Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 12

The De-Cleanse. Detoxing from the detox...

I'll just start by saying I had an amazing time at the Crisis Pregnancy Center today. Had an incredible, real, honest conversation with a girl. Usually our meetings with clients are about 30-40 minutes, this one was at least an hour. We talked about everything. Her pregnancy test was negative and we talked about abstinence, I told her about Ben and my relationship, she told me about her past relationships and just was so open and honest. Toward the end of the conversation she looked at me and said, you know, God led me here today so I could talk to you. I needed to hear this stuff today. I needed to talk to someone about this stuff. Whoa. Driving home I was thinking about how when we get to talk to these girls they are at a crossroads. We meet them in a vulnerable time in their lives and we need to have compassion and love and just be honest with them. That's all they want. They don't want a sermon, they've been hearing sermons all their life, they want some good, practical wisdom. They want hope for their situation. A lot of times they just need someone to talk to them and lift them up. The Crisis Pregnancy Center is an open door and I have the privilege of standing on the other side of it.

So I just came off of this incredible high. I was used by the Lord and it was so good. So exciting.

I come home and tell Ben, he leaves to go back to the office, it's almost two o clock by the time I get to eat and I'm starving. Thankfully, I CAN eat. :) So I ate something healthy.

But it didn't feel like enough. The brownies Ben fixed last night are on top of the fridge and they are calling my name!! I'm sitting in front of my computer. I have a situation I am trying to figure out if I can schedule this music lesson in, can I do this or that, do I have someone to take care of Levi for this? So, I'm distracted thinking about my personal life. The brownies are still calling my name. I'm not starving anymore, but I'm feeling the lust for this food creeping into my heart. Sigh. I did so good today at the CPC and I deserve to take a break. I didn't eat any sugar all last week and this won't hurt me. I'm tired, this will fill me... Do you hear it? These are my excuses/justifications.

Thankfully, I have a blog. I have the accountability of YOU GUYS. Or y'all, as they say it in the south. Seriously, that was one of my thoughts. Another thought was: am I hungry or is this just a desire for more food? Lord, help me. I am weak.

I didn't eat the brownies. Did I say that yet? I left the kitchen, took my computer with me and I'm getting on here to just blog. It helps to talk it out. It helps to flee temptation. It helps to recognize the lies from the Tempter.

So, I'm gonna turn on the Dave Ramsey Show, lay down for a few minutes, regroup, regather and then clean my house.

Also, another thing that I can look forward to are those times when it WILL be appropriate to eat a brownie. When I am with the guests at my house, when I am at a party, maybe Ben and I will get some dessert on our date night tonight (we are going to celebrate our anniversary)... I never know what is around the corner. If I eat the sugar now, I won't enjoy it as much later. I will have feelings of guilt and not pleasure knowing that I have eaten too much sugar and so damaged my body that day. I feel like it's okay to have sugar, but I'm trying to learn MODERATION in my sugar consumption- this is a VERY difficult thing. More difficult than men know. :) Can I get an "Amen" from the women out there? Whether it's chocolate or sour candy or whatever it is, it's just a hard thing.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you learned as much as I did.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 11

So it's day two of my "uncleanse" I guess that's what you could call it. I'm determined not to free fall. Now that I have identified it I think it's easier for me to stay away from. I know those feelings and I'm not going to follow what they are telling me.

This morning I was so tired and so hungry. I just wanted to eat a bowl of cereal. In my flesh I wanted to eat some cereal and some sugary snack or something like that. I knew it wasn't what the Lord was calling me to do. I was busy and distracted and so I just prayed out loud, "Lord, please help me to eat what you want me to eat, give me energy for what I need to do today." I kept that spirit in my heart. Thirty or forty minutes later I felt like I needed to juice something. I juiced some carrots and half a cucumber, some kale (never had kale before and it was pretty good) and a cutie (a small orange). It was great. I was hungry and tired for that in between time but I felt like I was walking in obedience, waiting to hear from the Lord.

Maybe it is not only my body that is being cleansed, but my spirit as well. That's probably what fasting is all about.

Also, I found out this morning that I am, in fact, not pregnant. No, I didn't have to take a pregnancy test. :) I guess I have two different emotions at this fact. One is relief and happiness that I have been given at least one more month as a normal person with a normal body to be with my husband and my son and to do my work at the church with. The other was disappointment. I would love to have a baby again soon. Little do people know, but it takes a LONG time to make a baby. Any woman who has ever been pregnant could tell you that. Maybe if she's had three kids in three years or something that will not be her story. But I want our kids to be close together. Levi is already 16 months so he would be two if we were to get pregnant now. I like two years apart. Some of you are balking at me right now thinking I'm crazy. I'm totally okay with that.

So, those are my thoughts about my de-cleanse and my finding out that I am not pregnant. I'm WAY to open about my life. Probably should have caution signs on this blog, "read with the preparation that you are going to know details that are very personal."

I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 10

Hm, how do I start this post? I sit and wonder how to confess what I have done. ...

I sort of feel like there is all this pressure on me (since I'm blogging about this) to be perfect and amazing and just have the most amazing results. Now that I step back I bit I realize that is a false perception.

I haven't been able to walk the past two days because of the weather. I feel like that's okay though, I don't want to be too hard on myself. Something has been gnawing in the back of my mind though, "I'm not doing that great. I'm not perfect." Last week I was perfect. This week I seem to be anything but perfect.

This afternoon I found myself eating cashews. Cashews? Really? They were in the pantry and then I got them out. Later on I picked them up and started eating them. "What in the world am I doing?" I thought. It kind of shook me.

Okay, if you have ever been on a hardcore diet or even a fast or something, it's like you begin to feel yourself free falling. You were in the sky and doing amazingly and feeling amazing and doing everything extra perfectly and eating exactly the amount of calories, drinking exactly the same water... and then somebody says something and it starts to unearth you. Then you feel strange and it makes you question things. Then you think, I'll just have this one thing and that's when you begin your free fall. That's just the beginning. Then there is no stopping because if you ate that one little thing that was kind of borderline then it's really justifiable to eat this other thing too, and, well I broke that rule so I might as well break this big one over here.

It was kind of a crazy day. I had a meeting, taught a piano lesson, visited a friend who had a baby, had worship team practice, Levi's sleeping was totally weird and his nap wasn't long enough. (This makes him have a constant whine, it's pretty much like fingernails on a chalkboard and you try to do anything you can to make it stop.) This afternoon I would go over and give him this little food (he gets himself pretty messy so you have to be careful what you give him and how you give it to him). Then I would go over here and do this thing on the computer, check this text message. Whoops, somebody is calling, should I start dinner? I really really want to go see my friend who just had her precious baby (it was amazing to hold her!!)

I was totally scattered. I didn't get dinner in the oven. Ben came home and nothing was done I was just standing in the kitchen blankly staring at him saying, "I didn't have time to fix the chicken, we have to go to worship team practice, I'm sorry you're hungry." I failed as a wife. And on top of that, I failed on my anniversary. I started to juice something and it just felt wrong. I didn't want the stupid juice. Ben was tired from being in and out of meetings all day and Levi was a mess. I pulled out the whole grain bread I got a Whole Foods and put some honey mustard and then the leftover calzone fillings from yesterday, stuck it in the toaster. Ben didn't want it. (It really frustrates me when Ben doesn't want food that I just "throw" together. If I take time to fix something and it's good, he LOVES it. Sometimes I don't care if he loves it or not, just eat it, it's food. :) So I ate it. I was hungry and I wanted to justify what I had done.

In explanation for this seemingly spur of the moment decision, I was thinking that I needed to stop the cleanse soon. I needed to start integrating things back into my life. I had been thinking all day about how I would do this. I think I imagined that it would be this perfect moment from heaven and the food I integrated back into my diet would come down on a plate with wings and a bright light that said, "well done, my good and faithful servant."

The weird part is that I began to feel that pull. When we came home from worship team practice (all three of us go) I saw the leftovers on the counter and it had been so good (everything is "so good" when you are not eating anything:)) and so I finished it. Honestly, it wasn't even a full meal's worth. But I began to feel myself magnetically pulled toward the pantry and the refrigerator. I thought, I need to juice something, hm, don't those strawberries look nice, oh yeah, that dried fruit in the pantry is good, I should have some oatmeal too... Thankfully, Ben was in the kitchen with me. He was cleaning and I was wanting to start grazing.

I started to talk out loud and say "I feel like I have broken this huge rule. I have done something that is irreversible." He asked me what in the world I was talking about. "You know," I said, "this cleanse thing, by eating that food I broke a rule and now I need to go plummeting down into the depths."
"Jody, I have never broken a rule of a diet, do you know why?"
"Because you have never been on a diet?"
Shut up Ben, I don't need this right now. That's what I wanted to say. But the cool thing about Ben is he doesn't say things pridefully, he just says them logically.
"Yeah, but didn't you ever struggle with your eating when you went from swimming several hours a day to not swimming at all?"
"I think I just always ate what I wanted to eat" He said. "When I was swimming I could eat two big macs and felt great, but now if I ate two big macs it would make me want to throw up."
"Yeah, but when you are those big macs you had a good feeling right? Didn't you ever think when you were sad, if only I could have two big macs like that one time, then I would feel better."
He looked at me for a minute. Then he said, "I think as a man I compartmentalize those things. Food has its own little compartment. When I'm in that compartment I enjoy the food, I love the food, but I don't associate it with other good feelings. I think that women, who are all connected might tend to associate the feelings food gave them and try to mimic them in other situations. Maybe that's why women struggle with emotional eating more than men would."

