This is something that came across my Facebook a few days ago and I saved it because it I knew God meant for me to see it. Here is is:
“I am deeply loved, divinely appointed, abundantly equipped, and profoundly cherished by God. No enemy plan, scheme, or obstacle can keep me from God’s highest and best will for me. As I follow the voice of my Savior, I see the invisible, accomplish the impossible, and love the unlovable. I am a living-breathing image of Jesus Christ because he lives in me! Amen.”
This post started out, “Speak this one over yourself.” When I first read it I thought it said, “Speak this one over and over.” Either way, it works. When I first read it I knew it was worth saving but as I read it again today, and after my morning prayers, I know it’s God talking to ME. Every little word speaks deeply to my heart and for whatever reason, I feel like God wants me to share my story, my journey.
When I started this blog, it was during my very first fasting experience. Oh my goodness, it was an experience. I started out on a 40 day fast determined to make it as long as I could with no guilt feelings if I didn’t make it. I did really good for about the first two weeks but Satan struck! He’s really a big stinker and must be dealt with! At work, during this particular week, so many people were talking about where they were going for lunch and it all sounded SOOOO GOOD! Satan was saying, “Mmmmm! Don’t that sound YUMMY! Let’s go EAT!” But I turned to my prayer journal that I had decided to start and I did a lot of writing…and I did not go eat! 1-Tami, 0-Satan. A few days later, everyone in my office decided to go eat to celebrate the upcoming marriage of one of our girls. I suggested a place that had soup so I could have broth, just to be able to go with them. Nope. They wanted a different place, Buffalo Wild Wings (one of my favorite places). I went. Uggggh! I felt guilt the whole time. I thought…just drink water. I thought…make ANY excuse to change your mind. Nope. I ordered. But, the story doesn’t end there. So, we are waiting and waiting AND WAITING on our food. We only have about 15 minutes before we have to be back at work. We ask our waiter what’s going on and they say our food will be out in about 5 minutes…after about a 45 minute wait. Some of us ask for to-go boxes to take it back to work with us because we don’t have time to eat there. Our waiter comes back out and explains that when the waitress put our order in on the front computer, for some reason it didn’t go to the computer in the back. Everyone was so mad that they didn’t tell us and decided no tip for anyone. My mind is not really on the wait or the “bad” service but it’s still on the fact that I have decided to eat. We take it back and I do eat. Yes, you read that right…I ate. Uggggh! Then it sets in…pain in my tummy, guilt, and I want to CRY! After our training class we were doing, I went back to my office and I’m really starting to realize the depth of what had occurred. Do you see it like I finally did??? I saw GOD that day! God always gives us a way out of our struggles and battles with Satan, and he gave me an out! I DIDN’T TAKE IT! WHAT WAS I THINKING? I LET SATAN WIN! The guilt hit me and I had to leave the office before I broke down. I cried all the way home. I called Chris, my love, and just lost it. He called one of our very dearest friends who called me and talked to me almost my whole drive home. He’s been there, done that, and really understood my pain. The thing is, through all the guilt I was feeling, I felt SOOO much JOY and overwhelming (I don’t even know the right word to use) amazement because I SAW GOD that day! While I turned my back on HIM, HE WAS STILL THERE! It was an emotional day for me, to say the very least.
Okay, so with all that being said, I moved on and prayed for forgiveness and strength to carry on with my fast. The next week, I had to travel to one of my favorite towns for work. Favorite, I think, because of all the WONDERFUL restaurants there! Whew! Sometimes I think when you get stronger, Satan does, too! I had been doing so good after my recent experience. I felt closer to God and felt like I was really focusing myself where I really needed to. I was writing in my prayer journal and just really felt good about everything. Then…here comes that mean ‘ol Satan. (I don’t even want to give him the recognition of someone important by capitalizing his name so I’m going to stop that through the rest of my post, just FYI.)
Here I am, in a town I love and I’m really comfortable in, in a hotel all by myself where NO ONE can see me or know what I’m doing. Oh my, how I even hate to type this out but I just feel like I have to. If it can help one person get through some of the same struggles, it will be worth it. If it can help one person see God like I have, it will be worth it. (Dear Lord, help me to say these things in order to give someone else strength, and please continue to help me put everything at your beautiful feet. Amen.) Here goes…I ate, and I ate, and I ate, and I ate some more. Then I went to my hotel bathroom and threw it all up, every single time. I didn’t turn to my precious Lord even once. My journal never left my backpack. I never read my Bible. Satan and I stayed in Jonesboro that week and we lived it up, one meal at a time, one throw-up at a time…over and over for three days. Yep, there it is for all the world to see.
