Believe The Truth Challenge (day 9)

A few weeks ago a dear friend began a challenge. She called it: #believethetruthchallenge

This challenge requires her to daily admit a negative thing, lie, or a self-critical belief she held, and then attack it with the opposite truth, and to share this on social media.

Sometimes we Christ followers refer to such thoughts or beliefs such as ‘I’m lazy’ as lies. Rightly so, as they are lies or at least misplaced perspective towards oneself.

I decided to join her on this challenge. I became aware very early on that this was not going to be an easy thing. Hence the word challenge. 🙃 I knew it would stretch me but I had no idea all that would be stirred. I quickly became overwhelmed and considered throwing in the towel but I have decided to follow through.

I recently realized some of these things would require a bit more than a quick Instagram post, and that brings me to where I am today.

It is no secret to anyone with fully functioning eyes that I could stand to lose more than a few pounds. My roommate’s daughter told me just yesterday in fact “Rachel you should lose weight.”

*warning side rant*

Why on earth do thinner people think it is okay to say that to a chubby person? Like losing weight is just some easy thing to do like they are just saying ‘Go to the store.’ Or ‘Walk the dog.’ Seriously do you have ANY idea how incredibly difficult it is to lose weight? You are talking about a many-year commitment and an entirely new way of doing EVERYTHING. Losing weight is not an easy thing, so shut up! 🔥🔥💥 Unless you are my momma or my doctor, shut your cotton picking pie-hole and mind your own business. 😤  Thanks. 👌🏼

Any way…

I am by all sense of the definition fat. I am fat. I am a fat person. It’s okay, don’t cry. Oddly enough I also feel like a fat person. Being fat is not only a physical state of being, it is also (as every woman knows) a feeling. I imagine the feeling is a bit worse when you actually are fat, but I digress.

I struggle with this daily, sometimes hourly. I feel as though I am not a human person. I rail against my body. I even have on many occasions and levels hated it. I have been disgusted by my body, revolted even.

The thing is though that’s not fair. My body didn’t force me to eat all those calories. My body didn’t force me to eat double quarter-pounders with cheese, buckets of fries, six chocolate chip cookies, and a milkshake on the regular. My body didn’t force me to lay around the house for 8 to 10 hours a day watching movies. I did all those things to my body. If hating should happen my body should be hating me.

God gave me this beautiful gift and I cookie by cheeseburger desecrated it. Are there extenuating circumstances as to why I became so morbidly obese? Yes. Are there biological factors at play here? Yes. Did I lose over 200 pounds? Yes. However that is not an excuse and it does not negate the fact that I made hundreds of extremely unhealthy, poor decisions. I treated my body like the nations treat our oceans. I repent.

Without my body I would have no home for my spirit and soul. I would not be me. My body has afforded me the privilege of experiencing the earth in all its wonder. My body (even in its broken down state) is a marvel. My body is a God-designed masterpiece, despite my efforts to ruin it. It is strong and resilient. My body is a miracle in many ways.

I have decided to stop hating it. I have decided to be grateful for it now. I have decided to see the beauty and glory God has deposited in it now the way it is, and not wait until it is in “better shape” to love and appreciate my body. My body is not perfect but it is a gift and I am grateful.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2017

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Gossip

Gossip… it is such a small word… six letters, yet it can destroy the world. It may not literally cause the earth to explode in flaming doom but it sure can feel like the end of the world and it can lead to the end of a relationship.

I have struggled for many years to define gossip. I am inclined to understand things and usually the way I begin that process is to grasp completely the definition of something. I have not found this to be an easy task when it comes to gossip. The bible teaches that gossip is evil and not to be done. It is pretty clear that the Big Nacho Eater in the sky finds gossip to be a deplorable practice. Because I am a person who cares about doing things that make God’s heart happy I want to make sure not to be participating in gossip. I fail at this goal all the time. All. The. Time.

