Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cartoon Beauty

Lord, have mercy.

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article today that highlighted cartoon illustrations of female world-changers. In what I think was a completely satirical attempt to capture our culture's view of beauty, this artist drew Disney-esque versions of women such Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony and Marie Curie all slimmed-down and glamorized in sparkly outfits and glitter. Take a look: 

What I wanted to think when I saw this was that the artist was, "Right on. Way to mock our society and make a point! Way to make fun of our standard of beauty and show the difference between reality and fantasy." What I really thought was, "Man, I wish I looked like cartoon Jane Goodall." 

Seriously. If someone drew a cartoon version of me as a Starbucks barista I would want them to draw her with a tiny waist, curves, sparkles and great hair. Yes, I would. Because that's what I think is beautiful. That's what we've been told is the gold standard of appearance. 

Forget what Rosa Parks did on the bus! How did she get those hips?? I don't care what Marie Curie did for medical advancement, I want to know what she eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner to fit in that black dress! What's her workout plan? 

How brainwashed we've become! Those women are only epitomized in beauty once they've been redrawn by the hands of men. 

It makes me mad that I want that. It makes me sad that I would waste so much time and energy on something so temporary and unfruitful as the "perfect" body. God created me to bring His Son to life through me--to love others and show them the hope we have in Christ. I can't do that when I'm distracted by the pursuit of a perfect body. 

Nothing good comes from idolizing our appearance. In my experience, the only benefit it brings is the ability to try on clothes at any store without any of them being too small. As great of an ego boost as that is, my emotional high in a dressing room does little to counteract the isolation, anxiety, fear, bondage and destruction that comes with it. 

The truth is that there is a long life of eternity ahead. This place here is so fleeting, yet I tend to live as if this is all there is. I strive for this body and these looks because it is what will earn me brownie points here on earth. But even that isn't true. If I'm really thinking straight, I realize that no one really cares. What really makes a difference is the love I give and the relationships that are formed as a result. The ability to be the hands and feet of Christ while I'm here. People are impacted far more by conversation and authentic love than they are my jean size. 

I want to do away with this useless distraction of body idolatry. I want to put God first. I want to live for Him and love like Him and not run myself ragged worrying needlessly about looking like a Disney princess. I want my Starbucks barista cartoon to look pretty, but I want it to be because she has love inside that is radiating out of her and spilling onto others. (Hopefully that's the only thing she's spilling.) :) I want to stop buying into the world's system and live to show them that there's SO much more to life. 

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." - Proverbs 31:29-31

That's the TRUTH.

- Jill

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Unplanned Blog

This is not the blog I intended to write.

Saturday afternoon, I wrote out this long blog about the staggering transformation that has taken place in my life over the last year since my husband and I have been married. It’s been a year that has taken my world from black and white to Technicolor. It’s been a year that has reintroduced me to my long lost friends Peace and Joy. It’s been a year that has filled my dark world with light. It’s been a year in which I’ve experienced the pain and pleasure of surrender to Christ. It’s been a year that has brought me back to life.

Yesterday I almost forgot it all.

One of the most difficult parts emotionally of recovering from an eating disorder is the daily battle with the closet. None of my old clothes fit me anymore, and it’s hard to believe anything but defeat and failure whenever I try to put on something that doesn’t fit my new body. Yes, I get to go shopping to find new things, but even that is a battleground as I select bigger sizes and wrestle to believe and tell myself the truth that it’s a healthier size.

So, yesterday morning I had a small breakdown. None of my fall clothes fit, and I had to resort to wearing the only shirt I’d bought so far this season, which I’d worn the past two times I’d been to church. I cried for a while and made us late for church, but thankfully my husband gets me and has tremendous patience. He hugged me and held me as I stood in the closet and even offered to help me pick out an outfit. (lol…ololol.)
Church was great as always, but my mind wasn’t there. It was focused on my body and my size. All I wanted to do was go home and put on a big sweatshirt to cover up and hide.

Then came the bomb.

After service, my husband struck up a conversation with a guy he’d never seen at church before. We stood around talking for a few minutes with him and learned that he’d been coming off and on for a few months. He had a loud personality and odd sense of humor, so the conversation wasn’t dull by any means.
Just before we were getting ready to part ways, the man looks at me and says with a sly grin, “And when is your baby due?”

