Way back in the early 1990’s when I was homeschooling our two teenagers through high school, I wanted a way to help them ~ and myself ~ study Scripture in greater depth, in an orderly, organized, uncomplicated way.
So I created two forms, both of which enable us to dig deeper into the Word by dissecting and examining several key words in the verse and definitions. One is the “Word Alive Study” and the other is the “Scripture Verse Study.”
By the end of either study, the meaning of our word or Scripture verse has been blown wide open, having come alive in a totally fresh way.
Both are very eye-opening, and if you allow the Lord to speak to you, not just doing them in an “intellectual” way, they are heart-changing.
One of these forms is called a “Word Alive Study” and the other is a “Scripture Verse Study.” The two have similar components, yet different purposes and results. I will explain both, as well as include free printables of both at the very end. But first, here’s what they are and how to use them…
WORD ALIVE STUDY
For the “Word Alive Study,” you choose a word that you want to study, one that has special significance to you. It could be a word that you feel the Lord has given you. This might be for the coming year, for a season you’re in, or for your life. Some of my favorites are hear, surrender, commune, and redeem ~ the latter being my life verse. The first three were in seasons, and I have written about some of these in the articles that I have linked you to in two of of them. (Plus here are two more on “redeem”: HERE and HERE.)
Or it could be a particular “theme” that’s been springing up in your life. Struggles are often telling, and one of the things they can “tell” us is what God is currently working on in us.
- Like are you finding yourself more frustrated and impatient than usual? … Patience would be a good word.
- Do you tend to feel jealous of certain people? … Jealousy, envy or contented could be your word.
- Do you feel like you lack in order in your day, how you deal with your children, or your eating? … Discipline or self-control.
- Maybe you feel sad or depressed more often than you’d like? … Study joy or rejoice.
Next, here’s a picture of the form for you to refer to as I explain how to use it: (You can’t actually copy and paste this or print it; the free printable given at the end is what you’ll print.)
Decide on your word, and look it up in a dictionary. But I would suggest not just any dictionary. The one I highly recommend is Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. This is an amazing resource! It’s actually Noah Webster’s original work. What they call “Webster’s Dictionary” today is not even close to his original, which included Bible verses and character traits as being part of the definition ~ all of which have been omitted in today’s versions. Webster would roll over in his grave if he saw a modern version in which the heart of his work has been extracted. I bet he would insist his name be removed from the title. (I am not kidding or exaggerating!) Take a look at one definition, and you’ll see what I mean…
Go to the main page of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary and type “house” into the box at the very top. Look at all the definitions that have Scriptures in them!
Now go to the definition of house in the modern Merriam-Webster Dictionary… Do you see even one Bible verse there?
So back to the Word Alive Study… You will still get plenty out of this study even if you use a modern dictionary because of how merely defining words opens up scripture!
Go back to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary and type your word into the box at the top. Let’s use integrity.
There are always multiple definitions, and here’s what to do with them.
First, I don’t use any of their examples as part of my definition. I colored the examples grey below to show you what I mean…
INTEG’RITY, noun [Latin integritas, from integer.]
1. Wholeness; entireness; unbroken state. The constitution of the U.States guaranties to each state the integrity of its territories. The contracting parties guarantied the integrity of the empire.
2. The entire, unimpaired state of any thing, particularly of the mind; moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty. integrity comprehends the whole moral character, but has a special reference to uprightness in mutual dealings, transfers of property, and agencies for others.
The moral grandeur of independent integrity is the sublimest thing in nature, before which the pomp of eastern magnificence and the splendor of conquest are odious as well as perishable.
3. Purity; genuine, unadulterated, unimpaired state; as the integrity of language.
So all the grey words are out.
Next let’s condense the above three definitions:
“Wholeness; unbroken state. The entire unimpaired state of a thing, moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty. Genuine, unadulterated.
Comparing this to the definition above, you’ll see that I deleted repeat concepts, removed examples, and did some condensing.
This is the definition that I would enter into the definition line on the form.
In the next section of the form it says: “Seven major words from the definition and their definitions:” So on the top line of each of the seven subsequent line-pairs, I’ll put one of the words in my combined, condensed definition. So I will choose these words ~ the ones in red ~ here:
Wholeness; unbroken state. The entire, unimpaired state of any thing, moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty. Genuine, unadulterated.
You can choose any seven words, but those are just the ones I chose.
You can actually omit the “ness” part, if you want, as that is the root word. In fact, I looked up “wholeness” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, and it’s not even there, so I just used “whole,” which was ample! So now I will look up each of those seven words and put a combined, condensed definition for each of them. Here’s the first definition. (I choose my favorite.)
The entire thing; the entire or total assemblage of parts. (The whole of religion is contained in the short precept, Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself.)
Next I looked up unimpaired. It’s not there, so I deleted that word and went to the next word: soundness:
Firmness; strength; solidity; truth; as soundness of reasoning or argument, of doctrine or principles.
