Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part eighteen

A word about Facebook.

I LOVE Facebook. I love it and I kind of hate it.

I could be on Facebook all day long. Sometimes I am. I love the little red notification that pops up when something new has happened, it's that little feeling of, oh, somebody has commented on my wall or something! Sometimes I just go down the home feed and comment on people's post so that they will remember that I exist. Throughout the day I think of different witty things I can post on my status. I post maybe a tenth of them. But that's how much Facebook is on my mind. I try to restrain myself so I don't look like one of those Facebookers who post all the time and are on all the time. When it gets really scary is when I'm Facebook stalking people I don't even know. I'm looking at their wedding pictures, pictures of their baby belly, and just keep clicking and clicking. You can get a whole history of a person just by going through their photos... or what you think is their history.

I can tend to have an unhealthy relationship with Facebook. However, the reason why I don't just delete my account is because of the few healthy things that I do on Facebook. The personal messages I share with my sisters-in-law, the messages I've gotten from you all as readers, the encouragement, the times when I have been able to post scripture and someone will comment that it impacted them... All of these things are the good sides of this double-edged sword.

I am learning to monitor myself on this thing. If I start to go look at the last 50 pictures of a person and read their whole feed for the past month, then I need to just shut the computer and walk away. If I'm just sitting there, meandering and not really doing anything that matters, I've checked the latest of what's up with my friends, birthdays, etc, then I just shut my computer and walk away. There are times when I need to rest. Really rest, not sit on the couch and meander on Facebook, but close my eyes and put up my feet and breathe, that's when I close my computer and rest. (In no way am I perfect in these things. Just the other day I was looking at someone's wedding pictures whom I don't even know)... but I'm trying.

The other caution I have with this incredible social network is the false sense of community it creates. I post something on my wall. This person comments on it in 140 characters or less. I feel like I have just had a conversation with that person, I feel like I have just looked them in their smiling face and talked to them. But I haven't. Again, there is nothing wrong with updates and wall posts, sometimes they are SO ENCOURAGING and I feel like we as Christians can use our Facebooks to glorify God, but I don't ever want it to replace my community. I need to still set up coffee dates, invite others over for dinner (who the heck does that anymore?!?) pick up the phone and call (except that I HATE phones, I'm terrible in every way at phones, so if you are my friend and talk to me on the phone I apologize for all the awkwardness of that).

Okay, my one last complaint against Facebook. (Again, I want to reinforce the fact that I use Facebook on a daily basis and I will continue to do so even after I post this.) The way we can present ourselves. We have profiles and profile pictures, posts, walls, notes... anyone can present themselves in any way. Of course the way you want to present yourself as this good-looking person. (I have untagged myself from unflattering photos, yes, I have done it). The problem comes I think when I look on Facebook and I see that everyone else has their lives together. They are really smart and witty, they have more comments on their pictures than I do. Their baby is cuter or more popular than mine is, they are skinnier than me, they had a prettier wedding than I did, her husband is cute, or he's not so cute... All this stuff is rooted in comparison. Women have major issues with comparison. I have major major issues with comparison. I have thoughts that I can't even control they are so automatic where I compare myself with every other female around me. Is she prettier than me, fatter than me, nicer than me, smarter than me, more talented than me... sometimes I win, sometimes she wins.

The most ridiculous part is that someone actually wins or loses.

This is not how God created us.

He created us as individuals each to reflect His image. When I walk down the street I am looking at hundreds of image bearers of God. Each one reflecting His creativity and beauty. I reflect it differently than the next person. No matter my hair color, eye color, if I have a long torso, if I struggle with my weight, the size of my butt or chest, if I have to wear braces, or the state of my skin. It's the lie of the enemy that we compare ourselves. The enemy wants to drive wedges between us women because we could have such wonderful, fruitful relationships with each other, if we weren't so afraid of how we measured up to one another.

Lord, help me not to compare.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I was talking to my younger sister last night about her classes for her art degree. She's a sophomore and she's pretty incredible. I'm amazed by her ability. She has so much passion for art, interest in what her teachers talk about, the different artists and their philosophies. We were able to talk about the historical artists and their philosophies, it was really cool to talk about how the music and art world kind of mirrored each other. She's so smart and doesn't even know it.

As she and my mom left I was just thinking about how thankful I was that her degree is similar to my degree but not the same.

For a long time I struggled with her looking up to me as the older sister. We shared a room when we were younger and I saw flat-out mean to her. My behavior towards her was terrible. I think there were several factors: our age difference of six years, me being a teenager and insecure and stupid, and her just thinking I was cool and wanting to be my friend. So I did my best to destroy our relationship.

I had to go back and apologize for these years. I hate it that I still feel pangs of guilt over my behavior. I know that she has forgiven me, but I may never forget my behavior. I know most people would tell me that "You have to forgive yourself Jody." Yeah, yeah, I know, but that feels really hokey and selfish. It still happened and I need to still hold her in respect for forgiving me.

I am thankful that our relationship is healed. It's the grace of God in our lives. She was my maid of honor in my wedding, and it's not just because she is my sister. It's because I love her and I value her above any other friend.

It's interesting because our lives are similar. We have struggled with similar things, the same mom :), we have these artist hearts, we both have gifts (different gifts) in art. So when she tells me her struggles I can relate. But i don't want to ever be like, "Oh yeah, been there, done that." Because our lives are NOT the same. ... I don't know, it's like I don't want her to live in my shadow (she doesn't want to live in my shadow either, thank goodness) ... I want to avoid that at all costs.

I have two brothers who couldn't be more different than me, so I think she is probably the one I have the most in common with. I often wonder if she had been closer in age if we would have gotten along better, but I can trust that God knew what He was doing.

Okay, so that is my struggle I've been thinking about lately. Do you have an older sister you feel like you are living in her shadow? Are you the older sister who has felt like her younger sister is someone to be tossed aside? Maybe you have both.

I think the sister relationship is a special, difficult one, full of parents, siblings, lasting forever where we get to see the ugliest, most real parts of each others lives. But possibly one of the most beautiful relationship I have.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part seventeen

Okay, so I was thinking about what I needed to post about today, and this is what I came up with... birth control. Oh gosh, my husband and I have had our own journey in this and I just wanted to share what the Lord has taught us in our own lives.

I had been on the pill in high school to help regulate my crazy cycle. Mom didn't like the idea of it, but I didn't really care. I didn't think it really effected me, but thought it would be nice not to have to take a pill every day. Midway through college I went off of it.

I was never really regular on my own until Ben and I started dating. Weird, yes. No, we were not having sex, by the grace of God we were able to remain sexually pure until marriage, I want to emphasize BY THE GRACE OF GOD because those pre-wedding months were difficult. I recommend the shortest engagement possible. It's weird because when we were just "dating" our physical relationship was just sweet holding hands, light kissing, and hugging. But then it was like after we got engaged the fire was fed. Suddenly temptation went through the roof. I will just say that, I don't know if anyone else has struggled in that way, but we sure did. Okay, enough about that.

So about a month before the wedding I went on the pill. That's what everybody did, I wanted my body to be "used" to it beforehand so there would be no chance of us getting pregnant. I had my music career going for me and that would seriously get in my way. We had talked about having kids and we thought we would revisit it in a year or so (in the back of my mind it would be a few years, Ben was less than that:)). I was going to be a serious songwriter, Ben had his job at Alltel, we were living in this cute little old apartment, it was going to be great.

Well, after the honeymoon we came home and I was working part-time at Starbucks, learning to be a housewife and cook dinners (I was SO terrible at this) grocery shopping was overwhelming to me, keep our apartment clean, try to do music and art on the side, and I was getting caught up in watching TV shows on our computer. Lovely, uplifting shows like Desperate Housewives, the Office, and some other show that was about this rich, spoiled family. I would get this attitude and Ben would come home and I was a total jerk to him. He probably thought, what happened to my sweet wife that I married? He would ask if there was anything wrong. I would be aloof and be like, yes, but I don't know what it is. I didn't like who I was becoming, but I didn't know how to stop.

Then I started to get angry. Violently angry. I would have thoughts that I just wanted to take a sledgehammer to something. I wanted to take our fishbowl with our innocent little beta and just toss it on the sidewalk and watch it break. Now, as I would have these thoughts it was like I was standing outside of myself thinking, I'm crazy. I've totally lost it. What the heck is wrong with me? I would wake up in the middle of the night... "Ben, Ben... wake up." "What's the matter Jody?" "I don't know, I just feel angry, like I just want to break something." CRAZY. Thinking back on this makes me amazed at Ben. I'm amazed that he didn't leave me. He just tried to talk me out of it, he prayed for me... then we thought, maybe it's this birth control. So I called my doctor and we switched to a new pill. The anger went away.

In it's place came a deep, dark depression. I had experienced this before, so I thought for sure it was spiritual. When I had the strength to, I would pray. I would wake up in the mornings and just be sad. Ben would often just have to leave the house with me sitting on the couch and staring blankly into the distance. "Are you going to be okay Jody?" and I would reply, "I don't know..."

