Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's the little things...

Pick one thing. Just. one. thing. And do it. Do it every day. Do it whether you want to or not. That begins the cycle of self-control and discipline. It is a matter of doing something over and over again whether we "feel" like it or not.

My friend Nellie was sharing part of her story with me, sharing the time in her life when she began A.A. She needed to learn self-control and discipline. A wise person told her to pick something that she didn't want to do and do it every day. And she did, despite the fact that she had no desire.

It just so happens (that's code for God keeps nudging me to learn this) that my PrayFit email devotion that came today shared the same theme. Jimmy Pena said: "You know, we’ve received a number of heartfelt e-mails and messages lately from many of you in dire need of encouragement to exercise. You’ve expressed that, for whatever reason, you just don’t feel motivated. Well friends, we’re praying for you. But at the same time, truthfully, not feeling motivated to honor the body is like saying you’re not motivated to be honest. Remember, just because something doesn’t come naturally to you doesn’t mean you’re not called to do it."

Normally, I would say something like "Americans tend to be lazy and find easier and faster ways to accomplish everything." But I really don't KNOW that to be true. It does seem true, but let's get personal about it. Daily I do certain things which are lazy...I take the easy way instead of the best way. Yes, there are things I do which save time, but if what I do increases the amount of time I have to use later, then it's just lazy. Here are some of those things for me:

Throw my socks into the sock drawers instead of putting them in the dividers (thus I have to search longer when I'm looking for something)

Take off my running shoes without untying them (I've learned the hard way that this is not the best way to take care of $100+ shoes plus I have to untie them every day that I need to wear them)

Put off answering emails until later (then they pile up until I feel overwhelmed) Put things in a convenient place that I think I'll remember later (and as it turns out, I don't.)

I tend to prefer and select the lazy way instead of the best way the first time. Many of us do the same. We seek drive-through lanes, fast food restaurants, home delivery, online shopping...whatever makes life easier and more convenient for us. Is there a place for efficiency? Yes! But, I know me, and my motive is not for is out of pure laziness!

So, I fight laziness with self-control and discipline. I must do things every day that I do not want to do in a way that is best the first time. The following list are personal items FOR ME that I do every day to help instill that self-discipline: (these happen to be in chronological order of my day)

Exercise within 30 minutes of waking up.

Morning quiet time before taking a shower.

Shower and get ready for the day.

Make my bed (if not already made)

Eat meals slowly and mindfully.

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

Drink hot green tea twice a day.

Respond slowly and out of love with my husband and children.

Immediately obey the Holy Spirit's reminders to call or write someone.

Spend intentional time with each child doing something they enjoy or just listen to him/her.

Intentional discipleship of my children (right now we are working through the book of John).

Encourage my husband in the Lord.

There are so many other things that enable me to learn self-discipline and self-control EVERY day. They are all little choices that train my mind and heart to be INTENTIONAL about EVERYthing I do. Just like exercise trains my body to run...making those decisions daily to take a few more seconds to do the best thing will increase self-control in my life.

What is one little thing you can do to begin the process of self-control and self-discipline in your life?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Out of options...

It's been a few weeks since I've updated the blog due to a trip to Guatemala. What a blessing to be able to experience true Biblical community as we worked together to make the name of our Lord known to the nations!

I was a little anxious about this trip mainly because I didn't know if I would be able to exercise and what the food choices would be. I've been to Guatemala a lot over the past 7 years and well, starches rule there! So, I was a little apprehensive about sticking to the healthy eating plan.

As it turns out there is a fine line in eating healthy and offending someone's culture...I had to walk a tight rope carefully. Breakfast was consistent daily - scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and yogurt which I purchased at the grocery store on the first day. Plus, I had some instant oatmeal packets which I used every other day and hot tea as well! Lunch on two days included 2 sandwiches, chips, cookies and a juice box. I opted for a protein bar, a fruit cup (I had brought with me) and water. I was also able to supplement with almonds. Great option for me. Two other days were meals in someone's home, and they were delicious meals. The first day I ate two fried foods which my stomach promptly reminded me why I haven't that way in 5 months.... but the next day I had more veggies and grilled meat while passing on the starches. Bottled water was my beverage of choice.

