The Intruder Named ED

In my last post What Parents need to See on Instagram I cautioned not to mistakenly assume seeking approval, affirmation or acceptance is not an issue for your child. Even if your family is intact and for the most part doing things “right,” your child attends church or various Bible studies, makes good grades, has lots of friends, involved in extra activities and full of inner and outer beauty, your teen or tween may still be spiraling inwardly down because of their own critical eye of constant comparison to their peers.

Just as you may be feeling grateful for the choices he or she is making and proud of who your teen is becoming, your child may actually be filled with turmoil, buying into Satan’s lies that he or she doesn’t measure up. Consumed with thoughts of not being good enough.

I write this with first-hand knowledge. It is the story playing out in our house now. I am certain we are not alone and this is happening in households everywhere, whether known or not.  In our case, Satan’s lies craftily spun as truth have brought with them another sneaky intruder. An intruder who has taken up residence at my house, though hidden to most everyone.

An intruder my daughter has recently outed for who he is and has given me permission to introduce you to ED in hopes we can keep him from wrecking havoc in others’ lives.

ED stands for Eating Disorder.

ED is really not as much about food as you might think. Food is just the manifestation of Satan’s lies whispering:

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  • You don’t measure up.
  • You aren’t as pretty as your friends.
  • You don’t look good in that outfit.
  • You won’t ever be liked.
  • You must be thinner.
  • You aren’t as popular.
  • You don’t excel in everything like she does.
  • You aren’t as talented.
  • You won’t be forgiven.
  • You are a failure.
  • You should be ashamed.
  • God is mad at you. 

So goes the vicious cycle of binge-purge.

By the grace of God the purging is no longer happening, but the lies still work their way in and it’s a daily battle to fight them off. We are learning lots and receiving wise counsel, but Satan tends to know where each of us are weak and attacks there.

This is why in the fight we can’t just address eating habits and food. If we did, it would just be putting bandaids over the real issues at hand. Therefore, we must go to the root to see what is leading to the behavior.

When we trace the root down – for us dealing with ED and all of us dealing with any other sin or struggle – we find idolatry at the core. I said it in my last post and say it again:

Idolatry is anything and everything we turn to looking for what only God can give.

  • When my child sees the number on the scale as determining her worth instead of who God says she is, she is believing Satan’s lie and making it her “idol.”

  • When my child passes other girls in the hall and thinks she is so much less in comparison, she is believing Satan’s lie and making it her “idol.”

  • When my child feels down because she doesn’t think she measures up to whatever standard and turns to food as comfort, she is believing Satan’s lie and making it her “idol.”

Turning from our idols is part of the life-long process of sanctification: God conforming us to His likeness and transforming our hearts. At times it feels hopeless change will ever happen, especially when there has been forward progress and then steps back.

But what I know to be true and holding fast to in our journey is that recognizing the idols and seeing the sin is a good thing! If we don’t identify them for what they are and realize they are ruling us, we don’t see what we need to turn from. We don’t see how desperately we need a Savior and we don’t see the immeasurable grace He pours out. Grace, not because we are necesarily getting “better,” but because He loves us, period!

If you are reading this and identify in any way, whether it is presenting itself in issues of control or perfection, through ED or some other way, I hope God will use this post as encouragement to know you are not alone, there is no shame in admitting your struggles or getting help. Mostly I hope this leads you to the foot of the cross.

That is where we are standing. It is hard, but I can tell you good is coming out of the trials already. The fact my daughter is able to evaluate what is going on in her heart and the effects it has on her mood and actions is an awareness that, Lord willing, will keep her dependent on Him all the days of her life. Even now in the midst of the battle, she sees His daily mercies and gives thanks. And so do I.

One of her "grace" leaves hanging on our Gratitude Tree.

One of her “grace” leaves hanging on our Gratitude Tree.

Good Parents Let Their Children Fail!

“GOOD PARENTS LET THEIR CHILDREN FAIL!” 

This statement made by Barbara Duguid at a conference I attended earlier in the fall has been in the back of my head ever since. I think because everything about it goes against our nature of what we think is good. 

I mean, how is letting my child mess up, get hurt, rebel, experience pain or fail good? Especially, if I could have somehow stopped it. So as helicopter parents, we quickly jump in to rescue and prevent.

As my husband and I were talking about all this he reminded me of the time our youngest, who was just a pre-schooler at the time, took a plastic child-size lawn chair up to the fort and on to the top of the slide. As he was trying to position himself on it to go down the slide I see this from the window and come rushing out to stop him.

