I have a confession to make … I am craving comfort … and the more I give in to that craving, the stronger it gets.
I am finding though, that in this deep need for comfort, I am truly experiencing God as my Comforter. I am in awe of how good He has been to us and yet I continue to desperately need Him, more and more every day.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lakewood has graciously allowed us to park on an empty lot they purchased ten years ago, which sits next to their church. Actually, this lot isn’t completely empty. On it sits a run-down duplex that is filled with items the church is storing.
Boy, does it need help.
We are in the process of talking to the right people to see if we can clear it out so that we can use the space. We’d love to have a little more living space and also a place to do ministry out of as we wait on God’s timing to build a permanent ministry center.
Yesterday, my head was spinning going over all the things that need to take place for this to happen. Anxiety crept into my heart and thoughts. How on earth are we going to do this? This will take an enormous amount of work & where will we move all this stuff?
Then selfishness reared its ugly head, “I wanted to have a summer to myself … to do fun “Colorado” things. I’m not even done with grading school from last year, how will I accomplish all this, when my life is already crazy?”
Then, this morning as I sat with the Lord, He led me to Matthew 6:25-34 and the gist of this passage is …
DO NOT WORRY!
It says this three times and trust me – I needed it - otherwise it wouldn’t sink into my thick skull. God knows this about me.
Ok Lord. This isn’t a nice suggestion; it’s a command. “Do not worry about your life”.
Immediately after reading it, God brought to mind a conversation I had with Jay yesterday. During that conversation, I said “No” to an opportunity to work with an organization in Denver that has a plan to end homelessness. We were invited to be a small part that would require a once a month commitment for six months. No? Why would I refuse?
In one short word - worry.
I didn’t realize it at the time. Not until God brought it front and center did I see what was lurking deep in my heart.
As Jay brought the opportunity to me, all I could think about was the future, the work needed on the duplex, commitments we have already made, desires I had to get involved in other ministries (other than homelessness), and homeschooling – doesn’t that give me a pass? Most of my life is spoken for and if I keep adding, there will be nothing left for me, for free time, hobbies, outdoor activities, friends, etc.
Isaiah 58 is powerful and it came blazing into my mind. Verse 10 says, “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.”
Thank you, Lord, for freshly convicting me and reminding me of this.
So, what does it mean to spend? It means to use up, empty, exhaust, deplete … nothing of which speaks comfort or ease.
So, if I do not worry about my life and spend myself on behalf of the hungry, oppressed, downtrodden … He will bring me comfort, he will guide me, and strengthen me. He will provide what is needed to accomplish what is necessary each day.
He will be my Comforter.
We arrived in Colorado almost two weeks ago.
It’s surreal. We are here to stay. I can’t get my head around that … stay in one place … make our home here?
Comforting, but strange.
Four years of being mobile and now we are settling down. I actually wouldn’t call it “settling down” in the traditional sense. We have a desire to build a ministry center in or near Denver. It’s a big dream, one that can only be accomplished by God Himself – certainly not by us. Yes, we are partnering with God, but we are completely at His mercy as we are throwing ourselves into the unknown.
This feels much bigger than leaving the comfort of Atlanta and moving into an RV four years ago. It feels bigger than writing a book and small group study. A good friend said to me the other day as I was unloading some of my apprehensions on her, “Remember … remember all that God has brought you through in the past … He will do it again.” I needed that reminder.
We are temporarily staying in an RV park, but we are trusting God to open doors for a place we can park in the interim, while we are making plans for the P2A Passion Center. To give you a little window into my thoughts and prayers … here is an excerpt from my journal:
“Oh, Lord, we are scared and overwhelmed. Will you provide? Will you show up? We believe You will. We are trusting, but sometimes my faith is wobbly, unsteadied by the mountain before us. But, YOU are GOD … I remind myself. We have prayed fervently and believe You have led us here. Even if we made a mistake or didn’t hear correctly, will You honor faith? We are stepping off a huge cliff, doing the opposite of what is safe and comfortable. We want to see You show up and glorify Yourself through this. This is not about us – never has been. More than anything, we have wanted to reflect You, a crazy, relentless God who loves all people and wants us to trust Him with our whole lives. Lord, if you don’t come through, we have nothing! No back-up plan! We desperately want to be used by you. We want to bring glory and honor to your name. How can that happen if we set out to accomplish something that only we can do? It can’t. Only when we intentionally place ourselves at the edge of the cliff, overlooking the unknown, and jump – can we truly see Your power. We are free falling right now Lord – this minute. We feel the effects as our stomachs are in our throats, our breath is taken away and yet there’s an undeniable peace, knowing YOU are GOD!”
