Sister, you’re not alone!

Just thought I would let you know that if you are having a difficult day, or if you are still struggling with the same old stuff after many years: You’re not alone.

I was reminded of this when I did my Bible study today in the late afternoon (and you thought I always get it done early in the morning:) I was surprised to read a very honest piece written by Beth Moore about how difficult and sad her life can be at times. It made me feel better, not that I want her to go through any of those things, but I tend to put famous and influential women on a pedestal, forgetting that they too are only flesh and blood. There are lot of Spiritual qualities in Beth and other women that I admire and that I desire to have in my own life, but sometimes it helps my heart to hear that I’m not the only one who has off days.

So I thought I would encourage you: You’re not alone. We are sisters in Christ and we can encourage each other with our spiritual gifts, but also with our honest acknowledgment of our own humanity. So be blessed today to know that I too get tempted, sometimes I overcome, and sometimes I don’t. I too get sad and sometimes God lifts me out of it in a moment and other times I have a journey to complete before I get over it. Whatever you’re going through, you can be certain that somewhere on this planet another precious sister in Christ is going through the same thing.

The good news: We can make it, because we have Jesus and we have each other! Even though I might not personally know you, I pray that you will be blessed and God will bring along a friend in your life that can be both a Holy example and a real shoulder to cry on when things get tough.

Give me strength!

I have yet to meet a woman who always has time on her hands, never looks exhausted, and always seems relaxed. In heaven we might see more of those, but here on earth most women are overworked and underpaid, seriously!

Okay, so sometimes we choose a lifestyle that make us run a hundred miles an hour. In this case some serious self reflecting and maybe counseling might be an option to regain our sanity. However, most of us, as our mothers before us, are simply caught in the rat race of life, where everything seems urgent and pressing.

We know the answer: We have to slow down and make time to get into God’s presence. The Bible encourages us so many times to wait upon the Lord. The results are miraculous: You will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not be faint (that would be me), and you will rise up on wings like the eagles (Isaiah 40:31). If your life is anything like mine, you will know that we need nothing short of a miracle to start running without pulling a muscle!

Some days I am so exhausted and emotional drained that I just lay before God and cry. It reminds me of my little girl, when she’s really tired she can’t find the words to tell me what’s wrong, she just cries. God is such a compassionate father. Whenever I’m just laying before Him, too tired to utter a word, He never fails to comfort me, give me wisdom, have me take a nap, or just give me that miraculous infusion of strength straight from heaven’s storerooms.

“Holy Spirit, please keep nudging me every day to go to my Father instead of turning to things that don’t satisfy (such as overeating and watching TV) and can not help me”

No greater joy!

I am shamelessly crying while I’m typing this post. These are not tears of sadness, no it’s tears of joy and wonder. I am in awe of our wonderful Lord and Savior.

Tonight I received an email from a lady who gave her life to Jesus through my program. I don’t think I will ever get used to this kind of news. To me there is nothing in this world that compares to the feeling of seeing someone, especially a woman who is heavy burdened under the load of eating disorders, accepting the voice of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28)

I’m just as human as the next lady, and you can believe me if I tell you that there are days when I’m not sure that I should ever have written anything. Other days the enemy attacks me with condemnation and doubt about my past. But when I hear a testimony like this, I know it was worth it, and I know that God can and will use any broken vessel, like me, if we will only let Him.

I can never get enough of His amazing love for us! I can still not believe that He is just so willing to take all of our sin, all our sorrow, all our pain, all our overeating, all our struggles with food, all of our unbelief and change it into a beautiful life.

There is truly no one as happy, just plain happy, as the captive that has been set free. Even now Jesus’ words in Isaiah 61:1, the words that brought freedom to my life, are ringing in my ears
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners”

Hold the advise, please!

If you have been dealing with food addiction for a while, the last thing you need to hear is another human being telling you to just get over it, have some self control and eat less already!

Some individuals are just plain rude and like to give advise about everything (including things they don’t know anything about). But there are also people who honestly intend to help us, but don’t know that their well meant advise can make us feel worse and sink even deeper into the eating disorder. It doesn’t help to take away food, count our calories for us, go on a diet with us or bring us every new diet that comes out. All these things just add to our stress level and self condemnation.

We have already tried all the diets and our answer does not lay in diets at all. The thing we need more than anything is acceptance, love, support and prayer. We have to figure the rest out with God and a professional who knows that we can’t just “get it together” already.

Just recently a lady told me that food is just a temptation, and overweight people should simply say NO. God helped me not to say anything, because words would have been wasted on this particular lady, but on my way home I prayed that God would grant me grace to “hold the advise”.

