Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time for Change

When things aren't working I do something about it.

Diets don't work for me.  I've been fumbling along, looking for answers in how to really have true success in achieving self control, partly journaled in this blog.  Now I have enrolled in an online course through Setting Captives Free called Lord's Table.  Wow.  Amazing stuff, and it fits so amazingly with what I have already been discovering and studying over the past year.  Life changing.  If you are a Christian and want to learn about what the Bible has to say about food and eating habits, take a look.  I feel like I'm finally learning the key to successful self-control.

Just a few decisions, and I feel like the path of my life has taken such an amazing turn! 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding,
In all your ways, acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5,6

Friday, April 27, 2012

Love is a... decoration?

A friend-ish acquaintance came over for morning tea a while ago.  She lives in a brand-new large, impeccably decorated house which is always eat-off-the-floor clean.  From my perspective anyway.  As I tidied my little, old house with its array of mismatched furnishings and constant state of renovations, I discontentedly compared our houses.   I despaired at the seeming decline in my housekeeping standards in the last 5 years as I scraped the worst of the toddler leftovers off the floor and hid some clutter behind cabinet doors.  I resented the length of time that I have been coping with unsightly half-finished renovations and the art-ready layers of dust produced.  I concluded that there was no way she could be comfortable in my disaster of a house. 

Inadequacy.  One of my eating triggers.

I tried to comfort myself with a cupcake or two and the knowledge that no woman likes to visit a home cleaner than her own, and that a certain amount of disarray humanizes a house and demonstrates a homey, livable environment.  I almost convinced myself.

When she arrived, I saw a change in her since the last time I had chatted with her.  Her eyes held pain, her face was... different.  I pushed kids craft supplies out of the way and we sat at the table, exchanging small talk and happenings over a cup of tea.  Eventually, the story behind the pain in her eyes came out.  A story filled with heartbreak, lies, and helplessness.  A story of God's Love empowering her to hold out forgiveness and love, even when the recipients of that forgiveness and love were not yet accepting of it.  She blessed me with her story and I hope I was able to encourage her in return.

After she left, I looked around, realizing that all my fretting was useless.  I doubt if she saw that my furniture bears the evidence of years of hard use.  Or that my windows aren't exactly streak-free because my 3 year old cleaned them. 

It was then that I came to a very important conclusion:  When people enter my house I want them to know and feel that this is a house where Love lives. 

Yes, I want them to be able to walk across the kitchen without the distraction of their socks getting stuck on the floor and find a seat that isn't occupied by an array of small plastic farm animals or Duplo, but more than that, I want them to feel truly welcome, that I am honored by their visit, that there is nothing I want to do more at that moment than share time with them.  And I want the permanent residents of our home to feel the same.

I want to decorate my home with Love. 

Not the 'word art' Love that current decor trends favor, although that might be a good reminder.  Not just as an accessory that looks nice in the corner and we dust it off and bring it out when its convenient.  It should be the centerpiece;  the open arms and open home Love that embraces and encourages.  A Love that speaks it's five languages fluently:  Love in time spent together, Love in speaking words of affirmation, Love in giving a hug or appropriate touch, Love in dispensing gifts, and Love in performing acts of kindness. 

There is no inadequacy in Love.  God is Love.  He can turn my mess into perfection.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The fight

Well, I'm BACK!!!  It looks like my 50 in 5 might become 5 years instead of 5 months, but hey, it will be a great ride!  I have learned so many things in the last 3 months, and slogged through some tough times in the past 6-ish weeks.  Thanks to those who have encouraged me and asked where I've gone, it's always nice when people notice that you've dropped off the face of the earth!  I've written a lot of blog posts in my head, some even got as far as partially written, but none posted.

My silence in the past while has mainly been due to the paralyzing effect of my to-do list.  The job I currently hold has been mine for the past 9 years and every year I think that next year will be better... and it never is.  This time of year is particularly demanding and this year even more so.  Having small children prevents me from completing anything quickly, and the constant burden of knowing there was so much desk work to be done really steals my joy and keeps me from doing even the smallest task that isn't on my to-do list.

I'm weird that way.  I'll see that my kitchen window needs a wipe-down or the fridge could use some attention, but because it isn't my main focus for the day, I can't do it.  Even if my circumstances keep me from doing the thing that is my main focus, I feel guilt for doing anything else.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps the thought of 'what would people think' if I have a clean house or have been posting to my blog when I am obviously procrastinating from the work that really needs to be done? 


