Empty Shelf Challenge Book #14: “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg

I finished my 14th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg

I’ve actually finished 18 books at this point due to being wicked pregnant and encouraged to stay off my swollen feet. Today is the baby’s due date, so I’m trying to finish up a few of these posts before she arrives 🙂

I was  introduced to John Ortberg almost a decade ago. I don’t remember who encouraged me to read his books, but I’m so glad they did!

I know I had started this book previously, but I’m unsure if I ever finished it before. I ‘m so glad I did now! It was a very appropriate book for the season that we’ve been in for over 2 years now, almost 3, when God called us to make the big step of moving to Virginia. Though we are now back in Massachusetts, that was another big step in choosing to trust God when we’re not sure what He could be doing.

The premise of the book is based on Matthew 14, where Jesus walks on water toward the disciples and beckons Peter to come to him. The book outlines several other stories from Scripture where people are called out of their comfort zones and into a life of faith and trust.

I’m not much for underlining in books unless it’s a text book. I’m more of the dog ear type. Well, this book is more dog-earred than any other I’ve read this year. Just so many relevant and challenging points. So many little takeaways. Here are a few.

“What am I doing that I could not do apart from the power of God?” pg. 79

“If I had it all to do over again – I would have trusted Christ more.” pg. 88

“Your heart is revealed and your character is forged when life does not turn out the way you planned.” pg. 100-101

“Worry is fear that has unpacked its bags and signed a long-term lease.” pg. 123

“It is fear that threatens to keep people from trusting and obeying God.” pg. 124

And there were many more.

If you are in a season where God is calling you to do faith-filled scary things, this book is for you. If you simply want to learn to rely on God more in everyday life, this book is for you. If you are tired of fear dictating your choices, this book is for you.

I imagine that pretty much covers everyone 🙂

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:
           

 

#FreedomBook is Here!

It has been one challenge after another in getting my paperbacks of Learning to Walk in Freedom to actually arrive at my home. After a long string of issues, I was told my books would arrive Monday. When I checked the tracking Sunday, it said the book would arrive 1/28 (6 days prior). I called Monday, and the terminal was closed due to weather. They are supposed to call to schedule residential delivery, so when I hadn’t heard anything at noon Tuesday, I gave them another call. They said my books were out for delivery! I turned to tell my husband, and he said, “I think I hear a truck.” Don’t you know – it was my books!

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My 4 year-old JJ is guarding the goods.

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Don’t worry. It wasn’t loaded.

18 boxes of #FreedomBook!

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Order your copy today!

Merry Christmas! Download “Learning to Walk in Freedom” For Free on Christmas Day!

Tomorrow, for Christmas Day only, I am offering Learning to Walk in Freedom for free!

LTWIFreedom Christmas

If you or a friend receive a Kindle for Christmas, download away! If you have an iPhone or iPad, there is an app that lets you read books for Kindle. That’s what I use.

If you already downloaded Learning to Walk in Freedom, why not grab some other resources to help you start the year strong? Here are some of the resources I reference in Learning to Walk in Freedom.

 Relational Masks by friend and mentor Russell Willingham talks about more about the concept of core beliefs and how these false beliefs impact our relationship with God and with each other. He wrote another great book entitled Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction & the Healing Power of Jesus.

 Think Differently, Live Differently by friend Bob Hamp addresses how the way we think impacts our choices and the truth we live out of.


The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg is an easy but challenging read with a new take on spiritual disciplines. Learn how to work spiritual disciplines into your everyday life.

And then some personal favorites, also referenced in Learning to Walk in Freedom:
Healing Is a Choice: 10 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life and 10 Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them by Steve Arterburn. There is an accompanying workbook.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives with Bonus Content by Richard Swenson.

Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas – finding your spiritual temperament with its traits, strengths, and pitfalls.

Enjoy! And spread the word 🙂

Freedom Friday: I Saw You in Whole Foods Today

If you have struggled with an eating disorder, this post might be triggering to you. Please pause and pray before you read this if that is a concern.

I saw you at Whole Foods today.

I noticed you pretty quickly. The clothing you wore, the way you held yourself, the frenzy in which you ate.

I wondered if you had an eating disorder.

I watched you out of the corner of my eye as I reviewed some work on my laptop. I lost sight of you as I packed my things, stopping at the restroom as I left.

There, I saw you. With your drink. Going into the handicapped stall.

Then I heard you vomit.

This is clearly a skill you have mastered. You were quiet. But I knew.

I knew because I’ve been there.

I had an eating disorder for 14 years. Borderline anorexia with an addiction to laxatives (ED-NOS did not exist then). I know the tricks of the trade, even for the behaviors I never engaged in.

