Day 745: I Am Just Like Justin Bieber

I’m not so sure that I would recognize Justin Bieber’s voice or one of his songs if it came on the radio right now.

I really think I only knew even a little about him because my husband teaches guitar and sometimes sweet precious little preteens come in wanting to cover their favorite song.

Admittedly, I even misspelled his name just now as Beiber (shoulda remembered my i before e rule).

But whenever his name started to splash across my facebook about his arrest and his mug shot, I have to admit that I felt terrible for him.

Uhhhhhh, but January, he has, like millions of dollars. Why on earth would you feel sorry for someone who has millions of dollars???

I know.

I know.

Maybe it’s the perpetual high school teacher in me. Maybe it was Jon Acuff’s post about him yesterday. Maybe it’s just that when I look at his mug shot I see a kid… a kid.

Justin Bieber Mug ShotI mean, only a kid wouldn’t know to NOT smile in a mug shot. But look at him in his profile shot. I mean, if that were your kid… he looks so… gosh, I don’t even know the word for that expression. Lost? Confused? Hurt? Terrified?

Empty.

But when I read this article in The Atlantic this morning, I felt like I understood that kid in a new way. And it was just in this one sentence:

They can’t mess up.

Gosh.

That’s it.

I mean, really… think about it for a sec. Don’t you ever feel that way? feel that pressure? Have you ever told yourself, “I can’t. I just can’t mess up. I just cannot go wrong again.”

It starts to crush your soul a little bit each time you have to say it to yourself.

And then it obliterates a part of you whenever you fail yourself… again.

And you and I don’t have the paparazzi watching and photographing and videoing our every. single. move. Documenting every mess up. every slip. every time we simply just didn’t meet someone else’s standard. We don’t have exec’s whose billion dollar enterprise hangs on our every moment.

Can we even imagine that life?

So often that’s how we feel about God. We have this weird idea that He’s up in heaven just ticking away each mess up. Filing away a pic of every time we sin. Shaking His holy head and pursing His lips saying “Why should I even be surprised?”

But here’s the deal…

He’s not doing that.

God is not the paparazzi hoping that you’ll make a mistake. God isn’t even like your agent who needs you to do it all perfect so that you keep your status. God is like a perfect parent… He just wants to love you, to be with you, to help you up when you stumble, to guide you to make decisions that will help you feel at peace and content with this world.

So, even though it seems weird, we are all like Justin Bieber: we don’t WANT to mess up. we think we CAN’T mess up. but we DO mess up.

But we don’t have to respond the same way. Because our God: His plan doesn’t hinge on our actions. His salvation for us doesn’t depend upon our success. His love has nothing to do with how well we sing, dance, talk, or act.

He truly loves us just as we are.

And He loves us just as much despite all that we aren’t.

Day 738: Every Day, In Every Way

Day 738 The Covenant Diet - Every Day, In Every Way

My son has a ptosis on his right eyelid. He’s had it since birth and the doctors said it might just resolve on its own but it hasn’t.

Honestly, I hardly even notice it anymore.

It’s not super severe, but it’s there.

He never really noticed it until lately. I mean, he’d say: “One of my eyes is sleepy” and then he’d move on to build something amazing with his Legos, but that was really it. No biggie.

Until.

Until he went to school.

And wow – other kids were really keen to point it out. Not maliciously, but just “Hey! One of your eyes is closed!” He would just shrug at first and say “Yeah. I was born that way.” He handled it so well. Again, no biggie.

But recently he has become very aware of it and whereas before he wouldn’t let us even discuss the idea of surgery, now he is the one asking for it. {He’s going to have to have surgery because it is affecting his vision.}

And last night on the way home from church he said, “Mom! Please, can we just go get my eye fixed tomorrow? Cause, like, everyone is making fun of it and I just want it fixed.”

I wanted to sit down with him and say, “Oh man. I get ya. I get it. But I promise that even though we’ll get that eye fixed, kids are gonna find something else. They always find something else.” But I decided that was a bit too “mature” of a response for him. So, I said,

I understand that you want it fixed and that it hurts your feelings when others tease you. I’m really sorry for all of that. Ya know, when I was younger, people used to tease me about something too.

What? What did they tease you about?

