One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary Did You Know” written by Mark Lowry and one of my new favorite renditions of this song is the one performed by Danny Gokey (see it here: Danny Gokey – Mary, Did You Know? (Live) ). It is so powerful, but the true power in this song is in Whom it is speaking about. This song is all about Jesus: what He did, and what He still does today.
It saddens me that as we go into the New Year, there will be many of us who will make a list of New Year’s Resolutions. These lists will include things like eating better, new diets to try or old tried and true ones to go back to (they really aren’t tried and true if you are still seeking to lose weight and keep it lost!), diligent exercise plans, self-improvements galore and many things of the same nature. Maybe your list includes wonderful things like praying more and reading the Bible daily. Those are great things to do and I keep those resolutions myself each New Year. The problem with making resolutions about weight loss and fitness is that they seldom stick. We keep trying to make ourselves fit into a mold of health and vitality and we just don’t get there. And when we fail year after year, we keep beating ourselves up and our feelings of failure just keep us living our lives the same way we always do. Do you want this year to be different? I know I did last year at this time, and I would like to invite you on a journey with me for this New Year. It starts with placing “Know Jesus Better” at the top of your resolution list, followed by “Know Who I am in Christ Better.” It is in these two resolutions that you will find the strength for change.
I really believe that we forget that our God is a miracle worker. Our Lord Jesus who healed the sick and cured the incurable still does that today. In the words of “Mary Did You Know” we hear “The blind will see; the deaf will hear; and the dead will live again! The lame will leap; the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb!“ When you hear those words in this song or when you read this truth in God’s Word, do you believe them? Or, do you believe that was then, and this is now? Do you believe that those healed by our Savior deserved to be healed for some reason and in your own thinking you believe you don’t deserve healing? Maybe you don’t think God cares about healing or fixing problems that we see as things we suffer though because of our own making? Well, I’ve got news for you! Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God is the same today as He was then and as He will be tomorrow. Jesus Christ performed miracles before He walked the earth, as He walked the earth and as He sits at God’s right hand today. This year let’s develop our FAITH muscle and start truly believing!
Our issues and problems matter to God. He loves having those very things draw us closer to Him. It is through drawing closer to Him that we develop perseverance for this journey. It is through trusting Him to handle the decisions and temptations that He proves Himself faithful and loving. Jesus did heal the sick, cure the dumb and lame, brought the dead back to life and calmed the storm with just a wave of His hand or a word from His lips. This New Year, will you allow, once and for all, your Savior and Lord Jesus to calm the storms in your heart? Will you let go of trying to change your own life by making a list of New Year’s resolutions and instead make it your desire to know Him better and to fully accept who you are in Him? Believe me when I say that I now know I can’t change myself. Believe me; I tried more times than I’d like to admit! What I can tell you for sure is that God changed my life this past year and I never want to go back to the way it was before. It started with looking for a Biblical way to lose weight and ended up with me fully surrendering the whole issue of weight loss/gain, food focus and disordered eating patterns over to Him. Each act of surrender on my part was met with a greater blessing of the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart and mind. This time last year, I was in your shoes: fearing God would never heal my heart around issues with food and weight. He led me first into a Bible Study that was deep in the Word, but soft around food boundaries. I found I still had too much leeway to try and control food to my own whims and wishes. Through that study, He led me into Hunger Within and the God designed boundaries of eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied. He introduced me to His pleasant boundaries, but I didn’t totally surrender to Him until I woke up to the fact that what was coming out of my mouth in words didn’t match my actions. You see, I was still trying to live up to my list of things to do instead of allowing God’s list for me to take effect. I gave up trying to do this myself and gave control over to God. This change in me has taken work on my part. I have had to use the tools of daily Bible reading/study, renewing my mind through truth journaling, truth cards and scripture praying and I have been involved in the TW/HW community. Doing those things took the focus off of me and placed my focus where it needed to be…on God, the Miracle Worker. The work is simple but not always easy, but the miracle that God has done in my heart is real and a tribute to how He still works miracles today!
