God's Will for Us

Our Inner Cookie Monster?

Most of us have grown up with Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. We know the cute, blue fuzz ball who just gets frantic at the sight and thought of cookies. Anyone out there in that club?

For those of us with food and body image issues, the preoccupation can be toward any food. Perhaps cookies are not the thing which compels us. Maybe it’s ice cream, pasta, candy bars, crackers or Jell-O. Whatever our “thing” is, it seems to render us obsessed and, before we know it, we’re acting just like our blue friend.

“C is for cookie - and that’s good enough for me.” Indeed.

Scripture tells us we’re missing a huge point in our monster obsession with cookies or anything else which is tasty:

Building Healthier Relationships

Hang my locket around your neck; wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing - it sweeps everything before it. Song of Solomon 8:6 Msg

My journey into the mystery of love B.C. (Before Christ) was fraught with rejection, repeated failure, pain, nagging doubts, confusion, dashed hopes, withdrawal, shattered dreams and broken relationships. I even at times explored in my mind the so-called benefits of the life of a recluse; which my twin brother actually chose.

I made a multitude of mistakes while attempting to re-build significant and lasting relationships. At that point, enduring joy and peace were not on my relational radar! Dys-function and Dys-grace were a more common theme in my relational reality. Patient trial and error became non-negotiable in my journey toward hope-filled, healthier relationships.

But as the mystery of the love discovered in Christ has been unveiled within my inquisitive soul, I have taken the bait again and encountered myself risking and unmasking! Slowly and surely, the rewards of function and grace have provided impetus for timid, albeit safer forward motion relationally. Over the course of forty plus years I am experiencing more and more relational success.

Anorexia: Our Hummingbird Ways?

I love hummingbirds. And here’s an interesting little factoid about them:

"Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight."

I immediately thought of my anorexic experiences.

I recount my mindset, offered in my book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death Of An Eating Disorder."

" ...I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I still kept going. I had to. Progress—just a few more pounds, then I’ll be done. So I’d continue every morning: six hours of boot camp torture on little or no food or water. I had gotten to the point now where I feared drinking water would make me fat.

Every morning, my heart and pulse would pound and race. I could feel throbbing from veins that were sticking out on the backs of my knees and the crooks of my elbows. Every morning, I would stand up, shaky, dizzy already, only to then have everything go black. And then, I’d wake up, lying on the floor. Passing out was now a regular part of my day.

How are Praise, Surrender & Worship Connected?

Perseverance for me is essential because the alternative is defeat and loss of faith. Defeat and loss of faith is totally different from surrender.

Surrender] is knowing that God is Lord of lords, King of kings. It is knowing that I must and need to depend on Him totally and completely at all times.

\0/ praise .....
it is so easy to praise God when all is going well in our lives. We are happy, joyous and free but then the you know what hits the fan and our lives become unmanageable. We find ourselves totally powerless. fear creeps in and anxiety rules.

It is time to ....
/0\ surrender

Naturally Twiggy? Fat Shaming

I once saw a black and white photograph of the ultra-thin model Twiggy eating what appeared to be a plate of batter- dipped fish and French fries. And it provoked something. It had to do with the trigger-rife connection involving her thin physique and disordered food/body image concerns.

Twiggy (real name, Lesley Lawson) was world famous for her look, one which showcased a boyish, thin body, short hair and large eyes that were further accentuated by painted on eyelashes. Named "The Face of 1966" by The Daily Express, she took the 1960's British Mod Scene and the fashion world by storm.

Yes, Twiggy was a game changer. And, because of her androgynous and thin appearance, she has long been criticized for promoting unhealthy body image messages.

Over the years, she has addressed those critiques when it comes to the topic of eating disorders and her own body:

"I was very skinny, but that was just my natural build. I always ate sensibly -- being thin was in my genes."

Reading that statement, therefore, brought up the concept of beauty variation.

In today's culture, there's been an obsession with the thin image. That's no surprise. But, in more recent years, there's been a growing movement to promote a variation of body shapes and sizes. Curvy, "plus size," and "real woman" have been some of the buzz words used to describe and promote a healthier, more inclusive definition of beauty. And that's wonderful, and, believe me, much needed, especially concerning impressionable youth.

Roles. Do we box ourselves in?

When we're little girls, many of us have, at some point, wanted to be an actress. I did. I was "bitten" by the bug at age nine, when I played a baby doll in a school play. From there, I acted in various productions and eventually graduated from college as a theater major.

And during that time, I was exposed to Shakespeare and of course, his female characters. Juliet, Ophelia, Queen Gertrude and Lady Macbeth were the most influential to me.

I first encountered the Juliet character on a Brady Bunch episode (Marcia Brady was cast as Juliet in a school play). I know. It was during the time Franco Zefferelli's film was out, portraying our young star crossed lovers. And, by the time I hit high school, I'd seen the film. What wasn't to like? Drama, a love story and two very beautiful lead actors; Juliet was played by Olivia Hussey. Anyway, it lines right up with my desire to be beautiful. And that was, of course, a large part of wanting to be an actress.