I've learned a lot about my triggers for eating in the past few months.  Guilt.  Inadequacy.  Worry.  To name a few.
  • False guilt that tells me that even though their dad isn't home for supper I should still be cooking for 3 hours to make my children a square meal that they won't eat anyway.  
  • False guilt that tells me my children will be dunces because I should be reading to them constantly like some other moms in the kindergarten class.  
  • False guilt that my freshly-toddling explorer will feel unloved when I leave her in her playpen for an extra minute while I get some things done.
  • True conscience-guilt that tells me that my behavior must change if I expect the same behavior in my children to change.  
  • True conscience-guilt that convicts in hard ways the very real issues in my life.
  • Thinking that I'm not doing even a moderately good job at anything these days.
  • Worrying for my man on the icy winter roads, especially after several scary incidents.
  • Worrying about the upcoming changes in our life again, that plan for the future that we have no control over.
Battling triggers is hard.  It takes an army.  I'm still getting my frontline defense in place.  I know it can be done.  There's a lot of talk of 'overcoming' in God's word, and while I don't compare my fight to those who are tortured for their faith, I do believe God's promises extend to even me. 

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33  NIV

I'm slowly learning it's not my fight.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who do I follow?

Choosing how we spend our time has to be one of the most important decisions we make.  Especially as a mom with small kids.  It seems like the minutes run into each other and fly by until the day is gone and I collapse into bed exhausted.  Most of those minutes are not 'mine': the time dedicated to serving my family and performing the duties required to keep the household and mini-farm running.

But then there are those brilliant silver flashes of time where the children are playing in the other room, or the unlikely event happens where they are all sleeping at the same time, or the 2 1/2 minutes behind the locked bathroom door, or finally, bedtime.  The temptation in those moments is for me to grab another gear, kick it into overdrive and get things done!  And sometimes that is what I need in order to get through the day.

Sometimes, though, I need a little boost; something to feed my soul, encourage me, make me feel and think like an adult, to keep me on the right path.

So what do I read, listen to, who do I allow to influence me in those brief silver moments?  Whose philosophies, theology, parenting advice, humor, and decorating advice do I allow to change my thinking?

I was affirmed in my quest for saturation by Julie Ann Barnhill, author of She's Gonna Blow!  The first strategy she recommends for conquering the volcano - achieving control over anger in mothering, is to 'Stay in the Word'.  I believe her strategies are effective for overall self-control, not just anger.  She explains that it 'is possible to be both a busy mom and a woman of the Word.  But you might need to be flexible in your expectations during the years when uninterrupted time simply doesn't exist.'

She goes on to list many practical ways to help accomplish this goal, one way being to find a way to 'help you devour Scripture in manageable "bites".'  I've been making use of my smart phone to help me to this end, subscribing to a daily scripture reading through Google reader.  I nearly always have my phone on me, so whenever I have a minute, I whip it out and feed my soul with a little bite of truth.

I'm also subscribed to several blogs, and am fed by the encouragement, challenge, humor, and much practical advice applicable to my life from the keyboards of other men and women.  However, it seems that everybody has a blog these days, and no particular education or credential is required.  As is evident by my ramblings! :)

So who am I going to allow to influence my thinking?  While many of them are good and based on the truth of Scripture, some appear to be, however upon closer look or when a bit of research is done on the author, there are  discrepancies between their beliefs and the Truth.

I don't think that I should only read things or listen to things that only line up with my own beliefs and convictions, after all I have been made aware many times that what I believe is not complete and have had to do some additional study to realign my thinking.  But it is important to be wearing the "goggles" of Scripture when reading or listening, to test what is said with the litmus paper of Christ, and keep the good, throw out the bad.

Keeping in the Word, God's word, is the best way to evaluate the rest!

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;  3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.  2 Peter 2: 1-3  NASB

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One bite at a time

I am humbled, encouraged, and deeply grateful for the response to the cry in my last post.  Your facebook posts, emails, prayers and comments have been taken to heart, I've smiled, cried, and have felt the cyber arms of comfort surround me from your caring words, and feel the peace that only the One who made me can give.

As I have gone about my tasks today, I have pondered the big picture, my overall goal in this venture, and how I can have incremental victory in the steps to get there.

Under the title of my blog are/were the descriptors, "Fifty pounds in five months, that's what I've got to lose.  What I'm hoping to gain is self-discipline in all area in my life."

I'm coming to understand that the first phrase is secondary while the second phrase is the key.  Practicing and learning self discipline is the only thing I have any control over.  Self control.  The weight loss will hopefully be an outcome of that, but it should not be the focal point.   So how do I keep on the right track and avoid the valley of discouragement?  It's going to take a lot of God-given strength, and a little partying!

Every day, every moment, every second, we make decisions, some biggies and some so insignificant we don't really consider the effect they may have.  The culmination of these decisions determines our direction.  Even the smallest choice matters.

To put this in food terms, how does an overeater eat cake?  By believing the lie that one crumb won't hurt, it's just a taste.  Temptation.  The minuscule amount of calories won't make a difference overall, right?  Then another taste really is harmless, after all, the first taste didn't hurt. Then a fork full, then a piece with ice cream.  Until the cake is gone.  At what point was this a bad idea?  Right from the very beginning.

