Learning to Love the In-Between Place

Learning to Love the In-Between Place

As my small group was studying Workbook Three:  “Rebuilding God’s Temple” the Lord opened my eyes to a truth I never realized.

The question posed was, “What might be the reason for some of your struggles with eating or in other areas of your life?  On whom are you to rely in your weakness?  What do you think might be God’s purpose for your struggle?”

Here is how I answered.  “Because more often than not I live days, weeks, months, even years ahead of myself.  It’s very hard for me to live in the moment.  This makes me an excellent Rest (1)planner, able to anticipate things some would never think of.  However, it also makes me very restless when I’m in that “in between” place.  That’s when I usually eat.  The purpose for my struggle, I believe is so God can show me how to rest in Him knowing He’s got whatever is coming next.”

It amazes me how much our childhood experiences can influence our adult behavior.  When I was age 6 years old my dad woke me up to tell me he was taking my mom to the hospital and I needed to get up and get myself and my sister ready for school.  That hospital visit was the beginning of many over the next 30 years.  My mom would live in and out of mental hospitals and institutions while my father was involved in politics and away from home often.  So, I became a little parent that day my dad woke me up.  And, I’ve never stopped living in a place of preparedness for whatever is coming next.

Even though that day occurred 47 years ago I still find myself restless and bored when I’m not under a deadline.  No surprise, I thrive under pressure.   For the past six years God has had me living in a season of rest (we live in a small town where I can ride my bike to work, I’m paid generously to simply “be available” to my boss, I have a good three hours to myself between my husband leaving for work and me going to work).  It’s a quiet and beautiful season to be living in.  And yet, I’m still restless and bored and trying desperately to prepare for the next thing.  I don’t want to be caught off guard.  And so I nibble.  I never use to be a nighttime eater.  Now I find myself nibbling on popcorn or fruit or animal crackers after dinner.  But thanks be the God who is showing me how this exemplifies what Romans 8:5 refers to as, “… those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.”  Each and every time I choose to eat outside the 0-5 boundaries I am turning my back on the power of the Holy Spirit who can change my wanter and my canner.  In fact, depending on the Holy Spirit daily for emotional grace and empowerment is an essential element to heal and keep me healthy.

I’ll admit I have a long way to go in learning how to rest and be still when God places me in that “in-between” place, but I’m encouraged that He helped me recognize where that discontentment/ restlessness came from.  The enemy would love for me to focus on the fact that it’s taken me 47 years to see it.  BUT GOD wants me to focus on the fact that as I’ve prayed for the eyes of my heart to be open during this bible study, He’s heard my prayer and answered me.  And He won’t stop there.  Because God wants to use me, and has set me on the path that leads to being used by Him, I find myself encouraged.  Rather than preparing for what’s next with a fear-based mentality, I can simply rest in knowing, “He’s got my back and my front.”  As Psalm 139:1-5 says, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know elighted-pathway-226668verything about me.   You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.   You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.   You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.”

 

What about you?  Are you sensing that God has you in that “in-between” place right now?  If so, seek to find out what His purpose is for doing so.  Is it hard for you to rest or be still?  If so, ask Him where that came from and what He wants you to do with it.  Remember, the Holy Spirit wants to energize us with God’s strength and power to help us walk in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ!

I boast in my own Strength

 

truth sign

Psalms 51:6 (AMP)

“Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.”

 

 

 

I boast in my own strength. I claim Philippians 4:13, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I believe that. But, I haven’t lived it.

I boast in my own strength. I give God the glory for making me strong. I say I am strong because I had to be because of this and that. I say God gifted me with strength for survival; because I had to be strong. I say that I am grateful for being strong because that is the way He made me. After all, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. After all, my dad died when I was 14 and left me with a mother who didn’t really love me; or at least didn’t love me in the way I needed to be loved. I was the baby of the family and was pretty much left to my own devices as my siblings were out of the house and my mother worked nights as a RN. I had to grow up and handle many things beyond my years when we were going through my dad’s long cancer battle. I could fill a book of all the things I lived through!

