Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21 - What's next?

So what's next? I know for me, I have circled around this mountain long enough. It's time to head north (Deuteronomy 2:3). I began this journey because I know I can't stay where I've been all my life any longer. Just like the Israelites. What should have taken them 11 days took 40 years. It wasn't because of the distance of their journey, but the condition of their hearts.

The condition of my heart needs to be positioned to enjoy closeness and fulfillment with God for eternity, as Lysa said in today's email. I know that how I feel this moment will change because feelings change. I'll have bad days. I'll want junk food and I'll want a lot of it. The difference now is I've invited God into this issue and I know He'll stay with me. I know that my struggle with food addiction doesn't end here. But it's the beginning of the end. Praise God!!

I don't know what's around the corner. I do know that when I turn the corner the Lord will be there with me. He'll be there with you.

Remember a few of Lysa's go-to scripts:
  • We are made for more than to be stuck in this vicious cycle of defeat.
  • God has given us power over our food choices. We are to consume food. Food isn't supposed to consume us.
  • Our struggle with weight and food issues is not God's mean curse on us, but an outside indication that internal changes are needed for us to function and feel well.
  • The boundaries with food that we put in place are not for restriction but rather to define the parameters of our freedom.
I'll continue writing and blogging about this journey, but just not everyday. I'll be here at least once a week. As I said before, I'm a research girl about things I'm passionate about. I feel God is leading me down this road to be the healthiest I can be. I'm looking forward to talking to a few doctors, nutritionists and other health-care providers, along with personal research and my own experiences, as I deal with chronic pain, hypothyroidism and intense symptoms of menopause.

I'm so thankful for the health that I do have right now. Thank you all for reading my posts and starting your own journey to overcoming your personal issues with food, at whatever level it is. Until next week....

Heading north,
Terri

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 20-Chapter 19 "Live As An Overcomer"

Do you think it's possible to overcome your struggle with food addiction? Or do you think this is something you'll always have to battle with for the rest of your life?

According to Revelation 2:7b it is possible to overcome this. "To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." Not only is it possible, but it's probable.

I personally know a number of people who, at one time, thought they'd never be able to give up alcohol, drugs or sexual addiction. But they are living life today as an overcomer. This doesn't mean they sit back and just let life roll on by. They are intentional about their choices, as they put their faith and trust in God, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I've been a Christian for 30 years, and this is the first time I've given this area of my life to Him. That's why I'm so hopeful because I know the power of God. I'm just slow and dense. It never dawned on me that the Lord is concerned about this area of my life. As Lysa put it, "How precious of God to know and address so specifically a woman's struggle with food."

Tomorrow is the last day of this 21-day challenge. The past 21 days weren't meant to be a fix for our problem. I know that in 21 days I can't completely change the way I think about food and healthy eating. The past 21 days were just a spring board into a fresh, new and exciting journey with the Lord. As I put my hope in Him, my expectations are that I will become an overcomer. And I don't expect I'll get there alone. I'm hoping y'all will stick with me on this.

I plan to continue with my gluten-free, pre-packaged, sugar-free "experiment". Remember my thyroid story and how my doctor had to lower my dosage after I'd removed most of the gluten and processed foods from my diet? She told me my diet had nothing to do with it, but did say that losing weight may have had something to do with it.

An overcomer has to plan ahead. An overcomer needs to surround herself with others who are overcomers. And an overcomer must arm herself in preparation by gaining knowledge and information. And an overcomer becomes an overcomer by clinging to every word of the Lord, drawing every ounce of strength from Him, one choice at a time.

As Lysa ends Chapter 19 she refers to Revelation 2:7b by saying, "It is possible to be more than just one who deals with their struggles well. This verse is for those who find absolute victory in an area where they once knew nothing but defeat." That was me. Is it you? I'll be back here tomorrow....

Becoming an overcomer,
Terri

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 19-Chapter 18 "Things Lost, Better Things Gained"

I don't know about y'all, but I've gained a tremendous amount of insight and have learned so much in these past 19 days on this 21-day challenge. This is just the beginning for me. What about you? I hope you stick with me in the coming months. I have a lot of plans and ideas to continue on this journey and hope you will stick with me.

Are you as amazed as I am with all Lysa shared in her book and in her emails? I relate to everything she shared 100%! Same struggles, same desires, same everything.

I know that talking about food addiction, healthy eating plans, and cutting out certain foods permanently one week before Thanksgiving is pretty outrageous. I'm so tempted to just say, oh, the heck with it until after Thanksgiving. No...wait, then there's Christmas and all the days before Christmas. I'll miss out on all the goodies people bring to work, the foods at parties and get-togethers. Maybe waiting until after Christmas is what I should do.

But wait! There's New Year's Day and all the traditional must haves. Valentine's Day will be right around the corner and ooohh, all that chocolate and on and on and on the procrastination goes. Before I know it, it's springtime and I'm still 30 pounds (or more) overweight, dealing with the same stuff. So I can't think of a better time to be talking about food issues than right now, one week before Thanksgiving and the coming holidays.

I plan to enjoy my family and friends getting together for meals. With all we've read, talked about (well, I've talked about) and done up to this point, has made me more aware. I want to work on the get-togethers not being all about the food, but about the people I'm with.

I'm excited about experimenting and trying different recipes with some of my favorite things, but use gluten-free ingredients and no white sugar. I know me though, I'll have to use the tools I've learned these past 19 days to avoid overeating and ending up in defeat.

Lysa says in Chapter 18, "What if this whole journey of getting healthy could be more about what we're gaining than what we're losing? In the midst of losing chips and chocolate, there are things to be gained."

Instead of thinking about all the things I can't have, I will try to focus more on what I'm gaining and will get to have down the road. I have to start now. Today. Not next Friday or December 26th or January 2nd or February 15th..........

I plan to tape 1 Corinthians 6:12 to the door of my pantry, refrigerator and bathroom mirror. "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."

Losing and gaining,
Terri




Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18-Chapter 17 "The Very Next Choice We Make"

What is your weight-loss goal? Some numbers just popped into your head, right? Me too. I think this is where we get into trouble when we make it all about the numbers on the scale, the measuring tape and clothes size.

I just now read Lysa's Day 18 email. She tells the story of being in an exercise class and how another woman's comment could have done one of two things. I won't tell you the end of the story and ruin it for you if you haven't had a chance to read it yet. I will quote something Lysa said. "I was no longer defined by a number on the scale because my weight-loss goal is peace."

This is a completely radical way for me to look at health and weight loss. Peace! The benefits of this new goal of peace will simply be a healthier body, weight loss and yes, a more intimate walk with God, which is what we all truly crave AND need.

Chapter 17 is about taking this journey one choice at a time. I think of it as compounding interest, like when you're saving money or have a 401k plan. You invest some of your own money and the company matches it at some percentage, compounding your savings. So, we put in our healthy choices, one choice at a time and our investment is compounded. Every choice we make will build on the next and then the next. As we all know, our bad choices are compounded as well. Speaking from personal experience I know the results of compounded bad food choices.

Lysa talks about holiness, which I think we all tend to lean away from that word and the reality of God calling us to holiness. The definition of holiness is simply being set apart for a noble use. You and I are set apart for God's use. Attaining holiness is not something we do ourselves. This is God's work in us as we surrender to Him minute by minute, choice by choice.

So I ask you again, what is your weight-loss goal?

Pursuing peace,
Terri

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17-Chapter 16 "Why Diets Don't Work"

There are more diets than days in a year. I've tried many different ones. So far not one of them has worked for me.  When the diet ends I go back to my old habits, thinking I won't gain back the weight I lost on the all-promising diet. Y'all, diets are NOT our friend, not if you struggle with food addiction.

I used to be cynical of that term "food addiction." I just want to clarify briefly what it means. According to WebMD.com, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers in the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroine, are activated by certain foods, especially palatable foods containing sugar, fats and salt. When some people eat these foods, they can't eat just one serving or portion. Trying to exercise all the willpower and discipline in the world doesn't work. You can't stop. Food becomes like a drug. That's why diets don't work.