We need your prayers more than ever, friends.
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.”
My dad taught me to always look on the bright side – to make lemonade out of lemons. No matter how difficult our circumstance were, he would find something positive and not let us give in to discouragement. I recognize myself doing this on a regular basis with Jay and the kids and it hit me one day that this precious gift of positivity came from my dad.
Thank you Daddy!
My dad taught me to always return things better than I found them. If we borrowed anything from anyone, it was to be cleaned up and returned in better condition. As a child this sometimes frustrated me, but as I grew, I appreciated this valuable life lesson. I am passing this on to my kids because I believe it shows honor, respect and thankfulness to those you borrow from.
My dad taught me to laugh and to find humor in all of life. He had a great smile and I loved it when he would get this mischievous look in his eyes when he was about to do something silly. He also taught me to laugh at myself and not take life too seriously. What a gift!
Thank you Deeyad!
My dad taught me honesty. He was truthful, even when it cost him something. I have seen the value of this played out in my dad’s life and in my own. He taught me from an early age that if we are caught in lies and are not honest, then we can’t be trusted; and trust is paramount in all relationships. This is a bedrock principle that is now woven into the very fabric of my parenting. I praise honesty and will even let my children out of a consequence if they come to me and confess the truth.
My dad taught me humility. He readily admitted his wrongs and was quick to apologize and make things right. I can’t tell you how much I valued this growing up and even more so into my adult years. This has been a staple with my own children. When I have wronged them or hurt them, I have been able to go to them and ask their forgiveness and they have done the same with me. It’s beautiful and has allowed our relationships to stay close and genuine.
My dad taught me how to leave this world with dignity. When he was receiving hospice, he never lost his sense of humor, his beautiful smile or his ability to put everyone around him at ease. Of course, it bothered him that others had to wait on him, care for him and fuss on his behalf. He was a modest man, simple and kind and was more comfortable doing for others. He cared more about how his death would affect each of us and always wanted his kids to be ok. He disliked the decline of his body, but received it in true character – as a man of honor.
As we celebrated Father’s Day this year, I had moments of joy for all the wonderful principles my dad taught me, and moments of sorrow that I can no longer see him face to face, wrap my arms around his neck and whisper, “Thank you Daddy” in his ear.
I have experienced freedom in many forms throughout my life as God has continued to chip away at my false identity. Recently, at the marriage retreat Jay and I attended in Colorado, God graciously healed a portion of my life that I had pushed beneath the surface, hoping it would eventually dissipate with time.
I have had a secret and very deep struggle over the last 23 years. I believe it began even earlier than this; when my personal, physical boundaries were invaded as a small child. My sense of self, body, and image were completely distorted and fractured.
Then sometime after I graduated high school, I put on a few pounds. All of a sudden, I started feeling unattractive and fat as my natural athletic build began to disappear under the recent addition of weight. It didn’t help that my current boyfriend would regularly grab my backside and say I needed to lose about 10lbs and that I’d really look great if I lost weight.
As a result, I became obsessed with being thin and tried many unhealthy roads to get my desired, ideal body. Unfortunately, this took a toll on my health and my self-esteem.
I hated what I had become.
This catapulted me into a long battle with a body image disorder. I had never heard this term, until recently; but it describes exactly what I experienced.
No matter how much I dieted or how much I exercised, I was never satisfied with what I saw in the mirror. It was a horrible prison and I desperately wanted out – but couldn’t find a way to escape.
Fast-forward 20 years.
Through a series of studies, books, and desperate prayers I regained a healthy relationship with food and no longer abused my body by eating too much or too little. I no longer obsessed over what I ate, but truly found a love for eating healthy and feeling the energy and life that comes from wholesome food. I no longer beat myself up over poor food choices or a lack of exercise.
Yet, through these years of freedom, there was still something wrong. Each and every time I looked in the mirror to check an outfit or fix my hair, I inwardly detested what I saw.
