How Fear Can Paralyze You

Hi! It’s me. Long time, no see. I’ve been absent for nearly a year, and even before that, my posts were irratic at best. I’m not proud of that and there’s really no excuse for it. You were never far from my mind and I have a whole notebook full of blog ideas written down to prove it.

I could tell you that LIFE happened, but so what? Everybody’s life is happening all the time. I could tell you I was taking a sabbatical — that sounds as if I’ve been soul-searching and dedicated to the writing process. I could hint that I was working to be a better me (and I have been). I could mention a tragic thing that’s happened in my family and you all would completely understand why this blog might not have been my number one priority. I could give you several reasons for my absence, all having an official “sound” to them. I could even (dare I say it?) lie.

But that wouldn’t fit the purpose of this blog, nor would it be fair to those who patiently waited for me to come back (or forgot that you were subscribed to this blog and didn’t miss me at all). I want to tell you the absolute truth…and this is going to be embarrassing and painful for me. I’m afraid and the fear has paralyzed me for a long time.

Spiritually, I am closer to God than I’ve ever been. There are so many things to share with you that I found empowering in my time away. Each moment made me a much better wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. I will eventually share those amazing insights with you. I promise.

Why didn’t I just sit and share these things with you then? I was scared someone would ask me about my way of eating (woe, for short — which by the way is still carb cycling and it’s still working) and my weight loss. The question I dreaded answering the most was this: did you meet your goal weight? 

No. That is the truth in a nutshell.

In 2013, I got close…so close I could see the finish line. And then I gave up. I blew it. And the truth is, I don’t know why. Every ounce that I lost, I gained back plus more. I packed away my nutrition books. I stopped doing research. I just decided it wasn’t worth the effort and I was sorry I ever mentioned it in this forum. People were still reading this blog, especially the posts on nutrition and weight loss. They left wonderful comments. Someone even asked if this blog was still active.

In all honesty, I was prepared to be unhealthy for the rest of my life. I just didn’t care anymore…until my doctor shared blood work results with me that shook the foundation of my world. I was in a health crisis: cholesterol was awful (not enough of the good kind, way too much of the bad), I was pre-diabetic (and probably should have been classified as Type II), my blood pressure was way too high (and I was already on medication), my chronic pain raged, and I was at the second highest weight of my whole life (226 pounds). I was an emotional and physical wreck. Dr. Anderson asked me two questions that saved my life,”Do you want to lose the weight and work on these numbers or do you want me to put you on medication? Don’t you want to live a long, happy life and watch your granddaughter grow up?”

Just so you know what me at 226 pounds looks like, here I am:

446

So in the summer of 2015, I chose to work on my weight and cholesterol through diet. I knew what worked. I’d done it before. Could I do it again? I remember telling my husband, Kelly, that I had yoyo dieted so much in my life, I should have “Duncan” tattoed on my hip!

When I had my check-up in September 2015, I weighed 211 and that was enough to get a second chance. The journey started out rough and along the way, there have been extreme highs and lows…and a lot of middle of the road days where I just keep plugging away. I just want to tell you that it’s gotten a lot better. Have I reached my goal weight? Not yet, but I’m getting there!

To be continued…

shr

Can I Pray for You?

Pain. It’s my constant companion. Sometimes, it’s containable. Sometimes it runs roughshod and I get beaten up in the process. I am thankful for doctors who have guided me along the way with therapy and medications that allow me to function as normally as I possibly can. God sends blessings to me from every direction.

In this pain, I found that I must go on with what lies in front of me because I cannot curl up in a ball and wait for it to go away. I used to look at this chronic pain as a curse. I was angry with God for many years. Then He opened my eyes and showed me all the things that I’ve been blessed with because of this condition. It took me a while, but I began to see how God has moved in my life because of this pain — how it’s made me a more compassionate person who feels the pain of others deeply. Being able to show my empathy is a great blessing. I’ve been called to reach out to others, as we all have, but God has taken this pain of mine and made it a source of LOVE instead of LOATHING.

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There are other kinds of pain that have come along with my physical pain. I have also recognized that this is a blessing because it has made me more aware of the hearts of those who are hurting in ways that cannot be seen. I have learned to be kind to everyone I meet because there are those who are bearing their own burdens. If a word or smile or touch from me can make a difference, then I ask God to put me in the path of those who need it most.

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Throughout the past twenty-two years in this journey tinged with pain, Jesus has been my anchor EVERY SINGLE DAY — even on those days when I couldn’t speak the words out loud. Jesus knew my heart and He could hear the prayers of my heart.

My dear friends, He knows your heart as well. He sees your hurt and fears. He longs to comfort you. Your name is on His lips.

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Each Friday, some wonderful prayer warrior friends and I hold a prayer service.  (FRIDAY AT THE ALTAR (11am EST/8am PST).)  Can we pray for you?