I've also heard that all the chemicals, additives and preservatives that are in our processed, convenient foods are addictive. In America we eat more of this type of food than in any other country. And it seems that sugar is in everything. Just read the label. I'm becoming a believer that sugar is also addictive. Why aren't other countries dealing with obesity, heart disease and cancer like America? I'm not claiming to know all the facts, but it's looking more and more to me like this is the case.

That's why this journey for me is a spiritual one. Kind of like it is for someone who stops drinking alcohol or doing other drugs is for them and God becomes their strength and Higher Power, through a personal relationship with Jesus.

Here is what Lysa has to say in Chapter 16 what this is for her and I LOVE it! "Entering into company with my Savior is indeed what I must do for this healthy-eating, spiritual journey to be successful and long-lasting. It's the component that all previous diets I've tried were missing."

It's thrilling to me the reality that I'll never have to go on another diet ever again!

Free at last,
Terri

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16-Chapter 15 "The Demon in the Chips Poster"

Could this be withdrawal from sugar, gluten and processed foods I'm experiencing? Today has been weird. I'm moody, crabby, sensitive and slightly nauseas with mild stomach cramps. Even with mild nausea I've had more cravings today than I've had for two weeks. I'm practicing using these cravings as prompts to pray as we'd talked about last week.

I love this: "We hold a power greater than any craving we face." That power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. If you're a believer in Jesus, you have that power. And since we belong to Jesus our temptations aren't random or haphazard. The devil, our enemy, does not want you or me to finally have victory over food addiction. Nope, he doesn't. That's important to remember.

I'm anticipating Thanksgiving. This 21-day challenge will be over. I'll continue this journey, but with many new tools I've gained. Tools that no weight-loss program has ever been able to provide. Everyone is coming to our house. About 20 people. All the usual Thanksgiving food will be right at my fingertips. Now, I can prepare myself, plan ahead and be ready. I honestly don't know what it will be like for me. Part of my planning is to have a couple of alternatives to the usual cornbread stuffing and pumpkin pie, which I love.

I just baked my first gluten-free loaf of bread in a bread machine. I have a recipe for a gluten-free pie crust that I plan to use for a pumpkin pie and use something other than white, processed sugar or brown sugar. I'll let y'all know how it turns out. Right now, the fresh, home-baked, gluten-free bread is smelling very good.

I love Lysa's perspective about setting up boundaries for our personal food allowances. She says that boundaries keep us safe, not restricted. So instead of feeling like we're restricted and deprived, let's work towards that same perspective.

Another thought that stands out for me in Chapter 15 is this: "I am not made to be a victim of my poor food choices. I was made to be a victorious child of God."

Well, only five more days. I don't see this as the end of something, but the beginning. I'm working on another blog where I'll continue blogging about food addiction, health and tons of things I've researched over the years about how we can take a proactive approach to our health instead of relying completely on what every doctor tells us. (Remember my thyroid story?)

I'll be back here tomorrow...
Terri

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 15-Chapter 14 Emotional Emptiness

All my life, as far back as I can remember, I've wanted to be thin. I always thought the thin girls were happier, healthier and had way more fun than me. Being thin like them was a far-fetched dream for me, unobtainable, impossible. I would think to myself, "one day...one day, I'll be thin like them." That day still hasn't come. I wanted it for ALL the wrong reasons.

We are all different sizes and shapes, and I know some women see me and think I'm not overweight at all. I think we all have this vision in our minds of what our idea weight should be. I googled "ideal weight" and the results are I should weigh somewhere in between 104-141.

I haven't weighed myself since starting this challenge and won't until the end of the 21 days. But two weeks ago I was more than 20 pounds over the HIGH end of this scale. In order to lower my risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health issues, I need to get down to at least 141.

In America we keep raising our weight standards and have forgotten what a healthy weight looks like. We've become desensitized to obesity. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, my body mass index is 28.7 for my age, height and weight. That's only 1.3 under the 3.0 that would make me obese. For my height and age, my normal range is between 18.5 and 24.9. That's the eye-opening reality.

The other reality is I can't get there and stay there by simply changing my diet or going on a diet that I'd eventually come off of. I'll never be the healthiest I can be apart from God's power working in me to accomplish this. Will I ever get there? I don't know. What I do know is there are a lot of promises from God's Word that assure me of the heart and mind change necessary to get me there.

Lysa shared a precious story from Chapter 14, Emotional Emptiness, that touched me deeply. Her emotional emptiness started at a very young age. Mine did too. Can you trace back to when your emotional emptiness began? That's quite possibly where you learned to turn to food to feed your emotions, which still hasn't filled your emotions, has it? Me either. Only God can do that. He wants to do that for you and for me.

I think a great place to start is Psalm 107:9 "For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."

Satisfied and full,
Terri

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14-Chapter 13 - Overindulgence

Overindulgence. That's just a pretty word for gluttony. This is probably the most important chapter in the whole Made to Crave book. This truly convicts my heart and makes me want to be changed from the inside out regarding my issues with food.

The Bible has plenty to say about gluttony. Gluttony isn't just about food either. It's about overindulgence in any area. Right now we're just going to stay on the food subject though, and not delve into the other areas of gluttony that are so prevalent in our country. As Lysa says and I agree, eating in excess is sin. We all know that it compromises our health, zaps our energy to where we're unable to pursue God's call on our lives and it affects how we feel about ourselves.

Overindulgence is a vicious cycle. I have to confess, I'm struggling. The past couple of days have been packed with a tight schedule. I haven't gotten home before 9:00pm all week. I didn't plan ahead very well. I didn't get way off track, but I know I overindulged several times because I didn't have time to go home and eat dinner.

Tonight I thought I'd do much better and had a couple of very healthy snacks on hand. Everything went fine until I got home about 8:30, was very hungry and grabbed the bag of Simply Nature Vegetable chips I shouldn't have bought. They remind me too much of potato chips. Even though I've checked the ingredients, they're a much better choice, but not when you can't stop at one serving. I let myself get too hungry and before I knew it, nearly half the bag was gone. That was after I downed a handful of tortilla chips and humus. This was basically my "late" dinner.

Lysa's email for Day 14 talks about portion control along with Chapter 13. Like she said, I don't want to spend the next 40 years of my life (I'm already 54) trying to learn this lesson. Instead of grabbing instant food when I came through the door, I could have taken just ten extra minutes to prepare one of my new favorites (lettuce wraps), full of good stuff like humus, cucumber, red peppers, avocado, etc.

I'll close with this: Psalm 107:9 "For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."

Striving to control my portions,
Terri





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13 - Chapter 12 - The Curse of the Skinny Jeans

I don't know if I'd call them "skinny" jeans, but I do have small jeans, middle jeans and big jeans in my closet. Right now I'm in between the big and middle jeans. I know I'm not alone in this. That's all I'm going to say about skinny or small jeans because I'm trying to not even focus on size, weight, etc. I'm trying to focus on healthy, a mind change, and a heart change.

I want what Lysa TerKeurst has. A shift in my thinking. A heart transformation. I want to taste and savor a new style of hope. In Lysa's words, "Hope over despair tasted better than any food I'd ever given up."

I think about giving up certain foods permanently. Those foods are the ones that interact badly in my body. Such as gluten, processed convenient foods and sugar. The very foods I sometimes think I can't live without. This is definitely going to be a process that will take much longer than these initial 21 days.

If you're getting the 21-day challenge emails and read today's, what hits home for you the most? For me it's what Lysa said about how she thought of each healthy food choice she made settled another brick into place; bricks of prayer, wise choices, closeness to God, closeness to others, confidence, energy and focus. I need all of that! I want all of that! Do you?

This is the only way for me; not Weight Watchers, Adkins, low-carb, low-calorie, taking a pill, etc. The food addiction issue will always charge in and take over....again. Staying on this journey is the only way I'll be the healthiest I can be and the strongest I can be so I can walk in the works He's planned for me. To be able to fulfill His call on my life the way He intended. You have a call too. He has works planned for you too. No matter how old or young you are. No matter what your circumstances. As Kay Arthur says, as long as you have breath, He can and wants to use you.

