Greater Purpose

Is God Really Good?

“Everything happens for a reason.”  It’s the mantra of our culture. We hear it almost daily as if it’s truth.

The Bible doesn’t say it.

The world says it.

This five word proclamation is usually a response to answer the question of why a bad thing happened.  It’s often echoed to offer “comfort” to those facing an unexplained illness or other horrible news.

Here’s what I know.  God’s character is righteous and when we believe he causes unrighteous things to happen in our lives, then we are believing that He is not all the way good.  I’m protective of my God’s reputation because I know Him and want to proclaim the truth!

Join me at handsonhealingministries.com to read the rest of my guest post. Click here

Julie

Greater Health

Keeping Christmas Eating Under Wraps

Need some healthy tips for holiday eating?  I’m bringing back this magazine article I wrote in 2004 because every single tip remains applicable and relevant.

* If the text is too small in the printed article, scroll down and you can read it below.

Gwinnett Lifestyle Article

Despite your attempts to cut the calories, count the carbs, and steer clear of the holiday food temptations, it would probably be safe to say that the turkey wasn’t the only thing that ended up stuffed on Thanksgiving…right?  With another holiday around the corner, we need to make sure to focus on the reason for the season, Jesus, rather than on food.

The holidays can conjure up many emotions and anxiety related to food.  Ask yourself this question:

“Do I even know when I am truly hungry?”

Unfortunately, many of us have ignored our hunger signals for so long that we have lost touch with our God-given cues.

Here are 12 tips to help keep Christmas eating under wraps:

  1. Eat when you are hungry…stop eating when you are full (www.NationalEatingDisorders.org). Sound too simple?  It’s not the Atkins diet plan or the low carb diet; it’s God’s plan for you.  He set two boundaries for our eating:  hunger and fullness.  Listen to your body!
  2. Do not plan to diet on January 1st. Rather than thinking “diet” think “eat smarter.”  After all, 95% of diets fail because DIETS DON’T WORK!
  3. Make a plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with, what foods will be available, what foods are really special to you (that you really want to eat) vs. those that you could probably do without.  What are your personal triggers to overeat and how can you minimize them?
  4. Eat a light snack before going to holiday parties. It is not a good idea to arrive at a party famished.  Not only are you more likely to overeat, but you are also less likely to resist the temptation of eating the higher fat and higher calorie foods.  Try eating a piece of fruit, a little yogurt, or string cheese before you go.
  5. Before you take a bite, ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry or am I confusing my emotions (loneliness, anger, boredom) as hunger?” So often we use food for comfort.
  6. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Guilt can lead to depression which leads to more overeating.
  7. Go grocery shopping when you have a full stomach – it makes those apple pies less tempting.
  8. If you’re an emotional eater, try creating a list of things other than food that make you feel good. When you are on the verge of a breakdown binge, use that list to find another way to soothe yourself.
  9. If quantity is your problem, start by using smaller plates. Also slow down, focus on your food so you recognize when you’re full, and don’t preload your fork with the next bite while still chewing the last one.
  10. Eat Breakfast – Ninety-six percent of people who lose weight and keep it off eat breakfast every day, according to Ann McDermott, a nutrition scientist at the Tufts University.
  11. Don’t tempt yourself by keeping trigger foods or comfort foods around the house. If you have them, it certainly increases the likelihood you will overeat.  Susan Barr, Dietitian and Program Director for Weight Watchers says “The idea is out of sight…out of mouth.”
  12. Remember that your body is a temple…Therefore honor God with your body! [1 Cor 6:19-20]

As we celebrate Christ’s birth this year, I pray that you will turn to Him for acceptance, comfort, and companionship rather than to the refrigerator or cupboard.  Julie

 

Greater Purpose

Battling for life, one mom at a time

 

I rushed into the pregnancy center, ready to meet with my first patient for the day. My minimal training didn’t prepare me for what I was about to hear.

The office manager filled me in… Your first patient is in the military, a single mom, pregnant.  She doesn’t want to be pregnant, the military told her to “take care of it” and her boyfriend wants her to have an abortion. She’d like you to talk to her boyfriend too.  

