Let’s be honest. We all go thru times when we feel defeated, discouraged and tired. We might feel like we should turn back to a diet. I know when I feel this way, I tend to go right back to eating mindlessly because of this attitude. The Lord have shown me that when I start down this path of defeated thinking, my eyes usually are on my weight – that scale number- and then on my body- how it looks. When this happens, I tend to experience shame over my body. My focus is on ME! ME! ME!
I was feeling this way not long ago, of all mornings, but Easter Sunday. Yes, this day where we celebrate the most amazing thing Jesus did to prove His power, I was focused on how ugly I felt! I was focused on myself and didn’t even realize it. Then we sang a song that started to crack that shell of discouragement.
As we sang that portion of the song over and over, a light began to seep into the darkness that was in my soul that day. It was just a preparation for what was to come next thru the words of my pastor.
The title of the message was “The Power of the Cross”
POWER. OVERCOME. JESUS. That struck me. Here I was sitting in my own puddle of discouragement and Jesus was gently telling me that HE has the power to do all things!
All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.
I realized that I had been focusing on ME and not on HIM! (ouch!) I had not been focusing on Jesus and His power. Right there, in the middle of the sermon Jesus whispered to my heart that He no only has, overcome death- but He has also overcome this “living death” that is my shame!
Jesus has overcome
- my body shape
- my size
- my scale number
- my turning to food to escape or comfort
- any and all strongholds
- all of what society might think is beauty and acceptable
Right then I heard my pastor say that we all need to have an
“Extreme Makeover – Soul Edition”!!
That is what I knew I needed. That is what I need every day!
I had been focusing on getting an
Extreme Makeover – “Please Can I at Least Look Good Enough to Not Be Considered Old and Fat?” Edition
My focus had been on my outward appearance! Jesus showed me, ever so gently that He is doing a work in my heart. I could let go of the outward appearance and surrender it over to Him to create in the way He sees fit.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Oh, I was taking furious notes in my journal that day in church! I thought my pen might catch fire! But Jesus was bringing a new fire to my soul. Yes! As I heard the pastor say “We need to not just KNOW about the resurrection, we need to EXPERIENCE resurrection in our life!”
That was it. I felt that day as if I WAS resurrected. And each day I need to be resurrected in His newness of life.
Lord, help me to keep my eyes open to You and Your power.
Give me NEW LIFE!
So, now I ask myself….am I denying (pushing away) His truth in my life by believing lies…these old lies about my identity….that being a certain number on a scale or a certain shape or size is the only way to be acceptable? Lies about what he CAN and WILL do?
Oh dear Readers, may we all listen to HIS truth of who we really are! We are HIS CHILDREN who are dearly loved no matter our shape or size. Let’s trust that HE can and WILL take us where we need to be in our outward appearance if we truly follow Him with our eating and our lives.
Amen. May it be so!
God is doing a new thing in you. I keep saying this to gals in the current Hunger Within class that I am co-leading. I believe it. I see it and I am awestruck at how God is working in the lives of these dear ladies. I see ladies taking the truth of God desiring to release them from the obsession of food and weight issues and I see them laying down all the burdens that He never meant for them to carry. I wanted to understand this saying at a deeper level, because I know the truth of this is grounded in His word and it is a testimony to how He works in our lives as we surrender daily to His leading and guidance.
We see in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that God’s word says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! At the moment when I accepted Christ Jesus as my Savior and as He grew to be the Lord of my life, I became a new person. I didn’t feel new, and since I was 9 at the time, I wasn’t quite mature in the word enough to understand what was happening to me, but I knew in my heart that I was changed. Jesus and the Holy Spirit became real to me. I felt the Holy Spirit’s hand on me even when I was rebelling in my youth. I knew that I knew that were I to die, I would have gone to heaven. He called me to be His, and from that point on, I had a reason to live and every dark time and trial I went through, He was right there with me, leading me and guiding me through them.
We also see in Ephesians 4:23-24 that God’s word says that we are made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, what I understand is that we put on a new self, which means we have to take off the old self. What does that mean to me, personally? What do I need to take off so that God can do a new thing in me? I’m going to be painfully honest with you, dear reader. I am taking off:
- The Deanna who was not loved by her mother the way she needed.
- The Deanna who was abandoned by her dad (through death).
- The Deanna who is a compulsive dieter, food binger and restrictor, bulimic with laxatives to make the scale obey.
- The Deanna who was sexually abused as a young child.
- The Deanna who searched for love in the wrong places on the way to finding true intimacy.
- The Deanna who feels sorry for herself (even though she is greatly blessed).
- The Deanna who wonders how God can use her with her insecurity that she masks with pride.
