I just read a scripture that hit me right between the eyes: Proverbs 22:3:
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes on blindly and suffers the consequence.”
I’m sad to say I was the simpleton. I really didn’t care before; I lived too long with reckless abandon. I lost my foot living that way. It cost me too much.
And I am still paying the price of that decision. It is too high a price for most people to pay. And it’s taking too long for me to pay that price. I will have that battle scar for the rest of my natural life because of those decisions I made.
I cannot and will not continue on that path or live that way any longer.
Now I am listening to God and making adjustments with my eating.
For example, I hated water! Diet soda was all I used to drink. But today was the first day I’ve had a diet soda. My first diet soda for the year. I’ve been drinking flavored seltzer water and absolutely love it!
I also like being able to turn food down now because I am valuing my body which is God’s temple. I refuse to live the simpleton lifestyle any longer.
I cannot believe that I am becoming a prudent person who is more cautious about what I am eating. My desires are changing, and that’s OK with me!
(See her bio below.)
• By Barb Shelton •
Inspired by Christina Motley
Christina and I are prayer partners for the current two-week span and she sent me this picture of the snowlady she and her daughters made in their front yard…
She wrote, “Fun in the snow! ❄️⛄️❄️ Isn’t she just adorable??? We named her Meridith!”
Recognizing that scarf as not only being Christina’s favorite flower, 🌻🌻🌻 but as having seen it ON her person in one of her porch chats…
Screen shot of Christina doing a porch chat
…I said, “Meridith is just toooooo cute!!!!! ⛄️ Did she have permission to use that scarf?!?!?? 😆”
She responded, “Of course! She and I are already becoming good friends! 🌼💕❤️🍃😀😀”
Aware that the warming weather would soon have “diminishing” effects on Meridith, Christina added “I don’t think she will be here long, though…😳☃️🍃.”
So the next morning I asked her, “How is Meridith doing? Is the warming-up weather imposing rapid weight-loss mode onto her?!?! ⛄️😄
(Just so you know, we DO actually talk about spiritual things as well! Right after this I shared my prayer for her from Psalm 22!)
On our Thin Within coaching call (with Heidi and Christina) later than afternoon, Christine told the rest of the girls in our group about Meridith, and sadly added that the sunshine had been shrinking Meridith quite a bit. A few of us shared with delight: “She’s melting down to her God-given size!!”
Christina went on: “Okay! Here comes the good part, girls! All Meridith had to do to shrink down to her God-given size was just be in the light and warmth of the sun! Isn’t that COOL?!?!?”
I said “I feel a blog article coming on!” and asked Christina to send me a picture of Meridith in her current melting state. Christina then asked me to do “before and after” pictures of Meridith, and to “use my magic” to put a face on her since hers had fallen off… which I did using carrot and leaf emoticons, and the “draw” feature of my photo editor. Not the greatest, but better than a blank stare!
So how might this look in real life? I started pondering what “melting in the light of the sun” might entail, and remembered I had already written about this very thing in a blog article I wrote a couple years ago called “How Does God Redeem Stuff?”
In it, I share five “methods” (actions, ways) God has led me to – and used in me to – redeem many things in my life. Two of those items – “expose” and “soak” – are perfect for our snowlady analogy as they explain what it means to expose ourselves to – and soak in – God’s warm light!
I’m going to share those two sections of that article here! (Well… Assuming I can get permission from the author! I hear she’s quite a stickler!)
Let’s start by thinking of a rock on the ground. It’s been sitting in the sunshine, so it’s nice and dry and warm…
Turn the rock over, and what might you see on the underside of that rock? … Scampering bugs, wiggling worms, dirt, mud.
What’s the best way to get the underside of that rock as warm, dry, smooth, clean and bug-free as the top of it? Should we urge the rock to go to a rock spa and get a make-over and scrub itself off?
Nope! Just turn it over and expose it to the Sun! Given a little time, the wet-turned-dry dirt can just be brushed off, leaving that underside nice ‘n’ clean – with no effort whatsoever on the part of the rock! All it had to do was let itself be exposed tot he warm rays of the sun.
Need a human picture? This guy is perfectly emulating this concept:
Likewise, I have had many bug-infested “rocks” in my life. Rather than try to clean myself up, the Lord has many times led me to just allow Him to gently turn one of my [many] rocks over in His loving hand and expose it to His warming, penetrating, healing, freshening rays! – which do all of the healing, cleansing work! All I had to do was simply lay there with my wound, dirt, or ugliness exposed to Him!
My mother-in-love made the most amazing pickles! But they didn’t start out their pickley lives as winners. They began as dill – or, for the sake of our analogy, we’ll call them sour pickles.
