Day 638: Sometimes It’s Simple

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Sometimes what I have to say and what I learn on here is complicated and intricate. It takes time and lots of words to explain, but today… I want to just focus in on this one thing.

Just this one verse for today.

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

I know that you have read it and seen it a million times, but I just want you to say it to yourself over and over and over and over again today. Sometimes… sometimes we just need a reminder that it’s true.

We need to remember that we are not weak.
We are not terrible.
We are not incapable.

In Him, YOU are strong.
In Him, YOU are good.
In Him, YOU are completely and totally capable.

In Him, YOU can do ev.er.y.thing. Because HE gives you strength.

Day 533: Easy Breezy

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Ready for another “I’m not really all that cool” confession. I already told y’all that I’m not super athletic and I’m finally okay with that. And now I’m here to tell you that I don’t really want to climb mountains, or mountain bike through forests, or go skydiving.

My idea of fun, or shall I say, my idea of “enjoyment” is… relaxing.

Bring on a sandy beach or lapping lake, a reclining chair, waves crashing, a book… and I’m set. I could literally do that every day of my life. (Well, theoretically… cause the closest I ever got to that life was in Costa Rica. And that’s been a looooooooong time ago. I threw in a pic of me above at my recent 24-hour get away for my 9th anniversary to a local lake. All we did was chill and relax.)

So, when I hear this in scripture…

Only in returning to me and waiting will you be saved. Quietness and confidence is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

That God WANTS me to be chill. He WANTS me to relax. He WANTS me to just wait for Him. He WANTS me to be quiet.

Well, I get pretty happy.

Cause I like being told “slow down. wait. chill out.”

And if I can just remember that in my food journey, then things will be so much better.

God is working in me. on me. through me.

I just need to sit back, follow His lead, and enjoy the rest.

PRAYER:

Lord God, you are so good to take care of me. As much as I try to weasel my way into being a part of it all… you always seem to just take care of everything.

Help me to calm down and just… WAIT. Help me to quiet my soul and be confident that You will save me. Help me to return to You when I run away.

Thank you for Your forgiveness that makes me WANT to return to You. Thank you for the hope you give me. You are my ALL.

Amen.

Day 500: Strong Spirit

Gonna admit… I’m starting my writing of this on what is technically Day 498. It’s just that I got such encouragement from the positivity (I am new!) and prayer (Draw me closer to you, God) today and so I wanted to get ahead a little bit to make sure that each day coming had that positivity and prayer already set for me.

POSITIVITY: I am strong!

God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Honestly, this is one of those verses that I have heard a gazillion times and so at this point I sort of just let it slide through my brain and then trickle down into long term memory. And in true pessimist form, it’s probably because I so often focus on the first part of the verse. All I hear is “fear” and “timidity”. But as I focus on the positive aspects today I just zone in on the second half of what He HAS given me!

POWER! LOVE! SELF-DISCIPLINE!

And really, what a wonderful spirit to have… a combination of power, love, and self-discipline!?!? How cool that He threw those three together into a combo! But really, those three are THE things that I would want! Power… to stand up for what is right and to do whatever God calls me to. Love… to balance the power so that I don’t just run over everyone and everything with power but that I am kind and caring and patient and all that stuff from 1 Corinthians 13. Self-discipline… honestly this one almost throws me off at first as to why it’s in there, but then again, no, it belongs there. For what is power and love is all the more powerful when controlled.

PRAYER: God, You are strength. You are power. You are love. And you are self-discipline. Thank you for giving me all of these things as well. God, please remind me that I already HAVE all of these things! I need to know that you give me the strength to resist things, and well… not just to resist things, but also the power to be above those things. Remind me today God that I have the power to focus on You. to keep my mind on You and Your… awesomeness. to think about the things of eternity instead of things of the earth. Help me to see over and over again that You and Your Words and Your Love is lasting and fulfilling. Keep my eyes lifted to you today God. And remind me that I am strong! Amen!