I saw you. And I knew.

I spoke to you in the dining area minutes later, after I fumbled with my wallet to find my card. I told you I had an eating disorder for 14 years. You replied that you had yours for 11 years, and you loved it.

As if it were a pet or possession. Or a lifestyle choice.

You took my card and turned to leave, and I followed, searching for words. I asked if I could say one more thing. You paused and I told you that Jesus loves you and wants a different life for you. You thanked me and left.

I have a different life now. And I remember vividly the moment when everything changed.

I was in LA. I had been “in recovery” for over 4 years, continuing to starve and abuse laxatives while receiving treatment. I thought in that moment, I could live the rest of my life like this.

Suddenly, I keeled over in pain and weakness, as my muscles cramped and stomach revolted. And in that moment, I had clarity for the first time.

Something inside me quietly said, You will die if you keep doing this to yourself.

My treatment team and my friends had been telling me this for years. I finally believed it. 

After several more years or treatment and its ups and downs, I finally began to make choices to move toward recovery. I wanted a different life for myself, no matter the cost, and I was willing to do the work needed to have that life.

I also came to know Jesus as friend and Savior a week after that moment in LA. With the strength that He provides, I have been symptom-free from starvation and laxative use for over 11 years.

And I wouldn’t trade any of it for a number on the scale.

11 years ago, as you took your first steps toward your eating disorder, I took my first true steps away. I chose life, and continue to choose it every day.

My wedding in December, 2002
My 2 boys at the start of school this year

What I don’t know if you can see is that you don’t have an eating disorder – your eating disorder has you. It controls you. It is not a lifestyle choice; it’s a choice to die. It’s a choice to never fully live.

Today, I saw you. I saw your pain, hidden under your baggy clothes and bloodshot eyes. I saw your pale skin and yellow, worn out teeth. But more importantly, God sees you; that is one of His names (Genesis 16:13). He sees you as you are and as He created you to be – and He loves you. He loves you so deeply and passionately that He allowed His Son to die for you, so that you could live a different life.

I don’t know if you will ever use my card to find this blog. If you do, know I’m praying for you. I’m praying you have a moment, as I did, where you realize the truth about your eating disorder. And when you face that truth for what it is, I want you to know that there is a friend who can be there with every tear cried, through every painful step toward health. There is a hope offered for a new life, a fresh start. You don’t have to hide behind your eating disorder anymore.

It’s OK to be seen.

Related posts:
I sold my birthright for a plate of food
Disordered Eating

Freedom Friday: The Battle for Your Gifts

There is a battle raging.

It’s a battle for your gifts.

It’s a battle for the unique things you have to offer the world.

We hosted a guest worship team at church a few months ago. The worship leader shared something that I’ve been thinking about since then:

“The enemy wants to destroy the call on our lives.”

Oh, friends, how I’ve felt this intimately over the past few months.

I was certain 2012 would be “the year of the book.”

Then, I was positive that it would be done by my 2013 birthday (almost 4 months ago now).

I have lots of excuses.

As I try to grieve the loss of my father in the midst of life carrying on…

As I fill out death-related paperwork that I’ve put off until the last minute…

As I once again try and stuff my emotions with food (something I’m quite good at, apparently)…

And God is His faithfulness keeps poking me, every month or so.

You know, my love, I still want you to finish that book.

Sometimes He’s not so gentle. In fact, He told me in December (yes, almost 9 months ago) to get over myself because the book isn’t really about me anyway. It’s about Him. It’s not about how awesome I am (because Lord literally knows that apart from Him – yeah, not much to impress anything); it’s about how awesome He is.

Well, the book is at the copy editor, and all I have left to do is write the back cover.

It has been a battle.

God has given you something unique, something particular that He wants you to offer to the world.

What is stopping you? The enemy? The negative self-talk? All the excuses about why we’ll do it later?

Here’s the thing about your gifts: they’re not for you anyway.

You may not think you have much to offer. Well, that’s a lie. That is where the battle rages because that’s exactly the position Satan wants you to stay in. Satan easily convinces us that we can’t make an impact and thus paralyzes us from doing the little (or lot) that we can do.

It’s time to declare war on the lies you believe.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

What is standing in the way of using your gifts today? What can you do today as a step of obedience toward God and what He might be calling you to do?

Freedom Friday: Will I Choose to Love?

I first heard the song “Legacy” at a mom’s group I attended.  A member had lost her battle with cancer, and her friends put together a slide show to celebrate her life with all of us.

I wanna leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?

It hit close to home.