Even so, the good decisions have the equal but opposite effect.  Saying 'no' to the crumb prevents me from eating the whole cake.  How much better off am I than if I had succumbed to that temptation?  Infinitely!  That moment deserves a celebration!   Getting through a day without loss of self control in any way is a major victory!!  Running to my heavenly Father instead of to food when things go awry, I can be jubilant knowing that he is there all the time, and has promised amazing things to his children:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB)

Did you catch that?  Even before we're tempted, there is already a way out provided!   There's always a choice, no matter how appealing or alluring the temptation!  No matter how creamy and chocolatey the icing is on that cake.

I choose to celebrate every victory, every day, every minute, every second!

By God's grace.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The facts of life

I have been writing over the past few days, but nothing that hit the screen on this blog, rather I uploaded some pictures and did a little writing on my hobby farm blog.

It was escapist in a way to fall into the familiar groove of 'how to' writing.  I'm most comfortable writing facts; my background in agricultural research has promoted that skill - reporting on findings, interpreting research, writing standard operating procedures.  Nothing personal, just history, unbiased.  It's quiet, dignified, and a step back from the things that really matter, the raw things.  The things that hurt.

To get into the guts of the matter, discouragement is crouching at my door.  It's been almost a month and I haven't seen any significant progress, physically.  Surely my abs of flab should be sculpted into a lean, mean, ripped, 6-pack by now!  I struggle with that disappointment, arguing with myself about the importance of the physical.  Is not the soul more important than the body?

There have been other changes through learning discipline, I am searching scripture, interested again, eager for the truths gleaned.  Emotionally I feel stronger, more in control.  I've had a really good week with the kids despite my husband being gone for 3 days, strengthened by my heavenly Father whom I am slowly, oh so slowly, learning to lean on in everything.  And I can feel changes physically; my body is stronger, my back hurts less, my knees can handle the trip up and down the stairs a lot better thanks to the workout routine I've been doing.

Yet this debilitating disappointment hangs like an anchor on my ankle, reminding me constantly that I'm failing to accomplish my goal, prompting me to just give up and eat, who's going to know, I'm here alone... Lies, but irresistible to a weakened will.  I even looked at some advertising for a new miracle cure for fatness, guaranteed to trim the pounds off like magic.  Tempting, especially on this side of the weigh scale. 

I'm resting in the knowledge that there is always reward in doing the right thing.  Now I question if I'm doing the right thing... sigh.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Saturated... fats?

I'm glad that losing weight is not my New Year's resolution, because how long do those ever last, really?  It's been a great Christmas, pretty low key but busy none the less.  I've been told I'm nuts for starting with this before Christmas, but I'm glad I did.  I would rather have it on my mind and show some restraint, and even if I only maintained, it's better than gaining 10 more pounds to try to lose in the post-new-year-resolution failure period!

Today is an exciting day, the beginning of a new calendar, blank pages all crispy and clean.  I smell those pages, run my fingers over unmarked paper.  What events, meetings, appointments will be scrawled in those little squares?  What milestones and achievements will our family see?  What are the unwritten things that come between those calendar lines that will irrevocably change us, shape us, build character?

In thinking forward to the new year and the promise and mystery that it holds, a word comes to mind that encapsulates what I feel called to in 2012, and that word is SATURATE.

When I think of something that is saturated, I envision a sponge that is so wet that if any additional water is dripped onto it, the equal amount leaks out the bottom side!  The Bible refers to this state as being 'filled'.  Filled to the top, brimming over.  Ephesians chapter 5 has an excellent example:

"15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."

Don't you just love Ephesians?  It's so full of practical advice on living for God, and this passage is so applicable to me at this time.  It starts out with a 'Therefore', indicating that this passage is an outcome of what came before it, click here to read the context about being imitators of God.   Those first few nuggets are great,  be careful how you walk, making the most of your time, understand the will of the Lord.  

Then comes the part that is really relevant to me in the context of this blog as I've often thought that if I didn't eat, I would likely drink.  A lot.  Both weaknesses or addictions often stem from the same root, described in the next phrase as 'dissipation'.  When I looked up dissipation in the Merriam-Websters dictionary, it was described as 'an act of self-indulgence'.  Self indulgence vs. Self control.  My paraphrase of verse 18 is "Do not eat to feel good, for that is self-indulgence..."  And what does it say to do instead?  Be filled with the Spirit.  Allow God to SATURATE!  How?  The how is described clearly in the following phrases, 

"speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, 
singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
The saying that what goes in will come out is so true.  What I saturate or fill myself with is what will drip out and transfer to those around me!

How does this translate into my daily life?  That's the tough one.  With 3 kids 5 and under, a garden, animals, domestic duties, and a home office job to keep my day busy with seldom a quiet moment, where do I find the time or place to get soaked in God-likeness?  I'll keep you posted!  I'd be very interested in hearing your ideas or successes too!

By the way, I was rather amused by the ad that showed up in the MW dictionary website while looking up the word dissipation:  a Weight Watcher's ad... coincidence?  I think not!