Back to the skinny jeans real quick. In Chapter 12, Lysa talks about tying her happy to her skinny jeans. Read Chapter 12. It's awesome, true and brilliant. I always thought the same thing. I tied my happy in with what size clothes I was wearing. Or what size clothes I'd hoped to wear. So, it continues....

Your fellow brick builder,
Terri




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 12 - Chapter 11...Stinkin, rotten, no-good day

My day started out just like the title of this chapter. Stinkin, rotten, no good. Nothing happened. I just woke up in a foul mood and was not in the frame of mind to tackle the day I had ahead of me. I felt irritable, resentful, tired, sore and frustrated. I did not feel like the nice person that all of you think I am. :) I wanted chocolate, French fries, bad cereal, potato chips. I even got mad when I was at work and realized I'd left my humus at home, but brought the veggies. I refused to eat the veggies without that humus. Talk about disappointed!

In Chapter 11, Lysa talked about getting a handle on food during the bad times. It's hard to learn to eat healthy at celebrations and during happy times, but for me, when I don't feel happy or life is being mean, it's even tougher. I just want to rebel and give in to my compulsions. I know if I do that though, I'll have an even harder time getting over the guilt, regret and shame.

The Day 12 email we read was awesome. Old lies. New truths. Replacing habitual, destructive choices with a new way of thinking and LASTING changes.

I think I have a cookie jar somewhere that I'm going to replace with little cards that have my favorite go-to verses and sayings on them.

I might take a candy dish out of the cabinet and fill it with the same reminders on little colorful pieces of paper. I think I'll choose the colors of Skittles or M & Ms. What do y'all think?

So what are you going to replace yours with?

I'm confident tomorrow will be a much better day.

A work in progress,
Terri

Monday, November 11, 2013

DAY 11-Chapter 10-"This Isn't Fair!"

Today's date is 11/11 and our 11th day! We're on Chapter 10. Ten plus eleven equals 21! We're halfway there! It's kind of cool how today's date is the same as our challenge day. And to fall on Veteran's Day makes it all the more special.

Today I want to briefly recap the past 10 days. We personified our cravings into a form they represent. Mine was the big, comfy, white cloud with the index finger luring me in with promises of satisfaction and fulfillment. When I'd succumb it turned into a big green, taunting monster heaping guilt and regret on me. Then we began dismantling our wall of cravings brick by brick and replacing them with more intimacy with God.

I've talked about food plans, accountability, being made for more than that bad food choice and going deeper with God in a new and fresh way. I swore off the scales at least until the end of this challenge. Our numbers DO NOT define who we are. I haven't weighed myself, but do feel lighter and my clothes are a little loser. Already.

Making peace with our bodies and realizing they're a gift from God is crucial. Our body is His temple to live in, and how we take care of it reflects how we feel in our relationship with God. Ouch. That truth hit me hard. Exercise is also crucial. It's as important as all the food choices we can make.

The title of today's chapter is "This Isn't Fair!" Last night at the church picnic I walked by the two tables that were filled with every dessert imaginable. In the past I'd get a small plate and fill it with "just one bite" of each dessert that I just couldn't pass up. Last night I passed up both tables and had a blast mingling and talking with people I hadn't seen in a while.

Now, that's not to say that if I were alone with all those desserts, the temptation would be intense. I haven't had that temptation yet, but I know it'll come, especially with the holidays here.

Instead of telling myself "this isn't fair" that I have to deal with this issue when others don't, is going to be turned into seeing my food issues as a blessing. This is an avenue through which God is choosing to draw me closer to Him. This is the first time I've realized this. Thank you, Lysa TerKeurst for sharing your journey so women like me can have victory in this dark, terrible, frustrating, and even deadly issue....even at my age.

Thankful,
Terri

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10 - Chapter 9

It's been ten days already since beginning this 21-day challenge. I'd committed to posting something everyday. I admit, it's getting harder to stick to that committment, which is why I have to rely on God's power and strength to keep it up. Just like I need His power and strength to stay loyal to a healthier eating plan. Now I have another new commitment to make. WE need to make. Exercise.

I used to love exercise. It was part of my life. I was a committed walker. I did it alone, with friends, whenever I had a spare afternoon or early morning. I enjoyed it because it was a great stress reliever for me. I also justified the junk food and overeating I did as I'd tell myself how much I'd exercised that day. Everything I did with eating was justified somehow.

I don't enjoy walking so much anymore. With the hip replacements it causes pain after walking a certain distance. I love biking, but it's getting colder outside. I used to swim laps at Johnson Park in Conyers, but its 35 minutes from my house and now it's always crowded with swim team practices. I know I have to find something and just go for it. So here it is: my neighbor is giving me an older type stationary bike. God is good, isn't He? Now I can exercise inside when the weather is bad. I'm keeping tennis shoes in the car so I can throw in a couple of 30-minute walks during the week. I have hand weights at home and will continue the strengthening exercises for my back that the physical therapist showed me. It's a start.

What about you? What's going to be your exercise plan? I'd love to meet any of you in town and walk the square or the track around the YMCA or wherever.

Are you answering the questions at the end of every chapter? Are you reading the emails with me? Are y'all out there?

Lysa's focus today was on how our bodies are where the Holy Spirit lives. It gives me a fresh perspective when I think of it that way. God has given us this one body as a gift. And it's up to us to treat it well and take care of it.

I'll be back tomorrow. Until then...

Let's start moving.
Terri

Saturday, November 9, 2013

DAY 9-Chapter 8

What's your motivation for getting healthy and losing weight? All of my past motivations have been shallow and in vain.

I'm going to tell you what they are (were). I have a lot of skinny friends I'm close to. I love them dearly and they love me. They may even be reading this. But when I'm with them, I feel really fat. Most of them can pretty much eat what they want. Well, the truth is, they don't overeat and binge on food, using it as a comfort. I can't count how many times I've secretly vowed to myself I was going to lose weight so I can be thin like them. I know, I know, not healthy thinking.

Another motivation has been because I valued my worth by how big or small I am. I can't believe I even saying it. Oh, I'd say my motivation is to get healthy, be stronger, take all these pounds of pressure off my degenerating joints, blah, blah, blah. The real reason has been to be thinner.

One last motivation which is just as shallow as the first two is I care what people think about me. When they think about me, I haven't wanted their thoughts of me to include anything relating to "heavy", "overweight", "thick" or "chubby".

The permanent shift in my thinking is coming. Is yours? My motivation now and where I want to get to is much deeper than my past motivations. I hope and want for my satisfaction to come from one thing: obedience to the Lord.

"Lord, please let this be our new and permanent motivation. We can't do this in our own strength, we can in Yours."

Motivated,
Terri

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8 - Chapter 7

I'll start on Monday. Friday is the worst time to start a new eating plan anyway with the weekend ahead. There's this baby shower tomorrow and a pot luck on Sunday and dinner with the Vienersweets Sunday night. So, yes, I'll just wait until Monday when the week is fresh.

Monday comes and someone brings fresh homemade banana nut bread to work. Tuesday is Mexican day and everyone wants you to join them for lunch. Wednesday morning as you're packing your lunch for work, you see the leftover Lasagna from the prior weekend in the frig. Rather than wasting it (since you're a frugal person) you decide to have it for lunch. Thursday your husband or boyfriend wants to take you to Longhorn for dinner. You could get the shrimp and vegetables. But you'd rather have a steak and baked potato. Then you remember that Friday night is girls' night out. Oh, what the heck, I'll just start on Monday. Again.

The cycle goes on. I've soooo done this. Monday never comes.

I've also started many diets on Mondays. I eventually would use up all my willpower though and the little progress I made ended in defeat when my food choices hadn't become permanent ones. I always told myself if I could just get down to a certain number on the scale I was sure I could keep it there. I am obviously not able to do that.