Let this New Year be one of great growth and change! Let this be the year to delete, “I blew it again!” from your vocabulary and exchange it for, “Christ Jesus is working a miracle in my life!” Join the journey to true freedom in Christ this year and every year!! Join me in singing these words,
“Oh, the blind will see; the deaf will hear; and the dead will live again!
He’s the great I Am!
He’s for me.
He’s healed me.
He’s the great I Am!
He shall be called Wonderful and Counselor!
He’s the great I Am!
There’s healing in His hands, lightning in His eyes.
Truly this man is… He’s the great I Am, the great I Am!”
My body is a beautiful and unique masterpiece created and designed by God! With this body I can think, imagine, see, hear, taste, smell and touch. With my God-made mind, I can remember both the good and the bad in my life in divinely directed lessons leading to both gratitude and gentle correction.
With this body, I can walk, dance, swim and hold my soft furry kitties or hug my husband of 25 years. I can see the world and flowers and cats and other people. I can smell a rose, delighting in this ability, both literally and metaphorically. God’s gift of abstract thinking and memory allow me to smell the roses in the winter!
My body—both inside and out—is exceptional. My curves tell the story of abundant provision and their beautiful design embody the feminine classic standard through centuries. My digestion, respiration, blood cells and all other engineering marvels of my body declare the design of You, my Creator.
God’s gift of words and imagination can tell His story and ours with empathy, pathos and all the details that my God-created body has perceived. Drawing upon almost every sense, I can learn and develop exquisite, body-expressed waltz or cha-cha as a dancer with my professional dance partner.
With this body, which has experienced tragic suffering and incomparable joy, I can tell stories through movement and music and humor and drama and film. With God-infused artistic vision I can touch others’ hearts to know they are not alone. I can inspire others to feel the full range of emotions God has given us and has felt Himself!
Thank you, God, for all the things my body can do ranging from the ordinary to the sublime. In your kingdom even the most “ordinary” functions of my body are your brilliant design. Thank you Wonderful Creator and Designer of my masterpiece of a body.
David once said:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the sky above proclaims his handiwork,
Day to day pours out speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
The same is true of my body! It declares the glory of God! It proclaims his handiwork!
Praise God the Creator!!
Emilie Tobias with one of her students.
Emilie, one of our Thin Within participants, lives in the Deep South with a plethora of cats and her wonderful loving husband, Joe. She has been a professional dancer, dance instructor, and dance studio owner for over 20 years and loves to share her gifts with others as an expression of her love for life, people, and the Lord.
How about you?
Emilie wrote this piece as an affirmation to defy the negative self-talk that might sometimes invade her thinking.Why not start 2016 doing the same? Will you write an affirmation of your God-given body that you can speak and pray over your body each day, thanking God for His marvelous handiwork? If you do, please send it to us at thinwithin.org [at] gmail.com. We would love to hear from you and possibly share it on our blog! ~ Thanks, Heidi Bylsma
I have been noticing that my heart has felt different this Christmas season. I am more focused on others. I am looking forward to time spent with my family. I am not tense or nervous or insecure about the gifts my husband and I are giving to our family. I am joyous, content and I feel peace. I can’t ever remember a Christmas in my whole adult life where I have felt like I do this Christmas. You may be asking, “Why the change?” I believe that my heart change has come from a year of working the program of Hunger Within, following 0 to 5 boundaries, renewing my mind and daily spending time with my Lord Who is the Lover of my soul and the One who died to not only free me from the penalty of my sin, but He also died to break the power of sin in my life.
