Day 759: A Prayer

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God,

I feel this struggle with food pulling me… toward some epiphany about You, your power, your plan.

But, honestly, this whole experience hurts and I’m tired. I just want to give up and try a bunch of short cuts to just lose weight. I just want to be skinny, fit into my clothes, and never worry about food or fight with food or lust for food.

So I come to You.

Oh God- Refresh me. Renew me. Give me a fresh and new purpose and passion to care for this body you’ve given me. Help me remember that it is an honor to You when I honor my body.

And please God, give me wisdom. Whisper in my ear what to do, which way to go. Guide me to information that will help me overcome. Light it up in my heart so that I might become determined and disciplined once more.

I know that You always have great, amazing and sometimes shocking plans and I know that I often don’t see the entirety of your plan. Help me to walk in faith and know that even through this struggle you are working a miracle of faith in my heart, that you are laying a path for a future prosperity in my soul, that you are doing something purposeful.

God, I love you. I trust you. I believe you.

I will wait.

Give me patience to wait on You and Your plan.

Amen.

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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 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 700: Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.

My husband said the other day,

“In the morning, I always know who I want to be and how I want to act and what I want to do. I know all of that in the morning. It’s maintaining that throughout the day that is the tough part.”

Then tonight, I thought the same thing as I was brushing my teeth. “Here I am at the end of my day, and I can look back and see all of the things I wish I’d done differently and I can look myself in the mirror and say ‘Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be who I want to be. I’ll be what I want to be. I’ll act the way I want to act.‘”

But then tomorrow always comes, and despite all of my resolve, all of my willpower, all of my hope, and self-promises, and pep talks… despite all of that, I still find myself just sleep walking right back into the “old” me. The old-me who didn’t follow through on all of that resolve, willpower, hope, promises, pep talks.

Geez.

Way to be depressing, January.

But I’m always up for a little introspective conversation, so I asked myself, “Why? Why do I know who I want to be in the morning before the day starts, then sleep walk through the day making the SAME OL STINKING CHOICES AGAIN AND AGAIN, and then know who I should have been when it’s night again?

It’s like a can’t, or don’t… stop. I need to… I just need to… stop.”

And then, of course, what started to run through my mind?

The Covenant Diet - Stop Collaborate And Listen

Stop, collaborate, and listen.

Yep. That’s right. Vanilla Ice’s famous song began to run through my head.

But really. It’s so. totally. spot. on. to what I need to be doing with my life. with my eating. with my prayer.

I’ve got to stop.

And I mean literally, physically, spiritually…

STOP.

Honestly, I picture myself standing next to my fridge.

In my mind, I can see the candy buckets up on top.

And then I see myself, stopped.

Both hands on the edge of the counter.

Leaning over, looking down.

Stopped.

Praying.

Taking a deep breath.

And remembering again… remembering who I want to be. how I want to be. what I want to do.

Asking God to help make me into that image that I have in my mind.

Asking God to help make me into His image.

While I stop.

And ask God to stop with me.

And collaborate with me.

While I listen to Him.

Day 299: Holy Honeymoon Hours

More than any verse that has to deal with spending time with God, I am really drawn to the ACTIONS of my Christ:

“Before day break the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35

He had been casting out flippin DEMONS and HEALING people for crying out loud… but He got his rear out of bed and found that peaceful place of solitude to pray.

As a stay-at-home mom (and even more so when I was a working mom) finding a time of the day for solitude is nigh impossible. And even when I do find a time for that, my mind is so full of to-do lists and grocery lists and that mental list that is always running of all the ways I am inadequate… it is hard work to make room for a Word from the Spirit, and so I get less out of it because I spend so much time clearing my mind that I have less time to absorb His Truth, His Hope, His Mercy. But in the morning… His mercies are new and fresh and my mind is “empty” and open and relatively free from the cares of the day.

It’s almost like the holy honeymoon hours of the day… like, in marriage before you have learned all those strange idiosyncrasies and seen what your spouse is REALLY like… and there is just… love. In the morning, you have yet to see all the tiny nuances in the day of earthly things. You have yet to see your hopes for the day crushed by a four-year-old with the stomach flu or realizing that you are out of the eggs that you need for that breakfast casserole you are to take to bible study, or that the drier has dried its last towel and ain’t no Maytag man gonna be able to revive it.