Wow, that is a painful list, but it isn’t the end, so don’t feel sorry for that Deanna. You see, God did a new thing in this gal, and she is not the same. The attitude of my mind has been changed and this is who I am today, with my new self put on:
- The Deanna who is a forgiven child of God.
- The Deanna who is a set free child of God.
- The Deanna who has been adopted into God’s family.
- The Deanna whose mind is being renewed daily by God’s word.
- The Deanna who was not given a spirit of fear but a sound mind.
- The Deanna who let go of fear because Christ’s perfect love being worked in her life casts out all fear.
- The Deanna who is made holy by Christ Jesus, because He is holy.
- The Deanna who is a loved child of God.
- The Deanna who is held by and is held close to her loving Father.
- The Deanna who is confident in His strength.
- The Deanna who will not be shaken because she stands on the Rock.
- The Deanna who is fed by the Bread of Heaven and whose thirst is quenched by Living Water.
- The Deanna who is victorious.
- The Deanna who Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for so that she will be with Him for eternity.
God is doing a new thing…in me. I am embracing my new identity. I am claiming what He has done so that I can let go of the old self that blocks me from Him. I am watching Him as He breaks down all those false “self-protective” walls I built up so that my life can reveal the glory of the work that the Creator of All is doing in my life. I am claiming all that He tells me I am through all He did for me so that I can discover a hope and power like no other.
Have you ever heard the story of Jacob and Esau? You can find it in God’s word in Genesis 25:27-34. Esau was willing to give up everything he had and everything he was promised for a bowl of lentil stew. I have been there. I understand. I have tried to fill that empty place with a bounty of food. I have been desperate for outward signs. I have wanted the empty praise of man for what I appeared to be doing in my own strength. When I look at these lists that I have shared with you dear reader, I have to ask myself what I have been willing to give up of my true self for the insignificance of a bowl of lentil stew?
The truth? Deanna is not that girl anymore. Deanna is a Jesus following girl. Her Lord Jesus is authoring and perfecting her faith. She is loved by and loves her heavenly Father and is held and comforted and taught by the Holy Spirit. She is letting go of self-determination for being Spirit-determined. She is embracing her true identity. God is doing a new thing in her.
Will you join me in claiming your true identity? Are you ready and willing to see what God is doing in your life? Will you put your name in each statement in my second list and embrace the new thing God is doing in your life.
Lately, I have really been dealing with some big and deep things in my life that God is wanting to heal. I have to admit that sometimes this causes me to turn to food or at least my boundaries get a bit loose. It’s hard for me to admit that I may not be releasing weight or maybe have even picked up some….especially since I write a weekly blog article on here AND I am co-leading a class!
But, I have to be REAL. I am a REAL person who struggles just like you. (sigh…isn’t THAT a relief?!)
So, dear reader, I wanted to share with you today what the Lord spoke so gently to my heart as I have been struggling. I hope it touches your heart as it did mine.
Oh My Beloved Child,
You search for Me, but I am not far away. You long for My love for you as if you have to act a certain way, be a certain size or shape or just be someone else for Me to love you.
This is not so.
This is a lie.
Listen to Me now.
THE WAY YOU ARE.
- With every curve.
- With every imperfection.
- With every struggle.
- With every breath and every step and every trip and fall.
Yes, I call You to follow me in everything You do. But I also know you don’t have it all together, yet. And that is ok.
If you had it all together and could follow me perfectly, I would not have given my Son for your redemption.
BUT I DID. And He came. And He died.
See how I love you, my child? Do you see?
Do you see how I have created You with love? Just the way You are?
Oh my Child, I want what is best for you. That is why I call you onward to follow Me.
And I lead you onward. Forward. Into my arms.
Do you fall sometimes? Do you skin your knee? Do you feel like giving up? Do you feel like I’m not there? or have stopped loving you?
Oh child. Listen to me know.
I WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU.
I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.
I WILL NEVER STOP.
So now, Dear One. Take my hand. Just reach up for me. Turn your eyes off of yourself and on to my eyes.
I am here.
I am waiting.
I will NEVER stop loving you, My Beloved One.
If you’ve been following my posts in the last couple of years, you are probably familiar with my story. I have had my moments of serving the skinny idol. Two out of three of my pregnancies have been while I’ve been on this journey toward freedom). God has changed me and He’s shown me the truth about food. And now…I’m SO excited…to say that He is doing something SO HUGE within me and I just want to shout it from the rooftop! God is showing me what life is like when I stop chasing skinny. I want to share some more of my story.