Trying to fight it, one day I drove out to a park with pen and paper. I was so lost in this, just crying for help, I wrote on the paper, took a picture of it and sent it to him. With a body of water in the background he was afraid I was going to take my life and immediately started calling me. I didn't answer for a while, I was not in a healthy state of mind. It was crazy. Finally I answered and he came and found me. He told his boss he had to leave work to get his wife...
He came and sat next to me, he said, I don't ever want to go through that again. So we decided to try going off this pill. I didn't want to try another one for fear of how the next one would effect me. Ben agreed. He said he didn't want me to ever take any of those things again.

So for a while we tried condoms, but those made me dread intimacy.

Then a couple in our small group told us a about a diaphragm, I went and got fitted for one, but it was on back order for a few months.

Finally, I felt like the Lord was just leading us (blocking our efforts) to step out in faith. We were just supposed to do things the way God intended. He didn't put Adam and Eve in the garden and then say, "Okay, here are your condoms, birth control pills and so on..." No, He commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. I came to the conclusion that it is the Lord who opens and closes the womb, that no pregnancy, no child is brought into this world (even a pregnancy outside of marriage) apart from the will of God. He is the Creator of life, not us. So who am I to sit in the place of God and decide when and if I should be pregnant?

Okay, this is where I'm going to backtrack a little bit. This is what the Lord revealed in Ben and my life. This is not a blanket post to say that you are an evil person if you try to control pregnancy. I can immediately think of four of my friends (who love the Lord, love their kids and their husbands) who were ill, some more violently than others, throughout each of their pregnancies. I support their decisions to take permanent (or semi-permanent) measures in order not to get pregnant so that they can be better wives and moms. All four of these friends have each had three kids and I have so much respect for them that after their first experience they had even more.

I am thankful that God led us as He did. Exactly one year after we were married we found out we were pregnant. He provided every step of the way. If we hadn't followed I wouldn't have had the opportunity to be pregnant alongside my sisters-in-law, which was an experience I am so grateful for. I am closer to them in ways I would have never dreamed of. Most importantly, I wouldn't have my Levi. I could not imagine my life without him. The things that he has taught me, the ways I have had to put my needs aside in order to meet his... it just causes you to grow up a lot. I highly recommend not putting off kids. I'm just gonna say that. Having them young so you can keep up with them, so that your body can recover more easily from the pregnancy... It has just been amazing.

Also, I just want to clear the myth that kids cost a lot of money. Yes, insurance is needed for the delivery and everything. We got all of Levi's bedding second-hand, strollers second-hand, I haven't bought him but one or two toys (all he really wants to play with is an old cell phone). We have a crib that was given to us, a pack 'n play that was given to us, diapers are expensive, but I saved and got nice cloth ones and that has taken care of a lot of that expense. I don't ever want Levi to have a lot of "stuff" ... if little kids in poor countries can just play with a tin can, Levi can just play with his little blocks and be just fine.

Okay, that was a long post, but it's a story I love to share.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Cannot Keep Silent

Okay, so I really don't want to post this. I've been going back and forth in my head all day and finally, I've reached the point where I feel like if I don't, well, I just feel convicted that I'm too worried about what other people think of me. I'm worried that I might offend someone. The sad thing is that this is a political issue, the fact that it has become a political issues shows how far our society has gotten.

Can I just ask a question? Maybe just set this up for a moment. Let's say there' s this billionaire who gives lots of money to research cancer and help people, they go into lower-income neighborhoods and help people kill their children. This billionaire is deemed by society as doing it a "service" helping moms put to death their innocent children. The mothers are told that this is "safe" and that it's not a child, it's just a fetus ... Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself here. But would this billionaire still be a murderer? It doesn't matter how much good that this person would do, the fact is, they are a murderer.

Yes, I am talking about abortion. As I said earlier, there are certain people I don't want to offend. If you are a woman who has had an abortion, I am deeply sorry. Maybe you knew what you were getting into, maybe you didn't. I have heard multiple accounts and I can only imagine the tragedy of your pain and suffering. I am not writing this so that you will feel more guilty and more entrenched in shame. I am JUST as sinful as you are. I cannot say that if I were in the same situation I would not have done the same. That situation beyond difficult, abortion clinics are not upfront, boyfriends and family can pressure and we can all make poor decisions. There is forgiveness for you in Christ. He can take this tragic sin and only He can make you holy. He can heal you and bring eternal forgiveness into your life. If you want to know more about this, you can email me at and I would love to talk to you about it.

Then, there are the ones who I don't care if they are offended or not. I am saddened that this has become a "choice" or a "political stance" ... How is it that this feels SO MUCH like Nazi Germany and the legalization of the genocide of the Jewish people. We have legalized the genocide of our own unborn. I do not want to be like those in Germany who quietly stood by. They may not have supported the Nazis, but they sure enough didn't object. So I will say that I object.

I often wonder about the abortionist who sees the remains of the baby as they suck it out of their mother's womb. I wonder how they justify it as they see tiny human body parts of the mutilated fetus. I am so sorry to mention this in my post, I do not want to offend, but this is something that happens thousands of times a day. It is something that is covered up and hidden. I am often frustrated when I listen to public radio and they talk about social injustice but never talk about the human abortion of life. It is hidden and practically denied.

I am a truth-seeker. I want to have the courage say what no one else will.

Proverbs 31:8 says
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

I personally want to do all I can to help young girls with their unplanned pregnancies, but I do not feel that abortion is anywhere near a good solution.

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part sixteen

God is faithful to sustain me. I'm just gonna start out by saying this fact: He is faithful

I always wanted the Christian life to be cut and dry. These are the exact boundaries to stay in, if I read three chapters of the Bible, pray for 15 minutes, go on a walk, do 15 sit-ups, go on a run, eat the perfect foods in the perfect amounts, then I will be good. A nice little checklist of perfection. I used to make all kinds of checklists. I had this uncanny ability to make impossible checklists. These lists will make me perfect and then I will be okay. I'm not saying there is something inherently wrong with lists, but I was becoming a slave to them.

I was becoming a slave to dieting.

Must stay within these boundaries, must not go outside, if there is a party, the boundaries are thrown out and there will be a new start tomorrow, or Monday...

I'm going to steal an analogy from Gwen Shamblin right now. This was the most revolutionary thing in getting me to think that my struggle with food is a SPIRITUAL struggle, not a physical one. It has physical attributes, but at it's core it is spiritual.

Dieting is slavery. Just like the Israelites in Egypt, it is a slavery to food, I don't like it, can't wait to get out, but always want to go back. It is a human solution. I devise rules for myself that I must obey and I will quit trusting in the God who created me and knows what is best for me, and I will trust in food, I will trust in all the nutrition experts and the world's way of doing things. This way I will be in control of my own destiny... except that I hate it. I mean, I might like it for a while, that feeling of being in control and eating healthy, yes, it does those things... but, in my own life, when I am "dieting" I am not depending on God.

Lord, help me, I'm weak in this, I don't want to throw people off into no man's land, I pray that You would lead and guide.

Last night I wanted ice cream. I thought, I don't need ice cream, my jeans are getting a little tight. But I WANTED ice cream. I thought, I'm nursing, it's not a big deal. But somewhere in there I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me that I would be okay without ice cream. That still, small voice that leads so perfectly was quietly saying, no Jody, you are going to be fine without it. And I listened. I was fine without it. And then Ben had some and told me how good it was. I wish I could tell you this amazing story of how I resisted temptation, I didn't fall ... all that stuff. But, I had some. And honestly, I wish that I had not. I sort of spent the rest of the night piddling around on Facebook, wasting precious time, looking at pictures of people I didn't even know, sort of just falling into it. As I went to bed I felt my stomach sort of churning and again, wished I hadn't. I'm not going to have regrets or shame over this, I don't think it will cause me to gain 5 pounds, BUT I do want to learn from this experience. That's why I'm blogging about it today.

Tonight, when the Holy Spirit prompts me, I want to just pray. I might even ask Ben to hold me accountable not to eat whatever it is. I want to stay away from piddling on Facebook and maybe clean something, read a book, paint a picture... I want to not look at what others are doing around me and wish I could be like them (it was totally fine for Ben to partake, I DO NOT need to compare myself with him) I need to listen to God in my life.

Lord, help me to walk with You today. Show me Your ways. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part fifteen

For as long as I can remember I've had a bad sweet tooth. I look at all the sugar I've eaten in my life and it is only by the grace of God that I am not diabetic or at least hypoglycemic. Salty things, yeah, I could eat them and enjoy them, but rich sweets, oh man, I can literally feel my blood sugar spiking as I think about them. And they pretty much taste amazing.

