Tag Archives: Soul Talk

Dirty Laundry

The week before Christmas 2017 I had a dream about an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in about 30 years. My dream was surprisingly vivid as I seldom remember them and this dream was crisp and my friends’ features were clear. It was as though I could have felt the warmth of her skin had I reached out and touched her.

She was a close friend in the early 1980s when I lived in Minneapolis. She had a soft spoken voice, she taught me how to play the mandolin and we laughed a lot together. We were actively involved in church and spent a lot of time together within our Christian singles group. We loved bluegrass music and occasionally visited a little dive near downtown Minneapolis where they played live bluegrass.

Our true friendship began late one afternoon on a drive from a Christian singles gathering in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As we drove back towards the city we passed a field of cows. I randomly said out loud, “I love cows”, and she jumped back with a gleeful “So do I!” We laughed at the silliness of our mutual love of cows and that was the beginning of a great friendship.

As the years passed we lost touch after I moved to Florida, got married and lived the busy life of work and raising a family. Now, over 30 years later, with a plethora of life events behind us I had this dream about her.  It was a short dream where we were discussing laundry – of all things! I told her that I didn’t always keep up with my laundry when she replied, “You should do your laundry every day. You shouldn’t leave it sitting around. I do mine every day.” Then it was over and I woke up.

I laughed at the silliness of it, remembering she hadn’t been one to keep up with her laundry at all. Then I wondered what she may be going through and if she needed prayer. Throughout my life I’ve had vivid dreams about specific people, which led me to pray for them. So I began to pray for her and felt a strong prompting to call her.

It was the week before Christmas and the scurrying of preparing caused me to postpone the call. When I made the call a few days later her answering machine picked up and I heard her familiar voice. I left a message letting her know that I wanted to reconnect.

On New Year’s Day I called her again and after the excitement of reconnecting I told her about my dream. We laughed over the silliness of it as she confessed her laundry often piled up. We moved on to discussing our lives and that we had both lost our dads in the past year. We reminisced about the church we attended together and the people we hung around with back then.

Then she asked if she could share something with me and told me that when we were friends back in the 80s that she wasn’t really a Christian and she hadn’t really known Jesus as her Savior. She had walked the walk, but wasn’t living out a Christian life. She lived that way until nine years ago when she was burned out and took a leave of absence from her job. She thought a month of rest would help her get back on her feet so she could resume a better, happier life.

Her time off was restful and she felt better than she had in a long time. Then the day before she was to return to work she realized she would go back to work and that nothing had really changed at all. She still had all of the same issues that brought her to a place of unhappiness with her life.

It was then that she realized that if something was going to change it had to be within her. That’s when she prayed, “I can’t do this alone anymore, Jesus. I need you to come into my life and change me.” She said she began by confessing her sins and asking for forgiveness. It wasn’t a big event; it was the simple act of asking Jesus to help her change and committing her life to follow him. I felt honored that she would share such a deep part of her life with me.

I shared with her how I was at a place in my life where I was tired of striving. I was tired of constantly struggling for a better way of life, thinking about how I could earn more money, and how to be truly happy and content with my life. I desired to lean more on God and less on my own capabilities.

She said it was like Galatians 2:20 and she read to me:  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. I agreed that I needed to lean more into Him to achieve more peace and allow more of the Jesus within me to lead rather than taking it all on myself.

We continued sharing about our lives and were both happy to have connected again. After we said our good-byes I giggled to myself about the dream of dirty laundry and thanked God that I had made the call.

A couple days later as I sat at my desk writing this story, I glanced at a message on my bulletin board: I Surrender All. I questioned myself if I had really surrendered – my anxiety, my constant striving, my mental health challenges, my children, or my marriage. The familiar words of the song came to my mind:

All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live

I surrender all, I surrender all, all to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

Was I really surrendering it all to God? Did I really trust God in all of these things or was I trying to orchestrate it all myself? Was I really trying to live in his presence daily?

Then my thoughts went back to the conversation with my friend and her desire to change and ask forgiveness for her sins. We’re all sinners, its part of our human nature. Jesus’ message to us when he came to earth was to confess our sins, to repent, to have the desire to change. But how long had it been since I had exercised that part of my Christian walk? What part did it play in my faith, my relationship with God, my happiness or my success?

