Jena Morrow's Blog
January 1, 2016
THINGS I LEARNED IN 2015
Having a teenager in the house is quite fun and entertaining, despite what I'd been told. (People said the terrible twos would be a nightmare, and I loved that stage, too. So I guess I've learned not to heed the grim warnings about the allegedly horrible stages of child development. I'm the imperfect mom of an imperfect kid -- and I love him big and I'm just enjoying the ride.)
The harsh, judgy thoughts that I assume others have toward me are pretty much never legit. And life simply goes better for me when I don't behave as though they are.
The two most life-changing and impactful decisions we can ever make for ourselves: 1) God is real (even when we doubt) and 2) God is good (even when we don't understand).
Refusing to hope does not protect us from disappointment -- rather, it pretty much guarantees us a disappointing life.
Gratitude is a choice, and recent research has shown that gratefulness actually changes our brains and helps to balance neurotransmitter activity. The coolest part: The brain-balancing benefits are not dependent upon us actually finding something specific for which to be grateful; it is through the process of searching that the healing and rebalancing occurs. (I love when science catches up with Biblical wisdom.)
Hope deferred is still hope. ("Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12)
The scriptures tell us that God is love. And up until early last Spring, I had always blown right past the truth of that. God IS love. Therefore, any time in my life when I have felt or experienced love, I have felt and experienced God. This simple, foundational truth has impacted me profoundly this year; it has shown me the lengths to which God has gone to reveal Himself and His love to me. And some of you have been the human vessels through which He has done this -- and I am so, so grateful.
It is possible to go a full calendar year without health insurance. But not advisable. (It is also possible to go a full calendar year without getting a speeding ticket. Who knew?)
Food sensitivities are a very real thing. Working with an integrative physician to discover mine has been life-changing. (Average number of headache days per month in 2014: twenty plus. Average number of headache days per month in 2015: Three. THANK YOU, GOD.)
Forgiveness always begins in truth. We cannot forgive others until we are able to understand (and willing to admit) that we were wronged.
When we invite God into our pain and get real (instead of "polite") with Him, our seasons of deepest pain can become our seasons of most enduring growth.
Lesson learned the hard way: If you happen to be a perfectionist, a Type A personality, or a classic firstborn child, seek first to KNOW God rather than to PLEASE God. (Don't go for the A+. He isn't even grading you, as much as you wish He would.) Stop trying to impress Him with your good behavior, your eloquence, or your manners. And when you pray, don't tell Him only what you think He wants to hear. We don't want OUR kids to do that; we want them to TALK to us. Same with Father God. He wants relationship with us. If He wanted trained monkeys instead of sons and daughters, He wouldn't have given us unique personalities or free will (or hormones, for that matter).
Turns out the people who love me most are not all that concerned about whether my bathrooms are clean. They aren't impressed by fresh vacuum lines on my carpet. And if they know I've just frantically cleaned or straightened up because they were coming over, the ones who really love me will call me a dork and deliberately mess up the couch cushions.
Morrow's Law: Errands, tasks, and commutes will always take approximately twice as long as I think they will.
Being a parent is humbling. In Jaden's own words, "Mom, you think you know things but you don't."
The healing powers of probiotics are way overlooked and underrated. If you would've told me a year ago that I'd be culturing my own kefir for the health benefits, I would've laughed and called you a dirty hippie. Alas, I just bought cheesecloth for that very purpose. Ain't life a trip?
Steady-state cardio is way overrated. Strength training can also have cardio benefits if done the right way, and is time far better spent in the gym... Said the girl whose trainer grounded her from the treadmill last February. (Best. Punishment. Ever.)
If you let your crockpot "soak" overnight (which we all know is code for "I'm too tired/lazy to finish doing the dishes"), everything you make in it for the next year will taste like soap. So consider the cost.
Shared brokenness builds bridges where pretend wholeness never could.
The weather outside may be frightful, but be mindful of where you tuck your instant hand-and-body warmers -- or airport security will suspect you of trafficking tiny bags of cocaine in your bra.
No matter how cynical, jaded, and overly cautious the wounds of your past may have made you, never say never. ("Never" is a word that God often seems to invite us to eat. And He's still God and I'm still not -- so really, what do I know?)
Here's to another lap around the sun in 2016… Let's be careful out there, kids, and make it a good one! XOXO, Jena
February 4, 2014
Lee Wolfe Blum, in her engaging, conversational style, has written a book which exposes anorexia for what it really is: A counterfeit comfort to the wounded. In sharing her personal recovery story, Lee has managed to present eating disorders in a balanced way which neither villifies them completely (after all, however misguided and maladaptive, her anorexia served a purpose for a season) nor glorifies them, as so many ED tales tend to do. Instead, Lee simply tells her story -- as it happened, as it affected her and impacted her loved ones, and most beautifully of all, how it paved the way for her ultimate rescue by the true hero of Lee's story: Jesus.