So, this has been my stumbling block. Offer me chips, yeah, I could turn those down. Bread? I'll pass... but a bowl of ice cream? Or cookies? That will be my downfall. The miracle of it now is that I have experienced more freedom in these past few years than in a long time. I believe that is only because of diligent prayers and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When I couldn't think of anything else to do, I would eat. In general, this isn't a healthy way to just "pass the time" ... when I was stressed or depressed, I would eat. I thought that my taste buds could comfort me. I unreasonably thought that this delicious food, and large amounts of it would bring me peace. In fact, they brought me just the opposite. They brought me pain and regret. Okay, just last night, JUST LAST NIGHT I was not feeling very good, I knew I needed to clean the kitchen, we had some chocolate chips in the pantry, so I thought they could help me as I cleaned. I dumped some out on the counter and ate them as I went along. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with chocolate chips, they are fine, they taste great, God made them to taste great... but afterward I remember thinking that they didn't help anything. I felt sort of sick after putting them in my body (not REALLY sick, but just not good). I started to think about how this effected my attitude. Old feelings of failure came back without me even really knowing it. Somewhere below the surface a little voice was nagging at me.

Again, I want to reiterate the fact that eating sugar is not a sin. Eating it to fill a void is. Does that make sense? I want my priorities to be right, I want to depend on God, not on food.

The difference between last night and several years ago is that several years ago I would have proceeded to eat all the junk food in our pantry and would not have stopped until much later. Steps to freedom are small, it's two steps forward, one step back. In the Psalms it says "though he stumble, he will not fall." Talking about us walking with God. It's like we are holding His hand and we are these little toddlers walking along. There are some cracks in the sidewalk and we may stumble, we may even scratch our knee, but God never lets go of our hand. We will not fall because He is holding us. His grace saves.

There is still more to my story, I'm just praying about how and what to share. If you have questions about struggles or anything like that, feel free to email me or comment or something like that.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part fourteen

The other day I was driving in my car and listening to Alice Radio (usually about half the time I have to change the dial when listening to her). But this time a song came on by a band called OneRepublic, it's called "Secrets"

I highly encourage listening to the song, I don't encourage watching the music video, like most music videos, it ruins the song.

Here are the lyrics:

I need another story
Something to get off my chest
My life gets kinda boring
Need something that I can confess

'Til all my sleeves are stained red

From all the truth that I've said
Come by it honestly I swear
Thought you saw me wink, no
I've been on the brink, so

Tell me what you want to hear

Something that will like those ears
Sick of all the insincere
I'm gonna give all my secrets away

This time

Don't need another perfect lie
Don't care if critics ever jump in line
I'm gonna give all my secrets away

My God

Amazing that we got this far
It's like we're chasing all those stars
Driving shiny big black cars

And everyday I see the news, all the problems that we could solve

And when a situation rises, just write it into an album
Seen it straight to gold
I don't really like my flow, no, so

Oh, got no reason, got not shame

Got no family I can blame
Just don't let me disappear
I'mma tell you everything

... I guess honestly I didn't want to be a fan of them because of Ryan Tedder. The first time I met him he was young and he came to my youth group and shared music. It was cool, but I think it just felt like I could never be that cool. I would never come close to being amazing like him. I went home and cried. And then I wrote a song. It's not an awesome song, just me crying out to the Lord that I felt useless, could He really use someone like me? I was pretty overweight then and kinda felt like I was on the level of a ... well, maybe like a possum or some low-life animal, nobody would really miss me if I was gone. I wasn't that great at music, I wasn't pretty at all, probably more so just gross to look at. That's honestly how I felt about myself. Was it true? Of course not, I had worth in the sight of my friends and my parents, and most importantly, in the sight of God. But that's about how depressed I was.

I have been suicidal at times, but I decided a while back that the reason why I'm still walking this earth is because God is not done with me. If He wanted to, He could have me hit by a bus or just stop my heart or something like that. So in a sick way I have rationalized myself out of ever trying to take my life. In my lowliest of times I can always take hold of that. I'm not afraid of death, afraid of pain, yes, to some extent, (but I believe that if I were to be in a situation as the martyrs were the Holy Spirit inside of me would enable me to bear up under it and give glory to God). I believe that my life is in His hands. He has given me every breath I take and if He allowed me to wake up this morning, then He intends to use me. And that's what enables me to face my dark days.

Back to the song, I think my favorite line in it "til all my sleeves are stained red, from all the truth that I've said" I feel like the truth is an open bleeding of my life. I will give all my secrets away and be willing to bleed in front of others. It is messy, but it is Christ who first bled for us. He was naked on the cross and he took all of our sins, all of our shame and bled for us. By HIS wounds we are healed.

James 5:16 says:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part thirteen

I was talking to my husband about my last post. I ended up reading it to him and then realized all the mistakes in it. I am not an editor. I'm a writer. I hate editing and going back over. So I apologize and ask that you please forgive me in this and other posts.

I don't think I finished everything I wanted to say about exercise. What I have learned is that I need to LISTEN to my body. If I am sick (like I am now) or recovering from surgery (like after Levi was born) or something like that I need to rest. My body needs that energy to repair itself. If I am feeling sluggish and lazy, it probably means I need to get out for a walk. It doesn't have to be hardcore running and P90X and all that jazz, just sometimes needs a little lift. Something just to get my body moving. If I feel like I could get out for a run, then I will run. If I feel like I could have a big huge workout, because I have been faithful with my smaller exercise, then that is okay. But I don't have time or energy to work out for several hours a day, and my body is just not in that place.

Walking has also helped my struggle with depression.

Something about being outside, thinking, talking to God, breathing, going as slow or as fast as I feel like is just good for my soul. My brain needs it, my body needs it. I try to get some kind of exercise at least four days a week. Sometimes it will be six days a week (I rarely exercise on Sundays because of my responsibilities at church). I also count a hard day of housework as exercise. If I am doing loads of laundry and vacuuming, washing dishes, fixing dinner and chasing after Levi, then that is plenty of exercise for that day. This has been especially the case with the winter months when it's just not feasible to go out walking in the weather with a little one. I'm looking forward to the summer and the long walks with Levi. He has been a huge encouragement to me. Last summer every time he saw me getting ready and heading to the door he would squeal with delight. Our walks were his favorite time of day. I feel like God used him in my redemption of my body, and that is just one of the ways.

My encouragement to you, if you are stressed and procrastinating, I want to encourage you to just turn off the TV, put on your tennis shoes (you don't even have to change out of your jeans or skirt or whatever) and go for a walk around the block. I say this because I WISH I HAD DONE THIS. So many times I would procrastinate doing laundry, doing homework or whatever by watching TV or something like that. If you don't feel like you can do it, you can for sure go for a stroll. It doesn't have to be high intensity or anything like that, but you will be burning calories, getting fresh air, exercising your heart, freeing your mind, talking to God (complaining to Him if you must, then asking Him to change your heart) :) It's the best kind of procrastination you will ever do. :)

Another thing, with the summer months approaching and the extreme heat, I would usually leave my house at about 7 in the morning, and I was able to walk pretty much the whole summer. I would come home, put Levi down for his nap and then shower. It was the best way, after my time with the Lord at 6, to start my day.

I hope you all are encouraged! Jess, thanks for asking if I would post. I wouldn't have if you hadn't asked. :) This one is for you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part twelve

There's so much that I want to write about and share. Again, I reserve the right to jump around in my story. I think sometimes it's better to cover things by topic, so this post will be about: Exercise.

Learning to exercise the body I was given.

I am not naturally athletic and coordinated. Whatever I do, it is from hard work and practice. I had the privilege of being in sports since a young age because of my older brother. He wanted to play baseball and my parents found it was good to have all three of us in sports. My little brother and I weren't that expensive because we were just added on.

When I was younger I did gymnastics and took a year of dance. I loved it but it was SO expensive, so I had to quit by the time I was about 10 or 11... I think. I played little kid softball and was terrible. My soccer team won absolutely NO games. We tied twice.

Moving up into middle school and high school I began to play basketball. Again, at the influence of my amazingly athletically gifted older brother. We were home schooled, so we pretty much had to start our own sports teams so we could play the other schools. I will take pride in the fact that it's now a whole athletic association. Back then it was just my brother's junior high team. I was put on the girls team. I played basketball for four years and absolutely loved it. Those were my best memories in home schooling. That was my one real regret about going to public school, missing out on the home school sports. The last year or two I also played volleyball and fell in love with that even more. If I had a choice today I would play volleyball over basketball, but I still love them both.

So exercise was sort of naturally a part of my life. When I went on that first diet I mentioned in this post exercise became very easy for me. Running was easier, I was quicker as an athlete, things were looking up. And then with the beginning of public school all of that changed. My eating definitely was what caused me to gain weight, but with no exercise there was nothing to stop my weight from piling on. I remember doing the Atkins Diet for a while in November of that year. I decided I would run early in the morning and do the diet during the day. I was exhausted. I hated running because it was like I had picked up an extra 30 pounds and had to carry that with me. Try it, it's hard. Running has also caused me shinsplints throughout the years. So I would be fighting that off, running through the pain or trying to rest them and struggling throughout the day. The all protein diet didn't work for me because of the constipation. It was ridiculous, and painful. The lack of any kind of carbohydrate would cause me not to be able to function. That was when I realized that God gave us all the food groups for a reason. He provided this wide range of foods that we were meant to partake in. They are good foods with varying tastes, everything in moderation.