There were times when I gave people advise about things I knew nothing about and situations I have never been in. This advise giving can especially be going around when it comes to raising kids: As if any of us really know all the answers. I asked that God would help me to guard my mouth ( what goes in and comes out), but also search my heart for any pride that causes me to give unwelcome advise. After all, what is in the heart spills all over the place (my translation:)

Dear Blue Jeans!

021217_0017_0016.wbcYesterday I bumped into one of my dear friends who I haven’t seen for a while. She had a pair of blue jeans on and a twinkle in her eye.

Her story reads very much like mine and for this reason I understood exactly where she came from when she blurted out “I fit into my jeans!”
It takes a certain type of women to understand: The one who battled overeating for years, who had to wear black sweat pants for decades, and tried forever to fit into a pair of jeans. So I was immediately on board, ready to celebrate with her! God has done an amazing work in her life and for the first time in many years she could take a pair of blue jeans (without elastic) from the back of her closet and put it on.

Another friend couldn’t get over the fact that she now, for the first time in her life, have been able to wear long boots. These are truly spoils that we take back from the enemy when we overcome. Sure the major victory lies in the ability to maintain a decent weight and to have peace like a river flowing through your life. However, let’s not forget about the little joys that means so much when you break free form the claws of overeating and food addiction.

You too can experience the peace and the joy: God has it, and it’s available to all who believe and refuse to give up!

Strife steals!

Strife is one of those things that can steal a life and destroy relationships.

I don’t want to be someone who bickers and complains about stuff. However, if I don’t stay on guard in this area it creeps up on me. I know that we are warned in Ephesians that strife grieves the Holy Spirit and in my struggle with food addiction I’ve learned that I can not afford to grieve the Holy Spirit. In fact in order to break free from eating disorders or any other addiction, one needs the living, guiding Spirit of God right beside you, every step of the way.

For a few weeks now I have been bickering, not outright fighting or arguing, although I have had my share of that too. No, this was more a constant complaining and fault finding, especially surrounding my marriage. When my husband pointed it out I was defensive and the bickering escalated into a full fledged argument.

Fortunately God loves me too much to let me wander off onto a path of destruction. So he cornered me. I picked up a book of Joyce Meyers and it was all about getting rid of strife. I listened to a sermon a few days later and Strife was mentioned. Sure enough, this morning when I picked up my Bible study, there it was again.

Finally convinced, I hit the carpet and confessed. What a relief! What a difference when God opens our eyes! It’s the same eyes that others tried to pry open, but in a second God can remove the veil and you can see… Strife can not be tolerated, not even during PMS:)

5am: The Hour of Horror!

You can probably tell from the title that I started getting up at 5 am. It’s terrible! It’s dark and gloomy and everybody is still asleep and I feel so sorry for myself.

I started doing this for the last couple of weeks because I have had sick kids and there is no way I can get to the gym or have some alone time with God when I have to tend to the poor little sick ones. So I chose to get up before the crack of dawn and get it done.

Of course Mondays are the worst. This morning I dragged my sorry bones out of bed and felt waves of self pity sweep over me. I was convinced that I have invented some form of self torture, and just like every other morning during the last two weeks I couldn’t help but wonder “How is this worth it?” While pulling on my sweats I started making plans to get out of this hour of horror. I would go through every excuse and every alternative in my mind.

You would think that once I reach the car I would feel much better and my mood would change, but no such luck. Ice on the windows and a sleepy neighborhood is not exactly the best mood lifter. So I shiver all the way to the gym, and lo and behold what do I find: Lots of people, awake at this terrible hour, walking, sweating and running like you won’t believe. At that point the self pity started to vanish a bit. If I want to look good, feel good and have a good day, I guess there is a price. So I gave the receptionist a weak little smile and started walking the treadmill, armed with my scripture cards, ready to give the enemy a kick in the head.
Half way through my routine all thoughts of hating exercise and quitting left my mind. I felt good, I was going to be okay, life is not that bad after all.

And when I left there at 6:30, what do you know, the sun was up and the world looked beautiful. I felt God’s touch in the early morning breeze.
The best part for me: Exercise is behind me and I’ve put my spiritual armor on at the same time. I don’t have to worry about that for the rest of the day. This day sure looks promising…

Sad Valentine (:

With just a day to spare until Valentine’s day, I find myself in tears. Now some would call these tears of self-pity, but I just call it “real woman tears”

You don’t have to live long as a a woman on this planet of ours to have your heart shattered into tiny pieces, and Valentines day sure gives ample opportunity for just such a heartbreak.

