Day 303: Zero Car Garage

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My garage is a mess.

I mean… not like an “Oh no… the rack that holds up all the yard tools just fell down” kind of a mess, but a “You mean they make racks that hold up yard tools?” kind of a mess. Like… my garage has probably only been able to fit a car in it for like a total of three months during the eight years that we have owned this house. Just look at it… it’s cuh.ray.zeeeeeee.

And I hate that. I mean… winter is coming to Texas. Yes, I know, it will only be really, really cold for, like, two or maybe three months, but all the same… the whole defrosting the car in order to drive five minutes to take my son to preschool and then five minutes back home, well, it just wears me out. (I’m not a fan of cold weather, if you hadn’t noticed.) Plus, a clean garage is such a great place to take kids to play on rainy days… it’s like they are getting outside kinda but not really. And then just looking for something… for ANYTHING in there is a beat-down.

What was that?

Clean it out, you say?

Pffffff, well OF COURSE that would be an easy solution. If it were THAT easy do you think that I’d have an unorganized, cluttered, messy garage?

And that’s just it… the garage is an area of my life in which I am able to close a door and forget about it… sure, occasionally I have to go in there to get out Christmas decorations or to look for my son’s toy light saber to complete his Obi-Wan outfit, but most of the time I just avoid that entire room. No one else goes in there, so no need to clean it, right?

But deep down I know that it is an area of our house that needs to be organized. It needs to be cleaned. to be decluttered. to be… useful. Cause now it is only “useful” for holding junk and for successfully hiding all of our tools when we need them.

And I think that my life and my soul… they are pretty similar to that. Most of my soul, I at least give touch-up spots occasionally. Some areas, I clean regularly. Some areas, I am closed-up, locked-down, and there are no-admittance signs posted all over that stuff. And then there’s areas like the garage… ignored. Purposefully ignored. But ignored all the same. And I think that this is almost more dangerous than those areas with top-secret-clearance-only. Because ignored stuff rusts. festers. grows. It defeats me whenever I look at that part of my life just because of the sheer AMOUNT of things to sift through.

But (yes, here’s the big but… you were hoping that I wasn’t gonna ramble about my garage for an entire post, right?)…

My husband and I are planning on asking my parents (Mom, if you are reading this, then you can consider this me asking you about it… haha) to watch our boys for a day over Thanksgiving break so that we can, as I like to call it, mama-jama that sucker and clean. it. out.

And we are going to have to sweat. and get dirty. and get rid of some things that we are attached to. and be embarrassed at some of the things that we have been keeping in there. BUT we are going to clean it out. And start fresh. And start new. And clean. And hopeful that we can keep it relatively fresh, new, and clean.

And sometimes that’s what we need to do with our God. Like I said, recently I went away for a MomsAway retreat… and that’s what I let God work on… pulling some stuff out of the garage. But I needed to have someone take over my responsibilities for the day, for the weekend. No, not everyone can do this for a full weekend, I know. I guess I would encourage you to set aside a night each week to do it for yourself then. If your kids are in bed by 8:00pm then take every Thursday night to let God get some stuff out of the garage. Or if you have to wait and do it on Saturdays or Sundays if you work, do it then. Just remember, the dishes can wait. the laundry can wait. lesson planning can wait. catching up on your favorite shows from the week can wait. Eternity… can’t. It’s too important. Actually, it’s the only thing that is important AT ALL.

I was reminded again of this yesterday when I was reading through my Jesus Calling devotional (I spoke about it yesterday) and it had Jesus saying, “My main work is to clear out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit to take full possession. Collaborate with Me in this effort by being willing to let go of anything I choose to take away.” And I know that He is working to clear out a lot of my debris and clutter right now… in a bunch of areas of my life, not just with food… although food continues to be an issue that I have to deal with daily. Daily I have to open up the garage door… the BIG garage door… and let everyone see what is going on in there while He rips out the junk and replaces it with cleanliness. And so my prayer continues to be:

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

Day 279: Divine Diapers And Dinners

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Both yesterday and today are the kind of days where I wake up and think… I really don’t have anything to say.

Part of that comes from a couple of days of busyness where my heart and mind don’t have time to think about anything except for the next five minutes or getting from task to task.

