Day 626: New And Free

Throughout the past several months, I have been totally down on myself about not living “up” to the covenant.

Seriously, if I’m going to be honest, it’d be more like for the past 8 or 9 months (pretty much ever since I tried sugar again) because I just haven’t been able to overcome temptation like I did last year.

And so, of course, that had to be all my fault.

God is good.

I’m bad.

Stop being bad.

That’s pretty much how I felt.

But ya know… that is THE. TOTAL. OPPOSITE. of what this is about. It’s the total opposite of what God is about.

You see, He is looking forward to the new me. He is looking forward to the free me.

And… here’s the kicker that I so often ignore… He is CURRENTLY MAKING me into the NEW, FREE me.

I forget that.

I often think that I have to be perfect now.

I don’t.

I don’t ever have to be perfect.

Because His Son, Jesus Christ, is perfect.

And He will take care of all of my imperfections when he stands with me as I face God who will be ready to make me account for all the rights and wrongs I did in life.

So, now all I am called… is to be in Christ. I do my best because I love Him.

But ya know what He does when I sin. He doesn’t throw stones at me. He doesn’t tell me everything I’ve done wrong before He tells me everything I’ve done right.

You know what He does for me? For you?

He bends down to me.

Wipes the dust off of my face.

He says, Your sins are forgiven.

Go.

And sin no more.

your sins have been forgiven go and sin no more

Day 603: Hope Does Not Wear Feathers

emily dickinson hope is a thing with feathers

My friend Jennifer has told me time and time again over these past few months to “not beat myself up” whenever I’d make a mistake, or get beat down, or lose hope.

Honestly… I was always thinking, like, “What do you MEAN not beat myself up? How can I NOT beat myself up? I’m totally messing up, screwing up, ruining everything! It’s all going downhill… of COURSE, I’m going to beat myself up!”

And yes, that’s a lot of capitals… I save them for when I really need them.

But that’s how I was thinking.

No hope.

But just focusing on freedom yesterday, and then on hope today on facebook and twitter… well, it’s awesome how it has already begun to infuse… yep, hope into my every moment.

I found myself saying earlier today, “Wow… I’m, like… happy today!” But then the more that I thought about it I realized, “No, I’m hopeful. Things seem to be looking up… I can feel a change, a bright future, something new!” And it was just because of that changing my attitude from that of focusing on my sin and my failures to instead focusing on my freedom and my hope.

Because He IS my hope.

He is OUR hope!

And although my fav, Emily Dickinson, wrote a cool poem about hope (Hope is a thing with feathers)… when we find our hope in God, hope ISN’T just a thing with feathers. Hope is real. Hope is something you can take to the bank. Because our hope in Him… well, it’s got His Promise for freedom attached to it!

I would like to encourage you to be friends with me on facebook or on twitter… because I’m just trying to refocus us all toward freedom and hope… and who knows what it’ll be tomorrow, but I’m hopeful (hehe) that it’ll be just as uplifting and it’ll keep drawing us to Christ!

Day 580: Losing Weight Is Great, Buuuuut…

Okay, so tomorrow marks 2 weeks since I started my Daniel Fast/Plan.

(Which reminds me that I need to talk about the difference between the two in a post sometime! I haven’t forgotten! Well, I mean, I have forgotten, but I haven’t like… forgotten, forgotten. Ya know? Great!)

Anyway, so tomorrow is 2 weeks. Only 14 days of being essentially a vegan but even more hard-core than that. I’ve been eating only fruits, veggies, and nuts except for two times when I’ve had rice with my meal. No cheese. No pasta. No bread.

And it’s weird… I’m not, like, dying or anything.

On the contrary, I’m probably having the exact OPPOSITE effect on my body! I’m probably earning myself some extra days for every meal that I eat like this.

And I won’t lie and say that I haven’t been THRILLED at the fact that I have obviously lost some weight in just those two weeks. I mean, y’all know that I don’t weigh any more after Day 118: Trippin, but I can tell in my clothes BIG time. I mean, I’m not like rockin a size 4 after two weeks or anything but I am fitting much more nicely into my shorts again. And my face… it looks completely different already. Maybe none of that is noticable to anyone else, but I know it… I see it… I feel it.

BUT.

That is not why I am feeling blessed tonight.

I’m feeling blessed because it has been two weeks of freedom again. And especially because I know that this time it’s for the long-haul. As each day passes and I feel more and more free and less and less wrapped up in FOOD THINKING, the more I know that I want this to be me… forever. No more 1-year contracts or 5-year contracts with God. Forever.

And friends… it is good to think about being free… forever.

free is better

Day 508: More Than Saved

saved from more than death

You know when we Christians hear the phrase ” I am saved” we so often just think immediately of someone that believes that Jesus is Lord in their heart, said it out loud with their mouth, and so now they are saved (Romans 10:9).