Freedom from guilt or the defilement of sin; innocence; as purity of heart or life.
not marred, impaired or spoiled; not defiled or depraved; pure; sound; untainted; applicable to persons, principles or substances.
Honest; just; adhering to rectitude in all social intercourse; not deviating from correct moral principles
…and last, genuine:
real; natural; true; pure; not spurious, false or adulterated. Vices and crimes are the genuine effects of depravity, as virtue and piety are the genuine fruits of holiness
When I’m done with that, I’ll do what it says in the next section, which is “Now go deeper with four definitions above that stand out to you and write what you feel God is saying to you: [Hint #1: If you do not feel that you are hearing God, just go with whatever you feel excited about, convicted about, or edified or encouraged by. Hint #2: That’s probably hearing God!] (You will probably need to use the other side if hand-writing this.)
So, of these, the four words that stand out to me the most are: untainted, honest, rectitude, unadulterated.
I guarantee that it doesn’t matter what word you choose, you’re going to end up blessed and enriched by it!
Now let’s look at the…
SCRIPTURE VERSE STUDY:
This has similar components to the Word Alive Study above, but you study a verse instead of a word.
Let’s do this verse as an example…
“I send forth my word and it shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
There’s space for 8 major words in the verse, but I found 6 to be enough; there’s no need to delve into words that are insignificant.
Look up each of those six words and put a synopsis (short version) of each of them here. Then, just as we did in the first form, look up the four “best” or “majorest” words in those six definitions. (You do these just as you did for the Word Alive Study, so I’m not putting examples here.)
Last, write any revelations, discoveries, and insights that came to you as you were doing the study.
PRINTABLES OF THE FORMS
There are two versions of each form: One is to print out and hand-write on, for those who like to sit in a cozy chair with a blanket and a fave beverage, and hand-write your thoughts. The other version is to open on your computer and type in. (You can still have a blanket and fave beverage nearby! And if you have a laptop, you can still be in a cozy chair!)
On the do-on-your-computer version, the boxes expand with your typing. The printable versions just have a certain number of lines to write in, but you can certainly use the back! These do-on-your-computer versions are in Word format because you need to be able to type in that one, and PDF’s are non-type-in-able.
Word Alive Study:
To type in on your computer (Word document)
To print out and write in (PDF document)
Scripture Verse Study:
To type in on your computer (Word document)
To print out and write in (PDF document)
I’d love to hear any revelations ~ “heavy revvies” as we used to call them back in the 70′! ~ you get while doing either of these studies!
Lord, I have a lot going on today; many things on my plate. You said You’ll be with us always, which includes TODAY! So would You help me prepare for these things ahead instead of being a sitting duck and waiting until I’m in the middle of them – sinking down, getting overwhelmed, confused, or discouraged?
Christina (Motley) often talks about asking God, at the beginning of the day, to help her process things she knows will be coming up that day. This is the first I had ever heard of doing this, and I love the concept!
I invite you to join me as I walk through asking the Lord to help me process five things I deal with on a regular basis.
You’ll recognize many of the truths herein as being things we have heard from Heidi and Christina in the Thin Within groups and materials!
Okay, Lord, let’s DO this!
My past failures tend to creep up on me and suck me down into the miry pit of discouragement. I easily start feeling I’LL NEVER CHANGE! Why even try? I’ll just fail again!
TRUTH: Yesterday’s failures do not define or confine me. God has forgiven me, (assuming I have asked), so despite what I couldn’t do yesterday (or simply chose not to do), the truth for this moment is that I can begin afresh right now because today is a brand new day!
PLAN: When failures come at me like a fastball, and the enemy tries to use them to strike me down, hit him back with these verses:
SCRIPTURE: “Remember not the former things, [the things of the past] nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) | “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning (and it’s always morning somewhere on the planet!); great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–24) | “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
PRAY: Lord, I’m so grateful that You don’t hold my past against me, and that You don’t want me to keep regurgitating my failures and sins. Thank You that You are doing a new thing in me! Help me be aware of it springing forth in me rather than continually focusing on my sins, failures and weaknesses. I want to walk with You as You make a way in the wilderness of my undisciplined thought life and rivers in the dry desert of my gluttonous nature..
I have many things to do today and am feeling overwhelmed trying to decide what to do and not do, and how to get everything done that I need to get done.
TRUTH: The Lord knows what He wants me to do today and He is able to show me this and to UNoverwhelm me.
PLAN: Make a list of all the things that need to be done so that they aren’t just floating around and hitting me in the head all day. Pray, wait, and allow God to show me what to do next, and then next… and what to let go of, at least for today. And even though I don’t think I know how to hear the Lord, see John 10:27 below.
SCRIPTURE: “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27) | “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34) | “Let all things [that the Lord wants me to do] be done decently [kindly, dutifully, suitably, and generously; not minimally or begrudgingly] and in order.” (I Cor. 14:40)
PRAY: Lord, You know everything before me today, and what all You want me to do. So show me what I do and don’t need to do today, and how to accomplish all that You want me to!
