26 February 2009

Parental Freak-out

Ok, so I had my first real "my baby is growing up" freak out last night. My baby, my firstborn is about to be 15. She's getting ready to get her driver's permit (scary in itself, but I won't be the one teaching her to drive).... and to me it seems like I can see the end of her childhood staring me in the face closer than I want to realize.

In three years she will be an adult (at least according to the law). She looks at me like I'm crazy cause to her three years is still a lifetime away. But I'm not so young anymore, and to me three years flies by before I know it. I enjoy seeing her change and grow, but I can't help but think I am much too young to be facing the reality of letting go of my baby. But she's not a little girl anymore.

Maybe it's hitting me a little hard because I am about to be 35. By no means do I see myself as old, but I am at the point in my life where I am facing the reality that I am not that young anymore either.

It is also hitting me that my husband only has 5 years left in the military. When I was still oh, so young, and time passed a bit more slowly... retirement was a lifetime away. I have always liked the security I feel knowing Paul won't lose his job, and we always have health insurance. I know twice a month, like clockwork, his pay will be there no matter what. And there was always so much time left before facing the "real world".... but now that real world is calling out to me.

I see the end of his career looming closer and I admit it scares me a bit. I know he will have good job prospects when he gets out of the service, but we will be facing the unknown. Of course I recognize that God will have something great for him (and probably even way better because there will be no more deployments... yippie!). But still it is hard not to cling to the known... the comfortable.

I have to remind myself that the Bible tells us not to worry. Don't worry about tomorrow, for today has enough worries of it's own. Don't worry about the future, because God has a plan for a hope and a future, a plan to prosper not harm.

I think about our economy and the spiritual state of this country. It can be saddening and overwhelming at times. But I know God is in charge. He is in control. A friend recently told me that she believes that our country will have to fall apart before Jesus can return. You know, that kind of made sense a bit. She said that America is like that codependent rescuer... out to save everyone else around the world, and how is the world going to be willing to follow a one world rule (the antichrist mentioned on Revelations) unless we as a country fall apart and can no longer be the ones to keep everything and everyone "together"?

I wonder about what kind of world will be here for my children to raise their children in. We live in the Land of the Free, however, conservative Christian faith is being subtly attacked and our rights are being chipped away little by little.

All these thoughts and feelings cascade my mind.... but I know the answer is simple. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus. I need to serve him with my life, and focus on working for His kingdom rather than focusing on all these "what if's" of the world.

Lord, thank you that you bring peace and comfort even during uncertain or scary times. Help me stay focused on you, Lord, knowing that I cannot really do anything about my circumstances other than to surrender to you. I love you. Amen.

18 February 2009

Because I Want To, Not Cause I Have To

So there are all of these great things going on around me that I have wanted to be a part of... joining in my church's "Year of the Bible" where I committed to reading a chapter a day and journaling once a week, the "40 Day Love Dare" based on the Fireproof movie, along with working on the Thin Within/Thin Again and other healing processes. These are all things I wanted to commit to. However, I am realizing that once I commit, I shut down. I don't do it. I am behind. I am overwhelmed.

So why is this happening? I am reminded of Romans 8 when Paul refers to doing things I don't want to do and not doing the things I do want to. This is where I am at. I want to read my Bible each day, but I don't. I want to journal each week, but I don't. I want to pray with my husband each day, but I don't. I want to do family worship and devotionals, but we don't. The list goes on and on.

But today I realized that each time I decided to take one of these things on, especially if I have officially "committed to it" (our church uses commitment cards to encourage participation)... I change my "want to" into a "have to", and this is powerful ammunition for my flesh. My flesh rebels... HARD against "have to's". If I think I have to do something, I set myself up for failure time and time again. I think I cannot do it or follow through, so I don't. Then I begin to feel guilty because I committed but then don't do what I said I would. With the guilt comes condemnation, which in turn fuels the "I can't do it" thinking which feeds the feelings of being overwhelmed.

