The Worst Kind Of Success

I feel as if I need to come clean before we even get started…

I just ate four Lindt chocolates.

(Hey… at least I went for the good stuff.)

And ya know, I’m not entirely killing myself over it either. It was sort of a test run. First of all, I haven’t had sugar since December 26th and compared to how my covenant eating has gone over the past few months, THAT ALONE is like a flipping miracle!

Tonight I went to my niece’s birthday and someone plopped a piece of strawberry shortcake in front of me. And not just any ol strawberry shortcake, but made from scratch strawberry shortcake… and if you don’t think “from scratch” is an important detail to this story, then maybe this blog is not for you… cause here at this “diet blog” we reallllllly like food. ;) And I thought “Let’s see what happens… let’s see if somehow, in the lengthy experience {sarcasm} of the past nine days, I have possibly found the fortitude within to eat a little bit and then resist.” So, I ate the cake and then that was it! Success!

Until I got home and accidentally stumbled across those dadgum Lindt chocolates. If it had been the icky-no-good-low-quality regular ol’ chocolates then I probably would have been fine. But nooooooooooo. It had to be Lindt.

Well, you know the rest of the story… if you haven’t lived it yourself then you can certainly fill in the blanks: Because I’d already had sugar tonight, I “might as well”, so I ate “just one” whichhhhhhhhhhhh turned into all of them.

But, I’m sorta glad for a couple of reasons. Here’s why…

I was sorta on the fence about going hardcore with the sugar thing again this year. Like, maybe I should try out that whole balance thing again. Honestly, I knew… I mean… I KNEWWWWWWW it wouldn’t work to have both. But I guess I just needed one last reminder.

Even more so though… ya see, my teacher, James Tippit… he has been talking a lot lately about the idea that sometimes the parts of our lives that we think are successes, God might look at them and just brush them away. But parts of our lives that we view as dismal failures… He might say…

Oh no honey… look… look where I was here… here… and here. This part where you thought all was lost, where you thought you were a mess, a disaster, a wreck… oh, dearest… this is when I was DOIN WORK in your life… in your soul. I was filling in those parts where you were weak… to be strong. I was changing you, forming you, molding you. Making you more like me.

And this is why, tonight, after those infuriating (but honestly… totally divine) Lindt chocolates, I wasn’t in utter dispair. Because this looked like a dismal failure.

Heck, this whole COVENANT DIET itself looks like a dismal failure to me right now… but when I am weak, then HE. IS. STRONG. Perhaps He is just using this whole thing to help melt my heart and reform me… renew me… purify me.

So, tonight, I ask God…

Be strong within me God. Show me how strong you are through my dismal failures. Melt my heart and help me to fall in love with You again. Help me to fall in love with your kindness, your compassion, your ever-ready forgiveness, your patience. Help me to look back on my life and see all of these wonderful, beautiful moments that have changed me, formed me, molded me. Melt me down and make me more like You, so that I might be a blessing. I love you, God. I do. I love you.

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 262: CheeriUh-Oh

I was gonna jump in to how I started eating my son’s leftover Cheerios last night and be all “oh no, I ate bad again… yada yada yada”, and then I was all like, yeah, but that one moment doesn’t characterize my entire day. Maybe I shouldn’t just jump right into talking about my failures. Maybe I have been a wee too focused on my failures. Maybe I should look more at the things that were successes. The areas where God’s power is working and, slowly, becoming evident.

But, the title was too clever for me to trash, so I kept that part. Ha!

First of all, just ignoring Facebook yesterday morning and reading some bible and then blogging. That was a huge step (especially because that dadgum post was giving me so much trouble… I mean, I tried to post that thing like four times and it kept deleting chunks or just not posting, but I was pretty determined to get that done. It sorta felt like Satan was trying to work some evil in keeping me from posting it).

And then this afternoon, I prayed again for fifteen minutes. I almost missed it and I just had this unsettled feeling, so I stopped folding the baskets, and baskets, and baskets of clean clothes and went into my room and prayed. I just prayed praise and thanks to God for being… well, for being awesome.

Yesterday at one point… I ate an orange! Haha! I had to kind of force myself away from the pantry, but I ate an orange instead of junk.

I started out the day really repeating scripture. This sorta petered off as the day went on (as did my focus) but it was a great start to the day. Writing this now puts my mind back on the scriptures that I posted yesterday.

God, you are the one who saves me.
God, you are right beside me.
God, you are able to do more than I can imagine.

And an oldie that came back to my mind this morning in the shower…
God, make me willing to obey.

I am having to just take each day at a time and each hour at a time and find those spots where I can call to God, rely on God, praise God, and read or say the Words of God.

So, maybe CheeriUh-Oh was the right title. Cheerio to living life by myself and helllllo reliance on God!

Day 233: Dare To Hope

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I am kind of amazed today with myself. That after 233 days of this I still will turn to things that cannot fulfill. things that have proven to let me down. things that will hurt me.