Oh, no.

On the top 10 list of things never to say to a woman, that has to be number 1.

At first I didn’t get what he was saying. Once I realized what had just happened, I felt myself stiffen and my body temperature rise. I quickly dismissed his comment by telling him I wasn’t pregnant and that I hoped his words would come true someday. He was visibly embarrassed too, and we didn’t remain in that conversation much longer. My husband closed it down, and I excused myself to the restroom.
I could tell I was shutting down. Sinking. I didn’t immediately burst out crying. I just slid into numbness. Shock.

As we walked out of church, my husband asked me if I was ok. I just shook my head no. Once we got to the car, the tears started.

I was humiliated. Ashamed of my body. Ashamed of the weight I’d put on. Embarrassed that I was no longer the emaciated stick figure I once was able to be. No one would have mistook me for pregnant then. Oh, what had I done? Where had my perfect body gone?

The clouds set in, and I let it rain.

After my husband and I got home, I curled up on the bed and wept. He was so tender. He said all the right words and responded like a hero. I love him. But I was down, and I just couldn’t surface.

That evening, we were supposed to go to a worship event that my brother-in-law leads. Normally I love those times, and since he and the band hadn’t done one in a while, this was going to be special. This time, all I wanted to do was stay home in bed.

My husband came upstairs a few minutes before we had to leave, and told me it was time to get ready to go. I nodded and walked to the closet to grab some big sweatshirt.

I just love my husband. He saw what I was doing and basically told me to knock it off. “You’re a beautiful woman—more beautiful than you’ve ever been. I’m not going to let you wallow in this anymore. You’re going to put on some nice clothes and we’re going to go.”

I nodded, did as he told, redid my makeup and we left.

In the car, I tried to apologize. “I don’t know why I can’t just brush this off,” I said. He understood and encouraged me to give myself grace. It was a tough thing to experience, and it was understandable that I would react so severely.

When we got to the church, I put on a smile and chatted with friends. Some I hadn’t seen in months barely recognized me with a fuller face and curves, but once they did, they told me how amazing I looked and how happy they were that I was getting healthy.

The worship started, and I was still just not with it. I wanted to just crawl into the arms of Jesus and let Him speak to me, but I couldn’t. I was surrounded by people and on the arm of the pastor who was giving the devotional message during the service. The songs played, I held back tears, and I just stood there moving my mouth to match the lyrics.

About halfway through, my husband moved to the front row and asked me to join him. “I’m about to do something unplanned,” he said.

When the band finished their song, he took the stage and started talking about God’s power to deliver people from sin, captivity, bondage and destruction, and he invited anyone who had a story of deliverance to come to the front and share a few words about what Christ had done for them.

Seriously? I thought.

I know when the Lord wants me to speak in public and testify, and the Holy Spirit was tugging at my arm.

A spark of life.

“Remember where you’ve been,” the Lord said to my heart. “Tell them. Tell yourself. Tell Me.”

I told my husband I would share, and he squeezed my hand. As I sat there waiting for my turn, I had no idea what I was going to say. I was still shaking off the numbness. I didn’t pray or talk to the Lord in response, I just chose to trust that He knew what He was doing and would give me the words.

When it was my turn, I stepped onto the stage and took the mic from my husband. He stepped to the side and I looked back at him. He smiled. And I shared.

A year ago I’d been a skeleton. Isolated. Weak. Depressed. Controlled by a disorder that claims more lives than any other mental disorder. Now I was standing on a stage filled with energy and hope. I had a marvelous husband. I had my family again. I had friends and relationships. I had a fun, high-energy job. I had been brought back to life. What the enemy had tried to destroy, God had redeemed. I was living, walking, breathing proof of the power of Christ to liberate captives and heal the broken.

I cried as I shared, but I didn’t care. The Lord deserved such praise and honor for where He’d brought me, and I desperately needed to speak about it. If nothing more than just to drive it home in my own heart.
I was free. I was alive. I was saved, quite literally, from death. My God, my God. Where You have brought me. Through the valley of the shadow of death.