Yes, yes, I am a stay at home mom so my “busyness” is not deadlines and contracts and meetings, but I can assure you that my two boys keep me bussssssssy!!!

And of course as soon as I wrote that about being too busy to think about anything other than diapers and dinners, I recalled a verse from my lesson in church yesterday… we are studying parables (little fictitious stories that have an underlying message) and specifically studying the message about the farmer who throws some seed out. I’ll put it here for you so you don’t have to go looking… it might be familiar to you but go ahead and take it for a spin anyway to refresh.

    Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
    “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! (Here Jesus has a little chat with the disciples and then he gets to saying this to them.) Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
    http://bible.us/Matt13.1.NLT

And when I wrote above “that comes from a couple of days of busyness where my heart and mind don’t have time to think about anything” my mind went to this verse:

    The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” http://bible.us/Matt13.22.NLT

YIKES.

That’s so true. The days when my life is so crowded with worries or bills or… or… or… those are the days that I am relatively fruitless. Those are the days that my mind is focused on the temporary things instead of on the things of eternity.

Well, that’s all good and fine, but I can’t “downgrade” my busyness. I already have two kids and they aren’t gonna stop needing diapers and dinners just because I want to focus on things of eternity. I already have bills that must be paid. I already have a house to be cleaned. I already have a husband to support. I already have bible studies to complete. I already have, have, have.

And so what’s the “fix”?

I guess for some people they might need to downgrade some busyness. I really don’t think that I am that busy.

But what I can do is fill my mind with things focused on eternity. So, while I am working on changing a diaper or cooking dinner… I can set my eyes on the things above.

And not to be redundant from my posts on day 269 and 270, but I think that praise is the best way to do this.

I can praise Him in those little one sentence acknowledgements of His awesomeness. I can praise Him while I’m changing a diaper. I can praise Him while I am cooking dinner. I can praise Him while I am doing pretty much anything.

And if I am constantly looking for a time of open thought to praise Him then I am going to have my mind on the things of eternity quite often during the day.

And that just makes even the mundane of diapers and dinners… divine.

Day 168: Mirror, Mirror

So, I’m now wearing a size 10 pretty comfortably and even a few size 8s. Honestly, a size 8 is what I was hoping to be able to wear at the end of the year… I never hoped that almost halfway through I’d have already have made it here.

Okay, okay… well, maybe I had hoped but I certainly hadn’t expected it!

But one thing that I have known all along is how the temptations would change and alter as my journey progressed. By no means was I ever under the impression that Satan would simply leave me alone…

“Oh welllllll, January is no longer addicted to food. Too bad that didn’t work… guess we’d better move on to the next person cause I just can’t think of anything new to throw into her life to weigh her down again.”

Yeah, not so much. In fact, I think Satan’s thoughts go more like this…

“Okay guys… January is no longer addicted to food. So it’s time to get out the big guns…we’d better move on to a temptation that is bigger, stronger, sneakier, and more difficult to fight off. I can think of several things to choose from.”

And he’s certainly trying out several different ones on me… all dealing with a focus on outward image. Like I mentioned a long time ago in my post Imma Be, I knew that fighting off the desire to be sexy and trendy was going to be an issue. Simply from having lost weight before and having seen the way that I responded to the skinniness. Even now as I fit into those smaller pre-marriage sizes, I’m a little appalled at myself for some of the clothes I’m pulling down from the top of my closet. Phrases like, “I actually wore this in public?!!?” have run through my mind plenty of times!

But one I didn’t expect was a dissatisfaction with my body. Before when I was in college and went from a size 14 to an 8 I thought my size 8 body was off the charts awesome! I was so excited every time I looked in the mirror.

But now, a size 8 body… well, I’ll admit, it makes me happy… but there are also moments when I look in the mirror and start to critique what I see.

Oh… I wonder if that fat flap will ever go away.
My belly button looks weird.
Will my inner thighs will always have that annoying… extraness?
Check out all my varicose veins!!!
If only my back was a little more toned…
I’d give anything if both my eyes were the same size.

And those are just the ones that I can think of right now!  A lot of it is subconscious but more and more I’m thinking it “outloud” in my mind. Which means that I am allowing my mind to acknowledge the “truth” of it.

