“BETWEEN THE FOLDS”

As I was checking out after a recent dental appointment, a handsome, tall young man was approaching from my left side, pushing a wheelchair to go around behind me – the older, oxygen fed woman in his apparent charge was in need of the restroom.

“HELP ME!”

Initially, I made no other observation than this, until a moment later I hear the woman directly behind me crying, “HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!” and the young man – whom I now learn was only her taxi service – is nowhere to be found.  The woman couldn’t wheel herself into the tiny unisex, single door room, and she was exclaiming she couldn’t control herself and needed help right away!

I don’t work for the dentist office, nor for any care service; though I did once live with and care for an elderly lady in her home for almost two years, and I suppose my more “human” instinct took over.  (I didn’t even think about our litigious society – so I had no fear until AFTER the fact, that I could be sued for trying to help her!  Thank God nothing went wrong!)  I just took charge of her for a moment, straightened out her chair, helped her line up properly so we could inch her inside, had to lift the backside of her chair a couple times, and finally .. Success.  (During this process, I could see the 20 year old wide-eyed young girl behind the counter who had been checking me out after my own appointment was clearly trying very hard not to panic – she was sputtering and asking what she could do, thanking me profusely, and despite all the shuffling and awkward movements between the three of us, no one else around gave any indication of even noticing our little fuss.)

I asked the woman her name, gave her mine, told her I used to live with a lady and help care for her and I’d be glad to help, I just needed to know what she needed.  She said she could get herself up on the toilet herself, so I aimed to leave her in privacy – but explained I would leave the door unlocked if she needed anything.  I was waiting outside not even thirty seconds when she was crying for “HELP!” again.  I quietly entered, and found she had caught herself on her oxygen tubing with her pants half down, and she had clearly already wet herself – thankfully with some kind of absorbent undergarment, but she had no clean replacement on hand.  So I made sure she was sturdy holding herself up by the railing beside the toilet, got her untangled so her oxygen could flow freely, and then proceeded to help remove her soiled “adult diaper” and get her settled.  She couldn’t get on the seat properly by herself and wasn’t able to “aim” without risking further mess ..

“BETWEEN THE FOLDS”

She was a heavy woman – easily twice the weight she should have been.  And I learned she was only about sixty, though she looked twenty years older than her real age.  And her body put off a VERY foul odor .. her rolls of fat were marred with myriad stretch marks front and back, her skin pale and clammy, and between the folds was growing some kind of systemic yeast infection – the worst being a thick, blackened nastiness, visibly fuzzy, completely coating the crevice of her buttocks.  As I tried to help maneuver her, I couldn’t quite tell where her fat ended and her “real body” began, and apologized for my clumsiness – I didn’t want her to feel embarrassed ..

“LEFT ALONE”

In the end, she agreed to several folded paper towels, padded with toilet paper to soften, to replace her soiled absorbent padding.  We got her cleaned up and dressed and re-situated in her chair, mindful of the oxygen tubing, and wheeled her out just as she was being called back for her own appointment .. the hygienist obviously making the same erroneous presumption about me that I had made about the man who wheeled the woman in in the first place – that I was her care-giver.

I tried to graciously extricate myself – I had to get back to work!, and the woman was once again … left alone.

TWO POWERFUL OBSERVATIONS

1)  Thank you, Lord, that I was in the right place at the right time.  The woman needed help, and I was perhaps the best possible person to offer it in the moment.  I consider this a gift to the woman .. even if it was for just one tiny moment of her obviously difficult life ..

2)  The more painful observation .. I have lost over 130 lbs .. I need to lose about 30 more, and I will be (God willing) LESS THAN HALF the size I was when I started this journey … I WAS morbidly obese.  And at (then) 36 years old, I already looked at least 10 years older, and I was carrying rolls of fat riddled with stretch marks from years of abusing my own body. Please realize my above horrifying descriptions are not statements of judging this woman, but this woman IS what I could have become, but for the grace of God intervening in my life ..

“THERE, BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I ..”

I was disgusted with myself for being disgusted by this woman’s condition .. but I also was powerfully struck by the living example of a life imprisoned by the consequences of decisions (or a lack thereof) made during her earlier years. I KNOW obesity isn’t always or only the result of overeating. Mine was in large part an issue of spiritual strongholds, including a desire to HIDE from the sexual attentions of men as my way of dealing with some past abuse.