Do you know what it’s like to laugh again after not experiencing that sensation for years? Do you know what it’s like to fall asleep on your own after relying on medication for help? Do you know what it’s like to enjoy a hug or an embrace after fighting everyone away? Do you know what it’s like not to be enslaved to the endless demands of a consuming way of life that involves rigid restriction, starvation and exercise?
It’s like rising to the surface and breathing your first breath of air after almost suffocating at the bottom of an ocean. It’s like being hoisted out of a deep pit and allowed to run free through a green pasture. And I’m not going back. Whether I look pregnant or not.

Liberty in Christ is too sweet. Life is too full. There’s no purpose in worshipping any idol that will crush you when it falls. For me that was body perfection and performance. I’m not falling for that anymore. It’s fleeting. It’s superficial. It’s hollow. It’s draining. I’m living now. I’m surrendering to Christ and living in His love, which is THE ONLY ETERNAL thing we can cling to.

Bodies change. People leave. Relationships end. We get old. Jobs come and go. But Christ does not change. His love is with us regardless of anything that changes here on earth. That’s it. That’s why we MUST cling to Him above all else. If we don’t, we’ll get devastated repeatedly when our circumstances change.

My body has changed. Thank God that my focus has, too. It’s not on size or appearance nearly to the degree that it was. Now it’s on Jesus. He’s called the Rock for a reason. He won’t leave, change or shift. My body can change however it will, but Jesus won’t. And that is reason for celebration.

Today I’m still battling, but I’m so grateful for His timing and what He called me to do yesterday. I needed to be reminded of His grace and power. Maybe you do too. If so, I’m praying you can hear His voice and listen to what He says. Maybe He’s calling you out of your own darkness. If He is, let me tell you that it’s more than worth it to follow Him. Whatever you have to give up is NOTHING compared to what you will gain: joy, peace and life in abundance.

Love you all.

- Jill

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Take on the Miley Thing

Normally I blog about things like what I saw on Sunday night's VMAs, but I just haven't felt that pressing need this week. When things from pop culture threaten the well-being of our young women, I usually go straight to my computer for a quick tirade, but this time I just don't know that I need to.

I think I just have a little more hope than that. I just believe better about our young women. By and large I think they're too smart for things like this. There hasn't been one good thing said about the performance from Miley Cyrus, and I think that's awesome. That's a positive sign. Not one kid or adult I know has remarked that they wished they could be like her after what they saw.

Thank God.

To me this shows redemption. There are more level-headed people out there than we think. There are more people who aren't just taking pop stars as role models and then digesting whatever trash they're spoon fed. People might actually be paying attention. There might actually be kids out there who want to respect their bodies and virtue. There might be parents who care enough to spend time with their kids and tell them why they don't have to participate in repulsive behavior to be accepted. I like that.

I'm reminded right now of that Newsboys song "God's Not Dead." Our God isn't dead. He's not overpowered by the enemy even when we feel like it. He's surely alive, and He's revealing Himself in little and small ways every day.

So that's my blog. It's short and to the point. But I like what I saw in reaction to the Miley Cyrus episode. Keep voicing your opinions about the issue because I'm loving it. It's refreshing to hear people stand up against filth. Makes me believe people have morals and a few values.

- Jill

btw...Why was I watching the VMAs? HELLO! N' Sync reunion!! Duh! :) I felt like I was 19 again! :) Now THAT was awesome.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It's Been a Year

One year ago today I was curled up in a ball on the floor in my bedroom crying. It was the night before I boarded a Southwest flight to Arizona to start the most heartbreaking, challenging, humiliating month of my life at the eating disorder treatment facility Remuda Ranch.

It definitely doesn't seem like a year. This battle's been so intense that it feels like only few months. The details are still so clear. My then-fiance and I sitting on the stairs in my apartment, me wrapped in his arms shaking and sobbing. Running 10 miles the morning I left because I was sure it would be the last one I'd take for a long time. (I was right.) Landing in Phoenix and bursting into tears as I walked to baggage claim with the Remuda driver. Crying even harder when I arrived at the facility and was told I wouldn't have Internet access at all while I was there. Clinging to my cell phone as long as I could before they took it away, texting furiously with my family and Mighty Man just to stay in touch. Meeting my housemates and wondering how I would ever be at peace there with the surroundings like they seemed to be. Feeling so defeated, drained, scared and completely alone that first night. Realizing that absolutely every worldly comfort I had was gone and that all I had was God and His Word.

