Welcome To The Covenant Diet!

I’m constantly amazed by the wonderful mix of people that end up here at The Covenant Diet. Oftentimes someone is simply looking for a recipe and connects from Pinterest, read about the site when I was interviewed for The Atlantic, did a random google search for help with overeating, or heard about it when my mother told them (because I tell ya what… she’s still my biggest fan and most avid reader)!

Whatever brought you here, I’m really, truly glad that you came across this blog!

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The Joyful Side

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Some days, I start out the day happy, excited, ready.

Annnnnnnnd then there are some days when I start out the day cranky, fearful, negative.

This morning… I was sorta in between. I could feel my soul trying to decide which “side of the bed” to get up on.

Happy- I’m gonna get to see some of my favorite people today as I go to my first meeting for my new teaching job.

Sad- Oh.my.Lordy. Look at how huge my guy has gotten. They won’t even want me on their team!!!

Then I dutifully read my Jesus Calling (because I’ve trained myself well enough at this point to fight negativity with Jesus):

Hold My hand, and walk joyously with Me through this day.

Negative Nancy Me: Why? What is there to be joyful about? What about my life should I be joyful about?

Happy Hannah Me: Well, you can walk with joy because… hope. God has a hope for you and a future.

And then I pictured myself walking, hand in hand with God (who, yes, looks like Abraham Lincoln to me) down a beach (because… helllllllo, the beach is the best place on earth to walk hand in hand with anyone, especially GOD! Ha!) and we were walking toward my hope. my future.

You know, the hope he has for ME.

The future he has for ME.

I dunno, at that point… visualizing that, and remembering that He DOES have a plan… a plan that often I don’t understand until wayyyyyyy later… well, my soul decided to go ahead and get up on the right side of the bed.

The joyful side.

God, may we all look to you today. Hold your hand today. Walk with you today as you guide us toward a hope for us and a future. Amen.

Recipe: QUICK & EASY Cauliflower Pizza Crust {Vegetarian & Low Carb}

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Okay, so let’s just be real.

Y’all know… I’m a sugar-lover. It is my weakness. Ice cream. Chocolate candy bars. Donuts. And the like.

Salty stuff doesn’t really “tempt” me. Cheese isn’t really a big issue. And bread is a little bit of an issue but more so because it’s just the most convenient way to eat. And it seems like most people have issues with one or the other of these if not issues with all of them.

But if there is anything other than sugar that pops up on my I-just-can’t-resist-it food radar pretty frequently, it is pizza.

I could literally live on pizza, hamburgers, donuts, and chocolate ice cream.

Ya know, if it weren’t for that whole… nutrition thing.

So when I came across these in my low-carb-vegetarian searches on Pinterest, I was intrigued but, naturally, pretty dern skeptical.

I mean, pizza crust… made out of one of the worst tasting vegetables ever to hit the planet?!?!

Yeah, no thanks.

But we are reallllllllly trying to stay away from processed carbs like, ya know… pizza crust, and so I thought I’d give it a go. I was expecting (and secretly hoping for) a failure.

BUT THEY WERE FLIPPING UH. MAZ.ING.

So, without further ado…

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

  • 2 cups of “riced” cauliflower (see my how-to below)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella or Colby Jack)
  • 2 eggs
  • 16-20 basil leaves, cut in strips (about 1/4 cup) *optional, or you can use another herb*

Preheat: Oven to 450
Makes: Four 4″x4″ crusts (My fam plowed through these… even my two picky, picky sons so next time I’m gonna double this!)

{All my “instructional” pics are below the recipe.}

To rice cauliflower:

  1. For this recipe, cut off the cauliflower so that you have mainly the florets (the bushy part on top). Cut off about half of a head of cauliflower.
  2. Put it in a Ninja blender or food processor. (I used my Ninja in the big pitcher… worked like a boss!)
  3. I only had to run it on speed 2 in my Ninja for, like, thirty seconds! I was so pumped that it was such a quick process! It will look like… well, sorta like rice!
  4. Measure out two cups. (And I really would measure it out because I think this recipe needs to be pretty “precise”)

To make the crust:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (and I also sprayed it with a bit of non-stick).
  2. Mix the riced cauliflower, shredded cheese, eggs, and basil (omit this or pick another herb of your choice) together.
  3. Plop a big hunk (yeah, that’s an official term) on the paper and start to spread it out. I used a fork here to sorta “pat” it down and also to help square off the edges a bit.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. I found that a bit of the cheese sorta “snuck” out, but I just used a spatula and shoved it back into the edge of the crust.

