Owning My Contribution

Owning My Contribution

Last week my husband’s doctor called him back in to follow up on annual lab work he had run.  Matt asked me to go with him.  The doctor came in and said he was shocked that my husband had not yet had a heart attack and told him that he is just 11 points away from Medicalbecoming diabetic.  While we were thankful the report wasn’t of cancer, we were somewhat surprised to find out that my husband’s poor food choices had caught up with him.  Why we were surprised I’m not quite sure.

So, for the past week I’ve been working on menu plans that incorporate more of what the doctor recommended, which is a Paleo-type plan.  In doing this I’ve also been praying over my husband and asking the Lord to search my own heart (I’ve learned this is a good practice when anything out of our normal routine confronts us).  In fact, Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  I wanted to see where I might have played a part in this medical report.

I felt the need to do this because for years I’ve worked on my own weight/health issues but have failed to encourage my husband to do the same.  I have also neglected to help set him up for success.  Instead, I have gently but not so effectively suggested that he eat healthier.  When this was met with resistance I backed off and made white rice for him and brown/wild rice for me, bought sugar-packed ice cream for him and fat-free yogurt for me, let him add cheese to everything, etc.

female chopping food ingredients

And when going out for dinner I would choose grilled fish while he ordered the chicken fried steak.  I simply didn’t want the conflict and because he is a grown man I knew he could make his own choices.  What the Lord showed me as I’ve searched my heart is that He has appointed me the manager of my home (Proverbs 31: 12 says, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” And, vs. 27 says, “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.”  As a home manager I do menu planning, grocery shopping, and execution of meals, even if only for the two of us (empty nesters).  I am responsible to look well to the ways of my household, and this includes the way we eat and the provision of healthy choices.

One of the most beautiful truths found in Thin Within living is the discovery and realization of our whole body pleasers, which for me is found in healthy eating.  The result of living that truth is that my annual lab results came back just two weeks ago and everything looks good.  At almost 54 years old, that’s exactly the report you want to receive.  That’s in large part to making healthy choices when eating 0-5.  I want that to be the testimony of my husband and anyone else I choose to feed.  That’s not to say that on occasion and down the road we can’t indulge in a small treat.  What I’m saying is that it can no longer be the norm for us and I can no longer be the provider of poor indulgences.  Because in the long run it’s killing my husband, and offending the Lord.  And that is not the legacy I want surrounding my name, nor is it the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10 – “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”)

As I write this we’re in the middle of our “new normal” and my husband is feeling better, losing some weight, and embracing good health.  He’s also finding his 5 much easier, and we’re enjoying mealtimes together much more.  Yes, it’s taking more effort to help plan better but it feels so good to know I’m doing my part to create an environment that says, “You are worth this to me!”

So I’ve stopped looking to my selfish self and my weight/health and am paying more attention to the man God’s given me.  I own my responsibility in having helped cause him harm, and am determined to “bring him good, and not harm” all the days of our lives.  If he wants or chooses to go off course it will be because he got in the car and drove to get something, not because I had it sitting in the pantry waiting for him.  Thankfully, we’re so committed to turning this report around with the Lord’s help; I can’t imagine him doing such a thing!  We’re in this together and so our chances of success are much greater.  Hallelujah!

 

So what about you?  Are you bringing good and not harm to those in your household, by the food choices you make and in the provision you offer those you love?  Rejoice in knowing the plan Thin Within offers and the revelation it brings of what the “abundant life” really looks like.

You See ME!

You See ME!

“Your eyes look around the distant stars – taking in everything in galaxies so far – yet on one crowded planet, circling one certain sun – of the billions here I am only one – yet, you see me, you see me, see me …  Your ears taking each day’s deafening roar – the screams, the machines, rockets, radios and more – word of each man and woman, prayers of each boy and girl – every cry and curse still somehow in this world – You hear me, You hear me, hear me … Before a word is on my tongue, You’ve seen it birth within my heart – You even understand my reasons for You search my deepest parts and – You know me, You know me, know me …  That’s why Father God I stand amazed – for you know me so well – yet I’m lavished with Your grace You forgive all my sin – even call me Your child – I’m forever yours for I can’t deny – You love me!  You see me!  You hear me!  You know me!  You love me, You love me, You love me.”  (Sandi Patty – You Love Me Lyrics)

Last night as our Thin Within group wrapped up 12 weeks of study together we listened to this wonderful Sandi Patty song and fleshed out the question found in Week #12 “Celebrating God’s Grace” of Workbook #3, wlone_flowerhere we’re asked, “In what way is the truth of who you are, based on God’s Word, reflected in how you view yourself and in how you are to live moment by moment?”  What we found was that most women long to be individually remembered and acknowledged, not grouped together with others.  We want God to take notice of us.  “Not ‘you’ as in someone else, but you personally, with your quirks, habits, preferences, and vices.”  We want to feel deep in our hearts that when He declared each one of us worth any price, including death on the cross, that it wasn’t just a corporate, world-wide calling but an individual one.