But sometimes it is just as simple, too, as realizing that our decisions DO have consequences.

Dear God, please let me sow good seed! <3

My Essentials: The Truman Show

Grace2Grow:

One of my top 20 fav films, also, I find this little missive SPOT ON! <3

Originally posted on Chrisicisms:

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My Essentials is a new, semi-regular feature I’m going to be doing here in which I write about some of my favorite movies. These aren’t reviews. Sometimes they will delve into the craft a bit and other times — such as in this case — it’s more a chance for me to write out my own thoughts with a movie and wrestle with what I love about it or some strange thought I’ve had. They’re not necessarily my top 10 or 20 favorite films — although The Truman Show is definitely on the top 20 list — and there’s no set order to it. Just a chance for me to indulge in some longer-form writing about films that have moved me. Enjoy! 

In their popular 1997 book “The Sacred Romance,” Brent Curtis and John Eldredge discuss the rut that many people often find themselves in. Yearning for lives of adventure…

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Grace2Grow on Twitter – Marks of Maturity?

  • Being right/understood is not most important thing in argument w/ur spouse.Pray in the heat 4how 2show love &it will DISARM ur self-defense.
  • At the height of r successes, we think we r the exception & thus immune from various temptations. If left unchecked this ENSURES we’ll fall.
  • I think our feelings of insecurity are, more often than not, evidences of idolatry: I desire -> I need -> I hv a right to -> U/they owe me!
  • It isn’t “inauthentic” to NOT vocalize every thought/emotion that goes through my soul! It is WISDOM to hold some of these things close!
  • life is hard, relationships r hard, church is hard! we WILL fail 1another ..we must practice humility&grace. we must repent&forgive quickly.
  • heard yrs ago: God doesnt gv us marriage (mainly) 2make us HAPPY; he gvs us marriage 2make us HOLY. [ok tho 4ppl of God holy IS happy, no?]
  • The ppl of God NEED the Word of God .. The more time we spend OUT of his Word, the more anxious &discontent &subject 2temptation we become.
  • “Whatever we idolize, we eventually demonize” .. parents? traditions? pet doctrines? fav pastors/authors? political movements? ourselves?
  • Oy, I wont make changes if I dont get MAD enuf @ the things that stay the same. Hv fallen out of practice in self-discipline. Time 2wake up!
  • Do u tend 2say a LOT? out of fear &desire 2control other ppl’s perceptions? This is not the same as &fuels selfishness.
  • I am far 2often SHOCKED at my own selfishness. Greatest evidence? Quick trigger 2get angry: Something has changed my plan w/o my permission!
  • heard today: “At times of comfort, there is no growth. At times of growth, there is rarely comfort.”
  • A mark of maturity: yielding ur desire 4the approval of other ppl in order 2b humbly led by God, moving from fear 2faith.
  • A mark of maturity: u move beyond devotion 2a favrite pastor/tradition 2discover (recognze) Truth flowing in many streams.
  • Jesus himself has told u that ur GOING 2THE OTHER SIDE; That doesnt mean u won’t b hit by hard storms en route but HE WILL b w/u 2deliver u.

Blessings!

~Leah

 

I Deserve to Not Be Inconvenienced

I deserve to not be inconvenienced.

If you are driving too slowly, I deserve the right of way – you should pull over, or better yet, get off the road because nobody who drives too slowly should be allowed to continue to renew their license.

If you are taking too long to tell your story, whether in person or on the phone, I deserve to not only walk away from or hang up on you, but to do so without any negative feeling from you in response.

On the other hand, if you become distracted while I am telling you one of my all-important but protracted stories, I have a right to become angry and indignant and to express to you all the ways in which your lack of attention has hurt me deeply.

If your incompetence is causing me extra work, nevermind that I am in the “service” industry, I deserve to point out your failings, loudly and in front of others if possible, so as to make it clear that I have been wildly wronged and should in no way be held responsible for my own suffering productivity.