And so, it begins - acting.

By the time I entered college, I decided to be a theater major. I was a great way to express myself - and a nifty way to avoid having to take math classes as well. (I was hopeless at algebra). Anyway, by college, I was introduced to Hamlet - and the leading lady role of the young, fragile - and crazy- Ophelia. She was the love interest of Hamlet (again, the star-crossed lovers theme) and I bought into its mystique.

Or rather, I bought into the ingénue's mystique. Ingénue. According to its definition, it means:

An unsophisticated girl or young woman: a girl or young woman who is naive and lacks experience or understanding of life;
A naive character in drama: a character in a play or a movie who is a naive inexperienced young woman

Really?

Life Doesn't Have a "Re-do" Button

All our steps are ordered by the Lord;
how then can we understand our own ways?
Proverbs 20:24 NRSV

Over Christmas break, the son of one of my fellow teachers was killed in an auto accident. Both of his parents work for our school district and are loving, wonderful people. Their younger daughter was in one of the plays I helped with. It was a devastating loss for our small community.

When it happened, I tried to get my head around it. Oh, not the fact that such a young person had died and the reason for it, but rather simply that it had happened at all. I began to think about games, in particular computer games, and the ability to "redo" a game when the outcome wasn't what I wanted (in effect, when I lost). I began to wonder if his parents wished that they could "redo" those few hours before he died, keeping him at their home rather than allowing him to drive several hours to his house and subsequently dying.

I think that all of us, at one time or another and for one reason or another, wished that life had a "redo" button, wished that we could relive a certain situation in order to change the outcome. When Proverbs speaks of the Lord ordering our ways, some in the Christian community would see this as confirmation that God has predetermined everything that happens to us and that we don't have free will. I personally don't agree with that view. But what I see this as is the Old Testament version of Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together" for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)

Matthew Henry writes:

Obsessed with Unattainable Thinness?

The legendary sex symbol and movie star, Sophia Loren is now 80 years old. Wow- think about that. I know it made me think about the parameters of beauty.

And it made me think of a more current pop culture Sophia, Sophia Vergara (from the sitcom Modern Family). The actress once did a wonderful television commercial for her Kmart clothing line.

The thing which caught my attention was her emphasis on "real woman" figures when it comes to clothing. In the commercial, she breaks into her design studio, breezes by designers hovering over their thin body sketches. She then takes a red pen and draws two sets of curvy bubbles over the bust and derrière areas of the drawings, stating, "you can't draw a woman with straight lines."

Bravo and Amen, Ms. Vergara!

Since then, I've been having a little "Sophia on the brain." Both Loren and Vergara have been known as smoldering, exotic beauties with va-va-voom bodies to match. And it's great to see someone be celebrated who is closer to a "real woman size/shape."

Haughtiness is a Superlative Pride

Haughty eyes and a proud heart—the lamp of the wicked—are sin. Proverbs 21:4

I'm dealing with haughtiness right now . . . my own. Haughtiness is a superlative pride, a feeling of being or doing better than others. It's antonym is humility. And I personally think that seeking the praises of those around you is a part of that.

Scripture is very clear. This is sin. And what's interesting is that this verse doesn't talk about sin that we do, but rather sin that we are . . . how we feel and think and make choices. It can be easy, within our church culture, to act like a Christian. In fact, I've had some Christians tell me that they never sin. And if we were speaking only of the sins that we can do, they may be right. Likely they don't kill or steal or commit adultery. But the Lord looks past our actions into our hearts:

The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart 1 Samuel 16:7b NRSV

Two people, standing side by side, could look very much the same from the outside and yet one could be truly humble and one could be truly prideful.

Tozer, in his book, That Incredible Christian, lists the attributes of a spiritual person:

Harmful Body Image Perceptions

I admit it, I love guilty pleasure chick flicks. And one which fully engages all of my angst-driven feminine drama is the 1981 film, "Mommie Dearest," starring Faye Dunaway as the legendary screen star, Joan Crawford. The movie was based on the tell-all book written by the star's adopted daughter, Christina Crawford.

It's now become a part of popular culture. We've heard one of the most famous lines repeated in jokes and commentary. According to the book and film, Christina endured a traumatic rage episode in which her mother, having a meltdown, snaps when she sees a wire hanger in Christina's closet. I guess only satin and lace hangers were acceptable. Whatever that represented to Ms. Crawford, she became unhinged, shrieking the now famous line, "No wire hangers ever!" From there, Ms. Crawford throws all of the dresses out of the closet, onto to floor and proceeds to beat Christina with the wire hanger, all, of course, in an emotional upset. There was crying and screaming from both mother and daughter.
I know, fun times.

So, why am I mentioning this? The wire hangers made me recall an article I read on the fashion industry. Stay with me now. The question asked was concerning why models had to be so thin for the clothes the designers made. The answer given? Models were to be the clothes hangers;

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