I hear others say things like ‘I am woman so I like to gossip.’ ‘It is just so hard not to!’ ‘I like it, it’s fun.’ Okay that last one nearly made me gag, but honestly I have heard people say it. Men and women by the way. Ladies get a bad wrap for tongue wagging but I have known men to be among some of the worst gossips on the planet. I would dare say that it is a even split. I think that I might be able to write a book on this topic and perhaps one day I will, but that day is not today.

I shall return to the beginning. What is gossip?

When I was a teen in youth group it was explained as talking about other people in a way that is not true. Spreading rumors in other words. So I tucked that away and made sure not to do that. I didn’t spread, or continue to spread rumors. If I heard something about someone I would go to that person and ask them about it. That is where the trouble started. I thought I was not gossiping. I didn’t think I was doing wrong yet I found myself hurting people that I cared about. I have come to learn though that, that is not a true or correct definition of gossip. In fact that is a definition of yet another no no from the bible, (man so many rules!) and it is slander. Spreading rumors and lies about someone is slander. It is also very poisonous and destructive, but not gossip.

So then what in the world is gossip and how do I not participate? Where is the line between talking with friends about life and gossip?

Websters defines it this way:

noun

idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others

Hmm. Well that wasn’t much help. Thanks for nothing you useless reptile. 😉

As I have traveled through life there have been many times that I have been talking with friends and as we were catching up the conversation would go to the topic of others and I began to feel unsettled in myself. For many years I ignored it as I did with all of my feelings. In the last few years I have been intentional about not ignoring my heart. I have not encountered this scenario very many times in the last few years but there are two times that stand out.

One of the times was about three years ago at the beginning of my non heart ignoring lifestyle. A friend was sharing with me some concern she had for a family situation and shared with me her thoughts and opinions and conversations surrounding it. Later I was talking with another close friend and member of the same family and the topic came up. This person was sharing their hurt and frustration and I told them something my other friend had told me and boy did it cause a problem. Not only did it make an already bad situation worse but it deeply hurt my friend. I was not thinking. I was trying to help. I didn’t think that what I had done was gossip but it was. I could have destroyed a precious friendship. My friend forgave me and chose to still trust me after that debacle. When I think of the risk that she took I am amazed at her strength and grace. I don’t know that I would have been able to give the gift she gave to me to someone who hurt me that way. I don’t deserve her.

Another happened recently and after many restless nights I am still licking my wounds. A while ago I was in a situation where I was catching up with a friend and the conversation went towards a mutual friend. She began to tell me things so and so had told so and so and I listened for much longer than I should have. I began to feel a little sick in my heart and I steered the conversation away from that topic. Later I wondered why I had felt that way. Was it because that was gossip? Recently the person whom the information concerned shared with me the same thing and when I respond with the words ‘I know.’  the pain it caused him was palpable. I might as well have stabbed him in the heart with a flaming sword. It took him a couple of days to let me know how much that hurt him, and what he thought of it all. His words were… painful to hear. In fact they burned through me and my entire body grew cold. He was not unkind, and what he said was truth. Still it sucks to hurt a friend and to know that they have lost respect for you.

I never thought how either of my friends would feel about what I listened to and what I said. I never thought about how any of the people I have listened to other people talk about would feel.

 I have come to realize that gossip is discussing anything about another person that does not edify, honor, or support them. True or not true is irrelevant. Talking about another persons failure, indiscretion, ruin, health, or personal business is gossip. The only person’s failure, indiscretion, ruin, health, or personal business you should be talking about is your own.

If you are about to talk about someone put yourself in their place. Ask yourself if I were them how would I feel about this topic being talked about? Would it hurt you? Would it make you feel uncomfortable, or bad? Don’t say it. Also ask your self if it edifies, honors, or supports the person. If it doesn’t then don’t say it. When someone asks you how a mutual acquaintance is doing make sure you only share things that honor the person. If you can’t think of anything then say ‘You should call them up and ask yourself.’ These questions would have helped me to avoid both of these situations and countless others that came before them.