But did He really make me strong, so strong that if I wasn’t going through some difficult changes that I wouldn’t have accepted His invitation to be His beloved daughter? Is it not I who learned to be strong – to take care of things – who is still taking care of things? When do I cry out, “Abba Father, help me, I can’t handle this!”? Only in situations where I know I have no control. And then after crying out, I want to run away, because I can’t fix it!

I am a glory thief and the glory I am stealing is Gods’. What am I to do with 2 Corinthians 12:10 where Paul states,

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

And verse 9 where God tells Paul,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Romans 7:7 thru 8:4 gives me a beacon of hope for my situation. It is my sinful nature that cries out for me to be strong – to appear strong. Our society looks at strength as a positive attribute, but in God’s kingdom, we are called to be humble. Christ Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3-4 that,

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I get two things from this: Christ says I can change and I can humble myself. Actually, I can’t do it. Only the Holy Spirit can change me to be childlike in my faith and strength, and to teach me to be humble. In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller says, “To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too.” So, in order for me to grow in this freedom that I receive from Christ Jesus as I allow His truth to invade my mind and my heart, I have to repent of boasting in my own strength. power ends

 

Abba Father, right now I repent of being strong in my own strength, and for boasting in my own strength. Father, I see my weakened body and excess weight as a sign that it is time to let go and learn from You and to do what You want me to do. Father, my flesh is screaming, “No!! Don’t give up!! We can do this!!” but my spirit is remorseful and grieved and I really can’t be strong in myself anymore. Father, forgive me and let Your Holy Spirit change my direction. Father, whenever the need to be right, the need to control, or the need to fix something I can’t fix pops into my head, I rebuke them in the strength of Jesus. Into Your hands I place my heart, my mind, my emotions, my body and my family. Grow us LORD God by Your strength and power. And, Father, if being weak is how I need to learn, then I pray I will be accepting of weakness for Your glory. In the Name that is above all names, I pray these things, Amen.

I hear Jesus saying, “Deanna, come forth!! I am unwrapping your grave clothes of self-sufficiency and control. You don’t need to try to be strong anymore. Place your burdens, your heart, mind and soul into My hands so that I can teach you the truth and that truth will set you free.” truth and free

What about you? Can you identify with being a glory thief? Pretty sobering thoughts, I know. But isn’t God asking for truth in our hearts? What is He asking you today? How will you respond to Him?

 

 

 

 

Disciplining the Body

Disciplining the Body

“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  (1 Corinthians 9:27)

In this passage Paul urges us to keep ourselves spiritually fit.  He stresses the necessity of self-discipline and the danger of flaunting one’s liberties.  The believer must practice self- denial and self-control.  In Matthew Henry’s commentary he says, “TFithe body must be made to serve the mind, not suffered to lord over it.”

This past Sunday morning I awoke at 3:30 a.m. with this passage front and center of my mind.  It was one of those times the Lord impressed upon me to get up and get before him.  And so I grabbed my coffee, bible and journal and headed to the living room where I sat for the next three hours as the Lord showed me the seriousness of my choice to waiver between obedience and disobedience where the sin of gluttony is concerned.

In Chapter 8 of Hunger Within we read of the “Holy Struggle” we are faced with.  And we’re reminded that “this choice of putting off and putting on is one we will face daily throughout our life because we will always have areas where we are tempted.”  Earlier in this chapter we read, “Our hunger within has at its core a demand that our needs be met.  To those of us who struggle with food, eating, and weight, this hunger – even though it has no physical basis – insists that we be fed.  When we acknowledge our hunger within, we often seek food to satisfy our unmet needs.  This is the essencehungry of addictive behavior – turning to the quick fix when our emotions are high, when the pain is throbbing.”  So when God says, “Wait” or “Be patient, I am feeding you,” often our response is, “Well, great, but it’s not what I ordered.”  We struggle against God’s request for patience because everything in us is clamoring, “No!”  This hunger doesn’t feel good.  It hurts and I want to feel better right now!  Feed it!”  The chapter goes on to state this sobering truth, “At the heart of our flesh patterns is the sin of idolatry.  We think God is not good and will not give us the desires of our heart, so instead of cultivating our interior life with God, we look for life elsewhere by seeking external pleasures.”