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Day 419: Just Jesus

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This past week, I needed a bit of a break from blogging, well… actually, I needed a break from the internet and computers and technology in general… sorry I didn’t give anyone a heads up about it, I sorta didn’t realize I needed a break until Monday night last week when it was time to start thinking of a blog and, well, just the thought of it sorta exhausted me.

Nonetheless, the week was not without tests and triumphs!

But it’s funny… as I sit here wanting to write about one of my tests or triumphs, none of them really jump out at me as write-worthy. I mean, I struggled with a Take5 candy bar that my son (who doesn’t like chocolate) started to eat and then abandoned. I might write about that one later, because it did lead to an epiphany. I overate a lot trying to avoid that Take5 bar before I had my little epiphany. I didn’t eat a cake or cupcake at my husband’s grandfather’s 80th birthday, oh, AND my green skinny-style jeans fit more loosely around the hips/muffin top than they have before. My husband’s grandfather drove past me playing with my sons and their cousins and thought I was my sister-in-law WHO WEARS A SIZE 4! And that sister-in-law told me she was going to let me have some of her old size 6 jeans and was surprised to learn that I was a size 8.

So, yeah, the week has had some good and “meh” stuff.

But, all I want to write about is Jesus.

I’ve been getting frustrated… no, not frustrated… confused lately about the fact that I haven’t lost any more weight in a long time (and, yes, I do have some more weight I could lose). And then I see this verse and although it’s actually about his return, it still reminds me that God sometimes doesn’t answer things right when I expect or want Him to… for a reason.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9

And I go into His Word this morning to remind myself that He. Is. My. Strength. I could commentate on each of these verses, but I think I’m just gonna let the Word of God do its thang this morning.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:29

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. 1 Chronicles 16:11

God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. Psalms 18:32

O Lord, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Psalm 22:19

He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Psalm 23:3

(Note: the pic above is from The Action Bible)

Day 410: Overlooking Neglect

On Day 406 I wrote about our blow up pool. Hmmmm, never thought that I’d write about a blow up pool on my blog about covenants and dieting. Ha!

Anyway, that morning before the post went “live”, I was doing my hair and I was wondering what caused the hole to get into the little rainforesty part of the pool (which has since been cut off of the pool cause it got a little too bothersome). I guess it could have been one of the boys jumping on it. Or maybe driving a Hot Wheel across it. Or maybe it was when I was dragging it out of the little shed. Perhaps it was when we left it out back, empty of water, during a huge wind storm and watched it as it flew back and forth through our backyard like a pinball (that was actually kind of fun to watch).

Not sure what did caused the hole, but I do know this. Whatever did it was a result of neglect.

The word neglect immediately makes me think of sad-faced puppies on TV with Sarah McLachlan’s voice hovering around us.

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But I’m not talking about that level of neglect. I’m talking about a far more dangerous level of neglect: the kind you don’t even realize is happening.

Okay, yes, so watching the pool bounce around the backyard was an obvious neglect.

But a lot of the other things… the basic “use” of the pool… didn’t seem like neglect. When it boils down to it, I didn’t take super awesome good amazing care of the pool, and it got a hole in it.

As I thought through this while I globbed gel on another section of my hair, I was like, “Oh, well, I won’t put this little thought process in my “Patched Up” post because it’s not like me neglecting my pool relates to me and my faith. I mean… it’s not like my faith was struggling because of neglect.”

{Picture me sorta freezing my hands mid curl-twirl as a wave of Holy Spirit goose bumps slid over me while I realized how wrong I was about what I had just said to myself.}

Honestly, that is exactly what had caused my faith to just sorta want to puff out slowly through a little hole. I neglected it. I mean, I went to church for women’s bible study, and I went to Sunday School, and I taught lessons in the youth department, but I was neglecting my own personal study, meditation, and prayer at home. I was neglecting God.

You neglected the Rock who had fathered you; you forgot the God who had given you birth. Deuteronomy 32:18

It was parental neglect… only I was the one neglecting… I neglected My Parent. My Father. My Rock. My Maker. And I had been overlooking it for so. very. long.

Sure, I had little verses here and there, but I was not taking much time for Him. I was too busy. too tired. too busy. too tired. And that led to me being too unmotivated. You know how it is, you skip a day, then another, and then another, and then, well, you’re just so behind… why keep it up? Take a few more days off while you’re at it.

