O is for …

“I don’t know what to write about for the letter O,” I sighed. “It’s a hard letter. My mind is just blank. And unfortunately,  I don’t even think I have an old writing I could edit and recycle for O.”

“I don’t think it’s unfortunate at all, Paige.  You don’t need to edit something old. You need to write an original.  See, just like that I came up with an O word for you. Original. You can thank me later.”  Giving me a wink, Jon turned back to his book.

Five minutes passed in silence. Nothing but the sounds of my vigorous typing as I feverishly tried to catch up on my A to Z Challenge Blogposts. I should have been working on my blog post for the letter P (for which I already had a great topic idea), but instead I was working to get N posted, all the while worrying over what to write for the letter O.

“What, exactly, do you mean by ‘I can thank you later?’ And who said I am going to write about the word original anyway?” I realized I probably sounded annoyed. Well it was with good reason. I was annoyed. Not at Jon or his suggestion, but rather because I was behind and stressed. My week had been crazy, and my overloaded schedule left me feeling like I would never catch up.

If Jon picked up on my mood, he didn’t let it bother him at all. “Why would you not want to write an original essay about being original?” he quipped.  “God is all about originality. Think about it … out of all the billions of souls, no two throughout history have ever been the same. Talk about original! You … me … each of our kids … all of us, one of a kind. Amazing!”

I rolled my eyes in mock agitation. Truthfully, it wasn’t a bad idea. It just wasn’t my idea. And besides, at the moment, his enthusiasm rubbed me wrong, in an overwhelming sort of way.

With a sudden realization, I recognized my mood was actually rooted in several O words:  overwhelmed, overloaded and even old.  I felt tired, unable to go on. Participating in this challenge was stretching me to include writing as a daily task, and yet I wasn’t dropping any of my other responsibilities as wife, mother and homemaker. Now I found myself at the end of a busier than normal week. It seemed I had come to the end of my abilities. I had nothing more to give.

As far as I was concerned, the challenge was over, right here at the letter O.



Almost two thousand years ago, on another Friday, everything seemed to be over to a group of eleven scared men. Their teacher crucified. Placed in a tomb. A massive stone rolled to cover to the entrance to His grave.

The Bible describes that horrific event in great detail. We read in the Gospels of how Jesus was mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and then brutally nailed to a wooden cross.  As the Roman soldiers gambled over his clothing and gave him vinegar to cool his tongue, the Son of God, who hung in agony, chose to forgive. And then He said, “It is finished.”

But it wasn’t over, at least not like what those disciples imagined. Through his death on the cross, Jesus overcame sin and death. His work finished, not by His death, but by His willingness to take the punishment for the sins of the world. A way was made for man to be reconciled with God.

And with His Resurrection on that first Easter Sunday morning, nothing would ever be the same again. The proof is not just in the stone that was rolled away, but also in the millions of lives which have been changed by faith.  Ask any true follower of Christ, and they will testify to the  hope and power found in the Resurrected Son of God, Jesus Christ, to overcome this life of sin and sorrow in exchange for a peace and  joy like they have never known.


Some days it feels like everything is over, like a terrible, black Friday in my soul.  But, praise God,  it’s not over. Sunday’s on the way!

O is for Overcome …

which we can do all because of the Jesus Christ’s death on the cross,

on a blessed Good Friday nearly two thousand years ago.

And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony … ~Revelation 12:11


A Little Soul Food

Rather than just state the obvious and say that I am overweight, I’m going to be bold and spell it out as I never have before:

Personal issues with food, as well as a faulty perception of what makes a woman truly beautiful, have for years waged a fierce war on my soul. The heart-aching truth about this lifelong battle is it prevents me from finding full freedom in Christ. It  inhibits me from fulfilling my God-given callings to the degree for which I daily pray, hope and long to see come to fruition. And it holds me captive, keeping me from knowing all God has planned for my life.

I am tired of it. Tired of my weak and flimsy excuses. Tired of the yo-yo effects of my eating habits. Tired of feeling like a failure. Tired of comparing myself to everyone else. Tired of fighting the same battle … again and again and again.