STUFF I DON’T WANT TO DO
Lord, there’s a task that I don’t want to do today, something I’ve been procrastinating doing just because it’s distasteful and I simply do NOT want to do it!
TRUTH: Whether or not I want to do this is not my bottom line, but whether or not God wants me to do it. I’m thankful that I’m physically capable of doing it.
PLAN: Pray the prayer below, and then get in and JUST DO IT!
SCRIPTURE: “For the moment, all discipline [hard work that I don’t particularly want to do] seems painful [distasteful] rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [including having something done that I didn’t want to do] for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
PRAY: Lord, would You help me not only do this, but also make me extra aware of Your presence while I do it? I’d love it if you put something on my mind and heart to think about and process with You while I (we) do it.
Lord, there are all sorts of yummy foods in the fridge and my pantry, and they’re calling my name!! I just SO want to eat them ALL – or at least as much as I can cram in!
TRUTH: Yes, there are lots of good things to eat, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat them all today, or ever! The truth is that it’s more wasteful to eat it all than to toss what we don’t eat; the excess fuel in my body will weigh me down, rob me of energy, and steal my joy and my “food-peace.” The truth is that “one more bite” will not bless me or help me; it will take me in the opposite direction from where God wants to take me, which is into freedom, peace, and joy.
PLAN: Each time I get down to zero, I can eat a small amount of whatever I want – up to “satisfied.” Focus more on abiding in Jesus today so that “there I’ll be” when troubles come.
SCRIPTURE: “For God has not given me a spirit of fear [of the yummy leftovers in the fridge], but of power [to not eat everything in one sitting], of love [of myself, enough to tend to my actual needs and not lusts], and a sound mind” [which, as God renews it, is capable of regarding food as merely “tasty, enjoyable fuel” and not as entertainment!] (2 Timothy 1:7)
PRAY: Lord, thank you so much for Your provision, which is so abundant that I have enough food to actually have this problem! Help me to enjoy food as tasty fuel, and not as something to scarf down until I’m stuffed! You know which foods my body actually needs and what will be “whole body pleasers,” so would You give me a desire for those foods, and help me eat “just enough” to satisfy my hunger. And remind me if I get preoccupied and forget to come to You as often as I need/want to!
Lord, I know I’m going to hear more bad news today, and each time I do, I get anxious and/or angry. All the yuckiness going on in the news and politics: the twisted perceptions, perverse ungodliness, defiance and mockery of God, injustices, despising and hatred of Christians – it all just grieves me so much, Lord, and I don’t know what to do with it.
TRUTH: These things are happening because people have rejected God and set themselves up as their own authority. They call what’s good evil, and what’s evil good. I need to expect to see these things; not be surprised.
SCRIPTURE: “For, although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools … [T]hey did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. … [And] they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them.” (excerpts from Romans 1: 21–31)
TRUTH: I can’t fix these situations or the people involved. It’s not even my job; these people and situations are the Holy Spirit’s work; mine only to the extent that He brings me into His work. But it is my job to pray for them and to love the people.
SCRIPTURE: “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:17)
TRUTH: In the midst of all the sad, horrible, and depressing things going on in the world, God still wants me to be loving, gracious, patient, and kind. There may be a time to speak the truth in love, but I need to let God lead me into those situations, and not strive to change/fix everyone as “the way it is” was prophesied. And, in the meantime, get His heart for others, even those with whom I disagree (vehemently).
SCRIPTURE: “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalms 145:8) | “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
TRUTH: God doesn’t want me to live in a state of continually being troubled, weighed down, vexed, and dominated by all the evil going on in the world.
SCRIPTURE: “Cast all your anxiety (cares, burdens) on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) | “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6-7) | “Demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Corinthians 10: 5)
A) Make it a practice to “take every thought captive.”
B) Print out four copies of the above truths + verses and put them: in my Bible, on the inside of a kitchen cupboard, in my bathroom cupboard, and by my bed. Also copy and paste it into the Notes on my phone. So that…
C) Whenever one of these thoughts hits, process it with Jesus. Ultimately leave the matter – and its heaviness – with Him.
PRAY: Lord, there is soooo much happening today that is just so sad and depressing. It can easily suck the wind right out from my sails. Please give me Your heart and mind on all this! Help me carry Your hope-giving light to those who walk in darkness!
I’d love to hear what’s been weighing on your heart/mind and how you are processing it with the Lord!
“Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
For many of us, doing comes much more naturally than being. Which means that spending time with the Lord may not come as easily as doing things for Him. This struggle goes way back to Mary and Martha…
Martha is known for being frustrated about not getting any assistance while preparing food for their guests – one of whom was Jesus Himself. And her sister, Mary, was of NO help! She was just sitting at Jesus’ feet, visiting with Him instead of helping Martha.
I imagine Martha, in the middle of kneading a loaf of bread, calling out to the living room “Mary! Could you come and grease a bread pan for me?” Mary doesn’t budge. So Martha complains to Jesus saying He should tell Mary to get up and help her in the kitchen.
