the whisper of God

It is in the quiet, the stillness of my searching soul, where I will meet and commune with God. It is beyond the rushing, the chaos, and busyness. The striving, the white-noise that I fill in my loneliness. Like a dirty garment, they have to be cast aside. Sloughing off the distractions, the constant need to be connected to everything and everyone.  My soul yearns for this quiet place yet I sometimes do not know how to slow my pace. I expect the Lord to keep in step with my schedule. I expect him to meet me in the noise and clamor I stir up like dust as I rush through life. Yet he gently, lovingly leads me away from it all. Beckoning me to step away for just a moment and breathe in the grace of his goodness as the restlessness and churning settles. It is only here where true peace is found. To be still and know him more.

 

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.  A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” //1 Kings 19:11-14

It is in the quiet, the stillness of my searching soul, where I will meet and commune with God. It is beyond the rushing, the chaos, and busyness. The striving, the white-noise that I fill in my loneliness. Like a dirty garment, they have to be cast aside. Sloughing off the distractions, the constant need to be connected to everything and everyone.  My soul yearns for this quiet place yet I sometimes do not know how to slow my pace. I expect the Lord to keep in step with my schedule. I expect him to meet me in the noise and clamor I stir up like dust as I rush through life. Yet he gently, lovingly leads me away from it all. Beckoning me to step away for just a moment and breathe in the grace of his goodness as the restlessness and churning settles. It is only here where true peace is found. To be still and know him more.

In the whisper, the hushed voice of the spirit, I hear him say, “So Becki, now tell me, what are you doing here?”

Oh Lord, I want to simply sit at your feet. To be near you. That is all.

His sweet presence alone speaks to the deepest corners of my soul. His direction and clarity revives my understanding of his purpose for me. His love emboldens and renews as he aligns my heart with his.

my worth is not found in being thin

Its a process. A slow, sweet grace-filled journey relearning and finally allowing myself to receive the infinite unconditional love of God. Right where I am at, right when I fail, right when I feel like I don’t deserve it. Eating disorders don't just magically disappear, and I realize that I will not be able to stand firm without the Lord's help each day. He will not leave me alone in my struggle, he knows my weaknesses, and he will use them to reveal his glory and strength at work in my life.

My struggle with body image began when I entered the 5th grade. We started to change for PE and were forced to wear these HORRIBLE polyester short-shorts. They were created for the tall, willowy girls. My thighs filled the leg holes completely. I probably should have been issued a larger size but because I had a smaller waist, the teacher said they would have to be a bit snug around my legs and rear. I will never forget how the girls would stand in front of the mirrors as we were getting ready and measure the gap between their thighs. “I’ve got 1 1/2 inches.” “2 inches for me.” I would stand in the background, hiding behind my locker, painfully aware that my thighs not only touched, but they rubbed together when I would run. I kept pulling my shorts down as far as I could to make the shorts appear looser, only to have them ride back up above the folds in my upper thighs when I would walk or run. I would go home and stand in front of the mirror in those stupid PE shorts and pull at the skin to see what it would look like to have smaller thighs. I would scrutinize my flaws so mercilessly, bringing myself to tears.

I started dieting when I was in 6th grade. I poured over teen magazines that had articles featuring how to get in shape. I learned how to cut calories, how to exercise to burn the calories I ate for the day. I would close my door each night and work out as hard as I could. I wasn’t very disciplined in my eating. I would eat junk food when no one was looking. I would hide it in my backpack for school. Feeling guilty, I would then starve myself the next day. Only eating rice cakes and apple sauce. I would use our elliptical trainer set on the highest setting and work out until I could no longer stand up. This was my cycle, I would binge eat, starve, exercise. I would lose 5 pounds only to gain 7 pounds back.

It wasn’t until high school where I really started to work harder to lose the weight. I only would eat cottage cheese, rice cakes, diet coke, and apple sauce during the week. When I was home with my parents, I would say that I was on a diet and trying to lose weight, but still would snack on unhealthy things or be less careful with my food choices when we went out. I would measure my thighs and butt almost every night. I was finally losing weight and people were starting to notice. I was complimented, I was able to buy clothes without even having to try them on. I loved the loose feeling my old clothes gave me, knowing that only a few months before they were too tight to wear. In fact, that loose feeling in my old clothes started to become my gauge of when I need to stop eating and to exercise more. I would slack on my discipline when my clothes hung on my body and begin to binge eat as my “reward” for all my hard work. A week later, I would panic when my clothes were beginning to feel snug. Rice cakes and diet coke along with my rigorous exercising would begin.

