Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The better question is…which study didn’t apply to me?!?

by Theresa Duursma

Summertime…we have such a love-hate relationship. About the time spring break rolls around, I CANNOT wait for summer…no alarm clocks, no schedules, no bus stops, no lunches, and don’t forget all the fun I’m going to create so I don’t hear the dreaded “I’m bored!”. My kids will sleep in until at least 9am (preferably 10) which will give me my own personal time to do a workout, have a cup of coffee and enjoy some Jesus. And then summer comes and I’m setting the alarm more often than I’d like, the kids have a bazillion places to be, I’m the “bus” driver, I’m making lunches everyday not to mention the non-stop “I’M HUNGRY” two minutes after each meal that I’ve lovingly (most of the time anyway) prepared just for them to dislike. Let’s also not forget that I’ve created nothing for them to do, summer is almost over because band camp starts the beginning of August which is officially the end of summer for us & I have heard the dreaded “I’m bored” more times than I can count. Can you see all the failures?! The legalism?! I sure can!

Why do I strive so hard for this “perfection”?! Why do I set myself up to fail? Who wrote this rulebook?! Oh wait…ME! I want my kids to act, speak and dress appropriately, especially when we are out in public. If my husband and I just had a huge argument as we are entering the church parking lot and I’m in tears (likely because he did or didn’t say something that I thought he should or shouldn’t have), I’m certainly not entering the church looking like I’m a mess. I don’t want anyone to know that I fail as a mom, wife, daughter, friend and child of God every day. I’m my own worst critic. My children act out, my marriage is a mess and sometimes I feel like I don’t have any “real” friends that I can confide all my mess in. Isolation and shame…I’m full of both. And I certainly can’t leave out pride…that whole thinking too lowly of yourself…yup, that’s me.

This summer God has been calling me to Him once again. Praise God! Because I’m definitely lost without Him. He’s been calling me to Him as long as I can remember. The first time was when I was seven, stepping into a church for the very first time, at my four year old sister’s funeral. I was in a complete fog. I don’t remember many details but I could feel myself being called in somehow, though at that point I had no idea what was calling me or why. He continued to use different events of my life to call me back to him; sexual abuse, physical abuse, divorce, single motherhood, struggling relationships, wayward children. He asks me to let go of the fear and anxiety left behind from the abuse. Let go of the perfection and pride because I am a mess and that’s okay. Let go of the shame because I am worthy! And for the love (my love) of a big bag of Cadbury mini eggs let go of the legalism! Because Romans 3:23-24 says “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and ALL are justified freely through His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”. Praise God!

He keeps reminding me I need to focus on what He has given me rather than what I think He should. So instead of being dissatisfied because my kids are up too early, I’ll rejoice when the four year old comes out to the garage in the middle of a workout because she “misses me in the nighttime”. I will cry tears of joy as I’m bussing my kids from one place to another and I can hear them singing the lyrics to Hard Love by Need to Breathe. And I will be gentle with myself when I don’t create something crafty and inspiring for my kids to do when they are bored. Instead I will take time out to grab a favorite book to read together, play a favorite game or go for a walk by the lake. I have been brought here several times this summer…Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

My prayer this summer…Lord, you are Holy above all others and all the strength I need is in your hands. I ask that your will be done in my life. Sometimes the pain and fear are too much to bear and I know that I don’t have the strength on my own. I know you hear my prayers and know my thoughts. Give me the strength I need to face each day. Help me keep my eyes focused on you and keep drawing me back to you when I wander. Show me how to be the best mom, wife, friend and child of God. You are Holy and my hope rests in you! In the precious name of Jesus

Monday, July 17, 2017

Don’t Forget to Remember!

Don’t Forget to Remember!
by Becky Wiegers

Over the past few weeks, I have been wrestling with the reality that God loves for me, that he has called me, and that he wants to use me for His kingdom. While I know that these things are true (because it says so in the Bible), I keep on being confronted with my weakness, failure, and inability to obey some of the simplest commands. I have been progressively more aware of my sinful nature. I am quick to speak a snippy word to my family members, I constantly compare my life and appearance with others, and I quickly fall into some of the same old destructive patterns that I so badly want to be rid of. I keep on thinking that I can stop these things on my own, but that’s the issue right there. I keep on telling myself “I can do this. I got this”, but the reality is that “I don’t got this”. BUT GOD has the power to overcome sin in my life.  I forget that I can’t fight the enemy and sin on my own. I forget who is living inside of me- the God of this world.

