Monday, February 27, 2012

Compartmentalize This...

As I struggle to write these words, let me begin by saying that I have sinned...greatly. My righteousness has been as filthy rags, and I have offered the leftover fruits to my God instead of the firstfruits. I have been 60 pounds overweight and fed my body whatever it wanted..whenever it wanted it. I have overindulged, ate mindlessly and fed my physical body gluttonously many times. I have sinned against a Holy God.

A wise friend who introduced me to the 17 day diet, Debra, reminded me that it was MAN who totally separated the physical body from the spiritual. She said, "is it not just like everything else we do? We compartmentalize God? It is easier that way for us. A simple way to see it is we have Sunday clothes but remember when you had "Sunday clothes" and those were set apart for church? And then you were told "no drugs, no booze, no sex" but no one dared say "no high fat, high cholesterol, etc food". We can "no" everything else but the food! ... my point is really that WE separated the physical from the spiritual - not God. oooo...and another reason why we do it is it is HARD to control physical appetites....much easier to give in.....self-discipline is hard and we don't like anything hard...." I totally agree! We compartmentalize EVERYTHING...we write "blank checks" for everything but certain areas (for me that was my unhealthy living and lack of exercise). I have given God everything except what I eat or how I spend my time NOT exercising. He wants it all. Why do we think we should give Him less than the best in that area...why did I think that?

One of our staff members, Joseph, reminded me of this: "However, much like Paul says in Romans 8:10-11, our physical, mortal bodies are brought to life through the Spirit! The old body dies and is raised up anew through the Spirit! So the physical is now seen through a new light; the spiritual. Our physical is actually no longer OUR physical, but God's physical. So to summarize, as Christians our spiritual and physical are completely separate. And completely one." Wow! This is so true. We are NO LONGER our own...we were bought with a price. It is CHRIST who lives in us. How much more should we discipline our minds and bodies knowing Who resides there!

And my brother David wrote: "What we eat affects our health, our quality of life, and our relationship with others. The same is true spiritually of the things we watch, our conversations, and what we allow our minds to dwell on each day. Christ is the goal in all things. Paul said whatever you do in word or deed, do for the glory of God. How we preserve and maintain both our spiritual and physical temples is a direct result of our view of His Sovereignty in our lives. In our disobedience, confession and repentance are necessary for us to begin rebuilding in a way that brings Him the most glory." Ummm..ouch! This rings so true for me. I should honor God in ALL thoughts, my words, my food, my activities, etc. I MUST obey Him in all areas.

For years I have separated the physical part of my life (what I eat, how I exercise, when I eat, how much I eat) from the spiritual aspect. With Christ in me, ALL of my life is a spiritual journey. What I put into my body is part of I must look to God's Word to see what He desires of me. There are many Scriptures that come to mind but the following ones convicted me of getting my temple in order:

1 Corinthians 9:27 I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (Disciplining our bodies can include avoiding pornography, illegal drugs, prostitution, movies with foul language, foods with no nutritional value, etc).

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (I can say that there is not a moment of exercising that I really enjoy. It is HARD. It is NOT pleasant. But, the harvest has been rewarding)

1 Corinthians 6:19-12 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (How can I possibly argue with this. GLORIFY God with your body. Was I doing this? NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, this is now my aim.)

This is where God has our family on this journey: seeking to honor and glorify God with our physical bodies. Please pray for us as we seek to live our lives in such a way as to please our Heavenly Father!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Comfort or Cover Up?

As our family is eating dinner recently, the kids began to talk about comfort foods. One daughter likes warm rice with a little butter and sugar; one child LOVES chicken and dumplings and another suggested macaroni and cheese. Meanwhile, the youngest kiddos just sat and listened…most likely because they just like food in general…any food…seriously.

And so I began to ponder comfort food and what is it for me. According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is food that is enjoyable to eat and makes the eater feel better emotionally. Ah-ha! For me comfort foods are rice (precisely warm rice with some butter and a little sugar – this is eaten for breakfast and not as a traditional side dish), bread pudding, chocolate anything (seriously, you could dunk an elephant’s ear in there and I would enjoy it), homemade bread and ice cream. I guess I have more than one comfort food.

But, does it comfort? Does it honestly soothe me or console me or reassure me? Does it make me FEEL better? When I look to God’s Word, I find comfort used in 2 specific ways. One is to refer to people who are mourning and are comforted by others. Specifically, look to the story of Job (not that the friends were very comforting) as well as Jeremiah who is mourning over Israel. However, the primary way “comfort” is used is refer to God’s comfort of His children. God is our Comforter (see Genesis 5:29, Psalm 71:21, Psalm 119:50, Isaiah 49:13, Zechariah 1:17, 1 Corinithians 14:3, 2 Corinthians 1:5). HE ALONE is the one who comforts us!

What am I doing when I eat the comfort food? Am I relying on the food to make me FEEL better? Yes and NO! I am also relying on the food to COVER over my feelings…to avoid hide them…so I won’t have to deal with them.