But here is the truth. I NEED to be fed by the spirit of God each day. I WANT to be fed by the spirit of God each day. I have the FREEDOM to choose to be fed or go hungry, there is NO "have to"..... no guilt, no condemnation.

Lord God, fill my heart with you this day. I want to be consumed by your spirit to the point that I want to seek you out each morning because I know I cannot truly live without you. Turn all of my "have to's" back to "want to's" and my "all or nothing" thinking into balanced thinking. Thank you for your unconditional love and grace. I love you. Amen.

09 February 2009

Pouring Out God's Love

Did you know that God wants to pour his love out on you? Do you feel it? Can you receive it?

For five years now I have been learning and reading about God's love... that He loves me. But I (as well as many others out there) have had a lot of trouble really believing it deep inside. It is head knowledge that has been lacking deep in my heart.

I grew up in a less than nurturing home where the feelings of love were hard to give and receive. My parents were not able to fulfill my deepest needs, and as a result I thought it was my fault (as many very young children do) and spent much of my life feeling unworthy of love.

I would be continually amazed as I got older when someone would want to spend time with me (because so many more did not) or would show interest in me, because deep down I felt disqualified somehow to be liked or loved by anyone else. I could not see what others saw in me. I didn't even know, or want to know, who I really was because I was so busy trying to please everyone around me in hopes of finding the love I so needed. I thought I had to be what they wanted, and perfect, for anyone to want to be with me.

So it really is no wonder why I could not accept God's love when I could barely accept it from my peers. I also had an unhealthy need of approval coupled with an extreme fear of authority. And who could be a greater authority than God Almighty?

How could I be good enough or worthy of God's love? I had equated love with approval and did not understand that someone, especially God, could love me simply for who I am, faults and all.

Over the years I have grown to trust in the Lord more and more, and that has helped me to grow closer to God. I have come to be able to see value in who He has created me to be and to embrace the giftings He has placed in my life.

But I was still being driven by this deep fear of rejection. Do I really believe that God loves ME? That he will NEVER reject me? I know it in my head, but can I really believe it in my heart? In the depth of my soul and spirit? Can I rest in the Father's love? Can I walk through any trial or times of trouble knowing I will come through it with the Lord's strength because of his incredible love for me?

I have been afraid to let go of my whole heart and surrender every ounce of it to God. I have been afraid because of feelings of rejection and criticism from my earthly parents. I had thought I had to make them happy and earn their love, that I had to be perfect.

Well, knowing I am not and cannot be perfect, nor could I make them happy (as if their happiness or unhappiness was based on me).... you can see the damage that can do to a small child. And my mother was not happy in her life with three small children. She was living a life she had "settled for", rather than the one she really wanted. And there was so much hurt in her that came out on us kids through critical words, judgments, and bitterness. That translated over into my psyche as rejection.

And I know that my father loved me, but he himself has told me that he "didn't know what to do with me (because I was such a sensitive child), so he just left me to my mother to deal with". Again, this left a scar of rejection imprinted on my soul.

So if deep down inside you feel rejected by the two people who are supposed to love you no matter what, then how can you possible trust or believe in God's unconditional love? We tend to transfer our feelings and experiences of our parents and their parenting onto God. And if you do that.... then maybe you see God as critical and judgmental or passive and uninterested. You either fear that He will hurt and lash out at you, or maybe you cannot believe He will really be there to meet your needs. If you did not know how to feel or receive your parents' love, then how can you believe that God loves us?

But He does! He loves us in ways that even the most loving parents in the world could never do. Isn't that amazing?

So this weekend, I have begun to open my heart.... my whole heart to God, to receive the love that He wants to pour over me. He has told me how worthy I am and how much He loves me. But more than that, he has given me a wonderful gift!

He told me that my parents did not reject ME, they just did not know HOW to love me!

That was such a powerful statement that I cannot even begin to fully express it in words. But somehow, it has lifted a weight.... this veil covering my heart and shielding it from rejection. A veil meant to shelter me from hurt but ultimately preventing me from receiving the good as well.

