Renewing-of-the-mind Alarm

Renewing-of-the-mind Alarm

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CHIRP!  The purpose of smoke alarms in our home is to let us know there is smoke hot enough, born from a fire, and that we need to get out!  The alarms tell us to find safety, and that our lives are endangered.  Their purpose is to save lives.  So when a smoke alarm’s battery runs low, it lets us know that we need to change the battery with an annoying, inconsistent, “chirp!”  That little chirp means, “If you don’t take care of this now, I’m just going to get more and more obnoxious.  And if you fail to change my battery, I won’t be able to help you in case of an emergency.”  In reference to our Thin Within journey of finding freedom from the control of food, there are situations (“fire”) that arise (like smoke rising), that sets off the “renewing-of-the-mind” alarm saying CHIRP!–YOU NEED TO RENEW YOUR MIND!

Last week, a smoke alarm in our house was chirping at me and letting me know its battery needed to be changed.  The chirping sound is not something one can easily ignore.  And the longer I put off changing the battery, the more often it chirped.  I believe life has these same “chirps”, letting us know something needs to change or be recharged.  From this chirping episode, the Lord showed me that there are “chirps” and alarms that go off in our life telling us that we need to change something.  He showed me that there are things that tell me I need to stop and renew my mind.

Some of the “alarms” could be anything that trigger overeating or disorder in our eating.  Maybe it’s after a stressful day and you just want to come home, grab the cookie jar, plop your feet up on your recliner, and shovel in the cookies.  Maybe it’s finding out some upsetting news and you drive to the nearest fast-food drive-thru, knowing full-well that you are going to “super-size” and try to numb yourself with food.  Maybe you put your jeans on and they are a little tighter than you remember and you feel tempted to try that new diet your friends were talking about.  There are hundreds of things that can trigger our own personal out-of-order eating experience.

What kind of “smoke” sets off your alarm for needing to “recharge” or to renew your mind?

You aren’t hungry, but those brownies are screaming your name!!  CHIRP!

You are at a “5”, but you really want another serving of salad from the buffet.  CHIRP!

You ate an entire package of Oreos.  CHIRP!

You want to eat your way through your emotions.  CHIRP!

You weighed yourself and you gained.  CHIRP!

You know what’s so cool about renewing our mind?  Because, ultimately, it’s the LORD who does the work!  Even recently, the Lord has been reminding me that I am transformed through HIS work, not me behaving better or making all of the perfect choices.  It’s GOD!  That revelation is oh so freeing!

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

When you hear a CHIRP!, renew your mind!  Grab your Bible, your truth cards, your journal, or get up and have a dance praise fest!  Or use whatever tools or ways that work for you to put on God’s truth!

How about you? What’s setting off your “renewing-of-the-mind” alarm?  Are you trying to overcome by your own strength and will-power?  Christ said that we can do all things through His strength!  Let’s strengthen our spiritual muscles by getting into His Word!  Do you need to change your “battery” by renewing your mind?

Failure Leads to Victory

Failure Leads to Victory

Image courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We get so discouraged when we break a boundary.  We eat when we aren’t hungry (zero).  We blow past satisfaction (5).  We bring out that “club of condemnation” one more time (sigh). But wait!  STOP!  Pause.  Freeze it right there!  Come a little closer to the screen.  Yes, there.   Now let me tell you a little secret (hands cupped over your ear): Failure leads to victory!  Sorry, did I shout that into your ear instead of whispering.  Sorry!  I just get a little excited!

It’s true!  It’s not about following your boundaries 100% all.of.the.time.  It’s about going to God if you break your boundaries.   We get so upset when we break our boundaries.  We feel bad about ourselves.  We think we will never be able to follow our boundaries.  So then we overeat because we feel bad about ourselves.  It’s like this vicious cycle that is perpetuated by our thoughts, beliefs, despair, thinking we will never be skinny anyway, so we might as well eat.  Sound familiar?

But what would happen if we looked at every boundary breakage (aka failure) and renewed our mind instead?  What if instead of feeling bad about ourselves and discouraged, we got really excited because we get to get closer to the Lord because of our failure?

I tell you what would happen: we would have victory!

I’ve seen it!  I’ve experienced this!  I’ve tasted it!  When I break a boundary, I get so excited that I get to sit with Jesus and talk things over.  Maybe I’m just an odd one…wait…I KNOW I’m an odd one!  But really, I do get excited to renew my mind and bring all of my thoughts and feelings before the Lord.  I love that as I am real with Him, He shows me His truth.