To make a pizza:

  1. It’s the same gig as a usual homemade pizza… slop some sauce on there (I always use just plain ol pasta sauce). Always try to leave a little edge so that the sauce doesn’t drip over and below your crust cause it can burn and that’s just plain ol gross.
  2. Sprinkle on some cheese.
  3. Then add toppings if you want. On ours tonight, I chopped up a large portabella mushroom that my man Mr. Chord Dice had grilled earlier for lunch… it was PERFECT on top!
  4. Bake for another ten minutes.
  5. I put mine on a cooling rack for a minute or so cause I can.not.stand. soggy stuff that sits on a plate.

Here are some pretty pics of the process! I really hope you try these and enjoy them because they were totally legit AND they looked good and fancy too!

The ingredients… they look kinda pretty!

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I just had to take a pic of my old school oven dial…

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Before going in the oven

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After the first bake!

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With the toppings! I was admittedly starting to get excited!

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The final product! Ohmygeeeeee… so good!

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Day 891: Still One Of My Favs

I couldn’t help but “re-share” this post. It was from two years ago on my anniversary. {Today is our 10th Wedding Anniversary! We are on the road back from a few days at the lake- it was wonderful, and reuniting, and restful, and blissful! Annnnnnnd well, it was also a neat epiphany moment for me… I’ll post on that in the next few days!}

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So, here’s a shout out to my love, Mr. Chord Dice and a little bit of a #tbt!

Day 161: Best. Anniversary. Everrrrrrrr.

Day 887: God, Help Me

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The past week or so I’ve been on one of those runaway mine cars… careening through food. Searching for that one bite of chocolate that would be truly worth it. {Spoiler alert: I never found anything that tasted as good as I wanted it to.}

And I finally had that moment last night as I downed my second double scooped bowl of ice cream…

This is just not working.

So, as usual, I went to bed thinking “But tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I’ll make good choices.”

Ohhhhhhhhhhh, Tomorrow. That elusive idea of perfection. “Tomorrow” is so perfect. so untainted. so full of possibility.

And so this morning when I woke up, my mind was already trying to convince me: have some coffee ice cream in your coffee.

Oooooo, yum, right?!?!

And so I told myself “Now January. You know that’s not gonna taste as good as you imagine. You know that’s just gonna be disappointing.”

Yes. Yes, I KNOW.

Just like I knew last night that the second bowl of ice cream wasn’t gonna do it for me. And like the two Sonic shakes from this week weren’t gonna do it for me. And like the chocolate-covered caramel popcorn from Target wasn’t gonna do it.

I KNOW.

But I just… can’t. I can’t seem to resist. I can’t even make myself want to resist sometimes.

So this morning, as I waited for the hot water to get to my shower, I prayed a very deep, spiritual, theologically sound prayer…

God, help me.

And nothing happened.

Well, DUH, nothing happened. God has a tendency to work on a long term time frame. Occasionally, He slams down a healing or a revelation… but those very rarely perpetuate change. So, He often works slowly… reminding our hearts as we go.

But as the morning went on and I prayed it over and over…

God, help me. God, give me wisdom. God, help me. Give me Your hope. God, help me. Give me peace. determination. joy. perspective. love. patience. guidance. God, help me.

And I sat outside before everyone else woke up and listened to Philippians on my phone. And, well, guess what?

He. helped. me.

The Word soothed my soul. Gave me wisdom. hope. peace. determination. joy. perspective. love. patience. guidance.

Yep. He helped me alright.

And for the record… I had almond milk in my coffee.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:4,5

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 3:1

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13,14

And I realllllllllly enjoyed this section this morning:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9

 

Jesus, You’re Too Late | The Story of Lazarus

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I got to master teach again in our youth group’s middle school class… and I struggled so much coming up with a lesson on Lazarus. I wrote one a week before I taught and then just tossed it (aka: deleted it) on Saturday night. Then, I wrote an entirely different lesson on just verses that meant something to me… but then I woke up in a sweat (ya know like they do in the movies!) at 4am and realized… nope. Not supposed to teach that one either. SO, I wrote ANOTHER lesson on Lazarus at 4am the morning I was to teach.

And it was allllllllll Jesus talking.

And it made me cryyyyyyyy.

And it grabbed my own heart in a thousand little ways, so I had to share!