I wish I could take back the hurt that I caused by my ignorance, I wish I had not failed my friends, but I have learned form both of those failures. I hope that I can be more sensitive in the future and live as a better friend.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2017

Words.

I was talking with a dear friend about words. Words are powerful. Words are more than mere mutterings, and they are more than symbols on a page. They are so much more. Words carry a lot of power. With your words you can literally mold your future.

Now I know what you are thinking; ‘Oh great she has jumped into the pool of coocooness and gone off the deep end!’ , or maybe; ‘Well that sounds like a bunch of poop. I am going to stop reading if she doesn’t start making sense.’ Well hang on a minute bear with me.

I have read many accounts of people who have said very specific things that seemed absurd and those things happened. For example I read about a father on the east coast who had a daughter that lost her ability to walk due to a car accident. He would often say, “I would give my right arm for my daughter to walk again.” One day he and his daughter were traveling and were in another accident. After all was said and done his daughter somehow regained the feeling in her legs and walked again, and he had lost his right arm in the accident. Spooky. Also I read about how Jim Carey would sit at a look out point in the Hollywood hills and picture millions of dollars coming to him. He did this when he was broke and his car was practically falling apart. He nor his car are no longer broke, and he continues to be one of the highest paid actors in tinsel town. What is the point am I saying? Am I saying that if I sit and visualize living on the moon someday I will live have a vacation home there? Maybe. What I am really poking at though is that words are powerful. What ever you say is what you life will look like. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” -Proverbs 23:7

Do you think to yourself ‘I can do this. I can do anything I put my mind to.’ Do you think, ‘I am a looser. No one likes me. I am not special, or talented.’ Do you think, ‘I am a failure. Things never work out for me.’ Do you think,’Everyone who meets me loves me. I am an amazing person.’ Whichever of these things you think you are right! Do you think you are the most freaking awesome person ever? You are right! Do you think you are the worst and no one really likes you? You are right! Do you know that happiness is a house you  and YOU alone can build?

Image result for happiness cartoon i made it myself

God gave us an amazing amount of power. When we join our life with His the amount of power is extravagant beyond human understanding, but all on our own with just the basic amount of pull He has endowed us all it is mind boggling. We have free will. He made us to be the master of our little pocket of the universe. That is what life is. When you were born you were given a small pocket of the universe to steward, shape and influence.

I don’t know about you but for most of my life I have been entirely oblivious to the glorious privilege that I have been given. Life is just… well life. I exist and I often take that for granted entirely. I never really thought about the amazing blessing that not only consciousness but life on earth actually is. Even when life is hard, even when life is pain, it is still devastatingly radiant. I have only lived about of a third of the time I will likely travel on this planet and it has already been one swirly, lovely, adrenaline laden, self expanding, mind bowing journey. I have been in some dark places in life, and I have also been in some overwhelmingly luminous ones. I have tasted, touched, heard, smelled and seen incredible things. I have loved, been loved, created, destroyed, traveled, been stationary, taken, given, hurt, healed, shrank, grown, sacrificed, risked, blessed, been blessed, read, learned, taught, listened, spoken, remained silent, roared, succeeded, failed, fallen, soared, climbed, slipped, fought, won, lost, breathed, and held my breath. I have made friends, and I have lost them. I have been present at the beginning of lives, and at the end lives. They are both filled with wonder. I think that as I stand here in the middle of my third decade spinning around the yellow star we call the sun my toes touch the threshold of an awareness that will forever change me.

God has given me many gifts. They are seemingly common. All people have them. I have the gift of words, time, choice, and life. I have for a time my own pocket of the universe to shape and influence. Within that pocket are all the people that love me and that I love. Also in the pocket are people that I know and know me to one depth or another. Every single thing I choose to say and do whether to myself or to them effects all of those people in some way or another. Even if I choose to stay in my house and never speak to anyone that effects people. I have realized that in life there is no such thing as a sure bet, or a safe one.

