Penny is working her way through the Thin Within book. She shares with us here about coming to “Day 5” where the reader is called to do an exercise to be reconciled with her physical body. The exercise is not for the faint of heart! I am so proud of Penny for making it through. When she told me about her experience, I knew I had to encourage her to share it with all of you—the faithful readers of the Thin Within Blog. Enjoy! ~ Heidi Bylsma
Written By Guest Blogger, Penny Davis
As I came to day five’s reading, I was very much crunched for time! I had committed to my reading daily and wanted to make sure that I followed through. However, I just really had no time to go thru the Mirror, Mirror exercise. So I gave myself permission to ” do it tomorrow!”
Three days later…
I am standing and looking at myself in the mirror , knowing this is not going to be an easy task for me! I am the type of person who makes it one of her life’s goals not to look in the mirror at herself. So here I stand in obedience to God having no idea what changes are about to happen in my heart.
I start the exercise off in prayer, asking God to help me to see myself as He sees me, not as I see myself. I had just added to my truth cards earlier in the week that He is enthralled with my beauty (Psalm 45:11). I know that has a spiritual meaning but I would like to think that He likes what he sees when He sees the outside of me as well, no matter what size I am! He loves me!
After my prayer, I start with my feet and I begin to thank Him for all the places my feet have carried me. How they have walked along beautiful seashores while worshipping Him for his majestic beauty. How they have walked me into the slums of the mission field in Honduras while I spread the good news of Christ and His love. I continue to worship him for my feet and all the many places they have taken me. By this time I am so moved by the Spirit I can hardly see myself for the tears!
I fall to my knees and my heart begins to break. You see, my husband has bad knees and they don’t give him the strong support as they used to. I have seen the toll it has taken on him and how it has changed his lifestyle. All I can do is stand here humbled and thank God for the health of my knees. I begin to pray for my husband. It is a beautiful moment.
I do the same thing when I come to my stomach ( which is the place I like to look least). I begin to thank Him for allowing me to carry three of my greatest blessings. God has given me three miracles! The doctor said that I would never have children. But here I stand looking at the stretch marks that prove my God is a God who heals. I also begin to pray for my Sister and Best Friend who suffer from Crohns and my niece who suffers from Ulcerative Colitis. I begin to pray for people who are fighting breast cancer. I go on like this until I reach the top of my head and I become even more humbled at my health and body.
By the end of the exercise I realize that God has in fact answered my prayer. He did allow me to see myself as He sees me. He gave me spiritual eyes so that I could not only see myself, but that I would see others in their pain.
After I had completed the exercise I read day eight’s lesson and it was on rebuilding the ruins (Isaiah 61:4). I had just stood there in front of the mirror looking at the ruins of my temple due to the misuse of my body and eating. God showed me, that I was not beyond repair! That by His grace, I had not gone so far that He couldn’t restore me!
I am still in the process of the rebuilding and there are days that are harder than others. There is one thing I do know: God is a God of many chances. He hasn’t given up on me and never will! He desires for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say ” I am the temple of The Most High God!”
~ Penny Davis
How About You? Have you been reconciled with your body? Are you able to praise your Lord for each part of your body and the many ways he has used each to minister to and through you? You might want to do what Penny did…set aside some time and prayerfully invite God to give you His eyes!
Penny lives in Tennessee with her husband of almost 29 years! They have three married daughters and four beautiful Grands that she is hopelessly in love with. She enjoys riding her bike with her husband and although she is not an avid runner, she loves to run. She also sings on the Praise Team at her church.
This past weekend was intended to be a great getaway with a dear girlfriend shopping at an area Trade Days, relaxing at a recommended B&B, eating food we don’t normally enjoy, and just catching up. This is an annual event to celebrate our birthdays. However, this year would be different with regard to my eating. So, I strategized with Heidi as to my battle plan for the weekend, and sought to prepare my heart before we took off on Saturday morning.