This routine followed me well into my adult years. My first pregnancy, I felt such freedom. I was able to eat for two! I gained well over 75 pounds. All that weight didn’t sit well on my 5 foot 3 inch frame. I felt miserable at the end of my third trimester. After my delivery, I crashed dieted enough to where I was still able to produce milk. I walked, I did work out videos, I lived on fat-free cottage cheese. I compared myself to the other celebrities who were pregnant and tried to match their post-pregnancy weight-loss. I beat myself up when they were showing off their bikini body 3 months after having their baby and I still couldn’t fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I would then up the workouts, cut more calories, and binge eat when I would didn’t see instant results. I lost all my baby weight in 9 months. I became pregnant shortly after with our 2nd child. This pregnancy, and with my third, I made myself exercise and eat better so I would only gain the required 20-25 pounds. With each delivery, my weight-loss routine would start up again. Binge eating, starving, exercising. It wasn’t until after my fourth, and final pregnancy, where I started to see my body begin to change. I started dieting the moment I left the hospital. I was wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans two months after delivering. My routine was side-tracked this time around when postpartum depression kicked in.

There was a bunch of other stressors going on in our lives at that time and I hit rock bottom mentally and emotionally. I started having digestive issues. Horrible pains in my stomach that would lead my physician husband to take me to the emergency room. Tests upon tests were taken. I was tired, my hair started falling out, my body was in full-on rebellion. I was put on Prozac to “fix” my depression. My doctor thought that all of my symptoms were due to my postpartum depression. I gained 20+ pounds in only a few short months. I was unable to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes. I was living in my pregnancy yoga pants that I wore in my third trimester. I was embarrassed to leave the house. All of my clothes were too tight to wear and I was forced to go out and buy bigger clothes, moving from single digit sizes to double digit sizes. I felt ashamed, I felt unattractive, I felt like a failure.

I started to go to a counselor at this time. Life was a bit overwhelming with four kids. I was feeling exhausted and spread thin. I shared about how my weight issues plagued my thought life. How every single bite of food I ate caused anxiety. My counselor told me that I had a Binge Eating Disorder. My obsession with food, my unrealistic expectations on how I should look, and my need for control all confirmed her diagnosis. As we “unpacked” my past, I was able to connect my extreme need for people’s approval with my dieting. If I was thin, people would like me. I felt that the number on the scale represented my success as a person.

The Lord was so gentle, so kind in this revelation. He allowed my counselor to speak truth over this area of my life that I kept guarded and protected. There was so much shame and guilt there. I was holding so tightly to my secret shamefulness that I even kept my husband away. As the truth settled in, my heart began to soften. I realized that I had a control issue with food, that I put food above the Lord for comfort. I put my success on the scale to receive approval. I was able to understand why I struggle with people pleasing (see my post repurposed) and found that I simply needed to lay it all down at the feet of Jesus. He needed to rebuild my thinking, he needed to heal my heart from the years of shame and harsh treatment I put my body through. He needed to work and move in my life. He replaced the lies I believed about myself with the truth found in his Word. I asked for accountability with my husband when I struggled and I was on my knees in prayer constantly for strength. God had to break down, trim back the brokenness to allow new life to spring forth. It wasn’t easy. It was extremely humbling, but the grace of God was sweet and full of love. He was walking beside me through it all.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.// Psalm 139:13-16 MSG

It’s been three years since that day in my counsellor’s office. I’m still 25 pounds overweight and I am still unable to lose it. I am working closely with my doctor and have found some insight into why my health has not improved. I now fill my diet with healthy, whole foods that nourish my body. I’ve let go of my old weight-loss plans and vigorous exercise routine. I’m in a season where I am letting my body rest. I think the years of abusing my body with extreme dieting and exercise have taken its toll, but I also know that God ordained this season for me to finally wake up and address the destructive lifestyle I was living in.