Such wisdom there in our kitchen. I associate guilt with food, good feelings with food, boredom with food...

I think food needs to be put back in its proper place.

Lord, help me. My heart is prone towards selfishness, please help me to trust in You. Help me not to be prideful, but to walk humbly with You. I don't want to diet just for the sake of dieting. I want to learn from You the proper place for food.


Three years ago today Ben and I said "I do."

For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health... we said that we would. :)

Two years ago (a few days after our anniversary) Ben was laid off from Verizon (formerly Alltel). It was a call on the morning of March 31st. We had just finished a three-day backpacking trip and were heading home. His phone found service and he had about 12 missed calls. Some were from the VP of IT ... it was either gonna be really good or really bad. We were thinking he would be let go soon, he was getting less and less work from his supervisors. It was kind of a blessing to just be released. That afternoon I took a pregnancy test. I thought I was, just as we were packing for the trip I realized I hadn't had a period since January. It was the end of March. And I was. It showed up positive and Ben and I just sat on the floor and cried. Me in his arms, tears of joy mixed with sadness ran down our faces.

The strangest part about that whole period of me being pregnant, living in his parent's house, him without a job... we never really panicked. Maybe it's that we aren't panicky people. I've chosen to reject the worrying mentality from my mom and I make a conscious decision not to worry or fear. Jesus says LET not your hearts be troubled. I think that implies that we can have control over it.

We prayed about if we should look for a job in Nashville so I could further my music career, but it felt strange to move away when I was going to have a baby. I wanted to be here in town with my family and Ben's family. We felt like the Lord was wanting us to just stay here. Side note: I was never supposed to stay here. I was supposed to be the one who would live on the other side of the world. I was gonna life in Tibet or Thailand or South America. I was gonna be on the road singing and writing music. I wasn't gonna get married or have kids... How Ben changed all of that for me. How much GOD changed that for me.

I remember when I first started to really get to know Ben and he was upfront about how he liked me and we had similar backgrounds and his strengths complimented my weaknesses and he loved the Lord and was willing to follow God anywhere. We both had a love for music, he wanted me to take opportunities with my music, he wanted to encourage me to write songs, I not only fell in love with him, I fell in love with his family too. I would write letters to him. I saw him every day and I would still write letters to him. He would write letters and emails to me. Every night we either ate at my parent's house or his parent's house for dinner. I had seen him serve in our ministry.

Okay, one thing that I love about Ben and guys like him will never get enough credit for is that he loves to serve. He came every Monday and helped set up for Chi Alpha and it took up most of his day. He's not the guy who is in the front talking to all his friends, being the popular, funny guy who is awesome and cool and everyone wants to be around. No. He's fun if you get to know him, but he's not super outgoing (I'm the outgoing one of the two of us, unafraid of getting up in front of people, etc) No, but he is a servant and a hard worker. He is also faithful. He has a friend whom he has remained friends with since he was 12. They still talk on the phone almost every day. If you really want to be Ben's friend he will be your friend for life.

Okay, what am I talking about? I feel like I'm rambling.

Oh yeah, Ben found a BETTER job 3 months later. Better pay, better co-workers, more challenging. It was like new life was breathed into my husband. The severance and money saved by living with Ben's parents allowed us to put a down payment on a house.

We had Levi in November. I told someone today, even though you have nine months to prepare for a baby coming into your lives, there is no way you can actually prepare for a baby. You have no idea the change that they bring. It sort of felt like a rod had been thrown into the spokes of our wheels and everything comes to s screeching halt. Then after a while you sort of get going again. Three months is better, six months is better than that, nine months, and after a year it's completely second-nature. We couldn't imagine our life without Levi. He is a joy in our home. I would be so bored... I think too that I would be dissatisfied?... More selfish? ... I don't want to say that if you don't have a kid you will be selfish and dissatisfied, but I do want to caution people who don't want to have kids, choose to wait a really long time to have kids... I don't know, there's something so good and healthy about having a baby. I have friends who are trying to get pregnant and who are really really wanting a baby. I pray for those friends that they WOULD be blessed or if they need to adopt that they would be led in that area.

Another rabbit trail I see. My apologies.

This morning as Ben and I were sitting on the couch and praying we were just in awe of the things that the Lord had done in us and through us in just three short years. It feels like it has been forever, but at the same time not long enough.

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 9


I'm still doing the cleanse. Still juicing a lot of stuff. Still eating fruits and vegetables when I'm hungry. Two nights ago I was pretty cold so I steamed some broccoli with a little greek seasoning and some olive oil. It was so good. Levi loved it too :) All of this has challenged me to feed him more veggies in an effort to give him good vitamins and minerals for him to grow with. It's so tempting to just give your kid what is "easy" to give them. They don't always like the other stuff at first, so you have to keep giving it to them and keep giving it... I want to make sure he has a taste for all kinds of vegetables, even the ones I don't like as much.

My energy level is pretty high these past few days. I'm thinking I'll re-introduce meat very gradually into my system, just a little at a time. I got some Laura's ground beef on sale the other day. It felt like a little gift from God to me :)

I'm starting to take this thing I got a while back at GNC called Physellium Seed Husk (I think that's how it's spelled. I'm too lazy to get up and look right now.) Anyways, it's a natural fiber and I'm hoping it will do well. I'm contemplating getting some Barley Max to take for a while.

On the side, there is always a possibility that I could be pregnant, in that I haven't started my period yet. I am not late, I haven't taken a test, but I could just be in the first week or two or something like that. You can read my story about all of that here

So I'm thinking that I will probably need to be eating enough fat and protein, calcium, things like that if I am. I'm thinking that it won't hurt anything right now anyways. If y'all could pray for wisdom for me in that I would love it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 8

I don't know how I feel right now. I don't feel the way I thought I would, but I don't feel bad either. I haven't had headaches in several days, I feel hungry, but not bad. Sort of hungry. I just had a banana and some organic acai juice (the kind from a bottle in my refrigerator, no, I did not juice acai berries).

This morning I woke up early before worship team practice and juiced some carrots, ginger and half a cucumber. It held me pretty well but I was hungry by the time 1:00 rolled around. I just kept chugging the water. We went to lunch at my parents house aaaand, that's where I kind of got discouraged. I love my family. Loved the fellowship. Loved the conversation. Except that when I don't eat something or I ask mom if I can just have some of her blueberries instead she gets kind of anxious. She asks me how long I'm doing this for, have I had any protein lately, am I okay. I probably took it more dramatically than she even asked it. This is just the tip of the iceberg on our miscommunication. She means well or course. I'm not doing this for a long amount of time. When I set up to do this I didn't intend for it to be that long. I told her I didn't know, when I felt "cleaned out" is when I would stop. I don't feel cleaned out yet. So, I'm gonna keep going.

Maybe this is a hump day, maybe I just get easily discouraged... In times like these I think "What the heck am I doing? Should I even be doing this? Am I doing it right? Maybe I'm consuming too few calories. Maybe I'm starving myself. What am I doing? These are the thoughts running through my head.

So what is the best thing to do in this time? Evaluate where I am. Look at the facts, look at the benefits of what I am doing.
Things are moving along better in my system
I have not had a time of being extremely tired or extremely hungry
I have been sleeping better and waking up feeling more rested
I have been taking in far more fruits and vegetables than I was before this. Far more vitamins and minerals. My diet has improved drastically.
I am taking in far less sugar than I was before this.
A week without meat protein isn't going to kill me. Two weeks without meat protein is not going to kill me either.
My body is definitely functioning better than it was, I have more energy to love on my son and husband.
I'm not snacking in the afternoons and eating desserts at night.
I have had to exercise discipline in the area of food. The more I was able to exercise it, the more I was able to die to myself and my fleshly wants. Watching Ben eat tacos while I had a spinach salad was pretty stinking hard.
I have been more conscious about giving Levi vegetables after reading that book. I'm going to incorporate more vegetables into our meals.
I have been on at least one walk every day this week. (except today which is Sunday, maybe Ben and I will go, but it's pretty cold out).

All this has made me realize that skinny people can have health problems just as much as overweight people. If we put trash into our body, even if our body can metabolize it quickly, it is still trash. So I think I want the majority of what I consume to be good fuel and not junk. I'm okay with a little bit of junk here and there:) just as a treat, but it doesn't have to be a way of lifestyle... before: oh, it's two pm, I should have some chocolate chips. After: oh, it's afternoon, maybe I will have an apple or banana or some nuts or something.