The morning drive went well and when I was offered warm, yummy-smelling muffins I enjoyed a couple as I was just approaching a 0 and knew we wouldn’t eat again until lunchtime. However, upon entry into the Trade Days we passed a vendor who was making corn dogs and funnel cakes and my friend said we had to get some. I half mindlessly agreed, justifying to myself that we would walk off the calories (old mindset) and likely wouldn’t eat again until late in the day. Nope. A few hours later and still not hungry we passed a vendor making homemade fried green tomatoes and ranch dressing and we agreed to try them out. They were delicious, and while I didn’t eat to a 5 I didn’t start at a 0 either. The next day wasn’t much better because we still had the delicious breakfast to enjoy before checking out of the B&B … yet I still wasn’t at a 0. Did that stop me? No it didn’t. Again, I never did eat past 4-5, but I didn’t start from a place of 0 either. In other words, I was in full violation of the God-given boundaries that I’d armed myself with. Even sadder is the fact that I rose early, before the other B&B guests on Sunday morning and repented before the Lord rearming myself with truth for the coming day. He of course, was faithfully waiting for me when I arrived in my bath rope and slippers. He gently reminded me of something I’d read in the “Hunger Within” book (pg. 47), “God gives us the freedom to observe and correct, to fail and succeed … And when we fail, God is always there to pick us up. He will continue walking with us until we have our ultimate freedom …” How sweet is that!
So what happened? How could I be so confident and prepared going into the weekend, and yet so quickly violate my boundaries? I was determined to find out (observe & correct). And so bright and early Monday morning the Lord again was waiting to visit with me over my morning coffee before the hustle and bustle of another day would hit. And he showed me two primary reasons for my failure. The first was that I stopped paying attention. I got so excited about the glorious weather, all the fun stuff for sale, and the yummy food I was “permitted” to eat that I neglected to pay attention to the faithful promptings of the Holy Spirit. Bottom line, the weekend became “all about me” and little about Him. My focus turned inward. Second, I was more interested in people-pleasing my girlfriend than I was pleasing the Lord. In fact, when I apologized to my friend for being such a poor influence on our eating she responded by telling me that she would have eaten what she wanted regardless of what I did. So my people-pleasing backfired on me all the way around! Oh my, that was a tough one to swallow when the Lord brought that to my attention. I was reminded of Genesis 39:9 where Joseph is confronted with pleasing himself and Potiphar’s wife or pleasing the Lord by honoring Potiphar’s (Joseph’s master) authority. He chose pleasing the Lord.
What about you? Have you ever started out full of momentum to succeed using the Thin Within tools in a potentially challenging situation but ended up failing at the outset? Did you take the time to meet with the Lord and ask Him why this was/is? If not, learn from me. He is waiting for that one-on-one time together so He can share the truth with you. And it’s never too late to spend that time with Him, especially if it means learning something about ourselves.
This morning as I jumped in the shower to get ready for my workday I was overwhelmed once again with the faithfulness of the Lord to meet us each and every time we show up ready to hear His voice. Why I’m surprised I’m not sure. After all, He tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And so today when I stood present to hear His voice (amidst shampoo and soap lather) He reminded me of Key #4 – “Eat when my body and mind are relaxed.” I admit I do struggle with this one. I struggle primarily because more often than not it’s hard for me to relax. If my body’s not moving my mind certainly is.
The older I get the more I realize that God is never hurried nor unrelaxed. And if I want to be conformed more into His likeness I need not be either. However, that’s easier said than done.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word relax as follows, “reduce or abate (one’s attention or efforts, etc.); cease work or effort. It dawned on me that so many times when I sit down to eat it is for everything but enjoying God’s faithful provision. I’m either squeezing the meal in between the endless demands on my day; I’m preparing food for others; grabbing a snack on the go; and/or, mindlessly pulling something together when I get home from work, snacking as I go (because I didn’t planned better). The bottom line is, I am always going if not physically, then mentally for sure. Making time to “eat when my body and mind are relaxed” is a constant challenge, especially when you have family and work full-time. Nevertheless, it’s a tool we’ve been offered here at Thin Within and there are countless testimonies to those finding success. So we know it can be done.