Everything in moderation. That has been a difficult phrase for me. I am not a naturally moderate person. I am an extreme person. If I'm going to do something I will do it all the way, if I feel like I can't do something, I give up completely and run the other way. Absolutely run.

I had to learn to be moderate in my exercise. Okay, I am not knocking the marathon runner, triathlete, or whatever. This is simply what I have learned about my body through the years. I abused it for years and now I am learning to respect the creation that God has given to me.

I mentioned earlier that in college I would overeat and then over exercise. I would often spend an hour on the elliptical and then sometimes go over to the stair-master for another 30 minutes. Sometimes I would do stuff for three hours. This was me just trying to lose weight quickly. I remember sitting in a piano lesson and thinking, why are my fingers not working right? They can play this song. Later, I realized that I had been gripping the elliptical machine for an hour and a half and these poor tiny muscles in my hands were fatigued. I would always pour sweat too. I'm a heavy sweater. So as far as water retention, I don't even know. I would try to drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. Sometimes I would drink more like 16 or 20. It was ridiculous. All this, to try to lose weight quickly.

Apparently I didn't learn the lesson of the tortoise and the hair. Slow and steady. Now I know that is the only way to lose weight. It has to be practically unnoticeable. I think that's the struggle with dieters, especially perpetual dieters, we want to see results of these difficult efforts and we want to see them now. I am queen of the perpetual dieting. By the end of the day, two days, maybe even a week, if I haven't lost weight I might as well eat a couple of bowls of ice cream and watch some movies where a skinny girl gets the guy. I'll try it again on Monday.

This is why I threw away my scale.

The scale was killing me. I was defining myself by a number on a machine. I would hope and pray each morning that the number would fall. Most of the time it stayed the same. If I had just eaten something it would go up, duh. If I hadn't eaten anything for a few days it would often go down or stay the same. Duh. Over time it would win either way. If the number went up I would give up on my diet and binge. If the number went down I would "reward" myself, I was okay because I had just lost a pound or two.

I decided that God was the one who knew my weight. It didn't matter what the number was, I wasn't going to live in denial and I wasn't going to be a slave to this little bathroom machine. I would simply listen to Him and ask Him if He was okay with my weight. With no scale to tell me if I was succeeding or not, it required me to live in a place of FAITH. Faith that His way of eating was best for me. Faith that I wouldn't gain massive amounts of weight if I didn't have a little thing in the bathroom pointing out my imperfections. And let me tell you, that faith has led to freedom. I don't care what I weigh anymore. Yes, I have stepped on scales at my parent's house in a moment of weakness, but honestly, it doesn't matter anymore. It's not a part of who I am. The last time I did step on a scale I was shocked because I haven't weighed this little in at least nine years. ... This is the redemption of my body. A process, PROCESS of faith. Which leads to freedom.

This was a lot longer post than I thought it would be. I'll have more to say about exercise and scales and things later. :) Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part eleven

A word about pregnancy. :)

Okay, I wasn't going to post this until later, but my friend Molly made a comment and I thought, I just need to say something in regards to my pregnancy.

When you are pregnant you get all kinds of advice. Do this, don't do that, you need to gain weight, you shouldn't gain very much weight and all that junk. When you are pregnant everyone feels the need to tell you their pregnancy stories. Maybe they gained 70 pounds and lost it all while breastfeeding. Maybe they only gained 25 pounds but are still struggling to lose it. Some gain all at the beginning, some towards the end. All of this "advice" should be taken with a grain of salt. Each person's body is completely different from the next. God made each of our bodies unique in the way we react to the hormones, the babies themselves. I've heard of moms who have had two completely different experiences with their pregnancies. So when we are pregnant we need to be relying on God, on the Holy Spirit. He knows our bodies and knows what is BEST for us specifically. Sometimes you can use good, plain common sense too, to help guide you.

I will say that my pregnancy was excellent. I was tired and nauseated in the first trimester, but Ben got me out exercising even when I was cursing as we were walking out the door. My second trimester I was somewhat tired, but I felt pretty normal, my body was used to the hormones and I wasn't feeling sick as often. Third trimester was uncomfortable, but not terrible. I gained about 30 pounds, but most of it wasn't until the end.

I didn't own a scale so every time we went to the Dr's office I was nervous that I had gained a lot of weight, but I hadn't. It was the mercy of God that allowed me not to gain weight. I remember being terrified that I would gain massive amounts of weight as a pregnant woman and would have no control over it. But I remember talking to a friend who had gained about 70 pounds and asking her if she felt like it could have been prevented. After thinking it over for a moment she said, "Yes, I feel like it could have been prevented." She explained that she felt like maybe she used pregnancy and feeling nauseated all the time as an excuse to eat. So I took what she said to heart.

I remember some of the best advice I received was from our pastor's wife (who has been pregnant 10 times, so she kinda knows what she's talking about). She said to let my body go on auto-pilot. You just eat what your body tells you to eat, rest when it says rest, get exercise and you will be fine. (That's the Jody paraphrase). So that's what I did. Sometimes my appetite was enormous! Sometimes I ate like a normal person, sometimes I just wasn't hungry. I drank a lot of whole milk in my first trimester because as soon as I opened up the refrigerator to get a snack I couldn't take the smells, so I just held my breath and poured a glass of milk and it held me pretty well. ... Now, my body didn't work completely perfectly, I had to take a fiber pill every morning so that I would be regular. I think Levi was sitting right on my intestines.

As far as exercise goes, I walked. I used to think walking was pointless, why walk when you can run? Now I LOVE walking. I usually walked in the morning after Ben left for work. I would go anywhere from 1-3 miles depending on how I was feeling that day. If it was the weekend or I hadn't gotten it in that day, Ben and I would go together. I walked for two reasons: to keep my weight reasonable and so that I could have a natural childbirth. I had a renewed confidence in what my body could do and I believe that God created us as women to birth babies. Even though childbirth is painful, it is beautiful and miraculous. It's like it's a good pain that needs to be experienced. Sadly, I didn't get to experience it since Levi was breech. We had to have a C-section. But my recovery went SO WELL and I think it was because I was in such good shape. My heart was strong, my body was strong, my recovery was slow, but good. With the next one I want to be a rock star like my sister-in-law and have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

Now, in all of this I am only speaking from my own experience. I have a friend who could tell you that her experience was throwing up all day every day (literally, it's amazing she's alive after THREE pregnancies, she's another rock star).

Bearing children is a beautiful thing. It is miraculous to think that we start out microscopically and grow in this perfect womb from there. I couldn't help but think that when I was putting food into my mouth it wasn't just for me. More than ever I didn't want to binge and hurt my body because it wasn't just my own anymore. It was a home for this new little life and I was responsible for him. Ben said he saw both his sister and sister-in-law really come out of eating disorders when they became pregnant and started to have children. I think the reason is that their lives and their eating was not just about them anymore. I still want to take care of myself so that I will have energy to play with Levi, so that I can bear more children and they be as easy as having Levi.

I never thought I could possess a selfless love. Okay, and on some levels I'm not there. But being a mom has more than ever ALLOWED me not to focus on myself. My thoughts are on whether or not Levi has eaten, if he has been changed, does he need to sleep, those are the first places I go. Then I think about me. I still struggle with selfishness and having kids is not a "fix all" but I feel like it was the grace of God that took my eyes off myself and put them on someone else. Of course, in this, I need to put Ben's needs above all else, then Levi's but that's another story for another day. :)

Thank you for allowing me to share part of my experience. I feel like the redemption of my body has taken place because of two people: my husband who saw me as beautiful, and my son, who helped me to care for my body and has even helped me lose more weight than I thought I could. They are gifts from God. God is the One who has truly redeemed my body, mind and spirit. He works in amazing, surprising ways.

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part ten

When Ben and I were dating, well, it was kind of like word vomit all the time. I had decided a long time ago that whoever was brave enough to date me would know every nook and cranny of my life. I think that's why our dating and engagement was so short because we KNEW each other so well. I mean, it wasn't like the first date I lined out perfectly all my struggles past and present and every mistake I ever made, but literally two weeks into it we shared with each other late one night on my parents' front porch our deepest, darkest sins. We both had to sort out and forgive each other of these things, we got to process them up front, from the beginning and encourage one another in them. We were driving in the car one time and I was like, "Do you want to know how much I weigh?" I wanted to know if he would accept me at this weight I was at. He responded that it didn't make any difference to him what I weighed, that wasn't why he liked me. So I told him. I weighed 5 pounds MORE than he did. And he's 6 inches taller. I put it out there and it didn't change his love towards me ONE BIT. It was good to just have everything on the table. I hear about how couples learn so much about each other after they get married, or find out secret things or may not even know some basic things and they have known each other for YEARS, this is incomprehensible to me. I guess I could see how that would happen, but still there is a level at which I just simply don't understand.

I think this honesty with Ben has allowed me to be okay with sharing the ridiculous things I have done. If I can share them with my soul-mate, my life- partner, my husband and he will still love me, then I can share them with anyone.