I’ve mentioned here in passing that I have a dear loved one battling terminal illness.  A week ago today, he lost his 12-year battle with cancer, but won the race of life and was received into Jesus’ arms.

My dad.

His joyous smile

When my parents divorced, my father was awarded primary custody of me and my older sister.  I was already living with him and continued to do so throughout high school and into college.

Prepping to walk me down the aisle

My father was such a role model to me. What I’ve learned since his death is the impact his life had on so many others.

The comments that have come have been truly astounding. His generosity, humor, fullness of life.  His magnetic presence, his joy, his clear love for his family (including my mom’s 9 brothers and sisters, as my dad was like an older brother to them).

My dad lived a life that impacted far more people than he likely ever realized. He was a role model to many.

I don’t remember hearing him say an unkind word about anyone. He was not one to complain. Even to the end, he alternated telling jokes with displaying his concern for his loved ones.

Did I choose to love?

He wasn’t perfect, of course.  Neither am I.  We certainly had bumps in our relationship.  But I can honestly say that my grief over his passing is not at all complicated by some of the questions that plague many who lose a parent.  I know he loved me and my sister deeply and was overflowing with pride at what our lives had become.

I just wish he didn’t have to leave so soon.

My father never failed to ask a store clerk, “How’s your day going?” with all sincerity.  He even would ask the nurses and doctors this during his long cancer battle, even when the situation was an emergency, or he was in a lot of pain (I witnessed this myself when I accompanied him to the emergency room).

He once shared with my stepmom that some people aspire to greatness in their lives; he aspired to goodness. This is what he instilled into me from a young age.

This is the legacy he chose to leave behind.

There were other things instilled in me from a young age, though not by my father. Venomous things that taught me to emphasize people’s flaws, to expect perfection of myself and others, that taught me not to trust.

Sometimes that venomous voice is so loud I cannot hear anything else. It’s also insidious. I’m only now starting to recognize the hold it still has on my thoughts.

What legacy will I leave?  Will I choose to love?

 

On the days when it’s hard to breathe, the days when I can’t imagine taking another step without my dad around to see, I remember his strength battling cancer, I remember his kindness and huge heart.  I remember his daily choice to love.

Oh, Lord, let that be my legacy…..

 
Dad, thank you for all you taught me, even if it was taught through silence (a skill I need to work on!). While I grieve that you were only here 64 years, I rejoice for the 37 1/2 (exactly to the day) years you spoke into my life. You had an amazing heart, and I can only pray that my life will be a light to many as yours was.  I miss you so much.  But since you are in heaven, give Bunny Boo and Grammy a hug for me, and could you please tell Keith Green I said, “hi”?

Freedom Friday: An Opportunity to Believe

Wednesday was not my prettiest day.

I’m not sure how to describe how I was feeling. Forlorn is about right. Discouraged, sad, disappointed and disillusioned would work, too.

In the afternoon, I went out to run errands. I was headed to the post office, where I knew there’d be a long line. I was wishing I had brought a book to read, other than the Bible (which is on my phone).

I then told God I didn’t want to read the Bible while I waited in line because I was annoyed at the current state of affairs. I was feeling frantic and inconsolable about the way He was allowing things to play out.

Basically, I was pouting and doubting.

Then He spoke.

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

My breath caught.

I knew exactly the story where Jesus spoke these words. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I’ve taught from this story on numerous occasions, within diverse contexts.

It’s the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Jesus came to Judea where Lazarus had died and had been laid in a tomb. Mary and Martha were with Him at the tomb (John 11).

“Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Martha, who moments earlier had said to Jesus with such faith, “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

When the time came to put that faith into action, she hesitated.

Jesus’ reply is recorded in the verse above that came to my heart:

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Martha was being given an opportunity to believe.

An opportunity is just an opportunity. In every opportunity, there is choice.

Martha was given an opportunity to choose to believe, or choose not to believe. She could choose to believe that God is true to His Word, that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He has said He will do. Or she could choose to remain in confusion and despair and doubt.

We have the same opportunity.

How will we respond when God invites us to roll away the stone?

God, do You really want to open that door?

I think this is my response at times.

Because it’s cold and it’s dark and that’s where I keep my pain. That’s where I hide away the stuff I don’t want the world (or You) to see. The pain, the fear, the junk I hold on to – it’s been in there so long that it’s starting to rot. It’s so bad, God, that it has even started to smell in there. If You open that door, God: well, it’s not going to be pretty and it’s not going to be nice.

Since when was God’s power constrained by ugliness? The stench doesn’t bother Him. And He doesn’t care if it’s pretty or nice. Pretty and nice don’t encapsulate His objectives.

He wants to do something beautiful.