Fear overcame me. How was I qualified to sit with her and share the words that would inspire life?  I instantly felt not only inadequate, but unprepared for this woman’s situation.  I had previously counseled with women with unexpected pregnancies or those facing the diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases, but this client carried a different burden, one that was extremely heavy.  Keep in mind, I’m a volunteer, a patient advocate, by title.  I’m not a professional counselor nor an expert in crisis management.  I’m just Julie.

I lead a Moms In Prayer group early every Tuesday morning and this was a Tuesday morning. That fact is significant because I was “prayed up” and ready to battle the enemy on behalf of this woman’s situation.  I just needed to remember who I was.

So, as I felt the fear rest strong upon my body… I chose faith!

It was a decision. I learned years ago that you have to speak to the fear and command it to leave, in the mighty name of Jesus. Fear is not of God, so it cannot be present where there is faith.  Therefore, you must choose which door you will walk through.

I stepped into the faith door, into who God called me to be – a bold warrior who is prepared for battle – with a lifetime of spiritual preparation – who can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!

God promised to equip me with everything I could need as I met with this woman.  I would lean on His word and His power – and ask God to fill in the blanks.

As I walked into the room, my heart racing, I decided to exhale my fear and trust the scripture that tells me that in my weakness, He would be my strength.  I had to ask myself if I really believed His promises.  I did. And here’s what happened.

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I walked into the counseling room.

The lady sitting on the couch was not with her boyfriend, and to my surprise, sitting next to her was her little daughter.

Just us 3 ladies.

The magnitude of the moment hit me. God was entrusting me to offer hope and love to one of His favorite – a mother.  The daughter was too young to follow our conversations, but she could absorb the love and encouragement through smiles and prayers.

I asked her to share about her situation and how I could pray for her.  She opened up about how this baby was not wanted by her boyfriend.  She didn’t really believe in abortion, but it seemed to be the only option, especially considering her boyfriend’s fear of this pregnancy.  In her words, “The timing wasn’t right.”

The first word that God placed on my heart was purpose. I shared how this baby already had a purpose and calling on his/her life. God created this precious baby by design and with a good plan.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 39:13), You are loved by God (John 3:16), and He has plans to prosper you , not to harm you, and plans for a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

I also knew I needed to discuss the obvious option – parenting. She was quick to respond with the fact that she currently didn’t have any help and to add another child would be too much.  Naturally, the topic of adoption came up next and I described the beautiful gift it is to a family in waiting.  Her first response was, “But I never could give my baby up for adoption!”  This phrase was one I’d been trained to speak truth over. I kindly shared, “We hear a lot of mothers express that same feeling and that’s because of the great love you innately have for your baby.  Your motherly instincts jump in and you can’t imagine placing your child in the arms of another; however, can you think about what you’re saying when you say, you would consider abortion – which is ending the life of the baby in your womb- the one that you can’t imagine giving up for adoption?”   My words were spoken in love, trusting God would do what only He can do.

I had to talk quietly and in code at times when the little ears were listening.  I shared about the women that come to our center because they are fighting the nightmares and depression they face because of an earlier abortion.  The consequences of abortion live on for a lifetime. The loss is multiplied because in addition to the act of ending a life, the motherhood line is also severed leaving a deeply wounded woman.  Simply put, abortion hurts women.

The conversation continued, and I watched God move to lean a heart to life.   After we closed in prayer, I walked them to the ultrasound room.  It was there that we got to witness the sight of her baby and the strong heartbeat.  There’s nothing like it.  I still get butterflies and my heart leaps with joy because it’s always a miracle.

As we walked back to the check out desk, the office coordinator walked up to the patient’s daughter and invited her to “shop” in the baby boutique, filled with donated baby items. “You can pick a special gift for the baby,” she offered the little girl.  With a smile, she confidently began shopping and selected a quilted blanket for the baby and a sand bucket & shovel for herself.

As I documented the visit, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness.  When we are obedient and care for those in dire need, we can count on watching the Holy Spirit move.

Galatians 6:2 reminds us

“Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

I like closure. I wanted to know that after our conversation and prayer, it would be settled and wrapped up with a pretty bow.  But that’s not how it works here on earth. We are called to do our part, to share the gospel, to encourage, to educate, to speak life, and then to trust.

