To My Love On Our Anniversary

Standard

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary. Before we were married I told my husband about a billboard I saw with a marriage proposal, and how romantic I thought it was for someone to proclaim their love in such a big way– in such a public forum. Today my post will be my billboard– an open love letter to my husband, proclaiming my love for all the world to see. Happy Anniversary, Honey. I love you.

My Dearest Honey Bunny,

15 years ago today we were standing in a little Wedding Chapel in Tacoma. We exchanged vows surrounded by cheesy fake flowers and the smiles of my children who – apart from one friend and her daughter who served as witnesses — were the only guests in attendance. Afterward, we went back to our apartment and ate a grocery store cake for our reception. It was the best day. The perfect day. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I didn’t need a big fancy wedding. I was marrying you! My man, the love of my life. That was all that mattered.

You knew that I was “damaged goods”. That I’d been hurt deeply in my life and that I still struggled sometimes. You loved me anyway. You knew I had six children from two failed, abusive marriages. That’s a lot to take on. Not many men would be up for the challenge but none of it scared you away. You took on the role of father to my children, and even in their teenage years when they were difficult to deal with, your love didn’t falter.

You are my rock. My protector. My helper. My lover. My friend. You are my superhero. With you, I know I am safe. You are a man. A real man. You open car doors for me. You carry in groceries. You would lay down your life for me. I know that. And you save us a lot of money because there is absolutely nothing you don’t know how to fix. You are amazing. I am so thankful for you.

You have been right by my side through all my “crazy” – my depression and anxiety and everything that went along with it. My health problems, too. Life with me has been no bed of roses. I’m so sorry for that. It’s not the life I wanted to give you. I want you to know how much I appreciate all the things you do, and all the things you are. All the times I have called you at work in the middle of a panic attack and you’ve stopped what you’re doing to calm me down.  All the times you’ve worked yourself to the bone to keep us afloat since we lost my income. All the times you’ve put up with my bossiness and grumpiness and everything else-ness.

I know you feel bad that we can’t go do something exciting for our 15th anniversary, but I want you to know that I don’t need that. I will be very happy to cook you a burger and snuggle on the couch. You are what matters to me. Not a fancy trip or a fancy meal. It’s only you Honey Bunny. As long as I have you by my side, it will be the perfect day.

I still love you from the bottom of my heart and always will.

Your Angel,

Lori ))0((

 

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Why I’m Losing Weight Like a Boss (and Why I Always Failed Before)

Standard

As of this morning, I have lost 59.5 pounds! That’s nearly halfway to my goal of losing 140 and for once in my life I am confident that I will get there. I’ve been fighting my weight since I was a kid. I’ve won a few battles here and there but I have never won the war– losing as much as 75 pounds only to put it back on and then some. I know what you’re thinking. With that kind of history, what makes me so certain that I will succeed this time?  To answer that, we need to talk about why I got fat in the first place.

Why I Gained So Much Weight

In a nutshell, I got so overweight because I ate for all the wrong reasons.  I ate because:

  • Food = Love  I was raised in an Italian family. If you know anything about Italian families you know that food is a big part of the culture. Every family event centered around food — and plenty of it. Now I know as adults families don’t always elicit feelings of love, but as children our families are where we feel the most connected, the most loved. The wounded child in me remembered this, and equated food with love. With every bite I put in my mouth, I was eating love — trying to fill a hole that wounded little Lori desperately needed to fill.
  • Food = Trust  Food was my old reliable friend. In a world where wounded little girl Lori’s trust violated by so many people at such damaging levels, food was the one thing that I could count on to be what I needed it to be, where I needed it to be when I needed it to be .
  • Food = Comfort Because food was my old reliable friend and would always be there when I needed it, it was my go-to fix for whatever ailed me emotionally. If I was sad, I ate. If I was lonely, I ate. If I was scared, I ate. If I was feeling guilty, I ate. And so on. Honestly the only thing food didn’t satisfy for me was hunger, because my hunger was not physical. It came from wounded little girl Lori, and she was not so easily satisfied.
  • Food = Joy Let’s face it. I love food. I enjoy the tastes, the smells, and the way it makes me feel. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because it made me feel happy. For a little while. Until I felt disgusted with myself for being so overweight. And then guess what I did? Yup. I ate some more because food was my feeling fixer.