It's been almost a year since I left for Arizona, and I was reminded of the anniversary when I stepped out for my run this morning. I turned on my iPod and the One Direction song "What Makes You Beautiful" was the first song that played. It's not on my normal running playlist, so I hadn't heard it in months. But that was THE song that defined my experience last summer. One, because all I heard in Arizona was pop music, and that was one of only four songs the DJs would play. Two, because it addressed a very real subject that we were all exploring. And three, because it's the song our worship band played at church the Sunday after I got back to help me and all of the women realize that God looks at our hearts more than our waistlines to find true beauty.

I played that song over and over for at least three miles this morning thinking about how I've been changed since then. The most obvious difference is that I'm no longer a Gap size 00 and am now about 15-20 pounds in the northbound direction. While I still struggle with that at a very intense level, I do understand that it's a good thing. Shedding all of your body fat isn't healthy, and it doesn't make up for character gaps or personal imperfections. All it does is make you a thinner, more exhausted version of the person you are inside.

Then there are the non-physical changes, which I think have made the most difference. Only a year ago I was living in so much bondage that I could barely leave my apartment because I was terrified of being in an uncontrolled environment. I functioned, but only when necessary. I'd wake up and run and then starve myself as I wrote articles from my home. I'd eat a few small things to keep me going and then eat a large dinner before going to bed and starting over the next day. I'd go out with my fiance and to church but wouldn't do much else. It was too hard to engage with people--especially around food--because I was always hungry. I couldn't eat anything "unsafe," so I would just sit there wherever I was and endure hunger pangs until I could go home and eat something I'd preordained. To me, social engagements were associated with pain, so it was very difficult to go out.

This weekend, though, provided one of the most telling examples of how much has changed in the last year. My Mighty Man and I drove down to southeast Kansas to spend the day with his parents for Father's Day. We went to church with them and then came back to their house for a big lunch and relaxing afternoon. My mother-in-law had made a beautiful meal of roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, corn and salad with strawberry rhubarb pie and homemade ice cream for dessert. And for the first time I didn't look at it with paralyzing fear.

Only a year ago sitting in that very spot I had trembled with pain and anxiety as I chewed on dry lettuce and picked at tiny strands of lean roast. If anything else made it to my mouth, it was small, untainted by butter or gravy and within a certain calorie total. As everyone else ate, I toyed around in the conversation and tried to convince myself that I was doing the safe thing by not eating.

This year when we sat down to eat, I filled my plate with what I wanted, and I actually ate. The food was delicious, and I loved the flavor and texture of the roast-flavored mashed potatoes. I said yes to pie and ice cream and had a second bowl. When we were done, I sat at the table with the folks and my Mighty Man and just visited. It was about as far from the former scenario as I could get.

I still had high anxiety about the food. The MM and I talked about it on the way there and on the way back. But the difference was that I had freedom.

At the height of my condition, I couldn't think for myself. I listened only to the dictator in my head (called "Ed" in eating disorder circles) who told me what to eat, think and believe at all times. He orchestrated my actions, and, like a compliant prisoner, I did whatever he said without question. I believed everything he told me about failure, safety, value and control and centered my life around behaving by his rules.

I won't take the time to explain all there is to know about Ed and to reassure you that I'm not bipolar, but I will say that there is a new heroic rebel in my head who is refuting Ed's lies and showing me that I don't have to believe them anymore. The still, small voice of the Lord is breaking through and telling me the truth: I'm not a complete failure if I eat pie, and I don't have to run 10 extra miles to make up for it. I can choose for myself whether to either eat it or not and know I will be loved and valuable either way. That kind of change is monumental even if it's still in process.

