Day 263: Don’t Stop Believing

Yesterday I was in the shower (best place for some early morning prayer, right?!?! Ha!) and I was praying through some scriptures that God has brought to me lately through friends like Alice or through just reading through the Psalms.

And the one “Make me willing to obey” came up again in my mind. It was the verse that really helped me through several weeks and months early on in the covenant process.

And I love that verse (again) because it is just so simply put what my heart is exactly saying…

I don’t feel like I can obey. I do know that I want to want to obey. So, God, only You can change my heart. Only You can renew my mind. God, please, make me willing to obey.

And it’s not that I expect complete transformation overnight. But I do know that one moment of actually being willing to obey is a bit… empowering… in and of itself. It makes it that much easier to be willing to obey the next time because I have recently experienced His Power in making me… willing to obey.

So over the next few days or weeks (or months if necessary), I’ll be repeating the scriptures I talked about a couple of days ago. I’ll be praying them. I’ll be allowing God to use those Words of God to transform me. renew me. retrain me.

And maybe this go-round I won’t stop asking for Him to transform, renew, and retrain. Maybe this go-round I won’t stop believing. Maybe this go-round I’ll just think of these prayers as lifelong prayers. And maybe this go-round I’ll get a step closer to being completely healed.

Day 240: Snack Attack

Here recently I have been realizing that I am snackie, snackie, snackie. I snack all afternoon and oftentimes up until dinner and then I snack a bit after dinner.

It’s becoming too much of a habit again… eating for the sake of eating. eating when I’m not hungry. eating. eating. eating.

So I’m thinking that I might try a new kind of fast for a few weeks… not a food-specific fast but a fast based on the timing of when I eat. I’m thinking of making a covenant-fast to not snack. To switch that into “positive lingo”, I’m making a covenant-fast to only eat my meals.

I can’t really put a time on it (like the no-eating-after-7pm thing) because my life does not fit into scheduled eating. I might eat breakfast with the boys at 8:00 or I might not eat a banana for breakfast until 10:00 when our morning has finally settled down. Lunch is the same. Sometimes my toddler won’t eat unless I sit with him at 11:00 and sometimes I take that moment of him sitting in one place (note: I did not say “sitting still“! Ha!) to unload the dishwasher or unload the dryer so I might not eat until after I have put him down for nap and after I have prayed… around 1:30.

But. I almost always have a sit down “meal” even if it’s small. But lately I have found myself full already every time I sit down to have a meal because of all the snacking I do up until meal time. Sometimes I just don’t eat my “meal” then and sometimes I eat anyway even though I am not hungry (boo!).

So, all of that to say that snacking is starting to become an obvious problem. And… one thing I have learned is that if there is some kind of problem with food, I have to immediately do some kind of sacrifice for God… to refocus on God… to get myself “right” with God.

So, starting today, here is my new three-week covenant fast:

God, I praise you because you are my healer. I praise you because you are my righteousness. I praise you because you forgive. you restore. you are hope. It is in the spirit of all these things that I give a portion of my freedom over to You so that I might become reacquainted with freedom. I covenant to you that for three weeks I will only eat my meals. I will not eat snacks in between meals, while preparing meals, while cleaning up after meals. God, you have revealed an area of eating that is still lost to lust and desire… snacking. I pray that you help me get rid of this sin within me over these next few weeks and draw my heart to you… closer to you… into you during those times. You are faithful God. I thank you for continuing to point out anything in me that offends you,
and leading me along the path of everlasting life. Amen.

Psalm 139:24

Day 148: Wedding Weight

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Coming up at the end of June is the wedding of one of my friends from high school. I graduated back in 1997 and I haven’t seen quite a lot of people since that day. Thanks to Facebook I have been able to keep up with a lot of them, but still… some of them I have yet to see.

And… well… I’ll be honest… all of that difficulty that I had with the weighing a few weeks ago. Yeah, it’s because of the wedding.

You see, I had figured out… by the time the end of June is here then I should be able to be down to a size 8… down to 145 or 150. And then… when I wasn’t on that (self-made) track anymore and it looked like I wasn’t going to be a cool 145 by the end of June, well, I got panicked. Cause (in my worldly-focused mind) I needed to weigh LESS than I did in high school, and I’m pretty sure I was around 160… bumping up against 170 in high school. All of these people I went to high school with don’t know that I got up to 210, so they won’t know that I’ve already lost a huge chunk of weight. So (again, let me repeat, in my world-focused mind) I needed to weigh at least twenty pounds less than I did in high school in order for people to say “Ooooooo Ahhhhhh, January… wow… you look so great… Ooooooo Ahhhhhh.”

