Thoughts on Stomach Flu and Life, My Weight Loss so Far and the Final Made to Crave

Looks like blogger deleted my post and the comments, so I’m reposting this. Not sure what is going on?!!

I have had the stomach flu for a couple days. This may not seem like a big deal, and in the grand scheme of life, it isn’t. What you may not know is that nausea and especially vomiting are sort of like going back to ‘Nam for me. I know…no one likes to vomit. But, it’s a mini-post traumatic stress thing for me. You see, I was violently ill with the last three of my four pregnancies. I’m not talking about some morning sickness here. I mean vomiting every hour until my insides were raw, being hospitalized, having my liver and heart in danger (with the twins). Day and night…spending the part of each hour I wasn’t throwing up focusing on not throwing up. It was worse with the twins and not a whole lot better with Thomas. I was similar with James. This cycle lasted in that severity for the first five months, although I continued to vomit almost daily for the duration of the pregnancy. My body has been damaged to the point where my digestive system is still sensitive to this day. The sweetest tasting meals were always after giving birth.

So….now whenever I have the flu, some survival part of my psyche kicks in and I begin to think that I will be this way for nine months, rather than 24-48 hours. Fear and despair overcome me, and I remember the trauma…of being that sick, not being able to care for my home and family, watching my young marriage falter, losing three of my five children…all of it. It isn’t reasonable. It’s just what happens.

But, when I am well again, like this morning…it’s as if I’ve been given a new lease on life. Everything tastes sweeter, and I am grateful for health and birds singing. Grateful for the taste of strawberries and iced tea (this morning’s breakfast of choice). It makes me think about how bitter suffering is, but the joy on the other side of the trial is always the sweetest-tasting. It’s true with stomach flu, and it’s true in life.
Reminds me of a couple of my favorite verses:
Hebrews 12:2
… looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…

And a promise that has proven true time and time again in my life:

Psalm 126:5
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

And now…our Final Made to Crave

I would like to open with my weight loss thus far in this journey:

I began at:
 148
This morning’s weight:
135

Weight loss so far:
13 pounds!!!! =)

Even though we are reaching the end of reading this book, I hope we can continue to encourage one another. Our friend Kate has had some victory through her weight loss, as well as our friend, Sue. And, I’m hoping the rest of you are sticking with it, even if we haven’t heard much from you…ahem. =)

The journey doesn’t end here. I believe that for those of us who struggle with food issues, it may be a lifelong battle. God gives us the victory, but we have to trust in Him and look to Him for strength…especially in moments of weakness. Maybe it’s a little like a thorn in the flesh.

Why Diets Don’t Work
I liked what Lysa had to say in this chapter. It’s important to recognize that we are not on a diet, but a journey of self-discipline with Jesus. Think of it as a new way at looking at food. A healthy way. She mentioned planning what she would eat for the day. I have found that to be in the past, and currently a very helpful way to resist temptation. It makes it less about what I “can’t” have and more about what I “can” have. 
 I also liked that she addressed some of the legalistic ideas I’ve been battling as I read this book. I don’t want to forever feel guilty if I indulge in a piece of birthday cake (Although, I had a piece everyday for a few days last week…and I wouldn’t encourage that!). We are free in Christ, after all.

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial.
(I Corinth. 10:23)

The Very Next Choice we Make
“Holiness doesn’t just deal with my spiritual life; it very much deals with my physical life as well.” Pg. 168

Yes…God does care about how we take care of our bodies. Our spiritual health is very much connected with our physical health, and the two can’t be separated.

Loved this quote from Lysa, “Only then can we be empty enough and open enough to discover the holiness we were made for When we are stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don’t recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on.”
Page 170, “We maintain our victories with each next choice.”

She talks about dealing with our problems rather than “snacking away at them”. About craving God, worshipping Him alone, longing for Him, relying on Him for strength.

It’s wonderful to see the scale go down, I’ll admit. But, there is a deeper goal…a more precious treasure. It’s the attitude of our hearts that will bring lasting change. It’s the One we are clinging to that matters most.

This journey, this victory happens on choice at a time.

I found the correlation of the rats eating junk food to the response in heroin addicts to be unsettling…and probably quite true. I’m not surprised that those of us with a weakness for junk food react like addicts when filling our bodies with such things. Unsettling…in a good way. A way that delivers.

I like how Lysa spoke of this journey being more about what we’re gaining than what we’re losing. So true. We are gaining sweet freedom, ladies…and a deeper walk with Jesus, as we learn to cling to Him alone.

This line from pg. 183 speaks to the core of my heart,

“You, Messiah, are the best match for my mess.”

Yes…this side of heaven, I may always be a mess. O.k….I am most certain to be a mess. But, my Jesus is the best match for my mess. And, even with all my issues (and there are a bunch, dear sister!), He loves me just as I am. Amen.

We were not made for defeat….we were made for more. I hope you have been encouraged by this book study. And, I hope you will continue the journey as I plan to do as well. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and I hope you’ll stay in touch too. And, if you’ve fallen behind…don’t give up. You were made for more…you were made for victory. Keep clinging to the One who will set you free.

Made to Crave ~ A Bit Behind, but Still Here Slugging it Out

Hey girls,

So sorry I’m late with this week’s Made to Crave. I know a lot of you have fallen behind, so maybe we can all give each other some grace here. (You know it’s my favorite thing!) It may seem like I’ve been off doing everything but focusing on this getting healthy journey, but the truth is I’ve been filling up spiritually…along with running around like a crazy woman planning SGM events, going to baseball, gearing up for golf tournaments, drowning under my piles in a messy house, falling behind with ministry work, and wrapping up another school year at work. You know, stuff like that. But, I want to focus on the getting full spiritually part, because isn’t that the whole point of this study?

