and body working together, I don’t want the things I gave up, I am not tempted. I am not fighting an urge, there is no urge, except the urge to eat healthy, to workout, to keep going. I am free, and I can feel it in every bit of my life. It is funny, because until I freed myself I didn’t even realize I was chained to my old ways, I didn’t recognize the trap I had walked into. Food had lost all meaning, food isn’t supposed to be our friend, we can enjoy good food, and enjoy it with the people whose company we also enjoy, but the food, it isn’t supposed to be my companion.

I have discovered things about myself, about my world, I have discovered things about food. Some things I learn are just interesting, a moment of understanding, but there are times, when I am reading about what the food industry does to entice consumers, to make money, to indeed at times lay a trap for us, it is appalling, it is frustrating, it is eye opening. I can’t blame the industry though, their job is indeed to make money, I do wonder about our regulations though, how some countries, countries we identify with, like England, Canada and Australia, to name a few can ban certain things because they know they are not good and yet we freely consume them. I can wonder about how people can say they are concerned about the rise of obesity and yet continue to lay before us a plethora of foods that are labeled “healthy” that no one who has done any scientific research can even laughingly call healthy. I am not blaming the food industry for my obesity, I knowingly ate the wrong things, I knowingly didn’t exercise, I knowingly made choices that were bad for me, but I was aided by a system that wanted me to make those choices. The diet industry isn’t much better, there are so many different diet plans out there that feed us the line that in 2 weeks we will see a marked improvement, or be so much healthier, but what about the next week? What about the next year, or the rest of our lives? Sure, if I follow the pattern, I will initially lose weight, and feel better, but then I am left with no actual knowledge of how to continue, I can’t possibly believe that I can just reintroduce all those things I cut out, back into my diet in slow steady increments and keep the weight off. As a matter of fact, science indicates that I will not only gain back what I lost, but gain back more, and so I will once again turn to the latest diet plan and put my money into a system that is designed for short term success. This is why I am not following a diet plan, this is why I decided to take control of my eating and exercise, this is why this is a life long change and commitment, because I don’t want to go back, I don’t want to be a statistic.

So, I made it through the first 2 overeating holidays, and I am looking forward to Christmas, not because I will overeat, or eat all the wrong things, but because I am so happy that this year I am respecting myself, and I am more focused on my faith than ever before. I am clearer, than I have been in years and I am looking forward to the coming year, the first year in a long time where I will not be obese, a slave to my bad food habits or addictions. Yes, I did say addictions, and I have recognized them and put names to them and pushed them out of my life, I have made the commitment to wake up every day and not behave the way I did before this process started. I believe that everyone should make up their own minds, I will not lecture you, or point out what you are doing wrong, I will not try to deprive you or change you, that is why I don’t share many specifics about what I have learned, because I don’t want to call anyone out on their decisions. My problems with diet and exercise were mine, and I own them, acknowledge them and am dealing with them, it was about my weakness, not anyone else.

What I do know, at this point and going forward, is that no two people are alike, we all come from a different place and we are all going to a different place, as it relates to food, exercise and fitness. If you are looking for guidance, mine is limited by my own experiences, what I am doing anyone could do, just decide to, and then read, and read more, keep track of things if that works for you, find someone to join you if that works for you, or don’t do either if you don’t need to. Don’t do it my way, do it your way, whether your way looks a lot like my way or completely different. For years I talked about when I lost weight, how life would be different, but all that talk never had the effect I wanted, as a matter of fact I steadily gained weight, all while talking about losing weight. I had to actually commit to doing something, and so that is where I am today, down 82 pounds and committed to a new life.

Holding On To Hope

Lamentations 3:21-26 talks about hope, keeping hope, through all things.

Yet this I call to mind

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love

we are not consumed,

for His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

Therefore I will wait for Him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,

to the one who seeks Him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

My faith is strong, and yet I am not so good at the waiting patiently thing. Sometimes things can seem so bleak, that we forget that we always have hope. Sometimes we react so quickly that we forget that God works in His own time. The Lord loves us, and His mercies are new everyday, that means that we start anew everyday as well. The Lord is on our side, but His will may take time to come to pass, but even in bad times, He is working, using all things, even the bad, for His good. It is so easy to lose sight of that, when we are in the trenches of this world.

