Spiritual Constipation, Pile-ups, & Burdens

Spiritual Constipation, Pile-ups, & Burdens

No matter what the motivation behind or purpose for it, a get-away is a good idea! One get-awayer might be wanting to simply get away from the routine and cares of daily life and have a change of pace. Another wants to get away to visit or do something fun, exciting, and different. And yet another wants a get-away where they just relax and do absolutely nothing.

But additionally, and sadly for me, “vacation” has been synonymous with “license to EAT everything I want”! I have basically deemed vacation a time to vacate my food boundaries, toss all reason and restraint to the wind, and indulge my taste-buds in whatever sights my eyes might behold. Bad idea!

But my days of wayward appetite indulging have been getting challenged and are drawing near to their end. I had been participating in Heidi Bylsma’s Thin Within Coaching group for a couple of months prior to our trip, and it was clear that my old appetite regarding vacation feasting would not be getting to accompany me this trip. Actually it just needed to be killed and buried forever.

 

So I had determined in my heart and mind that our most recent vacation would be different. I was not going to be focused on FOOD, but rather on having fun with Dave, doing the various outings we had planned (which included some “rising above” experiences ~ like ziplining through a mall 115 feet up and going on a helicopter ride), bubble baths with Dave, and just relaxing in our room.

And, even though it was hard on my flesh ~ which just wants to eat whatever it wants whenever it wants ~ the Lord helped me rise above the temptation to eat when I wasn’t hungry.

For most of our time there, I was both “doing” and “being” very well with my eating, meaning I had surrendered my self indulgent heart to the Lord and was not allowing our trip to be about food. This alone was fun! A new experience for me, which, on one hand, I’m embarrassed and sad to say, but on the other, “better late than never,” right?

But there were a couple of days while there that I was struggling to keep afloat. It took me a while, but I finally realized at least one of the reasons…

Several “concerns of life” had piled up.

 

Kind of like on a freeway when one car rams into another, and then the car behind that one rams in to the first two, and then the next car back crashes into those, and so on…  until there’s a huge pile-up!!!!!!  (I do realize that the photo above is of toy cars on a village map carpet. There were actually plenty of real-life photos of car pile-ups, but in case any of you have been in a traumatic car accident, I thought the toy car pile-up would be less traumatic. 🙂 However, when I showed this photo to my little 2-year-old grandpunkin, Henry, his eyes popped as he said “UH-OH!!!” So he “got it”! 🙂 )

There were quite a few concerns that I had allowed to pile up. I don’t need to get specific as to what those were as it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we all have our own pile-ups of concerns, and I had not been dealing with mine.

A more “natural” way to put it is that my emotions had gotten “constipated.”

 

This was because I was not taking my “concerns” to the Lord. Nor was I even recognizing things were piling up that I needed to take to Him! I was just kind of unconsciously stewing and mulling over several different things that had stealthily snuck their way in to my subconscious. I was unknowingly letting random thoughts and feelings churn around in my mind and heart, which naturally clouded and clogged up my emotional state.

(By the way, my time with Dave was absolutely wonderful, so these concerns had nothing to do with him, but were going on “elsewhere” in my life.)

But then I “came to” and became aware of what was happening, and realized that I needed the Lord to pull me out of the quicksand.

 

BURDEN EMPTYING

The Lord actually brought a few things came to my rescue!

First, I came across a sweet but powerful little video in the larger Thin Within Discussion and Support group on Facebook. It was by Asheritah Ciuciu, a very sweet, Jesus-loving gal who has done lots of short encouraging videos like this one here. This particular video was about quieting our minds and emptying our burdens before the Lord, and receiving what He has for us in exchange. She has you hold your hands down and empty out everything you can think of ~ one by one ~ that’s weighing on you; just dump it all before the Lord. Then turn your empty hands upward and open them to the Lord to receive whatever He wants to give you.

(I was originally able to watch this video in the above-mentioned Thin Within Discussion and Support group, however Asheritah has since changed the way her videos are viewed, and it can be viewed only from inside her “MyOneThingAlone” community where monthly membership is available. You can learn more at www.myonethingalone.com.)

It’s just a very simple tool, but because I’m very visual and hands-on, it was really helpful to me. Right there in the hotel room! (Dave was gone, so I had this time to myself.) And it gave me a hand-on way (literally) to UNconstipate ~ or unclog ~ my pile-up of burdens!!!