To be transformed into the amazing sweet pickles they became, all they had to do was SOAK in the NEW brine that I put them in!
What does that brine consist of? 3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of vinegar. (See my “Grandma Shelton’s Rebrined Pickles” blog post for the recipe and directions.)
Two of the “sweetest” things we can soak in are:
- God’s Word, the Bible – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
- Worship – Whatever we look at, we become more like it. The more we focus on fashion, the more we want to be fashionable. (And thin!) The more we focus on food, the more we want it. But as we dwell on the Lord, the more we want Him, and the more we actually become like Him! And “As the Spirit of the Lord works in us, we become more and more like Him.”
(In the article I share a bitter, “vinegar-esque” thing we might soak in that actually aids in the transformation process, but we’ll just stay with the sugar aspect here.)
These pickles take a week to be completely transformed into the best pickles I have ever tasted! EVER!!! And they didn’t even have to go on a self-improvement kick! They just soaked in that transforming brine, getting sweeter as the days went by!
Likewise, if we soak in God’s Word, letting His “higher thoughts” soak into us, renewing our minds… If we get our eyes off of our sour selves and worship our mighty, loving God, we will become more and more like Him, and get sweeter as the days, months, and years go by!
So thank you, Christina and girls, for creating Meridith and sharing her with us, thereby inspiring any of us who are struggling to melt down to our natural God-given size to:
• lay down our striving to fix ourselves and…
• simply spend more time exposing ourselves to the Son, soaking in His healing warmth.
I opened up to Joel 2:19 and saw something that I had never noticed before:
“I am sending you grain, new wine, and oil – enough to satisfy you fully.”
If these three things – grain, new (as opposed to old) wine, and oil – were important enough to mention in the Word, I figure I should probably pay attention.
So I started giving these fourteen words some thought (and attention), and want to share my discoveries with you here…
This is what bread is made of. Jesus is the Bread of Life. I need Him to live. To be transformed. To get victory over sin in my life. To grow as He intends for me to grow.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
How much I eat of the Bread of Life is up to me. The greater my challenges, the greater my need for even more bread.
He is there for the taking. I need to take Him more. “More of Jesus, less of me.” Literally and figuratively.
This is spoken of in the parable of the new wineskins. God wants to give us His new wine, but we need a new wineskin in which to hold the new wine. Why? Because our old wineskin will burst as the new wine He pours into us expands. Here’s a story that still feels like yesterday even though it happened to me back in 1985 ~ 34 years ago as I write…
My fear of public speaking was huge when I first started speaking – like at a microphone, in front of an audience. I was set to speak at a homeschool convention, and it was going to be held at a big fancy-schmancy hotel in Seattle where just one of the room’s chandeliers was larger than three rooms of my house! The very thought of entering that room freaked me out!
It got progressively worse as the convention approached. Every thought of standing in front of that huge room (which really did end up being as big as I’d imagined), sent a horrible churning pang jolting through my guts like lightning. I had no idea how I was physically and emotionally going to survive this!
After getting out of the shower one day and seeing my “eau de natural” face and hair in the foggy mirror, I told the Lord I did not know why He was having me do this; that I was NOT a speaker!!!
The very sight of a microphone sent intimidating chills through my stomach!
“Well… Yes, Lord, HOWEVER! I can’t DO this!!! I’m dying every time I think of standing in front of that microphone ~ so that people can actually hear me ~ and speaking, I just shrivel up and feel SICK!!! I simply can NOT live like this!!!”
I felt Him say: “The problem is that I am filling you with new wine (which I knew was sharing the message He had put on my heart via public speaking), but you still have your old wineskin, so the new wine is bursting your old wineskin.”
Me: “Wow. Well that sure makes sense. So what are we going to do about this?!?!?” ~ by which I actually meant “What are YOU going to do about this, because I knew there was nothing *I* could do, other than turn and run the other direction!
Him: “You need to let Me take your old wineskin (which I just see as being the heart and soul of me that “holds” who I am, including my will and my thinking), and give you a new wineskin!!!”
And that happened that very day! I handed over to Him my old wineskin, which He then redeemed by giving me back a new wineskin that would hold this new wine He was pouring into ~ and through ~ me. I never had another horrible jolt regarding speaking ever again!!! And that was 35 years and hundreds of speaking engagements ago! Butterflies and excitement, but NO jolts!!! In fact, I actually love speaking now!
The Holy Spirit is referred to as oil in the Word, and I desperately need more of Him – the Holy Spirit – flowing in me.