In Chapter 7 Lysa talks about our worth and identity in Christ. The numbers on the scales do not define our worth. It's only a number that indicates our body weight. Period. Then why do I feel so irritable if I weigh myself and the numbers don't budge or the only direction they go in is up. Or why do I feel elated when the numbers drop? This is an area I need to work in. So, as I said the other day, I'm not weighing myself.

I want a more intimate connection with the Lord before I try to make this about numbers. If this is going to be a permanent change for me, the scale has to go bye-bye for now.

What about you? Let me hear from you about how you're doing. terrijwebster@gmail.com.

No longer defined by numbers,
Terri



Thursday, November 7, 2013

DAY 7 - Chapter 6

This post is coming late at the end of the day. This is the end of the first week of our 21-day challenge.

The Day 7 email titled, "Finding My Beautiful" hits home for me. Does it you? If you haven't signed up for the emails you can still do so. Go to www.madetocrave.org and click on 21-day challenge.

Have you ever compared yourself to other women? Physically? Financially? Vocationally? I think we all have the same answer to that question. It's hard not to. Why do we do it? How can we stop?

There are some things I can't change about my body. There are things about your body you can't change. God made us all uniquely special for His own purpose. I've always hated the space between my front two teeth. For some reason, God made me with that space. I could've paid to have it fixed, but never did. I can't change my voice or the color of my eyes or skin. I can't change my height or broad build. I'll never have long legs. So I'm just going to accept what I can't change. I'm going to change the things I can and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

If you're a female reading this right now, will you work with me in finding your beautiful? I must admit, this is going to take more than a day, week, month. Could it start with being thankful for all the good and yes, beautiful things about our body? Being thankful for the body we do have will help us to want to take better care of it. Not so we can be thinner or fit into certain clothes. It will be so we can serve Him in the capacity that He's called us to.

"My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." John 4:34.

Being thankful and finding my beautiful,
Terri



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DAY SIX - Chapter 5

Hi Everybody,

If you're on this journey...I mean truly on this journey, you're most likely experiencing the honeymoon phase that Lysa mentiones in Chapter 5. How did she know this? That's exactly what it feels like to me. I'm excited, pumped and determined. I think about it all my waking hours. It's like a new relationship. In a way it is. A new relationship with food. Then the honeymoon will end. Bummer.

I know it's not always going to be this easy. In addition to a new eating plan on this journey, I know I have to add exercise. I used to love exercise. I always had my walking shoes with me and every chance I got that's what I did. Walked and walked and walked.

I was at a crossroads this afternoon when I sat at the red light at the intersection of Hwy 278 and Alcovy Rd., in Covington. I could either turn left and go home where I knew I wouldn't walk. Or go straight, park my car at the YMCA and walk the outdoor track. My tennis shoes stared at me from the floor on the passenger side. I had no excuse. The weather was gorgeous. I had no place else to be and it wasn't even 4:30 yet.

So I did it. I went straight through the light to the Y and parked. I walked 2 miles in 34 minutes. Not bad for someone with 2 hip replacements and chronic low-back pain. All I could think though was how much easier it's going to be when I'm 30 pounds lighter.

We are made for more y'all. You are a child of the One True King. I am a child of the One True King. We were made for more than our present physical state. I want to be able to serve God in the capacity He's called me to. Don't you?

Friends don't let friends eat before thinking. That's the title of today's email for Day 6. Think first. Always think first. This is where I'm going to have to retrain my....thinking. Think before my compulsion takes control.

Remember to email me at terrijwebster@gmail.com to share.

If any of you want to meet somewhere and walk together or share our journey, let me know.

In the honeymoon phase,
Terri

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DAY 5 - Chapter 4

Hey y'all,

I'm aware that the comment section isn't working. I've enabled all my cookies and done everything I know to do. If you want to email me, please do so, I want to hear from y'all. My email is terrijwebster@gmail.com. If anyone knows about Blogger and can help me or knows someone who can, I'd very much appreciate it. I have my limits with technical issues.

We're on Day 5 and Chapter 4. It's interesting how withdrawal from certain foods can cause so much physically. I don't doubt that all processed sugars and artificial sweeteners are addictive along with all the preservatives, hormones and chemicals that are added to convenience foods. Our bodies are full of these and have been our whole lives, especially here in the land of plenty. So, we can expect withdrawals. They might not hit until after we complete the 21 day challenge. I just want to let you know that for me this won't stop at the end of 21 days. I plan to continue this somehow with anyone who wants to do this permanently. By then I'll have the blogging part figured out and a different site from this one.

Aanyhoo, today Lysa shared her intense struggle with withdrawals and how they didn't hit until several weeks into her new eating plan. We've just started, so I do expect the hard, bad days to come, especially as life will not stop for us to get healthy. Life will still hit us in the face everyday.

Yesterday I mentioned my own health issues with my thyroid and arthritis. I want to hear about yours (terrijwebster@gmail.com). So I know for me, I have to eliminate gluten and sugar. Before I make it too complicated for myself, that's all I'm going to focus on. That's a lot of food to eliminate though, right? Fortunately I have been working on that for a few months, which resulted (I believe) in my thyroid meds being reduced. Even though my doctor stated to me it didn't. It just makes me that much more determined to continue on this journey.

Chapter 4 also mentions the need for strong accountability, which we all need. We're not meant to go through life alone, so please know how thankful I am for you all as we try to get healthier and allow Jesus to become the power we need to get there. Without Him, I know I couldn't do this. Without Him, I couldn't do anything. All praises to Him!

Don't forget to arm yourself with healthy snacks while you're running around today doing for everyone else. We are precious in God's sight and He really does care what we put in our bodies.

Your accountability friend,
Terri

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4 - Chapter 3

I shouldn't have done it, but I did. I told myself I wasn't going to and I did it anyway. I got on the scales this morning and they told me the same thing as last Friday. For me, I'm trying to take my focus off of the numbers and this isn't the way to do that.

Aaaanyway. Is it just me or is everything that Lysa writes about I completely relate to? Do y'all?

In Chapter 3 she talks about developing our food plans. This morning I felt it was time to pick up the 4-page plan I mentioned the other day that the Lord told me to lay aside temporarily. I need to make some permanent changes. I know I can't develop my food plan in one or two days. It's going to take more research and prayer than what I've put in. Question 4 at the end of Chapter 3 states that it may take research, experimentation and consultation (with your doctor).

I'm a research type of girl. Especially when it's something I'm passionate about. I've already done gobs of research concerning food and diets for people with hypothyroidism and arthritis. I have both. By age 50 I had no cartilage in my hips and had to have hip replacements. For years I've struggled with chronic low-back pain and it's getting worse. I also have hypothyroidism. My hip doctor told me that some people have more cartilage than others. Really? I do respect him, but I don't always take what doctors tell me at face value and hop off their exam table and say, "Oh, okay, if you say so, then I guess it's so. Is there a pill for that?"

There are countless doctors and nutritionists researching and writing articles and books about the connection between processed, pre-packaged foods loaded with chemicals, preservatives and other unmentionables and auto-immune diseases, like arthritis and thyroid disease. They say these foods cause inflammation inside our bodies causing our bodies to attack joint tissue, aka, cartilage. I've also read that when people with hypothyroidism eliminate the "big five" (gluten, corn, soy, dairy, eggs) they see big changes.

I experimented. I eliminated gluten and processed foods as much as possible. I felt better. Then I started feeling worse, like my thyroid was out of whack. When I started thyroid meds in 1995, my dosage was .125 mcg, then went up to .137 mcg. I felt so bad I went to my MD, they tested me and had to lower it to .112mcg. First time ever since 1995. When I asked her could it have something to do with eating more gluten-free and eliminating processed, pre-packaged foods along with losing a few pounds, she told me that changing my diet or eating certain foods or eliminating foods wouldn't really impact my thyroid. Really? Well, something did. So now I'm determined to take this experiment a little more seriously.

Today, I choose to once again, ask Jesus to help me develop my personal food plan. I need His help because I really do believe that He cares what I eat and put into my body every day.