This is not. good.

This is proof of my identity being found in something other than Christ. And that is unacceptable.

This is proof of me trading the truth about God for a lie. And that is doubly unacceptable.

Because look what happens when we do that…

They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen… Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. Romans 1:25, 28-31

Yeah, so it’s not just me looking in the mirror and being annoyed with my belly button. It is the beginning of something much, much more than that. And honestly, check out that list… I do NOT want to become that person.

Okay, so it’s easy to look at that list and say “Oh no! (insert an inward gasp of fake shock) I don’t want to be those things!” But it’s an entirely other thing to NOT become those things. All I need to do though is look at what led them into those types of lives and reverse it (at least, that makes sense in theory).

They worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise. vs 25

So, to flip the process… I must worship the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise.

And that makes sense, and I am reminded of my post, Exaggerated Eternity, and how it talked about making us smaller to make Him greater.

And I’ll admit… my focus has not be on His awesomeness, His glory, His power, His greatness, His mercy, His… His anything. I am two weeks behind on my bible readings… just doing a bit here and a bit there when I feel a bit guilty.

But God, this day. this moment. I am choosing you. Again, and again, and again, I must go through this process of choosing you. Sorry that it’s not a constant thing for me yet. And I say yet. Because I am not going to be satisfied with my life nor with myself until my choosing of you is a constant thing. And to get me back on focus, I’m going to make you first again. I’m going to give up facebook again since I know that is a deterrent from you… wish it weren’t but it is… and your word will be the first thing I open up in the morning (after I turn off the 23 alarms on my phone that wake me up… haha) and it will be the last thing on my mind at night. And God I ask that you would turn my heart back to your truth. back to your glory. back to You, who are worthy of eternal praise. Amen.

Day 148: Wedding Weight

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Coming up at the end of June is the wedding of one of my friends from high school. I graduated back in 1997 and I haven’t seen quite a lot of people since that day. Thanks to Facebook I have been able to keep up with a lot of them, but still… some of them I have yet to see.

And… well… I’ll be honest… all of that difficulty that I had with the weighing a few weeks ago. Yeah, it’s because of the wedding.

You see, I had figured out… by the time the end of June is here then I should be able to be down to a size 8… down to 145 or 150. And then… when I wasn’t on that (self-made) track anymore and it looked like I wasn’t going to be a cool 145 by the end of June, well, I got panicked. Cause (in my worldly-focused mind) I needed to weigh LESS than I did in high school, and I’m pretty sure I was around 160… bumping up against 170 in high school. All of these people I went to high school with don’t know that I got up to 210, so they won’t know that I’ve already lost a huge chunk of weight. So (again, let me repeat, in my world-focused mind) I needed to weigh at least twenty pounds less than I did in high school in order for people to say “Ooooooo Ahhhhhh, January… wow… you look so great… Ooooooo Ahhhhhh.”

Yeah. It’s soooo lame. I know.

I guess part of it is because, amazing Christians as they might have been, I spent a lot of my high school years trying to chase after their approval. I was still so new to living a life with Jesus that I hadn’t gotten rid of the need of “praise from men” yet. And I wasn’t in the “popular” church crowd. The sad part: I had such great friends during that time… but it took me years, and years, and yearsssss before I could appreciate them. And by then it was really too late to salvage those relationships that I let slip and slide into the past.

But anyway, I finally came face to face with the realization that I wanted to lose that weight by a certain deadline for a reason that had nothing. to. do. with. God. and had everything to do with this world.

And, well, this covenant… it IS God. It is only about God… weight. life. skinny. clothes. chocolate. vegetables. None of those things matter ultimately. On December 31, 2012 when the clock turns over to a new year… all that will matter is God.

So, even now, I am having to renew my mind. to reset my mind. to focus my mind. on things above and forget about the wedding (well, in terms of weight at least… I really am excited to see this wonderful girl… the best of girls… get married).