I read this book several times through, each time with a different pair of eyes: I read it as a fellow writer, admiring the authentic, relatable tone in which Lee has crafted her story; I read it as a fellow battle-scarred veteran of the war against anorexia and its deceptive, hissing voice; I read it as a treatment professional, eyeing it critically to assess whether I'd feel confident recommending the book to those who struggle. And finally, I read parts of it all over again, as someone blessed enough to know this beautiful woman of God in real life. And that's when the tears came -- because if you could meet this lady and look into her eyes as I have, you'd know it, too: Every word of this book is the truth. The freedom she writes about -- it's the real deal. There is no false or exaggerated happy ending here. The love of God she tried so hard to capture in the pages of her memoir (and who can find words powerful enough?) -- she KNOWS that love. She attributes her very life to that love. And she lives it everyday, letting that love pour through her to everyone she encounters.
It is my hope and prayer that you, the reader, will experience that same love through the pages of this powerful book. Lee has been to Hell and back, as has every one of us who has battled an eating disorder -- there is no doubt about that. But what makes this book so powerful is not the depths to which the disease took her. This book is powerful because it tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John10:10)
Anorexia came into Lee's life, and the enemy of her soul attempted to use it to steal her hope, kill her body, and destroy her destiny. But God... (I love those two words, don't you?) God had other plans -- plans to give Lee not only her life back, but to put HIS life into her; plans to lavish "life to the full" on her, and to send her out into the world to tell others that such redemption is possible -- and available.
This book was almost never written. This story was almost taken to an early grave after a young woman's tragic suicide. Satan's goal was to cut this story short, but where he thought he had written a period, God erased it and wrote a comma in its place -- and He is still writing Lee's story today. Perhaps He has written you into it. Perhaps you will pick up "Table in the Darkness" and encounter God Himself in its pages, just as I did.
And in so doing, you will be joining in the celebration of a life redeemed.
Ready to order your copy of "Table in the Darkness?" http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Wolfe-Blum/e/B00FFR8A0A
(Care to check out my author page while you're there? www.amazon.com/author/jenamorrow)
Left to right: Author Elaina Whittenhall, me, author Lee Wolfe Blum (May 2013)
July 16, 2013
Poor sleep . . . Weight gain . . . Fatigue . . . Depression . . . Foggy brain . . . Cold hands/feet . . . Swelling . . . Dry skin . . . Hair loss . . . Menstrual irregularities . . . Low body temp (below 98.6) . . . Hoarse voice . . . Any of these sound familiar? Friends, let me introduce you to another friend of mine, Dr. Dave Frahm, ND of HealthQuarters Ministries. I've known Dave for several years now, and if there's one thing I know to be true of him it is this: The man is passionate about helping God's people to walk in health and wholeness. An ordained pastor who for 20 years served as field staff for The Navigators, Dave dedicated his life to health and wellness ministry after losing his beloved wife Anne to breast cancer -- a condition Dave now knows to be entirely preventable. (Not convinced? You'll have to read his latest book!) For this post, I've asked Dave to share some of his wisdom about the thyroid gland, because it is a subject likely to shed light on many of my readers and their mysterious or misdiagnosed health concerns. (Did you know that an underfunctioning thyroid can produce, exacerbate, or mimic symptoms of despression and other mood disorders?) Please, friends, take a few minutes to read what Dave has to say. It just may open the door to understanding for you, and start you on your way to better health, greater energy, and renewed vitality... And I want that for you! Information about how to contact Dave for a consultation (or purchase his books) follows his post. YOUR ALL-IMPORTANT THYROID GLANDBy Dr Dave Frahm, ND
Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits like a bow-tie at the base of the front of your neck. When adequately nourished, it makes three key hormones. Two of them–thyroxine (referred to as T4) and thiiodothyronine (called T3)–stimulate the energy production of every cell in your body. They do so by increasing both the number and activity of the little “engines” (mitochondria) inside each cell that convert calories into energy—a process known as metabolism.
But it’s far too general to think of metabolism as merely the process of burning calories for energy. It’s more rightly defined as empowering the “activity of each cell”. (1). In other words, thyroid hormones empower brain cells to do brain work, heart cells to do heart work, bone cells to do bone work, colon and liver cells to do what colon and liver cells do, ovarian cells to do what ovarian cells do, and so forth. Your thyroid gland is the kingpin of their health, for it empowers the work of every cell of every part of your body to make its specifically designed contribution to the whole.