If you just want to be added to the prayer list just leave your name here or go to “Loved by the King” (my companion Facebook page) and click LIKE. If you have a specific prayer request, leave a comment with a the request. If it’s an intensely personal request, you can email me or message me on Facebook. Most of all, I ask that you join with me in corporate prayer for everyone who’s asked for prayer.  The list is long and I never remove a name unless an answer has been sent or unless I’m asked to remove it.  And you don'[t have to know who is on the prayer list because God does and He knows their needs. 

Will you join us?

shr

I Will Rise” (Chris Tomlin)

God in a Box

Do you ever put God in a box?  By that I mean, do you decide before you even ask that God cannot accomplish something that you need or desire?  I don’t do it as much as I used to, but even after all He’s done to show me His greatness, I take His power for granted.  And yet, He manages to look past my small-minded faith and show me that He is still in control.

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Recently, God blew the sides off of a box that I had wrapped up tightly with layers and layers of emotional duct tape.  What happened is surely proof that nothing is impossible if God has His hand upon it.

Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you.  Matthew 7:7 (NCV)

After my second back surgery in March 1992, I was never able to go back to my job as a public school teacher due to chronic pain and nerve damage.  I was distracted from that because in December 1992, God sent us Martin and Steven.  Motherhood helped fill the void somewhat, but there was always a part of me that felt like I was meant to do something more.

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In other posts I have shared that I’ve been a lifetime writer.  From childhood, I have written poems and stories and kept journals.  I was the editor of our literary publication in high school.  I was a contributor to Facets, a creative writing publication at Fayetteville State University, my college alma mater.  I’ve written for our local newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer.

Image Source: www.writingforchildren.com

In 1998, I found a correspondence course outline entitled “Writing for Children and Teens” at The Institute for Children’s Literature (ICL) of West Redding, Connecticut.  After much prayer and discussion with Kelly, we paid the money for the course tuition.  The course materials arrived and that little piece of me that longed for “something more” was fulfilled.

I loved the fact that, within reason, I could set my own timeline for writing.  This was perfect for me because I could not always gauge the kind of pain day I was going to have.  (And to this day, I can’t gauge what kind of pain days I will have.  My plans are always tentative, at best.)  Once I started the course, the writing juices began to flow and I loved it.  I had just finished my fourth assignment for the ICL when the proverbial hammer slammed against the anvil of my life.

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After almost seven years of chronic pain management, worker’s compensation decided to put me through what I can only call hell.  They attacked my integrity and said I was lying about the pain.  They abused my body by sending me to company doctors who never had my well-being in mind and put me through unnecessary tests and procedures.  One doctor did surgery on me without ever looking at a single MRI or x-ray of my back…and he ADMITTED this to me.  It was their job to send me back to work, whether I actually could do it or not.  It was only after one of their hand-chosen doctors said, “Enough!  This woman is who she says she is and she is suffering even more than she can tell you.  Shame on you for making her jump through your hoops.”  And with that little speech, the hell ended, but not before the damage had been done.  I tossed my textbooks and other course materials in the garbage and sent ICL an email explaining that I was withdrawing from the course.

I stopped writing.  I stopped singing.  I stopped reading my Bible.  I stopped praying.  Basically, I just stopped living.  And I blamed God for it all.  Thankfully, God did not “stop” on me.  It took me two years to come back to what I call a normal, responsive human being.  With the help of a Christian therapist and a family that loved me unconditionally, the fires of that hell left only minor burns.

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Fast forward ten years.

Three weeks ago, I was sharing this part of my life with Claire.  She said, “Mom, you should really see if you can finish that writing course.”

“They wouldn’t even have my files after twelve years,”  I said.  “I wasted that opportunity.  Let that be a lesson for you — sometimes, you just don’t get a second chance.”

After she went to bed, I prayed and asked God to give me the strength to never waste another opportunity as a long as I live.

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Fast forward twenty-four hours.

I opened my email account and found an email from Judy Paige.  I don’t know a Judy Paige and I almost sent it to spam without a second thought.  Instead, I opened that email and find that Judy Paige is the student services coordinator for ICL.

I felt a chill down my back, as if someone had slipped an ice cube down my shirt, and I held my breath.

Ms. Paige informed me that she was reviewing student files who had withdrawn from the course before completion.  Since my tuition had been paid in full, she wondered if I’d like to re-enroll and complete the course.  ICL would even send me new course materials, if I chose to do this.  If this was something I’d be interested in doing, I would be allowed to start with assignment five, having previously completed assignments one through four.

Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And everyone who knocks will have the door opened.  Matthew 7:8 (NCV)

Don’t be afraid to ask.  (But be prepared for answers that you could never conceive.)

Don’t be afraid to search.  (But open your eyes wide so that you don’t miss what God puts before you.)

Don’t be afraid to knock.  (But know that if God opens it to you, it is an opportunity not to be missed.)