If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your mind and keep it set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2

Day 114: Like… Jesus

I weighed again a couple of days ago and I’m sittin pretty at 160. Now, I can tell you that I have not lost more than maybe two pounds in the past two months. I can also tell you that before making this covenant I would have been crushed. devastated. depressed. if I had been limiting my food for two months and not lost any weight. And I can also tell you that even though I have not lost more than two pounds in two months… I. don’t. care!!!

I mean… like, I’m really feeling completely free right now from the burden of having to have lost weight! It’s as if my weight is slowly becoming just what it should be… something temporary. something of this earth. And my mind is more concerned about the things of eternity.

I hate for this to sound like an “Oh thou shalt listen to me for I am holier than thou” kind of post. What it is, really, is a praise post.

Because for me to be able to say the words “I don’t care that I have not lost weight”… well, that just signifies a whole new me… and I can assure you that becoming a whole new me has only been possible with Jesus.

Let me break it down for ya.

For yearssssss I have obsessed about my weight. And even though I obsessed about it, I continued to gain and gain and gain. Because, like I said above, it had become my obsession. And we tend to embrace what we obsess about.

And then it became more than just an obsession. Food became my… everything. And I had to have it all. the. time. Not for nourishment’s sake at all but for… well, for I don’t even know why… for appeasing some, like, monster inside of me.

And I was literally out of control.

And all the while, I was obsessing over my weight. And obsessing over my failure to lose weight.

And now. Still sitting at 160 and I am perfectly cool with it. Cause God is taking over my body. my mind. my soul. my spirit. If he wants me to weigh 160 then that’s what I’ll weigh. If he’s got a plan for me to hit 150… 140. Then coolio. But I’m not gonna stress it. I have bigger stuff to think about. more important stuff to think about. more awesome stuff to think about.

Like… Jesus.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2

Day Ninety-Four: Oh! My! God!

Ya know, going on a “strict” fast for Lent of only fruits, veggies, and nuts (oh, and coffee… cause, seriously… I have a toddler… and if we follow the whole “What Would Jesus Do?” thing… well, if Jesus had a toddler… he would drink coffee!)… anyway, eating just those things for forty-six days and then coming off of that fast back to my regular Daniel Fast… well, it has been super good for me. A peek into the future of what I might experience, or think, or feel, or struggle with whenever my covenant is “over” in January 2013.

First of all, I have to say that this week of “struggle” has been, relatively, no struggle compared to my struggles with food in the past when coming “off” of a diet. Has it been a perfect week? No. But it has been a learning week for me. And that’s just what I want and exactly what I need. It’s sorta like going off of a diet while still being on… a diet.

My biggest lesson: the week “after” is the single most important week to read the Bible, pray, think on things of eternity, etc. And I say that because this has been a week where I have done pretty much none of those things! And it has been a crummy week! I didn’t want to read my Bible (yeah, thanks for that joy killer, Satan) and because I wasn’t reading my Bible I wasn’t really thinking about the things of God. And because of that I wasn’t really wanting to post. And because of that my mind began to wader from my freedom and back into my previous slavery. And because of that I was helpless to the mozzarella and bread sticks.

And oh. my. gosh.

Soooooo I just got out my phone to search for a verse to put with this post.

And seriously… oh. my. gosh. No. Wait. Better yet, I’m going to use the real deal.

Oh! My! God! You are soooooo GREAT! You are AWESOME! AMAZING! My… EVERYTHING!

Friends, just read this verse that is oh-so-perfect for my lesson learned this week that God just plopped down in front of me and you’ll see why I say that He is so great, awesome, amazing, and my everything:

I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. Job 23:12

Amen!

PS… I love you God!!!

Day Ninety-Two: Taste Test

I gave myself one tiny exception in this covenant that “allows” me to have sugar… when my oldest son makes something or is terribly excited about something and wants me to taste it, then a) I try to do my best to avoid eating it if possible (like waiting until he turns away and hiding it), or b) if I can’t avoid it then I will take a tiny bite and that seems to appease him.

Well, most of these situations have been cookies or sugary candy and I think he’s only cornered me once or twice where I was “forced” to eat it… but last week he had a piece of peanut butter and chocolate from his Easter egg hunt at school and he desperately wanted me to have a bite. I just love his giving attitude and I want him to practice it as much as possible so I took the piece. Well, he stood there grinning and wide-eyed watching and waiting for me to eat it. I realized that I could not avoid it, so I took a teeeeeeeeny bite, gave him a big grin, and said, “Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing that with me!” and watched him giggle happily and walk off.

