Mom, what does ‘obese” mean?

“Mom, what does ‘obese’ mean?”

I dreaded school physical time when I was forced to step on the scale. The doctor shook his head as he wrote the word “OBESE” on my chart. In retrospect, I already knew I was overweight but I was only 10 years old, the severity of this realization hadn’t taken root in my psyche yet.

My mother asked, “Why do you want to know that?”

“Because the doctor wrote it on my chart,” I replied.

Mom didn’t answer right away. When we got home, she brought me into her bedroom, dusted off a bathroom scale, and told me to stand on it.

When the black numbers settled in the glass window, mom looked at me and uttered, “Oh Linda.” I thought mom was ashamed of me.

down 2

Have you ever felt ashamed?

Being a mom for 26+ years, now I understand she wasn’t ashamed of me, she was disappointed in herself.

I have “all-ways” struggled with my weight. Being fat is not something you can hide and losing weight is not an easy process. My elementary school years were filled with ridicule and bullying, self-consciousness and embarrassment. Gym class was a bloody nightmare and wearing fashionable clothing was absolutely out of the question.

 

Maybe your shame didn’t arise from being overweight.

Maybe you thought you were too skinny, had a large nose, or weren’t able to purchase nice clothing.

It doesn’t matter what “it” was, shame is shame.

Depressed Man On Bench

Over the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I “dieted” by starving myself; eating only one meal a day and walking more than 5 miles every afternoon. When I was hungry, I drank Diet Coke until the hunger seemed to dissipate. This was not only an unwise thing to do, it was also a very dangerous one.

I lost 35 pounds over that summer. I relished the surprised looks on my classmates’ faces when I returned to school in the fall. Their looks encouraged my unhealthy behavior. People finally “liked” me. Cute boys did a double take when I walked by them. I became popular with the “in” crowd. It felt wonderful!

Sadly, they didn’t know me at all.

This experience taught me two things:

1. Being thin made me acceptable and popular.
2. Being fat was shameful.

How foolish I was to think people truly liked me just because I was thin! This realization left me devastated!

Fast forward 45+ years.

The year 2013 was extremely hard on my family. During those dark days, I was forced to do a lot of self-examination; internally and externally. My defenses were shot opening the gate of bad childhood memories.

I was heavy again.

Was my enlarged frame one of the causes of the discourse in my marriage?

I was ashamed of what I looked like.

What happens if he leaves me?

Was my husband ashamed of me?

Who am I kidding! I was ashamed of me!

I was embarrassed of who I had become.

This may sound ludicrous to some, but not to me. I was so beaten down and destroyed; I didn’t know where to turn.

I thought I dealt with all this stuff when I was younger?
Do childhood struggles ever whisper in your ear, “Remember me?”

Exercise became one of the main things I used to get me through those dark days. My alarm rang at 4 am every day. I put on sweatpants, donned a reflective vest and I walked around my block until my feet hurt. Other days, my neighbors saw me riding my bicycle as I earnestly prayed to God for answers, help and comfort. The calories began to burn off and I started to notice a very positive change in my physique.

My self-esteem began to rise. I felt good about myself again. I was getting thinner.
This may sound like a healthy game plan, but it didn’t touch upon the real problem.

I still equated being overweight with shame.

I fell right back into thinking my self-worth was measured
by what I looked like, not who I was.

romans-10-11

Romans 10:11
“Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.

My problem wasn’t the food I was putting in my mouth.
My problem was the shame I held in my heart.

I forgot I was a daughter of the King!

I was ashamed of myself.

I failed to remember that my

shame was nailed to the cross.

During my walks around the block, my bicycle rides, and the time I took choosing healthier eating habits, God worked on my heart. Through prayer, petition and a lot of tears, God transformed my soul. He taught me to trust Him in every aspect of my life. He took my shame, redesigned me, and made me into a woman who knows He is faithful, true and loves me beyond my comprehension.

God’s Word was salve to my soul.

His promises were the building blocks of my healing.

His Holy Spirit renewed my soul.

God has shown me that His concern over my faith far outweighs my concern about the numbers on my scale. He wants me to be healthy both spiritually and physically.
God is not ashamed of me. He loves me and is glad to call me His own, no matter what I look like.

