Posted in Alicia & Goliath, Blog, Faith & Religion, Health & Wellness

Food Freedom

“Lemon Blueberry scones are not from the devil.  They are of the Father- a way to reflect the image of God in our creative use of the ingredients He has given us.”  Wow, I had never heard it put quite like that before, but in her book, Full- Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction, Asheritah CiuCiu uncovered another lie that, disguised as a sense of strength, I had been using in place of God’s truth. 

I could play fill-in-the-blank with that statement.  Be it blueberry scones, chocolate cake, or peanut butter pie, I was one who often tried to “fight the urge” by reciting that these things were from devil.  No wonder it seldom worked; it’s not true!  A big one for me is bagels.  I love bagels.  Lots and lots of cream cheese on top of a toasty “everything” bagel that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Yum!  Add a mocha latte to that order, and I’m in Heaven.  You have no idea how often the notion crosses my mind, my mouth watering like Oliver Twist’s, and I tell myself for a good minute or two, “Bagels are from the devil!”

I’ve been able to resist the temptation on occasion, but did that make me stop wanting it or thinking about it?  Nope!  In fact, I often went back days later and got my “usual” anyway.  (Have you ever noticed that the more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you want it?)  Good!  I’m not the only one!

I shared with you in my last post, Locked Doors, that I was currently working on a bible study called “The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself.”  What I didn’t mention was that I am simultaneously listening to this food freedom book on Audible, and it has been so worth every penny and every minute.  I bought this book in paperback years ago but never got around to reading it, and when I saw that there was an audible version, I was ecstatic!  I can listen to the book while I’m cooking dinner, getting ready for work, or folding laundry.  As I share this Love Yourself bible study journey with you, I would also like to enlighten you with some of the golden nuggets I am gleaning from Asheritah’s Full book, because they are just too good not to share.

In the latest chapter, I started to feel as though this book were written just for me.  The author reminded me that God declared all food clean.  (See Mark 7:19) Not only did He declare all food clean, but He enjoys providing it for us.  In Matthew 7:9 we read, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” (NIV) If we are made in God’s image, does that not imply that if we would never do that to our children, God certainly would never do that to us?  Food is a good gift from our Father in Heaven, and in fact, He created us with taste buds.

Here is a little Science lesson for you:  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Taste receptor cells, with which incoming chemicals from food and other sources interact, occur on the tongue in groups of 50–150.  Each of these groups form a [one] taste bud, which is grouped together with other taste buds.”  It goes on to state that, “On average, the human tongue has 2,000-8,000 taste buds, implying that there are hundreds of thousands of taste receptor cells.”  I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind!  Not only does God count every hair on our head, but He gave us hundreds of thousands of little receptors on our tongue so we could taste the food He has provided for our nourishment.  If we weren’t supposed to enjoy our food, why would He have gone through all the trouble?

Now here is where this chapter really made me chuckle, and not in a ha-ha kind of way, either.  When the author started talking about “Information Overload,” I had to stop dead in my tracks and give the narrator my undivided attention.  How many of you can relate to allowing nutrition labels to dictate your food consumption?  When I changed to a healthy lifestyle almost four years ago and learned about eating as green and as natural as possible, I became obsessed with reading food labels.  I dreaded anything that contained high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or anything in the “ose” family that indicated artificial sweeteners.  I avoided artificial anything like the plague.  I would google ingredients I never heard of or couldn’t pronounce, and sometimes I would quickly throw packages back on the shelf as if I had just discovered they had cooties.  In one book I read, it stated that when eating processed foods, sometimes the box that the food came in was better for us to eat than what was inside!