Psalm 139:13-19 says, You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.  Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”  

It’s that kind of God we long to believe sees us, hears us, knows us, and loves us, as we live and exist day-in and day-out on our crowded planet.

The truth of who God is still holds firm today: He is truth, love, peace, never leaving, merciful, kind, faithful, generous, all-present, truthful, forgiving, life, all-knowing, gracious, all-powerful, safe, a present help, and wonderful. The truth of who I am in Him also still holds firm today2GodKeepsHisPromises:  I am His child, His friend, completely forgiven and fully pleasing to Him, bought with a price, chosen by God, a member of God’s family, totally accepted by God, complete in Christ, free forever from condemnation, never separated from His love, His temple, a new creation, God’s original, deliberate design, able to do all things through Christ who gives me strength, hidden with Christ in God, a branch of the True Vine, chosen and appointed to bear fruit, and deeply loved by God.

And so today when you read your bible every time you see the word “you”, “us”, “them” in the context of God’s promises, feel free to personalize it with your own name (first, last and middle) … that’s what our God does.  He speaks to me and to you in ways personal and unique.  Today as you remind yourself of the truth of who God is and the truth of who you are in Him, remember that it was for you, personally and individually that He gave it all.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

What about you?  In what way is the truth of who you are, based on God’s Word, reflected in how you view yourself and in how you are to live moment by moment?   Do you take time daily to remind yourself of who He is and who you are in Him?  Can you accept and embrace the revelation that you have been called by name, first, last and middle?  Let Him quiet you with His love today, as He delights in you and rejoices over you with singing.

STALL for Victory!

STALL for Victory!

Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.

Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.

Sometimes I feel like a Golden Retriever when it comes to food. If it is there…I have to “retrieve” it. It is meant for me! I have a golden and know that sitting patiently with not one, but TWO tennis balls in front of her…well, it just wouldn’t happen. Sort of like those moments of temptation when I know I plan to eat, eat more, or eat again and the momentum is carrying me forward. I wonder…could I garner the strength to wait for a moment before going after whatever-it-is? Like this dog in the above image?

One of the biggest blessings in my life is getting to be one of the coaches for Thin Within. Through this ministry, I have had the blessing of “meeting” many of you one-on-one (via Skype or the telephone). God has used many of my clients to speak truth into my life and give me great tools to use myself as well as to share with others! One of my very favorites to share is what one client created and called the “STALL” tool. (If you are out there reading this, let me know if I can credit you!)

Any time food is within reach, it is a great idea to get in the habit of using this tool automatically. Of course, we want to extend grace to ourselves, giving time to develop a new habit just as we would any habit:

Take a moment and, before eating, S.T.A.L.L.

The dictionary definition of “Stall” is “to bring to a standstill.

If we have the power of Christ living in us, if I can do all things through Christ who dwells in me as a child of the Lord like the Scriptures say I can (see Philippians 4:13), then when I am making my move to eat (like a retriever after a tennis ball!), it is totally possible in the strength that the Lord provides for me to apply this tool before I take a bite. I want to S.T.A.L.L. or “bring to a standstill” forward momentum. Just for a moment….

Using this tool…each letter of the word S.T.A.L.L. stands for something:

S – STOP

T – Turn. Sometimes this means literally, physically…away from the open fridge or cabinet, away from the second helping, or a little more abstractly, momentarily away from the desire for that taste, bite, lick, whatever-it-may-be.

A – Ask. Ask the Lord what is going on right now. Is my body in need of food? Is my desire for this lick, bite, helping because this high-performance “machine” that is my Holy Spirit-indwelt body needs fuel? Or is it something more impulsive or, even, of my flesh? I can ask the Lord if there is physical need or if this is emotional hunger or spiritual hunger? I want to ask Jesus to impress upon my heart what he would have me to do about what I am experiencing. Does it require food? Or would whatever-it-is best be “fed” another way?

