Why I’m Not Afraid to Air My Dirty Laundry On Sundays

be still and know that I am GodLast Sunday we returned from a family trip in the wee hours of the morning. After attending church and eating a good meal, we spent the majority of the afternoon relaxing, what we normally do on Sundays. A day of rest. A day set aside for worship. A day different from the rest.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to do laundry without effort. You put clothes in a machine, turn a dial, and press a button. Going to my child’s bedroom requires more work than that.  It’s a simple process.

Last Sunday, I did the unthinkable – I did some laundry and hung it on the clothes line.

Gasp.

I’ve come a long way in being okay with hanging up laundry on Sundays occasionally.  We live on a main highway in a small conservative town. Stores aren’t open here on Sundays. People don’t mow lawns on Sundays. And you don’t air your dirty laundry on Sundays or people will see.

Like other unwritten rules, I’ve learned to assess the root and value of them.

Are they for man or are they for God?

I’ve learned to check my motives for breaking silent codes that bring looks of “I can’t believe she’s doing that.”  Hanging clothes on the clothesline on Sundays is one I’m not bothered by because there’s a principle I value:

I should be the same person in public that I am in private. 

If I’m okay with occasionally doing a few loads of laundry on Sunday, then I should be okay with letting people know about it.  God sees it anyway. I can’t hide things from Him.  He sees my dirty laundry.

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Does He see yours? Or do you try to hide it?

For years I hid my dirty laundry from others. Not the stinky-teen-boy kind, but the unhealthy behaviors I struggled with. Having an eating disorder was a very private thing. No one knew my stuff except me and God and my parents on occasions. I was good at hiding things.

Are you good at hiding things?

For years I responded to conflict with anger. As my children grew older, I couldn’t hide it. It began overtaking my relationships with them and their dad. It was easy to hide, too. I could do a lot of good yelling before going to church and sit really calm in that church pew.

There’s an unwritten rule you aren’t supposed to struggle with things.

You definitely aren’t supposed to be angry in a pacifist faith.

I learned to hide things real well.

So people wouldn’t see.

But God saw.

And as He nudged me to address the anger, the hurt, and rage, I felt more comfortable letting Him wash my dirty stuff. He was gentle with  it and He removed the stains and stink and filth and exchanged it for clean, bright, and beautiful through the forgiveness and power of His grace.

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It’s been a journey with me and God. As He’s changed me inside and out, things have changed in how I relate to unwritten rules.  I’ve learned to answer to God first, then my husband and family above anyone else.

Paul says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.” I Corinthians 4:4

What guides your choices?

Having a clear conscious in the eyes of others doesn’t make us innocent.

While it’s trivial, I’ve learned in my accountability with God, is okay to do laundry every once in a while on a Sunday. I’ve learned I answer to Him for my actions. I could have an empty clothesline every Sunday but be cheating on my husband Saturday night.

It’s all in how it looks, right?

Where do you need to get honest with God?

What I love most about God is that He sees everything and yet He pursues us because He wants a relationship with us.  He pursued me for years to change and heal from an eating disorder and to change and heal from anger, hurt, and rage that was inside of me. I’ve learned I can air my dirty laundry with Him and it’s okay.  He makes us clean and bright, to be on full display in His clothes of righteousness, not ours.

Will you let Him clothe you today? It’s safe  with Him. He won’t fail you.

Father, will you speak to each one reading these words and take the contents of their heart and make it what you desire? Will you equip those who struggle with unwritten rules and judgment from others to know you love them and are a God of grace, forgiveness, and freedom?  Will you continue to pursue those who are struggling with things inside their heart that only you know about?  

Thank you, Jesus, for washing dirty, smelling rags and making us beautiful in you. Amen.

How can I pray with you or encourage you as you learn to walk in freedom? I’d love to hear.

P.S. There will be a new look to Life Beyond the Picket Fence soon as I launch a new website for the blog.  You’ll be able to subscribe to a newsletter linking you to the other things happening here at the ministry and connect you with the other sites I’m writing for. If you are a current subscriber by email, I’m hoping the transition will be smooth. I’ll keep you posted when the site is launched so there won’t be interruptions in your connection here with us.  Thank you!