I remember struggling with buying a wedding dress. I talked about struggles with clothes in this post. Since meeting Ben I had lost some weight, but was still fairly ... big. I mean, maybe had about 30-40 pounds in my opinion. I remember just dreading it. There was no way I was going to buy one of those big white dresses. I wanted to get married, yes, but I didn't want to have everyone looking at me. I didn't want people judging my choice of dresses, I didn't want that pressure. So, I told Ben. And he said, "Jody, don't wear a dress for anyone else, just wear it for me. Remember that you are my bride and I want you to wear white just as we wore white the day that Christ bought us as his bride, so you are symbolizing our relationship with him." There was no arguing with that.

I decided that it would be a no pressure thing. So I took my little sister and we waltzed into David's Bridal on a Tuesday morning. The store was empty and I told her what kind of dress I wanted. I didn't want a veil (probably mostly because I'm cheap) I just wanted a dress with straps (there was no way I was going in there with my football shoulders with a strapless dress) sleeves if possible because I hated my arms, no long train, or not too long, and this was my size, I don't care if it's bigger or whatever, I'm not defined by a number on a tag.

I loved the first dress I tried on. Kelsey and I had a blast just making fun of the bridesmaid dresses that were on display, the undergarments, dancing in front of the mirrors, etc. I'm so thankful for her as my sister, I don't know what I would have done without her. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part nine

I want to thank everyone who has been so encouraging to me in this. You're the reasons why I have been able to be so faithful in my writing (pretty much daily). Thank you for your words, they mean so much to me.

I don't know why I went through the things that I went through or struggled with sin as much as I did. The human side of me wants to tell you "wait, I'm really not that bad, I still read my Bible and pray and I was a leader in our campus ministry and church..." But our righteousness is as filthy rags. This is why I'm a Christian as opposed to a Muslim or Buddist or Hindu, it's because of the salvation of Christ. I could never blot out my own sins, only the blood of Christ could do that. He washes me white as snow and I am now holy and pure before Him. So when I write about these things that I did in my flesh they are true, but God, who is holy, does not see them. When He looks at me all He sees is the purity of Christ. This blows my mind. That is why I have the ABILITY to be so honest here. That is why I don't care what you think. Not in a way that says "Nah Nah, I don't care." and sticks it's tongue out. But in a way that is honest in saying, your opinion of me does not matter. You are dead in your transgressions and so am I. But, if you trust Christ for your salvation you will be made clean and the only Righteous Judge will see us and allow us into His throne room.

I just had to say that.

I want to be really honest on here. If you don't want to hear my honesty, you can stop reading now. I would say that I had an eating disorder. If I could have thrown up I would have. Praise the Lord that I was never physically able to do so. I do remember trying some kind of tea from Wal-Mart (high quality, I know) called "Super Dieter's Tea, if you haven't tried this, then don't. It claimed to help dieters with extra energy. What it did, well, the only thing that I remember it doing was giving me intense diarrhea. I remember drinking it and then an hour or two later feeling my intestines seize and I had literally maybe 10 seconds. It was so painful, it was like my body was saying, I really really don't need this. Amazingly enough I tried it several times. Each time thinking that I could control it, maybe it would help me "cleanse" my system, but each time it was painful and felt... wrong. The world of eating disorders is a sad place. It is a hopeless place that is full of fear. Fear of being found out, fear of gaining weight, fear of not being beautiful. I look at the way I treated my body and I'm amazed that today it actually works properly. Well, semi-properly. :) I can't eat grapes, grapefruit, raisins, craisins and a few other foods without getting really bad gas. I think that came from eating too many of those things on an extreme diet I tried.

The more I think about it the more I see the truth in what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:23 "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is constructive. God declared all foods clean and good for food. But not everything that I put into my body is beneficial for it. I'm learning to eat what my body is craving, not my mind. I'm learning that certain foods make my body work better, but to eat a piece of cake is not a sin. To eat a whole cake because I am looking for it to fill the emptiness in my heart is a sin. This is mind-blowing to the regular dieter. I cannot tell you how many times I would go "off" my diet and then go back "on" on Monday. "I'll start over after this party, after I eat this bag of chips, this box of Lucky Charms, this carton of ice cream." ... the list could go on and on. The problem with that is my HEART.

Colossians 2 and 3 hit me so hard: Why do we submit to these worldly rules of do not handle, do not taste, do not touch? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts (our desires) on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds (our motives) on things above (on pleasing Him, worshiping Him), not on earthly things (body image, food, clothes). For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Okay, so I added the parenthesis :) I would encourage you to go to these passages and memorize them, ask what God is speaking to you specifically through them. God gives us freedom, but we need to turn our hearts and our minds towards him and away from the world.

I feel like maybe I just preached a sermon. I'm sorry if you feel "preached at" these are just things that my stubborn heart has had to learn the hard and long way.

Thank you for taking part.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part eight

It's Valentine's Day today. I remember when I used to loath this holiday. I tried not to, but I just did. Maybe sometimes I wore black, but I never really outwardly complained, but inwardly ... well, it was just really painful.

I was convinced that I would never find a guy until I had lost all this weight. I was convinced that I would not be beautiful until then. I will just let you all know that I had 21 Valentine's Days with no Valentines. Just stupid cards from my parents or something like that. ... Well, actually, I think there was this one time when a guy bought me a necklace. He was really sweet and is now married to an amazing woman, and I am totally happy for them. He was right for her and I was right for Ben and that's just how it worked out, God is sovereign. But I feel like God used him in my life at that time. He may not know this, I think it was about a year that we hung out, maybe longer, off and on... but he showed me that I was worth more than I thought I was. He never cared about my weight and he told me so. He told me he thought I was beautiful because of my personality, my spirit. I believe, in my heart, that he paved the way for Ben. This at least opened me up to the idea that I might possibly be beautiful.

Now, mind you, for that ONE guy I could probably name 20 who never gave me a second look. But God was merciful to me and provided this perspective.

I look back in my journals (yes, I do engage in the painful reading of my old journals) and it seems like the two: weight loss and being in a relationship went hand in hand. I would rarely journal about one without talking about the other.

Then God broke through all of that.

One day God spoke to me clearly (as I was complaining to Him) that I would not lose weight until I found my husband. It's almost comical how foreign that concept was to me. "Are you kidding me God? Don't you know the culture I live in? Don't you know the models that are on the front of the magazines? No guy will love me if I am this size." ... that was my faithless response.

Little did I know that Ben had been watching me, and beginning to love me all this time.

When I first met Ben I was wearing a swimsuit. I was working at the YMCA and that was my uniform. Why a person who struggles with their weight would work at a job that requires her to wear a swimsuit all day, I don't know. I was taking a break from teaching swimming lessons and wanted to swim laps. The lanes were full. He was under the age of 60 and pretty cute I thought, so I asked him if I could share his lap lane. It wasn't exactly fireworks from there, but he did go home and tell his mom about me, which is always a good thing.

So he ended up coming to my college ministry that I led worship at. He sat in the back and quietly served. ... Oh my gosh, I love that part. Who quietly serves? My husband, and I am so proud of him. ... Rabbit trail.
He wrote me notes, but never had the courage to give them to me. He never let on too much, just admired me from a distance.

All this time I had no idea. Here I was struggling with my weight, struggling with binge eating, struggling with exercising, giving it over to the Lord and then taking it right back. I hate struggling with sin. I was probably nearing the top of the scale at some of these points. I was probably wearing clothes that didn't look that great. There were other girls who sang on stage who were much prettier than I was, other girls who served or who danced... In my comparisons I always fell short.

He went off and graduated in December. He moved back to Little Rock and I was still in Conway. I decided that I wanted to pursue a music career. I had a CD named "Echoes in the Room" that just sort of poured out all my struggles in music form. I had a CD release party that Kris Allen (yes, the American Idol) opened for, I just HAD to drop that in there, couldn't help it. So I went off to pursue my music career.

So I was literally running hard after my music. I had decided that I would not let my weight define me. I got gigs around town, I got on a local TV station, a local radio station, and just did whatever I could. If you were my Facebook friend then you were probably sick of being invited to my shows. I wouldn't have changed it either. That's one thing that I don't regret doing. I don't regret trying hard and going after what had been put in my heart.

Ben and I met up later that summer and finally, finally he was able to tell me that he liked me. I was in shock over this of course, but after a four hour long conversation we both realized we had a lot in common. Coming home I was so excited that this guy whom I was attracted to was actually attracted to me too. I slept maybe 3 hours that night then got up early and climbed Pinnacle Mountain... twice. The adrenaline from the excitement of that conversation was incredible.

We started dating a few weeks later, got engaged in three months and then married four months after that. From July 17th 2007 until March 29th 2008 was all it took for my life to do a 180.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part seven

I kind of love rabbit trails. You are talking about one thing and then go around and around and maybe, finally get back to your point. I learned in a personality test in high school that I have an abstract/random way of thinking. It often takes me a while to process things and make a decision. As you can see, I'm on part seven of my story and still haven't gotten to the main point, but maybe you've enjoyed the journey as I have.

