Celebrating the Special Women In Our Lives

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If you are a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether or not you are a mother, you are definitely a daughter, maybe a sister, or an aunt, and surely a friend. Whoever you are you have a sphere of influence. You have opportunities everyday to have an impact on someone else’s life, and it doesn’t have to be someone you know. Even just a smile in a stranger’s direction can lighten their heart and turn a frown upside down. Who are the women in your life that have had an impact on who you are? Is it mom, grandma, auntie, a mentor, friend, co-worker, Sunday School teacher…? How have they made a difference in your life? Have you told them how much they mean to you?

Let’s take a look at Ruth and Naomi. These two women had an impact on each others lives. Naomi moved with her husband and sons to Moab to escape the famine in Israel. One son married Orpah and the other married Ruth, both Moabites. Moabites didn’t worship the God of Israel. They worshipped an idol name Chemosh. When Naomi’s husband died and then both of her sons, it left the 3 women widows without sons to take care of them. Naomi found out there was food back home and she decided to go home. The girls started to go with her, but Naomi knew there would be a better chance for them to get married again if the stayed in Moab, so she tried to get her daughters-in-law, to go back to their mothers’ homes. Orpah went home, but Ruth refused saying, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Naomi’s influence caused Ruth to embrace the God of Israel as her God and the people of Israel as her people.

When the two women arrived in Bethlehem Naomi told her friends, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21). Although Naomi felt bitter, she still had her faith in God. She used wisdom and sent Ruth to glean in the fields, to provide food for them. Ruth took care of her mother-in-law. She gleaned in the fields every day. When Naomi found out Boaz owned the fields where Ruth was gleaning, she knew it was God’s provision. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer to them from her husband’s family. Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz and he blessed her with extra grain and food.

Eventually Boaz married Ruth redeeming the property of Naomi’s husband, and providing for both women for the rest of their lives. This could not have happened if Ruth had stayed in Moab. Ruth had an impact on Naomi’s life and Naomi had an impact on Ruth’s life. Ruth gave birth to Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered David, making Ruth an ancestor of our Savior, Jesus. Who would ever have imagined that a Moabite woman would become an ancestor of the Son of God? Yet God has a plan and purpose for both Naomi and Ruth, and He has a plan and purpose for your life, too! Don’t ever doubt it! As a woman you have a unique opportunity to speak love and life into the lives of the people around you – whether they are our own children or not. I thank God for all the wonderful women, who throughout my life, have been there in love to be a friend, mentor, teacher, nurturer, prayer warrior, challenger, discipliner, comforter, and encourager. Most especially, thank you to my mom! I love you!

Blessings and peace,

Julia

Journey Into A Healthier Me – Part 3 – Surrender and God’s Presence

This healthy living journey started out great for me. I felt so at peace in God with the whole healthy eating thing. Somewhere along the way, right about the time I got sick with a cold and I think the Made To Crave Action Plan Bible study was winding down, I really began to struggle and lose focus and peace. I have been facing various other challenges as well. Some of which I have not completely surrendered to the Lord.

Ah, surrender, such a difficult thing to do, especially for someone who in the natural (flesh) is a complete control freak. Over the years I have learned to surrender many parts of my life to the Lord. This does not mean I never try to pick them up again from time to time. But when I do, the Holy Spirit is there to remind me those things are in Jesus’ hands now.

There is one area of my life that I had never surrendered to God and never thought I needed to, before these M2C studies, my food. I have always had this pat argument/justification in my head in regards to those favorite “comfort” foods: “I deserve it!”

Ooh, ooh!! A new revelation was just given to me. I told myself I deserved my favorite comfort foods/treats, because I never really felt deserving of anything. It was a coping mechanism, trying to convince myself I was worth something. The irony being as I packed on the pounds I felt even less loveable than before. Hmm…I thought God had worked through all those old lies years ago, but since I had never surrendered my food to Him before, it has still been a place in my life that those lies could still touch.

Oh how I love food, especially certain foods of comfort from my childhood. It breaks my heart to think I may have to let go of them forever. But, in the end, it is just food. If I look at it as a choice  between a peace-filled relationship with my Lord or that shoo-fly cake, or that pot roast, gravy, and potatoes, or….you get the idea. No sense torturing myself or you. What could be better than peace with the Lord? Nothing! That’s what I/we need to get into our thought-life. That nothing, not even our all-time favorite food is better than the peace-filled presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Practicing the presence of God is something I try to do every day. I talk to Him like He were a person in the room. I try to be mindful of every blessing and protection throughout the day, so I can thank Him right then. I also try to stay tuned into the Holy Spirit, so as soon as I do, or usually think something that I shouldn’t, I repent right on the spot.