How To Be Strong When There’s A Weak Link

I’m 4% permanently partially paralyzed. A fancy way to say I have a torn ACL from a workman’s comp injury.

I have a weak link. 

As my surgeon released me from treatment, he said my knee will only be as strong as the muscle above it.

You have to keep that muscle strong.

For a lifetime.

Physical Therapist Working with Patient

No pressure there. In addition to working, doing ministry, being a wife and mother, spending time in God’s Word, eating right and exercising regularly, I have to keep my quad muscles strong or my knee will give out.

I have to make strengthening this muscle a priority because it’s the key to compensating for the weak link.

Do you have muscles you need to keep strong?

Are there emotional, spiritual or mental muscles to you need to strengthen to compensate for weaknesses?

how to stay strong when there's a weak link

My physical journey has spiritual parallels in more ways than one.

Knowing I have a weak link in my knee makes me feel like Paul the apostle and Jacob, son of Isaac.  Paul had a weakness he asked God to take away, but God’s response was, “My power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)). Jacob wrestled with God because he wanted God’s best for him, and was left with a lame hip (Genesis 32, NIV).

Both of them were marked by weakness which reminded them of their dependence upon God.

What weakness in your life causes you to be dependent upon God?

Strengthening my muscle teaches me to strengthen other spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles in my life. If I don’t, the weak ares of my spiritual, mental, and emotional world will collapse, like my knee.

As a woman who lives in the shadows of an eating disorder and other unhealthy behaviors, I know my weaknesses all too well.  I know if I don’t exercise self-control in all areas of my life (yes, all areas), the weak links buckle and I’m crippled emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I know the importance of strengthening what needs to be strengthened.

I live it, I breathe it.

I make choices every day to strengthen weak links so I remain strong.

Before I messed up my knee, I completed a half-marathon. I felt invincible.

Now reality awakens me. Just one foolish side-step and I come crumbling down.

I must strengthen the supporting muscle. I must rely on God to be strong in my weakness.

When life is going well, are you tempted to feel invincible, too?  Do you feel strong based on your own merit, apart from God?

how to stay strong when there's a weak linkEvery patriarch in scripture had a weakness that they needed God’s strength to overcome.

For Abraham, his honesty.

For Moses, his speaking ability.

For Joseph, his reputation.

For David, his love for women.

For Peter, his impulsivity and temper.

What is your weakness?  What do you need to strengthen so you are not defined by your weakness?

What choices to you need to make to keep your spiritual, emotional and mental muscles strong?

How can I pray for you or support you in this journey? I would love to do that.  Feel free to comment or to email me at yoderbl@gmail.com and I will pray with you and encourage you on that journey.

Your Father is with you always, His grace sufficient for you, His strength made perfect in your weakness.

For when you are weak, He is strong.

Sometimes the Best Answer is a Four-Letter-Word.

I spent three years in grad school learning multiple theories on personality, development, and how do conduct talk therapy. Thousands of hours from work experience has taught me sometimes the best answer for life’s problems is a four-letter word .

Bob Newhart puts it humorously in his Mad TV episode:

Stop. It.

In case you think I’m a heartless counselor, I should preface that my comments are personal lessons I’ve learned also as a teacher, parent, and recovered bulimic/anorexic.  There are some situations where the best answer in stop?changing behavior it to simply STOP.  The other word for it is one that’s missing from today’s vernacular: self-control.

Are there areas in your life that need self-control?  Are there areas where the first step in change lies in “stopping the behavior,” even just once?

I know of which I speak. There have been more areas than just eating that have been out of balance in my life. As God has worked through each one, from distorted thinking to anger and others, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself,

“If I want to get over this, what behavior do I need to stop?”

Then you need to take the first step and stop the behavior.

It’s as difficult and simple as that.

For years I binged and purged.

For years I responded in anger.

For years I believed the self-loathing lies that lived in my head.

For years I allowed other people’s approval to define me.

For each of these, I needed to stop {it}.

I needed to stop eating past the point I knew I was “too much.”

I needed to stop fighting, to have the last word, to hold onto my rights.

I needed to stop looking at my insecurities and weaknesses. 

I needed to stop living in fear of what others thought of me.