There is only… Faith. Hope. Love. And those things are just about the best things to start the day off with.

Day 174: Oh My Darling Clementine

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I love clementines.

I don’t really like to pray.

Uhhhhhhhhh… what?

Yeah, that’s what I said. I love clementines but I don’t really like to pray.

… ??? …

I’ll break it down for ya with a story (shocker, right? haha)

About two months ago, clementines apparently went out of season. Maybe this is not news to anyone else, but I had no idea that clementines went “out of season” so much that they wouldn’t carry them in the stores. I mean, oranges are there year-round, right? So, what’s up with clementines?

I don’t know, but they were out of season… and my main standby was suddenly gone! Mind you, I was eating clementines three or four times a day, so this left a huge hole in my “go to” habits.

Well, I have not stopped craving them.

Alright, that’s the clementine background. Now for the prayer… and the two will intersect in a moment, so stay with me.

I have also recently realized as I constantly evaluate why this covenant has become “meh” to me lately, that along with not keeping up with my bible reading, I have also not been praying. Like… at all. The bible stuff, eh, I’d get in a verse here and there, but honestly… I was just NOT talking to Jesus. or God. or the Holy Spirit.

Yeah, that is not good.

So, the other day after realizing this, I prayed… a little prayer… nothing too risky or emotional or anything…

God… ummmmmm… I’m really having some trouble lately. I don’t know what’s wrong, but… maybe you could help me figure out what is wrong? [This is my way of asking for wisdom, by the way.] I don’t really want fruit… well, I mean, I’d love a clementine, but they are out of season. Anyway… Amen.

And that was it. No more prayer. No more thinking about it. Just… it.

And then my husband went to the store to get something for an upcoming business trip he is going on and he got some fruit while he was there… and in that bag… was a sack of clementines.

I’ll admit… my mouth dropped open in shock. My mind immediately went to that prayer. And I got those God goosebumps.

And I opened up a clementine, and it was the most amazing fruit ever… even better than pineapple.

None of the other clementines have been that good… in fact, they haven’t been good at all really. They obviously are… out of season.

But that one… that one darling clementine… well, it was no earthly clementine… that was an answered prayer. that was an “I Love You”. that was a reminder. like a rainbow that the world would not flood again…

That was God.

Day Ninety-Four: Oh! My! God!

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

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

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

And oh. my. gosh.

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

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

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

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

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

Amen!

PS… I love you God!!!

Day Eighty-One: You can’T do it!

A friend of mine (who is so much like me it’s a little weird) is doing a mini-covenant. Well, mini in the sense that it is not a full year, but HUGE in the sense that it could be the start of something completely freeing and ground breaking for her.

Anyway, I am so excited for her… well, I am excited when I think about the freedom that is ahead of her. Based on what she has said, she seems to struggle in a very similar way with sugar that I have dealt with over the past few months. And so when she mentioned to me yesterday that she had started her own covenant, I was like pumped all day long! And I love how she told me too… she sent me this text (and yes, I have changed her name):

“Hi. My name is Christy and I am addicted to sugar.”

Haha! She’s so funny! See… she is a lot like me! Haha!

But anyway, and so God has totally got her stuck in my mind and I have had the opportunity to pray for her a bunch this past day because I remember a) how incredibly difficult it was to start, and b) how awesome it was once I got a few days in. So, earlier this morning I was going to send her a text that said “I believe in you… you can do it!”

And then I stopped… because I was like, that’s so… opposite of what is really going on here. Now, I do believe in her commitment to Christ. I can tell that she lovvvvvvvves her some Jesus. And that’s why I believe that she will go through with her covenant. But, what I want to say is, “I believe in Jesus! Jesus can do this in you!”

But why doesn’t that have the same ring to it? Because that’s not the phrase that the world would say to her. The world would say “I believe in you! You can do it!”

But what it really takes is not a belief in self (in fact, belief in “self” can be more detrimental than helpful in my case) but what it really takes is a belief in the POWER OF JESUS.

Recall the time in which a father brought his son that was possessed with an evil spirit to Jesus’s disciples. They could not heal the boy, and so the father asked Jesus directly and ended his request with… “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24

So, if anything, my message to my friend is to believe. If she does nothing else, it is to believe in the Power of Jesus. in his desire to show us mercy. in his desire to heal us. in his ability to do both.

So maybe I’ll just text her this post instead! Haha!