Setbacks and Discouragement

It is amazing how quick we can get discouraged. We can be so content and encouraged one day and the next day talk ourselves into believing that what we do doesn’t matter. W e can convince ourselves that we are too small to make a difference… in our own lives, in our circle of friends and family, in the world and certainly too small to matter to the Kingdom of God.  Recently, I read an interesting story that I think explains why.

The story is told that Satan was “going out of business.” All of his tools were up for sale and attractively displayed on a table. What an array! There was hatred, envy, jealousy and deceit to name only a few. One harmless- looking tool, much worn, was priced higher than any of the others. “What is that tool?” someone asked. “Discouragement,” was the reply. “Why is it so expensive?” Satan answered, “Because it is more useful to me than any of the others.”

Ahhhh, I get it! Just as David found strength in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6), I will call upon my Lord for a new energy, a new outlook, and a new strength!

7 Pounds in 7 Days!

Don’t you just love those programs that promise quick results? We hear it all the time on infomercials, magazines, and websites. Guess what? I am here as living proof to tell you that your body can change by 7 pounds in 7 days! Here’s how!!

Tired of enjoying amazing success and that on top of the world feeling? Have you just had too much of that positivity, balance, and peaceful fellowship with your Creator? Well then, there’s a plan for you!!! Put an end to all of that peace and motivation by overeating and binging for 7 days straight! You heard right! No more amazing healthy meals or euphoric work outs… just start indulging in sugary drinks, fast food, and non stop sweets and you’ll gain that 7 pounds in 7 days—No Problem! We guarantee it– 7 pounds! That’s right! 7 pounds! Start today!

But WAIT! Act now and you can begin your misery today! Express self destruction can be rush delivered instantly! Act now!

Ouch! Crazy how so much hard work can be destroyed so quickly by veering from God’s plan for our temple. This has been a hard lesson learned. So thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning! Today is a new day!

Goin’ Walking after Midnight

So I’ve been thinking…..  I wonder what I could have done differently when I was faced with such challenging temptations last week. It was confusing because I seemed to have a plan before and it was easier when I had certain guidelines. I don’t want to be one of those people who “white-knuckle” every day. I think I need to revise my plan.

I have several friends who are members of AA. I have visited some of the open meetings in support of my friends who have struggled with alcohol addiction and I believe in this program. While praying about a plan for dealing with my weak moments, I remembered one of the principles that I heard about through AA. It s called the “Rule of HALT.”  The idea is that there are moments in our daily lives that we may be more susceptible to our weaknesses. When we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, our judgment may be impaired. The goal is that rather than succumb to these conditions, we will HALT, bring to a stop any of these situations that could be a trigger to our self-destructive behavior and choose a different path.

As I pondered that thought, I prayed about a way to make this method work for me in my struggles with weight issues. I was so excited when the scripture and idea came to me….. check this out!

Psalm 121

1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
3He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

Amazing, Huh!!??!?!?!

I began to really think about what is happening in that moment when I am deciding to binge or not. Whether it’s stress, anger, loneliness, exhaustion or whatever the trigger…. ultimately it’s my decision to follow through. So I tried a new approach. I decided to WALK. I have always enjoyed walking, but this new idea has a double meaning. In that moment…. you know the moment…. when I am deciding to choose from a vending machine, ordering from a menu, making my third trip to the kitchen for a “snack” or reaching for the office donut…. I am going to choose to be:

Willing to Acknowledge that the Lord is my Keeper!

I can physically walk if possible or I can take a walk in my thoughts… and go back to Psalm 121. The Lord is my Keeper, my Protector, my Guard. Maybe I can’t get through these moments on my own, but I can WALK back to Him and claim His promises!

Got your walking shoes on? Let’s take a stroll………..