The third key hormone produced by your thyroid gland is called calcitonin. It's responsible for allowing your body to both absorb and utilize calcium—a nutrient plentiful in the American diet. When iodine is lacking, calcitonin won't be adequately produced, and thus calcium can’t be adequately absorbed. Parts of the body that require calcium will weaken: bones (osteopenia, osteoporosis), joints (pain, weakness, deterioration, carpel tunnel), hair (coarse, dry, brittle, loss), nails (vertical ridges, thin, brittle), teeth (poor quality, loosening), etc. At the same time, calcium will get urinated out or deposited where it doesn’t belong, causing problems: eyes (diminishing eyesight, cataracts), arteries (hardening leading to high blood pressure, diminished hearing, heart problems, stroke, etc.), kidneys (stones), bladder (calcification, urinary urgency), joints (arthritic pain), breasts (calcifications), bone spurs, etc.
By the way, calcium is an earth mineral. Its best source is the same place cows it get--green stuff growing out of the ground. Dairy products are not a good source, since dairy burns to acid ash after digestion, pulling calcium from bones to help alkalinize the acidity.
What Weakens The Thyroid Gland?
Of primary concern, of course, is that there’s no iodine in the typical American’s diet. Well, more correctly, there’s no iodine that sufficiently benefits your thyroid gland. Iodized salt doesn’t test as actually helping to strengthen a weak thyroid gland. Seaweed is the best source of this incredibly important nutrient, but if you’re like most Americans, you don’t tend to eat a lot of the stuff. Thus, the “workhorse” in your body that makes the hormones that run the show just doesn’t get fed.
That said, you may also be beating that horse while it’s down. Your already starving thyroid gland may be routinely subjected to additional forms of stress…
*Dietary stress: alcohol, caffeine (chocolate, cocoa, coffee, soda, tea…), dairy products (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream…), partially hydrogenated fats (margarine, Crisco…), refined grains (white pasta, white breads, white rice, pastries….), unfriendly sweeteners (aspartame/NutraSweet, brown sugar, corn syrup, date sugar, dextrose, Florida Crystals, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, Splenda, sucrose, sugar…)
*Emotional stress: anger, anxiety, confusion, fear, grief, guilt, worry, etc...
*Physical stress: excessive exercise (Weakens thyroid function. I have a client who runs 13 miles a day. He had one weakness when I did muscle response testing--low thyroid. He just past his 46th kidney stone. Makes sense. Low thyroid can lead to build up of calcium deposits in the kidneys. Exercise is important, but not in excessive measure.); pregnancy (A happy stress, but a stress to the thyroid, nonetheless. The child being formed in the womb draws upon whatever little iodine stores mom actually has available. Iodine is essential for healthy brain formation in the child. Post birth, mom’s thyroid problems worsen due to lack of iodine now left in her system. Common would be things like post-partum “blues”, depression, weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, low sex drive, etc…all of which will continue until someone helps her learn to feed her thyroid).
*Environmental stress: chlorine and fluoride (in toothpaste, drinking water, etc); mercury (in tuna and a few other fish, water, dental fillings, and used as a preservative (thimerosal) in vaccinations and flu shots); pesticides (found on conventionally grown produce and animal products; also found in water systems, the result of agricultural run-off; found in air supplies, due to drift from agricultural spraying); radiation (microwaves, x-rays, cell phone); other toxic chemicals (PCB’s, PVC’s, red dye #3, cigarette smoke).
In today’s American culture, our thyroid glands go under-fed and over-taxed. Can a person make changes that take some of the load off their thyroid? Sure. For instance, dietary changes are always important. Avoiding the “unfriendly” sweeteners listed above is a good start. Some of the sweeteners that won’t tax your thyroid include: stevia, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice (Sucanat), agave, fructose, barley malt, blackstrap molasses, and sorghum.
But in many other ways, stress is just part of life. The key is to keep your thyroid strong against the impact of stress. Keep it nourished. Feed it a source of iodine daily. Don’t let it starve. And by the way, make sure that the iodine-supplying supplement you’re using actually tests as strengthening your thyroid. Many on the market don’t. I’ve tested a bunch in my office.
How Exactly Does Weak Thyroid Predispose a Woman to Breast Cancer?