When the world seems to be falling apart, and we know that things are going to get worse, and we can’t imagine a way out or through, we forget that God is in control, that He does and will use the bad for his purpose, that sometimes we must stand in the furnace, sometimes we must wait in the lion’s den, sometimes we must wander lost. Joseph was sold into slavery by his older brothers, taken away from his father and homeland, thrown into jail, and still he had faith, still he believed in the goodness of God, and then he was lifted up, put in a place of power and eventually saved not just the Egyptians, but his own people, his own family, the very brothers who had sold him in the first place. Yet, when we are faced with hardship, we forget or lose sight, or can’t imagine how God could possibly use this circumstance for His good, His will. Is our faith so small, or weak, that we can doubt Him. God is not limited by our imaginations, He can see things we cannot see, He can do things we cannot do, and He will do what must be done, in His time, not in our own. Yes, it is frustrating to be so human, but the trials we must face are our fires, the dangers and fears are our lions. We need to have our faith in ourselves shaken, so that we will place our faith in God. God is faithful, He has not forgotten us, He has not turned His back on us, He is always working, everyday, in so many ways to save us, when times are darkest we need to not lose sight of that truth.

We have a choice to make, every day, whether the world we live in is calm or in turmoil, will we hold on to hope, or will we let go? Will we keep our eyes on the Lord, or will we lose sight of Him and look to one another? If we want to make it through, then we need to be as faithful to the Lord as He is to us.

Dear Lord,

Please keep me strong, keep me faithful, keep me mindful of You. Remind me, Lord, that my time is not Your time, that my will is not Your will, and while my will can be wrong, Your will is perfect. Remind me, Lord, that we are all Your children, even the ones I don’t agree with, and to remember that I don’t see others the way You see them. I can’t, and I shouldn’t judge, even when I am convinced that I am right. Please help Your people to return to You, every morning, every afternoon, every evening. Please lead us to pray to You, to meditate on Your word, to seek first Your will in all we do. In the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Loving Savior –

Amen

I Survived My First Trip Out Of Town

I am more than halfway through my weight loss journey, and I feel great. I just spent a week out of town, trying to find meals that offered variety as well as met the criteria I have set for myself. It isn’t always easy, because I am not following any one diet plan, I am making this up as I go along, and sometimes the options available are limited, but I survived and I feel great about that. I also did a ton of walking while out of town, almost 9 miles one of the days, and I feel great about that too. I would never have made it 6 months ago, yet here I am walking all day and following that up with walking the next day and not feeling like I over did it. I am happy about that, I look forward to being able to go places and sight see, or just enjoy the weather and company while I travel. I am glad that I am no longer falling behind and getting so worn out that we all have to stop on my account, I am still slower, but that is because my legs are kind of short and so my stride is shorter. I am also in good spirits because while I did not lose weight while I was out of town, I didn’t gain any weight back, and within 48 hours of being home I have lost a pound. My body is doing what it is supposed to do, and I feel so much better for it. I am eating well, exercising regularly and still keeping track of everything as I go. I love logging my food, drink and exercise, it keeps me honest with myself and aware of how I am doing throughout the day. I really do think that makes a world of difference in the effort. So, at 77 pounds lost, more than halfway through and I am not slowing down, I know there will be more temptations as we enter into the holiday season, but I don’t feel tempted to break down, to put the effort on pause, to cheat. I don’t want to cheat, I don’t want to go backward, I want to keep moving forward. I want to be fit, to look and feel great, to have more energy, and stamina, to be able to wear clothes I like, and to be able to take pride in my look. I don’t want to go backward, I don’t want to be who I was 6 months ago, I want to be who I am becoming. I am so excited for the second half of this journey, and then, to figuring out how to stay fit and active, how to keep the momentum going after the weight is off and I am focused on building strength and better stamina.

Forgiven To Forgive

We are so loved by God!

From before we were born He came up with a plan to save us, to redeem us. Long before we thought of Him, He thought of us and sacrificed His only son so that we could be saved. He allowed His son to suffer pain, true anguish, so that we could be forgiven of our sin. When we wonder why God lets bad things happen to good people, remember Christ.