Side note: I realize that I write a lot about my story. I could share the mechanics about how Thin Within works. I could share a lot of things, but I believe there’s something powerful that comes from sharing our story and hearing others stories. I hope my openness and transparency encourages you, wherever you are in your journey. I know my story is unique. I don’t have tons of physical weight to release, but I have had plenty of mental weight to release. I’ve never had an eating disorder, but I’ve been tempted to not eat at my lowest point. And I’ve had borderline signs of orthorexia. And I know that there are those of you out there who can relate to my story. I know this because you’ve reached out to me and shared your similar story with me. I see these kinds of stories more and more and I know I’m (we) are not alone. And if you don’t relate to my story, I hope you can find parts that you can relate to and that most of all, you will be encouraged to know that the same God who has freed me is the same God who will free you. He is no respecter of persons. He’s a good, good Father!
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Recently, I found a publication that was very encouraging to me. It’s called Thryve. It’s an online magazine (although maybe it used to be in actual print at one time?). I found out about it through a newsletter from Wonderfully Made. Wonderfully Made is an organization founded by Allie Marie Smith (co-author of the book H.E.A.L.). Allie wrote an article for the Mended issue of Thryve. What she wrote resonated very much with that the Lord has been currently teaching me about letting go of this idea that I have to have the “perfect” body:
The problem is that, as we cling ever so tightly to the perfect version of ourselves, we are blinded by our own endeavors, to the cause and person of Christ. In the process of gaining the whole world (in this case our perfect, ideal self), we forfeit our soul. Chasing an ideal self leads to bondage. Resting in Christ leads to freedom. By living for ourselves, we become enslaved and imprisoned. However, by giving our lives to Jesus, we allow him to cleanse us of our addictions and show us the way to real life—a life free of destructive dependencies and brokenness.
I had been chasing skinny. I had been chasing after my “ideal self”. I had been captivated by the standard of the world instead of being captivated by Jesus Christ.
It’s interesting to me because last year my little word was “be free” and this year it’s “rest”. Allie sums up what Christ is wanting to do in me with one sentence: “Resting in Christ leads to freedom.” Honestly, I was terrified to let go of skinny. I remember the first time I read this truth written by Barb Raveling in her weight loss book study Taste for Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study:
Giving up the idol of skinny is essential for both our physical well-being and our spiritual well-being.
I did NOT want to give up skinny. I felt like it was giving up and accepting an imperfect body (hello!). I believed the lie that if I didn’t have that perfect, beach-body, sculpted, bikini-mommy body that it was less than what God wanted for me. I really believed that my “ideal” body was what God wanted for me and that I was failing Him and myself and my family if I wasn’t achieving that. It’s hard to even type those words, but that’s truly what I was believing. I would read and hear about how in order to find freedom that I would need to love and accept my body right where it was at, but I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to surrender and give up skinny. I thought that accepting my body was giving up.
It’s funny because I don’t even know where this “ideal self” came from. But I know the images I would see plastered all over weren’t helping. Skinny is everywhere. It’s held in high regard. Shame is put on less than perfect bodies. Culture paints a picture of what the “ideal” woman should look like and when we don’t reflect that image, we feel like a failure. And then we diet and feel bad when we lose, gain, lose, gain more, lose, gain even more, and so on and so forth. We set a goal for ourselves to BE that image. We count, weigh, measure and become fitness fanatics—and we lose ourselves in it—and pretty soon we are serving that idol. I was. I was bowing down to that ugly thing and berating my body when it wasn’t living up to that standard. Ugh.
I want to reflect Christ’s image, not the world’s image of “ideal”.
Lately, I have found courage through other women who have set out to encourage other women to be themselves, cellulite and all! Allie says, “May you have the courage to break up with your ideal self and stop striving.” The Lord is giving me courage. And I want to give you courage to BE YOURSELF! Be the person God has created you to be. You are not less of a person because you don’t stand up to some worldly standard. I feel courageous to LOVE myself and the body God has given me, accepting all of the parts of me—even the parts I used to scold and demand perfection from. I know there’s a lot of pressure out there to be this “ideal self”, but there’s also a lot of encouragement out there to stop living under that pressure (and as I find more of it, I feel the pressure released more and more).
I want to be that brave woman who says NO THANK YOU to the skinny idol. And I would love for you to join me. Will you join me?
We will never measure up to the standards of beauty of this world. I’m DONE trying to measure up to that. How can we measure up when the opinions of beauty are constantly changing? I’m also done paying the price of trying to live up to that standard. It’s cost me my time and energy that I will never have back. It’s distracted me from what’s most important. It’s cost me money. But praise God because He gives back what the locusts have stolen. He gives us beauty for ashes.