Guess what?  My new course materials arrived yesterday.

shr

God Has a Plan for Me…And so Does the Devil

Image Credit:  http://thechangesforlife.blogspot.com

The “new, healthier me” is thrilled that I’ve lost some weight and am getting back in shape.  My doctor was thrilled that I’d decided to make these changes and gave me her consent and approval for all my changes in diet and exercise.  Since I take medication on a regular basis, I knew I’d need her to be aware of anything that might make a difference in my medical condition.  I did not take the steps on this journey lightly or without supervision.  Last week, I shared a list of ten changes I’ve made in the past two months that I attribute to much of my success thus far.

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What I didn’t share with you at the time are some changes that I’ve not been thrilled about at all.  I’m not thrilled because I believe that the devil has been plotting against me and attacking me in the weakest areas of my life by feeding me lies.  I loved sharing my progress with you last Friday, but on Saturday morning, I got up after only sleeping a few hours and spoke directly to God in the privacy of my bedroom, “I just don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

You see, it’s not only has it been an emotional attack; there have been physical implications for me as well.

Before I started my new regimen, I slept well at night.  I was usually in bed by eleven o’clock at night and up in the mornings by seven o’clock.  My sleep pattern has changed drastically.  If I fall asleep before 1:00am, I’m lucky.  Even when I sleep, it’s fitful.  I have strange dreams that awaken me in the early morning hours.  There are days at a stretch when I just never feel fully rested.

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My back/leg pain, which is chronic in nature, has become nearly unbearable at times.  I know that my increased physical activity may be contributing to this somewhat.  But it’s more than that.  It’s difficult to put into words — and if you know me, you know I’m never at a loss for words.  It’s just a different kind of pain from the chronic pain I normally experience.

 

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Now, I can catch every stomach bug that even looks my way.  I naturally have a sensitive stomach.  But I’ve been sick with one cold after the other, plus I contracted strep throat for the first time in ten years last month.  Now, I’m almost certainly battling spring allergies (which have never been a problem before) and probably a sinus infection, too.  Sometimes the headaches are so bad, they’re almost like migraines.  Along with the headaches, I’ve been nursing a sore throat.  In fact, two weeks before our Easter cantata, I got laryngitis that lasted eight days.  When someone is counting on your voice, you begin to fret.  It did clear up in time for me to sing with the choir, but my voice wasn’t one hundred per cent.

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I almost decided to give up — almost.

That afternoon, I got out a book that I read about seven years ago, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore.  She wrote it as a book first, and then a Bible study, about how Satan plots against us in a cold, calculating manner.  We can all be susceptible to demonic attacks that are more than just casual temptations.  If my God can formulate His plans for me to have a hope and a future, then the devil can work to make a plan for my destruction and failure.  Satan wants what God has.  In fact, Satan wants to be God so badly that any stronghold he can use against a child of God is a direct attack on God, Himself.

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Let’s take a look at a scripture that I used last week.  God whispered this verse to me when I was having a moment of unbelief about our family’s financial future:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.   Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV)

In When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore writes that Satan knows Scripture and can put his own spin on God’s word.  He might approach that verse in a much different way:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the devil, thoughts of unrest and evil, to bring about failure and hopelessness.  Then you will call on your Lord, and pray to Him, but I will keep you from hearing Him.  You will seek His counsel and I will blind you with thoughts of loneliness and devastation.  You will lose your way to God and your heart will be broken, for I know your weaknesses and I will use them to plot your downfall at every turn.

Satan doesn’t want me or you to succeed at anything in which our Heavenly Father will receive all the glory and honor.  Admittedly, there have been times in my past when I have bailed on opportunities to serve God and be used by Him.  That’s what the devil is counting on this time, I’m sure.  But I will be a faithful servant and I will fight Satan every step of the way.

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I’ve started making a list of the lies the tempter has been trying to feed me since the start of 2012. (It’s not coincidental that this is when I started this blog and shortly thereafter, my journey to becoming healthy.)  I’ve been looking for a new “Life in the Word” focus and I feel led to make a counter-attack on the evil one.  For the next several Wednesdays, I will be sharing these lies and the Scriptural responses God has shown me in His word.  Since the devil is predictable, I feel like he’s probably been after you with some of these same lies.

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And I’m scared.  To know that I’m about to fly in the face of someone who has it in for me is frightening.  So, I’m asking for your prayers — pray that God will expose Satan’s lies for what they truly are (distractions from our servanthood to Him) and that I will remain focused and strong for my Lord, for with my God all things are possible.  (Matthew 19:26)

This is war.

Image Credit:  www.blackberryseeker.com

shr

Related Articles:

“If You’re Weighting on Me…” https://lbtk.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=946&action=edit

“How Can I Keep from Singing:  His Strength is Perfect”  https://lbtk.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=445&action=edit

“Prepare for Battle”  http://shani4jc.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/prepare-for-battle/

“Looking for the Devil in the Wrong Places”  http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/looking-for-the-devil-in-the-wrong-places/

“Spiritual Wrestling and the Armor of God – Part 1”  http://changedbyhim0510.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/spiritual-wrestling-and-the-armor-of-god-part-1/