Tag Archives: spiritual connection

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Guest post

I was impacted by this power post by Amy at Loving the Least of These. I bet you’ll relate too!

Breaking Free

Somebody once said that loving other people well starts with loving ourselves.  I’m pretty sure most of my life has been spent trying to love others while hating myself, if I’m being honest. Much of that self hatred has revealed itself through my abuse of food – on both ends of the spectrum.  My sophomore year of high school I started starving myself.  I was friends with a girl who was starving herself and made it a point not to ever eat more than her.

Then in college I started putting on weight until I was healthy by the time of my wedding.

But by a few years into my marriage I started putting on pounds.

And I have qualified as obese for the past ten years.
Imagine my embarrassment walking through Ethiopia for the past three years incredibly overweight as I held the hands and hugged the necks of people who were literally starving.  I felt like a fraud.

The embarrassment of putting on the weight in the first place has been a source of really deep shame for me. I have felt like people must look at me and wonder how I could let myself get so out of control. It has caused me to not even be able to really look people in the eye because I’m just so ashamed of who I am.

I’ll never forget being in Ethiopia with my sweet, petite friend, Abbey, and having a random stranger come up to us on the street and ask me why I was so big while she was so small.  He asked me if I ate different food than her even though we lived in the same country.  I laughed it off, while wanting to absolutely die on the inside.  He hit a nerve because he asked me the question I had been so afraid to ask myself – why?  I haven’t wanted to think about the deeper things that have made me get so out of control.  I haven’t wanted to admit that food is where I go for comfort. It’s where I go to hide.  I haven’t wanted to admit that I have thrived on the instant gratification that comes from eating whatever whenever.  I haven’t wanted to admit that on my best day, I am a complete glutton, covering up my pain and insecurity with food.

My issues with my weight and with food have robbed me.  I live in a beautiful state where the mountains beckon for a hike or a bike ride, but I don’t go because I become exhausted too quickly from being out of shape and overweight.  My kids want to go to the park or do something active outside but I make up a lame excuse because what mom wants to say to their kid “Mommy’s too fat to play outside with you”?

But most notably, as my body has gotten bigger, who I am on the inside has shrunk – I have allowed myself to disappear in many ways. It has been brutal mentally to be smothered by my weight.  I battle thoughts daily of “Well, I couldn’t possibly do that – look at me.”  The gifts that God has given me have been squelched because the beast of being overweight has completely overwhelmed me.  I feel like I will catch glimpses sometimes of the person God has created me to be on the inside and I think “just maybe I can actually BE that person”, but it’s never long before doubt and insecurity take over any glimmer of hope.  I literally hide behind people in pictures – doing my best to only let my face show.  My smile really is just masking my insecurity.

If someone tags me in a picture on FaceBook that shows more than just my face, I delete it.  I don’t want to be seen.  It’s just so heart-breaking.

I have been on so many diets only to watch any pound lost come back.  Failure after failure after failure.  It has been a very long battle that I have not won.  The sense of failure and despair every time has honestly been too much to bear, and has caused me to settle into the mentality that this is just how it is for me – I’ll always be bound by this.

This past year or so has been a process of internal transformation and realization for me about the good and beauty that exists in me.  I was brought to the lowest place of my life so that God could help me realize who I really am as His beloved, and that He longs for me to dream again and fully embrace who He’s created me to be.  I have spent hours and hours in counseling and have done the brutal, beautiful work of unpacking lies I’ve believed about myself and ultimately, discovering that I have had a bogus view of God all my life, which has made me feel so much less than.  There is some sort of stark raving mad idea being spread around that we should live our lives with our heads hanging all the time because of how bad we are and how much we fail.  And so we stay small and ashamed instead of living in the reality that “God is a wild man who is knocked out by who we are”.  As I started to realize what this means for my life, things started changing inside of me and I began to hope.  As I have gotten “healthy” emotionally and spiritually, I have begun to realize that Maryann Williamson was oh so very right when she said:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our
darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be
brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not
to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the
world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people
won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the
glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in
all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give
other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our
own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I think I’ve used my weight issues as an excuse to keep myself “small” on the inside and to hide from the responsibility I have to live out who I am to the fullest.  I haven’t feared my weight issues – I’ve embraced them far too fast and too easily accepted them as just part of my life.  But what I have feared is the power and the beauty of who God has created me to be.  I have been unable to embrace that and have hidden myself away in excess pounds so that I wouldn’t have to be courageous enough to be myself.  Who I was on the outside was a reflection of the sickness inside of me.  It wasn’t until I took this past year to look inward and figure out just what it was I trying to hide from that I finally found some peace. Nobody likes to take the time to deal with the muck inside of us, but it’s so very necessary; otherwise, we just stay sick.  Being on a journey of loving, valuing and embracing who I am caused me immediate discomfort with my food struggle.

In September, I decided I was done being a prisoner to food.  Physical health was the next logical step on my path to living free.  And it was terrifying, people!  But the possibility that I could be free, caused me to take a step of faith and just beg God to help me do it this time.  I was tired of shrinking back and saying no to life.  Inwardly, I was new, and it was time to reflect that outwardly by the grace of God and a whole lot of belief that I was indeed worth it.

Four and a half months ago, when I decided I was going to try to break free from this food addiction, I only told a hand full of people because I was scared to death this would just be “one more thing” I tried and failed miserably at.  At age 38, I weighed 215 pounds and was wearing a size 18W. (How’s that for vulnerability?!)  I had 80 pounds to lose to get to a healthy weight. 80 POUNDS. It might as well have been 500, it seemed so out of reach.  It’s practically a whole person!

Before I go on, please hear me – it does not matter one iota what you look like or how much or little you weigh.  What matters is that you are free and fully alive.  I am sure that somewhere out there are women who are 215 pounds and free as a bird.  Good for them!!  That is not my story.  For me, my abuse of food has taken away my joy and fullness of life.  For you, it might be something else.  The important thing here is that we break free from whatever prison we might find ourselves in.  I have said for years and years that this is just how my life is and that I don’t have any power to change it.  I call bulls***.  That’s a helpless, victim mentality that is ultimately rooted in fear.  It was with a whole lot of fear of failure, a whole lot of prayer and a whole lot of encouragement that I started my journey to health and wholeness.

In the past four and a half months I have lost over half the weight I need to lose and have gone down 4 sizes.  You guys.  I just wish I could convey the power of it all.  Food has lost its hold on me. God’s grace has been absolutely overwhelming to me on this journey.  I am humbled and in awe.  But most importantly, I am free.  Even though I have more weight to lose to be healthy according to my doctor, if I never lost another pound I’d still feel free.  It’s not about a number on the scale – my quality of life is better, my energy is better, and I find myself dreaming again about my life.  It’s such a gift.

You might be expecting an “after” picture, given all the “before” shots above.  But the point of this post isn’t for you to look at my body and tell me what a great job I’ve done.  I have debated even publishing this post because I haven’t wanted people to get the idea that I’m looking for accolades – I’m not.  I am very aware that people’s struggle with food is a very sensitive one (on either end of the spectrum), and I pray that nothing has been said here that rubs salt in any wound. I’m simply hoping that something about my journey might touch some of you in some way to aspire for freedom, whatever that looks like for you.

It would have been easier and far less embarrassing for me not to address this issue at all here on my blog.  But, I believe in the power of sharing our stories.  I believe in vulnerability and letting people into our struggle.  I share it because my friend shared her struggle and then her victory with me – she made me hope and then take action for myself.  I share it because Maryann is right when she says “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  I share it with you because I have always been that person who watches other people lose weight and get healthy – it has never been for me. But here’s the deal – freedom IS for me.  It’s for all of us.  It doesn’t matter if it’s weight issues, crushing anxiety, relational problems, guilt, shame or feelings that you’re not enough – you CAN be free.  You are worth getting free.  Your loved ones deserve you finding freedom.  You are not an observer of your own life – you get to choose how to respond to circumstances, problems and addictions.  You are worthy of health and freedom. And there’s a God who believes that about you too.  And He WILL help you.

Psalm 10:17 says “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you
encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

So, be bold and brave, friends.  This life is too short to stay small and imprisoned.  You have so much to offer the world.  When we let our light shine, we do, indeed give others the permission to do the same.  So, shine!  And may your own freedom inspire the freedom of others.

love,
the free me

Advertisements

Spirit~Seeker Sunday ~ Listening

IMAG2744

May Your Spirit roll over me.

A man was asked how he lost 75 pounds. He said it was simple but not easy. He “made the better choice.” A walk vs. two cups of coffee with his newspaper. Grilled chicken instead of barbecue ribs.

The better choice, over and over.*

This concept mirrored what I’ve said this last year: Every good choice is a step back on the path to success.**

Here’s where we keep it real, folks. Over the holidays my weight slowly crept up. A pound here and there. At first it was no big deal, but then it was 4 pounds instead of two.

But worse than the slight increase on the scale was the fact that bad choices that came easier and easier. Skip the fresh fruits and veggies. Just one piece of fudge. No, make that two. Another heaping? Just this once.

If it had been a few days of indulgence I would have been okay with that. I believe in times of celebration. It isn’t what you do 10% of the time that is a problem, it’s the 90% that counts.

I didn’t tank for the whole 6 weeks Thanksgiving to New Years. I’d hop back into my healthy lifestyle for a few days, but then . . . well, my son-in-law makes amazing peanut butter fudge . . .

Yesterday I gave God permission to convict me. I had a great day at first. Healthy foods. Just the right amounts. Then four o’clock hit. I’d saved a piece of banana bread for a snack with no calorie herb tea.

The first slice was planned for. The second wasn’t. (And yes I knew I shouldn’t.)

I’m under a writing deadline so we splurged on pizza for supper.  I’d planned for that (except for the banana bread splurge). But I had one slice too many, even as I heard my Father’s Voice suggesting I’d had enough.

This morning I wanted to pretend that the Lord didn’t really care about my bad choices. If I admitted He was involved, then I had to admit I’d blown him off.

Then He whispered sweetly, “How is this any different than any other way you blow it? What have I taught you?”

That forgiveness is full and complete. That wallowing in condemnation and shame makes me mess up again sooner. That it’s best to own up, apologize, and get back to living in victory.

So God and I had a talk. I gave him permission to intervene again (though letting Him in on this living healthy thing really ups the stakes).

My hesitation to invite him into my daily health choices goes back how I perceive Him. Do I trust His heart toward me to be good, or do I think He wants to deprive me? Do I believe He allows moments of feasting or think I have to walk a tightrope of perfection, never deviating from a prescribed plan?

Weight loss is like anything else in the Christian walk. It’s not about the rules, it’s about the relationship. It’s about listening to the Spirit’s whisper and responding.

It’s about believing what He has for me is good.

This morning I really wanted all of that heavy granola and blueberry pancake topped with pecans that my husband made, despite the fact that he apologized for making it bigger than he meant to and suggested I might want to put part of it away for tomorrow. I didn’t like his comment, but I’m glad he said it because part of that yummy pancake is in the refrigerator waiting to bless me tomorrow.

It’s back to real life after the holidays. Reasonable calorie counts. Healthier food. Listening to the Voice.

Tweet it:

Listening: Weight Loss Devotional

* This story was in a weight loss devotional entitled Faithfully Fit.

**This concept from another devotional, Made to Crave.

Spirit-Seeker Sunday ~ Walking it Out

spirit 4 stephen

photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

“Spiritually I feel much more weighed down by stress and problems when I’m not taking care of my body. Physically, I have less energy to serve God and more emotions to wade through when processing life.”

The above statement alone is one of the most profound discoveries of my weight loss journey. I didn’t write those words, Lysa TerKeurst did. But I so relate.

For years I prayed for joy, for the ability to overcome discouragement, for hope. I don’t see myself as having completely arrived in these areas, but I’ve found a powerful tool in discovering joy, combating discouragement, grabbing hold of hope.

It’s called taking a walk.

Eventually I usually end up talking with God, but even when it’s not a focused conversation my spirit rises up within me in worship just being outside, hearing the birds, feeling the fresh air.

There’s something about looking up into a huge tree or seeing the mountains in the distance, or gazing at the clouds or the flowers that puts me in my place, reminds me there is something bigger than I am, and HE is Good.

I grew up in church where we were often told to take care of our body because it was the temple of God. Unfortunately most of what was taught–or at least of what I heard–was the old southern “don’t smoke, drink, or chew or go with boys who do.” Once in a while I caught that I should think about what kinds of food I put into it, but I totally missed the idea of caring for my body as God’s temple by taking good care of it in the area of exercise.

I loved when Lysa wrote: “I want to . . . dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and a gift to myself.”

Let’s join Lysa in the prayer: “Help me see the ability to exercise as a gift. I dedicate my temple to You and commit to start rebuilding it today.”

How about you? What do you do to add movement into your day? What exercise do you enjoy? Do you ever exercise just because it’s good for you even if it is not something you enjoy? If you keep doing it do you start enjoying it?

And what about schedule. How do you fit it into your busy days? If you don’t, could you add in once a week, then twice?

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.