Can you imagine if Jesus had said, “Oh, Martha, you think it might smell in there? Maybe you’re right. We should keep it closed. I’ve always had a weak stomach.”

Not our Savior. Not the One who endured the ugliness of the cross.

And out of that ugliness, God did something beautiful.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

When Lazarus came out of the tomb, his head, feet and hands still bound with grave clothes, Jesus said to those gathered, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

I imagine the people looked at Lazarus as one who was dead. Jesus saw past the grave clothes and saw one who was becoming alive.

Oh, how often I view my trials like this. I only see the death, the dreariness, the heartache and hopelessness.

Is this, too, how the disciples felt, as they watched Jesus take His last breath on the cross? As He declared, “It is finished,” and gave His spirit up to the One who sent Him?
Where had hope gone?

We are so short-sighted. Without death, we cannot fully appreciate life.
Sometimes, it’s us who have to die. Little by little, we have to lose our lives only to fully live.Where we see emptiness, hopelessness, death, Jesus looks at the same thing and simply sees its potential for life.

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10b AMP)

Oh, Lord, forgive my unbelieving heart. I want to see your glory in this opportunity to believe. Be magnified in my eyes and in my heart. Empower me to fully trust in You in this moment. You are able.

Transitions

Hi, friends of Living Unveiled.

Life is full of transitions.

This morning, as I drove to the gym, I had to turn the heat on in my car.

Autumn is coming, sooner than we think. I love autumn.

I’m writing today to share with you some transitions in my life, and how they might affect this blog.

Many of you know that we have been dealing with employment transitions in our home. I am currently working 3 part-time jobs (one of them being the ministry of Alive in Christ).

I also just started grad school part-time and am pursuing a Masters of Divinity through Regent University’s online learning program.

I am training for my first marathon (October 13th) where I will be raising $2620 to trample on sex trafficking (more on that later!).

In addition to that, we are trying to sell our condo and move to Virginia to be closer to family.

I plan on continuing to blog 🙂

That said, I need the freedom, some weeks, to say, “I can’t blog this week.” Whether it be work or family or a showing of the condo or a school deadline, I will need to be able to say, “I have enough on my plate this week,” and leave the blog for a few days (or weeks).

Thanks for allowing me that freedom.

Some weeks, I might repost a popular article, or one I liked a lot 🙂 Did you know there are 195 blog posts here? There is not a shortage of things to read. Sometimes, I read my own blog posts to reminder myself of what God has brought me through and shown to me.

I truly, truly value all the love, support and encouragement I receive with each comment (usually in person) about how much this blog means to you.

Thank you all.

Freedom Friday: Are Your Dreams Asleep?

“Once upon a time there was a funny dog named Crispin’s Crispian. He was named Crispin’s Crispian because – he belonged to himself.”


This is the beginning of one of our favorite children’s stories, Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself.

My husband discovered this book at the grocery store when my oldest was just a toddler. My kids loves this book. Love it. Ideally, they would like for me to read it 15 times a day.

In the book, Crispin’s Crispian meets a little boy in his travels. They cook dinner together and the boy moves into Crispian’s little house.

The final pages of the book describe them cleaning up after dinner and heading to bed. “He [Mr. Dog] curled up in a warm little heap and went to sleep. And he dreamed his own dreams.”

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Dog as I watched Bob Hamp’s “A Kingdom Parable” teaching this week. He tells the story of how a young man discovers who God created him to be (he’s an acrobat). At the end of the parable, Bob describes how people react to seeing this young man’s acrobatic feat.

He describes the audience as people whose hearts have gone to sleep, and are coming alive as they witness someone who is stepping into exactly who they were made to be. The people go home, and tie ropes to trees. They pick up those music lessons that have been forgotten for too long. Others simply go back to what they used to do when their dreams were still alive.

Has this ever happened to you?

Sometimes, I go to a show, I hear good music, and it inspires me to write. I’ve written some of my most honest and powerful songs this way. Other times, I hear an inspirational speaker talk about something that exhilarates me, and I go home and write a blog post.

I walked away from this Bob Hamp teaching and felt God put a question on my heart.

Are your dreams asleep? Is your heart asleep?

In the acrobat parable, the young man’s father says to him something that struck me as a profound truth. There are some things hidden in your heart that you will never discover if you don’t push yourself enough to find it.

I’ve written elsewhere on how to keep your dreams alive. I’ve also written about how God refines us and gives us the desires of our hearts. Those posts might be helpful resources.

Part of learning to walk in freedom, part of learning to become the person God created you to be is fanning those dreams that He has given you. It’s infusing hope into them when there is no visible reason to hope.