That’s the subject of may latest book…The Breast Cancer Pattern (It Starts With Your Starving Thyroid)…available at www.healthquarters.org
Dr Frahm is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), Certified Nutritional Counselor (CNC), Master Herbalist (MH), and the author of seven books on health and nutrition. His office is based out of HealthQuarters where he does individual nutritional assessments using a technique called Muscle Response Testing (or Kinesiology). Dr Frahm does phone consultations focusing on each person's individual symptoms and the data found in the nutritional health assessment form to give you a personalized plan to follow. He can also help you by doing a blood analysis. Dave has the gift of motivating and enabling people to take practical steps toward improving their health, and he will give you a personalized plan to follow.
Dr Frahm teaches classes on the right environment for healthy living, proper foods to eat, how to rebuild your immune system, how to detoxify your body, and many more topics. He can assist you with your physical, emotional, and spiritual issues.
He is an ordained pastor and for 20 years served the Lord as field staff for the Navigators. Today he is known internationally for his books and teachings in the natural health field.
For more information about HealthQuarters Ministries, including contact info and how to get Dave's books, please visit www.healthquarters.org or follow "HealthQuarters Ministries" on Facebook.
April 22, 2013
All my life I had dreamed of becoming a mommy. It wasn't my only dream, but it was certainly the most important dream in my little girl heart. I was the child who never went anywhere without a baby doll tucked under my arm -- and I wasn't the type to toss my baby doll aside when the ice cream man came down the street or when my favorite TV show came on. No, Annie came along with me, and I included her in every detail. It mattered to me what Annie wanted from the ice cream man (snow cones were her favorite) and if she understood the jokes in that week's episode of Punky Brewster (and as I recall, I often had to explain them to her).
Some women come into motherhood by accident, and others are ambivalent throughout their young adult lives about whether or not they want children. And both of these types of women can become amazing mothers despite how they come into the role. But for me, as sappy as it may sound, I had always believed I was born to be a wife and a mom, and I had it penned into my life checklist early on: Finish undergrad (majoring in Music Education) by 22, by which time I would have met Mr. Right (who would also be an education major so we could teach in the same school district, which would be adorable); get married by 23, take two years for grad school, and be blissfully pregnant by age 25 with my MA on the wall and my hunky husband at my side. Then we'd have our second child two years later, and if we had the finances and the energy, a third two years after that. Voila: two degrees, a fulfilling career, a healthy marriage, and three kiddos -- and all in time for my 30th birthday. Nothin' to it.
I once read a bumper sticker that said "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." And while I don't believe for a minute that our compassionate, perfect Father laughs at our dreams and plans, He certainly doesn't seem to hesitate to rearrange them for our good.
My carefully calculated life plan had derailed before I was even to have completed step one. There was no undergrad degree by age 22, because the anorexia that had chased me all my adolescent life had caught up to me by age 18 and nearly killed me. Instead, I found myself hospitalized for most of 1996, with a tube in my nose and a weight on my heart far heavier than the sad, sickly weight on the scale. I left the hospital the day before my 19th birthday, owing around four hundred thousand dollars in treatment costs. There would be no college -- and worse, within six weeks of my discharge from treatment, I had lost thirty of the forty pounds that had been put on me. I had gained the necessary weight, but I had not learned to feed myself -- because I had not learned to love myself.
Fast forward just a few years, to age 24. Steps one and two of my checklist had not come to pass, and as I approached 25 -- the age by which I HAD to be married and pregnant -- I panicked. I met a guy at church, and figured that since my pastor approved of him and we quickly became the iconic church couple, mascots almost, surely God would bless our union despite the fact that we were completely wrong for one another and both brought unresolved emotional baggage into the marriage. I mean, we met at church; if it didn't work out, that would make God look bad.
For a few months, the courtship was exciting. Even though I wasn't in love with my fiancé, I was madly in love with the idea of marriage and family. My dream was coming true -- even if I had to force it. And since I wanted children and felt I was running out of time (according to my checklist), I began eating healthily and increased my food intake enough to restore myself to a healthy weight. A grown-up weight. A mommy weight. I absolutely hated my body during this time --but I believed this was the one thing that meant more to me than the sense of control I felt from starving myself. In exchange for the fulfilled dream of marriage and family, I would surrender.
The naive little girl inside of me, still clutching her original childhood dream for dear life, cried tears of grief and confusion when the honeymoon ended before it had ever begun, and the marriage became unsafe. This was not the plan. What had I done wrong? But in the midst of my darkest hour, I was to meet my greatest joy. A month into our marriage, we were expecting a baby.