POSITIVITY: I am saved.

Even though I was dead because of my sins, he gave me life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that I have been saved!) Ephesians 2:5

Ya know… Jesus has saved us if we believe in Him. But Jesus has saved us from so. much. more.

He has saved us from a life of sadness. of hopelessness. of powerlessness.

He sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us towards a full life, an abundant life, a life with hope and a future. He gave us strength and wisdom when we ask.

It reminds me of a few of the stories (and sadly, there are only a few) from when slaves were officially freed in America and there were some “masters” that gave their former slaves food, land, and money to get started on their own. Not only were those slaves “saved” from being a slave but they were also “saved” from starting life out on their own with absolutely no help and only a bunch of animosity from the whites as most slaves were. But this is what Christ has done for us… he has saved us from oppression of the worst kind and has provided us with the tools to life a wonderful and complete life.

PRAYER:

Lord God… I cannot fathom what it means to really be a physical slave. Honestly, I hope that I never fully understand that truth because I know how difficult it has been to be a slave to my own sin… to be a slave to temptation… a slave to the devil’s wiles. It has been a slavery that has wrapped my soul in pain and sorrow.

But today I remember that it shouldn’t be that way any more. Today I remember that you have saved me. That you have given me life… real life… full life… abundant life. A life that is FREE from the pull of food. A life that is free from the devil and pain and sorrow and worry.

Thank you Lord Jesus that you saved me from eternity in emptiness… in separation from You and all that is Good. But thank you God that You also sent Jesus to show me how to fully live. You are my abundance!

Amen!

Day 506b: A Slave No More

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Ya know, yesterday on Day 505, I was supposed to write about the positivity of being free.

I tried a bunch of times to write on it, but I just wasn’t… feelin it. (And for good reason.) If you read the post I wrote just moments ago (Day 506a: Childish Conviction) then you’ll see why.

Sin. I wasn’t feeling free because I was still WILLINGLY going back to sin and asking to be its slave. But my little interaction today with my son was like someone spiritually grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking the snot out of me and saying WAKE UP!!!! YOU ARE A SLAVE BUT YOUR SHACKLES ARE OFF! WHY ARE YOU STILL WORKING FOR THIS MASTER? GO! GET OUT OF HERE! BE… FREE.

And I am.

I. am. free.

POSITIVITY: I am free.

Now, I am free from my slavery to sin, and I have become a slave to righteous living. Romans 6:18

I never understood before I started this covenant journey how restricting myself (a la “becoming a slave to righteous living”) would be FREEING? It just didn’t make sense. Until I actually went through that process and realized that last year I was so incredibly free from food once I restricted my foods with God as my help. Then… enter the turn of the year from 2012 to 2013 and my introducing chocolate back into my life.

Big mistake. Huge. HUGE.

However, I can thank God tonight that He has taken me down this road AGAIN to remind me AGAIN of this truth. Because since I ate that first bite of chocolate in January… I have been enslaved to it again. As I reached out that night to taste my first bite of sweetness, I shackled my tender, tender soul back to the vice that has held me captive for so long.

And now, I should probably expound on that to you guys, but I’d rather just talk to God about it in my prayer.

PRAYER:

Oh my God… how wonderful you have been to me today. How you have reached out yet AGAIN to redirect me. I can be nothing but thankful… no, wait, I can be more. I have hope and freedom once again God. Even as I walked into the house and was immediately assaulted with the all-too-familiar thought of “Hmmmm, what can I snack on?” I smiled God with such peace because I knew that I was free again.

And on that note… wow. Thank you for making confession and conviction SUCH an effective tool in redirecting me. Thank you for using my sweet little boy to speak a dagger of truth into my heart. Oh my Jesus, I needed Your Sword of Truth to cut me clean down the middle so that You could put me back together again. And Hallelujah you did it!

I just feel so full of hope and excitement as I look forward to more and more days and days of peace in my heart as you empower me with strength and the ability to resist these morsels of the former me. Lord Jesus, be close to me now. Stay sooooo close by my side… even now, I can sense that sneaky snaky devil searching in my armor for a weak link. Guard me God with your angels… protect me from evil even if just for a few days while I get my sea legs again. Allow me to be a glory and witness to you as I muddle through this covenant journey.

Oh just THANK YOU GOD… that is all I have tonight. Thanks. Thank you… thank you for this freedom. Thank you.

And a Hallelujah Amen!

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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 140: Gray And Glorious

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Ya know… a while back a friend of mine and I were talking about getting gray hair. I’m 33, and most 33-year-old women are worried about getting in some gray hair, but not me. I’ve known since as long as I can remember that I would have a full head of gray hair when I hit my early thirties… happened to my dad and happened to his mom. Honestly, I’m a bit of a free spirit and so I’m actually totally cool with it! I mean… I have a big ol curly fro!?!?! What could look cooler than that? Oh, a big ol curly GRAY fro!!!! Anyway, her comment about her gray hair was that she would have to dye it because she was afraid of how people would perceive her.