I have also realized that whatever story I tell myself is what I will live. If I tell myself I am no better than excrement and have nothing of value to offer than that is how I will live and everything I say will reflect that world view. If I hate myself everything I say and do will be mingled with that blackness. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” -Jesus

If however I learn to love, value and speak kindly to myself, and forgive easily my short comings that light and warmth will spill out of me as well. If I fill myself with the thoughts and love of my Maker how much more will I live? “I have come that you would have life, and life more abundant!” -Jesus

I have experienced abundant moments but I have yet to live an abundant life. I want that. I want abundant life. God has been showing me that all great change begins with small easy changes. For me the beginning of my trek towards abundant life looks like receiving the finished of the work of the cross, and changing my words. The Master of the universe gave me the life of His only son. It is not acceptable for me to say any destructive words about myself. It is not acceptable to hold myself hostage to any of my past sins. They are forgiven and that forgiveness is complete. It is not acceptable to tear and rip my self-worth apart every time I stumble or get stuck for a bit. It is not acceptable to pour poisonous words into my mind and heart about myself. All that God has for me is love, all He has for me is good. God is good. God is love. I want to be more like Him. He made me in His image and I need to be restored to a pure sate of that refection. Words are the beginning of that restoration.

I am a child of God. I am the child of the King of kings. I am loved. I am accepted in the Beloved. I am whole. I am filled with power. I am a child of God. I am not anything less.

Change your words, change your pocket of the universe.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2017

Image result for galaxies

 

Midnight

 Sometimes things do not turn out the way I want them to. Sometimes things don’t go the way I hope. Sometimes things happen that just plain suck.

Life has been rough for me lately. In fact 2015 was not a stellar year for me all around. It began and it ended with deep gut wrenching heartache. There was quite a lot of it in the middle too. I have been in some of the lowest low points I have ever been in… ever. I have made some really bad decisions. I have made some very tough decisions. I have suffered some big losses. In fact the person I was at the beginning of this year would at this point be throwing in the towel on life right about now. The person I am now though is not going to do that.

Some things in me are very different than they once were. I do admit I feel the familiar tug of self pity knocking on my heart’s door. However the person I am now knows better. For example I now know in my heart that in spite of how things may appear right now God is on my side. God is for me, God is fighting for me, and God is on time. I also know that even though I have suffered loss I am not a loser. I am not alone. I am not destroyed. I am not less. I am not desolate.

Sometimes life kicks me in the teeth. That is just what happens when living life in an imperfect world. This year life has kicked me in the teeth many times. Some of the times I brought the kick on myself, and sometimes I didn’t. The strange thing is that it still feels just as horrible when I brought it on myself as when I didn’t.

After this year I could go on and on about all the wrongs done to me, all the failures and defeats. I could lament and wail about the injustice of it all and ask, “why me? Why do I have to suffer on top of suffering?!” If I were to go into details I am sure most people would sympathize and understand why I would lament so. Oddly though, I have no desire for lamentations.

Do I feel all perky and awesome inside right now? No. No I do not. Even so I feel at peace. I feel loved and deeply grateful. God loves me a lot. God is looking out for me and saved me from certain and utter destruction. I have amazing people in my life who really, actually, really for real love and cherish me. Those people are looking out for me and are standing with me and are willing to go to bat for me if I need them to. I am surrounded on all sides but such real extravagant Love.

I will exit 2015 as I entered it: single. I will however exit 2015 much much differently than I entered it: single but not alone, single and deeply loved.

I may not have someone to kiss me at midnight, I may not have someone to make plans for the coming year with regarding a future together, I may not be planning my dream wedding in 2016, but I am not broken up about it. I have so many people who love me and, unlike at the beginning of this year, I see and hear them now. I may not get a smooch tonight, but I know that someone (probably more than one) will hug me at midnight, say I love you to me, and they will mean it. That is real, and it is more than enough. I am grateful.