Even after an awesome three-week hard-core Daniel Fast.

So, after I have all this wonderful spiritual enlightenment and peace, what do I do?

I drink three cups of coffee this morning.

I get myself all sorts of addicted to getting on Facebook again and again and staying up late checking the dad gum thing (even though it is scooched down to the last “page” on my iPhone all by itself).

I make a fresh loaf of bread and knock out half of it before it’s even had a chance to cool.

I eat when I’m not hungry. Several. times.

I ignore God when He tells me to pray and stop working on my to-do list (oh yeah, there was a pretty immediate consequence for that one… not a good idea to ignore God).

Honestly I’m getting frustrated with myself just writing this post!

But

I still dare to hope when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.Lamentations 3:21-26, 31-32, 40

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 Eighty-Nine: Rock Bottom Rememberings

One of the things that has immediately become a “struggle” for me is wanting to take the credit for the weight loss that I have had so far. Even writing that makes me want to laugh at myself because I remember where I was before all this… and lemme tell ya… I was in the land of UNable!

I know that I have mentioned my cookie dough… experience… multiple times but that was really just rock bottom for me. Before that, there had been years of smaller bits of resolve, struggle, eventual failure, and then a tumbling into eating anything and everything… and with every bite reminding myself: YOU CAN’T DO IT. YOU ARE A FAILURE.

But ya know, I was so right. And when I am tempted now to think that my new found control is mine, all I need to do is remember the cookie dough day, the apple crisp struggle, or even any of the many “pre-covenant” uncatalogued lost battles with Oreos, Girl Scout Cookies, tortilla lime chips, the countless bowls of brownie batter followed by the pan of baked brownies, chocolate chip cookies, breadsticks, cheese tortellinis, etc. etc. etc.

And so when the pride of success begins to seep in, all I need to do is remember those days of spiraling out of control. And just this week I stumbled across this oh-so-perfect verse as I read my daily reading plan that addresses this just so perfectly…

We don’t have the right to claim that we have done anything on our own. God gives us what it takes to do all we do. 2 Corinthians 3:5

Day Seventy-Three: Fantastic Failure

Annnnnnnnd another verse that came to my attention in church this last Sunday. I know, I know. I promise this is the last one… well, at least until I go to church again this coming Sunday!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

When I read this, I instantly connected with the last part: “Apart from me you can do nothing” because of how I could not… not… not… lose weight before this covenant. And oh wow- I remember now how that failure killed my self-esteem. I went through the phase of thinking that I was “less” because all these websites would tell me I was obese and on top of that I was even lower because I couldn’t get enough self-control to lose weight. My identity was becoming enveloped by those terms: obese. less. undisciplined.

I was essentially like a branch laying next to the Vine of God and wishing I could produce that fruit. But no, oh no, I don’t want to be part of His Vine. I just want the same fruit.

How freeing it was when I realized that I indeed could not do it. That in this area of my life, I was apart from God. And the covenant has been the way to graft me back into The Vine.

Because I think we all know, whether we have much of a green thumb or not, that a branch that has been cut off from the vine or trunk of a plant is not going to spontaneously have fruit on it. The branch is dependent upon the trunk to provide the nutrients necessary to bloom and make fruit.

And that is why I am so glad that my failure to lose weight on my own was so fantastically bad. I needed the Gardener to graft me back into the Vine. And now I am, I think, blossoming and bearing fruit. And I’m not just referring to the weight loss. In fact, that is only an outward showing of the change that is in my heart.

Day Twenty-Six: Light As A Feather

(sigh of relief)

I feel so much better today since I decided not to weigh anymore. I literally feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders (hehe- pun). I wasn’t dreading my food selections this morning like usual. I didn’t look in the mirror and think “failure”. I didn’t even think about my weight. In fact, as I write this I’m having to really think to remember how much I weigh!

So as I was putting words to that just now I started thinking “why?” Why would not-weighing give me so much freedom?

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1. Weight is one of the world’s measurements of my value. And I no longer desire to be “measured” by the world. Sure I’ll still have the mirror as a “gauge” of my weight but it won’t be as black and white… fail or succeed… like it feels now. I already feel as if I’ll be able to get a better renewal going without those numbers daunting me. haunting me. pulling on me.

2. Weighing myself causes me to fixate on losing weight instead of thinking about eternal things. When I weigh myself or think about weighing, it seems to permeate my thoughts all day. I even made a note on my phone about what I should weigh by each week to lose the weight by the time June rolls around. I would find myself checking it and checking it. Almost… worshipping those smaller numbers.

And so when I removed those numbers, when I removed that element out of my day to day attempts to focus on obeying God, pleasing God, honoring God with my body… it was as if I freed myself from a “restraint” the world had for me and I was suddenly light as a feather. Almost as if I was “above” the weight. “Above” having to weigh myself. “Above” the worry of such… mundane worldliness.

Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen. 2 Corinthians 4:18