And this is coming from the girl that never cared how people perceived her. But now she’s a counselor, and well… when you are at a point where you need to go see a counselor… you either want a friend-type counselor or you want a wise-sage-type counselor. So, I can see how if she is the friend-type counselor then having gray hair would be… well, it wouldn’t match up with her counseling style.

But it did make me a bit sad for the rest of humanity… because there is like this huge stigma about gray hair. Personally, I think gray hair is beautiful, and it also indicates wisdom and the blessing of having lived to be older than 13! Here is my favorite verse about gray hair, by the way… “Gray hair is a glorious crown worn by those who have lived right.” Proverbs 16:31 So, obviously, I am living right!!! Haha!

Okay, but this post isn’t even really about gray hair! But it brings up my topic about how the world perceives “us”…

A few days ago some kid that I used to teach posted a tacky photo on Facebook of a very, very overweight woman in a bikini. (Why I am still “friends” with him on Facebook and a ton of other people is a post for another day… and another blog.) And it just made my heart hurt… a) because of the burden that poor woman feels because of food, and b) because overweight people are just… mocked by the world. And being mocked… well, it hurts.

So much of my own insecurities are remnants of when I was mocked as a little girl in elementary school because I was “big”. Looking back at pictures, I wasn’t big… I just wasn’t tiny. But it didn’t matter… I had yet to learn that my identity was not in what a bunch of little kids would say to me, but that my identity was in Christ and what He thought of me. And He could absolutely care less about my exterior!

But as I grew up and stayed not-tiny, and then as I truly did start to gain weight and become “overweight”… I still struggled with who I was. Until I really started going to church in high school and I had the most uh.maz.ing. youth minister (shout out to Grant Byrd) in the universe that impressed upon us day, after day, after day that Jesus was all that mattered when it came to opinions. And, well, I fell in love with Jesus pretty darn quick. Of course, I was yet to realize that He could free me from this burden of food that I had been dragging along with me for years, but at least I allowed Him to start freeing a bunch of the burdens I was carrying in my soul.

Well, as I thought through this, it made me realize how many of “me” there are out there… overweight people, struggling with food, loving and adoring Jesus. And gosh… I just want to wear a big sign on my head that like glows that says to them, “YOU CAN BE FREE! PLEASE… ALLOW HIM TO FREE YOU!” And I don’t mean that so that they can get “skinny”… like I said, I would be totally cool with it if I hadn’t lost a pound because of the FREEDOM that I feel from food. Like, being able to fast the other day while shopping? And fasting by choice? Because I was happy? That was not the me from before! I want these people that love Jesus and are addicted to food to be free so that they can know Him more… so that, like I prayed for my friend Christy the other day, they too can say…

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5

Day 118: Trippin

Well. I have had it.

I mean, actually, I’d “had” it yesterday.

With the weighing.

Yes…… I know that I said that months ago, but now, for real. I’m done. Here’s how “done” I am with weighing myself…

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This morning my husband came out to weigh himself and I just started word vomiting all over him, and it went something like this…

I am done with that thing. Done with it. I was depressed all weekend because of that dad gum thing and the dad gum number it kept showing me. I am done being defined by it. I am done weighing. I don’t care anymore what it says. I’m done. I will not weigh myself again. Do. not. let. me.

And let me just tell you what he did.

He got off the scale, picked it up, walked into our kitchen, pulled the trash out and held it out over the trash. Then he said, “Ya wanna do it with me?” And we tossed that scale into the trash.

(Side note: I. LOVE. MY. HUSBAND.)

And I was already feeling pretty free after my reminder yesterday that God will continue to work in me, but this took it to a whole new level. Because that scale (and every other scale… ever) has been a constant source of depression, and wrong identity, and emotional sickness, and… and… and. So, we got rid of it. Know why? It was slowing me down. slowing down my race to God. And so we had to get rid of it…

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

And I know (well, I mean, I have a decent idea) what is at that finish line. And I know that the race gets better the closer I get to Him. And I don’t want to wait any longer than I have already had to wait to get closer to Him. So I’m leaving that weight behind cause it was tripping. me. up. And I’m running with endurance this race to the face of my Jesus.

And for a girl that doesn’t like to run… well, this is a kind of race that even I am willing to train for!

Day 112: I’m A Keeper

There was a time when my brother was playing soccer as a kid… like Kindergarten or 1st grade age. You know how it works when they are that age. Every kid just hovers around the ball so there is like this tornado of kids all in one area. And then… there’s the poor keeper. All by himself down there by the goal. And it’s especially worse when your team is good because most of the action is happening at the other end of the field where the tornado of action is attempting to kick the ball into the other keeper’s goal. Well, my brother’s team was pretty good so the poor little keeper on his team tended to get bored pretty frequently.