Jesus’ response “Martha, you are concerned about many things…” had to have frustrated her. I know it would have frustrated me! I would have wanted to say this back to Him:
“Well YESSSS I’m concerned about many things! Of course I am! I’m trying to get a nice meal fixed here, and, thanks to Mary who’s just sitting out here in the living room with You, I’m doing it all MYSELF!!!”
There’s probably not any way I could have said that respectfully, and hopefully I would have had enough sense to not say it, but knowing me…
So Jesus continued with His famous words:
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
“The better part.” ::heavy:::sigh:: That is what I want to talk about today, because this “better part” does not come naturally for me.
I do desire to spend time with God, but I’m sad to say that I’d rather DO stuff for Him than just sit at His feet… and be quiet… and listen.
One reason is that it’s hard to pull away from all the stuff I want to get done!
Another reason is that because, when I do just sit with Him, I don’t feel like I “hear” anything or like anything’s happening. It’s just quiet. ::crickets:: So this just confirms that I’m not as spiritual as I’d like to think I am, or else I’d be hearing something. So I’d better get busy doing something spiritual to quench that uncomfortable feeling or to try to make myself more spiritual.
Or else I just fall asleep.
Mary definitely had an advantage with Jesus’ feet being physically present. She wasn’t just metaphorically “sitting at His feet”; she was literally sitting at His feet. While He was actually talking… to her… in person… with His actual feet right there – one foot away… or one cubit, or whatever it was.
If Jesus were in my actual living room in person, I would have nooooo problem sitting at His feet. But since He’s not, I need some help and enlightenment… which I got in the form of a Facetime call from our grandson, Weston, age 9…
He Facetimed me at 10am one day. I would never have answered a call that I could be seen in pre-makeup-and-hair-being-done from anyone but a grandpunkin. But I figured he wouldn’t be calling if he didn’t have something important to say. Besides, I knew he wouldn’t care how I looked.
But I did. And it was not good! So I seriously considered blurring the little pictures of me on the screens. (I had NO thoughts whatsoever of these being seen in a blog post!) But I ultimately decided to just be real and keep them as-is.
Weston told me about something he wanted me to change on a “Special Memories with Gramma and Grampa” notebook page I have them do here at our house. But, after doing so, rather than hanging up, he just kept talking… and talking… telling me about all sorts of things!
After a while, his mom (our daughter Sharnessa) told him he needed to get off the phone and do his tasks, but he wanted to keep me on while he did them – which she let him, and he did! As he unloaded the dishwasher, he continued telling me about the many ideas and plans he felt I needed to know about.
And finishing the dishes, he took me around the house showing me many things, assuming I’d be interested in every little detail!
I loved it and was certainly not going to be the one to go! So an hour and a half later, we were still on! It was so precious for him to be sharing all this with me. And I documented it with screenshots! My purpose in sharing these isn’t to show high-quality pictures – cuz most are blurry. I just want to bring you into my sweet experience…
(In many of them, I look distressed, but I wasn’t; I was just squinting to figure out what he was showing me! – no small feat because this boy has one speed: FAST!)
MY SCREENSHOT TOUR
He showed me seeds they’d gotten at an Earth Day Fair, which are encased in “disks that look like spaceships!”
…and a page he’d done in his USA notebook…
…the sprinkles on his hot cocoa…
…which, as he later told me: “They just basically disintegrated, Gramma!”
He showed me the melted-plastic ornaments he and Chase had made…
…and his plans for a 3-layer cake he wanted to make with me on our next Grandma’s Day. He’d drawn a diagram and we discussed how to make it work logistically.
…and the orange “plushy” they turned into the Sun for their Solar System in their homeschool room.
“And, Gramma! These are supposedly eggs, but they’re actually SOAPS!!!”
“And here’s our hotel phone that actually works!”
Then onto to their backyard…
…and the crawl space opening – which he knew I would love to see!
We live in the same town, and I’d been to their home countless times, so I’m very familiar with their house and already knew about almost everything he showed me! But I was delighted to listen to Weston, not because I was getting new information, but because connection happens in the time we spend together!
WHAT GRAMMA LEARNED
As one might guess, the Lord spoke to my heart sweetly, deeply, and profoundly through this!
Weston had shared his ideas with me, his plans, things he had made, items he found amusing, and his beverage. He wanted me to be there while he worked, and told me his thoughts even as they were formulating in his head!
Basically, Weston just wanted to hang out with me!
He wasn’t a bit concerned about how anything sounded. He wasn’t even concerned about having – or not having – anything to say. There were several silences, but they weren’t awkward for Weston! He had no doubt I wanted to stay.
He loved my responses… and I loved listening to him and responding!
The Lord showed me that, in “all the above,” Weston was choosing, in a very simple but real way, “the better part”!
Better than what? Better than doing things for me… Better than doing his own thing without me. Not that those are wrong! But being with me was just better!
And the Lord showed me that this is exactly how He wants me to be with Him!
He delights in me sharing my thoughts, plans, and ideas with Him.