And then… I became very, very angry.

Because that chocolate was totally lame.

And I don’t mean lame in the sense that it wasn’t a good piece, but lame in the sense that it was so totally disappointing! And I was so angry because that dadgum chocolate stuff had held me captive for sooooooooo long, and as it turns out… it was LAME.

But ya know, I think the chocolate probably did taste good… tasted as good as it always has… but I have tasted the glory of God. the peace of God. the freedom of God. And even though none of those things have ever physically touched a single taste bud on my tongue… my sense are now ninety-two days closer to the glory of eternity. And nothing, even a stolen bite of chocolate, can compare with a taste of eternity.

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Day Thirty-Nine: Damsel In Distress

I want to start out by saying that I’m so glad that I decided to do this for a year. Five weeks in and I’m realizing that I’m gonna need another 47 weeks to get this worked out. That might sound like I’m “down” but it’s actually almost like a sigh of relief! I am just really glad that I gave myself a lot of time to get “over” this addiction. To work through my bad habits. To become a new creation. Too often before I have expected myself to become a new creation over night and that’s not always the way that it works. I mean, hey, I have thirty-three years of addictive habits that I’m trying to break. That might take a little while!

Now, with that being said, I feel like I have moved into Phase II of this experience. Phase I was getting past my addiction to sugar, namely, chocolate. Honestly… haha, yeah… honestly, I thought that was my only “issue”. Nope. Turns out that I realize over and over that it really wasn’t about the chocolate at all (well, okay, maybe a bit because it was soooooooo good), but that it has been an issue of the heart. So, once chocolate was gone I simply started to slowly work in new “addictions”. But the good news is that I’m not going to let those new addictions master me for the next thirty-three years but I’m going to deal with them now. nip them in the bud now. abolish them from my life now.

So… yeah. In a way I feel like I am back at square one. I’m seeing some of the same tendencies popping back up! Eating what is not beneficial but is still technically “okay” on the fast (e.g. potato chips). Eating past the sensation of full (e.g. dinner last night and tonight when I ate two servings worth and was way past full). Eating too late in the day and ignoring hunger sensations in the hopes that I would let my belly eat a little fat while I starved a bit (e.g. yesterday when I tried to skip lunch altogether).

I can tell that my weight loss has stalled out a little bit and I think that it is because of these things.

So, I’m needing to remind myself of the covenant. And I don’t think that this is a sign of me faltering, or Satan winning, or a lack of faith, discipline, etc.

I have just finished reading through Joshua in my daily bible readings, and after Joshua and the Israelites cross over the Jordan River (God, again, stops the water from flowing so that they can cross) they pile up 12 stones that someone from each tribe picked up when they were crossing the river. Then Joshua tells them why:

“In the days to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What are these stones doing here?’ tell your children this: ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ “Yes, God, your God, dried up the Jordan’s waters for you until you had crossed, just as God, your God, did at the Red Sea, which had dried up before us until we had crossed. This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always. Joshua 4:21-24

It’s not that atypical to set reminders… to need reminders. Heck, it’s all through the bible of the Israelites setting up altars to God to remind themselves that He came through. Like Noah when they got out of the boat. He built an altar to God. I just really like how this part ends… the stones are there so that they can tell others what God did… and why He did it: so that everyone would know how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that we would revere Him always.

So, I am going to be thinking over the next few days of a way that I can set up my stones to remind me that God’s rescuing hand (which I just love that adjective… not just His hand, but his rescuing hand) is strong and that I should revere Him. In the past I might have put a picture of me looking all fatty to “demotivate” me from eating, or a picture of me all skinny to “motivate” me to not eat, or a pig, or a… well, you get the picture. But now again, I am pulling the attention away from me and refocusing it on the things of eternity.

And I think when I see those “stones” and remember that my God has a strong rescuing hand… I might just allow myself to be rescued at that moment. A damsel in distress rescued by The Knight In Shining Armor.

Wow… sounds kind of like a love story.

Yep. The Love Story.