So how does this work?  How does failure turn into victory?

Here’s an example: Evening was the most tempting time for me to want to overeat.  I had a really hard time breaking the habit of eating outside of my boundaries in the evening.  I would put my daughter to bed and then immediately I would make some popcorn or grab some sort of snack, and then eat it in front of the TV (distraction, mindless eating).  It wouldn’t matter if I was hungry or not, that’s the habit I had developed over the years (and well before my daughter).  I knew I wanted to change it, but I kept on doing it.  I would feel so bad and would feel like I failed yet again.  My solution (well, God’s solution) was that after I put my daughter to bed, I would sit and read through my truth cards, or I would answer a set of questions from I Deserve a Donut in my journal, and reading scriptures.  I took that time to renew my mind.  Change didn’t happen right away, but as I took the time each night to renew my mind, little by little, day by day, the Lord was transforming me, until one day I no longer had the urge to grab something to eat after putting my daughter to bed.  And since then, I just wait until I’m hungry to have an evening snack.  And sometimes I am not hungry for a snack, and I’m totally ok with that.  That’s a huge change!  Victory!

It wasn’t self-control.  It wasn’t will-power.  It was GOD who changed me!  My part was being self-disciplined in taking the time to sit with Him and renew my mind.

Failure led to victory!

We try to change our outcome through our own strength.  We think if we change our habit or behavior first, then our thoughts and beliefs will line up.  But it’s actually the other way around.  First, we have to change our thoughts and beliefs, and THEN we will change our habits and behavior.  We tell ourselves that we will “do better next time.”  We strive and put forth all of our own human effort to see change in our eating habits, but when we lean upon ourselves to make it happen, we will only become weak and tired.  It’s God who helps us overcome.  It’s not in our own strength.  So each time we go to Him and repent after we’ve sinned, we are transformed more and more to His likeness.  When we renew our mind after overeating, we are transformed.

I look at failure as opportunity to grow.  I look at failure as practice.

It took Thomas Edison 1,000+ times before he had the invention of the light bulb “perfected”.  Every failure led to victory.  He didn’t give up.  And just because we overate just now or last night, it doesn’t mean we smash all of the light bulbs and give up.  It means we keep going forward.  We renew our mind.  We go to God.  We think that because of failing to follow our boundaries, that we need new boundaries.  Maybe you’ve been really trying your best to follow your boundaries of eating between hunger and satisfaction, but you keep overeating.  Does that mean your boundaries don’t work?  No way!  It means it’s time to renew your mind.  It’s time to go sit at the feet of Jesus and drink in His truth.

So the next time you are tempted to fail: go to Jesus.  Renew your mind.  The next time you break a boundary: seek His truth.  And know that each time you do, you are one step closer to victory!  Sweet, sweet victory!!

Would you like to know more about renewing your mind?  There are so many great resources on this website and blog about doing just that.  Do you have a set of truth cards?  If not, you can learn more about it here.  I also have recorded a set of my truth cards on a Sound Cloud file that you can find here.  Do you have a set of questions to help aid you in renewing your mind such as Barb Raveling’s I Deserve a Donut?  How else can we, at Thin Within, help to encourage you to renew your mind and see failure as victory?

 

 

 

 

Left to Clean Up the Mess!!!

Left to Clean Up the Mess!!!

milk and flowers

My arms were full of swim towels and snack bags as I struggled to open the front door.  A herd of kids, seven to be exact, jumped out of the car in a flurry of hollering and excitement, someone opened the door for me, and they all ran past in a giant blur.  Everything was wet and there was a strong wind blowing my hair into my face.  It had been a glorious afternoon!  Our dear friends from Washington were visiting us for several days, and it had been one fun event after another . . . finishing up with swimming today and a huge thunderstorm to send us home in a hurry.  Summer fun had been at a high as our two families had been spending their visit talking and sharing,  jumping on the trampoline, playing in the treehouse, scootering around the neighborhood, enjoying picnics,  swimming in the pool and seeing the sights around Colorado Springs.