Fast

imageIt is crazy how fast things can change. Life is life. Just a few weeks ago I thought the holidays were going to be a lot different this year. Turns out they will be pretty much the same as last year and the year before… well at least logistically speaking. I will still have a bare ring finger on my left hand. I will still have a Christmas tree decorated with the ornaments I grew up with. I will eat Christmas dinner at my momma’s house with my loved ones. I’ll wrap presents and feel so giddy that I think I will explode until I give them to the one they are meant for. I will go to church and I will sing carols and worship my King. I will be single. So much will be the same, yet everything will be completely different.

imageThis year I will look at this whole thing through a completely different lens. This year I will see Love. Love is real. Christmas isn’t about the trees and the presents (although those things are super amazingly fun), nor is it about the feast, or the time with loved ones. Those traditions are just part of the party! The thing Christmas is about is Love. Heaven came to earth. God wrapped Himself in humanity and made a way. He did ALL of that for ME.

This year as I do all of the traditional Christmassy things that I have done so many times before, yet everything will be different because I am different.

I know for the first time (maybe ever) that I am completely loved. I don’t just know that I am kinda loved, I know that I am completely, truly, deeply, really for real, loved. The God of the universe loved me so much that He gave up the throne made of galaxies, laid aside power that dwarfs super novae and became a naked squirming fragile human babe.

Nativity

When he came He didn’t come as just some ordinary human, no. He came as a son. Not an orphan, a son. He became a son so that I could become a daughter. He came and made it possible for us all to have the right to become sons and daughters of God! Wonders. Majesty! Glory. All set aside for the love of me. It’s all so incredible.

This Christmas I may still be single, and I may still have a lot more junk in my trunk than I would like. I may have less money in the bank than I would like, and I may not be exactly at the point in life that I want to be, but it doesn’t matter! Life is still beautiful. I am joyful in spite of the fact that I am smack dab in the middle of an epic battle. I am at peace. I am content even though my ducks aren’t all lined up. Why? I am joyful because I am loved by Abba. I am content because I am accepted by Daddy God. I am at peace because I am His. I am at peace because I am surrounded on all sides by love. So much love! My family (biological and spiritual) my friends, and my Daddy, everywhere I look I see Love. There is an ocean of love all around me and I am in over my head! It is wonderful. I am at peace because my Daddy fights my battles for me, and He wins!! Daddy God is Love and love always wins. Always.

He is so deeply good. ❤️

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

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Thankful

  

I have been traveling through a rough season lately. I have had to make hard decisions and stick to them even when I felt conflicted in my mind or my heart. They have been taking turns you see. 

I have had to say goodbye to one of my favorite students as she and her awesome momma have moved on to bigger and brighter things. I have snuggled with sniffly, coughing, snot-faced littles who miss their momma, and held a weeping precious angel who misses her daddy who is in heaven. My heart has had a lot of practice staying tender while also being strong. Life can sometimes feel like a three ringed circus. 

As I drove to work yesterday morning in the wonderful holiday traffic all of this, along with the fact that this will be the first Thanksgiving in my whole life I won’t see or at least talk to my dear grandpa hit my heart like an avalanche. ( I miss him so much as I wrote this I had to stop and dry my tears so I could see to continue.) I wept. Jesus wept with me and I felt it. 

It is important not to fight the tears when they come. For so long in my life I fought tears. I hid them. I suppressed them. I tired to eat food to keep them inside. I never wanted anyone see them. You see, I feel broken and weak when I weep and the thought of allowing anyone to see me that way was inconceivable. I have learned what a clever lie from the pit that way of thinking is. It left me broken. It left me alone. It left me wounded. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” How can I be comforted if I never allow anyone to comfort me?! 

This season is hard, this battle is real, but it is also littered with so much beauty. I am already finding so many treasures Daddy God has hidden for me during this season. I am experiencing an ever growing awareness of how loved I am, how incredible my family is, and how many amazing friends I have. I am also more and more aware of how much I have to be deeply grateful for. It is almost as if I was blind and now I see. Love is real and I am surrounded by it.