And as much as I hate to say it… I know exactly what happened.

  1. I became a vegetarian after being a meat eater for 33 years, and my vitamin B12 levels got realllllly low (although I didn’t know it at the time).
  2. When my vitamin B12 levels got low, I got realllllllly tired.
  3. When I got reallllllly tired, I didn’t want to wake up early in the morning.
  4. When I didn’t want to wake up early in the morning, then I missed the chance to read or pray in peace and quiet before my sons got up and demanded all my attention.
  5. When I missed the chance to read or pray in peace and quiet before my sons got up, then I never got another chance until bedtime.
  6. When I didn’t get a chance until bedtime to read and pray, then I would fall asleep on my bible because my vitamin B12 levels were low.
  7. Rinse, and repeat.

So, like I said on Day 406, I was still getting in little snippits of God, but I wasn’t following the example of Christ and going up on the mountain away from everyone else to take an extended amount of time to focus on My Lord and what He wanted to say to me.

Essentially, if we jump back to the pool = faith analogy, and my pool got a hole in it that needed a patch = my faith got a hole in it that needed a patch. So, God = the patch for my faith. And before going to God, I kept having to blow up that dadgum faith pool because the patch wasn’t sticking. Well, it’s just like any patch… you have to give it enough TIME to stick. If you fill the pool back up with water before the patch is ready then it’ll just float on off.

And that’s what I have been doing for months. Going to God for only a few moments a day when I need to be going away to find Him and seek Him and allow Him plenty of time to apply a patch to my ever deflating faith, so that He could breathe in His Spirit. But now I know how to keep my faith aired up. Not that I won’t do the exact same thing again, but I can alsways remember…

The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Day 300: Almond Joy

Ahhhhhh, day 300. Now, I’m not so hot at math but I know that if I am on day 300 and there are 365 days in the year, THEN I have less than 100 days left. (How’s that for a word problem??? My 4th grade teacher would be so proud! Ha!)

And still my journey is rocky and rough at times. Although, I continue to grow and discover why it is rough and rocky. And so I consider myself “well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.Philippians 3:12

I laugh at myself a bit here as I look back at the first sentence of that last paragraph… “And still my journey is rocky and rough at times.” This is true, but when I think back on the grief and weight (both literal and spiritual) of last year… it is so. much. better.

And it is honestly exciting to think, as I come closer to starting in on year two, how it will be THAT much better next year on day 300!

Thinking about that made me want to find a verse, and I was looking for a verse about the future and had seen Ecclesiastes 9:4There is hope only for the living.” And then I kept reading and I came across verse 7: “Go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!” (Ecclesiasties 9:7)

I was kinda like… eat my food with joy!?!?! Hmmmm, ya know, this focus on weight and weight loss, this struggle with gluttony and food-greed, the lack of self-control and discipline with food, and the ill-placed comfort from food… it has stolen this opportunity for finding joy in my food. Food is the enemy. Like this sign I saw recently at my retreat…

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All we think about anymore with food is how it will affect our rear end or our thighs or that flabby stuff under our arms. We think about if it is off-limits or allowed and then we pine after those things that are off-limits or, worse, we give in to the off-limits food and then have to endure the guilt and shame, failure, and inadequacy. We find ourselves enveloped in despair and hopelessness. All of these things… because of FOOD. Oh these words are a far-cry from eating with joy.

But, now, as I sit here, I am able to happily, joyfully snack on almonds and raisins. Why? Because for 300 days I have been freed from the guilt of food, the shame, the failure, and inadequacy. I’m not saying that I am totally free of food… but oh so much closer just to have a freedom from sugar-food. It’s certainly a step in the right direction!!! I can look at a plate of brownies and know that I don’t need to despair… that it is not hopeless… that Christ has given me power and strength… and oh what a joy that is!!!

Day 160: Ode To Anice

Lately my husband and I have been talking about some of his food documentaries. Like, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, The Gershon Diet, King Corn, etc.

And they have helped me become keenly aware that Jesus saved me.