It gives me hope that I can completely free my heart from the anger and bitterness that has taken root over the years because of that deep feeling of rejection. I can release it to God and bask in his love for me!

Father God, thank you so much for this wonderful gift.... this gift of your love being poured out on me! I want to bask in it forever, soaking up its healing power and strength. I ask that you reach out to everyone reading this and touch them with your love. Open their hearts to receive you so that they, too, can learn to rest in the Father's love. Give me the wisdom and strength to be an encouragement to my family as they, too, learn to rest in your love for them. I love you. Amen.

Letting Go of Labels

For years I have been living under various labels... some given to me and some self imposed. But this weekend, I realized the labels that I have allowed to control my life and determine my self image/value have always been negative ones.

I'm a perfectionist, a control freak.
I'm an addict, out of control and/or fat.
I'm unhealthy and codependent.
I'm depressed and wounded.
I am a slob and unable to keep my house clean.
I am lazy and selfish.
I'm this... or that.... It doesn't really matter what I fill in the blank with.

I have some dear friends (and you know who you are....) who have called me on this on several occasions. They gently, but lovingly remind me that I am not whatever label I have given myself. They remind me that I need to let go of that label instead of claiming it.

"Kim," they would say, "You are not codependent! That isn't WHO you are. It is a problem God has brought you out of, and you really need to stop claiming that!"

Of course I often listen and apply it to that particular occasion. But I had never connected it to the bigger picture... the pattern I have been living in. I somehow hadn't realized with complete comprehension that it isn't something I do here or there.... it is reoccurring over and over in different aspects of my life. It was said this weekend by our guest speaker at the retreat that "there is a greater reality than our limited perceptions." And this is exactly the reason a recent acquaintance said to me that "I am healthier than I give myself credit for".

So this weekend, GOD has called me on it! He has shown me how I have continually clung to the negative labels. Through the words of our guest speaker, God has given me the only lable I have ever needed or will ever need again...

I AM THE DAUGHTER OF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE! (that makes me a princess, by the way.... just as every single one of His children is a prince or a princess!)

Wow! Imagine the strength and power of that statement if we really believe it and apply it to our lives!

We are children of God. Our purpose in this life is to serve and love our Lord, and this is what we need to cling to. This is what should define us. Not our successes or failures. Not our jobs or titles or accomplishments. We are treasured by God because He loves us. And we are free by God's grace to be anything and everything He has called and created us to be!

How amazing!

Lord God, thank you for this amazing word in my life this weekend. Please forgive me for clinging to titles and accomplishments (or lack thereof) to define who I am. Lord, I lay all the labels down before you at the cross. I give them up to you, Lord God, and instead choose to define myself with your label.... Daughter of the King! I love you! Amen.

06 February 2009

Something So Obvious!

Have you ever known something about yourself for a long time, at least on the surface... yet find yourself so suddenly amazed at the truth behind it?

I have always known that I fear rejection. To be honest, I think almost everyone does on some level.

But I am talking about a fear so ingrained that it literally controls you and changes who you are and how you respond to God and the world. I did not realize how deep it is, how much of a root it is to the strongholds of my life. I didn't realize that it is this fear of rejection, stemming from my very early childhood-even before I was born, that has completely shaped my self esteem, my relationships, my attitudes, my anger and bitterness, my judgmentalness, and my social anxieties and people pleasing problems. In a nut-shell.... all of the codependent behaviors, anxieties, addictions, and depression in my life is based a great deal on my fear of rejection.

It makes sense to me now, all those years of hiding.... wanting to blend in or be invisible. I didn't talk to people unless they talked to me. I was filled with so much anxiety in social situations that I kept people at a distance, rarely letting anyone in to see the real me. I didn't even want to know for most of my life who I even was, maybe afraid that I'd even reject myself. My whole life I would say, do, or be what other people wanted so they would not reject me outright, all the while almost never receiving the love and acceptance I so disparately wanted.

