Day 406: Patched Up

rainforest pool

Last summer, my boys wanted to blow up our little kiddie pool in the backyard, but Big Daddy was gone and I didn’t know how to work the air compressor, so I decided that I would just have to go old school on that pool. Well, sorta old school. I used a bicycle foot pump.

And it took for.ev.er.

But I did it. I struggled through. Switched out which foot I used several times. Sweated. Huffed and puffed. Used my hands to work the foot pump a few times cause my legs were giving out. But I kept going and finished it. Even had to blow up the little extra decorative parts using air from my lungs.

And then, I realized… one of the little extra blowup parts that made the pool look like a rainforest… had a hole. It wasn’t the WHOLE pool that had a hole, but still, If I didn’t keep that part aired up it would fall over into the pool. I mean, the pool would still be usable, but not as fun.

My faith has been so much like that pool the last few months. It has needed constant work to keep it aired up. And it just hasn’t been as much… “fun”. But, it’s worked. When my sweet grandmother went to Jesus in November, my faith was there… it led me immediately to Jesus. He was my comfort, my hope, my refuge. Then my faith went back to “keeping it aired up” status. Not splashing around. Not resting in the cool comfort. Just working at keeping it going.

But lately, there is this tiny… okay, maybe not tiny, but very small… almost imperceptible change happening in my heart.

Where I find myself softly choosing Jesus instead of my own desires.
Where I find myself longing for His Word.
Where I find myself speaking words of adoration and thanks to Him.
Where I find myself slowly, slowly finding calmness, contentment, perspective.

Honestly… I can’t say that there is anything that I did, or didn’t do, that led to this change. Maybe I’m reading my bible again more. Maybe I’m praying more and with a little more faith. Maybe my Sunday School teacher is the bizomb and is ripping apart everything that I have believed and making sure I believe it for real. Maybe just picking up the Beth Moore book every couple of days is transforming me. Maybe it’s my life calming down a bit. Maybe it’s the Easter season upon me.

Or maybe it’s just God’s plan. God’s timing. God’s change.

Cause I learned a lot about myself, my faith, my God, my gluttony, my hurts, my hopes during that time of keeping my faith “aired up”. And I was reminded of how important it is to stay the course, stay steady. It doesn’t have to be a Beth Moore study every night, or a Jim Cymbala prayer, or a Billy Graham conversion.

A verse a day. A prayer a day. A worship a day.
In the car. On the potty. In my bed. At the dinner table.
Quick and hurried. Tearful and begging. Flustered and worried.

The key… is going back to Him. Keeping that faith aired up. Cause He’ll patch that hole. You keep it aired up and He’ll patch that hole when the time is right. When you’ve learned a little something. When you’ve realized how much easier it is to just let Him patch that hole instead of keeping it aired up.

And then, for a bit, you can sit back, grab a glass of iced tea (peach flavored, if you’re really living it up), and relax in the cool, refreshing water of His Spirit.

Day 399: Lent Life

Last year on Fat Tuesday, I published this post. It was an interesting thought process for me, especially since I was only on Day 42. Here is the main point of what I wrote:

I guess though that the more that I think about Fat Tuesday I sorta get a little insight into my “issues” of overeating. Fat Tuesday is pretty much all about getting to overindulge simply because lenting requires sacrifice. It’s almost as if we fatten up on this day because we feel like we deserve it since we will have to self-sacrifice the rest of the time. And that is kind of the mentality that I’m afraid of having...

…But now that I get to thinking about this whole Fat Tuesday mentality, I’m kinda of wondering if maybe that’s not what would please God. I mean, my whole thing has been about Him changing my mind, my heart, my soul. Wouldn’t that be just like me turning my back on Him pretty much as soon as He has delivered me into the promised land? Which is so much of what the Israelites did when He dropped them off. After the generation that had been wandering in the desert died off, the people started worshiping other idols in no time. And God was NOT pleased with that scenario. I’m reading through Judges right now and it seems like any time one of the judges gets the people back in order, everything is good, then he or she dies, and everyone gets right back into their mess of looking somewhere other than God. And then He punishes them.