My hair. My very, big curly hair.

But I like your big hair.

Yeah, me too. But it’s wasn’t “normal” and so kids teased me about it. But know what I learned? I learned first of all that Jesus loves me, all of me, big hair and all.

{My son then pointed out that I also have a big belly and that sometimes people make fun of people with big bellies. Yeah. Thanks dude.}

And I also learned that it didn’t matter what was on the outside… my big hair or my big belly… because what was on the inside was more important: that I am fun, that I love to laugh, that I am nice to people no matter what, that Jesus loves me all the time, every day, in every way.

{He then pointed out that I am fun but that I am not very good at Mario. Okay, well, I’ll give him that one. I am not very good at Mario. Like… at all. And this is a serious hit on my level of “coolness” in our house.}

And later that night I thought about our little conversation. I was trying to decide if I had gotten anything into his soul about the truth of what he should think about himself. But I couldn’t make myself think of him: I just kept talking to myself… about myself.

January, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that it doesn’t matter what is on the outside? When you looked in the mirror before church tonight and cursed the fates because you were wearing your “fat jeans” and you still had a roll sticking out over the top – it mattered to you. It mattered what was on the outside.

I had to answer myself: Yes. Yes. It does matter. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to totally make it NOT matter on this side of heaven. But what a great reminder that it’s not what matters to Jesus. Not saying that He doesn’t want me to take care of my body, and not saying that He doesn’t care about what I care about, but that just that He… He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves you.

All the time.

Every day.

In every way.

So just stop. Stop for a second right now. Stop and close your eyes and whisper His name. Whisper the name of Jesus.

Jesus… fill me with Your Love right now. I want to feel Your Love. I need to feel it. I need to know that when you see me, you just see the core of me. I need to know that in your mind, your gaze pierces through to the heart of me. I need to know that in your mind, your gaze burns through the mistakes, through the fears, through the facades, and that it just sees me: Your daughter. Your wonderful, beautiful, lovely daughter. Remind me today Jesus. Remind me to whisper Your Name. Remind me to push past all that is temporary when I look at myself and to see me as you see me. Remind me to love myself the way You love me: all the time. every day. in every way.

Day 736: Get Your Rear In There

I know that I’ve addressed this time and time and time again… buuuuuuuuut I’m going to harp on it again because of an article I read this week that totally matched up with some of my non-scientific observations.

People: we have GOT to sleep more!

We have just got to get our rears. in. bed.

I mean, just look at this infographic from the Huffington Post! Two of their major points are connected with weight gain and eating! Obviously that’s going to get our attention, but… well, maybe it SHOULD get our attention! {Don’t worry, I have a few tips below it to help us!}

So, can we just agree to do whatever it takes to get our rears in bed tonight in time to fall asleep?

And I’m not saying get your rear in bed at bedtime… I’m saying that we need to put a system in place that gets our bodies in bed, relaxed, and

get ready for sleep before bedtime!

So, here are a few of my little “tricks” for getting my rear in there!

  1. GET UP: No one likes this one so I’m just going to get it out of the way: get your body out of bed at the same time, every day and don’t get more than 8 hours of sleep. (Okay, okay, sleep in on Saturday if you want!) If you are trying to get your body into a habit of getting to sleep at night, waking up in the morning is THE most important thing to do. It might mean a few days of dragging yourself out of bed and just muddling through the day but eventually this can really help you to get to sleep at night because… well, because you’ll be exhausted! But that exhaustion will wear off when you start falling asleep easily (or easier, at least) at night.
  2. DO THE MATH: Figure out what time you need to go to sleep (as in “lights out”) in order to get 8 hours of sleep… even if this means that you need turn the lights out at 9:30, give it a go for a few weeks and see how it makes you feel. Then, plan backwards: 15-30 minutes before “lights out”, you need to be in bed with tech off. I have read the research that supports that your mind can’t “chill out” with the lights of tech in it. And that includes the phone, the laptop, the TV, etc. Now, go backwards more:. 15 minutes before being in bed you need to start getting ready for bed: brushing teeth, washing your face, PJs on, etc. If you look at the “math” this really needs to be happening 45 minutes before “lights out”.
  3. HEAT IT UP: One of my favorite tricks for helping me go to sleep is the heating pad. Lay the heating pad down so that it aligns with your spine (to clarify: so that the bottom of the heating pad is just above your rear and the top of the heating pad is on your shoulders). Put it at whatever temperature you are comfortable with and turn out the lights. The heat will relax all of your extremities and your core making it easier to drift off.
  4. COUNT DOWN: I actually learned this little trick in my high school psychology class from a video that the coach popped in one day, but I have used it time and time again! Lights out, on your back, start with your toes. Make yourself very aware of relaxing your toes (it sounds funny but give it a try) and countdown from 10 with each number relaxing your toes more. Next, move to the balls of your feet and countdown from 10, then move to the arches counting down from 10, then your heels, your ankles, calves, knees, etc. {Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to my knees before falling asleep.}
  5. THINK ABOUT BED AT 2PM: I know I’m gonna have some haters over this one, but really… if you have trouble sleeping at night, make sure that you are cutting off all caffeine by 2pm. You might have trouble even making it to bed the first few days if you have some withdrawal. For some people this can be a huge key to falling asleep easier.

