Day 356: Full Circle

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It’s the last day of 2012.

What. a. year.

Okay, well technically I didn’t start until, what was it, January 11th? So technically it isn’t exactly a year. But… come on. Even 356 days of this covenant is a big deal.

356 days without sugar.
356 days to experience the blessing of God.
356 days of change.
356 days.

Wow- ya know, I had no idea the journey I was going to go on 356 days ago.

I was just re-reading my initial post on Day One, and here was the thing I wrote at the very end:

    So, here I am… copying Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:10)

    I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from me. Today, God, I covenant with you to only eat veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese, grains, and water until the end of 2012. Please bless me with freedom from my addiction to food. I want so desperately to purify my temple so that my thoughts… my worship… is on YOU God – not on food.

And today, on my last day, I know I’m probably supposed to have something brilliant to say. something spiritually insightful. something encouraging.

But I’m afraid instead I’m just gonna have to be honest.

I read that last part “I want so desperately to purify my temple so that my thoughts… my worship… is on YOU God – not on food.” and although I am focused on Him more this year than before, I am still just not satisfied with the ratio. I still think about food a lot. Maybe more so along the lines of choosing good foods but still… I think about it a lot and I want that part to “go away”.

And that is just one of the reasons that here on my technically “last day” I am signing on for more. Because I know God has not finished reworking and renewing me. And again I laugh at myself for thinking that He would just up and be finished with me after 356 days. Haha! It’s kind of ridiculous.

But at the same time, what a cool thought to end 2012 with… God has a plan for me this year. He knows what is in store for me on January 29, 2013. March 2, 2013. He knows exactly where I’ll be May 17th. September 4th. He knows my thoughts and feelings on November 13th and… December 31, 2013.

And that is a comfort.

And so as I sit here fighting off sleep as I sit by the fire and plan to shuffle off to the bedroom as soon as I hit publish, I am myself lifted up. encouraged. reminded.

God loves me.
God has plans for me.
God is refining me.
God intends to bless others through me.
God intends glory to His Name through my life.

    The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Isaiah 58:11

Day 355: Cray Cray

This Diet Is Cray Cray

{Cray = crazy… Kanye and Jay-Z rap it in a song. And I’ll fully admit that I have not even heard the song that this is from (at least I don’t think I have) but my husband and I say “That’s cray cray” all the time… so, I guess there’s the influence of him having taught 8th graders! And yes, I made my first ecard for it, too. Haha! Okay… on to more important things…}

It’s almost time for the new year.

Which means resolutions for some…

…covenant for me.

I’ve reallllly been doing some thinking and praying about this year and the covenant that I am to make with God. I think that I’ve known for the past couple of months that things were going to have to change.

Last year when I started my current covenant, it was so easy to pick the things that I would “fast” from… sugar and meat. No brainer. Those were my big gluttonous areas. Doing a Daniel Fast really brought that to light for me. And wow, that was it… untilllll about October and the nasty gluttony eating jumped off The Sugar Ship and climbed aboard The Bread Boat and The Chip Cruise. (Hehe… like my little boat analogies?!?!)

And honestly, I have thought about all different kinds of variations of the covenant for 2013. Knowing that gluttony is still an issue for me… mind you it is far, far, far less of an issue, but it is an issue all the same… I knew that some kind of restrictions were in order.

  • The Detour Covenant: Originally, I just thought that I’d stay the course with a few “detours”… same covenant but with birthday parties, national holidays, and full moon days as “no-covenant” days. They would still have to be glutton-free, but the actual food restrictions would be lifted on those days.
  • The Flip It Covenant: But, really, over the past few days (and especially on this day) I have realized that bread and chips have wedged their way into a borderline addiction… I started thinking along those lines. Soooo, maybe flip it? Make sugar “okay” and bread “off-limits”?
  • The Detour Flip-It Covenant: Okay, but honestly… not sure that I’m ready to wander out into the word of refined sugars again. Not quite yet. Sooooo, I would need to stick with the Detour Covenant for that, but I know that I need for bread and chips to be defeated as well. And that’s sort of the Flip-It Covenant. So, it’s not really either of those… it’s a Detour Flip-It Covenant.

And yes, I know that these names are in no-way “cool” or “religious” sounding… but I like to give things nicknames to help me remember, annnnnd well, those names help me remember.

But essentially, I am thinking about doing the same covenant as last year (no sugar, no meat) with the detours that I mentioned above, but this time also doing no-bread, no chips…

WHAT?!?!?

Come on, January… that’s cray cray.

No sugar. No meat. No bread. No chips.

… … …

Cray.

Cray.

I know. I know.

