Thursday, October 15, 2015

Your Body is Not a Battlefield

 Two months ago on a Sunday morning, I was sitting on the edge of my bathtub looking in the mirror.  Hating what looked back at me.  I looked myself straight in the eyes and began to say things I would never say to another person.

“I hate you.”  

“You are so hideous.”  

“Look at your stupid hair. How do you expect people to want to have you do their hair when you look like this.”  

“How did you let yourself get so fat? You look disgusting!”

“You are worthless.”

“Nobody will love you.”

 As I sat and soaked in those words, my kids, Owen and Cora came in and stared at me.  Cora then gave me her most prized possession...her softie.  She said, “Don’t be sad Mama. You can have my softie.”  Owen handed me his new bow and arrow to try and cheer me up.  This shocked me because I wasn’t even crying until then.  I never imagined that my negative self talk would effect my kids or anyone else around me.  I thought I was just hurting myself because it was all done in my mind.  Their reactions let me know how wrong I really was.  I knew this was such an important moment in my life and all I could do was say, “God help me.”

 He heard me and a few days later, I got an email from a life coaching program I’m doing.  The title was “Your body is God’s greatest work of art and His living temple.”

 This was the beginning of the work that God is still doing in me.  As I worked through the material that came to my inbox, God began to speak to me about my body.  It wasn’t long after, that I was asked to speak for a women’s event at my home church and I knew right away that God wanted me to talk about this.  About the way we see our bodies.  I made some quick calculations in my head of how much weight I could lose before October 13th.  You know, so I could seem more legit.  I have actually lost none of those pounds! So it was an excellent opportunity for me to live out the message of authenticity I spoke there a few months ago.  I want to have it all together and offer you a pretty packaged testimony with a beginning, middle, and end.  What I have for you is the middle and it is full of heartache and healing.
 God has shown me that my body is not a battlefield.  

 As women, we are in a constant battle with ourselves.  We fight aging. Fight fat. Fight fatigue. Fight cellulite. Fight frizz. Fight grey hair. Fight our minds.

 Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
 I’ve always thought of “wrestling against flesh and blood” as fighting with each other but God showed me that he wants us to stop wrestling against our own flesh and blood.  Not in regards to sin, but fighting and warring against our physical bodies.  Satan is the real enemy, not ourselves.

 When I get in this place of spewing hate at myself, what do I do?  What tools do I have to get out of it or to stay off that road in the first place?

 I have to know the difference between what is true and what is a lie.  What is from God and what is from the enemy?  Does God ever tell me I’m worthless, fat, ugly, stupid, or disgusting? No.  Those words, that voice is separate from me and I get to choose what I let in.  He tells me that I am his temple, his finest creation, I am made in his image, set apart and made holy, I am his cherished daughter, I am seen and fully known and still loved.
Isaiah 64:8 says, “You are our Father, we are the clay and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Matthew 10:30-31 says, “You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you. Even the number of hairs on your head.”

 I want to believe that my body is more than just an obstacle to overcome, but that it is an instrument I may use to experience the abundant life that God offers.  My body is not something to be beaten into submission, but to be cared for in love.  My body is precious and it is a limited asset.  It deserves high esteem.

 What if you started asking Him for truth? What would it be like to hear his voice and know what he thinks about you specifically?  I wonder what some of you would hear if you opened up your heart and gave him permission to speak truth where lies have taken root for too long.

This beautiful prayer is part of what came in my email that day when God started me on this road to healing.  (Visit for more)

“Lord, I bow my head in humility.  There is a deep sorrow within me as I mourn the way I have, at times, treated your greatest architecture.  Lord, I did not know.  I have not really understood how precious my body is to you.  I understand now…
I understand that you love my body enough to call it your home.  Will you help me love my body enough to call it my home as well?  
I abandoned this house many years ago.  I’ve thrown rocks through its windows and called it hateful names.  I’ve judged it, been ashamed of it, condemned it.  In ways, I have boarded up the windows and left it to ruin.  Your truth has been hidden from my eyes and lies have eaten out the walls of my house like termites.

