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… For Thou Art With Me

fear no evil

An old, school friend of mine and his wife needed prayer and encouragement, this morning, as they are in an ugly custody battle with her deceptive and abusive ex-husband regarding her kids ..

The word the Lord gave me is a word worth sharing, cuz I needed to “hear” it, too!

———-

Before the court appointment:

… I’ll be praying that the spiritual enemies at work will be thwarted, that the judge .. be bound by law and discern the truth as well as SEE what is best for the kids ..

And I’ll pray that you and your wife are able to rest in the knowledge that regardless of what YOU cannot control, nevertheless we have a God who can “turn the heart of the king wherever He wills.” [Proverbs 21:1] I am so sorry you guys are going through this struggle! I’ll be praying for good fruit for YOU two, for your like-mindedness and unity in your marriage as you wrestle “not with flesh and blood” and for all the kiddos as no doubt they are feeling the stress of everything, as well as being pawned and yanked and manipulated .. God WILL bring healing and good from all this [Romans 8:28] …. ❤

Even the unjust judge in Jesus’ parable about praying without ceasing [Luke 18:1-8] ultimately relented because the woman persisted in her requests for justice. I will pray that THIS judge will administer GOD’S wisdom, even if not his/her own. ❤

———-

After the court appointment, and SOME small victories in the situation as a result, she expressed weariness over the journey which caused the Spirit to prompt me to say:

I can tend to be an “all or nothing” person .. I have been really struggling lately with depression over my weight-loss journey cuz I’ve backtracked a little (lost 156 lbs, but have gained back 7 in the last couple months) .. I have had to remind myself A LOT lately that EVERY little thing is what adds up to a big difference when all is said and done. I can’t make myself go to the gym, lately .. I just don’t have the mental or physical fortitude, struggling with pain issues, etc. BUT I can walk 5 minutes every couple hours, I can cut back my intake to make up for less physical activity (and thus fewer calories to spend), etc.

I know my journey is NOTHING compared to winning a victory on behalf of your CHILDREN’S welfare .. My only word of encouragement intended is ..

EVERY little decision, EVERY little fight, EVERY little victory, EVERY little reprieve – a minute to catch your breath till the next battle .. EVERY one is worth giving thanks for. Every little thing will eventually add up .. and I’m afraid we little people don’t learn “patience” any other way than going THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death .. [Psalm 23, James 1:2-8]

It can be so tempting to just sit down and put our heads in our hands and give up, but if we don’t go through it, where do we find ourselves? In a crumpled heap, motionless IN the valley of the shadow of death? Why would we want to stay there!

We MUST get up, we MUST keep going, and thank GOD for his promise that he goes through it WITH us .. HE sees us through to the other side.

TAKE HEART, sister. You ARE fighting a good fight.

You’re imaging our Good Father by sacrificing for the sake of your beloved children. He gave all to rescue you [John 3:16, Romans 8:32], now you get to do the same for your little ones. Let this speak to your heart about how GREAT the love of OUR Good Father is for us. He will most definitely strengthen you through this! And in the end, bring both good for you, and glory for himself.

Cuz what’s on the other side of the valley?

LIFE. Real, vibrant, exhilarating LIFE in the fullness of God’s grace.

So trust our Good Shepherd to lead us beside the still waters, to restore our souls, and take us through to the other side. HE is with you, HE is FOR you, whom shall you fear?? ❤  [Romans 8:31-39]

~Leah

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The Lord Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want

the lord is my shepherd

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Romans 8:31-39 (Phillips)

31-32 In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?

33-34 Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

35-36 Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of the ancient text: ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’.

37 No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us.

38-39 I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!

We are so blessed. ❤

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Fight the Good Fight

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Gonna get real for a minute. Someone posted this [pic] on the Team 383 group page, and it struck my center. I am fighting some unexpected pain this a.m., so was already on the “down” side – and I FEEL this pic. I posted this comment on the pic where originally posted:

The “core” issue for me has always been one of this voice SCREAMING in my head that I’m a failure, I’m undesirable, “death would be preferable” .. This voice comes back even now – I’ve lost 156 lbs! But this voice wants me to gain it all back, go back to what I WAS without regard for everything I now am and everything I’m FIGHTING to become. Being able to SEE this voice for what it is – EVIL – is the first step towards being able to call it out, speak to it, call it a LIAR, and take the reins again. How I WISH the “temptation” would go away, never to return!!

How I need the FRESH mercy and grace of God EVERY morning.