I have to listen to my body and what it says. I think right now it's saying don't stop this thing. This is good, this cleansing, cleaning out the old and in with the new. Probably soon it will say, okay, I'm ready to start taking in some fat and protein, but for now, this is good.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 7

Update on what I've done today:
To start off with I had a glass of water and then my coffee with my quiet time. Raw organic honey, organic milk and a smaller cup than normal. I didn't fall asleep this time. My conclusion is that I probably just need more sleep at night.
I was not as good about drinking water as I should have been. I started out okay, but it tapered by the afternoon.
In the morning Ben and I juiced some oranges (he really really wanted orange juice) and then I had some carrots, ginger and a little bit of spinach. The ginger was a nice zing. I think the reason why I have rejected ginger in the past was because it felt overpowering. I just has a sliver off part of it.
Then I had a green smoothie (this time with half a banana and 1/3 cup of ground flax seeds) I ended up just sort of drinking it throughout the day. The flax seeds don't taste amazingly, but I think they will be a good help to my system.
Before dinner I juiced some carrots with a bit of a beet (that's all I can stand) and some spinach.
Ben wanted to have fish for dinner, so I thought that would be a good choice. It was SO GOOD! Maybe it was just the fact that I could chew it. :) I miss chewing things... I also cut up some strawberries and peels some cuties, our other side was sauteed asparagus and onions... SO GOOD! I never liked asparagus (sort of just had to choke it down) until I started sauteing it in a little EEVO and with some Italian type seasoning. I think the stuff I used tonight is called Herb De Province.
My headaches have gone away, so that's been pretty awesome. I'm going to try sleeping without an Ambien tonight and see how that goes. The weirdest part to me is that I wasn't ever really hungry throughout the day. Is that totally insane? Maybe it's that when I started to get a tinge of hunger I would just drink my smoothie... I definitely caught myself gazing into my pantry on a few occasions and then snapping out of it. :)

Okay, now I want to update you on this book that I have been reading. God's Way To Ultimate Health, by Reverend Malkmus I'm kind of loving it, kind of hating it.

I love that it's a reminder to eat more fruits and vegetables, to juice things, to eat them in their raw form. I think it's amazing if you are dealing with cancer, heart disease, arthritis, severe constipation, any kind of serious health problem that would require lots of medicine, surgery or treatments. It helps with energy levels (apparently they go way up) and good health in general. Good health comes from good eating.

The part that I am not so fond of is the severe restriction. They are all about vegetarian diet, really, it's a vegan diet because there is no eggs or dairy either. No sugar. No refined flour. No grains. Only raw almonds and sunflower seeds. Only extra virgin olive oil and raw flax oil. No salt. Only freshly extracted juices and distilled water. ... Okay, are you starting to see a pattern here? Also, there are only certain foods that can be combined. Certain fruits are acid and they should not be combined with sweet fruits, then you have sub-acid fruits, then melons should only be eaten alone. Then in the other categories you have starches, proteins and vegetables. You should drink at least thirty minutes before a meal and not with a meal...

If this is God's way to eat, why isn't it in the Bible? Why did God have all the specific instructions for killing animals in the book of Leviticus? Why were all foods declared "clean" to Paul in the New Testament? Why didn't Jesus speak about any of this? Why was it never laid out for the New Testament Church? These are the questions that are being raised in my mind as I read this book.

Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? We eat to live, not live to eat. We as humans like to put all these restrictions on ourselves but really when God gave Adam and Eve the garden he said "Eat from any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." He didn't say eat this food now and then this food later and don't eat these two together, that's not so great... NO! He was more concerned about their hearts and whether or not they would eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! He was more concerned about whether or not they would fall into temptation and sin against Him.

So I've kind of landed in this middle ground. I think the diet is great in what it promotes, but I do not agree with the restrictions. I am motivated to eat more raw fruits and vegetables. If I had cancer I would definitely do his diet. I just don't think it's sustainable, in our culture today, what about going over to a friend's house to eat? What about having others into your house? Is it a control of the body or a control of the heart? Those are the things I'm struggling with.

A side note on this subject: I told Ben Reverend Malkmus thought that eating a vegan lifestyle would make someone live longer. He said he would rather die 5 years earlier and enjoy his meat! I kind of had to agree with him. God gave us taste-buds as well, we can taste such a variety and that is a blessing as well. (I also wouldn't mind going home a little sooner:))

Music Speaks To Me

This song has been echoing through my mind lately and I'm totally okay with it. When I first heard it I don't think I understood the subtleties. I think he's talking to his mom or grandma. It's called How to Die:

I'm gonna miss you
I'm gonna miss you when you're gone
She said, "I love you"
I'm gonna miss hearing your songs

And I said, "Please"
Don't talk about the end
Don't talk about how every living thing goes away

She said, "Friend,
All along-
Thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to laugh not how to cry
But really
I've been learning how to die
I've been learning how to die"

"Hey everyone,
I got nowhere to go
The grave is lazy
He takes our bodies slowly"

And I said, "Please"
Don't talk about the end
Don't talk about how every living thing goes away

She said, "Friend,
All along-
Thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to laugh not how to cry
But really
I've been learning how to die
I've been learning how to...
I've been learning how to die."

Jon Foreman - Learning How to Die Music Lyrics

There's a good video of him performing this song live here

It's from his EP Winter. He has other EP's called Summer, Spring and Fall. I love the rawness of it.

Here I am on this earth, learning how to die. How to die to my self and my needs and my wants. How to weep for the lost, how to die to my sin and selfishness.

I learned about these EP's from a podcast called Nuclearity. I'm kind of bummed that it's not on itunes anymore, otherwise I would totally recommend it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Freedom from Sexual Addiction part 5

A word to wives.

I recently talked to a friend who's husband was looking at pornography. I've had some Facebook messages about marriages dealing with stuff like this too. I know it is not uncommon. Ben and I have had the divine opportunity to minister to a couple where the husband was coming out of it. I remember the pain on her face as we talked about it. It's pretty much like he's having an affair. Actually, it is that he is having an affair. Christ said that if a man looks upon a woman lustfully that he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Whoa. That's a tall order Jesus, are you sure about that one? Nobody really got hurt when it was all just in my mind. Wrong. Let's just make it clear that if a woman grabs a man's attention with the way she is wearing her skirt or her shirt and he struggles and frees himself from thinking about sexual thoughts, this is not a sin. But it is when he looks at her with his heart full of lust. That is a sin. He has just messed his own mind up. I know what that is like because I have been there, done that. Messed up my head and even just a few days ago was struggling with images I had put before my eyes years ago. Are you kidding me?

Okay, so I wanted to give a word to wives. Let me just say that if you feel like you can't measure up to the women on the computer then you are dead wrong. You far surpass them. Let's just say to start out with: this man CHOSE you. He ASKED you to MARRY him. You are always going to far surpass any woman on a computer. He can actually hold you and enjoy you before and afterward. When he gets off the computer he feels dirty. But when he has been with you, he feels pure, complete, whole, like a man. But that is IF (big if) he has been affirmed by you. If you have not torn him down with your words all day long, if you didn't say, "okay, fine, if you want to I guess I can" ... if there is one thing I have learned from Ben it's that my words can make or break him. A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands a foolish woman tears hers down. Let me just tell you, I can tear down my house in a heartbeat. I know exactly what things to say.

If your husband has been engaging in this type of thing (or husbands, if your wives have) things will not be right until they confess and repent of this behavior. My advice is not to try to catch them in their sin, but to love them harder. Confess your own sin, let them know that you are weak too and in need of forgiveness. Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin. (The Holy Spirit does the BEST job of conviction hands-down, all the time). Then, when they confess respond in love. When I confessed to Ben he didn't bat an eye in anger. His heart was saddened, he felt betrayed, yes, but he responded in love and wanting to help me. Ben helped me the most by putting up filters and accountability and by learning what my needs were in that area that he could meet and fulfill.

Wives, a way to help him is to be an oasis for him. Engage him on a regular basis. Be ready and willing. Pursue him even. If you feel him drifting, pursue him more. If he is beaten down at work, pursue him more. Be a sexual oasis for him.

That's all I'm gonna say. :)

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 6

So I'm back from our trip. All in all it was a lot of fun. The only meat I had was on a sandwich on Wednesday. I had bread a couple of times, whole grain of course. I drank a fair amount of water, went to bed late, got up somewhat late, slept mostly through the night and took an Ambien just to make sure. I really fall back on Ambien a lot, I'm not sure that's such a good thing.

On the way to and from I was reading through/skimming some books a friend loaned me that are about this thing called the "Halleluiah Diet" It's a Christian-based thing that this pastor started. He watched his mom be diagnosed with colon cancer, go through radiation, chemo and eventually die of pneumonia because the treatments had so weakened her body. Then he was diagnosed with colon cancer, he had a tumor the size of a baseball just under his rib cage. He didn't want to go through all the chemo and radiation (hell) he had watched his mom endure. So he decided to go the natural way. He started juicing things and ate ONLY raw fruits and vegetables. Anyways, it healed him. Cool story. So he started this thing called the "Halleluiah Diet"

I totally think this is a great idea. I believe that raw fruits and vegetables, organic and free of hormones and pesticides is so good. I also believe that we Americans put a lot of unnecessary crap in our body. Cokes, fast food, desserts, fried anything... All those wonderfully delicious foods... I'm so hungry now just thinking about them :) And we are plagued with so much illness: Heart disease and cancer to name a few. So yes, I agree with all that stuff. But this is reminding me of my days on my restrictive diet when I was fifteen years old. I read a book similar to this and was gung hoe. Now I'm reading it with a voice of caution in the back of my mind.

Here's my one problem: it's self-focused. It's body-focused. I'm going to backtrack and say that I don't think this pastor is so much self-focused. I think his intention is to help people, help heal people, but I wonder about his message that it is not about Christ's salvation but about how we can save ourselves. ... I just skimmed the book, read different passages and premises, so this is not a full-on review. Please read it and find out for yourself.

Like I said earlier, I get caught up in this self-centered nature of mine and suddenly food, eating, exercise is all about me. This is the tension between my selfish heart and the Holy Spirit within me.

On the other side of that is the fact that I need to care for this body SO THAT I will be able to minister to others. I need to put healthy things in it so I have the energy to study the Word, to minister to others, to love on my child, to love my husband, to worship God. I need to exercise so that I will have energy and stamina to do these things. But my FOCUS needs to be on the Lord and not on food. In other times in my life I have made dieting an idol, I don't want to do that again. I'm going to continue eating as healthy as I can, continue juicing and things, just to do what I need to do, but I do not want it to consume me.

