Beating Body Image Issues: Compared to Who?

Beating my body image issues meant getting real about having body image issues. I’ve spent my life believing my issues were with my body. I was so wrong!

Beating my body image issues meant getting real about having body image issues. I’ve spent much of my adult life believing that my issues were with my body.

If my body looked better, I wouldn’t have any issues, right? I was so wrong. I didn’t even realize I was working on the wrong AREA of my life!

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Of course, when I did lose weight, I noticed the stretch marks from the extra weight or the wrinkles in my face became more prominent. Every step toward my ideal body brought up new body image issues to worry about: varicose veins, chin hair, visible scars. I was never going to get there.

But that didn’t stop me from believing I was supposed to.

My body image issues were so ingrained I couldn’t separate my worth as a person from my imperfections.

I did things like walk for two hours everyday, skip meals, and start marathon running despite major joint pain because I felt compelled to reach this place of good enough physical perfection.

Beating my body image issues meant getting real about having body image issues. I’ve spent my life believing my issues were with my body. I was so wrong!
used with permission – Heather Creekmore 2017

Body image issues even spilled over into my nutrition. I skipped too many meals and didn’t eat nutritious food in proper proportions. I tried every diet and exercise plan, but none could change how I felt inside my own heart.

My body image issues were so ingrained I couldn't separate my worth from my imperfections. Click To Tweet

I’m ashamed of how body image has affected my life. I’ve cancelled plans or been too embarrassed to go places because I don’t have clothes to cover my problem areas. Because of my appearance, I’ve felt like a failure as a person.

I’ve cried so many tears wishing I could just be normal. The joke was on me! I am normal – like the 91% of women who also struggle with body image issues.

I’ve been on a journey to let go of my body image issues for the last few years, but Heather Creekmore’s book has helped free me in a way I didn’t expect.

At first, I didn’t want to read Compared to Who?.  I was so sure this was just another DIET book, full of the same old platitudes.

God only cares about your heart. It’s the inside that matters.

UGH! While those are true statements, they only help so much unless you deal with the real issue. Because deep down, while I know God loves me and values me for the inside, I want other people to think I’m wonderful too. There’s the real issue-Pride.

Despite my resistance, God was working on my body image issues and wasn’t going to leave me alone. I kept seeing this book everywhere.

Clearly, God wanted me to read this book.

When my copy arrived, I was hesitant but after a few pages, Heather’s humor and compassionate honesty captured my attention.

She confessed all thoughts I’ve secretly thought: every silent smug vanity, the catty comparisons, my shame when I didn’t match up, believing I just needed to have enough self-esteem to accept myself the way I am. So much of her story related to mine!

And I knew she understood. So when she asked me to rethink everything I’ve ever thought about vanity and body image, I was willing.

Compared to Who? offers us the heart of our body image issues and lets us quit comparing. Click To Tweet

What’s more, Compared to Who? showed me how I’ve been missing the heart issue of my body image issues.

I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with body image issues or vanity. Even though it mostly pertains to women, Heather speaks to the heart of the matter, our sinful flesh.

While I received a free copy from the author, the opinions are my own!

If you take what she says to heart, read the scriptures, and ask God to work in your heart, you will change. I am beating my body image issues, and freedom never felt so good.

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Fighting Doubt: A Review of Help My Unbelief and GIVEAWAY

Giveaway!!! Ever felt doubt creep into the corners of your mind? Tried the mental equivalent of plugging your ears? Help My Unbelief can add tools to your faith arsenal.

Doubt is not something we freely discuss often. Even mature Christians often feel like we are supposed to skim over the doubts and questions, putting on a brave face until they go away.

Want a free copy? Enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

Barnabas Piper’s book Help My Unbelief challenges this status quo that DOUBT is a dirty word, instead suggests if we’re honest, doubt is a part of our Christian walk; we have this tension between our faith and flesh that pulls us away from closeness with God at times.

Piper offers ways to embrace doubt as a challenge to grow closer to God, build a deeper relationship with Him, and find solid footing for our faith instead of pretending that we’ve never had any questions at all.

Are you a Christian who struggles w/DOUBT but want to believe? Add this book to your arsenal! Click To Tweet

Have you ever felt doubt, had questions creep into the corners of your mind? Tried the mental equivalent of plugging your ears and singing LA LA LA, I can’t hear you . . . ? Felt like you didn’t know where to go with your questions?

I enthusiastically recommend Help My Unbelief as a book to add tools to your faith arsenal for fighting doubt.

However, I was expecting apologetics, specific arguments defending our faith, so I was initially disappointed Piper does not spend much time offering “proof” that our God is real.

