Saturday, February 27, 2010

Comfort in Song


The picture is of Dad, Nike & myself at the Reindeer Run in December 2006

A friend of mine gave me a song when my dad was dying of cancer. It comforted her during her dad's own battle and she thought I may find comfort in it as well. Other than the part about where he asked his girl to marry him and where the babies came to life, this dad reminds me in a huge way of my dad. I miss my dad and I find comfort in the fact that as he was leaving this world he may have missed us. Most of all, I cling to the fact that when he laid down to die, he laid down to live.



LAY ME DOWN by ANDREW PETERSON

I suppose you could lay me down to die in Illinois
Bury me beneath the rows of corn
Or in-between the maple trees I climbed on as a boy
Where in the Land of Lincoln I was born

Oh, and I recall
We rode the combines in the fall
And there comes a time
For gathering the harvest after all

So when you lay me down to die
I’ll miss my boys, I’ll miss my girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die
You lay me down to live

Well I asked a girl to marry me on a dock out on the lake
Our babies came to life in Tennessee
And the music of the mountains is still keeping me awake
Yeah, but everything that rises falls asleep

We are not alone
We are more than flesh and bone
What is seen will pass away
What is not is going home

When you lay me down to die
I’ll miss my boys, I’ll miss my girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die

I’ll open up my eyes on the skies I’ve never known
In the place where I belong
And I’ll realize His love is just another word for Home

I believe in the holy shores of uncreated light
I believe there is power in the blood
And all of the death that ever was,
If you set it next to life
I believe it would barely fill a cup
‘Cause I believe there’s power in the blood

When you lay me down to die
So long, boys, so long, girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die
You lay me down to live

Friday, February 26, 2010

All or Nothing

My "all or nothing" mentality, I've decided, is one of the reasons I am not currently in a healthy place in my life. One needs to eat healthy and exercise regularly in order to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, correct?

When I trained for the marathon in 2007, I injured my foot early on going down the basement stairs. I believe that injury lead to an injury in my leg and both injuries are nagging to say the least. I went to physical therapy this fall and they gave me exercises to do in order to help. Par for the course, I twisted my foot, again, while in therapy. This time, unpacking from a camping trip. (Maybe I need to start watching where I walk.) Still, I know if I regularly do the exercises given to me by the therapists and continue with an exercise routine, the injuries don't flare too much.

Any exercising I've done since November has been sporatic to say the least. Needless to say, my foot and leg have that continuous nagging pain again. I'm making the choice not to work exercise into my life right now. The stretching involved prior to a run as well as after do not fit in with life's current demands.

All of this lead to my choice that I may as well eat whatever I want, too. If I can't exercise, according to what I've heard, I'm not going to maintain a healthy lifestyle anyway, so why not slack on the other requirement as well? I know this probably doesn't make sense to most but in my warped mentality, it is a completely rational thought.

For the past two weeks I have been attempting to implement healthy eating back into my lifestyle. (Exercise is still on hold.) I have eaten for nutrition, journaled, included five fruits and/or vegetables in my daily diet and kept within my Weight Watchers points target. Eating for nutrition rather than emotion is a huge step for me. There have been moments I have wanted to eat emotionally. For four consecutive days, however, I have fed those emotions in different ways.

When I feel the desire to eat and know it is not from hunger, I have a choice to make. I have made the choice recently to work through those emotions by writing, talking, organizing, or even napping. Making better choices than stuffing my emotions (or my mouth) have given me results (small - but results nonetheless).

This is certainly a path I plan to continue on. I also plan to work exercise back in. This will require overcoming some mental blocks as well. These lifestyle changes are going to take some time. Hopefully, they will be just that, though - for life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gripped by Fear

Recently, I identified that I'm living in fear. I didn't really think this was an emotion I struggled with much. Now I realize that fear was never really a part of my life simply because my life was fairly sheltered. Coming to the realization that I need to trust more in God should have prepared me for the moment that gripped my heart with fear I had never felt before.

Every day last year, I met Nikelle at the bus stop. The main reason being that the buses will not drop off a first grader without an adult there to meet them. The other reason was that it just never crossed my mind to do otherwise at her age. One day this year, for some reason (maybe the bus was early or I was late getting out there), when I went to open the garage door to go meet Nikelle, the door was already opening. I looked up with surpsie to see Nikelle letting herself in the house with the garage code. Most days, now, I watch for Nikelle from the window and make sure she gets from the bus to our home safely.

