Day 434: Transparent Testimony

I don’t. want. to write. this post.

I want to be asleep in my bed. Snoozing and skinny.
I want to be free from this struggle with food.
I want to forget chocolate. forget sugar. forget bread. forget food.
I want to do just what I hear God calling me to do.

I don’t. want. to write. this post.

Because it means that I have GOT to start facing up to some things.

I’ve been eating chocolate. sugar. meat. bread.

Lots of it over the past few days. Not just a bite here and there. Not a taster. Not a respectful tiny bite to appease someone else who is feeding me. No. LOTS AND LOTS of chocolate. Anywhere and everywhere I could find it. Sometimes I’d put it off for a few hours, but then I’d give in. The leftover Christmas candy in the gift closet. The remaining chocolate chips in the pantry. The kid’s candy stash. The cake at Nanny’s. The Cool Whip in the fridge drizzled in Hershey’s syrup. The homemade granola bars I made for my son’s lunches.

Me. Eating. Eating. Eating. Eating.

And I have this hole in my soul. And every bite stretches it wider and wider. Until now I feel like I’m about to burst. And so, as I laid in bed tonight… I couldn’t sleep. I mean, who CAN sleep with a huge black hole of sin growing in your chest?

God. What am I doing?!?!? Why can’t I stop?!?!? I’m choking with sin. The sin of gluttony. The sin of dishonoring You. The sin of harming this beautiful temple that you have given me. The sin of wanting to sin instead of wanting to obey and follow you. Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, who will save me from this?

And at that, I knew those words were a verse, so I got up and came in here to my couch, revved up my laptop, and found it. My dear comrade through the ages, Paul, so very long ago found the words of my struggling heart…

The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:14-25

And God, I lean on this promise:

O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone! Jeremiah 17:14

God, I cannot save myself… I cannot heal myself. It must be YOU that does this work in my life. Just as you raised Lazarus out of the grave… out of the pit… raise me out of this pit of sin. out of this grave of deathly living. out of the sludge of denying you.

I’m not even sure what to do from here. where to go. what to think. how to act. what to read. So God, I just lay my sinful soul at your feet. An offering. An incomplete, sinful filthy offering… but one that is covered in righteousness because of your Son. It is a sacrificial offering. And I am the sacrifice. Do what you want with me God. Change me. Ruin me. Build me up. Recreate me. 

Heal me. Save me. My praises are for you alone!

Day 376: Ugh.

(Writing this on Saturday night.)

I should be working on my lesson for tomorrow that I’m to teach to the middle school youth on evangelism.
I should try to avoid putting in titles that are depressing and lame like the word “ugh”.
I should be in bed sleeping (it’s 11:10pm).
I should get up and get myself a drink of water.
I should stop being overdramatic.

Buuuuuuuuuuuut, I’m not. Not gonna do any shoulds right now.

Cause I’m having a pity party.

Why? Cause I got all freaked out that I’m not going to be able to wear the clothes that I wore last year to my husband’s trade show because I have this little muffin top when I wear the pants. Sooooo, I went to Ross and Target looking for… I dunno. Looking for something. And well, everything looked HIDEOUS on me. And I said “You look FAT” to myself about 87 times.

And then I gave back everything that I tried on at Target and went to go get a few groceries for tomorrow and I have to walk past this.

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I mean… seriously?!?!? I was angry that the stuff even exists! Ha – like I said… pity. party.

But… well, I guess there is one silver lining here. I didn’t buy any donuts. or chocolate peanut butter cups. or ice cream. or chips. or cookies. or cakes. I said to myself, “You know those won’t fix anything” and I just moved on. Well, I took a picture of them and moved on.

And before this covenant, I woulda gotten some of these AND some ice cream AND some chocolate peanut butter cups AND probably some cookie dough just in case. But God has shown me over the past year that these things do not satisfy. They do not fulfill. They do not comfort. So, to look back and “see” myself just walking away from all this stuff is a huge blessing for me. It’s actually an answered prayer. It’s evidence that God has worked in me.

BUT.

Of course, there had to be a but. It’s a pity party post, remember?

Ya know what I found myself doing tonight?