L – Listen. Jesus said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” This tells me that when we listen–truly still our hearts and listen for him–that we will hear his voice. Sometimes this may come through wisdom he has given us through other means previously. Sometimes it may come through a Holy Spirit-led prompting. (I don’t think it necessarily means audibly at this point, so please be open to other ways you may “hear” him!)  It may be a whisper that says, “Yes…” Or a whisper that says, “Enough.” It may be a shout out “Are you kidding?!?” (Just teasing about that part. :-))

Most tools don’t take us any farther than this place and there we are, left dealing with what we know God wants us to do in cold stark contrast to what our flesh is screaming at us to do. My favorite part of this tool is that it pushes me beyond with the second “L” in the word STALL. The second “L” is…

L – Love. Love what he tells me. I like to challenge myself to love him. Would eating this now or for this reason be an expression of love for the Lord? Of love for what he has laid on my heart? Of loving concern for the body he has entrusted to my care for this season of life on earth? Am I loving what he has told me?

If we get in the habit of “STALLing” before we start munching, we might discover that victory is just a few precious moments away!

How About You?

Can you practice S.T.A.L.L. before the next time you eat? If you try this, please share your results here with us. Others may be encouraged to give it a try!

My Misplaced Need For Attention

My Misplaced Need For Attention

One of the sweetest things I’ve come to love about the Lord is how truly perfect his timing is to reveal something to us that up until now we’ve had no idea was impacting us to the degree it has.  Thankfully, he doesn’t just throw it at us.  When it comes to the matters of our heart, he is always tender.

Needless to say, for the past several weeks I’ve had a recurring thought that I’ve wondered about.  This morning after a nice two-hour quiet time I sat down to do some stretches and watch a Christian program.  As the girl shared some of her testimony about her mom I found tears streaming down my face.  Her testimony wasn’t the same as mine.  However, that “recurring thought” I’ve been having was triggered.  Funny, I thought I’d dealt with my “mom-issues” long ago.  In fact, I went up to Virginia and spent two weeks making amends with my mom before it was too late.  Then after she passed, other issues resurfaced and so I dealt seriously with them.  You see, I’m in the habit of dealing with my stuff.  I’m in the habit because I don’t want to give the enemy another foothold in my life.

In my reading early this morning the following resonated with me, “If we’re Christians, then the Lord has delivered us out of slavery.  Through Christ’s work on the cross, Jesus has removed our despair and darkness and put in its place victory, strength, and freedom.  The old is gone.  The new has come.  We are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).  We need never return to Egypt.  And yet … A life of slavery still beckons to us.  We find that our old, harmful thoughts are hard to shake.  Our former unhealthy habits are hard to break.  Long-embedded patterns of shameful living continue to entangle us – day after day, month after month, even year after year.  Some days we feel weighed down by those shackles.  We long for the freedom to respond to God fully as the people He has created and redeemed us to be.  But fear and heaviness and darkness surround us.  We wonder where to turn.  We need to recognize the reality of the spiritual realm.  We need to step fully into God’s plan to heal our broken world.  We need to move into life and healing, purity, liberty, holiness, and truth.”  (Truly Free, by Robert Morris)

I’ve often joked over the course of my life how disappointed I am that I’ve never gotten to stay in a hospital.  Since I’ve never had children, suffered an illness, or had need for surgery sometimes I felt I missed out.  Oh, I don’t want to have any pain that would cause me to go the hospital … I just want a valid excuse to receive attention, you know flowers, cards, worry, friends coming to see me, etc.  As crazy as this sounds, it traces back to my mom.  And that’s the “recurring thought” I’ve had over recent months.  Because my mom was mentally ill and had one perceived sickness after another, she demanded all the attention in our home.  I became a caretaker/little parent at age six and while I was occasionally commended for my help, it wasn’t the same attention a cLittle Parenthild longs for from her parent.  I wasn’t noticed for who I was but for what I did.  And that’s where my performance issues stemmed from.  Praise God we’ve dealt a death blow to that layer of my dysfunction!  But now I realize that perhaps many of my weight struggles have been a very sick and misguided attempt for attention.  If for no one but me, because I give myself constant attention … usually with disgust as how bad I’ve let myself get.