Yeah… I don’t want that.

And wow – reading that now, after my weekend of… gluttony… I’m even more assured that sticking to a more strict covenant is what is right for me. It was one thing for me to have a night off in California when I didn’t have a lot of options, but it was an altogether DIFFERENT experience being here at home AND baking a bunch of sugary treats! I just… lost control.

No, I gave up control.

But either way, I let myself get into a Fat Tuesday Mentality of I have to “sacrifice” the rest of the year so I should be able to eat whatever I want and as much as I want during this “off” day.

And it was just a terrible, terrible time.

I mean… I didn’t even really enjoy it because it was all about breaking the rules instead of celebrating in what God had done. I knew that the only sugar I was supposed to have was at my husband’s birthday PARTY (cause that was the agreement that I made with God), but I started eating sugar the night before while making all of his cakes and cake balls and red velvet cake popcorn.

On Saturday morning, I tried to get back on the right page and I was resisting eating one of the cake balls that I had made for him, but I eventually gave up and ate one.And I think that’s when I first started lamenting what  was going on. I was “fighting” with those cake balls. I hadn’t “fought” with sugar for so long. It was horrible. It was extra horrible because I gave in.

My mind immediately told me: See. Nothing’s changed. Just live it up and give in. You can just get back on track tomorrow and no one will know the difference but you.

And then at the party I was too busy to eat, but I did load up on my dessert plate… But WHY? What was the point? I’d already had everything!

Once I got everyone to bed then I ate some more, although not too much, I was stuffed and exhausted.

Then Sunday… oh my. Sunday I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate until I was, quite literally, sick.

I ate TRYING to make myself so full that I couldn’t eat anymore. I wanted to stop eating all that junk and I knew felt that getting obscenely full or eating everything was the only way at that point. I finally collapsed into bed, feeling horrible and sick and knowing that I was done with sugar again.

Monday would be a new day. A fresh start. A day without fighting the food. A day without sugar. A day without justification or rationalization. A day of boundaries. A day of joy and peace and comfort like I had known for the past year.

And Monday was all of those things for me. Much like an Ash Wednesday will be for some tomorrow. A breath of fresh air as they step away from something that has its hooks in their soul: Diet Dr. Pepper, Facebook, television, etc. And really, I sorta “bashed” Fat Tuesday last year, but now that I sit here and think about it… the Fat Tuesday to Ash Wednesday is really such a beautiful picture of our salvation. We think we need to party it up to live, and then we step from the things of the world into a new life because of Jesus. Not condoning Fat Tuesday for those reasons, but… really, salvation is just this exact process for all of us.

Our life before Christ = one big ol long Fat Tuesday
Our life with Christ = choosing to follow rules and a code in order to honor Christ and focus on Him

The main difference is, we don’t have to keep going back to Fat Tuesday year, after year, after year. We can live a Lent life… all the time.

Day 325: A Happy Sad

Looks like I’ll have to ask a bit of forgiveness… again. But this time I truly have a good excuse… well, actually, several worthy excuses, and one excuse that I wish I didn’t have.

To start it off, last Friday my oldest got sick… 103° fever and followed it with a nasty cough. Ick.

I was in a semi-monologue skit at church with a bunch of lines, a three-hour rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, and three services on Sunday… don’t get me wrong, I love doing that stuff, but it does need to go in my “excuses” list nonetheless! (It was really a beautiful skit. You can see it and the whole service here. I’m around minute 43, I think.)

My husband, two boys, and I flew out to Denver on Wednesday morning to visit his brother’s family… which means I had to pack us and we spent a whole day at airports and on planes. Since then we have been hanging out non-stop (which might be why it has taken me several days to craft this post!)

On the plane, my youngest came down with the same cold/flu sickness his older brother had and has had a 103° fever the past few days.

In the midst of all that… life… and all that… stuff, my world and heart was forever changed by… well, by eternity.