Lord, help me in this. Help me to know Your will and what You desire for my body, mind and spirit. I want to be used for Your sake and for Your glory. You alone are worthy of my attention and time, help me to worship You.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 5

So much advice from everyone! I love it. Keep it coming.

I went to sleep last night pretty well and WITHOUT Ambien! What?! I woke up at 1:30 but then went right back to sleep and then woke up with Levi at 5:30. Yes, this is my life. I got him back to sleep and went back to bed for about ten minutes until the alarm went off.

No caffeine is what I read online. What?! So yesterday i fixed decaf coffee. I fell asleep during my quiet time. This morning I just had some juice. Maybe the natural sugars in it would help. I fell asleep again. I guess that I'm not getting enough sleep. Maybe I need to start going to bed at nine. Who the heck goes to bed at nine?! Ben doesn't want to go to bed that early and I like to go to bed at the same time he does. He reads to me, we pray and then fall asleep. It's lovely.

I think I will just try to have half a cup of regular coffee and see how that works for my morning routine. I usually have a full cup and a little more, so it's still cutting back. This whole falling asleep during my quiet time in the morning is NOT working.

This morning I juiced a few carrots, a cucumber (peeled), and an apple (peeled). I'm finding that less is more. When you juice you still taste all the items, it's just like you're drinking them. So when I juiced SO many last night it was a little overwhelming.

Today I'm going to Fayetteville to visit my brother and sister-in-law. I'll let you know how the trip went. I'm still not feeling completely cleaned out yet, maybe that's when I will stop all of this. I do have more energy during the day and my sleep feels better, so I know it's working.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 4

So this afternoon I was able to vacuum and do chores around my house instead of lying around, feeling fatigued. I ate an apple and drank some juice and that helped :)

It helps to have Levi as a healthy distraction. He's always entertaining or needing something, but I think that's good.

I realized that even though I wasn't eating much dinner I needed to fix Ben something, darn it. So I browned some meat for taco salad. I just ate the salad minus the chips, cheese dip, taco meat, and salad dressing. I did have some of the guacamole which just had lemon juice, garlic salt and avacado in it. I also had some extra virgin olive oil on my salad with some seasoning. Oh man, it was so good! Something about those fats are just so satisfying. The salad was made up of lettuce, spinach, onion and red pepper.

I also juiced before dinner. Some carrots, half a cucumber, a bit of a beet, spinach, celery and orange. It was too much. The combination didn't turn out very well. I think I need to better learn the art of "pairing" my juices.

I'm going on a trip tomorrow, just overnight to my brother and sister-in-law's (I'm really really excited to see them!) I don't know how I'm going to keep this up. I think I'll just try to stay as healthy as possible on the trip and while I'm there and then pick up where I was when I left off.

Oh yes, and my only real concern about all this is my teeth and calcium intake. With all the lemon in my water, will that damage my enamel? Also, with the lack of dairy am I getting enough calcium? So I'm trying not to drink lemon in every glass of water, I'm also looking for veggies that might have more calcium in them like broccoli or something like that.
Also, for those of you who are concerned about this, I'm not nursing Levi anymore. He's pretty much weaned! Now to just wean him off any bottle completely... sheesh.

And Julie, to answer your question about cooking your carrots (I too hate raw carrots) I think that yes, you are decreasing the nutritional value, but you are still getting a lot of vitamin A. When I looked at the packaging for the canned carrots I give Levi it still has quite a bit of vitamin A in there. Also, it's better than nothing right? Just keep fixing them for yourself and maybe cook them as little as you can you know? Anyways, that's my two cents. Oh yes, and if you can get a juicer you can juice carrots (they are SO GOOD) and still get all the nutrients from them, except probably not as much of the fiber :)

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 3

So far, so good. My friend called me yesterday and said I would probably have a headache for about two weeks as I cleanse all the impurities out. Yep, I've had a headache since yesterday morning. I took an Advil (just one tablet) and that helped.

This morning I popped out of bed at 5:20. I woke up and was lying in bed thinking, I'm wide awake, seriously?? So I got up and fixed some water with lemon and cayenne pepper. Doesn't taste awesome, let me just tell you that. Then I wanted to have my quiet time so I brewed some decaf coffee. I put in some raw honey and organic milk for flavor. As I was sitting down for my quiet time with my journal and Bible I kept thinking about this amazing cleanse that I'm on and how good I felt. So I wrote it down in my journal and praised God for how He created my body and how fortunate I was to do this thing...

That's when I really realized the temptation.

Flashing back to the old Jody I saw the temptation to become very self-centered in this liquid flush/cleanse thing. The temptation for me is to dwell on it, think about it a lot. How can I exercise more? How can I drink more water? What other things do I need to juice? ... When I really could be thinking about the Word and the wisdom inside of it.

I think that's my main problem with dieting... I get obsessed with it. Then what happens is the diet loses it's appeal and I'm left standing there feeling hungry and weak. I'm learning that it's not about the sprint, it's about the marathon. Most marathon runners don't give it their all the whole time. They pace themselves. If I set small, accomplishable goals and slowly achieve those I am so much better off than going for the huge goal that would require extreme energy and difficulty.

With all that in mind I will go ahead and tell you all what I did today. It's almost two o clock right now, so this is just half the day.
- juiced carrots, spinach and apples for breakfast.
- drank some water
- before heading out on my walk with Levi I ate a banana
- drank water on my 1.3 mile walk
- showered, drank water
- before going to a friend's house I ate an orange
- came home, put Levi to bed and made a green smoothie with half a blender of spinach, two tablespoons of yogurt, 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of ground flax seed. It didn't taste very good and I think it was because I forgot the banana. I choked it down anyways in hopes that it would go right through me as the website predicted :)
- drank some prune/acai juice
- drank some water

I still have a headache so I'm going to take my second Advil of the day.

So there you go. Headaches I live with for as long as possible, then I take something. Hunger, I try to keep going through, but when I find myself staring blankly at the wall I go ahead and eat a small, healthy thing with lots of fiber.

I'll update with more later. So far, so good. I'm feeling pretty awesome right now so that's good.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 2

After getting a bunch of feedback on Facebook (thank you everyone who posted) and doing a little bit of research online I was able to go to the grocery store and get some good organic veggies: spinach, carrots, onion, red pepper. I also bought some flax seed, organic prune juice and organic raw honey. And then some normal stuff for my guys :) Ben said he doesn't feel the need to participate in this cleansing even though I told him it would be good especially since he's eaten a lot of pizza and Cokes lately ;) As usual, I'm not very convincing, and I'm totally okay with that. I'm his wife, not his mother.

I went on my morning walk as usual. I was motivated to go extra far since they said exercise helps the cleanse. I brought along my water bottle and drank all of it as I looped our neighborhood, already feeling better about myself. We got home and I did some more research online. I went to my MIL's house and borrowed her juicer. I'm fortunate to have this resource available. Juicers can be expensive!

As I was feeding Levi his lunch I was pretty hungry so I decided that I would just try to stay as close to cleansing as possible :). Some of you cleansers are going to freak out when I say this, but I decided to make a green smoothie. I filled my blender with spinach, added about 1/4 cup of yogurt, a whole banana and some water. It was really good. Not as good as the times when I put milk and some honey in it, but it was good. I'm trying to do as little sugar as possible. Later when I was hungry I ate an apple. While I was researching I found a few different diets/cleansers/smoothies that I could use. I read about one extreme diet called the Master Cleanse. It has you drinking 6-12 glasses of lemon, maple syrup, salt, cayenne pepper, and water a day. At night you drink a laxative tea (so you will wake up and go in the middle of the night I guess?!?!) and then in the morning you take a salt water flush. Oh my goodness, I know me and there is no way I could keep that up for more than a few hours. I would rather do something moderate that I could keep up for a week or two than something that is so extreme.

Now, part of me, the old Jody would want to do the extreme thing. I was an extreme dieter. I was a failure at extreme dieting. So I'm thinking I need something more sustainable.

My goal in this is to just clean myself out, get things moving that haven't moved in a while. I've never struggled with constipation before, but I wonder if the prenatals I'm taking and the iron in them stops things up. Also, I haven't exercised as much this winter and my eating hasn't been as healthy as it should be.

The things I'm doing:
- drinking 10-12 glasses of water a day, sometimes with lemon in it. (I think I need to get a filter for our water :( I feel like I'm defeating my purpose in a way, but AR has awesome water, I just wonder if it has toxins I don't need). Also, with the water I'm starting to put a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar and raw honey. I'm still playing with a mixture that I won't choke on. I heated up a bit of the water with the honey and apple cider vinegar to mix it, then poured it over ice. I had to add more water to it, so we will see.
- Juicing 2-3 times a day. Tonight I had carrot juice, just plain, raw carrots and it was SO GOOD. I didn't know carrots were so sweet. My friend says I need to try celery and cucumbers and ginger to help calm the stomach.
- Drinking organic prune juice to help move things along
- If I get hungry I eat an apple or a salad, or fix myself a smoothie
- Taking a long walk every day
- Not taking naps

For dinner I had a salad with a little bit of olive oil and herbs on it. The weird part is that it's three hours later and I'm not that hungry. I am not very tired either, what a strange phenomenon.

I will post more tomorrow. We'll see if I still feel the same way.