As if that weren’t bad enough, we had the FDA and other food & nutrition companies filling our heads with their latest discoveries which just seemed to cause more confusion.  For those of us who really tried to pay attention to this stuff, it could cause a state of sheer panic in some cases.  Remember the egg fiasco from years ago?  First, eggs were a good source of protein for you, then, uh-oh, too much cholesterol.  Then they were fine again, and on and on it went in circles.  Once upon a time, breakfast was the most important meal of the day; now intermittent fasting has taken the world by storm.  I can remember my kiddos learning about the food pyramid when they were in elementary school.  Back then, which really wasn’t all that long ago, rice, cereal, and grains were a good source of energy, and they took up the largest section of the pyramid.  Nowadays, carbs are considered a mortal enemy. 

We’ve heard of every “healthy plan” under the sun from Richard Simmons’ deal-a-meal to Atkins’ no-carb diet to South Beach and back again.  This “Information Overload” causes our heads to spin, and we need to stop the madness!  Even being healthy can lead to dangerous territory if we are using our minds to think about food more than we are using them to meditate on God’s Word.  Being preoccupied with food isn’t always about caving to cravings; it can also be about spending way too much time over-analyzing every little thing we plan to put in our mouths- and the things we didn’t plan.

I’m paraphrasing from Asheritah’s food book here, but consider this breakfast conundrum:  You’re standing in your kitchen staring at the pantry, then to the fridge, then back to the pantry again trying to decide what you’re going to have for breakfast.  Cereal?  Nope, too much sugar.  Eggs?  Nope, too much cholesterol.  Fruit smoothie?  Nope, not enough protein.  Bagel?  Nope, way too many carbs.  Do you see what I mean?  Before you know it, you’ve wasted ten minutes pondering your food choices, when you could’ve spent that ten minutes pondering a Psalm or two.  Overthinking your food is just as bad as overeating it! 

Unless we’re rabbits living on lettuce and carrots, we are bound to eat something that isn’t approved by someone’s standards, be it our own standards or those of the most popular nutrition guru at the time.  And actually, even our produce today has less nutrients than the produce our parents ate when they were our age.  (You can read an entire NBC news article about this subject at nbcnews.com.)

Let’s not forget the amount of chemicals and preservatives on the produce we buy that’s not labeled “organic.”  You know the white stuff on our pre-packaged baby carrots?  I was horrified when someone told me it was chlorine and can cause cancer.  Luckily, that myth was busted.  According to waterandhealth.org, ““The white film in question, sometimes referred to as “white blush” or “carrot blush,” is not chlorine, but a thin layer of dehydrated carrot.  The film develops when baby carrots are exposed to the atmosphere and the outer layer of carrot becomes dry.  Baby carrots, unlike their full-sized counterparts, do not have a protective skin that helps prevent drying.”  (Phew!) 

After further investigation, I learned that while these carrots are washed in a chlorine water solution to prevent contamination, they are rinsed before packaging and do not pose an immediate threat like the media would lead us to believe.  While knowledge is a wonderful thing, too much of it can cause more harm than good, at least where our food is concerned.  Have you ever heard of the saying, “too much of a good thing is still too much?”

I have a confession to make.  I have to tell you that the more I learned about what was in my food, the more neurotic I became.  It quickly became an obsessive habit that I’m now trying to break, because if I’m not careful, I will trade a life lived in bondage for a life lived in fear.  There is no sense in breaking one bad habit if you’re just going to replace it with another. 

Friends, food is not the enemy; overindulgence is where the problem lies.  When I say I want to live in freedom, I mean freedom in every way, shape, and form that I can get it.  Jesus died to give us a life of abundance, and I never want to take that for granted!  My prayer is no longer about asking for a miraculous deliverance.  I believe that God is still in the miracle business, and although it would be an amazing experience and testimony to be instantaneously delivered from this stronghold, I don’t think that would serve a purpose.  It is God’s will to heal me, yes, but even more so, I believe it is His will for me to learn how to unwrap the gift of freedom and then share my experiences and revelations with others like me.

I want to learn how to listen to (and obey!) my body’s signals that tell me when I’m truly hungry, not head-hungry, and when I’m truly satisfied- not so full that I can’t even move around comfortably.  Those naturally God-given limits are the only limits I want to have placed on my life.