On Saturday morning, my grandmother began to have symptoms of congestive heart failure. She went to be with Jesus on Sunday afternoon at 1:02. My whole family was there, and she even waited for me to get there after I rushed to the hospital after finishing my skit at church… she died about thirty-seconds after I got there and gave her one last kiss. She was an amazing lady… made me feel special right up to the last moment.

Indulge me… I want to share my favorite photo of her with my son. (We had snuck in some ice cream for her. She loved ice cream… but I think she loved my kids even more.)

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And not to minimize or appear like I am “using” the experience for a post, but her favorite hymn was “To God Be The Glory”. And so I would like to give God some glory for minute.

Throughout a painful mourning process, I was able to turn to The One for comfort. And, more so, when I turned to Him… He provided the comfort I asked for and needed. He answered with peace. He responded with the salve of The Hope that I have in her destination and in our future reunion. He assured me of my Identity in Him as I suffered through the pangs of regret.

And I experienced God fulfilling the verse that has been my favorite since college… perhaps written on my heart then for such a time as this…

    We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

And I read that verse this week… needing to be reminded that my sadness wasn’t going to crush me. But then, I read further on…

    We never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

And knowing that my grandmother was saved and warmly welcomed into the arms of Christ (you can read her beautiful salvation story here) gave me the ability to fix my gaze on things that cannot be seen and know that those things will last forever… like her soul being united with His Promise.

And I honestly thought to myself a few days into the grieving process how glad I was that I had learned to cope the “real” way. For once, I had true, real, deep, cutting pain… and I didn’t turn to food to soothe me. In fact, I never once thought about eating food as comfort. My husband even had to remind me to eat, but never once was did I need to be reminded to turn to scripture or prayer.

And it’s all because of the renewal that Christ has done in my mind. The retraining is slow at times and there are setbacks here and there. But my mind IS being renewed. reworked. retooled.

And I can think of no greater testimony and gift to my Mamaw’s memory than to turn to The One she taught me about.

And I will end with one more indulgence… a tribute to her memory. She repeated this poem to us hundreds upon hundreds of times. And it is beautiful. I hope you are as blessed and encouraged as I have been by it.

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Day 270: I Will Praise You In The Fridge

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I have had yet another revelation of sorts that I wanted to share.

Again, I must remind you that some of these posts are about my relationship with Jesus and not as much about food. It is simply because I have figured out that my “need” to overeat and rely upon food for comfort (along with many other things besides comfort) contrasts my need for him. And since I have been practicing math with my five-year-old, I’ll put it in an equation…

My “need” to eat > My need for God

Well, yesterday I wrote about how I had learned the concept: “The antidote for lethargy and spiritual heaviness is to put on a garment of praise.” And I am just still enthralled with that idea.

I am concertedly focusing on praise for a while. I put my read-the-bible-in-a-year plan up for a bit because I need to focus on praising Him for a bit.

But, I have been using that with my eating as well… looking in the fridge and saying Thank you God for this beautiful, healthy, pest-free orange. Or another time, God you have given us such abundance! Look at this variation of colors in my fruit basket and veggie drawer.

I’m not saying that I do this all the time, but it has helped me a few times. Just yesterday I looked in the fridge and thought “Oh, just fruit.” and then I stopped myself and said, “Oh wow, God… a huge tub of sweet cantaloupe… all cut up and ready to eat! Thank you so much! What a blessing to have this!”

And honestly, I suddenly wanted it! Ha! It really is amazing how my world changes when I look through the eyes of praise and blessing.

Whadda know, life ain’t so bad after all!

Day 125: Uh Oh…

Haha – well, I knew what I wanted to title this already but I just sorta started to think that someone might look at just the title in their inbox and think, “Oh, poor January, she musta broken her covenant again. Bless her heart.” (Which, I’m a southern woman… “Bless her heart” never means that for real, it means, “Oh thank heavens someone has messed up so I can feel better about myself!” haha)

But, it’s not so much about that at all (Thank Ya Jesus!) but about a friend of mine that called a couple of days ago (whom I have yet to call back because I’m a crazy woman with crazy kids that can’t seem to be quiet long enough for me to make a phone call and when they are sleeping, I have to be quiet so that they can sleep, y’all know the drill… even if you don’t have kids then you probably have some crazy sister-in-law or cousin who has young kids… we tend to be pretty crazy protective of the nap time!!!). She recently started the covenant and called saying that she was a little freaked out because she had gained four pounds.