Now the rest of the story. When I left, I knew I needed to come clean to Chris, my love, because I know he has his own struggles and I just felt I had to share it with him. I hadn’t even brought myself to the point of even being able to ask God for forgiveness because I was so ashamed. I decided to quit my fast. Not because I really wanted to but because I felt I had to get my head and heart right with God before I moved forward. I was stuck in the mud. A good friend of mine says you gotta get the pig out of the mud if you want the creek water to be clean! He doesn’t know how right he is! I had to get the pig out of the mud! Here is a little funny that happened the same day I decided to quit my fast (just happened to be day 20): I’ll preface this with the fact that my immediate family knew I was fasting and they had been SOOO amazingly supportive, especially considering Moma wasn’t doing any cooking and was trying to stay away from the temptations of the kitchen! So, my funny middle son was searching through the fridge for something to eat and I was sitting at the bar. He gets frustrated, closes the fridge and turns around to say, “Good grief, Moma, Jesus LOVES YOU! Go get us some FOOD!” I just died laughing! He don’t know how much I needed that laugh at that very moment! I told my family that day that I had decided to quit my fast. I didn’t tell them why but just that I was quitting.
So I had that off my shoulders, I had told them I was quitting my fast. BUT, I never told anyone what me and satan did in Jonesboro. My mommy knew, though. She caught me alone, just me and her, and she said she knew. Mommies always know, don’t they?! I came clean with her. I eventually came clean with Chris. Finally, I came clean with myself.
SEVERAL years ago, I had lost quiet a bit of weight, about 70+ pounds. I had been doing Weight Watchers pretty much faithfully, I was exercising and eating right, too. I was doing this exercise video and had done it so much that I had worn a hole in our carpet in our living room, right in front of the TV! Just another funny side-note! Okay, back to my LONG story. Then my love lost his arm in a farm accident, the same day I had a Weight Watcher meeting (of all days:), and my life changed. Everything was centered around Chris and getting him better, dealing with the stress the accident was for our boys, and trying to find something called “NORMAL” in what God had placed before us. We had SO much support from our friends and family during that time. We knew we were blessed in SO many ways. But satan was really hanging around me. I never went back to Weight Watchers and I started stress eating, something I was really good at. I got so full one time, I will not ever forget that night, and I got sick on the way home from the restaurant we ate at. There it was. I realized I could enjoy all the food I wanted, get as full as I wanted, and as long as I got rid of it, I wouldn’t gain my weight back. I became a closet eater, stuffing myself when no one was around and then throwing it up. I would go to fast food places and eat enough for three grown men, and then throw it up. I was even so brazen as to eat out with my family, then excuse myself to the bathroom…and throw it up! I was some kind of messed up.
We had other struggles we had to deal with in our lives, too. Chris, my love, became an alcoholic sometime around the time he lost his arm. I’m not sure how all of it came to be because so much of that time in my life runs together. He found out he was diabetic, he lost his arm and the accident threw him into insulin dependency. Now that was a life-changer, people. Let me tell you, diabetes is something else! If you’ve got it, you know what I’m talking about! Whew! So, here we were dealing with the loss of Chris’s arm, his diabetes, and my eating disorder. We were one messed up family!
So time went on, life happened, we moved back to my hometown, and I knew I had an eating disorder that had to stop. I don’t know where things started to change but I really think it was with the new church family we found at Romance. We visited different congregations when we moved back and all of them were perfectly wonderful but when we walked through the doors where the church of Christ at Romance meets, it felt like we were “home” with people we had known all our lives, even though we were meeting most of them for the very first time. Everyone there became such an important part of our lives, and on my road to recovery. I started dealing with my problem, my eating disorder, and turning to God for my strength. I gained back all the weight I had lost, and even some more. But, that was okay because I wasn’t eating and throwing up anymore.
I also started attending Al-Anon meetings during this time and that helped me SO much. I walked through the doors of my first meeting and I expected them to tell me to leave Chris and that his alcoholism was ruining our lives, which made it okay for me to leave him. WRONG! They said, “Girl, you gotta get yourself fixed! Quit trying to fix your alcoholic and fix yourself!” Wow! What an eye-opener. Fix me? I thought I had fixed myself. Wrong, again. This journey I was on was starting to get curvy and I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead me.
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I like to “fix” things; I’m a fixer and it drives me CRAZY when I can’t. I wanted to fix Chris. I wanted to fix my sister who was struggling during this time. I wanted to control everything in my growing teenage boys’ lives. How does someone who realizes they’ve always been a control freak turn the focus back to fixing themselves instead of others? The one answer I have is this: God.