The other day I was watching and realized the bus was running late. My first action when this occurs is to contact my girlfriend whose daughter is the stop before Nikelle's. I picked up the phone and dialed her number. "Hey, Mary. Is Val home yet?" I fully anticipated a conversation while we waited for the girls to arrive home. My heart stopped as she responded, "Yes... and she's been home for quite some time." I closed my eyes and shook my head, "Are you kidding me?" I just thought I should clarify that I wasn't on the other end of some teasing. "I wouldn't kid about something like that, Tristi."

Fear seized my heart. I didn't know what to do. I threw up a prayer for God to get my daughter home safely. I called my husband only to let him know Nikelle was late getting home from school and I was concerned. Then it was time for me to contact the school. Was I distracted and didn't see the bus come? What if I missed her being dropped off and someone grabbed her? Where in the world was my little girl?

While I was on the phone with the school, Mary called me back with information she had gained for her daughter. "Val said that the bus driver was missing a lot of stops today. She was having to back track and drop kids off." That removed a bit of the fear but as the minutes kept ticking away...

I went inside and put the girls in the van. I'm not really certain as to where I planned on driving, but in that moment of putting the little ones in the van and pulling out onto the driveway, the bus dropped my daughter off at the corner. I pulled out of the garage and saw her walking down the street. I left the van on the driveway and ran down to her. Needless to say, my fear and relief poured out from my eyes as I told her I was so happy she was home.

I asked Nikelle a bit later if she was worried. "Well, at least I had Paige (her other friend). We were like, 'We don't want to stay on this bus forever. All we have is a cheese stick and some pears'. Why did she have to go take that kid home first?"

Ah, that's my girl... mind goes straight to the food.

I'm so glad I don't rely on bus drivers alone to get my daugther to and from school safely. Thankfully, ultimately, I rely on our God.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Triggered

I am very aware today that putting my kids to bed (either for naptime or bedtime) is a trigger for me to eat. It was my assumption all morning that I would have to shovel the driveway during their naps but when I looked out the window I noticed that God took care of that for me with the wonderful sunshine melting it away. That left me with a decision as to what I would do during the kids' naps.

I could get on the treadmill. My mind made enough excuses to eliminate that possibility quickly. What if Jaycie coughs so bad she throws up again? My foot and leg really hurt. It would require quite a bit of stretching prior to running. If I need to stretch, I need to clean up toys in the basement so that I can do it comfortably... I'll pass.

I could lay down and take a nap. I can't lay down upstairs because I hear every noise the kids make (and boy is that baby a chatter box). Laying down on the sofa is a trigger to eat. Better not do that.

I remember that laundry is in the washer and dryer. Step one: Take care of that. While doing the laundry I notice the potty chairs I brought in from the garage. Step two: Bleach those so I can have them out for Andelise. (My mom decided to let Andelise use the potty chair while she had the kids overnight the other weekend and now the girls are pestering me to get her potty trained. I certainly do not have plans of making it a priority but if the girls want to take Ande into the bathroom with them when they go and give her the opportunity to use the potty chair... more power to them.) Bleaching the potty chairs reminded me that we have friends coming over tonight. Step three: Bleach the bathroom. Now I'm faced with putting the laundry away... but I want a break.

Why is it that every time I get a moment to myself, I want to eat? Food and relaxation must go hand in hand in my brain. In order to break a bad habit, I need to replace it with something else. That's why I'm blogging right now. Hopefully, if I put my mind into something else, I can change the path I'm taking.

I'm feeling much better about this choice. Maybe I'll remember the way I feel about my choice right now when I'm faced with the moment again in the future.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Someone please inform my children...

Today has not gone at all as planned. No wonder I find myself wanting to calm my emotions by eating. I know I cannot continue to use excuses and eat junk. That will only take me further down a path I do not want to be on.

I was hoping to get up early to exercise but that ended when the first child woke before sun rise. Ande was up from 2-3 in the morning. Jaycie was up asking for water at 4 and Nike needs to be up to get ready for school no later than 6:30.

I thought I would simply change my plans and exercise during nap time but when I saw the driveway, I knew that shoveling would be my exercise for the day. So, when I thought the kids were down for naps, I went out to clear the driveway (that snow was heavy!).