For those of us who have been with Thin Within for any length of time, and/or have been given to spiritual growth over a long period of time there comes a point when we are simply called to put into practice what we’ve learned and stop subjecting our behavior to the mental lies we choose to embrace.  It’s as if the Lord says, “Enough already!  It’s time to practice what you preach more often than vacillating.”  This is especially important if you want to share the Thin Within message with others, particularly by example.  Paul deeply valued being qualified for service to the Lord and to those the Lord called him to impact.  Therefore, the issue of self-discipline, self-denial, self-control, etc. was paramount within his personal constitution.  It was not a matter of personal preference but obedience to the One who called him to serve, the One he loved more than anything or anyone else, including himself.

Folks, our lives are no different.  We’re either committed to walking out obedience as best we know how, day-in and dwarning_sign2ay-out, or we’re not.  And there comes a point when the Lord has enough of letting us live our own way.  And so he gives a strong warning, an opportunity to change course.  That’s what I sensed he gave me Sunday morning.  It’s a type of warning he’s given me before when I was walking defiant of his truth and his way.  They are not warnings you forget, nor do you want to.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.   In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.  Yes, says the Lord, I will be found by you, and I will end your slavery and restore your fortunes …”.  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

 

What about you?  Is your body lording over your mind?  Or is your body living in subjection to the truth?  Do you vacillate on any given day, between whether or not you’ll choose to walk in obedience or disobedience?  Do you believe God has a good plan for you?  Choose Jesus today and embrace denying your “hunger within” as you submit yourself to the One who loves you and wants the very best for you.  And trust that he will satisfy you.

Under Construction

Under Construction

 

As my new Thin Within class rapidly approaches I find myself struggling once again with the progress, or lack thereof, I’ve made thus far on my journey. I’m referring to my physical progress. I truly wanted the ladies to see the tremendousUnder Construction signus loss of weight that has occurred before they joined me on this Thin Within journey. Unfortunately, they won’t. And that is something I have to accept. The enemy would love nothing more than to use this to discourage me and launch mental assaults that tell me I’m not qualified to lead others.

Isn’t it funny the expectations we set for ourselves when God calls us to do something for his Kingdom. We assume we will have “arrived” by the time he has us stand before others and introduce them to the journey toward freedom we’ve been walking, for example. What’s even more uncanny is the fact that people want to know they are accepted right where they are. For that matter, we want to know we’re accepted right where we are. In fact, some, those who may need this teaching most, might even feel intimated if they were to see that I was skinny. My point is not that God doesn’t want me at my God-given size. My point is that he can use me every step of the way, before, during and/or after. It’s up to him. However, we each have a “before place” in the testimony of our lives that God is writing. And we need others who are at different points on the path to help encourage us to stay the course.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (The Advantages of Companionship) says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. “ The bottom line is we need each other regardless of where we are currently standing on the path to freedom. And people need to know it’s okay. As long as we are moving in a forward direction, listening to the Lord, and obeying his commands, we cannot help but serve as an encouragement to others and them to us.

Recently, I reconnected with a childhood friend I’ve searched for over the past several years. As I was documenting some of the major things that have happened in my life since we last spoke, I simply had to marvel at all I’ve come through. Compared to many they wouldn’t be considered eventful or even painful necessarily, but for me they tenderized my heart and certainly could have been much worse Two Girls Walkinghad the Lord not stepped in and redirected my path. The reason I’ve searched for her so fervently these past several years is because I owed her an apology. An apology for blowing off her friendship so many times when she reached out to me. Unfortunately, it was in a season when I was a workaholic and paid little attention to relationships.