Yes, He saved me from Hell.
He saved me from wallowing in my sins.
He saved me from a life of hopelessness, and regret, and broken identity.

But He also has, literally, saved my life.

You see, I was consuming in a way that was, simply put, going to work my body to death. Not because I was working out too much (haha- no chance of that!!!), and not because I was over stressing things in my life (not a super stressful person… patience is really my only virtue), but because…

Well, look at it this way, if my body is a factory and it is required to work a certain amount… I was eating so much stuff that took so much effort to process that I fear my body would have literally gotten so worn out that it would have… shut down.

And a little background here… my Dad’s mother, Anice, passed away from a blood disease when he was a young teenage boy. He doesn’t talk about it a lot but when he does, the experience has to have been the most devastating thing he will ever experience. Over the years I have imagined him as that young boy. I have attempted to imagine his pain. But it is a desolation that I simply cannot fathom. I cannot conjure it.

Now his mother, of course, could not help her illness. For that we can only blame Satan for bringing sin into the world… the sin that made our bodies imperfect. that broke our DNA. that killed our chance for immortality.

But it has made me think over the years… am I willingly killing myself? What if, at the age of 35, I keeled over and died because I had over-consumed? I would purposefully leave my boys motherless… I would have purposefully allowed them to go through that devastation and pain… for a Twix candy bar!??!

It is a strong thought. a compelling thought. a horrid thought.

And yet despite the fear of that happening, I simply could. not. stop. over. eating.

Until Jesus saved me.

Until this covenant I was barreling toward that barricade at the end of the track unable to find the strength to pull on the break.

Only Jesus had the strength.

And so now, even if I should die at the age of 35… or 55… or 85… in my last moment, I won’t have to say that it is “my fault” that I am leaving my sons motherless. Because Jesus has saved me.

Inside and Out.

And I’m pretty sure that is something my Grandma Anice would be proud of.

Day 130: Nit Gonna Get Me Down

Over the past day my oldest has been scratching his head a lot. I thought it was because of a recent change in shampoo and decided to give both he and his brother a good ol Head N Shoulders washing.

And then I went to check the scalp on my youngest to make sure it was squeaky clean and noticed these itty bitty brown dots on his scalp.

My stomach flip flopped. Oh please Lord, let that be something he got caught in his hair playing outside and not lice.

Apparently though you have to pray that prayer way before they even get it. Haha! Cause lice they were… well, a bunch of those little nits that turn into lice. So I sent my husband out to the pharmacy to pick up that RID stuff (which, for the record, smells exactly the same as it did when I had lice in fourth grade).

I looked through the hair on my oldest and he looked clean but I decided to treat him anyway. Good thing- he had more than his brother.

All of that to say, after four hours of scrubbing, rinsing, gelling, picking, combing, gelling again, picking again, and combing again, then washing again… both of my boys were deloused.

And I don’t know if you have seen a pic of my curly fro, but getting lice would be catastrophic for me, so I thought y’all would get a kick out of how I attempted to “protect” my scalp while I was working away on the boys and their little friends…

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Now. That is gross information for someone getting on this blog… haha, maybe it will keep you from wanting to eat though for a bit!!!

But I bring it up to say that delousing a toddler and a four year old is a rather stressful event… especially since you have to do it well or else you’ll just be in the same boat again the next week. There I was delousing and feeling all sorts of tense and then I had a cool moment… I realized that I had not even thought of chocolate. or sugar. or bread. okay, I did think about eating a saltine.

A saltine?

Yes. A saltine.

Why would you be tempted to eat a saltine???

My toddler loves them and he was snacking on them while I picked at his head like momma orangutang. And when I passed the little stack of them I was about .5 seconds away from popping one on in my gullet.

Annnnnnnd ya know what stopped me? The covenant.

I am so glad that I “upgraded” the covenant to include cutting out bread and chips… and yeah I know a cracker isn’t a chip, but yeah… it might as well be. As I reached out to snag one, my brain said, “Hey Jan… covenant. Upgraded covenant. No chips.” And I put it back and that was that. I returned to my ever glamorous life of delousing children.