Upon finishing the driveway, I came in to Jaycie greeting me with tears in her eyes and hearing the baby screaming in her crib. Jaycie has developed a cough again which caused her to throw up in her bed. I have no idea if Ande ever napped or if she just screamed the entire time I was out shoveling. My guess is that she just screamed because she is cutting another tooth (not to mention a bit strong willed).

I held Ande for a bit and put her back in her crib hoping she would nap. I got Jaycie's sheets in the washer and came upstairs only to find the dog had thrown up on the floor! (Thankfully it was the kitchen floor which is so much easier to clean up than the carpet.) Par for the course, Ande did not go back to sleep so I went to see if I could rock her to sleep because the day would only continue to turn into a nightmare if the child goes without a nap. That was very unsuccessful so I gave in and came downstairs. Jaycie was asking for candy and wanted to play on the computer. Due to her incessant whining, she lost both of those privileges earlier in the day for the entire day! (I'm beginning to think punishing the child is more punishment on myself.)

I was hoping to get a shower in after I shoveled the driveway but someone forgot to inform my children of my plans.

The house seems to be a bit more calm at the moment. (I hope it is not the eye of the storm.) I think I will inform my children of tomorrow's plans tonight at bedtime. Too bad information does not always lead to cooperation.

Stuff it

To this day, anger stirs inside of me when I think about my dad's death. I shake my head and do my best not to think about it every time. After two years, one would think I could at least come to grips with the fact that he is gone. For some reason, anger and fear still overwhelm me.

A girlfriend of mine recently brought to my attention a family she knows whose teenage daughter died of cancer. As I shared the information with my husband, we stared at the pictures of our own beautiful little girls that hang prominently on our family room wall (ages 7, 4 and 1). "Could you even imagine...?" I asked him, "...raising our girls..." I paused, "only to lose them once they reach high school?" I've known a few other families who have faced this very tragedy. Just not to cancer. The cancer factor is what surfaced my emotions.

"I'm so afraid," I cried to my friend on the phone the other day, "so afraid that I'm going to lose someone else that I love." So I eat. Rather than face my fear and my anger that cancer has stirred within me, I eat. I eat to calm my mind. I eat more to fill the pain in my heart. I eat until I can't feel anymore. I eat until I can block out the emotions that attempt to surface. I don't know what to do with these emotions. I have no control over cancer or the health of my loved ones. So for two years now, I have been stuffing my emotions every moment I stuff my mouth.

To identify this connection may help me finally overcome this terrible addiction I have to food. If I can simply identify that I am not hungry but rather angry, afraid, or confused... can this allow me the choice to cope in a different fashion? I can choose to write. I can call a friend. I can run and clear my mind. I can cry. I can take my worries and give them to God. All the while recognizing that I have no control over some of these emotions that seize my heart but I do have control over the way I respond. I can choose to change. Not only my nasty habits but my attitude that goes along with them.

I can choose joy. And I find that in my relationship with God alone.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Arguing with Myself

I find myself arguing with myself a lot these days. One of these arguments occurs every time I think of my dad's death. It's just not right that a man who took care of his body the way my dad did should be dead at such a young age.

I recall a conversation with my cousin that repeated itself with other family members as well. She said something to the effect of, "It's just such a surprise. If this was going to happen to anyone in our family, your dad would just be the last person we'd ever have expected. He was so healthy."

My dad ate vegetables daily. He grew his own garden, found the harvest of mulberries from the wild tree in their front yard to be a feast, and turned down most any sugary treat he would encounter. He played basketball for a hobby, did construction for a living and exercised up until the very last days of his life. My dad's picture could have gone in the dictionary next to "good health".

According to the rule of thumb, my dad should have lived a long life. My paternal grandpa died about a year before my dad. I remember my dad referring to this during his own battle with cancer. "I was certain I would at least live to be his age," my dad shared, "seeing as how I took care of myself, I thought I'd live another 10 years at least beyond that." It was just a fore drawn conclusion that someone who paid attention to the food they ate should live longer than someone who did not.

This leads me to the obstacle in overcoming my food addiction. A number of years earlier when I had been convinced to lose weight, one of my reasonings was a longer life. My mind will no longer accept this line of thinking. The argument I have with myself is case and point: my dad. Where did refusing all those yummy foods get him?

Reality is that living a healthy lifestyle, including wise food choices will, more often than not, extend your life. I have to quit using my dad's death as an argument within my own head to excuse myself from healthy eating.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This is the Truth

Ever wonder what is real? Do you feel like your life is a mess? This video was shown in church yesterday. I thought it was so incredibly cool. I thought you might, too. God thinks completely opposite of the way we think. It'd do me some good to remember that.