It also makes sense why I spent so many years numbing myself with television and food. They were my friends. They would NEVER reject me. They brought me comfort and companionship when I thought I was unworthy to deserve that from legitimate sources. They dulled my pain so I wouldn't have to live in reality for face the fact that I had difficult things to deal with.

And then here is the truly ironic part of it all, and I know all of you fellow food abusers will understand me here..... the exact thing I was using for comfort was also driving me further into my world of rejection, a sort of self-sabotage. Heavy people are not popular or looked at by the world with respect and love. They are condemned for being fat and out of control. "We don't have will power or we must be ignorant for living in our unhealthy lifestyles." I think very few people stop to realize that someone who is obese (and I was there at 243 pounds) is a person who is really hurting deep down inside. And I think way too often they are in many ways only surviving and not really living.... at least that was where I was.

Even after I became a believer in Jesus, it still took me a very long time to start living and stop "surviving". Looking back, I can see that it took me a very long time to believe that God would not reject me. God loved me no matter what, even at 243 pounds. Of course He wants to heal me and help me move towards a healthy weight and a healthy life... but along that journey (and even if we never end up setting foot on that journey), He will ALWAYS love us. No Matter What!!!

Lord God, thank you for saving me. Thank you for opening my eyes to the roots so that I can be free from them. Thank you for all the work you have already done in me, freeing me from addictions, codependent relationships, social anxieties and depression. Lord, you have broken my heart for the heavy.... the heavy in weight and in spirit. My heart cries out for those who are stuffing their pain with food, like I once did.... and I cry out for them that you would bring them release and healing, strength to face their pain and release it to you, Lord God. I love you. Amen.

04 February 2009

The Food Addict in Reverse?

20 months ago I embarked on a journey called Thin Within. A support group was started in my church, and we met for about 8 months. I was the "success story" of that group, losing 40 pounds in that period of time. But more importantly, I was well on my way to the real journey of healing.... a journey leading to Jesus himself.

Unfortunately, the group withered and eventually ended, but I continued on my journey. I have battled losing and gaining the same 8 pounds ever since the group ended... but I continued working through, as best I could, my issues that were causing me to turn to food.

Once arriving here in New Mexico, I had no support system, and definitely no Thin Within support group. I began to fall away a bit as I struggled adjusting to a new place. But now I am back on track, and so grateful that my former group leader is now my "desert buddy". We are out in this wilderness together, supporting each other and talking weekly as we work through our issues (many are the same for both of us).

This past week has been very challenging for me as God is really bringing up some deep roots. I am discovering strongholds in my life and the roots to those strongholds. I am trying to walk through releasing this deep, deep inner junk to my Lord and break free.

As a result, I am experiencing much opposition and warfare. I have sliced up my thumb, experienced a good depression spell sending my hubby into a bit of a tizzy, had problems with our van starting that come and go at seemly random and inconvenient times, the toilet flooded the bathroom one instant but then was just fine the next, oh and we can't forget the mice! I also have been fighting migraines... and this is just been the last week and a half!

I am also getting ready to go on a women's retreat at our church.... a retreat that I expect will really bring about something awesome in my life. So unfortunately, I am expecting the warfare to continue. I just remind myself whenever it seems that I am under attack, that means I am on the right track and making incredible progress for God.

Usually, as a recovering food addict, anything emotional or stressful sends me running for food. I admit that when Paul was on his retreat last month, I had a lot of trouble with food and television. I am used to him being gone, he is in the Navy afterall. But he has been here every day for over 5 months, and I have become quite used to it. But having him leave sent me back in that old pattern of numbing myself through the time to try to make it go faster. (Doesn't work, by the way!)

But a funny thing has happened to me this week. Amist all the stress and mental and emotional turmoil, I have not wanted to turn to food. In fact, the exact opposite has plagued me. I have not wanted to eat. By the time Paul arrived home around lunchtime on Saturday, I was not only depressed but also becoming physically ill because I had not eaten anything. Between the emotions and the bottoming sugar levels, I was not really even able to talk to him (thus sending him into a tizzy... he doesn't like it when I can't/won't talk to him and am not acting like myself cause he doesn't know how to help me).

