…and the days are blessed

in the meadow

 

It’s nearly 10:30 p.m. at the end of a Sunday filled with so much love I can hardly stand it.

Randomeness follows:

My good friend’s birthday is today and I witnessed him be blessed by a large group of people who love and honor him. Then another good friend shared her testimony and the vision God has given her for building His Kingdom and making disciples.

I feel like I have so much to say, but I don’t think words can encompass what I’m feeling inside. I feel tender and mighty strong at the same time. I remember when God called me out of hiding and told me I was a woman of valor. I didn’t believe him, but I wanted to. I wonder if that’s how Gideon felt when God called to him, too. Worship is doing something different in me that it used to. It calls to something deeper than I can express. I feel emotional, but not in that crazy bad way.

It only now occurs to me that losing this weight is uncovering something. It’s been a battle, I won’t lie about that. Some of my weekly update videos have shown my disappointments. Yet, I feel so strong.

Friends, you are such treasures to me.

Transformation

I just got home from filming my third update video in my 90 day Zeal for Life challenge. It’s so hard for me to do those videos. First of all, I’m nervous and I feel like a total dork talking to the camera. I am getting much better at it. I knew I was under a time crunch because Lennox’s next appointment was at 9; I barely got out of there in time. Making these videos is so emotional for me. Last week was hardest, but I had some wind down time because we filmed in the evening. Today it worked out better to film in the morning right after my very sweaty workout. I rushed home to my real life waiting for me. I feel insecure and out of sorts. I don’t like the numbers on the scale this week. I don’t like how I say “um” and “so” a lot during filming. I look at my body and I wonder how on earth anyone finds me beautiful. I wonder if they’re liars and how it benefits them to lie to me. I also know that these thoughts are completely unfounded and are fueled only by my imaginations. I have the best group of friends you could ever find and they most certainly not liars. I tend to choose friends that have better vision than I do. They’re able to see more clearly. I believe they speak the truth.

In July of 2013 I did a 12 mile hike a few good friends. A few days before the hike I wrote a post about it called Brave or Crazy? I was scared. I am carrying at least an extra 120 lb on this body. The next day my good friend Sarah sent a message saying she read my blogs. Then she encouraged me by saying, “but i also believe that are true selves are who we are made to be and the selves we perceive/see are not accurate. so may i suggest you rename yourself more true to what God, myself and many others already see in you and give no notice to what you may perceive in yourself? i say you are a fighter and determined and a perfect weight person trying to be fit and eat well. i love you whatever weight you are.” I thought of her words so many times as I was hiking. I texted her when I had finished and she replied, “You’re a hero, i knew you would do it even if u felt like u couldn’t.”

Two weeks later, on August 4 (exactly a year ago) she died. I feel a little sick inside typing that. I miss her. A lot. In her life here on earth she inspired me to walk with Jesus more fully, examining my heart and actions. I’m sure I think of her daily and am inspired by her love and the relationship she had with Jesus and the people around her. I am feeling so much about her, but I’m not ready to share that here.

After the hike I wrote a blog with lost of pictures, which means you don’t want to miss it because it’s seriously beautiful people. I titled that one Crazy Brave or Bravily Crazy. I’ve decided I’ll just call myself Brave because that’s what I am. I’m also whiny sometimes, but I expect that to change. I am Brave because I choose to do hard things. It’s a better story that way, anyway.

This past weekend I did the  5k Ladybug Run. I had sprained my ankle 2 weeks ago so I didn’t even try to jog the entire thing, but I did jog more than 2 miles of it. Immediately upon finishing I started thinking of the next 5k I’ll do and how fast I want that one to be. I was slow. Many walkers passed me, the very young and the much older. Every time one of them passed I’d think, “Yeah, well I’m going to be one heck of a strong runner once I shed this extra weight.” I believe that I will. My next scheduled run is the Color Vibe in Salem. You may remember that we did that last year on my 39th birthday.  That was a GREAT birthday, but I expect my 40th to be even better! (If you want to join in the celebration by joining us in the Color Vibe be sure to let me know & I’ll give you the info you need.)

I want to say thank you to all the support I’ve been getting along this journey. You all inspire me to keep going. Love you!!!!!

YOU ARE ALL ROCK STARS!!!!!

Keep your eye out for this week’s update video. We’ll release it tomorrow for #TransformationTuesday

Until then, here’s a shot of Chani and I after the race. I must admit that I love my ladybug medal.

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Identity

Who are you? Who am I? What does God say about that?

I was already writing a post while listening to something on YouTube. By the end of the video I decided to change my post for today.