BUT as I read, taking my time with each chapter, searching the scriptures, carefully investigating what he was saying for myself, I realized that he offers instead a journey of finding our own faith, through our testimonies, experiences, scriptures and prayers.

Giveaway!!! Ever felt doubt creep into the corners of your mind? Tried the mental equivalent of plugging your ears? Help My Unbelief can add tools to your faith arsenal.

The strength of this book is the journey each chapter takes us on, of searching our hearts, cleaning up our minds, understanding faith and belief in the context of a perpetually developing relationship with God.

Help My Unbelief is a journey of how doubt can lead to deeper faith in a relationship with God. Click To Tweet

I walked away from this book with some real truths to cling to when the doubts creep in and new tools in my toolbox to find answers and peace even in the whys? that come with this earthly life.

I lead a small ladies’ study at my church using Help my Unbelief and felt it was a great resource to spur discussion and build fellowship among our group.

Help my Unbelief did have a few weaknesses. I struggled at times to be engaged with it. His writing is easy to read, but this book just missed being a real page turner for me. However, taking my time, reading and studying, was a better way to experience the book with more take-away.

My 1st GIVEAWAY - Barnabas Piper's Help My Unbelief - click here to enter and read my review! Click To Tweet

Piper shared powerful anecdotes, but I would have included more of his personal stories, which were very engaging and helped solidify his points.

Another area that had room for improvement was more of a missed opportunity. Many readers who would pick up this book might not know where to look to find answers in scriptures and would really benefit from a study or reading guide containing more questions for personal exploration and scriptures to meditate on.

My own teaching notes and discussion questions added to our experience because we got to share our testimonies of times God was clearly present, which is one of the ways Piper recommends growing our faith.

But these are small issues that did not detract from my recommendation of this book.

For anyone seeking answers, Help My Unbelief offers ways to find them for ourselves creating a solid foundation for personal faith, which made it a book I’ve already recommended over and over to friends.

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How to Save your Marriage When War Comes Home

How can you save your marriage when war comes home? It's a journey of patience and grace with a whole lot of Jesus filling in the empty spaces.

When a soldier comes home, War comes home, too. When my husband came home last time, it was our hardest yet. He came home to a stressed-out wife starting her next school year and a toddler daughter he barely knew. Reintegration was going to be tougher than it had ever been on top of the extreme stress of cumulative deployments.

Reintegration means readjusting, remembering things we took for granted: Where is my place? What is my role? How do we do this together?

For me, a small positive of deployments is getting to organize my house to my little OCD heart’s content. I get to color code and label. And everything stays where I put it. Hooray! A little thing I can enjoy while trying not to worry about my husband being in a war zone.

Remind Him that You Need Him

But when he comes home, I’ve moved his things. The gadgets only he uses got relegated to the back of the cabinets. He feels put away, like he doesn’t quite fit. Our lives went on without him, and we were just fine. Of course, It isn’t true, but it feels true to him.

He’s forgotten how to do the everyday things, and we’ve got our own rhythm.

Coming home took away his sense of mission and purpose. He felt like he left the job undone in Iraq and didn’t know how to change gears. He struggled to find his place in our home and lives. I had to learn how to let him back in, let him be her dad and do things his way.

Be Patient

Truly reintegrating took time. Six years after his last return and we are still finding places in our lives that we’ve held apart, stories we haven’t told, hurts we need to share. Learning to communicate our deepest truths after years of skype and emails takes practice almost like dating all over again, but with piles of expectations and resentment to climb over.

Think marathon, not sprint.  In fact, sometimes, it’s a relay race! Who is coping better today? You’ve got the ball.

When a soldier comes home, War Comes Home, too. Becoming one again is a marathon, not sprint. Click To Tweet

The mental and emotional tolls are only part of the equation. Deployments are also tremendously physically demanding, adrenaline pumping continuously 24 hours a day, everyday.

At least, previous deployments had prepared me to be patient with him. He was a hummingbird around the house, zipping from place to place, barely lingering long enough to be still a moment. I got exhausted watching him.

When a soldier comes home, War comes home, too.

It was weeks before he sat down, then all he did was sleep. His body was wrecked from getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night and wearing 100lbs of gear all day everyday for a year.  When he finally crashed, he slept every empty minute for weeks. My heart broke to watch him sleeping through those precious hours, when I so desperately just desired his presence.

As much as I wanted to authentically celebrate his being home, it took almost a year to feel like he was really home. And then the really hard work started.

Anticipate additional time for healing after he comes home.

The wounds from war are deeper than just the adrenaline and combat; they’ve lost so much time.