The part I have trouble with is the sit down and be still part at the beginning and end of my day. I can be so easily distracted. More so in my own home than in a public place. Too many things that need to be cleaned or accomplished staring me in the face.

I have much better “God times” in a restaurant than I do at home. Parks/nature are good, too, though sometimes distracting, but those ‘distractions’ are the many little blessings in creation to remind us of how great and mighty is our God! I find nature a particularly great place to be when I need an encounter with my Creator to bring out praises in the midst of a life-storm. I start thanking him for the ducks, flowers, clouds… and before long I find much more personal things to praise Him for and begin to see my troubles from a new perspective. I guess we all just need to find that place (or a couple places) in which we can find that solitude with God, even if it is in the middle of a noisy restaurant.

So, as I continue on my journey toward healthy eating and living I know that as I progress in surrendering my food to the Lord, He can and more importantly will take these things – my cravings, fears, doubts, and turn them into strength, courage, and trust.
• Strength to take each step toward the goal (Philippians 3.14). Not just of being a certain weight, but of being healthy enough to do all the things God had planned and purposed for me to accomplish in my life. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25.21) when I am face to face with my Lord.
• Courage to fight temptation when it comes along (Joshua 1:9). Temptation does not have to become a craving. I must remember to wear my armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) every day. Making the time and finding the place to have my solitude time with the Lord helps me to put on that armor and practicing His presence helps me keep it on throughout the day.
• Trust that Jesus can take the pieces of my life and work it all for the good (Romans 8:28) of not just me, but for the greater good of His kingdom. Life is not always what we would call fair in this fallen world, but as we trust Jesus with everything we know that God’s justice will prevail in the end, because we know the ending (the book of Revelation).

Heavenly Father, I come before Your throne with all the readers of this blog and ask for Your help in surrendering any and all parts of our lives that we have not surrendered to Your authority. We ask also that we would be evermore aware of Your presence in every moment of our lives. We seek Your face (presence), Lord, not just Your hand of blessing. But we also ask for Your blessing and favor upon our lives. As we are blessed, may we freely bless others out of Your bounty to us. We give you thanks and praise Lord. May our lives bring You glory and honor. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you would like to do more reading on surrender and/or practicing being in God’s presence check out two of my favorite books:
• Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray (One of my all-time favorite authors on Christian living).
   http://www.christianbook.com/apps/product?item_no=2405606&event=ESRCN|M
• The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
   http://www.christianbook.com/apps/product?item_no=84667&event=ESRCN|M

If you have never read these books I highly recommend them!
(Links are provided so you can learn more about the books. I am not affiliated with or paid by the seller).

Blessings,
Julia

God’s Love Conquers Cravings

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The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NASB

This verse is a beautiful reminder of how much God loves each one of us! I pinned the verse graphic (above) five months ago.  Almost every day and usually several times a day, people are still repinning this verse. It seems like people are in need of a reminder that God really does love them. As I was looking up this verse in the online parallel Bible (biblehub.com) I found the following verse from Hosea:

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. Hosea 1:4 ESV

As I read through different versions of this verse, a picture of my Made To Crave journey began to emerge. As we have focused on our relationship with God and dug deep into His Word He has released the yoke of slavery to our food cravings. He has bent down near to us and feed us with His love, which reminds me of Jesus being the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and Living Water John 4:10-14). 

When we have food cravings it’s often an emotional or spiritual issue we need to address with the Lord. If we would just stop for a moment to talk it over with God I believe He would fill that empty space, relieving the craving. Sometimes we just have to take a first step in faith – walking away from the temptation – before God’s power fully reigns in our current circumstances. God honors our obedience to Him. He does not leave us alone in our struggles. But, as in any other faith issue, we have our part to do, too.

As I look at the first page of session 6 (Made To Crave Action Plan by Lysa TerKeurst & Dr Ski Chilton) I have to laugh, a purely joy-of-the-Lord-filled laugh, at the title, Make a Courageous Choice: Direct Your Heart to Love and Perseverance, because it brings me back to love. The love that spoke to my heart this morning as I looked at the graphic (above) about God’s love for us and how great that love is! That’s the love that sent Jesus to earth, held Him to the cross, and then raised Him to new and eternal life, so we too can have that!