But I’m back now.  I long to live here again.  I want to reclaim what it mine, what has been passed down to me by my Father.  I believe you will help me restore this house!  I believe you will make me new.  I am willing to take part in the restoration.  I am willing to do the manual work required in a project like mine.  I need you Jesus, to be the architect again, to show me the plan, to make sure the foundation is secure, to teach me how to rebuild.  I know that, even as I knock, wondering if anyone is home, that You are opening the front door to welcome me.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you for taking care of my house while I was away.  Help me once again to make this house a home.  Help me see it for the glorious inheritance that it is.  I desire to move back in, even while we are in the restoration process.  Lord, please help me be present in my house and extravagantly tender as we rebuild.  Thank you, Jesus for showing me how precious my body is!  May I honor and glorify you by taking care of our dwelling place.  Amen.”


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pride vs. Humility

Pride...the killer of progress in my life.  There are so many things I don't do simply because I am too worried about how I will be perceived by others.  

How dumb is that?

When I get in a discussion and am feeling attacked or misunderstood, I have this intense need to defend myself.  I will fight from every possible angle to make myself heard and have my side understood.  

The point is, I like to be right.  Kind of a lot.  

The reason I like to be right is because I am full of pride.  I can hardly stand the way it makes me feel to be wrong.  For real, it makes me physically uncomfortable in the same way I feel about losing a game.  So ridiculous! 

The Bible says that pride comes before a fall and I sure do fall a lot.  Like a lot lot, it seems.  

What I struggle with is knowing when to stand up for myself and when to back down and be humble.  The most unattractive thing to me, is a person who allows themselves to be walked over and has no opinion.  What if those opinions are wrong, though?  What if they hurt people you love?  I don't know how to reconcile those feelings with the character of Jesus.  Sometimes, I feel like I just don't even know how to "be."  What a weird feeling.

I am in constant need of God's help and direction.  I have these wide gaping holes that I have tried desperately to fill with other things and people that only He will fit into.  

God, give me wisdom to walk out this life in love, humility and grace.  Let your voice be louder than any others and help me to obey when you speak. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Hide and Seek

I have always loved to hide...

When we were kids, my brother and I loved playing Hide and Go Seek.  My favorite spot was in the linen closet behind some blankets 'cause I could really scare him when he found me.  That spot didn't last too long once I started getting taller.  

My first memory of our family moving to Fort Smith when I was 4, is of hiding in a laundry basket in the moving truck and being carried into the house.  I thought it was the funniest thing!  

Growing up, I always hid books under my pillow to read after everyone else went to bed.  It gave me the biggest thrill to know I was doing something fun in secret.  

I have always felt the need to be perfect and have struggled with God's grace, which is the perfect storm to make me feel the need to hide.  It doesn't even have to be something bad that I hide.  All it takes sometimes, is a person looking.  Being exposed is the absolute most uncomfortable and vulnerable feeling for me.  You can imagine why it's so difficult for me to write this blog!  

The past few months (actually years), I've been hiding myself from those who love me most.  I have pulled away from my closest friends and family and even pushed when they tried to get close.  I have been unhappy and struggling...all alone.  I don't want people to see my weaknesses.  Even more, I don't want God to see.  I think if I can make myself small and quiet enough, even he won't see me.  The thing is, I just don't want to let anyone down.  I don't want to be a disappointment.  I don't like being seen, so I put up walls.  I block out those that want to see even when the seeing is ugly.  

Thankfully, God gave me friends who's stubbornness matches my own.  They wouldn't leave me alone until I finally broke.  It seems, it's only after the breaking that God can begin to heal.

I wonder how long it will take me to learn that there is beauty in brokenness?

God sees me and he loves me, scars and all.  


Friday, January 10, 2014

Saying it Makes it Real

Ok, blog folks...I'm going to tell you something.  I told you all about how I had given up but was encouraged by a friend to get back in there and keep fighting.  That's all good and well but the reality is that I have to make some drastic changes in order for my weight to change.  So here I am telling you all those changes.  

I have talked with a nutritionist and she knows my background and my goals.  She is helping me put together a plan tailored to my needs.  Without all the details, I am essentially cutting out sugar, and processed carbs, while increasing my protein, vegetable and healthy fat intake.  Unfortunately, processed carbs and sugar are my favorite edible things, but they have caused a bit of a problem for the buttoning of my pants.  

The reason I am writing about this, is that I am going to do this...for real.  I am committing to 2 full months without cheating so if you see me start to eat a cupcake, I give you permission to tackle me at full speed.  I also give you permission to ask me if I've cheated.  Dang, talk about accountability!  

I'm tired of feeling worn out all the time.  I'm tired of disobeying God's clear direction when it comes to my health.  I'm determined to live a life that honors him and I have been doing the opposite with the foods that I put in my body.  