On a mission,
Terri

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 3-Chapter 2

Hi comrades. So how's it going so far?

Do y'all remember the other day when I shared about how I fell into defeat that night we had the leadership meeting and bonfire at our house? Along with the cookies, brownies and banana pudding, a big 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke was left in my kitchen. My resolve to never drink that stuff again had turned into my "just occasionally" rationalization.

The next day, which was last Sunday, that afternoon, the 2-liter bottle started calling my name. The caffeine, and yes, the taste, although some people would spew it out saying it's awful, was tempting me. You know, my white cloud of promises that turns into the green monster. I'd remembered reading in Lysa's book how I'm made for more. Her email today talks about being made for more. Chapter 2 talks about tackling our tower of impossibilities (cravings) one brick at a time.

This was the first time I'd ever spoken to Diet Coke, but I stared at it and said, "I am made for more than your poison and my body is worth more than what you offer me." Since that moment, seriously, and I'm not kidding, the temptation was gone. That 2-liter bottle went bye-bye as my husband either poured it out or gave it to someone else.

Yesterday I tried to focus on listening to my cravings and distinguishing between them. Today I'm going to try to focus on just me and my issue, rather than judging and thinking others around me who eat unhealthy foods need to join me on this journey. I've allowed sinful, destructive thoughts about what others need to do to take my focus off my own problem and be consumed by theirs. There, I said it.

One more thing from Chapter 2 that's pivotal is when those cravings come banging on our doors, to use them as a prompt to pray. The more intense the craving, the more intense the prayer. Are y'all with me? Let's pray for each other when those cravings come too. Don't we know how much more power prayer holds than any craving we can have?

I really do want to see y'all face to face at some point. What are your thoughts?

Your fellow FIG comrade,
Terri

Saturday, November 2, 2013

DAY 2-Chapt. 1

Hi Y'all. I hope you've all been able to get the "Made to Crave" book and signed up for the 21-Day Challenge emails. If you haven't signed up for the emails, just go to www.madetocrave.org. Then click on 21-day challenge.

Yesterday I just began with the introduction of the book. I mentioned how the 21-days of emails were the same number of chapters in the book, including the introduction and then the end which has lots of great go-to quotes and scriptures. I thought I'd just post everyday with the number of the day and corresponding chapter I'm reading.

I think I finally fixed the comments where you can just click on "comment" at the end of each post and share what's going on with you through this journey. Plus I'm anxious to hear back from everyone. And like I said before, I'd love to meet up at some point with y'all face-to-face.

I just answered the questions at the end of Chapter 1. If you can in the comments, share what your "craving monster" looks like. Here's mine: 
  • A big, white comfy, cozy, feel-good cloud with a big index finger luring me in, promising all kinds of satisfaction and fulfillment. Then after I succumb, it transforms into a big green, taunting monster heaping guilt and regret on me.
Distinguishing between the 2 different types of cravings might be the very thing that unsticks me from this crossroads I've been in. Taking the time to listen is the one thing I'm going to choose today.

About the food plan: last week as I was writing out my food plan, what I was going to eliminate, allow, deny, sacrifice, resist, etc., I felt the Lord nudge me to lay it aside. This is where I've failed before. Yes, you need a plan, but be careful not to create a 4-page plan like I did that would've left me feeling defeated, frustrated and irritable. We're all different and need different foods and eating plans.

Prayerfully consider and ask the Lord how He wants your food plan to look. Remember, this isn't about the number on the scales and the size of our clothes, but something much deeper that is a journey with Jesus where there will be no turning back. I'm exxxciiiited!

Your fellow Jesus follower,
Terri

Friday, November 1, 2013

DAY ONE-Finding Our Want To


I’m serious. This time I’m really serious.

Low-carb, no-carb, Weight Watchers, myfitnesspal.com, South Beach, Adkins, low-fat, sugar-free, hundreds of articles on what to eat, what not to eat for your body type, blood type, thyroid issues, arthritis, fatigue, menopause, lupus and on and on it goes. I’ve tried ALL of them. I’ve researched countless great articles and bought books on the subject of health and weight loss. I’m armed with all the KNOW HOW. All the know how doesn’t help me if I don’t have the WANT TO. It doesn’t help me when all my life I’ve struggled with food addiction.

In Lysa TerKeurst’s, “Made to Crave,” she talks about finding our “Want To” in the Introduction. Finding my want to is NOT about will power or denying myself of all the things I want to eat. I want to really want to. Want to what?

For the first time ever in 54 years, I’m asking Jesus to come into this area of my life and do the kind of transforming that I know only He can do. Having food issues seems trivial in light of all the issues going on in our country and the world. I felt a little silly this morning when I approached the Lord about this. He assured me that He still wants to deal with this issue with me. The truth is, for me, it’s much deeper than having a weight problem. I don’t have a weight problem. I’m overweight, yes. But it’s a result of a deeper problem and why I’m starting this journey with the Lord this time.

I’m so thankful for all of you who may be reading this right now and have decided to join in. I’m very grateful for my FIG girls and the accountability I’m finding with you. Hopefully you’ve had time to sign up for Lysa’s 21-day challenge emails and have her book, “Made to Crave.”

It’s really cool how her book has 19 chapters and there are 21 emails coming to our inbox every day. Starting with the Introduction of her book, plus 19 chapters, then the end that has lots of great go-to scripts and versus, that’s 21. So I’m going to be reading both, each day, one day at a time.

What am I expecting to gain from the next 21 days? I have no clue. Some new friends for sure. I have no expectations really. For once I’m not obsessing over what the scales will tell me 21 days from now. I’m not waiting to hang up these bigger jeans I’m wearing right now for the last time. I do know when you begin a new journey with Jesus that it can get exciting and life changing. That’s what I’m hoping for. Hoping to go deeper with Him and become more physically armed to serve Him in the capacity He’s planned for me.

Today I’m reading the first email titled, “Chocolate is my Comfort and Deliverer,” and the Introduction of the book.
 
Y'all have an awesome day! Until tomorrow...
 
Terri

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ready, Set.....

Hey y’all. I’m excited about beginning this journey with you. We all have until Thursday to get our book, “Made to Crave.” I was told you can get it on Amazon for under $10. They also sell it at Lifeway. Then no later than Wednesday go to this link http://madetocrave.org/21-day-challenge/ where you can sign up for the emails for our 21-day challenge.
 You won’t be given a particular diet, regimen or list of what to eat and not to eat. We all have different physical needs, so our food plans won’t be the same. I’m starting to write mine out today. We can share ideas, recipes, etc., with each other. You probably already know what needs to be cut out and what you need to do physically, etc., etc. If you’re like me, and struggle with food addiction, just simply deciding you’re going to do the right thing doesn’t work. Right? I change my mind all the time. J
If some of you want to meet at certain times we can do that. Several of you have mentioned that you have the DVD that goes along with the book and 21-day challenge.

I’ve been trying to work on this blog page so y’all can leave comments and we can all communicate with each other. Please let me know if you’re unable to leave a comment. I'm still tweeking.
Saturday night we had a leadership meeting/bonfire at our house. It was a great time. Everything was wonderful. Sunday morning as I wrote in my journal, I felt like God was telling me I needed to share it with you. You know, the being transparent thing and all. So here goes.

“I failed terribly yesterday. Out of control. I’m like an alcoholic in a liquor store. The bonfire fellowship was a success though. I ate two hotdogs (no buns), Fritos with chili on them (twice), slaw (twice), a whopping serving of banana pudding, 5 cookies and 2 brownies. All that after 6pm. That doesn’t count breakfast and lunch. I have the “want-to” – or do I? Yes. I do. So why can’t I keep my mind and hands off all that junk when it’s just feet away from me? It’s soooo bad for me – in every way. Lord, I want to crave You more than anything. I lose all this motivation and want-to before dinnertime. Heck, by lunch time.
Yesterday morning I’d decided I wasn’t going to eat any cookies. By 4pm I’d had 2. Then 3 more later—plus 2 brownies AND banana pudding. Just cuz it was there. My sensibility got lost somewhere in all the fun and fellowship and once again, I told myself – it’s just this once  – then I’m done for good. Well, how many times have I said that over the years – 30 pounds ago?