milk box

As I lumbered into the house with too much to carry one of my kids said, “Mom . . . are there milk bottles in the box?  Did we forget to take them in?”  In a split second she was outside with the others, screaming something about a new game she had thought up for the trampoline.  What did she say?  I thought as I brought everything in and dropped it on the couch.  Milk bottles?  No – milk is delivered on Mondays, today is Thursday.  What is she talking about?  Everyone was busy and not paying attention as I walked out to the front of the house and lifted the lid to the milk box.  I gasped as I realized what had happened.  Oh no!  What a waste of both milk and money!  I looked down at what should have been our milk for the week, forgotten in the hustle and bustle of having guests, and now sour, clumped and starting to ooze out of the plastic, gallon size containers near the lid.  It had been an incredibly hot week for Colorado Springs, days in a row with temperatures in the 90’s.  There was a definite stench of sour milk in the air!  What to do?  No one was looking . . . I was so embarrassed.  How could I have let this happen?  I thought – I’ll just bring one bottle at a time to the sink while the adults are changing out of their swimsuits and the kids are playing outside.  No one will know – I will pour them out one by one and put them back into the milkbox, empty. Here I go.

milk jug

A feeling of gratefulness came over me as I picked up one of the bottles – bloated to it’s maximum capacity – and lugged it into the kitchen.  What a precious time it had been with our friends!  The mom of the bunch, Stephanie, has been one of my very best friends for years and years, and having her family here was one of my favorite treats for our summer.  Things were going well for us as a family. . . we were healing and adjusting to the passing of Grandma Lois, my mother-in-law who had lived with us for the past two years here in our home.  We had enjoyed a summer of play, popsicles, bike rides, and swimming not to mention a long string of guests who came to visit because they cared for us deeply.  Life was good!  Thank you Jesus!

BOOM!  I gasped in shock and was blinded for a moment as I tried to get my bearings.  What had just happened?!!! I grabbed the kitchen towel and struggled to wipe something out of my eyes when I realized that it was all over me, all over my hair . . . the milk bottle had exploded directly in my face over the sink!  I rubbed my eyes and tried to see what was around me . . . there were little white, stinky, disgusting sour milk chunks all over the floor, all over the sink, all over the window, all over me . . . oh, what a horrible sight and smell!!!  I blinked my eyes over and over again, trying to get them to see straight, but the explosion must have scratched them because they wouldn’t stop stinging.  Oh my Lord, what happened?????

Boom!

Doesn’t this silly incident (it’s true – I promise, but really who could make it up?) just remind you of how life is?  We are going along, walking tall, things seem to be all under our control for a season, we are puffed up with pride about how well we are handling things, the sun is shining, not a cloud in sight when WHAM!  Something happens to completely throw us off balance.  Has this happened to you?  It has happened to me time and time again and I know there will be many more milk explosions to come in my life.  Here are some of the explosions that people around me have dealt with lately:  news from the doctor that you have terminal cancer and there is very little that can be done, a letter from a spouse on the kitchen table explaining that she is having an affair and wants out of the marriage, the sudden loss of a job that you thought would provide for your family for years, a notice in the mail that your house is finally going into foreclosure because you haven’t been able to pay the bills, a car accident that took the life of your best friend, an adult child who announces that he is addicted to drugs and dropping out of college, the sudden onset of a terrifying illness that leaves you disabled and wondering if you will ever really recover.  The list could go on and on and on and on . . . life in this world is so full of heartache, sorrow, and pain.  Or . . . what about the smaller sour milk explosions?  The fight with your husband, the dent you accidently made in the neighbor’s car, the keys that are lost, the stress at work, the hurt feelings from something your coworker said.  The sour milk explodes in your face, and you never saw it coming.

I was completely unprepared for that explosion, that evening.  I had no idea it was coming, I had not anticipated it, I had not made any kind of preparations for it, I could not have predicted that it would happen at all, much less the way it would happen.  What do we do with these unexpected explosions in our lives?  For my whole adult life I have been turning to emotional eating to deal with these situations, as so many of you on this Thin Within journey can relate to.  I would stuff my feelings in by stuffing my stomach with too much food when my body didn’t need food at all.  I medicated myself with handfuls of chocolate chips, just like taking a handful of pills.  I snuck through the drive through for a pile of french fries on the way home from work.  I stayed up late at night and ate bowlfuls of ice cream in front of the television.  Whatever emotion I was feeling . . . despair, depression, complete overwhelm, anger, frustration, humiliation, embarrassment . . . I would stuff back down into my heart with food.  I would cry out to God, Why God?  Why did this happen?  Where are you?  Don’t you care?  Take this problem away!  I am overwhelmed!  Why me???? I don’t want this!!!!  Emotional eating never failed to do the opposite of solving my problems . . . and always made things much worse.  Although I kept doing it, I knew without a doubt that it was not God’s plan for my life.