He wants to hear about things I think are cool or beautiful.
He’s delighted to help me with challenging projects that are totally overwhelming to me. (Which is often!)
He wants to hear about a hope or dream that has “basically disintegrated” and show me what to do next.
He not only has no problem with silence; He knows that good stuff happens in time quietly spent with Him… like healing, solutions, forgiveness, joy, heart-softening, and the calming of storms.
All of which is exactly why He invites us to…
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)
So telling God about things He already sees and knows is neither a waste of time nor an insult. Even though He already sees and knows it all, He still wants us to come and tell Him everything, because connection happens in the time we spend together!
“I, the LORD, invite you to come and talk it over…” (Isaiah 1:18)
We are not on our own, expected to sort and solve our messes by ourselves. He offers us “the better part,” which is sitting at His feet and pouring out our hearts to Him – our ideas, hurts, plans, frustrations, failures, victories, delights, sins, and even the stuff that makes us angry,
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.” (Psalms 62:8)
He wants to be our “safe place” for all our heart-outpouring.
Are you in need of a Personal Refuge, One who’s concerned about every little detail that concerns you? I sure am! And this is “the better part” that we have access to 24/7, if we’ll only cease my doing for a while and come to Him!
“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with Me, oh my people,’ and my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’!” (Psalms 27:8)
[A portion of this article was adapted from my “Commune With Me Guide” article on my Honeycomb Oasis blog.]
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)
In Fresh Wind, Fresh Desire, Heidi wrote regarding boundaries: “The wooden fence protects a family dog from wandering off into a forest where predators lurk.”
It was interesting that I read this just a few hours after hearing some nearby animal predators doing more than just “lurk” in the woods we live in. I knew they were causing all the howling, screeching, and yelping going on not too far from our house! I didn’t see them, but the predators had to be a pack of hungry coyotes attacking a dog. The frantic, pathetic howling of the prey went on for several awful, horrible minutes.
It was agonizing for the animal, but it was also agonizing for us who were listening. By no choice of ours! Inside with the front door and windows shut, we still heard it loud and clear! And we could do nothing about it. The screeching and yelping eventually got quieter and quieter until, finally, the tormented prey was “quieted.” 😞
Living in the woods, there are no fences around here that would actually keep a dog safe, if we had one. We have fences that keep cows in and people out…
…and fences that keep horses in…
(I took both of the above photos out on my walk recently.)
…but neither of these fences would keep a predator out. And neither fence would have helped that poor dog, as both the coyotes and the dog were quite capable of slipping through them. Maybe not unscathed going through the barbed wire fence, but they could still make it through.
But I’m certain that if we did have a “thorough” fence around our property ~ like maybe a concrete wall or an electrical fence ~ and if the dog had been on the inside of the fence, and the coyotes on the outside of it, unable to get to the dog, that dog would have felt that “the boundaries had definitely fallen for it in pleasant places.”
The point, of course, is that, without any boundaries, those coyotes were free to attack whatever animal they wanted, and that dog lost any and all freedom it thought it had living out in the country.
BOUNDARIES ABOUND, ALL AROUND!
Boundaries are everywhere and come in a variety of ways. Let’s take a quick look at a few…
Marriage boundaries: We state our marital boundaries in our vows, which include loving, honoring, and cherishing this person, and no others ~ in the same way.
Road boundaries: The lanes, lines between lanes, shoulder, the concrete divider between freeway lanes all provide boundaries that, unheeded, have very unhappy consequences.
Getting more specific, if a vehicle goes outside of these road boundaries, they will literally land in the water ~ and most likely, their demise.
Clothing boundaries: It covers parts of the body that need to be kept warm and/or private; exposes (at least) the hands that work and face that needs to see, smell, and eat.
Organizing boundaries: Shelves, boxes and bins keep items separate and able to be quickly and easily accessed.
Time boundaries: Many aspects of our day ~ like getting up, going to work, meetings, naps, eating, shows on TV, and bedtime ~ have time boundaries that keep our day regulated and in order.
Relational boundaries: There are certain things we do and talk about with people depending on their relationship to us. Like I talk with my husband and closest friends about deep and personal matters, but not to mere acquaintances, bank tellers, or grocery clerks.
Geographical boundaries: Borders between states and countries keep citizenship ~ and the responsibilities and privileges thereof ~ clear; residency defined.
Property boundaries: Fences, lawns, landscaping define yards and boundaries between properties. (Clearly this fence would not keep the ocean out! But it would delineate property lines.)
Store sections: Certain things can be found on Aisle 8 and others on Aisle 3; certain things in the bakery, and certain things in the produce section ~ all of which have boundaries within those boundaries!
Train boundaries: The tracks are very clear boundaries, and a train going off of them results in a literal “train wreck” and “derailing.” Tracks might seem very limiting, but a train has complete freedom to go anywhere the tracks can go only when it stays on the tracks! When it derails, all freedom is instantly lost!
Building boundaries: A home consists of boundaries in the form of rooms, which are made of walls, ceilings, and floors. And the outer walls are a boundary, too: I live in this house, and not in the yard, sidewalk, road, or next door.