My beauty, my worth, and my significance are found in Jesus Christ. I wasn’t saved by grace because I had my act together. He created me exactly the way that I am. He didn’t make a mistake. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I can rest in the love of God and his approval. It’s no longer about my accomplishments or my appearance…it all boils down to what Jesus did on the cross and how he loves me. It still isn’t easy. I can’t begin to tell you how hurtful it is to run into people I haven’t seen in a while and have them say “I barely recognized you” when nothing has changed except for my added weight. It is so hard to have to pack away my cute smaller sized clothes. And it is so very hard to turn off the old hurtful lies I used to whisper to myself when I now see my reflection in the mirror.

My oldest daughter is now entering her teen years. She is relentlessly surrounded by what the world says is beautiful. Images, TV shows, movies, and social media all promote such unattainable standards.  My sweet girl cannot help but compare herself to those standards. I am extremely grateful that the Lord began his work in my life three years ago because my daughter needs for me to be the example of what it looks like to have a healthy body image. I may not be in extremely good shape, I may not be the size two I used to be, but I am walking secure in the Lord. I know she is looking to me. I want her to see me modeling a healthy relationship with my Heavenly Father and not letting food take his place.  I am God’s handiwork. I am his child. I am beloved and I am chosen. I am free and I am made whole and I will spend the rest of my days with grateful praise.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus.//Ephesians 2: 10-11 NLT

{i can feel you- bethel music}

my name means secure

My name is really Rebekah. I’ve always told people that I will use my real name over my nickname Becki when I feel like I have my act together.   I have been going through the @proverbs31 study What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa Terkeurst. I’ve been really thinking on a part where Lysa talks about not looking in the rear-view mirror of the past, letting go of it, and pressing forward to Gods intended future plans for my life. In doing so, God gives you a new name. Abram became Abraham when God called him to become the father of many. Lysa encouraged us to look up the meaning of our names and to find a verse that correlates with that meaning.  Since I was named after Rebekah of the Bible, it wasn’t difficult to find a website that gives the Hebrew meaning of biblical names. The name Rebekah literally means Tied Up but the more specific meaning is Secured.   I’ve wrestled with fear and insecurity for as long as I can remember. My name means secure. It was a powerful moment for me this morning. I’m no longer known for my fear and insecurity- the Lord has made me secure by Jesus’ death on the cross. I’m am no longer looking back at the “Becki” of the past; I am now identified as “Rebekah” the women God created me to be. Secure in His love, secure in his plans for my life, secure in his protection, secure in his arms.   "Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders." // Deut. 33:12

 

I have been going through the Proverbs 31 Ministries online Bible Study What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa Terkeurst. I’ve been really thinking on a chapter where Lysa talks about not looking in the rear-view mirror of the past, letting go of it, and pressing forward to God’s intended plans for my life. In doing so, God gives you a new name. Abram became Abraham when God called him to become the father of many. Lysa encouraged us to look up the meaning of our names and to find a verse that correlates with that meaning.

Since I was named after Rebekah of the Bible, it wasn’t difficult to find a website that gives the Hebrew meaning of biblical names. The name Rebekah literally means ‘tied up’ but the more specific meaning is ‘secured’.

I’ve wrestled with fear and insecurity for as long as I can remember. My name means secure. It was a powerful moment for me this morning. I’m no longer known for my fear and insecurity- the Lord has made me secure by Jesus’ death on the cross. I’m am no longer looking back at the “Becki” of the past; I am now identified as “Rebekah”- the woman God created me to be. Secure in His love, secure in his plans for my life, secure in his protection, secure in his arms.

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields her all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. // Deuteronomy 33:12

 

i don’t want to be fearless

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. it creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins. // Charles Stanley

I know when I am about to do something that really is a stretch for me. My heart beats wildly in my chest, my hands sweat, and I often pace around with my hands gripped tightly together. For the longest time I felt that being fearful was a sign of weakness. Now I’m not so sure anymore…

The word fear is defined as “the unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger; a feeling of being afraid”. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) I know this unpleasant emotion all too well. Fear has paralyzed me at times. Preventing me from stepping out into situations that are a bit unknown. It often lurks behind me, whispering the unthinkable into the vulnerable corners of my heart. Fear has caused me to doubt decisions, backtrack on promises, and isolate me from community. When I’ve given fear complete control over my life, it has prevented me from experiencing joy, happiness, and peace.