To be honest, I used to hate people like me. People who had lost a lot of weight, people who didn't seem to be drawn to food... I think it was because I was so helpless in my state. ... I'll say that with a reservation because I'll be the first to admit that I'm not totally there yet. I struggled with overeating just this afternoon. But I will say that the pull is not nearly as it was years ago.

My junior and senior year I lived in an apartment with three other girls whom I love. I absolutely LOVED living with them. They were all extremely (and I mean extreme in the strongest sense) different. They were girls I didn't expect to be friends with, but God, in His goodness allowed it to happen. I will say that we had our struggles, but I always look back at the good times we had together ... things like Ashleigh's birthday and the cake that we made for her and the princess table cloth that stayed on our wall for most of the year, the cat we named Cosby who thought he was a dog, the way we all spelled our names with an "eigh" at the end and wrote notes to each other on our refrigerator... okay, thanks for letting me travel down memory lane :).

I struggled a lot then with eating. I think living in an apartment made me feel like I could hide it better. I didn't have a set meal-time, didn't have a group of friends I ate with at the cafeteria, so I often ended up winging it. I ate many Ben and Jerry's pints (yes, whole pints) of ice cream for dinner on many occasions. Some people say they have a certain "drug of choice" I would say that was it for me. Going to the C-store on campus, getting that and whatever else struck me. Snack foods mainly. I could eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting, just a whole lot of anything. I worked out almost every day (about an hour or two on the elliptical) and I think that slowed my weight gain.

My junior year I ran a half-marathon with my friend, Alyssa. She was so gracious in all of that. I don't remember any significant weight gain or loss during this time, but I do remember realizing that my body COULD do that. It wasn't the actual half-marathon that was so great, it was the training and leading up to it that was amazing.

After the half marathon I got back on my cycle of binge eating and exercising.

I decided to fast for a few weeks before school let out for summer. There are times when I can twist something that is supposed to be holy and good and make it into a thing about me. So I started to exercise while doing this fast, I think I was drinking juice too or something. I lost some weight pretty quickly, but then my pride shot up and as soon as I went off the fast I went right back to my old ways. Again, I was trying to do things in my own strength.

I was talking about lily pads earlier. I feel like in this time I was on a lily pad of getting a healthy view of food. Learning to feed myself, not even trying to lose weight, but learning to communicate with my body. I had cut off those lines of communication and NOT listened to my body for so long, it took a while for me to reopen those lines. I feel like it took all of college to learn this. I'm praising God for His gentleness with me. He is slow to anger and abounding in love.

Healing takes time. I'm a person who likes microwaves, not so much on the crock pot. I feel like weight/overeating is a slow process. It needs to be a slow process, that's how our bodies were made. I was always looking for that thing that would help me lose 10 pounds fast, then just multiply it by 5 and we get: ... failure. There are no shortcuts, no quick roads.

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part six

When I start to post I get lied to a lot. It's the Enemy, I know it is. Things like: this isn't important, why would you want to share this? People are going to know this about you and then they are going to see you differently. Weight struggles make you look stupid... lies like that.

The truth is that these struggles represent a very deep issue. It's one in my heart. My heart is self-conscious and afraid of what others will think of me. My body is physically, psychologically drawn to food as a sedative for my emotions, pain, depression, anger, you name it. The truth is that only God can heal me in these places. So, it is important and I will post about it. If only to share my journey, and if it's only for one other person, then so be it.

I always struggled with clothes. Especially being overweight. Nothing ever fit quite right. Part of it was my denial that I was the size I was, part of it is just that bigger clothes ... well, their just harder to find, harder to look cute in, are cut boxier, I don't know. You who have struggled with this know exactly what I'm talking about.
For a while I never wore jeans. I just wore these workout pants. All the time. I remember once wearing a pair of jeans and a girl commenting that she had never seen me wear jeans before, and she saw me a lot. I just responded in some vague answer that "yeah, I'm not a very fashionable person." ... I also wore these scrub pants a lot. I look back and think, that was so ridiculous. I must have looked so stupid. Even as I speak about it, embarrassment comes flooding in. I hate that. I hate looking back in regret.
But I never wanted to buy new clothes because I was always going to lose the weight, and then what would I do? So I kept wearing my uniform of t-shirts, workout pants and scrubs.

I hated shopping for this body I was in. My stomach was always too big (I tend to gain weight in my midsection), the love handles, I could name off every imperfect part of my body. I won't because I don't think it is honoring to the Lord. He created me and made me just as I am. For a while I decided I messed up this perfect creation of His and so I decided I was unacceptable. But then, one day in my quiet time God said, "Jody, I love you just the way you are right now. I created you to be this way. I even put the fat cells in your body perfectly so that if you were to consume too much you would have someplace to store it, if you are ever starving and need it, you will have it. I think you are beautiful, because I created you JUST AS YOU ARE." ... I had to come to the conclusion at that point to step out of my shame and self-pity and walk in the fact that God loves me and created my body at any size that it is. If I abused it, I'm sure he is saddened but it does not lessen his love for me.

Still, the shopping trips would end in pain, depression or just plain tears. Swimsuit shopping was the worst. But God was always faithful in that I was always clothed. Those few shopping trips that I had the presence of mind to pray and ask Him to clothe me ended up a lot better. And even if I didn't find anything in those trips, there was still a sense of peace and security that only His Spirit could bring.

Eventually I learned to just embrace the size that I was and buy things that said "extra large" and just accept it. I think that was healthier than trying to fit into the smaller size and my clothes never really fitting.

Even though it's become easier to clothe my body I am still praying for wisdom in this area. I don't want clothing to become an idol in my life. It totally could right now, so I just want to trust God to clothe me. I painted the scripture about how He clothes the lilies of the valley and how much more will He clothe me. I want to really trust Him and to walk day by day. Clothing isn't important, food isn't important, it is the heart that is important.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part five

One of my favorite books is by a woman named Anne Lamott, it's called Traveling Mercies. In the prelude she talks about her "lily pads of faith" where God kind of brought her around bit by bit, kind of from one shaky, wobbly place to the next, that she wouldn't have been able to get there if it had all been in one leap, but it was this growing process. I love that analogy. I'll take it.

So I feel like my journey has been a series of lily pads, learning to trust God, to walk in faith and be led by him.

In high school I didn't think he wanted to have anything to do with this struggle. Those first years in college I began to cry out to him, going back and forth from trust to distrust. I kept just taking it out of his hands and trying to do it my own way, always ending in failure, of course.

My sophomore year I was living with some girls I didn't know very well, I had gone potluck and ended up with a wonderful Vietnamese roommate, another Christian girl and a girl who hated the sight of me. I felt very alone that first semester. I remember biking back to my apartment after being a part of an amazing worship service with dear friends, getting to play piano under one of the most passionate worship leaders I have ever met and just being overwhelmed by a sense of being alone.

You all are totally gonna think I'm crazy, but I'll just share this. I believe I was under some sort of spiritual attack/oppression. I would wake up and feel like I was hitting a brick wall. I wanted to study and to practice my singing, I wanted to exercise, but I couldn't. Many practice sessions would end up in tears, it was almost this physical thing beating me down. It was like my mind was under attack. Some might say that was just depression, my own thoughts... and to some degree I'm sure I helped it. But there were times when I literally could not do what I wanted to do. I ate a lot, slept a lot and watched a lot of TV instead. This of course did not help.

During this time our campus pastor had it laid on his heart to start a 24/7 prayer room. He called us as the leadership to step in and pray, at all hours of the day and night, to fill time slots and make sacrifices to pray. In the prayer room I felt a freedom that I could feel almost nowhere else, except maybe on Monday nights during worship. It was like a relief came over me when I entered. Again, I believe that it was spiritual attack/oppression. Some kind of demonic force or something.

One night in small group, my leader was sharing about seeing a friend of hers freed from spiritual oppression. What? I had never heard of this thing before, but it was like she was describing my life. So in tears I shared what I had been going through and my confusion about my situation and feelings. So they all gathered around me and prayed. I mean prayed! It was like a battlefield of crying out. My friends just lifting me up. I will tell you that I felt the presence leave. I don't mean to be spooky, I'm just speaking from my experience. I got up and I was free.

For the first time in months, maybe years, I didn't feel overwhelmed. I didn't feel afraid as I once was. I was free.

It was as though I needed to be lifted up by others. I was trying to do it on my own with just me and God and he was like, "No Jody, you need community, you need others around you." My life was changed from that point on. I had new eyes for the spiritual that was going on around me.

Another answer to prayer is that my roommate who hated me moved out. We sort of reconciled about a month beforehand, but it was just a relief not to have to deal with her anymore. The other Christian girl had moved out and I spent that next semester having an awesome time with my Vietnamese roommate and her amazing friends. I look back with much fondness on that time.

