I heard the thunder in the distance, but we were too involved in our game to notice. “Marco!” yelled my middle daughter, Katherine, “Polo!” my other two kids and I yelled back. It had been a fine day for swimming – warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, an open calendar for the afternoon. I jumped out of the way as Katherine laughed and dove toward me, and just as she tagged me we were stunned by a clap of thunder so loud it felt like it was shaking the whole pool. In less than a second it was raining giant drops of ice cold water from the sky, the lifeguard whistle was blown and we were racing out of the water to gather our things. By the time we got to the car there were rivers of water rushing down the street and under our feet, and there were powerful cracks of lightning cutting up the sky in front of us. The kids were happy, laughing, loud, making up a silly song, talking about the storm, talking about swimming, sharing snacks and water bottles in the back seat.
What’s wrong with me? I thought. I have always loved our Colorado afternoon thunderstorms. All I could think about when I looked at those dark gray clouds was how I felt on the inside, that only I knew about. In the middle of my busy family I felt alone. Even in the sunshine and throws of a playful pool game I had felt the heaviness of a cloud over me. Seeing real clouds above me now made the heaviness feel heavier. I had been so sad all afternoon . . . melancholy and slow moving and sad. Our family is grieving the loss of my precious mother-in-law, who died just a few weeks ago in our home. We had taken care of her for more than two years and the emptiness of our home without her was consuming me today. I just couldn’t shake it.
As we drove home the kids asked me to put some music on from the radio. The song that was on blended into the background noise and I heard nothing. I thought to myself what do we have in the house? Do we have any sweets? I could really go for a cookie right now. Do I have the ingredients? That’s what I’ll do – I’ll make cookies for the kids on a cozy, rainy, summer afternoon. What could be better? They will love it! But there was a tugging in my soul during those thoughts that reminded me that emotional eating was on the horizon, and coming fast. How many times in my life had I run down this path only to find more emptiness? I sighed and whispered Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . . in my mind. We were home now and the kids were jumping out of the car, running to the house and yelling about who would get to the trampoline first. The rain had slowed to a calm sprinkle, the thunder and lightning had stopped, and I realized that one of my favorite songs had come on the radio – it’s called “How Sweet the Sound” by Citizen Way – maybe you’ve heard it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckheyK6NXgA
Yea, though I walk through the valley
I know that You are always right beside me
And I will fear no evil
You’re my rock and my strength
You comfort me
Carry me through the waters
Where Your peaks clears away all my sorrow
Nothing can separate us From Your love, oh Your love
It will always be
You were healing in the pain
You were shelter in the storm
Hallelujah, you restored my soul
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found…
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound.
I closed my eyes and let God’s truth wash over me like the water in the pool, like the rivers of rain water running down the street. I imagined Jesus covering me, covering every part of me, consuming me with his love, with his grace, with his healing. Two silent tears slid down my cheeks. He was there with me, in the car, in the rain, during the storm. He knew. And he touched my soul through the words of that song . . . amazing grace, how sweet the sound, it covers every part of me, my soul is silent . . . I am found.
When I got out of the car after just 3 minutes or so I heard thunder in the distance and saw the clouds forming into a new summer storm. My youngest, Madeline, needed a band aid, my neighbor wanted to talk with me about a tree branch of ours hanging over her yard, UPS drove up with a package to sign for and the phone was ringing. In the midst of the business of life Jesus had touched me – it only took a minute. He had renewed my mind, restored my soul, and poured his love and grace on me so that I could continue on as a mom, as a wife, as a neighbor, as a friend. The sadness in me about losing my mother-in-law will linger for a long, long time – of that I am sure. But in that moment I knew that I had been touched by my loving Savior, and I was going to be okay.
(As a side note . . . it wasn’t even an hour later that I was suddenly experiencing true hunger and was at a zero. Feeling complete peace I turned on the oven and pulled out all of the ingredients to make chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies – just like my grandma used to make. I licked the dough once, made the cookies, ate two as my happy children devoured the rest, and moved on!!!)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” Psalm 46:1-2, 7
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Oh God, you are my God; I shall seek you earnestly; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
How about you? Do you sometimes feel consumed by an emotion that causes you to want to run to food? What happens if we allow ourselves to hear God’s voice in those moments? God loves you so much and wants to bless you in every circumstance. What is he saying to you today?