It’s funny the multitude of emotions that come at us each day and tempt us to eat outside the boundaries God’s set for us. And I’m no exception. As I’ve begun to reconnect with my friend I’ve begun to revisit that season in my life when I was terribly productive but lacked in deep friendships. It’s just this kind of mental and emotional process that can take us one direction or another … into the arms of Jesus … or into the kitchen. I have to recognize that each moment during this process that I’ve turned to Jesus and not to food I’ve made the kind of progress that matters. And it’s this kind of process that these women who are signed up for my class need to know about.

Once again as I sit to write this blog I’m overwhelmed at the kindness of the Lord. Not a day passes that I don’t rejoice at all he’s done to hold me steady and draw my heart toward his. I shudder to think what battle I might be fighting if it weren’t my weight.
What about you? What are you walking through right now? Is it drawing you to Jesus or the refrigerator? Do you realize the kindness of the Lord in the testimony he’s writing with your life? Be encouraged at where you stand in the journey today. As Joyce Meyer says, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I use to be.”

Mealtime Nibbles

image“Oh I wish I hadn’t nibbled while cooking dinner!  Now I’m no longer truly hungry enough to eat!  Why didn’t I wait?  Why didn’t I plan better?  It won’t really matter.  I’ll just eat a few bites with my family.  No harm done.”

Too often those are the thoughts spinning through my head after a long day at work and I begin the meal preparations.  It’s especially bad if making a family dessert where I’ve been known to lick the spoon a time or two, always resulting in a curbed appetite.

One of the “Essential Reminders” of Thin Within is to realize that beverages (including coffee, tea, soda, milk, sports drinks, and juices), mints and hard candy, and chewing gum all change your hunger number.  So how much more nibbling while I’m preparing a meal!  For heaven’s sake, to live responsibly I need to remember the importance of my choices to our Lord Jesus.  Mealtime nibbles affect my hunger number, which in turn affect the choice I’ve now confronted myself with.

Thankfully, these times are few and far between.  However, the fact that they are still occurring at all makes me aware there’s still work to be done.  Not a day passes, that I don’t need the Lord’s help and today’s no different.  What a blessing that He’s faithful to remind me of this.

When these times do occur what’s surprising to me is how spiritually determined I feel starting my day but depending on my focus and the choices I make it can feel tanked before close of business.  The cold hard truth is that the spiritual component I sense I’ve lost is still there.  However, somewhere I chose to focus on myself, my wants, my will, my desires, my, my, my.  Instead, had I collaborated with God throughout the day, working hand-in-hand with Him particularly before preparing my meals He would have remained center in my heart and mind where he was at the start of my day.

And so this is a good reminder to me and to others hopefully, that the spiritual determination we start with at the onset of the day is designed to fix our eyes and our hearts on the onlyimage One who can help us through the dailiness of this journey.  We’ve got to keep Him in the loop moment by moment, especially when we are monitoring our hunger numbers in an effort to honor Him in our eating.  I know when dinner is coming.  I know what I’ll be fixing.  And I know if I’ll be hungry or not.  The choice is mine, as are the consequences of those choices.

“Lord, help me choose You, over and over and over again today!  Thank you for food to prepare.  May it be a blessing to those who partake of it.  And may I enjoy it with them with all the integrity and authenticity of knowing my body is ready to receive from Your kind hand of provision.  Amen.”

imageSome tips I use for managing the mealtime preparations, especially if approaching zero:  Pray!  Pray!  Pray!  Before you enter your kitchen.  Eat a small snack prior to the cooking.  Sometimes this might mean eating a banana or a handful of almonds on my way home from work.  Do a heart-check beforehand and submit myself and my appetite to the Lord.  Pour myself a glass of iced tea or juice to sip on during mealtime preparation.  Pray for those I’ll be serving and eating with.  Give some special attention to their place setting.  Remind myself that if I choose to nibble while I cook I need to commit to bypassing dinner. In fact, don’t even set a place for myself.  It doesn’t mean I’m being deprived of anything.  It just means I chose to eat my meal earlier than originally planned.  The choice is mine to make.  And the consequences are mine as well.  Perhaps tell myself how delicious this meal will taste when I can sit down to relax and enjoy it, instead of tasting a little here and there while standing over the stove.