Ugh. If my husband had just let me order a t-shirt too then I wouldn’t be worried about all this.
Ugh. If my husband had done the dishes for me then I’d be a lot less stressed out.
Ugh. If I just knew how to play an instrument then I could vent out my frustrations.
Ugh. If I had a book that I was reading then I could just pick it up right now and get lost in it.
Ugh. If I had never agreed to teach tomorrow then I could just take some benadryl and go to sleep.

Ya know what I found myself NOT doing tonight?

Sigh. Praying and thanking God for all that He’s done this year really put me back on the right track.
Sigh. Reading through Psalms just now made me feel so much more appreciative.
Sigh. Meditating on what God is: lovable, compassionate, kind, patient, powerful, faithful… really refreshed my spirit.

Nope. Because I was searching for fulfillment somewhere else. It may have not been food, but it was the exact same process. I mean, at least here, on this blog, I was able to come full circle and realize that. I think even just confessing it is a good step in the right direction. And right now I find myself thinking, “Oh I’m so glad that church is tomorrow. I just need someone else to pour some spirit refreshing words into my soul.”

But, in the meantime, I think I’m going to lay down, close my eyes, and at least do one of those “sighs” from above and mediate on what God is.

Day 332: Sin Speaks

Sometimes I come against a road block spiritually.

Okay, okay…

A lot of times I come up against a road block spiritually.

There can be lots of reasons for it, I guess. Satan. Lethargy. Business. Anger. Denial.

Sin.

And I oftentimes want alllll those other things to be the reason… but sin? No. Not sin. I don’t even want to evaluate that as the reason. I often don’t want to admit that it’s even happening.

And today I came across these verses in Jeremiah. And I really liked verse 3 about calling to God and He’ll reveal things. And I really liked verses 6-9 about how He will make everything happy and prosperous and peaceful.

Butttttt I sorta wanted to just skip over verses 4 and 5. Cause they just aren’t as nice. happy. encouraging. friendly. feel-good.

And yet I must remind myself that verses 4 and 5 are just as much Truth as verses 6-9.

“This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

(verses 4 and 5) For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy. You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.

Jeremiah 33:2-9

And oh the sins I could list here.

Of course, gluttony has reared its ugly head one or two times of late. Pride. Selfishness. Slander. Not honoring the sabbath.

The list could go on.

But I am reminded today of when God says He’ll heal us…

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:13-14

So first I gotta:
• humble myself
• pray
• seek His Face
• turn from my sins

And so I might as well start now. And start with gluttony.

God, You are the One in control. You know my sins and yet you are The Forgiver. You are my righteousness. You are there.

My sin is… embarrassing, God. With all your power, your love, your peace, your comfort, your guidance… still I turn to the world for those things. I am… just… human. Please forgive me.

I look to You in your perfection. But I also turn to you because you want me to be… good. You want me to experience… good. blessings. righteousness. I look to You, God, for power. for hope. for refinement. Only you can change me. Mold me back into your image God. Make me… the inner me… radiate You.

God, I want to turn from my sin of gluttony. Help me Lord to turn to You for all of my needs, needs of my soul and needs of the body. Help me God… make me willing to obey. Purify and refine me.

You are the only One who can.

Amen.

Day 302: Jesus Calling

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A friend of mine that has recently started the covenant (along with a fast from Facebook and several TV shows… you go girl!) recommended the devotional Jesus Calling. She told me there was an app and so I thought I’d check it out. I’m a bit of a devotional snob… as in, I am terribly picky about them and almost never read them. BUT, I love apps so I simply couldn’t resist looking into it!

Well… let me tell you, from the perspective of someone that is pressed for time, only has a few minutes a day somedays to read the Word or meditate on God, and gets annoyed by typical devotionals… this one is great! (If you are already a Jesus Calling fan, then you can skip down a bit and then I talk about one of the things that I have recently gotten out of the study.)

1) It is from “Jesus’s” point of view. Not His actual words but based on His Words. It really does feel like Him… calling. speaking. encouraging. challenging.

2) There are always scriptures at the end that support what was just written. A couple of times if the writings didn’t snag my soul then the scriptures have done so. But for the days where the writing really hits it, the scriptures just come behind and solidify the revelation.

3) Hate to say that this is a “selling-point” for me, but it is… the devotionals are short. Of course I prefer days when I am not interrupted during my 6am readings or prayers, but… kids like to wake up early when you need them to sleep in. It’s just a fact of life! So, this is a great boon on those days when I might not otherwise have gotten anything for my soul.