My husband on the other hand, stopped me by saying, “Wait. Let’s just see what happens.”

I’m thinking, “What kind of parent allows that? He could get hurt!”

But, my husband insisted we were right there if he fell and we should not stifle his creativity.  If it didn’t work he could guarantee our son wouldn’t try it again. If it did work (which it did) he would feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and independence that would carry with him to the next challenge.

Isn’t this what we want for our children- to grow up to be independent of us and for us to feel confident that we’ve given them every tool to be out from under our nest?

How can that happen though if we are always rescuing? Or, if we never let them fail and experience consequences?

For instance, let’s say my daughter doesn’t finish her English paper and wants to stay home the next morning to do so.  She had plenty of time, but had just procrastinated and prioritized extra-curricular above her work. If I allow her to stay home, I rescue her from the consequences of a late grade and maybe the teacher thinking she is irresponsible. It may also possibly prevent a letter grade drop, which of course would effect her GPA which effects her class rank and maybe acceptance to a certain college or scholarship!

With all that at stake it seems like I better let her stay home to finish. On second thought, if she experiences those consequences, wouldn’t she learn a valuable lesson that would serve her better in life than being rescued?

What if my child gets a speeding ticket. Do I just pay it off so she can keep her babysitting money for “fun money?” Or does she learn from the consequence of having to take responsibility and use her own money?

What if the coach isn’t playing my child – Do I demand the coach play him? Do I switch my child’s team? Do I stir conflict in the stands? Or, is there a great character-building lesson at hand?

Letting our children fail goes against everything a parent thinks is good and right. It is good that we want to protect, guide, shield and shape them. That is our job as parents. But when we refuse to let them fail we not only stunt their growth and limit their life experiences, we are failing to trust God knows what is best for them.

We are demanding to be in control and we keep them from seeing their need for a Savior.

To know and abide in Christ is my deepest desire for each of my kids. So if it takes letting them struggle, to be unsuccessful or experience consequences to know His great sustaining love for them then, Lord, help and sustain me when failing sometimes is for their best!

The Undeserved Gift

Has anyone ever given you a gift or done something for you that you can’t repay? Was it hard to accept? Did you feel underserving? 

What about when someone does a favor for you, do you ensure the gesture is reciprocated and feel guilty if not? 

I’ve recently been on the receiving end of something like this. While it’s not the only time I have been the beneficiary of such generosity, it doesn’t matter how often – big or small – it is hard to freely accept gifts without feeling indebted. As I’ve thought about the feeling of needing/wanting to pay back the blessing just bestowed upon me, I can’t help but think of Christ – the ultimate giver whom we can never repay.

Accepting the forgiveness from the One who knew no sin yet took on all of ours at the cross so we could be declared righteous is the tenet of our Christian faith. We proclaim there is nothing we can do to earn this gift - it is His free grace. But, do we really live in light of this reality? Or, do we act as if  somehow we need to make ourselves more worthy to receive God’s love by “paying back” our failures?

Here is what I mean: Say you’ve just given in to that same old sin for the thousandth time. The one you promised God you wouldn’t do again, but now you did. You think surely He must be mad at your for constantly failing. You feel like a “bad” Christian and deeply unworthy to even be called one. Afterall, continuing in sin and not looking any different than anyone else is what deems Christians to be such hypocrits!

You determine you must clean yourself up to make up for the flaws. Maybe if you went to church more, attended Bible study or remembered to pray that would help. You could volunteer to serve a ministry or give to someone in need. Plus you vow to do everything necessary to raise “good” kids.  So you go to work making yourself and your family “better” in an effort to appease God.  While at the same time condemning youself that you don’t already have it all together and live more victoriously. 

I hope you hear my sarcasm and see the fallacy in this thinking that leads to the disconnect of how we often live and what we say we believe. The problem lies in thinking we need to do something to makeup for our sins, so we fixate on our behavior as if that is what makes us worthy. The more we focus on external behavior and appearances the further we stray from remembering who He is for us - in that while we were still sinners He died for us!

There is nothing we did to deserve this great love and nothing we can do to undo it. When we get this truth, there is great freedom. Freedom to live as broken sinners, fully forgiven and Redeemed!