I recently read the following quote, “Margin gives time for us to breathe in and out – stilling ourselves in the presence of God and allowing all the things which have hustled our attention be cast aside in favor of a purposeful look at our God. Sabbath dulls down the noisiness of our ever-pulsating activities, invites us to refocus our attention on His character, and all He has done for us. It helps us be thankful. It gives us space … to worship. It keeps us from squeezing the Giver out of the gift.” (Priscilla Shirer) Wow! What if we could make our eating times as sweet as this … even if for only 15 minutes.
Last night was the first time in a long time that I experienced this for myself with regard to my eating. I attended our monthly women’s meeting at church where a lavish pot-luck dinner was ours to enjoy. My only problem was of course, I wasn’t hungry or even close. For some reason my 6” Subway tuna fish sandwich eaten at noon had kept me satisfied until long after our 6:00 p.m. gathering. I briefly scanned the table casting my eyes only on a decadent looking chocolate dessert that appeared to have my name written on it. Thinking to myself, “I’ll just take a bite to see if it’s as good as it looks”, I quickly stepped out of the room and said, “Lord, you and I both know I won’t stop with one bite. Please help me to relax and enjoy the fellowship of the other ladies.” And that’s just what we (the Lord and I did). I grabbed a delicious peach flavored iced tea, placed my sweet little self at the opposite end of the food area and got to know some ladies a little better. Hallelujah! A sweet moment of victory!
What about you? Is it hard for you to eat when your mind and body are relaxed? Can you picture giving God honor by eating within these margins? Look for 15 minutes to sit and enjoy God’s gift of food today. I’ll bet you’re rewarded with more than just the experience. I’ll bet you find Him waiting for you when you arrive.
You are going along happily in your Thin Within journey and you are finding freedom from diets, when BAM, you are tempted to look back at those diets. There are situations that can tempt us to look back (not being happy with the number on the scale, breaking your boundaries too often, feeling like you will never overcome, and so on). We think, “Oh, maybe my set of boundaries (0-5) don’t work, so maybe I should go back to _______, or maybe I should try ______.” Sound familiar? I know it’s very familiar to me since I have essentially looked back SO many times. In April of this year (2014), I was sharing with my husband about how I was thinking and felt tempted about going back to Weight Watchers because I knew it worked (even though I had sought freedom from tracking points). He said, “Going back to Weight Watchers would be like Lot’s wife looking back.” Ouch! It was something I needed to hear though. And then he said, “Weight Watchers is like a Band-Aid.” He has seen me walk my Thin Within journey, overcoming obstacles, gaining a healthy pregnancy weight, releasing inches and weight after baby was born, being free from obsessing, etc. He KNOWS this works! He has seen the transformation work God has done resulting from me choosing to renew my mind and letting myself to be free from the chains of captivity. And I needed to see through my husband’s eyes as he shared this wisdom with me: don’t look back.
Luke 17:32 says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” That’s seriously all it says. This was a scripture the Lord led me to after my husband shared that truth with me. I felt like it was a warning, a word of caution from the Lord about how very serious He is that I don’t look back, but to press on, to persevere. (The Lord gave me a word for 2014: persevere. And He has shown me He wants me to continue on this year with what He showed me last year, that He has brought CHANGE to my eating and is helping me overcome. God’s reminder to me to persevere has helped me climb out of some ruts).
So why should we remember Lot’s wife? What happened to her?
In Genesis 19:12-29, the story about this account is found. The summary of what happened was that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin. Angels told Lot and his family to flee the city:
When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed (verses 15-17).
And then the Lord did exactly what He said he would, “Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” (verses 24-25).
But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt (verse 26).
That’s some pretty serious stuff! She looked back, after God had told them, “Do not look behind you!” And then she turned into a pillar of salt. Yikes!
I wonder why she looked back? Maybe she had fond memories of the place? But you know what, it doesn’t matter why she looked back, but that by looking back she was disobeying God.