I spent some time with some beautiful women at the Women of Faith Conference this past weekend. And, I felt free and full as I listened to each speaker grazing the places I have hidden deep in my heart with their words of truth. As if God spoke through each one, His Holy Spirit piercing my heart…leaving me weeping, stripping me of the hiding. I’ll talk more about all of that in my Women of Faith posts. But, just wanted to share that as difficult as it was to feel all of the emotion and not stuff it under a pound of cheesecake, I allowed the feelings and didn’t numb them. I ate my lettuce wraps and stopped at half a piece of cheesecake. And, as terrifying as feeling some of the emotions of the weekend was for me, it was also cleansing. I came home feeling more full, even as I had emptied so much in my tears. I felt loved by the circle of friends, and lighter as I knew He had lifted some of the burden when the speaker’s words took me to a place I rarely go, and I simply wept in my seat at the height of the stadium and said, “Oh Lord, I don’t want to do that…I don’t want to feel this. I don’t want to go where you’re asking me to go.” And, even in my agony, I knew He was leading me to the place I dreaded  in order to set me free, and I knew I would go in His strength. It’s hard to feel stuff without being able to numb the pain with food. But, I felt it all. And, it was good. Achingly, desperately good. Not to sound too much like a psycho-babbly bumper sticker, but feeling is the path to healing. (I know…a bit cheesy but true)

As far as this week’s Made to Crave chapters…here are some of my favorite parts.

I love the correlation of trusting God daily for our portion of manna in chapter 13…resisting overindulgence…practicing the art of clinging to Him and Him alone.

Loved the verses in Lamentations 3…about His mercies new every morning, His compassions that never fail…that He is our portion, we wait on Him. Great is His faithfulness! YES, Lord!!

I’m not ready to talk a lot about Chapter 14, but maybe soon the words will come spilling out. It is a chapter that resonated with the very core of what I mentioned above. The places that I have kept hidden…the hurts that I do my best not to revisit. The empty I have tried to fill with the wrong things. First, let me just say: Jesus is enough to fill those empty places. I know and believe that. And, I am His. But, somewhere else where those hurts are raw and unhealed, because I have kept them hidden instead of offering them up to the One who can make it right in my heart even if it’s never right in this world….in that place there is work to be done. And, He is working. He is relentlessly pursuing me on this very subject. For the very hurts that Lysa mentioned are the beginning of my own journey…my own battle. Please pray for me as He works, and I feel the hidden hurts. I would love to pray for you as well. I’m sure we all have hurts that are part of why we struggle with this issue.

Oh, my. I’ll be honest…I’m just reading this week’s chapters as I’m writing. And, Chapter 15 is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been struggling a bit with the strict adherence to the eating plan. Feeling guilty for taking even a bite of an unnecessary food. But, this chapter explains it. I don’t have to be this strict forever, but I do for a season. Because, God wants me free…and I’m not strong enough yet, to indulge. Not yet.

As Lysa says on page 149, “And the power was to acknowledge that I’m not yet at a place where I can handle a few chips. My brokenness cannot support that kind of freedom.”

Love this strategy on pg. 150: “I had to stop thinking about what I shouldn’t have and park my mind on thoughts of being thankful for what I could have.” Ladies…that’s not just true for food…but everything in life!

Boundaries are our friend!

Sisters…we were made for more! Let’s live like it. Praying for each of you this week and hoping to hear how you’re doing on this journey. Please encourage one another in the comments, and forgive my lateness. And…don’t forget to hop over and show some love to our friend Kate and congratulate her on her weight loss! Yay, Kate!

Next week, we will wrap up this study, but if you are just getting started, you can revisit the Made to Crave posts at your convenience. We hope to encourage one another. The book may be almost finished, but the journey has just begun.

What to Do When we Fall on our Face (Made to Crave) and Some Easter Pics

I’ll be honest. I don’t feel qualified to write this week’s post.

I picked up my Made to Crave book this weekend hoping that Lysa would have some words of encouragement…some inspiring wisdom…for when we don’t resist temptation. When we eat the Easter cookie (or three), relish the cheesy potatoes and ham, indulge in a second breadstick. Not that I’ve done any of that or anything. I would never. I am always walking in victory, a solid, unbreakable rock. Nothing can penetrate my resolve.

Who am I kidding? I ate all of the above and then some this week. Truthfully, I’m not even sure what happened. I lost two pounds the first half of the week, felt free, had some lovely devotions. And, then…I ate a second breadstick, and some trail mix, and a couple chips. Like an alcoholic falling off the wagon, I tumbled into a frenzy of eating what I wanted.

And, here’s the trouble. The guilt is so extreme now that we are looking at our cravings in a spiritual light. I feel like I’ve done more than just cheat myself on this diet…I feel as if I’m not relying on God…and almost turning from Him and toward something else. In some ways, that’s true…like when I reach for the chips in the midst of a heated debate with my teenage son or when I take another pile of bills out of the mailbox at the end of a long day. But, what about enjoying an Easter dinner with my family? Should I always feel guilt, every time I indulge? Should there be a balance? Where’s the grace?

I’ve read Lysa’s words about denying ourselves and having victory…that we were made for more than this. But, what about when we fall on our face, when we indulge, fail, crumble under the weight of temptation? And is it always wrong to enjoy some yummy, frivolous food?

The answer, I believe, came partly from this week’s Made to Crave chapters…and partly from the Holy Spirit. (I’m sure He had a hand in all of it!)

Here’s what I’m thinking:
There is still grace. And, the grace when we fall is that we can get back up again. We don’t have to stay in the mud and muck, our faces all covered with cream cheese frosting and Dorito cheese caked on the ends of our fingers. When we’ve tried to do it in our own power, and failed, we can give it over to Him, trusting His grace to be sufficient…His strength to cover our weaknesses.