Today I choose to stand in truth and realize that I will not cover my feelings with food. I will stand firm in God’s Word and rely on Him to comfort me. He is THE COMFORTER and has not made His creation to comfort me in ways He is to comfort. I will choose Him over the food. What are you choosing today?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm moving on

First it was bread on the table of a popular Italian restaurant...but now, it's doughnuts. Not just any doughnuts but hot-right-now-melt-in-your-mouth-deliciousness doughnuts. In my car. The front seat. Beside me. I stopped by the doughnut store to pick up a couple of dozen for our student ministry friends. It was a big weekend for them and I thought it would help them to press through (after being in student ministry for a dozen years, it is refreshing to know that people actually think about you and appreciate you). With only one child in the car I figured I would be safe and accountable to someone. So, I pulled through and picked up the oh-so-yummy treats. I sat them safely in my front seat and pulled away. Then, I patted the top of the doughnut box and said, "I will NOT eat you. I love Jesus more than I love you." Forgetting that Jett was with me was probably a mistake (look, when you have 5 kids and it is NEVER quiet except at 2:00 am, it's hard to remember one when he's working on schoolwork in the back seat and not even breathing loudly). Jett promptly says, "Ummm, Mom, are YOU talking to the DOUGHNUTS?" Without a shed of shame I announced, "Yes I am son. I have to. I need to hear myself say it aloud." My favorite part was when he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Okay, I was just checking." For some reason I have a fondness for sugar, and the book Made to Crave has shown me that I crave what I eat. I have eaten refined sugar for SO long and I have become a champion of it. I can eat it publicly, privately or even in secret. I crave it. I want it like I want nothing else. Including Jesus. Do I honestly crave Him? Do I want Him so badly that I am willing to give up everything else to spend time with Him? I want to crave Jesus more than I crave anything else including food, my reputation, my sleep, etc. I want more of Him and less of me. WAY more of Him and WAY less of me. That same afternoon last week I found myself in the car alone while the older girls were in classes, the littles were having Daddy time and Jett was playing with a friend. I had just left a healthy lunch with my brothers and sister in law. I had eaten grilled snapper, broccoli and a salad. I was full. As soon as I sat in the car, my sweet tooth started acting up. Just go get a little something. No one is with you. No one will know. You've worked so hard. You deserve it. A little won't hurt you. Again I had to speak truth...I am NOT hungry. I am NOT hungry. I do NOT need anything else to eat. I cried out to God to take the desire away, and He did. I prayed and He responded. Praise His holy name! There is far less of me than there was 12 weeks ago...35 lbs to be exact. I don't get on the scale every day (multiple times a day) anymore. JT has still hidden the scale, and he gets it out once a week for me. I rely on God for my encouragement and affirmation instead of the numbers. I rely on Him to keep me running when I think I can't take another step. He is my strength and my all in all. All glory and honor belong to Him!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Talk to Bread

Saturday night we celebrated my birthday a day early with some very dear friends of ours from Georgia. These friends are people that I entrust with my life and dear brothers and sisters in Christ. They have journeyed beside us through times filled with laughs and through times showered with tears. They are a vital part of our Biblical community.

As we sat at the table at an Italian restaurant, I perused the menu to find one of three or four things that I knew I could eat (looking at the nutritional information online is a MUST these days to prepare for this situation). I chose a chicken dish with a little cheese (goat cheese), sundried tomatoes and green beans. Oh, and a salad....I specifically asked for a salad with only things from the garden. Did I inwardly laugh when the waitress asked if celery grew in a garden? Yes, a little. I had to specifically tell her what did not grow in a garden...cheese, croutons, etc. And, I smiled a little knowing that I had made a wise choice although it was really hard.

THEN, it happened. That same waitress (who by now is clearly trying to sabotage all of the teaching, training and learning I've done over the past eleven weeks) brought bread to our table. Not just one basket of bread but four! And, where did she sit TWO of the baskets....right in front of me. With all of the people at the table, why did she set those in front of me? I ask you...why?

As people began to quickly devour the bread, I had to take a deep breath and remember why I am doing what I am doing. God has commanded it. Period. It's not my opinion or my preference. It's what He is demanding of me...and I submit.

I pick up one of the baskets and uncover the delicousness that lay inside. I spoke aloud, "I love Jesus more than I love you." I set the bread right back down. There, I did it...I talked to the bread. And, I was reminded that Jesus is the Bread of Life. He WILL sustain me when I think I cannot go on. He WILL persevere when I cannot and want to quit.

One of my friends who has held me accountable and been on this journey with me was at that restaurant. Thankfully she sat right across from me. She ordered a salad with eggplant and artichokes. Her sweet hubby ordered salmon with green beans. We could smell the pasta and sauces everywhere. Yet, God's calling and command were louder. What a joy to have a friend who can sympathize and understand the struggle. For Dave and inspire me and challenge me. You have encouraged us in the Word in living this way. We are eternally grateful for you.