Of course not everybody is a Sad Valentine. There certainly are those “young and in love” who have only tasted the sweet side of love. They make us drool and think of our own first love. Others have discovered new romance in their marriage after many dry years, and we wish them the best from the bottom of our hearts. And then of course there are the few fortunate women, the ones we don’t speak of, who married incurable romantics. This rare species of men embrace Valentine’s day (and their wives) with everything they have (gasp).

I belong to the group that has been married for a while, and sadly wised-up to the fact that romance takes some work. On Valentines day some extra work will pay of: A hint here, a reservation there and a grateful heart for even the smallest token of affection will do the trick. So, through the years I’ve had many happy Valentine’s days because of an extra effort, but also my share of ones where I’m overwhelmed with self-pity (okay I’ve said it).

So, today is one of those above mentioned days where I just have this yearning to be swept off my feet on a white horse and carried away to a “castle of romance”. Off course all the adds on TV and stores filled with tokens of “love” are not helping! It’s not that my man has never shown any sign of romance. He was actually very romantic when we were dating: I know, I know, aren’t they all? There was also this one time when dearest hubby forgot all about Valentine’s day (despite all the hinting and reminding the kids to remind Dad:) He was in the dog box, to say the least. A few weeks after, I received a big bouquets of flowers delivered to my doorstep. The card said “Happy Roger’s day”. He explained that he made up his own special day to show this St Valentine a thing or two. Now that was pretty romantic (and practical seeing that he saved a bunch of money), so I know there’s hope…

However, usually during one of my pity parties, just before I totally give in to despair, I am reminded of others who think that I’m the lucky one. I have so many family members and dear friends who lost the one they love, and for them Valentine’s day can be excruciating. Some are married like me, but it’s never easy: They pretend to be callous, but are deeply wounded by husbands who hate all the hype around dates that are important to a woman’s heart. They go on and on about the waste of money, the pressure etc, etc. My heart aches for all these loved ones of mine, and I am grateful again that I have someone who really loves me for who I am. I don’t know what the future holds and if I will still be this lucky next year.

There is one thing we do know for sure: God loves us! He says that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He assures us in His Word that nothing will ever separate us from His love. I am not suggesting that we don’t need someone “with some skin on” in our lives. I’m merely suggesting that we can go to Him, as I did this morning, with tears of sorrow, loneliness, rejection or a broken heart. He will mend it, and something else will happen: If we keep coming to Him with our deepest darkest secrets, a new relationship is forged: A relationship that can never be taken from us, and that will only cause love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Would you be His Valentine? He’s eagerly looking, and waiting for you and me to accept His tokens of love…
And lets not forget that He has good things in mind for us: We can keep waiting for that miracle of blooming romance in our marriages, keep praying for that special someone to come into our lives, and keep believing that love might be waiting around the next corner when we least expect it…

Happy Valentine’s Day
Heleen

 

 

High Tea at the Heathman!

capture28A few weeks ago I was invited to some serious girl time: A tea party!
Not the kind I have with my little girl in the back yard, nor the kind I try my best to “recreate” when I have a few ladies over. No, I’m talking about the real thing: High Tea at the the Heathman!

Now before you suspect that I am a privileged lady who spend countless afternoons with fine china and little crumpets, let me tell it as it is: I have never been to the Heathman or any other “high” tea for that matter. Sure we’ve had tea parties in my home country in lovely tea gardens, and my grandma and I used to go to a tea shop for tea and scones. However, having high tea at a prestigious hotel was some mysterious experience I’ve only heard of.

The fun started as soon as a dear friend extended a generous invitation to me. I accepted eagerly, but the minute I put the phone down my roller coaster ride began. One day I would be all excited and the next day I would wonder what in the world I was going to wear, if my purse that survived four children would do, and if the nail polish that’s been sitting in my closet for two years was still any good.

So a few days ago the big day came and I end up wearing my trusted black pants and a blouse with a hint of the “girly-girl” hidden deep inside me. I actually went out and bought myself a new purse: I still miss my old one, I can not find my keys or cell phone for the life of me! As for the homemade manicure, yeah, that never happened.

Great was my relief to find my friends just the way they were a week ago. Granted, we all dressed up a little, but for the most part they were just the girls I love.