And for this, I am richly blessed.

 

Note to the reader:
If you find yourself in a place similar to mine, I encourage you to first seek the care of a reputable physician and a trust-worthy counselor. Begin to read His Word and grasp God’s love for you. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you on this journey. I pray God will bless you on your journey!

Psalm 1


Further readings:

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

Romans 5:1-5 
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 

Romans 9:33 
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

rejoice-in-the-hope1

Living the Dream

The rusty sedan had seen better days.  I assumed the person sitting in the driver seat had too. Pillows, rolls of paper towels, clothing, boxes and other belongings blocked any view the rear window ever had. Immediately my thoughts sped to hoarder, homeless, or person-in-need.

I walked past the parked car on my way into work. The building wasn’t open to the public for at least another hour.  As I approached the car to see if the person might need help,  the psychedelic bumper sticker caused me slow my pace and stare.  I blinked to make sure I read it correctly. It read “Living the Dream.”

Jeremiah-29-11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

When we absorb scripture, we realize the Creator of the Universe loves us. He wants the best for us. Before He set the stars in the heavens and formed boundaries of the seas, He thought of you and me.

Included within the thoughts of God are His personal plans for each of us. His plans transcend the doubts and fears of living on this earthly plain.  We could never conceive of the hope-filled plans God has for our lives. Plans that far exceed any of our expectations or design.

What is blocking your “rear view mirror” of the beautiful dream God has for you? What are you desperately clutching that is preventing you from opening your grasp to accept His gift for you?

We place boundaries on He who is boundless. Our trust is in what we can see, feel and touch rather than what He sets before us.  We cling to earthly possessions as if they can keep us safe or give us value rather than opening our hands to accept His gift for us.

God wants to help you live His dream for your life.

There could be a variety of reasons that brought this person to be in a beat up car stuffed  with their personal belongings on this early morning.  Maybe they were forced to live on the streets or in a box labeled, “Kenmore.” Whatever the circumstance causing them to be in a beat-up old car in a parking lot of a closed building, my prayer for them is they are willing and able to accept God’s love and dream for their life.

187941-God-s-Plans-Are-Better-Than-Your-Dreams

 

 

 

Searching for Our Promised Land

My son’s frustration became more obvious as he tried to slam the bathroom vanity’s drawer shut. The overflowing contents prevented the drawer from closing. I thought he only wanted was a Band-Aid.

“Josh, can I help you?” I asked.

frustration

He blurted out, “Why can’t God show me the path He wants me to take? How do I know I’m doing what God wants me to?”

His question caught me off guard. His eyes reflected his hurt and frustration; it made my heart ache.

From very early on, Josh knew he wanted to be an Air Force pilot. His grades were great and his last year in school even included piloting. When he attempted to enlist, he was denied due to medical reasons. Through no fault of his own, Josh’s future goals were interrupted.  It was tough, but eventually Joshua accepted this necessary change and began growing.

As his mom, I’ve watched Josh’s faith and belief in God increase by leaps and bounds. His participation in Royal Rangers whose “mission is to evangelize, equip and empower the next generation of Christ-like men and life-long servant leaders,” has led to leadership positions and great friendships with brothers in Christ.

Just a few months ago, Josh went on two mission trips-one to New Orleans during Mardi Gras and the other to help build a church in Albany, New York.

Why couldn’t he see what was so plain to me?

“Joshua, of course you’re doing what God wants! I’m so sorry you don’t see it.”

I continued, “Yes, God has closed some doors on the dreams you had for your future, but look what He has set before you! Maybe you won’t fly planes.  But look and see! You’re being paid to work with a master carpenter who is teaching you how to build and renovate houses. Just think of how these skills may benefit people who need a home to live in!  I see you helping a vast number of people with the skills you are being taught. You will be able to bless many!

You’re surrounding yourself with Godly friends. Worshipping and studying His Word. You are absolutely on the path He wants for your life. You proclaim Jesus Christ in all you do and you witness His faithfulness whenever you have opportunity.”

“But why doesn’t God show me what I’m supposed to do with my life? ” he asked.

show me

I responded, “Because God gives us what we need for today. On a daily basis, God supplies what we need for the day, not what we need for tomorrow. We should trust Him knowing how deeply He loves us. All we’re supposed to do is to continue to move forward.”