This is what leads us back to the foot of the cross to praise His great name for the gift we can never repay.8ea79eb51df99d1077e7e8070ecf759f

Our Gratitude Tree

Yesterday I posted on social media a picture collage of our family doing a project together. I posted it because of the rare, or to be more accurate - non-existent, previous times we have all sat down to do something like that. Even when my kids were younger and liked to color, craft or cook, I’m not sure my husband was ever in on that;)

So even though it wouldn’t be exagerating to say I forced them to sit down and help (some more begrudginly than others) it ended up being fun family-bonding time, where we laughed alot!

Her leaf on the left looks way better than mine:)

Her leaf on the left looks way better than mine:)

Tying strings was a little frustrating, especially since my hole-punching got a little too close to the edge.

Tying strings was a little frustrating, especially since my hole-punching got a little too close to the edge.

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But this project was not ever about perfection, it was created to lead us to greater gratitude of the One who was perfect for us and pours out His immeasurable grace on us, day by day.

This project is our Gratitude Tree.IMG_6405

I decided to share it here because of the several texts and questions I received after sharing these same pictures through Instragram. Our tree was developed from broken twigs and construction paper leaves, inspired in part by this Ann Voskamp quote:

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In doing this project during this month of Thanksgiving, I want us to not just mark down what we are thankful for, for the sake of being reminded all we have to be thankful for. But in taking it a step further, I want us to really look for and see where God’s grace meets us every.single.day. 

If we are honest, or I am honest, I am not always joy-filled and sometimes it feels like I am just going through the motions of what I have to do. I also know just because I have much to be thankful for, I don’t always feel thankful and certainly don’t spend time praising God for it.  And most of the time when I am tired, frustrated, impatient, irked, lonely or even content or joyful, I miss seeing all the ways God draws near and gives me grace.

  • Do I really think about or even realize how he may help me move toward someone in compassion and love?
  • Do I see when he restrains me from anger or enables me to quickly forgive?
  • Do I acknowledge where he gives me discipline, strength and encouragement?
  • Do I feel like because of unanswered prayers he is far away and therefore miss where he was very present in a specific moment in my day?
  • Or how he caused me to cross-paths with just the person with just the right words I needed to hear?

These are the daily graces we are on a treasure hunt for. And these are the things we will write on the back of our leaves every single day of this month as the five us search for the true treasure of Christ.

I hope when and where we see his grace we will be filled with a deeper gratitude and joy. A thanksgiving that leads us to praise him more richly. A thanksgiving that causes us to want more of him and to think less of us. A thanksgiving based on the foundation of the truths of who He is for us.

Every.single. day.IMG_6404

If you, too, make a Gratitude Tree or even just write down daily graces, I’ld love to hear about it at the end of the month! I am looking forward to the dinner-time conversations this sparks between us and hope it will for you too.

A ‘Forever’ Mind-Set For the Here and Now

Since the news of my grandmother’s passing last Thursday, I haven’t been able to not think about her. I’ve been restless through the night and lethargic during the day. I know it is natural that her death is affecting me this way, but what is not natural is death itself.

Death is unnatural because it is not how God created it to be. The world He spoke into existence was perfection, full of abundant life for forever. But when sin entered the garden, everything changed. The life of perfect peace and communion with God and one another was perpetually altered by the invasion of sin.  No longer would it be possible to experience lasting happiness or complete satisfaction here and now.

But God had a recreating plan for forever. A plan to restore what was broken and to reinstate what was lost. A plan to reconcile us to Himself so we could be fully and competely satisfied for forever.

My grandmother knows this wholeness now. But the hole left by her parting has put forever on the forefront of my mind. Actually – providentially – the book our Small Group is currently reading is about forever. It’s Paul Tripp’s book Forever. It’s not just a book about the after-life, but about living here and now with a forever perspective.

“Most people think that living with eternity in view makes you a spiritual person, but living with forever in view is how God designed all human beings to live. Grace frees us from our bondage to the here and now and enables us to live in the freedom that only eternity can give. The forever life, which Jesus purchased by his life, death and resurrection, begins now.” (Paul Tripp)

This is good news for eternity and good news for now! This grants a grander view when all that is readily seen here seems to be sin, brokenness, trials, suffering and death. But with a forever view I can rest knowing this is not all there is nor how it will always be. It’s temporary with a promise of all things new!

This forever mind-set helps me persever, endure and to be content in all things with hope. Instead of my present happiness, comfort, ease or enjoyment ruling as an idol trying to secure heaven on earth, I can rest knowing this is not my true home.