My mind was telling me that I didn’t have a lot to confess. I’m not in any type of sexual sin or doing anything physically immoral. Then I realized that my sin wasn’t physical, it was in my thoughts – anger, accusations, judging, and self-condemnation. Those were the things that I needed to confess. Those were the things that were keeping me from truly living a free life. They weren’t acts of sin visible to others, but certainly visible to God. And that type of sin was deteriorating my life.

That’s when it hit me. The dream wasn’t about my friend at all – it was about me coming to a place in my life where I’m doing my spiritual laundry every day – confessing my sin daily – coming clean with God continually.

I had forgotten that the reason God sent Jesus to earth and allowed him to be sacrificed for my sins was so that I could lay all of my burdens of sin at his feet and be freed from the guilt and condemnation of my own human actions. I had forgotten that my relationship with God wasn’t for His benefit, it was for mine.

I’m in a searching mode – but not in a striving mode. Just asking for God’s wisdom to lead me through every step of my life and surrendering like I haven’t done in 30 years. It’s a very freeing experience.

I’m grateful for the dream. It gave me the prompting I needed to call an old friend, to hear her story and to awaken me to a new chapter in my life.

I’m now studying about God’s plan of forgiveness. As I learn – I will share.

 

 

 

 

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It Ain’t Easy Being Skinny!

Don’t hate on me, but I’ve always been slightly built, averaging about 112 pounds on a good day and standing at about 5’1″ – although my drivers license might tell you I’m just a bit taller.

I’ve considered writing about this for years and when I started forming the  thoughts in my mind a few years ago this topic wasn’t as big of an issue as it is right now. My weight has been in decline for the past several months and, as I write, I weigh 100 pounds.

Since there is no logical reason, to date, for my weight loss the doctor gave me a prescription to help increase my appetite and that seems to be helping.

I want to bring this issue to light, not because of me personally, but because I think it’s a very misunderstood issue viewed by society in general. I’ve read blogs and stories of people being “skinny-shamed” for being thin.  Yes, that’s what they call it! It sounds a little harsh, but I know what most people think, because they’ve spoken it out loud to me for most of my life.

If I had a quarter from every person who has said to me, “I wish I had your problem”, I’d have a piggy bank full of change. And if I could take the first 10 pounds of weight loss from someone trying to shed it I’d grab it in a second.

Most people have no no idea what a struggle it is for people who can’t put on weight. I imagine it’s as hard as it is for people to lose weight. But the overweight struggle appears to be more in the forefront of society’s radar than the opposite. For example, you don’t see commercials on television for weight gain programs and products the way you do for weight loss.

“Just eat more!” That’s what I hear from friends and family. It’s the same as telling someone who’s overweight “Just eat less!” It sounds good in theory. Or “I wish I had your problem.” If people only knew what they were wishing for – they would keep what they have.

My first major weight loss encounter began in February 1988. I weighed around 105, shortly after having my first baby. It began with some abdominal pains and ended up with a ruptured appendix. After my emergency surgery I was told that my appendix had been ruptured for 7-10 days and that the abscess was the size of a golf ball. My two week hospital stay took me through more tubes going into and out of my body than one could imagine. At one point I was afraid to go to sleep for two days because I thought I wouldn’t wake up.

When I got out of the hospital I weighed a scant 92 pounds. I felt weak and frankly – skinny – but that’s what I had left after a medical event that took me to the edge of life. I didn’t feel good about my weight or the fact that I was very weak, but I was happy to be alive.

A couple of months later I was in the grocery store. I had my baby boy in his carrier in my cart and I was walking up to the checkout counter when a total stranger walked up to me and said “You’re so skinny!” It wasn’t like it wasn’t a fact, but I didn’t know this person, nor had I ever even seen her before. As quick as she said it, she walked away.

I didn’t have a reply or even have a chance to explain that I had just walked away from death’s door and all of the trauma that went along with it. I didn’t get to explain that if I had a choice I would be at least another 10 pounds heavier. I didn’t get to tell her that her words crushed my already fragile spirit.

I struggled to get through the checkout without breaking down in tears, but felt my lip quiver as I made my transaction. As I walked out of the store and to the car the tears fell freely down my face. I loaded the groceries into the car, secured my precious baby boy into his car seat, then sat in the driver’s seat and cried my eyes out.

The emotional struggle was more difficult than the physical struggle and it took five years to go from 92 pounds to 98 pounds. It went beyond feeling too thin and the perceptions that other people had of me. It became a bigger issue as to how I felt about myself. I had to learn to appreciate the body I’d been given without questioning or wishing for something better.