Trust that He will do the heavy lifting and send his Holy Spirit to comfort and to change hearts. Sometimes we witness the heart transformation, but more often than not, we witness the softening of a heart.  And it’s that softened heart that will be malleable,  with greater discernment to the voices of truth. It’s also that softened heart that will hear things that were once covered by the noise of the enemy.  It is a softened heart that will hunger for GREATER. So today I choose to celebrate her softened heart.

I don’t know how this story will end, but I do know that good seeds were planted. My continued prayers will water those seeds. People God places in her path will also water the seeds.   And when we question, what choice the pregnant mom will make, we have to remind ourselves that we are asked to do our part and then trust that He. Is. God.

 

 

 

Greater Motherhood

A Mother’s First Response

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Suddenly, I realized they were gone.

Moments earlier, my daughter and her friend were playing in the woods just beyond our fence. Armed with tall boots and warm gloves, they’re often found building tepees and bridges or playing in the tree house and creek. The adventurous girls usually tromp around our property like they own the place.

After a few minutes of being inside, I came out to check on them both. Standing on the back deck, I couldn’t see or hear them. My husband and I didn’t think they would wander off because they had clear guidelines to stay within our property, and they were old enough to trust. They knew better than to go near our pond or the widened creek.

Do Not Be Anxious

As if we had an organized plan in place, my husband and I set out in different directions, calling their names. I jumped over the creek and began praying aloud to God. I found myself chanting prayers of praise for who He is– the same ones we pray at Moms in Prayer.

“God, You are faithful. You’re omnipresent! You are with my daughter and her friend at this very moment, because You are always present everywhere. You’re their protector! There is nothing that can harm them because You are on guard. God, You already sent angels! You have commanded Your angels to guard them in all their ways.”

Here I was, in the middle of a fear-filled nightmare. But just as we practice every Tuesday morning at Moms in Prayer, my words were praise. I didn’t stop. I didn’t even pause, because the words were ready on my tongue to fight the battle exactly the way I’d prepared.

After searching, my husband and I met back up. We assumed the other had found the girls. But the girls had not been found.

Join me at momsinprayer.org to read the rest of my guest post. Click here

Greater Purpose

A Nurse’s Testimony

I will never forget the day my mother wept as she told me about witnessing an abortion during a nursing research assignment in college.  Her experience could never be forgotten and influenced her career path to stand for life as she specialized in childbirth education for forty years.  I asked her to write out her story, her testimony.  I pray your heart will also be broken for the unborn and the violence of abortion.

The timing to share her story is now.  Congress just voted to not support children born alive after a botched abortion.  I can’t believe we’ve even come to place where we have to vote on whether or not to care for a baby born alive.  “The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act should have been the most obvious “yes” vote ever presented before congress because every life is precious and beautiful.”  – Pastor Jentezen Franklin


It was February 1972.  

I was 20, newly married and a junior in college.  

My husband and I lived in Independence, Missouri which is a suburb of Kansas City.  I was in my third year of a nursing major and we were in the obstetrics rotation.

One of our assignments was to work with another student and do research, write a paper, and present it to the class.  The instructor gave us a list of topics from which to choose. My former roommate, Jane, and I decided to be a team. After discussing it, we agreed to do something really extreme – the topic of abortion.

Throughout my life, abortion had been a hush-hush subject.  It was generally seen as a horrible and extreme action that was not discussed.  It was illegal and only took place in dark hidden places. It was not something that either Jane or I had ever been exposed to, but the subject was being talked about more and more.  Abortion on demand had been made legal in some states in 1970. Kansas, our neighboring state, was now one of them!

I had heard (perhaps from one of our instructors) that there was an abortion clinic that had opened in Kansas City, Kansas.  That was next door to Kansas City, Missouri and very close to Independence. I conjured up the courage and called them. I explained that we were college nursing students and that we would like to come and visit their clinic.  They were amazingly welcoming and we set up a time.

At this juncture, I must say that although I was very horrified by the subject of abortion, I had also heard all the arguments for it.  

Having grown up in the 60’s, I certainly didn’t miss all the raging rhetoric about the sexual revolution and the feminist movement. The “woman’s rights” issues were everywhere and the “women have a right to their own bodies” argument was tantamount.   

Even then, I could not reconcile a woman’s sacred gift of growing a child to her right to dispense of it.

It is such a sacred trust given only to women. Even so, I went into this determined to have an open mind. I would hear what they had to say and I would give them serious consideration.