Weak & Flimsy Excuses

It can’t be all genetics. Sure, there are a lot of overweight people in my family, but so far not a single one of them has ever stuffed a chocolate chip cookie into my mouth. Nor have any of them prevented me from choosing to eat a healthy diet. And not once has a relative ever blocked me from participating in daily exercise. Although my genetic make-up has perhaps given me a predisposition to weight struggles, it is still plain to see neither my genetics nor my family are the source of my weight problem.

It’s not PCOS either. It is true … I do have PCOS. And it is a fact many women with PCOS struggle with weight issues due to unruly hormones. However, I’ve long known the medical community not only recommends women with PCOS follow a specific diet, but that many PCOS sufferers find weight management to be relatively easy as long as they rigidly follow that diet. I’ve just never wanted to commit to making such drastic changes to the way I eat. Again … PCOS may be a factor, but it is not the root cause of my unhealthy weight.

I don’t have time to cook healthy.  Besides, it is too expensive to feed our family of seven healthy meals. Bologna! I have time to cook myriads of dishes that I want to cook, and money to buy generally whatever foods we desire to indulge in eating.

I don’t have time or energy to workout on a regular basis.  Ahem … considering I have an elliptical gathering dust in my bedroom, this excuse is so flimsy it just might fall apart by my merely mentioning it.

My excuses are just that … excuses.  They make me nothing more than a whiny bystander in my own life, content to repeat the same feeble justifications over and over to anyone who will listen. If I continue to excuse myself from doing the right thing, I will never find a solution to my problem.

The Yo-Yo Foodie

Weight Watchers. Medi-Fast. Atkins. Sugar Busters. Even the notorious Grapefruit Diet. I’ve done them all. Some with moderate success. Others with no success at all.

I’m a professional yo-yo dieter, eating healthy one week and not-so-healthy the next. The one thing I’ve never been is a truly committed dieter. The truth is I only wanted a short-term fix, rather than a lifestyle change.

Feeling like a Failure

I cannot think of a single time in my entire life I’ve felt successful in regards to my weight.

If success is measured in numbers, then not only is the number on the scale too high, but also my BMI.  And while my blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels all still fall within normal ranges, I’m always worried that the next doctor’s visit will tell a different tale.

Unfortunately, I have a habit of dismissing small victories and thereby thwarting my chances of success.  In the end, I discover once again I’ve missed out on the big victory altogether, whereas if I had acknowledged and celebrated smaller successes I might have enjoyed a different outcome.

The Comparison of Apple and Oranges

Oddly enough, I’ve never felt much like an apple or an orange. I’m more of a blueberry kind of gal, myself.

Still, even comparing blueberries to strawberries is pretty much pointless.  After all, comparison is the death of contentment.

While I don’t exactly need to look for contentment in regards to my health and weight, I do need to be content with my physical appearance. I have blue eyes, not brown. Light skin instead of a tanned tone. My frame is never going to be petite in any sense of the word. Wishing to have a figure like someone else is only a waste of my time and energy.

American society values slim, trim and fit. Being in shape and tiny is an expectation placed on females of every age. Pudgy even in the best seasons of this life, I don’t think I’ve ever once been thought of as slim and trim, and certainly not fit.  I’ve known that my weight and my appearance often causes others to “judge” me … at least until they get to know me. Yet, the worst of it is, even in my own eyes, I often feel “less than” as a woman because of my weight. It’s as if I think just by dropping 60 lbs I would instantly become a more valuable person to myself, my husband and family, my friend and to the whole of society. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Tired of the Battle

I’m not just tired of the battle. I am weary and worn of it. I’m standing here with the end of the rope in my hands, no longer confused or uncertain or complacent about the situation. And I am unwilling to keep fighting this battle in the same way.

What may have started as a way to help my food-sensitive husband feel better has turned into much more. My eyes are opened to how my love/hate relationship with food is standing in the way of my love relationship with God. Craving and indulging in food has not just been my habit.  It has been my god.