The upside is this: Step #1 – I’m admitting I’m powerless over my food addiction and compulsive behavior, that it’s unmanageable. Romans 7:18 ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature, for I desire to do what is good, but can’t carry it out, Romans 7:18.’ The Holy Spirit lives in me so I’m turning to You, inviting You to give me the power I need to no longer live in defeat, but live in Your victory in this area of my life.”
That’s it y’all. Email me at terrijwebster@gmail.com if you have questions or a problem leaving a comment. One of our fellow comrades shared this article with me today. PLEASE take the time to read it. It's awesome! http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11431/how-i-regained-my-power-over-food.html

In His grip,
Terri

Sunday, October 20, 2013

When You Turn Out the Light


During the early months of my single mom journey, turning the light out at night was difficult. I had two youngsters in the other bedrooms to protect. I had to protect myself. There was no man in the house to make me feel safe and secure. I was it. Head honcho. I was a knee-knocking, fear-filled 27-year old single mom in charge of our safety.

I haven’t told many people this, but those first months and probably the entire first year, I slept with a knife hidden under my mattress.  A big one.

I remember putting a chair at each door, tilted just under the doorknob to keep out predators. LOL, right!

We had a big dog. Sheba was a Doberman. She slept outside in her cozy doghouse in our fenced-in yard, or so I thought. One night she erupted into an attack bark right under my bedroom window. Her barking was followed by the sound of her jumping up and running to the edge of the yard. It was probably just an opossum or some other night creature. That’s what I’d tell myself. I didn’t know she’d been sleeping under my window until this barking episode. But night after night, there she was, right under my window.  I was very thankful for Sheba back then.

Eventually I put the knife back in the kitchen where it belonged and didn’t have Sheba anymore. Over time, I realized I had a Protector that was much bigger and stronger than any physical weapon I had back then. Every night when the light went out I prayed for God’s protection, for Him to surround our home with his guardian angels and the blood of Jesus. Every single night.

Protection isn’t the only thing a single mom thinks about when she turns out her light at night. It’s being alone. There you are in the dark alone with your thoughts. For me thoughts of him with her invaded my mind. Fearful thoughts of our future and the unknown. Random thoughts that made no sense. Eventually I made a conscious decision to turn off those thoughts along with the lights and dwell on the Lord’s presence there in the dark with me.

The wonderful thing is we can control our thoughts. It’s hard at first, but when you are intentional about it, it’s like quitting a bad habit or starting a new good one.

No one but the Lord knows where your heart and mind are when you turn out the light at night. You think you’re alone. You feel alone, but the truth is far from it. He is there, ever present. When you purposely turn your thoughts towards Him, and practice keeping them there, something incredible happens. You start to enjoy turning out the light after everyone is asleep and all is quiet. You can then focus on the One who loves you more than His own life.

From now on when you turn out that light at night, don’t think of you being all by yourself and alone. Give Jesus a chance to use that time to make His presence known. Think about Him. He’s thinking about you.  And when you fall asleep, He’s still thinking about you. When you wake up, He’s still there, thinking about you.

In His grip,
Terri

Monday, September 16, 2013

What I Crave

I just spent the last week defragging my brain on my favorite beach with my husband. We call it our annual pilgrimage to St. George Island, Florida. Nothing fancy, just seven days of laid-back nothingness.

This year I decided not to use my vacation time to plan my next writing project, how to market my new book, how I was going to manage my new schedule, stuff for Spring Ministries, and how I was going to continue doing what I do, except better, be wiser, more efficient, more disciplined, be this, be that, blah, blah, blah.                     

I had one thing on my agenda. I was going to just BE.…with God.

And read. Okay, that’s two things. I love to park in my beach chair, under the beach umbrella, feet buried in the sand and get lost in my books.

I’ve been reading Francine Rivers’ trilogy which is set back in around 60 AD. She’s a wonderful writer and truly draws you into the era, her characters and stories. I haven’t been able to put it down. Then there’s the “The Walk” series by Richard Paul Evans. I buy and save each series as they are published just for my vacation.

There’s a third book I bought after hearing a few women talking so much about it. I had to see what all the rage was. “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst. I was vaguely familiar with her. I knew she was president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and a writer, but hadn’t read any of her stuff, until this past week.

There under my umbrella, feet in the sand, donning my straw hat and sunglasses, God used that book to break apart a lifelong struggle I’ve had that I’ve been too ashamed to admit. Never in my wildest thoughts and dreams did I think God could be such a gentleman in how He has unsettled me (in a fabulous way) in relation to my constant struggle with food.

Do you relate?

As I read Lysa’s personal journey in regards to her relationship with food and discovering what it is she really craves, I felt like I’ve known her all my life. It was like she was talking about me!

I relate 100%.

I don’t struggle with alcohol, drugs, anger (very much) or even co-dependency that much anymore, but I do struggle, c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y with my weight, losing weight, maintaining my weight, with wanting the whole bag of chips instead of one serving. I can’t stop once I get started, even if it’s so-called healthy. My first memory of sneaking a bowl of ice cream was when I was about 8 or 9. Seriously. Why did I have to sneak it? Why did I want it?
 
I know, I know, some of you who know me are saying, “she’s always so healthy”. You’re thinking of how you’ve always known me to exercise and take care of myself. I did do all the right things AND all the wrong things. Mainly when I was emotional. For 19 years I was a single parent. I used food for comfort, to ease the stress, pain, s-t-u-f-f my emotions. I really do believe you can be addicted to the processed junk we eat, sugar and empty carbs.

Why do they taste so good? What is it about all that junk? Why do I crave the bad stuff….along with the good stuff?  What am I trying to satisfy? What do I really crave that food doesn’t fill? And why would I feel so empty after being so stuffed with food? Obviously, I’m not anorexic and I’m not bulimic. No one knows this until now…even my closest friends and family. My mind is constantly consumed with this issue. Hating it! And I'm just scratching the surface.

You may be reading this thinking, what’s the big deal? Eat what you want. Enjoy. So what if you carry around 30 extra pounds. These extra pounds put added pressure on my degenerating back and already two hip replacements I’ve had. No one but me knows the struggle and you, too, if you can relate to what I’m saying. You may be carrying around 100 extra pounds, 20, 50. Does it really matter if what you crave isn't filled and satisfied?

Yes, God truly satisfies me. He’s had my heart for over 30 years. But this is an area I’ve never given up to Him. I never admitted it. If I never admitted it, it didn’t exist and no one would know. DENIAL. Really? My tight clothes, loose clothes and tight again, my weight bouncing up and down the scales tell on me. Everytime. So who am I kidding?
 
I've had it with all the diets and eat this, don't eat that books and magazines written by doctors and people who don't struggle with serious food issues. It's like telling an alcoholic or drug addict, don't drink or do drugs. Just don't do it. The thing with food is you have to eat to live. In Lysa's book she says instead of living to eat, she can now eat to live. She shares her struggles and how God brought her to victory, one choice at a time. She talks about how it's a lifelong journey and not a diet or something you do until you reach your goal and then stop.

Now that I’ve told on myself and it’s out here for all who know me to read, this is where my personal journey begins with my own issues with food. I’m sharing this because I know women, single moms, teenagers, twenty-agers and all the way up to fifty-agers like me, struggle with their body image, food issues and on and on and on. So, please if you are reading this and nodding your head, feeling God’s tug on your heart, get the book, “Made to Crave”. Read it with me. I dare you.

Lysa, TerKeurst, thank you for sharing your story and being so transparent!

The Lord has just begun to chip away at this, so it isn’t the last you’ll hear about this issue.

In His grip,
Terri

 

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

"My Life is Over" in Job's world

My life is over. That’s what Job said and exactly how he felt, for good reason. I love this man Job. He fulfilled his role as the spiritual head of his household. His success and wealth weren’t idols. He made worshipping God top priority. Job was your all-around perfect guy.