Jane and I came from the same background.  We were both raised in the church, very strong and active Christians, and our faith was very important to us.  We had the same moral foundation and the same values. We were both very hesitant about this project, but both determined to see it through.  

The day arrived.  It was a freezing cold, snowy and dark Saturday morning.  The weather reflected the nature of our mission.

This clinic was in a very run-down part of Kansas City, Kansas. The dark brick buildings were old and the area was depressing.  I guess at that time, abortion clinics were not welcome in the middle of an upscale business area. Its gloomy setting seemed appropriate.

Jane and I were welcomed so warmly that it seemed odd to me.  After thinking about it, I realized that we were just the kind of people they wanted on their side – young, female, and future medical professionals.  They saw us as having the potential of influencing many others. They wanted us to have a positive experience so that we could pass on this attitude.

We were told that the first thing they did was to meet with the client to discuss her situation.  It would be at this time that they would discuss the procedure. Our role was to observe and sit in on the interview.  We were not to say anything. That was fine with us.

Jane and I were separated.  They did not want too many people in the room while talking with the client.  The first interview that I observed was with a teenage girl.

She was alone. She explained that she became pregnant because her boyfriend was Catholic and he didn’t believe in birth control.  So, they decided to have an abortion. The irony of this situation was not lost on me. Let me get this right – birth control is bad, but abortion is okay? Of course, her boyfriend was not with her.  I felt such sympathy for this young girl. She had fallen victim to a lie that young girls believe all the time. She had trusted someone who failed her, and now he was making another decision for her that would be with her for the rest of her life.  

The clinic workers never discussed adoption. They then said that her abortion would be easy because she wasn’t far along. They directed her to the procedure area.

The next client was a woman who was the mother of four.  She was in her late 30’s. She and her husband had driven from Minnesota to have an abortion.  She said that they could not afford another child and so they had decided to abort this one. I felt her anguish.  I was so sorry that her desperation was so great that she could not see a way to bring this child into their established home.  I wondered what other concerns had brought her to this decision. I’m sure it must have been heart-wrenching. The clinic worker did not address her emotional pain or offer other options.  I don’t recall that there was any discussion of adoption. Her pregnancy was further along than the first client, but they determined it was still within the range of an early abortion. The clinic worker sent her to the procedure area.

By this time the teenage girl was prepped and ready.  I was allowed to stand in the procedure room – off to the side and out of her sight.  As opposed to a surgical setting, this room was dimly lit. There was a surgical light in the region where the practitioner worked, but the rest of the room was dim.  They gave her some medication to help her relax.

I didn’t know the credentials of the practitioner, but I remember assuming it was a medical doctor.  The first thing he did was to insert different centimeter dilators into her cervix. This was to gradually stretch the cervix so that the “contents of the pregnancy” could be removed.  The girl was not relaxed and she did not handle this process well. She was very agitated and anxious. The nurse was trying to calm her.

The very thought of having gradually bigger rods inserted into my cervix made me anxious, too.  But watching it done to someone else was even worse. I felt I was complicit in this by just being there! I was unprepared for this procedure.  I started to feel faint. (Remember, I was a nursing student and I had seen all manner of blood and variety of bodily fluids, some of which ended up on me!  I had also seen some bloody surgeries. I had never felt faint nor had I ever fainted. All medical people pride themselves on not getting sick in medical settings.)

After he had sufficiently dilated the cervix, he began the suction. He inserted the tube into her uterus.  I saw the blood and tissue come through the tube into a bottle attached to the floor!! Because of the surgical lighting, the blood was so vividly red.  The reality of what I was seeing hit me with force. I was watching a fetus being torn apart and sucked into a bottle!!! Dear God!!! The horror of it welled up inside me and I felt convicted of being in that place.  Forgive me God!. I felt like I was in another world.

The girl was very distressed.  This was not going as she or I expected.  This was not a neat little sterile procedure.  She could not see the bottle, but she could feel the process.  She was crying and moving around on the table. The nurse was upset.  She tried to calm the girl. She could tell I was also upset. She kept saying that the girl was having a reaction to the medicine they gave her.  


Everything that I had ever believed cried out to me.  

Everything that I valued was laid bare for me to see.

What am I doing here?  

Should I say something?

Do something?