There is no question about unexpected sour milk explosions in the Bible.  God is very clear about what will happen as we journey through this world.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

1 Samuel 26:24  “As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

Job 4:5 “But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.”

Job 5:7 Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”

Yes, there is no question about it . . . we are going to have trouble in this world, and no shortage of it.  What to do?  If we look in His word, God shows us exactly what to do.  He longs for us to experience victory over our sour milk explosions, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

We can receive hope in the living God:  Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We can fill our minds with truth:  Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We can have real conversations with God and He hears us:  Psalm 32:6  “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.”   Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

We can depend on His very real, perfect love for us:  Psalm 42:8  “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

We can trust in the sovereignty of God:  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

flower verse

The white, stinky, chunky mess was everywhere and I realized that there was no possibility of hiding the sour milk explosion from my friends who were visiting.  I was feeling embarrassed and humiliated not to mention the pain in my stinging eyes as my friend walked in the room and said “Oh my gosh, Christina!  What happened!?”  I covered my face with the towel, trying desperately to wipe the mess away and out of my hair . . . and then I looked at my dear friend.  The look on her face wasn’t one of condemnation or judgement, in fact – there was a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face . . . so I started laughing.  “Stephanie, help!  I just had a giant sour milk explosion and it is everywhere!!!”  We laughed together and spent the next hour or so cleaning it all up.  I took the empty, still bloated milk container back to the milkbox at the front of the house only to find that two more bottles had exploded in the box, and there were stinky, chunky, sour milk pieces all over the inside of the box, the outside of the box and the front steps of the house . . . even in my flower pots!  Oh, good grief!!! As I worked to clean up that mess through the lenses of my stinging eyes, it started to rain again, and the water made my work go faster.  I looked up at the sky and thanked God through my teary, painful eyes.  I felt his gentle squeeze as He promised to love me through all of the sour milk explosions in my life . . . and you know what?  Praise God, He will!!!

How about you?  What sour milk explosions have you dealt with in your life?  Are you having one right now?  What is God calling you to do in the midst of your pain and suffering?  God loves you so much.  What is He whispering to your heart today?

 

My Foot Slipped!

My Foot Slipped!

(A little side note:  This is a true story that God brought to my mind last night just as I was about to fall asleep.  I’m not sure why He wanted me to share it now, in the middle of the summer a year and a half after it happened . . . but I trust that He has a good reason!  My prayer is that someone out there who needs to hear this story will read it, and that it will touch them in a special way directly from our Lord.  🙂

“I found another one Mom!”, Madeline said as she scooped up another plastic necklace out of the snow.  Someone must have dropped the necklaces months ago.  We had been hiking for hours, up a steep mountain slope underneath one of the ski lifts in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Most of the ground carried only a thin layer of snow so late in the spring, but we were surprised to find drifts three feet deep in some places as we walked.  It didn’t seem possible that the sky could be any bluer, the sun blazed warm and bold on our faces, and the snow almost blinded us through our sunglasses.  We were hiking at about 10,000 feet and could feel the thin air in our lungs.  It had been an amazing day full of fun and adventure for our family of five.  The alpine mountain views took our breath away!  A close friend had given us her beautiful timeshare for a week, friends and neighbors were taking good care of Grandma Lois in our home, and we were enjoying a break from all of life’s responsibilities.

snowy mountain

I had been struggling with an old injury for quite some time, and this steep terrain was beginning to cause pain in my heels.  I tried to let it go as I distracted myself with a deep conversation with my son, Christopher, who had chosen this time to ask some very difficult questions about God, and why He allows terrible things to happen to people.  We talked and shared questions for about half an hour before we caught up to his sisters and my husband, David.  My ears perked up at the sound of a river that must be close by . . . and I was not disappointed when we finally came upon it.