I'm so glad life is different because of God.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Motivation?

My niece is having a party tomorrow to celebrate her 8th birthday. It's a pool party. Nikelle will be thrilled. Jaycie will want to be in the pool but she will want Rod or I with her. Andelise will want to do what her big sisters are doing. Do you think Rod will be able to handle both of the little ones in the pool by himself?

I realize that I would be a good mom if I would go in the pool with them. The frustrating part of all of this is that I don't fit in my swimsuit from this past summer (which size I was frustrated about at the time). It looks like I get to go swimsuit shopping tomorrow. Maybe that will motivate me to finally get on the ball and lose some weight!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thank God for friendships!

A couple of friends called me today interrupting my pity party. It's amazing what a change in perspective can do. I thank God for the friends that help me with that.

I started doing something to dig out of my hole. I'm thankful for the snow God gave us yesterday and the shoveling I had to do yesterday and today. Without it, I don't think I'd get any exercise in.

The girls both napped at the same time today and I was able to shovel, shower and rest a bit. The main thing to change my perspective is just remembering life is not about me. Oh, I'm certain I'll still get discouraged like I was earlier.

Jaycie had slipped and fallen. I was sitting on the floor holding Jaycie all the while watching Ande scream and cry and throw a fit because I wouldn't give in and give her the chocolate she wanted. I realize these moments are part of this season of life. I simply need to find the joy in these moments and move on to the next.

Thank God for friendships!

Longing for Rest and Perspective

Some days it feels much more difficult to keep proper perspective than it does on other days. This week has had some of those days. Jaycie started a cough again and I have a head cold that feels a whole lot like what I thought I just got rid of. At least I'm able to sleep this time around. That is when I don't have kids waking up because they are teething or coughing or just crying out "mommy" in their sleep. Some days I wish I was my husband. Most days I don't. He has to get up every day and go to work. He has God-given responsibilities that I am certainly grateful do not fall onto my shoulders. But when it comes to sleep, yes, I very, very much wish I was him. We just heard at the FamilyLife marraige conference, a few months ago, the difference between men and women when they sleep. The speaker informed us that men go into a complete coma. Women on the other hand have radar, scanning every noise that occurs during the night. I'm certain my husband could sleep through an earthquake where our entire house falls apart. There have been nights where he comes downstairs happy that the kids all slept through the night. Rather than record my response, let's just say he doesn't do that anymore. Unless I inform him that the kids slept through the night, he can pretty much guarantee they didn't.

I know my life is blessed. So many suffer all around the world. So many parents are struggling to get their children healthy from serious problems. So many moms, dads, and children are battling cancer. I simply am fighting off the common cold in this house. At the same time, although my head understands this, my emotions are really having a difficult time dealing with the fact that my 1-year-old continues to yell at me and demand my attention. She continues to operate like the Energizer bunny who never stops and doesn't allow me to stop when I want to. (I just had to stop her from climbing on top of me, clicking on the mouse, typing on the keyboard and attempting to turn off the computer while I type. I gave her a snack and put her in front of the T.V. which should hopefully give me 5 minutes to finish typing this. I realize I'm creating problems for her later in life with shoving food in her face, but for now, it's a solution that works temporarily.)

Yesterday I was attempting to keep perspective. My 4-year-old asked me to do a puzzle with her. I was attempting to talk to a girlfriend on the phone and keep the baby from destroying the work we had already completed on the puzzle. Needless to say, I had nothing short of a breakdown and had to hang up on my friend. Multitasking creates stress. Will someone please tell me how I can avoid it as a mother? Please?

I'm grateful for perspective. I continue to seek God and His perspective. I was reading this morning about how God commanded the Israelites to have a Sabbath day and rest. Maybe this is the point He is attempting to convey to me as well. I need to be more intentional about rest. The thing is, I thought I was being more intentional about this. How I work in rest with three kids to take care of is all confusion for me. Yet in those short moments where I am talking to God and reading the Bible, I feel rested. Until the kids call me again.

Ande spilled her food all over the sofa. Jaycie wants breakfast and housework is calling my name. Rest is something I long for and I know God is the place to find it.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." - Matthew 11:29

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Identity: A Child of God

I had the opportunity to speak to our mom's group last night. The curriculum we are using is Rosemary Flaaten's book, A Woman and Her Relationships. (I highly recommend it!) This is the way I connected with what she had to say.

