Day 434: Transparent Testimony

I don’t. want. to write. this post.

I want to be asleep in my bed. Snoozing and skinny.
I want to be free from this struggle with food.
I want to forget chocolate. forget sugar. forget bread. forget food.
I want to do just what I hear God calling me to do.

I don’t. want. to write. this post.

Because it means that I have GOT to start facing up to some things.

I’ve been eating chocolate. sugar. meat. bread.

Lots of it over the past few days. Not just a bite here and there. Not a taster. Not a respectful tiny bite to appease someone else who is feeding me. No. LOTS AND LOTS of chocolate. Anywhere and everywhere I could find it. Sometimes I’d put it off for a few hours, but then I’d give in. The leftover Christmas candy in the gift closet. The remaining chocolate chips in the pantry. The kid’s candy stash. The cake at Nanny’s. The Cool Whip in the fridge drizzled in Hershey’s syrup. The homemade granola bars I made for my son’s lunches.

Me. Eating. Eating. Eating. Eating.

And I have this hole in my soul. And every bite stretches it wider and wider. Until now I feel like I’m about to burst. And so, as I laid in bed tonight… I couldn’t sleep. I mean, who CAN sleep with a huge black hole of sin growing in your chest?

God. What am I doing?!?!? Why can’t I stop?!?!? I’m choking with sin. The sin of gluttony. The sin of dishonoring You. The sin of harming this beautiful temple that you have given me. The sin of wanting to sin instead of wanting to obey and follow you. Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, who will save me from this?

And at that, I knew those words were a verse, so I got up and came in here to my couch, revved up my laptop, and found it. My dear comrade through the ages, Paul, so very long ago found the words of my struggling heart…

The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:14-25

And God, I lean on this promise:

O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone! Jeremiah 17:14

God, I cannot save myself… I cannot heal myself. It must be YOU that does this work in my life. Just as you raised Lazarus out of the grave… out of the pit… raise me out of this pit of sin. out of this grave of deathly living. out of the sludge of denying you.

I’m not even sure what to do from here. where to go. what to think. how to act. what to read. So God, I just lay my sinful soul at your feet. An offering. An incomplete, sinful filthy offering… but one that is covered in righteousness because of your Son. It is a sacrificial offering. And I am the sacrifice. Do what you want with me God. Change me. Ruin me. Build me up. Recreate me. 

Heal me. Save me. My praises are for you alone!

Day 397: Lovate

You know that relationship that you had in high school (or maybe college) during which you were desperately, insanely, blindly in love?

Past all judgment.
Past all hurdles.
Past all advice.

He was…… it. The end all. be all. of existence.

You had some kind of almost supernatural bond with him. You always deferred to him because you wanted him to be happy. You could have been stranded on a desert isle for years and had a grand ol’ time. You were just… connected. Not at the hip, so much… but connected in the soul.

.

And he was totally, completely, thoroughly, absolutely, and altogether horr.ib.le. for you.

You despised the hold he had over you. Felt terrible because of all the times you told yourself you were over him. Felt even worse when you would let his opinion of you become truth even though it was often false. Lived in fear that one day he would leave you… and then who would you be without him?

You loved him.
You hated him.

You… lovated him.

Heyyyy, ya like my new word?!?!

Lovate: v. to simultaneously love and hate someone or something.

Brilliant? Yes, I know.
And yes, I promise that I have a point. It’s coming. In a minute.

I spoke of “him” as a generic figure that we have all interacted with… {and shout out to my guy readers, I went with the “he” analogy cause, well, I’m a girl, but feel free to replace “he” with a “she”!} …but, in reality, this boy was a real figure in my life. A real “love”. A real emotional torture to my soul.

I went off to college far away from him, got myself a good, down home boyfriend and pretty much moved past the emotional hang up with my former lovate.

{Oooooo, look, my new word is also a noun apparently!}

And thennnnnn, my good, down home boyfriend broke up with me.

And so what did I do? I reverted back to my lovate again. Knowing that he didn’t love me. Knowing that he was terrible for my self-confidence. Knowing that nothing good would come from my running after him again.

But I did it anyway.

You see, looking back on this experience today, I thought- Wow. You would think that after a year of being without him and away from him that I would have realized what a terrible match we actually were. You would think that I would have realized by then that it would never, ever, never work and that it shouldn’t ever work. You would think that after a year I would see what I see now. that I would have laughed at the thought of returning to him. that I would have perhaps sighed a bit in sadness at the poor, confused little girl I had been.