You see, food for me was so much more than sustenance. It was my comforter, my helper, my healer, my joy– basically my God. Yup, I made food an idol. Not consciously. I wasn’t opening the fridge and worshiping the baked ziti. But I was relying on it to fill the holes that only God can fill.

Why I Always Failed at Weight Loss

My past attempts at weight loss failed because wounded little girl Lori was still too wounded. Every attempt I made to lose weight was thwarted because that wounded little girl was still too strong. Too powerful. She was not about to give up her fight to get her needs met through food– and I was too depressed to care enough about myself to try very hard. She won the fight every time.

Why I’m Succeeding Now

Of course I’m losing weight because I changed my eating habits. First through Weight Watchers but now I’m doing a keto diet (read more about that here). Keto has made dieting so much easier because I rarely have carb cravings and I rarely get hungry. But that’s not the biggest reason for my success. Losing the weight is only half the battle. I had to figure out the root cause for my eating habits if I was going to keep the weight off. My weight gain was only a symptom of a deeper problem.

Now that I have finally gotten my depression under control, I am able to see and understand the deeper problem –everything I just told you about why I gained so much weight.  I know what the real problem is and I am strong enough to fight it. This time, I’m not just treating the symptom. That wounded little girl is getting better through therapy and doesn’t need to rely on food anymore. Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. I still have my days when I struggle to eat right. But now when I recognize wounded little girl Lori trying to open the refrigerator I find a more appropriate way to meet her need. I am in control of what I put in my mouth now. Food no longer controls me.

Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be brought under the control of anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12

 

Hey! Watch Out For That Thinkhole!

Standard

You’ve heard of sinkholes, right? You know, those big soft spots in the ground that open up and swallow anything or anyone that dares to pass over them? Seems like we’ve been hearing a lot about them in the news lately. What’s up with that? For the first 40-some years of my life I never heard a word about sinkholes now all of a sudden they seem to be everywhere. Bizarre.

Well today I want to talk to you about thinkholes. (Yes, that’s a real thing. I just made it up.) You thought sinkholes were scary. Let me tell you, thinkholes are worse. They swallow up your heart and your mind and your soul. They take the joy right out of life and once you get down in one you tend to just dig yourself deeper and deeper into the abyss. I know, because I spent most of my life down in one and man was it dark in there.

What I’m talking about is the condition which, if you’ve spent anytime in therapy at all, you’ve probably heard referred to as “stinkin’ thinkin'”. Yesterday I told you that analyzing the thoughts behind my feelings is one of the best tools I have to stay out of the pit of depression. That’s because what I’ve come to learn is that feelings are not some mystical beings that just land in my body and take over. They are responses to something I am thinking and believing— usually not consciously and often buried deep beneath decades of pain and suffering– but if I dig deep enough I will find the thought.

If I’m feeling happy, the root thought/belief is that some need (or perceived need) I have is being met. But if I’m feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, or any other possible brew of toxic emotions, there is always an underlying distorted thought that’s responsible for it. Now that I finally have my chemistry right through medications and folic acid (read about that here), I am in a place where I can start to recognize and tackle those thoughts. This is how I stay out of the thinkhole:

Step 1 – I feel a feeling. Really feel it. Allow myself to experience it in full, no matter how unpleasant it is.

Step 2 – After I have allowed myself to feel the feeling (and this is the hard part) I recognize it as toxic. This is the step I needed medication to get to. Without it, I was unable to recognize this and that’s when I would go tumbling into the deep, dark, thinkhole.

Step 3 – Once I acknowledge the toxic emotion I sit quietly, close my eyes and ask myself what I am believing that leads to the emotion. What’s the thought behind it?