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There’s a rock on a shelf in our house that is from the walk I was on in when I decided I had to stop fighting with my husband in order for our marriage to be at peace.

There’s a verse in the bible, I Corinthians 10:13, that I had to believe God meant when I needed to withstand temptation to purge every time I ate.

There’s a shelf in my basement full of books I used to teach with that I had to retire when I left a demanding profession because my child needed a stress-free mom to help them through their own struggles.

There’s a note in my cupboard from someone who believed in me and who saw things about myself I couldn’t see.

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There’s a moment for each of us where God draws the line in the sand and says, “What will you do? Continue in your behavior or change what only you can change?

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There’s a moment for each of us where we become aware of what is right and wrong in a situation. The line drawn is different for each of us. In each instance, it’s a moment where we realize how we’ve been functioning isn’t working for us {as Dr. Phil would say}.

We need to exert self-control in the situation and just. stop. it.

The only person we can ever change is our-self.  The only behavior we can ever change is ours. The footsteps 02only person we can ever stop is us.

Are there areas in your life where you need to stop behavior or thinking?  It’s never comfortable or easy.  Sometimes the first step to victorious and healthy living is to simply stop {one time, a second time, and a third and more} until the behavior diminishes.

Are you ready to do that?  You won’t be able to do it in five-minutes like Bob Newhart suggests.  But trying it just once may be worth a shot.

Will you join me?

{disclaimer: This is not a professional recommendation for all behaviors. These are personal comments not intended for therapeutic intervention.  This site is designed to provide information of general interest to the public and is not intended to offer counseling advice about specific situations or problems. Brenda L. Yoder does not intend to create a counselor-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone’s review of the information shall not be deemed to create such a relationship.  You are also advised that access and use of this website is at your own risk. Any information you post on this website shall not be deemed secure or confidential.}

Facing Insecurities: Why I Don’t Look In The Mirror

It’s summer time here on the Back Forty.

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With summertime comes natural beauty, fresh fruits and veggies from our garden.

The first strawberries of the season.
The first strawberries of the season.

With the changing of the seasons come the changing of life’s seasons, too. Years roll from one to another… and we’re the same person in all of them. I’m the same person I was many summers ago….ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

You are, too.

Every once in a while I hear the voice of the fifteen-year-old me though I’m well-aged past fifteen. 

She {or he} is inside of you.

Does she {or he} ever catch you by surprise?

????????She recently caught me by surprise when I realized how much I shied away from looking in the mirror. A full-length mirror showing body parts I’d rather keep covered by sweatshirts and layers of winter gear.

I realized how much I hate looking in the mirror. But it’s how I cope.

Cope with what?

 You’re probably rolling your eyes.  

Yes, I’m considered “small” if you compare me with others

But I can’t compare myself with others.

It’s as dangerous as looking in the mirror.

Because the fifteen year old me says how unworthy, disgusting, and repulsive I am when I do.

Do you have similar lies that whisper in your ear?

Your lies are different than mine.  Maybe yours say, “You’re stupid, ugly, not-good-enough,” or worse.

At fifteen, I was bound by an eating disorder that kept me in prison for all of adolescence and young adulthood.  I work hard at living addiction-free, but I can’t separate myself from the girl I was in childhood. I’m the same person even though I’ve dropped the chains of the past.

Do you have chains in your past?

Insecurities get the best of us.  My mirror-avoidance behavior reminds me that insecurities still whisper in my grown-up self.

I’m no different than you.  Do you have insecurities?

While avoiding the mirror may seem cowardly, it’s my way of honestly living with my weaknesses while not letting them cripple me.  It’s hard work to live healthy and balanced when you’ve had distorted thinking and addictive behavior in your past.

Can you relate?

Your struggle may be different, but if you battle insecurities, it’s a challenge.  Here are things I’ve learned in living with a life-long challenge.

Facing insecurities takes courage. It’s easier to hide behind our insecurities. It’s safe to hide behind self-MP900262788pity.  It’s comforting to enable our insecurities.  “I’m can’t do that, so I won’t try.”  “I was hurt in my past, so I need to self-medicate.” “That doesn’t feel comfortable, so I won’t…..” The list goes on.  Acknowledging our insecurities and saying, “What am I going to do about it?” requires courage to face what we don’t want exposed and courage to push ahead regardless of what our self-talk says.