But you know what else is crazy? Living a life of gluttony and bondage and sadness and insecurity and failure WHEN there is a God that offers moderation and freedom and joy and confidence and victory. It is things like this that I think truly match up with what He meant…

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

I just don’t want to hold on to too much of this world. This gluttony is a thorn in my side and I have seen God work miracles in my life in regards to sugar like I mentioned yesterday… and I know that He can do more. that He wants to do more. that He is willing to do more. that He is WAITING to do more.

So.

What IS my new covenant going to be?

  • The Cray Cray Covenant: I can eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, pasta, and rice. No sugar, no meat, no bread, no chips. I will have “Celebration Days” (birthday parties, national holidays, and full moon days) when I do not have to follow these restrictions. Gluttony is NEVER acceptable: it is a sin.

So, yeah… crazy. I know. But I am learning a crazy faith. a crazy belief. a crazy confidence. My God will save me.

This is what the Lord God says: I, myself, will search for my sheep and take care of them. As a shepherd takes care of his scattered flock when it is found, I will take care of my sheep. I will save them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. Ezekiel 34:11-12

Day 353: Back To Basics

After my experiences on Wednesday, I woke up this morning knowing that I needed to recenter myself.

But, like I’ve mentioned before, there isn’t a ton of time in my life to just sit and ponder, so this morning I found myself saying simple prayers. informal prayers. prayers from the heart.

God, please help me honor You today. Help me choose well. Help me. Help me. Help me. I am dependent upon you. I rely upon you for strength. Help me God.

But with just that prayer… just that prayer alone… I found myself able to resist all that “junk” today. Not saying it was an easy resistance, but I resisted nonetheless.

And after that refocus, I thought to myself, “I need to get back to what I was eating a year ago, right at the beginning of the covenant.”

And well, whadda know? My mom got me some of my favorite winter soup for Christmas… Tomato Basil from La Madeline’s! Sooooooo gooooood. So, that’s what I chose for lunch.

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I have lately really wished that I had cataloged everything that I ate at first because it was all so easy. so perfectly filling. so tasty.

But then I am reminded that it felt that way because the goodness of the Lord was a new taste to me… the power of God was a new flavor… the sufficiency of God was a new feeling. It had so little to do with the foods that I was choosing and so much to do with Who I was choosing.

But, all the same, I want to remember… I want to get back to the basics of how I started. Things like prayer, bible study, and good foods. And as I looked for a verse today about remembering His Goodness from the past, I found this verse… well, I found the second verse but the first just really snagged me as well.

“Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given.” 1 Chronicles 16:11-12

But look at that. Remember: 1) the wonders he has performed, 2) his miracles, and 3) his rulings.

And I have those in my own life: 1) enabling me to have the strength to stick to a covenant, 2) me going for a year without sugar, 3) his commands against gluttony and lust and greed.

When I remember the wonders he has done and his miracles, then I want to remind myself of His Rules because I have been reminded already, twice, of examples of His Goodness… makes me more prone to remember that His Rulings are for. my. good. and they are for. His. Glory.

Day 351: Last Days

“Today is the last day. Then tomorrow I’ll get back on the wagon.”

Ohhhhhhhh, how many, many, mannnny times I have said that to myself. And said it to myself while eating something “wrong”. And, well, today was one of those days. It’s like I’m skipping past rationalization and just admitting to myself, “Okay, so I’m just gonna go ahead and sin today and then tomorrow I’ll get righteous again.”

So, I stood in my kitchen and ate my fourth muffin of the day after polishing off four biscuits from yesterday’s breakfast and said to myself “Today is the last day. Then tomorrow I’ll get back on the wagon.” And I might have added a little “It’s Christmas, after all” there at the end as well.

Santa's Food

Only, it’s not Christmas.

And, who cares? Even if it IS Christmas… why would that mean I should or could eat four muffins and four biscuits in addition to everything else I’d eaten for the day!?!?!

I dunno… maybe it’s that mindset of “Every day is a new day.”

But really, it’s not like all of those sins are washed away. I mean, yes, we sing that song. And, yes, when I meet up with God and am asked to account for my life, all of those sins will have been “paid for”. But, there will still be an accounting. I will sit with Christ and account for every moment of my life. every seed of hate. every wisp of gossip. every slide of laziness. every bite of gluttony.

And it’s not that I want to feel bad or guilty for those things… it’s that I want to choose good. I want to choose holiness. I want to choose righteousness. and purity. and power.

I want for those to be the things He sees.

In those true last days before I start my eternity in worship, I want for Him to sit with me and see the choices I made and look in my eyes and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Let’s celebrate together!Matthew 25:23

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RANDOM ADDITION: By the way, I live in Texas… and we had snow… on. Christmas. Day. (I actually don’t like to go IN the snow, but it is pretty to look at and my oldest son thinks the stuff is awesome!) I stuck my head out in the stuff for about .4 seconds to get a pic of me in it! Ha!

Christmas Snow

Day 349: Ohhhh, Hockey Puck

Okay.