I’ve written before of how I have trouble with some of my kids, especially my oldest adopted daughter. Every day is a battle and it can be quite discouraging. Over the past week I’ve thought about how we perceive our worth or what we take on as our identity defines all of our behavior. Les Brown says something about treating someone as they should be and they will rise up to that. Simple to say, more difficult to do. It is a hard thing to speak and pour life into someone when it’s returned with nastiness. However, nothing will change unless that hard thing is done.

Blessing. I have books of blessings and books about blessing. I’ve read them, but haven’t applied them. I feel like I’m doing so many things right and that maybe this is the last frontier to conquer; proclaiming life and healing over myself and my children.

I’ve been learning to love myself more. It feels so selfish to say that. I mean, aren’t we, as followers of God called to lay down our lives for one another. We deserve nothing, right? We are but worms. Yet, Jesus tells us,  “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” How do we love our neighbor as our own self if we despise who we are?

I will speak life, God’s words to myself and my children. Even when it’s hard.

This is what got me thinking about it today. Please take the 15 minutes to watch this.

 

End of the Week Thoughts

I’m away for the day shooting a wedding up in Portland. I have the great privilege of having my oldest son by my side as my assistant. This week the three younger kids have been away, it’s been nice being just the two of us. We haven’t done anything special, just hung out. We tried watching the latest season of Sherlock Holmes, but we both fell asleep. I’d say we should try again tonight, but I’m sure it would happen again.

The great thing from having a break from the hustle and bustle of other beings in my home is that I’ve had time to think. A lot. I also get to take a shower without being interrupted. That’s like gold, people. You mamas out there KNOW exactly what I mean, don’t you?

Today is day 11 of my 90 day challenge. So far, so good. Turns out I didn’t quite get enough to eat today. When the kids are gone I don’t actually think about eating at all. Interesting, eh?

Now, for your entertainment….here are some photos of my before shoot. I’m not the easiest one to take pictures of. I roll my eyes and giggle a lot while saying, “Ok..ok…OK…Ok!” Somehow I think that OK is going to help me settle down!

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New Beginnings!

 “Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. Here we go round the mulberry bush early in the morning.”

That’s what it’s been like for me. I’ve been circling that same damn thing over and over again. (Pardon the language, please.) My song would say, “Here we go round the weight loss bush, the weight loss bush, the weight loss bush. Here we go round failing again, just like every time.”

I’ve written countless posts about weight loss, fitness, working out, and the spiritual aspect of it, too. I’ve embarked on this journey so many times, I can’t even count them. Some of the times I’ve been public about it, other times I’ve been secretive because I was afraid of failing in front of the entire universe. Years ago I lost 47 lbs in a biggest loser contest, but gained 35 of those back over the following years. Talk about embarrassing. Each time that happened a great big heap of shame was added to that.

I’m done with that cycle. I’m 80 days from turning 40. I absolutely do not want the second half of my life to be spent the same way as the first half. How boring! Moreover, I want my kids to stop going around in the same cycle with me. Gorgeous landscapes are being created especially for their eyes. I’m gonna do everything in my power to put them on the path to those!

On July 14, 2014 I began a new journey. Again. Oh wait, I guess you can’t start a new thing again…it can’t be new if you’ve been there before. Let me rephrase that.

I’ve embarked on a brand new journey.

One that I’ve never been on. It’s uncharted territory. I’m already seeing new landscapes here. I can feel that this is different. The temptations that plagued me in the past are no longer temptations. In fact, everything about this feels so much easier than ever.

Why is it different this time around? 

Well, I don’t rightly know. I reckon it’s because I’m different. My friend says it’s because I’m finally on my side. I was divided before so I couldn’t go anywhere. There is a shift in my thinking. I’m not sure I can even explain it. It’s not like I have this gritty determination. It’s more like a calm confidence.

Would you join me on my journey? Would you like to support and watch me or would you like to begin your own journey? We can travel together. I would very much like that. I’m passionate about life now. We are not meant to travel alone in this world. We did not come here to just survive! Let’s really LIVE together. Call, text, email, comment, message me!

There are several ways you can join me.

  1. Subscribe to this blog. I’ll be posting updates throughout the week.
  2. Facebook 
  3. Twitter 
  4. Instagram 
  5. Pinterest - Though I haven’t integrated that into my journey yet.
  6. YouTube 

I posted a video a couple of days ago as an introduction to the challenge and to give my one week update. If you haven’t already, please take a couple of minutes to see that first video. Video updates will be posted weekly. Don’t miss out.

Darlene’s Intro Video to the 90 Challenge!