So when God tells me, through my husband, to not look back like Lot’s wife did, I would have to say He’s pretty serious. I don’t believe God is going to turn me into a pillar of salt, but He is showing me how detrimental it is that I obey Him and submit to Him. Did you notice that Lot’s wife “looked back behind him?” Who was this ‘him’? It was her husband. And I’m guessing she was not only disobeying God, but she was not submitting to Lot. God instructed Lot and Lot led his family out of the city that was going to be destroyed. Lot’s wife looked past her husband and God and looked back. And POOF, she was a pillar of salt.
So why would Jesus say, “Remember Lot’s wife”? Because He doesn’t want us looking back. He doesn’t want us going back to those things that He has called us away from. For me, He’s asking me to persevere and continue on in what He’s shown me to do, to not look back. Christ came to save us from our sin and set us free from those things that held us captive. God was saving Lot and his family from the destruction of the city. He told them to “escape for your life!” It was for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1). Don’t look back. Why would we want to look back? But we are tempted to look back and sometimes we do look back.
I’m not sure where you are in your Thin Within journey, but I do know this, God doesn’t want us held down, ensnared, or under any kind of captivity. There are plenty of areas in our life that this can touch on, but what I want to deal with is the area of looking back at the diets and the food restrictions that have held us captive for so long. I’m not saying “looking back” for you is disobeying God, but I am saying for myself that looking back for me has meant that I have not submitted to God. It’s like saying, “God, I know you don’t want me looking back, but that life worked for me. That diet worked for me (and failed me). Just let me go back. I can’t believe you are taking this away from me.” It’s pride. It’s basically saying, “God, my way is better than your way.” Ouch. It’s saying, “Lord, I don’t trust that Your way will get me what I want, so I’m going to make sure that I am happy, so I will do it my way.”. Has God given you a clear direction of not going back to diets? Is He asking you to submit to Him about this area of your life, or even other areas?
Unknown source and author
I saw that cartoon (above) recently on Facebook and it brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful illustration of what God wants to do in our lives. We think when He asks us to give up something that it’s doing us a disservice, but really, He has something so much greater that He wants to give us in place of our sacrifice. He says to die to ourselves so we can gain Christ (Galatians 2:20).
Through what the Lord spoke through my husband to me, it’s very clear to me that I am not to go back to a diet…unless I want to be like Lot’s wife. And, um, looking back didn’t really work out for her. So why would I want to go against what God has said?
Another scripture God has encouraged me with is James 4:7, which says, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he must flee.” So when the enemy tempts me with looking back, the Holy Spirit brings this scripture to my remembrance. It reminds me that I am to submit to God, to follow His lead (away from diets) and to not look back. God is looking out for me. He has a big ole teddy bear hiding behind His back that He wants to give me. *smile*
The enemy’s temptations to look back are becoming more and more quiet as I continue to submit to God. I have a lot more to say about the topic of submission, but I will save that for a future post. I am tasting more and more freedom as I continue to renew my mind and put my thoughts under the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
As far as the lie about thinking my Thin Within boundaries weren’t working: of course they work (I see the physical evidence as well). I like the way Barb Raveling puts it in her book Taste for Truth (Day 15), “When we find ourselves breaking our boundaries right and left, we don’t think, I need to renew my mind so I have the strength to follow my boundaries. Instead we think, I need to find a new set of boundaries because these boundaries obviously don’t work. Here’s what we are doing: we’re trusting the boundaries [we are looking back]. We’re believing the lie that somewhere out there is the perfect set of boundaries. And when we find them, they’ll be easy to follow. The sooner we get that lie out of our system, the better. We’re transformed by the renewing of the mind. Not by the boundaries.” This is exactly what would happen to me when I was breaking boundaries right and left. Instead of renewing my mind, I would think my boundaries must be broken, so I better go back to Weight Watchers, or not eating carbs or sugar. Lies! We think our boundaries will save us, but only God can save us. Only God can transform us. So the more we renew our mind and put on God’s truth, the more we actually do follow our boundaries. It works together, hand-in-hand. We follow our boundaries because God transforms us. We are transformed because of renewing our mind.