And…there will be a time when we can enjoy a treat now and again. But, first, there needs to be a season of “getting free”. I have learned from the past few days of indulgence that I’m not completely free from this bondage or strong enough to keep from slipping into my old habits. It’s like going to a bar for someone with a drinking problem, when that person has only been sober for a few weeks. We have to be ready….we have to be free. And, while we’re “getting free” we have to stay away from indulgences…or at least severely limit them.

Now…chapters 10, 11, & 12…

Chapter Ten begins with three words that are not allowed in my house…and words I myself try not to say. (As a matter of fact, my friend Dinah was disgusted by these very words…and she’s probably the reason I’ve never allowed them!)

This Isn’t Fair!

It pained me just to type them! They are such a waste of time…wallowing in what’s fair, complaining about what’s not. Please. Lysa talks about coming to terms with…and even being grateful for the way God made us. He lovingly created each of us, after all. And, that includes the extra tummy I have from carrying five babies…(not the part that came from eating too many Doritos).

A helpful phrase from chapter 10: “This feels good now, but how will I feel about this in the morning?” Chew on that thought…instead of the cookie with the cream cheese frosting. I sure wish I would have taken my own advice today. Sometimes, we don’t have to wait for the morning to feel the guilt settling in. We really are made for more than this….sigh.

Chapter 11 describes me. Food is and has been my numbing drug of choice when life gets tough. I loved the segment from Ruth Graham with this verse and message:

You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north. Deuteronomy 2:3

I could keep circling the mountain with my excuses. I could weep and mourn over my failures…even those as recent as today. Or, I could stop making excuses…give what weighs on my heart to God (again), and go north….eyes toward heaven, heart and mind focused on the Lord, leaning on His strength.

These words resonated with my heart and soul:
“Food gives such an instant rush and tangible good feeling. It’s so much easier to figure out how to get the short-term high of a cookie than it is to get a heart filled up and satisfied with God. I can drive to the store and fill my arms with any kind of cookies I want. But wrapping my arms around getting “filled up” with God during a particularly empty feeling day doesn’t seem as tangible or immediate.”

A friend of mine shared those same thoughts about her indulgence in a whopper this week after a difficult day. And, I’ve lived it a thousand times. All the times when it just hurts so much, and I want immediate comfort. You see, when God fills you up…it is glorious and freeing, empowering, and full of love and grace. But, it takes time. You have to invest the time reading His word, seeking Him, praying. It’s not immediate. But, the immediate stuff we fill ourselves with only feels good for a moment…and then steals our joy, peace, freedom…leaving us feeling more empty and often full of guilt.

Also loved how the Lord whispered this truth to Lysa’s heart:
Even the perfect circumstances won’t satisfy you like letting Me change the way you think.

He’s whispering that same truth to you and me.

In Chapter 12, Lysa talks about one of my favorite subjects:
Remaining.
Dinah and I used to talk about remaining or abiding often…not being moved by our circumstances, but remaining in God’s love and in His truth. Steadfastly abiding. Finding our happy in Him…not in being thin or achieving the next goal for our lives…but in Him. Choosing His ways, His thoughts, His plans. Because when we tie our happy to anything else, it can be stolen quickly when the hard stuff comes swooping in…as it always does.

Please pray for me this week, as I seek to get back on track with eating healthy and “remain” in Him. And, I’ll be praying for you, too. And, please remember to encourage one another. Send our friend Kate some love as well.

I leave you with this verse that sums it up…and some Easter pics from this beautiful Resurrection Day:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.  Ephesians 3:17-19

That’s the kind of full I want….”Lord help me remember that the next time I try to get full some other way. Remind me that I was made for more, and fill me with the fullness of You.”

And, now some random Easter pics…

Had a wonderful time with James telling the Easter story with Resurrection Eggs. One of my favorite traditions.
Lovin’ on Max at church…
(By the way…I found the answer to the question, “What’s a girl to do when she doesn’t have any little girls this side of heaven to adorn in Easter bonnets and dresses?” Adorn herself!)
It’s hard to wrangle boys into posing for pictures…well my boys at least! I love this one…love how little brother is looking up to big brother.

I think Dad’s are much better at speaking the language of “boy wrangling”.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter. It was a grand celebration with our church family this morning, and our little family at home in the afternoon. He is risen indeed!

Finding our Beautiful…and Getting our Groove On

Made to Crave Session Four

This week, we are covering chapters seven, eight, and nine in the book, Made to Crave, by Lysa Terkeurst.

I love the title of Chapter 7 – I’m Not Defined by the Numbers

What numbers are we talking about? The numbers on the scale, of course. Other than Lysa humming “I Like Big Butts…”, this statement was my favorite from chapter seven:

I am a Jesus girl who can step on the scale and see the numbers as an indication of how much my body weighs and not as an indication of my worth.

Also love how Lysa talks about “taking every thought captive” and not dwelling on thoughts and statements from others that don’t belong to us. Being free…that’s what it’s all about, and in Jesus we are free indeed.

Perhaps my favorite line of this session and all three chapters comes from Chapter 8, page 81:

Define your week by obedience, not by a number on the scale.

I found this statement of truth particularly helpful this week, since I didn’t lose one pound…even though I ate my tiny low-calorie portions everyday, faithfully, and exercised a few times.  I reminded myself of Lysa’s words when the number on the scale didn’t budge. This number doesn’t define me or my efforts. I was obedient…and therefore victorious. Despite the numbers.

(I also clung to a truth from last week as I walked past an opened bad of Doritos about five times and resisted eating them….”You were made for more than this.” And, each time I prayed instead of shoving a handful of cheesy crunchiness into my mouth.)

Lynnette recently blogged a bit about physical beauty, and some of our struggles. She mentioned the effects of grief on one’s face, and her words resonated with me. When I look in the mirror, I am met with a much different face than the one that stared back at me several years ago. Yes…I’m still “young” to some, but time has begun to have it’s way with me, a wrinkle here, a laugh line there…but more than that the weight of grief, the effects of tear-stained cheeks, eyes that have known great sorrow, the look of one who has lived much life in these thirty-five years.