Thanks for reading and thank you so much for all your words of encouragement.  You'll never know how much they mean to me!


Monday, January 6, 2014

I Gave Up For a While

Y'all, I went and got large.  While I was taking steroids for my spider bite, I started gaining weight.  They made me hungry ALL. THE. TIME.  Ravenous hunger coupled with not being able to work out for weeks and weeks is a recipe for many pounds.  I got so discouraged and honestly, just quit trying.  Never in my life have I just not cared one iota about being healthy or what I put into my body.  I've never let myself get so down and defeated before.  If you know me, you know I'm feisty and I hate to lose.  Oh, it's the worst thing for me!  I'm a fighter but I'd lost my fight.  

Don't get me wrong, I've tried many times to get it together but given up every time. I feel horrible, uncomfortable and incredibly ugly.  None of my clothes fit and I literally wear black all the time because I don't want anyone to look at me.  

Last night, I was talking to my friend Stephanie and she asked how I was doing with all things food related.  I gave her some dumb answer about how, "I'm fat and probably won't ever get over this thing but it's ok."  No biggie, don't, happy face, bff, Jesus Loves You!

She didn't buy it.

She said, "I know you aren't a quitter.  There is nothing else you would roll over and admit defeat with.  So I don't buy the idea that you're admitting defeat.  You might be tired of fighting this, but I'm not about ready for you to claim defeat on this.  I've seen your heart too closely.  I can't NOT fight for you.  It hurts me to know you are tired and feel broken.  But you are MORE than this battle.  The enemy only wants you to think you're useless.  Life is short, but it can be a long time to be shackled to something.  The only thing the enemy knows he can steal is your freedom.  So I'm wanting to help you fight him for!  I love you!"

What a friend...what a "mat-carrier."  Her words have encouraged me so and reminded me that I'm not a weak person.  I'm not one who gives up when life throws a few well-placed punches.  

I'm standing between two of my best friends here (Stephanie and Tiffany), so uncomfortable with having my picture taken.  Wearing yoga pants because none of my jeans fit and the most fake smile I have.  I don't like being this girl.

So here I am, getting back on the horse...again.  


If I don't publish this in the next 10 seconds, I'm going to delete this story that makes me feel very vulnerable and exposed. goes!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Spider Bite Part 3

I'll pick the story back up about a week and a half after the whole thing started.  I was home recovering with my Aunt Diana helping care for me.  Thankfully, Owen was with my parents and Cora was with my friend Claire who lives minutes from us. It felt so strange to have to rely heavily on help from others.  I'm not one who enjoys asking for help.  I would rather take my kids with me to the doctor at times than ask around for a babysitter.  At this point I couldn't even drive myself anywhere and my husband was back at work.  I literally had no choice but to ask friends to take me to appointments and pick Owen up from school.  God really did a number on my pride here.

This picture here is what my arm looked like at that point.  It's one of the least graphic/disgusting pictures I have that shows both bite marks as well as how big the total area was.  You can see the heavy pain medicine in my eyes.  At this point, I was in an insane amount of pain pretty constantly.  The venom was doing its work breaking down my tissue and I'll tell ya, that does not feel good.  At all.  I am so thankful for modern medicine. I can't imagine having to go through this without any help.  

I seemed to be getting better as the weeks went on but things took a bad turn at week 4 so I went back in to my dr.  They referred me to a surgeon because the bites were showing signs of deep tissue death (necrosis).  I was able to get in the next day and he said he thought I needed surgery to remove all the necrotic tissue.  My pain levels that had been previously going down, had severely increased.  It felt like there was acid under my skin constantly and I wasn't on my heavy drugs anymore.  (I needed to be able to take care of my kids and have a clear head.)  We scheduled the surgery for a few days later.  

Before this, I hadn't had so much as a single stitch in my life, so this was all new and scary.  I knew the dead stuff needed to be removed for me to heal properly but I was terrified of the process.  

My awesome Mom came up to stay with the kids while I went in to the hospital that morning exactly one month from the day I was bitten.  I had some books with me and was trying to stay calm.  Things got a little crazy when the nurse started working on my iv.  Y'all, I about lost my mind on that lady.  So, I've been hurting 24/7 for a month and I feel like my tolerance had gotten pretty high.  When she put that needle in my hand (that had previously held an iv not long before and was still bruised), tears started falling out of my eyeballs.  Ray was holding my other hand trying to keep me calm and still.  I didn't move anything other than my face.  She couldn't get it started so she moved to my arm.  Again with the unstoppable tears.  It burned like fire when she put medicine through it and I politely asked if she would take it out.  Another nurse came in and got a 3rd iv started and it was much better.  Then came the funny drugs and all I remember is them wheeling me in and joking to the staff about how huge the room was.  Hopefully me asking them what they would do if I pooped on the table was just a dream.  Dear God, please.  I shall never know for sure.