 

Matthew 6 34 pic 2

After encouraging Josh, why don’t I listen to my own words?

Why don’t I listen to THE WORD?

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Confession time! I’ve been doing a lot of searching. Searching for what I want to do with my life, who I want to be when I grow up or if I even want to grow up. My heart-felt desire is to be on the path God has chosen for me.

My dilemma is I don’t exactly know what that path is. Should I intentionally pursue more active writing projects or speaking engagements? Am I supposed to go deeper into women’s ministry? What is my ministry? Should I be in ministry at all or become more involved in church activities?

All these questions continually bounce off the walls of my brain causing me angst and confusion.

promised land

Like Joshua, I want a glimpse of my “promised land,” a taste of what’s in store for my future years. Too many times I’ve gone down a path that wasn’t necessarily wrong, but it wasted a lot of time and energy with no obvious benefits.

All I can say is UGH!

What I should do is to PRAY!

I pray we are all able to clearly see the path God has chosen for us. I pray we are patient as we wait to hear His all on our lives. And I pray when He does show us our “promised land,” we are courageous enough to move forward in His call on our lives.

Amen!

Proverbs

Life is like Swiss Cheese

The scent of melted candle wax permeated the sacristy as murmurs of prayers filled my ears. Worship just ended and a number of people remained behind for personal prayer. I stood at the end of the line with my eyes closed tightly focusing my thoughts on God.

Pastor moved down the line, not rushing or belaboring the time he took to anoint and pray for each individual’s needs. Words such as healing, comfort, peace, and strength broke the silence as each patiently waited their turn. As each prayer ended, that person quietly left the church.

Candle-Pray

What would Pastor say to me? Physically, a number of things warranted prayer, but even more I was desperately searching for something, anything to fill an emptiness growing inside my soul. I wanted to feel fulfilled in my life and ministry. Maybe my prayer would finally give me direction or healing in one or more of these areas.

When Pastor began to pray for Josh, the young man standing next to me, I couldn’t help but overhear. “Josh, go forth knowing you are a child of God. Your faith is strong and deep. Your family will heal from the loss of Grandpa Wayne. God’s Holy Spirit resides in your heart and will bless you in all aspects of your life. His Word is true. Continue to believe in Jesus Christ and you will be blessed. The Lord has great things planned for you. Remain in Him. Amen” As Pastor ended the prayer, Josh turned and left the room.

Wow! What a great prayer! I would have jumped for joy if Pastor just said, “Ditto,” when he prayed for me, but this was not the case.

Pastor anointed my head with oil, placed his hands on my shoulders, paused a moment, snickered a little (yes, he actually snickered) and then said, “Life is like Swiss cheese….”

I immediately felt deflated.

Swiss cheese

As my head snapped up, I said, “What the heck? Cheese? Really?”

He began again, “Life is like Swiss cheese. You can concentrate on the cheese or focus on the holes; it’s your choice. God knows the holes in your life have not been caused through any fault of your own. He also knows there many solid blessings in your life as well. Concentrate on the solid parts, not what isn’t there.”

I was stuck at Swiss cheese. What was I supposed to do with that? Go home and make a Reuben sandwich?

While Pastor’s prayer for me was unique, isn’t it true for all of us? Aren’t we all drowning in blessings and yet we complain about the few things we don’t have or not going the way we wanted?

Why is it so hard for us to be content?

2 Timothy 6 6

Content means to be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

The Word says:

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Phil 4 1012

I’m not content because I continually struggle with sin. I wrestle with wanting more. I fight my desire to be noticed and appreciated. And I rejoice because I don’t have to face these battles alone!

When I realize God resides within my soul….

When I accept His deep abiding love….

When I recognize the price Jesus Christ paid on my behalf….

I am utterly ashamed I asked for one iota more.

It is at these times, when I fall on my face at His feet, I am not only content, but full of joy for His mercy and grace.

Only Jesus can bring me true contentment.

And I have a new appreciation for Swiss Cheese.