One day one of his servants came to him with terrible news. The Sabeans from Arabia had attacked and stolen his 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys. They killed all the servants there and he was the only one to escape.

Before that servant could finish telling Job what happened, another one showed up to break more bad news, telling Job that fire fell from the sky and burned up his 7,000 sheep and the servants with them. He was the only one to escape. Before this servant could finish, another one came to tell Job that the Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and took Job’s 3,000 camels, killing the servants tending them. This servant had escaped alone. So all of Job’s livestock was gone and he had three surviving servants. That’s a BAD day!

Then even worse news came. A parents’ worst nightmare. A fourth servant came to Job to tell him that while Job’s kids were all together having a feast at their oldest brother’s house, a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. The house collapsed on them and they were all killed. All ten of them.

In Job’s grief he didn’t blame or curse God like Satan had hoped he’d do. Before all these bad things happened to Job, Satan had appeared before God for permission to attack Job. When it didn’t work, he appears before God again. Then God gave Satan permission to attack Job’s health, but he couldn’t take his life.

While Job is still grieving the loss of his children, livestock and almost all of his servants, he becomes gravely ill. With painful sores covering his body from head to toe, he sits among the ashes of his grief. While he’s scrapping his sores with a piece of broken pottery, Job’s own wife complains saying to her husband, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job 2:9

Job still didn’t curse God. He answered his wife saying, “Shall we accept only good from God and not trouble?”

Job’s three closest friends traveled to see him with the intentions of bringing comfort and sympathy. The scene is heart wrenching. They knew job had buried his ten children, countless servants and lost all his livestock. Now he was very sick. When his friends saw Job from a distance they could barely recognize him, and began to weep loudly. They tore their clothes and sprinkled dust on their heads, and sat on the ground with Job for seven days and nights. No one said a word to him because they saw the depth of his grief.  Job 2:12-13

When Job could find no comfort or relief, he finally breaks the silence. He cursed the day he was born. He wanted to die. He saw no reason for his life to go on. But he still didn’t curse or blame God. His three friends responded to Job by judging him, saying he must be living in blatant sin for God to allow all these terrible things.

Job consistently maintains his innocence. He still doesn’t curse God. He complains though and asks why. He’s angry, bitter and wants to die. He sees no future. His friends continue to judge him. After Job has reached his limit, ranting, crying before God, and having these discussions with his friends, God finally speaks out of the storm, Job 40:6. Job, awestruck by who God is, still believed that God can do all things and no plan of His can be thwarted. In the end, Job prays for his friends.

What a process! Job was intense. His emotions are raw, but he never cursed God or blamed Him for everything that happened. I don’t know how long the whole process lasted, from the time of all of Job’s losses, to his friends coming around and accusing him of sin in his life, or how long his illness lasted. I imagine the healing began when he finally stopped complaining and God finally spoke.

It was after Job prayed for his friends that God fully restored him. He doubly blessed the latter part of his life more than the first part. Job had ten more children and twice as much livestock. Many good things happened to Job later in his life. I’m sure this infuriated Satan. Satan had a plan, but so did God. 

What about you? Are you experiencing loss right now? Everything is filtered through our Father’s hands. We wonder why and get angry and bitter. Please don’t give Satan the satisfaction of you giving up and cursing God. Job saw no way out, other than God taking his life and getting it over with. I don’t always understand why bad things happen to good people. God never promised that bad things wouldn’t happen because we live in an unpredictable, fallen world, where sin corrupts and abounds. God is still in control and the story isn’t finished yet. God will see you through. He will speak and He does have a plan.

In His grip, still trusting,

Terri

Friday, August 16, 2013

Don't Forget to Laugh

Lately I don’t want to watch the news or read a newspaper. When I go online the latest terrorist news or stories about deadly brain amoebas are in my face. Serious stuff. Then there are our own lives we have to deal with and all the serious things needing our attention. We take life and ourselves so seriously that we forget to laugh.

During my early single-mom years I pursued a career in court reporting. I worked under a temporary license for a freelance firm, and was sent to different locations for depositions or court hearings. I was around 30 years old and I took myself very seriously. I thought if I ever played, had any fun, or laughed at some of life’s incidents that I was not in control. If I was serious all the time, then I was in control and on task. Get it done, get it done, get it done and don’t waste time joking around. I feel bad because my kids had such a serious mom. I was also self-conscious, having no confidence in myself. I hated walking into a room full of people or drawing attention to myself.

God used an embarrassing incident to change all that. Afterwards I stopped taking myself so seriously and learned to laugh in spite of myself. I’d been sent to the CNN Center in Atlanta to take a deposition. Serious business. I fit right in with all the seriousness around the conference table that morning. I was dressed for the part too, in my business skirt, blazer and high-heeled pumps. I was very self-conscious, being the only girl in the room. I didn’t let them know that I was petrified of men! Still recovering from my divorce, I felt all men were cheaters, liars and they thought women were sex objects. I made minimal eye contact, just wanting to get the job done, pack up my equipment and go home to the comfort of my bedroom where I could type up the deposition.

When the deposition ended, I packed up my equipment, stacked my stuff on my roll cart and headed out of the office toward the escalators. The CNN Center is very open where the escalators are, kind of like a mall. Business people are walking around and (in my opinion) putting on airs. I guess I was doing it too, trying to act all poised in my business outfit, pulling my cart behind me. I just wanted to get to my car, kick off those shoes and remove the panty hose for the hour-long drive home.

When I stepped onto the escalator and
maneuvered my cart alongside me, I felt their presence behind me. I nonchalantly turned half way around and saw it was those attorneys from the deposition, all donned in their sheik business suits. Drats! I managed a fake smile and they nodded. I was sure when we got to the bottom and entered the food court they’d turn in the direction of the food to get something to eat and wouldn’t be behind me anymore.

As I rode the down escalator, I plotted my landing, making sure it would be graceful. I was border-line panicking. To my relief I stepped off the escalator gracefully and headed for the revolving doors, pulling my cart behind me. Double drats!! Those men followed me to the revolving doors. They continued their conversation, but I could feel their eyes on me. Why do they have to stare, I thought. Are they talking about me? Pointing? Rating me from 1-10? I’m embarrassed as I write this admitting that yes, I was that bad. I was not confident with my looks at all, which made it worse. I tried to appear as though I was, but couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Approaching the revolving doors created another panic in me. I stopped and pretended to adjust my case on the cart thinking they’d just go ahead of me, especially after I said, “Y’all go ahead.” But no, they were going to be gentlemen and let me go first, as they motioned with their hands…”after you”. Seriously? So, I put on my brave, professional look again and plowed into those revolving doors. It took some dexterity as I maneuvered my cart beside me, shuffling, shuffling, shuffling, my hand gripping the handle and my other one pushing the door. Relief! I stepped out into the fresh air with cart in tow and purse still on my shoulder. I’d also stepped right out of my high-heeled pumps and stood barefoot outside with my shoes inside that merry-go-round. The men stood on the
other side looking at me. I had to go back in. While the men waited and watched this very self-conscious, unconfident, serious single mom walk back through the revolving doors and retrieve my shoes, I attempted a smile and re-exited. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my case and escaped. As I crossed the street to the parking lot, I started giggling. By the time I made it to my car I was in a belly laugh as I’m sure they were too. I chuckled and giggled until I got it out of my system. Since that day I have worked at not taking life or myself so seriously that I forget to laugh and have fun. What about you? Are you too serious? Laughter really is medicinal. “A glad heart makes a happy face,” Proverbs 15:13.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tamasa's Story

When the opportunity came to go to Honduras on a mission trip in July of ‘99, I never considered going. My church was sending a team to help rebuild homes devastated by Hurricane Mitch in the Fall of ’98. Through a chain of events and unexpected provision, God made it obvious He was sending me too.