My eyes were wide as I watched the ice cold snowmelt rushing in torrents down the steep mountainside.  The river was lined with broken branches and downed logs, and was full of rocks of all sizes, some jutting out and causing white foaming water to spray out in all directions.  The sound of thunder surprised us, and we looked up at the sky that was quickly changing from one of pure sunshine to one of dark, ominous clouds.  A high altitude, mountain storm was coming, and we knew that we needed to get out of the way – and fast.  Before I knew it my husband, David, was encouraging the kids to navigate rocks and a couple of logs to get across the river.  I held my breath and watched them, but it took only a few minutes before they were on the other side, jumping with their arms held high in victory.  There was thunder again, the temperature was dropping, and it started to sprinkle.  “Come on, Mom!  You can do it!”  my kids yelled over the deafening sound of the raging river.

snowy river

I wanted to . . . I really did . . . but I just couldn’t.  I was completely frozen, paralyzed by fear.  I knew in my mind that I needed to get to the other side of the river before the storm hit, that I needed to be with my family, and that choosing not to cross at this time would mean hiking hours back down the mountain by myself.  If only that log hadn’t been covered in snow . . . but it was – at least 3 inches of icy, cracked, slippery snow.  What felt like an electrical surge of fear pulsed through my body.  My heels hurt, my legs were shaking, and my heart was beating like a drum as I started across the first log.  I gasped as my foot slipped and my right leg plunged half way into the icy water, stopped only by an unseen broken branch.  The water rushed and raged around me as I frantically looked around for another way to get over to the other side, but there just wasn’t one.  I just couldn’t go on.  “Oh, Jesus help me!” I cried out, my voice blocked out by the sound of thunder and rushing water.

The kids were all sitting down under a tree by now, obviously wondering if I was going to be able to join them or not.  They looked nervous.  David crossed back over the stream, placed his feet in a more stable position that caused him to sacrifice his warm, dry feet, and held out his hand.  “Come on, Christina, let’s do this together.  Take my hand.  Follow my lead – just step exactly where I step.  You can do this.”

When I think back on that crazy, spring day I realize that God was teaching me something very important about trust.  What is trust?  Dictionary definitions say that trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of a person . . . the confident expectation of something . . . hope.  How many times in my life have I been confronted with situations that have caused me to feel completely paralyzed by fear?  These are times when I feel like I just can’t move, I just can’t go on, answers are impossible to find, there is no end in sight.  During these times it is hard for me to have any kind of perspective, and I am totally consumed by the situation at hand.   Many of us on this Thin Within journey have felt this very fear as God gently beckons us away from a dependence on food and emotional eating and into a deeper relationship with Him.   So, what do we do?  We cry out to our Lord and Savior, just like I cried out that day at the river.  We stand on one side of the slippery log, unable to move or see a way for our future.  Christ stands on the other side, holding out His hand to guide us, then He takes steps to meet us exactly where we are and asks us to follow Him.  He has already been to the other side of the river!  He has the strength, the skills, the perspective to know that we can get there with Him, whether we know it or not.  What is our part in all of this?  Trust.  We have to trust that God will do what He says he will, that He loves us the way He says He does.  Oh yes, and one more thing . . . a step in His direction.

2-hands-reaching-out

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Psalm 13:5  “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a man (woman) are established by the Lord, and He delights in her way.  When she falls, she will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds her hand.”

I looked at David and pleaded with my eyes to please not make me cross this log.  He looked at me, knew what I was thinking and stepped even closer to me.  The kids were quiet now, watching.  I mustered up as much trust as I could (which was just a little bit at first) and started across in baby steps, holding my husband’s hand and following his steps as exactly as I could.  I slipped again but he caught me and I did not go in the water.  I must have held my breath for the full minute that it took to get me across, but somehow we made it and I have never been so relieved!  All three of my kids jumped up and cheered.  I smiled and sat down with the family under a large pine tree that worked well as an umbrella against the storm, still shaky for the next half hour or so.  Later, when the storm had passed and we were all happily hiking down the mountain again I gave David a good squeeze and thanked him for helping me across, for not getting frustrated with me or giving up on me.  He was a perfect example of Christ to me that day.  He smiled, squeezed me back and simply said “Christina, I love you.”

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Isaiah 12:2  “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

Romans 15:13  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

hand bible verse

How about you?  Have you been paralyzed with fear in your life?  Do you struggle with trusting God in certain situations that seem hopeless or impossible?  Do you sense that God might be reaching His hand out to you, gently asking you to trust Him with something?  He loves you so much.  What is He whispering to your heart today?