Now that it has been recognized and acknowledged, there is nothing else I can do but either choose to continue doing that which I know in the depths of my soul is wrong,  or ask for forgiveness and turn to walk the other way.  At the very essence of repentance is a heart-felt change. Saying “I’m sorry. Forgiven me.” and yet continuing to wallow in my same old habits is not repenting at all.

A Light Bulb Moment

Today I was reading and came across these words:

Struggling with my weight isn’t God’s mean curse on me, but an outside indication that internal changes are needed for me to function and feel well. (pg 216, Made To Crave, Lysa TerKeurst)

And right below those words, I saw this Bible verse:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. ~Isaiah 43: 18-19

Today marks 2 weeks since Jon and I began eating healthier, following The Daniel Plan (by Pastor Rick Warren), hoping it would relieve many of his food sensitivity symptoms.  Thankfully, this clean way of eating whole foods, with it’s focus on more fresh veggies and low-glycemic fruits, lean sources of proteins, and  has done tremendous things in a short time for healing Jon’s gut problems.  Trust me … this is a huge praise, as we are continue to pray for his digestive health to improve.

While I’ve experienced some measured success myself in these last two weeks, dropping around 10 lbs and noticing an increase in my energy levels, I have never felt like this was something I was doing for me.  My only goal was to help my husband.

It was never once about my weight.

It was never once about my health.

It was never once about my PCOS-ravaged body.

Yet today, all that has begun to change. It’s as if I took my eyes off myself for just a bit, stepped back from my own issue to encourage and support someone I love, and ended up gaining a new perspective about my own situation.  And somehow, in the middle of it all, I feel as though God is indeed beginning to do a new thing in me … as though He is making a beautiful stream in my vast wasteland.

This one truth I know full well:

No matter what I battle in this life, there is no fear or condemnation in Christ. Rather, the battle is the Lord’s and all I have to do is follow hard after Him.

(Okay, so I know there is more to it than that.  Trust me!  At 41 years of age, I’ve been around the block enough times to expect there will be many hard days, many moments of struggles, and maybe even quite a few flat-out failures. But my focus will be on Christ and the new thing He is doing in me. And somehow, in this very moment, right here where I sit at the corner of my kitchen bar,  I’m feeling blessed to know I will no longer fight this battle on my own.)

Defeating Defeat

For as long as I can remember, I have loved words. The sounds of words, like serendipity and fricasee. The meanings of words, like blessed  (Oh, how happy) and  Hallelujah (to boast in God). The process of stringing words together, creating alliterations and metaphors. I even think in words, not pictures. My dreams often consist of visual  words, like closed captioning in my sleep.

I don’t remember when I first began to write, for  I never really kept a journal or a diary with any sort of regularity. By adulthood, I wrote almost daily, and for a variety of reasons.  To remember … all the adorable things my children did and said, as if putting it down on paper would ensure that I would never forget a single moment. To clarify and organize my thoughts, especially when feelings didn’t match beliefs and I searched for the right perspective. My marriage felt apart, and I found writing helped me to grieve.  Somehow I realized through writing, I found myself … perhaps more importantly, I found God.

Along the way, through all this writing, God called me. He called me to write for His purposes instead of my own, for His glory instead of mine. I marveled at this plan for my life. I laughed with joy when, on my 40th birthday, God Himself gave me a verse, confirming what I already knew in my heart that in this next season of my life I would write for Him:  “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the King; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.” Psalm 45:1

And then I very promptly got the worst case of writer’s block ever.  Eight months of nothing … I couldn’t not write a single sentence, not even prayers in my journal.  At first, I felt annoyed. Soon, I was concerned, then anxious and finally devastated.

God had called me to write. I knew it as sure as I knew my name. Then why was I unable to pen words? Over and over I tried, I cried and I prayed.  Nothing changed. I felt completely defeated. One morning, out of my complete misery,  I wrote in my prayer journal, “Lord, I feel defeated. Why? And how can I find victory again?”