I actually got into being very deliberate about going to sleep when I realized that I am one of those people that simply MUST meet with Jesus every morning before the day starts if I want to be a good person and to help me focus my mind on Him instead of food. And in order for me to meet with Jesus, I just have to get to sleep on time or I canNOT drag my rear out of bed. So, honestly… this whole sleep thing. It might just help out more than just your weight.

Okay, so there are my five (and I think I might have crammed several into number 2 up there), but I knwo that there are other tricks of the trade: let’s help each other out! What are your non-medication tricks for falling asleep at night?

 

Day 735: It Was My Husband’s Idea

A few weeks back my husband mentioned that he’d read somewhere that it was good to eat 8 meals a day.

I gave him that Are you kidding me? look, because I mean, come on… I eat 8 meals a day and gain twenty pounds.

{Of course, let’s not bring up the fact that five out of those eight meals consisted of cookie dough and Hershey kisses.}

But I totally blew him off.

Until I started thinking about Steven Furtik’s new years messages from last year and just the phrase “Change the way we change” kept popping into my head, so I thought that I’d give it a go. Cause I’ve never done that whole 8-meals a day thing even though it’s totally “cool” with the whole nutritionists clan (which is probably part of the reason I didn’t want to do it… it’s a pride thing, but that’s for another blog). But ya know, I knew it would validate my sweet husband a little that I would try his idea and at the same time showing him that I would instantly blow up into a huge blimp.

Only.

Yeah… that didn’t happen.

I loved it.

Cause eating eight meals a day (well, I actually usually only eat six or seven but that is more than the “traditional” three) is awesome. You get to eat, like, all day long. Which is exactly what I was doing before only it was wayyyyyyyy less on purpose and with wayyyyyyyy more overeating and with wayyyyyyy more junk food!

Eight meals a day is like a dream come true for an overeater!

Cause what do we do normally? Well, we eat all day. So what we are doing here is still eating all day, but now we are focusing on our portion control and our hungry cues and smart eating.

It’s purposeful.
It’s fulfilling.
It’s easy.
It fits with any diet!

Okay, honestly, I’m gonna let you look up the science behind it (if you want). I haven’t read any of the science, but I do know that I get hungry about every two hours (if I’m eating smaller portions) soooooooooo, that’s basically my rule of thumb. Since I don’t have a hard and fast schedule like someone might in the traditional workplace, I go by when I ate last. For example, here’s what I might eat in a day:

  • 6:00am – tea with milk, if already hungry, I have a piece of Ezekiel 4:9 toast
  • 8:00am – apple with another cup of tea (or the toast if I didn’t eat at 6:00)
  • 10:00am – small bowl of granola and milk
  • 12:00pm – salad, split in two
  • 2:00pm – salad, the other half
  • 4:00pm – banana
  • 6:00pm – black beans and rice, split in two
  • 8:00pm – (tends to be optional for me) the rest of my black beans and rice (or I usually have a cup of tea)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking:

Uhhhhhhhhh, Rowe. A banana??? Yeah, that is NOT a meal.

Tell me about it.