I was not as patient as I could have been. I felt like I’d been alone raising this baby by myself for so long, I just needed my husband. But he wasn’t ready to be home with us. He felt robbed of another year of his life, hunting and fishing, and having any time alone after being continuously with others (even on the toilet). As a mom, I can better relate now!

And then the loss of time with his kids was stoo much, he didn’t know how to cope, let alone how to begin reconnecting with them.

A special kind of hurt wraps itself like a noose around your heart when you lose time with your children, much less a cumulative 4-5 years of their lives. Just writing those words grieves my heart. I. CAN’T. EVEN.

Additionally, the unique, violent experiences he had in combat came home with him too; they live in his heart and mind in a way I’ll only barely grasp. They were tearing him up inside, and I didn’t know how to help or that I was inadvertently making things worse.

We said the word “divorce” too often in the heat of bickering over mundane domesticities that turned vicious. Our house became the war zone.

We reached a point nothing on earth could save us, at least nothing OF earth.

God doesn’t want us to turn to Him because we think His way might be better. God wants us on our knees imploring Him to save us. He wants us to realize our desperate need for Him, so we won’t take another step without him. He wants our full surrender, that moment we truly give it over to Him, quit playing at Christian and become a disciple.

For me, the path to that moment of surrender started when I truly realized the extent war comes home. The smell of it, the frenetic energy of it, the despair, bravado, and horror of it moved in with his foot locker at the end of his 4th deployment.

How can you save your marriage when war comes home? It's a journey of patience and grace with a whole lot of Jesus filling in the empty spaces.

And things got bad. Really bad. Not everyday was bad, but we fought a lot. Tension and anger were the under current of our marriage and home. I didn’t know what to do. It felt like we couldn’t even talk.

I started crying out to God.

But I wasn’t completely ready for total surrender. It took another year for the moment I stood in front of God and said, I just want you, to follow you, Lord, no matter what. I’m standing here until you make me move.

I had to learn to lean on God, completely.

When I finally grasped how I had been forgiven by God, I remember feeling like Paul when the scales dropped from his eyes, my vision changed almost physically. I finally understood that I didn’t have to get cleaned up to come to Christ. I just had to come and he would clean me up.

The next step for me was a book called When War Comes Home: Christ-Centered Healing for Wives of Combat Veterans. God placed this book in my path at just the right time to make dramatic changes in my heart and marriage. I spent the next several months reading a chapter a week and discussing it with a dear friend. We were both struggling with how combat had changed our husbands.

The book is written by combat veterans, wives, and experts from a Christian perspective. It costs about $25, but is a priceless resource. The book deals with everything from grieving the changes any combat veteran might experience to the most severe PSTD, offers insight and biblical solutions, as well as resources for help, counseling and domestic abuse if necessary.

I learned so much about forgiveness and commitment, God’s truths, and our real enemy in this world. Some content might not relate if your spouse isn’t a veteran, but so many raw truths about love being an action, not just emotion make this a trusted marriage manual I could recommend to anyone.

I was able to start understanding what he had seen and how he had lived in a way I hadn’t before. Compassion blossomed in my heart.

I had prayed for God to change my husband, and He did, but His answer was, “you first.” Today, I am tearfully thankful for that.

I remember one evening after a rough day, I was standing over dishes and a mess not of my making. My husband walked in from work and was being kind of a jerk. I felt my frustration start to rise. I was so angry I didn’t even know what to say.

My mouth clamped shut and I prayed in my head, “Lord, help me see him the way you do.” Instantly I saw the chains around him dragging him down: war, anger, death, loss, grief, shame. He wasn’t a jerk on purpose; he was too wounded to be anything else.

How can you save your marriage when war comes home? It's a journey of patience and grace with a whole lot of Jesus filling in the empty spaces.

Lord, please change my husband. His answer - You first! Tearfully grateful for His grace. Click To Tweet

“Oh, you’re having a hard time just being you today . . .” I said. He froze. His eyes immediately softened and changed. “Yes, I’m having a hard time being me.” “What can I do to help you?” “Give me five minutes to myself.” Done! Easy peasy lemon squeezy as my kiddo likes to say. So simple.

Ditch the expectations

And that was the beginning. I stopped expecting ANYTHING from him beyond going to work and coming home. While that sounds drastic, he couldn’t handle the pressure of my expectations. And I had been counting on him to make me happy when I should have been finding my joy in Christ.

I finally realized, he couldn’t fill my longing for true and everlasting love. Human love would always disappoint, but God never would.

Eventually, he began to unfurl in the security of God’s love for him through me and be able to relax again, laugh more, and take back some leadership in our home.

It’s been a couple of years, and I am still just barely scraping the surface of how war comes home, how what he has seen changes everything for him: the sound of a child crying, watching political debates, going to the movies, driving down the road.