Pause, reflect and respond. God uses all people and situations for his purpose. When dealing with impossible people, even if it is just annoying, when dealing with negative situations, even minor ones, before you let a negative response take over, remember to pause a moment, to be quiet and reflect on God’s will. What would He have you learn from the encounter, then respond in Christ. Often we only see the major events as opportunities to grow in our faith, but what if that line in the store, or that guy sitting at the green light is just as important to your spiritual growth? Try to see what you can learn from each situation, and try to respond with that lesson in mind.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

1John 4:21 And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

2Corinthians 5:14-16a For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.

When we truly love Christ, when we pursue a true personal relationship with Him, we are changed. We begin to see the world as a place worth saving, we are better prepared to share His love with others. We cannot truly love Christ without surrender, we must put ourselves aside, our egos and ambitions must not get in the way of our walk with the Lord. To discern the will of God, to reach our true destination, we must be looking for Him in our daily walk. We cannot dwell on our failures, our sins, we must place those at the foot of the cross and let them go, so that we can be the person Christ died to save.

Forgive me Lord,

for Jesus’ sake.

There is nothing I can do to earn it, nothing I can say to erase my sins, but this one thing is true, I am forgiven through the blood of Christ, and so, broken, I kneel at the foot of the cross and say once more;

Forgive me Lord,

for Jesus’ sake.

Amen

New Clothes

So, I hit my half-way point in my weight loss journey, and went a little beyond, and that means I needed some new clothes. I have bought a couple of items as I have been going along, but when you lose 75 pounds you discover that a lot of your once baggy clothes are now falling off of you when you walk. I am buying clothes that are flattering, no longer wearing clothes that are baggy and so fail to compliment, but also not going for a tight fit that shows off every curve I have yet to curb. This of course means that I am going to be shopping for new clothes a number of times as I go through the process, that is why I am only buying a few items at a time.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of finally shopping in an area other than the plus size zone for the first time in years, while I am still an XL size, I am closing in on large. It was exciting to try on new clothes and realize that I had indeed lost enough weight to see the difference in the mirror. I still have a long way to go, but I claim the small victory of moving from one area of the store to another.

My mom thinks I should write a book when this is all done, and maybe I will. I continue to read articles and discover that what I seemed to figure out on my own is backed up by the most recent research and science. I am still doing this my way, I work out every day and watch what I eat, I am not inclined to add back into my life those things that I know are my weaknesses, not because I am still weak, but because they don’t add anything positive to the mix, and they have the potential of messing everything up. I am already a new me, on the way to who I will be when I am fit. As I change clothing sizes I notice that I too have changed, no longer tempted by the things that used to call my name. So, I am half-way there, and moving on with purpose and focus. I am heading into the first holiday season in a long time where I will not be obese, munching on sweets and baked goodies, and grazing at the buffet table. I don’t need to do that anymore, I don’t need to wear baggy clothes, so that people can’t tell if I have gained a little weight, because I haven’t. I don’t need to wear baggy clothes anymore, hiding my true size behind the curtains that I called clothes. I have owned my weight issues, I have owned my issues with food and my lack of exercise, and I have changed them. I still have weight issues, but I am taking control and changing the rules. I feel like I have conquered my food issues, and am moving in the right direction, eating better and less, and for all the right reasons. I am exercising every day, and so feel that I have taken control of that aspect of my health as well, I move more and with purpose every day, and I feel so much better for it.

I am ready, to be a new me, and now I have some new clothes to go along with it, for the first time in years I enjoyed shopping for clothes.

Waiting on the Will of God

The Bible is full of stories about the will of God playing out in the lives of individuals, and almost every one of them takes years to come to fruition. The will of God is perfect, and He takes bad things and creates good from them, but His time frame can sometimes leave us frustrated, or confused, or convinced that this bad time is not going to be turned to good, but is just us adrift in our hardship.

Look at Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, taken to Egypt far from his father, alone and frightened, he surely must have wondered what the will of God was that would bring him to this place. Certainly the Lord could have saved him, but the Lord did. Throughout his story we can see the Lord directing from the wings, even through what seemed horrible hardship, the Lord had blessed Joseph and continued to guide his life. When famine came, when all would be lost, it was Joseph, in the right place at the right time, to not only save Egypt, but to save his own family when they came looking, starving and broken, for help. Joseph could see the truth of his plight, God had sent him ahead, given him the gifts that uniquely prepared him for what he would do, and had elevated him within the house of Pharaoh. Read Genesis 45 to see how what had been a dark act by his brothers was turned to blessing by God.