In the book I referred to earlier Morris goes onto say, “If we continually sin, particularly over and over in the same specific area, or if we willfully sin while consciously thumbing our noses at God, then that’s a big danger sign that something deeper is going on in our lives, something influenced by evil.”

All that to say, for me, these continued weight struggles go deeper than I first thought.  It’s a matter of the heart not willpower.  What I’m also learning is that as long jesus-huggingas we live we have an enemy in hot pursuit of the good work God is doing in us, that work of freedom.  That same enemy longs to hold us in captivity to the lies and misguided truths we’ve come to embrace as grownups.

 

What about you?  “So today ask yourself: Where do these thoughts originate?  We can be in bondage to habitual sin and not even be aware of it.  When a recurring thought comes to you take time to dig deeper to see what’s really going on.  Jesus sets us free!  Realize freedom is offered to you by Jesus.  He always cares for you.  He always loves you.  His arms are always open wide for you to come home.” (Robert Morris)

God Led Me Deeper to Set Me Free

I have been up and down the same 60 pounds for years. I can’t say that I ever believed that I would find a way to eat the foods I like without gaining weight, and I have never really believed that I would find a way to lose weight and keep it off for any period of time. This lack of belief comes from my history. I have belonged to the “popular” weight loss club more times than I can count. I have done high protein low carb, low fat high carb, 5 day juice fasts, and 5 day miracle plans. I have been an exercise bulimic and have followed a Biblical plan that just led me to more legalism and condemnation.

Colossians 2 20 21

I woke up one day and found myself back at the weight I had set as my “I will not go above this weight” weight. Once I hit this high mark, and of course because I felt so uncomfortable at this weight, I always stopped myself from gaining more weight by going on yet another diet. Dieting always worked to take off the weight, but I lost weight in the past to get small enough to go back to eating the way I always had. Sadly, because I didn’t have a change of heart, the weight would come back on and the vicious cycle would start all over again. But, this time, I couldn’t stand the thought of another diet. My heart could not take it again! I had been dieting on and off since I was 9 years old!! I said, “No more!! God surely has something else for me.” I did a search on Pinterest for Biblical Weight Loss. I have tried programs like this in the past, but didn’t have any lasting weight loss. But, I was desperate for something new that I hadn’t done before. That search led me to a Facebook group doing a study of Taste for Truth by Barb Raveling. I had high hopes!! I journaled, learned to renew my mind and scripture prayed, but I didn’t have any luck setting boundaries around my food that gave me any freedom and I did not let go of any weight. Because of all the dieting had done, I still wanted rules. I couldn’t get any boundaries set that weren’t legalistic.

Romans 8 5 6

As our time through this study was coming to an end, a gal in that group shared that she had joined a Hunger Within Facebook group. She helped me to get into the group by sharing who I needed to friend. The group had just started, and I was in.

Romans 12,1-2

I was introduced to the boundaries of 0 to 5 and my life has changed forever!! I was introduced to other gals that were experiencing victory and so I prayed that I would never go back to the way I was before!! My eyes were opened to a way of eating that allowed me the freedom of choice I was looking for. There are no longer any good or bad foods for me. I can eat what I am craving, within my boundaries, and with thanksgiving. I eat within 0 to 5 most of the time. When I eat beyond 5, or when I eat when I am not at 0, I no longer condemn myself. I have found the freedom to not beat myself up as I did in the past while dieting and then cheating. I repent, and then wait till the next time to eat. God heard my cry for help and saw that I was finally ready to surrender my food, my weight and all of my life to Him. I believe He led me to Hunger Within and He is leading me in every step of this journey. He helped me find boundaries around food that I can follow for the rest of my life. He has filled my heart with so much gratitude!! He has healed me from being constantly obsessed about my weight and food. I don’t think about what I should weigh, how much I should or shouldn’t eat, what types of food I should eat and what types I should never eat. I eat what I want within 0 to 5 with God’s grace and strength. I look at what He has done in my life as a miracle.

Miracles

I have released enough pounds of pain to be down one size. Don’t ask me how much weight I have released in pounds, because God has also given me the peace to not need to know what I weigh, but to grasp my progress by how my clothes fit.

Other blessings of being a part of this Facebook class are that I have been given the opportunity to write blog posts about my struggles and victories and have had the fabulous joy of being on the class webinars. God gave me a heart a long time ago that wants to teach women what joy and peace is found in Christ Jesus and that no matter the circumstances, we as daughters of the King, can have abundant life through surrendering to His leading and direction. I am so grateful for being a part of this class and the ability to share my heart and my journey.