I woke up later and the first thing I said to the nurse was, "Is my butt showing?"  What is with me and talking about my booty?  Now I'm doing it again!

My friend, Claire, was there with Ray when they brought me to recovery.  Most of that is real foggy other than the fact that she saw more of me than most of my closest friends and she didn't pause for a second to put her scarf around my neck when I told her it was pretty.  She is one of the most selfless people I've ever known. 

When I got home, I could already tell a huge difference in the way I felt.  Before surgery, I just felt sick.  My whole body seemed to be reacting to the death in my arm.  After surgery, the pain was different.  Instead of a burning, fire, acid pain, I had surgical pain.  While it still hurt, it was much more tolerable.  

So God has shown me some things through this.  We all are born with a sinful nature.  We can't help it.  That is why we need Jesus.  The sin in my life is like that dead tissue.  God is the surgeon wanting to remove it for me.  While the process is not usually comfortable or easy, we always feel better afterward.  There are a few areas I haven't let God fully work because I am afraid of the process.  I have chosen to live with nasty, dead places in my life rather than choose complete healing and I'm tired of it.  I want God to come and clean it all out and replace it with him so I can get on with living whole.

How about you?

Thank you Tiffany Reeves for taking off work to come take care of me and the kids and for being my best friend for the past 16 years.

Thank you Mom for listening to me freak out about having to be cut open and for coming to love your grandbabies while I was in the hospital.  You are the best!

Thanks Genessa for bringing me a delicious meal even though you had a lot going on.

Thank you Kara for coming to the hospital so many times to see me.  

Thanks Amanda Davis for bringing me meals and taking me out for breakfast when I had been stuck at home for so long.

Thank you Keri for picking Owen up from school a million times and for bringing us suppers.

Thanks Emily Brown for taking me to the dr and getting us all out for a walk when we were stir crazy.  Oh, and for the awesome food.

Thanks Renee Estes for coming and cleaning my house when I could barely move.

Thank you Will and Marcy Shores for coming up and taking care of me all day when Ray was out of town.  I had such a fun day with you guys!

Thanks Melanie for spending the night and getting up with Cora at 3 am when I wasn't allowed to pick her up and Ray was working out of town.  

Thank you doesn't seem big enough for my friend Sandy.  Her baby is a bit older than Cora and when I had to stop nursing she knew how devastated I was.  She texted me asking what foods I had to eliminate and how long before they were out of her system.  She then restricted her diet for Cora and pumped after feeding her own baby several times a day.  Mind you, she has 4 kids and homeschools.  She's got a lot going on!  Sandy, each time you brought me milk, you helped my heart not hurt so bad.  You helped Cora transition smoothly to formula.  What a testament to sacrifice, God's love and selfless friendship.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spider Bite Part 2

I left the story off at my first night in the hospital.  

We saw three different doctors in the ER that night and they all pretty much said the same thing.  "There isn't any real proven treatment for a brown recluse bite so we will give you everything we can that could possibly work.  It's really just a "wait and see" situation and then we can clean up the damage afterward."  They were also concerned with the intense allergic reaction I was having to the bite.  The skin on most of my body was incredibly red and itchy.  I had huge raised welts (or welps depending on where you're from) all over the place.  

Those first few days, I was experiencing pain like I've never felt in my life.  I don't really even have words to accurately describe what it felt like.  The only time I didn't want to scream and cry was when they put morphine in my iv...on top of the oxyxcontin.  

I am so grateful for my husband who was there by my bed day and night.  I was completely helpless and relied so heavily on him to do the smallest things.  Every few hours he would carefully cover my body with cooling medicine.  I was so humbled.  He changed my ice packs a million times.  He was literally my right hand when mine was out of commission.  He slept on the most uncomfortable chair known to man and I can't remember hearing him complain.  Ray shows me such a selfless love and I can't thank him enough.  I love that man!