I turned on The Oprah Winfrey show the other day just to see if anything inspiring was on. Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks, was on the show to “help women look great at every age“. They were doing makeovers on people to help them look their best. Like most women, I am interested in how I can improve my appearance so I listen for little tricks and advice that can help me personally. Curiously, I watched the show, only to find myself slightly frustrated and irritated. In a nutshell, I believe I was being told that I would need a makeover. I should start dressing differently, get my hair done more often, start wearing make up and follow the advice of T.V. talk shows, magazines and pressure from society I feel every day.

Believe me, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wearing clothes and make up that help you feel better about yourself. However, I am saying that there is a comparison game out there that I simply don’t want to play anymore. I know what I need to do to feel good about myself and I’m very grateful to have a husband who loves and accepts me just the way I am. I do not need the criticism or validation from others.

I believe God has worked in my heart about these topics over the years. And He still continues to do so. I am passionate that, as Christians, we gaze into a different mirror than the rest of the world. I also am a firm believer that the family we grow up in does not give us an excuse for our negative characteristics today. We can be different and be empowered for it!

Like most women, I struggle with this comparison game. I want my stomach as flat as one woman’s. I want my hair to be full like another’s. I long to not worry about stretch marks and cellulite and hair where it shouldn‘t be. I wish my skin was different. I wish my butt was smaller. I wish I could be comfortable in a swim suit - or shorts. Heck, I’d be happy if I could just be comfortable in my “fat” jeans these days. No matter what point I’m at in my life, I just never seem satisfied with my appearance.

Just a few years ago, I began to actually pay money to get my hair done. This was never something I did unless I simply needed to get a hair cut. Now, I go fairly regularly and allow my hairstylist to have some freedom in what she does with my hair. I have yet to go away crying from her house so I think overall, things are going well. Still, I find myself praying for God to help me keep perspective as I sit in that chair. The first time I went she commented on working on virgin hair. She was so excited to introduce my hair to a world of color. The next time, she convinced me to start waxing my eyebrows. Another time I went to her, I found myself walking out of her house not with just a new hairstyle and freshly waxed brows but with make-up on as well as borrowing some of her clothes for an evening out with my husband. Since that day, she is always commenting on my lips. “You have such beautiful lips,” she’ll tell me, “Just think of how beautiful you would look with lipstick on.” So, even as I attempt to do something small to improve my appearance, I get to hear how I should still be doing something more.

Thankfully, I’ve learned how to respond to my friend every time she makes this comment about my lips. “Thank you,” I reply. “If you think my lips look beautiful without lipstick, I don’t really need to wear lipstick than, do I?” I just went to visit her yesterday and she didn’t pressure me to wear lipstick and even accepted the fact that I really do know what works best for my lifestyle. I’m very happy with a hairstyle I don’t have to spend a lot of time on and still can feel good about. I am so thankful that I have learned that my approval and self-worth do not come from other people.

A friend of mine forwarded me an article from Proverbs 31 Ministries. The author of the article, T. Suzanne Eller, talks about the mirror we see ourselves in. She says,

“How many times have I met a truly beautiful woman and complemented her, only to hear her say, "Well, thank you, but I need to lose five pounds," or "I'm having a crazy hair day," or "Did you see that woman over there, now she's beautiful." What I saw was a smile that was warm and welcoming, or beautiful hazel eyes that were filled with compassion, or a woman who was frugal and fabulous. My complements were sincere, but fell flat as she focused on her flaws instead.

What would happen if we focused on the mirror Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13:12 instead? "Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now." (NLT) The more we get to know God, the clearer things become. We stop checking out our own image and discover more about Him.

And there's a bonus. The more we get to know Him, the more others see us through His reflection.

Now, that's real beauty.”

In the book on relationships we are reading, the author, Rosemary Flaaten, also delves into the impact our maiden families play in our lives. I remember as a kid the way I longed so much for my parents’ approval. In particular, I longed so much for my Dad’s love. I wanted his time, his focus and his affirmation.

I remember a time when I was younger where I had won some awards for achieving some sort of accomplishments. I desperately looked forward to showing my daddy the awards I had won. I remember waiting upstairs for him to come home. My dad was a carpenter and he put in long hard hours at work to provide for his family. Many days, he’d be gone by sunrise and get home after sunset. For some reason, I have a clear picture in my mind of falling asleep on the sofa waiting for my dad with my box of awards beside me. I don’t have a picture of him coming home and showing him all I was so proud of and the what the response was that he gave. I simply remember being asleep waiting for him to come home.