So I’m going to write my friend Rhonda a post in response to her call… sorta kill two birds with one stone, ya know? Plus, I had another friend, Christy, who had the exact same thing happen to her.

First of all, I don’t know! haha! I had no idea that I would lose weight myself so quickly. I had no idea if I would lose weight at all… I just hoped that I would.

GET OFF TOSS THE SCALE: So, really, my first thing would be to say that it cannot be about the weight. If I have learned anything through this process, it is to not weigh. Allow your clothes not fitting to be your only guide if you have to have a guide… as difficult as that may be. We just need to forget all of this weight stuff… these arbitrary numbers. This body of ours that God has designed is infinitely complex and it responds to eating, not eating, changing diets, etc. exactly as it should. So, if you know that you are eating foods that honor God and only eating until you are satisfied/no longer hungry, then just turn your focus to Him. Which leads me to my next point…

FOCUS ON HIM: I think that the best part of the covenant so far as been how much it has forced me to read the Word of God. I mean, like I have said, I have been reading through the bible since October but this has taken it to a whole new level because I am relying on the Word to save me (in a non-get-salvation-go-to-heaven kind of way, of course). When I need some of those things that I turned to food for before (comfort, entertainment, relief, relaxation, etc), now I turn to the Word (well, at least 95% of the time – haha… okay, okay, 92% of the time). And it has been so awesome to see Him sustain me with just the Word. It truly is POWER and it keeps me from overeating or eating when I’m not hungry or eating what I have agreed not to eat… which leads me to my next point as well…

WHAT’S THE PROB: I think it’s important to take a real-honest-to-God look at myself every once in a while and evaluate the way I eat and decide if I think it honors God or not. Most of the time… well, actually, so far… All of the time that I have been gaining or not losing it has been because:

  • I was overeating (eating when I’m not hungry for some “other” reason that wasn’t hunger and/or eating when I am already full) or because
  • I was eating too many processed or “easy” foods (i.e. bread, tortillas, peanuts, cheese) instead of foods that would really honor God because they are beneficial for my body (i.e. fruits and vegetables).

In fact, this has been really good for me to write about because I have been going through a similar “Why am I not losing?” kind of phase. I think that knocking out the bread and chips will help me out in that area because they were becoming an all-too-frequent “go to” but I also think that I’m going to come up with a new rule for myself… if I am hungry and it’s not a meal (like it’s snack time) then I can eat fruit. I still don’t tend to “default” to fruit even though it completely rox my sox and I really have gotten to the point where I love it…

  1. I just need to have it around all the time so I need to be more diligent about getting to the store… the same way I am about whole milk for my toddler I need to be about fruit for me… if we are out then I need to get my bootie to the store and load up, and
  2. I need to help renew my mind so that it defaults to fruit. I have gotten my mind to “default” to the Word to sustain me and now I need to retrain this “go to” into a fruit thang.

Okay, Rhonda, again… sorry for not calling back but turns out it was really good for ME to have to sit down and sort of hash this out! Haha! And well, it IS all about me, right?!!? Haha! Either way, this post is for you!!!

Update: Rhonda texted me a couple days after this post to let me know that she had lost 7 pounds but was gonna stay off the scale for the next month and a half! Blessings and peace to Rhonda!

Day 119: Super Extra Amazingly Delish

Well, I’m feeling a bit like I’m back in the saddle again. Throwing out the scale was huge, and being reminded by God that He WILL continue His covenant with me… well, both of those things somehow managed to get my sights back on track.