Those around me were unsure how pregnancy would effect me, having never made peace with my body image before the pregnancy began. But to their surprise and my delight, I loved every minute. As I wrote years later in my memoir, Hollow, "This expanding, itching, stretching, round, swollen body of mine was suddenly a great pleasure to me. The same body I hated and despaired of and punished and starved and cut and cursed for years was now doing me the ultimate favor, by fostering life and turning me into something I had always wanted to be: someone's mom."
The challenge to love the mom in the mirror came after my son was born. By the time my son was eight months old, his father and I had separated. And while we worked to reconcile through marital counseling, it was becoming progressively clear to me that I was going to be a divorced woman.
A divorced woman. A single mother. A divorced single mother who never went to college. The checklist had been abandoned. And in my rigid perfectionist mind, the same mind that had driven me to starve myself for so many years, I was a failure. It was then that it became especially hard to look at myself in the mirror.
But the story gets brighter. It always does, at some point, friends -- because we have a God whose love pursues us tenaciously and tirelessly.
In the darkest time of despair, when I was hardest on myself for having seemingly ruined everything, God provided me with moments of peace that were as overwhelming as they were fleeting. They usually occurred in the quiet moments of nursing my baby boy. Nursing infants have a way of communicating love to their mothers in such a way that even I could not argue with the force of that love. My baby needed me -- but beyond that, he longed for me. He was jealous for me. He wanted to be near to me, to feel my heart beat next to his.
Credit the hormones if you must, but those moments became spiritual experiences for me. They reminded me that God Himself is jealous for me. Longs for me. Wants to be near enough that my heart can begin to beat in sync with His. I could not love "the mom in the mirror" on my own; I needed to borrow from the love that God had for me. I had made terrible, life-altering mistakes -- and none of them had shaken or even touched His love for me. My checklist had never mattered to Him, in that He had never had such rigid standards for me as I had had for myself.
My baby boy, Jaden, didn't care that his mommy only had a high school education. He didn't care that his mommy was carrying a little post-baby weight; in fact, if anything, he rather enjoyed it because those were the pounds of selfless love which allowed him to be fed and nurtured. When Jaden looked at me, both then and now, he didn't see an imperfect body to be tweaked and sculpted or a failure at life in general. He sees his mom. He looks at me through love.
When God looked at me, both then and now and forever and always, he sees His daughter. He looks at me through love and through the blood of Jesus, which has erased the sin of those life-altering mistakes of mine.
My son is eleven years old now. I never had another child, never remarried. I still get angry at the mom in the mirror sometimes -- and it is in those moments that I know what has happened: I've moved away from God, and I need to scoot back over to where I can hear His heart beat.
His heartbeat always sounds the same: You. Are. Loved. You. Are. Mine.
My part is simply to take His word for it.
March 18, 2013
I love when other authors review my books, because they challenge me to improve the quality of my writing. But in this review of my first book Hollow (Moody Publishers, 2010), author Jill Richardson goes a step further -- and challenges me to improve the quality of my faith walk.
Please take a few minutes to read what Jill has to say. I believe you will be challenged, too.
Thanks for the review, Jill!
SITTING BY THE POOL
“What do you stand to gain by returning to your illness? There must be some potential payoff. How do you suppose remaining sick will serve you? What does disorder offer you that wellness doesn’t? What scares you about being healthy again?”
These are the words of a counselor in the book I read yesterday, Hollow: An Unpolished Tale, by Jena Morrow. ( https://www.amazon.com/author/jenamorrow ) He asks tough questions, because Jena is struggling with one of the toughest of demons--anorexia. If he’s unwilling to ask, and she’s unwilling to face the answers, she will die. And truly, she’s not sure which is the more appealing scenario.
To say I enjoyed the book would be an odd sentiment. To say I was engrossed and emotionally intertwined with the “characters” (though this is nonfiction) would be absolutely accurate. For a blog devoted to facing fears, I feel that telling you about this book is the best thing I can do today.
One in 200 women lives, or dies, with anorexia nervosa. You may know, or be, one. Jena’s story will haunt you, but that's a good thing. You want to find out what happens to Jena. You desperately want her to be OK. Through that, you also come to understand and care about all girls (and there are some guys) who are trying to climb out of the deception of eating disorders one nail claw mark at a time.
I came away with a far greater understanding of what drives a young person to self-destruct and what can bring one back from the edge. That’s saying a lot, since I’ve lived with one of those young people and known others. Jena will break your heart--which is where we all need to be if we really want to help other people heal.
One of the main points, though, is that those people need to choose healing. We all do. In fact, Jena’s therapist asks an old question, one Jesus also posed.
“Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, ‘Do you want to get well?’” John 5.1-6
Do we? It seems an odd question, but it’s the right one. Let’s expand this beyond eating disorders. We allow a lot of things to keep us at the side of the pool. Is there something holding you there, saying you want change, yet really content to remain where you are? Why are we sometimes afraid to be well?
What we’re doing is comfortable. It may not work; it may cause us pain. But it’s known. If we decide to be well, we venture into the unknown, and it’s scary.
What we’re doing gets affirmation. We don’t know how to ask for what we need. We’re afraid we don’t deserve to ask for what we want. It’s scary to put our feelings out there and run the risk of someone saying, “I really don’t care.” It’s far less risky to find affirmation that we matter some other way.
What we’re doing avoids letting go. No matter how bad it is, we control it. And feeling in control gives us the false security we think we need.
Jesus knew the first step, just as Jena learned it. Want to be well. Want it with all you have, putting aside all fears that it may change life as you know it. It will. But, as Jena says toward the end of her book,
“Maybe the victory is just in showing up for life, one day at a time, and learning and growing and discovering and exploring and messing up and saying ‘sorry’ and moving on and loving and living. Maybe the victory is in the living, and life is supposed to be messy sometimes -- and that’s okay. The plan is to keep on squeezing tightly to the hand of God and go on to focus my life and energy on other things.” Amen.
(Read original post on Jill's blog here: http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com/2013/03/sitting-by-pool.html )
February 15, 2013
My first encounter with Teasi was in her book, My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life (Worthy Publishing) -- and it was love at first read. If you have struggled to make peace with the image you see in the mirror, do yourself a favor and get this book!
And now, without further ado, I'll get out of the way and let you read what Teasi has to say . . .
ARE YOU AN HOURGLASS OR A MAGNIFYING GLASS?
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Beauty is important, there is no mistaking that. But it is possible to make a mistake when deciding whose beauty is most important: ours or God’s.
As I was thinking about this issue recently, I had a somewhat goofy thought (the natural product of a goofy gal). I started to think of this beauty decision as simply this: Do I want to be an hourglass or a magnifying glass?
As an hourglass, we will live each day as if our beauty is most important. Anything that tells us we’re not beautiful enough has the potential to devastate us – especially if hormones are in play. We will be desperate to do all we can to maximize our own beauty. We might spend money we don’t have on clothes, make-up or cosmetic procedures. We might work our bodies to exhaustion in an attempt to be perfectly firm, tone, and perfectly shaped – like an hourglass. Thoughts of our own beauty, whether good or bad, will occupy our minds regularly.
As a magnifying glass, we will live each day as if God’s beauty is most important. Anything that tells us God is not beautiful will devastate us, and we will strive to make decisions that glorify Him. In the Greek, that word glorify from 1 Corinthians 6:20 means “to magnify.” Are we living our lives in such a way that when people look at us they see the beauty of the Lord more clearly? If so, we’re being a magnifying glass.
So this is the question we must ask ourselves: When people look at me, do I want them to be amazed with my beauty, or with God’s?
We don’t have to look a certain way to magnify God’s beauty. I think some of the best “magnifying glasses” I’ve ever seen were the exact opposite of worldly beauty. I remember seeing a guy on YouTube who had no arms or legs. Someone would set him on a table, and he would share life-giving and empowering messages with school kids – encouraging them to love the life God has given them. I couldn’t help but be amazed with God’s beauty as I watched him. He’s a magnifying glass.
And think of Mother Teresa. An elderly gal with a lifetime of wrinkles and drab clothing, but absolutely adorned with the beauty of the Lord. It’s nearly impossible to look at pictures of her loving on the world’s hurting without seeing a little more of the heart of God. She’s a magnifying glass.
I think I’ll put a post-it note on my bathroom mirror (and maybe several other places) that says, “Be a magnifying glass today!”
Wanna join me?
Teasi Cannon has a master's in pastoral counseling from Liberty Theological Seminary. She is a teacher and conference leader based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Teasi's personal journey with God started at the bottom, and skyrocketed...well, in part, because of her bottom. After years of hating her body, especially the size of her lower half, an ironic chain of events led to a beautiful untangling of understanding and hope. Now a respected speaker, women's ministry leader and writer, Teasi delivers an inspiring message to all women--one of healing and godly empowerment.
Armed with scripture, humor and the courage to be transparent, Teasi hopes to restore biblical Truth to self-doubting women: That their first love, Father God, gazes on each of them with joy and adoration every moment of every day. Learn more about Teasi at www.teasicannon.com.