 

Such A Busy Day

It was going to be an incredibly busy day.  I jumped out of bed after hitting the snooze button a couple of times, groggy and half asleep.  It had been a late night for me what with helping Katherine finish up her history project, reading just one more story with Madeline, filling out an orchestra permission slip for Christopher and cleaning up a huge kitchen mess.  Then I had to gather materials for my first and third grade groups, and yes – Grandma Lois needed her laundry folded and put away – she had called me from the top of the stairs, asking for her favorite pajamas.  My husband had been exhausted from a long day at work and an evening of working through finances with his mother.  It was hard to imagine a more overwhelming season of life as my head hit the pillow.

snowy window

I showered and dressed for work in the pitch dark and ice cold of the winter and I was grateful for a few quiet minutes alone.  I sat down with my journal and started to pray.  Lord . . . how will I be able to get it all done today?  I am so tired, there is so much to do, so much to take care of right now.  I am so inadequate, so insecure, so unequipped.  I need you!!!  I had hoped for a song to pop into my head, or a Bible verse to jump out at me, or a voice to speak in my mind, but all was quiet.  The room was as still as can be . . . I only heard the tick, tick, ticking of the clock.  It was good to be still for just a moment.  I knew what I had to do, what I had committed to do as many times as I could squeeze it in during my crazy, busy day.  I needed to renew my mind in Christ.  In the most quiet, patient, loving way I felt Jesus beckon me to come to Him and fill my mind with His truth.

I showered and dressed for work in the pitch dark and ice cold of the winter and I was grateful for a few quiet minutes alone.  I sat down with my journal and started to pray.  Lord . . . how will I be able to get it all done today?  I am so tired, there is so much to do, so much to take care of right now.  I am so inadequate, so insecure, so unequipped.  I need you!!!  I had hoped for a song to pop into my head, or a Bible verse to jump out at me, or a voice to speak in my mind, but all was quiet.  The room was as still as can be . . . I only heard the tick, tick, ticking of the clock.  It was good to be still for just a moment.  I knew what I had to do, what I had committed to do as many times as I could squeeze it in during my crazy, busy day.  I needed to renew my mind in Christ.  In the most quiet, patient, loving way I felt Jesus beckon me to come to Him and fill my mind with His truth.

I had been entrenched in emotional eating my entire adult life.  I had popped chocolate chips like pills, snuck through drive thrus on the way to a destination, eaten bowls of ice cream late at night, baked cookies for the neighbors so that I could eat half of the dough in the bowl, and eaten chips and salsa until I had to unbutton my pants . . . I had been a seasoned emotional eater for at least 30 years, and no one knew it.  After having my third child almost 9 years ago and weighing more than I had ever weighed I remember thinking, well now at least I have the excuse of being in my late 30’s and having been pregnant three times!  I told everyone, myself included, that I had tried everything there was to try – every diet, every type of exercise, every book to work through, every weight loss group – and I just couldn’t get the weight off no matter what.  This was the thorn in my side that I would just have to deal with for the rest of my life, I thought.  I remember desperately looking through the photo albums in my mom’s cabinet, hoping to find that all of the women on my side of the family were overweight.  They were, and I was able to tell myself that this was a matter of genetics and there was nothing I could do.

So, back to the cold, winter morning!  As I resolved to renew my mind I looked out the window and noticed that tiny, shimmering snowflakes were falling from the sky.  It was a magical moment, and I felt God’s touch on my heart.  Just a few weeks before, in my desperation, utter frustration with myself and despair I had decided to give the principles of Thin Within a try one more time.  I had been almost ready to give up . . . but not quite.   Something was different this time.  At first I was able to follow my boundaries just minutes at a time, then several hours at a time, and now I was completely surprised to find that I could even go a half a day without breaking my boundaries.  Dinner time was a huge challenge for me.  I would begin preparing dinner with slight hunger, nibble during the preparation, sit down to dinner not really hungry at all and then eat a regular size meal to end up way past full.  Some days I would stuff in dessert after that because after all, I had already messed the whole thing up, right?  But things were changing . . . yes, something was really different this time.

God's truth

I had a short praise fest with God, read through some truth cards and surrendered my crazy, busy day to the Lord.    Then I spent about a minute going through my day in my mind and preparing myself for the challenges with eating ahead.  Should I stop and get a mocha on the way to work?  I’m not hungry at all for breakfast this morning, should I take something along with me and eat it during recess?  What if my favorite donuts are in the lounge today?  I will be having a celebration party with my Kindergarten group today, will I be hungry when I pass out the graham crackers and grapes?  There will undoubtedly be chocolates passed around during the staff meeting after school, what should I do about that?  When I get home after school the kids will be hungry as always for snacks.  Should I join them?  What if I am not hungry?  What will I be making for dinner tonight?  What if I don’t nibble before dinner, then have an extra small portion of spaghetti and save room for a couple of oreos to eat with the family?