In church this morning we read Matthew 6:21. It got me thinking about the change in my heart that I have been noticing. I remembered Christmases in the past where I was worried if everything would go all right. I worried about the food and if everyone would enjoy it. I worried about the gifts I was giving. I baked and overate on not only the baked goods, but the dough that went in to the baked goods. I seemed to feel lousy a lot of the time because I was overeating on all types of foods, often having a binge when the house quieted after bed time for other family members and I was finally alone to enjoy what I used to think of as my friend and my comfort, excess food. Then I would feel depressed because my weight would start going up and I would have to start thinking about the New Year and weight loss resolutions. When I think about this scripture, I realize that my treasure was totally in the wrong place and my heart showed it. Can you identify with this pattern? I didn’t think I would ever break free from this annual destructive pattern in my life, and what I found out by seeking the Lord’s help, is that I never would break free with my own will. It has only happened through Him working in my heart. It is Christ’s transformation power that is changing me; not anything that I could have ever done on my own. He is transforming me through the renewing of my mind as I seek His face and His word in my life daily. I started noticing the shift the more I realized that I was not being set free by following my boundaries perfectly. Who could follow boundaries perfectly? I am being set free by the renewing of my mind.
The blessings gained by going into this holiday season without a focus on my body size, the types of food I am eating or attempting not to eat or trying to think ahead to my New Year diet, are innumerable. My mind is clear as I fast between my meals: the food fog is gone. My heart feels love as I think about others and take them to the Lord in prayer: my self-focused internal frustration and anger at myself and others is gone. I have had the energy to get everything I needed to get done, done and the things that were not important, I let slip peacefully from my mind: my body’s exhaustion from never having my ingested food totally digested is gone. I am content with what I have, how much I have and where I have it: my discontented heart is gone. When I wake each morning and I choose to focus first on the Lord, my life falls into balance. I feel that what He has accomplished in my life this past year is truly a miracle.
How about you? Would you like to find yourself in the place I am and so many other sojourners on the Thin Within/Hunger Within pathway? Would you like to wake up next Christmas season to realize that your heart and mind is on the One who is the reason for the season and not on all the worries you have had in the past? If so, trade your inclination to start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and your thoughts of what diet to start on January 4th (that’s the first Monday in January…after all, we always started our diets on a Monday!)and instead check out the upcoming classes of either the Thin Within book or workbooks, or sign up to take the Hunger Within class I am co-leading with my friend Deanna Lewis that starts in February. Let’s journey together through this upcoming year with the Lord and each other, hand in hand as we seek the Lord’s face and His plans for our lives, renewing our minds daily and walking through pleasant places as we follow our 0 to 5 boundaries around food. My prayer is that next Christmas, you too will find you are living a miracle!
Christmas is next week and I’m sure most of us are trying to finish up all the last minute preparations, cooking, gift purchases and wrapping. Some may be preparing for guests to arrive. Some may be packing to go visit family.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel overwhelmed this time of year. With all the music programs to prepare, gifts to buy, parties to attend…..etc….You get the idea. And I tend to feel a bit self conscious, too, especially if I have to be around extended family. Thoughts of insecurity roll around in my head at this time of year….
“What will Aunt Clare think of me? I know she will notice I haven’t lost much weight this year.”
“Do I look good enough in this dress?”
“I feel like the whole family is judging me!”
“Ugh! Here comes ‘super-successful’ and fit ‘Barbie-doll-likeness’ cousin Julie!
What will she say when I tell her about hunger/fullness? She’s gonna think I’m crazy!”
No matter where we are or what we are doing, one thing is true. Ready or not, Christmas Day will come. And it will go. The question remains….what will we do with it?
What will *I * do with it? Will I allow myself to focus on “me” and my insecurities? Ultimately, when I get into this type of thinking, it doesn’t end well. That is when I have noticed I will break my boundaries.
So, how do I remember to keep focused on the right things when all the stuff going on around me screams of stress and insecurity within?
I have to be still.
I take a moment and
When I do this I remember that I really need to renew my mind with God’s truth.
I read God’s word.
I think about a few things from that night long ago….when the angels came to announce Jesus was born.
And God reminds me about who the angels came to. Did they come to the so called “important” people? Did they come to kings? The rich? The beautiful people of the world? No.
They came to shepherds. They came to these outcasts of that day’s society. They were dirty, stinky and lowly.