I guess I shared this story because I feel like there were things that had to be freed in my spirit first before my physical body would reap the consequences. I am just sharing my life on here. I realized the other day that I'm not really sure of how I got to where I am, so I am sort of discovering along with you as I look back. Thank you for sharing with me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part four

I want you all to know that I am not writing this to be give a formula or anything. I think all my life I just wanted the Christian walk to be formulaic. If I do x and y then I will end up being z ... I didn't want to have to depend on and walk with God. So I don't want you to read this thing and think, oh, I just need to do what she did. No! You need to seek the Lord, walk with him, trust him with what you have and give up or lay down only what HE calls you to do.

I just wanted to say that.

Something the Lord has literally called me to lay down is the television.

We don't have a TV in our home, not because I don't like the TV, it's because I LOVE the TV. I could watch it all day, I have before. I've wasted weekends and evenings in front of the tube. Tube is a good name for it, because it sucks your time away. I am also blessed because Ben (my husband) is not interested in the TV. He would much rather play computer games or just DO something. Since meeting Ben I have lost over 40 pounds. I will say I think the weight loss was a combination of many many things, but I think that not having a TV to watch played a major role.

Some of you are really freaking out as you read this. Give up my TV? Not have it on while I clean the house? Not watch it after a tired day of work and kids? Not watch it during dinner? I'm going to be so bored, it will be too quiet.

Again, I am not wanting to be formulaic. This was an individual thing for me. But I will suggest one thing: if this caused a freak out moment for you, is it an idol? ... I'm just asking the question and asking you to pray about it. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less.

One thing I do to help me fill my day is listen to podcasts. I listen while I'm doing laundry and cleaning. They help me keep my mind busy and just keep working, but I never have to stop and see something (you know like you are tempted to do when you are watching a show?) These are just things that are true in my life, it may totally not apply to you!

Okay, one more thing.

This is what would discourage me the most about watching television. On the shows there were impossibly thin women. I could never be that skinny. They are attractive and amazing. They are strong and disrespectful of men. They also sleep around a lot. And they are attractive. And I want to be like them. Okay, maybe not if you asked me outright, but I think deep in my subconscious I totally wanted to be like any of the desperate housewives, Jordan on Crossing Jordan, the CSI women, the Gilmore Girls, and especially the Laguna Beach girls... Oh man, I've probably got a dozen more shows, but you get the point. So, I was watching them and then I would get some nice commercial breaks where they are flashing delicious pizza and burgers and all kinds of food in front of me. Thought process: "Oh man, I'm so hungry. Oh man, I'm so fat... I'll never be like one of those girls, I might as well enjoy life and get me a bag of chips..."

Does that make sense? I don't know, I think I realized this one day. It was like I was shooting my self esteem down and drooling over temptation all within a matter of 5 minutes.

This is why we will never have a television in our house.

I will get onto my story, I just had to take a break and write about this. I hope it was thought-provoking. If you have any arguments against me, feel free to leave a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part three

I started to think: I don't really want to post this stuff. Not online... Is this even okay? But I think I have been wanting to share it for a while, so it needs to come out. Do you ever feel that way about blogging? You go about your whole day thinking, I really need to talk about this or write about it, but then when you get in front of your computer it's like something gets drained out of you? Yeah, that's how I'm feeling right now.

Well, I guess I can continue the story. Again, note that this is a web, I will try to make it clear chronologically where I am, but I make no guarantees.

As I finished my senior year and went on to college I still hadn't lost weight. I had gradually continued to gain it actually. Probably by the time I got to college I was about 10 pounds heavier, I don't really remember. Let me just make a note here and say that I'm not going to disclose as much numbers that I weighed a certain amount or anything because I feel like it would allow in a spirit of comparison. Like if you are reading this you will think "oh, she only weighed that much" or "wow, she weighed a lot!" ... it's to sort of leave it up to you personally, I don't feel like the Lord puts a number on us and says, you should weigh this amount. We are the humans who invented pounds and measurements, but I think God weighs our HEARTS. This journey is about my heart and where it was. My body was the outward manifestation of my sin, it showed the consequences like a neon sign.

So I came into college with a hope for newness. Contrary to the norm, I found that I often ate healthier in the cafeteria than normal. Salads were always available and the fact that other people were around made me conscious of overeating. I wanted to lose weight and I think I lost a little, I was getting more regular exercise, but would find myself overeating in front of movies in my dorm room on the weekend. It was like I had this gravitational pull towards food. When I couldn't think of anything else to do I would eat. It was what made me feel good. So I began to pray about it more and more. I would have times of walking in freedom and victory, and then I would easily fall back into it. I also used exercise to deal with the overeating. I would literally almost hurt my body with the amount of exercise. Then I would eat as little as possible. I wanted the quickest way out of the weight. This of course would last for about 4 days and then I couldn't take the starvation anymore and I would binge. I cannot tell you how many times I did this throughout college. It was like the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

Throughout this time I thought it was impossible for a guy to like me. I had never really dated anyone in high school, and now in college it was like I couldn't imagine a guy liking me. Maybe there were, but they were ... I don't know... losers? I really always thought that I attracted guys like this. Never a decent, nice, good-looking guy. A guy who loved the Lord, who I was attracted to... I don't know. Now that I think back, there were a few guys, but it didn't work out.
Anyways, the main thing is that I saw myself as worthless because of my weight.

The summer after my freshman year I went on a music summer project. The two most instrumental things I got out of it were having a personal quiet time with the Lord every morning. I have been consistent ever since. The second was meeting my friend Sara. She was in my band and sings amazingly. We are still friends to this day and I love her dearly. What was interesting about that summer is that I was over here struggling with this overeating and closet eating. She struggled with her weight and body image as well, but I saw her really live out the principles of the Weigh Down Workshop (which I mentioned in my last post) of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. I watched her lose weight that summer and saw a freedom from food. Maybe she would have a different story, but I remember thinking back to that time and her closeness with the Lord and watching her have a right relationship with food ... and maybe even being envious of her... But more than anything, wanting that freedom.

All along it was as though God was calling me to trust Him.

"No God, it's okay, I've got this one. You can take care of more important things like future careers and guys and all that stuff, just keep the world spinning, but I don't really feel like giving up control over this little thing right here, it's okay, I've got it."

God is good, in that He doesn't just strike you down with lightning.

It's by His mercy that we are walking around today, messing up, falling on our face, turning back to Him and starting anew. His mercies are new every morning.

That's all I can post for the moment. I'll write more later.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part two

You know when you are looking back at parts of your life and it feels like this sea of confusion and hurt? Maybe some things get jumbled up. When I try to tell this story I think it might be more like a web of here to there and back than an exact chronological story. So I want to apologize in advance for that.

When I was in 11th grade I came down with Mono. If you don't know what that is, it's basically a virus that there is no medicine for, it just makes you really tired all the time, it can take months or weeks to get over. For me it took six long months, and even longer because when you try to recover you have to go slowly. For the first two or three months I was just angry. Angry that I couldn't get up and walk across the room without being tired. I couldn't go to school like everyone else. I couldn't go to youth group or church (very often) so I was home alone a lot. I watched a lot of daytime TV. Ridiculous shows because we didn't have cable. A lot of them were those (this is really embarrassing) reality shows where they follow people on a blind date or a double blind date and they are basically making fun of these people the whole time. I think all of this caused me to go headlong into a deep depression. I was questioning my relationship with God, asking Him that if he existed, why wasn't He healing me like I was asking Him. While staying at home and watching television I ate as much as I could. I gained 20 pounds in those two months. I'm surprised I didn't gain more, because I wasn't exercising. I also had trouble sleeping, I've always had trouble sleeping. So I had to just sit and "rest" for most of the time.

Mom was pretty desperate to help me. I think that her efforts may have gone the other way. I'm sure that many moms can relate to this, you think you are helping, but it ends up hurting. Finally, she gave me some tapes by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called "How to Fall in Love (and Stay in Love) With Jesus" where Nancy went through the book of Song of Solomon, it was amazing. Her teaching showed me that God is more than a Father, he is a lover. She also gave me a book by Dr Bill Bright called "Blessed Child" which was a story about a child who walked step by step in the Holy Spirit. This exhibited walking in the Spirit better than any how-to book ever did. For some reason, stories just resonate with me. I love analogies. Then she gave me these tapes (yes, more tapes, and I had a tape-player in my room) by a woman named Gwen Shamblin who started a weight-loss ministry called "The Weigh Down Workshop" ... her teaching was revolutionary in my life.

I realized that food and overeating had become an idol in my life. She said we don't carve out golden calves any more, but we will carve out a pan of brownies and say, "O pan of brownies, you calm my nerves, O pan of brownies, you help me in my sorrows." That hit me so hard! I was going to food to calm me, to comfort me and it was just leaving me empty handed. There is a Proverb that says food eaten in secret seems good at the time, but ends up being gravel in the mouth. Here I was, eating gravel.