A Bodily Cleansing :) part 1

Okay, well, I wasn't sure if I should include this in my "Redemption" series or what. As I said in those posts I am an avid anti-dieter. :) I cannot go on a strict diet because then it is more about my body and the food and controlling the food than it is about my heart. If I feel like I need to cut back on sugar I just try to keep that in mind when I am wanting dessert or something like that. I don't draw hard and fast lines that say DO NOT EAT SUGAR ... otherwise, I will want to eat it. It's a man made rule and it stinks. Whereas it's more like just keeping everything in moderation, foregoing things as much as the Holy Spirit empowers me to, taking it to God so that He can fulfill me better than any brownie or bowl of ice cream.

Okay, I posted about my sleep issues in an earlier post. Also, I've been getting a lot of headaches lately. Usually I just take some Advil and move on. Another thing I've been struggling with constipation. One at a time these are not huge deals in my life, but all together they are starting to wear on me. My insides just don't feel right. I just sort of feel like there is stuff that just needs to be flushed out.

I've been thinking about it for a while and I think I'm going to try a cleansing thing. (I don't use the word diet because that would be heresy :)). I think I'm going to go with this article and references more than anything. I don't want to take any pills, I just want to do juices, broth, flaxseed and lots of water.

Leaving out gorey details I will probably post about it in my next post. So, I'll let you know how it went.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Broken Churches Led By Broken People part 2

I always seem to procrastinate with the posting. I doddle around on Facebook and then check my email, check my messages, hoping to get caught up in something else.

For the most part, I loved my church growing up. I loved the music especially. :) Around about 7th grade our old worship pastor moved on to another job. He was the traditional hymns and piano kind of guy. I learned many of the hymns I know today from his time. The old people loved him too:) So when we got a new guy who had just come off the mission field from England and the Czech Republic who had a guitar and kid who played the djembe there was a bit of an exodus. He mentioned once to me and a few others that he would get angry letters in the offering tray about it. I imagine that would be a difficult thing. It's interesting how an offering plate can be passed around and the offering from the body are notes of... well, not encouragement.

I loved this new worship leader. He and his family were so full of life and fun. His wife played piano and they had such a heart for international missions. It was as though we had a worship pastor and missions pastor all in one. At the time our youth pastor was encouraging us to be a part of the church, serve in adult ministries, not just to be the future church but to BE the church. As a home schooler this didn't seem too bad to me. I was comfortable with adults and went to some of our Equipping Classes. I think these days they would be called Small Groups. I also got to sing on the worship team. I remember someone asking me what year I was in college and I told them I was in seventh grade. I was tall for my age, but still... really? Whatever. Seriously though, I don't think I've grown an inch since then. :)

Anyways, so after our new worship leader came our youth pastor was called to leave maybe a year later. He gave us four months to find a new youth pastor.

We went nine months without a youth pastor. The parents tried to do their best to step in, but we had been probably too enamored with our first youth pastor, plus, they were our PARENTS... :) really? Who wants them? I started a youth worship team and we were TERRIBLE. I played the piano and this other guy played electric guitar, we tried to incorporate a trumpet, it was terrible.

We got a new youth pastor the middle of my ninth grade year. I wasn't sure about him, he seemed too happy or goofy or something. Now as I look back I see that he had a genuine heart and a desire to be led by the Spirit. He helped me to break outside of my perfect shell. One weekend on a retreat he had an open time of sharing. I knew I needed to tell the truth about my struggle with an eating disorder, my lonliness, my struggles with sexual fantasies... I didn't want to. For some reason I got up there anyways and shared through tears in front of my youth group of about fifty or sixty kids. As a result I had three girls come up to me that night and tell me they were struggling with some of the same things. Since that night I have made a pledge with the Lord that I would be honest at all costs. I knew He would be faithful to bring others into my life I could share with and it didn't matter who knew.

Lord, what do You want me to share? What kind of details? I don't want to slander anyone, but I want to be holy in the way I say stuff... I want to be honest.

Okay, let's just count here. I've seen three youth pastors leave our little church, three worship pastors, four teaching pastors... there was a pastor "disagreement" that was never truly resolved I felt. I think that was the biggest blow. The pastor who left was gracious and moved to another state to continue pastoring, but still about half the church left. It was hard to watch people leave. Easier to see them go on good terms than bad ones. I had one youth pastor take four months to leave, another one left in two weeks. One worship pastor left to go work as a chef, another left to do full time missions around the world, another one left to make a more "seeker friendly" church... I think... I can think of two friends specifically who were hurt by one pastor's ministry and him confronting them on wrong grounds, I guess it was just messy and people lying and stuff like that. ...

Okay, all of that junk to say, the church is led by broken people. So many times I have asked God why? Why did you allow this? These people are wrong! But God quietly responds that He put men in charge who are broken. The more they realize that and live in a dependence on Him, the better. They will be held to a higher standard and God is a just God. Jesus was the hardest on the teachers of the law, I wonder if that's because there was a carnage of people in their path.

We are to submit ourselves to the authority God has placed in our lives. We are to live faithfully to where He has called us to be. We are to do all things without grumbling or complaining. We are to search the scriptures for ourselves and make sure that no one is committing heresy. We are to grow where we are planted and do what He has called us to do.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Broken Churches Led By Broken People

Today I was thinking about the brokenness of my church background. A lot of people have been hurt by church goers, church leadership, church hypocrites... need I say more? The other day I had a woman say to me, you have no idea what I've been through in my church. I thought, yeah, I have no idea, but I probably have a pretty good idea and I have been through a lot of crap too.

A conclusion I came to a long time ago: The Church (the body of Christ) is run by broken people. We live in a broken world and if Jesus had wanted everything to go perfectly he would have stayed and ran things himself. Instead, he sent the Holy Spirit who will guide us. The only problem is that we all sin. Let me say that again, we ALL sin. We are all broken, we are all prone to sin, no one is above it. No one. I have heard of many pastors falling into affairs, evangelists doing things for money, I have seen conflicts, I have seen junk that I never wanted to see.

So this is me telling my story of my church experience. This will all be from my point of view, so there are details that I don't know about, simply because they were kept from me. Some things I will not elaborate on because they are better left unsaid. But here is my story as best I can tell it.

I want to start with a preliminary note about my Dad. He is a faithful man. Mom says he doesn't like change, but I know it's because God has called my Dad to be a stability and pass that stability on to his children. He is the reason why we never changed churches after my church went through a bunch of stuff. Also, in the telling of this I want to bring home the two facts I have learned. Man is sinful, no matter how awesome you think he is and God is good. He is faithful and true and calls us to trust in Him.

When we moved to Little Rock I was eight years old. Mom and Dad told us that we were going to find a church here and when we found it, that would be the one we would stay at. We were not going to church-hop or anything like that. As an eight year old I took the process of finding a church very seriously. I loved our church from the day we first visited. Mom would tell you that it was because the children's church met at a school where all the rooms are little houses. But I liked it because of my Sunday school teachers. They were amazing. I liked the other kids in my class, I just loved the church. So after several visits to other churches we decided on this church.

I loved our church. Loved the people and just the feel of it. We eventually moved into a real church building and I loved it just as much. Throughout those elementary years I just grew to love the church and the people more and more. My faith in God was young and I was learning much.

I remember sometime in the fifth or sixth grade one of our pastors was called to leave and go to another church in another state. He didn't want to go, but the Lord was calling him and so he openly shared with the church the war in his heart and how he wanted to follow God in this. I was sad to see him and his family go. They had a daughter my age and we had become friends. I enjoyed his teaching (yeah, I was in sixth grade and enjoyed his teaching!) But the Lord called him somewhere else.

I came into youth group in the seventh grade. They had junior high and high school then. We had one of the most amazing youth pastors I have ever met. I don't want to exalt him or anything, because he is just human; but his passion for the Lord was compelling. He was also funny and a good musician/worship leader. I still remember the way he taught about Paul and following God through anything. I remember him teaching us to lead with servant leadership. He had us on a secret leadership team called the Ministry Team. He didn't want anyone else to know about it, we weren't supposed to talk about it. We were the ones who he would meet with every few weeks, we were to reach out to the kids who were on the fringe, the newcomers. Our first task was to go and clean up the highway outside of our church. He taught us that Jesus humbled himself and served and we needed to follow his example of servant leadership. I remember a phrase our youth pastor would say: When God says "jump" you say, "how high?"

To my knowledge things were going fine in our church. Everything was wonderful, I would have feelings of peace as I walked through the doors on a Sunday morning or Sunday night. I loved being there, we participated in everything.

Along about the middle of 8th grade a bombshell dropped on my faith. Our youth pastor was being called away to another church in another state. What were we going to do? Are we going to leave the church? I remember my brother asking this question the day our youth pastor made his announcement. I felt like a huge part of my foundation had been ripped out from under me.

He left in a very gracious, smooth way. Let me just say this for any pastors, especially youth pastors out there... if you are planning on leaving your church and going to a new one I would highly highly suggest you not leave suddenly. I have seen it done both ways, slowly and abruptly and I will say it is worth any kind of sacrifice to make transitions as smooth as possible. This gave me time to process, to love, to cry, to figure out what was going on.

That's when I realized I was trusting not just in Jesus, but in our youth pastor as well. I was using his faith as a crutch. Many of my friends had their speculations about why he had to leave, but my conclusion for my own heart is that God was teaching me to trust in Him, not my pastors and teachers. Pastors are teachers are good and necessary, but they are not there for us to place our faith in.