What about you?  Are mealtime preparations a struggle for you?  What can you do to plan better so that you don’t waste your hunger level standing over a stove and nibbling?   Let’s remember to keep God in the loop throughout our day.  He loves be invited into our private world where we can collaborate together.

Stand Firm

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14)

Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with a dear friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in several months.  We have done a couple weight loss programs together in years past and hold fond memories of times spent encouraging each other in the faith.  She continues to be one of those godly women I’m honored to call my friend.  When we met I wasn’t surprised to see she looked like her beautiful self.  Only now she’s skinny!   She’s arrived at that physical destination I’ve longed to return to!

As we caught up on life over the past several months and she told me all she’s done, and continues to do, with regard to losing weight I realized that while one of the programs we’d done together was Thin Within, she had only chosen a couple of the “Keys to Conscious Eating” to abide by.  Other than that it is a very restrictive set of rules to adhere to all day every day.  Rules like, drinking 32 ounces of water before you have your first cup of coffee, then drink again throughout the afternoon, drinking lots of green tea, eat no carbs or sweets, and nothing in the evenings (perhaps a cup of tea), no red meat, and exercise as often as you can, nibble on almonds and apple slices throughout the day, etc.  Granted she’s learned to enjoy living that way, and obviously it’s paid off physically.  Heck, I even enjoy some of these things and found myself encouraged to drink more water.  However, because I am still further back in my journey toward freedom in this area I found myself teetering off the solid ground on which I’ve been trying to stand on since returning to Thin Within.  To be honest, on my way home I stopped at the store and bought almonds, apple slices, and a 32-ounce water bottle!  After all, so many of the things she’s doing are good for our physical body, and are “whole body pleasers” for many of us.

The scripture referenced above is written in the context of spiritual warfare.  There is a whole section of Ephesians 6 (verses 10-20) that talks about the need to put on the whole armor of God so that we can be strong in his might, standing against the schemes of the devil.  Paul reminds us that our wrestle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, this present darkness, and spiritual forces.  Therefore, we are exhorted to take up the armor of God and stand firm.

My girlfriend is doing what works best for her.  And I’m so happy she’s happy and looks great.  But for me, I can easily be swayed between various programs if I’m not careful.  The reason I can be easily swayed is because many times I want quicker physical results and don’t like having to let God deal with my heart, which inevitably takes longer.  Frankly, over the past 15 years I’ve done countless programs and on a bad day I might be drawn back toward any one of those programs and even aspects of two or three at the same time.  That’s just how unstable a man’s ways can be when not fixed on Jesus!  This is exactly why it is imperative for me to stand firm on what I believe to be God’s truth.  And for me that truth is Thin Within and the principles of 0 to 5 eating.  I know that I will drive myself nuts going back and forth between this program and that program if I get lazy and unfocused.  I have to remind myself that the truth I have chosen to stand on and where I’ve chosen to place my focus daily is “Obedience to Glory”, “Living Responsibly” and “Godly and SMART Goals” as stated in Workbook #3 “Building on God’s Truth”.

 

What about you?  Are you vacillating between weight loss programs, even if only mentally?  Or are your eyes fixed on Jesus and the truths of Thin Within?  Are you easily swayed when you see the physical results of others further along in their pursuit of freedom?  Let me encourage you as I encourage myself to stand firm right where God has planted you.  Believe with me that we serve a God who knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139) and has the results we’re looking for as we stay committed to the process we’ve embarked on.