I felt fat and ugly.
My freedom with food has been a huge victory, but I still had a growing contempt for my body; something I was deeply ashamed of and did not want to share with anyone.
God, however, decided it was time to let the cat out of the bag and He nudged me to confess this very personal and private struggle to the couples at my table during the marriage retreat. I internally fought Him, rationalizing that it was something I would get victory over eventually and sharing it would only increase my shame.
He nudged me again.
I reluctantly spoke openly and honestly and with each word, I felt surprising relief as the confession rolled off my tongue. My openness was immediately met with warmth and understanding from women who shared my pain.
One more step of freedom.
What happened the next morning came as a complete surprise.
At 4:45 a.m., I felt as if an internal alarm clock went off in my head. I was wide awake.
I wondered if God was waking me, so after five or ten minutes of hesitation and frustration over not wanting to get up that early, I quietly crawled out of bed and plopped myself onto the hard sofa in the next room.
I opened my Bible and my journal and began to pray. I asked the Lord to show me what He wanted me to know.
This is what I heard (not audibly of course, but in my thoughts):
“Elizabeth, I want to give you new eyes. The vision you have right now is filled with distortion. What you see is a lie. Satan is distorting your view of yourself. You see the beauty in other people, but you can’t see it in yourself. The lie is that you are not good enough and that you aren’t perfect; you are flawed. I have brought you freedom, Elizabeth, in many areas. I want to free you from this false vision. When you look in the mirror, you will no longer see fat, you will see the beauty I’ve created. You will see through My eyes. Are you ready?” (Yes, Lord).
Then I sat and waited. I wondered what the Father meant by asking if I was ready, but I persisted in waiting on Him to show me. Then, a sudden and powerful feeling of heaviness came over me and I felt the urge to lay my head down on the pillow next to me. I had never experienced anything close to this before, so naturally I was feeling apprehensive as to what was happening. When I closed my eyes, I saw an image in my head as clearly as if it were playing out right in front of me.
My Heavenly Father was gently removing my eyes and then He took His and put them in place of mine.
I was overwhelmed with awe and shock over what I “saw” and sat straight up. I couldn’t wait to tell Jay.
Thoughts and questions were rushing through my head. Did this really happen? Did the Father just give me HIS eyes (His vision) to see with? I know this sounds strange, believe me, I feel strange writing this.
What happened that morning and every day since has been nothing short of a miracle. When I look in the mirror, I am shocked to actually like what I see. I don’t feel proud or self-indulgent; but humble gratitude over how God has made me. It’s truly as if I’m looking at someone completely different than who I’ve been staring at all these years.
I have new eyes!
Each day, I can’t help but wonder if the “old eyes” will once again return and see something ugly and distorted, but they haven’t. I am grateful beyond belief to my patient, loving, Heavenly Father for always taking me by the hand and walking with me as I continue to heal and become all that He wants me to be.
The reason I share this with you is because I have spoken to countless women who remain prisoners. They do not like what they see in the mirror and continually hold themselves to a standard of perfection. Research suggests that 86% of all women are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight. Many lives are lost each and every year as beautiful women starve themselves to death. Millions more are suffering from anxiety and depression as they are bombarded with images from the media reminding them that they aren’t good enough, haven’t made it, or simply don’t measure up. Being open about this has brought such freedom and I believe women need to hear they are not alone in their struggle.
For years leading up to this moment, God had been speaking to me about “true beauty”, the internal beauty that has nothing to do with outward appearance. Unfortunately, it was only head knowledge. I knew how to share with my daughters and other women about what God valued as beautiful, but now all those truths have been brought deep into my heart and have now become part of my personal experience.
I have new eyes to see myself with and to see those around me with appreciation and awe for their unique and incredible beauty.
- grilled chicken breast
- assortment of stir-fried veggies (pepper, onions, carrots, pea pods, broccoli)
- brown rice
- peanuts (optional)
- Teriyaki Sauce:
- 6-7 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 TB sesame oil
- 1 c. Bragg Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
- 1 c. honey
- 3/4 tsp. pepper
- garbanzo flour (or reg. flour for thickening)
- sesame seeds
Cook garlic with sesame oil in saucepan until golden brown. Add soy sauce, honey, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add 3 heaping TB of flour to boiling sauce; whisk. Add more or less depending on desired thickness. Add sesame seeds; stir.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealously, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nicer place in which to live.
