Day 298: Some Friend You Are

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Well, whadda know… I went a whole big chunk of time again not blogging. I am on a retreat this weekend called MomsAway (THE most amazing retreats I have ever been on…) and because I am away is probably why I have time to write. I suppose, though if I am really honest with myself, that I could MAKE time to write again if I were home. You see, writing is a bit like personal bible study or prayer: there MUST be a time every day set-aside for it, you must have solitude, you must set aside your to-do list (or have yet to have looked at it), and you must be deliberate about it.

Annnnnnnnd I have been none of those things lately for bible study, prayer, or writing.

And I think to myself now, How will I explain that to Christ? ……Wait. No…… How, at this very moment, how DO I explain that to Christ?

Can I truly look him in the face and say, I didn’t meditate on Your Word or pray to write about you because I wanted to sleep in???

But that is what I must say to Him now. And I am embarrassed to say it to Him. And ashamed. And regretful.

I am reminded of that song right now… What a friend we have in Jesus… But would Jesus say the same of me??? Would he say: What a friend I have in January? Hmmmmmmm, likely not. But as I look further into that hymn I am grabbed by the lyrics that follow…

What a friend we have in Jesus.
All our sins and griefs He’ll bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

I am struck over and over again by those lines “O what peace we often forfeit… O what needless pain we bear.” How my life has danced around those sentences. When I think of the times in my life that I have carried burdens… that is where my gluttonous eating was able to bloom and grow. But I forfeited peace when I turned to a brownie. I carried needless pain when I turned to a bowl of cookie dough. or a milkshake. or a bag of chips (Cheetos… if we’re getting specific!). I traded the truth of God for a lie… I relied upon the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of all praise! (Romans 1:25)

And so I am keenly reminded (againnnnnn) of how important that daily connection to Him is in my life. And I am reminded of how “the faithful love of God never ends! His mercies never fail… never stop.” (Lamentations 3:22) And so now, againnnnnnn, I ask Him to “satisfy me each morning with His unfailing love.” (Psalm 90:14)

And I smile to myself… knowing that He will.

Day 220: It’s Whatev

Day 17 of my hard-core Daniel Fast.

So a covenant companion of mine has reworked her covenant terms and it’s essentially opposite of what I am doing and I am totally okay with it!

She is a type I diabetic and so, naturally, she’s “allowed” to make her own rules! But she texted me the other day excited about her new covenant “terms” and told me that she is doing a low-carb, high protein diet and that she has been having perfect sugars with it!

My response: awesome!

Cause it’s not about making the foods the thing that rules in our hearts but it is about relying upon God to sustain. to fulfill. to redeem.

And then I came across this verse and it totally made me think of her…

    I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. 1 Corinthians 7:35

So I mean, whatever you want to covenant… pray to Jesus about it and if you see a green light from Him then go for it!

Day 170: Pantry Pinings

I haven’t wanted fruit the past week. Like… at. all. Veggies? Nope. Not so much.

Pantry food? Ohhhhhhhh yeah.

And I have this sort of… numb… feeling about honoring God right now. Pretty sure that it is an aftermath of not reading the bible religiously (i.e. habitually) and not really praying for a couple of weeks. But nonetheless, gotta get my focus back. I need to care about honoring God. I mean it’s not that I’m breaking the covenant (although I got realllllllll close to that line this morning when I made the boys “Cookie Dough Soup”… essentially oatmeal with brown sugar and chocolate chips… and Saxon didn’t want his and I was super hungry so I ate “around” the chocolate chips… ya know, the ones that had melted making it virtually impossible to eat “around” them), but I’m not at all worried about making choices that please Him, or choices that are beneficial, or eating to live instead of living to eat.

And I asked my friend Alice to pray for me because I was really struggling (and honestly I’m writing this on day 173 and I’m still struggling with it), and she said that she didn’t really have any major wisdom for me, but she did say “He’s got this.”

And that’s pretty much the reminder that I needed at that moment. Did I immediately start craving an apple instead of a bowl of granola bathed in almond milk? Nooooooo, but it was a start. And then yesterday, I came across this verse in my regular bible reading and it really struck me as what I’m asking for at this point (I changed it to a prayer, by the way)…

God, please work in me. Give me the desire and the power to do what pleases You. Philippians 2:13

Day 161: Best. Anniversary. Everrrrrrrrr.

Today was my 8th anniversary of my marriage to my husband… aren’t we cute?

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We met about ten years ago in the singles group at our church (despite the fact that I was convinced that once I joined the singles group that I would be single forever), dated for almost two-years and got married at that same church. We are truly the only two people in the world that could probably put up with each other… a match made in heaven! Haha!