This is the first part of my story, I will continue with more later. It's late though and I need to go to bed.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I wanted to talk about comparison. I hate comparison. I measure myself up against others all the time. And I hate it.

This blog is me taking skeletons in my closet and literally throwing them out into the open. I am examining them, weeping over them, rejoicing over the victory of them, struggling with them. My flesh is weak and it wars against my spirit. You can read more about that in Romans chapters 6-8. I highly recommend it.

Here is a skeleton I still struggle with. I have victory over it and then I struggle some more.


I have even found a new dimension of comparison with my husband and son. I compare my husband to other husbands, how does he measure up? Is he as good as that guy over there, does he lead as well? Is he as attractive? In my son, can he do what other 15 month olds are doing? When he was in the process of crawling to walking I would see other kids his age walking and him not walking and I would worry. I would compare. I'm sure next it will be talking, then potty training, then other abilities like sports or music or whatever. The possibilities are endless. Sadly. We compare ourselves amongst ourselves.

I compare myself with other women. How do I look next to them? Am I heavier? Am I prettier? Do I have more talent than them? Do I have better knowledge of the scriptures? Blah blah blah... I think you could call the road of comparison the road of DEATH. Death of friendships, death of peace, death of worth of yourself (we are worthy because we are in Christ and He created us), death of just plain loving your husband even though he's imperfect, death of loving your child just because they are your child and you just love them for them. That's all kids want, just to be loved for who they are and not what they can do.

This is why Facebook is such a struggle for me. We can put up this appearance of perfection. We can post on our walls about our perfect lives, put up pictures that make us look amazing, and compare ourselves to the lives of others. I love Facebook for the communication and the networking it provides, but I still struggle with it.

I feel like this comparison struggle creates a wedge between people. Specifically women. I don't see men struggling with this as much, but with women it seems to just drive something between us.

Lord, help me. Please speak to this area of our lives.

I want to live in transparent truth. The truth shall set you free. I have discovered that in a deeper way these past few weeks. More than anything it has increased my gratitude for the Cross and what it did to my sin. Jesus died on the cross, washed us clean in his blood, rose again conquering death and now God sees me as perfect. I am perfect in a way... I'm made holy and clean. Day by day I am being refined by His Spirit who is walking with me. I trip up and He faithfully picks me up. He is gradually (very gradually) making me righteous.

So what does all this mean in the realm of comparison? Your opinion of me doesn't matter. :) I say that with a smile because my opinion of you doesn't matter either. If we will rest in that and just SIMPLY do what He has called us to do, no more and no less, then comparison won't be an issue. Easier said than done.

Lord, change my heart in this area. Help me to rejoice in You always. Let my gentleness be evident to all, because You are near. Let me not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present my requests to You. And Your peace which passes all understanding, it goes beyond my situation, beyond my hurts, beyond my striving, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.
This prayer is taken from Philippians 4:4-6

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sleep Stuff

I'm tired today. Very very tired.

Levi is napping and the dishwasher is going. I'm sitting on the couch wondering why I am so tired. Then I remember that I stink at sleeping. (yes, I said stink, I'm a mom and I am now realizing I need to clean up my language).

When Ben and I were dating three years ago I couldn't figure out why I was so tired all the time. I had my thyroid tested (surely it was that, I was overweight, it must be that) nope. I wondered what was wrong with me when my doctor suggested I have a sleep study done. Praise the Lord I had wonderful Starbucks insurance at the time. So I went to the clinic, got all hooked up on all the little wires and things, and they put me to bed. The doctor came in the next morning and asked me how I slept. Pretty good I thought, I didn't remember waking up at all, so that was good, usually I have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. His reply was, no you didn't. Your brain waves spiked 120 times before you finally got into your REM cycle, every two minutes. So for about four hours I would not get into my REM cycle.... no wonder! He said that's actually pretty common among young women because of the worry and stress in their lives. Yeah, that's true, I was planning a wedding at the time, moving into an apartment, working odd hours at my job, playing shows late into the night, dating the man of my dreams... So he prescribed Ambien. I've been taking a generic for that for the past 3 years or so. I didn't take it as much when I was pregnant with Levi, they said it doesn't hurt pregnant women. ... Anyways, I am wanting to go off of it. I love it because I have no trouble falling asleep at night when I take it. Also, I've noticed it has this effect that as it starts to kick in I am just happy. I laugh as I write this, because I have said some really goofy things to Ben just before we fall asleep and I completely cannot remember them the next day.

All that to say, I want to be healed of this. I want for this to be something I don't have to struggle with. Ben doesn't struggle with this. His head hits the pillow and he's out in 5 minutes. Me? I can be lying there for an hour and still be trying to go to sleep. I recite scripture, songs run through my head, conversations run through my head, I pray, I think. I just want to shut my brain off. Where is the off switch on the brain? Could somebody tell me please? I have often considered staying up all night, but then I'm exhausted the next day, then I can't have a decent quiet time with the Lord and I'm literally falling asleep while trying to pray or read the Word. When I don't get enough sleep not even coffee helps. If I could I would go to bed every night at 9 and wake up at 5 and have a two hour time with the Lord (that's not to say anything about my character, I am not a good person, but that is to say how GOOD it is to be with God, how much I enjoy it, just to sit in my corner of the couch with my coffee, journal and Bible and listen and talk to God.)

I was talking about my mind wandering. Drat, I didn't want to say something about this, but I'm going to because if there is someone else who deals with this, then they can relate. This is going back to my healing in the area of sexual addiction. This is when temptation will be the heaviest. At night time when no one else is watching. My mind is going crazy and sometimes I just want one thing to consume it. Sexual thoughts will consume my mind. That's when I can lock my mind on one thing (I'm not saying this is good AT ALL) and not have to think about anything else. No other conversations, not if I cleaned the bathroom or not, I don't have to think about if I got this or that done at work, I can just think about that one thing... and often times I would go to sleep after that. Weird right? I don't know if it was the Lord who would just put me to sleep because my mind was going somewhere it shouldn't or if the enemy was keeping me up so that I would think about these things.

I want to be a normal person and go to sleep when I should. In this life there will be trouble and hardship, we are not guaranteed an easy life. I ask for healing but I'm not sure if God wants to heal me of this. That is up to Him. I will just continue to ask and pray.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reasons why I don't watch Glee and certain other programs...

I don't want to be legalistic. We are saved by grace, not what we do.

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become and stumbling block to the weak. For it anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way you wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."
1 Corinthians 8:9-13

I am the weaker brother. And I'm okay with that.

I feel like we live in a pornographic culture. We live in an immoral culture on other fronts as well, but I'm not talking about those right now. I'm just going to call it like I see it and we are surrounded by it. We don't even really notice it. Our movies and advertising are full of it, it's all over the place, in our television shows, in our music...

So as I was driving the other day they were talking about Glee. I would LOVE to watch Glee. I love high school choir stuff, singing, they are amazing musicians, all that stuff. I have seen one episode of Glee. Sadly, I will never watch it again. The sexual content of Glee is not a healthy place for my mind to be. I am the weaker brother and I have to flee from stuff like this.

I hate having to tiptoe around our culture, but I hate even more watching something and slowly trying to dismiss little innuendos, avert my eyes from certain things, rip my mind away (the biggest battlefield). On this same tangent I am going to now go off, so please excuse me.

Every week I see girls who are facing an unplanned pregnancy who are sexually active. When I suggest that they remain abstinent outside of marriage they look at me like I have two heads. What they often don't realize is that sex is not a requirement to get to know someone. Actually, it's a hindrance. If two people "work in bed" that does not mean, well, anything really. We are all sexual beings and we can all get pleasure from sex. What we are missing is the deeper emotional, spiritual, relational element that is VITAL to a good relationship. Good sex follows health in those areas. Television programs and movies follow the opposite of this. These days almost none of the love stories move me anymore. If a couple sleeps together before marriage and actual commitment in a movie they have LOST me altogether. I'm totally serious. Some of you are looking at me like I'm a prude right now or that I'm legalistic or even unrealistic and I say, the culture is the one being unrealistic and we have accepted it lock stock and barrel.

Can you feel my anger burning off the page? This is a passion of mine. Not only because of my own sin that I have fallen into and struggled through as though walking through hell, but also because of the messed up lives I have seen.

I heard once that in the show Friends, Jennifer Anniston's character, Rachel, sleeps with (I think) a total of 38 guys. I wonder which sexually transmitted diseases she experienced or passed on? Out of all these guys she just happened to have one unplanned pregnancy with her long-time love interest, how convenient? I see girls who are with the same guy for years and go out and sleep with another guy and happen to get pregnant with him. I'm not saying ANY of this was right, but it is drastically different than what Hollywood has spoon-fed us. Do I sound angry? Good, because I am.

I do not like to take this stand. I love TV, I could watch TV all day long (and have) if I could. My sister and I memorized the first four seasons of the Office. I loved it. I loved watching The Hills and The City but then realized what a self-centered attitude they influenced me with, just different little things that made me realize that there are better things to be done with my time that would have a greater impact on eternity.

I'm not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't watch, I just want you to think about what you are putting into your mind. If you keep struggling with this one sin, this one thing, I would strongly encourage you to begin looking critically at what you take in.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Freedom from Sexual Addiction part 4

I come with empty hands.

Sometimes I enjoy posting on my blog, sometimes I come with what feels like nothing to say. Right now I feel like the latter. :)

Jesus, I pray that you would speak to me. Speak through me if you will.