I walked through my busy day intentionally interacting with His truth for me, and thanking Him whenever I had the chance . . . at my desk in the morning while preparing materials, in the bathroom during recess, in the hallway on the way to pick up my next group, on my way home from picking up my middle schoolers in the car.  This wasn’t easy!  It was hard work to focus on God’s truth for me all day long, and I really did not have the time.  But it was GOOD work.  It felt good, and right, and before I knew it hours and hours were going by in which I had stuck to my boundaries.  Wow!

So, what is different this time?  My focus!  I have completely changed my focus and for the first time in my life, and all of the things I have tried to change my heart in this thorn in my side of emotional eating – something really IS different.  My heart is changing and I am so grateful.  I am deliberately, systematically, relentlessly, creatively finding the time to renew my mind with God’s truth so often during each day that I am finally starting to crowd out the lies and untruths that have held me back and paralyzed me in this area of my life for so long.  What is true for me right now, Lord, in this very situation?  God will show you if you ask.  He will show you in the most loving, understanding, gentle way, and then He will wink at you, or smile at you, or wrap His arms around you and remind you how much He loves you.  These are some of the most precious moments I have ever had with my Savior, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the baked potatos, oreo cookies and chicken sandwiches in the world!

I sang “Jesus Loves You” to my youngest daughter in the darkness of the night and kissed her goodnight.  She was the last one, the other two were already asleep and my husband was snoring, book in hand.  In my exhaustion I made lunches for the next day, finished up the dishes, called in a prescription for my mother in law, put Madeline’s homework in her backpack, threw in a load of laundry, paid a few bills and collapsed on the couch.  I closed my eyes and took a minute to think about the day.  Lord, Lord!  I made it!  I had a couple of missteps with my boundaries, but overall I surrendered my food to you today and held it with open hands.  A lovely feeling of victory surged through my body and I smiled for a whole minute.  I invited Jesus to sit down with me on the couch and we enjoyed the moment together.  It had started to snow again and there was a chill in the air.  But my Savior was warming me with His presence, and it was the best feeling in the world.

sunflower verse

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you  will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phillipians 1:6

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”  1 Corinthians 6:12

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Romans 12:a

What about you?  Do you often feel that you are too busy to do the work of renewing your mind?  Have you tried preparing for your day by thinking through how you might eat in certain situations?  What might happen if you renew your mind with God’s amazing truth several times a day?  I challenge you to try it . . . “taste” and see that God is good!!!

A Birthday Party to Remember

 

old steps

Gifts in hands and smiles on our faces, we made our way down the five filthy, broken steps that led to the basement apartment door.  It didn’t smell good down there.  Around us we could see broken windows patched with tape, and someone upstairs was yelling.  We knocked on the door and heard Kathy softly say, “Come on in.”  It was her birthday today and she was 12 years old, my middle daughter’s closest friend from 6th grade.  She sat on a faded, old couch by herself, all dressed up with ribbons in her hair, clutching a small stack of paper plates, napkins and cups.  “Happy Birthday, Kathy!!!” we chanted as we walked in slowly.  Something was wrong . . . she was looking away.  It was too quiet.  “Is anyone else coming to the party?  Where is your mom and dad?”  She sighed and replied, “Dad is at work and my Mom has locked herself in her room for the past three hours . . . she is not coming out.  I don’t know what to do.”

The look on Kathy’s face broke my heart as I quickly brainstormed what we could do to help.  Would you like us to help set up?  The plates and napkins you have are so cute!  Why don’t we have the party at the park across the street?  Are the neighbor girls coming?  Would you like me to try and talk with your mom?  Mom wasn’t answering . . . she has had mental and physical challenges for years and is addicted to pain killers.  I realized very quickly that there was no one to set up Kathy’s 12th birthday party.  Kathy had tidied up the tiny, one bedroom apartment.  Kathy had blown up the balloons that were in the corner of the room.  There was no cake, and no presents except the ones we had brought.  Kathy was an only child, Dad was at work and wouldn’t be home for hours.

sad girl

Lord, Lord, where are you?