That’s not to say I can’t set healthy boundaries for myself.  I don’t want to deprive myself, but I still want to honor God by making good choices for my temple.  I want to make conscious decisions about when I’m going to allow myself a little more liberty and when I’m not.  When I crave chocolate, for instance, I can split my candy bar into four smaller servings the way it was meant to be, and I can enjoy one of those servings more slowly so I can savor it.  If I concentrate on savoring that one portion more slowly instead of inhaling the whole candy bar in one go, I will have satisfied my craving AND limited my calories.  I can also decide to not partake just because it’s there, but to save it for a time when I’m really desiring it.  And even then, to make sure I enjoy it before a certain time in the evening so I’m not eating the candy too closely to bedtime.    

I have written out a daily prayer using the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, as my guide, and I want to share it with you should you decide you’d like to use this prayer for yourself at any time.  Don’t worry about trying to write it all down; it is my free gift to you to print out by accessing the PDF under my Freebies tab 😊.  You can post it up in your personal war room where you spend your quiet, concentrated time with God, or you can fold it up and tuck it safely within the pages of your Bible.  Either way, I pray it will become the daily prayer of your heart like it has become mine.

The prayer is as follows: (Quotation marks indicate Scripture verses.)

Lord God, how awesome and creative You are!  And how kind and loving You are to provide things that bring us pleasure!  You created us with taste buds, Father, and although we should eat to live and not live to eat, You wouldn’t have given us taste buds if we weren’t supposed to enjoy our food.

You created wheat for bread; help me to remember that bread itself is not the enemy, but also help me to remember that, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  You created spices to make our food taste better, and You created wonderful things like cocoa beans and sugar cane.  Help me to remember, Lord, that eating something the diet world says I shouldn’t is not the sin- overindulgence is.  Help me to live by Your truth that says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

You declared all food clean, Lord; food is a good gift!  Teach me to enjoy Your good gifts in moderation.  We were never meant to enjoy food more than we enjoy a rich, full relationship with You.  Please forgive me for the times I don’t put food in its proper place, and help me to crave more of You instead.

The food freedom I desire is not just about no longer being a slave to food addiction, Lord, but it’s also about no longer being a slave to the scale, to food prepping, or to nutrition labels.  The more I learn, the more neurotic I become. Protect me from “Information Overload,” so I don’t trade a life spent in bondage for a life spent in fear.

Father in Heaven, “release me from this prison that I may praise Your name!”  I don’t want anything to occupy my mind more than You.  Free me from being held captive to meal plans, because I want to live my life by Your grace and guidance, not by man-made food rules.  I want to take better care of my temple by naturally making healthier choices, listening to my body’s hunger and fullness cues, and setting healthy boundaries.  Help me to live the life of freedom that Christ died to give me!

Give me a greater hunger for Your Word and truth and a greater thirst for Your Living Water.  Awaken in me a desire for You like I’ve never known, Lord.  As I learn to get Your truth into my spirit, help me to remember that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that my value and worthiness are not defined by my size or weight.  Father God, heal me from the inside-out; reveal to me the root cause of this struggle, and help me to cut it off.   

Your Word promises, “He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed.”  I receive that truth with a grateful and humble heart, Lord Jesus.  I claim that truth for my life because “I have overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony!”  Thank you, Jesus, that because of Your sacrifice on Calvary, I can live a life in victory!

In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Friends, as I write this post, my prayer is that you can begin to view food as the gift that it is, and that you can begin to realize how food can be a reflection of the image of God by our creative use of the ingredients He has given us.  If you’d like your own copy of Asheritah’s book, you can find it here.  I promise it will be worth it!