It’s actually a very practical way to “take every thought captive,” and then DO something with them!

 

GOD SPEAKS TO ME

Through Heidi’s book. By the same name.  🙂  The Lord knows I need reminders and reinforcing, so to add to, clarify, and confirm the above hands-down and hands-up exercise, along came some gems on Days 23 and 24 in Heidi’s book, God Speaks to Me!!!!!!

 

DISCERNMENT

On Day 23, Heidi talks about being able to “discern what is best.” It dawned on me that I have never thought of “discernment” as being something to use in the area of eating. Like I hadn’t thought of it as discerning when I’m at a 0 or a 5, or as discerning what kind of food I’m hungry for or that would be helpful to me right now.

I thought of “discernment” as a “spiritual” tool used in a counseling or prayer setting. “Common sense” is what I have called what I use to determine my food issues. So I was kind of separating my eating from the “spiritual” realm. But in reality, it’s all “spiritual”!!! And I needed to integrate the two worlds!

So I asked the Lord for discernment in this matter of eating, and then also for self-control to accompany and activate that discernment!

 

COMING FULL CIRCLE

Then on Day 24 of the same book, God Speaks to Me, Heidi leads us to hear the Lord asking us to “draw near to Him, to come close, to eat what will satisfy, to rest in His presence and cease carrying my heavy burden.” Aaah! The whole “heavy burden” thing again! This delightfully brought me full-circle back to Asheritah’s video with her little tool for how to lay down our burdens! Not that you couldn’t do it on your own without her little tool! I just like her “visual” for doing this.

I want to add that a “heavy burden” is not necessarily just ONE big burden. It can certainly be that, like dealing with cancer, marital infidelity, unemployment, an extended illness or death of a loved one, just to name a few biggies. (Or “heavy-ies”?) But it can also be many smaller things. Imagine a wheelbarrow packed full of many weeds, dirt chunks, and rocks from around the yard. Each one is not heavy in itself, but it all adds up. Lots of little things all piled up – and not handed over to the Lord – create one…  big…  heavy…  burden.

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  (Matt.11:28-29)

 

Does your appetite need to have its “license” revoked? Does it need to be sent on a permanent vacation ~ away from being in charge of you? Or if it’s extra tenacious, willful, and wayward like mine, it just needs to be put to death. Of course, appetites don’t usually die a quick, easy death. But you can surrender it, and ask and allow the Lord to help you get victory over it, which He does by transforming our minds and our hearts!

The Thin Within groups are an excellent way to get very practical, loving, grace-based and wisdom-filled help and companionship on this arduous journey! Really good idea!!!

 

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About those burdens…  Because of how deeply they affect us as well as how we live and respond to Life, I want to look more closely at those! All burdens are not “happenings.” Some stem from other sources, like wrong thinking, or heart issues that have us spiritually constipated. So how did they develop? What did they come from? How can we recognize them? And then how can we deal with them in practical ways? More on that in my next blog post!

It Finally Clicked / Don’t Give Up

It Finally Clicked / Don’t Give Up

Are you wondering if eating intuitively is ever going to work for you? Are you wondering if you will ever get “good at” renewing your mind, taking your eating and food issues to the Lord on a consistent basis, actually release some weight? I’m here to tell you to stick with it. Don’t get discouraged. Let God who began a good work in you be faithful to complete it. He has started a new thing in you; don’t give up before you see the miracle.

I’ve been a blog writer, a class leader, and a participant of Thin Within/Hunger Within since January of 2005. I released a bit of weight in my first year, but not enough by my standards. God had more work to do in me. I have a pride problem. He is breaking me. I have a self-sufficiency problem. He is showing me I can’t do this on my own. I’ve dealt with selfishness. He is putting me to work for His kingdom out of my comfort zone. All this time I’ve been waiting for my weight to release, but He had other plans for me. He asked me to step back for a bit. He asked me to let go of the reigns for awhile. He asked me to let go of control. It has been hard for me to do this, believe me, and even though I have stayed in contact with my Thin Within/Hunger Within friends, it has been a lonely road for me. But, I am not alone for I am walking with my loving Father. The difference is I am walking with Him by myself, and I needed to do just that.