Life continues and we have our share of ups and downs. Chris leaves us for over 50 days to get help from a local drug treatment center. How beautiful his face was when he came home! I’ll never forget the day he walked into my classroom and surprised me! Next to my precious Lord, he is the LOVE of my life! Chris is trying to clean himself up, I’m trying to clean myself up, and we are all involved in our church family at Romance. Life is so good; not perfect, but very good.
We always know satan is around the corner but I don’t think any of us (well, me) were prepared for what came next. Growing up, family was always so important. Moma and Daddy would always say before we went somewhere, “Remember who you are.” That was always huge to me! I had two loving parents and they worked so hard to give us a good life. Although it was my grandmother, Billie Jo, who raised me and my sisters in church, my parents started going soon after my mom found out she had breast cancer. The curves life throws has a way of turning people to God. Whatever the reason, my parents were in church. Daddy went on several mission trips, mom was involved in her own ways and even went on a mission trip, also. I loved my parents and was so proud of the life they were living. A couple of years ago, however, we found out that my mom has Parkinson’s and we found ourselves in another one of life’s curves. Soon after that, as if Parkinson’s wasn’t enough, Moma and daddy decided to get a divorce because he decided a 28 (27 at the time) year-old dispatcher at the sheriff’s office was what he wanted instead of my mother, his wife of 45 years. I can’t believe I just typed all of that for the world to see BUT I really want my (our) struggles to help others see that God is ALWAYS there, no matter what.
We had built a small cabin across from us and Moma moved in there. Over 45 years of her life was now in storage and she found herself living in a 600 square foot cabin. She is one of the strongest women I know and one of my loves. I found myself turning back to my strong-suit of wanting to fix things. I threw a hissie fit, as my grandmother called it, when they told me about the divorce. I called the girlfriend and told her what I thought of her. I told my daddy what I thought of him. I become overwhelmed with the need to take care of my Moma! Ms. Fix-it is in fix-it heaven!
It’s been over a year since Moma and daddy split up, the divorce is about to be final, Moma is doing good and trying to find some form of normal in her life, Chris has a few bad days but mostly good days, and me…I’m fasting.
My bad week in Jonesboro and the experiences I had during my first fast changed me. It’s just human nature that we all evolve as life goes on. How we do that is unique to each individual. I realized after my bad week in Jonesboro that I have real issues that I haven’t turned over to God and I’m still trying to fix them on my own. It looks like, at my age and with everything we’ve lived through, that I would KNOW I can’t do it alone! I’m saying it now, here in this blog for all the world to see, that I am not perfect but I know I need God. I went back to Jonesboro for work again the next week, but this time I went with God. I went to face satan and to prove to myself that I can do it; I can stay away from the food and put all my trust and faith in God. I wanted to prove to myself that food does NOT control me and neither does satan. Guess what! We did it…me and God!
I’m going on my 5th day of my second fast. I’m trying every single day, sometimes every single second of every day, to lay my problems at His feet. I realize that I have LOTS of hate in my heart from everything I feel like my dad has done to Moma, but out of the bad of all that, I have my Moma living right next door and I get to see her beautiful face every single day. I realize that my eating disorder can still rear it’s ugly head if I don’t keep first things first. I realize that I cannot fix anyone but myself. I also realize that if I REALLY put my faith in God, HE will take care of everything in HIS way in HIS time. What I’ve taken away from my fasting so far is that I’ve never ‘truly’ opened my ears to God. I’ve spend SO much time talking to HIm but I’ve not stopped to LISTEN. I’ve always told my kids that God gave them two ears and one mouth for a reason but I’ve never really applied that to my relationship with my loving Savior. Now, I am. I love the things he tells me and shows me on a daily basis. I know the struggles I’ve gone through have all been to draw me nearer to Him. I’ve already seen so many amazing things come from this journey I’m on. I told my middle son about my problems and I think it made our relationship stronger. My hope is that it is making his relationship with God stronger because he sees his Moma turning it all over to Him. My prayers for my middle sister to have a safe race, my baby sister finding a job, Moma’s test results coming back good, for Chris to become stronger and closer to God through his struggles, the strength we find in our friends that God blessed us with, the success we see in our youngest son overcoming his learning disabilities (and the list goes on and on) are all some of the ways I’ve seen God working in my life.
Is the journey easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Every second of it.
One of my many favorite scriptures that helps me on my beautiful journey is Ephesians 6:10-18. Don’t leave home without your Armor!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
This is my journey. It’s a little strange sharing all of this because it’s like I’ve opened I book that wasn’t supposed to be read by anyone but me. I think God wants me to open it, though, for many reasons, some for which I probably don’t even know yet. Please feel free to share it if you so desire, feel free to comment, to pray for my family, or do nothing. Just let God be your guide…that’s what I’m trying to do!