The more I get into the Word of God through the Thin Within classes, the more I want to whet my appetite for every spiritual blessing that is found in Christ. Barb Raveling’s bible study, Taste for Truth, is another one of her inspiring writings that have kept me motivated to stay within my boundaries.
At our church service this past weekend, I ministered on Psalm 16 emphasizing the boundary lines that God gives us. According to Psalm 16:6, the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. Often, I do not see these boundaries as pleasant, but when I look at the boundaries through spiritual eyes, I see the hand of God bringing nothing but good for my life.
Even though I lead studies, I still struggle with the temptation to eat outside of my boundaries. Daily mind renewing is a must for me. In the Preface of Taste for Truth, Barb Raveling discusses strongholds. I no longer want food to be my stronghold because it is a very unreliable one. I desire for God and His precious word to be my stronghold. When that happens, the stronghold of overeating comes tumbling down.
Barb Raveling discusses her struggle with gaining and losing weight, and her struggle sounds very much like my own. She discusses the amount of time change can take. No one wants to be told that releasing weight and overcoming food strongholds takes time, but when you think about it, it’s encouraging, especially when you’ve wanted progress to be quick like I have. Knowing that a certain amount of time is involved is actually comforting because the process has never been rapid for me. Thank God for His timing and His ways!
I believe that Taste for Truth will give us more than a taste of the living water and bread of life which brings true satisfaction and brings food into its proper perspective. I am ready for that “taste”! I am ready for my spiritual cup to be filled until it overflows with the truth of God’s word.
What about you? Are you ready for a taste of the truth of God’s word? If so, join me in this journey?
An invitation: I invite you and anyone you know to join me beginning July 28 to indulge in a Taste for Truth. The study will last for six weeks with the weekends off, and it will end on September 8. Facebook is required as I will be conducting the study in a secret/private Facebook group. Send me a friend request on Facebook (Allison Browning Mitchell) and join me in this amazing study that is sure to change your appetite.
Allison and her husband, Lanny, live in Hanover, West Virginia. They have two children, Aaron and Amber, and they are the pastors of The Haven of Rest, a church in their community. Allison is a recent graduate of Bluefield State College and loves teaching, writing, and reading.
One particular morning, just recently, I was writing in my journal and talking to the Lord about how maybe I need to hold particular foods with open hands. Then He stopped me in my thoughts and this is what I wrote: You are showing me that I’m trying to go back to food focus. I’m thinking too much about it. You want me to leave the [food] issue alone and to walk in freedom.*
Then He told me to look up Galatians 5:1again:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not letyourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)
In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hamperedandheld ensnaredandsubmit againto a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]. (AMP)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangledagain with a yoke of bondage. (NKJV)
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (The Message)
The words underlined and orange indicates what CHRIST has done. He has set me (us) free! The blue words are what my (our) responsibility is in that freedom. “Do not let”. “Let” means that I have a say in it; I am responsible. No one can make me! I choose it! So I can choose to stand in the freedom, or I can put back on the yoke, the chains and carry around a load that isn’t necessary. Christ bought me…He paid the ransom. He CHOSE to die for me so I could have life. He freed us from the chains of death and everything that leads to unrest/death. Am I going to choose a different way? No way!! Why in the world would I want to go back to captivity and be a slave to food, diets, etc?
I’ve noticed the temptations. Just this [particular] morning there were like 3 things on Facebook: an intense exercise challenge (that’s linked with dieting), someone’s before/after pictures after drinking a diet smoothie, and something else. It’s everywhere!! I have to choose to keep scrolling and to look away! I cannot even go there! I need to fix my eyes on Jesus and keep them set on Him! He wants me to guard my mind.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalm 101:3
The temptations are out there beckoning me to obsess and bring me back into captivity. I cannot walk around blindfolded or my finger in my ears and singing, “La, la, la, I don’t hear you!” (although that might come in handy some times). I DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK!
I have written down Galatians 5:1 (the Amplified version) on a piece of paper and have it up in two places in my house: 1) on my bathroom mirror, and 2) on my refrigerator. And when I read the scripture many times throughout the day, God’s peace is ignited in my heart and I remember that I am FREE!
Christ has made you free!
Do not let yourselves be entangled again!
*If God was, in fact, asking me to hold a particular food with open hands, then I certainly would be obedient to that. But in this case, He wasn’t. I was trying to make up another reason to focus on food.