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.        // Charles Stanley

Why do I still wrestle with fear? If I am a new creation in Christ, why do I still let it have control of my life? I have tried to will myself into not being afraid. Beating myself up when I feel like my faith should be stronger than it is. I didn’t realize the control that this weakness has over me in my life until recently. I asked my husband to be honest with me about the areas I need to grown in. Without hesitating, he said fear. He lovingly explained to me how he has watched my anxiety and worry erode my once joyful, free-spirited personality into a self-doubting shell of a woman.

I remember a time when I was asked to paint a mural on the wall of our youth room. I said yes, but I was so afraid I would mess it up, or that no one would like it. I backed out, leaving the leaders bewildered and making me look like I didn’t keep my word. I had to go back to them, repair my relationship with them and confess that fear kept me from serving. I also remember many moments where I dreaded going to different social events with my husband where I did not know a living soul. I am HORRIBLE at small talk and an introvert to a fault. I stutter, my palms sweat, and I feel awkward and self-conscious. In fear, I know I project a version of myself that isn’t approachable or easy to be around. (But, if you get me in a room of people I love…I’m completely at ease.)

I love my husband deeply, and I know how very difficult it was for him to share this truth to me. Taking it to heart, I asked the Lord to confirm what my husband said. Gently, the Holy Spirit illuminated moments where I responded to situations and relationships with fear. Moments where I acted more like Chicken Little, afraid that the sky was falling, instead of clinging to the hope that the Lord would protect and give me strength. I think there lies the problem. I often feel like I have to do it all on my own strength. Mustering up enough courage to face the unknown, or to bolster up my own heroism when I feel like life is out of control. I need to show others, and in some ways God, that I am strong enough. I want to look like I’ve got it all together. To admit fear, is to concede that I am weak. To say that I am afraid, I could risk looking like I am not walking closely with the Lord. But in doing so, I end up looking foolish, falling hard, or having digestive issues. (Hello, Tums.)

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. // Isaiah 41:13

But can fear ever be healthy? Yes, it can! Fear can also mean “a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful.” To be in awe of our Heavenly Father. To fear him, in all his power and splendor, to be on your knees worshiping the majesty of his love and mercy, to provide for all our needs. The Bible says: Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”

When moments of uncertainty arise, when I feel inadequate in my own strength, I need to veer away from my inability and turn to the Lord’s capability. Moving from fear to trust. I don’t have to be fearless, all the Lord requires is for me to be faithful. To believe that he’s got this. Instead of being fearless, I need to stop in my fear, drop to my knees, and wait for the Lord to show up. Just like when the disciples were rocking around in the boat out in the middle of the lake. The storm swirling around them, the small little fishing boat bobbing up and down with each gust of wind. They were out of their minds with fear. Jesus, asleep and unfazed by the storm, woke up because the disciples were petrified with fear. With authority, Jesus said, “Peace, be still.” The storm ceased, the waves stilled, the boat floated gently on the water.

Storms are going to huff and puff at me, situations are going to rise up and tower over me, and the limitations of my strength will be tested. Fear usually takes control and takes me off course. But just like the disciples experienced out in that crazy storm, I need to call out for help. Using that moment to bring me to scripture, to meditate on his promises, not responding or react in fear but to use my fear to bring me to a place where I throw myself at the feet of Jesus. Letting him calm my heart and allow my fear to decrease with those calming words, “Peace, be still.” Transferring my fear of the external situation to awe-struck fear of my Heavenly Father who has my life in his hands and will not leave me stranded and alone in my circumstances. I am right where I need to be, completely dependent, soft-hearted for teaching, humble in my place, but knowing that I am fiercely loved and protected.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” // Hebrews 13:5-6

{prince of peace- hillsong }

never give up

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.  So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  // 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 16-18 MSG

 

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

// 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 16-18 MSG

{touch the sky- bethel music}

he is risen!

He is Risen!! Happy Easter from www.shinyreflection.com

 

In the Cross is salvation; in the Cross is life; in the Cross is protection against our enemies; in the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the Cross is strength of mind; in the Cross is joy of spirit; in the Cross is excellence of virtue; in the Cross is perfection of holiness. There is no salvation of soul, nor hope of eternal life, save in the Cross. // Thomas à Kempis, The Inner Life

 He is risen indeed!

Hallelujah!