They would be like today’s homeless people or garbage men (no offence to all our wonderful sanitation workers, for where would we be without them????)
Shepherds weren’t considered well liked, good looking or ‘well to do’ by worldly standards and yet God specifically picked them. He picked these outcasts of society to be the first ones to see Jesus. They were the first group of people to worship Him!
Jesus reminds me that He comes to me…..even though I may not feel beautiful at times or not “successful” by the world’s standards.
And HE COMES TO ALL OF US. Those who feel outcast, not good enough, not THIN enough, not pretty enough, not enough self control to follow that diet -yes- He came as a baby for US.
Angels came to those shepherds with a message of hope.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Listen to the whispers from the Savior to your heart today. Oh yes – to us who may be feeling an outcast or defeated-
“FEAR NOT! Do not be afraid that you are not enough for this world. For I love You with an everlasting love and you are mine. Yes, I bring you good news of great JOY! I came as a baby so you can be free- and for you to follow me. Let me release these chains that bind- the lies that try to keep you bound. Come- come to the manger, my daughters- come and experience my peace and my hope- and yes- The JOY of my true Love.”
Oh sisters….let’s live this out next week and RIGHT NOW!
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the LORD!
“I pray that God, the source of hope will fill you completely with Joy and Peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13
We just got hit with a massive snowstorm here in Colorado! I awoke to 10 inches of snow on the ground and another 2 inches have fallen in the last 3 hours alone. It didn’t look like it was going to let up anytime soon, so I headed out to shovel our driveway and sidewalk. After 45 minutes of shoveling a foot of heavy snow, giant snow banks had formed on either side of my driveway. I had to lift my arms higher and higher to dump a new shovelful of snow.
After a while, I noticed a phenomenon happening. Each time I brought a shovelful of snow and dumped it on top of the ever-growing snowbanks, a little ball of snow would fall from the top of the mound. It would roll and roll, growing bigger and bigger, until it got all the way back to my driveway. Before I knew it, my driveway was full of these snowballs and I had to work even harder to shovel them out of the way. It was so exhausting and discouraging!
It got me thinking about how we often have snowballs in our Thin Within journey as well. Unchecked sin, guilt, or disobedient actions that grow and grow until we are so discouraged we can barely move. I affectionately call this the “Snowball Effect.”
Can you relate to the scenario below?
You begin the day with the best of intentions. You read your Thin Within material, pray, renew your mind in God’s Word in the morning and set out to eat from 0-5 all day. At lunch, you have a few bites too many. “Uh-oh….dang it! Why’d I do that?! I wasn’t even thinking or paying attention to my meal!” The next thing you know it’s 2pm and those chocolate truffles on the counter are calling your name. “Well, I’m not at a 0, but I guess a few truffles can’t hurt…” By the time dinner happens, a seed of frustration has begun blossoming in your thoughts and emotions. “Why did I eat those truffles? Now I’m not even hungry for dinner but my whole family is ready to eat. I’ve already blown it today, I guess I’ll just eat dinner even though I’m not hungry. Heck, maybe I’ll even have a second helping.” After dinner, the frustration, guilt, shame and condemnation ramp up even more. “I can’t believe I messed up today so badly! What is my problem? Why can’t I do this thing? I’ll never be able to lose weight. Today has been such a disaster. I guess I’ll finish off those truffles.“
Do you see how a few bites too many at lunch suddenly lead to eating an entire box of truffles + dinner + a second helpings outside of 0-5 boundaries? How the heck did that even happen?
Guilt and shame are powerful. If left in our hearts and minds too long, they fester. They distort our thinking and make us do things we never intended to do. I often think of King David in this cycle. A lustful glance at Bathsheba suddenly turned into a giant snowball of sin that lead to adultery and murder. I’m sure David, a man after God’s own heart, never would have guessed he was capable of such things.