If your mind is preoccupied more with food than with God and His Word, I pray that true food freedom will become a desire of your heart like it did mine.  No matter what your strongholds and struggles may be, I encourage you to delight yourself in Him!  And let me remind you, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4 (NIV)  

Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation, Faith & Religion

‘Tis the Season for Writer’s Block

Due to my brain being preoccupied with decorating, and wrapping, and visions of sugar plums, I am suffering with a temporary case of writer’s block.  I’ll keep this one short and sweet, so all of you can spend more time enjoying your prepping and planning, too!  I’d like to share why Christmastime is so special to me, and to embrace this season of giving, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the giving heart of God.

We all know that God gave us the ultimate gift, when He gave us His One and Only Son as a living sacrifice on Calvary.  That is no little trinket or stocking-stuffer!  However, the “season” of giving began long ago with three kings who also had giving hearts.  There is some confusion about birth dates and about whether or not the Three Wise Men should be a part of our holiday nativity display, but this isn’t that kind of blog post.  Suffice it to say, this is the time of year that most of us celebrate the birth of our Savior, and the three kings who wanted to find baby Jesus to worship Him and lavish Him with gifts of love and adoration are a big part of that story.

I’d like to say that the example the three kings set for us is the reason I like to bestow gifts upon my children at this time of year, but that just isn’t my truth.  Remember, I did not grow up in a Christian home, and although I knew that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, that’s pretty much all I knew.  I grew up with the magic of Santa, and reindeer, and overflowing stockings of goodness.  Until my mother remarried, we weren’t very well off. I found out later in my adulthood that she would often have toast and hot tea for dinner, so I could have a full meal. But for as long as I can remember, my mom made Christmas the most magical day of the year for me.  Somehow, despite being a woman of very little means, lots of beautiful, wonderful gift boxes covered in bright, festive wrapping paper managed to suddenly appear under our tree every Christmas morning.  It didn’t stop when she remarried, either… it may have gotten even better!

Because of my sketchy memory, I obviously don’t remember specifics.  I would assume that very few people do remember specifics from that age, save for the really special Christmases when a shiny new bike would appear or perhaps that beautiful new baby doll.  But it isn’t the specifics that really matter to me.  It was the feeling I got.  That feeling of joy and excitement that made its way from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  It wasn’t just on Christmas day that I began to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it was ongoing throughout the entire season itself.  Everyone seemed a little more joyful, there were festive lights everywhere, and it was a pretty big deal back then to see cartoon specials on TV at nighttime!  Even the songs on the radio were jolly, and to this day, I’m ready for Christmas music as early as the first day of Autumn! 

It wasn’t so much the gifts under the tree that I wanted to pass down to my children, though that was a big part of the magic for me, but it was the spirit of Christmas.  It was that build of excitement and the feeling that all was right with the world.

I followed in my mother’s footsteps, and every Christmas morning, brightly wrapped packages were strewn from under the tree to the tops of the living room furniture.  (I had three children, after all.)  It was so exciting for me that I started our own tradition of letting the girls open up one little gift on Christmas Eve simply because I couldn’t wait for morning any more than they could. 

Although their Mom and Dad surely contributed to the piles of wishes-come-true every Christmas, the really “good” stuff always came from Santa Claus.  The one or two really big, exciting things that were the desires of my girls’ hearts were always from Santa, and that’s not to say that they didn’t know the true meaning of Christmas.  We were always sure to tell them the story of Jesus’ birth, and our oldest, who was about five or six at the time, went as far as to leave a note for Santa making sure that even he knew that Christmas was really all about Baby Jesus, and Mary, and “Jofess.”

One of my favorite images that floats around this time of year is of Santa Claus, hat in hand, kneeling down beside the manger where Baby Jesus lay.  Even Santa was giving honor where honor was due!

But in my mind, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t let my kiddos feel the magic that I cherished so dearly growing up?  I know there is a debate among Christians about whether or not letting your children believe in Santa is just like lying to them.  I suppose it is, for all intents and purposes, but this isn’t that kind of blog post, either.  Suffice it to say, there really was a Saint Nicholas long ago, so I didn’t really see any harm in keeping his spirit alive.