Well, this one time, after we had all been watching down to the left for several minutes as our kids hacked away at getting the ball in their goal, there was a breakaway and a kid from the other team busted out of the pack with the ball, sprinting towards… our goal.

And we looked on in horror, amazement, shock, and ultimately complete hilarity as we saw that our keeper, having obviously been bored and… well… ignored for quite a while, had climbed up into the goal ropes. It was no biggie apparently… he was just “hanging out” (haha) until it was time for that breakaway. Only, he had gotten himself so entangled that when he tried to get off… he couldn’t. He was stuck. Stuck dangling from that goal as he watched helplessly while the lucky boy from the other team effortlessly kicked the ball in the goal right under our keeper.

Hilarious, right? Definitely! Ha- you should hear my dad tell the story! It’s even better!

But ya know, I think we have all at some point felt like that keeper. We, for whatever reason, choose to go where we shouldn’t go and we get tangled in the ropes of sin. And then, when the time comes for us to escape… we are stuck. Stuck dangling above watching life go by. Stuck watching someone else win right in front of our eyes. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.

An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness. Proverbs 5:22

I will admit that more and more I feel separated from the girl that felt entangled by this sin of addiction. But I must say that this verse stuck with me. In fact, I finished my reading this morning and then went back to it because I was still thinking about it. Probably because it is such an accurate depiction of what has been going on with me for yearrrrrrs. And while I am all about moving forward, moving on without the past, I guess at the same time when I take small moments to look back at the past then everything about the present is… better. more manageable.

And I saw this verse and remembered how hopeless I felt tangled up in those ropes. Just as helpless as that boy was in that goal. I think about how helpless people were around me that wanted me to be free, but they could only watch me hang there. Just like we all watched helplessly as that boy dangled there that day. We could not help him. And I think about all the poor women I have despised because they were thin… the ones I thought were winning… even though their thinness might have been the only “goal” they ever scored.

And then I look at that second half of the verse “He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.” And the lack of self-control I had for food was literally going to kill me. I don’t have to be a dietician or a scientist to know that I was pushing the machine of my body to perform in a way that it was not designed. And that will kill a machine.

And all of it was just such great, great foolishness… now I see that. Eating to comfort? to entertain? to rest? From the outside looking in, it was such a ridiculous thing. But… I was too entangled to see it. Too entangled to see that I was going to lose. Too entangled to see that I could not escape…

without God.

And I am reminded of how Hezekiah just… asked for life and God granted it to Him. And Hezekiah’s response…

Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live!
Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins.
For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.
Isaiah 38:16-22

And how good it is to sit back and know that God is ready to heal me. He is ready to rescue me from death. He is ready to untangle me.

He is ready. Am I ready to ask?

Day Eighty-Eight: Cat Call

I’m not even entirely sure how to breach such a subject, but again, my blog is an avenue for me to work through issues that arise from a food addict losing a food addiction.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I have lost quite a bit of weight… would my body be featured in a magazine? Ummmmm, no. Would I want it to be? Ummmmm, no. But it does look a bit more like what this world praises as “fit”. According to whatever people invented the BMI, I have moved off of the obese range and am now “just” overweight.

But enough of that talk… what is my point?

Well, I got my first “cat call” in years the other day from some random guys down the street. And I mention it here because… well, because it felt good. It felt good to be found attractive by someone other than a family member that HAS to think that I’m beautiful (or at least has to SAY it whether they think it or not). But these were just random people that I have never seen before and will never see again.

Immediately, I was bursting with… well, I’m not even sure I know what I was bursting with. First there was a bit of surprise along with a look around to see who they were talking about. Upon realizing that it was me, I guess it was just regular ol’ pride I was feeling.

Okay, so a surge of pride, then the moment was gone, right?

Nope. I wish that had been the case but it wasn’t. I allowed my thoughts to linger on that “compliment” for hours. I had craved that kind of feedback for so long before meeting my husband (who compliments me all the time, by the way)… and I guess my mind just sort of falls back on that.

But I also began to hear that voice in my head that I was chasing after something wrong. Something dangerous. Oh how I wanted to ignore that voice and continue to bask in their words a while longer. But I kept hearing “THAT is not The Way… THAT is not why I have freed you.”

I have been freed from chocolate but do not want to simply pick up another habit of overeating chips and bread. Same thing here… I don’t want to lose an obsession with food simply to replace it with an obsession based on how mankind views my body. I’m afraid the latter would be a far more dangerous addiction than chocolate, bread, or chips.

Don’t judge by appearance or height… The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7