Dinner was a little more difficult as we were offered starches mainly with sides of meat and few veggies. But, smaller portions and protein bars were my friends. I had to say no to any other fried foods...I cannot eat that way. And I tried to be mindful that I was in another culture but have been called to eat in a way that honors God and provides nutrients to my body.

Exercise was you know that I live just a little above sea level every day. Well, Guatemala City is a mile above that, and the main village where we worked is another mile up. Exercising and breathing are diametrically opposed. Trust me. My friend Nellie was on this trip and is one of my accountability partners. She and I exercised 3 days while we were there. We measured off the circle of the colonia and walked about three miles each time. My new friend Natasha joined us the second day and pushed me to run half of the time. My lungs were surely going to explode out of my chest...but they did not. God stretched me again. It's a life lesson for me..I just know it.

So, it can be done...eating healthy on a mission trip and still exercising. Sure it took some planning and getting up an hour before anyone else. But, it was good....and obedient. Praise God for His grace to keep walking this journey!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Then and Now

On November 1st of last year I knew I needed to do something. I had hit a weight that was unbelievable for me. It broke my heart and brought me to my knees. I KNEW something had to change. I thought that losing some weight would do the trick. I was WRONG.

For three weeks I held to a popular liquid diet routine and exercised as much as possible. I was looking for results, and I got them. I think I lost about 8 pounds during that time. But, I had this gnawing, aching feeling that this was only the beginning, and it was about to get ugly. It did. God showed me that the diet was not what He was what I wanted. The exercise was not His plan...but mine alone. I was humbled and broken and looking for what God wanted to teach me.

I NEEDED and WANTED to know what God had in store....I've been on a roller coaster of weight loss/weight gain for all of my adult life. I CRAVED God's intervention. Little did I know how hard this would be. To stare my sin face to face and to come to the point of realizing that MY sin was hindering my relationship with the Father was not pretty at all. Some of you may recall the day I wept while I was running calling out to God in repentance for my gluttony, pride, thoughtlessness and selfish ways. He BROKE me.

Three weeks into MY plan, God showed us His ways through a particular plan of eating. I am not necessarily advocating this plan as it doesn't fit everyone. Basically the idea is to eat more veggies, some fruits (before 2), probiotics (my personal favorite) and lean meat. No carbs for a while and then reintroduced every other day but before 2 pm. And, drink lots of water and green tea. It works for us. There seem to be a variety of systems out there that promote the same ideas. And last but not least, get moving....get the heart pumping every day.

I knew I couldn't do this alone, so God prompted ALL of the "big" people around here to join in. The littles (J, Z and E) eat the same things we do, and honestly, they have enjoyed it more than we have. They prefer the veggies and protein...that should've been our first hint that this was a GOOD thing. The day after Thanksgiving of 2011 we all began the journey.

My life has not been an easy one....growing up with a mom in and out of mental institutions, told we would likely never have children biologically, dad convicted of murder in 2002, complete house fire in 2005, RAD of 2 of our adoptive children, 3 international adoptions...but THIS has been the HARDEST battle I have EVER fought. Why? Because it makes me face the root of the problem and realize that this is a SIN issue...MY SIN ISSUE! There's NO ONE else to blame or to take responsibility. It is mine and mine alone. I have found comfort, healing, fellowship, joy, and fulfillment in FOOD...not in the Savior. I have run to food out of boredom, stress, in times of happiness and sadness, and in utter mindlessness instead of running to my Heavenly Father. This was NOT about food or was about my cravings for the things of this world more than I craved God.

I must confess that it has been an UPHILL battle EVERY single day...EVERY really, EVERY day. There have been moments when we have cried around the dinner me, crying in a NOT a beautiful thing. We have had days of whiny attitudes and words - and NOT just the kids! I even had a time when I was counseling myself in the mirror...rebuking myself for being "bored" with the same foods over and over again. How dare I complain after seeing what I have seen around the world! People eat the same things over and over again for their entire lives and I am complaining on day 10...uuggh! At the same time there have been great joys - encouraging one another through times of trials, seeing God's abounding peace, and resting in His provision!