I was ready to throw in the towel and quit. A lot was going on in my life and I was feeling sorry for myself. A breakup with the only boyfriend I’d had since my divorce in ’88, left me heartbroken. My daughter wanted to go live with her dad, who had a big house in a nice neighborhood, an in-ground pool and all the freedom a 12-year old could want. We lived in a small rental house in Conyers, Georgia, that didn’t have central air. As you know, it’s hot in July in Georgia. We had two window air conditioners I turned on only when we were home so we wouldn’t run up the electric bill.
I had nothing left emotionally to give and wondered what purpose God had in sending me to Honduras. I later learned it wasn’t because of what I could give, but something God needed to do in me. Kind of drastic, I know. I figured the worst that could happen is I’d get Malaria and die.

We rolled into Monjaras on a yellow school bus. Dozens of village kids greeted us with hugs and smiles. This village had been ravaged by floods, and people had pieced together homes from sticks, corrugated metal and heavy plastic, held together with dried mud. We were merged with another team from California and assigned to three families to help rebuild their homes for the next 10 days.  
On about the 3rd day, I was redirected to another work site with another group. I was upset because I’d gotten to know the Honduran family I was working with. I was sure it wasn’t because of my labor skills. On the way to the new site, I was told the family consisted of a young woman with three kids. I was also told she had the cleanest outhouse in the village and if you had to “go”, hers was safe.

As part of the requirements for a new house, two family members had to work with us in the construction. When I asked about the father, they said he’d left them a long time ago. The mom and her 14-year old son would work with us. I thought, “A single mom. How does a woman with three kids survive out here with hurricanes, floods, boiling temperatures and the constant threat of diseases?” I pictured a small, frail woman with a tired and sad face.
We arrived in front of her stick and mud house. Pieces of plywood were “weaved” through the gaps between the sticks for privacy. There was no door, just a walkway. We unloaded the supplies off the truck and slid two-by-fours through gaps in the house.

I carried a load of wood into the house and that’s when I met Tamasa. She was sweeping the dirt floor and tidying up. She greeted me with a beautiful smile, showing me where to store the lumber in her one-room house. I stood inside gazing at the walls of dried mud and sticks. Large pieces of plastic covered one side of the house to protect them from wind and rain during storms. The hammocks they slept in hung from the ceiling on one side of the room. Sunlight streamed in from another door-less walkway that led outside the back of her house. I’m sure I looked like a wide-eyed kid trying to soak it all in.
I was struck by Tamasa’s beauty. Her big, dark eyes and hair complimented her creamy, brown skin. She didn’t look at all like I had imagined, hopeless and depressed like me. She was pretty, vibrant, hospitable and happy to see us.

For days we worked side by side in 100+ temperatures. Every afternoon she’d walk to the nearest town to a part time job, while her 14-year old took care of the two younger siblings. As I spent more time with Tamasa building her house, changes were happening in me. I thought of my own home back in Georgia and how I thought I had it so bad. I had windows and doors I could lock at night or close during bad storms. We had a bathroom with clean, running water and a flushing toilet. My floors weren’t made of dirt, but were covered with carpet. I felt ashamed as I watched her sweep her floors every day and clean the outhouse, mix cement, layer concrete blocks with us, then walk into town to her job.
One day I asked Tamasa if I could take a picture of her family. She didn’t respond, but walked away from me calling her kids inside the house. I thought I’d offended her or maybe my broken Spanish wasn’t clear. After what seemed like an hour, Tamasa and her children emerged from the house dressed in their finest clothes and their hair fixed to pose for my picture.

While taking their picture, I felt bittersweet knowing our time together would soon end. I hugged her, telling her how much God loved and valued her, that He had a plan for her life, as if I had some great wisdom for her. It was clear she understood and trusted in the Lord. Even though we spoke different languages, she spoke great wisdom and knowledge to me through the way she lived her life.
God used this single mom in one short week to do a permanent work in me. Tamasa survived a hurricane and devastating floods that washed her home away. She was abandoned by her husband, left to take care of three children in unspeakable conditions. She took pride in her makeshift home, sweeping dirt floors and making sure her outhouse was clean and her children cared for.

The last day came too soon, as our team boarded the yellow bus that brought us there. I sat looking out the window at all the village children along with a few adults who’d come to see us off, waving and hugging new friends goodbye.
There stood Tamasa with her kids, waving and smiling. She had the calm, peaceful smile I’d become familiar with. Even though I didn’t want to leave, I had a renewed hope that only God can give. I was ready to get back to my life at home and tackle the challenges I faced.

When I walked through the front door of my house, I was overwhelmed with the things God had blessed me with. A refrigerator to keep food in, beds to sleep in, carpeted floors, painted walls and a car parked in the one-car garage. It was stifling hot inside my house, so I flipped on the window air conditioner, noting I had electricity. I had clean, running water and a bathroom with a flushing toilet. My list grew. What I didn’t have didn’t matter anymore. More important than the material blessings God had given, I had Him, just like Tamasa. No one can take that away. If Tamasa could be a survivor, how much more could I, too, survive? And because she didn’t give up hope, she had a brand new home in Monjaras, Honduras, to live and raise her children in.

(This short version of Tamasa's story is taken from Markers for Single Moms: Finding God's Direction in the Chaos, now available on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Penny for Your Thoughts

I recently met a single mom who left an imprint on my heart. We spent a couple of hours over lunch sharing some of our personal stories with each other. We’re so different in a lot of ways, but share similar struggles and heartaches of being a single mom. The big difference is she’s in the middle of her daily survival mode and I’m on the other side. I’m quite a few years older than she is. I see her working hard, trusting God to meet her needs, even though it’s so hard most days. I know without a doubt that if she continues trusting Him, He will bring her to the other side of her plight.

She shared a precious story with me that day and has given me permission to share it with you. Her raw openness with me and obviously with God, touched me to the core. She currently lives with her three children in a garage they’ve turned into a temporary home. She has suffered some injustice in her lifetime, a broken heart and now faces job loss. As we talked over our brown-sack lunches, her passion and hunger for the Lord was evident. I’m using a different name as I tell her story for her privacy.

It was a stressful, ordinary day, just like all the others. Mary’s emotional and physical strength were drained. She saw no light at the end of the tunnel. She tried to be strong for her kids and not crumble under the pressures that mounted daily. She cried, “Just where are you God?” It was a day where Mary felt there was no more hope, direction or love from the One she sought it from. She couldn’t take another day like this, let alone another minute. “If I just knew You even cared,” she yelled out to the Lord. “Do I ever cross Your mind? Do You think about me at all?

While Mary is ranting and raving to the Lord in her emotional rage, she tells me she can sense a gentle touch to her heart. During her meltdown she says it was as if He was saying to her, “You’re on my mind. I am thinking about you.” She responded to Him by putting a condition out to God saying, “If it’s true, then, that you think of me, then let me find a penny for every time I cross Your mind.”

While she’s telling me her story, unhindered tears drop from her huge brown eyes and I can’t even talk. I was thinking about the shoebox of change I had in my closet at home and how I was going to dig all the pennies out and give them to her. When I could finally speak, I asked her, “So how did He answer that challenge?” She said, “I have a shelf full of pennies!” She doesn’t spend her pennies. She’s still collecting them. She said once she found a dime and thought, “Oh, Lord, ten times I just crossed your mind?” After we finished our lunch, we walked into the next room where someone had scattered a trail of pennies on the floor leading up to a zip-lock baggie overflowing with pennies. Mary cried. I stood with my jaw dropped.

God hasn’t answered all of Mary’s prayers yet or brought her to the end of her dark tunnel, but He’s given her hope. He assures her He’s walking through the tunnel with her. When I got home and shared her story with my husband as he worked on his car in our driveway, I looked down and there were 7 pennies scattered in the driveway. Now, every time I find a random penny I know God is thinking of me too, just like Mary.

Do you feel like Mary did, that God never thinks about you or your situation? Do you feel like He doesn’t care? Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered!”

He may not give you the answers you're looking for today, but He'll give you Himself to get you through each day until He brings you to the end of whatever your dark tunnel may be. You're on His Mind.
 
In His grip - Terri