Step 4 – When I have identified the destructive thought (I call them lies) I immediately replace the thought with factual information that disproves it (I call this truth). For me, this is almost always a scripture. You saw me do that in yesterday’s post, and it’s what I do in my lie journal (See my Pants on Fire Series).

This process keeps me out of the thinkhole. It’s crucial to my recovery. It seems like such a simple thing but for me it, along with practicing gratitude (read about that here and here), has been the key to breaking the bonds of depression.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

 

Disappointment is a Four Letter Word

Standard

Today started off with a kick in the gut. A big fat ball of disappointment came flying through the air and landed right smack dab in the middle of my belly. Knocked the wind right out of me. It was a rough blow.

Ever since I became disabled, we have struggled financially. My poor husband is working himself to an early grave because the whole burden rests on him. A couple of months ago we were presented with an exciting business opportunity that we believed could have turned our lives around. But it required an investment. A relatively small investment as far as businesses go, but not small to us. We did everything in our power to try to come up with the money, but everywhere we turned was a closed door.  Today was the day we needed the money, but we didn’t have it. The opportunity slipped away.

I cried a half a bucket or so of tears (could have been worse, I’ve been known to cry several buckets full at once), threw myself onto my bed in despair and had myself a little pity party while I was there. “Life just isn’t fair”, I told myself. “We’ve worked hard our whole lives and have nothing to show for it!! We should be living comfortably by now!! Why do people half my age have houses, cars, and a fat savings account — and I have a big fat nothing? It’s just not fair!” Aren’t you glad you weren’t inside my head attending that party with me? I was getting pretty whiny in there.

After my pity party I took a moment to analyze my feelings (one of my best tools to keep me out of the abyss — I’ll write a post about it sometime). Why exactly did this disappointing news create those feelings in me. What was I telling myself about the situation? What was I believing?

I was feeling hopeless because I had put all my hope in this opportunity and now it was gone.But God says:

“For I know the plans I have for you. declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.” – Psalm 39:7

I believed it was the only answer to our financial problems and now we were doomed. But God says:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you,even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-34

I was feeling frustrated because I truly believed that this was an opportunity that God put in our lives and that he would make the way for it to happen. But God says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9

I felt abandoned because he didn’t make a way. But God says:

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

 I felt foolish because I believed it in the first place. But God says:

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:3-4

I was feeling sad because this is something I really wanted to do, and now I wouldn’t be able to do it. But God says:

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5

I was creating fantasies in my head of how I thought my life should be. What I thought I needed and what I thought I should have. But God says (well, actually Paul said this but you know what I mean):

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:12-13

I was comparing my life to others and feeling like I have been cheated.  But God says:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:17

So, all this analyzing led me to here. Pouring my heart out to all of you. Am I still disappointed? Yes. Sad? Yes. But I am not forlorn. I know where my hope comes from and it is NOT some business opportunity. God knows what I need and he will provide it. I don’t feel foolish for stepping out in faith and believing this opportunity may be for us. That is what God wants us to do. He knows what he’s doing. I’m sure he had another agenda– some other lesson he wanted me to learn or some other quality he wanted to hone in me through this experience. I will persevere. I will be content. I will practice gratitude. I will trust.

Oh — and I know it’s not Monday, but I will also play you this song. Well, I can’t actually play it but I will put it up here and encourage you to play it. I needed to hear it today. Maybe you do too.

10 Songs About Love That I Love

Standard

Yesterday I wrote about love. Let’s keep the love fest going for Music Monday, shall we? Today I bring you my top 10 list of songs about love.

1. Lean on Me – Bill Withers – “Lean on me when you’re not strong. I’ll be your strength. I’ll help you carry on” That’s brotherly love folks. This is how we should treat each other.

2. How He Loves – Crowder  – Oh, how God loves us and oh, how I love this song.

3. I’ll Stand By You – Pretenders – This is love to me. Standing by your people. Protecting them. Ride or die. no matter what.

4. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Chris Tomlin – God setting us free from our chains, that’s amazing love. Amazing grace.