In my heart I know that I am IN CHRIST (Galatians 2:20) and that my identity is found in Him and who He made me to be, but I can’t help but feel helpless and undeserving sometimes of the rich promises that God has given me. I find it hard to believe that I can be useful for such honorable and difficult Kingdom work. I have been praying the prayer “Lord I believe in you and your promises to me, but help my unbelief that you will actually use me to do your amazing work in the world” (Mark 9:24) I know God has been revealing my weakness to me on purpose, and I am thankful for the reality check (even though it hurts), because in turn I am becoming more aware of my need for God and His power working through me.

As I have been confronted with my sin, which tends to lead to despair, God has not left me hopeless. He has planted people, moments, and words of truth in my heart and mind so that I can repent and cry out to God for renewal and a new way of thinking, with HOPE for the future.

A sermon I listened to recently reminded me of my position as a child of God. The pastor questioned the common phrase that we are all “sinners saved by grace”. While it is true that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), the deeper truth is that as Christians we are now SAINTS! No more are we under the authority and rule of Satan (and sin), but instead are under the authority of Jesus (who is life). We tend to believe that we are failures and keep on sinning simply because we forget who we are. We forget how God actually sees us-as saints. We forget that we have God living in us.

Also as a source of hope, God has also been allowing me to dream- dream of my future and the plans that He has for me. Sometimes, in the middle of my dreaming I stop and think “But wait, I haven’t even begun to do any of these things. How will I ever get there? God, are you sure you want to use me?” But then I remember that God is bigger than my inadequacies and inexperience- He will present the steps that I need to take to get where he wants me to be.

Overall, the confrontation of my fears, sins, and annoying go-to behaviors has brought me closer to God and His will for me. Amid tears and a heavy heart, God is showing me greater things. He shows me that His power is greater in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I am thankful that God is still drawing me to himself, and that he never gives up on me. The Bible has been an indispensable tool during this time, as even the simple phrase “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) is a reminder of who I am and who God is.

In this post, I really wanted to be open and vulnerable about what God has been doing in my life. I pray that God will use these words to open your eyes and hearts to His power (and our weakness), and encourage you if you are discouraged and frustrated because you can’t seem to get past certain habits or thought patterns. Don’t despair, because God still loves you, you are still His child, and he is calling you to Himself. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). We can continue to take steps (even if they are tiny) toward knowing God and His truth so that we will not forget who we are and who lives inside of us. As Christians, we are victorious in Christ, and “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1)- remember and walk in that beautiful truth!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

This Little Light of Mine

By Katy Beuerle

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5: 14-16

So recently this passage has become a huge motivator in my recovery. It takes me back to Sunday school where most of us learned the song ‘This little light of Mine’. I’m sure you all know how it goes: ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine’ with verses like ‘Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine’ and ‘Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine’. I should rock out to this song more often because it’s a great reminder of how Jesus, as the Light, lives inside us. We carry Him around everywhere we go! Our mission: to go out into the world and Light up the darkness. The more we live in sync with God the brighter we shine, and the brighter we shine the more glory we bring to God and the more people will come to know Jesus. Not much in life trumps this purpose. God has uniquely equipped each one of us with our own gifts, talents, backgrounds and personalities to use on our mission. Unfortunately, we have an enemy dead set on stopping us. The more he can discourage and distract us, the dimmer our lights look to the rest of the world and the less effective we become.

I literally cringe looking back over the past 17 years wrestling with ED. He’s definitely been that ‘bushel’ covering my Light from the world. What an incredible distraction he’s been in my life! Had I given the same amount of time, thought and energy I put into him and used it towards something good, like feeding the hungry; there may not be a hungry soul left in this world.  ED’s all-consuming nature keeps my attention primarily on him and only halfheartedly on God and others. Score one for our enemy. Addictions are crippling.

Well, God hasn’t given up on me, not even after 17 years. It was just last year when God spoke to me like never before, convicting me of my then complacency with ED. I felt Him telling me as long as my attention was divided between Him and ED, my Light wouldn’t reach as far into the darkness as He had created it to. It felt as though my life’s purpose was on the line. He wanted me back, all of me. If I didn’t want to waste my life serving ED, I needed to seek God with all my heart.