Another big change from a year ago? I can hold down a high-energy job. Before, all I had the strength to do was run, sit and sleep. Maybe go on a quick errand. Definitely not play outdoor games, keep up with kids or  do anything physically demanding. Now I can stand on my feet for 6 to 8 hours, carry around multiple gallons of milk, clean large machines, make whipped cream and mocha and boss it out on the espresso bar. No way I could have done that a year ago. I would have quit after the first week. But this is life, and I now have the freedom to choose it.

There's so much more, too. I can eat out now. I can sample new things. I can eat a handful of popcorn at the movies with my hubby if I want to. No, I don't always choose to, but I realize it won't kill me if I do.

That's the thing. I've still got so far to go. Every day I battle the eating disorder patterns and emotions. I still struggle every time I'm presented with a menu. I still panic at the thought of not being able to run for a day. But the difference is that now I'm working through those fears more often instead of just quick-fixing them with eating disorder habits.

So, there you go. One year after stepping onto that plane it's clear to see I'm not who I was. The Lord has and is changing me--freeing me. And today I'm celebrating the victories. In fact, I'm even going to rejoice over the missteps and say that they're all part of the learning process. One foot in front of the other, right? Do that long enough and you eventually look back and realize how far you've come.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch vs. The Truth

I've gone from anger to sadness to despair, and I think I'm getting around to resolve. It's not going to go away. This problem in the world is just escalating, and we have to keep our heads and do what we can to shout the TRUTH more loudly. We can't stop those who are countering the message of Christ, but we can share His Word and pray that it falls on fertile soil.

There's an article circulating about Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries and why he says his stores don't offer XL and XXL sizes for women. They only want attractive, popular people wearing their clothes, and overweight kids aren't part of that crowd. The only reason they offer those sizes in men's lines is because they want athletes to wear them.

When I read this, my heart literally started racing. I wanted to punch a hole in something and just cry. Does he know how many eating disorders he just helped start? Does he know that he's doing that to young women and men every day? Every time a girl who wears a size 12 walks past that store, she'll get a little, "You're not good enough" message and believe lies about her physical appearance. She may start to starve herself to fit the maximum size 10 they offer. She may start to eat excessively out of despair. Worse, she may believe the lies they are communicating that her worth and value come from her body size and jeans. She'll battle this for years, and it will eat away at her joy, peace, life and health.

In the past few hours, I've come to grips with something. This isn't going away. There's nothing we can do to muzzle Mike Jeffries or those like him. They're part of the world we live in, and we shouldn't be surprised by these kinds of things. Of course this is going to happen. The enemy of our lives wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and this is part of his plan. It's a good one, too. But it's nothing that our message -- the message of Christ -- can't drown out.

Here's our opportunity. When things like this come up, we have the most wonderful chance to tell young men and women that it's not true. That there's a soul inside of them that brings out true beauty. That there's a God who loves them and created them perfectly. That there's a world full of lies that they don't have to believe. That they are precious in the sight of God regardless of whether they wear a size 2 or a size 14.

I'm taking a minute this morning to do some Truth-telling. Men and women -- especially you women out there who are fighting the battle of beauty -- God doesn't stop loving you if you weigh more than the BMI chart says you should. God's love is perfect, unlike any human love, and He won't love you more or less based on the scale. In fact, He won't love you more or less ever. At all. He loves you always. He loves you period. He loves your body, your mind, your heart, your smile. He loves your hair, your skin, your legs, your hands. He loves you because you are His child. He loves you as a perfect Father. Your appearance can not and will not change that.

It's a hard thing to accept that your identity can be based in being a child of God when the world tells you that your identity is what you look like and what you do. But how freeing to know and believe the truth as God Almighty laid it out. You're of infinite worth just because you are His creation.

Girls, if you can't wear Abercrombie & Fitch, it doesn't truly matter. American Eagle makes better jeans anyway. Just know that your soul is what makes you beautiful. Your joy, peace and freedom in Christ will make you shine brighter than any jean label. Seriously.

I love you all and am praying that His Truth resonates in your hearts today.

- Jill

Monday, April 15, 2013

So Sad

Three years ago I sprinted down Boylston Street and crossed the finish line of the 2010 Boston Marathon. It was the single-most thrilling experience of my life at that point and remains one of my most treasured highlights. My mom was on the sidelines along with the massive crowd, cheering like it was the Super Bowl. The noise was unbelievable, and I won't ever forget how much I wanted to cry, laugh, faint and dance all at the same time.