Facing insecurities requires realistic thinking.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Realistic thinking means setting goals you can handle.  Looking in a full-length mirror is damaging to me. That’s why I avoid the darn thing.  It’s also why I don’t weigh myself or consider dieting.  These things will send me back to disordered-eating in a heart-beat.  Finding life-long, realistic goals you can be successful at is important in overcoming insecurities.

Facing insecurities means knowing your limits.   Going on diets and Facing Insecurities Why I don't look in the mirrorgetting on a scale plays mind games with me.  What things play mind-games with your insecurities?  How can you strengthen your resolve to work through your insecurities while balancing the weaknesses of your limits? This is crucial in not being bound by your weaknesses.

Facing insecurities means you give grace to yourself when needed.   Early spring is never the best time for me to look in the mirror.  I’m not as fit in the winter and I carry extra weight.  These are issues for me even though I don’t obsess over them.  When the fifteen-year-old me begins whispering lies about myself, I counter-act the lies with truth.  My image does not define me.  I’ve learned to give accurate grace to myself when self-loathing begins.  Where do you need to give yourself grace?

What insecurities lurk in your shadows?  What lies does your younger-self tell you?  I’d love to encourage and support you in your efforts to lay them at the feet of Jesus and start taking steps toward the the peaceful-you.  Feel free to share in a comment below or email me at yoderbl@gmail.com.  

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It would be my privilege to pray with you and cheer you on.

The Power of Hope and Compassion: Let’s Git-R-Done

This week has been crazy. We’re getting ready for graduation and open house next weekend. The second time around isn’t so bad, but it’s a great reason to get things done around the house that need to be done.  We’re operating is “Git-R-Done” mode.

photo (91)Like cleaning, painting, and the other “normal” stuff that happens every spring at life on the Back Forty….planting garden, 4-H animals, tending these things while doing the “real stuff”of life like working and raising kids.

Tired has entered our vocabulary just a few time this week.

I love this kind of tired. There’s something meaningful in planning, preparing, “git-r-doning” that brings rest and peace to a soul at night. Getting things accomplished, seeing the fruits of your labor, and having things in order.

But one night this week, I went to bed early after doing nothing but working nine hours and bringing home Little Caesar’s Pizza. I was exhausted that day, mentally and emotionally.

Do you ever have days like that?

It’s one of the hazards of being a counselor.  As I came home from a normal day counseling at an intermediate school, I walked and talked with God while my kids ate Little Caesar’s.

The kids I work with are heavy on my heart this week, but there’s so much more to it.  Because their lives are normal for many families in our community, in your community.  Kids who don’t know their dads.  Kids who witness violence in their homes leaving them scarred and emotionally messed-up.  Kids who understand their parent’s priorities don’t include them.  Kids who are on the brink of making good choices or ones that will set them on a path for self-destruction.

I’ve come to believe one of the greatest powers in human connection lies in words of hope.  Not false hope, but real hope.

Hope in choice.

Hope in what you can control.

Hope in seeing the good in a situation.

Hope in a future that is yet unwritten.

Hope in a God who is personal.

I sat in a meeting with a mother who broke down in front of three other adults. She had been strong and brave all year, but the restraining order she had against her child’s father told me much more.  As she was leaving the administrator’s office, I took a risk, hugged her, and said, “God bless you.”

She sobbed more and clung to me like a life preserver.

The risk of compassionate words in that moment spoke truth to my soul.

We need each other.

The boy in my office cried because he’s not accepted by the Latinos and he’s not accepted by the whites. He’s mixed. He’s not accepted by his mom or his dad. A product of a sexual encounter, he doesn’t know family. He finally said through his tears, “I hurt. I don’t belong anywhere.”

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong anywhere?

As I came home with Little Ceasar’s and put my cleaning clothes on, I longed for each child to know what “home” is.  I longed for each adult walking through life with childhood scars to know what it feels like to belong, to be accepted.  I long for each of us walking through life in difficult places to have someone reach out and say, “God bless you for where are at today. You’re a survivor.”

If you’re a person who can give hope to another, let’s Git-R-Done. MP900387256

Let’s take a risk in caring, in sharing, in reaching out.