Look at Moses, doomed to die in infancy, but spared to live and be used as the instrument that would free the Israelites from slavery. How could the Lord use such a dark decree, killing all of the Israelite baby boys, to save the people? Because His will really is perfect and He can and will carry out His will through and even within the darkest times.

How long did Abraham wait for his first son to be born? How long did he wait for the promise made to be fulfilled? Once fulfilled, his trials weren’t over, Abraham was faced with a number of challenges, and he faced each one in faith, in trusting the will of God, the promise was fulfilled.

The time line of God is not our time line, often when we face hardships we are ready for God to show us the good that will come from it. Often we want the lesson to be learned immediately, the plan to be revealed instantly, the perfect will of God to come to fruition in the blink of an eye. We have faith, but it can falter, we have faith, but we are fragile. We are human and cannot imagine spending time in our hardships, we look to God and pray that He will fix things and forget that He is always fixing things, in His own way in His own time. The Lord never rests, He never takes a day off, and He is always working for the good, which means that when we are waiting for Him to answer our prayers, He already is. Waiting on the will of God can be a daunting experience, the will of God will not always line up with our own, the will of God may require more than our bending but might require our being broken, so that He can build us back up. The will of God can take a lifetime to work out, it can carry on well past the point of giving up, if we are relying on human strength and not on the strength of God.

The will of God is perfect, but we live in a broken world, and too often we become so much a part of this broken world that the only way to bring us back to God is to break us, to break down the barriers that our culture and society have put in the way, so that all we are left with is our prayers, cried out in the night, tears streaming down our cheeks. This leads to people often complaining about God, as if He should never allow us to suffer, if He loves us, if He truly wants us to be reconciled with Him and calls us His children then why would He allow us to suffer…but He gave us free will, it isn’t His will that causes the bad things in this world, it is because we live in a broken world. He is not punishing us, He is not dragging us through difficulty after difficulty to teach us a lesson, or to test us, He is lifting us up and over each difficult situation to bring us closer to Him. Sometimes we struggle, sometimes we resist, and so we end up clamoring half out of His grip, to do things our own way, and that is when we are stuck in the mire of a broken world. The hardships of this world are often made harder by our pride, by our willfulness, by our stubborn determination to not need help, even help from the One who created this world, who placed all life into motion, who knows the way through. Relying on the Lord will always help, but it will not always end the challenges you have to face. Relying on God is a great first step, but it is one step in many, it is the beginning of the walk, not the end.

The will of God is perfect, He wants us to follow His will, to seek His hand, to commit ourselves to being better than we were, and He continues to work constantly, but He has given us the freedom to choose, the freedom to exert our own will, and so we often struggle through. The world we live in is broken, but the love of God, the will of God, the plans of God are not broken, and He will use every bad thing for good.

Dear Lord, 

Please bless me with patience, please let me know the peace that flows from you, so that I don’t lose sight of Your Will for my life. Please keep me mindful that all things are used by You for good, and that even when I am stuck here in hardship, or in struggle, that You are working, on my behalf, that even when I feel I am standing still, You are not. Thank You Lord, for loving me, for strengthening me, for equipping me for the path ahead, for the task at hand, for the calling You place on my life, please let me never lose sight of You.  In the name of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ

Amen

Almost Halfway There

At just over 70 pounds I am almost halfway to the weight loss goal I set when I started this journey. Every new day brings with it a new commitment to losing weight and getting in shape. I watch what I eat, I work out, and now, this far in, my new habits are just that, habits. I do not miss the foods I gave up, nor do I dread working out each morning. I feel better than I have in years, and I have a very positive outlook. I am not tempted, not longing, not missing any of the things I have deemed off limits to myself. I am not following someone else’s plan, not following some diet thought up by some stranger and then put in book form to guide me through the jungle. I am figuring it out as I go along, reading and researching what interests me and applying my new knowledge to my circumstances in a way that fits, that works. I know what my weaknesses have been in the past, I know what foods will lead me down into the bad habits, into the world of being obese again. I am still overweight, I still have a long way to go, but I am different now, I am not dwelling on what I have left behind but instead looking forward to where I am going, to all the things I will be able to do once I am fit. I am not on a diet, I am not going back to the way it was, I am not counting down the days until I can have that one thing that I miss most, I don’t know what that one thing is anymore, I gave up so many things that I never plan on picking back up again, but I don’t miss them. I am heading into the holiday season, a season that traditionally is full of food and celebration, of indulging. I am entering into the season different this year, I have no plans of pausing the work I have started, I have no plans of giving in to the temptations that will cross my path, the foods that litter potluck tables and are hand made and hand delivered by well meaning people sharing good cheer. I am not depriving myself, I am healing myself. I am not punishing myself, for years of overeating and eating all the wrong things, I am rewarding myself for finally making the commitment to be healthier, to work on my nutrition goals with a goal in mind. I am not suffering, I am celebrating another day of sticking with it, of getting that much closer to the goal.