SO WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS?
I’m sad to say that I have not seen my food boundaries as “falling for me in pleasant places.” So, knowing the Lord wanted to teach me some things about them, I started pondering the above pictorial boundaries, and their various roles and advantages. Some pretty amazing truths surfaced. Boundaries…
:: close the gap on wondering if this or that is beneficial to me ~ like getting down to a zero is beneficial; getting to a 7 is not.
:: help me love and honor my body; overeating is not cherishing myself.
:: make me stay aware that there’s a heavy (pardon the pun) price to pay for a few moments of out-of-my-boundaries eating.
:: keep the eating dynamics of my life regulated and in order.
:: help me to not become discouraged, ready to throw in the towel, and thus “derail.”
:: keep me aware of the limits of food’s capabilities: it can feed and nourish my body, but it can’t satisfy my innermost needs and desires.
:: make it clear where I’m to be in my eating any given moment. (Eat when I’m at a zero; stop when satisfied, not stuffed.)
:: keep eating from becoming something it isn’t: a pastime or hobby. (I’m already there, so my boundaries are retraining me.)
:: not allow the enemy to devour me ~ along with my peace, hopes, desires, and goals.
:: give me freedom! I am free to go where the Lord wants to take me only as I stay on track and heed the wisdom-based boundaries He has given me!
Do “all the above” seem like they might be a lot more pleasant than I have been thinking? Living boundary-less – as my flesh would like to – leaves me wide open to be preyed upon by the enemy and every temptation he brings my way with the intent of basically devouring me. He wants to destroy my success, my peace of mind, my goals, my vitality and health, along with any possibility of a long and productive life.
Let me ask you: Are inheritances pleasant? How about prizes? How about joy? Guess what… These are all contained in this verse:
“The Lord Himself is my inheritance, my prize, He is my food and drink, my highest joy!” (Psalm 16:5)
When we have the Lord, and when we seek Him, and allow Him (as opposed to our flesh) to determine our boundaries ~ in anything, including but not limited to food ~ we have the Ultimate in pleasant! And, as such, I need to partake of Him more frequently. When I don’t, I am lacking in pleasantness in my heart, and I am prone to look for false, fleeting, momentary, or imitation pleasures ~ including but not limited to food, or at least eating it outside my boundaries.
But it could be anything ~ for some it might be alcohol, for others drugs, or excessive shopping, or porn, or… doesn’t matter ~ nothing satisfies our deepest needs other than the One who made us.
“Be delighted with the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4)
That verse is easy to misunderstand, turn around and get mixed up, even disappointed about. Why? Because we are actually delighted with our own earthly pleasures, not really with the Lord. When we are truly delighted with Him, we will get ~ from Him ~ the desires of our heart because our heart is in alignment with how He created it to be delighted. Not with things that destroy us, mess us up, or steal our joy.
This actually goes right along with:
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)
And one of those “things that shall be added unto us” is a fresh new view of godly boundaries regarding food! What we have seen as UNpleasant, God will turn to being a “pleasant place” that’s filled with delight, as (and only as) we surrender our will to His. For me, that means surrendering my (supposed) right to eat all the food I want when I want it, even if I’m not hungry! I have thought that eating without boundaries was the essence of pleasant and delightful. But nope! This is the essence of pleasant and delightful:
“The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory.” (Psalms 27:4)
Those are the boundaries I want to live within and enjoy! The rest of the verse actually sums up what happens when I do:
“There I’ll be (in His presence, delighting in Him ~ the ultimate in pleasure) when troubles come.”
What kind of trouble? … Trouble overcoming temptation to overeat… Trouble with getting peace in a difficult situation. (Food will only take my peace; not give it!) … Trouble with feeling overwhelmed. (Food does NOT help me get UNoverwhelmed!) … Trouble making a decision or knowing what to do next. (Food has no power to help me make a decision; it only subdues the anxiety ~ for as long as it takes to eat it.)
If I enjoy peace, God’s presence, joy, not derailing or being destroyed, then yes, God’s boundaries definitely fall in the most pleasant of places. Not flesh-pleasing places, but truly, deeply pleasant places!
In today’s blog post, we answer a question asked by one of our readers.
If YOU have a question you would like to see answered, please post your question in the comments below!
One of our readers of our Thin Within blog asked this question:
Is the size I will land on by doing Thin Within diligently, a weight or BMI that my doctor would call “healthy?” I am not sure if I am at my God given size as I still mess up with 0 to 5….
Thank you so much for asking this great question!
Short answer: It depends. Maybe not!
Long (ok…REALLY long) answer:
Even amongst medical professionals there is disagreement about the value of the BMI. I want to address the first part of the question and then your comment about not being sure if you are at your God-given size. 🙂
I lost 100 pounds once with a popular regular dieting program in 1996. I rigidly restricted my food intake, trained for one marathon and another, strength trained, and was fitter and trimmer than I had ever been before. I was weighed hydrostatically (the dunk tank which was thought to be the most accurate measure of body composition) to see what percentage lean and percentage body fat I possessed after a year of dieting and exercising “religiously.” My results indicated 14.5% body fat which is very lean! I had started at 32% body fat according to the caliper test.
