An Apple A Day …

When we find ourselves weighed down with tough life battles – say for instance, worry, fear, anxiety, depression, food addictions, cravings, temptations of various kinds, yo-yo weight losses/gains or low self-esteem issues, etc., etc., etc., Oh wait a minute … These are MY battles! Does everyone do battle with these same issues on a regular basis or is it just me? Image result for God where are you, I need help

Some weeks are tougher than others and it feels as though periodically my issues want to circle the wagons together to create one giant super-struggle. When that happens, I feel beat down, overwhelmed and left out in the wilderness completely on my own, asking where are you God? See the source image

Last week resembled a wagon-circling-super-struggle situation. When I have a week like the past one, God in His goodness gently reminds me that even though I may feel abandoned, alone, fearful, anxious, depressed and all of the other things my brain (or more likely – the devil) has convinced me I am – I am never without God’s Holy Spirit. His constant presence in my life is always there; this He has promised. (Hebrews 13:5) Image result for Hebrews 13:5

Personally, I’m of the opinion that all of the aforementioned problems can be traced back to one original source. It started with an apple. But the true blame, the root of the root, the very core of the core – ALL of life’s trials can be traced back to the original sin. The sin of all sins. The BIG sin no one can ever forget, perpetrated upon the one person, gullible enough to fall for those perpetrated lies … Eve (no last name).

Yes, that Eve. The woman God gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden who ruined everything by eating that single piece of forbidden fruit.. Eve had ONE job – don’t eat the fruit from that ONE tree. Eve and the hubs had free rein and access to EVERYTHING else in the garden. Sadly, and to all of mankind’s detriment, Eve chose to believe the lies of the enemy rather than what God specifically said DON’T DO!Image result for the apple adam and eve

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6 (ESV)

If only … if only – If only Eve would have trusted her woman’s intuition (because I’m convinced God created all women with that little bit of extra intuitive knowledge) rather than listening to that lying snake! Is it any wonder that so many of us struggle with obesity, eating disorders and food addictions? The very first temptation the devil lobbed at womankind was food related! It was this very temptation that has caused the rest of us to spend our lives paying for Eve’s poor judgment and colossal stupid mistake.

If you read the text in Genesis 3:1-5, the devil immediately tried to get Eve to doubt God and even doubt herself. The devil wanted her to question what God really said and what she heard.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” 

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Satan’s agenda included not only tempting Eve with food, he convinced her she hadn’t heard God correctly. Satan persuaded Eve by basically calling out God as a liar.  “You won’t die! God knows your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat…”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the devil had Eve believing that God really didn’t want what was best for her. Why else would God withhold something so desirable from her and Adam? If God really loved and cared for them, why wouldn’t He want their eyes opened so they could distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong?

The devil masterfully makes these same suggestions to us on a regular, sometimes daily basis. That first initial food temptation is the root cause of obesity and food related addictions. Our senses are assaulted with the delicious smells of amazing looking food. Heck, we don’t even have to smell the food. Those Burger King and Dairy Queen commercials are proof of that!  Image result for the lies of satan

All of these forbidden foods – the cookies, cakes, candies, chips, burgers, pizza, ice cream – it all calls to us, begging to be sampled. Yet, we know these things are unbelievably bad for us and will destroy our health if eaten with regularity. Once we succumb to our desires to partake of that which we know we shouldn’t – we immediately hate and despise ourselves. Our weaknesses, our lack of self-control torment us to the point of self-hatred so deep and all-consuming we want to crawl into the nearest pit and hide from the world – too ashamed to let our real selves be seen. Oh wait – is that just me?

Unbelievers question the existence of God, even while nature screams of a supernatural, masterfully artistic creator. As Christians, we doubt that God cares for us as individuals because there are so many other worthy people on the planet. We struggle with fear, worry, doubt and anxiety because we are never fully 100% convinced that the same benevolent God who separated the light and the dark, designed planets and solar systems, animals and people would really be interested in every aspect of our lives. Who am I that the highest King would take notice of me? Image result for who am I that God would care about me

We struggle with self-esteem, doubting that God created us in His image because those simple words Satan spoke to Eve, God KNOWS … Yes, God knows everything, and Satan hates that. The devil is fully aware that his only chance to make our lives miserable is for him to twist God’s truths just enough to cause us to doubt God’s Holy Word. The enemy is such a masterful manipulator. If he wasn’t, how else would he have been able to install enough doubt to push Adam and Eve into such a tragic lapse of judgment? Adam and Eve were privy to a one-on-one relationship with God that has never been paralleled. Why would they ever want to jeopardize that? The devil and his carefully worded taunts filled the original twosome with so many doubts, it seemed almost easy for them to sample the forbidden fruit.

Image result for the lies of satanSatan continues his masterful mind manipulation with us:

IF God REALLY cares about me and made me in His image …

Why do I struggle with food cravings?
Why doesn’t God  make weight loss easier?
Why do I feel so ugly and awkward?
Why am I still depressed?
Why do I still worry and live with anxiety and fear?
Why doesn’t God step in and fix all of these problems in my life? 

Why do I hate myself so much?

And on … and on … and on … Image result for the lies of satanSeriously … am I the ONLY person who hears these taunts (and more) on a regular basis?