Psalm 23:5 says: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
I have enemies around me all the time, mostly in the form of temptations trying to lure me away from what God has for me. What is it that God has for me? – especially in this area of eating, and my relationship to food? Here are a few things that Christina has shared regarding what it is like to be…
Walking in Freedom:
• It feels right and good to be listening and submitting to the Lord.
• There is a peace between the Lord and me, and I feel more intimate with Him.
• It feels good to know that I am bringing my needs to God instead of to food.
• When I am eating within my boundaries, I have a feeling – which is actually a fact – of HOPE because my hope is in Him.
• I feel lighthearted and buoyant because there isn’t such a weight on my shoulders of guilt, frustration, and hopelessness.
• When I am flying high because I’m eating God’s way, it makes me want to praise Him because it feels so good!
• It feels good to separate my emotions from my eating; to get my feelings untangled up from my eating.
• I enjoy my food within my God-given boundaries, using it to fuel my body; not using it for comfort.
• I love the way I feel physically when I’m eating smaller portions. My body feels good; my stomach feels normal and settled.
“All the above” are my birthright! But how often do I sell my birthright for a mere “bowl of soup”? ~ or whatever other food is in front of my face at the moment that I somehow think is going to satisfy me more than obedience will?
As my birthright, those are ALL things that God intends for me to have! And I can have them right now! This very moment! Just by walking in simple and sweet surrender and obedience to Him and, by and with His mighty power at work within me.
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging?” I woke up with this saying in my mind early one morning. I started to think, How was I digging in regards to food?
I realized that I was sabotaging myself and digging a deeper hole that I would have to get back out of.
God spoke to me and answered my question:
- When I don’t wait for 0 or empty I am digging myself deeper into my hole.
- When I bring food in the house that I know I cannot handle or my portion sizes are too big, I am digging myself deeper.
- When I eat for emotional reasons or binge eat, I am digging myself deeper.
- When I don’t renew my mind enough so that transformation can take place, I am digging myself deeper.
- When I’m not willing to surrender my destructive will, I am digging myself deeper.
Learning how to untie those awful lies that I accepted, allowed into my thinking, and believed has been a daunting task.
The Lord is using this overeating stronghold and my weakness – this entire season in my life, really – to bring me closer to Him. For that I am eternally grateful!
(See her bio below.)
One day, I was out shopping with my youngest son of four children. Weaving our way through many aisles, we eventually found ourselves in the cereal aisle.
With a house full of cereal eaters, which cereals I buy is always up for debate. I don’t know about your house, but in mine, food-consuming humans change their minds about this issue like the wind changes direction.
There we stood, unable to decide which cereals to bring home.
So, I did what any normal mother would do, I called my most finicky teenager for his opinion. Why waste time and money, right?
The conversation went something like this:
“Hey, I’m at the grocery and I’m in the cereal aisle. What do you want me to get? There’s this, there’s that…”
And in a very hurried voice, he shouted “I don’t know. Just get something sugary!” and promptly hung up on me.
I could hear other boys in the background. He was, quite obviously, distracted.
Well okay then, I let my youngest pick them out.
Later that evening, the picky one messaged me. He sort of apologized for hanging up on me and said “I didn’t mean to seem rude. I was just being rushed by everyone else.”
The Holy Spirit asked me, in that moment, “How many times do you do that to me, Kelly?” … Mic drop!
With endless demands of family, pets, work, church, and my eternal to-do lists, how many times do those things rush me, and I hang up on God? Or I cut my time with Him short.
All too often, I’m afraid.
I can easily say, “I’m so sorry, God; I’m not trying to be rude” and blame so many things for taking me away from Him and what He wants to talk to me about.
When all was said and done, I was not angry with my son. A little exasperated, maybe. I definitely appreciated his pseudo-apology. And, it was definitely not the way he usually engages with me. Yet, I never really thought about how often I do this to my Lord.
Am I taking advantage of Him because of verses like Romans 8:1 that says:
“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus?” (NLT)
Or, is God even hurt that I cut Him off? Is He exasperated when I hang up on Him?
Ephesians 4:30 in The Message Bible says:
“Don’t grieve God. Don’t break His heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.”
Ouch! Perhaps there are several yeses to those questions.
Helen Simons, in her blog for Brunstad Christian Church writes:
“We live in a fast-paced society, and most of us live a fast-paced lifestyle, with fast travel, fast communication, fast access to a wealth of information, etc. If, in the middle of this, I do not consciously set my mind on the things of the Spirit, I will not be able to hear his still small voice in my heart of hearts. When I do not listen to Him, I end up grieving the Holy Spirit, because He has so much to tell me that will bring me joy and happiness, and bring me to a life of freedom from sin and self.”
I might add fast food to her list!