February 12, 2013
I had one such moment last week, as I checked on my son before heading to bed late one night. My Facebook status that night seemed to strike a chord in the heart of many folks on my friends list -- 84 of whom were moved enough to click "like." Clearly, there was some solidarity expressed in response to these words:
Went in one more time to check on my kid before I went to bed --- and just stood there and watched him sleep for a few minutes. He seems somehow taller than he was this morning. This boy is a handful. He is sharp and funny and complicated and moody and tender and talented and way too smart for his own good sometimes... He has the capacity to both infuriate me and melt me into a puddle. He is a part of my heart, walking around outside my body for the past eleven years. He is my miracle -- and yet he isn't "mine" at all. I do not own him; he is on loan to me from God, entrusted to me for an all-too-brief season called childhood. And right now, in this moment, I would humbly ask God to please slow down time...
Sometimes, I still picture him this way in my head . . . Where has the time gone??
I've been thinking about this since last week -- both my feeling of desperately wanting to slow down the passing of time, and the strong response others had to my sentiments. Both of these things have helped to solidify a commitent I made to myself on January 1st of this year: In 2013, I will do my conscious best to focus on what matters most. I do not believe in setting resolutions because let's face it, we all know what a New Year's Resolution really is: A to-do list for the first week of the year. A set-up for failure -- and for the self-imposed guilt and condemnation that inevitably follows.
Please . . . Ain't nobody got time for that.
Instead, this year, I am setting a theme for 2013: Priorities.
Blame it on a lack of discipline, or a childish wanderlust of the mind, or perhaps the ADD with which I was diagnosed in my teen years -- but the ugly truth of the matter is that I am very easily distracted from my priorities, and I lose sight of what matters most more often than not. I am all too easily led astray by the demands of others (which usually can wait), the allure of gossip (note: in churchy circles, this is often disguised as a "prayer request" on behalf of someone else. Be careful!), or by my obsession of the moment, which is often something as frivolous and temporal and self-focused as the current circumference of my thighs). So what's a distractable gal to do?
And over again.
Well, actually, that's step one. Step two is a little harder:
I'm working on it. I'm not necessarily off to a flawless start, but that shouldn't really matter since I've removed "achieve perfection in all things" from my list of priorities for 2013.
So, what does matter most? Good question -- and our answers will vary. But answering that question for ourselves is a great place to start. For me, that night last week when I realized that my baby boy has become a young man in what seemed like the blink of an eye, I knew that one thing that matters to me is enjoying my current assignment in life as Jaden's mom. These years are blazing by -- and while photographs are great at capturing a moment, they cannot freeze time. I quote the great 1980's philosopher Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
So, this is me, stopping. This is me, admitting that I'd forgotten to look around. This is me reminding myself: I don't wanna miss a thing.
And this is me hoping you might just stop and do the same.
February 8, 2013
Jena's note: Friends, I could not be more excited to share with you this post today, reprinted by gracious permission of my friend and fellow author, Emily Wierenga. The piece you are about to read is 32-year-old Emily's letter to her sixteen-year-old self. When I read it, it brought me to tears, and I believe it will touch many of you in a similar -- or perhaps entirely different -- way. I will not cheapen it with a lengthy introduction, but rather let Emily's beautiful prose speak for itself; suffice it to say, she is the real deal, and it is my prayer is that her heart, through these words, will make its way through to yours.
Dear sixteen-year-old Emily,
In a few days Brent will dump you. The coolest guy in school. A basketball star. And you will wonder if you should have let him. If you should have pulled the Kleenex from your bra and the bra from your body and let him.
But you didn’t, and I know you feel like the last virgin standing —
but you’re not. In two years you’ll meet a man at Bible School–a place you said you’d never meet anyone because it’s too cliche–who is waiting for you. Who’s only kissed two other girls, who will wait six months to kiss you (his Dutch grandmother will kiss you on your lips before he does) and the only time you’ll ever see him cry will be when you tell him what you’ve done with other boys.
He’ll cry because he wants to marry you. And even though you didn’t ever let anyone make it home, they still tried to round the bases. And he’s waited his whole life to hold your hand.
Shortly after he dumps you, Brent will get another girl pregnant and they’ll have a baby together.
It’s not worth undoing your buttons for, honey.
In a few days your mother will hear you sobbing on your bed, after he breaks up with you in the courtyard of the school because “you’re just too nice,” he’ll say.
She’ll knock on your bedroom door and bring you a bouquet of red roses, and when you take them from her, your fingers will bleed a little, just like your body will on your wedding night, when you give it away to the Bible School boy who dressed up in his army uniform and showed up on your doorstep and asked you to take a walk with him.