Go out there and be awesome. Be clothed in Strength & Grace

Take Action

“You are coming into a season where you are joyfully going to take responsibility for your blessing. You’re going to seek it, you’re going to go after it, you’re going to explore it, you’re going to discover it and you’re going to take steps of possession to take hold of it. Your inheritance is coming to you in Christ Jesus.”

My friend texted that to me the other day. It’s was a facebook status from Graham Cooke.

I have a vision of what I’d like my life to be. I used to imagine great things, but they were just useless dreams, right? I don’t come from a family of dreamers and achievers. My goals as a kid were to graduate without having a baby and to not have that baby until after I was married. I accomplished those things, but then what? I was operating in the mindset that I’ll do better than the rest of the girls in the family to make my daddy proud, but then what? He was proud and I was without goals.

I’m going to be 40 this year. I’ve spent much of my life trying to be just good enough. I don’t want that anymore. I want to live an extraordinary life story. I want to really fly like the eagles,  not be stuck pecking the ground like a chicken.

Many have come to me telling me that I’m a warrior or telling me of  a vision they’ve had of me. I wasn’t carrying the weight of another person on this body. Even in one of my healing prayer sessions I saw that God was giving me a gift of health. My excess weight is no longer needed to protect me from the hurts of the past. I am free. Yet, I wasn’t losing the weight. I thought it would be easy after that.

I was talking with my friend, Michelle, about that. She said many things that day, but the thing that stood out is, “Make your outside match your inside.”

That made me think about who I am? Who does God say I am? Who is the woman I want to become?

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These days you’ll find me toting an orange purse I recently bought because it caught my eye & cried out to me. I almost didn’t buy it because I wanted to be practical, but then I decided that I wanted to be surrounded by things that make my heart sing. My purse is like a little pocket of joy reminding me of who I am when the harshness of this life blinds me. You’ll also find me hitting the gym each morning and fitting in a couple of shorter workouts throughout the day. I’ve recently made it a priority to read books. I love to read. I also enjoy writing a lot. Both of those things have been pushed to the side, but I’m realizing that when I make them a  priority the rest of my life actually feels more manageable. I was going to say balanced, but I’m beginning to think that being balanced is a myth and maybe we’re not meant to be.

My biggest challenge is transforming my body into the best version of me. I’ve been discouraged because I’ve walked this road before and never made it to my destination. I’ve allowed myself to beat me up about that. Yet, there’s this verse I have posted on my wall that says, “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. – Philippian 4:8″

I spend a lot of time talking to myself. Today I was working out and I started thinking, “This is too hard. I am too heavy for this. My shoulders are tired. I can’t go on.” Then I quickly changed it to, “This IS hard. I’ve done this before. I was able to do more than this. I can do it again. I am strong. I am getting stronger. It’s okay to cry.” I think I even let out a little whimper then. I really thought I was going to cry, but I couldn’t figure out what that would accomplish so I didn’t.

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to live a life of  limitations. If it’s true that nothing is impossible with God and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, then that’s the life I want. The Bible says that God gives us the desires of our hearts. I don’t think that means He gives us what we want just because we want it. I think it means that He puts desire in our hearts. Then we pray for it and work toward it and seek Him in it.

I also want my kids to be dreamers. I don’t want them to play the game of being just good enough. I don’t want them to think, “Well, at least I don’t….or at least I…..” you can fill in the blank. I want them to have a dream and go after it. I want them to love Jesus and have good relationships around them. I want them to have healed hearts and transformed lives.

I want the impossible things. I want my life to tell the story of how the Lord did impossible, crazy, and amazing things in my life. So, I’ll fight for it. I’ll go after it. On those days that I think what I do won’t matter I’ll ask to be reminded of people who obeyed the Lord and changed His Kingdom. I will choose it with joy. A joy that may involve a lot of sad tears because really, this life is hard and fighting battles all day long make me weary.

Still, I will choose Jesus.

Still, I will choose to exercise though my body feels frail, I know i am getting stronger. My first week back at working out was hard. The second week was better, but I was discouraged. The third week was much better. I can see progress in my strength. I didn’t see myself getting stronger. I saw myself struggling. Then one day I noticed I was stronger than before. 25

Let me ask you some questions? Who are you? Who does the Father say you are? Are you walking in that? What are you doing to be who you are called to be? What is He speaking to you these days?

 

Chani, Walking on Water, and Random Thoughts

my_chani_laughs_wmThis is my best friend, Chani. She and I could spend hours together and never tire of one another. We’ve done that before when we went to Canada, but it’s never enough hours. Last weekend we headed out on another journey to attend a retreat with other foster/adoptive moms. This time we picked up a few more passengers on the way.