Today, the marathon was attacked. People died, were wounded, lost limbs, experienced trauma and simply suffered. And all I can do is sit in shock.

This is more than just a race. For the runners, it is the culmination of months of training and lifelong dreams. People work years, even decades, to qualify for Boston. Men and women who had imagined this day for years were finally realizing their goals. They'd run multiple marathons, iced muscles and trained through rain, ice, snow and heat. They'd committed themselves to a monstrous goal and sacrificed time, money and who knows what else to get to that point. It was supposed to be one of the best days of their lives.

It brings back so many memories for me, more than just the finish line. I remember the flight there and thinking, "What have I gotten myself into? I can't do this!" I remember the expo where I found a new 25,000-member family of runners who were sharing advice, encouragement and well-wishes. I had my mom with me for one of the most special mom-daughter experiences of our lives. I remember waking up on marathon morning and thinking that the race time would NEVER get there. I remember thinking that Heartbreak Hill wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and then feeling the "thigh smash" as I descended on tired legs. I remember thinking with three miles left that the crowd couldn't possibly get bigger and then being proven wrong. I remember finally finding my mom after the race and hugging her so tightly and crying. I remember the look in her eyes of pride and joy. It was unbelievable.

But it's not just about the runners. It's about their families. It's about history. It's about an entire subculture of endurance athletes who band together for one day a year to take the worldwide spotlight. It's about hopes. It's about dreams. It's about overcoming.

Training for Boston took more out of me than I was prepared to give, but it was worth it. I trained through thunderstorms, ice, wind and pain, and I know that so many others did the same. Through it all, I developed an intimacy with God that I hadn't found before as I allowed Him to speak to me in those miles and push myself beyond anywhere I'd gone before. I rode on His strength, and I opened my life up completely to His leading. There will never be a season like that one again, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I don't know how to deal with today. I wasn't even there. I didn't know many people who were running. All I know is that ever since 2010, my heart has been in Boston on Marathon Monday. It was there today and right now it's breaking, especially for the runners whose dreams or bodies were shattered. I don't know the purpose of this day in each of their lives, but I know that God has a plan to redeem what sin and evil tried to steal.

- Jill

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Food, Clothes, Forever...and TMI

Okay, this is going to be gross. I'm just warning you. . .

The other night I was getting ready for bed and I noticed two small bumps on the side of my calf that hadn't been there before. My nightstand lamp was the only light on, so I couldn't really see what they were. At first, they looked like two mosquito bites, but then I touched them and they were squishy. Ew! Being a fidgety person, I picked at them and discovered that they were puss pockets. What did I do? Pop them, of course!

Seriously. I'm like a 5-year-old when it comes to things like that. I can't leave it alone.

And now you know WAY too much about me. :)

Anyway, I went to the sink, washed them and then went back to the bedroom. My leg looked like it had a vampire bite on it. There were two red dots about fang-width apart. haha! Good thing I'm not into the "Twilight" books. I probably would have freaked myself out. But I did start wondering what the heck they were.

Were they spider bites? No. There were no bite marks.

Were they zits? Um, no. Duh.

Cancer! It had to be skin cancer. What was I going to do? My Mighty Man was out of town. Of all the times for me to get skin cancer, I had to do it when my husband was traveling.

What do you do when you discover you've got a fatal disease at 11:30 at night? Should I go to the ER? Should I call my mom? Maybe I should make funeral arrangements. Do I have life insurance? Will my family know I love them? But I didn't get to eat peanut butter pancakes one more time! I will tomorrow. In fact, I'll eat them every day until I die in four to six weeks.

Men, you may think that's a little irrational, but we women can have some crazy thought spirals like that. Oh yeah. Just try stepping inside our minds for a minute. It's exhausting.

After my little panic, I literally shook my head and paused for a second. Breathe, sister. Okay. . . Think.

So, okay. What if it was cancer? Chances were that it wasn't, but it could be. I'd never had red spots on my legs before, and cancer is so rampant that it seems like everyone has to face it sometime. What if my time was now?