Independence Day (United States) is in just 2 days! I promise I didn’t plan this post to come right before, but when I scheduled the post for today, I thought it was really neat that here I am posting about being FREE! July 4th is celebration of being an independent nation. So as you are watching the fireworks bursting forth and enjoying the celebration, think about your freedom in Christ and STAND!
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Galatians 5:7-9
Do you ever feel like you are going along on this Thin Within journey at a good pace, and then all of a sudden you get stuck or something gets in your way? I know this has happened to me plenty of times. Sometimes we have to stop and allow God to dig up what needs to be dug up so we can continue on once again, or He needs to remove the roadblock.
There have been a lot of things that have stalled me on this journey. Mostly, it’s been lies I have believed or habits that I’ve had for numerous years. For me, it’s been the lies that I shouldn’t be eating a certain food group, or that a well-known diet is the only thing that will help me so I better go back to dieting, being fixated on food research, etc.
Currently, we are turning our carport into a garage. My husband and a friend have been working hard this week getting the prep-work done for the foundation before the concrete is poured. They were working along at a good pace and they had one last corner to finish, when they realized there was some roots underneath the ground. After several hours of digging around, what they found ended up being a tree trunk and it’s roots! They had dug about 4 feet down, and then our neighbor came over with a chain saw and finished the job. We had no idea there was a tree trunk under the ground!
What if they would have started at that corner first? Would they have felt defeated? I know I may have felt that way. I would have been imagining roots everywhere!
We can go along at a steady pace in our Thin Within journey, and then BAM, we hit something hard. And then we have to focus on digging around and working on hacking at something until that thing is removed. We cannot just leave it there because it will make for a faulty foundation later on. We can no longer pretend it’s not there. We have to deal with it. And we may have to ask a friend for some help.
Just like my husband and his friend, I have had to hack away at things that were giving me a faulty foundation–or that could perhaps do foundational damage later on. It’s a lot of work to dig and dig, but our muscles get strengthened and we come away a bit stronger than before. And for days after my muscles will remind me that I worked them out, but later on I won’t even remember. And the best thing is that later on my foundation won’t sink because I took care of what needed to be taken care of.
When they first found the roots and realized it was a tree trunk, I remembered thinking, “So what! Just work around it!” But when my husband explained that it wouldn’t be good to have that tree trunk rot someday and then have the corner of our foundation cracking or sinking because of it. Oh! And that’s when the Lord began to pour into me what I am sharing with you today: we don’t want a sinking foundation!
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:24-27
I am guessing that you, like me, don’t want your foundation crumbling. The best foundation to build on (and really the only foundation) should be the Rock of Christ Jesus! Christ is our Corner Stone! Everything should be built off of that corner. If there’s anything else in place of the Rock, then everything is going to come sliding off and crumbling down just like the man who built his house on the sand. Sand shifts. The Rock stands forever. The Rock is Truth! In relating to Thin Within, “sand” could be the lies we have believed, diet mentalities, placing our security in false securities, etc. That tree trunk represented those things to me. It’s all the lies that will rot in my mind over time. So I have had to dig around the root system (the lies) and had to have some friends (accountability) help me as well. As we dug, we exposed more rotten lies!
We can look at these “tree trunks” and give up, or we can put on our gloves and pick up our shovels and dig! We can take the time to renew our mind and allow the Lord to dissolve every lie (sand) and replace with truth (the Rock), or we can leave the trunk there to rot and cause future problems. And if it’s too much for you to handle on your own, ask a friend (accountability partner) for help. Sometimes we need twice the strength to help us overcome.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
How about you?
Are you stuck? Do you need some help digging out the lies? Do you have an accountability partner? If not, Heidi has some great information about it here. Are you willing to renew your mind so God can replace those lies with truth? Would you like some help in starting? I would love to hear from you!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have so many things on my heart that I want to share with you, but since I have “mom brain”, I’m having a hard time collecting some of those thoughts. But I want to write something. Anything! So I thought I would take some time to encourage you.
No matter how long you’ve been on this journey, God is STILL faithful! He watches over His word to perform it! He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us! Oh…and He LOVES us!
I know some of you are discouraged. You’ve been trying. You feel like giving up. You just don’t know how to make this all work. And some of you are down right ANGRY because you feel like you are a failure–or possibly because you may feel like God has failed you. You have spent many tears, crying out to God to just help you release the weight, to help you overcome your food addiction, to make all of this easy.
Can I tell you something?