The planning of this trip has been a little crazy for me. When Chani first introduced me to the idea I was so very against it. I just didn’t feel like I could face meeting more women and getting real with them. It’s so exhausting. I didn’t want to think about the finances. (I didn’t think much about them and I kind of regret that now.) Then suddenly I was so very for us going and she wasn’t so sure. I’m not sure how many times we flip flopped on the issue. At some point we decided yes and I prodded her into sending in her registration. Once we did that, it was done. We put money down on it. We had to go.

The day before we were to leave I texted her, “WE ARE NOT GOING. THIS IS A DUMB IDEA. I DON’T WANT TO GO!” I can’t remember what she texted back. It was probably something funny.

So, Friday morning I go pick her up, we talk about all the hiccups in the getting ready to depart. She’s still running around a little frantically. It’s a lot of work to leave the family for a weekend! I was already feeling free since my kids were dispersed and things in order on my end.

As I said, I was a little intimidated by the the sheer amount of women there. Oh holy heck, am I going to have to talk about myself 30 different times. Please don’t make me talk to you strange people. On the other hand, it is such an incredibly great feeling to be with women who completely understand your life with your kids. Not one of those women would say, “Oh, that’s normal. All kids do that.” Though they may say, “My kids do that, too!” You look at one another and you just know that you’re not in this alone. You’ve got others fighting this battle of leading their children to healing. If you talked to Chani she’d say I was WAY more freaked out on our first night in Canada than with this one. To be fair, I was sleep deprived on our Canada trip. I kept telling her that I just couldn’t be there. What was I going to do, though? I couldn’t just leave. I knew that God made a way for me to be here and that it would be good. I had to quiet my fears.

The next morning I wake and leave my bunk room to go for a walk. It was so nice. I wandered. Occasionally I wondered if I could find my way back, but I didn’t care. I was enjoying my solitude.

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I sat on that bench at the end of the dock  for a long time. I thought about how Jesus and calmed the stormy waters. I’ve never been in a boat when there’s a storm, but I can understand how frightening that could be. It was bad enough that these seasoned fishermen came to Him as he was sleeping saying, “Teacher do You not care that we are perishing?” Then when He calmed the waters they wondered who he was that even the sea and the waves obey Him.

Who is He, indeed?

Then there was that time that He was walking on the water & called Peter to Him. Peter was doing it. He asked the Lord to call him out upon the water, so He did. Peter steps out of the boat walking toward Jesus, but then sees that it’s windy and begins to sink. Jesus asked Peter why he doubted. I wonder if looking away from Jesus is the same as doubting.

Peter lost his focus.

I must admit that I wanted to walk on that water. I wondered what would happen if I just stepped out. What does walking on water feel like? I want to know.

Time and again, I’ve asked the Lord to use me for His Kingdom. I’ve told Him I’d do anything for Him, no matter how hard it is. I know He has called me to great and difficult things. He is faithful to answer my prayers, sometimes I don’t pray them because I’m afraid of what it will means when He answers. What will be required of me? Yet, there are things in my heart that nudge me and before I know it I pray the thing.

Like Peter, I am impulsive to blurt things, but I easily lose focus. (I’m sure this blog post can attest to that!)

Yesterday I was texting Chani about some of my frustrations. At the retreat I shared my personal adoption story and learning that I have the same attachment issues as my children. I realize that my story gives hope to people, but it doesn’t give me hope. I feel like I don’t know what’s happening or even if my kids will make the choice to heal. This is her reply: “What if she grows up and does hard things, like, self sacrificial, orphan care hard things… what if she grows up to fight for healthy relationships and give people hope who don’t otherwise have any… success?? Yes, my friend. Believe in your story. It is good.”  

When I related that I wanted something great in me to be released. She’s there. She’s in me, but I’m not letting her out. My Chani says, “I think that what happens is happening, one step at a time my beautiful warrior, back on the horse, live to fight another day, turn a new leaf, etc etc etc.”

Then when I told her my fear of being replaced she assures me, “You babycakes, are irreplaceable. We smart people know that. No question.” She had all the right words for me yesterday.

Can you believe that earlier that day I was lamenting over the fact that I haven’t any friends who remind me who I am and call me to greatness when I need it. Maybe I needed to feel the lack to see that I don’t lack that at all.

I was just about to send publish for this blog when I realized something.  I found the reason why I was having a hard time believing in my story. I was focusing on MY story. This isn’t MY story at all, is it? It’s His Story. God. It’s all His. Ha! Wow. Ok. Got it! Seriously. Wow.

This isn’t about you or me. It’s His story in us. We have a choice to live it or not. I choose His story.

How about you?