But I so quickly slid right back into what had given me my identity for so long.

Much like I did this weekend with sugar.

Sugar. My other lovate.

I love it.
I hate it.

I love the way it tastes. I love the way it takes me away momentarily. I love the explosion of feeling on my tastebuds. I love the connection and the memories that I have with it.

I hate the way it makes my heart race. I hate the pimples that I always get. I hate that I can’t manage to have just a little. I hate that once I’ve had some I can’t stop thinking of it again.

But more than anything, I hate that I can’t seem to tell it no.

And this weekend, as I prepared on Friday night for my husband’s family birthday party, and all day Saturday… I just went back to my lovate of sugar. Even though I have found True and Lasting Love in my God… I went back to sugar.

And I hate it now. I gorged myself on it all weekend. And I felt almost entirely guiltless. I felt superior. I felt… bad. sick. sad. empty. hopeless.

I. DO. NOT. LIKE. TO. FEEL. THAT. WAY.

I realized… wait, if it took me years, and years, and years, and years to get over my first “love” so long ago… then perhaps I should expect my loveate relationship with sugar to be the same. Perhaps it IS too early in the game to even allow myself “celebrations”. Perhaps I was just asking for it by allowing myself to dive back into that so quickly.

So, I revert.

Tomorrow sugar is out again for the year. I will make one exception. On my birthday, I may have ONE PIECE of cake that my mom makes. But that’s it.

Sugar… my lovate of days past… farewell. Perhaps we shall never meet again. And… well, perhaps that is for the best.

Day 387: Sick And Fried

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One of the worst places to get sick… is on vacation.

And one of the worst reasons to get sick on vacation is cause you ate something not-so-good for you.

And how do I know this? Experience, my friends. Personal and recent experience.

We went to the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant one day during our workcation in Anaheim (we chose it mainly because I still wasn’t eating meat and because it was close… not sure I would have chosen this on any normal day). We were so hungry that we decided to really get a lot of food…

Yeahhhhhh, that was not such a good idea.

Fried calamari.
Crab and Shrimp Bisque.
Fish and Chips.

On top of this, I’d had pretty much zero water all day so I think I was a little dehydrated. Regardless, I stopped eating my fish. And about five minutes later I had to run to the restroom to do a little “praying” to the toilet gods while my husband waited for me outside. He then had to pretty much support me on the walk home and then I had to speed up our visit to the 7-Eleven for some gatorades.

Once we got back to the hotel, I still felt icky so I just collapsed into bed.

And had a bit of a “Come To Jesus” about fried foods.

Now remember, I’m not a nutritionist. In fact, the “science” of nutrition is almost entirely ignored by me. It just changes so frequently. (e.g. Eggs were terrible for you,then they were good for you. Avocados were fattening and now they are necessary. Baked potato peels were of the devil and now they are crucial.) So, I’m not going to be able to delineate for you WHY nutritionists say that fried food is bad for you, but I do know that eating a lot of fried foods makes me sick. And if it makes me sick, then it’s probably not good for me.

Cause yeah, this is not the first time that fried food has made me sick.

Fried chicken (like as in KFC kind)… I lovvvvve it. But it makes me siiiiiiiiiick.
Fish and chips… lovvvvvvvve it. But it makes me siiiiiiiick.
Fish tempura… lovvvvvvve it. But, yep, you guessed it… it makes me siiiiiiick.

I think it must be the super greasy type of stuff.

But, ya know… I’m kind of amazed that it has taken me so many times of being sick to accept the fact that it’s just not for me. So weird to think that I would allow my tastebuds to override my stomach. It’s like the mental connector dealies that are connected to my tastebuds must be much stronger than the connectors that work with my stomach.

I know that I reference the verse a lot, but I think about the verse in Proverbs 26:11 that says a dog that returns to its vomit is like a person who repeats something stupid or foolish…

…like, ya know, getting sick everytime you eat something insanely greasy and then… eating stuff that is insanely greasy again. It’s like the famous Forrest Gump phrase, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

And I know that the Law that God made regarding food was in our best interest; however, it doesn’t say anywhere “Thou shalt not eat greasy chicken from KFC”. But I was just reading this verse and I think it relates here:

Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13

So even though I know that the Bible never explicitly forbids fried chicken, I do know that the Bible tells me to honor my body, to run from sin, to throw off anything that holds me back. And if I am to “hold on to the pattern of this wholesome teaching” then the pattern would tell me that if fried chicken is hurting my body (my temple) to do away with it.