With my migraines and revelations these past couple of days, I have had to focus on making myself eat so that I do not make myself ill. I normally don't have too much trouble with my blood sugar, but not eating or drinking anything for longer periods of time will mess anyone up.

But who would of guessed? A food addict who doesn't want to eat? Hmmmm...

Lord Jesus, thank you for being right here beside me for every step of this journey. Thank you for your comfort and understanding, as you know exactly what it means to suffer. Thank you that food has not had a huge pull on me this week, but I ask that you protect me from the pendulum swinging the opposite way.... for not eating is just as unhealthy and dysfunctional as eating too much. Help keep me balanced as I continue to move forward in you. I love you. Amen.

02 February 2009

My Confession of Bitterness...

This week I have had a major breakthrough in my journey of healing. I am getting to the root, and the Lord is showing me things I need to face to find the healing I am striving for. Once again I have looked at "symptoms", not quite seeing how they all work together.

I have been a professional number (numb-er... as in to numb myself. Just had to throw that in cause it looked like number, as in a numeral) ...for the first 34 years of my life, but I have completely abandoned that profession (so to speak) this year. Ok, I haven't completely abandoned the behavior (still walking that one out each and every day), but I have given up the title.

I am not numbing myself with drugs (antidepressants) or addictions (food, tv, etc.), so that leaves me with a choice every time I begin to feel the pain I have been running from.... because stuff comes to the surface when you are feeling everything. I can choose to move forward and ask God to show me what I'm dealing with so He can walk me through it and heal me, or I can return to my numbing ways and avoid it.

Of course I do not want to move backwards, so in that sense it is not a choice at all.... I have to choose to move forward. So I have been learning to grieve things in my past that I had no control over... things that hurt and damaged me. I have had to start facing anger that sits under the surface mocking me.... this anger I have been so afraid of for so long. I have been trying to figure out how to let go and forgive. All these things I have looked at, one at a time as they have come up.... not seeing the bigger picture.

I grew up with a controlling and critical mother. She was not a nurturing person by nature, and her dysfunctional upbringing did not prepare her to be the loving mother of three babies in three years time. I know in my heart that she did the best she knew how. And she loved us as much as she knew how. But we three kids grew up without a lot of what we needed to live emotionally stable and healthy lives.

As different events happened in my life, as hurtful situations happened and hurtful words were said... they were filed deep inside because I could not handle dealing with them. I did not recognize or process anything through the years, and now I am left with 34 years of hurts and memories.

I have tried to forgive, but as each new memory comes, I feel the pain again and again. But worse than that, I have allowed years of repressed anger to fester. This festering anger has turned into a huge amount of bitterness in my heart. And this bitterness is keeping me in a place where I cannot move forward.

I knew I was angry. I have been angry with my mother on and off for 10 years. But I had not realized how avoiding that anger has allowed it to turn into something even uglier. Years of judgment and resentment have cascaded into a bitterness so strong that it has completely hardened my heart. It is a horrible thing to admit, but right now this bitterness is so strong that it has almost completely blocked off all feelings of love and good will. I want to love my mother. I want to show her the love of Jesus through me. But right now I am so shut down that I cannot even imagine a day when that can happen.

I recently posted about my confession of judgment and how I have clung to my judgments rather than to move forward. I did not realize then how it is being completely fueled by my bitterness.

At an alter call yesterday, my pastor encouraged anyone needing to let go of "bad grief" (the kind we cling to to look back and scorn and criticize- to allow us to harbor resentments) to come lay it at the alter and ask Jesus to help let it go. Because as long as we hold onto it, we will not move forward... it will continue to hold us back.

So I knelt at the alter, and I cried out to the Lord.... "Why can I not let her go? Why can I not forgive her?". And the Lord showed me the bitterness in my heart. He showed me that until I release the bitterness to Him, my heart will remain cold and hard. I have to let it go to Him. I have to surrender my mother and my judgments to Him. I have to forgive to release my heart from this stone prison.