May we all be able to find contentment with the blessings God gave us and to use those gifts to bless others.

godliness-with-contentmentgreen

 

Further reading:

Philippians 4:10-12 (ESV) 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Timothy 6:6 (ESV) 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[a] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Will You Eat?

santa-cena-holy-supper

Luke 22:7-8 (ESV) Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus[a] sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”

 

A fresh linen cloth covered a table set with fine china.  Polished silver utensils were properly placed on each side of the gleaming dinner plate. Crystal glasses holding ice cold water stood at the top of the triangular fold of the linen napkin. The aroma of freshly baked bread filled the room as the waiter placed a warm roll on the bread plate next to a plate of creamy butter.

A waitress entered carrying a large tray, and laying it on the table, she removed a silver domed lid revealing steaming meats and vegetables cooked to perfection seasoned with delicious herbs and spices.

The lighting in the room was dim, perfect for dining comfortably. Soft music filled the air.

The magnificent meal was ready.

fine_dining

A well-dressed man walked in, scanned the room, and took his place at the table.  He saw the elegance. He recognized the effort and expense it must have taken to put such a beautiful meal together. As he was about to lift the napkin off the table to cover his lap, he paused, stood and then left the room.

The meal was for him and yet he chose not to eat.

Some of you reading this may think this man was crazy. To deny oneself such a delicious meal in such an exquisite setting sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

And yet, some of us do this all the time.

Jesus willingly hands each of us hope, forgiveness, salvation, and love-free of charge-on a silver platter. And yet, some of us choose not to “eat” of His generosity and grace.

We push ourselves from His table empty and lost.

This precious meal is ours, purely out of God’s goodness and grace, even though we are unworthy to receive it.

It’s only through Jesus that we become worthy to eat at His table and drink from His cup and to experience the freedom we receive in Him.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has set His table for you.  He asks you to dine in His love and grace.

My question for you is this, will you eat?

Luke 22:17-20 (ESV) 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Meal pic 4

 

Age-A State of Mind

I handed my items to the cashier as she asked, “Would you like to take advantage of our Senior Citizens discount?”

As I felt my face flush, I tried to push off her obvious affront and replied, “Excuse me?”

She repeated a little slower and a bit louder, “Do you want the Senior Citizens Discount? It’s for anyone over 55?”

Indignantly I said, “Well, I’m only 54.”

She replied, “Well then I guess you don’t qualify.”

Boldly I said, “That’s not the right answer, Sweetheart. The right answer is, YOU DON’T LOOK 54!”

That was two years ago.

When did I get old? How did age creep up on me?

Funny thing, until recently I didn’t feel old. Yes, my body has typical aches and pains, not everything works as well as it did before, but old? Nope not me!

Just recently I had been discussing my desire to increase my speaking and writing engagements and someone called me  “fortuitous.” Not being familiar with the word, I asked the person to clarify their statement. They explained:

Most older folks (pardon my saying that) after having done life, plus a stable career for as long as you have (and in a profession that values consistency, all the facts lining up neatly and predictably) it’s a HUGE risk to step out into something  new and different from what you have done. Most folks tend to just hunker down in the familiar and become narrow minded, shifting into sameness preservation mode. All the more I salute you!”

They were really trying to give me a compliment.

The message I received loud and clear was that I had finally reached the ripe age of old.

Age playing

This message has been rolling around in my head all week.  Why did this person think I was old? Was I acting “old?” Should I begin to wear more “age appropriate” clothing? Do I need to throw away my jeans and purchase some polyester pants with elastic waistbands? Should I trade my sneakers in for a pair of thick soled rubber bottom, Velcro banded shoes?

Why is this bothering me so much?

Because if I’m truly old, then maybe I should be “hunkering down, shifting into preservation mode” feeling comfortable in the years I have left.

But there’s still so much I want to do.

Why am I choosing to accept a message from someone who barely knew me rather than believe  the message God, my creator, has for me? Why do I believe  my value is beginning to end, when God tells me differently?

God’s Word says:

1-thessalonians-1-4

I am chosen by Him (1 Thessalonians 1:4; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:9)

1peter1-18-19-square

He tells me I am redeemed (1 Peter 1:18, 19; Galatians 3:13)

Deuteronomy 28

I am blessed by Him. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Galatians 3:9)

colossians3.12

I am beloved of God (Colossians 3:12; Romans 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

Ephesians 2.5

I am alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)

This shell called “my body” may be growing old, but my soul is still young.