Little by little God has whittled away at my heart until it is focused solely on Him alone. I don't eat a meal without praying about whether God would have me eat it or how much He wants me to eat. I MUST listen to His voice when He says to stop...and I must trust Him! He knows what is best for me, and He has a plan for me. I MUST obey.

We are four months into this journey and it feels like forever...seriously people...forever! But oh the lessons I have learned! Here are a few of the highlights for me:

* I have a struggle just like everyone else. If I can't deal with my struggle in a way that honors God, what makes me think I should ask for a different struggle?

* I must take EVERY thought captive to the glory of Christ. That includes thoughts of food and lazy tendencies.

* I am the teacher of my children. They WILL learn how to eat and exercise from my example.

* I will crave what I eat. If I eat healthy, my body will crave and demand foods that are nutritious. If I eat junk, my body will want more junk.

* I will seek to honor God with my body as His Word instructs. I cannot gloss over, ignore or explain away that Scripture.

* The Body of Christ is truly a beautiful gift that encourages, supports and loves people like me through difficult journeys like this. I am so grateful for friends and family who hold me accountable for my choices!

There has been a by-product of this journey and that is weight that has been lost. Between the 4 of us, we have lost 180 lbs! JT has lost 70 of that and has led our family in this battle against unhealthy eating and apathy. This is NOT a quick is a formula for putting God's ways FIRST.

I have to tell you that I do like the results. Just last night I was trying on capris to take on a trip to Guatemala. Two different ones were WAY too tight on me last summer and I couldn't wear them. But last night they fell off me...literally. My hubby found it funny but I found it glorifying. It was a testimony to God's ways and His plans...not mine.

As I ran a 5K today, I was reminded of the picture at the top of this blog...41 lbs ago. God's mercy and grace and love have been poured out on me. And, I am one grateful servant....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beans for your birthright?

Many moons ago I sat in a group of students at a camp one summer. A local drama group was on stage performing "Beans for your birthright?" It was a modern day rendition of Jacob and Esau that dealt with sacrificing purity for momentary pleasure. "I've got this," I thought. "I'm totally staying pure until marriage." And I did. But, how many times have I given up my God-given body for a bowl of beans? Too many to count.

Many, many, many times. I have sacrificed the glory of God (remember that He tells us to honor Him with our bodies) for my pleasure alone. I have chosen chocolate over the Creator. I have given in to junk food instead of Jehovah. Milkshakes over the Mighty One. Ice Cream above the Immutable King. You get the idea.

When given the choice (and even when NOT given the choice), I have selected the unholy over the Holy! I must run to Him and Him alone. I do not trust myself to make right choices...yet. When I am presented a menu in a restaurant, I will inevitably choose the unhealthiest food item in spite of the fact that I think I'm choosing something good. So, I must RELY on HIM alone. I must use the knowledge and wisdom He gives me (through others who are living healthy lifestyles, His Word, etc) to make decisions...not rely on me at all!

What are you sacrificing today? Are you choosing God's ways or your own? Do you seek Him for what He wants you to eat and do today?

As I was running this week I was praying that God would allow me to speak truth to a friend who struggles in the same areas as me. Then He reminded me that I didn't want to hear or listen to anyone who would've pointed out the sins in my life...gluttony, pride, apathy, etc. I literally said (and yes, I realize this is absurd NOW), "God, if you don't use me, how will he/she know?" God said, "I've already spoken in my Word." Yes Lord, you have. You are right, and You are holy. You spoke in Your Word and I ignored it. I explained that away. I didn't want to apply that part to my life. Lord, forgive me.

I have, for too long, chosen a bowl of food over the Father. I do not want momentary pleasure instead of the plans of my Savior. I choose the birthright. What do you choose?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Plan A

My pantry (the doors to the right of the ovens) - no more temptations hiding in there.

Saturday...a day that brings rest to my soul and a little joy to my heart.  I can sleep in and enjoy the day with my family.  Nowhere to go, nothing in particular to do...a "stay in your pjs from sunrise to sunset" kind of day.  Or, so I had hoped.