Renewing mind —-> Transformation —-> Following Boundaries
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
My boundaries do work. I will submit to God. The devil will flee. I will follow the boundaries God has given me (0-5). I will walk in freedom!
How about you? Have you tasted freedom from dieting, but you are tempted to go back into dieting because you keep breaking your boundaries? Breaking your boundaries is an opportunity to draw closer to God. Go to Him. Pray. Praise Him. Renew your mind. Submit to Him. Walk in freedom! Don’t look back! God is doing a NEW thing!
CHIRP! The purpose of smoke alarms in our home is to let us know there is smoke hot enough, born from a fire, and that we need to get out! The alarms tell us to find safety, and that our lives are endangered. Their purpose is to save lives. So when a smoke alarm’s battery runs low, it lets us know that we need to change the battery with an annoying, inconsistent, “chirp!” That little chirp means, “If you don’t take care of this now, I’m just going to get more and more obnoxious. And if you fail to change my battery, I won’t be able to help you in case of an emergency.” In reference to our Thin Within journey of finding freedom from the control of food, there are situations (“fire”) that arise (like smoke rising), that sets off the “renewing-of-the-mind” alarm saying CHIRP!–YOU NEED TO RENEW YOUR MIND!
Last week, a smoke alarm in our house was chirping at me and letting me know its battery needed to be changed. The chirping sound is not something one can easily ignore. And the longer I put off changing the battery, the more often it chirped. I believe life has these same “chirps”, letting us know something needs to change or be recharged. From this chirping episode, the Lord showed me that there are “chirps” and alarms that go off in our life telling us that we need to change something. He showed me that there are things that tell me I need to stop and renew my mind.
Some of the “alarms” could be anything that trigger overeating or disorder in our eating. Maybe it’s after a stressful day and you just want to come home, grab the cookie jar, plop your feet up on your recliner, and shovel in the cookies. Maybe it’s finding out some upsetting news and you drive to the nearest fast-food drive-thru, knowing full-well that you are going to “super-size” and try to numb yourself with food. Maybe you put your jeans on and they are a little tighter than you remember and you feel tempted to try that new diet your friends were talking about. There are hundreds of things that can trigger our own personal out-of-order eating experience.
What kind of “smoke” sets off your alarm for needing to “recharge” or to renew your mind?
You aren’t hungry, but those brownies are screaming your name!! CHIRP!
You are at a “5”, but you really want another serving of salad from the buffet. CHIRP!
You ate an entire package of Oreos. CHIRP!
You want to eat your way through your emotions. CHIRP!
You weighed yourself and you gained. CHIRP!
You know what’s so cool about renewing our mind? Because, ultimately, it’s the LORD who does the work! Even recently, the Lord has been reminding me that I am transformed through HIS work, not me behaving better or making all of the perfect choices. It’s GOD! That revelation is oh so freeing!
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
When you hear a CHIRP!, renew your mind! Grab your Bible, your truth cards, your journal, or get up and have a dance praise fest! Or use whatever tools or ways that work for you to put on God’s truth!
How about you? What’s setting off your “renewing-of-the-mind” alarm? Are you trying to overcome by your own strength and will-power? Christ said that we can do all things through His strength! Let’s strengthen our spiritual muscles by getting into His Word! Do you need to change your “battery” by renewing your mind?
Image courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We get so discouraged when we break a boundary. We eat when we aren’t hungry (zero). We blow past satisfaction (5). We bring out that “club of condemnation” one more time (sigh). But wait! STOP! Pause. Freeze it right there! Come a little closer to the screen. Yes, there. Now let me tell you a little secret (hands cupped over your ear): Failure leads to victory! Sorry, did I shout that into your ear instead of whispering. Sorry! I just get a little excited!
It’s true! It’s not about following your boundaries 100% all.of.the.time. It’s about going to God if you break your boundaries. We get so upset when we break our boundaries. We feel bad about ourselves. We think we will never be able to follow our boundaries. So then we overeat because we feel bad about ourselves. It’s like this vicious cycle that is perpetuated by our thoughts, beliefs, despair, thinking we will never be skinny anyway, so we might as well eat. Sound familiar?
But what would happen if we looked at every boundary breakage (aka failure) and renewed our mind instead? What if instead of feeling bad about ourselves and discouraged, we got really excited because we get to get closer to the Lord because of our failure?
I tell you what would happen: we would have victory!
I’ve seen it! I’ve experienced this! I’ve tasted it! When I break a boundary, I get so excited that I get to sit with Jesus and talk things over. Maybe I’m just an odd one…wait…I KNOW I’m an odd one! But really, I do get excited to renew my mind and bring all of my thoughts and feelings before the Lord. I love that as I am real with Him, He shows me His truth.
So how does this work? How does failure turn into victory?
Here’s an example: Evening was the most tempting time for me to want to overeat. I had a really hard time breaking the habit of eating outside of my boundaries in the evening. I would put my daughter to bed and then immediately I would make some popcorn or grab some sort of snack, and then eat it in front of the TV (distraction, mindless eating). It wouldn’t matter if I was hungry or not, that’s the habit I had developed over the years (and well before my daughter). I knew I wanted to change it, but I kept on doing it. I would feel so bad and would feel like I failed yet again. My solution (well, God’s solution) was that after I put my daughter to bed, I would sit and read through my truth cards, or I would answer a set of questions from I Deserve a Donut in my journal, and reading scriptures. I took that time to renew my mind. Change didn’t happen right away, but as I took the time each night to renew my mind, little by little, day by day, the Lord was transforming me, until one day I no longer had the urge to grab something to eat after putting my daughter to bed. And since then, I just wait until I’m hungry to have an evening snack. And sometimes I am not hungry for a snack, and I’m totally ok with that. That’s a huge change! Victory!
It wasn’t self-control. It wasn’t will-power. It was GOD who changed me! My part was being self-disciplined in taking the time to sit with Him and renew my mind.
Failure led to victory!
We try to change our outcome through our own strength. We think if we change our habit or behavior first, then our thoughts and beliefs will line up. But it’s actually the other way around. First, we have to change our thoughts and beliefs, and THEN we will change our habits and behavior. We tell ourselves that we will “do better next time.” We strive and put forth all of our own human effort to see change in our eating habits, but when we lean upon ourselves to make it happen, we will only become weak and tired. It’s God who helps us overcome. It’s not in our own strength. So each time we go to Him and repent after we’ve sinned, we are transformed more and more to His likeness. When we renew our mind after overeating, we are transformed.
I look at failure as opportunity to grow. I look at failure as practice.
It took Thomas Edison 1,000+ times before he had the invention of the light bulb “perfected”. Every failure led to victory. He didn’t give up. And just because we overate just now or last night, it doesn’t mean we smash all of the light bulbs and give up. It means we keep going forward. We renew our mind. We go to God. We think that because of failing to follow our boundaries, that we need new boundaries. Maybe you’ve been really trying your best to follow your boundaries of eating between hunger and satisfaction, but you keep overeating. Does that mean your boundaries don’t work? No way! It means it’s time to renew your mind. It’s time to go sit at the feet of Jesus and drink in His truth.
So the next time you are tempted to fail: go to Jesus. Renew your mind. The next time you break a boundary: seek His truth. And know that each time you do, you are one step closer to victory! Sweet, sweet victory!!
Would you like to know more about renewing your mind? There are so many great resources on this website and blog about doing just that. Do you have a set of truth cards? If not, you can learn more about it here. I also have recorded a set of my truth cards on a Sound Cloud file that you can find here. Do you have a set of questions to help aid you in renewing your mind such as Barb Raveling’s I Deserve a Donut? How else can we, at Thin Within, help to encourage you to renew your mind and see failure as victory?