Friday, May 29, 2015

To: Benjamin Alan

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ...So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18; 21-25 ESV)
Image result for treasure chest

A girl's heart is a treasure chest filled with quick, yet definitive scribblings of her dreams. In that treasure chest you will find the map of her imagined future life. 
You will see how she had written her fears, then crossed out those fears with vengeance, putting in their stead a living tree of courage and hope.  
You will see delineations of all her wishes and all her values: her own grown, caring, able hands holding little hands that depend on her; trips to foreign lands; horses running wildly through the vast sward; strong arms that hold her at the end of an arduous day.
Image result for scroll with writing

Every girl thinks she knows about love. Sewn into every parchment and scroll is an omnipresent love story; it has no beginning and no end, and it goes before and follows after each and every treasure in her heart.

I thought I knew love between a man and woman. I have held many a treasure and gazed at my own musings of romantic love.

But I didn't know. 
Not until I married Ben.
He loves like Jesus loves.

Ben sacrifices with his love. I'm not talking about sacrificing things or experiences, though he has given up some (*ahem - many*) of those. 
I'm talking about sacrificing a good mood because I've had a bad day and subconsciously decide he is my next victim (I don't mean to!). 
I'm talking about sacrificing the ecstasy of falling on the couch when arriving home because he knows I need his attention. 
I'm talking about sacrificing his treasures in his own heart, and trading them for ones that include me. Because he loves me.

Ben does not look at outward appearances only. He sees my heart. He knows that the wicked things I do are because of sin in this fallen world, not because of my identity. He believes in all of the good, and he disregards all of the bad, not keeping a record of wrongs. This alone astounds me daily. 
Like Eve in the Garden, I feel no reason to be ashamed of body or soul. The complete acceptance I feel from Ben is that strong - a broken, self-conscious girl like me can be free from the shame I've struggled with in my deepest levels.
Just as I feel when I think about Jesus on the cross, I know I don't deserve such grace.

Ben shows the greatest love as Jesus described - "to lay down one's life for a friend." As Ben's wife, I am his forever friend. And every day, he lays down pieces of his life for me. He dies to himself so that our marriage can blossom. He allows himself to be pruned by God, even when everything within him wants to remain complacent.
Because he loves the Lord, me, our marriage, our kids.

I thought I knew love.
But now the treasure chest in my heart is overflowing.
How am I so blessed to live every day being able to hold the hand of such a loving man, knowing that I don't deserve this?
I count it as God's favor upon me. We can never explain or understand why God favors us, His children, but He does show us favor.

If ever I doubt that God is watching out for me, I need only look to my side - at the man He gave me for a husband. The Lord is gracious in His giving. I will sing this until my last breath.

Benjamin Alan, on your birthday, I wish to give you a gift, but there is nothing I could produce, no words uttered from my lips, no material object extravagant enough to help me say how grateful I am that you are alive and you are with me.
The Lord is so good.

You make me smile, Benjamin. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

I Was Made in the Secret Place

"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth." Psalm 139:15

"So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them . . . Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.'"
Genesis 1:27, 29

The intimate details of my life have never been uknown to God. He crafted me in "the secret place" with careful focus on detail, with skilled and steady hands, with love in His eyes. With a parent's love, he formed a being so much like Himself, but yet an individual. He put every small and great thing in place for my physical body to thrive. He put every small and great thing in place for my spiritual body to thrive.

The same is true for you.

In planning out the details of our earthly lives, the Lord saw what He made and said, "It is good." Before creating us, He created a way for us: crisp, clean springs; fruit-bearing trees; green vines popping with edible color; shallow roots; flavorful herbs; stalks of bounty.
And even though it's not about us, out of His great love, He created such pleasure and sustenance for our physical bodies. Because he created us so that we long for Him and the things of Him, both carnally and spiritually.

Ever wonder why you feel so much serenity when you're surrounded by trees on a hike? Or why you can be brought to tears by a sunrise? Or why being in or floating upon a great body of water gives you joy that can never reproduced by any manmade thing? This is because God's creation speaks of Him. And we are made to be close to Him.

Anorexia taught me to be far from God and to rely on my own strength and willpower to get what I thought I wanted. It taught me to manipulate my image, which I put above God's image in me. It taught me that the importance of calories > the importance of nutrients (God forbid I eat an avocado! Fat! Calories! Ah!). Let me tell you, anorexia was the worst teacher. I needed the Rabbi.

In a near-relapse, I went for a winter walk, knowing that anorexia was wrapping its fingers tightly around my throat again, but I was still fighting...I knew God wouldn't let me fall as long as I trusted in Him. The temptation to turn my back on His deliverance was strong, but I walked up a steep hill overlooking the Mississippi that night and felt Him tell me that He had a great plan. This time, my deliverance would be complete. I just needed to know that it was not all about me; this was about something greater than me.

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

He saw me. He ordained my days. What will I do with each ordained day? What will I learn from Him in order to bring His light to others?

Friends, I have often rejected in my heart the notion that my journey with God would be so involved with food. Will my purpose be to help others with such a physical aspect? Will my life be absorbed with the physical?

But in such a time as this, when our "food" is poisoned and industries lie to us about what's healthy, maybe He is raising my voice. After all, I know full well that when my physical body is ill and damaged, my spiritual life suffers. And when we become too obsessed with the look of our bodies, we neglect our spiritual connection with the Father. And when we forget all that He has done for us since eternity past, we live only to satisfy our carnal nature.

So, anorexia was a distraction. Looking "perfect" was a distraction. Counting calories was a distraction.

But when we appreciate what God has made - His creation, His physical and spiritual food - we are closer to Him. Our minds are clear, and we are not so easily distraught.

He knows you. He has always known what you need to sustain your life.

You want to be healthy? Ask Him what to eat. Seek His knowledge, which surpasses every man's. Search His Word (and though Genesis mentions only plants for food, eventually sin brings meat-eating into our lives *wink from the vegetarian here* -- if you want a heavy read about all of that, read Leviticus 11! You'll be thanking Jesus for fulfilling the Law for you!).

Ask Him. He gives freely to all who ask for His wisdom.

Be well. Be blessed.