Alright… that was my little “check it out” speech. I promise that I didn’t get paid or whatever for all that. It’s just that when I find something that I think is spiritually encouraging, I love to share. Cause if something will crack through my hard heart then it is typically good for just about anyone!

And yesterday’s reading (Nov 6) was just really, really helpful. This sentence in particular (remember to read it as if Jesus is saying it to you):

    A quick glance at Me is all you need to make the right choice.

I mean…… bam. That was all I needed to help me get through the past few days. I had been really struggling lately with the “little bites” of food sitting around. The leftover homemade donut bite. The remains of a jelly sandwich. (Yes, you heard me right… a jelly sandwich… my 5 year-old doesn’t eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Nope. Just jelly.) The three or four uneaten goldfish crackers destined for the compost bin.

I knew that those things were not what was best for me. not on my covenant. not an honor to God. and not being eaten when I was hungry. But I was popping them in my mouth anyway! But after reading that little phrase, I tried it… there was a donut bite out and I literally glanced up and away from it at Jesus. Knew what was right. Knew He would give me the power to resist. And threw it away. And then it was soooooo much easier to resist the next time and the next and the next. (As a mom of two boys and wife to a grown-boy, I am around food… a lot.)

And through those moments I found one of the accompanying verses exceptionally accurate!

    Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4

My true heart’s desire is not to eat a leftover goldfish cracker. My heart’s desire is to be free of the things of this world (right now, food). And I delighted myself in God’s power and loving spirit and He gave me the true desire of my heart… freedom.

Day 175: Christ Convo

Every time I think that I have got it down… got it figured out… got it good… got it all learned…

then I realize how much I still have to learn. This is why we need to be around our elders. We’ll live better lives if we listen to their wisdom. It’s like they give us the fast track to happiness. If we listen to them, more often than not, we get to skip over the mistakes and the hardship.

And this particular lesson is: prayer.

And how many times have I learned this lesson? I dunno… lots.

My husband’s grandmother gave me a book when he and I got married called The Power of a Praying Wife. I ignored it for a year or two. I prayed… sometimes. When I prayed… I asked for what I wanted. what I thought was best. what I had figured out would be good for me.

Yeah… I got a lot of what I prayed for… and it wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Then, I read through that book… not even sure why, but it totally changed my perspective on a bunch of things. Like, I stopped praying specifics about what I wanted God to change about my husband, and I started praying only that God would give my husband wisdom and that He would continue to make my husband more and more like Him.

Yeah… that worked a lot better than the self-centered blech I was praying before.

And yeah… I’m having myself a little bit of a revival about prayer right now. Only this time it’s not about my husband, but just about me.

I have always been the type to pray continually… just when something pops into my head I pray about it. I also used to journal my prayers a lot (at least I did before I had kids… since I had my first son five years ago, I fall asleep three or four lines in)!

But lately, there has been almost no prayer… no conversation… going from me to God. And honestly, I think I have been blocking out what He’s been trying to say to me. Yesterday’s post was really the first time that I had really talked to Him.

And I find myself almost having to retrain myself with how to pray. or with being comfortable with praying. or with “making” myself take the time to stop and pray. or all of those.

You see, I think that what I did for a while is that I was replacing prayer with the reciting of scripture.

Now, reciting scripture to myself has gotten me through a bazillion temptations… but I think what happened is that slowly I started to lose my connection with the One that said the scriptures in the first place! It was almost as if instead of relying upon God and God’s power to save me, I was relying upon the Bible… almost in a worship-the-wrong-thing kind of way.

Oops.

But part of this whole thing is a learning process. And it takes times of “failure” and a following of introspection.

And it’s kind of nice that an “oops” is sufficient. Because after the “oops” comes action (like I talked about here). The action is prayer… reconnecting with the Spirit of God. reconnecting with His Power. reconnecting with His Love. His Grace. His Hope.

Oooooo, and I just found this:

I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:1-2

Day 167: Not All That

Lately as I have been meeting and talking with people that are doing the Covenant several people have mentioned that they are amazed at my vast knowledge of bible verses. Well, I bumped a post that I had planned for today back a few days in order to reveal my big secret.

A friend recently asked me the question, “How did you learn all those verses? Did you memorize verses as a kid or something?” I huffed a little laugh and replied, “I don’t have all of those verses memorized!” She said, “Ha- what do you do then, google them?”