It was over.  I was in shock.  I didn’t say anything or ask any questions.  I was led into another room where the woman from Minnesota was on the table.  The practitioner was starting the process when he realized that she was too far along for this kind of abortion. {This was before ultrasounds were in common use}  He questioned the mother about how many weeks she was. As it turned out, she was way past her first trimester. He was very agitated by her response. She had not been honest with them in her interview.  She was crying and the practitioner was rather perturbed. This was going to be a much more extensive abortion and one they did not want me to see. I did not want to see it either, and I was still feeling light-headed and dizzy.   At this point the practitioner and nurse decided that I should leave. They had someone come to get me.

They led me to a room with a cot in it. (Surely this wasn’t their recovery area?) I lay down and they brought me some ice chips.  They were sincerely concerned, but I also know they were sincerely disappointed. A few minutes later, Jane was brought to the same room for the same reason.  I guess that further reinforces my statement about our similar upbringing by our reaction to this experience. We stayed in the room until we felt better.

We had seen enough.  We were ready, no, anxious, to leave.  The staff was very disappointed with what had transpired.  They again explained that the first girl I had seen had a bad reaction to the medicine and things don’t usually go that way, etc, etc.

Jane and I had enough to write the experiential part of our research.  Way more than either of us had ever expected. We included the different types of abortions in our paper, added some visual aids, and called it good.  We presented it to the class. When we shared our abortion clinic experiences with our fellow students, there was silence. This was a room of Christian young women.  Young women, who in the years to come would be sought after to join the ranks of abortion supporters .

I have thought about this experience many times over the years.  This happened 47 years ago, but is still vivid in my memory. It was a foundational experience for me.   I have often thought that if all the people who march in favor of abortion could actually SEE one, they might view it differently.  

I feel deep compassion for women who have abortions.  Whatever reasons bring them to this decision must be so insurmountable in their minds that they see no other way. Honestly, I don’t have the same feelings for those who have a casual attitude about abortions and have multiple ones over the years.  However, I know that they too deserve my compassion because they are obviously ignorant of the magnitude of their decisions.

After many years of maturing as a Christian, I now see the entire abortion issue as spiritual warfare.  The powers of evil permeated my experience. I recognized them, but yet I didn’t. One of my favorite scriptures has always been Ephesians 6:12:

 “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.” 

This puts it into perspective.

May God have mercy upon our country and may we have the courage to speak for Him and for His precious creation. 

Brenda Bradford Weller  RN, BSN, LCCE, FACCE

February 25, 2019

Greater Health

This Can’t Be It…Exposing What’s Missing

So often our ministry is found where our misery has been.  My eating disorder began in high school and took deeper roots in college.  It was my misery.   My heart aches when I look back to the younger me and remember the pain, isolation, and hopelessness that encompassed those dark days.  After many years of treatment and learning to love myself again, the time came where I knew I had been commissioned to share my hope and story.  It’s my empathy and compassion for those with eating disorders that propels me to reach out to those in search of recovery.

In 2003,  I first became aware of my calling to help other women; I earnestly prayed for a platform – a place to start.   I was given the words, A Hunger for Something Greater as the answer to my questions of why we struggle with eating AND what do we do about it.

Untitled_Artwork

If you’re battling an eating disorder, could it be that your food struggles are symptoms of a void?  You want more from this life and you turn to food as an answer.   Do you ever say to yourself, “This can’t be it!”

That emptiness, that yearning you have deep within; it’s there by design  – You have a hunger for something GREATERNot a physical hunger but a spiritual one – one that has never quite been satisfied.

Food only offers a temporary fix to a spiritual void.  This is good news because you have hope.  An eating disorder is not your identity.  You were made for a purpose – a divine purpose, created by a majestic creator.  Don’t settle anymore for empty places – invite God to begin filling up the voids.

Blaise Pascal said it perfectly,

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

For we know, that no matter what we go after to find fulfillment, the only thing {One} who will satisfy is JESUS!  

God’s will for you is to be a healthy servant who can witness of his healing power.  His freedom is for you!  The Hunger for GREATER  blog is the outlet where I will share my struggles and how God met me right there – in the middle of it all.

May God guide and direct your path to freedom!

**And if you know someone who in the trenches with an eating disorder, please point them in my direction. God is ABLE!