Past, Present and Yet to Come

My Perilous Past

Last week I had a dream, more like a nightmare. I felt as if I had been visited by the “Ghost of Christmas Past,” except it was more like the Ghost of my Painful Past. I dreamed I was at a family gathering… lots of people…children…adults…pets. .. a full house. Full of family, friends, fun…. and food. I dreamed that I walked in and within minutes I was drawn to a table loaded with yummy treats. I walked over and instantly picked up a chocolate chip cookie…. then a brownie…. then rice crispy treats….. before long, I needed a coke….a real coke… and then another. The next thing I knew, it was like my chemical  dependency for sugar and caffeine was unstoppable. We were at a lake house …swimming, fishing, and boating by day and then barbecues and S’mores with lots of chocolate and roasted marshmallows by night. This pattern continued for days.  The dream felt so real. All of my successes felt as if they were slipping away… the lost weight, the positive outlook, the clear skin. It was all being replaced with my former sadness and a magnetic pull that I was too weak to resist. My muscles felt like jello, I was drained of energy, my skin was breaking out, and I felt miserably uncomfortable. It was so frightening. Wake up!! Wake up!! Please wake up!!

But I couldn’t wake up… because it wasn’t a dream.

My Promising Present

My son was spending the night with a friend. Like all mothers, your heart races when you get that late night phone call and the caller ID reflects the number of the home where your child is staying.

It was about 10:30pm and the shaky, crackling voice on the other end was my son, “Mom, I want to come home.”

“What’s wrong, Honey, Are you OK?”

“I don’t feel so good.”

“Did something happen?”

“No.”

“Are you sick? Does your tummy hurt? Do you think you are just tired?”

“Well, we were watching T.V. and we started eating cookies….. I think I ate too many cookies.”

“Oh, Honey, I’m sure you’re just fine. Lay down for a while and you will feel better soon.”

“Mom,” he began to cry…. “I just really want to come home.”

“OK, sweetheart, I will be right there.”

Despite the fact that I was completely exhausted and had just made it home myself at about 10:15 after putting in a 14 hour day, I was getting ready to drive 30 minutes each way to pick up my child…He needed me.

I felt like I was on a roller coaster as I continued this inner battle of trying to get back on track. Darkness came over my thoughts and I felt mocked… “Where is your God now? Didn’t you just write an article about “Victory in Jesus?”  I could almost picture the enemy belly laughing and saying “You don’t even have the strength to stop eating cookies…. And you think your God can use you to do something big? Weak…he scoffed….that’s what you are…weak and pathetic.”

This defeated feeling of struggle, confusion and weakness was so intense. I would wake up each day thinking….Ok, today is the day I will press the Restart button. I will get back to feeling good, believing, trusting. I would start my day with good choices but then the magnetic force of soda, sugar, or salt would overpower my intentions. All the while, I struggled in my thoughts. I felt disappointed in myself. I felt guilty…. Thinking….  if my readers could see me now…

Most days, it was overeating… and of course, eating all of the things that I knew were not such great choices. But then came a day when I did it. I stood in front of the cashier at the Nestle Toll House Cookie Café and my heart sank as I had just ordered a mountain of sugar and the cashier asked, “Would you like your receipt?” A brutal sting of a past reflection…. but it did not stop me. It was a complete and total binge in all of its glory. Heart- breaking.

I began to realize that I had been ignoring my friends. I closed off from the world. Worse than that, rather than run to God as I have been doing for months, I began to run away. I looked past His provision. I distanced myself. I built a wall and ignored my reality. It was way too painful to look in His direction. I felt so ashamed. I thought He had to be mad at me….disappointed in me even more than I was disappointed in myself. I was convinced that He was thinking…”After all of this? After all that I have delivered you through? After all…..?  Seriously?”

Then…it happened. In fact, it happened as I was on my way back to the mall for another well planned and thought out binge. I parked my car. I walked through the mall, making my way to visit my old faithful friend at the Toll House. I was literally stopped in my tracks! As I was walking through the mall, my mind drifted back to my conversation with my son the night before.  His shaky, scared, heartfelt cry was his way of reaching out to his parent. He was sincerely vulnerable and I could tell he needed me….I thought about how I would stop at nothing to rescue my child. It may seem silly to some, he simply had a tummy ache…. but he’s my child…. my very own heart walking around on the outside of my body. When he needs me…I will be there.

I felt as if the air had escaped my lungs when God said….”That’s how I feel about you. I am your Father, You are my child. You are my heart…walking around. If and when you call me, I will stop at nothing to come to your rescue.”