Tripp puts it this way:

“…if present joy is all the joy I will ever have and someone takes it away from me, the impact is devastating…”

This is when we makes good things the ultimate thing. Things like a spouse loving perfectly, children behaving, performing and obeying perfectly, friends treating and caring about us perfectly, security in our finances, jobs that satisfy and provide, health that doesn’t fail us and on and on. But if these things become ultimate (idolatrous) then we will grow bitter, angry, frustrated, demanding, self-absorbed, discontent and on and on.

“But if I know that this is not all there is, that God is moving me toward my final destination, then I know that this moment of pain is temporary. Living in light of eternity doesn’t remove my pain, but it allows me to have hope in my moments of pain…The God of forever daily blesses me with his presence and his promises…the gift of forever means that I have been freed to approach life with joy.”

Joy inspite of whatever my circumstances, disappointments, fears and frustrations because of the hope I have in Christ, knowing only He can satisfy fully.

By His grace may I fix my eyes on Him and be okay with all that is unfixed, here and now. By His grace may I find my rest in Him even admist the unrest and chaos, here and now. By His grace in making a forever plan may I continuously be led to the cross to crush my “self-focused and shortsighted life” with a mind-set of eternity!

My Real MVP

If you live in Oklahoma or even keep up with the world of sports you will likely recall Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant upon accepting the NBA’s MVP award last season redirecting the attention to his mother as “the real MVP.” It was a touching tribute honoring the one who sacrificed greatly to raise and shape him into the man he is.

His speech was replayed across the networks, YouTube and social media millions of times over I think because we long for more “heroes” like he and his mom. Those who are honored first for their character, commitment, love and sacrifice over their abilities, achievements or attractiveness. It’s the same reason my nearly-ninety year old grandmother is My Real MVP.

For the past ten years my “Nanny” has cared for my “Grandaddy” with Alzheimers. It has not been easy and it has taken a toll on her health. But when she said “I do” sixty-nine years ago, she said I do “for better, for worse, for sickness and in health…until death do us part.”

Not only did she uphold her promise to him, but together they were a beautiful picture of what God intended marriage to be as a pointer to Christ’s great love for His bride – the church. My grandparents lived for the good of one another above themselves. And my grandmother – especially in this last decade – has shown what it means to die to self and to keep giving and serving and loving, even when her needs aren’t met.Tom's N&G 2

With her inability to continue caring for him alone, he recently moved to a nursing home. I find it interesting that although the burden was lifted, her health actually rapdily declined. It seems as if Oneness in marriage is even more than we possibly see. Her life entwined and connected with his gave purpose and identity, even though enduring through it was hard and stressful. Her life, lived for another, gave her life.

Early this morning life’s curtain closed on her life.

But even in these last months and weeks the same woman I’ve always known was still there - still putting others first. In a recent phone conversation, she wanted to know about my sick daughter. She wanted to tell me how Granddaddy was doing. She wanted to encourage me that death is part of life, that she has lived for nearly ninety years (just 3 weeks shy) and if God took her soon it would be His plan to keep her from suffering.

As I listened, the verse about Moses that I mentioned in a recent post came to mind:

“Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.”Deut. 34:7

That is her! Vigor, not because of much physical strength left at the end, but because God has been strong for her. Because He has faithfully carried her for all these years – for better, for worse. Because He has upheld her when she was weary or lonely. Because He has promised good even when all she could temporarily see was not. Because He first loved her, she could give that love to others and has.  Now with undimmed eyes she has met King Jesus!

I didn’t want her to go, but how thankful I am for all the years and memories. And what a blessing for my children to have known for all this time their great-grandmother’s spunky personality and love… 

She insisted she was still taller, even if it was just her hair.

She insisted she was still taller, even if it was just her hair.

This note sent along with the entire Dallas Morning News sports section after the Mavericks beat out our Thunder team to go on to win the Finals.

This note sent along with the entire Dallas Morning News sports section after the Mavericks beat out our Thunder team to go on to win the Finals.

A year or two later she did decide she would root for the OKC Thunder too because of Kevin Durant's character!

A year or two later she did decided she would root for the OKC Thunder too because of Kevin Durant’s character!

Her legacy and testimony will live on. Her love for the Lord, commitment, love and servanthood to my grandfather, her family, friends, church and community, makes her the kind of woman I aspire to always be. She is my real MVP.

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