When I realize that wishing for the way someone else is could put me into a whole different hell than what I was already facing, it changed my perception.   We all have our own little hell to go through with our bodies or minds. We all have things to learn to accept within ourselves. Comparing myself to others made acceptance of myself impossible.

I have no idea where I heard this years ago – “You Git What You Git”! I love that saying and I say it often to anyone who has issues with anything in their body. We’ve been given what God thought was best for us. We aren’t a mistake, or incomplete, or too skinny or too fat. We’re beautiful in God’s eyes and we can be beautiful in each other’s eyes also – just the way we are – if we’ll embrace the fact that we’re equal in spite of our differences.

I don’t know why I’m so thin right now. I feel at peace knowing that my life is in God’s hands but still cringe a little when I look in the mirror or when my clothes hang on my thin frame. Through this challenge God is reminding me that I’m beautiful in His eyes. It doesn’t matter how anyone else views me, as long as I can accept myself – just the way I am.

The next time you see a thin person – or in your eyes “skinny” – please be gentle with them, in your thoughts and your words. Then be gentle with yourself, with whatever you’re dealing with internally or externally. Embrace your body. Embrace the mind God gave to you. Be grateful for what you’ve got, because “You Git What You Git” and by embracing the gift that you are – you are hugging the very core of your being.

HSPs and the Holidays

The holidays are stressful for many people, but for Highly Sensitive People (HSP) it can be much more overwhelming.  I’ve always known that I don’t handle life like most people and about five years ago I discovered why I felt different.

Although relatively few people are aware of it, as many as 15-20% of the population are HSPs (Highly Sensitive People). Elaine Aron, in her book The Highly Sensitive Person, states: “People differ considerably in how much their nervous system is aroused in the same situation, under the same stimulation.  . . . (HSPs) notice levels of stimulation that go unobserved by others. This is true whether we are talking about subtle sounds, sights, or physical sensations like pain. The difference seems to lie somewhere on the way to the brain or in the brain . . . We reflect more on everything. And we sort things into finer distinctions.”

Christmas can be especially overwhelming with thoughts of “what needs to be done” in order for it to be the perfect holiday. For me it brings on emotional overload. Anticipation leading up to that glorious day is overwhelming to me.

I stay away from malls this time of year. Several years ago I went to a large mall to go Christmas shopping.  As I walked around the long halls with never ending storefronts I became full of anxiety.  People everywhere were walking in and out of stores with name brand bags hanging from their arms.  My emotions kicked into high gear as I started to think of people purchasing gifts they knew they couldn’t afford, so they could create a “perfect” Christmas, only to wonder how they would pay off their credit card bills after the holidays. It felt like a frenzy and I couldn’t handle the anxiety of it. I had to leave the mall.  That was the last time I entered a mall during Christmas.
Elaine Aron says, “What is highly arousing for most people causes an HSP to become very frazzled indeed, until they reach a shutdown point called “trans-marginal inhibition.” I definitely had reached that point and I could not leave that mall quickly enough.
Being able to handle major life events has always posed a challenge for me. The result has often been bronchitis or fatigue because of the stress to my mind and body.  As I get older I handle events with even more anxiety.  I’ve been misunderstood many times because of avoiding stressful situations, including family events. It’s often perceived as a lack of love or respect for others, however, this could not be further from the truth. My true nature is love and peace toward everyone.

If you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed these tips might help you to enjoy the season a little bit more:

  1. Commit to only a couple of events or parties – don’t try to attend them all.
  2. Take advantage of online shopping and avoid the crowds at the mall.
  3. Learn to say “no”. Simply say “I’m sorry I can’t make it” – and leave it at that.
  4. Be aware of what you eat. Candy and cookies can cause brain fog and fatigue.
  5. Listen to Christmas music that relaxes you.
  6. Sip a cup of hot tea while taking in the beauty of your Christmas tree lights. If you don’t have a tree, light a scented candle. There’s something soothing about watching the flicker of a flame.

Remember this: Don’t compare yourself and your preparation for Christmas with anyone else. Holiday joy is unique to each person. Allow your holiday happiness to flow from your soul without feeling like you have to be like anyone but who you uniquely, beautifully are.

Christmas blessings to you!

 

 

Serenity – Quiet Your Soul

Work, errands, bills, family, health, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on. We live in an age where multi-tasking is the new norm. You know the scene well. Stomach in knots, easily irritated, always thinking two steps ahead, To-Do list a page long, and the list goes on and on.