Something I’ve had to do is look away from the images. I’ve unfriended friends on Facebook, I’ve deactivated Facebook (for a season), and I’ve had to stop following feeds. I’ve had to ignore the magazine covers in the check-out lanes. I’ve had to stop asking the questions that would lead to diet talk. I’ve purposely had to look away. What feeds the image for you? You have to stop feeding the idol and starve it. You have to guard your heart and eyes from temptation.
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. Psalm 101:3a
I really liked this article I read about one woman’s “cleanse” from the media’s display of skinny. I had to stay away from social media for most of last year because it created such an issue and temptation for me. It’s really interesting for me to see that others have had to do the same thing. So instead of thinking we need to “cleanse” by eating or not eating particular foods and/or diet, maybe what we really need to cut out is social media or anything that displays the image for awhile. It can definitely feed the idol.
There was another article in the Thryve: Mended magazine that hit me right between the eyeballs. This is from an article called So Glorify God in Your Body by Ashley Kirnan. She says:
We are influenced to idolize the “perfect” body, yet as believers we are instructed to FLEE idolatry.
OUCH!! When I read that, the Lord made it very clear to me that striving after the “perfect” and “ideal” body has been idol worship: worshiping skinny. The skinny idol. There it is…again!
So here God has created me…designed me…and I’ve been despising my body and ashamed of my body all because it doesn’t live up to some “perfect and ideal” standard! Hold it!! I am God’s MASTERPIECE!! He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Pretty much that says right there that I am beautiful and accepted and beloved—in His eyes!! He sent His Son and He gave me life. He saved me. He purposely designed me. He is enough for me.
Are you willing to starve this idol? Are you willing to say NO and stop trying to conform to the image of this world? Are you willing to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? Are you willing to let go of the “ideal” and thank God for His masterpiece (that’s YOU!)?
This may be letting go of putting your hope in a diet or in hoping you will reach a certain size or weight that was never designed for you. (I am not saying you won’t release weight, but for some, you are already at or very close to your God-given, set, ideal weight.) This may be relieving the pressure you’ve put on yourself to eat a certain way, exercise a certain number of days a week or hours a day, or to fit into that dress/pants/swim-suit (I’ve had to do this—wear what fits and feels good on my body instead of feeling bad when a certain article of clothing may not). And it may be accepting the love handles, your thighs, and how your body has changed after having a baby or getting older. But it does NOT mean giving up! What it does mean is taking that bondage, that heavy load, and laying it at the cross of Jesus. That weight (bondage of the “ideal” and “perfect”) was never meant for you to carry. You were meant for so much more—but it starts with you laying it all down and surrendering it.
And do you know what happens when you surrender? Do you know what happens when you begin to love and accept your body? You start to care for your body and honor the body God has designed. You calm down. You stop worrying about “skinny”. You listen to your body. You honor hunger. You begin to eat in a calm environment–all of those principles of Thin Within naturally happen because now you love, accept, and care about your body. You treat your body with respect. You relax. You stop demanding your body to shape up or squeeze into the skinny jeans you bought 3 sizes too small because they were on sale.
Will you join me? Let’s do this! If you are ready, let’s agree in prayer together:
Lord, forgive me for striving after ‘skinny’. I’ve made it a god and I’ve worshiped it. You are the One and Only God. You are my Savior, my King. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and trying to meet some “ideal” self. Forgive me for trying to squeeze myself into the “perfect” body. Help me to see my body as Your masterpiece and to be thankful for it. Help me to let go of the mental weight I have carried for so long. Make me whole and complete in you. Help me know who I am in Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen!
Do you ever wonder if you will ever “get it”? Are there days when you wonder if you are truly a Jesus follower or if you are nothing but an impostor? I have those days. There are days where every little nudge in a negative direction sends me tumbling off the “I’m not a nice girl” cliff. There are days where even the smallest inconvenience seems to turn into the BIGGEST frustration of my life. These days when I suffer through circumstances like the one’s I just mentioned can doubly troubling to me because since I have been in the Thin Within community, I don’t thoroughly drown my frustrations and sorrows in food. Food just doesn’t comfort me the way I used to think it did. Sure, I could turn on the TV and be a sofa zombie. I could lose myself in my favorite show or binge watch a few seasons of something on Netflix. But, really, that doesn’t help much anymore either. God has awakened in me a hunger within for growth and change. I have a desire to be the woman He wants me to be. Finding a way to run away from why I get frustrated isn’t what He wants for me and truthfully, it isn’t what I want either. So, what’s a girl to do? Hum, how about take a few moments and renew my mind?