As it turned out, I had booked my husband and one of our daughters on the earliest flight known to mankind in Birmingham, Alabama.  How can the airport open at 5:00 with a flight at 5:30 (in the morning people????).  Did you know that an alarm can be set and actually go off at 3:00 AM?  Did you?  3:00 comes TWICE in a day.  I found out.  Actually, it was my pleasure to get up early and make breakfast for my family.  I wanted to hug them before they left the country and be sure that they got a good meal to boot.  But, I must admit, as soon as they were out of the driveway, I hunkered back down in my bed to get some more shut-eye.

I awoke to the sounds of feet jumping up and down in the room above mine (why can't they read an alarm clock?).  Nonetheless my Saturday awaited me.  As we finished a leisurely breakfast, my oldest daughter said, "Mom, before you go on your run with Courtney, let's clean out the pantry."  Ummm....NO!  That was my first thought.  First, I do NOT want to run, and second, I do NOT want to clean out the pantry.  So, of course I was hesitant in answering her.  Not to be ignored, she politely reminded me, "Mom, there is no plan B here."  Now, where has she heard that?  Let me rack my brain for 10 seconds - Oh, from me.  Lord, why did you give her such a good memory and why did you allow me to say that to her only to have her repeat it back to me?  Note to self...children are a blatant reminder of our sinful holding our lives up to a mirror.

She's right.  There is NO plan B here.  God has called us to a life of holiness, and that life involves honoring Him with our bodies.  I have ALWAYS had a plan "out" or an exit strategy.  When I get to this weight...when I finish with all of this willpower....when I can run a certain distance...when I can fit into those jeans....  But, this time is more than all of that.  God has not given us these directives in order that we would devise our own plan or scheme our way out of this.  We must obey...there is NO other option.  As I was reminded in Bible study today, God's plan is for us to say "Yes Lord" no matter what the command. 

So we cleaned out the pantry.  We kept only the healthy foods and are giving the rest away.  No temptations are lurking.  And, I think the closet will be next.  I have clothes that are too big that I must give going back.  I still have the "I HAVE A DREAM" section of my closet (I guess I shouldn't tell you that the clothes are way out of style), and I will wear those clothes again.  So, when you see me strut into church with stirrup pants and a neon sweater, don't laugh...I'll be living the dream, people.  

As we finished the pantry, I suited up and headed out the door for a run with my friend.  She is almost 20 years my junior but inspires, challenges and encourages me to run for His glory.  It is a good fit for me.  I praise God for putting her in my life.  She makes me run and run further than I think I could go.  God has used her and others to disrupt my lazy Saturday plans for His plan A.  And, I am grateful. 

With that, I shout "No more Plan B" for the Turner Tribe.  We're sticking to God's design, and well, that Author has a faithful track record.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Battles Wages

As I'm sweating profusely this morning during my run, God sends Proverbs 23:7 across my brain. I'm a child of the 70's (okay, I barely missed the 60's) so the KJV which says, "as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is..." came to mind. I had a hard time finding that version as it is not exactly accurate. The NASB (my personal preference) and the ESV translate this verse this way: "as he calculates in his soul, so is he."

What does that have to do with sweating and jogging and fighting the battle of healthy living to the glory of Christ? EVERYTHING!!! This battle is primarily waged in the forefront of the mind. It is not a matter of just not eating certain things or exercising or drinking lots of water. This battle is about my thoughts and desires. I must "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4).

There are areas where I don't struggle with thoughts like others...I have never considered shoplifting and am not tempted by it. I've never been tempted to cut myself for comfort or to purge my body from overeating. But, I DO struggle every day, hour, minute with a thought that tends to favor laziness or the "easy" way. I choose the fastest method, the easiest route, the way I know more, or the most convenient food I can see. For years I have NOT EVEN THOUGHT about what I was eating or how much. I have eaten mindlessly with no consideration of what I was eating and how it was glorifying God. Instead of taking the time to see if the food was nutritionally good for my body, I just ate it because it was there or because I wanted it.

No MORE! If God's Word says to glorify God with my body, then I must start the battle with my mind. I must capture those thoughts of junk food or laziness or apathy or overeating with a focus on His Word and His promises. One of my friends today said that she was learning to "love God more than chocolate cake." For some people the depth of that statement doesn't mean me, it speaks volumes. I'm with her, and I agree. I will FIGHT this battle because it is God's plan. I cannot gloss over or ignore or explain away God's Word about our bodies. I must submit and obey.

Battle On!