So, when Lysa says, we need to learn to say:

I’ve found my beautiful. And I like my beautiful.

I get it. There is beauty…even in the lines of grief on my face. Each one tells the story of a life that mattered, precious, dearly loved, and greatly missed. And, the laugh lines…well, they’re my favorite. The more the merrier, I say. They tell the story of the girl who laughs. And, the tear stains…they tell the story of a girl who loved with abandon and has been moved with compassion. And, the stretch marks…tell the story of five babies born of my womb. And, the freckles tell the story of a girl who splashes freely in the sun and on the golf course and on bike rides with her boys. The gray hairs springing up wildly here and there…the bible calls them my “crown of glory”.

And, speaking of finding our beautiful….

Chapter nine is about exercise. Some people are cringing as they read that word. Each year, our work place takes part in Coming Alive, where we have to exercise and record our minutes. My friend Tracy calls it Sudden Death. She hates exercise. But, she loves how it makes her feel. And so do I.

Lysa’s mom says “the best kind of exercise is the kind you’ll do”. I couldn’t agree more. And that is exactly what I want to encourage you to do. I actually don’t mind exercise. But, I do believe the key to exercise is finding something you enjoy doing.

Some of you might wear the gear and run in marathons. Your exercise might look like this:

Others might look like this:

Yep…that’s me dancing to Big Girl You are Beautiful on the Wii Just Dance 2 game. That’s what I do when it’s rainy and cold outside. When it’s nice out, I much prefer to get my exercise in with a walk around the reservoir with James, sometimes a walk on my own and a conversation with the Lord as my feet pound the pavement, a round of golf with the whole family, or a bike ride on my turquoise bike with what I like to call the “mama bottom” seat. (I’ll have to share a pic of my bike soon.) Much more comfortable than those skinny little wedgy-giving seats. In the summer, I swim laps in Grandma’s pool, with my boys. For the most part, I’m not much of  a runner…no one wants to see that. But, there are plenty of ways to get your exercise on. And plenty of ways to “run the race”. The important part is that we get up and move!!

1 Corinthians 9:23-25

 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

For those who would like a bit more interaction, we have started a facebook discussion on the Made to Crave journey. We are hoping others will join in and share their progress, remain accountable to each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other. It will only be a good discussion if  people join in though, so take a minute and pop over. PLEAAAASSSEE! =)

Next week, we will be reading chapters 10, 11, and 12. In the meantime, let’s pray for one another and keep running the race.

Made for More ~ (If you only read one session of Made to Crave, make it this one!)

Ladies, this section takes us to the crux of the matter. If you only read one session of Made to Crave, make it this one. Chapters Five and Six touch on the heart of it all, not just why we eat, but why we fall short in so  many ways. The very thing that holds us back, and the very key to finding freedom and experiencing victory.

One sentence…

You were made for more than this.

If you get nothing else out of this study…get that. Let that truth permeate your being and soak into your pores. You were made for more than….

Stuffing your face with unhealthy food to cover the pain of all your hurts. To fill the emptiness left behind by people who walked away, to comfort the ache of emptiness, the reality that babies die and loved ones suffer with cancer, to hide from all the ugliness and fears, to cover all the inadequacies.

More than running to the TV to escape for awhile.

More than indulging in gossip or joining in with others who tear down a fellow friend or co-worker.

More than whatever tempts you to stray…whatever makes you less than the woman He created you to be.

Whatever holds you back.

You, beautiful woman, created by God, beloved daughter of the King….You were made for more.

We need to realize and live the truth that our identity is not in every failure, every hurt, every sorrow, every sin that touches our lives. We are not defined by our circumstances, our family, our failures, our past. Our identity lies in being a new creation in Christ Jesus.

If you didn’t do this during the study, take a minute and do it now. Put your name in the blank and read these truths from scripture out loud. This is who you are, dear friend:

_______________________, the forgiven child of God. (Romans 3:24)
_______________________, the set free child of God. (Romans 81-2)
_______________________, the accepted child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
_______________________, the holy child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
_______________________, the made-new child of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
_______________________, the loved child of God. (Ephesians 1:4)
_______________________, the close child of God. (Ephesians  2:13)
_______________________, the confident child of God. (Ephesians 3:12)
_______________________, the victorious child of God. (Romans 8:37)

Lysa’s quote: “I was made to be set free, holy, new, loved, and confident. Because of this, I can’t allow myself to partake in anything that negates my true identity. Be it a relationship in which someone makes me feel less than my true identity or a vicious food cycle that leaves me defeated and imprisoned, I must remember I was made for more.”

Knowing who we are is an important key in finding freedom and victory. Next, we look toward our purpose: to know Him better. Another great quote from Lysa on pg. 59: “…growing closer to God has a whole lot less to do with any action we might take and a whole lot more to do with the positioning of our hearts toward Him.”

It’s a heart issue. Just like our hunger is less about meeting our physical needs and more about nourishing ourselves spiritually. We need a power bigger than ourselves to overcome the temptations and weaknesses we struggle with. The good news is that we have that power living in us, with the Holy Spirit.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16 

We know it…now it’s time to live like we know it!!

Please take some time to encourage each other in the comments and visit Kate from Called Out One to read her Made to Crave journey and show her some love. I would love to hear how you’re doing. It’s so important to pray for and encourage one another. Remember last week, we talked about the importance of accountability. An update on my journey: I lost three pounds this week. And, God is working in my heart as I stop filling myself with food and other stuff and reach for Him. So grateful for some victory!

Updated: Oops…I forgot to include that we will be reading Chapter Seven, Eight and Nine, talking about making peace with our bodies and (everyone’s favorite subject) exercise. Good stuff. Tune in next Monday, and share your own getting healthy journey.