But I think it’s a meal in the sense that you are stopping what you are doing to eat. I am being deliberate about preparing something for myself. Deliberate about stopping and making food happen. So, if you want to call it three meals and planned out snacks… that’s fine. But “eight meals a day” was just easier to say! (Ha!)

One other caveat that I’d add: I’ve been tracking calories. I know, I know… I always said that I hated it (and I promise to always have at least some mild distaste for the process), but I started doing it because I realized that I needed some accountability and some retraining, so I found this app where other people can see my “food diary”. I’m not like crazy about the calories but it is helping me to get a better understanding of my portions. Like, I always mocked the portion sizes on, for example, cereal boxes… but actually if I’m eating smaller portions (more frequently) then it’s actually perfect. Tracking is keeping me from dumping as much salad dressing on my salad. It’s helped me to know that while broccoli and squash and stuff like that isn’t “free”, it is certainly a great way to “foof” up a meal that would have otherwise been plain.

I know this isn’t a very Jesusy post (but the last few have been pretty spiritual if you need some Jesus: Day 734, Day 730, Day 729, and Day 728), but it’s something that is helping me along my journey from gluttonous to glorious, so I just thought I’d share some of the nitty gritty!

Day 734: You Gotta Pray Through For A Break Through

Looking back over the past year, I learned one really, really, really important thing about dieting.

It doesn’t work.

It’s gonna fail at some point. Your goal is gonna be achieved. Or the wedding you were losing weight for will come and go. Or you’ll just get plain ol sick of dieting. Or you’ll somehow wake up one day with no resistance to all things chocolate.

As much I have learned that dieting doesn’t work, I do know that God has still called me to honor Him with my body… and that includes what I put into it. I know that it includes a lifestyle change… and, well, sometimes a lifestyle change doesn’t come easy and a lot of times it doesn’t come with quick weight loss. Sooooooo, despite my overwhelming desire to just give up… I’ve had to just keep my eyes on Him.

When my pants didn’t fit… I had to look to Him.

When the scale was shocking (like, in a bad way)… I had to look to Him.

When I found myself halfway through a tube of cookie dough… I had to look to Him.

And pray.

Sometimes in a sob. Sometimes in a whisper. Sometimes in an angry yell. But this past year, all I could do was pray.

And after a year of not having a lot of success with your “diet”… well, that adds up to frustration. But here’s the deal. God doesn’t want us to just sit and pray over something once or twice. He doesn’t want us to pray about something for a month or two.

He wants us to go to Him 365 days a year.

He wants us to pray through the thing.

Not pray up until the thing. He wants us to pray through the difficulty. He wants us to pray through the triumph. He wants us to pray when it looks like there is no flippin way things will ever turn around. He wants us to pray when we have seen Him work a miracle. He wants us to pray through.

We have to pray through for a true break through.

Cause it could be that the very thing that gives you so much frustration, anger, and sadness… well, it could be that it is the very place where God wants to show up GLORIOUS in your life.

Not just show up.

Show up GLORIOUS.

So if you are struggling under something, you gotta keeping praying through… and wait in anticipation for Him to break through!

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{Quick props: My husband, who I call Mr. Chord Dice, came up with the little phrase “You gotta pray through for a break through” while reading Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson.}

Day 729: An Article From A Business Magazine May Have Saved My Relationship With God

I love facebook.

I’ll admit it.

For a stay-at-home-mom, it’s just such a great way to connect with the outside world! I know that it’s not perfect, but there have been many a time where I have had a quick banter with some friends on there and it’s gotten me through the insanity. But I tend to be the person who is vary wary of sharing links or anything like that (ironically enough I am always thrilled when someone shares one of MY post links!) but there was one link to an article recently that… well, it was a bit of a game changer for me.

You really, really, really… REALLY need to read it.

Entrepreneur Magazine: Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Now… why would this article have annnnnnything to do with Jesus and dieting. It’s about business, no?

No.

You need it because… because it’s resolution time. It’s the beginning of the year, and even if you didn’t tell anyone your resolution or you decided not to make one {like my teacher James Tippit says: “I blew last year’s resolution out of the water. I resolved not to make any resolutions. And I succeeded brilliantly.”}… but secretly, you probably can’t help but to at least have hopes for the new year.