If you post something to social media with which I disagree, I deserve the top billing in the newsfeed to castigate you and express with vehemence my strict opposition, even if I’m expressing myself in the most extreme terms and verbiage which might cause me regret if I were to re-visit the topic when I might be more sober-minded.

If I suddenly feel I do not wish to keep our previously confirmed plans, I deserve – whatever my reasons – the freedom and authority to completely bail on you to do my own thing, or failing that option, to simply arrive as late as possible so I can be sure to maximize every minute of my own time with no respect to yours.

If you run a restaurant for which there are many patrons, no matter how excellent your food, I deserve to be bumped ahead of as many of the people in front of me as possible, and I deserve to be waited on by not just any waiter, but by the owner who has arrived on property just in time to receive me properly.

Similarly, if I am running late for the start of my movie, I deserve priority access to the ticket counter – so I can squeeze in ahead of the other dozen people who had the forethought to arrive on time for their shows – before the end of the previews.

If I have been forced to occupy a middle seat on our plane, I deserve your deference to trade places so that you are the uncomfortable one and not me, or else I will penalize you for the duration of our flight with squirming, bouncing, bumping, and even loud, bad-breathy conversation which will cause you to wish you had acquiesced and just given me the aisle seat in the first place.

Need I go on?

Unintended Consequences

I have made a TERRIBLE mistake. 

The other night, I was up late, browsing online, and I stumbled onto a little tip from an otherwise reputable journalist concerning signing up for one of these “online survey” sites where you can get PAID to offer your OPINION.  Which for someone like me – with approximately as many opinions as I take breaths in a day – this sounds like a dream come true, right?

At last, over an hour into clicking here and clicking there, I am tired and it’s well past midnight, and I realize I’ve submitted my email address to half a dozen or so sites, completely awash with the foggy delight of possibly making a few dollars out of those extra minutes I “waste” by wandering around online any given day.

And then I woke up the next morning. 

In less than 24 hours I was ‘bot-blasted with hundreds of spam-like emails and over 20 phone calls to my cell phone for weight loss and educational offers – Oy! and to make matters worse, I had GUARDED against giving out my number for precisely the fear of landing in various telemarketing schemes that I would never be able to un-domino once the first piece was knocked over.  And with every escalating argument with a caller, and every half dozen new email “opportunities” from which I had to “unsubsubscribe” – the cumulative effect being the loss of HOURS of my time pooper scooping – HOURS for which I received precisely ZERO redemptive dollars, by the way – I could only keep hearing in my head the mantra of “Stupid Stupid Stupid Girl!”

I had brought this mess on myself in a moment of weakness.  And I couldn’t even really be justified in getting mad at these people – or the “system” I am so prone to rail against – because I had VIRTUALLY (literally) INVITED them into my world.

I allowed a tiny promise to deceive me into thinking I could “redeem” my wasted TIME, and it cost me far MORE in wasted time than I could have spent in all my online traffic in ten times as many days.

EVERY decision, whether it concerns the spending of a MINUTE or the spending of a DOLLAR, has consequences.

I am reaping what I sowed.

I must remember to view each of these things – my minutes, my dollars, my words, too – as SEEDS.  If I am more intentional about what I SOW, and if I am more attentive to the GUARDING of the field in which I am planting, I can have realistic CONFIDENCE about precisely what I will harvest and that my Produce will be healthy and nourishing in due season.

What a painful little reminder.  I am going to be cleaning up this mess for many days to come.  Here’s hoping that is the worst of my consequences.  ;)

~Leah

PS – Related, here is a sermon by Pastor Chuck Stanley on Reaping and Sowing you might appreciate.  <3

http://www.intouch.org/broadcast/video-archives/content/topic/the_principle_of_sowing_and_reaping_video

 

HAVE a Life so You Can SHARE Your Life

I haven’t quite gotten back into the groove of blogging, as you can see – Most of my updates are in short bursts via Twitter, because it’s much like “bullet pointing” and I like the challenge of forcing my thoughts into a SUCCINCT format – being an otherwise naturally VERBOSE person … *coughcough*

So I will share a couple of my latest tweets, again, here, but with a LITTLE bit of commentary attached:

  • Ur spouse is not ur be all & end all; u SHARE life, u BUILD life together. Nurture ur own gifts/interests so u HAVE something 2share!
  • Better the couple who MISS each other from time2time than the couple who is bored with – or worse, loathe each other. Hv strong friendships.
  • Each spouse shd hv their own friends, but they must “keep the foxes out of the vineyard.” Agree on boundaries w/others “outside” &KEEP them.