For those of you who have read the blog and know my struggle with eating healthy and exercising, thank you for your constant emails and texts and messages that have shown me I am not alone. I have found great encouragement from all of you. I have begun to spend some of the time I have running in prayer for you. As I struggle I know that many of you struggle too. So I no longer run just for me and my health...I am running so that I can continue this struggle and see victory over it. I run for you to run one day too (or ride or stretch or whatever you are called to do). I will keep running...with God's amazing grace to press me down and push me onward.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Conversation...

The temperatures are in the 30's in the early morning hours, and it's dark outside. But, God has shown me that it is the best time for me to attempt to run. So, I try. Lest you get any ideas of how graceful I am and how easy it comes to me, here's the conversation God and I had yesterday:

me - Lord, I cannot keep running. I want to give up now.

Him - Keep running. I'll sustain you.

me - (crying and talking aloud) I am telling you I can't.

Him - No you can't. But I can. I am powerful and I am OVER you, your body and your mind.

me - Lord I know...but my body doesn't seem to get the message.

Him - you are still relying on your own strength. Rely on me.

me - (walking now) What do you mean? I cannot do this without You. You started this.

Him - no, YOU started this. These are your consequences, remember?

me - Yes Lord...I did start this by making wrong choices so many times. I repent of my gluttony, laziness, pride and negligence. I have clearly sinned against you. Lord, I confess my sins and give them to you. Please forgive me. Show me how to honor you in what I eat and how I live.

Him - Stop stepping on the scale.

me - Um, what?

Him - you heard me. You are relying on that scale for your success instead of relying on me. You are using that scale to measure your obedience...use my Word. Are you doing what I've commanded you to do?

me - Yes Lord, I am. It's really, really hard. But You know that I am obeying You.

Him - Then put up the scale until I tell you to get it back out. Tell JT to hide it from you.

me - Yes Lord. I trust You.

This is hard...really hard. I have had success in relying on God's Word to show me my sin in relation to eating and exercise. I have obeyed what He has shown me to do. I am seeing progress. I've lost 33 lbs. I've run at least half of a 5K and am signed up for another one in March. But, that is NOT enough. I must stop looking at the scale for affirmation of God's plan at work in my life and look to Him alone.

JT hid the scale...I have no idea where it is...and I am NOT looking. If you see me at a place where there is a scale accessible, please help a sister out...hide the scale people, hide the scale.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Loving God More.

It's only been ten weeks since our lives have been turned upside down by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Can I say that it feels like an eternity? Why do I think that I can lose this weight and the unhealthy habits in lightning speed when it took me 42 (almost) years to get here? Why do I expect to be 2 lbs lighter each day when I put on this added weight over the past 15 years? Uuggh....I realize that I don't want to deal with the consequences of the sin in my life. I would like those consequences to go away or be less severe or painful. Can't I choose my consequences? Yes I can...and I did. Each gluttonous act, every denial of discipline, and all of my lazy tendencies led to these consequences. I chose this. I sinned, and these are my consequences.

But, fear not! It is not all gloom and doom. In fact, there has been a great deal of victorious moments in the last 70 days. God has recently led me to a book called Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst (thank you Amanda Mc for that recommendation). I have told many of my friends that I do NOT like this book...I don't know this Lysa character, but apparently she has been stalking me for years. She has been a fly on the wall of my home and my heart. She has invaded my private thoughts and my desires. It is unbelievable. I have never read a book that has convicted more (with the exception of the Bible). It points straight to me and my sin. I sure wish she would have given credit to my life as obviously it is about me.... In all seriousness, I have finally felt like I am not alone. Lysa verbalizes everything I have felt and done in regard to eating for most of my life.

The most convicting part of this book was this statements, "I rely on and love food more than I rely on and love God." Me too. Me too. Me too. I have loved food more than I have loved God. But, that is no longer. I submit willingly to these consequences and have allowed the Holy Spirit free reign over this once hidden part of my life. Tell me what to eat, when to eat and how/when/where to exercise. And, He has!

In addition, the Holy Spirit has prompted me to share my story with a group of people that holds me accountable. God led me to a group of friends/family who are as varied as you can imagine. They range from a stay at home mom to a homeschooling mom to a software engineer to a grad student to an accountant and more...I am close to some and am growing closer to others. God assembled this group for challenge me. They can ask me what I am eating and when I am exercising. They are the accountability God desires in my life in this area. I am inspired and spurred on by them!

Just yesterday we (JT, Kaitlyn, Madison and I) ran a 5K. When I say "ran," JT ran the whole time. I ran half of it. When I participated in my last 5K 6 weeks ago, I ran maybe 1/2 mile at the most. So, I'm improving. We are signing up for another race in March. With God's sustaining grace, we are aiming for a 1/2 marathon in November. To God alone be the glory!

Thank you all for running this race with me! May God be glorified in all that I say and do whether in teaching or studying or eating or exercising!