There is also the ongoing debate that some parents who go crazy trying to find that hot , hard-to-find holiday toy item should get the credit for all their efforts- not some old guy in a red suit who gets flown around by magical reindeer.  But I must tell you, no matter what time I had to get up in the morning on “Black Friday,” and no matter how many stores I had to travel to in order to get my hands on that one special thing, it was always Santa who had come to the rescue.

For me, it wasn’t about taking credit for making sure I nabbed the freckle-faced Cabbage Patch doll with the purple dress, green eyes, and red corn silk hair.  For me, it was about the magic that I got to feel every time I saw that look on those precious faces.  The smiles that went all the way up to their eyes.  Sometimes, a gift was so special that it brought tears of joy along with the wide, toothy grin.  Doing that for my children is what kept the magic alive for me well into my adulthood.

Why do I tell you all this?  Because God honors those with giving hearts.  I’m not just talking about the people who give to charities or put extra offerings in the collection bags at church, either. Although, yes-of course, God honors those givers abundantly! But the bible straight out tells us that we love to give good gifts to our children.  (See Matthew 7:11) God knows we love to bestow gifts upon our children, because He made us that way! He knew how much it meant to me to give my children magical Christmases, and that means it was important to Him, too. And He provided those for us more times than I can count.

One year, we were one of the chosen families to receive a large trash bag full of brand new, unwrapped toys from our church.  Then in 2009, we were going through financial hardship due to traveling back and forth to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland with a sick child.  Someone shared our story with a local Lion’s Club Association, and we were chosen to receive over $400 in checks and gift cards that were donated by club members.  Still another time, we were visiting an uncle, and without even having to ask him, he loaned us $1000 cash so we could give our children a great Christmas that year.  We didn’t have to pay him back until we got our income tax return a couple months later.

Years ago, we were purchasing a van from a different family member who no longer needed it.  The van was in like-new condition at the time, and we needed a larger vehicle for our growing family.  He was selling it to us for a fraction of what he had paid, but it was still a significant amount on which we had to make payments.   We had been paying on it for a while- at least a year or so, and it was going to be paid off soon.  One day in late November, out of the blue, he decided to not only wipe out the rest of the debt, but he paid us back, in full, for all the payments we had made up until that point!  He ended up giving us, not only the van, but God used him to give us a great Christmas, too!

There are dozens of stories just like these that I could share, and it’s not just at Christmastime, either.  When my husband lost his job this past May, he attended a men’s fellowship breakfast, which he hadn’t ever been able to do before because of having to be at work so early.  Our Pastor handed Greg an envelope, and in it was a gift from an anonymous donor who had asked Pastor not to reveal his identity.

Greg waited until we were together to open it, and when we did, we found $700 in cash!  It may sound like an odd number, but to us, it was very significant.  Greg had always remembered that the number seven meant completion, and he took it as a sign from God that he no longer had to worry about finding employment.  We knew that God had a plan, and it was a “done-deal” no matter how many other applicants there were!  Besides that, $700 was the exact amount of money we needed to pay an important bill that was coming up due before we had a chance to defer the payment because of the job loss.

God is good all of the time!  And He has so many different ways of blessing us!  God works in mysterious ways, and He often uses other people as His vessels of blessing.  Wouldn’t you love to be one of those people?  I heard in an old movie once, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”  Even a smile to someone who isn’t expecting it can be a big blessing in their day.  Think of our poor department store workers who are dealing every day with grumpy shoppers, layaway pickups, sticky carts, and swarms of children who are begging their parents for toys as they walk through the store.   

In this season of magic and joy and giving, challenge yourself to think of a way to be a blessing in someone’s life.  Maybe even think twice about walking by the bell ringer’s bucket without dropping in a few coins.  If you can’t give monetarily, maybe you can offer your time to someone in need.  If nothing else, you can always pray for those who are less fortunate. 🙂

Give a little bit more of yourself this holiday season, and keep your eyes open for blessings that might come back your way, too!  God loves a joyful giver, and He loves to lavish gifts upon His children.  Besides this being the season for writer’s block, it is also the season of giving!  So, keep your heart and mind open to receive, because you just might be surprised to see where your next blessing might come from!  