Yep.

I literally get on google and search this way:

  • What does the bible say about gluttony
  • What does the bible say about sacrifice
  • What does the bible say about contentment
  • What does the bible say about excess

See, here’s proof…

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But the cool thing is with technology now a days, you almost don’t have to have the entire bible memorized to access a random verse. All you need is google. Seriously. (And I really like the website openbible.info to find verses… I go to it and find a verse that speaks to my issue at the time and then look it up on youversion.com so that I can see it in the New Living Translation or The Message or one of the other more reader-friendly versions.)

It could take me thirty minutes to find “the” verse I’m looking for. And if I can’t find one then often I find that means I need to look back into my post to make sure what I am saying is biblical!

Now, it does help to memorize a particularly helpful verse once you have found it… like, I say that one “make me willing to obey” all the time, but I came across it on accident while looking for a verse with a specific topic and THEN I memorized it.

So, although I might appear to have a vast knowledge of the bible, I don’t. But I do have something that is better… I hunger and thirst for righteousness. And that is a verse that I used to pray a lot starting when I was in college… I wanted to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and now… at 33… I have finally found that desire. And I have found that my hunger and thirst for righteousness is filled when I read my bible and when I reference my bible in my thoughts.

But, as far as me being some kind of spiritual paragon and master of all things biblical. Ha… no, I’m definitely not all that.

Day 153: Search Party

Am I eating too much?
Would this food honor God?
Why am I eating right now?
Is this food becoming a new “addiction”?

Ya know, so much of the success of this “diet” has had little to do with the actual food choices that I have made and far more to do with looking inside myself and really evaluating myself. I think that I knew pretty early that it wasn’t the food that was really the problem… cause when I looked at my basic diet it really wasn’t that bad… it was the “extras” (sugar, chocolate, bread, chips, etc) that were really getting to me, but I was never eating the “extras” because I was hungry and rarely was I eating them because I craved them… I was eating them for a slew of reasons that were in my heart and my soul and my mind.

And multiple times throughout this experience I have had to do some real honest looking at myself. Cause I honestly thought that once I cut out sugar and chocolate that my issues would be over. I don’t think I realized how much I was overeating as well on just regular foods nor did I realize that chips and bread really were issues for me as well.

So, as I would realize that I wasn’t losing weight (back when I was weighing) or that I wasn’t getting into any smaller sizes, then I have had to look at my life and my eating and my motivations and my thoughts and my Bible reading and my emotions and my… me. But all I have had to do was allow God to search me and show me what was going on. I may have fought it (like right now I am having a “discussion” with Him about dairy… and wouldn’t ya know, my favorite brand of feta cheese was OUT at Sam’s when I went today… in the year that I have been shopping there it has NEVER been out!) and I might not have chosen to add it to my covenant right away, but He always seems to show me.

And again I think that this is a part of the covenant diet that is going to spill over into other areas of my life… because I am learning a) that He will show me if there is something that offends Him, and b) that He will then lead me along the path of everlasting life… in essence, He will show me what to do. He will conquer it. He will purify me.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

The only “danger” here is that, like I said, He will show me if there is something that offends Him… but then He really expects me to do something about it. Now, I fully believe that only God can conquer habitual addictive sins. But He expects me to do what I can to help my earthly body to get away from that sin. For example, I knew that God would be the only one that could conquer my addiction to sugar, but my part was to make the deal with Him to give it up in the first place. I know that God can help me to find more self-motivation to do my work around the house, but first I’m going to have to commit to Him that I will make choices with my time to honor Him.

So, if He shows one of us that a certain food is an issue that needs to be added to our covenant, then we do it. If He shows us that although we agreed to only fast Monday-Saturday, that we need to add Sundays to the covenant agreement, then we do it (you know who you are- haha!).

But first, we must ask God to show us. reveal our true selves. test us. try us. know us. and the best part… lead us.

Day 146: Candy Corn

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This is another example of when something that I learned, well, almost one-hundred days ago has come back around and I have learned the same lesson… again. Back on day forty-eight, I had a moment where I was choosing between what was good and what was best. And tonight, I had a similar moment.

I’ve been sick, and preparing good food for myself is not at the top of my list when I’m sick. Easy food… that is pretty much my criteria. Well, we didn’t have any leftovers that were on my covenant, and I was hungry and wanting something terrifically easy.