Jesus set me free

Along with the miracle of being down a size and heading down another, God has also worked in my heart and mind to release most of the frustration and anger I have been carrying around for the past several years. When I quit stuffing these feelings down with food, I was finally open to hearing His voice. He and I worked to get at the bottom of the reasons of those negative feelings, and He led me to healing in these areas of my heart and life. He even gave me the strength to apologize to my family members for the anger I felt and for being critical. God helped me see my part of our issues using the tools I have learned in Hunger Within. If I was still overeating and binging, this miracle would never have happened. If I was still obsessing about what I weigh, how to lose weight, what to eat, if I should eat, my heart would never have been open to God’s voice and I would not be living the life of victory that I am right now. With God’s leading and strength, I am committed to the Hunger Within boundaries of 0 to 5. I have finally found how to drop weight and keep it off without ever having to diet again!!

How about you? What is the one big thing that is keeping you from joining me on this journey of miracles and freedom? Are you ready to surrender and believe that God can and will change your heart?

Am I Causing Others to Stumble?

Over the years I’ve cultivated relationships with friends who were like drinking buddies, only they were “foodies” or food buddies.  These were people I especially enjoyed being with over a meal because I could get away with my Ladies Eatingsin, even have it coddled, casting off all restraint, I could give license to my carnal nature.  The scripture is clear when it says, “So you must live as God’s obedient children.  Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires.  You didn’t know any better then; you do now. (I Peter 1:14)  However, over this past year I’ve come to realize that I do know better, and thus am held accountable to that truth.  Who I spend my time with, and how I spend my time, matters … especially if the fellowship helps me slip back into my old ways of living to satisfy my own desires.  And this truth does not vacillate between family and friends.

Almost, if not even worse, is that when we’re together I am rarely the standard-setter.  I am a follower, a co-laborer in our sin.  Truth be told, by choosing things that are not the most beneficial for me and sharing that may also cause my friend(s) to stumble.  I guess I’d forgotten that it goes both ways.  I realized how they caused me to stumble, yet forgot to consider if I was doing the same to them. “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:4-5)

Today I am making a point to offer a Thin Within group in my own home.  We’re starting with a small group, though size doesn’t matter.  I’m choosing to surround myself with like-minded women who are all about living a God-centered life.  And I want to be that for them.  Our meeting last night almost brought me to tears as we each shared from hearts of transparency.  And then this morning I read the following posted on social media:

“The church should be the safest place on the earth where people can open up and share the deepest hurts and struggles in our lives. Where truth-telling and loving honesty isn’t seen as a lack of grace but as the faithful and life-giving wounds of friends. Where “I’ve been there” compassion flows like crystal clear water over a waterfall, baptizing the weary, sin-laded soul with hope. Where children hear their pastor and their parents say “Please forgive me” or “I’m not good at this” or “I need prayer” more than they perceive strength or pride or self-righteousness. Where small groups welcome the confession of weakness and sin, and people aren’t afraid to talk about lust, greed, jealousy or wondering if they married the wrong person. Oh, Jesus, as you advance Your kingdom by building Your church please make us a family where sins, sufferings and struggles can be shared without fear of uncharitable judgments or self-righteous rejection. Yet also make us a people who speak hard truths to one another and refuse to confuse grace with coddling sin. You are at work, Oh God. Keep working through the weak and sinful like me.”

Oh that beautifully resonates with my heart.  I want to encourage anyone reading this blog today to prayerfully consider leading a small Thin Within group in your community.  Just contact Heidi or Cathy for details on getting starLadies Bible Studyted.  There are hungry (no pun intended) women longing for a small group to walk this journey with them.  They are ones who don’t want to read it on a computer every day.  They want to come in after a hard day’s work, grab a cup of coffee, their bible and workbook and have a place to sit among women who care.  It doesn’t take fine leadership skills, or a beautiful home.  It only takes a willing heart and open door.

 

What about you?  Are you causing others to sin by choosing the permissible and not the beneficial?  Do you long for fellowship with like-minded, God-centered women seeking to apply the Thin Within principles to their life?  Please prayerfully consider finding a small group, or starting one.  There few blessings that compare with being used by the Lord to bring others to the Truth.