Like I mentioned yesterday on Day 728: I Have Learned The Secret, I realized that the one thing that I wanted to change was meeting with Jesus every single day… because I spent 2013 without doing that and honestly, I was pretty miserable emotionally and spiritually.

But here’s the thing… I wanted to spend time with him all throughout 2013.

I would make resolve upon resolve to wake up early and read my bible. And then I would sleep in morning after morning.

You see, in 2012… which I shall henceforth call “The Year Of Awesome”, both of my kids were pretty well sleeping through the night and staying in their beds until 7am. So, it was easy for me to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 5:30 to shower and then read my bible and pray for an hour.

But then in 2013 “The Year of Blah” my toddler began waking up multiple times a night (he had a bad case of restless leg syndrome) and once he got past that he started waking up at 5:30 and despite a mixture of threats and bribes… nothing was going to keep him in bed longer. And I certainly wasn’t going to bed at the same time every night and I was sleeping in as long as I could until he woke up. But then after I borrowed this from a friend and then bought this and my whole life got better and he was staying in his bed until 6:30… guess what I still didn’t do?

I still didn’t get up and meet with God.

So when I had my recent epiphany that Jesus was the thing making me content in The Year of Awesome, I realized that I needed to start getting up. And then I read that article and realized, to make this succeed I needed…

a system.

And that is just what I have instituted in my life. A system to help me arrive on-time, eager, and alert to my meetings with God every morning. Now, you can check out now if you like because maybe you get it… maybe you already see where you need a system, and honestly… be my guest! Go for it, write that system down, start it tomorrow. It’s really awesome how well it works! But, just for kicks, here is my system for meeting with God. (And I love schedules… it’s the teacher in me I think… so that’s why it’s all time oriented.)

The night before:
9:25 – prep my “meeting place”, set out my devotional, hot tea stuff, and electric throw blanket
9:30 – brush teeth, wash face, change into PJs and all that pre-bed stuff
9:45 – get in bed, read a book, more bible whatever… no tech.
10:00 – lights out

The Covenant Diet - An Article From A Business Magazine May Have Saved My Relationship With God

The morning of:
5:30 – get up, shower, do my hair, and get dressed
6:00 – walk to my prepared meeting place and… read, pray, and meditate on Him
6:30 – greet my little boys with a smile and a contented heart

I just have to say… my outlook over the past two weeks of doing this has been awe.some. It’s like everything has changed. Everything. And it’s just because I am beginning my day (nothing fancy people, just reading Jesus Calling and the corresponding verses) by renewing my mind. But I am able to do that BECAUSE I set up a system to make it happen.

Anyway, this is so not very touchy-feely but I feel like it can really make a big difference in your life if you have trouble with goals or resolutions or follow-through… which is basically my entire life story.

Give it a go! Let me know how it works or how you use a system! I would genuinely love to hear it because I’d love to steal your idea and use it myself!!! Ha!

Day 728: I Have Learned The Secret

Okay, whew…  my kids are back in school so I have a bit of time to write again! I sure do love public education (and the private preschool my youngest goes to as well)!

Last week on Day 720: Remember That Time I Had A Diet Blog And Then Gained Weight???, I mentioned at the very end that I had some upcoming posts… I had hoped to get to them last week but it just didn’t happen so today, we begin! The three things that I wanted to talk about this week were: changing the way we change (a la Steven Furtik), systems in our life, and getting in daily doses of Jesus. When I looked at those three things I knew that we needed to cover first things first: JESUS.

I have been doing quite a bit of self-reflection over the past few weeks (well, actually over the past YEAR), but I really asked myself a question that helped me get to the quick of what was going on with me. In 2012, I felt so great about life… so content. Gain weight, lose weight, money issues, money blessings… it didn’t matter I was just ALLLLLLL GOOOOOOOOD. And then 2013 hit like a wrecking ball (sorry, couldn’t help myself with that one – hehe) and it was like struggle, struggle, struggle. So, I had to ask myself,

What changed?

I know that’s not some super deep, life changing question for most people… but for me it was. Cause I’ll tell you right now what changed. Him. I wasn’t interacting with Jesus every.single.day. in 2013 whereas I had been in 2012. And it wasn’t so much about my circumstances being worse but it was about the fact that I just didn’t feel…

contentment.