I wanted to be a meeting leader of that popular dieting program because the thought of helping others, thrilled me! I was so excited about the role this company played in giving me my life back again!
The interviews went well. The person interviewing me for the last interview said that she had to check a couple of things with “corporate” and she would bring forms (after she made a phone call) for me to sign to get the ball rolling for me to start working for them as one of their meeting leaders.
She came back a few minutes later and began asking me about my weight–the specific number. My primary care physician had previously sent a letter to this company telling them that I shouldn’t lose any more weight because I was healthy, but lean.” For a frame of reference, a search on Google about women’s body fat percentages brought up these numbers:
- Top athletes: 15 to 20%
- Fit women: 21 to 24%
- Healthy/acceptable: 25 to 32%
So, given I was just under 15%, it wasn’t a good idea for me to lose more weight.
Heidi’s body, according to body composition testing, is healthy here. Her weight on the scale, however, is a lot higher than most. The place she fell on the BMI when she was in this condition was “OVERWEIGHT” close to “OBESE.” !?
Even though my body fat percentage was so low, my weight was high (muscle weighs more than fat). I was fit, I was active, healthy, muscular. When the lady interviewing me returned after her phone call, I was told that they wouldn’t hire someone with a doctor approved recommended weight if it was higher than the highest “healthy” range BMI. My BMI, given my weight, was 29!!! Just three points below OBESE!!! 14.5% body fat and almost obese? I wasn’t even CLOSE to needing to lose more weight!
I did the calculations to find out what would happen if I lost ONLY fat (not the muscle I had worked so hard to build) in order to get down to the highest number within my acceptable BMI. The calculations I made at the time landed me at 11% body fat! This is a number that is associated with women who struggle with anorexia. No thank you very much.
Soon after that experience, I ended up being admitted to the hospital with a challenging health crisis. They had to restrict what I could eat…that little sign “NPO” that means “NOTHING PASSES ORALLY”…all my meals and liquids came to me through an IV. After 10 days in the hospital with NPO for most of the time, I had lost more weight all right. I had another body fat composition test and it indicated that my body fat % had gone up even though my weight went down! My body had metabolized some of the muscle or other lean tissue (my body had thought it was starving when I wasn’t allowed to eat, so it had begun to “burn” the stores…most of which were muscle, not fat!).
Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto
Had I gone to the organization that I had almost been hired to work for previously, they might have PRAISED the accomplishment of arriving at a lower number on the scale. What was true, though? I had less muscle and more fat percentage wise. Once again, my own experience defied the value of the BMI. I was literally *more fat* than I had been at a higher weight.
Another incident that formed my view of BMI and doctors came when I had a doctor (temporarily, as it turned out) who considered BMI as a guide for her patients’ weights. During my normal physical, she expressed concern about the number on the scale, which was higher than most women my age and height who have no weight to lose. I would have been hard pressed to lose any weight without cutting in to the lean on my frame once again. Singles and doubles competitive tennis several hours on most days, combined with working out with “TurboFire” on some of those days (I loved all of this!) and I was in fighting shape!
Many of us have a body type that, when we are at our leanest, we nevertheless, simply will NOT land in the BMI–not without being anorexic!
“No more dragon lady doctor!” I decided to schedule an appointment with a new primary care doc. I told him about the conclusion of the other doc and he was noticeably surprised that she concluded I needed to lose some weight. He told me that regardless of what the BMI said, I looked fit and I was active and not to give it another thought.
How could both be right?
If one doc can see this differently from another, I imagine God may see it very differently from docs, too! 🙂
So, for the reader who asked the question…I guess you can see why I don’t give the BMI much credence.
Only the Lord knows what the best size and shape is for you today. I personally believe that what our size (weight) was in high school is NOT a good indicator of our “natural God-given size” today…today, after we have had 3 babies. Today, after we have gone through menopause… So often we are chasing after the “skinny idol.” That may not be the case for everyone…but it is for many of us.
That said, it really is true that if we renew our minds, if we realize that our hearts are deceitfully wicked and that they try to fool us often and will if we aren’t vigilant and hyper-aware, if we are committed to eating only when hungry and stopping when no longer hungry, and do the best we can, observing and correcting each time we “mess up,” allowing God to redeem all our mistakes and stumbles, we will get to a size that we can live with to sustain. This is a place of peace. It isn’t anxiety producing.
Do I really WANT to insist that I should get smaller if it would mean being hungry more often and not eating? A lot of people on diets or even using Thin Within principles, lose/release a lot of weight and wonder why they can’t get the last four or five or even 10 pounds off. We need to ask ourselves what we can live with and enjoy peace with ourselves, food, God, and our bodies without any anxiety.