When the moment arrived we were seated in cushy chairs at a picture perfect table, surrounded by breath taking architecture and interior design. I felt nervous, this was it, the moment of truth: Do I have enough “lady” in me to pull this off? To my relief things started unraveling fast: We didn’t realize we were suppose to wait for the waiter to pour our tea, I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find the little thingy where you’re suppose to put the other thingy, and we laughed…

All pretentiousness lost, we relaxed. We discussed the scrumptious delicacies while poking at it with tiny forks, and we drank tea from small cups with elevated pinkies (okay not so much the pinkies). In the end we were all just girls talking and laughing; different ages, different cultures, different personalities, but the same. We shared an amazing high tea, but I was more aware of the fact that we shared similar fears, insecurities, loves, heart aches and passions.

On the way home we had a moment where all masks dropped to the ground and I felt myself blurt out one of my deepest fears. So am I proud of myself for being so open and honest? Off course not! Today I wonder what they must think of me, but I smile when I suspect they worry about the same thing.

Us girl folk are really much more alike than we realize, especially those of us who love God. Yes, we bug each other and we get on each others’ nerves. We perceive some of our friends to be too open and we accuse others of not being real. We envy our skinny friends and feel just a little bit of pride that we don’t look like others, but in the end we stop… and we see only the hearts… and it’s beautiful. If you know a woman who loves God, you can just wait it out, it’s just a matter of time before her heart will show, and it will look very similar to the heart you carry, the heart of Jesus…

Goodness knows, I need more girl time! The evening after the tea party I went looking for a facial mask that I’ve had for months. To the surprise of my family, I locked myself in the bathroom and had some long overdue me-time. I realized again how other women bring us in touch with the girly side of us that God made so special.

We get lost in the swamp of careers, husbands, children, ministry, laundry and dishes. That’s why we sometimes need the manicured hand of a girl friend, with a beautiful heart, to pull us out and remind us: You are an amazing and unique daughter of the King…

Hunting down Jealousy and it’s evil twin, Envy!

I must admit, it has been a struggle for me. All my life I have to beat down this green eyed monster and it’s sidekick, envy.

Part of it had to do with eating disorders. Struggling with food, set me up for a low self esteem and in return a low self esteem pushed me deeper into a food struggle. So you really get trapped in a vicious cycle.

While going through the process of healing God and I spoke a lot about this. Why do I feel jealous of some people, and more so, why do I envy other women that look better, act better, have more stuff, are happier, do and say all the right things, and for crying out loud, eat whatever they want and never pick up an ounce. Getting older doesn’t really help. These days I have to contend with those who are younger as well.

I have learned a lot about how the enemy plays women against each other to keep us from being what God intended: sisters in Christ, best friends and allies against the Devil. I am so amazed how much God have changed me in this area and I wrote a lot about this in my course for women struggling with food.

However, this time my bout with envy looked a little different. My focus was on other families that seem to have so much more than us, do so much more, and just seemed so blessed in comparison to us. You know how quickly the enemy can color the picture, until we forget all about the countless blessing in our own lives.

It started with a little uncomfortable tweak of envy towards good friends of ours. Nothing serious, because I love them and I want them to have things and go places… I just want it too. So I let this envy go unchecked. Harmless, right? Or maybe not…

A few days later I found myself stewing about acquaintance who are younger than us, yet have everything we can only dream of. This time I wasn’t so generous in my approach though. I shook my finger at God and whined: ” This isn’t fair! They are not even Christians, how can they deserve any of this!” I was getting angry and mean. I thought about them all the time, hoping to come across some dirty laundry. I spent hours comparing “us” with “them” in my mind. I simply had to find a weakness. I even had imaginary conversations with my new “enemy”,  where I would “enlighten” them on all our family’s accomplishments.

I know, it’s sad and especially shocking now that I write it down. This went on for a few days and then God got a hold of me early this morning. How could I have missed the fact that I was completely without love: Love does not envy or boast and it certainly does not rejoice in the misfortune of other. Okay, granted, it’s very much human behavior, but it’s a far cry from the Agape love that has been poured out in my heart. Why does it always take me so long to see my own sin? I could have saved myself days of agony and hours wasted on people that I (for a few days) exalted above my God.

Oh, that I will keep my eyes more on God and less on people! I am so grateful that He loves me even in my prideful state. He opened my eyes again this morning to see: Some of the envy I felt are really just desires, good desires He places in my heart and the “envy” should nudge me to go after those things!  Other things I envy in people are just foolish, things that are certainly not in His plan for me.

I said sorry, really sorry for being such a spoiled brat, and I asked Him to plug the envy out of my heart and give me the strength again to go after my own dreams instead of being envious. Last, I asked Him to fill my heart again with His love for people.

I got up from that carpet, and you know it… Peace like a river and Love, amazing love even for my enemy…