After many hours, Cora finally took a bottle from friends.  She was passed around over the course of those few days and quickly learned how to adapt.  She did great!  People brought her up to the hospital several times but it was very hard.  She wanted to nurse when I held her so she would cry and it nearly broke my heart.  I couldn't explain to her that I was protecting her.  After several days, she finally took a bottle from me and is doing great now.

So many friends and family came up and prayed for me.  Those times were so encouraging when I had no sense of control.  No end in sight.  You lifted me up and God gave me peace.

The last day of my stay at the most expensive hotel in the world was pretty insane.  

I met my new nurse early that morning and, man, was she cold.  She walked in telling us how she tends to offend people and comes across as rude but it is because she is from up north.  Ray and I gave each other the "side eyes."

God then whispered to me that she didn't know how much he loved her.  I promptly told him to get someone else who's arm wasn't dying to tell her.  I was in too much pain to talk to some grumpy nurse about him. 

Ignoring the Holy Spirit never seems to work out for me for some reason.

Every time she came in that morning, she just rubbed me the wrong way but we kinda made it our mission to get her to laugh.  Ray started joking with her and she opened up more each time she came in.  She was talking about how people down here are weird and how strangers talk to each other in public.  We laughed and said, "well, yeah.  That's cause we're nice!"  

The Holy Spirit nudged me and so I went for it...

"So it would really freak you out if I came up and paid for your groceries, huh?"
"Uhh, yeah.  Why would you do that?," she said.
"Cause sometimes God tells me to. He wants people to know how much he loves them, so that's one way I tell them."

(shocked stare from the nurse)

I said, "Kinda like you.  The moment I saw you this morning, God told me you have no idea how much he loves you.  How special you are to him.  He created you and wants a relationship with you.  God loves you just the way you are...right this moment.  He knows all the bad things you've done and he loves you anyway."

(she started crying and just kept pointing her finger at me in disbelief)

I kept going, "I know that you're thinking you've messed up too much but that's not true.  It doesn't matter what you've done or what anyone has done to you.  God still wants you."

Her wall came down and she opened up to me. We talked for a very long time and she shared about her past hurts while I told her about the love of Jesus.  What really surprised her was when I told her that I knew God had me here to tell her this and that I would go through it all again just to be able to tell her how he felt about her.  I can honestly say that's true 10 weeks later.  I don't believe that God caused me to be bitten but I do believe he can take a terrible situation and redeem it for his glory.  I am so thankful that is what he did!  What a loving Father he is to us.  

My precious Aunt Diana drove down from Missouri that last day to take care of me at home.  My nurse wheeled me down to the doors and I could tell she was hungry to hear more so we talked a little while at the hospital entrance.  She hugged me and through tears whispered, "thank you."  

That right there makes it all worth it.  

From here, my story is far from over so I will continue on another day.

Thank you Sarah Medlin for the socks.  I love them dearly and they made my hideous hospital attire more palatable.  Owen still talks about how much fun he had hanging out with your family.

Thanks Melanie and Daniela for bringing the first (real) cookies I had eaten in 5 months.  And for making me laugh so much.

Thanks to Steve and Lacey for my first Mama Fu's meal in soooo long!

Thanks Sandy Krout for bringing us food and for the beautiful headband to hide my unfixed hair.

Thank you Uncle Dino for driving all the way up to pray for me.  You touched my heart and encouraged me so much.

Thanks Tiffany and Keith for your visit when I was at one of my worst times.  I love my mug, too!

Thanks Renae Longmate and Jill Schilb for taking care of my baby.  I was never worried when she was with either of you.

Thanks to Joy Francour for the bandages and hilarious book.  I'm almost finished with it!

Thank you Pastor Casey and Stacy for coming to pray for me.  Your words spoke life to me.

Thank you Mariali and Jannel for praying with me at the hospital. I felt peace flood my room when you were there. 

Thanks Mom, Dad and Celeste for coming to visit and encouraging me the way you did.  I love you guys so much!

Thank you Kelly Krout for coming and bringing your sweet tiny Van to see me and the pumpkin spice latte.

Thank you Claire for bringing me food and taking such good care of Cora.  You are a gem!

Thanks Mike and Amber for the thoughtful gift for Owen and for letting him spend the night. 

Thanks Dane for coming to visit on your breaks from the pharmacy and for answering a million questions.

Thank you Todd Barlow for visiting me, answering all my questions and for the ice cream!

Thank you to all of you who prayed for me, sent texts and encouraging emails.  I felt so loved!!