{Disclaimer: I always start my lessons with a funny story to sorta bring down the guard of the kids, so you’ll have to endure my funny story at the beginning but if you really don’t have time for a story about the fish I had in college, then skip down to the paragraph that starts “Wait… you know, Lazarus, right?”} 

Lazarus – Jesus, You’re Too Late

Ya know, when I was in college, I had a fish.

A betta fish.

His name… was Hector.

Not Hec-ter, but Hec-torrrrrrrrrr. (Roll the r in your mind please)

And let’s just be honest, fish are not usually awesome, but those betta fish… you put a mirror in front of them and they like all puff out and get all crazy trying to like make themselves look bigger.

Life To The Lifeless - Betta Fish 05.25.2014So, anyway, there was this fad when I was in college that you got a big ol vase and put a betta fish down in it and then put this big ol lily plant in the top and then your betta never had to be fed.

Which was, like, totalllly perfect for me because… well, I’ve been known to, uhhhhh, sorta like… ya know… kill lots and lots of fish cause I sorta just, ya know… forget they exist and need, ya know, like… food. So my mom and my brother came to Abilene where I was in school for my birthday and brought me this betta fish plant thingy. And, of course, I named the fish Hector because that’s the first name ANYONE should think of when naming a fish.

So, months go by and he’s doing great just nibbling on the little plant and I even changed out his water a few times! Well, then Christmas break comes around. And here’s one of the best parts about Christmas break in college… it lasts, like, A MONTH! You go home, eat your mom’s food, have her do your 8,000 piles of laundry… it’s great.

Only, yeah… guess what. When you go home for Christmas, apparently it’s NOT so good to forget your betta fish. Now, once I realized I’d left him, I didn’t really worry about it cause, ya know… no biggie, right??? Well, there’s this thing called… evaporation, and water ya know, like, disappears. So, while I was at home for a month, half of the water in his little vase-thingy… disappeared. Evaporated. So, even though that little plant was on the top, now his water was down so low that the plant root dealies weren’t hanging in the water and he couldn’t eat.

So, I get back to college and I’m all refreshed and I walk in my room and my little plant was pretty much dead and Hectorrrrrrrrr was like… tiny and like white and just like floating totally still. I was all like, yep. I killed him. I killed Hectorrrrrrr. And so I was about to flush him and all of a sudden he started like swimming all around right before I was gonna dump him out, so I put new water in, and I actually cheated and went and got him some food and in a week he was legit again.

Well, then LATER, I was running realllllllllllly late to class and I was like running into my room which had that kind of carpet that wasn’t really carpet. You know, like the kind that they have at school where it’s like flat and itchy and they, like, wax the carpet with those big circly vacuum looking things, and I came running into my room at like Mach 12 speed and slipped and fell riiiiiiight into my bookshelf where Hectorrrrrrrr’s vase thingy was and he cuhrashed to the floor and it shattered everywhere and then I couldn’t find him and then I did and he was all flopping around {squirm}  in my comforter and I {squirm} picked him up and put him in a tiny bit of the vase that wasn’t broken and still had water and then I ran off to class.

So, my suitemates and I renamed him… Lazarus. Hectorrrrrr Lazaraus, the third.

(Even though he wasn’t really the third, it just sounds cooler)

Wait… you know, Lazarus, right? From the bible? (Here is my version of the story of Lazarus which is found in John 11. Now, this is from the JRV… the January Rowe Version which means that it is NOT the real deal, but just in my words. You should also read it from a REAL version of the bible… for this particular chapter, I’d recommend either New Century Version or The Message.)

Lazarus was pretty much besties with Jesus, and then he gets realllllllllly sick, and so Lazarus’s sisters send Jesus a note like “Uhhhhhh, Jesus… Laz, you know… your reallllllly good friend, is sick.” And Jesus is all like, “Ehhhh. Let’s not go right now. This is for the glory of God. It won’t end in death.”

A couple days later Jesus is chillin with his disciples and then all of a sudden he says “Okay, let’s go back to Lazarus’s house.” Well, apparently, there were some guys in the town where Lazarus lived that tried to kill him already so the disciples are like “Yeah, that’s not a good idea” but Jesus is all like, “Hey. Lazarus is sleeping so I’m going to go wake him up.” The disciples are thinking Jesus is wack so they are like “Uhhhh, if he’s just sleeping then he’ll wake up and be fine.” But then JC’s gotta break it down for them and he says “No guys. Laz. is. dead. And I’m glad we weren’t there this whole time cause now… ohhhhhh, now you’re REALLY going to believe.”

