Tag Archives: spiritual connection

Spirit-Seeker Sunday ~ Daunting?

Spirit 17 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

“Victory is when we pick something healthy over something not beneficial for us–again and again.” (Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional)

I love this reminder that my journey to health and weight loss needs to be a forever life change. A daily decision for health.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy.

I’m reminded of an incident last spring when I was not far from my weight loss goals. I broke my own rule to not eat after seven. In fairness to myself, I’d had a protein bar and some almonds at the baseball game about 6, but no real supper, and I was genuinely hungry. I did pretty well–a little chicken and watermelon.

Then the boys pulled out the cookie dough and said I couldn’t have any since I was on a diet. I showed them! (Okay. It was really good. Not a great choice, but at least I didn’t take the entire container from them. And I must not have eaten too much ’cause I was still a little hungry.)

You know the whole long-term focus is daunting.

As we walk through holiday temptations, thinking about balance helps me. In the Made to Crave Devotional  Lysa said there is a time to feast, a time to fast, and a time for simple daily nourishment. We eat to live; we don’t live to eat. I like that.

When we were getting ready for the wedding last spring, Sarah (my daughter, the bride-to-be at that point) and I spent a whole day working on wedding stuff. We spent a lot of time at Hobby Lobby trying to find inexpensive but beautiful solutions to items we couldn’t afford at the wedding rental shop. It was a precious day. So much of the wedding work she did herself, and with her no longer living at home, I missed time with her!

As we left the store she grinned the size of Texas and held up two Cherry Mash. When I was a child I loved Cherry Mash candy, but they didn’t have it in Colorado when I moved out here as an adult. When Sarah was little we found the candy at Hobby Lobby, and she loved it. Then they didn’t carry them for some time. But they did that day. She bought two.

I admit it, I turned it over and noticed the insane amount of calories and had second thoughts, but hey–sometimes life is about the moment, and the joy in memories and relationship outweighed the fact that I was making a high calorie, unhealthy choice. The Cherry Mash that day was about being mom and daughter again for a fleeting moment as we transition into peers with my little girl being a married woman.

Of course later I was back to huge salads, small portions, my Body Balance and BeNew nutrition.

To me, that’s balance. The cherry mash was a time to feast. I just don’t need one every day, or even every month. My daily nourishment needs to be more simple, more healthy, more life-giving. It’s not the occasional choices that define us; it’s what we do 95% of the time that dictates our health and weight.

I think that Cherry Mash choice was right because instead of eating to fill an emotional craving with something other than the Lord, I could almost feel Him grinning at the love Sarah and I shared, at the way that little moment reminded me that she remembered what it was like to be a little girl and share a treat withwedding, Darlene's disk (160) mom. And she returned the moment to me.

I think the Lord was pleased, joyful, even. Because the relationship He gave us is a treasure, and in our own way we celebrated it. Our hearts weren’t pulled away from Him by the choice, our hearts were one with His. Celebrating love.

That story is sweet, but the truth is I don’t always have good choices or good balance. While I seek to have the “sustained discipline” Lysa writes about, I don’t always turn from the temptation. The quest is not perfection, it is long-term change.

Father,
I do want to have a strong healthy body set apart for your service. I want to live in sustained discipline which looks to you for the strength to say no to unhealthy, emotional eating. I want a healthy glow on the outside to reflect the healthy glow You’re placing on the inside through the work of the cross and the Holy Spirit.

Help me to pay attention when something pulls my heart from you and to choose to seek Your presence instead. Thank you for balance–for moments of celebration and daily, long-term nourishment that is wiser, healthier, and lower in calories. Help me not to be angry about this being a long-term life-change. Help me instead to celebrate one good choice after the next, the joy of incremental victory and sustained victory, and even more wonderful, the joy of being in relationship with You.