If you have any miraculous stories of God’s giving heart, we would love to have you share them! Please comment below if God has ever provided for you in an unexpected way!

Posted in Blog, Faith & Religion

He Sighed

When I do my scripture reading and devotions, I like to journal a little bit about what I read.  A tip I received from my mother based on the method her Sunday School uses, is to use the acronym SOAP.  S is for the Scripture verse(s) that spoke to me from that day’s reading.  I always write down the passage and the reference.  O is for Observation.  I write out my reflection on the passage.  I briefly journal about why it spoke to me and what I think God is trying to tell me with the passage.  A is for Application.  After I think about what the verse(s) meant to me, I write out how I’m going to apply it to my life.  What did I learn from it?  What can I do differently based on what I learned?  P, of course, is for Prayer.  I always follow up my morning reading with a short prayer regarding everything I wrote.  If it’s something I need to improve on in my own life, I ask God for help.  If it’s something that newly occurred to me, I thank God for the revelation.  You get the idea. 

I may not be the quickest reader when it comes to Scripture, but my goal is not to get through the Bible as quickly as possible.  I like to take it in “chunks” and really digest what I’m taking in as I read.

As I was reading my daily scriptures the other day, I was thinking about what I was going to write about the passage, because it was a rather odd portion that happened to stand out to me on that day.  I wondered how I would “reflect” on this particular part of the passage, because this time it was only two simple words that really struck me.  The more I wondered how I was going to reflect on them, however, the more I actually began doing it.

The specific verse was Mark 7:34, where Jesus was healing a deaf man with a speech impediment.  The verse reads, “Looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said, ‘Ephphatha,’ which means, ‘Be opened.” (NLT)

The two words that caught me here were He sighed.  Every word that comes from God is important, so the fact that He wanted us to know that Jesus sighed in this moment is not irrelevant, and I was trying to decipher what was going on in Jesus’ mind at the time.  Why do people usually sigh?  Was Jesus bored?  Frustrated?  Feeling defeated?  Tired, perhaps? 

I tried to picture it in my head, and I read the verse again.  “Then, looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said…`Be opened.”

Then I pictured myself doing the same thing.  I physically- literally- tried out different types of sighs until I found one that felt right.  I don’t think Jesus was getting tired or frustrated.  Or maybe He was; He was human, too, after all.  But if you read the passages around that particular verse, you’ll see that He had been healing people all over the place.  He didn’t mind, of course.  Jesus came to bring healing.  However, down in verse 36, we see that “Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more He told them not to, the more they spread the news.” (Mark 7:36)

Now isn’t that just like us humans to do the exact opposite of what God tells us to do?  But did Jesus get angry?  Nope.  Did He stop healing people because they didn’t listen?  Nope.  Now… isn’t that just like our God to keep on giving even though we didn’t do what He asked of us?  I believe that Jesus sighed because He already knew that everyone was going to keep spreading the news.  I wonder if He sighed as if to say, “Come on, Dad.  We’re on.  Let’s do it again.”  It was inevitable that He was going to heal this deaf man from Galilee, and it’s a given that He was going to keep on healing the masses, because that is Who… He… Is.  He is our loving healer, who is still healing people to this very day.

I think this little story gives us insight into God’s character.  As a parent myself, I often like to look at God from the perspective of His child.  I know that God is also my friend, my brother, and many other wonderful things.  But when I think of God as my heavenly Father, it helps me to remember His patience, love, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness.

When I think about my own children, I know that even when they disappoint me- or even outright disobey me- there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.  I would never get tired of helping them, and I would kiss every single boo-boo away if I could!  (I’ve often said I wish I could put them in a bubble!)  If we feel that way in our humanness, how much more does our Heavenly Father feel that way about us?