I will say that, as I have hit the “change” of life, my body has begun to force me to slow down. I could fill my schedule regularly, but my body won’t cooperate.
I love being able to “do it all!” But at what expense? There is value in slowing down and not “hanging up” on God just to get to the things that are rushing me.
The sink full of dirty dishes can wait. The never-ending laundry can wait. Even meals can sometimes wait as I read, listen to a sermon, and respond to class participants and coaching clients. It actually feels good to stop, look, and listen to God.
When I do take the time to listen, I hear Him say “Worship me in song right now,” and He will lead me to just the right music on my playlist or the radio.
I can hear Him whisper “Go look in my Word” or in a certain book, and I’m instantly transported into the spiritual realm as He speaks directly to my heart and soul with just the right words.
If I slow down and listen, I can hear Him ask me “Will you pray for this person” or “I want you to confess to me.”
He is always in the business of setting my soul to be rightly related to Him. Here is where His power is stirred within me and my faith increases!
Ephesians 5:16-18 in the NLT says,
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Amen and Hallelujah!
So I am making it a point to not hang up on God; to not, in essence, tell Him “I’ll call you back when these other things aren’t rushing me!”
I don’t want to fall into the trap of blaming other things in order to avoid talking and listening to God.
My heart’s desire is to be sure I do not hang up on God because He has so much more – and such greater things – to talk to me about than a favorite cereal.
I’ve come to realize that what I’ve been through – the pain I have been experiencing – is necessary for me. I don’t know why God chose this path for me, but I’m sure there is something He wants to bring out of me, and pain is the only way it’s coming out.
My pain is that I have had a foot amputated. When a limb is amputated, you still have the same nerves in your body even though your limb is not there. There are times when my leg is hurting with shock pain and I can feel the pain in my foot that is not there. Or my foot may itch and there is nothing there to scratch. It’s very weird.
Imagine lightning. That’s how my pain feels – quick, and it hurts like a shocking pain. It doesn’t happen every day but when it does, it’s not real fun.
I’m also hoping and praying that He brings me out of this season of my life.
Have you ever thought that, even when situations are not perfect, you could still be right smack-dab in the center of God’s will for you?
The Bible is full of people like that. For instance, Joseph’s brothers completely betrayed and abandoned him, and he was sold into slavery in Egypt and later thrown into prison under false accusations! Amazingly, no matter where he was, even in the worst and most painful of situations, he still rose to the top.
He was chief in Potiphar’s house with only Potiphar and his wife being above him. While in prison, he was the person who everyone came to for advice.
It took seventeen years for him to realize he was right where God wanted him to be, uncomfortable as it was for him.
So, even though what I’m going through is not what I want, I can only believe that it is God’s will for me.
I would not have known that I had the gift of writing had this not happened, or that I love encouraging others. In my earlier years I never thought that anyone would want to listen to me, or that I had anything of worth to say. I don’t know where that came from, except that it was a lie whispered to me that I believed for years.
Decades ago, when I was a child getting bullied for my weight, my self esteem took a real beating!
The enemy accused me of things that God never would have said to me, locked me up in a prison of lies, and bound me up with extra weight. Low self esteem hung like heavy chains around my neck, adding even more weight.
Lies, accusations, and low self worth kept me in bondage for half of a century. I felt like Samson when he was tied to the mill going around in circles, blind, with no hope! I begged for a way out!
“Set me free from my prison that I may praise your name.” (Psalm 142:7)
Now God is using the very things that have bound me up to free me and bring me where He wants me to be!
This extremely long and arduous journey has me right here, right now, finding my purpose, mission and assignment, doing what I really love, encouraging others out of what I’ve been through!
I am developing a greater love for God and accepting this assignment from Him, begging for Him to let me accomplish this for His glory!
I don’t want to give up! I want to see this through.
Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added!”
I have always said that I want God to get the glory for my weight loss, not realizing that this is what He would call me to do.
I had no idea that this program – Thin Within – existed, and that God Himself led me to buy the Thin Within book. But even that was not a smooth start as I never read it because I was too into ME being in control of losing the very thing I was in bondage to! I could have tried for 100 years and it would not have happened!
But God has used it all and is now opening my eyes. Had things not gone the way they have, our paths would have never crossed! I had to go through this because of my own stupid stubborn will. I can be tenacious, and was back then too, but often to my own detriment!
In the midst of all of the chaos, depression, failed attempts to bail myself out of my mess and pain, feeling trapped and lonely, He never gave up on me. I praise God that, on December 11, 2017, I finally heard His still small voice that was prompting me to just open this book and I started reading one chapter a day for 30 days.
It turned into one of the best decisions I have ever made! I feel like… I… AM… HOME!
(See her bio below.)