To my surprise, God’s response was instantaneous.  From the tips of my fingers came words, written in the form of an acrostic. Since I’m sure that I’m not the only one who experiences feelings of defeat, I’ll share what God showed me.

I will feel defeated when…

D: I am in DENIAL of the truth.

It goes without saying that what I believe and what is the truth are often completely different things. Satan is constantly whispering things in my ear, lies that he wants me to believe. But Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) When I am willing to listen to God and embrace His truths, I discover that I am free from feelings of defeat.

E: I hang onto my  EXPECTATIONS (which are often unrealistic).

Expectations are a problem for me. Often I realize that I’ve got assumed, but unspoken, expectations of myself and others (including God). Furthermore, it seems, more often than not,  my expectations are unrealistic. When I have an expectation that is unfulfilled, blocked, uncertain, lost or even fails, it opens the door for me to experience feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, and perhaps shame. Rarely are these emotions founded in the truths of God. Rather, most often, I’m listening again to the lies of Satan.

God has been showing me how to let go of my expectations for this life, and embrace His plans for me.  I love the words of Jeremiah 29:11.  ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for your welfare, not your destruction,  to give you a future and a hope.’ “


Just like I listen to lies and have unrealistic expectations, quite often I spend the majority of my time pondering my failures … failures which often exist only in my own mind, failures which often are only measured by the world’s successes.  I’ve been learning that I should focus instead on two wonderful truths.

The first is this:  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:2). God’s plans for my life will look a lot different than the world’s idea of success, therefore I cannot use worldly standards to measure my success.

And the second truth:  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)  If God has called me to do it, then He will give me the strength needed to succeed.  All I need to be is willing to follow Him.

E: I  EXTEND  myself in areas that God has not called me.

God has specific callings for my life. I am a wife, mother and writer.  These are my three most important roles. Too often, I allow other activities to get in the way of my responsibilities in these areas, and when I do that I am going to feel strained and stress.  Quite often I know when I am over-extending myself because I will begin to feel weary and worn down.  It’s a sign that something is out of balance.

Jesus told His followers, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mattthew 11:28-30)  I have to be careful to put up guard rails and protectors in order to keep myself centered in the path God has laid out for my life. When I am careful to do this, my life isn’t marked by feelings of defeat.

A: I  AVOID  dealing with my sin.

But sometimes I just do not want to give up whatever it is that is making me miserable.  I don’t know why sin works that way, but I’ve found this to be true time and time again. I get caught up in some sin, and even though it makes me moan and groan and whine about the state of my life, I refuse to confess it to God. I just don’t want to give it up.

Wise King Solomon wrote, “Whoever conceals his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)  If I want peace in my life, I’ve got to continually confess my sins and turn back to choosing to live God’s way.

T: I am unTEACHable.

Quite often, when I am stuck in a rut of defeat, I know that God is trying to teach me a new way of doing things.  He wants me to grow and mature so that I am living a faith-filled life.  I don’t know about you, but I can be ridiculously unteachable.  I just flat refuse to listen and learn.

In 1 Peter 2:2, it says, “Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so you may grow by it.”  There are many things I desire in this world:  a strong marriage, children who love the Lord, financial stability, my daily chocolate . More than these, my heart should desire God and His truth in my life.

It’s been more than two months since God shared with me the reasons behind my feelings of defeat.  It didn’t cure me instantly of my writer’s block.  However, God also shared with me how to find victory in my life, and as I began to implement those truths I found my ability to write returned more and more in the days and weeks that followed.

Isn’t it comforting to know deep within the soul that God does not want me (or you) to live in perpetual defeat?

How have you overcome feelings of defeat through Christ? I hope you’ll share your success stories with me!

Stay tuned for part 2, when I share how God showed me how to make a VICTORY PLAN for living my life according to His perfect will for me.

When Mountains Don’t Move

He (Jesus) told them, “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  (Matt. 17:20)

But what if we pray, and the mountains don’t move.