SGM Auction and Made to Crave Session 2 (All in…and We Weren’t Meant to Walk Alone)

Reminder: The SGM Auction will be held this week, so make sure you visit and bid on some of the items on the Caring for Carleigh  Facebook Page. You will have to “like” the page in order to be able to leave your bid in the comment section under the picture of the item you wish to bid on. Make sure you keep checking back between April 6-8 in case another person bids on the item you want. Highest bidder wins. Holly’s goal is to earn $1,000 or more for Sufficient Grace. Will you help her meet that goal? Spread the word on your blogs and facebook, and don’t forget to place your bid on some of the over 100 items available, including a Vera Bradley bag, baby items, handmade items, books, jewelry, and much more. Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry that reaches out to encourage women and offer comfort to grieving families.
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Now, on to Made to Crave Session 2.
We are covering chapters 2, 3, and 4 this week.

Before I delve into this session, I wanted to ask that those participating would consider going back to the comment section from Made to Crave Session One and read some of the comments from those participating. I was inspired by your raw honesty and transparency. I think it would be a great encouragement if we could make sure that we re-visit the comments on each Made to Crave post and encourage each other in the comment section. I noticed not many are using the blog frog for discussion, so maybe using the comments to encourage each other is a good idea. Accountability is so important…as well as prayer and encouragement. We are not meant to do this alone. And, please remember to pray for each other (and me, too)!

Several of you shared what you weigh last week, and it inspired me. Part of this journey to freedom means setting aside all that we hide behind, laying down our fleshy vanity, being humble. So…here it is.

I started this journey at:

148 pounds

My current weight as of this morning:

142
(according to my scale minus clothes and shoes…the doctor’s scale said something different this week, with clothes and shoes…but I’m picking my at home, no clothes, first thing in the morning weight!)

One pound up from last week’s weight of 141. There… I’m all in. I’m with you in this. And, I’m ready for freedom.  My goal is to get back to 120 pounds. I was there a few years ago…and I was free. I want to be free again.

I loved Lysa’s description of weighing herself each day without anything on…then removing her pony tail and stepping back on the scale. I wondered if she had been peeking in my windows, watching my own morning routine, listening to the thoughts in my head! I could relate to her discouragement…her self-defeating thoughts….her moments of giving into temptation and then just indulging in food, hoping to start again tomorrow.

Lysa talks about replacing our cravings, and these words really hit home:

I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness, and even in times of happiness. ~ Made to Crave, pg. 29

I love what she did instead, to resist the cravings:

I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my plan I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot.
~ Made to Crave pg. 29-30

Lysa talks about the struggle, even to the point of tears, to resist the food she craved. I have been there. It can be painful to feel all the feelings we have stuffed away in the past, reaching to food to relieve stress, to feel comfort. But, her words are true, that each victory she experienced tasted better than the food she craved.

She waited in expectation for God to hear her prayers and deliver her. And, He was faithful.
(Psalm 5:1-3)
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Chapter 3 is all about making a plan and working at it. She talks about how much effort goes into making a beautiful garden. You have to sacrifice, put forth effort, day after day, seed by seed, determined, investing energy and effort…and planning your efforts in advance.

One of the problems she shared is also the cry of my own heart:
I wanted to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, in the quantities I wanted.

I want, I want, I want….yikes. Can you hear the fleshy desire of those words. Blech.

Another important bit of wisdom on page 39:

Getting a plan is the first crucial step; getting a friend to join you is the next.

The Made to Crave study guide I purchased to go along with the book asks the question, what is your reaction to the words “food plan”? Which movie title would best describe your reaction?

Psycho
Leap of Faith
Mission Impossible
Life is Beautiful
High Noon
Do the Right Thing
Les Miserables
Saving Grace
A Time to Kill
Independence Day

Although there have been times in my life when I would have said Psycho or A Time to Kill (because I’ll admit I can get a little testy when trying to resist cravings for the sweet yumminess of chocolate and the goodness of some hearty breadsticks or Doritos and Pepsi…yes ma’am), right now I will pick Independence Day…because I’m craving freedom. Saving Grace…because His sufficient grace will get me through each moment. And, a Leap of Faith…because I am trusting Him for victory over this struggle. Not that some of the others may not seep in along the way, but I hope to resist those urges, and expect to…with His help!

Since we have the friend part covered with each other…we need a plan. What food/nutrition plan do you use?

The nutrition plan I have found that works is Weight Watchers. Although, I have not enjoyed the new Weight Watchers plan. So, I am using the tools I used several years ago on the “old” Weight Watchers plan. The philosophy is to lower calories, eat fruits and vegetables, foods that are high in fiber and protein and low in fat and calories, and drink plenty of water. It is important to stick closely to the plan you choose, and next to find someone to walk with you on the journey.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3 NLT

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Which brings us to Chapter 4 and the subject of accountability.

We need each other, and we were not meant to walk through this life alone. In fact, we were created to need the Lord…and one another. It’s one of the beautiful ways He works!

Two are better off than one, for they can help each  other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT

We need a friend…and not just any friend. As Lysa writes, “A friend who will hold you accountable, speak the truth in love, and pray for you.”

In her study guide, Lysa shares some powerful statistics on accountability:

The probability of achieving a goal is…
10 percent when you hear an idea
40 percent when you decide you will do it
50 percent when you plan how you will do it
65 percent when you commit to someone else you will do it
95 percent when you have an accountability appointment with the person you’ve committed to

So…will you be that friend? Will you stand with me…with each other so that we can pray for one another and not be defeated?

I hope so. Together is way better than alone.
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Don’t forget to encourage one another in last week’s comments if you have time, and share your heart in this week’s as well. I will be praying for each of you this week, as we find a plan and stick with it…and I would appreciate your prayers for me, as well. Also, I’m not going to include a Linky yet, unless others are interested in linking up, but Kate from Called Out One is blogging and reading along with us on Mondays, and her posts always bless me. Stop over and read her thoughts and leave her some love in the comments this week, too. If you blog about your Made to Crave journey, please leave a link to your post in the comments…and if you’re reading, please visit those posts and leave some words of encouragement.

Next Monday for Session 3, we will be covering Chapters 5 and 6.

The Truth Will Set You Free…

This is the last installment of the Lies Women Believe Study. There was a plethora of truth spoken by Nancy in these last two chapters, and throughout this book. I’m so grateful for this time to remind ourselves of the truth in God’s word. I feel like we have armed ourselves for battle….the spiritual battles we face as women. We are armed with the most powerful of weapons – The Truth!

If you hold to My teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-32, 36)

Nancy shared some great ideas for resisting the lies that often permeate our thoughts. She shared that she will often speak the truth out loud and over and over again. I am one who works through things by talking about them, and I find this to be true even in spiritual matters. While we do not always need to rely on others, there are times when I have called and prayerfully shared my thoughts with a trusted Christian friend, and in the process God has spoken truth to my heart and worked out the concerns. Sometimes saying it out loud helps! I also was encouraged by the fact that we may not always feel like obeying or forgiving…doing the hard part of walking in truth. Sometimes we have to go through the motions of doing the right thing, until all of our feelings catch up! (And the catching up can take some time. It’s not immediate!)

There truly is such great freedom in walking in truth. Freedom from bondage, from sin, from so many lies that keep us from being the people we were created to be. Nancy listed several truths in the last chapter. Here are just a few that jumped out to me.

God is good…no matter what the circumstances. He is always, always good.
We are complete in Him…a new creation.
God is enough.
God’s grace is sufficient for me…in all things.
My past does not have to plague me.
God’s Word is sufficient to teach me, lead me, heal me.
His Holy Spirit will enable us to do what He commands.

There are no “I can’ts” or “This is just too much!” He is faithful to equip us, and we have a choice to obey or not…to cling to Him for strength or struggle to do it on our own. We CAN do all things through Jesus Christ who gives us strength!

I have thoroughly enjoyed this study. Thanks so much for joining in with us. I hope some of you will join with us for our next study: Made to Crave, beginning next Monday, March 28, 2011.

Have a blessed week! Keep clinging to Him and walking in the truth!

Lies Women Believe about Circumstances

This week on the Lies Women Believe (Nancy Leigh DeMoss), we will be covering Chapter 9, Lies Women Believe about Circumstances. I love the truths we are going to talk about this week. The basis for true joy lies not in our circumstances, but in keeping our eyes fixed on our unchanging, steadfast Savior. It is a great follow-up for last week’s study on emotions. Next week, we are going to finish up this study and announce the next book we will be covering.

Lie 36: If my circumstances were different, I would be different.

How many times have we found ourselves saying…If only things were different, I wouldn’t feel this way? If only….I would be happy, content, satisfied, full of joy, more patient, more loving, etc. The truth is that there is joy for us, right now in this moment. There is a way to be content and grateful for what God has given us right now. It’s time to let go of the what-ifs and if-onlys and focus on the blessings before us.

The Truth:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ~ Philippians 4:11-12

Lie 37: I shouldn’t have to suffer.

Who do we think we are, anyway? Why should we be any more exempt from suffering than anyone else? Don’t get me wrong…I’m not a fan of suffering, and I don’t know anyone who would ask for it. It’s natural to have questions during suffering, but we must come to the point where we realize, as Job did that we were not there when God created the earth.We are not God. We do not know His ways….but we know He is good, and worthy of our praise…both in the giving and in the taking away.  God never promised this life to be easy. In fact, quite the opposite. He tells us not to be surprised by the fiery trials. I’m not saying God sends trouble upon us, but trouble exists as a result of our fallen world. And, He allows and uses those trials and suffering to perfect, strengthen, and establish us. We serve Jesus…we choose to follow Him. In doing so, we choose to die to ourselves, to take up our cross, to partake of His suffering. Scripture tells us to “count the cost”….to know what we are getting into before making this choice. He doesn’t promise easy…but He does promise to carry us, to meet us and equip us, to cover us, to grow us, and to prepare a place for us in Heaven’s glory at the end of this journey. The truth is…there will be trouble in this life. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust”. None are exempt from it. But, I would rather walk through it all with Him than without Him, wouldn’t you?

I bought this wall-hanging last week at one of my new favorite stores, Kirklands. It sort of sums it up:

  The Truth:
The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. ~ Peter 5:10
                                                                                                                                                                Lie 38: My circumstances will never change. This will go on forever.
Dinah and my mother both used to always say, “This didn’t come to stay. It came to pass.” I like that. One thing that many bereaved moms want to know at some point in their grieving is, “Will I always feel this way? Will I laugh again, feel joy, feel normal?” It can be some comfort, especially during tough times, to know that this season we are in will not last forever. The seasons of our life are constantly changing. Just as Ecclesiastes tells us, “there is a time to mourn…and a time to dance. To everything, there is a season.”
It’s also important to remember, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be, this life is a blip in the grand scheme of eternity. That is not always an easy truth…and in the midst of the suffering, it feels long and unbearable. But, eternity will come, and all of the promises that go with it. One day, this life and all it’s struggles will seem so short…just a distant memory.
The Truth:
Therefore we do not lost heart, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Lie 39: I can’t take it anymore.
Ugg…I’m putting this under the category of “I don’t wanna”. And, you know the answer to that, as Dinah would say: ”Cowboy up, Chicken Little…and just do the next thing.” (I also enjoy a little “man up” as stated in this week’s message by our beloved Pastor James. And another good one…”put your big girl pants on”…another saying shared in a conversation with a friend this week.) Another thing I have to say…to myself especially when I feel an “I can’t” coming on…what’s the alternative? This is your life. These are your circumstances. ”I can’t” isn’t an option.
The Truth:
His grace is sufficient for me. (2 Corinth. 12:9) As Nancy wrote, “His divine resources are available to meet your need – no matter how great. That’s the Truth. And the Truth will set you free.
Lie 40: It’s all about me.
Blech. Our culture is so “me centered”…putting so much emphasis on our own comfort, happiness, satisfaction, etc. Do you know something? I think this is one of Satan’s great joy stealers. The more effort we put toward satisfying ourselves, the less happy and fulfilled we are. Isn’t that interesting? In fact, the more we give, serve, and look beyond ourselves to others, the more freedom and joy we experience. My friend Betsy likes to say, “Me time is overrated.” I’ve always loved that.
Love Nancy’s words here about the Truth:
“The Truth is, it’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s all about Him. The Truth may not change your circumstances – at least not here and now – but it will change you. Truth will set you free.”
*Next week will be the final installment of the Lies Women Believe study. Please stay tuned as we announce the next book we will be covering. I hope this has been an encouragement to you, and maybe some of you will join in with us for the next study…to be announced soon, along with a giveaway. =)

Lies Women Believe About Emotions…

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we postponed last week’s Lies Women Believe Study to focus on the passing and remembering of my friend Dinah. Hopefully taking the week off gave some of you a chance to catch up! ;) This week, we are talking about Lies Women Believe About Emotions. Da, da, da, daaaaaa.

This is a big one for me. In fact, I have felt such conviction reading this chapter. I am guilty of allowing almost every one of these lies to dictate my behavior at one time or another. While it is true that we cannot help how we may feel, we can control how we react to those feelings…and what we allow our minds to dwell on.

Those words are easier said than done…when emotions roar, telling us our feelings are true and valid and require action. Action and words…lots of words. Spewed with raised voice. Irrational tears. Anxious dwelling thoughts. Oh…the enemy has done quite a work with the lie of emotions. What God meant to be a beautiful gift to women…a gift that blesses those they love, a gift meant to nurture and love with passion and compassion. Satan has twisted this beautiful gift into something…hideous and broken…at least that’s what he means to do.

Which leads us to…

Lie Number 32 – If I feel something, it must be true.

I love how Nancy combats these lies with the truth that God is good, whether we feel it or not. He loves us, regardless of whether we feel unloved. He will never leave us, even if we feel forsaken. He forgives us when we feel unforgiven and drowning in guilt. He is faithful when we are not. He is steadfastly, always who He says He is…despite the raging storm of our changing emotions…emotions based on circumstances instead of our steadfast, immovable God.

Nancy sites scripture from Philippians…wise words from Paul…
Rejoice in the Lord always…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God…Whatever is true…think about such things.

And the result: The peace of God…

Lie Number 33 – I can’t control my emotions.

Truth: We take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinth. 10:5

We can fix our minds on Him, resist fear, trust Him…Do we trust Him rather than reacting to what we feel?

This is tough sometimes…

Which leads to a big one…

Lie 34 – I can’t help how I respond when my hormones are out of whack…

Hormones are strong stuff. And, they are hard to control. I can say with my mouth and write these words…but when the firestorm of emotions spews forth from me, capturing me and taking me unaware and ill-prepared, it feels almost impossible to keep from reacting…from being swept in. Still…it should not be an excuse for lashing out at my family and friends…for giving in to the fury, claiming it as truth. It seems to help to remember it’s coming and prepare…instead of using it as an excuse. It helps me to know…”This is a hormonal reaction. These strong feelings and overwhelming thoughts are not the truth.” Once I realize that’s what is happening, I calm down and refocus. We can pray for strength to overcome those moments. And, He will give us the grace to do so. It takes some effort and resisting what we feel, clinging instead to what we know to be true.

I love Psalm 139….God knows us. He created us…and He is not surprised by any part of us…not even our crazy hormones.

Lie 35- The answer to depression must first be sought in medication and/or phsychotherapy.

Depression is prevalent among women, and more so in recent years. My mother battled depression much of her life. I remember as a young girl, praying that I would never struggle with those emotions. In recent years, as some of those pressing weights have laid on my shoulders…her passing, which seems to have passed on that struggle to me…I have wrestled.

Wrestled as a Christian woman…we should have joy. Am I failing to trust him, because I feel so heavy? Am I giving in to fear when I curl up into my shell, run to things other than Him, don’t want to leave my room and face life? Why? Why do I feel this way? Am I not believing Him enough? Am I a hypocrite to feel these feelings while I preach the hope in the living God?

Sometimes…it is because I cling to other things for comfort…things that will not truly bring joy…things that cause a brief escape…a false comfort. Food, a mindless TV show, a conversation with a friend…basically everything Nancy mentioned…I have run to. This section was the most convicting. I have fallen for every excuse. I am weak in every area mentioned under lie number 34.

Many women in my life take medication for depression. So widespread is this issue, it is a common thing. I have resisted, so far. Not because I don’t think there is a time for medicine. I do believe that is one way God helps us, when needed, due to a chemical or physical cause of depression that cannot be helped another way. Yet…I do wonder at times. It seems like in some cases, medicine has become just another easy answer…not all cases…but some. For many it is necessary…and that is a different matter.

We have not been created to live the way we are living. We were not made for the pace of our world…of our lives. Yet…this is where we are…living in this time…in this place. I wonder how much our battle with bouts of depression has to do with living a life we weren’t created for…an environment that doesn’t nourish and sustain..that rushes us on to the next thing. Then I read in scripture that depression is certainly nothing new. David battled, Jonah, Elijah, Hannah…on and on.

In all of it, the answer isn’t for me to give in to the excuses…feeding my family pizza delivery again, remaining overwhelmed by my disorganized mess, eating the Doritos because they make me feel better. Those band aids mentioned in this chapter…every one of them….I am guilty of all. But, I don’t have to stay there. And, slowly, He is pulling me out…whispering to me to cling to Him, instead of the layers I’ve built.

One more thing I want to share… It is quite simple sounding, but a powerful truth. Gratefulness is a great way to change our outlook when we have sunk to the pit of despair. Giving thanks…finding something, anything to give thanks for…praising God for who He is…these things change our perspective from focusing on our feelings and circumstances. Gratefulness renews hope.

Psalm 42:5-6;8
Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

8 By day the LORD directs his love,

at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

*Next week’s chapter, Lies Women Believe About Circumstances, will be posted Monday, March 14th.

Chapter 7: Lies Women Believe About Children

Each Monday, we are covering a chapter from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free. I’m going to be honest with you. I struggled with some of the thoughts in this chapter about our children. While everything Nancy said is true, I feel I need to place a guard up against reading a different meaning into some of what was shared in this chapter.

I believe that everything we do needs to be bathed in grace. Perhaps it’s because I’m such a mess and I know my desperate need. Perhaps it’s because I have battled the deception of performance so much in my own life…feeling defined by my failures, measured by my limitations, locked in the bondage of all the ways I fall short instead of freed by the gift grace being offered by our Savior.

The biggest lie I struggle with as a mother is the one that says we are 100 percent responsible for the behavior of our children. Whenever I focus on my performance as a parent, I am at my worst. That thinking results in feelings of hopeless defeat. My eyes are not even focused on what’s best for my kids, but on the picture we are presenting to others. When that happens, nothing good comes from it. I fail…they rebel. So, I try to purpose in my heart to stay away from that line of thinking…to resist focusing on my performance or theirs at all costs.

I have learned the gift of grace-based parenting over the years. Teenagers are good teachers of the concept. I find myself rebelling against my own hypocrisy and legalism, seeing the reflection in their eyes. While I don’t always practice grace as I should, it is a freeing gift each time I do.

Another thing that being a mom for seventeen years has taught me is that most battles are best fought on my knees in prayer. God does not give us a spirit of fear. He longs for us to pour out all of our anxious thoughts and concerns at His waiting feet. He is able when I fall short. He can protect my son when he drives away in the car. He can give wisdom for the weighty matters of life. He can soften a hardened heart, shape a rebellious spirit, comfort an anxious mind, heal a wheezing cough. He can go where I cannot. He can see the motives of their hearts. He alone. And, He hears every prayer this mama-heart sets before His throne on behalf of the children that He has good plans for…the children that He loves even more dearly and perfectly than this mother.

That is the hope we rest in. Please don’t read this chapter and allow fear to enter your heart. Fear about your children’s salvation. Fear about the harmful influences of the world. Fear about your own performance. We are covered in grace…every step of the way.
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Lie 27. It’s up to us to determine the size of our family.

Truth: God is the Creator and Giver of life. (Genesis 1)

I will not place judgment on those who seek the Lord’s guidance in planning their families. Over the years, I have wondered about some of my own choices in that area. But, I believe it is between the Lord and each married couple to determine what is best for their family. We have five children, and in the having of our children, there was much difficulty. Three of them are in heaven and my body has forever been changed. I’m not talking about stretch marks…I mean internally. Pregnancy has proven to be quite toxic to me.We would have loved more children and sometimes I wonder about our decision to not have anymore. God knows our hearts and I trust His grace is poured over us, even in this. There is a way of thinking in today’s society that almost lends to the idea that children are an inconvenience. It is born of selfishness. I believe Nancy’s thoughts are to combat the way of thinking that having children should be based on the selfish idea of convenience. My dear bloggy friend, Mary, shares some excellent thoughts on this idea on her blog.

Lie 28. Children need to get exposed to the “real world” so that they can learn to function in it.

Truth: Our goal is not for our children to fit into the world, but to be used by God to change it. Children need to be protected from worldly influences until they are spiritually mature enough to withstand them. (Romans 12:2, Psalm 101)

This is the lie that I have heard over and over again in opposition to our choices as Christian parents to shield our children from worldly influences…from family and friends alike over the years. There is a definite deception among some who think that children should be freely exposed to everything. They need to be sheltered. Nancy talks about exposing a plant to the harsh conditions of winter. We wouldn’t do that…knowing that the plant cannot withstand such harsh conditions for it would surely wither and die. The same is true for our kids. They need to be protected from some things. We need to guard what their young minds are exposed to through the media and other forums. One of my favorite verses for my kids when asked why they can’t watch something or listen to that music says we should be “wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil” (Romans 16:19) It’s true for them and it’s true for me. We must guard what our eyes see and what enters our minds.

That being said, I do think that we should not live in fear of worldly influences, either…knowing that we cannot live in a total protective bubble. There will be worldly ideas that weasel their way into our lives and the lives of our children. We do need to use those times as teachable moments…and we need to pray that our children will be equipped to resist those influences. They need to learn to choose light when darkness and light lies before them…in time as they grow. They are stronger when they’ve been given a solid foundation.

Lie 29. All children will go through a rebellious stage.

Truth: Expecting our children to rebel makes it more likely that they will do so.

I believe this to be true, but I also believe that scripture shows we all have rebellion in our hearts. We all sin. We all fall short. From time to time, my kids have displayed defiance. And, I have offered discipline when needed. And, grace when needed. While we shouldn’t expect rebellion from our kids, and we can maintain a loving relationship through their teenage years, we should not feel completely responsible or defeated should we be met with some rebellion from our kids. After all, God was the perfect parent and His children rebelled against Him. It is part of our nature…not that we shouldn’t strive against it, nor should we expect it…but we should not feel defeated when we see rebellion rear it’s head.

I believe I covered the last two lies (number 30 regarding our children’s salvation and number 31 regarding our performance as parents) at the beginning of this post. We should not live in fear of whether or not our children will come to know Christ. Instead, we should teach them the Word, live as godly examples, show love, and pray, pray, pray! Let God do the rest!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the lies and truth about mothering.

Praying for each of us as we navigate our way through this study…