I’ve recently been teaching my son how to hit a baseball. I’m constantly shouting ‘keep your eye on the ball!’  As a five year old he’s easily distracted, so more times than not he’ll swing and miss because his attention was half on the baseball, half on a butterfly 20 feet away. Our enemy puts a lot of these ‘butterflies’ in the world to distract us. Whether they be in the form of worldly gains like riches or obtaining that perfect body, or through emotions we harbor, like anger or jealousy. Try as we may to stay focused on God, our eyes are prone to drifting. I feel like I’ve ‘swung and missed’ A LOT in life. I keep asking myself if these distractions are really worth what I’m losing over them: A closer relationship with God and a life driven with purpose!

Back in the year 2000, when I entered into my first treatment center, I was told my heart was in pretty rough shape. So when it started going crazy one night, I was rushed to the nearest hospital. I was absolutely terrified! I seriously thought I was going to die that night. However, in the midst of my fear came incredible clarity! It was like God removed the dark pane of glass I had been looking at life through, and for the first time I saw life as how it ought to be seen. The things our society tells us we need in order to be happy and to ‘make it’ in life, like having a perfect body, wealth, prestigious careers, popularity, etc. were absolutely meaningless, pointless, purposeless! I saw then how we literally live our lives ‘chasing the wind.’  Was I really about to lose my life over something so fruitless? Instead, what I saw mattered the most were relationships! Deep meaningful relationships with each other and with God. That’s what seemed the most fulfilling and satisfying. Scripture even points to this truth. We are wired for relationships, community and God. Our selfish nature often blinds us of this truth. I felt myself growing both angry and sad as I realized my own relationships, especially with God, had become either superficial or nonexistent because of ED’s stronghold in my life. I wanted a second chance. This time I wouldn’t let ED or the world distract me from what really matters!

Thankfully I was given that second chance, but unfortunately that dark pane of glass was placed back in front of me. Our enemy still reigns on earth for now, so we are easily blinded. At least I was left with a lasting impression. The things and promises of this world, the ‘butterflies’ in life, are merely illusions. Our enemy is full of lies and distractions. It’s important we put our time, thought and energy into God and loving on people; however that may look for you.

I’m tired of hiding my Light under a bushel. I want to maximize my short time here on earth. I want to go out into the world and put my lamp on a stand for all to see! I’ve quickly learned that remaining in relationship with God is the only way I can sustain this. He’s the only fuel for my Flame and the missing piece of the puzzle in my battle against ED.  Apart from Him, I am weak. The thing is, like any relationship, it takes time, effort and desire. I can go through weeks when I’m on fire for God and am so dedicated to meeting with him every day; praising Him, singing to Him, talking with Him, crying to Him and devouring His Word. I never knew how real God was until I felt Him speaking to my heart last year. It’s an unmistakable feeling and the coolest thing I could ever experience! You would think this would make it easier to want to meet with Him every day, but it’s not. I have fallen out of the routine several times. Our enemy has distractions lined up as far as the eye can see. But I’m always lulled back to God, desiring that connection and intimacy again, like we were originally designed for. It’s through living in sync with God that we can really set this world on fire!

POST-BLOG RANT: So I have had something on my chest for a while that I’m going too quick share. As a stay at home mom with a kid in school most days, I’ve been blessed with extra time on my hands. Most days when I’m working around the house or working on the computer I’ll listen to sermon messages from well-known pastors all around the country. This just helps me stay uplifted and closer to God. However, recently I’ve heard a disturbing number of pastors crack jokes on stage about their weight, how fat they are getting or how much food they eat or shouldn’t eat. In fact I just listened to a pastor joke about needing to give up eating all together. These comments are always followed by laughter from the congregation. I’m finding myself getting more and more annoyed. 17 years ago, when I was forced to drop out of college and move back in with my parents because of ED, God brought me to the church I still attend today and used that place to rescue me from the pain and daily turmoil I was experiencing. Every Sunday I would literally hang onto every word spoken from the stage and use it against my fight with ED.  I was desperately fighting for my life and peace of mind. So if I had heard these comments coming out of my own pastor’s mouth, especially the comment about giving up eating all together, it would have sent me over the edge. To me these comments would have reaffirmed the lies I was desperately trying not to believe; at the one place I thought I could find truth! Roughly 30 million people suffer with some form of eating disorder in this country, so I’m pretty sure each church has more than a handful of them sitting in the congregation each Sunday. It just upsets me. These comments just show how under the radar eating disorders are in the church, and how uneducated people are. Ok, so there’s my little rant. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. But who knows, maybe that’s my purpose, to take my Light into churches and enlighten them about eating disorders. Thanks for listening.