I don't like to share stuff like this, but I do it because I feel it is necessary. I feel like I should have entitled this "Healing from Sexual Addiction" because it's like a wound with a scab that is slowly taking over. Sometimes that scab gets picked off, yes I pick scabs, sometimes it gets torn open. I was thinking about my friend who has been through some traumatic times and what in the world can heal her? Drugs can temporarily take away the pain, so can alcohol. Sex and pornography can distract from the pain, but in the end it always comes back. The only thing that can truly heal us is the Lord. Jesus told the lame man to get up and walk, he healed us physically but more importantly, he can heal us spiritually and emotionally. Those deep, deep scars cannot be removed by modern psychology, they can only be removed by the Word and prayer and fellowship with the Lord.

Sorry, that was my tangent before I shared all this. Ben and I were newly married and enjoying it so much. He went to work everyday, I was working part-time at Starbucks, leading worship part time at a church downtown, and doing music gigs around town when I could. My schedule was sporadic and I would have odd hours at home alone. I would often use Ben's computer to watch television shows. One of my favorites was Desperate Housewives and I also discovered a show called Love Money. Both have tons of sex, selfishness, attitudes, everything, you name it. That's why they are such delicious shows. I was also taking birth control pills which made me slightly crazy (as I discussed in this post). All of this was like a perfect cocktail for a gateway for me. I struggled with thinking just evil thoughts. It was interesting though because I kept it separate from my relationship with Ben. I wasn't completely honest about what I had been thinking about, the shows I had been watching, it was like in some way I was living two separate lives. The secret life, however, is difficult to keep secret. My attitude and anger eventually bled over into my relationship with Ben. My addiction literally blocked my ability to love him the way I should.

It all came out eventually and I made a covenant with Ben that I would not watch shows like that any more. I realized that he was more important than all of that stuff. So I was able to stay pure for a time.

Okay, and then I got pregnant. I'm not going to blame stuff on the pregnancy because my own sinful heart was heavily involved. Again, I would like to say that this stuff creeps up. It doesn't just happen all at once, but slowly it creeps into your life and then you have to keep going back to it. With pregnancy I discovered other hormones and drives. Can I just say here that I feel like now I know an inkling of what guys go through? As far as the drive to just want sex? I'm not saying every pregnant woman is this way, but there was a drive inside of me. If I had been right I would have gone to Ben with this, but instead I was drawn to satan's ways and perversion. After a time of stumbling, confessing, stumbling, confessing, attempting to repent (I say "attempting to" because I was not successful for very long), and stumbling again, praying, crying out to the Lord and asking for wisdom I kept coming back to fleeing from temptation. We finally decided to pay good money for a really good filter on my computer. Can I just say that it was worth every penny? The accountability for the times when I was alone, worth every bit. God gives us strength to flee, but we still have to FLEE from temptation. In this, I am glad that I am not technologically savvy, I don't know how to get around filters very well and that is a GOOD thing. :) I am also determined never to live outside of community. Living with Ben's parents and brother and sister in law and their kids were SO GOOD for me at different times. They were a help to me in this struggle. Can I say that if you are struggling with a sin like this, a private, personal sin, it is good to live with a roommate, a family who is open and honest? I had only confessed it to Ben, but it was good to just be around other believers. It was more of a struggle when we moved into our own house.

Okay, another reason why I am thankful the Lord gave me a child, Levi has redeemed me in this area as well. His life has given me an even stronger desire to stay far away from this sin. Also, taking care of him has distracted me so much from myself and my sin that I don't have time or energy to engage in such things. Can I just say that the Lord has used Levi and his birth in tremendous ways in my life? Not only in the redemption of my physical body, in my own healing and freedom from sexual addiction.

I knew that having Levi and being home a lot would be a struggle, that I would probably struggle with postpartum depression, and so I decided before Levi was born that I would not watch any television, that I would only listen to Christian podcasts, radio, music all that stuff. Sounds like I'm a weirdo doesn't it? But I did not struggle with postpartum depression and I think it was because I made a conscious decision beforehand to set my mind on things above. I will tell you, it was some of the sweetest times in my life. Yes, I was tired but I don't regret a second of it. I listened to a lot of Revive Our Hearts, Family Life Today, Nuclearity (which is an AMAZING podcast, I am sad it's not being created anymore, but I highly encourage anyone to go download all 29 of them and you will love them), and Focus on the Family. I listened to a lot of Pandora Radio with Christy Nockels, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Sara Groves, Jill Phillips and Andrew Peterson. It was a pure, good time. I would liken it a lot with the time I had mono in 11th grade and just had amazing times of personal worship. I talked about it in this post.

I want to thank you all for your encouragement. If you would like to talk more about this subject with me feel free to email me or leave a comment or send me a Facebook message. This or any other subject I have talked about.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Freedom from Sexual Addiction part 3

The past few days I have been greatly encouraged by those around me. I have had emails and phone calls, conversations with others about my story that I am in the process of sharing. My story that I don't like to share. I don't take joy or delight in it, it is painful for me. It's a shameful part of my past that I would rather just forget and keep out of my mind for the rest of my life. As I write I remember the fact that this is out there and my friends, parents, in-laws, pastors, anyone could read this. I cannot tell you how many times those thoughts have come to mind these past few days. I cannot tell you in how many ways I have been attacked by the enemy. Thoughts of depression, weariness, loneliness (in the midst of being called/loved on by others)... lies from the enemy. Doubt and fear, all of these things. It's interesting how strongly and terrifically the enemy flails in his attempts to beat me down. I'm amazed. But I am in awe of God. Of His power and His leading through His Holy Spirit who lives in me and guides me through the valley of the shadow of death. I am in awe of the truth of the Bible and how it pierces like a double-edged sword. I am amazed by the power of music and how when it is sung over a place my spirit is lifted and the enemy is silenced and when I dance before the Lord (yes, in my living room with Levi and David Crowder singing Only You) I can dance in freedom and truth that He has my life, all of me. He has bought and paid in full all of my sins.

To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

"He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth."

When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:21-24

My sacrifice of my pride is small in comparison.

The other day I was thinking about what pulls you into this stuff. Why is it so appealing? Am I a freak of nature that I would be drawn to stuff like this. I think there are a couple of things. Yes, I am a sinful person. My heart is drawn to sin, it's the marring of my ancestors Adam and Eve and our fallen race. It's my own heart and mind that pulls me towards this. Sin is a perversion of good things. Things that God created good: sex, food, other things, Satan has twisted. Maybe just a little bit at first, but over time it becomes a little more and a little more. It might have been a passing thought at first, somewhat shocking, somewhat curious, but it becomes a little more familiar to us. That first shock, feeling is gone, so we need to go a little further. I think this is how it goes with drugs and alcohol as well. You just have to start out with the little drugs like marijuana, but after that becomes too familiar, it's easy to take a step up. (I don't know this, I am only speaking from speculation and what I have heard, and honestly I think I would have been into drugs if the Lord had not protected me from it, I find that I'm drawn to escape my circumstances and alter my feelings, so ... yeah).

I also feel like the enemy doesn't come just crashing in on the first try. That would be easy, we would be turned off immediately, not a problem to say no to. But he likes to do stuff when we least expect it, drop a thought in here or there, hear something on the radio, see something on the TV. It would be almost impossible to remove yourself from anything that could ever be a temptation. That is also pretty legalistic and living by man's rules instead of God's. I want to remove and flee from temptation as much as I can in my life. I know how bad sin messes me up. One thing the Lord has taught me to do is to "bounce" my thoughts. Here's how it goes: I am walking along one day and an image from my past drops into my mind. As soon as I realize it's there I stop and look or focus on something else. If I'm outside I can look at a tree, inside I might look over at my fireplace or something silly like that. I pray the scripture of my life "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, stand firm then and do no let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." If I can I will remove myself from that place and go to a new place. I'm thankful for my son, that he is a good distraction from sin. If anything, I don't want this to be a part of my life for the sake of my marriage and family.

In all that I am saying I don't want to be formulaic. If you blink one eye, jump around in a circle for 45 seconds and say this thing twelve times then you will be free from this, NO! In everything we need to be going to the Word of God, listening to the Holy Spirit, asking others to help us in our repentance. Oh yes, the Bible says in James to confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed. If we will confess, we will be healed. Wow! But then we need to repent. To repent is to turn away from, to walk the other way. Many times I have not wanted (in my flesh) to repent and turn away because I knew it would involve pain on my part. I didn't enjoy what I was doing, I wanted to stop, but I didn't want that awkward stage that's in the middle of those two things that involves struggling, being tempted, doing something else besides that sin... Now, I am so grateful for my freedom. The sin is not the first thing I think of to do when I am bored. Now I do things like paint, listen to music, clean my house, read a book, play with my son... That middle ground is the hardest part, but it is worth it.

If you remember, please lift me and my family up in prayer. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:12) But he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Freedom from Sexual Addiction part 2

I cried out to the Lord and He answered me from His holy mountain.
Psalm 3:4 NLT

"But now bring charges against Israel --
your mother --
for she is no longer my wife,
and I am no longer her husband.
Tell her to remove the prostitute's makeup from her face
and the clothing that exposes her breasts.
Otherwise I will strip her naked as the day she was born.
I will leave her to die or thirst, as in a dry and barren wilderness..."
Hosea 2:2-3 NLT
"For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.
I will block her path with a wall
to make her lose her way.
When she runs to her lovers,
she won't be able to catch them.
She will search for them
but not find them...
"She doesn't realize it was I who gave her everything she has --
the grain, the new wine, the olive oil;
I even gave her silver and gold.
But she gave all my gifts to Baal..."
Hosea 2:6-7a, 8 NLT

The thing about the enemy is that he really likes to use the back door. He's not the one who is going to come knocking on the front door showing all his colors and tricks, he's going to find that back door that is sort of lazily propped open and just slip in there when least expected. At least, that's what he does in my life.

