Day 300: Almond Joy

Ahhhhhh, day 300. Now, I’m not so hot at math but I know that if I am on day 300 and there are 365 days in the year, THEN I have less than 100 days left. (How’s that for a word problem??? My 4th grade teacher would be so proud! Ha!)

And still my journey is rocky and rough at times. Although, I continue to grow and discover why it is rough and rocky. And so I consider myself “well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.Philippians 3:12

I laugh at myself a bit here as I look back at the first sentence of that last paragraph… “And still my journey is rocky and rough at times.” This is true, but when I think back on the grief and weight (both literal and spiritual) of last year… it is so. much. better.

And it is honestly exciting to think, as I come closer to starting in on year two, how it will be THAT much better next year on day 300!

Thinking about that made me want to find a verse, and I was looking for a verse about the future and had seen Ecclesiastes 9:4There is hope only for the living.” And then I kept reading and I came across verse 7: “Go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!” (Ecclesiasties 9:7)

I was kinda like… eat my food with joy!?!?! Hmmmm, ya know, this focus on weight and weight loss, this struggle with gluttony and food-greed, the lack of self-control and discipline with food, and the ill-placed comfort from food… it has stolen this opportunity for finding joy in my food. Food is the enemy. Like this sign I saw recently at my retreat…

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All we think about anymore with food is how it will affect our rear end or our thighs or that flabby stuff under our arms. We think about if it is off-limits or allowed and then we pine after those things that are off-limits or, worse, we give in to the off-limits food and then have to endure the guilt and shame, failure, and inadequacy. We find ourselves enveloped in despair and hopelessness. All of these things… because of FOOD. Oh these words are a far-cry from eating with joy.

But, now, as I sit here, I am able to happily, joyfully snack on almonds and raisins. Why? Because for 300 days I have been freed from the guilt of food, the shame, the failure, and inadequacy. I’m not saying that I am totally free of food… but oh so much closer just to have a freedom from sugar-food. It’s certainly a step in the right direction!!! I can look at a plate of brownies and know that I don’t need to despair… that it is not hopeless… that Christ has given me power and strength… and oh what a joy that is!!!

Day 163: Just Food

I was recently having coffee with my friend Alice and we were talking covenant stuff. She mentioned that one of her struggles was that she felt the need to be strong enough to resist on her own. She said with a sarcastic note to her voice, it’s “just food”. She felt that she should be able to deal with “just food”.

And I have been really thinking on that a lot since then.

Cause really… she’s right. We so often feel a little extra dose of extra guilt because we can’t resist this stuff that is “just food”.

But as I have thought about it, a few thoughts have come to mind about “just food”…

Satan used food as the first form of temptation in the Garden.

Jesus performed his first miracle changing water to wine.

Christ compared his own body to bread and wine at the last supper.

It’s not “just food”.

And honestly, I thought and thought about WHY it’s not “just food”… WHY does it have more of a power than other things in our life?

And I’m thinking that it ties, in a weird sort of way, to our level of faith. Satan knew that Adam and Eve were provided every piece of vegetation in the garden except those apples (or whatever they were) from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. And I think he played off of a small, tiny fear that has glowed in our hearts for all of time… the thought – the fear -  that we might not have enough. Not necessarily that we haven’t gotten to experience everything, but that deep down we fear that we might come across a time of… want. need. starvation.

And now I live in a time where most people in America live in a situation where there IS abundance like in the Garden. there IS enough for all of us. there IS plenty.

But we still have these images from the Holocaust. I can still remember stories of the Irish Potato Famine and the mass exodus that ensued. We see pictures pouring in from Africa, India, Asia, Russia of men, women, and children bare boned and sallow eyed.

And although we might grab another brownie it’s not typically because we are consciously thinking, “Oh, man, I’d better stock up on brownies tonight because we might all be starving tomorrow!” But in the ever increasing state of unrest in the world, it is more than likely in the back of our thoughts.

So, I wonder if much of this addiction and pull to “just food” is in response to our fear… and our subsequent need to control that fear.

But God has instructed us that food is now to become… insignificant. a non-issue.

I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:25-33

And He gives us a promise here… that if we run toward Him that He will give us everything we need. He doesn’t promise that we won’t starve, He doesn’t promise that we won’t be hungry, He doesn’t promise that we will even live. But He does promise to give us everything we need. And once we start to learn to trust that He will take care of us… then we can free ourselves from stressing over “just food” and then it can truly become exactly that… just. food.

Day 120: Deserving Donuts

I was thinking a bit more on the topic of “deserving” food after my post yesterday. It is something that I can hear myself saying… to myself… deep in my subconscious. I don’t think that my consciousness would really allow me to say it anymore because, well, I have a different look now on… deserving.

Let me look at what I really deserve…

yeah. nothing.

I’m lucky that God chose to allow me into Heaven, but do I deserve it? Nope.

I’m lucky that God gave me a great husband and two wonderful children, but do I deserve them? Nope.

I’m lucky that God placed me in a beautiful, well-constructed home with fresh running clean water, but do I deserve that? Nope.

Because for every “great” thing I have done, there have been just as many moments of decrepitness in my heart. For every kindness I have shown, I have felt selfish and wronged. For every gentle moment I spend, there as has been rage and envy and jealousy.

So, for every night I have spent up with Saxon that I thought might should have “earned” me a donut as a “prize”… I have kept my husband awake with my snoring, or my tossing and turning, or my sleep talking. Do I deserve to have anything special then? No.