And feeling content, no matter the situation (like in Philippians 4:12), is one of the most blessed feelings you’ll ever experience. It’s like true peace and true joy combined into one feeling.

So, I decided if anything was going to be different in 2014, that was going to be it. I was going to read the bible every day, pray every day, meditate on Him every day.

And, friends…. oh friends…. I can already tell you: HE has made all the difference. So I can tell you now, I have learned the secret. And it’s

JESUS.

The Covenant Diet - I have learned the secret

Day 720: Remember That Time I Had A Diet Blog And Then Gained Weight???

Well, ya know how it’s not real cool to tell everyone on your diet blog that you’ve gained weight? Cause it doesn’t exactly foster “confidence” in what you are doing. Especially after you’ve had all these articles written and been interviewed for an article in The Atlantic. Yeah, gaining weight would be a totally lame thing to admit to.

But, well, I’m all about being totally open and “transparent” (that’s the new trendy Christian buzz word for “being real” right now, isn’t it?). So, I’m going to tell you that I’ve gained weight.

Only, it’s not pretty. It’s not like, “Oh, I’ve put on the Christmas 5″ or anything cute like that.

Nope, I weighed myself in August and then I weighed myself again this weekend knowing that it would be more but secretly hoping it wouldn’t be. And oh, boy howdy, it was most certainly more.

TWENTY POUNDS MORE.

Since August, people.

Uhhhhhhhhh, yeah. That’s not good.

Not. good. at. all.

So, of course, like I used to do when I weighed myself (and I haven’t weighed myself since Day 118: Trippin), I spiraled into a pit of despair and self-loathing.

Ahhhhhhhh, the life of someone who struggles with weight and eating issues.

But honestly, it didn’t surprise me. I’ve been three-day dieting for months now. You know what I’m talking about…

Monday: I’m so hard core! This is so great to be eating healthy! I feel awesome! No more sugar or bread foreverrrrrr!
Tuesday: Yeah! I’ve still got it. This time… this time is different! This time I’m gonna do it!
Wednesday: Uhhhhhhhhh… why the HECK did my husband’s client send him a box of PREMIUM chocolates?!?!?
Thursday: {Nom Nom Nom on aforementioned box of chocolates}
Friday: Since the box of chocolates is all gone, eat a bag of tortillas because it’s really the only bread in the house. I mean, might as well… cause I ate like a pig yesterday.
Saturday: Self-loathing is at its peak… perhaps sneak into the kids Christmas stocking candy. How much is is that Plexus stuff???
Sunday: Admit defeat, decide you CAN do it this time… tomorrow is the day! Soooo, gotta eat the rest of the Christmas cookies to, ya know, clear the house of their evil.
Monday: Repeat. previous. week. all. over. again. and then again. and then again.

But I’m also going to tell you a very, very important thing…

I’M. NOT. GIVING. UP.

Did I want to order Plexus immediately? Yes. Did I contemplate getting a job just to get me out of my house and away from food? Yes. Did my husband talk me down from doing both of those things? Yes.

Cause here’s the deal: Plexus is an easy fix for me but I know… I know… that it won’t solve my problem. I may not have an eating disorder (or heck, I might… I’ll let my bestie determine that… ironically, she’s a psychologist for all that stuff) but I do know that I have some disordered eating habits.

And that has got to change.

So, to change… I’ve got to make some changes.

Honestly, there are several posts coming up on that this week: changing the way we change, incorporating systems into my life to help with this cuh.ray.zay. weight gain, and most importantly, making deliberately sure that Jesus is more of my DAILY life.

I wanted to write it all here right now, but then this post would be a gazillion words long. So, I’m forcing myself to spread it out over a few days. And, well, if you’ve read this far then hopefully that means that you’ll be on this journey with me… continue on this journey with me, despite the fact that I’ve put on some poundage and because of the fact that God’s changes are on His own timing, but people… HIS CHANGES are oh. so. glorious.

So, here I go. Still journeying on that path from gluttonous… to glorious!

Day 688: Thanksgiving Transformation

Today is the big day.

We celebrate… uhhhhhhh, what are we celebrating?

Oh yes! That some very kind Native Americans took some very naive Pilgrims under their wing and helped them to survive. And then, because they survived, they had a feast!