          One of my children cannot swallow pills. We’ve tried every trick in the book, bought several cool gadgets and throat sprays, and have even spoken with a variety of doctors and pharmacists while seeking for a solution to this exasperating problem. Nothing works.  The pills will not go down. Perhaps it is only psychological, but it is creating big challenges for my young teen.

I cannot lose weight. No matter what I do, the number on the scale doesn’t budge. From diet programs like Weight Watchers to medically-supervised diets like Medifast to diligently watching carbs and sugar while incorporating 20+ minutes of exercise a day … I’ve tried it all and nothing works to take the weight off my body. Hormonal imbalances caused by a medical condition and genetics are both partly to blame.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’m sure that age must play a factor as well. (In this particular way, forty is definitely not the new thirty!)

This past week, my child and I have both felt overwhelmed by our problems. We are hopeless things will ever change, and so we react to our situations from that deep, dark place of defeat.  It’s as if we are standing at the foot of a looming mountain, trying to figure out a way to get to the other side. And from our vantage point, it feels like trying to scale up a vertical cliff without a harness, rope or anchor to help make the climb.


Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

      Mountains are an expected part of this journey called life, and truthfully mountains aren’t necessarily a bad thing. When looked at from a distance, mountains create a lovely and picturesque landscape. Traveling a path that goes nearer a mountain still adds a certain scenic quality to the journey. And though climbing up a well-laid mountain path might be hard, everyone knows the journey is worth it. Standing at the very top, the weary traveler can look out with confidence, knowing the mountain challenge was conquered. Hard won victories give extra meaning to the traveling, and at some future date the traveler will have a tale to tell with those he meets along the journey.

But there are times when a mountain is right in the middle of the road you must take. There seems to be no path around it. There seems to be no path that leads over it.  All a traveler can do is work to forge a road that will get them to the other side.  It’s at times like this that believers begin to pray for the mountain to move.

My faith tells me that even with just the tiniest bit of faith, the mountains that block my path will move.  With all my heart I believe this is true. I’ve known mountains in my life that have miraculously moved out of the way with a single prayer. I can testify time and again how a little faith  in God, combined with prayer, have made the impossible happen.

But what about when the mountain doesn’t move? What does that mean? Is it because I lack faith?  Perhaps I’ve sinned?  My typical response is to fret and fume while trying to figure out why my prayers seem to just bounce off the ceiling.  As defeat sets in, anxiety and depression begin to control my thoughts and actions. A sense of hopelessness takes over and soon I no longer believe my mountain can be conquered.  Thankfully, God is teaching me a better way.

~I need to trust the heart of God more than the hand of God.~

     My faith is too often based on the evidence of God working in my life.  But what sort of faith is that? After all, the Apostle Paul reminded us to “walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  A believing faith has to be more than a seeing faith.

~I need to remember that I am not ever alone.~

     When I pray and nothing happens, I begin to fear that God has abandoned me right there at the foot of the mountain.  Instead, I need to remember what Moses said to Joshua as he prepared to take the Israelites into the Promised Land,  “The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”  (Deuteronomy 31:8)  Not only does God not leave me at the foot of the mountain alone, He promises to go before me!

~I need to believe God’s plans for my life are good.~

     God is showing me that in spite of the problematic mountains I encounter in my life, He still has great plans for me. My husband’s favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, a testament to that fact.  “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.”   A mountain I can’t cross yet does not mean God is through with me.

~I need to remember the power and the purpose in praying without ceasing.~

     My mountains definitely keep me praying, and this is a good thing.  One of my biggest tendencies is to neglect talking with God on a regular basis whenever my life is humming along without problems. However, in 1 Thessalonians 5:7, the Apostle Paul reminds believers to “pray constantly.” I believe if nothing else my problems serve a great purpose just by keeping me on my knees, talking to God and laying my burdens down at His feet.

     And this brings me right back to the beginning:  Sometimes mountains don’t move out of my way, no matter how much I pray. But when the mountain doesn’t move, this simply means there is an opportunity for me to move closer to God.