Today I printed out and read some notes from a conference a friend of mine had attended at her church. (She had emailed them to me Saturday evening but I had not had the opportunity to read them until today.) One of the topics was on strongholds. A stronghold is like a prison in our lives that Satan uses to keep us from God. They come about when we hand over ground to the enemy of our souls... allowing him the access he needs that binds us..... through lies, doubt, temptation, and sin. And the longer we allow access, the stronger that stronghold gets in our life. Then it listed three main areas that gives Satan ground; bitterness, greed (idolatry), and immorality.

DING, DING, DING! The bells are ringing now!

Before I became a Christian, there was definitely immorality prevailing in my life. But after coming to the Lord, He changed my heart in many areas. I repented of my past and now live my life for the Lord.

Since beginning on this journey of healing, I have come face to face with my addictions (idolatries), and again the Lord has been changing my heart. I have been learning to turn to Him, not to things of this world to satisfy my needs.

But bitterness..... here is ground that I have not turned over to God. I have wanted to, but I have not been able to let go. They call it a stronghold for a reason! And in the notes, it refers to how God gives bitter people over to tormentors to afflict our souls. These tormentors can include: fears, doubt, anxiety, uncontrolled anger, eating disorders, depression....

Hmmm? Sound familiar? These are all "symptoms" I have been battling. But they aren't really individual problems to conquer.... the root cause of all these things is a stronghold. And right now, that stronghold is bitterness.

Here are two passages I found in the Bible referring to bitterness (I added the italics and bold print for emphasis)...

Hebrews 12:14-16 (New Living Translation)

A Call to Listen to God
14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (New Living Translation)

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Here the Bible refers to bitterness as "poisonous". I just read an article that called bitterness "cancer of the soul". The Lord wants us to #1... PREVENT bitterness from taking root in our lives.... we do this by not harboring anger, by resolving conflicts and processing our crap as it comes up. I experienced a situation last year that was very difficult for me to go through, and a friend warned me to not allow bitterness to take root in the situation. I took that to heart, and although it took me many months to resolve my feeling in that situation, I did not allow my anger to turn to bitterness.

But what happens when the anger has been denied so long that it is already bitterness by the time you deal with it? That's were the #2 comes in... the Lord wants us to get rid of the bitterness! And of course the rage, anger, harsh words and slander... because that's what leads to the bitterness. As long as we continue to dwell on the anger and speak in harsh words, it will continue to fester that anger until bitterness is the result.

In my reading today on bitterness, it was stated that "the irony of bitterness is that it ties us emotionally to the person we are bitter toward". How true that is. I have been trying to separate myself from the dysfunction of my relationship with my mother... to process the pain and grief and move forward and heal, to figure out who I am outside of who she wants me to be (after years of trying to be who she wanted).... but instead I am completely drawn back to the pain and dysfunction... I cannot break free. I couldn't see before now that my inability and unwillingness to forgive her is what is binding me to her. The bitterness has been eating me alive, and I could not see that I have to let it go, or else I am letting it grow.

And the absolute worse thing about bitterness is that it can build a wall between you and God... it can prevent you from feeling God's love. It can drive God's grace from your heart. It is the "soul cancer" that can kill our souls just as cancer kills our physical bodies. The article talked about how God's grace and our bitterness cannot live in the same heart. Either God's grace will push out the bitterness, or our bitterness will push out God's grace.

I think I prefer God's grace!

Lord God, thank you for the painful truths you have brought into my life this week. I will rest in your courage and strength as I ask you to search my heart and show me what you want me to change... what you want me to let go of. Lord, take this bitterness from me, I give it to you. Help me walk through this process... to let go of it all and release it to you... to give forgiveness so that I may find my freedom in you! Soften my heart and fill me with your peace and comfort, Lord God. I love you. Amen.

April 2005

April 2005
Justin, Kim, Nikki, & Tricia

October 2011

October 2011