And I think about what those pilgrims were thinking when they looked at their empty wood-carved bowl before the feasting began.

I see one of them in my mind’s eye.

I think that he saw in that empty bowl the terror of the voyage across the ocean. Then of the tragedy as he watched his family die away as they sat and shivered in the docked ship. Then of the fear once he finally disembarked only to discover an unruly and untamed wilderness.

But then the young Pilgrim might look up from that empty bowl and see the faces of his remaining family members and friends. He might see his friend and savior Squanto mingling among the crowd. He would remember the first time he saw the seeds of corn popping up from the ground and remember the elation and hope. He might smell one of the fowl or deer cooking and recall having meat again after having been so desperately malnourished.

And then. Then he would hold out his empty bowl of heartache and disappointment and fear and his friend Squanto would fill his bowl with hope and strength and empowerment.

And my friend the Pilgrim wouldn’t just celebrate having a lot of food.

He would celebrate having overcome.

So today, take a moment before you fill your bowl with food. Take a moment to remember what you have overcome this year- even if it is simply the victory of staying alive through it.

Food issues.
Job struggles.
Family conflicts.
Health decline.
Financial losses.

And then as you fill your plate, remember the hope and strength and empowerment that your Savior can pour into you. Think of how amazingly well this next year is going to be because you have a guide. A helper. A friend.

And He knows just how to get around in this world that is a New World to you.

And He’s ready to help you do more than survive.

He’s ready to help you thrive.

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Day 685: Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving is upon us.

And so are the blog posts.

My email inbox has been inundated with all kinds of recipes that could meet any, and I mean, ANY dietary need. Gluten-free, low-carb, fat-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers. You name it, someone’s made a Thanksgiving recipe to go with it.

{And really, I do understand why a lot of people need and want those recipes.}

Right now, though, I am not thinking about recipes, or ingredients, or calories, or weight.

But I am thinking about Thanksgiving.

And what I’m thinking about doesn’t really fit into a recipe. And it isn’t really diet advice. And it isn’t even really about food at all.

I’m thinking about what Thanksgiving really is.

And I’m thinking that I need to celebrate. You see, I looked up the word Thanksgiving at dictionary.com just cause I was curious. I mean, I remember in elementary school there was all the talk about the Pilgrims and the Indians and there was a big deal to do with like, I dunno, corn or something (which I always find funny because I can’t think of a single Thanksgiving during which my family ate corn). Anyway, the definition said, Thanksgiving: a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.

It doesn’t say anything about food. It’s just a celebration. And as I’ve learned over the past 685 days of this covenant…

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A celebration does not have to be about food.

I can celebrate God’s favor by running around with my little kids in the leaves making a point to play so hard I come back into the house looking like I raked the yard with my hair.

I can celebrate God’s kindness by asking my mother to tell me a few stories that she recalls about my Mamaw being kind as we mourn her absence and yet celebrate that she has gotten to spent the past year in heaven.

I can celebrate all that God has done for me by cleaning the dishes for my Aunt Martha who is going to get to host our family Thanksgiving for the first time in ages!

I can celebrate all the kind words God has written on my heart by sharing a kind word of encouragement with each of my family members. My mother for defending my happiness all my life. My father for teaching me how to laugh at myself and the world around me. My brother for teaching me that there is only one place where the bible is wrong: there truly isn’t a friend that is closer than a brother. My husband for always, always, always allowing me to dream and plan and think and imagine even when my dreams and plans and thoughts and imaginations are not feasible.

And I can celebrate the freedom and forgiveness that Christ has given me, both eternally and here on earth, by focusing on blessing those around me this Thursday instead of focusing on the food around me.

I can look for as many ways as possible to BE the celebration instead of thinking about GOING to a celebration.

See?

Even just thinking of these things and I’m already SO looking forward to Thanksgiving, but my thoughts have nothing to do with sweet potato pie, or green bean casserole, or even that huge bird.

In fact, all of that seems so very insignificant compared to the kind of Thanksgiving I’m now planning.

Because I am planning on spending this Thanksgiving focusing on acknowledging the divine favor and kindness of my God and my Savior.

For He is truly my Thanksgiving.

 

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