We too allow unchecked guilt, shame and condemnation dictate our future actions. In the scenario above, a few extra bites of food at lunch produced a healthy response of “uh-oh!” However, allowing that “uh-oh!” to slowly morph into major guilt and shame which then dictated the rest of the day’s eating is not what we’re after. This type of pattern can snowball into an entire day, week or month of eating beyond what we know our bodies are truly calling for. It’s a discouraging cycle to be in. But it need not last for long! There is hope! There is a different response we can choose.
There are two very powerful ways to melt the snowball:
1) Confess & Repent
2) Observe & Correct
Confession and Repentance are powerful. After we are sinful or disobedient, we have the freedom to go straight to the throne of God and get it off our chest before our guilt pushes into further disobedience. In the scenario above, if we had immediately gone to God and confessed that we broke our boundaries at lunch, we could have immediately received His loving grace which would have prevented the cycle of guilt and condemnation to push us into further disobedience as the day went on. That snowball of guilt and shame wouldn’t have had the time to build any momentum. Hebrews 10:22 assures us that we are washed clean, ready to begin again with a refreshed perspective, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” There is no need to hang on to your sin or dwell on how you messed up! Bring it to God, allow His grace and forgiveness to wash over you, brush yourself off and keep pressing on! God never demands perfection from us. He knows we will all mess up even with the best of intentions. But confessing those moments and repenting of our sinful actions allow us to continue on in persistence without the shame or guilt nipping at our heels.
I personally LOVE how the Observation and Correction tool in Thin Within complements Confession and Repentance so well. After we have gone to God and received His loving grace, we have the opportunity to Observe and Correct. Simply take a look at your behavior, thoughts or emotions that contributed to your initial “mess-up” and observe what was going on. Refuse to beat yourself up over it. Refuse to rehash it over and over and over. Refuse to condemn yourself. Simply observe what happened objectively. Make note of what was going on in your circumstances or what emotions were at play.
After we Observe, it’s important to apply a Correction. Proverbs 24:2 says “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” Exactly! It is vital to apply a lesson from what we observe. It is not enough to just observe. If we just observe and observe and observe, the only thing that will happen is a heightened awareness of our flaws which can potentially lead to further guilt or shame. Observing “I was greedy at lunch and wanted a second helping” or “I felt obligated to eat the piece of pie Aunt Kay offered” is great! Then it is crucial to follow it up with an appropriate Correction like “next time I can thank Aunt Kay and ask her if I can take the pie home with me”. Often I will ask myself this question: “If I was in the exact same scenario tomorrow, what can I do differently to alter the outcome?” It’s so important to give ourself this opportunity to think through how we might change our thoughts or actions so that we can be better prepared next time!
Let’s not forget that there is transformative power to be found in God’s grace. We have access to it anytime we need. Guilt and shame need not fester and snowball out of control! His mercy can melt a snowball of sin, guilt or condemnation in 2 seconds flat. A heart that Confesses, Repents, Observes and Corrects is a heart that is primed for victory!
How about you? Can you relate to a mounting cycle of shame/sin/guilt/condemnation? Do you have a growing snowball in your Thin Within journey that needs a little melting? Do you regularly confess, repent, observe and correct when you have broken a boundary? Don’t let these “common” practices grow dull in your walk with Christ or your Thin Within journey!
I once heard it said that “you can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.” I have been pondering that truth filled statement as I have been studying my true Worth not Shame in Hunger Within. When I think about “yesterday’s junk” in this saying, I think of all the baggage or trash that I keep holding onto even though I have learned where my true worth lies and know that I can let go of those things that hold me in the past. But some of those items are so deeply ingrained and the feelings and beliefs that go along with them have become comfortable even though they are negative and it will take an Act of God to break me free from them. Praise God that I am in the place I am right now because I am ready and willing to face them, look at what caused them and allow God through the Holy Spirit to break the chains that hold me to them.