Lean in closely…I’m about to tell you a tidbit of truth that has literally changed my life…
God wants to transform you!
He wants to help you! He wants to deliver you! He wants to help you overcome!
“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.” Romans 12:2
We don’t overcome by following our boundaries perfectly. It’s clinging to God’s Word. It’s spending time with Him. That’s how we are transformed. It’s not our own work. It’s His work. Our part is spending time with Him.
I have seen a HUGE change in my life in the area of food and body image because of what God has done and all it took was me taking the time to renew my mind. What does it look like to renew my mind? For me, it means reading my truth cards at least once a day. Usually that takes place in the morning along with reading my Bible. And then each time I felt like breaking a boundary, I sat down with my journal and ‘I Deserve a Donut’ app (or book) by Barb Raveling. I would write out the questions and answers. If I was in a hurry, I would just read the questions and answer them in my head or out loud. If I was journaling, I would write down a few of the scriptures that really stood out to me. And I still do this when needed.
I believe each time I took the time to renew my mind that the Lord was transforming me. And WOW, I’m so amazed at what He has done! I will share more about that later, but for now I want to encourage you in your own journey.
Something quite amazing happened today . . . something that most people wouldn’t even think twice about. But for those of us walking this Thin Within journey – well it was a really big deal! It was the warmest afternoon here in Colorado Springs that we have had in a long, long time. Everywhere I looked there were people in shorts, capris and flip flops. The snowstorm and frigid temperatures of a week ago were forgotten as I picked up my girls from school and decided on a whim to take them out for ice cream. Why not? It seemed like the most perfect opportunity, and we didn’t have to pick up big brother from his school party for hours.
We all squealed with delight as we hopped in the car, rolled down the windows, turned up the music and headed to our favorite 50’s drive-in a couple of miles away. We were about half way there when I realized something – oh dear. I am not hungry, not even in the least. In fact I had had a late lunch only a couple of hours ago and was quite satisfied thank you very much. What to do?
My girls had no idea that I was struggling with this dilemma as we drove on and they discussed what kind of ice cream cone they were going to get. It wasn’t very long ago at all that I wouldn’t have thought twice about picking out an ice cream cone right alongside my girls whether I was hungry or not. But now, here in the car during this joyful family moment, I was having a whole conversation with myself in my mind . . . and to be honest, with my heart. Annoying questions popped into my head such as: If you only choose to follow your eating boundaries when you feel like it, how often will you really do it? Will it be worth it if you break your boundaries? How many years have you been breaking your boundaries and for what? What does God want for you? How will you feel later in the afternoon after you’ve had that nice, big, drippy ice cream cone that you weren’t hungry for? Is it ever worth it to break your boundaries? Will eating an ice cream cone with your girls right now make this a more meaningful moment for them, for us?
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasins Photography/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
No. No, no, no, no. It’s not worth it – it’s not worth it now and it never has been worth it. We pulled up to the crowded drive-in and my girls excitedly ordered two junior ice cream cones – one dipped in rainbow sprinkles and one dipped in chocolate. The lady behind the window said, “Will that be all for you today?” And I say “Yes!” I half expected the entire group of restaurant customers that were sitting outside on picnic tables to stop talking and laughing, look at me and say “WHAT???!!!” But they didn’t. I half expected one or both of my girls to say, “Mom – aren’t you going to get one?” in disappointed voices. But they didn’t. There were no thunder claps or lightning bolts either. In fact, no one noticed at all . . . except me and God.
And all of a sudden I realized that it was a pretty cool moment between me and God. I could tell by the peace that I felt inside of me that He was pleased. I had not run to food this time – for any reason. I had fully submitted my will and let His will take over in my afternoon ice cream situation. Rather than feeding the hunger in my soul with food as I had done a million times before I let God feed my soul. It felt good, it felt right. And by golly a couple of hours later I was hungry again and you know what I did? I ate the last few bites of my youngest daughter’s ice cream cone that she had saved “for later” in the freezer when we got home. She offered it to me and I said “Don’t you want to eat the rest? You saved it from hours ago!” And do you know what she said? “No Mom, you can have it. I’m just not hungry!” 🙂
How about you?
Can you relate to my ice cream with sprinkles predicament? How does our loving God call us to act when we so desperately want to turn to food? Have you experienced the freedom and peace that comes from submitting completely to God in any given situation? God loves you more than you can imagine. What is He saying to you today?