Over the past couple of days, it has been relatively easy to eat what I should eat… fruits, veggies, nuts. And I can definitively say that it has not be “easy” to eat what is beneficial (instead of what is “okay” like tortillas, potato chips, feta cheese, etc.) since I finished with my Lent fast. I had a bit of “backlash” from not being able to eat those things for so long that it was all I wanted at first, and since in January I’ll be “released” from the covenant and able to eat whatever I want, it was good to know that it lasted a while… a month pretty much, before I started to feel like something was “off”. And even without the scale telling me that something was wrong, I knew that something was “off”. I can’t really explain it, but eating all of that stuff was just… dissatisfying.

Turns out, food just tastes like… food. Really all of it either fits on the “ick” end of the spectrum of taste or it fits on the “delish” end or somewhere in between. But, really… honestly… nothing really goes beyond “delish”. It’s like my tastebuds max out on a delish signal to the brain and that’s it. Nothing really tastes “super extra amazingly delish”. I think what tricked me into believing that this existed before was because of the emotional connection that I was attaching to the foods as I was eating them.

  • Donuts at Happy Donuts = super extra amazingly delish… because I was with my boys, having a good time, relaxing, indulging
  • Ribeye at Roadhouse = super extra amazingly delish… because I’d go there for my birthday when I was being celebrated, with my family, having a good time, relaxing, indulging
  • Cookie Dough = super extra amazingly delish… because I so rarely make it that when I did it was a special treat, an “I deserve it” kind of moment

And that list could keep going I’m sure, but what it boils down to is that I’m learning “the truth” about food. I’m learning over and over again that it really isn’t a good comforter. or companion. or whatever else it is that I have made it.

And even more dissatisfying was knowing each time that I was not honoring God with my choices. Yes, again, I was sticking with the covenant but I was sort of ignoring making my food choices as something that would honor Him and was focusing on myself and my “needs“.

And honestly, not honoring God leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. in my heart. And, well, ultimately, I am dissatisfied.

But now that I desire for my eating to honor Him again, it’s like… well, everything is satisfying. My taste buds, my stomach, my heart, my mind, my life.

You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. Psalm 63:5

So, really… I think that I have discovered that my God is really the only thing that is, truly, super extra amazingly delish!

Day 106: He Is.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I met up with a friend who has recently started the covenant and it was really neat to talk through some things with her.

It acted as a reaffirmation that this isn’t just something that works only in my head, but that it is God. And He is the same God to me. to her. to Christy. to Debra. to Sherry. to all of us.

But one thing that really stuck with me as she and I talked was the area of comfort eating (or comfort shopping, or comfort dating, or drinking, cutting, smoking, TV watching, etc). Most of us seem to have something earthly that we turn to instead of God. For me, it was chocolate. And if I didn’t have chocolate well then any old food would do. But like I mentioned on Monday, after a while of not having chocolate, my mind went immediately to the Word of God for comfort. But it has taken 100+ days of renewing and retraining for that to happen.

Here’s my point. (Sorry, both my boys have been up a lot at night this week with nightmares or sickness so I’m in that “I’m totally exhausted so I’m going to ramble” kind of mode!)

So here is my point. Haha!

What I think was important is that I had to cut chocolate and sugar completely out of my comfort options. Doing so allowed me a chance to retrain my mind to turn to God for comfort. I needed chocolate to be a non-option so that I couldn’t make it my god. Just like God used to tell the Israelites to do whenever they conquered a new city or area: total destruction of anything that could sway their affection from Him.

But once I removed that other “god” of chocolate from my life, then it simply made it easier to turn to Him. And so now, it’s not about turning to Him for comfort as a second choice because chocolate isn’t there, but now it is about turning to Him because I realize how much better He is at comfort. at healing. at love. at hope. at relief. at joy. at peace.

• No chocolate bar can comfort me in my hour of sorrow.
• No new shirt will be able to heal me of sadness or regret.
• No husband, boyfriend, or lover can ever completely love me as I am.
• No beer will give me hope of a future.
• No cut on my arm will relieve my pain.
• No cigarette will bring joy to my life.
• No amount of TV will give my mind peace.

But He can give me all of those things. Because He is…comfort. healing. love. hope. relief. joy. peace.

He is…everything.

He is.

Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. Psalm 119:50