I like to say that I am a positive person. That is the persona I want the world to see and acknowledge. Truthfully though, I really am not. When news comes to me, I immediately think on the negative side of things and roll in the ways (like a pig rolling in the mud) that it is going to negatively affect my life. Why is that? When I look at my life I see a life that has been tremendously blessed. Sure, the LORD has walked my husband and me through trials that would have sent a non-Jesus follower off the deep end. I have had many struggles and hurts that have cut me to the core of my being. But, God saw me through them all and He brought me out on the other side as a stronger and more loving woman. I am always ready to share how He has worked in my life and heart with others who are hurting. So, where does this negative spirit come from and what does my Loving Father want me to do with it?
Let me explain what this current thought is. Today, I worried about money. You may be right there with me. I feel this worry as a “spirit of lack”. I am so familiar with this stinky, evil little spirit for it has followed me around for a long time. I know where it comes from. My husband and I have dealt with unemployment. We had a period of several years where he was unemployed on and off for quite a while. It was painful, but we learned how to tighten our belts and through that stewardship, we were even blessed by God. It was through one of these times that we paid off our house. It was during one of these times that we held two unbelievable garage sales and ended up with enough money to pay bills for a few months. But, I still had fear, even during those times where God was showing Himself faithful and that fear I felt, turned into a spirit of lack. You may ask, “Where are you now?” My husband has been in a solid position for over 3 years. I am in a two solid part-time positions . We are in good shape. But, that little spirit of lack reared its head today and made me really think about why I am feeling this way.
I believe the truth of this whole matter lies within the scripture shared at the top of this blog…Philippians 3:8. When that spirit of lack shows itself, I am looking at certain things as more important than knowing Christ Jesus. When in that negative place I am looking down at me, or looking around at circumstances I don’t have the power to change instead of looking up at my only Source of worth, my only Source of strength, my only Source…period!! He alone takes my shame and spirit of lack and gives me back a beautiful robe of righteousness. All He asks is that I open my hands and give that junk to Him. He gladly takes it from me. All I have to do is place those thoughts and feelings at His feet, to never pick them up again.
This spirit of lack shows itself in our lives in many ways. It could be a lack of funds, a lack of food, a lack of love, a lack of faith. Where do you see it in your life? I have enough money for today, but don’t have enough for what I “want”. Am I still blessed? Yes, I am. I have enough food in my house right now to feed a small army, but do I have the “goodies” that my flesh desires? No. Sometimes it makes me sad that I don’t have those things in my house. I could have them, don’t get me wrong. After all, everything is permissible, but the items I am thinking about are not beneficial for me. I know that in my head, but even this can make me feel lack. Today, I am going to be grateful for those whole body pleasers that make my body feel good. Am I loved? Yes. Sometimes it is difficult to feel though because we all run into barriers when those around us are also hurting. But, one thing I am sure of, God loves me and He tenderly holds my life in His hands. Do I have faith? Yes, I do, but just like the father who asked Jesus to heal his son, sometimes I cry out, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.” I struggled with this when I first came into Hunger Within. Did I truly believe that I would release weight? Did I truly believe that God would heal my disordered eating? Did I truly believe that I deserved His help in this area? God has proven Himself so faithful in the area of my weight and disordered eating.
What does it take for me to honestly let go of that ugly spirit of lack? I have to look at everything, no matter what it is, and know that it doesn’t mean a thing when I look at the blessing of knowing Christ Jesus and His redemption power in my life. Every thought that comes through my mind, I have to take captive to Christ and ask, “Does this matter for eternity?” I know of one area in my life that is lacking. I haven’t been living with an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness. I do thank God for things throughout the day, but I am not intentional. As we go into the Christmas season this year, I am committing to keeping a daily gratitude list. I want to thank God and share with Him all the ways I am grateful for Who He is. I want to thank Him for all the things I take for granted. I want to remember Him.
How about you? Will you join me? Will you open your hands along with me to let go of “yesterday’s junk” so you can receive today’s blessings? Will you share as comments on this blog post some of the things you are grateful and thankful for? I would love to praise God Almighty for those things along with you!