We are just learning to trust and rely on each other again for the most secret places of our hearts. After years of self-reliance, it takes practice to risk being vulnerable with each other again. I had to learn to listen with my heart to a person God loves more than I do. I had to stop taking his anger and emotions so personally.

But God has worked miracles in my heart that are healing both of us and our marriage.

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Handling Hard in Friendship: Just Show Up

How do you do friendship in the hard places of life and make every moment count? Just show up, an incredible story of faith and friendship and grace.

It starts with a phone call, a knock on the door, a doctor’s test result and out of nowhere, hard just showed up.

Suddenly, life becomes divided into before/after.

This week again has been a series of hard emails and phone calls. Serious, deep needs have surrounded me. And I’ve been reminded that I can just show up even if that is silent prayers and text messages.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

What do you do when the news isn’t yours? How do you just show up when a friend goes through HARD?

Saturday, I started reading Just Show Up; The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. Within three sentences, I was devouring the pages.

Warm words and gentleness invite us to know the authors and the excruciating, miraculous ways God built this community of friends and taught them how to deal with Kara’s hard and strengthen their relationships.

God put this book in my path because I’ve always known how to care for others in my heart, sometimes too much, but I haven’t always known how to just show up and love people when hurt feelings or insecurities or intensely hard circumstances just show up on our doorsteps.

When life is busy, friendships that balance grace and kindness challenge most of us, but these women dance through this long goodbye with a beauty that only God could have created out of gut-wrenching painful circumstances.

How do you handle HARD when it lands on your friend's doorstep? Just Show UP. Click To Tweet

I found tremendous beauty in the way each friend’s gifting served a purpose for Kara and their group. God knit together these friends. This book is such an encouragement to women striving to be better friends in hard situations: cancer, death, miscarriage, divorce.

Kara and Jill both write with eloquence and gentleness. I was living this story with them. Maybe this story was gripping for me because I’ve had some similar hard in my life and close friends that I’ve asked to mother my children if something ever happened to me, but some is just the authors’ writing ability and openness.

Jill and Kara take turns writing in each chapter, but they both write stunningly, like water gliding softly over river stones. I caught myself feeling the weight of their emotions so dramatically I couldn’t catch my breath.

Jill discusses the delicate origami art of folding their feelings in and out of the circle of pain to support Kara and her family, caring for each other’s friendships with Kara as she struggled to be herself. How do you do friendship in the hard places of life and make every moment count? Just show up, an incredible story of faith and friendship and grace. You won't put it down.

They used their gifts and grace to show up for Kara and each other.

They showed up intentionally for Kara and each other through casseroles and funeral plans. Or ordered pizzas for us non-cooking introverts who are not spiritually gifted in the meal providing. Thank heavens for Little Caesars.

One page, I would be almost physically ill hurting and crying with them and the next my heart would soar with how God worked through that moment.

Each chapter ends with asking just two questions to help us be better friends and better receivers if we’re the friend on the hard side of things.

Bible verses and Godly perspectives pepper this book with more than just how to help a friend deal with a terminal illness, but also practical ways to be a help when sometimes we don’t know what to do or say.

Just Show Up reminds us that platitudes can be worse than silence and hugs are currency for hard.

Any friendship could benefit from learning how to be honest, gracefully forgive weaknesses, and find ways to bless each other through the tough parts of life, even when that doesn’t mean cancer.

I want to buy this book for every woman I know. Offering grace to our friends and to ourselves doesn’t always come naturally, and is needed tremendously by all.

This book shows how faith and belief, even when tested to the core, can bring us to the door with banana pudding and open arms when we say yes and just show up. Even if we can only show up via text message or phone calls and prayer.

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A Review – The End of Me by Kyle Idleman

Were you encouraged and inspired by "Not a Fan"? If so, The End of Me by Kyle Idleman will bring Jesus' teachings to life in a real way we can live today. Heaven Not Harvard

I’m an admitted book nerd. I can spend hours in a bookstore and need a bigger Kindle budget than I do for Target.  So I was giddy with excitement when my Amazon package arrived last Thursday.  I had pre-ordered The End of Me by Kyle Idleman, actual paper pages . . . ooh I was so excited.

But I got even more excited as I read the words of Jesus made real and relevant.

While not necessarily written to be a series or even sequential, I really felt like this book starts where his last book left off. Not a Fan asks us to get serious about being a follower of Christ, a true disciple, ready to get onto the playing field rather than cheering idly from the stands.

Ok, so now we’re on the field, now what?

Were you encouraged and inspired by Not a Fan? If so, The End of Me by Kyle Idleman will bring Jesus’ teachings to life in a real way we can live today.

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