But so often the brownie batter, or cookie dough, or bag of Oreos, or sour cream chocolate covered donuts, or whatever that I would eat… was more pleasurable because I felt like I was “treating” myself to something that I “deserved”. But God is the one that gives us… everything. And not because we deserve it… but for a whole different purpose…

“Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. Ezekiel 36:22

If God chooses to bless me… it’s not because of ME… it’s because of Him. Which is really kind of cool… that means that it is not about what I do or don’t do… a blessing from Him is to protect his holy name. I actually kind of like that better… takes the pressure off of me!

So, really, whenever I do something I think is “deserving”… then I should remember this about when I will receive what I deserve for the “good” I have done…

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 2 Corinthians 5:10

And really, if I have to choose between receiving a reward now in the form of a donut or in the form of an eternal blessing from GOD ALMIGHTY? Well, then, I’ll just have to pass on those donuts for today.

Day Eighty-Six: Shouldn’t Couldn’t

I’m already really enjoying having a friend on board with the covenant… I mean, I know that there are a few of you out there that follow the blog and a few that are following the covenant in a different way (like, my favorite, is my friend that is covenanting from shopping all year… I may not be a clothes hound, but I think to give up buying new clothes and accessories is an amazing feat)! And now that my friend “Christy” is doing a no-sugar covenant, I am already mutually encouraged by her faith (kinda like I talked about here).

Christy and I got to talk about it for a few minutes this week, and a few minutes was all it took to really get me pumped back up again. I mean… I wasn’t like “low” or anything, but it was so cool to hear someone else think the same things. feel the same things. experience the same things.

One of the things that she mentioned was how much easier it was than she thought… for example, before she would see a plate of brownies somewhere and immediately the inward struggle would begin… “No, don’t eat one” would eventually always lead to “Okay, you ate one, that’s okay, just don’t eat anymore” which would turn into “Okay, you ate two, you might as well just dive on in and lose count because now it doesn’t even matter!”

But, with the covenant, there is no struggle… it’s not that she shouldn’t have the brownie (or two, or three)… it’s that she couldn’t!

Now, I know to someone else reading that probably seems so restrictive. But that was the cool thing that Christy and I talked about… she said it was actually totally freeing! It was so much easier to just look at the plate of brownies and be like “Oh, I can’t have any of those” and then just move on. It was like she was able to really pay attention to other things going on instead of focusing so much on the “fight” she would have been having with those brownies.

It’s like so backward from every diet that we have all ever been on… where the struggle is in the “shouldn’t”. And now that it has changed to a “couldn’t”… it’s easier?!?!?!

But it is… and it is a continual reminder of what God says…

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The way our world works… the way our world tells us to think about food… the way our world tells us about our worth… the way our world tells us about our ability… none of that matches up with God’s thoughts about the way things work, about the way to think about food, about our worth, and about our ability to do anything. But just like those Laws back in the Old Testament seemed so restrictive, they were really just a way for God to guide us in the right direction… in the direction towards His thoughts. His ways. His Life.

Day Twenty-Four: Trading Addictions

Well, I might be doing a decent job of avoiding brownies but guess what is starting to become the new culprit?

Bread.

I have never really thought of bread as a huge temptation but I do think that I probably eat more of it than I need. I guess my bread overeating always seemed sorta overshadowed by my chocolate… issues.

But again. This is not about a diet. It’s about changing. It’s about renewal. It’s about finding freedom. I’m not into getting rid of one food addiction (sugar/chocolate) only to replace it with another (bread). That’s a change of habit but not a change in my habit of overeating or being addicted to food.

So I’m seriously considering adding bread to the list of the forbidden. I don’t know. Still thinking about it. Maybe I’ll just give it a go of avoiding it again instead of completely cutting it out.

I guess I think about that verse in Matthew:
So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:29-30

I’d rather be hot about this than lukewarm. I’d rather be hardcore than lame. I’d rather be extreme and go without than to be the same forever.

I’d rather be changed! renewed! free!

Day Twenty-Three: Beating Brownies

I have some good friends Jason and Alina who had their first baby about a month ago and now that her mom is back at work and his in-laws have gone back home as well, I offered to make them a meal. It meant so much to me when people brought us food (including Jason and Alina) that I love to return the favor or “pay it forward” when I can.

So I started planning a couple weeks ago trying to decide what to take them. I’m not a super good cook so I have to be careful not to pull any Hail Mary’s when I make meals for people lest the food be uneatable and then they are stuck with a bunch of gross leftovers plus they are hungry. Okay I’m rambling. Anyway, I chose to do my easy enchiladas cause they are… easy, and I have made them a bunch of times and have yet to completely mess them up. So I made those, some rice, some black beans, got some chips and salsa and then… one thing left.

Dessert.

I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time to cook since my youngest has been sick and teething, so I thought brownies would be easy and yummy and they could munch on them for a few days. I grabbed the triple chunk brownies cause they are extra yummy.

Annnnnd a little background on me and triple chocolate brownie mix. Remember my story the other day about the cookie dough? Yeah. Very similar. Essentially I would make brownie mix (always triple chunk) and I would eat so much of it that I often times ended up having only enough batter left that I would have to bake them in a creme brûlée ramiken. When I was pregnant, I would purposefully buy pasteurized eggs so that I could make and eat raw brownie batter.

So. Essentially, for a food addict… this was like dealing with crack for me.

But it went great!!! I even rinsed my finger instead of licking it (trying to get out of those habitual overeatings) and although I longed for it… I did not take a bite nor did I lick the bowl. And actually, now that I think about it, I didn’t long for it. I went into it thinking, “I’m going to stick by the covenant.” And so it was never like a temptation really. Chocolate is just not something that I’m gonna have. Period. The end. That’s it.

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