That's the thing about sexual addiction. I think it starts out as a small thing and then before you know it, you are running after it. It's just a tiny thought, something very easy to fight at first. Just a little bit of it does something to you, but then as you think more, participate more in your mind it goes further and further and gets more perverse. I remember sitting in my apartment one evening after I had sinned and just feeling like trash. I was sitting on the floor, looking in the full-length mirror at myself and just thinking, "I don't know how to get out of this."

As I was reading in Hosea that year I saw how God brought Israel away from their sins. Hosea said he would "fence her in with thornbushes" and wall her path. God said "I will remove the Baals from your mouth, no longer will their names be invoked." (2:17). It was the mercy of God that my computer was eaten up with viruses. To this day I am thankful for that. I have had to remove the television from my life, there are many many movies that I cannot watch because they are a gateway for sin in my mind. There are songs on the radio that I cannot listen to, sometimes I even wonder why I listen to the radio at all.

I have a computer now, that's how I can write on this blog :) but even at one time I struggled with using it for evil. Ben gave me this computer (an amazing mac) so that I could record my music, and here I was using it to sin against my husband. Yes, there was even times when I struggled with this inside of our marriage. Let me just be clear here that pornography addiction (for me) was completely different than intimacy in marriage. There might be some basic similarities, but in my mind they were completely separate. Does that make sense? Like similarities of eating cheap cotton candy and then being fed a gourmet meal, like those kinds of similarities. The cotton candy might be kind of enjoyable as you are eating it, but it will rot in your stomach, rot your teeth and you will be even hungrier after you eat it. You will feel ill and probably regret eating it. Pornography is like this except about ten times worse.

So one day I asked Ben to put a filter on my computer. We discussed it a lot because he wasn't sure that I would be depending on the Holy Spirit to help me fight it if I had a filter in place. But I felt in my spirit that my self-control needed some help. I was reminded of the scripture in Hosea about being walled in with thornbushes, tearing down idols, taking desperate, drastic measures. As my protector he put a filter on my computer and what a help it was! Yes, my mind could still recall things, but in those moments of being alone in the house, and I was alone a lot with working odd hours and Ben at his job 8-5, the temptation was difficult.

I feel like that's why we need to be in community with each other. That's why we need to be around other believers and not isolate ourselves. I don't think I would ever want to live alone for that reason. I need that constant accountability, that human love, the other person in their humanity sharpening me as iron sharpens iron.

I feel like I'm rambling. There is still more I want to say, maybe more of the story, more about God giving me freedom. I would highly encourage you to read the book of Hosea if you are struggling with this sin. There is redemption and there is forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Freedom from Sexual Addiction part 1

I've been wrestling and praying about writing about this for several days now. Maybe longer. I wanted to make sure that this is something that God actually wants me to share. I fully understand that this is the internet and can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. There's that scripture that talks about not throwing your pearls before swine lest they may be trampled. I'm not always sure what it means and I think it's often used as an excuse not to be fully honest. But as I have been praying about it I have come to a place where I am willing to lay myself open for the freedom of even one person. If only one person sees that they are not alone in this struggle and 100 people think less of me and hate me or whatever, I'm okay with that. I lay down my life.

I simply want to speak about the freedom that the Lord has done in my life.

In my story I am going to reference a book from the Old Testament called Hosea. For those of you who do not know about this book I will give you a summary. Hosea is a prophet. God calls Hosea to take a wife by the name of Gomer. She's a prostitute. This relationship is a representation of God's relationship to Israel. For the Christian, we are Israel in this story. She then is unfaithful to him and bears him three children of unfaithfulness. She goes after other lovers. Then she is sold on an auction block and Hosea buys her back. This is all in the first 3 chapters. The next chapters are God speaking to Israel, telling her that she has betrayed Him and how and then in the last chapter it talks about how He will still, despite all she has done, redeem her.

My first taste of pornography was sent in an email to me my sophomore year of college. I had struggled with sexual fantasies throughout junior high and high school. Little things like television or magazine ads pricked my curiosity. Sometimes neighborhood kids would talk about stuff that they actually knew nothing about, but thought they did. By the time my mom had the sex talk with me she was really just filling in a few blanks. Growing up we had a filter on our computer and I am thankful for it, frustrating as it was at times when it would block sites that weren't bad, but had a wrong word or something like that.

I think Satan and his angels are pretty good at targeting us and finding us in our weaknesses and when we are alone. I'm not denying my sin nature and my own depravity, but there is definitely an active Tempter out there and he is just looking and watching for an in.

I had my own computer in my room at the time, no filter at school, just free to do whatever I wanted on the internet without anyone to hold me accountable. The times of going to these sites became more and more frequent. The first sights were shocking almost. When I would get off I would feel sick to my stomach. I felt dirty and just ill. I would repent and then go on. I would have a while of remaining pure in my thoughts, but then would stumble again. Along with it my computer was getting slower and slower. Those sites will bog a computer down with all the viruses that they load onto it. By the end of it my computer was completely trashed.

Finally, I felt so trapped that I knew I had to confess it. I was meeting with my mentor at the time and I confessed it to her. She was so forgiving of me and prayed that those images would be removed from my mind. Images like that can imprint themselves in your mind and then can be recalled at any time. I heard a guy say that he would be leading worship (while secretly struggling with a pornography addiction) and as he was singing images completely unsolicited would come to mind. After that I painfully confessed to my mom my addiction. Thankfully, my computer was so trashed I could hardly even use it. The next two years of my college experience I just went to the library to write papers and get on the internet.

I have more to share in this story. This is not the complete picture of how God has given me freedom. I have more struggle to share, but I don't think I can in this post.

Oh man, there is so much in me that I feel like I need to say in this area of pornographic addiction. The perspective from a woman, how it affects your thoughts, how it affects your marriage, your relationship with God, your self-worth and depression. Jesus, I am praying that you will speak. I know that many are locked in a prison of silence and hiding in this area. Wives are feeling betrayed, or trapped, husbands are full of guilt and teens are in depression... I feel really overwhelmed right now. I don't know why you have called me to do this, but I want to be faithful to what you would have me say. My life is worth nothing if it is not lived for Christ. Thank You for an understanding husband. Thank You for the gift of my son, I am amazed that You would give such a broken person these incredible gifts. Please speak.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm praying about a new blog post right now. It's tearing me up inside. Pray for me. Pray that God would speak in the powerful way that He does.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Redemption of My Physical Body: part nineteen

I have realized more and more in my life that when I try to control something I end up messing it up. As soon as I get my greasy little fingers on something it is bound to just fall apart.

I feel like weight loss needs to be almost unnoticeable. What is the saying? A watched pot never boils? When I keep stepping on the scale every day and several times a day, when I keep going and looking in the mirror at my stomach and keep thinking about it I defeat myself. When I exercise too hard and starve myself I either collapse or I give up and eat everything in sight.

All my life whenever I would TRY to lose weight I would either maintain or gain. That sounds crazy right? I think it was because my trying was fueled by my own self-will. As soon as my self-will burnt out I would crash and binge. I am still amazed at how long I did this. I mean, it was years of dieting one week and crashing that weekend, crashing several times in a week even. Maybe keeping it up for a two or three weeks (I'm not sure how long sometimes it runs together in my mind) and then crashing. Maybe because the amount of weight felt insurmountable. I remember when I reached 50 pounds over what I needed to be... it felt like I would never go back. I remember being categorized on the doctor's charts as being "obese" ... I really remember that, that hopelessness.

Hopelessness is a dark place. I think many women feel this way about their weight. Maybe you have 100 pounds to lose, maybe it's just the last 20 pounds that won't come off since the baby came. I think it's an overwhelming sense that "my body is never going to change" "I am never going to change" ...

So I'm sitting here, trying to think of how I got hope. What can I say to encourage you? Well, let's be clear about one thing first, hope is only found in Christ. If you are in Him you have an eternal hope of glory. Our bodies here on this earth will never work perfectly but thankfully when we pass into glory we will get a new body that will be perfect. No more of these earthly struggles. Let me just yell here: PRAISE THE LORD! I'm not gonna have to deal with this thing anymore.

Okay, after that I think what gave me a lot of hope was just pulling away from the world. I stopped watching TV, stopped reading "Fit" and "YM" and just started asking God, "What do You think of me?" The message of the world is that I will never be skinny enough, my hair will never be perfect enough, I will never be rich enough. It's not that I had to separate myself from people so much, I just had to really start to monitor what I looked at and listened to.

The more I asked the Lord what He thought, the more I asked Him what He gave me to eat... little by little, without even realizing it, I began to lose weight. The thing is, the Holy Spirit never told me to overeat. :) If anything, He gave me the self-control to pass up dessert if I didn't need it, the presence of mind not to overeat in the afternoon. I knew that God created fruits and vegetables for my benefit with all the vitamins and minerals in them. It was this new and crazy way of eating.

I know some of you may think I'm crazy with this, but I'm just being honest. This by no means has been a perfect process. I mess up often and stray from His leading often, but God has poured out mercy in my life in these times. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. He is slow to anger and abounding in love.