Did you know that sometimes God messes with things… for our own good? Yeah. Seriously, He does.

I actually just taught on the story of Joseph yesterday in our high school youth department… and that ended up being the “point”… well, sorta. Essentially, if Joseph had not be hated by his brothers, then he would not have been sold into slavery, then he would not have been in Potiphar’s house, then he would not have been punked out by Potiphar’s wife and sent to prison, then he would not have run into Pharaoh’s drink holder, then he would not have interpreted the drink holder’s dream, then he would not have been recommended to Pharaoh to interpret his dream, then no one would have known about the seven years of feast followed by the seven years of famine, then he would have not saved food for all of Egypt for the seven years, then when the famine hit Egypt, and Canaan as well, Joseph’s family (the line of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, David, and eventually Jesus Christ) they would not have survived.

I’m sorry… allow me to repeat that. Had it not been for all of that junk that happened to Joseph… then the ancestors of Jesus Christ would not have survived.

As Joseph says to his brothers at the end of Genesis 50, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

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I’m sure we could get into a theological discussion about if God caused all of those things to happen or if it was the devil and God used those things for good, but that’s for another day.

What I am saying here though is that sometimes I think that God does intend things that seem “wrong” or “bad” for good. Like, for example, burning to a hockey puck crisp four biscuits that I was baking… purely for gluttony’s sake.

What can I say? “Oh I’ll remember to check them in ten minutes” turned into “Oh crap… those biscuits have been in there for thirty minutes!”

And I just smiled (well, after I sprinted across the house to extract them), and remembered this story of Joseph. And I remembered his perspective. And I remembered that God sometimes intends things that seem bad for good. And I tossed them. And I said a thank you to God… for my hockey puck biscuits.

And now, a few days later, as I finish this post that was halfway-completed, I thank God for the fact that I have plateaued… no, that I have gained a little bit of weight. Because it has been good. It has been good to make me see that He and I are not finished. that He and I are not almost “done” with this covenant. that He and I are only just now on the road to Egypt (if you will) and there is still more struggle and triumph to come. You see, “I” intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.

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Day 346: Weight Loss Math

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So I’ve never really been “good” at losing weight nor at math. This year, however, God has worked a miracle and enabled me to lose weight.

However, I’m not sure even a miracle could heal me of my mathematical inadequacies.

But I do enjoy the whole word equation thing… it’s like 97% words and 2% math.

(Haha- did you get my little math humor right there?)

So, here is your word-math equation of the day.

Not Full ≠ Hungry

Yep. Crazy awesome math there, eh?

But it’s a recent “revelation” that I’ve had. I was sitting on my couch with my son and I was like “Hmmmm, I’m hungry… I should get something to eat.” And immediately I started going through some of my excuses to eat something other than fruit (like I talked about yesterday)… today’s was the one “Oh well, I ate breakfast like half-an-hour ago {mind you, for one thing, I thought this without actually looking at the clock to confirm it had been 30 minutes} so this could still count as breakfast.

But luckily, because I “confessed”, in the form of my blog post, those thoughts yesterday and re-read that “confession” again this morning, I was ready. I knew that those were lies. tricks. deceptions.

So, as I thought through my “hunger pains”… I sorta realized, “Wait. I’m not really hungry. I’m just not… full.

And that’s when I came to my word-math equation…

Being “not full” does not necessarily equal being hungry. I mean… just because I’m not stuffed to the brim having to put on PJ pants just to be comfortable does not mean that I need to go have a snack. There are several “stages” of my belly volume:

  • empty/hungry
  • “aware” of my stomach
  • satiated
  • full
  • stuffed

And so you see there is a land between hungry and satiated. You know… that part of the morning where it’s no longer breakfast but it’s not lunch time either. (Ya know, right about the time McDonald’s closes its breakfast line when you are on a road trip.) And you’re starting to feel a little hungry but you aren’t quite salivating yet or dreaming and planning of what you’re gonna eat.

Well, actually… sometimes I still dream and plan what I’m gonna eat for lunch or dinner. Not nearly as much as I used to, but it does still happen.

Anyway, my whole point was reminding myself that just because I am aware of my stomach doesn’t mean I need to run to the fridge to get something. I like Gwen Shamblin’s (yes, I know some people think she’s crazy, but I do like this) idea to wait for 15 minutes and see if you are still hungry before having a snack. Oftentimes this will reveal true-hunger or circumstance-hunger (like boredom, stress, procrastination, etc).

    A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry. Proverbs 27:7

Day 345: Choice Foods

Ya know, it’s one thing for me to say “I’m only gonna eat fruit for snacks from now on.” But it’s another thing entirely for me to actually eat only fruit for snacks.

Cause when it comes down to it- I have to choose fruit instead of a Doritos. I even have to choose fruit over “healthy” things like granola. (Cause even granola isn’t healthy if I’m eating it when I’m not hungry, or eating too much of it.)