I do not feel sorry for myself, because I am not struggling, I am not tempted, I am not wanting, the trick now is to make sure the people who love me, who support me, who surround me, don’t lose sight of my goal either, don’t fall into the trap of sabotaging the good intentions out of a feeling of concern, certainly this one day, this one event, you can let go, you can eat just a little. I had an issue with food, I have left it behind, but I don’t plan on tempting fate to see if it is still there, no, that one little thing for me could be like a cigarette to an ex-smoker, could be like a drink to the alcoholic, could open a door I have no desire to ever go through again. So, thank you for the offer, but no thanks, I am fine eating what I eat, in the amount I eat, and leaving the table never stuffed, never feeling like I should not have taken that last bite, or ten. At just over 70 pounds lost, I have a long way to go, but I am getting there, thanks for understanding.

Getting Through

This is an interesting week for me, every year this week brings me to a point of reflection, a point of deep joy and sorrow. This is the anniversary of the week my daughter spent in hospice, a week of prayer, a week of tears, a week of saying good-bye and a week of letting go. It is not a depressing week, but it is an emotional time, an often quiet time, where I can remember and think and pray about the journey that brought me to that hospice room in 2010, the journey that taught me how to be a mother surely, but I believe it taught me so much more. It taught me how to be a wife, how to be a daughter, sister, friend, Christian. Thanks to the life I shared with my daughter, I am a better person than I would have been, and I am so thankful for having been given the chance to be her mother.

Here is something I know, everyone suffers…pain, fear, confusion, loneliness, doubt and the list continues, suffering does not make you different, how you respond to suffering is what defines you. Do you stand strong in your faith or do you waiver? Do you blame everyone else, or take your suffering out on the people you meet, or do you turn to the Lord and in faith allow Him to carry you through? Something else I know, my daughter wasn’t disabled as a punishment, not a punishment for me, certainly not a punishment for her, her disability was a fluke, caused because we live in a world that isn’t perfect. Her disability wasn’t a punishment, but rather her life was a blessing. When the Lord gave me the chance to be a mother to my beautiful daughter, He was giving me a chance to become more the person He designed and created me to be. The Lord knew me, better in fact than I knew myself. I wanted to be a mom, but He saw what I could do if I was given the chance to raise Jade, with all of the demands and special needs that came with her, He was using her disability to mold me, to build me, to strengthen me and to bring me to a place where I should have been going all along. Raising a child with profound disabilities brought me closer to God, through the hardships we shared along the way, I became a better person and a better Christian. The Lord answered my prayers, in a big way.

Before my pregnancy with Jade I miscarried, it was very early in the pregnancy, but I knew about it, I felt it. I had been so excited at the thought that I was going to be a mother, and when I miscarried I felt heartbroken, but more than that, I felt somehow I had not deserved to be a mom, somehow I had not done something or done something wrong and this was my punishment. I know better now, but at the time, and there weren’t a lot of places to go to talk it out, or to share the pain, so I held onto it and waited. When I was pregnant with Jade, I was so afraid that I would lose her too, that every day and every night I prayed that I could be her mother, that I could have this one. I specifically prayed that I did not care what challenges we would face, I did not care what was wrong, I just wanted to be her mother. When Jade was born, I was ready to be her mother, not because I knew how, but because I was so hungry for the chance. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord hears us, He hears our prayers, He hears our cries, He hears our conversations with others, with ourselves.” The Lord heard my tear filled prayers as I worried and struggled with the fear of losing another baby, He heard me and He answered my prayers. He did not just give me the baby I wanted, He gave me the child that would forever change my perspective, the child that would force me to grow as a person, Christian, and that would cause every relationship I would ever have to be a reflection of the experience of raising her.