Let’s be the hand of Jesus and words of hope that give life to others. 

Will you do that with me today?

Will you stop the busyness for just a moment to give a moment of life to another?

God bless you, my reader, for the places you have walked and have received hope for tomorrow.

If you are walking in hard places today, let me pray with you on your journey. You can email me at yoderbl@gmail.com

Join my for other posts this week:

Mother’s Day Legacy: My Daily Prayer at www.notalonemom.com

Being Intentional About Quality Family Time This Summer …at www.parentsspace.com

The How’s To’s for Making A T-shirt Quilt at www.parentsspace.com

 

Why I Run and Why You Need Freedom, Too

The sun was in my face, good music was in my ears, and my feet hit the pavement. As my feet hit the ground with Why I runeach strike, I was careful to land just right.  After months of being injured, having knee surgery, and currently undertaking physical therapy, I was aware that one wrong side motion could wipe me out again.   But six weeks of PT was working and I was able to jog several yards before slowing down to a walking pace.  I did this over and over again as I reveled in the freedom I had.

Freedom to run.  

Freedom of spirit.

Freedom of mind.

Over the last several months, I’ve realized why I run. I began running ten years ago.  At the time, it was my source of stress management. As a mom of four kids and working-full with teenagers, running was the only 30 minutes where my mind was my own, where no one could touch me or ask anything of me.

portrait of a mid adult woman jogging in a parkAs time has become more limited with the demands of parenting and life, running is sporadic, but a priority.  During the winter months, I’m dormant because of daylight savings and weather.  But running periodically in the winter is a release for me when stress or seasonal depression gets the best of me.   It gives me a boost, clears my mind, and brings balance to my body and spirit.

What do you do that gives you a clear mind and brings balance to your body and spirit?

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Living without the option to run poses a problem for me.  

I’ve realized if I don’t have healthy options to release stress, I’m tempted to turn to unhealthy options.

Confessions of a woman trying to live addiction-free for a lifetime.

I wish I could say food is never an issue for me, but I can’t.

Do you have something you run to when you’re stressed? What do you self-medicate with?  Technology? Shopping? Sports? Sleep? Alcohol? Medication?  Sex? Or do you, too, run to food?

I come from a family where comfort food is normal.

I grew up pushing against it and developed anorexia.  Then I became bulimic.  My development and identity as a teen and young adult revolved around food, though it was hidden.  There are reasons why people turn to food or other substances for self-medication.  There are payoffs.  It comforts. It nurtures.  You’re in control of your body, your mind and emotions for a few minutes as you feed your senses with momentarily pleasures.  To overcome an addiction, the payoff of overcoming it with healthy behavior has to be more enticing than what the addiction does for you.

Woman Standing on ScaleI can’t diet. I have to have freedom to choose what I eat. If I don’t messes with my mind.

I’ve learned if I don’t have the option to run, it messes with my mind.

There’s something spiritual about both of them being in balance.

It deals with freedom.

The freedom of your body, soul and spirit to experience joy and peace….like adrenalin that runs through your body when you run.

A rush of contentment, happiness, and top-of-the-world feeling.

What does that for you?  What gives you that rush? Is it healthy?  Or do you run to things that dull your senses?  Do you seek things that bring balance and freedom or things that bind you and bring destruction?

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I’ve done both.

I’ve fought hard to remain healthy and have balance in my life physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I’ve decided if I can only run one-hundred yards at a time, I’ll take it.

I need it. 

I don’t ever want to go back to being bound. 

So I fight to remain free.

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I don’t do this alone. 

My battle to remain free from the hold of food, self-harm, and addiction has been a journey between me and God.

He walks with me every step.

He fills me with peace and joy.

But I have to stay vigilant to keep Him in that place.

How do you fight for God to stay the center of your life?

Being Free
Being Free

What do you do to fight things off that are more enticing than the presence of God?

Living healthy is hard work.

Living balanced is hard work.

Living in the fullness of God requires action.

Draw near to God and He will draw near you.” James 4:8 (NIV)

Like running brings freedom to me, so does having the fullness of God in your life.

I’ve learned it’s worth pursuing both of them with vigilance.

Freedom of mind, body, and spirit is a glimpse of eternity where there will be “no death, or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4.)