Here God was, waiting on me to come back to Him. He was gently wooing me and drawing me to Himself. Over the next several months I lost the 20 pounds, just through my eating. What's also very strange is that I didn't limit my food choices during this time. I found that if it was okay for me to eat anything the "forbidden foods" tended to lose their appeal, one bite of cake didn't send me down the slippery slope anymore. It was okay. God created us to taste sweet, salt, fat and everything else. Tastes are okay, but the over-indulgence is what is the problem. I found that my evil heart wants to eat a whole carton of ice cream or bag of potato chips (which I have done on too many occasions) but God's plan is that I would fill up on healthy things and then if I wanted to just have a little taste of the other stuff, then that's okay. My dieting, restricting mind had a hard time getting around this one.

So I had about 4 good months. :)

What's strange is that when I got over Mono my life got back to normal. I guess a lot of people would call this "backsliding" ... I think that point in 11th grade was a time that I can look back on and testify of God's faithfulness. He brought me to a place of being in love with Him. He gave me a taste of what freedom from food and overeating and dieting was. He showed me what it meant to walk in Spirit and just rest in prayer. He taught me to just REST. I'm not a good rester, I'm a goer and doer, so this was all new to me.

Whew, this is taking a lot longer than I thought. Maybe it's because it's my life. :) I will post more later. Thank you for staying with me. I hope that this is an encouragement.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part one

I've been wanting to write about this for a while. The story of God's grace and sovereignty in my life in spite of my perpetuating sin.

I guess I've struggled with my body image, weight and overeating for ... maybe about ten years. Maybe longer. I can remember back to when I was fifteen and went on my first "diet" I had gained a bit of weight, but not too much, mom asked if I wanted to do a diet with her. I know now that she regrets this decision, but I feel like I would have done something even without her suggestion, so I don't feel as though she needs to take blame. Anyways, it was 1000 calories a day (far too little for a teenage girl who is still developing) and I lost about 20 pounds in a few months. It was extremely restrictive, so when I went off it was as though I could taste all these forbidden foods anew, and they were SO GOOD. I laugh about it now, but it wasn't really that funny. That next year I think I gained about 40 pounds, well above my previous weight. It was a big life-changing year of going to public school for the first time, changes in my body, my self-esteem plummeting and feeling like everyone was looking at my differently.

Probably the biggest thing my young heart noticed was that boys saw me differently. They treated me differently with my weight loss and then my weight gain. Partially it might have been my own self-esteem, but it made a difference. This convinced me that I would never be fit for a relationship unless I lost all that weight. I would never be acceptable until I was the "right size" I had this distorted image of myself that I was just a little bit above the level of dirt. I was fat and that equaled ugly. If I could lose weight, then I would be beautiful and acceptable. Then all my dreams would come true, then that guy in my English class would like me.

This struggle continued throughout high school and into college. Along the way God was showing me that I could control nothing apart from Him. I would try and try to have self-control, it sounds so silly now, but when I was stressed I literally could not think of anything else except where to get some food to binge on. I would binge if I was sad or bored as well. Many nights and weekends were spent in front of the TV with something, it didn't really matter what, as long as it filled me to the brink. Okay, so I'm putting this on the internet and maybe it's personal, but I write this so that others who have struggled with this won't feel as lonely as I felt. Alone in my sin. I was just this weird person who couldn't have a healthy view of food. The biggest part is that it was a secret. I might hint at it sometimes, probably my roommates had the clearest picture of what was going on, large portions of food being missing, they would sometimes come home and there I would be... but I tried the best I could to hide it. I think about that sometimes to this day and wish I could ask them, it is still humiliating in my mind.

In all of this, I still had a relationship with the Lord. This habitual sin that I would ask for freedom from, I would ask God to help me lose weight, to have self-control. I don't know where the break down happened, but somewhere in there I would lose touch, I would take the controls again, and then drive myself into a ditch. I was reading my journals recently and they are FILLED with pleas to help me to stop. I think throughout all of it I felt that He still had a deep, abiding love for me. Maybe it was the thorn in my flesh, I don't know. It definitely kept me humble. Often I would go the other way and feel as though I was worthless. I will also tell you, I know what addiction is like. If anything, I have a faint picture of what drug addicts and alcoholics experience. I don't know what kind of comparison there is there, but I know what it is to be drawn like a magnet to substance. And I will testify that it is possible to get out. By the Spirit of the Lord, the chain-breaking of Jesus and His death on the cross, it is possible to get out, to be freed. I can say this because I am freed today.

There is more to this story, but I just heard Levi wake up, so I will go now.

I will write again soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011


New Mercies for today:

- Time in the Word, talking about the Word with my husband.
- the beautiful snow on the ground as I looked out the window with Levi this morning.
- Levi taking a morning nap, after much crying. Whew.
- A quiet Monday.
- My husband being home after a long weekend apart. I honestly don't know how military wives do it. They are stronger than me.
- Figuring out that I can listen to the radio over the internet. Yes, I'm a loser and only just realized this when Ben turned it on this morning to listen to the weather.
- Time to be able to clip coupons and grocery shop.
- Finding coupons in the mail, especially from Kroger :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Random thoughts from an abstract person

Levi's favorite thing: to literally follow me around the house and do whatever I'm doing. If I'm on the phone, he wants to use his phone, if I'm in the kitchen, he's into the Tupperware or pots and pans. Right now I am at the dining room table trying to post and he is at my feet, sort of whining, getting into the grandfather clock, and now he is finally playing contentedly with my hair tie. Ah, the moments of silence.

My friend Sara said not to let your child be the boss, you be the boss. Wow, that has been so true today. The funny thing is that when I firmly say "no" and don't allow him to get his way, he tends to calm down. What a strange thing. When I refuse my child he calms, when I allow him what he is whining about, he complains more.

I'm very tired right now. After a long Sunday at church and a weekend at my parents I feel pretty exhausted. Here are a few other things I'm learning about life right now, then I will be done.

- I don't need to have a different outfit every Sunday, I'm not a fashion model, just a normal person.
- My words can cut deep, and I need to watch them carefully. Sometimes it's better to say nothing at all.
- I hate our cultural "norms" I'm tired of movies where everyone sleeps with everyone else, songs that are all about sex, and advertisements that are all about satisfying the here and now.
- I love my son. I adore my husband. I'm so thankful he is coming home, it was a long weekend without him. :)
- I probably use too many of these: :)
- I hate being busy and yet love it at the same time. Business keeps me from just being idle.
- I long for true community. Fake community is prevalent, but true community and friendships are very hard to come by.

There are my thoughts for tonight.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pain... why?

I was just thinking about all the pain that is in life. Yesterday I heard the story of a nine-year-old becoming pregnant by her mom's boyfriend. Young enough to be jumping on the bed with her brother... she had the baby, came home and the mom took care of it, then, yes ... then she got pregnant again by the same man. How could this happen to a nine-year-old? She is a child. How could this man still walk the streets or even be allowed into this home? That is a messed-up situation.

It kind of makes my childhood look like roses.

I've been reading a book called "Same Kind of Different as Me" and it's about a modern-day slave who became a homeless man and how he became friends with this international art dealer. Reading about the things that happened to this slave/sharecropper homeless man, it just didn't seem fair. None of it seems fair. The things that we do to others and the things that are done to us.

But it hit me anew as I was praying this morning that it is the mercy of God that has kept us from the eternal fires of hell. In His mercy He did not destroy us. Why are we suffering here and now? It is because God is giving us one more chance to know Him and trust in Him for eternal salvation. He will come back someday and right all the wrongs. He will come and judge all of our sins, in ways that we could never judge ourselves, because He is the only one righteous. He will judge the child rapists, the murderers, the abortionists, He will judge you and me as well. And the evil that I have done. But I will be found blameless because Jesus took my place. His blood covers over my sins. My little sins of bad words, disobedience, and my big sins of hatred and other things that I don't feel the freedom to mention here. But he has covered them.

I would encourage you to watch this today:

It's 55 minutes that will rock you to the core.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Parenting ups and downs

I think every day I fall more in love with Levi. It's like maybe God is giving us this time so that I will have this stable foundation of love for when he goes into his "terrible twos" and beyond.

We love dancing in the kitchen together. He's getting heavy but that doesn't keep me from taking him in my arms and spinning and dancing with him. I love his giggles.

Another thing he thinks is hilarious is when I'm sitting there and my shirt causes my belly to be slightly visible (we're at home and it doesn't matter to me at that time) he likes to poke it and laugh. Oh dear... but it makes me laugh too, he's probably the only one who will ever be able to do that and it will be okay.

One thing he's been doing that I'm not fond of is screaming. For no reason but to get his way. Whew, when babysitting or teaching I always hated this, and now my little angel-child is doing it? Ben and I (Ben better than I) are trying to discourage it by telling him sternly no and making him wait or whatever. My tendency is to just do what he wants, it solves the problem quickly, but is the beginning of BAD habits. Lord, help me. I'm weary and I don't know much. I'm inconsistent and weak. Please help me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Every blogger's nightmare...

I hate it when I spend a lot of time writing and thinking about something and then... some kind of glitch happens and I lose it all

... all of it.

... every last word.

And so tonight I am now empty. I used up all of my bloggingness in that first post that was lost in cyberspace and now it will be eternally lost because I do not have the time, energy or even the memory to bring it back.