In January of this year, I let go. I really did. I disappeared for a season and spent time with the Lord. I renewed my mind. He showed me that there were foods that I wouldn’t stop eating in excess even though they made me feel unwell. He helped me to let go of them. He showed me how I’ve still been trying to control people and situations. He opened my heart and mind to new ways of communicating that has ushered in healing. He has released 30 pounds of pain in my life and 2 clothing sizes since January 1. He did it. I didn’t. I let go.

Dear reader, I read all the literature. I led others in the literature. I read the right Scriptures and made my “Truth Cards”. I signed up for classes and taught classes. All of that was needed and beneficial. A wonderful and firm foundation was built in my life through this wonderful ministry. What I had to learn though was that even though we walk this journey together, our paths do not look the same. When I didn’t have the results I wanted, my normal knee jerk reaction kicked in and I wanted to run away (give up). God held me fast, and He wouldn’t let me run too far. Just far enough for Him to continue the work He so diligently and lovingly started in me.

The gist of all this is that I am proof positive that eating intuitively with God leading the way works. The only way it won’t is if we give up. I’m asking you all to stick with it as I did, even if you are doing it “behind the scenes” as I chose to this year. There will be times when you want to quit. There will be times when it feels too hard. But, there will never be a time when the Lord is not there. Hold fast to the Lord as He holds you fast. Your miracle will come.

Have You Weighed Your Heart?

Have You Weighed Your Heart?

How’d you do? Did you maintain your weight during the holidays? Or perhaps you’re like most Americans who’s number one goal this year is to lose weight. Before you hit the treadmill or eat that cottage cheese, you might want to weigh your heart. 

heart-914682__480

In my last Thin Within blog, I challenged myself to avoid using the holidays as an excuse to binge. For the most part, I behaved myself. I managed to get through December with minimum damage. And I blame those two pounds on the Almond Joys that Santa slipped into my stocking.

Then our family went to Hawaii for a week-long vacation and my resolve vanished like smoke up a chimney. Christmas cookies didn’t tempt me like the smorgasbord of food on the tropical island. Sushi, Japanese noodles, grilled Salmon, pineapples, coconut. My appetite (and waist line) grew larger with each meal.

Barb Raveling’s app, “I Deserve A Doughnut,” would mysteriously appear on my phone like a wagging finger. Talk about a killjoy. Who needed self discipline and the means to escape temptation while I was munching in paradise? Then again, what’s the point of having her app if I refuse to use it when I need it most?

My muumuu disguised the consequences of eating more than normal. Plus, I’d had the foresight to wear stretch pants while I traveled on the plane. When I returned home, the bathroom scales confirmed what my heart feared. I’d gained substantial weight. No more skinny jeans.

Now, I don’t expect sympathy from readers. Sunbathing in Hawaii during winter might even invite contempt. But I wanted to share my recent failure which led to this eye-opening lesson: my heart’s best intention is no match when faced with Something I Really Want.

And that desire to have what I wanted—regardless of the consequences—weighed heavily on my heart when I read, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts (Proverbs 21:2).

When I’m obsessed with my body or food such as…

  • Counting calories—or not—because I’m on vacation.
  • Worrying about my weight because I don’t want to look “fat” in a thin-conscious culture.
  • Justifying my eating habits when I’m stressed or my ego’s bruised.
  • Searching “Yelp” for the best place to eat.
  • Resolving—again—to eat healthy and exercise this year.

When I focus on those things, I tend to forget that God isn’t concerned with my outward appearance. He weighs the heart which includes my thoughts, intentions, and attitudes.

Yes, I need to respect my body which “is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). But I can’t discount my heart because the Bible says:

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” (Matthew 15:19)

Thankfully, when I put my faith in Christ, His blood (not my good behavior) made my heart righteous. However, if I want a healthy heart that wants what God wants, then meeting with Him must be a priority.

I realize “being still” may seem as difficult as doing tummy crunches, but spending time with the Lord—in His Word and prayer—is how the Spirit of God softens, nourishes, and speaks to the heart. And I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution than asking God to weigh my heart and change me from the inside out. 