By Dorothy Law Nolte
- 10 roma tomatoes
- 2 cups corn
- 2 avocados
- 1 can black beans (drained)
- 1/2 c. bottled lime juice or the juice of 6 limes
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 TB olive oil (optional)
- 4 tsp. honey
- 2 sm/med. onions
- 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
This recipe makes a large amount and can easily be halved. I adjust it each time to taste, sometimes adding more or less lime, cilantro, or salt.
I feel incredibly grateful for my kids. They are truly an inspiration to me.
Surprisingly, they have adapted well to our RV lifestyle and have let the minor inconveniences we experience on a daily basis shape their character – rather than make them bitter or resentful. They are more patient with one another, thankful for the little things, adaptable, helpful, understanding, and all around fun kids.
You would think after three years in an RV that someone would say, “Enough! I want a house!” but they haven’t.
That amazes me.
Unfortunately, I can’t take the credit for the qualities I see in them. Lord knows the mistakes I’ve made. Let’s face it – on my own, I’m inadequate! But, it’s those inadequacies that have made me desperate before God, which is a good thing. I need Him to daily show me how to nurture and raise each of my kids, with their unique personalities, interests, dreams, and passions – in an RV – with a very unique and transient lifestyle.
Parenting isn’t easy. It’s incredibly rewarding, but definitely not easy. Homeschooling is wonderful, but easy – absolutely not! Traveling full-time also has its challenges, but the benefits and blessings are plentiful.
Life on the road has been good to all of us and none of us regret making the decision to leave the “American Dream”. This life has taught us valuable life lessons that we wouldn’t trade – not even for a minute. Of course, there are things about our “old life” that we miss – who wouldn’t? But, if you ask any one of us if given the chance, we would like to go back, the answer is a resounding, “No!”
God has given each of us a love for service, a love for people, a love for traveling, and a desire to teach the message of using what you are gifted and passionate about to serve others ... and for that I am grateful.
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1 c. peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- chocolate chips
Bake @ 350 for 10-12 min. Enjoy!
Change is good – at least in my book. I sometimes miss being able to change even the simple things, like furniture or picture frames. I would get such pleasure out of rearranging a room in our home. It was fun and invigorating and forced me to vacuum those hidden areas under beds or couch cushions. Mmmm … the treasures I would find.
Now, I can’t change furniture or the look and feel of a room, but everything else about our life changes: scenery, “backyard”, friends, church, neighbors, stores … you name it.
It’s fun and invigorating.
One change that has happened gradually, yet almost suddenly in my eyes has caused me to go into a bit of mourning.
My children are no longer playing in sandboxes, singing along to “This old man, he played one, he played knick-knack on my thumb …”, or racing to the doll isle in Target to find the latest clothing and accessories to adorn their precious babies with.
For some reason, this has struck me hard lately. Maybe because the young married couples group we recently worked with in Temecula, CA all had very small children. I was able to hold and cuddle a precious little baby and spy the playful innocence of an almost 2 year old, as she played peek-a-boo through the opening of a chair.
Then, the other day, I was shopping in Target with my daughter Bekah, who is now 14, and we reminisced about the past as we meandered by the toy isle. Don’t get me wrong; having teenagers and growing children has been wonderful. They are great companions, fun to talk to, creative, responsible, helpful, considerate, and have relieved many of the responsibilities I used to carry alone. In most ways, I am fully enjoying the changes in my children.
However, I have found myself jogging back through time in my memory and missing the days of old. I sometimes wonder how many other moms have felt this way. I am guessing this is perfectly normal to grieve their childhood; to look back at pictures and miss the uninhibited days of juvenescence.
I do still have an eight year old, mind you, and I’m savoring every minute of his innocence and boyhood. When he wants to play a board game – we play it. When he craves guy-time, his dad takes him out and throws a ball with him. He is different than the other kids, in that, he is surrounded by older siblings; yet, he is still a child and we are cherishing these days.
In the many stages my children are in, I am learning to absorb and relish every moment I have been given with each of them; to live fully present in their lives because time is quickening and the days of childhood will soon be forever gone.