Yeah. It’s soooo lame. I know.

I guess part of it is because, amazing Christians as they might have been, I spent a lot of my high school years trying to chase after their approval. I was still so new to living a life with Jesus that I hadn’t gotten rid of the need of “praise from men” yet. And I wasn’t in the “popular” church crowd. The sad part: I had such great friends during that time… but it took me years, and years, and yearsssss before I could appreciate them. And by then it was really too late to salvage those relationships that I let slip and slide into the past.

But anyway, I finally came face to face with the realization that I wanted to lose that weight by a certain deadline for a reason that had nothing. to. do. with. God. and had everything to do with this world.

And, well, this covenant… it IS God. It is only about God… weight. life. skinny. clothes. chocolate. vegetables. None of those things matter ultimately. On December 31, 2012 when the clock turns over to a new year… all that will matter is God.

So, even now, I am having to renew my mind. to reset my mind. to focus my mind. on things above and forget about the wedding (well, in terms of weight at least… I really am excited to see this wonderful girl… the best of girls… get married).

If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your mind and keep it set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2

Day 124: All Good

So, I just started this whole no bread and no chips “addition” to the covenant, and I thought that I’d talk about the first time the new rule made an issue… or was a learning moment for me.

Even though I posted about modifying the covenant a few days ago, it was actually on Sunday that I had the “revelation”… or at least that was the day that I made the decision. Well, my first thought was, “Oh, well, we are going to Texas Roadhouse for my brother’s dinner tonight and they have some wicked awesome rolls, so I think that I will wait until tomorrow to start the whole ” no bread” thing.”

And, thanks to the renewing… or at least to the process of renewing since I am by no means completely renewed yet… I immediately had the thought: “Oh, Come on, January! This is a deal with God. There is no waiting to follow the call of GOD ALMIGHTY just because you’d like to eat some BREAD at a restaurant!?!?!”

And I am reminded of Jonah… he very clearly heard the Word of God, and then… he did the opposite. Because that is what Jonah wanted to do. Just like me, I wanted to go out and eat bread even though I had clearly heard God tell me to do the opposite.

One day the Lord told Jonah, the son of Amittai, to go to the great city of Nineveh and say to the people, “The Lord has seen your terrible sins. You are doomed!” Instead, Jonah ran from the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3

Lucky for me, I have people like Jonah in the bible who didn’t listen to God… so I get to see that things don’t turn out so hot for those who disobey God and then I don’t have to make the same mistake. (Although, golly, how many times do I pull a “Jonah” and do the wrong thing anyway???) But, for once, and thanks to the renewing of my mind that has been going on for the past, ohhhhhhh, 123 days… I was able to make the right decision.

And there was one point at dinner when there was one roll left and my brother said, “Hey Jan, do you want that?” And I was able to say, “Nah, I’m all good.”

And I am…

…all good.

Thanks to God, I am alllllllllll gooooooood.

Day 111: Patiently Persist

I think maybe I’ve gotten in a bit of a rush lately with my covenant. I know that might seem a bit weird to say considering that nothing I do will speed up the time for me. I mean, the end of the year won’t come any faster or slower and I’m not stopping my covenant before the end of the year.

But what I mean is that I’m in a rush for more “results”. And I don’t just mean outward results like losing more weight but also inward results like resisting tortillas and whatnot.

Part of the reason that I signed on for a year of this is because I know, based on some other times in my life that God has worked and molded me into a new person, that sometimes being completely renewed is a long process. Or at least it can be longer than I want it to be sometimes. I know that He can perform a change in me overnight but I also know that sometimes I resist his changes and renewals. Sometimes subconsciously resisting and sometimes quite consciously.

But recently in my bible reading I came across this verse and the message really told me to slow. down.

“And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” Luke 8:15 NLT

And here is another version of the same verse…

The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit. Luke 8:15 GNT

I just really like both of those versions… and I loved both the words patiently and persist. They remind me again that God’s ways are not necessarily my ways. Or, in another light, God’s timing is not necessarily my timing.