Heart Image: Pixabay

Maintaining Weight During the Holidays

Maintaining Weight During the Holidays

Maintaining my weight during the holidays may be tougher than I imagined. This past weekend, my mouth watered as I stood in a food truck line, staring at giant corn dogs that rotated on an aluminum grill behind a greasy window. Behind me, the scent of caramel popcorn lured my nostrils. Next to me, a woman stood by her cart and hollered, “Don’t forget your hot chocolate with whipped cream.”

I turned to my son. “Do you want a corn dog?”

“No,” he said. “I’m not hungry.”

“Neither am I,” I groaned, stepping out of line. “What was I thinking? I don’t even eat corn dogs?”

A week earlier, I’d been so pleased with myself because I’d controlled my appetite—and portion sizes—at our family’s Thanksgiving feast. Thanks to Thin Within, I had a new attitude. Who knew you could be around that much food and leave the table without feeling stuffed as the turkey. But if pride comes before the fall, I was about to eat some humble pie.

Our church hosted a women’s Christmas event. Mindful of Thin Within principles, I went there with an empty stomach, spooned small portions on my plate as I walked through the buffet line, and snubbed the sweets. Unfortunately, I was seated within a stone’s throw of the dessert table so I didn’t have the last laugh.

My first mistake—thinking I could look at the dessert when I went for a cup of tea. No harm looking, right? But my willpower was no match for the lust of my eye.

My second mistake—thinking one bite wouldn’t hurt. After all, Thin Within doesn’t want us to live as martyrs and avoid sugar. I reached for the smallest cookie and plopped the whole thing into my mouth. Mmmmmm! That cookie tasted even better than it looked. I took another cookie and returned later for a piece of banana bread.

Now I know there’s freedom in Christ. However, caving into my sweet tooth that night led to a cavalier attitude the next day when I was decorating my house for Christmas. Instead of sitting down for a meal when I was hungry, I nibbled. One bite of cheese led to a handful of peanuts, and eventually, a mini snickers bar and some more peanuts. Not only did I eat more food than I should have that day, I ate so fast that I barely tasted it.

The following day, I noticed I felt hungry more often and it took more food to satisfy me. Which is why I stood in that food truck line at a Christmas faire…salivating over every sight, sound, and scent of food. Isn’t it amazing how far we can backslide within a week?

Now, I could use the holidays as an excuse to binge on delicious treats that I normally don’t eat during the rest of the year, BUT, do I really want to gain back the weight I’ve lost? So what should I do? Torture myself by avoiding the egg nog this month? Or kick myself when I succumb to the yummy temptation?

Thankfully, there is a third option that doesn’t require torture or guilt. I can review my TW workbook and refer to my mobile app, I Deserve a Doughnut. Between those two resources, and relying on God’s grace, I’m hoping to relish the Christmas season without gaining a little round belly that shakes when I laugh like a bowlful of jelly!

Can Food Be Destructive?

Can Food Be Destructive?

I never thought of food as being addictive or destructive, like alcohol or heroin, because food is necessary and good. Food never…

  • Ruined a marriage
  • Effected our kids.
  • Made us unhealthy.
  • Made us feel shame.
  • Became a substitute for happiness.    

Or so I thought until I became familiar with Thin Within. I started thinking about people that I’ve known whose misuse or attitude towards food did impact their lives in these negative ways that I mentioned. Often, their emotions were the catalyst.

Why am I eating this

For example, there’s my friend who married a man who wanted a trophy wife. He ragged about her weight—even though she wasn’t fat—until the woman realized she could never be thin enough. Or pretty enough by his standards. She filed for a divorce. “I’d rather live by myself in a one-bedroom apartment with a lawn chair to my name,” she said, “than live with a controlling husband obsessed with my appearance.” Now she probably eats more than she should as if to spite him.

I had a neighbor who either didn’t know how to say “No” to her five-year-old daughter, or the woman was too lazy to cook healthy meals. Her child often ate pizza for dinner and microwaved the leftover pizza for breakfast. The girl always came to our  house with a bag of chips or candy. Sadly, the last time I saw her, the girl was overweight and her good health at stake.   

Another friend shared that she wet the bed until she was twelve years old. She lived in a chaotic house with parents who—argued, showed favoritism towards her other siblings, and rarely changed her bed sheets. My friend remembers going to bed each night with the damp, yellow stain on her sheet and the rancid smell of urine in her nostrils. Her only solace was food. As her weight increased, her self-esteem shrank. Now, she’s an obese woman who lives alone, can barely walk, and rarely leaves her apartment. 