The same with gluttony. with sugar. with not sleeping well. with inactivity.

I don’t like saying all these things to myself because it convicts me and then I know that I am required to change. But, I know that the “changed me” several months down the road will be very proud of the “eats fried foods me” that is looking to change.

Day 338: Stop …… Temple Time.

{How about my post title… pretty awesome attempt to reference MC Hammer’s “Hammer Time”… eh?!?! Hehe!}

Soooooo I need to work out.

I hate to admit this to myself. I hate to admit it to you. And I really hate to admit it to God… cause then that means that I’ll actually be accountable to it. Ha!

And it’s not because I want to lose weight but because I am realizing that the better my body is in shape the longer it will hold out (in theory). My hip being a prime example. Not that I would be pain-free but I would at least have minimized the pain had my hips been stronger.

But I have spent several years taking care of everyone else but myself. And not that I’m switching over now for myself either.

I had this mental convo today:

Jesus Me: I really should go for a walk.

Earthly me: Yeah, but I don’t have time for a walk. There’s the dishes and the laundry and the bills and Christmas gifts and…

Jesus Me: Look, you make time aside from all those things to make sure you read the bible, but you won’t make time to take care of the temple of Christ entrusted to you?!?!

Earthly Me: Well, the only time I could go on a walk is early morning when it’s dark or late night… when it’s dark and I don’t feel safe at either time.

Jesus Me: Newsflash. Your husband works from home. You can go while the kids are asleep. God has provided a time for you.

Well, after my little Moses-moment there, I “agreed” with myself and got all geared up.

It was a) do the dishes or b) take care of the temple of God.

Hmmmmmmmmm. No brainer.

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So I went. Just twenty minutes. Just one mile. And it was beautiful. And peaceful. And it honored God.

    Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Day 336: Sin Switch

I was thinking this morning about  how I am going to need to stay with my covenant for a longer stretch of time.

I got a bit of a complex, wondering a bit why I needed to still stay with it when the people on the WeighDown testimonials had been skinny for years and years. Was there something “wrong” with my covenant? Was there something “wrong” with me?

But then I was reminded that not everyone that has done WeighDown has lost tons of weight and kept it off. I have a friend that did a WeighDown course and lost weight but gained it back.

And ya know… I think I am having to readjust just as much of my mind to remember that gluttony and food addiction are not just sins that you can switch on and off like a light switch.

These sins are sooooooo ingrained into my flesh and my habits that it will take years (and possibly my entire lifetime) to overcome. And maybe that’s how I’ve gotten so far in my life without really breaking this addiction… I did all these diets and short-term “fixes” when really I needed to address the main issue of gluttony and all the things that pushed me toward gluttony (boredom, procrastination, sadness, etc). It was like that analogy… a diet is like putting a bandaid on a seriously massive, festering wound and expecting it to heal.

I’ve focused on the short game for so long, and now I’m finally addressing the REAL issues in my heart that drive me to overeat.

And our dear friend Paul understood the struggle with sin so well…

The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:14-15

So, so, so accurate… but here’s what I love about what Paul has to say even more. Just this kind of talk is depressing. Full of hopelessness, but Paul always seems to point us back to The One Who Saves…

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:22-25

And if PAUL HIMSELF continued to struggle with sin, even after having been blinded by the glory of Christ on the road to Damascus, well… then… maybe I’m not such a spiritual freak after all. But I have hope… I continue to run this race because, Jesus Christ will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!

He is the switch… no matter how many times I sneak into my soul and flip it back down and pout in the darkness, He has the power to flip that switch back on… and flood me with Light.

Day 269: Yo Quiero Jesus

Today was… rough.

Wait. Allow me to remind everyone that I have a toddler that is almost 2 1/2. There is no way that my day isn’t going to be rough. Ha!

But lately I have jut been a bit worn down… by life, by motherhood, by housekeeping, by lack of sleep, by lack of Jesus, by… well, by everything. And so my patience for the independent streak of a child that can’t even put on his own shoes is lacking somewhat.