I just finished a 40 Day – 40 Promises challenge where each morning, before getting busy with life, I looked up a promise in the Bible. I would write the promise and then the scripture verse(s) out in my journal followed with a prayer of confirmation about the promise or a request to fully believe in and lean on that promise. This has been a wonderful exercise in helping me renew my mind first thing in the morning. I shared in a previous blog about some of the nuggets I have received from the Lord during this process. I have another that I want to share with you that is so powerful and apropos for Thin Within/Hunger Within. Especially if you are finding yourself, like me, wondering when the great change is going to take place (by change I mean not getting frustrated easily, not wanting to continue to control my eating, or getting to enjoy a huge weight loss).
The promise I want to share is from day 32. The promise states that I have all I need to live godly in Christ Jesus. Did you hear that? I HAVE ALL I NEED!! Wow!! The scripture is 2 Peter 1:2-4 which states, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
I love God’s word and how it speaks to me at just the time I need to hear from the Lord. I no longer need to feel inadequate for this task of following 0 to 5 eating boundaries. He has given me all I need to do just that. I no longer need to fret if I am hungry or just craving. He has given me all I need to distinguish the truth between my hunger and my appetite. I no longer need to get frustrated at every little inconvenience that comes my way. He has given me all I need to rest in His peace. When I struggle with feelings around ever truly “getting it”, I can let them go, for He has given me all I need to live a godly life. When I am tempted by certain foods or the desire to follow the crowd, I can say no. He has given me all I need to escape the desires of my flesh. I can walk this road of Thin Within/Hunger Within. He has given me all I need.
Lord, thank You for this great promise! This is what I am longing for – to partake of Your diving nature and to escape the corruptions that is in the world through lust. And what is lust? Wanting what isn’t mine. Thank You Jesus for opening my mind and my heart to this beautiful promise that I have through knowing You. Continue growing me into the woman You want me to be. In Your name, Amen.
Lies can only be exposed by immersing yourself in the truth. Bask in His truth today and be set free.
Recently while teaching my music classes, I was using a book that came with a CD. It is an adaptation of the song “If You’re Happy And You Know It” (how many of you automatically sang in your head and next came “clap your hands”? )
I love this book and so do the children. The only thing I would change is on the CD is the book is read to music and not sung. (I can always just sing it myself, but sometimes it is nice to have a vocal break and let a CD do it for me.)
I have used this book for several years now and although it has two tracks on the CD, I always go to the first track because it has the “turn the page” signals on it. It just makes it easier to read to a group.
Well, the other day I was using this book in my lessons and for some reason I accidentally skipped over to track 2 instead of the first track that I usually use.
THE SECOND TRACK SANG THE SONG! This is what I had been wishing I had for years and IT WAS ON THE CD ALL ALONG! I just didn’t know it because I had never thought to go to the second track!
Right there, in the middle of my lesson with my class….right there in the middle of the book CD singing away and me turning pages….Right there….GOD WHISPERED TO MY HEART.
That is Me, my child. So often You try to do things on your own. You automatically go to the things you think will work. You try to draw upon your own power and intellect. You go to what feels safe. BUT child, ALL ALONG what YOU really long for is RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. It is ME. I am there. I am with YOU. I give you the HOLY SPIRIT to guide you. Look for me and you will find me, for I am never too far from you.
How many times have I run back to the familiar? To the food? To the diet that has “worked” before to just take that number down on the scale, but nothing changed in my heart?
How many times have I chosen “track 1” over and over again because it is just what I always have done…..not thinking to even try “track 2”?
Right then I realized that just like that “track 1” on the CD was close to what I wanted and did the job, so it is with anything I try to do on my own. I might be able to ‘do the job’…the diet might be able to ‘do the job’ but it will NEVER be what I REALLY want. It will never truly fulfill.
Isaiah 55: 1-3
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
Did you notice that no matter how many times I chose the first track on the CD that the second one didn’t just disappear? It was there “waiting” to be chosen.
So it is with Jesus. No matter how many times I choose my own way…turn to food….eat outside my boundaries….think about dieting again…worry about my body shape…(fill in YOUR track 1 here)….
HE IS ALWAYS THERE, PATIENTLY WAITING FOR ME TO CHOSE HIM.
Jesus tells us in His word that He will never leave us! (Matthew 28:20) He will never forsake us! (Deuteronomy 31:6,8)
His love and His way is always there for us. He reaches out to us with open arms, ready to embrace us and gently lead us on the path HE has laid out for us.
Oh, Dear Sisters (and Brothers), let’s examine our hearts today. Are we settling into our own comfortable ways? Are we turning to things that truly do not satisfy?
Let’s run and jump into the Master’s Arms and surrender up these things. Let’s walk this path to freedom from diets and scales and body image and food obsession…..together.