Some practical steps (in no particular order) to get me “back to right thinking” —

  • Intentionally SMILE (my “resting” face can tend to look mad).
  • Along with that, intentionally being “cheerful” when greeting another person (my temptation is to “push people away” until I can get a handle on myself).
  • PRAY
  • Remind myself of my blessings (literally count them!) AND my progress.
  • Practice being thankful for SPECIFIC things, no matter how small.
  • Identify the lies as lies, preach the truth to myself, speaking w/authority of Jesus OVER the lies.
  • Treat any physical pain to lessen stress load (or sleep! if deprived!).
  • Identify some LITTLE things I can accomplish in the next hour (hour by hour) – and DO them (sort laundry, drink 20 oz water, go for a walk, etc).
  • Watch a funny movie or clip – find ways to force myself to LAUGH (to take back control over my emotions).
  • GET UP! Move! (I have found that sitting or “lying down” with the negative patterns is a huge momentum killer – or worse – it drives me further in to listening to the bad thoughts/voices/feelings. Sometimes just simply physically GETTING UP can be just enough momentum to ignite my motivation to choose other, better steps.)
  • RECOGNIZE external signs of the internal attack/negative reality (too quick to “snap” at someone/something for no reason, taking something personally, tempted to swear, etc.) to catch it EARLY. It’s easier to kill a mosquito than a rattlesnake!
  • Listen to familiar/well-loved worship music (it’s not enuf to just “distract” myself, I need to “TURN” myself in a different direction).
  • Read a book/article/Scripture that is in keeping with my goals/new heart/mind.
  • Find someone to speak a word of encouragement into (calling up a friend doesn’t always work for me cuz it’s a temptation to wallow in the negative emotion or put too much value on “their good opinion” of me, but I DO need to get better about learning to ask for help, too! Even if it’s just to say to a trusted inner-circle friend/sister/brother – I am really struggling with THIS right now (and NAME the specific thoughts/feelings)….).

I am very sure I could list more, but this is a start. ❤

Add comments with your ideas/suggestions?

Blessings!

~Leah

Transformation Tuesday

20150410_185557-1before circa 2012

My best “before and after” pics so far.

In the past two years, I have gone from 324 lbs and a size 26, down 155 lbs (100 lbs of this in a 120 day INTENSIVE window of time) to a BMI healthy weight of 169 lbs (so far) and a size 8.

I was at one point on 16 different prescriptions, including multiple inhalers, had chronic fatigue and pain issues, recurring pneumonia, sometimes serious digestive issues (I thought this was normal for everyone!), breathing and heart-racing issues, cyclical migraines, hormonal imbalances, systemic yeast infection, and bad skin issues, to say nothing of my depression and purposelessness –

I didn’t even know that my core belief was that I was not “worth” saving.

In spite of a 4 month window where I had to have spinal surgery, I have not gained back any of the 155 lbs I have so far lost, and I am HEALED of almost all my issues.

Now – NO pneumonia, NO remaining prescriptions, NO fatigue pain issues, my menstrual cycle has been 4 weeks regular for over a year (first time in my whole LIFE!) and only “normal” cramping (instead of the excessive, debilitating pain to which I had grown accustomed), and more than one medical professional has told me I have a heart “conditioned like a runner’s” .. and I have energy like never before, and clarity of thinking.

ALL because of GRACE.  ALL because we have a GOOD FATHER in God who gives generously to all who ask for wisdom, without finding fault. 

ALL because God gave me a vision of what he had MADE me to be.  ALL because He introduced me to my best friend who “just so happened” to be a fitness/nutritionist who faithfully encouraged me for YEARS beforehand to do the HARD thing, to be prepared to “pay in pain” because I didn’t get to my state overnight, a friend who would ultimately give me the tool I needed to succeed, and teach me to use it!  ALL because He led me to the godly woman who would also be my wellness coach to deal with all the mental/spiritual mess I was in that led to my morbid obesity in the first place.  ALL because He wanted to SET ME FREE from my mental and physical food addictions.  ALL because he wanted to strip away the WASTE I had made of my life, and make me NEW.  Again.  🙂

He is GOOD.

~Leah

My bio ~ a work in progress <3

Leah Page graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, and considers herself a forever-student at heart, especially of the Word of God. She has worked in various forms of professional Customer Service for over 16 years, from Mortgages and Banking to Automotive Plastics, and values most the opportunity to mediate and problem-solve. Leah is actively involved with the Assemblies of God Church in Baldwin, MI, and has served over the years, in varying roles, from Women’s Bible Study Leader to Choir Director to Worship Leading to teaching Sunday School to working faithfully in the Nursery. She loves being an Aunt and Sister and Daughter and Friend and Coworker, and loves to read just about anything she can put her hands on.
****
Over the past two years, Leah has been on a transformative journey.  Having spent her entire adult life morbidly obese, Leah found herself chronically ill with recurring pneumonia, complications from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), chronic pain and fatigue, and eventually dependence on a cane just to walk up to her 2nd floor bedroom.  At one point, she was on 16 different prescriptions to try to manage her symptoms, and struggled with sometimes debilitating depression.  But God intervened, and caused her to see this was not HIS plan for her.  Through the constant encouragement of a dear friend who would later also take on the role of a personal trainer, Leah embraced a radical, rigorous plan that would enable her to finally lay hold of the vision of the woman GOD had made her to be.  Leah has, to date, lost 150 lbs since her starting point of 324 lbs, and has dropped from a size 26 to a size 8.  She is still a work in progress, but she has been able to wean off of ALL of her prescriptions, eats healthfully and has built regular visits to the gym into her lifestyle.  As she shed her excess weight, she found that she had to shed much more.  Her weight was not the root problem, but in fact a symptom of a greater issue, something she says only the LORD could heal.  Her testimony is ultimately one of discovering that God’s GRACE is enough.
****
~ I have provided the above for a couple of upcoming speaking events to talk about my recent transformation.  I will post again once I have had opportunity to synthesize my thoughts for these meetings, and offer a summary of what I mean by God’s GRACE is enough!  Your prayers are appreciated!  ❤

“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! ❤

Grace2Grow on Twitter IV

We know we’re when we’re CONTENT with what we HAVE ….