A co-worker of mine (back in the day) binged on an entire quart of ice cream when she felt bad about herself. Desperate to feel loved—and find a husband—she used her body to attract a man at the risk of a one-night stand. Instead of a hangover, she felt ashamed of her promiscuity the next day which only led to more binging; more pounds. More body shame.

I also think of a young mom who had a new-born baby. “I’m fat,” she said. “I’ve never weighed this much in my life. I need to lose weight.”

“It’s baby weight,” I told her, but I knew better because she was home, alone, all day with the infant while her husband worked. They didn’t have a car. Her friends worked. The young mom snacked all day because she was bored and depressed which only made her feel worse because food made her heavy—not happy.

Looking back, I realize my view on weight was skewed and judgmental. I thought these friends needed to be more disciplined and care about their health. After wrestling with weight in my later years, and studying Thin Within principles, I realize self-discipline only takes a person so far.

We can diet, cook light, eat smart, go vegan, join a gym, but these efforts are wearisome. And they don’t address or fix the core problem: Why are we over-eating, binging, purging, and eating food that we know does more harm than good? 

Once I recognized the reasons—often subliminal—that govern our eating habits, my eyes opened wide. I no longer see “fat people,” I see fragile people who often use food to numb pain or as a means of escape. Even some people I’ve known who become extremely health conscious are compensating for a lack of self-esteem. Either way, our eating habits seems to rule us more than we know.

If you’re not familiar with Thin Within, I encourage you to join an online class or purchase their workbook. I joined, and learned a new approach to weight loss that had more to do with my relationship with God and how I handle life, than the food I ate.

Master of My Plate

Master of My Plate

When I joined a Thin Within online class, Heidi Bylsma asked me to blog about my journey. I’m glad she did. Her request required me go the distance. I had to read the lessons, participate in the online discussion, and apply the principles in order to write about my experience.

Unlike previous attempts to lose weight, I didn’t obsess with food. I didn’t search for recipes to help me cook “light” or “eat smart.” Instead, I learned about portion control, and using food to satisfy my hunger instead of an outlet for my emotions. In time, my appetite shrank and I felt satisfied with less food.

My husband kept asking, “Is that all you’re going to eat?”

I’d respond, “I’m full.” Unable to believe it myself.

Then I was faced with a whopper of a challenge. During the last two weeks of the twelve-week Thin Within class, my husband and I went on a cruise. I shuddered when I first saw the all-you-can-eat buffet with so many enticing options. I had access to delicious food twenty-four seven.breakfast-buffet-1146250__340

  • Would this vacation turn my successful weight loss into a shipwreck?
  • Would I be miserable avoiding particular foods like the soft-serve ice cream?
  • Would I regret not indulging myself with this smorgasbord of international cuisine?

I took a deep breath. Lord, help me. Then He reminded me, that I’d be onboard for sixteen days. There was no pressure (or need) to taste all the food in one day. I took tablespoon portions—just enough to satisfy my hunger. And the few times I went for a second helping, I found the brief taste wasn’t worth feeling stuffed and bloated.

As it turned out, the buffet line was my best option because I could control my portions compared to the ship’s sit-down restaurants where they served you a set amount that I hated to waste. So the cruise showed me that buffet lines may tempt me, but food is not the enemy.

I am the master of my plate. And I felt victorious when I returned home and discovered I hadn’t gained weight.

Thanks to Thin Within, my attitude towards food has changed.

  • My taste buds don’t take priority.
  • Vacations and family celebrations are no less fun if I’m not stuffing my face.
  • My day isn’t ruined if I don’t eat potato chips with my sandwich.

I also learned the value of TW’s nation-wide online community. I loved reading my fellow classmates’ comments. Their words assured me: I’m not alone in my struggle to lose weight or my low self-esteem when it comes to my body. The members spurred me on—emotionally and spiritually. I couldn’t help but love my classmates and want to pray for them.

Finally, my greatest lesson was a reminder that only Christ…not food…can satisfy my heart. By God’s grace, He enables me—one day at a time—to live without food ruling my heart. There’s freedom in Christ. And that’s the sweetest gift of all. 

Photo: Pixabay