That is what God does you know? He surrounds you with goodness, joy, hope, beauty, kindness, faithfulness, peace, gentleness, redemption, restoration, life, light, and love. So. Much. Love.

I am so thankful. Life is beautiful. God is so deeply good.

Here is something to chew on besides turkey today: what are you not seeing in your life that you should be grateful for? What goodness has God put in your life that you don’t see? If you cannot see it ask Him to give you eyes to see. He is faithful and He will.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you all know how blessed you are.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

No Means No.

imageThere is a little boy in my class (we’ll call him “Davey”) who doesn’t seem to know what no means. In fact there are several kids in my class who need to be asked the question: “What does no mean?” at least once a day by me or one of the other teachers. Anyway, Davey has a particular problem with this word no. To Davey the word no seems to mean burst into tears and throw your body on the ground until the grownups give in to your every whim. It also seems to mean make an angry face, pout in the corner, negotiate, argue, kick the furniture, yell at your teacher and tell her she is not pretty… You get the picture. He doesn’t like to hear the word no.
In Davey’s defense he has come a long way in a short time and he is learning that when one of us says no we are not insulting his immortal soul, or rejecting his very being, we are just saying no. Some things that children think would be super fun would in fact maim, poison, or destroy them completely which would totally suck.
For example there are bushes that grow along the fence in the play area. These bushes are slightly toxic. Sometimes the children want to pick the berries, and leaves and eat them. We teachers say no to this activity as it could lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and a possible visit to the hospital to get your stomach pumped. Super fun! No. Also not as fun as it seems to a four year old: Running into the street! Look at all that wide open space to run!! Awesome!! NO!!! You see we grownups know that the cars that use those roads will run you over and destroy your body. Therefore running around in the street is not allowed.
I was seeking the Lord recently about something. It was something I wanted Him to say yes to, and I thought He would. I really didn’t expect Him to tell me no, but He did. In fact He told me no louder and stronger than He has ever told me no in my entire life. Not only did He tell me no, but He confirmed that no several times even though I did not ask Him to. It was a big fat no. Huge. Galactic. That no was hard to live out. In fact that no broke my heart, but I knew that it was something I could not ignore.
imageSometimes obeying God is hard. Sometimes I want to eat the poison berries because it just loos like it would taste good. I mean they are red! Red is sweet like strawberries! NO!!!! You will puke and die! Stop it!
I don’t know about you but sometimes when God tells me no I act like Davey. I freak the freak out! I have even been known to kick a couch or two. Okay maybe not literally, but still. I can see how there are so many times in the past both recent and distant where Abba being the good Daddy that He is, told me no and rather than accept it and move forward I negotiated, argued, kicked, screamed, etc, and basically threw a tantrum the size of Jupiter. Part of the reason I did this is because like Davey I didn’t understand. Another part of the reasons is that I can be a bit of a control freak. Yet another reason (and the biggest one at that) is that I felt rejected when God told me no. I thought no meant something else.
No means no. No dose not mean I don’t love you. No does not mean I don’t want you to be happy. No does not mean I do not want you to have fun. No does not mean I don’t want you to see your dreams come true. No dose not mean I want you to be shattered. No simply means no. No means I love you. No means I want you to be happy. No means I want you to have fun. No means I want your dreams to come true. No means I want you to be whole.
God can see the whole picture. God’s perspective is vast! He loves me more than any human being ever has or will. If God is saying no then there is a reason. I know God is good, so if He says no then that reason is good. Not only is that reason good but it is for my good! I don’t say no to my students because I am a jerk, I say no because I want them to remain healthy, alive, happy, and so they can learn. Honestly sometimes I say no because I am tried, or I have cramps, so maybe sometimes I am a little bit of a jerk, but I am human. Thankfully God is better by far than I.
No means no. Accept it. It is yet another way that God is a good Father.
No is love.
No means no.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015