This morning he had already worn me to the bone. He was up twice last night and up early this morning and he went to bed late last night because of church. So he was cuh.rank.y.

I was delivering a piece of mail for my husband and the outside mailboxes had been removed because they are widening the road, so I had to get my toddler out of the car to mail that one measly letter. (Yeah, I had a great attitude about it- ha!) I looked over longingly at the Taco Bell next door and thought, “Oh if only I could get a supreme chalupa… I would feel so much better.” And then I proceeded to fantasize about eating a chalupa.

(This sounds extremely comical now that I’m past the moment!)

Luckily my Jesus-conscience piped up, “But seriously? Is eating a chalupa gonna fix anything? I mean, your kid will still act the same. Your house will still be a mess. You will still be unshowered. You will still be tired. And your life will still be exactly the same. Sure, you will have a few minutes of escape, but what’s the point if you have to just dive right back into a rough day and you’ll have to add to all your negative emotions a big ol’ chalupa size serving of guilt!”

(My Jesus-conscience is very smart.)

So, at that point I knew that I needed to turn to Jesus. I knew that He could sustain me. But I was all like…… ummmmmmm, what do I say to Him? “I need you???!” Gosh, like He hasn’t heard that lately.

And there I was sitting at a stoplight with my toddler whining in the back seat with no clue how to approach God.

And I remembered that last night at my Transforming Prayer bible study, the leader said that she had read in some notes from a previous prayer meeting that the man had said “The antidote for lethargy and spiritual heaviness is to put on a garment of praise.”

So I said, “Okay… praise God… hmmmmmm, what should I say?”

{Mind went utterly blank}

So I just said, “Alright I’m gonna go through every scripture that comes to mind until one of them is a scripture of praise.” And immediately the verses of late came to mind, “God, you are the God who saves me. You are right beside me. God you are my rock. You are my salvation. You are my hope. My joy. My peace.”

{All of this was said while bawling, of course.}

And I instantly felt closer to Him. Was my day better? No. Had my son stopped whining? No. Had I suddenly become clean and showered? No.

But I had hope. Not an earthly hope. But His Hope.

And then I got home and it was quickly sucked back out of me as my toddler and I got into yet another battle for control. So I turned to Psalm 27 that we had prayed last night in my group and I put that thing on audio and listened to it as my toddler and I played outside.

Then I needed to make some of those permanent and since we were playing with chalk, I wrote those phrases on the wall.

And I think that I have truly found the antidote for my struggles: praise.

The antidote for lethargy and spiritual heaviness is to put on a garment of praise.

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Day 217: Practice Makes Perfect

Day 14 of my hard-core Daniel Fast.

I’m not sure how I survived this for forty-six days during Lent. Geez. All I want is a tortilla and some feta cheese and my life would be great.

So funny how starting this whole thing in January I was probably thinking “All I want is a Reese’s peanut butter cup and my life would be great.” ha! How things have changed.

But actually I think the temptations are harder on a short-term fast because you know that you’ll get that stuff again… and soon. When I started my covenant so many months ago, the lust for chocolate and sugar quickly died off and stayed away for quite a while because the day when I would once again get to have those things was sooooooooo far away it was pointless to even dream about eating it after a while.

But now that I’m pretty much just one week away from a feta topped salad, or a cheese pizza, or a fish taco… well, it makes the wanting of it stronger. But that’s a good thing on a fast. To want something but not be able to have it. It creates a tension in me… a tension that brings my struggle to light. A struggle between the light and the dark.

What it does is make me practice over and over the act of choosing God. relying upon God. feasting upon the things of the Spirit.

And hopefully three weeks of “practicing” that will carry over past those three weeks. So that for another three weeks I’m still just in the habit of choosing God over my own desires and wants.

Day 178: You Complete Me

So, I’m having to backtrack a bit here since I have fallen behind quite a bit. Like I mentioned on day 171, summer is a bit of a routine killer for me, and I think most of my blogging was really routined during the school year.

Plus, yes, I have been sorta “meh” about the whole covenant in general lately.

Now, allow me to clarify what I mean by that.

I believe in God. I believe in His Power to change me. I believe that this covenant is a powerful agreement with God based on my love for Him and His Love for me. I believe that He knows my failings and my successes are going to come and go. I believe that He will love and adore me no matter what the outcome of today or tomorrow or the next day.

And there is the crux. I believe all of these things… I know them in my heart of hearts. But there are just some times when believing doesn’t… work. Remember this verse in James?

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. James 2:19

Now, I don’t want to get into a theological discussion about this verse (as I know there could be a deep theological discussion about it) because that is for another time… another blog. But my point is that James is punking these guys out… listen to his sass: “Good for you!” Haha… love that! What he is telling us though is that sometimes our human-version of faith isn’t enough, we HAVE to have what we often call “works”… referred to in this verse as “actions”:

You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. James 2:22

And I have definitely seen that in action lately. I have had zeroooooooooooooooo personal motivation to eat fruit and veggies. All I have wanted was pantry junk… stuff that is “on” the covenant but is not necessarily beneficial. And I have had quite a bit of that pantry junk over the past two weeks (see day 170). I have had bread again, which I said I wouldn’t have. I have even been sneaky about foods and allowed my old-self to resurface a few times and could hear a battle inside of me about eating something when I was not hungry but just wanted the taste… or the escape… or the experience.

But time and time again, even though I was heinously close to breaking the covenant, I have held the line. I have remembered that covenant and forced myself to act according to that covenant.

My actions have made my faith complete.

They have not made my faith easy.

But complete.

And so as I work through this time of difficulty and lack of motivation and struggle… I will do my best to make my actions fall in line and follow the covenant that I have made with the Almighty God.

And He will complete me.

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 166: Thor, Table For Two

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I know. I know.

A picture of pizza and Thor?!!? What am I thinking? But there is method to my madness…

You see, my five-year old is on this cheese pizza kick, and he is sooooooo not an eater. Not a healthy eater. Not a bad eater. He’s just not much of an eater.  I think it comes from the days when I was nursing him and realized, a bit later than I should have, that he was in the 4th percentile (which is an indication that either a kid is starving or has something seriously wrong with them) and in our case… he was starving… my milk was not so much milk as it was… water. Yeah, as if nursing isn’t already the most difficult part of motherhood, add the guilt of starving your first child.

That was a rough time for me… we’ll leave it at that! Haha!

Anyway, so when he likes a food… I pretty much jump on it. Unfortunately the effect of this is that he then almost ODs on whatever food he likes and then never wants it again. But until I choose to learn from that mistake, when the kid asks for a cheese pizza (which is really only like every other week or so… I’m being over dramatic about it simply because he almost never requests food), well… then I give him a cheese pizza.

And this one time in particular, he asked for a cheese pizza on a Friday and I was exhausted from being up really late the night before, so I conceded reallllllllly easily to his request. And then when he came across this pizza at Target and it had a picture of Thor on it… well, whatever defenses were left completely crumbled! (I’m sort of an Avengers nut thanks to my kid… and my favorite is either Thor or Iron Man… wow. irrelevant information yet again!)

Oh wow… ANYWAYYYYY all of this to say, he ate about half of the pizza. And so what was left? Yep… the other half of a cheese pizza. A cheese pizza that’d had Thor’s picture on it.

I was doomed.

Sure, I had already eaten my dinner. No, of course I wasn’t hungry. And I already mentioned that I was tired.

This is a bad combo… pizza + tired = fail.

And I ate his left over piece and two more pieces.

Shame. Guilt. Sorrow. Grief. Resolve. Shame. Guilt. Sorrow. Grief. Resolve.

You know the cycle.

But one thing that I have started to add in to that cycle whenever I eat when I shouldn’t or eat something I shouldn’t or eat in a way that is not honoring God because it’s eating for a reason other than eating to live… then I add in the step of evaluating WHY I ate when I wasn’t hungry. or what I shouldn’t have. or too much.

And a lot of times it is because I am tired.

My revelations on the importance of sleep are going to come up more in another post, but in essence, if at all possible… I need to get enough sleep. Sure, I have a toddler, so this is not always possible. But when I can get enough sleep, I need to shut down facebook, shut down my bible even, shut down the dishes and go. to. bed.

Otherwise, I’m asking for it the next day. And why set myself up for a struggle… doesn’t Satan do that enough as it is? Why should I make it harder on myself!??!

And I love The Message’s version of these verses… encouragement to do what we can, or as my husband has taught our son to say, “Do my best and trust God to do the rest!”…

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3