Addictions only relieve this temporarily.

Healthy balance and the presence of God relieves this for a lifetime.

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Where do you need to experience freedom in healthy ways?

Where do you need to place God as the center of you life?

Where do you need to be balanced?

Ask the Lord of all goodness to empower you to make the changes needed to bring balance.  If you need a prayer partner, email me  at yoderbl@gmail.com.  It would be my honor to pray with you as you work to bring balance, center, and freedom to your life.

Holy Father, draw each of us to the healthy life you desire for us.  Give us grace to admit the things that are out of balance in our lives, and give us a glimpse of the goodness you have for us that is greater than any pay off our out-of-balance choices give us.  Equip us to do the hard work to live healthy.  Prompt us to make the first step in drawing nearer to you.  Thank you that You never fail.  Amen.

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Inspiring Stories: Ingrid’s Story

healing

It’s my great privilege to have a dear friend share  her story of cancer survival.  This is Ingrid’s story:

My friend holds her daughter’s hand, whispering prayers as the daughter lay in the Intensive Care Unit. This young, single mother just barely survived an automobile crash. The man she hoped to build a life with did not.

Healing — of heart and body — will take many prayers. For my friend, for her daughter and for the family of that young man.

Two months ago, this same friend sat at my bedside, holding my hand, offering prayers as I awaited surgery to remove a cancerous lump from my breast. Physical healing began that day, as doctors used skill to carve out the fast-growing tumor, to dislodge a lymph node. With the news that the cancer had not spread, that nothing had been left behind, I whispered thanksgiving.

A plan was made for radiation, medication, therapy, lifestyle adjustments……and the healing continues.

I leaned heavily on my Lord and Savior in the days and weeks that followed, lean on Him still to understand and accept this new reality that has entered my life’s landscape.

Cancer.

As I lay on the hospital gurney receiving radiation, I felt blessed, because in the midst of my treatment and healing, I attended the funeral of woman who began her journey through cancer three years ago. She fought strong and hard, and today, she is a Survivor in eternity.

I cannot share my testimony of recovery and survival without thinking of all who bear wounds, who stand toe-to-toe with the trials of our earthly life and fight to survive, to recapture “normal”, or to accept that some things will never be the same.

Some of us receive a pink ribbon and a label — Survivor. And our bodies bear visible scars that mark the spot where MP900321107healing began.

Others suffer with wounds that are deep, too deep for a surgeon’s scalpel. Healing may begin, only for the scabs to be ripped open by new hurts, new reasons to ask “Why?”

It’s that way for my friend, bedside with her daughter. She has endured a husband’s betrayal, the loss of a ministry, the sudden death of a son-in-law, her own physical challenges, and now the trauma of her daughter’s injuries and dashed hopes.

And still my friend raises her hands in worship and I stand beside her, my own hands and heart lifted in praise to the Healer who walks with every wounded Survivor. We both bear scars, and we both smile through tears as we celebrate Our Father’s Goodness.

God does not promise a life free from pain, from loss. The truth is that nowhere in The Word does He say He “will not give us more than we can bear”. Often misquoted are these words from Paul:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”    I Corinthians 10:13

On some days, He DOES give us more than we can bear. Who can learn that they have cancer and not grieve? Who can hold the hand of a heartbroken, wounded daughter and not cry out? Who can cradle a child who will never walk, sit unassisted, play basketball, drive a car because a virus invaded his body, and not plead for mercy?

And who can bury a 25-year-old son and not question the One who holds life in His hand?

He hears and grieves. And He bears it with us.

I will exalt you, Lord,

for you lifted me out of the depths

and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

Lord my God, I called to you for help,

and you healed me.

You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;

you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;

praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,

but his favor lasts a lifetime;

weeping may stay for the night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,

“I will never be shaken.”

Lord, when you favored me,

you made my royal mountainstand firm;

but when you hid your face,

I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;

to the Lord I cried for mercy:

“What is gained if I am silenced,

if I go down to the pit?

Will the dust praise you?

Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;

Lord, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;

you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.

