Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Quitter's Perspective

Copyright 2013 Abby Brundage.
All rights reserved.
Have you ever started a journal and quit? I can hardly write that sentence with a straight face. Every time I get motivated to journal I think, THIS. This is the time I'm going to stick with it. But what's going to be different this time? Hmm... This time I'll get a more expensive journal. This time I'll get a cheaper, no frills journal. It will show why I'm really in it. This time I'll follow an on-line program. This time I'll just write. This time I'll color around the margins! Seriously - all of those are actual thoughts and journals I've bought, started and quit. Quickly.

I have a journal sitting next to me now. And it keeps opening to the same page. Must be a rip in the binding. I bought this journal as a sign-in book for my 10-year high school reunion. So the first two pages are old classmates' names and email addresses. But since then, 2008, I've gone back to this soft maroon (GO BHS!) book when I just felt the need to talk to God. This one journal has entries from 2010, 2012, 2014 a 2013 letter to my husband that I wrote and never delivered and even that dated tracing of Liam's and my hands.

One of the best reasons to journal, in my experience and opinion is that it give us perspective. We can look back and see what we were thankful for, what we were worried about, what God was showing us & what we were pleading with God to do. The 2014 entries in this mishmashed journal are all the same format. Two lists.

List 1: Ten Things That Went Well Today.

List 2: Ten Truths for Tomorrow.

As I look back over these words, I am taken back to pain, comfort, exhaustion, determination, uncertainty and peace. How all that can exist in one person on one day is remarkable. It's a testament to what God can create in someone who is searching for His presence. Here's a glimpse.

Ten Things That Went Well Today
1. I made the boys a healthy dinner.
2. I got a nap!
3. I didn't miss him that much.
4. The weather was beautiful.
5. My dad and I hung out and drank a beer.
6. I went to my divorce group and talked.
7. I said out loud that I was unhappy.
8. I killed the spider!
9. I heard the boys laughing hysterically.
10. I was reminded that Jesus wants me now.

Ten Truths for Tomorrow
1. I will love again.
2. My boys and I will have a safe home.
3. My boys will know Jesus.
4. I will be joyful.
5. I will find peace.
6. I will use my voice to glorify God.
7. I will be grateful.
8. I will be healthy.
9. I will place God first.
10. God will provide all of my needs.

That was almost two years ago. Sometimes I find myself missing the days when my divorce was fresh. It's crazy because it hurt. Badly. But it was so beautiful and grace-filled at the same time.

We are so afraid to suffer. We don't want to feel pain, physically or emotionally. Even after my experience I still cower away from the idea of suffering, but I have to look back on occasion and remember that in the midst of suffering God is revealed to us in deep, profound and life-changing ways.

So I encourage you - write it down. Write it as often as you can even if it's only twice a month. Then believe that whatever you write will be something you can look back on and recall God's presence, grace and mercy.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Before & After

I’m just 10 lbs from my goal weight…

I think that’s going to be written on my tombstone.

Scale Series 2 by Benjamin Earwicker (2008) via

I have never been the “thin” girl. The one who could eat anything and not gain weight. I’ve envied her. Father, forgive me. But no, I’ve never been her. I’ve always been a sucker for the exercise and weight loss infomercials though. I’ve spent many hours (and eaten many snacks) watching everything from Deal-a-Meal to Sweatin’ to the Oldies, Insanity to P90X. I’ve googled, How many calories do you burn watching people work out? For some reason the search produced no results. C’mon! Somebody do the research!

The hook, the clincher, the thing that gets you to make the purchase (or at least watch the infomercial the next time it comes on at 2 AM while you’re nursing the baby): The Before & After Photos (I’ll call them B&As)! The transformations are incredible! And now, thanks to social media, these photos aren’t just relegated to the flyer that comes with the DVD. We see them in our Facebook newsfeed and as we scroll through the filtered world of Instagram.

Folded in with my envy of the “after” is always a little suspicion. Did the person really do that in 30 days? What about the lighting? Is she sucking it in?

I’ve taken B&As before. It’s a great way to see the progress you’ve made. Or not made. I’ll admit that I’ve been disappointed when, in order to see the progress, I’ve had to pinch and zoom in. Look, right there. There used to be a second roll and now there’s only one-and-a-half rolls!

I think we all can agree when it comes to weight loss, we want to see results, but sometimes the change that is important is not evident in the photo. I think it’s commonly known as a non-scale victory. Your cholesterol comes down. Your back stops hurting. You can jump rope with your daughter.

After my last “before” photo session (which is basically, me propping the phone up on the ironing board), I stared at the pics and thought, Do I demand to SEE results in other areas of my life? Do I look for visible proof where maybe the stuff going on under the surface is just as or even more important?

Do you find yourself looking for tangible evidence that God is working, or do you celebrate the victories in your heart like feeling peace when you would’ve normally worried, showing patience when your teenager rolls her eyes or receiving strength to resist the temptation to gossip?

Just like it’s a lot easier to post a photo with the caption Down 10 lbs! 8 inches lost! I think it’s also easier to talk about our great God when we have a concrete blessing – the check that showed up in the mail right when we needed it to. But our God is SO great that He is constantly producing results within His sons and daughters. We put in a little exercise and cooperate with His amazing grace and it happens.

God’s transformation of us is continual – we work it out with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). Don’t think that the non-scale victory isn’t exactly the victory that He wants to see.