Stop! Serenity is just a moment away from your present reality. You get to choose! So right in this moment . . . chose peace – chose serenity. No matter what is going on – conflict in your mind, exterior chaos in your living situation, tension in relationships, stress of finances, fear of the future – you have the power to quiet your soul.

Serenity is one of those things that, if you try too hard to grasp it, it eludes you. It enters when you merely allow it’s presence. When you feel that richness, fullness and peace – you know it has seeped into your soul.

butterfly sunny day.jpg

Simple steps to feel serenity:

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine allowing the warmth of a sunny day to flow deep into your lungs. A butterfly lands softly on a beautiful flower and a gentle breeze wisps across your face. Feel peace flowing into your lungs and seep into your soul.
  2. Breathe out worries, tensions and anxiety by picturing a box filled with heavy hammers and wrenches being dumped out along with all of your burdens.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 over and over
  4. Feel your mind, your muscles, your lungs, your heart relaxing and feeling light, relaxed and fluid.

Become intentional about allowing yourself to have moments of serenity in your day. Visit this place as often as you’d like. Remember – – – you can create this kind of peace in your life. It’s a choice.

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

America the Beautiful – God Shed His Grace On Thee

America the Beautiful – By Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

How long is “too long” to wait on God?

Have you been waiting for provision in some area of your life?  A job? A place to live?  A meal?  Or just someone to smile at you so you don’t feel so lonely?

God is faithful.  How many times have you heard that and yet you are still in the same situation you were in six months ago?  You scream, “If God is faithful, why am I still praying for changes to take place?  When will life take a different turn so I can get back on track?”  Frustrations have mounted and questions swirl around in your head.  Waiting for God feels like a lost cause and you are totally drained to the point that there is nothing left inside of you that even wants to cry out to God.

 Now you are right where you need to be.  Totally drained of yourself so God can start pouring Himself into you.

What would it look like if you found yourself wanting God more than wanting anything else in life?  Wanting him more than you want that job.  Wanting him more than you want your marriage to work.  Wanting him more than you want your daughter to stop seeing the boy she is dating.  Wanting God more than you want your next meal.  Its a new way of thinking.  In Larry Crabb’s book SoulTalk, I like the line that says:  I want to experience God through whatever means he provides and keep trusting him whether life gets better or not. 

Recent circumstances could have caused me to question God’s goodness.   My husband and I have been challenged in the area of jobs, finances, and health.  All major issues looming over our heads while we have waited on God to show himself.   However, we have committed to standing on the promise that God’s peace is enough to get us through until the thing that needs to happen to make our circumstances better actually starts happening.  We have waited and trusted, waited and trusted.  Slivers of doubt have tried to creep in.  Discouragement has tried to get us to distrust God’s word.  But we keep turning our eyes back to Him.  We are determined that whether or not our circumstances change, we still have a beautiful relationship with God and that will never change.  As we wait our faith is growing, our dependence on Him is deepening.  Good things are starting to happen.  Is it all perfect?  No.  But circumstances are improving.  More importantly, our dependence on Him has grown.

You get what you get!  I’ve always said that about the way God created our individual bodies.  However, that also goes for life in general.  Whether life has recklessly tossed a bag of bad apples your way or gently placed a golden nugget in your lap, either way you have to do something with what was given to you.  We prefer the gentle placement of things in our life, but that doesn’t mean that the things that are thrown at us are any less precious.   Ask God what He would have you learn from your present circumstances.  “God, what do you want me to do with this bag of rotten apples?  Can I make a difference in anybody’s life with this?”   You could cut out the seeds and plant them.  Eventually something beautiful and fruitful will come out of it.  Some day it might bless a family and feed them when times are tough.  It is difficult in the midst of trouble, but try to envision what it will look like beyond the present circumstance.

How long do we wait on God to act?     We wait as long as it takes to see his hand in our circumstance.  In the meantime, we get to know Him better.  We cultivate our faith.  Determine to allow life to be well with your soul, no matter what you face.   Nothing can improve upon our life more than the way He fills our soul when we lean completely on him.

I leave you with the words to one of the most beautiful songs ever written:  It Is Well With My Soul – – –

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

God bless you on your journey.

Do not grow weary in well-doing for in due season you will reap, if you do not lose heart.  Galations 6:9