Lord my God, I will praise you forever.    Psalm 30

6e3ffef67cd2b76a1bda39656ca79794Ingrid Lochamire lives on a farm in a beautiful valley in northern Indiana. She is a partner in business and in life with her husband, Ken, and is Mom to four sons. Ingrid homeschooled the boys, graduating the youngest this year. A former newspaper reporter, she currently is a freelance writer and part-time staff at Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center, a domestic violence agency in her home community. A lover and following of Christ, Ingrid says she strives daily to reflect His glory in every aspect of life — on the mountaintops and in the mundane. Ingrid recently reflected on her journey through breast cancer at her blog “Reflections on the Journey”.

Winter’s Here, But Spring is Coming

Like other parts of the Midwest, Spring is coming late this year on the Back Forty.  As I write, the calendar says wSpring has arrived, but snow is pelting the window. I’m a whiner about March anyway, so the late spring has made me a Champion Whiner.  {Trophy, please.}

There’s one difference, though.  I know it will end.  Rules of Mother Nature don’t lie.  Spring will always begin on March 20 even though it might be snowing.  I have faith and trust in the fact that March 20 means things are changing in the Earth even though the circumstances and snow around me say different.   Snow on March 20 and February 20 are different because one is in season and the other is not.  In March, I know better days are eminent.

Life and faith are similar.

There are times where circumstances around us dictate something contradictory to the Truth we know.  I mean the One and Only Truth – Jehovah God, Christ the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.  Spiritual truth is relative depending on who you talk to, just like spring seems relative when snow pelts the ground trying to wake up.  But just as the rules of science say March 20 is Spring, the Word of God says God’s character is:

  • gracious
  • compassionate
  • slow to anger
  • abounding in love
  • loving
  • merciful
  • kind
  • patient
  • forgiving
  • holy
  • just
  • the list can go on.

When your world is dark and harsh snow is pelting in your face, what gives you hope?  When walking in the dark the other day and cold snow was stinging my cheeks, I despised the circumstances, but I had hope it would not be this way forever.  I knew it was Spring, despite what the weather said.  I knew sunshine, warm weather, and new growth would be here.  I believed the truth I knew regardless of what I was experiencing.

Cross and BibleThe more you get to know God’s character through His Word, through prayer, through petition, trust, and faith, the easier you can stand on the Truth of Who He is when storms surround you.  A.W. Tozer says, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (The Knowledge of The Holy, cited by Steven Furtick in Sun Stand Still, Multnomah Press).   Are you able to despise stormy circumstances while being hopeful in the Truth of God?

There have been difficult deaths in my circles lately.  Difficult storms of life that don’t seem to end.  When my own world came crashing down several years ago, shattering all images of God I knew up to that point, I could stand on one truth I knew, the character of God and promises of His word:

  • He would never leave me or forsake me.
  • He is good.
  • He loves me. 
  • He is personal.
  • He is sovereign.
  • He is trustworthy.
  • He is not defined by my circumstances.

Do you need to know these truths?  As you seek Him in His word, you will find Him and his personal care for your situation.  Just as new life is pushing through the ground in the season of Spring, new growth and life are ready to burst through your situation even though the storms say, “Not Happening.” 

God does not change, just as the first day of Spring doesn’t change when there’s snow on the ground.  I challenge and encourage you to know Him in new ways that go down deep into your soul.   Shallow faith gets crushed when life’s storms come out of season.  But deep, trusting faith in His character is what sustains life when the dark, crushing elements invade your life.

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Spring is here and So is Jesus.

Neither change,  Both are constant. No matter what the weatherman says.

Where do you need to believe that truth?

Blessed is the one…..whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither….. Psalm 1:1-3 (portions) NIV

How to Fight A Lion and Other Principalities

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12a prowling tiger

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8

Words are bouncing around inside my head like a pinball machine.

I need hours to write what I really want to say, but my soul just cries.

Today’s one of THOSE days.

A day where the brokenness of life seems to wash over you like a tsunami

Waves crashing as the reality of selfishness and sinfulness seems to be everywhere leaving you wondering

Is anyone whole?

I know the answer is yes and somedays the joy and peace of life is so good.

Too good that I forget (and maybe you do, too) that there are spiritual battles being wages for our souls.

I forget there is an enemy of my Savior, of goodness, of peaceful souls, of marriages, of wholeness.