When we are confident that God loves us with an everlasting love we can make the courageous choices, because we know nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). Jesus made a way where there was no way to bridge the separation that was between God and people, because God wanted relationship with us. He gives us His best, because His purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10b NLT). In return He wants our best – obedience, love, and worship. 

In comparison to God’s love and His power at work within us, food cravings seem so small. Well, not so small in that moment and REALLY WANT that yummy treat! Then it seems bigger than life. All you can think about. Whether it’s food cravings or any other temptation Jesus understands, because He has suffered under many temptations, including food (Matthew 4:3-4) . And God’s love shows us the way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), but we must be sober-minded (1 Peter 4:7) enough to see it and take the way out.

God has given us the tools and the armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) to win the battle. To make Dr Chilton’s five principles really doable, we need God’s “fix” for our thoughts. Here are three biblical principles (tools) we need to apply to our thought lives:

• Take our thoughts captive: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

• Renew our minds with the Word: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT

• Think excellent thoughts: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

How can we do these things?
1. By submitting to God first and foremost. It is only by submitting our will to God’s that we can resist the devil and his schemes (James 4:7).
2. Through prayer. Seek God first every day and give Him our day, trusting in His plan (divine appointments) (Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 3:5-6 & 16:3).
3. By being in the Word daily, but not just reading it, but meditating on it – really thinking about it, pondering it, and asking the Holy Spirit for fresh revelation in it (Matthew 7:7, John 14:26).
4. By memorizing key verses to be used as our Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). For an excellent example of how Jesus used the Sword of the Spirit read Mark 4:1-11.
5. By being careful what we put into our minds. What do we read, watch, listen to, and play? Just as we are what we eat, we are what we put into our minds. I used to try to tolerate a certain amount of “language” in otherwise nice movies, but when certain words starting coming to my thoughts I knew I couldn’t do that anymore. Once something takes up residence in your thoughts, unchecked, it’s only a matter of time before they come out in words or actions. We need to be cautious about how much worldly influence and temptation we think we can handle (Romans 12:3). It is a slippery slope into sin. Which reminds me of the song “Slow Fade.” I will leave you with this song as a reminder that, “we do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT).

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0wo26sCH-Fw

Blessings and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Julia

Take Up The Shield Of Faith

In our Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study of Made to Crave Action Plan we have an assignment/challenge to make a shield with verses we can use to protect ourselves from the fiery darts the enemy throw a at us. Here’s mine. I printed it on card stock, backed it with scrapbook paper and used scraps of the scrapbook paper to make the dividing lines on the shield. Then I backed it with more card stock to make is sturdier.
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I used many of my favorite/go to/life verses on the shield. Then I added some clip art and key words from the verses to complete the shield. As they said over and over in the movie God’s Not Dead, God is good all the time. All the time God is good. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend this movie!
Blessings,
Julia

Through The Lens – Made to Crave Action Plan week 4

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This week we’re learning to maximize our nutrition and learning about the benefits of polyphenols. Here’s a photo of a few of the fruits & veggies I usually eat that are high in polyphenols. The list in the book on page 107, so I went looking online and found a huge list of foods including fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes. I also eat a lot of nuts and beans, so I’m doing better than I originally thought. And I do not regularly eat white flour in bread, but in some other things like pasta. Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles just don’t cut it for me and hubby won’t go for whole grain or ancient grain pastas (like quinoa). I have found a compromise in white fiber pasta by Barilla. It’s one of those things that when you’re only cooking for two you have to do. Here’s the link:

http://www.genesmart.com/pages/high_polyphenols_foods/161.php

Scriptural Prayers

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I firmly believe in praying Scriptures. When we pray Scripture we know we are praying in line with God’s will. I’ve written a sample of a prayer based entirely on Scripture. At the bottom I have included the actual text of the referenced Scripture verses. Portions of this prayer are directed at the Made To Crave Action Plan Bible Study journey I, and many other women worldwide, are on though the Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS.

 I am privileged to pray for you today. Please find a place where you can be alone for a few minutes. A place where you will feel comfortable speaking these prayers aloud. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).

    The first paragraph I am praying over you from 2 Peter 1:2 NLT and Ephesians 3:14-20 ESV. The rest of the prayer I have written in the first person using Scripture verses for you to pray over yourselves and portions for those you love, so that You can feel the power of God’s Word filling You and renewing Your mind with His truth.

     Now, get quiet before the Lord. If you have troubling trying to focus on prayer you can do what I do and say, “Jesus, Jesus Jesus, thank You Jesus. Be present with me in this place as I lift my prayers to You.” Take a deep breath and let it out. Let’s pray…

    May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. I bow my knees before our, Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant that you, dear sister (or brother) ___________ (insert your name), will be strengthened with power through His Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    My Father in Heaven I give thanks to You Lord, for You are good! You faithfulness and love for me endures forever. You have made this new day, Lord, and I will rejoice and be glad in it! You are MY God, and I will praise You! You are MY God and I will exalt You! You live right here with me Lord, and You are MY mighty Savior. You take delight in me and it makes You glad, You calm all my fears with Your love, and You rejoice over me with joyful songs. In You Lord I have confidence that when I ask for anything according to Your will, You will hear me.
    Take my cravings for food and turn my affections toward You instead. Give me an appetite for healthy, wholesome foods and a desire to exercise to be strong and healthy, so that I can present my body as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to You God, to worship You with everything that I am.
    As I dig ever deeper into Your Word, renew my mind with Your truth that I AM Your child having been born again through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. And I know and I thank You that because I have been born again, that I AM an overcomer and I HAVE the victory that overcomes the world — my faith. Therefore, I know that I WILL overcome ALL obstacles that would try to come against me as I make this journey of craving You Lord above everything else in my life.
    You have promised that because I fear Your name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And I will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Jesus himself bore my sins in his body on the tree, that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. I confess that sometimes my faith waivers and I let my struggles bring me down, Lord I believe Your power is greater than my weakness and Your grace is enough for me, help my unbelief. (Add any petitions you have here). By His wounds I have (and/or my loved one ________ has) been healed of _________. Praise You, Lord!
    Lord there are those in my life that I dearly love who have not yet received Jesus as their Savior. I lift up before Your throne _______________ (speak the names of each one). I am thankful that You are not slow to fulfill Your promise (of Jesus’ return) as some count slowness, but You are patient, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Send Your Holy Spirit to prepare their hearts to receive Your Son Jesus as their Savior, for no one can come to Jesus unless You, Father, draw them to Him. Jesus said, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” I speak that life over my loved ones right now that they would be set free, in Jesus’ name. For where Your Spirit is, there is freedom.
    For the answers to this prayer, Lord, I give You praise and thanksgiving. May You receive all the glory and honor, In Jesus’ mighty and precious name, amen.

References:
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 NLT

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
24This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
28You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you! Psalm 118:1, 24, 28 NLT

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14 ESV

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV

12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:12-13 NLT

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NLT

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4 ESV

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Malachi 4:2 NLT

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 NLT

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. John 6:44 NLT

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 NLT

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT

Blessings,
Julia

Abiding In Jesus is Taking Action

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P31 Made to Crave Action Plan Photo Hop #Action

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The assignment today is to link a photo of our personal action verse. I had this image on one of my Pinterest boards. I chose this verse because as it says, if we don’t abide (remain, attached) in Jesus (the Vine) we can do nothing.

I really want this time to be different than all the other times I’ve tried to lose weight. I really want it to be a spiritual journey with the benefit of physical health and well-being. I want the result to be not only weight loss, but a healthy new lifestyle. For this to happen I need to stay grafted into Jesus, the Vine. I need Him to be in all I do and the strength that I use to make good choices all day, eat well, and move my body – by communicating with Him all day long.

I am currently a homemaker, so I spend a great deal of time alone. I have always been one to keep the TV on all day for “company.” But, it encourages me to sit for long periods, even if I am not actively watching it. But since beginning the first M2C study back in January God’s been working on that, too, as a part of this journey. The TV is staying off (most days) until hubby turns it on after work. I’ve never been a fan of silence, but I am learning to like the silence, because it allows for a lot more spontaneous conversations with God throughout the day. It gives me the opportunity to do something that a mentor, Joanne, once told me: “Julia, the Lord wants you to ‘tune-in’ to His voice more.” It’s hard to tune into God’s voice, that still, small voice, when there is so much distraction and noise.
The silence also gives me the opportunity to worship our Lord – either in spontaneous song or putting on some music, which always prompts dancing (moving my body aka exercise) =). It’s a win-win situation.
Abiding in Jesus, the Vine, the Source of life and strength, is the only way this journey to Craving God and not food, TV (noise)… is going to be truly successful.

When Joanne told me to tune-in my first thought was that I was already hearing God pretty good. But, I respect her and took it and started seeking God in it.  Tuning in goes deeper than casually listening. It’s being purposeful about making time to sit in silence praying and then listening for His voice. This prepares me to hear and recognize His voice when He speaks to me in a specific situation, through a person, a song, or a Bible verse. The tuning in really needs to be intentional, otherwise we will miss Him in the everyday things.

God has a plan and purpose for my life (and yours, too). Being 115 pounds overweight at 53 years of age makes it hard to have the energy and stamina I need to fulfill the plan for this half of my life. Taking action now to change my lifestyle and health is an important step in fulfilling my God-given destiny to teach God’s Word and encourage women of all ages on their own faith journeys.

Thank You, Jesus, for never giving up on me even when I’ve wanted to give up on myself!

Journey into a Healthier Me – Part 1, A God-centered Eating Plan

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I refuse to call it a “diet.”  The word “diet” just has so much negativity associated with it. I want an “Eating Plan.” Something that can become a lifestyle way of eating. Diets are usually strict, short term, weight-loss, goal-oriented things. I want to learn to be and eat healthy. I want to be the best me I can be.

I have a Pinterest board titled, A new me in 2014. At first I was pinning only recipes, healthy eating advice and exercises onto the board. Now, I am pinning other things as well, Scriptures, quotes…that can help me overhaul the entire me. Yes, the goal is to be a healthy weight and generally be healthier physically, but if I only focus on the physical it won’t last. It needs to be a mental and spiritual attitude adjustment as well.

As a part of this journey I am doing the online Bible study (OBS), Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst on Proverbs31.org. We just started week 4 of 6. Right afterward we will begin the Made To Crave Action Plan study. Which was written by Lysa and Dr. Ski Chilton. I want this to be about more than the numbers on the scale. Hence, this sign I’ve put on my scale:

 

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I am taking a slow approach to learning about me and my eating habits and slowly making changes to my diet (how I cook, substituting healthier ingredients for some things, cutting down on others) and tracking everything on sparkpeople.com, so I can have a visual record of calories, fat, sodium, carbs, sugars… I am learning and making wiser choices. If there is something I really want (crave) I think about it and make a conscious decision about whether or not I want to allow myself to have it. So far I have been doing pretty well. Sweets aren’t usually my downfall, my taste buds are more tuned in to savory foods. That’s where my main temptations lie. Meat and potatoes with gravy, pasta, casseroles…. oh, the joys of savory foods. NOT! Not when you’re trying to get healthy. This takes a bit of work to get the flavors you crave without so much of the fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbs. That’s where the flavors often lie. A lot of that cannot be altered in some fashion to make it healthier, but it is a process for me to learn and make those choices. And I am learning.

 This journey is different than ones I have tried and failed at before. This one, I am letting God and wisdom be my guide. I don’t beat myself up if I give in to a craving, but I am not allowing myself to eat impulsively. I am making a conscious effort to make it a choice to allow it or not. Then, I make it a small/single portion and work it into my eating plan for the day. If it’s a high calorie/fat item will I have to take some other healthy food off my plan for the day to accommodate it?

I was at lunch with a friend at TGIFridays last week. I rarely get to go there, since hubby doesn’t care for their menu. I love their Korean Steak Tacos. When I looked up the nutrition info online I was crushed. The meal was 1080 calories. It’s 3 tacos and a small dish of rice. I looked at the menu for other healthier choices. Even their healthier choices were noted to be only under 750 calories. I made an informed  decision and had the tacos. I ate only half of the rice, and when I felt full I stopped eating the tacos (A major milestone for me. That’s so hard, I was brought up as a member of the clean plate club and when I love the flavor of something even if I feel full I don’t usually stop until it’s gone). Later in the day I was thinking about it and I could have easily trimmed off 160 more calories (+/-) by only eating one of the two soft corn tortillas on each taco. I enjoyed every slow bite as I enjoyed the company of my friend over a leisurely lunch. I did not feel guilty. I had eaten a sensible breakfast and I was cooking a sensible dinner. This splurge was deliberate and I did not feel guilty, because it had been well considered and not an impulse.

I learned a lot that day. And many days before and after. Although I made that choice to allow myself those tacos, that cannot be a daily thing to allow this kind of indulgence. Otherwise, I would train wreck not only my weight loss goals, but also my health in general. What I need to do is learn how to make a healthier version of those tacos at home. Hmmm…there you go! I need to make that a plan. That’s really what this journey is going to be about for me. Planning. God-assisted, wise planning. It’s about controlling the food and NOT letting the food control me. It’s about depending upon a power greater than my willpower (or lack thereof). The power of God is Christ in me. I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He gives me wisdom and strength when I acknowledge that I cannot do this on my own. So many times I’ve tried and failed because I tried to do it in my own power. I just cannot do that. I don’t have it in me to do this on my own. We aren’t created to go it alone. We were always intended to be in a constant, intimate relationship with our Creator and Lord, Father and Friend. He is the God who sees us and He knows us by name. He cares so much about us that Jesus said, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” We have a God who wants to be a part of everything in our lives, not stuck in a box to come out on Sunday mornings and when we have a problem and need His help like a genie in a bottle. With Jesus as my constant companion I know that this time will be different. It already feels different. My focus is different on God and getting healthy, not on a list of NOs I cannot eat and a list of DOs I don’t want to eat. I have to live by this and many other truths of God’s Word:

Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything ” (1 Corinthians 6:12 HCSB).

So, I take this journey, with God as my guide. He is my inspiration, my strength, my power, my will to succeed. Not, so I can wear skinny jeans, not so I can say I weight 125 pounds like I did when I got married, not so I can feel sexy or any other reason other than, I want to take care of this body because it is the temple of the Lord. I want to be healthy and strong enough to serve God for as long as He has planned for me, to accomplish everything He has purposed for me to accomplish, and, God willing, to be healthy and live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Proverbs 21:20 NIV

I found this verse today. I have read Proverbs many times over, but this verse never stuck out to me as it did today. This verse made me think about making wise choices when I plan meals and when I grocery shop to buy the choice (best, healthiest) foods and to also think about what I’m eating and not just gulping it down, in a hurry, without a thought as to what it is or why I’m eating it. I think the actual meaning of the verse is to store up food for the future (no grocery stores back then), rather than feasting on the abundance now without regard for future needs. That actually works for now, too, because sometimes I eat things just because they’re there, whether I’m truly hungry or not. Hmmm… So, I am trying not to buy too many things that aren’t all that healthy. I’m trying to be prepared enough that if we get snowed in a few days we have plenty to eat, yet not so much of the wrong things that I will eat just because they’re there. I do have a couple things I keep around as a treat. I do allow myself 2 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises a day. It’s dark chocolate and therefore it is healthy, but a half a bag in one sitting would not be healthy. Two chocolates is only two-fifths of a serving. I don’t feel the need to eat a whole serving, if for no other reason, the calories begin to add up, but usually two and sometimes one is satisfying enough for me as I take small bites and savor the flavor. I also have a package of Stella Doro Breakfast Treats (Jim and I call them air cookies) on hand most of the time. If I really want something more cookie/cakey I’ll eat one of those. Especially if I’m having a coffee or hot tea. One is only 90 calories. Granted, they are pretty much “empty” calories, but for that little bit I can deal with it, if it keeps me from pursuing something more decadent. I don’t like sweets so much that I will indulge in more than one of these cookies. Now, if it were an Oreo that would be a different story. And I can’t have Oreos without a glass of milk for dunking. Pretty soon that becomes a very fat, calorie, and carb costly indulgence. 

 

1When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, 2and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite; 3don’t desire his choice food, for that food is deceptive (Proverbs 23 :1-3 HCSB).

This verse really puts hunger vs appetite into perspective. If I am truly hungry, I will look for something more healthy and satisfying than a cookie. One (air) cookie will not satisfy true hunger. It would probably take a whole package to make a dent in that and all I’d have to show for it is 1080 empty, unsatisfying calories. A good portion of a whole days calories wasted. I am taking to buying ready to eat packages of carrots and celery. A tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus rounds out these veggies as a very satisfying low calorie snack. Sometimes I will snack on a serving or even just a half a serving of roasted almonds - natural or Blue Diamond’s dark chocolate ones just to take the edge off if I start getting too hungry between meals. It’s better than going into a meal so hungry that you eat very fast and too much, because you don’t give your body a chance to recognize it’s full. It’s working, too! Yay! I am learning that a lean protein at each meal, and as part of a snack, can be much more satisfying than carbs alone. That was a trap I was in for so long. Eating carbs without protein just wasn’t satisfying and led me to eat more of it and more often. Fiber, also, helps curb the hunger and keep it at bay longer.

So, I am working out a plan as I go. Learning from the food tracking I’m doing on sparkpeople.com how to use wisdom in planning and that planning works out better than last minute decisions, especially if those decisions take you to fast food restaurants in desperation. I am learning to consider each thing I put in my mouth before I eat it. No more regrets. No more mindless eating. Just God-centered, wisdom choices. Amen, thank you Jesus!

 

 

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