I stopped walking… standing in the middle of the hustle and bustle around me, I put my hand on my head and processed this moment. I turned around, and left the mall. I sat in my car… called on my Father…. and He rescued me.

My Hopeful Yet to Come

When Charles Dickens wrote his classic novel in 1843, A Christmas Carol, it was instantly successful. This timeless story of a transformed life has been a blessing to families year after year. I recognize that it is June, not December, but I love this story. I love how a vision of one’s past, present, and future can  absolutely transform our way of thinking and ultimately our way of living.

It was painful to relive my past by losing my focus, but in a strange way, just as Ebenezer Scrooge was enlightened by his visions, I am grateful to have experienced the 7 day detour in my journey. I know that I do not want to go back. I have tasted the life that God wants for my future. He’s not mad at me. He loves me. When I mess up, He forgives me…. it pains Him to see me in pain. He wants  to protect me the same way I want to protect my children from experiencing and learning pain the hard way.

My Yet to Come is full of hope. He has big plans for me. He told me so in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I may stumble, I may fall, but He’s my Father who will be with me every step of the way.

He’s there for you too!  May God Bless Us…. Every One!

Big Dipper

Big dipper

Because of my recent experience at the Chinese restaurant, I started to take mental notes about how often I used to dip my food. Guess what I realized??? I’m a pretty big dipper! Since I discovered how much I enjoyed dipping Chinese food in sweet and sour sauce…. And soy sauce… And duck sauce… I began to think about a few other things…. I dip my scrambled eggs in ketchup… I literally dip each bite of a cheeseburger in ketchup…. And like all true Americans, I drown my fries in ketchup too… I couldn’t even begin to name all of the things I dip in ranch dressing! Carrots, cheese sticks, garlic bread, fried pickles, pizza…. Not to mention most of my salads are swimming in ranch…. I dip fried mushrooms in honey mustard dressing…. I dip each bite of steak in Worcestershire sauce… I like cheese dip….salsa….mustard and ketchup mixed….. barbecue sauce……honey and butter mixed. Plus, I’m a southerner, and we dip just about anything in white gravy. (And in my family, we make chocolate gravy, yes…you read that correctly….chocolate gravy). The list could go on.

As I think about how often I use dips, I realize how much I am altering the flavor of my food. Most of the above mentioned dips are loaded with sugar. So that means, I can take almost anything…. Cover it with liquid sugar and consume extremely large amounts of food and tons of calories, while never really tasting any of it! What have I been doing to myself? Maybe that’s why my taste buds were jumping for joy during my 30 days!   At the rate I was going for so many years, apparently the majority of flavors that I had grown accustomed to was sweet and sweet with an extra side of sweet!

I am going to be more aware of my “dipping” habit and try to be conscious of the flavors of food that really do not need to have sweetness added. I really believe I have been missing out on Gods best!

By the way…

Oh, and by the way…. after spending all day yesterday praying for my friends instead of focusing on myself…. I was down to 176 this morning… that’s 19 pounds total! WooHoo! Thank you God!

Perspective

I prayed for perspective…. and I got it.

As you may recall, a few days ago, I was very discouraged. In fact, I had quite the pity party. It was due, in part, to not seeing the scale move as I had hoped. Well, I want to share with you how God put this whole thing in perspective for me.

My day started off with a heart wrenching conversation with a friend who is devastated by the ending of his marriage. His obvious pain deeply hurt my heart. Later in the morning, I spoke to a friend who is facing an unimaginable battle over the custody of her children. This afternoon, another friend shared with me about the sickness that has jolted their family. And this evening, I had a long phone conversation with a friend who is very unhappy in her marriage and diligently awaiting Gods answers to her prayers.

Pain…. in one day, I saw so much pain in the lives of the people I love. My heart was so heavy. I prayed more in this one day than I have all week. I did not have time to think about my petty discouragements. I felt ashamed for being upset over something so silly as not seeing the scale move, when my friends are facing life-shattering discouragement. Talk about perspective.

Thank you God for helping me see things differently. Please make your presence known in the lives of those who are hurting. Please shine your light so brightly that we all may see with Your eyes!

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