Spirit-Seeker Sunday ~ Reflections

reflection upside down

Love the Reflection in this picture by Stephen Moldenhauer

When I first started losing weight I was really convicting by something my daughter said. She said for 21 years she’d watched me take care of my heart and spirit, but never my body.

In my life there was a “do not touch” sign on anything to do with healthy choices. I simply didn’t see that as important. What was important was on the inside where God and I processed together.

Only I missed the fact that there was a connection with God in my body, too.

Part of my weight loss journey has been to process the connection of body and spirit.  One of the places this is obvious is in the area of joy. I’ve prayed for a long time for joy. I’ve pondered Scriptures like, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I began losing weight, eating healthier, and walking, I didn’t expect increased joy as a result. But there is joy in worship, and when I walk worship comes more easily. When I am mindful of my healthier eating choices, I connect with Him. There is a simple joy that comes from ease of movement.

Longing is also a connection between God and my body. Lysa TerKeurst says, “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. Satan wants to keep us distracted by chasing one temporary filling after another.” (Made to Crave Devotional)

I want to be filled with Him. I don’t want the temporary pleasures of food or anything else to be what feeds me. I want to enjoy His blessings, but to see them simply as gifts, not as the point.

A harder concept for me is the idea of holiness being connected to the sacrifices offered up during weight loss. I’m not sure I get it, but here’s my thought: By choosing to focus on God, not food, for the long-term, those little sacrifices for a healthier body can be a part of a holy walk. HE is the supreme importance of our lives, not anything else, not other people, money, or even the very food that keeps us alive. We sacrifice desire for the greater path of obedience to His call to health.

I want to mature as a Christ-follower. Sacrifice and learning to look to God’s strength and not my own can help me grow in maturity. Letting go of addictions to food and turning from cravings for food to meet my cravings in God instead certainly deepens my relationship with Him. And looking at food in the light of caring for a body dedicated to God’s service can help me make this a sustainable journey, not a one time experience.

With that in mind, “. . . let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.” (The Message)

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Balance and Transformation

san diego 6How are the social situations going for you? Do you struggle even more to maintain your eating goals with all the parties and special events?

It’s super hard to resist the goodies as gatherings with friends, and I grew up in a culture where lots of yummy food equated love. I’m afraid I’ve passed that onto my family, especially our boys. Mom cooking sure seems like love to them.

This is an area where I’m trying to find balance. I want to still bake my mother-in-law’s famous chocolate cake for special occasions, treat the family to homemade pizza or challah bread, or surprise them with homemade cinnamon rolls. In my quest to be healthier and thinner, I’m not willing to give up my love of baking or the joy the family receives from such treats.

But this BeNew journey is about being transformed. Real, lasting change. Lysa TerKeurst of the Made to Crave Devotional said, “short-term sacrifices will lead to short-term results.”

While I’m not willing to forever avoid making my mom’s oh-so-good banana cake or my grandma’s apple pie, I am also learning that there has to be a life-style change if I’m going to be healthy. I don’t make treats as often, and when I do make them I practice moderation in enjoying them. Every day I seek to add in lots of healthy stuff, like spinach and nuts, cut back on pastas, bread, and sugars, and enjoy the goodness of fresh and frozen fruits.

But all of this pondering eating habits doesn’t really get to the heart of the struggle, does it? Lysa encourages, “Every time I make a choice I have to ask myself, ‘Am I being conformed, looking a lot like the crowd and staying stuck in defeat? Or, am I transformed, breaking away from the vicious cycle of defeat by courageously saying no? No more. No thank you’.”

I especially love the phrase, “every time I make a choice.” This journey is on-going. Every single day we make multiple choices, choices that either conform to social pressure to eat (or our own need to fill a void with food) or lead to transformation of our lifestyle and body. For me, this is also a spiritual journey as I draw near to God, inviting Him into my choices, my thoughts about food, my struggles and my successes.