As for our reader’s comment about “I am not sure if I am at my God given size as I still mess up with 0 to 5″ reality is, we are on a journey of sanctification. It is, by definition, progressive. I don’t believe we WILL ever be “perfect” in 0 to 5 eating this side of heaven. I really believe that life is composed of steady steps taken, one at a time, in a Godward direction…then out of nowhere (it seems)…OOPS! We slip! We overeat and go past 5 or pre-empt 0. That is the way of things. Do I really think that I can get the “last” 5 pounds off and keep it off if it means I have to be PERFECT? No way! I know I can’t be perfect!
God longs for us to allow His grace to cover us. When we observe our behavior, our choices, our struggles and invite God to show us what corrections we can make so we can be equipped for victory in the future when all things are equal, we are applying God’s grace to our repentance. His KINDNESS leads us to repentance.
So, dear reader, what do you think? Should you look for a doctor to confirm that you are, indeed, within the BMI? Or is it possible that you are healthy even if you aren’t perfectly matched to the numbers that the BMI chart (created in the 1830s, by the way) says you should be? Will you ever be PERFECT about eating only between the parameters of physical hunger and physical satisfaction?
God’s ways are perfect. He created your body, food, eating, all withOUT the BMI in mind. The BMI is a man-made tool and while it has its usefulness (I guess…I am not sure what it is, to be honest), it is nevertheless not to be given authority over our lives.
That all said, if you are eating 0 to 5 nine times out of 10 and maintaining a size that is physically comfortable for you…maybe that is your stopping point. You just keep on eating 0 to 5 and you will stop releasing weight, but start maintaining the same size. This is a wonderful place to be. No new maintenance plan. We keep doing what we did the entire time we were releasing the weight!
Now, then, reader, will you rest in the blessings he has supplied?
I’m not the neatest baker, nor is my mixer the neatest mixer, at least not when its beaters, generously coated with batter, get turned up to the highest speed. No idea how I did that, but I did, and I had quite the mess to clean up!
Since I couldn’t tend to clean-up right away, (I had to finish getting the banana bread into the oven, and tend to other matters,) my beautiful red mixer was now laden with hard, caked-on batter, topped off with a fine coating of flour. And all of this dulled the shiny red color of my mixer.
As I was wetting a dishcloth under the faucet, I could tell my mixer was cringing at what it knew was coming.
I brought the damp cloth over to the mixer and started wiping and scraping the debris off of it. But the more pressure I applied, the more it inched away from my cleaning efforts.
The more I wiped, the more obvious it became that my traveling mixer was simply not going to stand still for my plan. So, as one might guess, it wasn’t getting any cleaner. How could it – when it was just inching away from the very process and pressure that would make it clean and beautiful again?
I finally decided to lay it down on its side, where I could apply pressure from the top. Sure enough, pressing down, it was much easier to wipe the gunk off, now in a position that it couldn’t squirm out of.
The whole scenario brings to mind several truths…
One is that God’s sanctification of us is something we should not be avoiding. For one thing, it’s part of our inheritance as children of God:
“For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6)
For another thing, we can’t get away from Him, even if we are foolish enough to try!
“I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me.” (Psalms 139:7-10)
The Lord also showed me that, just as it was easier for me to clean up my mixer when it was laying down, so is it easier for Him to clean me up when I am laid down – surrendered – not resisting – rather than “standing up” and inching away from Him.
I remember with sadness the times that I have pushed away from Him when he was trying to do – or show me – something that would help clean me up, heal me up, free me up, and make me more into the “Barb” He originally had in mind when He designed me!
He desires to remove all the caked-on gunk of my failures, weaknesses, mistakes, and sin – which are multitudinous – as well as wipe away the dust-coating of worldly influences that still cling to my soul and dull the brightness of it.
He wants to wash me whiter than snow – which reminds me of one of my “uncomfortably favorite” Scripture verses,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 51: 10)
Yes, Lord, give me a fresh, clean heart.
Give me ears that delight to hear Your voice, rather than try to ignore You, or drown You out… (– like when You’re trying to tell me I’m getting close to “five,” but I don’t want to hear that!)
Breathe into me a spirit that’s surrendered to You, not standing stiff-necked in opposition to what You are wanting me to surrender… (– which I know is my rights to eat all the food I want, when I want!)
Scrape away from my heart what isn’t holy or helpful, rather than me continuing to let it cling to me. (– along with the excess weight that clings to my frame)
And help me renew my mind so that I have a correct and truthful view of You… of your discipline and sanctification of me… of the boundaries You have set for me that I have not seen as “pleasant,” but that You say otherwise…
“For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant. But later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
In essence, Lord, I need and want You to give me a right view of anything I currently have a wrong view of.
For this to happen, Lord, I need You to continue doing a cleansing work in me. So I choose to lay still in Your Master-surgeon arms, and, instead of inching away from You and the heart surgery You want to do in me, I choose to inch toward You, and let You do whatever You want to do in my heart!
All this so that I can better reflect the “true colors” of Your nature, Lord, better represent You, and thus be better at drawing people to You.