As I got older, I followed in the family tradition of playing basketball. I did fairly well and would often get playing time in the game. I didn’t always start but I was usually second string. I remember in junior high walking to my Grandma’s general store in town after practice to wait until my mom could pick me up. I remember that in high school, I would get rides home from my friend, Traci, and her parents many times after our games because my parents would be at the ball games of my brothers. It’s just the way it was. The fact that my dad invested his time in my brothers games and expected my mom to do the same, didn‘t stop me from playing hard. I just desperately wanted to see my dad express pride in me. I was Daddy’s girl and he held such a special place in my heart.

Fast forward to my married life when I was pregnant with my first child. I remember vividly the pain I felt one night because of the longing I had for my dad to simply desire to spend time with me. My brother and his wife had just had their baby and we were expecting four months later. We would all be heading over to their house to see my new niece and I thought it would be fun to go out to dinner with my parents. I was craving fried chicken, corn fritters, and other food from White Fence Farm and I knew my dad enjoyed eating there. I was certain he’d take me up on an invitation to eat there with us. I called my mom and as far as I knew the plans were set. As we sat at my brother’s house, time began ticking away and I felt my appetite grow. For some reason, my dad never got up to leave. Finally, my mom informed me that we should just go ahead without them. I had such a difficult time wrapping my mind around why my dad wouldn’t take the time to go out to eat with us. I just went home and cried myself to sleep.

I was always Daddy’s Little Girl. So you can just imagine how much it rocked my world when two years ago, this very month, my dad died of Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma/Leukemia. The man whose approval I longed for most of my life was now gone. No more being surprised by an unexpected expression of love. No more opportunities to cherish the few moments we got to spend together. No more. It was over. And if I my identity were in my dad… had I not learned…if I was still looking to him for my approval and security…I don’t think I’d be making it through each day.

Thankfully, God was gracious to me. In those couple years prior to my dad’s battle with cancer, God worked in my heart to show me that my approval does not come from my father, my husband, family, children, friends, or any other human being for that matter. My identity needed to be found in one place alone.

It was a few years ago that I found myself in a conversation with some other mom friends following this question in a study we were doing. “How would you answer the question, ‘Who am I?’” I was uncomfortable stating that I was “Rod’s wife“, or simply a “mom“, “daughter“, “sister“, or even a “friend“. It got me thinking about my identity. Finding my identity in any of these earthly relationships just would not work for me. What happens if, God forbid, something should happen where I am no longer a “wife“? What if I am no longer able to hear the words “mom” because tragedy hits? What if I lose my friendships? What happens then? If my identity is caught up in some sort of human relationship, then who do I become? That’s when I realized how secure I was in where my identity came from. I am a Child of God. Secure in who I am. Secure in a relationship that will never end. Secure in the unchanging identity that being God’s child provides me with. And I’ve clung to that. Hard. Day in and day out I struggle with low self-esteem. I fight off the influence of the world and the standard they shout for me to strive to. And I cling to the Bible. For in it, I find who I am. I find what God’s standards are for my life and I can be at peace.

God was gracious to me prior to my dad’s death. Back in 2004, I completed a half marathon. Prior to the event, I found myself angry with my dad that he wouldn’t be there to cheer me on. This is when I realized I was not being fair. I had grown so accustomed to being disappointed by my parents that I just assumed they wouldn’t attend - to the point that I hadn’t even asked them to come. I informed Rod that it probably wasn’t fair to be angry with them until I had at least invited them. As it turns out, my parents were there for the entire race. A memory I cherish today. Then, in December of 2007, just a couple months before my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma, I asked him to complete a 5K run with me. He embraced the moment and I have another memory to cherish for a lifetime.

Sometimes, God will gift us with moments like the ones with my dad I now so deeply cherish. He’ll give us moments with our children or friends or even total strangers that can boost our self-esteem. Not to mention the gift God gives me in my husband who loves me just the way I am and reminds me often that to him, I am beautiful. But we need to remember that these are just added bonuses. We are who we are because we are created by God, loved unconditionally, and purchased with the blood of Christ.

As I find myself in the comparison game about my appearance or find myself longing for someone else’s approval or love, I am so thankful that I have total security, acceptance, love and approval in God alone. And I still remember to thank Him often for the extra bonuses in the people He surrounds me with!