Lord,
Please help us to trample the old ways for good. We don’t want short-term solutions, but transformation life change. Give us the wisdom as we navigate treats and holiday celebrations, showing us the balance of enjoying good things without sabotaging our health. Please pour out your strength and your guidance. Give us new desires for healthy living. We don’t want to make our bodies off limits any more. We give You permission to ALL of who we are. Inside, outside, body, spirit, mind, will, and emotions.

DTC Press-Release on Yahoo!

san diego 64Just as I sat at my computer wondering what to share on A BeNew Journey today, I found an article on Yahoo Finance about the new company Jerry and I joined, DTC. The article calls our company (the one I wrote about in my last post) an “industry changing concept!”

Had to share it with you!

We’re very excited to be on this new business journey–and a bit breathless as we watch how God is shaping unexpected opportunities for us.

Last summer Jerry spent some time processing life with a spiritual/business mentor. They prayed about Jerry’s future as a businessman.

The next morning Jerry “happened” to read this in the Bible: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.” (Duet. 8:17-19 NIV)

We’re looking to the One who teaches us how to be business leaders.

If you think this company is a fit for you, we’d love to grow together with our friends. Check out our new website, watch the videos. There’s a place where you can ask for more information.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~

reflection 3

Photo taken in the Rocky Mountains by Stephen Moldenhauer

Funny how something that sounds so simple can be such a profound journey. The first snippet of Scripture I learned as a child was probably, “God is love.” Yet my life journey is somehow about discovering that love, believing in that love, receiving that love, living from that love.

Sometimes I get it. Several years ago I was thinking through all kinds of worries, stresses, and questions. Then suddenly they all just vanished. I thought, “None of it really matters. All that really matters is God loves me. He LOVES me. I AM LOVED.”

The years since have included a lot of testing of that ideal. It’s too easy to get into the mindset Lysa TerKeurst pointed out in her book, the Made to Crave Devotional, “When I’m trying to be loved, I wonder why God would allow trials.”

Or what about this one: “When I am loved, I can cast all my anxiety on Him. When I’m trying to be loved, I cast all my anxiety on my performance.”

Living from a place of knowing, deep down, that I am loved changes my whole perspective on life. It builds my ability to trust God. It gives me hope in trials. It makes me stronger when I am tempted. It takes the churning of life and changes it to peace.

Let’s focus these thoughts on weight loss: When I’m trying to be loved I look to the scale or others for validation. When I’m trying to be loved I am hard on myself, angry with every step backwards. When I’m trying to be loved I am angry and fighting the food cravings, trying to fill a void. When I’m trying to be loved the weight loss journey is about my performance. I seek to prove myself to God, to others, to myself.

But when I’m loved I rest in love. The scale and other’s opinions can bring joy or frustration, but they don’t validate or invalidate me. I am already validated by HIS love. When I am loved I can forgive myself when I am not perfect and draw on love to do better next time. When I am loved I can eat for sustenance, not to fill an empty emotion. When I am loved I can lose weight to embrace God’s gifts, seeking to be all He created me to be. My sacrifices of calories or sugar or fatty foods can be offered in praise and done to honor Him, taking care of my body because it is loved and because it pleases Him when I value the body He gave me.

How About You? Can you think through one or two phrases that contrast When you’re trying to be loved with when you ARE loved?

When I live in Love I eat for sustenance, not to fill empty emotion

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Victorious Small Successes

IMAG2685“Self-control starts by making one good choice.” Lysa TerKeurest

Don’t you love the idea of victorious small successes?

That means we can feel successful several times a day! We can celebrate each tiny step forward. When we fall down it doesn’t have to sabotage us, we can just make a good choice the next time and celebrate victory again!

In her Made to Crave Devotional, Lysa TerKeurest said, “Sometimes victory seems so far away because we measure it only by the end goal. And end goals can seem overwhelmingly huge, daunting, and just plain hard to reach. But if we start measuring our victories by the smaller choices we make each day, victory won’t seem so impossible.”

I appreciated the Scripture Lysa chose, too. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance;”

It’s similar to a verse that deeply impacted me in college, found in Romans 5:3-4: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

In both of these Scriptures perseverance played an important role. Today I’m applying Lysa’s verse to weight loss. In college I studied this verse during a time of great despair. I remember life being so hard that I saw it in black and white. It was like all the color drained out. I even contemplated suicide. I have several memories of God’s intervention in that time, but two stick out. The first is that I walked to class and felt led to take an unusual route. I passed an amazing flower that was exactly my favorite color. I KNEW He was showing it to me, and the bright happy pink burst upon my black and white world.

The second was the study of that Scripture. The commentary I read talked about how hope is the mark of Christian maturity, how if we allow God to produce perseverance in our suffering, our character will deepen, and eventually we will discover hope. (And hope does not disappoint.)

Hang with me; this is all coming together in my mind. Putting these two concepts together is important, I think, for the weight loss journey.

Lysa says, “Self-control starts by making one good choice.” Her Scripture said that self-control produces perseverance, and my Scripture said that perseverance produces hope.

If we make that one good choice–whether it be in weight loss or in life–we can celebrate that small success. As we persevere, one good choice after another, celebrating each one, hope grows! We can truly begin to believe in change, that life can be different. That we can overcome our struggle, whether it be with our weight or some other life issue.

As Lysa said, “Big things are built one brick at a time. Victories are achieved one choice at a time. A life well lived is chosen one day at a time.”

Yes, Lord, help us all build a path to victory one choice at a time!

How about you? Let’s celebrate a victorious choice!

Celebrate victory one good choice at a time.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Hope

resevoir“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

This hits me between the eyes: “Jesus is saying, ‘If you come to me, I will take your exhaustion in this area and turn it into expectation. In this place of hopelessness, I can make you feel hopeful.'” (Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional)

Okay. I’ve read this devotional before. But as I read again I stop and question. Really? That sounds too good to be true.

Honestly, I can receive it for my weight loss journey because–well, I’m having CHANGE and success, and what seemed hopeless a year ago is hopeful now because I have FORWARD progress.

But there are other places in my life that I don’t see much forward movement, and that’s what I think of when I read these words. Those struggles that are the same for too many days in a row, too many months, too many years. Those places where disappointment has dug a soul exhaustion.

When I go through a tough spot my friend Kordee often tells me, I have the questions, I don’t have the answers. It’s comforting because she’s saying, “you know what? I know how you feel. I’m not going to give you pat answers. We’re in this together.”

Then Kordee and I work through our crap, accept our lack of answers, and say things like, “But I choose God. There is no other answer. I don’t like this, but I will trust Him.”

Sometimes we find some hope for the situation; sometimes we don’t. But I guess even when it’s hard to believe there can be change, there is something inside of us that is banking our hope on God. On the promises that He leads on the best pathway for our life, that He guides us and watches over us. On the promise that says He will finish the work He started in us, and will never leave or forsake us.

My strength often feels more like exhaustion, even anger. Sometimes I can’t pray for a while because I know if I do I have to get real. And I’m just not ready to cry, to admit how deeply I hurt. Those are the days of my SOS prayers, that quick, “Help!” that’s whispered almost subconsciously.

But Lysa says, “”Jesus is saying, ‘If you come to me, I will take your exhaustion in this area and turn it into expectation. In this place of hopelessness, I can make you feel hopeful.'” and later she adds, “God knows where you strength ends and that is the exact point where His strength begins.”

Talk about meat to chew on!

I know it’s true, this hope thing. Scripture says that when I persevere in hard trials, I learn hope, and that hope won’t disappoint me, that it’s actually a mark of maturity, this being able to hope.

And so I pray,

“Father, You know the places in me that are soul exhaustion, where hope is fleeting or seemingly non-existent. But I DO want You to take those places and turn my exhaustion into expectation–not white knuckle hanging on for all I’m worth in my own strength expectation, but supernatural, God-breathed expectation that can hope because of Who You are. Because I believe You truly love me. Because I believe You WILL finish all You’ve started in me.

And Lord, I know some of my friends who read this blog have soul exhaustion, too. Please give them hope. Draw us to Your heart, remind us of Your character–how loving, steady, and faithful You are. Give us expectation for positive forward movement, not because we have the strength to take that next step into where we want to go, but because YOU do. And You will lead. And You take us to good.

Trading in Soul Exhaustion for Hope

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ To be in the Center

IMAG2511“To be in the center of God’s will is to be a woman who is joyful, prayer, and thankful.” Lysa TerKeurst

It’s coming at me from all sides. First a friend talked to me about being intentional to use the weapons of warfare the Lord has given me, specifically to think on all that is lovely, good, pure. She said the enemy tries to steal from me constantly through life’s battles, and one of my most powerful weapons is focusing my thoughts on all that is good. The next day I received an email that said almost exactly the same thing, this time from someone I’ve never met.

This morning I read, “Fullness is our destiny, but emptiness is our crutch.”

As I pondered these words, I came to this passage in the Made to Crave Devotional, “joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances . . . look for the good . . . celebrate it even in small ways.”

I’m seeing a pattern here.

Much of life battles are won and lost in our minds. Probably most. The battle for joy is connected to where I plant my thoughts. The battle for weight loss is planted in where I focus my thoughts. The battle for how well I treat those I love is grounded in where I allow my thoughts to roam.

Of course we will have down days and days of trouble, but Jesus says, “be of good cheer for I have overcome the world!” And Lysa reminds us that the hard stuff, the temptations to eat (or lots of other stuff like to be negative, hurtful, unkind, etc.) are simply triggers to pray. To turn to God rather than anything else.

Of course the admonition to be thankful goes hand in hand with all of this. If we are thinking on all that is good and lovely, focusing on God and His strength, thanksgiving comes naturally!

I want to be victorious in weight loss and all of life, don’t you? I like what Lysa said, that we are most victorious when we are in the center of His will–being joyful, prayerful, thankful women. I’ve got a ways to go in all of this . . . but I’ve also come a long way, baby. How about you?

Learning to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful.

Epiphany #5 ~ A Graduation of Grace

IMAG2574Epiphany #5 ended up being good, but it took a lot of tears to figure it out. Here’s the thing. This whole new world of being a business woman was harder than I expected.

For the first time in a long time I was thrust into something very new. I’d worked past the early years of feeling utterly inadequate as a classroom teacher, then as a homeschool mom. I’d even gotten past the panic of having to say the words, “I am a writer.” Now I can even say, “I am an author” without batting an eye.

But after 22 years of homeschooling and 12 years of writing toward publication (and seeing it happen!) I had exactly 3 weeks of taking my role as a Life Force Business Woman seriously.

I pushed hard, making lots of phone calls and setting high goals for myself.

I met about half those goals. Instead of being pleased, I was pretty much mad at the world and drowning in exhaustion and inadequacy.

Enter Ben Mueller. Twice he called at exactly the right time (when I was at the point of tears) and twice he said exactly the right thing.

The second call was when Epiphany #5 kicked in.

See, much of my early years as a homeschool mom were about letting go of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior. Nothing like 4 children under the age of six to help a gal figure out there was no way she could be a perfect mom and live up to her own expectations of motherhood. Then there was the constant interruption, lack of validation, and serving in obscurity without a paycheck. Went a long way toward digging out the vestiges of performance-driven behavior.

Then throw in the God-factor. While I wallowed in guilt over my feelings of failure in motherhood, and trembled in fear over all my inadequacies, He showed up and healed me. I learned to keep my eyes on HIM instead of on my failures. I learned to forgive myself for my lack of perfection. I learned to lean on Him for the strength to move forward and to rest in His plan and purposes instead of living in a constant state of striving.

I mean I learned all of that until He called me to be a business woman.

Talk about miserable!

How dare God call me to a career that made me so unhappy? I mean, He wouldn’t, would He? Doesn’t Scripture promise that His yoke is easy and His burden light? In Matthew 11 He even said, “Are you tired? Worn out? . . .  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

Well this whole business woman thing was ill-fitting if anything ever was. There was nothing free or light about it.

Or was there?

Ben’s call helped me understand. The first thing he told me was what a great job I was doing–that I’d done what 70% of people in the business never do. (After I cried a little, I felt better.) Then he asked if I was a perfectionist.

Ouch.

As we talked I realized I’d done it again, slipped into perfectionism and performance-driven behavior. No wonder the role didn’t fit! I wasn’t doing this business woman thing the way God planned. I was falling into old thought patterns and habits I thought I’d conquered years ago.

By the time Ben bid me good-bye hope sprang forth!

Epiphany #5 is that I’ve graduated! God trusts me with a career where performance is the name of the game. Evidently He thinks I’ve learned enough about looking to Him instead of my own inadequacies and letting go of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior that I can do this thing without falling apart.

He’s peeling back another layer of my dysfunction and healing me.

As I let Him teach me how to be a business woman I will discover how to be in this career in a way that is uniquely me. There will be no ill-fitting burdens, only a new learning curve in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Epiphany # 3

IMAG2579-1You may have noticed I skipped Epiphany #2. It seems I’m not ready to write about it yet, that it is still too tender, too precious, too scary even, to share.

Someday.

On this blog.

At just the right time I will turn to July 9, 2013 in my journal and finish the thoughts I began in my first epiphanies post.

Today I can only hold tight to the promises of my Father and move on to a new conversation. It’s not that I doubt, it’s just that the future is far away. For me, at least. To Him it is like a snap of a finger.

Let’s just say that by my next entry, August 11th, I was angry again and confused, in a very different place that that joyful conversation in Breckenridge.

And the Lord was good, as usual. I knew I could say anything on my mind, and it wouldn’t freak Him out.

I started with, “Please heal me from whatever it is that is afraid and hard within me.”

You’ve been angry with me.

“Yes. And that makes me angry with myself, and yet self-accusation doesn’t make me any less angry with You.”

It never does. 

And so the two of us talked about the long haul. How I so often felt without control. How I’d given Him permission for deep change, and how that takes time.

Then He loved me. Said really sweet things to me, things that proved once again He thought better of me than I thought of myself.

Funny how when he complimented me I quit being angry with Him.

At the end of our time He showed me that I’d been begging Him for scraps when He wanted to lay an abundant table before me.

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it sent me on a journey of discovery.

Epiphany #3 was a part of that discovery. Epiphany #3 shocked me.

It happened at a Life Force training. I was there mostly for Jerry because he had to work his day job. I wasn’t fully invested in this new business. I saw myself as standing on the sidelines, supporting where I could, and cheering my husband on, “Good job, honey. Go! Go!”

But that day it suddenly it became clear that this wasn’t Jerry’s journey alone, this was my journey, too. That the Lord wanted me to be a business woman. In the excitement of that moment, and for several days afterward I was thrilled! I sensed the Lord smiling, cheering me forward. I recorded what I believed to be His heart:

. . . I have given you a place to stretch and develop the skills you need for the next stage of your journey. It is not a divergent path. It is one of balance. Sometimes my directions will conflict with your desire, just as it has in raising your family. You will have to juggle congruent, concurrent paths, but they will not be divergent. Be sensitive to Me, My child. It will keep us connected and close as you pray through next steps and pay attention to My direction.

And so I rejoiced and rushed off to tackle my new life.

Unfortunately all that wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I guess I should have paid attention when He said stuff like I was given a place to stretch and that His direction would sometimes conflict with my desires.

More about that next time.

Stretching into a new place