And I know that I have mentioned this verse a lot lately, but I just have to bring it up again. I think maybe God is in the process of writing it on my heart. deeeeeeeeep on my heart. Haha!

O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. 2 Chronicles 6:14

But also this one… I had to have strength to resist the saltine (haha- that even sounds funny to me, but, eh, such is an addiction to food. All of it qualifies)! And that strength comes from God- and out of my love for God.

And now that I look at this one, I’m liking it just as much as the previous verse:

Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong. Romans 16:25

Cause that’s where it comes from! My strength comes from God. There is no other way to explain it.

Yep. Even that saltine. those dad gum lice. that bully Satan. They’re “nit” gonna get me down. Haha! Gotta love the malapropisms!!!

Day Forty-Six: Processed Ponderings

I have been amazed at how quickly being on a hard-core Daniel Fast has shown me that I was a bit more dependent upon processed foods than I realized. Yesterday I was a little shocked at how little I had to eat in the house. None of it was “horrible” for me per se, but there is just a sea of pretzel chips, pastas, rice, breads, cheese, eggs, etc that I kept trying to revert to at my meal and snack times.

Granted, I really need to go to the store to get some more fruit options. I find myself not wanting grapes (which will work out fine because my youngest lovvvvvvves them), but I tend to really enjoy cantaloupe, pineapple, apples, clementines, raisins, peanuts, avocados, and carrots as my “easy-to-eat” options. My favorite “cooked” thing is certainly potatoes! Yummmmmm! And I just ran out of La Madeline’s Tomato Basil soup which is deeeeelish.

I bring up all of those foods to remind myself that even though I might have felt like this was an incredible sacrifice, it’s actually quite yummy. I think I’ll even purposefully do a “Hard-Core Daniel Day” each week for the duration of my covenant just to refocus my mind off of processed “easy” foods.

But also… you know, the point of “Lenting” is to focus my mind entirely on Christ, and my mind often goes to Him fasting in the desert for 40 days.

Let me break that down for ya.

NO. FOOD. FOR. FORTY. DAYS.

I cannot even imagine that. I can’t even remember the last time I went one day without food much less FORTY. And in the hot, dry desert.

And ya know, now that I think about it. I can’t remember why He did that.

Time to read…

Okay, I’m back.

So, the Bible says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the spirit.

And then I read about Elijah and Moses’s 40 Day Fasts as well (thanks to seeing it on a Wikipedia page when I was looking for a scripture reference). Elijah was sorta “forced” into it by the spirit because he was running away from Jezebel and had to walk for 40 days through the desert going to Mount Sinai. But again, he was led by the spirit.

Moses was also sorta “trapped” up on the mountain with God for 40 days while God tapped out the Ten Commandments for the covenant. Annnnnd again, led by the spirit or in his case he was told directly by God himself to stick around!

But here is what I think is cool about each of these… being led by the spirit to fast may come with 40 days of trial, but it always ends up TOTALLY RAD. Check this:

Moses – doesn’t eat for 40 days but he is chillin with God Almighty – COMES DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN GLOWING WITH GOD’S GLORY!!!

Elijah – doesn’t eat for 40 days while he has to walk across the desert – AND THEN GOD TALKS TO HIM DIRECTLY AND TELLS HIM JUST WHAT TO DO!!!

Jesus – doesn’t eat for 40 days in the desert – GIVES SATAN THE SMACK DOWN AND HAS ANGELS BRING HIM FOOD!

So, all of that to say, a fast might be difficult, but at the end of 40 days… God’s Power, God’s Voice And Direction, and God’s Strength To Resist Temptation… is there.

That’s about the coolest thing that I have ever had to look forward to!

(If you are confused thinking, “Wait, I thought you were already doing a Daniel Fast?” I’m doing what I call a “flexible Daniel Fast” for the year, but for the Lenten season I will do a regular ol’ Daniel Fast… which I call a “Hard-Core Daniel Fast” because only fruits, veggies, and nuts… that is hard core! You can read a little about the differences here. And you can also read my post where I realized I should do a “Hard-Core Daniel Fast” for Lent.)