Have you ever had those moments when you wonder what you'd do if you knew you only had a few days to live? That's what I did. The first question I thought of was what I'd do if I only had two days left. First, I would eat a huge breakfast of peanut butter pancakes with my hubby. Easy choice. Second, I would ask him to take me back home so I could be with my family.

Okay, two puss pockets probably meant I had at least a month or two, or maybe three, to live. What would I do if I had three months to live? First, I'd eat peanut butter pancakes every morning with my hubby. Easy. But I'd probably keep working at Starbucks. I'd use my time to tell everyone who came in how awesome they were and how they shouldn't take life so seriously. That they should be happy every day just as they are and not care so much what other people think or what the world expects. That they shouldn't waste time worrying--about ANYTHING. That this stop here on earth is only so long and that ETERNITY is waiting.
Of course they'd have to know Jesus to ENJOY eternity, and I'd communicate that the reason we don't have to worry is because of Him and His great love for us. I'd say that life doesn't have to be so dramatic and stressful if we know that it is only a pit stop on our way to forever with our King.

Okay, two puss pockets. I could probably hang in there for a year. What if I only had a year to live? What would I do then? Hmmm...Should I eat peanut butter pancakes every day? Maybe just once a week. (Um, no. Every day.)

What if I only had five years? Or 10? Or what if I only had 30 years or 40?

Um, Jill...You DO only have a certain number of years.


That's real.

Puss pockets or none, I realized something: I'm going to eventually die and go on to LIFE for all time with Christ. I'm not here for all that long. Nobody is. We're really and truly only here for a really short time. We're all carrying around a funeral date that's GOING to arrive.

That was quite a revelation for bedtime, especially when all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and read more about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family's long winter. But it was reeeeeeeeally profound.

I don't know about you, but most days I am 100% focused on living for the here and now. How can I make it through this day? How can I arrive safely back at bedtime with the least amount of trouble? For me, this also includes, "How can I safely arrive back at bedtime without giving in to temptation with food or gaining any weight?" How sad. Is that really how I live my life?

Life really is temporary. We really are only here for a short time. Why on earth am I wasting that time living only for things that make a difference to me right here and right now? Oh, how backward!

Life here isn't what it's all about. There is a LOT more to come once we die. Or really start life. That's what it's going to be, isn't it? We're really going to START life when we leave here. Eternal life. For ALL time. With Christ. Why am I living with such weight placed on making this worldly time so safe and protected? It doesn't matter! At least not in the way I think it does.

I told a friend the other day that when Jesus said, "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes," He must have been talking directly to women. 

Okay, moment of reality here. Gut-level reality. I live and die by my body--by food and clothes. Being thin is how I prove my worth and value to the world, and it is based on what I eat or don't eat and the size of my clothes. Oh, Jesus! How sad! You, Lord, even said to us that life was more than these two things specifically.

REAL life has nothing to do with earthly things like food and clothes. REAL life starts when we die here and enter into His presence in Heaven. The only thing this earth is for is making the choice to know and believe God and His Son. The ONLY thing we are here for is to make the choice to follow Him and to lead others into His presence so they too can experience eternal LIFE! REAL LIFE! We do that by expressing His love to others and making our loving, caring, almighty, forgiving, sovereign Lord come alive through us. That's what earth is for. Accepting Him as our Lord and letting others know how much He loves them, cares for them and that He died for them. He loves them so much that He gave up His life for them so that they could spend REAL life--forever life--with Him.

Two puss pockets. They're still there. Well, not the pockets, but the sores. My sis said she didn't think it was cancer and since she's a genius I believe her. But they still had a pretty big impact on my earthly life and my forever life. I like that phrase. I want to live with forever life in mind. I want to enjoy my stay here and not worry so much about food and clothes and things that make absolutely NO difference in my eternity or the eternity of others. Who cares?? Seriously! We're all going to die anyway, and sooner than we think! We only have a few moments here and then we're off to begin the good part. I'm SO tired of being consumed with ridiculousness. Time to live like I'm dying (thanks, Tim McGraw), or live like I'm actually living. haha! I like that better.