I have this nasty habit of beating myself up when I think I’ve disappointed God, and I often refrain from asking for things in prayer because I feel I don’t deserve it, or I didn’t earn it.  If you know anything about God’s character at all, you would know that it is just absurd to think that way!  There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to earn or deserve His love and good gifts.

I mostly get this way when I know I haven’t read His Word faithfully every day.  I feel that if I don’t give Him the time He deserves, how dare I even think about asking Him for anything.  But you know what?  I have a teenage daughter who spends just about every moment of every day in her bedroom.  It’s even difficult for me to get a hug out of her, because physical touch is not her love language.  But would I ever think she had no right coming to me for her wishes and desires?  Absolutely not!  It is my heart’s desire to lavish her with the things that make her happy!

Why is it so difficult for us to believe that God feels the same way about us?  And even more so?  He created us in His image, and He is the one that put those feelings of love, tenderness, and devotion in our hearts.  If that is all true, then He must have love, tenderness, and devotion in His heart- even more than we can imagine.

I am not saying I’m an expert at this.  I still have to work at it every day.  Self-image was never one of my strong suits, and I have a bad habit of thinking I’m unworthy.  God has had words with me more times than I count when it came to how I viewed myself.  To put it plainly, He has beaten me over the head with His truth!

If you read my story and learn more about my history and upbringing, you would understand why I tend to feel unworthy.  But I’m here to tell you to not be like me!  Sometimes I wonder if God gets frustrated with me because I just don’t “get it.”  Does He sigh when He has to tell me, yet again, how special I am to Him and how beautiful I am, because I am made in His image?  Does He sigh when he has to remind me all the time that He has a plan for me?

Sometimes I sigh when I have to repeat words of affirmation to my daughters.  I sigh when I have to tell them for the one hundred twelfth time that each one of them is beautiful and special and created for a purpose.  I don’t sigh because I’m frustrated with them, and I don’t sigh because I’m tired of saying it.  I think I sigh because I’m a little sad that they don’t believe it themselves sometimes.  They don’t see what I see when I look at them.

And we don’t see what God sees when He looks at us.  Maybe Jesus sighed that day because He was sad, too.  Maybe He was sad that there were so many people with so many different ailments.  The truth is, I don’t have the answer to why Jesus sighed; I can only speculate.  The “why” is not written, just that He did it.  And maybe that’s the way God wanted it.  He wants us to take that time to reflect on His words, because each one is important.

Maybe He wants us to know that He gets sad, too, sometimes.  Maybe He wants us to realize it is His will that all should be healed, and He didn’t pick and choose who was going to have what ailment.

My “ailment” has always been my eating disorder.  Compulsive overeating- it most definitely affects my health and well-being.  I don’t blame God for the food addiction; finding comfort in food was my choice.  Furthermore, God didn’t make my abusers mess with my body, mind, and heart, and yes, I know what they did to me made Him sad.  But they did those things because God gives us free will, and not everyone is always going to do the right thing, or for lack of better terms, not do the wrong thing. 

But, how I respond to what happened is what really matters.  I can’t undo it, so I can only move forward.  More importantly, what happened to me does not define who I am.  I am created in God’s image.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am God’s precious child, and that makes me a princess.  I believe it makes God sad when I forget that or even doubt it, so I made it my mission to make sure no one else ever does.

I write this blog so everyone who reads it knows that they are loved, and they have a purpose.  Today’s blog was written so that whoever reads it is inspired to take a closer look at the seemingly insignificant words that are found in their bible passages.  God is always speaking to us; sometimes we just need to be still and listen.

What is He telling you today?  Is He trying to get your attention?  Is He gently “calling you out” because you are not accepting of His unconditional love?  Do you have trouble seeing yourself the way that He sees you?  What is the ailment that holds you back from living up to your potential and purpose?  I would love to hear about it, so please comment below!