Lord, Lord, where are you?  How could you let this happen to this precious child of yours?  Why haven’t you saved her from this sad, lonely day?  Don’t you see what is happening here?  My mind took me back to when I was 12 years old, all wrapped up in hormones and self-esteem issues . . . insecure and awkward but celebrated and blessed in a warm, loving family.  Lord, what should I do?  She is beautiful, I thought as we walked outside to claim a table at the park.  I am so impressed with her – so poised, so independent, so intelligent, so amazing in the midst of such a horrible situation.  My daughter said something funny and Kathy’s face lit up in a smile.  Her contagious, high pitched laughter could be heard throughout the park.  I complimented her on the dress she was wearing and she said that a neighbor had outgrown it and given it to her.  It fit her perfectly.

Why don’t you kids play games while I save the table?  I suggested.  A couple of neighbor girls had come over, so they played every game they could think of that didn’t require any materials.  I put the table cloth on the obscenity-ridden picnic table and set out the plates and cups.  There were some cheese puffs and soda, and I thought well – it would have to be enough.  I thought . . . should I run to the store?  Should I go and buy a cake?    But I was the only adult supervising at a park in a rough neighborhood . . . no, I had to stay put.  While the kids played, a man drove up, screamed at a child across the street, whipped him with his belt and drove off.  The kids from the apartments didn’t even look – they didn’t even notice really.  Lord?  Where are you?

birthday-candles

When I heard Kathy’s laughter again my question was answered.  He WAS there.  In an impossible situation he had provided a birthday party for this precious 12 year old girl.  He had provided a beautiful dress for her to wear, lovely gifts for her to open and enjoy, a loving adult to supervise and encourage, good friends to laugh, play with and sing the birthday song, a green, grassy park in which to play, and a warm, sunny summer day with no afternoon rain showers in sight.  Best of all He had somehow provided Kathy with what she needed in her heart to go on . . . the strength to persevere in the midst of an incredibly challenging home life that would likely not be getting better any time soon.  I marveled that she was able to set aside her earlier disappointment and sorrow and completely enjoy the happy moments at the park that day with me, my daughters and the neighbor girls she had only just met a week before.  Christ was there . . . His presence was as real as the sun in the sky.

What does this story have to do with food, body image and Thin Within?  Well, not a whole lot really . . . except maybe for one thing.  We live in a broken world, full of disappointment, grief, poverty, injury, illness, painful relationships, unemployment . . . you name it – it’s all around us.  Most of us have issues with food and our body image because we are struggling to deal with the difficult things of this world and wondering if there really is a God out there big enough to handle them.  So here is the good news . . . the absolutely fabulous news!!!  There really IS a God that loves each one of us and desires to be in an intimate, personal relationship with us.  In the midst of all of the crazy messes of this world God is there, ready to love us, guide us, and walk with us through the mess . . . but not until we ask.  Jesus has shown himself to me in so many new and personal ways in the past months during my Thin Within journey . . . why?  I am learning, one day at a time, to take the challenges of this world to my Savior – the little ones, the big ones, the medium sized ones – and ask.  Lord, Lord, where are you in this mess?  I submit to you!!!  How exciting it has been to ask that very question and find Him closer to me than I can imagine, already working my messes into good things for me and those around me.  God meets us in the storm, and surprises us with His love while it’s still raining.  Later in the day I heard the song “I Am” by Crowder and was touched by the lyrics.  There is no space that His love can’t reach, there’s no place where we can’t find peace, there’s no end to amazing grace, in the middle of the storm I am holding on to you, I am!!!  Thank you so much, Jesus!

It was about three hours before Kathy’s dad finally came home.  Mom finally came out of her room and cried because her baby was growing up, a cake of sorts was picked up, and we all sang “Happy Birthday” in the tiny, dark kitchen of the apartment.  We borrowed birthday candles from a neighbor and Kathy’s face beamed as she made a wish and blew them out.  I felt Jesus in the room, loving that precious girl and providing just what she needed, just at the right moment.    God was there all along.

Girl (7-9) blowing out candles on birthday cake

God meets us in the storm and surprises us with His love while it’s still raining.

Psalm 61:1-2 “Hear my cry, oh God, give heed to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”

Phillipians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

How about you?  Have you encountered a loving God in the midst of your storms?  Do you run to food when your loving Savior is waiting for you to cry out to Him?  What would happen if you brought every challenge in your life before Him, one at a time?  God patiently waits for us, He is a gentleman.  What is He whispering to your heart today?

“I Am” by Crowder

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace

Take me in with Your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go
Never leave my side

I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am

Love like this
Oh my God to find
I am overwhelmed
With a joy divine
Love like this sets our hearts on fire

This is my resurrection song
This is my halleluiah come
This is why it’s to You I run

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace