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!

 

 

Unpacking Isaiah 45:3, An Eternal Perspective

Made To Crave Blog Hop~Week 3
#Peace

3″I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” Isaiah 45:3 NASB
Looking at the Hebrew roots in the Strong’s Concordance we find deeper meaning (my comments are under each of the Hebrew words):
I will give = nathan. Some of the meanings are: to give, bring forth, occupy, recompense.
- We’re given a treasure that is compensation for what we endure and for persevering in those dark times.

You the treasures = otsar. It means: a depository, cellar, treasure, store, a treasury, storehouse.
- We’re not just talking a few things here. It’s so much treasure you need a place to store it. In the spiritual I believe this would be “treasuring things in our hearts.” (see Job 22:22, Psalm 119:11;Matthew 6:21, 12:35; Luke 2:19).

Of darkness = choshek. Literally darkness, obscurity. Figuratively misery, destruction, ignorance, sorrow.
- The darkness of misery, sorrow-aka trials. But also of ignorance. I find that an interesting thing here. Sometimes we suffer because we do not seek God’s wisdom and the counsel of other believers. (See Proverbs 1:5, James 1:5)

hidden wealth = matmon: hidden treasure, treasure, a secret storehouse; hence, a secreted valuable (buried); generally money — hidden riches, (hid) treasure(-s).
- wealth, in the form of experience from our trials, and also in the form of things that the “locust” have stolen from us (Joel 2:25)

of secret places = mistar: a secret place, hiding place, a concealer, covert.
- Could these secret places be the things from our past that have built up in us the walls of doubt, fear, and worry—all things which the Lord doesn’t want us to have. If we allow Him to clear out this “trash” from the secret places of our hearts, there will be room to store the treasures He wants us to store there—His Word, His Love, His Wisdom, Grace, and Mercy…The good things He wants us to have.

so that you may know = yada: to know, acknowledge, acquaintance, assuredly, be aware, familiar friend, kinsman
- It is quite obvious that this word in Hebrew has a lot more meaning than in the English. Know here is intimate, familial.

that it is I, the Lord = Yhvh: the proper name of the God of Israel; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God — Jehovah, the Lord.
- God wants us to know Him, His voice, His character. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27NLT). 1 John 4:8 & 16 tell us that God IS love. That being so, much of God’s character is revealed in what Paul describes love to be in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. God’s character is also revealed in His names (see http://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm for a list (not necessarily all) of God’s names).

the God = elohim: God, exceeding, very great, mighty, Plural of ‘elowahh; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God.

of Israel = Yisrael: “God strives,” another name of Jacob and his descendant–Israel.

Who calls = qara: to call, proclaim, read, to call out to (i.e. Properly, address by name), ), (be) famous, guest, invite, , (make) proclaim(- ation).
- How awesome that God calls us, invites us to be in relationship with Him. It’s a proclamation called out to us, not just in generality, but as the next phrase shows us, by our name. Each individual.

You by your name = shem: a name, the idea of definite and conspicuous position; an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character.
- Isn’t it awesome to know that God knows us by name? Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31 NIV). We are important to God.

Although this chapter is specifically a prophecy regarding Cyrus that was fulfilled, I believe it has relevance with our lives now in a spiritual way as well as a physical (monetary) way. This verse particularly has significance for our lives now.

There are times in our lives that are dark. When the world seems to close in upon us and we cry out to the Lord for Him to rescue us from the pain and heartache. Sometimes those dark times seem to go on endlessly and we may begin to wonder if God has forgotten us. Be assured He has not forgotten you! But sometimes, we forget who He is. We forget He is The Almighty and that He sometimes allows bad things to happen for the greater good. He is there with us, but sometimes we just don’t cooperate the way we should, because we are looking at the circumstances instead of our God.  But God does not leave us there alone, ever. He sits as a Refiner of silver (Malachi 3:3). I have read about how a silversmith works when he is refining the silver. He puts the silver into the fire and he holds it there. He keeps his eyes on it continually. He has to be vigilant or it can be ruined. And He knows when it’s done/pure because He can see His reflection in it.
Here’s a video on Youtube that gives a good illustration of this:

Our God is merciful. He will not let us suffer beyond what we can stand, but He may bring us right to the edge of it to get us to draw closer to Him and completely release it all, submit to Him. This is one of those paradoxes contrasting the world and God’s kingdom. In the world as we grow and mature we are expected to become more and more independent. In God’s Kingdom, the more we grow and mature the more dependent upon God we must become, trusting Him in all things.

The good news is that when God sees us through that darkness and brings us again into the light we have a treasure within that has been wrought from that trial – a testimony. It is a precious jewel for us to use for God’s glory. One that attests to the power of the One True, Living God in our lives! The “pure silver” of the trial is that our faith will have grown stronger, enabling us to withstand even greater challenges and trials along the way and help others in their own struggles. For me this has been the greatest treasure from my hardest trials! I have seen God work miracles in the lives of  others using my testimony as a tool.

When God created Adam He said that it was not good for him to be alone. Even though He had God and a perfect creation, God knew Adam also needed another person to share his life journey. We all need someone to share our joys and our burdens. We need others who can speak life and the light of truth into the darkness of our lives. And it’s nearly impossible to do that unless we have experienced similar trials. That’s not to say we all have to experience everything, that would be unbearable, but we are all born with certain personality traits and God given talents. Combine those with the gifts that the Holy Spirit imparts to us and the testimonies we earn in our trials and we are each equipped for a certain area(s) of ministry to brimg glory to our God.

There is also a physical (possibly monetary) blessing that can come from the darkness, when we continue to walk faithfully with the Lord despite our circumstances, as Job did.  Job had everything taken from him – his children, wealth, possessions, and his health – all except a bitter wife and three so-called friends. Job refused to blame or curse the Lord. He did not understand why, but he chose to say, “25“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. 26And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! 27I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:25-27 NLT). Job kept an eternal perspective even in the midst of overwhelming loss and suffering. And God rewarded Him and paid him back twice what he had lost. Let’s look at that passage:
“10When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! 11Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring.”
“12So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. 14He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers. 16Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. 17Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.” (Job 42:10-17 NLT)

It was not only his attitude toward God during this trial, but the fact that he didn’t hold a grudge against his accusatory friends and he prayed for them. How we handle a situation determines our progress and our witness. The Israelites took 40 years to make an 11 day journey, because they did not trust the Lord, even though He proved His faithfulness time and again. I determined a long time ago I don’t want to be like the Israelites were. I don’t want to keep circling that mountain (Deuteronomy 2:3) like they did. I want to keep moving forward with my eyes on Jesus and not my circumstances. I am so tired of that. Whenever I take my eyes off of Jesus and dwell upon my circumstances, I get weak, tired, depressed, fearful, and have a pity party. I still have these occasionally, but I don’t like those parties, do you? I want a celebratory party! I can have those 24/7/365 because Jesus is my Lord and He is most worthy of all my praise!! So I can rejoice and celebrate any time and all the time because I, like Job, know that my Redeemer Lives! I know He will again stand upon the earth and I will see Him with my own eyes! 

As we walk this journey to Craving God and not food, not cigarettes, not ________, we are not alone. We have each other. We are finding that there are other ladies in this OBS that have similar issues and similar pasts/trials that have equipped them to encourage us, while we are equipped to encourage someone else. And most importantly God Almighty, who is also Abba (daddy) is with us. He just wants us to reach our arms up as a child and ask Him to hold us and take care of us. He loves each of you so very much!! Don’t ever forget that and don’t let the enemy plant lies and doubts in your thoughts that tell you otherwise. He loves you as you are, where you are right now. But He wants to give you more, help you claim victory over your struggles. He loves you as you are, but too much to let you stay there. And sometimes that can be a painful process until we submit and cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit.

Treasure from dark places is a truly precious treasure that cannot be destroyed, for it has stood the test of fire and has been purified. May you be blessed beyond measure with the grace of God in this study!  Know that your Redeemer Lives! If you know Jesus as your Savior His Spirit lives inside of You. You are never alone. You are always within His reach. He is there in every breath you take. Find strength, courage, and peace in this truth today!!
Blessings,
Julia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm1MY2NZEZs – Dancing Generation by Matt Redman

#Empowered—I Refuse to Stay Unchanged

“16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

• Rejoice always–even in our darkest days there’s something to rejoice about, Jesus’ great gift of salvation and so many other things we often take for granted.
• Pray continually–God wants to be invited into all parts of our lives. praying helps us to aline our thoughts and actions with God’s will and plan and gives us strength and hope knowing we’re not, in whatever circumstance it is, alone.
• Give thanks IN all circumstances–not necessarily for them. Although, if we try to see through God’s eternal plan we can probably do that, too.

I had an email devotion for Greg Laurie based on verse 18 today. It got me thinking. I had just finished having a little cry over not being with our grandkids for their birthdays this month. I do tend to look at my circumstances too much. Really it’s not like I live in a bad place or that I don’t have friends who are dear sisters in Christ right here in St. Louis and in our online Bible study through Proverbs31.org. You’d think we were destitute and homeless the way I throw pity parties, sometimes. But the heart wants what the heart wants and I want to be in So. Cal. with them. And I pout and I eat and get pain in my jaw from clenching it subconsciously.
I love it when God does this to me. He gets me writing and then takes me to a place I never expected to go–a place of self examination and His correction. It may sound weird to say I love this, but I strongly desire to be ever closer to the Lord and my mental escapes and pity parties don’t encourage that, so if God says it’s time to start pruning the vine, working the clay, or using the Refiner’s fire to clear out some dross (impurities) from the silver of my soul, so be it.
This week we started a new online Bible study (OBS) through proverbs31.org doing Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made To Crave. It’s about learning to crave God and not food or anything else that distracts us from our relationship with Him. It’s all too easy to let the things of this world crowd God out of our thoughts and lives if we are not intentional in keeping the lines of communication open and purposeful in how we live.
I have not had a completely successful week in my weight loss endeavor, not keeping my calorie goal even one day this week and only exercising once. But, I have made positive steps toward meeting those goals. I signed up on sparkpeople.com to use their tracking system. Its been a real eye opener as to the calories I must have been consuming before I started trying to regulate my intake and make better choices. And I have managed to lose a little weight. Yay!
I’ve seen a lot of the 42,000+ women doing this study putting themselves down for where they are in their journey or for not being successful in their goals this week. If any of you are reading this blog post please be encouraged. You are working on it and you’re seeking God’s help. Nothing is impossible with God (see Luke 1:37)! He got me off cigarettes 17 years ago this March! Hallelujah!! He can do this too, girls!
I’m listening to music on the Music Choice Channel on Charter. They’re playing Josh Wilson’s song, “I Refuse”. Perfect timing in some of the lyrics: “I refuse to stay unchanged, to wait another day, to die to myself, I refuse to make one more excuse.”
I often procrastinate on things that challenge me or aren’t pleasant. I wasn’t even sure I was ready for this study when Sunday got here. I did it once before a couple years ago with a church group and it just didn’t sink in. I dare say most of us here have experienced challenges and distractions during this first week, but God shows up and here we are. Just about the end of week one. Headed in the right direction. Letting go of the fails, but learning from them, so they are stepping stones instead of stumbling stones. Did you see the graphic on the Rev It Up Live study last night? If not here it is.
image

I would also encourage you to go through the Rev It Up study on your own if you couldn’t be there live on Facebook last night. It was awesome! Just search in Facebook for Rev It up Live and go for it.
So, as this week winds down, let’s take a moment and reflect on the most important thing: God loves us (Colossians 3:12) ! He is with us (Hebrew 13:5)! He is for us, so who can be against us(Romans 8:31)?
Will you join me in praying,  Heavenly Father, I refuse to stay unchanged. I know I am #Empowered through Your Holy Spirit to do this even more than I can ask or imagine. I will crave You and not __________.  You have led me here and You will finish what You have started in me. Nothing is impossible when God is in it. For Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. I am not alone on this journey, for you are with me and 42,000+ women, too. I will thank you in and for the struggles as I go, because it is in the struggles we gain strength, perseverance, and endurance. I will worship You because of Who You are and I will praise You in the storms of life. I will seek your face (presence) continually and not only Your hand (provision). I know You will help me carry on to finish the race well. Thanks and praises as I go into the rest of my day focusing on You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

(Prayer references: Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 84:2, Philippians 1:6, Luke 1:37, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Deuteronomy 31:8, Ecclesiastes 4:12, 2 Peter 1:6, Psalm 29.2, Psalm 42:5, 1 Chronicles 16:11, Philippians 3:12-14.)

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