But I am to patiently persist until I produce a fruit… a harvest.

So. realllly, putting a time limit of a year isn’t even right. I’m to do this covenant until I produce fruit to harvest.

That’s gonna take some patience! Haha!

Day 102: Tortilla Temptations

Okay. Seriously never thought that tortillas would be an area of temptation for me. I mean… don’t get me wrong… I have always enjoyed a good quality tortilla, but a tortilla temptation issue? Nahhhhh.

Untilllllll now.

Cause twice in the past two weeks since I have been off of my hard-core Lent fast of only veggies, fruits, and nuts… I have over eaten tortillas.

I think the reason is that I am “ignoring” a little caveat in my covenant.

I am only to eat bread, pasta, or rice if it is necessary for a meal. Like, enchiladas have to have tortillas… so I can eat them. Lasagna has to have pasta… so I can eat it. Stuffed bell peppers has to have rice… so I can have it.

But let me point out one thing. I said I can have it for a meal. Not as a snack… which is how I have been having it.

So I am going against my covenant in two ways:
1) I am eating bread when it is not a necessary part of a meal.
2) I am overeating them!

One incident and I might have written it off as a flub. (Is flub a word?) But twice? Well, it makes it clear to me that it was a choice.

And when I sorta “realized” that today… I started thinking of how I needed to reign that food in. Should I go no bread for three weeks? Should I just say no to tortillas? Should I go back on my Lent fast?

And then I remembered some reading from yesterday that I did (see how important it is for me to be reading my Bible?) about when the priests found the scroll in the temple with the covenant in it. They told King Josiah and he was all torn up about it and he started making reforms like crazy. I mean… the dude went hard core getting rid of all the stuff that was pulling people away from God. So you might think that is leading me towards doing another hard-core Lent fast, but actually I was sorta brought to a different conclusion. Look at this verse:

The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord ‘s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. 2 Kings 23:3

And I think that’s sorta what I need to do. I need to renew the covenant. Not that God has faltered or anything but I want to remember the original purpose. the point of it all. and to remember the One who is helping me.

I’m not entirely sure how to go about that. I know that writing it down and then praying it often works for me. There almost needs to be some sort of “ceremony” to it in order for it to really embed the thoughts in my mind and heart.

Either way, I need to make me some veggie enchiladas so I can use up all those dern tortillas!!!

Day Seventy-Four: Food Journaling Vs. Mind Renewing

A couple nights ago, I made a new page on the blog called “What I Eat”… super creative title, eh? Haha! Anyway, it was surprisingly difficult to come up with a list of the foods that I eat. I don’t journal my foods like dietitians often recommend… mainly because I want to pull my focus away from food. off of food. and back onto God. It just seems that journaling my food as I have done in the past for diets puts too much emphasis on food.

Of course, I do think that journaling every single thing I eat for a few days wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if I wasn’t sure why I was gaining weight. In my case, I knew exactly what was the problem so there was no need for me to journal. I had journaled enough in the past to know that my eating was for all the wrong reasons, that I was overeating on almost everything, and that I was gorging and sneaking chocolate and other sugary things.

Sure, I had been in denial several times before, blaming it on the cafeteria food at school, or on the fact that I gained thirty pounds from the time I started dating my husband until we got married because we were going out to eat so much, or that there were just always goodies in the lounge of the school workroom.

But when it came down to it, I had to face up that it was because I was eating two meals worth of cafeteria food, eating two meals worth of fast food with my husband, and eating (and sneaking) two to three helpings of goodies from the lounge. For me, it wasn’t the what so much as it was the how much.

So, I knew that I didn’t want to focus on food anymore. I wanted that focus to switch over to a focus on Christ. I knew… I just knew that would work. I needed a change and He is the Change Maker.

So, instead of journaling my foods, I began the process of renewing my mind instead… or allowing Christ to renew my mind through the Word of God. My dear friend and former roommate, Beth, taught me years ago of the power of the Word to change my life. She has always been an avid Old Testament reader and could find a message or an example from the Old Testament to fit almost anything I was going through. I still glean hope and conviction from the verses in Deuteronomy 8 that she shared with me the summer before we started teaching and rooming together.

But for a long time (until this covenant actually) I never really applied any of the truths of God from the Old Testament to my addiction to food. But now, the majority of my conviction and hope come from there.