I still have value.

I still have purpose.

I am precious and deeply loved.

I am defined only by God. His Word and His Word alone is my ultimate truth showing me that I am cherished and deeply loved.

Starting today I’m going to remove “hunkering down” and “preservation mode” from my vocabulary.  My jeans and sneakers will remain and I will continue to exercise to keep my body in as good a shape as possible.  I’m going to rest to renew my soul and enjoy the wisdom that comes with age.

Age quote

Until my dying breath, I will live each and every moment to its fullest. The lessons I have learned needs to be shared, especially with cheeky cashiers who think they know it all.

One Stormy Morning

Driving a school bus is difficult. Being the bus driver of your OWN kids can be mind boggling!

My children attended a private school located more than 15 miles from our home. Every day we piled into our large van and began the trek to school. Some days the drive went smoothly, other times it was as painful as pulling a tooth! One morning the boys were being especially rambunctious; back seat brawls, noise and the sound of jumping over seats filled the vehicle. My threats of punishment were being ignored. I was losing the battle.

Besides the storm brewing inside the van, there was a storm forming outside the van as well. Darkness fell as menacing clouds moved in. When a flash of lightening lit up the sky, the boys snapped to attention. Silence replaced all noise. Tension filled every open space. I knew the boys were getting nervous and that’s when I saw my chance to have a little fun.

Even though my children lived a life of daring feats and adventures, their exposure to scary things was limited. Scaring them easy.

And let’s face it, sometimes it’s fun to scare unruly little kids, isn’t it?

rain-on-windshield-rholinelle-detorres

 

Heavy rain poured down the windshield making visibility difficult. I slowed the van down to a crawl. In between swipes of my wiper blades, I saw my chance.

I saw the Brookfield Cemetery.

Established in the 1700s, Brookfield Cemetery is a small community burial place with many weathered headstones showing decades of existence. It was a perfect setting for a horror movie or to scare the heck out of my unruly children.

Another flash of light filled the van as I clicked on my left blinker. With fear in their voices the boys asked, “Mommy, where are you going?”

In my best evil sounding voice I cried, “The cemetery!”

cemetery-gages

As if on cue, a boom of thunder drowned out their screams of, “NO!!!”

Rain pounded the van’s roof as I drove past the gray headstones. In my most sinister voice I began, “Maybe someone is going to raise up from the dead today. What do you think? Hey! Look over there! I think I see the earth cracking open.”

Bodies dove under the seats. They begged me to drive faster. My sinister laugh intensified. I continued to drive slowly, I mean it was raining hard and I wanted to be safe. They began to scream in fear.

screaming-boy

I had them under my thumb.

It felt wonderful. I felt powerful. I was finally in control.

It didn’t last.

It took a number of years for me to learn that any lasting, true control I gained over my children came from their respect; not gained through threats, punishments or fear. Sometimes I had to be strong while other times yielding; unbending and stringent sometimes and other times loving and compassionate. Many times I screwed up while other times I excelled.

You can read hundreds of books, how-to-magazines, watch movies and/or go to classes for helpful parenting tips; but I believe the true way to learn how to be a good mom is to be one. Good parenting is a learn-as-you-go experience. There are many successes and mistakes, joys and sorrows. Believe me, no-one but God gets this job 100% correct!

Whether you are a parent who is excelling or struggling, pray and ask God to guide you. Ask Him to give you wisdom as you travel along the road of parenthood. Celebrate your successes and acknowledge your mistakes. Rejoice in all joys and share your sorrows. Even though you may want your children to think you are a super-hero, remind them you are just a human doing super-hero things.

The fast moving storm soon ended and the sky returned to a bright blue. Normalcy reappeared; the boys returned to their rowdy selves and my directives once again reverberated in their ears.

Being my boys’ bus driver was never an easy task, but one I would do again in a heartbeat.  Some days the van was filled with hysterical laughter and other times we rode along the highway of hellish behavior. Giving up was not an option, there was too much at stake. As time went on, I got better at being their mom and they got better at being well-behaved children.

And sometimes being a good parent included making a left turn into a cemetery.

psalm-127-b