Spiritual Wellbeing

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

Demolishing StrongholdsPremium Content

A stronghold is a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception. Deception is one of the primary weapons of the devil, because it is the building blocks for a stronghold. What strongholds can do is cause us to think in ways which block us from God's best.

Two very destructive and common strongholds:

The first one: You see God incorrectly:
One of the most popular and devastating strongholds to have, is an incorrect image in your mind of who God is, and how He sees us. People who see God as a taskmaster, live their lives with an unhealthy fear of God.

What strongholds can do is cause us to think in ways which block us from God's best.

The first one, where you see God incorrectly: One of the most popular and devastating strongholds to have, is an incorrect image in your mind of who God is, and how He sees us.

People who see God as a taskmaster, live their lives with an unhealthy fear of God.

There's a good kind of fear of God, which is more like a holy respect for Him, but there's another kind of fear that is very unhealthy that the enemy wants us to have, and it's the kind of fear where we see God as a taskmaster, cruel, cold, distant, uncaring and would snap the whip at us the moment we step out of line.

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Roles. Do we box ourselves in?Premium Content

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?

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Each of Us is that 100th SheepPremium Content

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

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Finding Forgiveness in Confession

Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
beatings make clean the innermost parts.
Proverbs 20:30 NRSV

We see sin in ourselves most often when we are in pain. In fact, it often takes the hard circumstances in life for us to even stop and listen to God. And He uses those hard circumstances to keep us from running off the precipice of the cliff of sin.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, "This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite." 2 Samuel 11:2-3 NRSV

Most of us are familiar with the adulterous affair of David and Bathsheba, the wife of one of his commanders. The Israelites built homes with flat roofs and used their roofs for rest and relaxation when it was warm. Whether or not Bathsheba chose to bath on the roof hoping to catch the eye of the king, at that moment David was presented with a choice. He didn't have to ask who she was; he could have averted his eyes. He didn't.

The result of their extended affair was that Bathsheba got pregnant. In a fit of panic, David ordered her husband, Uriah, to the front where he was logically killed. David then took Bathsheba into his home (and his bed) and his wife, thinking that his sin had been unseen. I'm sure that he believed that he was doing the "right" thing by marrying Bathsheba, that this marriage was a sign of penance toward God. But God wasn't fooled. Manipulation is never part of repentance. Yes, we are to make restitution, but first comes confession. And David hadn't confessed.

What is the Root Cause of Your Worry?

A scene from an episode of the final season of "Mad Men" captures a self-doubt moment beautifully. The exchange is between the protagonist, Don Draper and that of his protégée, Peggy Olsen. She recently turned thirty years old and, like most of us, life had not turned out how she expected it would. Peggy has a moment of self-doubt, one to which Draper responded…

"I worry about a lot of things. But I don't worry about you."

Worry. We have a lot of it in life. We worry about our jobs, our families, our place in this world and our recovery if we struggle with addictions, disorders and compulsions. We worry, even though "fear not" is mentioned by God numerous times in scripture. We cannot seem to help it.

So, where does all of this worry stem from? How about from a thought? Check yourself and see if you have ever thought some of these things about yourself.

"I'm nobody special…"

This is a biggie, hitting our core identity and our value. Most of us have encountered lying thoughts about ourselves here. Bullying, abuse and peer pressure often lead us to believe we're worthless and unwanted.

Do You Have a Diligently Kept Heart?

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
Proverbs 4:23

Recently, I caught a documentary about the Japanese film director and animator, Hayeo Miyazaki. He's creator of anime feature films including, "My Neighbor Totoro" and "The Wind Rises."

Anyway, during this documentary, Miyazaki talked about his father and the impact he had on his world view:

"Being welcomed instead of being chased out probably shaped the way this man looked at the world."
~Hayao Miyazaki

The power of this statement hit me. Looking at this man's countenance, his joyful and peacefully optimistic demeanor shouts the sentiment loud and clear.

As I've been in recovery from both my disordered eating/image and abuse issues, I've had to look long and hard at the state of my heart. It's unflattering and painful to do so, yet quite necessary.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24

Eating Disorders: It is all about the heart

I admit it. Whenever I hear anyone touting fitness and health, my uneasy radar goes up. As someone in recovery from eating disorders, it's a sensitive thing. And, for as many people, who, indeed, strive to get healthier for health's sake, how many others are only looking to lose weight?

And, how many develop disordered eating behaviors and mindsets during that pursuit?

I may come across as overly critical here, but it's because the issue has hit so close to home. Not only have I personally battled disordered thoughts and behaviors, including anorexia and bulimia, I've also seen how it has spread within my family as well.

And, mostly, within that family context, the decision to diet or exercise is born out of a desire to be thin and to lose weight.

As a little girl, that was, indeed, my desire. I wanted to be good, lovable and pretty. And, I believed I wasn't because of my overweight physique.

I speak about it in my book, Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.

"...My first diet ended almost when it started, beginning an endless dieting roller-coaster. Diet after diet would start with this angelic-choir Hallelujah moment, followed by this new revelation that 'This is the diet. Diet ye in it.'"

The Power of Words

…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14


I love E. B. White’s classic, "Charlotte’s Web." It’s the wonderful children’s story about the relationship between a county fair pig, Wilbur and Charlotte, the farm spider. Perhaps you’ve caught the 1970’s animated film of this sweet story.

Anyway, throughout the tale, there are various life lessons discussed, not the least of which is the self-esteem issue. Wilbur has been challenged in that area. In response to a threat against his life and welfare, as a prized fair pig, ready for slaughter, Charlotte takes it upon herself to write such words as, "Terrific" and "Some Pig" in her webs. These web inscriptions garner much attention and therefore, saved his life.

The power of words. Scripture teaches us about their impact:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

Indeed.

And it’s no small matter to navigate in life. After all, how many of us have been bullied, teased and abused because of our appearance? For many of us struggling with disordered eating and image issues, many toxic words like "ugly," "fatso," and yes, "pig" have been hurled against us. It’s a painful thing to overcome.

Denial: Trying to Disguise the Truth

What Cracker?

He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Denial: it's a ridiculous looking thing.

I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine's square shape. And the tag line attached was "What cracker?"

It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates' food and dumpster diving.

"...I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I'd stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock' before they came home to notice...

...It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game... I knew their schedules by heart. I'd wait for them to leave for class. I'd hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone... I had to eat as much as I could before they came home...

... I'd be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies' I'd thrown out...

...Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual... I'd rummage through other people's trash bags...

...I was caught on more than one occasion. I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class... I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural' and disguise the truth..."

I was asking, "What Cracker?"

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