The boy who will teach you not to be afraid. The boy who will kiss you, finally, in the rain. The boy who will hold you while you can’t sleep for the insomnia and the anorexia and the anxiety, the boy who will bring you ice chips as you give birth to the first of two sons, the boy who will ask you to take walks with him every day of your life, for the rest of your life, till death do us part.
Dear past self, in a few days you’ll be crying on your bed —
while your mum holds you and you grip a bouquet of bloody roses. But this too shall pass. Don’t remove that purity ring. Because it’s more than a ring. It’s a declaration that you believe in the kind of love that saves. A salvation kind of love. A love that lasts longer than a few dates and a few passionate make-out sessions.
The world has all but given up on that kind of love. And in a few years, your boy and you will share with a bunch of Young Life students about how you waited. And they’ll ask if you wonder what you missed out on, by having sex with only one person.
And you’ll look at them and say, Do you know what you miss by having sex with more than one person? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to know that the person you’re with has only ever seen and touched you? That when they make love with you, they’re only thinking about you, and that you’re beyond compare?
Then you’ll take each other’s hand.
Yes, you will say. We’re glad we waited.
And the students won’t respond, but in their hearts, perhaps they’ll be applauding.
For the last virgins standing.
Your Future Self, at 32.
(See original post here: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/last-virgins-standing/)
Emily Wierenga Emily Wierenga is a wife, mother, artist and the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy (releasing Mother’s Day 2013). For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook
February 4, 2013
Thrown into the ocean
You're in me, around me, and through
You fill me and hold me
And shape me and mould me
You contain me, yet I contain You
Reveal to me
I long to comprehend
How You can be
Inside of me
Savior, Master, Friend
February 3, 2013
But I must confess, I am in a little bit of personal conflict over the whole thing. My concern is that the book will reach an even wider audience of struggling women than my first book, and that those women would falsely assume that I am a flawless role model or that I have all the answers -- just because my name now graces the spines of two books in print. Truly, my biggest fear is that this book would magnify me -- and my highest hope is that this book would glorify God.
Here comes the shocking confession: I do not have all the answers. I do not claim to know what every woman struggling with an eating disorder is going through, or what her reality is. And furthermore, I don't have "it" all together myself, whatever that elusive "it" is. What I do have to offer, and what I have endeavored to offer to my readers through this devotional, is hope in the power and promises found in God's infallible Word.
In addition to my writing career, I am privileged and blessed to work with women and girls in residential eating disorder treatment at Timberline Knolls in Lemont, Illinois. And there, too, I encounter the danger that I will be seen as an idealized example to others. Just last week, a resident approached me and said, "Jena, I have decided that you are my higher power." My reaction to that statement took me by surprise, as I watched myself look fiercely into this young woman's innocent, hopeful face and say to her, "No. No, I'm sorry, I am not. I have no more power than you. I am a fellow ragamuffin, in desperate need of God's grace."
So why put out a book about eating disorder recovery if I claim to have no answers in and of myself, and if I so vehemently and passionately insist that I am no one's hero? Simple answer: God asked me to. He has been walking beside me on my own recovery journey for nearly two decades. In that time, He has taught me valuable lessons which I have not come by easily. He has proven Himself to be faithful, and He has shown mercy to me in response to my every tantrum along the way. He has shown me more of His heart and His character, and He has grown in me a desperate longing to know Him better the further we walk along. And so, when he dropped the seed of this book into my spirit and asked me to flesh it out, I figured it was the least I could do.
It is a slim book, far shorter then the memoir I put out three years ago. At first glance, judging from word count alone, one might assume this was the easier book of the two for me to write. And that assumption could not be more wrong.
I wrote this book, at times, through tears. I wrote of themes such as surrender and courage and trust, all the while battling my own iron will, in areas about which only God (and my counselor) knows. It was not easy for me to write. It was not always fun for me to write. And God asked me to finish writing it anyway -- because it is the truth. It is His truth. And His truth is what sets us free.
So as I begin this next phase of publication, wherein I will give interviews and appear on shows and plug my latest book all over the web, I do so with one burning desire, of which I have written in the book's introduction: I hope and pray that, in and through this devotional, God's words eclipse my own.
Like John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, I am but a single human voice speaking up to point the way toward Jesus. Don't look at me; look at Him. He has the Words of Life. I am just His imperfect and beloved scribe.
I am no one's higher power -- but my hope, and yours, is in the highest Power of all. So please, by all means, go buy my book -- and may that Power meet you in it's pages.