I looked… no, I glanced… through the fridge and didn’t see anything (I don’t think that I really wanted to see anything), and I thought to myself, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich.”

But luckily, a verse that I found in college… and I wrote it on a big poster board and tacked it to the ceiling so that I would look at it when I laid in bed… came to my mind:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

I knew that I needed to look back in the fridge.

And sure enough, there was a bunch of leftover grilled corn (which might as well be candy, in my opinion… it’s soooooo good). So, that’s what I ate. And it was good. And I was totally satisfied. And I was completely blessed.

Day 138: Bible > FB

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The other night I was looking through all of the status updates and checkins on Facebook and I’ll be honest… I straight up got depressed. There I was at home, treating my head with lice shampoo, and all these people were traveling, or hanging out together, or watching movies that I hadn’t seen. I started to feel really, really bad for myself. about myself. about my life.

Then all of a sudden it hit me… I don’t want to look at this. I don’t want to see all of this. If I weren’t on Facebook then I would have no idea that people were even going out. I would have been happy… okay, maybe not happy. I mean, after all, I was treating my head for lice… and that’s just not fun. But I would have been content. And content is really, I think, the best spot to be in emotionally.

I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Philippians 4:11-12

And I realized that I didn’t want to be depressed. I identified that Facebook was making me depressed. And then I thought, what would make me happy?

The Bible.

I know that sounds hokey and a little “holier than thou” but it was true. I knew that out of everything in my life… and I mean ev.ery.thing… that the Bible was the only thing guaranteed to give me joy. or at least peace. or at least… contentment.

And honestly, I didn’t read anything like earth shattering when I read the Bible. I mean… I’m reading through 2 Chronicles which is like a repeat and there are a lot of lists of names in there, so it’s not the most exciting book of the Bible. Butttttt, I wasn’t having a pity party anymore. I wasn’t standing there worshiping God with tears flowing down my face in contrition nor was I on the polar end and completely avoiding the Bible. I just… read it. And that was that. And then I rinsed out my hair and went to bed…

content.

No need to go binge myself on Oreos. or hummus. or feta cheese. or tortillas. or whatever. I didn’t need to be appeased or soothed. I was just content, and in a way, that is far more filling than any meal. And certainly way better than Facebook.

Day 109: A Day At A Time

One of the things that has been the best for me as I go down this journey is this blog. Sure, I fall behind three or four days when life gets crazy (like, this week, when ev.ery.one. in my family, including me, got sick) but being able to come back and refocus my attentions to God has been… well, a God-send!

Even though I read the bible every day sometimes it’s not necessarily a direct connection to my covenant. Sometimes I need to remind myself of how the Word applies to my covenant specifically. And that is how this blog has helped.

But as I talk to more and more of you that are signing up with God to do a covenant of some type, I have realized how a lot of people… for a slew of different reasons… don’t really have thirty minutes to journal or blog or meditate or whatever every day.

So, I have an idea that I got from my friend Alice who is doing a 40-day covenant. It was sort of an accident. We text back and forth scriptures or express how we are doing or a need for prayer. Well, she texted me recently this text (and yes, I even changed her name before doing this screen shot! Haha- does that make me a huge nerd?!?!?!)…

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And her little statement of “Day 5 and Jesus’ love is still enough” sort of made me think. Wow. Just taking thirty seconds every day to write down either how Jesus has worked in your life or a scripture that helped you or a prayer. It could be such a neat way to see what God is doing for you. Or a way to find that verse again really quickly that ministered to you when you wanted to break.

You could get a little week at a glance calendar (my grandmother used to do this) and write in it every day at lunch or at bed or something. Or I’m suuuuuuure there is an app out there for this. Or start a private twitter account that isn’t public.

But I would say that being able to write down every day at least one sentence about the renewal that God has given you… well, it could be the thing you need to keep you going.

It makes me think of this scripture:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Deuteronomy 6:6-8

I mean I’m not saying write your sentence in sharpie on your forehead every morning- haha- but it’s the same concept. We need a daily reminder of God. a daily reminder of how far He has brought us. a daily reminder of His Goodness. His healing. His power.

So, there ya go. A suggestion to you and me: take it one day at a time.

And as for me too, Alice, day 109 and Jesus’ live is still enough!