So, they head to Lazarus’s house… well, yeah, they find out Lazarus has been dead for four days. His sisters Mary and Martha are trippin cause they know that Jesus could have kept it from happening. He talks to Martha, who is bawling and she says “If you had been here you could have saved him! But I still know you can get whatever you want from God if you just ask.” And Jesus replies, “Your brother is going to come back to life.” And she’s all, “Yeah, I know… in the end, when everyone’s spirit comes alive again.” And Jesus is all like “No… Martha. I am the one, right now, that brings life again. If someone believes in me, even if they die… they will still live! Do you believe????” and she is all “Heck yeah. I believe you are God’s Son.” And then to Martha goes home to get Mary and so she comes and talks to Jesus and she is like, bawling and saying “Jesus, if you’d been here… you could have saved him.”

And then Jesus like cries… well, actually it says that he WEEPS. And then He tells them to roll away the stone covering up the tomb. Now Martha gets a little grossed out and is all like “Uhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah, so Jesus… he has been dead in there for four days so it’s realllllly going to stink.” Jesus replies, “Hey, remember… if you believe, you will see the glory of God.” Well, that shuts her up.

So, then he shouts “Lazarus, come out!” And then Lazarus, in his mummy outfit all wrapped up in cloth, comes out and the people are like fuhreaking out.

Annnnnnd, here’s the part of the story that kind of sucks… so the people are so like “Whoa! This Jesus is legit!” and the Jewish leader guys are all like “Ohhhhh crud. Now EVERYONE is gonna believe in Jesus! This guy is gonna try to take over and then Rome is gonna come up in here and tear down our church and mess up our lives.” And so the Jewish leader guys decide they are gonna have to kill him. And they don’t waste any time… Jesus is on the cross four days later.

Ya know… all the times that I’ve read this story, I’ve just been like “Cool. Jesus raised someone from the dead. Like… duh. We knew he could do that. Why is that a big deal?”

But I think that there is more going on here.

Take that story and look everywhere that Jesus talks and look for anything he says that you think has some kind of spiritual meaning. Like, here’s an example:

And Jesus is all like, “Ehhhh. Let’s not go right now. This is for the glory of God. It won’t end in death.”

There are three more places like that which grabbed me…

“No guys. Laz. is. dead. And I’m glad we weren’t there this whole time cause now… ohhhhhh, now you’re REALLY going to believe.”

Jesus is all like “No… Martha. I am the one, right now, that brings life again. If someone believes in me, even if they die… they will still live! Do you believe????”

“Hey, remember… if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”

Now, look out of those last three verses… are there any words that you see popping out again and again? Yep… you found it…

Believe.

You see, all along I thought that this story was all about Lazarus. Wow… he must have been really special for Jesus to bring him back to life. But now that I really look at what Jesus says… I’m all like… no… this isn’t about Lazarus.

Who was Jesus there to give life to???? Look back at those examples… look at the second verse I showed you. Who was he talking to there?

The disciples.

Now, look at the third and fourth verses… who is he talking to there?

Martha.

It’s like he’s saying to all of them…

LOOK! LOOK at this POWER that I have over life! Look at this hope and life that I can give you today so that even if you die you will still live!
BELIEVE. REALLLLLLY BELIEVE.

So, who was this whole fiasco for?

Lazarus? Just so that he could live some more on earth?

No. It was for them all. So they could believe.

But I do want to back up a bit. Let’s think about Lazarus. How do you think he felt when he was sick in bed, dying? His sisters had sent a note to Jesus… to his best friend… to the guy that they all knew could heal him.

And he didn’t come.

And Lazarus was dying.

And Jesus. didn’t. come.

How do you think he felt? How do you think he felt about Jesus???

I think of him lying there… feeling hurt. betrayed. disappointed. crushed. unimportant. I wonder as Lazarus let out his last breath that he thought “Jesus… this is it! You’re too late! Too late. Too late to save me. Too late for a miracle. Too late for a miracle in my life. You didn’t show up. I’m done. Jesus, you’re too late.”

But was he? Was Jesus too late!?!?!

No.

And that’s what’s hard to remember sometimes when we are Lazarus and we are “dying”. It’s hard to remember that what I think is “too late” is not necessarily the same timing as Jesus’s “too late”.

Our parents are about to get a divorce and we are calling to God, “Come on! Now! It has to be now… you’re going to miss it, Jesus! You’re going to miss the chance to do a miracle!” And then when the divorce ends up happening and we just scream at Him, “YOU ARE TOO LATE! YOU MISSED IT! YOU DIDN’T CARE ENOUGH TO SHOW UP! YOU MISSED IT… YOU ARE TOO LATE.”

Or our mom is pregnant and she loses the baby… “YOU’RE TOO LATE JESUS! WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOW UP IN TIME? I THOUGHT YOU WOULD SHOW UP! BUT YOU ARE TOO LATE!”

Here’s my thing… maybe… maybe sometimes… we are a Lazarus. And Jesus is just waiting until juuuuuuuust the right moment to bust out a miracle. Cause ya know… to us and our unbelieving hearts, it only appears to be a miracle when it is “too late” for us to do anything. THEN that is when it becomes a miracle.

So, today… ask yourself… do you feel like the disciples and Martha? Do you need to look around you and see the hundreds of little miracles that Jesus is doing in OTHER people’s lives so that you can believe. Cause those stories are out there.

Or are you Lazarus? Are you dying on the inside? Is your soul being just ripped apart from something happening to you? Does it feel like Jesus isn’t going to show up in time?

Cause either way… no matter what is happening… Jesus has one… one message for you:

BELIEVE.

 

Day 868: The REAL Problem With Being Fat

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My son just turned four. Which means… birthday cake.

Twice.

Cause we had to have cake for his birthDAY and then we had to have it again for this birthday PARTY a few days later. And, well, needless to say… I consumed wayyyyyy more than I needed to. Shocker, right?

So, on the way home from the party with my two sons in the back of the car, I found myself pleading with God…

God, I’m desperate.

And then, I started to think through that…

When was the last time I really said that to Him? When was the last time I said, “Oh God, I’m just so desperate for _____ to change. Show me what I can do to make it change!”

Well, I can tell you this: I wasn’t desperate for the widows and orphans that he so explicitly instructed us to take care of. I wasn’t desperate for those in my neighborhood and in my life that are struggling through the grips of poverty and the cycle that surrounds it. I wasn’t desperate for the souls that live a few miles down the road who live in opulence, but find themselves hunched over at night drenched in their own tears because they bear so much pressure to perform. I wasn’t desperate for the missionaries all over the world sacrificing their entire lives so that a few souls might be saved.

I wasn’t desperate for the things that break His Heart…
I was desperate for a smaller dress size.

And THAT broke my heart.

I realized that with this weight and food issue of mine, there were two sides:

First of all, God has pulled me toward Him over and over again throughout the process. He has shown me, first hand, so much of His truth and His ways and I have learned, most importantly, that He has this plan running through my life that is so much bigger than just me. I have learned that every. single. moment. of. my. life. BELONGS. Triumph and failure. They belong. Healing and pain. They both belong. Skinny and fat. They are both part of my story… my life.

On the flip side, is the devil. And he has tried to take so, so much from me. He has twisted and flipped and pinched and prodded to make sure that this extra fat that hangs off my gut doesn’t just squeeze my jeans but it also squeezes my heart. He has made sure that my focus was on stuff so temporary, so trivial, so pointless… that I was becoming ineffectual.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the lord. . . For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. . . Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. Lamentations 3:21-26, 31-32, 38-41

So, with that, I change up my original prayer a bit…

God, I’m desperate…
desperate for you to distract my mind
so much towards the eternal
that I don’t even see myself in the mirror.

 

Day 849: Let’s Make A Deal

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Last night I got really… sad. Like, “I’m fat” sad. And then I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking “I’m fat. and undesirable. and ugly. and worthless. and lazy. and undisciplined. and… and… and…”

So, what did I do?

I looked up pics of skinny-me on my facebook page.

Yeahhhhhhhhhh, that was NOT the best idea I’ve ever had. And I can guarantee you that it didn’t make me feel any better. Cause all I did was start to say the same things to myself over and over again… and there was the proof!

See, January!?!?! See??? You used to be so skinny! Even when you thought you still had weight to lose you were perfect! You looked great! But you blew it all, didn’t you? You just ruined it. And now you are fat again and stuck in the same boat you were when you started this whole thing. Way to go.

Admittedly there was a little part of me that retorted, “But you did it once, you could do it again. Go to God. See what He has to say.”

Yeah, I didn’t listen to that part of me. Ya know… the part of me that knows what she’s talking about? I should have gone to God. I should have spent that time searching His Words for the things that are true of me. The things that speak to His Power in my life. The words that address His unfailing and constant Love for me.

But I didn’t.

So.

Let’s make a deal. Next time. Next time that secret sad part of us starts to spout off this DARKNESS into our hearts…

Let’s fight back with LIGHT!

Come back to this post if you need to… cause here are a few things he says about you:

  • I am completeIn Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.  So, I am also complete through my union with Christ who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:9-10
  • I am lovedCan anything ever separate me from Christ’s love?  Does it mean he no longer loves me if I have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is mine through Christ, who loved me.  And I am convincned that nothing can ever separate me from God’s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither my fears for today nor my worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate me from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate me from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
  • I am a work in progressI am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
  • I am strongI can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
  • I am a masterpiece. I am God’s masterpiece.  He has created me anew in Christ Jesus, so I can do the good things he planned for me long ago. Ephesians 2:10
  • I am worth a lotGod bought me with a high price.  I must honor God with my body. 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • I am chosen by Him. Since God chose me to be a holy person he loves, I must clothe myself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
  • I am guarded and celebratedFor the Lord my God is living among me.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in me with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all my fears.  He will rejoice over me with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17

 

Zacchaeus – Short Dude. Weird Name. Noticed By God.

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Okay, so I master teach in middle school youth occasionally, and this past time I taught on Zacchaeus. At first I was really bummed about it because I was all like, “Uhhhhhh, every kid who has ever gone to church knows this story… it’s like the children’s ministry’s favorite one… what the heck am I going to say that’s ‘new’ that they haven’t already heard!?!?!”

But then as I started to study it, I felt washed over with a “new” perspective that I had never heard of/thought of before. Several of my friends wanted to hear the message and since I script out all of my lessons, I just changed it up a bit to make it blog-friendly and thought I’d share it here with you!

 {ZacchIKEAus}

Did you know that IKEA will babysit your kids… for free… for an hour… while you go upstairs and have a cup of coffee in their café?

Yeah. Well, they will.

And yeah, it’s awesome.

And yeah, that is the main reason that I potty trained my kids… so that I could take them to IKEA childcare and maintain my sanity every once in a while. Annnnnnnnd, well, now we are pretty much “regulars” there!

When we first started going out there my oldest son was three and he couldn’t remember the name of the store but they were learning the whole Zacchaeus climbed a tree song in church and so… yeah.

ZacchIKEAus.

Well, let’s talk about him.

Short dude with a weird name.

Yeahhhhhhhh, that combo was probably NOT good for his social life. I mean… I can totally identify with that. I’m a short girl with a weird name. So, yeah, I get it… I’m that chick that has to stand up on the seat at football games when everyone else stands up. I’m the girl who every time someone learns that my name is “January” they have to say “JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER…” as if they were the first person ever to say that to me.

I actually asked this question on facebook and twitter…

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And here were some of the responses…

Napoleon
Flava Flav
Zach Galifianakis
Danny DeVito
E.T.
Rumpelstiltskin
Prince
Benedict Cumberbatch (okay, yeah, he’s not exactly short but his name is crazy awesome-weird, so I had to include him!)

Anyway… those were cracking me up! I mean, E.T.?!?! Brilliant!

et

But to the REAL Zacchaeus… here’s his story:

 1Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.5When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”6Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.8Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”9Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Geeeeeez.

Short. Rich. Weird name. Tough break for this guy.

Plus, what’s even worse is that it says in verse two that he was the chief tax collector and that he had gotten really rich… and man, there is not a whole lot that we like less than a RICH politician guy with a WEIRD name who is also SHORT. So, anyway, Zacchaeus was NOT well liked. Jewish people tended to really not like the people that were tax collectors.

Here’s a pretty good explanation as to why…

As a chief tax collector for the vicinity of Jericho, Zacchaeus was an employee of the Roman Empire. Under the Roman system, men bid on those positions, pledging to raise a certain amount of money. Anything they raised over that amount was their personal profit. Luke says Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, so he must have extorted a great deal from the people and encouraged his subordinates to do so as well. About.com

So, here’s this short dude, weird name, AND he’s basically conning people out of all of their money.

Zacchaeus is a bully.

And we reallllllllllllllllllllllly don’t like bullies.

But Jesus took the time to stop, call him by name, and talk to him… so he must be worth checking out. The thing that I think sticks out the most to us about Zacchaeus here is that he climbed a tree to see Jesus.

Did you pick up on that? He climbed. a. tree.

Like, a grown man. A politician type guy. Climbed a tree. To see some preacher dude.

Okay, that would be a little weird now… I mean, okay, I’m just going to go with THE politician everyone knows: Obama. I mean, he kinda has a weird name like Zacchaeus, so let your imagination stretch. Can you imagine if some super preacher, like Billy Graham, was walking through town and Obama heard about it and he was all like, “Oh dang. I can’t see him… I’ll just climb this tree.”

Uhhhhhhhh, weird.

And it was just as weird then. But ya know… Zacchaeus was willing to do something CUH.RAY.ZAY. to meet Jesus. He was willing to climb a tree to see him. To see if it was true. To see if all this awesome stuff that he was hearing about Jesus was true.

And I think that we have to remember this… because we see people do all sorts of crazy, stupid stuff sometimes, and we are all like “Ugh… they are just trying to get attention.”

And ya know what? Yeah… yeah they are.

They are trying to get the attention of Jesus… well, the only Jesus they know: You.

You are the walking, talking, representative of Jesus.

And they are being crazy because they want your attention. They want HIS attention, through YOU. They want HIS love, through YOU. They want HIS forgiveness, through YOU. But the only way they know how to get to Him… is to be crazy.

You see, most of us, it doesn’t matter if we are 4’6” or 6’4”… we feel that we fall short. Just like Zacchaeus. We feel that there is this… something… about us that makes SHORT. Too short to really see Jesus. Too SHORT for Jesus to see us.

And so people do crazy stuff to make themselves NOTICED.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree. Your friends act all drama-mama. Or they go do crazy stunts to get everyone’s attention. Or they monopolize the conversation. Or… whatever.

Thing is… Jesus NOTICED Zacchaeus. He called him by name. While he was up in a flipping tree!!! And then not only did he NOTICE Zacchaeus, but Jesus also became his friend… in front of everyone. Like, THE guy in town that no famous person would EVER want to befriend, and not only does Jesus befriend Zacchaeus but he also goes over to his house.

Now, I remember when I was in school, a lot of kids would use this as an example for “Hey, mom and dad, you say that I’m supposed to be like Jesus and well, according to the BIBLE, He went to this guy’s house for dinner… a notorious sinner! So, obviously, if Jesus were here today… then he would go to this drunken drug fest at Susie Q’s house this weekend just like he went to Zacchaeus’s house.”

Okay, yeah no. This chunk of scripture is NOT saying “Go to parties… go get drunk or high with those kids.” That’s what not it’s saying here. You gotta look at what this represents.

What Jesus did was to STEP OUT of what everyone THOUGHT he should do and he showed Zacchaeus love. Compassion. He made Zacchaeus worthy just by being with him.

And Jesus didn’t even require Zacchaeus to change or confess or become perfect BEFORE He befriended him… no. I mean, look… Jesus is all like “Zacchaeus… yo. I’m coming to your house.” There was no “Zacchaeus, Hi, my name is Jesus. Look, you’ve been a really bad dude. Tell me all the bad stuff you’ve done, tell me you feel guilty for everything, show that you can be different for a few months, and then IF you do all of that… THEN I’ll come over to your house.”

No. And I want all of you to hear this: Jesus doesn’t NEED you to be perfect or worthy BEFORE He will come over to your house… He doesn’t show up in your life because you are extra awesome… you BECOME extra awesome when He shows up in your life.

God doesn’t choose us for His work because we are worthy;
when He chooses us, we become worthy.

Paraphrase of a quote by Augustine

Okay, so the three things I want you to remember:

  1. Attention seekers: they just want to see JESUS in you.
  2.  Jesus doesn’t require change to be loved by Him: He requires your heart. Change will come.
  3. If we are going to BE Jesus then that means that we can’t require others/attention grabbers to be perfect either.

 {I didn’t script the prayer, but I thought I’d go ahead and end this post with a prayer…}

God, wow. Thank you… thank you for loving me no matter what. Thank you for loving me without me having to do a blooming thing. Thank you for just wanting my heart… despite the rotten condition it is in half the time. Thank you. I pray that you would help me to see some of the people around me that are obviously just trying to get attention… and I pray that you would transfer the feelings in my heart from those of annoyance to those of compassion and love and kindness. I pray that I would see them as you saw Zacchaeus: just a person, doing something crazy, trying to get your attention… trying to see you. I know that sometimes I do that… I stray from  you just hoping that you will come and fetch me. God, if you see me sitting far away from you, call me out by name. Call my name Jesus. TELL ME that you are coming to my house. Seek me out God. Seek us all out. Eat with us when no one else will. Infuse us with your worth… it is the only worth that matters. Oh thank you again God. For the ease with which you accept us all. I love you, Jesus. Amen.