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8 (NLT)

Ask yourself today: are my dreams asleep? What dreams are hidden in my heart, things I’ve seen glimpses of, but have been afraid to dig deeper and discover their fullness? Have I, or the enemy, squelched and buried the dreams and hopes God had conceived in us? Is it because they seem too big, too wild, too unrealistic?

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

Do I believe that God is able? Do I believe that God is not only able, but willing? Not just willing, but that He has a deep desire to bless me and love on me and see my dreams come true?

Unlike Mr. Dog, we do not belong to ourselves. We belong to God. And we find out who we are by staring into His eyes and seeing ourselves reflected in Him. We discern who He created us to be by diving into His heart and resting in Him. We discover the power to keep our dreams alive in His presence.

Wake up your dreams today. Get out your journal and remind yourself of what they are. Position yourself in a warm little heap in God’s lap and allow Him to redeposit those dreams into your heart (I envision this involving hot cocoa with marshmallows for some reason).

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Two resources that might be helpful in assisting you in this exercise: The Kiss of Heaven by Darlene Zschech and Holy Discontent by Bill Hybels.

Dream your own dreams, the ones God has given you. You are dear to God, and your dreams are His gift to you. Nurture those dreams as you would care for delicate gift from a dear loved one.

Freedom Friday: Is Brokenness a Blessing?

Soon after I began following Jesus, I read the book, “The Blessings of Brokenness” by Charles Stanley. Honestly, I can’t remember a ton about what specifically the book said, but I just remember it really clicking with me.

In my past, I felt as if I needed to put on a show for people. To demonstrate that I had it all together, I had it all figured out. I would openly discuss parts of my life that I felt I had some handle on. The parts of my life where I felt overwhelmed, confused, and just plain broken – those parts I would hide from almost everyone.

I carried this method of concealing what was really going on into my Christian walk.

I think the bottom line, my core belief (you can read a thorough discussion of core beliefs in Russell Willingham’s book, “Relational Masks”) seemed to be: I can only share honestly about a struggle if I have that struggle figured out.

Core beliefs associated with that would be:

I will appear weak if I am honest.

I show I am strong if I share what I’ve overcome.

If I share my current struggles, everyone will know I’m broken.

Wow. What heavy burdens to carry. Burdens Jesus wanted to carry all along.

I’ve been mulling over this a lot after I recently shared with a group that I’m very comfortable with the fact that I am broken. Some people responded by laughing; some just looked at me strangely. Others nodded in agreement. Since then, I’ve been doing some pondering, some reading and wondering, what do I mean by brokenness?

In her book, “Brokenness, The Heart God Revives“, Nancy Leigh DeMoss says this: “Brokenness is the stripping of self-reliance and independence from God. The broken person has no confidence in his own righteousness or his own works, but he is cast in total dependence upon the grace of God working in and through him.”

Russell Willingham, in a book I’ve mentioned previously called ““Breaking Free”“, has an entire chapter devoted to this topic called “The Courage to be Broken”. He defines brokenness simply as “spiritual poverty” or being “poor in spirit” and asserts “we must grasp our fundamental brokenness and stop pretending we are something else.” He distinguishes between brokenness and sinfulness:

The main reason we struggle with the idea of brokenness is that we see it as a sign of sin. Though the two are related and often overlap, they are not the same thing.

Willingham talks about David’s statement in Psalm 109:22: “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” He writes that brokenness comes from being wounded. “This wounding can come from being born into a fallen world, being sinned against by others, or committing sins of our own.” Here’s why the distinction is so important to understand:

The man who understand this [that we are broken/wounded] doesn’t condemn himself when the old system fires up again. He expects such occurrences but quickly defaults to the new settings as soon as he realizes what is happening. However, the man who doesn’t understand his fundamental brokenness berates himself when the old machinery kicks into gear. He then falls into self-loathing or says, “What’s the use?” and gives in.

Brokenness is spiritual poverty.

Acknowledging my brokenness allows God to breath life into me, embracing the humility to permit Him to shape me into whom He created me to be.

Brokenness means that Jesus’ salvation didn’t transform me into something other than a human being. Accepting my brokenness is simply stating that I’m imperfect and that’s OK; I don’t have to pretend to be something I am not. It means that salvation began the process of transforming me into a new person, but that process is not complete.

I do not coddle my brokenness, or use it as an excuse for sin or bad decisions. It’s just a simple declaration that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

One of the ways I define brokenness today (a saying borrowed from 12-step groups) is:

I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let God.

“True brokenness is a lifestyle – a moment-by-moment lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and life – not as everyone else thinks it is but as He knows it to be.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss