Where Do You Find Joy?

Where Do You Find Joy?

Where Do You Find Joy?

Where a person finds joy can encompass a great deal of areas. We all have activities we enjoy, people we love to have fellowship joy 4with, children we adore, spouses we love, ministries we want to flourish, and dare I say: foods we love to eat. All of these activities and objects are wonderful in and of themselves, but when taken out of perspective, we will find they often rob us of our joy rather than bring us joy.

What is joy? Among all the bible dictionaries and collegiate dictionaries, joy is defined in many ways, but the most common definition I found is this: a feeling of pleasure or happiness; a calm delight. Biblical joy is the result of a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The joy of the Lord is evident in our lives even when we are facing trials. How can this be? How can we have joy in the midst of trials? The answer is simple. The Holy Spirit is living inside every believer, and according to Galatians 5:22-23, joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in an individual. Of course, we have periods of sadness and mourning and no one finds joy in these periods to begin with; however, when the Lord begins the healing process, after brokenness, joy cannot help but spring forth.

Far too often, we try to find our joy from sources other than the Lord. I know I have! Looking for joy in eating what I want when I want it is what brought me to Thin Within so I could get the help I needed. The leaders of Thin Within then pointed me to Jesus, the source of all joy. When I find my joy in Him, life’s hardships and challenges come into proper perspective, and I no longer look to any other thing to bring joy.
joy 3Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Wow! There is no other place to find true and lasting joy than in the presence of the Lord, and this joy is full and complete. Knowing that joy comes from His presence and not food or any other idol, I need to spend time in His presence, sitting at His feet, or better still, getting in His face so I can know His heart.

Take notice of  the last portion of Psalm 16:11 which says, “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” When I am spending time in His presence to find fullness of joy, I will experience pleasure. God never meant for us to avoid the enjoyment of this life He gave us. He meant for us to enjoy the food we have to eat. He meant for us to enjoy our ministries, friends, church family, and many others placed in our lives. He gave us all these people and things for enjoyment. Our joy disappears when any of these things or people become a god to us because we are no longer going to His presence for the fullness of joy only our Lord can bring. Instead, we expect people to fulfill us. We expect food to bring us fullness of joy. We tend to think that if we just had a little more food, a little more money, a little more of this or that, we would have joy and happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth! Fullness of joy comes when we are tapped into the source of joy—the presence of the Lord!

Nehemiah 8:10 says the following: “Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. Joy 2This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” We love to quote that last part which tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is true! Without the fullness of joy that comes from the Lord’s presence, we will be weak and powerless to fight our battles. However, notice the first part of that verse which says to go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks. God gave us pleasure including food. We are told to enjoy what God has given and be thankful for it. What happens is like I said before, we look to the food and drink for joy rather than getting in the presence of the Lord for fullness of joy.

It is no wonder that Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 to seek the Lord first then everything else would be added to us. He knew that if we didn’t know the source of joy, nothing or no one else could bring us that joy. Isn’t our Jesus just awesome? Isn’t His joy like no other?

joyWhat about you? Where do you find your joy? Do you attempt to find joy in any other avenue but the Lord? Do you need to tap into the right source for joy today?

It’s Not About the Food

It’s Not About the Food

Image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It may be controversial, but I think we blame the food too much when it comes to our weight.  When it comes to releasing weight and getting thin within, I personally believe it’s not about the food.  In the past, when we want to shed the pounds, we change the way we eat.  We count.  We measure.  We weigh.  We change what we eat.  Essentially, we blame the food and start to label food as “good” or “bad”.  There’s way too much emphasis put on the food, but not about the emotions or the habits…or the heart and mind.  Our physical weight and even the mental “weight” is just a symptom of what’s going on deep inside of us.  It’s not about the food itself.

People can get really defensive about food.  It has become a really personal and passionate topic.  The opinions on food changes day to day from person to person.

We can have all sorts rules when it comes to food.  We can limit our food intake.  We can count and track, but ultimately, that’s just an external change.  The thing that sticks is the internal change, in our heart, mind, and soul.  Because really, how many diets exist in this world?  Hundreds upon hundreds!  And some of us have gone from one diet to the next, from one eating style to the next, from one restrictive plan to the next, and we lose weight, we gain it back, and then we lose, and then we gain MORE back.  Why is that?  I personally believe it’s because it’s not about the food; it’s about our heart.  When we don’t get to the core issue of our eating habits, we lose sight of what’s truly important.  Our eyes are on the types of food we eat and the quantity of food we eat, and we never glance at the condition of our heart and the patterns of our thinking.  So if food isn’t the issue, why do we keep blaming the food?

When I first started this journey, I had a lot of fear about food.  I thought that if I ate sugar, that I was tempting God and that it would kill my body.  I had an extremely hard time pushing past the fears and the thoughts that plagued my mind.  I cried out to the Lord for help and He answered my prayer.  He showed me His truth.  Even before this part of the journey started, I tried all sorts of ways of eating: food combining, eating right for my blood type, eating only raw foods, juicing, counting, weighing, measuring, etc.

We know what the always-and-forever-changing opinions of this world say about food, but what does God say about food in His Word?

  • He has given us every herb and tree to eat of. (Genesis 1:29)
  • Every animal is food along with herbs. (Genesis 9:3)
  • Food has taste. (Job 6:6)
  • He causes it to grow for the service of man. (Psalm 104:14)
  • He gives all animals as food. (Psalm 136:25, Psalm 147:9)
  • He gives food to the hungry. (Psalm 146:7)
  • Eat only as much food as you need. (Proverbs 25:16)
  • Food is for nourishment. (Proverbs 27:27)
  • He gives us food. (Ezekiel 16:19)
  • We aren’t to worry about what we eat. (Matthew 6:25)
  • Food doesn’t defile a man. (Mark 7:19)
  • Life is more than food. (Luke 12:23)
  • Food strengthens. (Acts 9:19)
  • All food is pure.  Don’t eat with offense. (Romans 14:20)
  • Food is for the stomach and vice versa. (1 Cor. 6:13)
  • Food doesn’t make a difference in our relationship with God. (1 Cor. 8:13)
  • No one is to judge us in food and drink. (Colossians 2:16)
  • God created food to be received with thanksgiving. (1 Timothy 4:3)

I wrote down scriptures on notecards and read them each day until those fears dissipated.  I knew from His Word that I can eat and enjoy all foods, but I needed more of an understanding of what God meant.

I looked up Galatians 5:1, which says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

And 1 Timothy 4:1-5, which says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,  speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,  forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;  for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

And then I looked up both sets of scriptures in the Matthew Henry’s commentaries.  These are the notes I wrote down in my journal:

  • We are to look upon food as that which God has created; we have it from Him, and therefore must use it for Him.
  • What God has created is to be received with thanksgiving.  We must not refuse the gifts of God’s bounty, nor be scrupulous (strict) in making differences about food where God has made none; but receive them, be thankful, acknowledging the power of God, the Maker of them.
  • Not only has He given us permission to eat all foods, allowing us the liberty of the use of these things, but He also promises to feed us with food that’s convenient for us.
  • Every creature is God’s, for He made all.  Every creature of God is good.
  • The blessing of God makes every creature nourishing to us.

God also says in His Word, “Have you found honey?  Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit” (Proverbs 25:16).  This is what Matthew Henry has to say about this verse (what I wrote in my journal): He talks about how we are allowed a sober and moderate use of the delights of sense.  Honey is not forbidden.  We may eat of it with thanksgiving.  God has given us permission to make use of our taste buds.  “Eat as much as is sufficient, and no more.  The pleasures of sense lose their sweetness by the excessive use of them.  Eat food with sobriety.”  Eat between hunger and satisfaction (0-5).

Before anyone throws rotten tomatoes at me for sticking up for ALL foods–I also want to add that everyone has different convictions and preferences when it comes to food.  When Paul was addressing the food issues in Romans 14 (it’s a really good read on this topic), he was letting us know that Christ has given us the liberty to enjoy all foods.  He says not to be judgmental about it.  He says not to eat food offered to idols.  He says to eat with thanksgiving.  He says not to make others stumble by what we eat.

So let no one judge you in food or in drink. Colossians 2:16a

When I was at a certain place in my journey where the Lord was showing me that I can eat all foods, I was so tempted to go back to some of my old ways of completely cutting out sugar because the lie was still there that sugar is evil.  So as the Lord was showing me His truth that I could eat sweets within my boundaries (eating between 0-5 of hunger and satisfaction), the enemy was also trying to ensnare me with the lies that if I ate sugar then something really bad would happen.  Someone even made a comment to me that sugar is “poison”.  Wow!  And they compared it to drugs.  Ouch.  Honestly, that was another hurdle I had to jump over with the Lord’s help.  We have to be SO careful about our convictions and what we say to others.  I bet that person had no idea that what they said would trip me up and cause me to stumble.  Obviously, that person is passionate about not eating sugar, but God has been working so hard to free me from any rules man has made about food.  Now, this doesn’t mean that all I eat are sweets; I believe in eating in moderation.  What we eat over a long period of time is what counts; it’s not one meal or one day of eating that makes or breaks us.

Image courtesy of akeeris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of akeeris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And then there’s also foods that some of us cannot eat because it makes us physically ill.  Maybe you have a gluten intolerance.  Or maybe you are lactose intolerant.  Whatever the case may be, I think we can be mindful of the food our body enjoys and be careful and considerate about sharing our convictions when it comes to food.

On pages 186-189 in Thin Within, it talks about how there are pleasers, teasers, total rejects and whole-body pleasers when it comes to food.  The pleasers are foods you know you enjoy, maybe even by specific brand.  They “hit the spot and bring physical satisfaction” (page 186).  The teasers are foods that you don’t really think about until you see a picture of the food or someone mentions the food.  They aren’t as satisfying of foods, so we may think that “more is better”.  Total rejects are foods that are “simply not worth eating”.  They may be too sweet, salty, artificially flavored, etc.  Whole-body pleasers are “foods that make you feel good overall”.  It’s the “foods that your body calls out for, are enjoyable while you eat them, and they leave you feeling energized afterward” (pages 188-189). I really like how Thin Within talks about these different ways we respond to foods.  I believe different foods will fit in different categories for different people.  What may be a whole-body pleaser for me may be different for someone else.  Most of all, I just love the freedom God gives us when it comes to food.

I can either listen to what the world and the diet creators say about what I should or shouldn’t eat, or I can listen to what the Creator says about food.  I will choose the latter because that’s where my peace resides.  I’m choosing to turn my eyes away from all of the babble and confusion about it, and I’m choosing to fix my eyes on Jesus.  He won’t lead me astray.  I will listen to His voice.  This is where it all boils down to–Jesus.  He came to set us free from the law.   And I believe in that freedom, He meant for us to be free even in what we eat.  The world makes laws and rules about food, but God gives us the liberty to choose what is satisfying to us.

How about you?  Have you been bombarded with all of the “billboards” about what the world says about food?  Will you take a stand with me and turn a deaf ear to it and listen to the One who knows your needs when it comes to nourishing your body?  Maybe you do have some passionate opinions and convictions on this subject, would you be willing to join me in being extra careful about sharing those convictions?  Let’s walk in love!

P.S. Heidi wrote a great post about this a little while back.  Click here to read!

Left to Clean Up the Mess!!!

Left to Clean Up the Mess!!!

milk and flowers

My arms were full of swim towels and snack bags as I struggled to open the front door.  A herd of kids, seven to be exact, jumped out of the car in a flurry of hollering and excitement, someone opened the door for me, and they all ran past in a giant blur.  Everything was wet and there was a strong wind blowing my hair into my face.  It had been a glorious afternoon!  Our dear friends from Washington were visiting us for several days, and it had been one fun event after another . . . finishing up with swimming today and a huge thunderstorm to send us home in a hurry.  Summer fun had been at a high as our two families had been spending their visit talking and sharing,  jumping on the trampoline, playing in the treehouse, scootering around the neighborhood, enjoying picnics,  swimming in the pool and seeing the sights around Colorado Springs.

milk box

As I lumbered into the house with too much to carry one of my kids said, “Mom . . . are there milk bottles in the box?  Did we forget to take them in?”  In a split second she was outside with the others, screaming something about a new game she had thought up for the trampoline.  What did she say?  I thought as I brought everything in and dropped it on the couch.  Milk bottles?  No – milk is delivered on Mondays, today is Thursday.  What is she talking about?  Everyone was busy and not paying attention as I walked out to the front of the house and lifted the lid to the milk box.  I gasped as I realized what had happened.  Oh no!  What a waste of both milk and money!  I looked down at what should have been our milk for the week, forgotten in the hustle and bustle of having guests, and now sour, clumped and starting to ooze out of the plastic, gallon size containers near the lid.  It had been an incredibly hot week for Colorado Springs, days in a row with temperatures in the 90’s.  There was a definite stench of sour milk in the air!  What to do?  No one was looking . . . I was so embarrassed.  How could I have let this happen?  I thought – I’ll just bring one bottle at a time to the sink while the adults are changing out of their swimsuits and the kids are playing outside.  No one will know – I will pour them out one by one and put them back into the milkbox, empty. Here I go.

milk jug

A feeling of gratefulness came over me as I picked up one of the bottles – bloated to it’s maximum capacity – and lugged it into the kitchen.  What a precious time it had been with our friends!  The mom of the bunch, Stephanie, has been one of my very best friends for years and years, and having her family here was one of my favorite treats for our summer.  Things were going well for us as a family. . . we were healing and adjusting to the passing of Grandma Lois, my mother-in-law who had lived with us for the past two years here in our home.  We had enjoyed a summer of play, popsicles, bike rides, and swimming not to mention a long string of guests who came to visit because they cared for us deeply.  Life was good!  Thank you Jesus!

BOOM!  I gasped in shock and was blinded for a moment as I tried to get my bearings.  What had just happened?!!! I grabbed the kitchen towel and struggled to wipe something out of my eyes when I realized that it was all over me, all over my hair . . . the milk bottle had exploded directly in my face over the sink!  I rubbed my eyes and tried to see what was around me . . . there were little white, stinky, disgusting sour milk chunks all over the floor, all over the sink, all over the window, all over me . . . oh, what a horrible sight and smell!!!  I blinked my eyes over and over again, trying to get them to see straight, but the explosion must have scratched them because they wouldn’t stop stinging.  Oh my Lord, what happened?????


Doesn’t this silly incident (it’s true – I promise, but really who could make it up?) just remind you of how life is?  We are going along, walking tall, things seem to be all under our control for a season, we are puffed up with pride about how well we are handling things, the sun is shining, not a cloud in sight when WHAM!  Something happens to completely throw us off balance.  Has this happened to you?  It has happened to me time and time again and I know there will be many more milk explosions to come in my life.  Here are some of the explosions that people around me have dealt with lately:  news from the doctor that you have terminal cancer and there is very little that can be done, a letter from a spouse on the kitchen table explaining that she is having an affair and wants out of the marriage, the sudden loss of a job that you thought would provide for your family for years, a notice in the mail that your house is finally going into foreclosure because you haven’t been able to pay the bills, a car accident that took the life of your best friend, an adult child who announces that he is addicted to drugs and dropping out of college, the sudden onset of a terrifying illness that leaves you disabled and wondering if you will ever really recover.  The list could go on and on and on and on . . . life in this world is so full of heartache, sorrow, and pain.  Or . . . what about the smaller sour milk explosions?  The fight with your husband, the dent you accidently made in the neighbor’s car, the keys that are lost, the stress at work, the hurt feelings from something your coworker said.  The sour milk explodes in your face, and you never saw it coming.

I was completely unprepared for that explosion, that evening.  I had no idea it was coming, I had not anticipated it, I had not made any kind of preparations for it, I could not have predicted that it would happen at all, much less the way it would happen.  What do we do with these unexpected explosions in our lives?  For my whole adult life I have been turning to emotional eating to deal with these situations, as so many of you on this Thin Within journey can relate to.  I would stuff my feelings in by stuffing my stomach with too much food when my body didn’t need food at all.  I medicated myself with handfuls of chocolate chips, just like taking a handful of pills.  I snuck through the drive through for a pile of french fries on the way home from work.  I stayed up late at night and ate bowlfuls of ice cream in front of the television.  Whatever emotion I was feeling . . . despair, depression, complete overwhelm, anger, frustration, humiliation, embarrassment . . . I would stuff back down into my heart with food.  I would cry out to God, Why God?  Why did this happen?  Where are you?  Don’t you care?  Take this problem away!  I am overwhelmed!  Why me???? I don’t want this!!!!  Emotional eating never failed to do the opposite of solving my problems . . . and always made things much worse.  Although I kept doing it, I knew without a doubt that it was not God’s plan for my life.

There is no question about unexpected sour milk explosions in the Bible.  God is very clear about what will happen as we journey through this world.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

1 Samuel 26:24  “As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

Job 4:5 “But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.”

Job 5:7 Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”

Yes, there is no question about it . . . we are going to have trouble in this world, and no shortage of it.  What to do?  If we look in His word, God shows us exactly what to do.  He longs for us to experience victory over our sour milk explosions, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

We can receive hope in the living God:  Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We can fill our minds with truth:  Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We can have real conversations with God and He hears us:  Psalm 32:6  “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.”   Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

We can depend on His very real, perfect love for us:  Psalm 42:8  “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

We can trust in the sovereignty of God:  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

flower verse

The white, stinky, chunky mess was everywhere and I realized that there was no possibility of hiding the sour milk explosion from my friends who were visiting.  I was feeling embarrassed and humiliated not to mention the pain in my stinging eyes as my friend walked in the room and said “Oh my gosh, Christina!  What happened!?”  I covered my face with the towel, trying desperately to wipe the mess away and out of my hair . . . and then I looked at my dear friend.  The look on her face wasn’t one of condemnation or judgement, in fact – there was a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face . . . so I started laughing.  “Stephanie, help!  I just had a giant sour milk explosion and it is everywhere!!!”  We laughed together and spent the next hour or so cleaning it all up.  I took the empty, still bloated milk container back to the milkbox at the front of the house only to find that two more bottles had exploded in the box, and there were stinky, chunky, sour milk pieces all over the inside of the box, the outside of the box and the front steps of the house . . . even in my flower pots!  Oh, good grief!!! As I worked to clean up that mess through the lenses of my stinging eyes, it started to rain again, and the water made my work go faster.  I looked up at the sky and thanked God through my teary, painful eyes.  I felt his gentle squeeze as He promised to love me through all of the sour milk explosions in my life . . . and you know what?  Praise God, He will!!!

How about you?  What sour milk explosions have you dealt with in your life?  Are you having one right now?  What is God calling you to do in the midst of your pain and suffering?  God loves you so much.  What is He whispering to your heart today?


My Foot Slipped!

My Foot Slipped!

(A little side note:  This is a true story that God brought to my mind last night just as I was about to fall asleep.  I’m not sure why He wanted me to share it now, in the middle of the summer a year and a half after it happened . . . but I trust that He has a good reason!  My prayer is that someone out there who needs to hear this story will read it, and that it will touch them in a special way directly from our Lord.  🙂

“I found another one Mom!”, Madeline said as she scooped up another plastic necklace out of the snow.  Someone must have dropped the necklaces months ago.  We had been hiking for hours, up a steep mountain slope underneath one of the ski lifts in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Most of the ground carried only a thin layer of snow so late in the spring, but we were surprised to find drifts three feet deep in some places as we walked.  It didn’t seem possible that the sky could be any bluer, the sun blazed warm and bold on our faces, and the snow almost blinded us through our sunglasses.  We were hiking at about 10,000 feet and could feel the thin air in our lungs.  It had been an amazing day full of fun and adventure for our family of five.  The alpine mountain views took our breath away!  A close friend had given us her beautiful timeshare for a week, friends and neighbors were taking good care of Grandma Lois in our home, and we were enjoying a break from all of life’s responsibilities.

snowy mountain

I had been struggling with an old injury for quite some time, and this steep terrain was beginning to cause pain in my heels.  I tried to let it go as I distracted myself with a deep conversation with my son, Christopher, who had chosen this time to ask some very difficult questions about God, and why He allows terrible things to happen to people.  We talked and shared questions for about half an hour before we caught up to his sisters and my husband, David.  My ears perked up at the sound of a river that must be close by . . . and I was not disappointed when we finally came upon it.

My eyes were wide as I watched the ice cold snowmelt rushing in torrents down the steep mountainside.  The river was lined with broken branches and downed logs, and was full of rocks of all sizes, some jutting out and causing white foaming water to spray out in all directions.  The sound of thunder surprised us, and we looked up at the sky that was quickly changing from one of pure sunshine to one of dark, ominous clouds.  A high altitude, mountain storm was coming, and we knew that we needed to get out of the way – and fast.  Before I knew it my husband, David, was encouraging the kids to navigate rocks and a couple of logs to get across the river.  I held my breath and watched them, but it took only a few minutes before they were on the other side, jumping with their arms held high in victory.  There was thunder again, the temperature was dropping, and it started to sprinkle.  “Come on, Mom!  You can do it!”  my kids yelled over the deafening sound of the raging river.

snowy river

I wanted to . . . I really did . . . but I just couldn’t.  I was completely frozen, paralyzed by fear.  I knew in my mind that I needed to get to the other side of the river before the storm hit, that I needed to be with my family, and that choosing not to cross at this time would mean hiking hours back down the mountain by myself.  If only that log hadn’t been covered in snow . . . but it was – at least 3 inches of icy, cracked, slippery snow.  What felt like an electrical surge of fear pulsed through my body.  My heels hurt, my legs were shaking, and my heart was beating like a drum as I started across the first log.  I gasped as my foot slipped and my right leg plunged half way into the icy water, stopped only by an unseen broken branch.  The water rushed and raged around me as I frantically looked around for another way to get over to the other side, but there just wasn’t one.  I just couldn’t go on.  “Oh, Jesus help me!” I cried out, my voice blocked out by the sound of thunder and rushing water.

The kids were all sitting down under a tree by now, obviously wondering if I was going to be able to join them or not.  They looked nervous.  David crossed back over the stream, placed his feet in a more stable position that caused him to sacrifice his warm, dry feet, and held out his hand.  “Come on, Christina, let’s do this together.  Take my hand.  Follow my lead – just step exactly where I step.  You can do this.”

When I think back on that crazy, spring day I realize that God was teaching me something very important about trust.  What is trust?  Dictionary definitions say that trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of a person . . . the confident expectation of something . . . hope.  How many times in my life have I been confronted with situations that have caused me to feel completely paralyzed by fear?  These are times when I feel like I just can’t move, I just can’t go on, answers are impossible to find, there is no end in sight.  During these times it is hard for me to have any kind of perspective, and I am totally consumed by the situation at hand.   Many of us on this Thin Within journey have felt this very fear as God gently beckons us away from a dependence on food and emotional eating and into a deeper relationship with Him.   So, what do we do?  We cry out to our Lord and Savior, just like I cried out that day at the river.  We stand on one side of the slippery log, unable to move or see a way for our future.  Christ stands on the other side, holding out His hand to guide us, then He takes steps to meet us exactly where we are and asks us to follow Him.  He has already been to the other side of the river!  He has the strength, the skills, the perspective to know that we can get there with Him, whether we know it or not.  What is our part in all of this?  Trust.  We have to trust that God will do what He says he will, that He loves us the way He says He does.  Oh yes, and one more thing . . . a step in His direction.


Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Psalm 13:5  “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a man (woman) are established by the Lord, and He delights in her way.  When she falls, she will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds her hand.”

I looked at David and pleaded with my eyes to please not make me cross this log.  He looked at me, knew what I was thinking and stepped even closer to me.  The kids were quiet now, watching.  I mustered up as much trust as I could (which was just a little bit at first) and started across in baby steps, holding my husband’s hand and following his steps as exactly as I could.  I slipped again but he caught me and I did not go in the water.  I must have held my breath for the full minute that it took to get me across, but somehow we made it and I have never been so relieved!  All three of my kids jumped up and cheered.  I smiled and sat down with the family under a large pine tree that worked well as an umbrella against the storm, still shaky for the next half hour or so.  Later, when the storm had passed and we were all happily hiking down the mountain again I gave David a good squeeze and thanked him for helping me across, for not getting frustrated with me or giving up on me.  He was a perfect example of Christ to me that day.  He smiled, squeezed me back and simply said “Christina, I love you.”

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Isaiah 12:2  “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

Romans 15:13  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

hand bible verse

How about you?  Have you been paralyzed with fear in your life?  Do you struggle with trusting God in certain situations that seem hopeless or impossible?  Do you sense that God might be reaching His hand out to you, gently asking you to trust Him with something?  He loves you so much.  What is He whispering to your heart today?


Such A Busy Day

It was going to be an incredibly busy day.  I jumped out of bed after hitting the snooze button a couple of times, groggy and half asleep.  It had been a late night for me what with helping Katherine finish up her history project, reading just one more story with Madeline, filling out an orchestra permission slip for Christopher and cleaning up a huge kitchen mess.  Then I had to gather materials for my first and third grade groups, and yes – Grandma Lois needed her laundry folded and put away – she had called me from the top of the stairs, asking for her favorite pajamas.  My husband had been exhausted from a long day at work and an evening of working through finances with his mother.  It was hard to imagine a more overwhelming season of life as my head hit the pillow.

snowy window

I showered and dressed for work in the pitch dark and ice cold of the winter and I was grateful for a few quiet minutes alone.  I sat down with my journal and started to pray.  Lord . . . how will I be able to get it all done today?  I am so tired, there is so much to do, so much to take care of right now.  I am so inadequate, so insecure, so unequipped.  I need you!!!  I had hoped for a song to pop into my head, or a Bible verse to jump out at me, or a voice to speak in my mind, but all was quiet.  The room was as still as can be . . . I only heard the tick, tick, ticking of the clock.  It was good to be still for just a moment.  I knew what I had to do, what I had committed to do as many times as I could squeeze it in during my crazy, busy day.  I needed to renew my mind in Christ.  In the most quiet, patient, loving way I felt Jesus beckon me to come to Him and fill my mind with His truth.

I showered and dressed for work in the pitch dark and ice cold of the winter and I was grateful for a few quiet minutes alone.  I sat down with my journal and started to pray.  Lord . . . how will I be able to get it all done today?  I am so tired, there is so much to do, so much to take care of right now.  I am so inadequate, so insecure, so unequipped.  I need you!!!  I had hoped for a song to pop into my head, or a Bible verse to jump out at me, or a voice to speak in my mind, but all was quiet.  The room was as still as can be . . . I only heard the tick, tick, ticking of the clock.  It was good to be still for just a moment.  I knew what I had to do, what I had committed to do as many times as I could squeeze it in during my crazy, busy day.  I needed to renew my mind in Christ.  In the most quiet, patient, loving way I felt Jesus beckon me to come to Him and fill my mind with His truth.

I had been entrenched in emotional eating my entire adult life.  I had popped chocolate chips like pills, snuck through drive thrus on the way to a destination, eaten bowls of ice cream late at night, baked cookies for the neighbors so that I could eat half of the dough in the bowl, and eaten chips and salsa until I had to unbutton my pants . . . I had been a seasoned emotional eater for at least 30 years, and no one knew it.  After having my third child almost 9 years ago and weighing more than I had ever weighed I remember thinking, well now at least I have the excuse of being in my late 30’s and having been pregnant three times!  I told everyone, myself included, that I had tried everything there was to try – every diet, every type of exercise, every book to work through, every weight loss group – and I just couldn’t get the weight off no matter what.  This was the thorn in my side that I would just have to deal with for the rest of my life, I thought.  I remember desperately looking through the photo albums in my mom’s cabinet, hoping to find that all of the women on my side of the family were overweight.  They were, and I was able to tell myself that this was a matter of genetics and there was nothing I could do.

So, back to the cold, winter morning!  As I resolved to renew my mind I looked out the window and noticed that tiny, shimmering snowflakes were falling from the sky.  It was a magical moment, and I felt God’s touch on my heart.  Just a few weeks before, in my desperation, utter frustration with myself and despair I had decided to give the principles of Thin Within a try one more time.  I had been almost ready to give up . . . but not quite.   Something was different this time.  At first I was able to follow my boundaries just minutes at a time, then several hours at a time, and now I was completely surprised to find that I could even go a half a day without breaking my boundaries.  Dinner time was a huge challenge for me.  I would begin preparing dinner with slight hunger, nibble during the preparation, sit down to dinner not really hungry at all and then eat a regular size meal to end up way past full.  Some days I would stuff in dessert after that because after all, I had already messed the whole thing up, right?  But things were changing . . . yes, something was really different this time.

God's truth

I had a short praise fest with God, read through some truth cards and surrendered my crazy, busy day to the Lord.    Then I spent about a minute going through my day in my mind and preparing myself for the challenges with eating ahead.  Should I stop and get a mocha on the way to work?  I’m not hungry at all for breakfast this morning, should I take something along with me and eat it during recess?  What if my favorite donuts are in the lounge today?  I will be having a celebration party with my Kindergarten group today, will I be hungry when I pass out the graham crackers and grapes?  There will undoubtedly be chocolates passed around during the staff meeting after school, what should I do about that?  When I get home after school the kids will be hungry as always for snacks.  Should I join them?  What if I am not hungry?  What will I be making for dinner tonight?  What if I don’t nibble before dinner, then have an extra small portion of spaghetti and save room for a couple of oreos to eat with the family?

I walked through my busy day intentionally interacting with His truth for me, and thanking Him whenever I had the chance . . . at my desk in the morning while preparing materials, in the bathroom during recess, in the hallway on the way to pick up my next group, on my way home from picking up my middle schoolers in the car.  This wasn’t easy!  It was hard work to focus on God’s truth for me all day long, and I really did not have the time.  But it was GOOD work.  It felt good, and right, and before I knew it hours and hours were going by in which I had stuck to my boundaries.  Wow!

So, what is different this time?  My focus!  I have completely changed my focus and for the first time in my life, and all of the things I have tried to change my heart in this thorn in my side of emotional eating – something really IS different.  My heart is changing and I am so grateful.  I am deliberately, systematically, relentlessly, creatively finding the time to renew my mind with God’s truth so often during each day that I am finally starting to crowd out the lies and untruths that have held me back and paralyzed me in this area of my life for so long.  What is true for me right now, Lord, in this very situation?  God will show you if you ask.  He will show you in the most loving, understanding, gentle way, and then He will wink at you, or smile at you, or wrap His arms around you and remind you how much He loves you.  These are some of the most precious moments I have ever had with my Savior, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the baked potatos, oreo cookies and chicken sandwiches in the world!

I sang “Jesus Loves You” to my youngest daughter in the darkness of the night and kissed her goodnight.  She was the last one, the other two were already asleep and my husband was snoring, book in hand.  In my exhaustion I made lunches for the next day, finished up the dishes, called in a prescription for my mother in law, put Madeline’s homework in her backpack, threw in a load of laundry, paid a few bills and collapsed on the couch.  I closed my eyes and took a minute to think about the day.  Lord, Lord!  I made it!  I had a couple of missteps with my boundaries, but overall I surrendered my food to you today and held it with open hands.  A lovely feeling of victory surged through my body and I smiled for a whole minute.  I invited Jesus to sit down with me on the couch and we enjoyed the moment together.  It had started to snow again and there was a chill in the air.  But my Savior was warming me with His presence, and it was the best feeling in the world.

sunflower verse

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you  will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phillipians 1:6

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”  1 Corinthians 6:12

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Romans 12:a

What about you?  Do you often feel that you are too busy to do the work of renewing your mind?  Have you tried preparing for your day by thinking through how you might eat in certain situations?  What might happen if you renew your mind with God’s amazing truth several times a day?  I challenge you to try it . . . “taste” and see that God is good!!!

Starving the Skinny Idol

Starving the Skinny Idol


A few weeks ago, the Lord told me to “starve the skinny idol”.  This was shortly after He showed me that I had made “skinny” an idol in my life.  It was quite shocking news!  Me?  Serving an idol?  Yup!

I dreamed of having “rock hard abs” or “flat abs”.  I had envisioned myself looking like Denise Austen or other exercise gurus.  I sought after it.  I deemed myself too flabby and went on a quest to “live the dream”.  Well, that so-called dream became my master.

“That other person, idea, or dream is your master, and it takes you over without your being aware of it.”*

That’s exactly what happened to me.  I lived and breathed this desire to have a certain look.  I wanted to be strong and to be at a certain weight.  If there was a book about it, I read it.  If there was a diet to help me live out my dream, I tried it or at least considered it.  I joined a fitness forum online so I could discuss this dream.  I counted calories.  I tracked points.  I stopped eating certain foods.  I tried to eat only raw foods.  And on and on and on.

I made skinny my “functional god”.

“They’re trapped, they’re deceived, and they’re miserable because they made a functional god of something or someone other than the one true living God.”*

I thought, when I am skinny, I will be happy.  I wouldn’t be satisfied until I lost a certain amount of weight or looked a certain way.  But even when I lost the desired weight, I thought, “How about 5 more pounds?”  You see, the enemy loves that we serve the skinny idol, or any idol for that matter.  He wants us to feel like we are never enough.  So I thought if I tried a different method, diet, technique, workout program, etc., that then I would have what I wanted.  Sure, I asked God for help, but “God won’t help us chase our idols.”*

My heart was set on being skinny.  “Idolatry is who or what you worship, what you long for, what your heart is set on.”*  And the sad thing is that back in the day, when I started on this quest, I was completely fine the way I was.  I believed the lies of the enemy that I needed to be more or less.  I didn’t think I was good enough where I was; so without realizing it, I built up my altar and started serving the skinny idol.

This is a photo of me from 2005, when I thought I needed to lose weight:


Oh how I wish I could go back to that young lady (myself) and tell myself that I was fine and to STOP obsessing.  I wish I could go back and tell her the truth.  I know different ones in my life did try, but I wasn’t convinced.  I really thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t have rock-hard abs.  I remember asking my husband to take pictures of me when I was sitting down so I could see if my stomach stuck out and rolled out as I was imagining it to be (it wasn’t).  The funny thing is, after having two babies, and looking back, those abs look great!  Ha!

So when the Lord revealed this idol to me about a month ago, I started to sort of panic.  I have served this idol and it has served me.  It’s been my familiar friend, my companion, my security blanket all of these years.  It’s what I could obsess over; and boy, have I obsessed!  “It’s hard [to demolish the idol], not only because they don’t want to leave, but also because we don’t really want to lose them.”*  Exactly!

This idol has kept me “fixed”.  It’s like a drug.  I feel “high” when I focus on the things that feed this idol: like thinking about starting a new diet.  “We may experience initial relief, so then we cling to them, making them the objects of our desire.  As these objects grow in importance, our behavior becomes habitual and we can no longer satisfy or relieve our needs in healthy ways.  Even if we want to break free, we find ourselves enslaved.”**  I have looked to my idol to fulfill me; but only God can fulfill me.

I’ve often asked myself why I would give into this idol, this addiction.  When I look back to when I erected this idol, there were a lot of things in my life that I felt were spinning out of control.  Relationships were changing.  Boundaries had to be placed.  There was a lot of emotional uneasiness.  Looking back, I am beginning to see that instead of depending on God completely, I began to place trust in this idol to help me through.  I grasped onto anything that felt solid at the time to hold me up.

Now that He’s revealed this idol to me, I’m accountable to tear it down.  In 1st and 2nd Chronicles,  it talks about how there would be a new king on the throne and it would say if that king demolished the high places and idol altars or not.  Kings built, tore down, and built them up again.  I want this idol to come down for good and not ever be built up again.  I’m starting to see that it comes down to 2 choices: either I can trust God or I can trust the “golden calves” of the skinny idol.  I can serve God or “mammon”, but I cannot serve both.

I didn’t trust God to take care of this area of my life.  Oh, I would claim He was leading me (which I think He did at times–to turn away from the idol), but I did NOT want to give up the control of this area of my life.  It’s ridiculous because idols only hurt us.  “We think they’re more predictable than God is, and they keep us in the driver’s seat.”*  Oh yes, I have told God to move over plenty of times.  I’m driving!  I will get my rock-hard abs no matter what!  Trust God?  Whatever!

I didn’t want to wait on God.  “And so we turn to idols, often just to remove the uneasy feeling of waiting and depending on God.”*  I think a lie I have believed is, “God won’t help me, so I will do this myself.  He probably just wants me to be fat.”  Yeah…not cool!  “We are anxious about our idols.  We think, “What if I don’t get what I want?  What if I lose it?””  I held on dearly to what I wanted because I was afraid God wouldn’t give it to me in my way and in my time.  Truth is, God is more concerned about my heart than my outward appearance.  Of course He wants us healthy and at our God-given weight, BUT He wants my heart.  He is a jealous God.  He doesn’t want us bowing down to any other gods.  And I certainly made a god, an idol, out of skinny.

Addiction and disordered eating end and dependence begins when we stop relying on our own will to get what we want and begin trusting God to give us what he knows we need.”**

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be slim, but it’s not ok when it’s ruling my life.

I want the guarantee that I will never be overweight again and that I will lose the “fluff” if I am going to follow God’s ways.  But the thing is–nothing in this life is a guarantee!  Only God is unshakable and unchangeable.  He is our only guarantee.

So what it all boils down to is this–is God enough for me?  If I never release another pound, is He enough?  If I never have rock-hard abs, is He enough?  Yes, yes, yes!!

What does it mean to “starve the skinny idol”?  That’s something I’ve been asking the Lord and learning about.  When you starve something, you don’t give it anything that will keep it alive, not even a crumb.  So what’s kept this idol alive in my life?  I can name a few things: obsessing over food, researching food and diets, being fixated on my body, reading anything that brings on the obsession, etc.  So by starving the idol, that means not doing any of those things.  And it also means changing my focus.  We were all meant to serve God and have a relationship with Him.  There is a yearning in every person’s heart for Him.  But we find things that become “functional gods” to us.  I want to serve God.  I want to give Him all of my heart, mind and soul.  I don’t want to give anymore of my time, heart, mind, or soul to “skinny”.  My focus needs to get back onto Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, my Deliverer!

So as I’ve been working on taking down this idol and demolishing it, the idol has tried to remake itself in my life using what I listed above.  And the areas this idol has served me has been tricky to pin down at times and it seems like it has 1,000 lives.  I wrote this in my journal, “I have to ask God for help if I’m going to spot them, pin them down, and kill them as fast as they appear.”

“Whenever we erect and bow down to an idol, we displace our dependency on God.  We struggle to stay at the center of it all through willpower, manipulating people, doing everything in our own strength, trying to look just right, and falsely believing that we are in charge of our life.  We think we can do anything through willpower, even control our addictions, but the blessed gift of addiction is that it fails us.  If we are honest with ourselves, we eventually reach a point where we must admit we can’t go on like this; that we are out of control.  It is God who allows us to see the futility of placing our hope and trust in the false idols of our own making.  Then he helps us discover and articulate the aching, unfulfilled emptiness at the core of our being and invites us to take the first step toward God-centered healing.”**

And that’s the thing, I was placing my dependency on this idol, not on God.  I thought if I could just control my eating, that then I would get what I wanted.  But what I truly needed was the Lord.  I’m coming to realize that if there’s an idol, an addiction, or something is just plain wrong, that’s an indication that something within me needs more of God.

The lie is that the idol will make us happy, that it will fuel us.  But the truth is that we cannot live on substitutes.  My heart will “never be satisfied apart from God in Christ Jesus.”*  Only God can satisfy.  Substitutes never satisfy.  The skinny idol just made me lust for more, more, more.  And I was left wanting more.

This is like Paul, in Philippians chapter 4, saying, I will be content whether well-fed or hungry.  It’s choosing to be content.  It’s getting to that place, that no matter what, we are satisfied in God alone and that He is enough.

Something else I wrote in my journal was this: Going to an idol instead of God is committing spiritual adultery.  Ouch!

After the Lord revealed truth to me about this idol in my heart, I realized that I needed a plan to starve this idol and to renew my mind, because there were literally days where “skinny” was on my mind consistently all throughout the day.  I didn’t know how to pinpoint the thoughts and take them captive to the obedience of Christ.  And so I figured that starting somewhere is better than doing nothing.  Part of my plan (and what I’ve been doing) is putting my focus more on Christ.  I’m reading through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and I’ve been reading Galatians over and over again.  It’s been awesome!  I wake up and instead of thinking about “skinny”, I get so excited to be in the Word and to get to know Jesus more.  I’ve also been reading my truth cards more often.  I also picked out sets of questions from the I Deserve a Donut app by Barb Raveling to answer in my journal: which has been extremely helpful in renewing my mind (the sets of questions I’ve been using are: Discontentment, Greed & Lust, Envy, Insecurity: Feeling Inadequate, Insecurity: Living Up to Expectations, Insecurity: People Pleasing, and Insecurity: Self-Condemnation).  And when I look in the mirror and feel any sense of dissatisfaction, I thank the Lord for my body.  Through all of this, and putting my focus on Christ, I have noticed that I’m no longer focused on skinny like I once was.  Praise God!

I still have work to do.  There are times I’m tempted to go on a diet to have my “guarantee”, so I have to keep pressing on and looking to the Lord and His truth.  This is a journey.  We learn and grow every day.

How about you?  Have you made skinny an idol in your life?  Have you served the scale or the food?  Where do you turn when the going gets tough?  Are you clinging to a “functional God” or the one true living God?  Ask the Lord to search your heart and He will show you.  If you are afraid you won’t like what you see, know that He is there to forgive as we repent, and He is there to help to get us where we need to be.  He will help us follow Him, but He won’t help us chase our idols.

P.S. You can hear more about what God has revealed to me in this Sound Cloud file I recorded:

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*Quoted from Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney

** Quoted from Hunger Within by Arthur & Judy Halliday (chapter 6)