 

Day 842: Nothing Has Changed

Hi.

My name is January.

I’m the author of this blog.

Maybe we haven’t met yet… or maybe you thought that I dropped off the face of the planet… or maybe you just asked my mom when she met up with you on business in Minnesota what had happened to me (by the way, that was a major driving factor to get me back to the blog)…

…and all because I haven’t blogged on here since March 14th! Eek!

I wish that I had some great, awesome explanation… but really… I just needed a break! Haha! I went through the most severe case of writers block on the planet and then I started a facebook/twitter fast for Lent and well… it was just so easy to not even get on my computer… and, and, and…

Well.

There ya go.

So, now I’m back from my entirely unannounced sabbatical from writing.

Know what’s sad? Pretty much nothing has changed in this journey over the past month and a half.

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Oh, I did deperately try a diet with my husband called “Slow Carb Diet”. Abysmal failure. Annnnnnnd I started taking Plexus about two weeks ago… so far it’s not looking good.

But you know what is AWESOME?!?! God hasn’t changed either.

He still loves and adores me. He still draws me close to Him. He still speaks to me through His Word. He still longs for me to be a blessing to the world.

HE STILL IS MY GOD.

HE STILL IS SO, SO GOOD.

Sure, I wanted to have disappeared for a month and a half and then reappear and be all like “Oh my gosh, I’ve lost twenty pounds and I feel great!” but in the long run (and by, long run… I mean, like the eternal-kind-of-long-run) I’m ecstatic to be able to reappear and be able to say that it is well with my soul.

And dear friends… it is. It is well with my soul. HE makes it well. And He can make you well, too.

 

Day 794: The Only Diet I’ve Ever Truly Loved

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I’ve been on a slew of diets in my day.

Atkins
South Beach
Slim Fast
Weight Watchers
20/30 Fat & Fiber
Juice Fasting
Daniel Plan
Hay Diet
Eat Clean
Sugar Busters
And several metabolism boosting pills whose names I can’t remember.

I lost either a little weight on some of those or a bunch of weight… but you know what is in common with all of the diets listed above? I gained my weight back with every. single. one.

Whether I lost 6 pounds or 60, I gained weight whenever I “quit” my diet. Heck, I gained the weight back even when I didn’t “quit” the diet. Which is when I knew something was up.

That’s when I came across Intuitive Eating… it’s my favorite diet yet! (Link: What IS Intuitive Eating?)

And I don’t mean that tricky kind of diet that the people call a “lifestyle” but you still have to drink blended organic asparagus or something equally bizarre. This isn’t a “lifestyle” diet. And that’s what I love about it…

It’s not a diet.

It’s not about nutrition, or calories, or workouts, or portion control. When it comes to choosing which food… there are no rules. But even better, there is no guilt.

Here’s the way I look at it: I have been dieting pretty much continuously for twenty-plus years. And I’d say that out of those, we’ll say 22 years, I’ve only been “skinny” for probably 5 years. That means that out of the last 22 years, 78% of my life has been spent with

FAILED DIETING.

I’ve been eating what I didn’t want to eat, how I didn’t want to eat it, or I’ve been starving to death and miserable… for what? For nothing!

So, I think that’s why it was so easy for me to just give up, stop dieting, and give Intuitive Eating a try. Because, seriously, think about it… if I’m dieting and I’m still overweight, then I might as well NOT be dieting and be overweight. At least I don’t have to walk down life with the heavy burdens that comes with failed dieting: guilt (remember this post?), depression, crushed self-confidence, shame, hopelessness, doubt, and you KNOW that the list could go on and on and on and on.

Instead, I’m getting a chance finally to let my body be my guide.

I’ve released myself from the terrible, overwhelming pressure of HAVING to lose weight.

I don’t fight the cookies or the chocolate in the pantry. {And truth be told, I desire them far less than I use to when I was dieting.} Sometimes I eat them and sometimes I don’t. I eat whatever I’m cooking, whatever’s being served, whatever I’m craving. I just eat. I don’t have to think, or dwell, or ponder, or wish, or lust, or dream, or conspire, or hide, or sneak. I just… eat.

And I bet you can understand how wonderful that might be… especially if you’ve been on a slew of diets as well since you were 13 (or earlier).

It’s a new kind of freedom.

A scary kind of freedom.

And, well, I think it’s probably just like the freedom that God intended in the first place.