Last summer, we went to Cabo to celebrate our anniversary (our first trip without kids, and our first real vacation since we got married) but this year it wasn’t quite in the budget to do something so extravagant, so we arranged for some childcare from my mother and father-in-law. We have been talking about our plans for days, and my husband was really open to the fact that Saltgrass probabllllly wasn’t going to be the best option for our anniversary dinner this year (he’s doing a similar covenant this month), and so I suggested that we go somewhere and get some seafood. Knowing that he was going to try to pressure me into sushi (which I like, but I just wanted something… different… this go round), I jumped on facebook and asked people what the best seafood places were in the area. I got tons of responses and narrowed it down to a place called the Oceanaire.

Now, he automatically gets some props because he was so cool about supporting my covenant during our anniversary, but his real props come from while we were actually at dinner.

The waiter offered us champagne, and when my husband locked eyes with me he could see the “I can’t” that I was transmitting to him telepathically, and he asked for a Pellegrino with lemon.

Later the bread came, and he deferred eating that as well.

The meal options were all within our range so that was no problem (but absolutely delicious to be sure)!

But when the waiter came over and said that he would be giving us a dessert, I got a little panicked. I have this difficult time saying “no” to gifts from people. How would I handle the situation. Just have a bite and be thankful and then let my husband eat the rest? But then, he was trying to avoid all of that stuff as well. After mulling over it for a few minutes, I just said to my husband that I was going to eat my dinner and enjoy it and then worry about it.

After a bit, I went to “powder my nose” and apparently while I was gone my husband had told the waiter that I didn’t eat sugar and so I…

wait.

Whole story… he didn’t just tell the waiter that I didn’t eat sugar. He told the waiter that I’d had a life changing experience with food and with God. He told the waiter that I was like an addict that had been freed.

And then he told the waiter that it would be cool to get me a fruit bowl for dessert instead of the Baked Alaska.

And it was the sweetest dessert ever.

Not because I drizzled it with honey (which I didn’t, by the way… I didn’t need to). Not because the fruit was amazing (which it was). And not because I felt svelte and thin and classy (which I did).

But because my husband was truly my knight in shining armor. He defended me. He defended my covenant. My covenant with God. He helped me to stand up against the world when I my defenses were crumbling. And he presented my covenant and my God shamelessly to our server.

Yep. My knight in shining armor!

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Ecclesiastes 4:12

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Day 116: Christian Closet

A couple of days ago, my good friend and former co-worker was coming over to chat while my oldest was in preschool and my youngest was napping. Even though she and I have been friends for a lonnnnnng time it’s been difficult to see each other as we go through the crazy stages of raising kids and so I was really extra excited to see her since it has been, like, five years since we last hugged each other’s neck.

And as I woke up that morning, I thought to myself, “Well, Rhonda’s coming over… I should do my hair (even though Thursday isn’t a day I usually “do” my hair) and I need to wear an outfit that makes me look extra skinny since I haven’t seen her in a while.”

And then I just sorta stopped myself. I thought, “Whoa. That is entirely off of the focus here. You need to just wear whatever you pick out in the morning and roll with it. No trying on 53 outfits to see which looks skinniest.”

And it wasn’t because Rhonda would love me no matter what (although she would!) but it was because Jesus loves me no matter what. Because Jesus looks at my heart.

And I saw a glimpse of myself having the potential to be one of those girls that I have always admired that looked comfortable and cute in whatever they were wearing but never seemed caught up in their looks. And I realized that I really don’t care about fashion or cute-clothes. I never really have. And that’s cool because…

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

So now, when I wake up in the mornings, I would love to spend a moment focusing on one of these qualities. Asking God as I dress in my earthly garb to make my humility stand out far more than the jeans I’m wearing. That my mercy would “bling” more than my necklace. That the kindness I show someone will show off Christ more than a shirt will show off my figure.

I would love for someone to think about having seen me during the day and not be able to recall a single item of clothing but be able to remember my gentle spirit.

Now, that would be one great outfit.

Day 110: Why Now?

Well, I had another little text-fest with my friend Alice today. And she posed the question:

Why wasn’t his love enough for me before?

I have often asked myself this same question. In fact, that question is what drove me to do the covenant in the first place. After finishing a three-week Daniel Fast last year, I was astonished at how easily I had withheld certain foods from myself that had been seemingly irresistible before. But before that, I had often called out to God and requested that His love and power save me from… food. from myself. from weight. from addiction.

But it hadn’t ever worked.

So, here was my response to her question as to why was His Love enough now?

Here are my thoughts… His Love has always been enough, but now you have committed to Him to rely solely and only on His Love. Before (at least for me) it was really just an “acknowledgement” of His Love.
But now, I am saying, “I believe that Your Love and Your Grace are so powerful that I will commit to sacrificing this food so that Your Grace and Your Love can change me without distraction of food.”

But each person’s journey has been sooooo unique. Soooooo different. The only “sameness” has been that Jesus has, and is, changing them.

I’m sure there is some thick theology about why this is helping so many of us to stand up to these strongholds that we have struggled against for years, but I am at this point with it…

When the blind man who has been healed by Jesus is being interrogated by the Pharisees…

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25

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

Day Eighty-Six: Shouldn’t Couldn’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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