It is so tempting to view your “significant other” as the WHOLE of your existence – we want to get lost in the other person, we want to set our lives in orbit around them, and love songs since forever have praised these passions as though they are the hallmark of true love.  I do actually beg to differ – in fact, I suspect the ferocity of my emotion might just mean I’m making you the object of my obsession, of my “worship,” putting you in the place of expecting you to meet all my emotional needs, etc.  These expectations unchecked will DESTROY the very person meant to be Beloved!

In the blaze of any given moment, these depths of emotion can be INTOXICATING, oh I know!  When you love the other person SO intensely that you want to feel every fiber of their being wrapped up in your own; like there is no way you can physically be close enough, so you press into each other, you want to spend every waking minute with each other – to the falling away of all other life responsibilities and interests and tasks, etc.  May I humbly suggest – there is a point at which you can make the other person almost like your drug-of-choice; you want to feel those emotions all the time .. to the despising of all other kinds of “emotions” or life pursuits.

Sometimes distance will separate, sometimes life responsibilities will require your focus, sometimes your Beloved WILL “fail” to “meet your needs” and you will fail to meet his/hers.  None of these things need derail the confidence of love’s genuineness.  Recent circumstances in my world have caused me to revisit this truth – If we are each about our own “business” – if we are each being faithful with God’s calling on our lives, in any given moment, it is not inconceivable that we will have seasons where we are kept from being with each other as we would like.  This need not be a death knell to the relationship – MISSING one another, LONGING for one another – it’s an opportunity to reevaluate whether our affections and expectations have gotten jostled out of balance, and to ask myself “Am I seeking more to be ‘served’ than to ‘serve’? to BE ‘loved’ more than to ‘love’?”

“But he’s not meeting my emotional needs! He doesn’t love me anymore! He doesn’t love me enough! IF he loved me, he’d … [fill in the blank] …”

Oh, sweetheart, if you feel greater NEED to be loved, that’s often when you most need to reach out and SHOW love.  Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Sign up to sing with the church worship team this month.  Work in the nursery.  Pick up a project you’ve been neglecting for the past few months.  Ask your Beloved how you can encourage and help him/her, see if there is something you can do to meet HIS/HER “emotional need” and do so without the expectation of reciprocation.

And when you feel heartsick over missing him, remind yourself – It truly IS better to be missing one another, because you haven’t been able to spend the time with one another that you wish, than to otherwise resent one another for being too [emotionally] demanding, or to be bored with one another because you don’t each have your own life tasks and friendships to SHARE with one another when you come together once again.

.. and I’ll be a fly on my own wall.  <3

~Leah

 

Grace2Grow on Twitter – re Grace AND Truth

Loss of certainty in some dearly held convictions proved 2be traumatizing 2me, but tho much was stripped away, Christ appears more glorious!

have we made an “idol” of certainty? at what point do we move from questioning to conviction?

I was askd what convictions hv been stripped away? 1st would be the importance of “believing rightly” vs. trusting God 2grow &preserve me.

Another…my singleness-perpetuating beliefs re what biblical masculine headship should look like. NO man could’v lived up 2my expectations!

another bad conviction…Ppl who dont believe in inerrancy of Bible? cant truly be Christian. didnt – would I count him out?!

I used 2b quite apathetic about the history of certain “heretics” being burned at the stake. Now I find these “church” rulings OFFENSIVE!

Another stripped away conviction: my past love of theological argument 2get 2the “TRUTH!” & now I find such things divisive &OFTEN grievous.

Piggyback 2last – the degree 2which Christians separate from one another over fine points of disagreement now WOUNDS me.

I once heard a sermon by distinguishing “unity” ppl (overemphasize LOVE) vs. “purity” ppl (overemphasize DOCTRINE).

Took me over 30 years of my Christian walk 2realize that verse “Mercy triumphs over judgment” is not just a guideline, but TRUTH 2b LIVED.