And the choice part is where I tend to make-it or break-it. I can hear the rationalizations in my head (well, I can hear them after the fact, at least):

• Ohhhhh, it’s just one.
• I’m in too much of a hurry.
• These taste so much better than fruit.
• This isn’t really a snack, per se, it is sorta like part of my lunch since I only ate, like, 30 minutes ago.

So I was looking into choice-making in scripture and here are a few that I found.

Here’s one that is ever-important to read, but it certainly cuts right to the point…

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.Proverbs 14:12

And those Doritos… well, they sure do seeeeeem right. But, well, they will end in death. They will. As much as I hate to admit that to myself… they are bad for my body. bad for my temple. and bad for my relationship with God.

Then there’s the tried and true “fork in the road” verses…

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.Matthew 7:13

And I know these verses are not “about” dieting per se, but the concept is similar. It is sooooo muchhhhh easier to eat Doritos instead of a clementine. But, I want to go through the gateway to LIFE… but it is difficult sometimes. But… I read that again… the. gateway. to. life. What is a Doritos chip compared with that?!?!

And I love/hate these verses. Another in-yo’-face scripture about choosing right.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.Galatians 6:7-9

And then my favorite to end with… about choosing what to think about…

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.Philippians 4:8

Day 343: Fruit Snacks

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So, I have decided to eat only fruit for snacks.

You might remember that a while back I did a “sans-snacky” thing for a couple of weeks where I fasted from snacking.

Yeah… that was hard. And I kind of realized afterward that although it showed me A LOT of how much I was snacking I realized that there are a lot of days where I still need a snack. Especially with my go-go-go life (thanks to having an active toddler!) I oftentimes don’t get to eat complete meals and so snacking can fill in those hunger gaps for me.

But when it’s notttttt so good for me is when I am choosing to eat junk as my snack.

Chips. Tortillas. Saltines. You name it… those suckers always come back to haunt me. But, here is what I have noticed over the past few days (and yes, I’m SURE that I noticed this a gazillion days ago too, but, like I said, it’s like I have to learn some of these concepts (the hard way) like five or six times before they break through the habit that is already ingrained)… I have noticed that I have this little mental conversation going on:

Jesus Me: Ooooo, I’m hungry. I need a snack.

Earthly Me: Hmmmm, I think I’ll snag a handful of those Nacho Cheese Doritos!

Jesus Me: Oh, but wait… remember, only fruit for snacks.

Earthly Me: Ehhhhh, I’m not hungry anyway.

And often… I’m not hungry. I’m just eating… because! So, this allows me to really gauge if I’m eating to fulfill some other need or to fulfill hunger: “Okay, I’m flipping ravenous… I’m going to eat a clementine… or a banana… or grapes.”

And all of this refocus reminds me of this verse:

    Do not love this world nor the things it offers you {like Nacho Cheese Doritos}, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Day 341: Mustard Seed Miracle

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Okay, so a couple of days ago I posted about my mom and my B12 levels.

I’m not lying, nor am I being overdramatic (at least not on purpose) when I say that I felt like a new woman. I have felt refreshed. clear. happy. rested. optimistic. energetic. And all of that with a few “user error” issues having only slept about four hours last night and through a few bouts of grieving. I can’t really explain how surprised I was at just two days of being “on” the stuff!

When I posted about it on day 339, I only really covered the story between me, my mother, and the B12. But I started to see a parallel recently… and I’ll do one of those annoying analogies for ya so all that SAT practice will pay off finally! Haha!

    B12 : Body :: Power Of God : Soul
    B12 is a boost of energy for my body just like the Power of God is a boost of energy for my soul.

This time last year, I was crushed and defeated. My energy for life was just… depleted. I could feel my hope wavering and was starting to just resign myself to the fact that my life was going to be… average.

Then, I had my cookie dough “experience” and subsequently found the power of God.

As I turn to Him and believe in His Power… I feel my life and my soul being rejuvenated. And it was so quick… I mean… it was like I had been almost blind to the fact that I could tap into that power my whole life. (Heck, at times, I’m still blind to it.) And when thinking of what verse might “support” the fact that God has power (haha… yeah, I know… just ONE verse… I had to narrow it down from like, oh, I dunno… THE WHOLE BIBLE) but I was reminded of this one statement that Jesus made to his disciples when they asked Him to help them increase their faith:

If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you! Luke 17:6

That verse just reminded me… how awesome God is that He can do AMAZING and POWERFUL things with my itty bitty teensy weensy faith. And that’s just what He’s done this year… amazing and powerful things in my life with my tiny bit of faith. Just like that B12 pill is so little… but it worked what feels like a mini-miracle in my life. And that mustard seed of faith… it worked a miracle in my life as well.