We know we’re when we find we WANT what we NEED ….

Learning to love sacrificially … necessarily entails some sacrifices. 😉

When the Lord writes your story, you know the ending’s gonna be GOOD….

Not so much “new” me as “real” me 😉

if ur right, and this is the Lord’s promise to you, then u won’t have to walk in disobedience to obtain it.

walking by faith &not by sight means exactly what it sounds like it means ~ u won’t be able 2SEE the guaranteed desired outcome. only Trust.

doing right (obeying God) doesn’t always bring “happiness” as we usually mean it – but it DOES lead 2PEACE, &true happiness follows peace.

u can be making all the right decisions &still be tempted 2despair; doing right doesn’t always lead 2″happiness” – but happiness IS a GIFT.

one day at a time, live with eternity in view, trusting what God SAYS even when (ESPECIALLY when) ur feelings don’t line up

somtimes LEADING ur feelings vs being LED by ur feelngs means u will hv 2CHOOSE (&find ways) 2endure days that tempt u 2feel like giving up!

trusting God 4deliverance today MAY reveal heart idol of desiring comfort/ease this side of heavn. do u trust 4tomorrow even if today=pain?

relatively easy to walk by “faith” if our lives haven’t faced real struggle. much more difficult to understand God’s grace through pain.

do u think….perhaps what we WANT is of such great importance, that we can NOT speak of it…cuz the wanting of it is itself so fragile….

have i swung from 1 extreme 2the other? from uber legalist (pharisee) 2mega theological liberal? No. But i might finally love GRACE ovr law.

oh yes, call evil “EVIL” &seek justice where necessary ~ BUT our scoffing tone belies our inability 2see the wickednesses of our own hearts.

QUICK2make someone who’s guilty of some evil thing so VERY different from us (!) that we couldnt possibly see our way 2falling like they hv.

I’v found far many more things ought 2b held in my “open hand” rather than my “closed fist” ~ There r “load bearing walls” &walls that move.

we are so quick to villify other people’s offenses…this doesn’t solve anything; or haven’t we heard? triumphs over .

Grace2Grow on Twitter III

so easy&tempting 2feast on the abundance of religious&political commentaries that FLOOD “airwaves” ~ far better 2immerse self in God’s WORD.

even tho we might all be “Christians” together, we hv WILDLY varied convictions; still on this we agree ~ we know God primarily by his WORD.

If we really see the ugliness of the sin nature from which Jesus rescues US, we cannot help but long 4his mercy towards others!

a recovering Everything-is-black-or-white thinker, I’v bn humbled in recent yrs 2see complexity, &spectrum of color, &whole persons.

God teaches us not only 2″love what he loves & hate what he hates” ~ but 2have mercy where he has mercy, 2be patient where he is patient…

4those of us who consider ourselves recovering pharisees ~ how has Christ revealed 2u the truth: “Mercy triumphs over justice”? (James 2:13)

controversies will 4ever be part of our religious &political dialogues..what is more important: the Truth? our Convictions? or our “Rights”?

is our Faith predicated on the zealously affirmed theologies of our favorite famous preachers? or are we hungering 4 & hearing from Christ?

Don’t look to the left or to the right ~ Just WORK THE PLAN, and the results will follow naturally.

The truth? I was willingly trapd by notion I had 2believ rightly about EVERYTHNG &get u 2b same as me. Then GRACE broke thru; CHRIST is all.

The truth? It really doesn’t matter what “they” think. It’s not just ok 2say no, it’s often necessary. (be LED, Prov. 3:4-5)

The truth? Expending ur best effort 2 obtain the “good opinion” of others does NOT make u Adaptable or Flexible…It makes u a Slave.

New mantra, “Sweat is sexy!”

After a Long Absence

This has been a very challenging year – To anyone who has dropped by and happened to miss me, thank you! and I’m back!

Two BIG changes in the past year – I lost over 130 lbs, and I bought my first house to move closer to family.

I hope to post much more in coming updates of the things the Lord has taught me in both of these journeys, and others.  Perhaps the most profound has been in the area of learning where to set and maintain proper “boundaries” in my life, as well as identifying areas where I had set up “strongholds” which ensnared me and led to my imprisonment in my own body – some of these things the Lord was already beginning to work on in me in months before, and you can probably see those themes in previous posts.  I should go back and re-read, and perhaps that will inspire additional commentary.

For now, hello.  😉  Please stay tuned.  😉

God bless!

~Leah