Today I’m reminded greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)

Today I’m reminded that my God is greater, but action is required on our part to present requests and petitions for change in people’s lives.

In our own lives.

In my life.

I’m committing today to pray fervently for people I love.

to pray consistently for change and healing and hope

Woman Among Lit Votive Candles

to cry out in intercession against the rulers of this dark world.

I believe prayer changes things.

Serious prayer.

I’ve experienced it in my life and in the lives of others.

It’s battle time again for the hurting.

Who in your life need intercessory prayer?

Do you need intercessory prayer?

A friend reminded me today of Romans 12:2

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

I’m committing to be faithful in prayer.  Will you join me?

The Resurrection:Real Victory for Real Life

A similar article was first published in The Purpose Magazine in March, 2013

The life-giving power of God’s word became real to me at seventeen.  As a young girl with an eating disorder, I felt powerless in attempts at getting out of the cycle of starving myself, binging, and purging.

Until one morning I woke up in disbelief.  “He provided a way out!” I thought.  “God provided a way out, just like His Word said.”

For the first time in three years, I had fallen asleep with food in my stomach. Because of distorted thinking, I truly Real Victory for Real Lifebelieved if I allowed food to remain in my stomach overnight, I would wake up with significant weight gain and be rejected.  Like many teen girls, I despised the image I saw in the mirror.  Rejection was my greatest fear.  Feeling insecure, ugly, and not-quite-good-enough, my adolescent mind rationed that if I was thin, I could at least control one area of rejection.

From my early teens to young adulthood, I battled food, faulty self-talk, a poor sense of worth and acceptance as I lived with destructive physical and emotional behavior.  Food was my enemy, yet I ran to it for comfort.  Daily I purged, while desperately wanting a way out of the never-ending cycle.

During this time my Bible was a refuge for me.  One day, I came across a passage identifying a core struggle of my private world – temptation.  Daily I prayed to overcome the temptation to binge and purge, but each night I crawled into bed with failure.  In my shame, 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV 1984 version) gave hope and a promise:

No temptation has seized you expect what is common to man.  But God is faithful.  He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.

In this passage, God became incredibly personal because He recognized my battle with temptation.  When no one else seemed to understand the depths of my internal struggle, God did.  He even promised a way of escape.

One night I fell asleep and the compulsive, addictive cycle momentarily broke and the power of Jesus’ love, and Word was validated in my heart and mind.  God loved me so much He provided a way out from my daily temptation of purging through something as simple as sleep!  God reached down from heaven and made Himself real to me.  He didn’t reject me.  I had hope for change and a new way of life.

FaithOver the years, I’ve journeyed with many people struggling with a range of addictive behaviors. Common among them is the cyclical trap of temptation and failure to overcome it.  Compulsive, addictive activities encompass anything out of balance from what God intends for us.  We run to the imbalanced behavior instead of running to God and His control over our insecurities and pain.  Addictions can encompass food or exercise, shopping or thriftiness, anger or fear, self-righteous pride or deeds of darkness.  The list could go on.  All take root in self-protection instead of the power of resurrection. 

God’s gift of allowing me to overcome one night of temptation through sleep was a miracle to me. He provided a practical way out, just like His word promised.  When I woke up to new mercies that particular morning, and didn’t experience rejection from others, I had hope for healing.  God opened a doorway out of my self-destructive routine.  He provided an alternative to my fear of rejection that created distorted thinking.  God instilled hope that the unhealthy cycle could be broken through His power, not mine.

A new life from addictive behavior didn’t happen overnight for me.  Overcoming it was a long, slow process.  But that glorious morning at seventeen was the day Jesus personally rolled the stone away from my dark and fearful tomb.  He provided a door of freedom for me to walk through.  Since then, I’ve learned stepping out of fear and into His power is a daily choice.  God provides a door of escape every day from various temptations lurking in the shadows. And every time I walk out of the tomb in victory is testimony to His resurrected healing power.

What shadows lurk in your life, calling you into temptation instead of victory?  As we approach the Easter season where we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, the celebration is also in applying Christ’s power to our personal lives.  Easter is not about the past, but the future.  Where have you overcome the “grave” of addictive or destructive behaviors?  We would love to hear your story.

In His love,

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