And now that I think about it, once again, Deuteronomy 8 is a perfect chapter for my experience with this covenant.

Here are some key verses:

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. vs 2-3

For almost forty years, I have been humbled and tested. And although I think I missed multiple opportunities to turn to God for my deliverance, in the end… I did. Well, I am turning to Him still. Every day. And what a great “food message” in verse 3… it is not about the food in this “diet”. It is about every word that comes from the mouth of God.

“So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land… it is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking… When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Vs 6,9-10

God hasn’t given me a new land, but he has given me an almost new life! In the days to come, as the weight slips off, and in the days down the road, when the weight has been off for years, as I believe it will be… Deuteronomy reminds me of how vital it will be to still praise The Lord My God for my new life.

And I am warned as well…

Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery… He did all this so you would never say to yourself, `I have achieved this with my own strength and energy.’ Vs 14,17

Ahhhhhh. There He is again. My rescuing God. And I am to attribute all success to… Him.

Well, that should be easy since He’s done it all anyway!

Day Seventy: Grab ‘N Go

Going to church on Sundays, I never seem to eat breakfast before we leave. I’m not entirely sure why because it’s 30 minutes later than when we leave during a weekday. But, nonetheless, I always seem to find myself walking out the door with my sons to realize that I am hungry… and if I am hungry at 8:30 then I’m really gonna be hungry at 12:00 when we get home.

So on Sunday, I was grabbing the bags to load everyone up, realized that I hadn’t eaten, and then glanced around the kitchen. Rushing, I grabbed a banana and an apple.

And as I snacked on them on the way to church, I thought… ya know, I never used to grab a banana or an apple for an “on the go” snack. It was like I always used the excuse that they were “too messy”. But… they aren’t. They aren’t messy at all really. No more so than pop tart or muffin crumbles all over my shirt. In fact, possibly they are less messy.

I have been keen to point out over the past couple months that I don’t think the “what” I’m eating is the problem and I still don’t think that a pop tart or a muffin are inherently evil, but I guess it can go back to this verse:

“I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23

I don’t think I would have needed a nutritionist to tell me that a banana was better than a pop tart in terms of what it can offer my body. Even if I just look to Daniel’s request as a guide, I know that the “beneficial” foods are vegetables and water. So under normal non-fasting circumstances, if I have a choice between a pop tart and a banana, it really is more beneficial to have a banana.

Like I have mentioned before, there is just something less-addictive about bananas, or apples, or grapes than sugar. I’m sure that there is tons of research to show why this is the case, but honestly, I don’t need to see the research to know that sugar compels me far more than a banana. And again, the goal here is for food to transfer from being something I’m fascinated by into something that I enjoy but don’t… fixate upon.

Now I know that this is almost a replica of this post, but I guess that’s the reason that I went on this covenant for a year… because some of these issues are apparently going to keep popping up until they are squelched. And after ingraining habits for 33 years, it is just gonna take several times to retrain and renew my mind. I’m okay with that…

I looked today at how many days I have left (I have this countdown app on my phone) and it was at 288. At first I was like “Less than 300 days left! Yahoo!” But then when I really thought about it… I was like, well… I’m not really in a rush. I mean, after only two months and a bit I am changing and growing and renewing and, well, and all those wonderful things. I now want to be on here at least another two months to see where my heart and soul are at that point! At times I don’t even care how my body changes because I am so enjoying the change within me.

I think that is definitely worth trading a pop tart for a banana, any day!

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Day Fifty-Seven: Facebook Fail

I hate to say this, but fasting from Facebook for Lent has been really, really good for me.

Yes, I’ll admit… I got on there last Thursday in a desperate attempt to use my social network to find the much loved Tigger stuffed animal that my son threw out of the car window at a local intersection. But other than that I haven’t gotten on there.

But just like fasting from food certain foods (and yes, this will tie into my covenant diet in a second), I find that I very quickly just tried to replace my Facebooking habits with another app. Just like I mentioned here when I tried to replace my chocolate addiction with another addiction to bread. Which is interesting, and goes a step to confirm that what I’m dealing with here is not so much about which foods I eat but something deeper. Which is also why I think that a lot of my struggles and successes with Christ have worked to help a few blog followers that aren’t even struggling with food… but other addictive issues. Or, “replacement” issues… like we are trying to replace the power of Christ with something else. Hmmmmm, I don’t know. Sorta rambling there! Haha!