YES relationship w/God is necessarily founded on his WORD, but we don’t HEAR his voice only by academic excellence. We hear with our SPIRIT.

Christ was FULL of Grace AND Truth. I’v erred on side of Truth but now that I hv recd Grace, I hv to admit I CANT always “know.”

I once mocked so-called 7/11 songs (same 7 words 11x) – now I realize this musically gets SELF out of way &invites Gods PRESENCE in worship!

I hv “sat in the seat of scoffers” .. it’s 1 thing 2 “bark @ the dogs” .. sometimes harsh words fit. But more often, I was exalting myself.

Why I don’t see “Christian” movies

Grace2Grow:

This is an EXCELLENT examination of faith and art in the context of so-called “Christian movies” .. Well worth the read!

Originally posted on Chrisicisms:

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One of the downsides to this otherwise wonderful side job I’ve carved out for myself as a film critic is that people are always asking me what I’ve seen.

On the surface, that sounds very stupid. I write about films primarily because I love to share great movie-going experiences with others. I mentioned this in passing in my review of “Life Itself,” but I’m a big believer in C.S. Lewis’ comment that praise is the culmination of our enjoyment. In his “Reflections on the Psalms,” Lewis wrote:

“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”

He was writing about worship there, but I think it’s appropriate in the context of anything we love. No one wants to stare at the Grand Canyon by themselves — you want the people you love by your side. When you read…

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Grace2Grow on Twitter VII

Ideals hv their place,but when ur in the thick of learning how 2love some1 in their brokenness, u awaken 2new ways u stand in need of Grace.

 

Forgiveness and Self-Sacrifice. Two of the grandest themes in human history – authored &executed by the One who himself never needed either.

 

U can be passionate, pontificate grand themes &preach &profess much Right! ~ but when u SIMPLY DO, u discover all ur knowledge meant little.

 

U can study &analyze &question &agitate & wonder &aha! &conclude a host of extraordinary truths ~ but until u WALK in them, u know nothing.

 

If God has clearly told u 2do something – even if ur clumsy &awkward &unclear re how or when – He will bless ur obedience &make it fruitful.

 

I am a weak plank; Ur strong faith in me wont prevent me from failing u.But there’s a Strong Plank undergirding me; Tho I fail, He will not!

 

“Remind me that You are mighty AND gentle! Let me always put my trust in You, God; Cultivate my GLAD surrender, and make me HOPE in You!”

 

To what Scriptures do u flee when ur tempted to despair? How do u “preach the Gospel” to urself? What truths do u speak?

 

How do u know if u have loved ur own happiness more than God’s glory and Gospel? Examine how u respond when that “happiness” is taken away.

 

Nothing exposes ur  idols faster than their being toppled, leaving u feeling bereft & tempted 2despair. It is then ur  MUST flee 2Jesus!

 

as my dad always used to say ~ don’t get upset about something that hasn’t even happened yet!

 

 

Grace2Grow on Twitter VI

We can unknowingly bring about our own greatest fears; how we speak, even in how we pray, reveals the level of faith in which we’re walking.

 

There are ununspeakable sorrows the heart can experience, secrets we keep even from ourselves, &only Grace can reach &minister 2us there.

 

we may dream of accomplishing gr8 things 4many ppl…but what if we wake up 2find God directed us 2 ONE person 2show His everlasting Grace?

 

despite our dreams of grandeur, we can recognize real “gr8ness” in such stories as a single mom sacrificing everything 2bring up her child.

 

ministry doesn’t always meet r expectations. a wife’s faithfulness 2her wayward husband, a dad’s self-sacrifice 4family: these=true ministry

 

What if someone seems 2hav it all 2gether only cuz they’r fearful of DOING things @ which they MIGHT fail…U can’t always control outcome!

 

u might feel ur walking in victory only cuz u never RISKED anything. What if u heard from God 2step out on water? Do u know u couldn’t fail!

 

One proof-test 2help expose ur heart-idols (something/someone u love more than God) ~ How devastated would u b if this was snatched away?

 

examples of surprising heart-idols: ur reputation, comfort, other ppl’s “good” opinion of u, things/ppl 4which u make moral compromises

 

 

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