5. To Make You Feel My Love – Adele – This is an old Bob Dylan song. Lots of people have covered it. My favorite version is by Garth Brooks from the Hope Floats sound track – mainly because it’s “our song” for my husband and I. It talks about being willing to sacrifice for the one you love.

6. Christ Is Risen – Tenth Avenue North – The ultimate love story. God sacrificed his Son for the love of us!

7. I Will Always Love You – Vince Gill – Dolly’s version of this song has had special meaning to me since 1981. I sang it to my boy before I gave him up for adoption. (Read that story here). I still can’t listen to it without tears. Love sometimes means sacrifice even to the point of  giving up the person you love because you love them.

8. How Can It Be – Lauren Daigle – God’s unconditional love, given freely to us even though we don’t deserve it. How can it be?

9. All You Need is Love –The Beatles   – I’ve had this song in my head lately. The Beatles were right you know. All we need is love. This is  only a short clip, couldn’t find a good clip of the whole song . But I did find this. It’s kind of funny. A puppet version.  All You Need is Love – Glove and Boots

10. Love Lifted Me – Bernie Soundtrack – An oldie but a goody. Love lifted me. That’s the whole theme of my blog. The Lifted Lady. Lifted by God’s love. There are many versions of this old song out there, but I bet you never heard one like this. Jack Black, from some movie I never heard of. I just might have to check it out.

That’s it for today folks. See you again tomorrow, God willing. Until then, enjoy the music and keep loving each other.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

Can We All Just Get Along?

Standard

Ugh. Politics. It’s really not my thing. No disrespect to those of you who love it, but I just don’t. So much hate and ugliness. Now that we’re almost to November in a presidential year, the ugliness is ramping up to its peak and I’ve just about had all I can take from both sides of the political fence. It really makes me uncomfortable. Anxious even. It feels like an assault and I’ve been assaulted plenty in my life. Enough already.

Honestly, the way I see it, the ugliness is pointless. Especially from Christians. If we truly believe that God is sovereign it really makes no difference who sits in the oval office. God can achieve his purposes through anybody or anything, whether they are willing participants or not. Remember when he spoke through Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22:21-39)?  When he used a pagan King Cyrus to rebuild his temple and free the Jews from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 45; Ezra 1)? When he used a man whose life mission was to persecute Christians to become one of the most important apostles of the Christian faith (Acts 9)?

We should not be placing so much hope and faith in a human being. The Bible tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and his weakness is greater than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1:25) and that our faith must not rest in man’s wisdom but God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:5). With this in mind, there is no cause for us to get so passionate about one candidate or the other that we forget about the most important task God has given us — to love one another.

Let’s just put away the ugliness. We don’t need it and it doesn’t show our faith in God to a fallen world — and believe me, they are watching. Let’s show them this instead:

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Pants on Fire – Week 2

Standard

“I am unappreciated”. That’s the lie I’m going to shoot down with my Biblical arrows today. When I’m smack dab in the middle of my depression it’s one of the predominant lies I believe about myself. That nobody cares about anything I do. That the things I do don’t matter. That I don’t matter.  If you are feeling that way today, I get it. I’ve been there. But I want you to know that it’s not true. You matter. Probably to more people than you even realize. I challenge you to challenge that lie. Don’t believe it. Here are the scriptures I entered in my journal to fight against this lie. If you find any others I’d love to know about them! Would greatly appreciate if you add them in the comments.

  • Psalm 147:11 – The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Is this me? Do I respect and revere God? Do I put my hope in him?  Yes, I do!  He delights in me. He appreciates my respect and trust.

  • Hebrews 6:10 – God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped people and continue to help them.

God appreciates the work we do in his name and the love we show him.

  • Hebrews 4:15 –  For we do not serve a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet without sin.

Jesus appreciates and understands our human condition on a personal level. He lived it. He knows and appreciates our struggle.

  • Galatians 6:9 – And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

God appreciates the good that I do and, if I will be patient, I will be rewarded.

That’s it for my journal entries. Remember to add any additional scriptures you find in the comments. Next week, we tackle the lie that I am stupid/crazy/a pest.


Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ~ 1 Peter 5:8


More posts in this series