The Lord saw me, not as I was but as I could be. The Lord knew my heart and so trusted me to do what I had said I would, to raise her and care for her, and to do it all in faith. I could not have survived, I could not have done what had to be done, but with the help of the Lord I made it through. Zechariah 4:6 says, “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” The journey was long, but it was a wonderful journey, along the way we shared the road with so many people who were touched by Jade, who saw their faith in God not dashed by the struggle, but built up by the blessing. Through her life we could see the grace and mercy of Christ, through her life we could see prayer answered, not always the way we wanted it, but the will of God is always good, and He uses all things for good, and in the end, as I look back over her lifetime and reflect I see so much of the good.

This week is a reminder of the strength of the Holy Spirit, I made it through, I raised her, always surrounded and supported by the very people I would need at the time. I saw her as a blessing and was blessed two more times with children who did not have the challenges she had, children who joined us on the journey and have carried within them lessons and blessings from her life that will impact the world they live in. This week is a strange one for me, I am never far from a memory of her, a tear in my eye, a smile that can’t be contained, but this week, especially, I reflect on her, I become quiet and I spend time in my own head, in conversations with God and yes even with her. This week I prepare myself for another year without her to hold, without her to care for, she isn’t gone, she is always present in the people who loved her, she is always present in the life we live, she is always present in the heart that misses her and rejoices in her life.

This week I am reminded that I was blessed, that I was trusted and that I was given the strength through the Holy Spirit to do what I said I would, to do what I was called to do, and to make it through all the struggles, to come through the other side in faith, carried through with love and to know that all I had to do was accept the hand of Christ. When God calls us to service, He has already blessed us with the gifts to accomplish His will. If we follow His will, He will deal with the obstacles in front of us to fulfill His plan. At each step of the journey the Lord provided, He put the people in play that would help us, the people that would keep us moving forward, the people who would join us on the journey, some joined us briefly, some came along for a while and some were in it for the long haul, committing to the path with confidence and faith. I am not strong, I am strengthened by the Holy Spirit, I did not do this I was invited and allowed to go along, and I am so thankful for the years spent with her as her mother.

Dear Lord,

Time and time again You show us how You will always be there to help us when we struggle, time and time again You have equipped us with just the right things to make our journey successful, time and time again You have carried us through when times got too tough or the road too rough.

Lord thank You for the blessings, thank You for going ahead of us to clear the path, thank You for walking beside us and holding our hand to keep us going and thank You for coming behind us to keep us safe and on the right path. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, and thank You for answered prayers. Please keep my feet on the right path, please keep the light ahead bright enough to see even on the darkest nights, and please continue to bless me, even when I am overcome with doubt, fear or confusion.

In the name of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ –

Amen

Seventy Pounds

So, hitting 70 pounds is a huge deal, and yet I know I cannot stop or even pause, I am not quite half-way there, I still have a long way to go, and while now the habits are set and so it does not feel so much like work as it does like who I am, I know that the weight loss will not get easier or quicker from here on out. So, I rededicate myself, I imagine the next ten pounds, and the ten after that, but I focus on the next one, I will work everyday to lose one more pound, and then I will work to lose the next one.

I continue to do Zumba, with hand weights, to help my arms. I am also still logging all my food and drinks, I am happy that the weather is turning cooler and so I can walk up to the store for a couple of items instead of always driving, although, if I am getting a lot of things I still have to drive. I am still eating less than I once did, and what I eat is always considered for what it is giving me, not just to fill a need or to curb boredom. I am getting better at stopping just before I am full, instead of eating until I am full, so I am not feeling bloated or stuffed. I am heading into the holiday season, a season that in the past has been filled with goodies and large meals and stuffing myself, forget the turkey… but this year it will be different. I will eat less and still focus on the quality of my food. This year I will be more active, continuing to work out daily and to move in the right direction. This year I will not be baking a bunch of cookies and other goodies, but I am making my own body wash/shampoo and my own moisturizers and other personal items, and while I will not be giving away as many home made items as I have in the past, my kitchen still gets messed up with measuring spoons and cups, with mixing bowls and other things. I am looking forward to being able to move about, to get outside and enjoy the cooler weather, to feel better about myself. This is why I am doing this, so that I can live a different kind of life, one where I feel better, where I am healthy and active and moving, one where I can once again get out there

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