Anyway, the point. Yes, the point…

So, the main reason that I chose Facebook to fast from during Lent was because Facebook is in the same location as one of my Bibles: on my iPhone. And now whenever I pick up my phone when I have a spare minute to do… something, anything, whatever… if I look at my Bible app and think, “Nah.” Then I automatically “require” of myself to say “Yes” and read my Bible. Even if I already finished my reading for the day (which, by the way, I’m going through this study plan to read through the Bible and it has been great! You read for five days of the week and then get two days “off” to read something else, or in my case, to catch up).

Okay, January, that’s just great… now, how does that apply to the covenant diet?

Yes, yes… of course. Well, as I keep saying, I think that the biggest part of “my” success has been the bible reading that I have been doing throughout this experience. Over and over again the way that God reaches down into my life and “saves” me has been through a verse or story from the Word of God. So, fasting from Facebook has had a triple reward: a) I’m not on Facebook all the time which is just good in and of itself, b) I’m getting to read a lot more of the Bible, c) all the extra Bible reading has worked its way into helping with a renewing and refocusing of my mind and, in turn, helping relieve me of my addiction.

So, as much as I love Facebook to share stuff with, I’m starting to wonder if Facebook is a Fail…

Day Fifty-One: Just Say No And Do It

When I made my boys some Velveeta Mac N Cheese tonight, there was just enough leftover for a mini-serving. I, of course, still needing to fight some leftover instincts, thought about having it. Not as my dinner… just as a… as a… as an extra dinner, I guess.

But instead of it turning into another apple crisp night, I just looked at it and said, “No.”

Then I took the boys’ servings to them. And that was it.

It all seems so simple, doesn’t it. Just Say No.

And in some ways it is simple. Really… saying “No” is the answer to so many problems in my life, but I avoid it so often. And often I avoid it when I need to say it the most!

  • When I am already overwhelmed but someone at church asks me to do something, and I just can’t say “No” even though saying “Yes” is going to be detrimental to me.
  • When I see my Facebook icon on my phone even though it is time for me to read my Bible… I should say “No” but so often I choose to say “Yes” and scan through my News Feed.
  • When I’m tempted with too much food, then I so often should say “No” but I find myself saying “Yes” and taking another bite, and another, and another.

I mean, I’m sure that there is a reason that the “Just Say No” phrase was the catch phrase for the anti-drug campaign in the 80s.

But there is also another part to that No… and it’s another “Just” statement: Just Do It.

Oh, my dear Nike. If only it were that easy then I would have a rocket hot bod that could run a marathon. As it is, I am lucky to be able to run across the backyard after my toddler.

But, I’m not talking about Just Do It meaning that I’m saying “Say no to food and then go work out.” I’m saying… “Say no and then ACT out the NO.”

So much of my struggle over the years has been saying no in my head but then not following through with my body. I would be standing in the pantry eating another Thin Mint (and really… that name is SO DECEPTIVE cause they do NOT make a person thin! Haha!) after having already eaten ten or eleven, thinking “NO! NOT ANOTHER ONE! NO MORE! STOP!” But it was like my hand would just keep reaching into that bag.

Until, God.

Cause I tell ya… I cannot explain it. But I can turn from an open wrapper of Thin Mints now. Because it is almost like God is the one saying No. He and I are in this together and I think that maybe these verses address it (and yes, these are some of the same verses from yesterday’s post but in a new version):

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Ephesians 4:21-23

And I like especially the last verse because it tells us HOW to Just Do It. And the best part is that it is sooooo much easier than Nike’s expectations! We are to let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. That means that God is the one doing the work!

The thing though that we are responsible for is the “let”. You might be thinking, “Huh? We have to do the ‘let’ part of it? What does that even mean???” We have to LET the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. And how does the Spirit do that? Mainly, through the Word of God. Which means, that for the Spirit to renew us, we have to be reading The Word of God.

I feel like I’m a broken record on this, but again, this blog is for me! Hehe, and I need to hear those words over and over again. I’m just not going to experience a God Life if I don’t read the Bible. Plain and simple.

And I want a God Life. And I want it more than I want food. And I want it even more than I want chocolate. And… well, that’s a lot!