The thing is, Satan can only make suggestions to us. It is up to us to make these suggested lies our truth or reject them completely. God gave us free will so we are the only one  who can decide what we will believe.Image result for the lies of satan I love to read – not just God’s Word, but I love a great fiction novel – especially murder mysteries. Whenever I’m in the middle of a story and I start getting worried about the main character, I confess – I flip to the last chapter of the book and read the ending to assuage my concerns. Whenever Satan’s attacks become so concentrated and intense, I admit to  doing the same thing with the Bible. I flip to the last couple of chapters in the Word of God and sneak a peak at the ending of the book, so I can put my fears to rest. The harder the devil digs in and fires his slings and arrows at me … I know the end to his story!

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Satan may have begun his attack on mankind with something as simple as an apple – but God is bigger and more powerful than the devil. As children of the Most High King, we are his beloved. He tells us we are the apple of His eye.

 

Image result for Psalm 17:8 ESVI am a daughter of the King. I am the apple of His eye and so are you if you call Jesus, Lord. God said it. I believe it. That settles it!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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SIMPLE MATH (Life’s greatest Oxymoron!)

Way, way, waaaay back in the days of middle school and high school – I hated every math class that I was forced to take. In grade school when fractions were introduced, I had an inkling that I could be in trouble. In junior high and high school when the alphabet started showing up in numerical problems, I thought, REALLY? Are they kidding? I knew with certainty that I was in deep doo-doo at that point. Math was completely beyond my comprehension forcing me to give up on all math at that point.  God clearly did not hard-wire me for numbers! Image result for Math Clip Art

When I was in high school, I was only required to complete one year of math – for which I am still profoundly grateful. If more advanced math classes would have been a requirement, I’d likely still be stuck taking make-up classes. In my Freshman year, I took the mandatory Algebra class. I faked my way through an entire school year. I finished the semester with a D+ which thankfully, was considered passing. Image result for I hate math

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**As a side note – what does a D-PLUS even mean? In my case, it was indicative of the fact that I completely sucked at math with something slightly above rock-bottom-suckage. Perhaps the plus was given more as a sign of good will – something to bolster my ego. “Hey, you’re really bad at Algebra, but you get a plus in front of your barely passing grade because at least you tried!” 

Actually, my theory for why I barely scraped by had more to do with the fact that my Algebra teacher, Mr. Descombs accidentally dented my step-dad’s brand new Pontiac Catalina convertible on the one day I happened to drive it to school. I’m sure Mr. Descombs was trying to be nice to me while at the same time trying to avoid a confrontation with the most vile man on the planet … uh hmm, my stepfather. Whatever the case, my stepdad failed to notice the dent due in part to his constant alcoholic inebriation and I managed to squeak by in Algebra. Miracles do happen!

I’m quite embarrassed to admit that my limited math skills really reared its ugly head once my children reached fourth or fifth grade. It was at that point I was completely useless in the homework department. In my defense though, the math my kids were taught was far advanced to what my generation was taught when I was in grade school and high school.

Luckily, there is some hope for me as I can do simple math – especially if it involves my money. I’m great at figuring out a 10% discount on Senior Day at my favorite shopping establishments. For those 50% off clearance sales – I am the Queen of mathematical tabulations.  Image result for I hate math

Beyond clearance sales though – forget it when it comes to any other type of math … with a couple of exceptions. The family budget math is still within my basic comprehension. I know that if my husband and I spend more money than we make – that math doesn’t add up and we will end up in the poor house if we continue to spend what we don’t have. Simple math tells us to live within our means. That’s just common sense right there.  Image result for don't spend more than you make

And then there’s weight loss math! I’m smart enough to know that if I am consuming more than my allotted calories or WW points allowed each day, I’m headed for BIG trouble. The one advantage to weight loss math, is that if I take in too many calories, I can always try to counteract those calories by exercising MORE. (I suppose the same is true for the family budget. If you overspend, you can take on extra work – but that’s oftentimes more complicated than it sounds.)

If I start eating more calories than I’m allowed each day, I’ve got to invest more time and effort in my daily exercise program. MORE CALORIES EQUAL MORE WORK. That’s simple math that I can actually make sense of.

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Lately, another type of math that’s been brought to my attention is staying away from the bathroom scale and weighing myself too frequently. I’ve learned that on those days when I feel great, if I step on the scale and I register a slight weight gain – it throws my whole day off. That “slight gain” can spiral me right into depression, when only moments before weighing – I felt fabulous! Instead of giving into those numbers – I’m trying to live according to how my clothes fit and I how I feel in my clothes. If my clothes are suddenly screaming at the seams – I know that I’ve gotten out of balance with my food choices. That’s simple math. Too much food equals too much ME.

If I find that I’m struggling with basic tasks and lacking the energy needed to complete everyday chores, that’s an indication that I’ve slacked off in my weight training and daily exercise. If I’m losing strength, I’m not working my muscles to their full capacity. That is simple math. Image result for lack of strength

As I go through my day and I find that I’m lethargic and barely able to stay awake, that’s an indicator that I’m probably not getting enough sleep at night. No energy equates to not enough sleep. Again – simple math.

If I find myself feeling lost, broken and hopeless and suddenly in a spiritual free fall – that means I’m not investing enough time in my relationship with God. More time in God’s Word and quiet time in prayer adds up to inner peace and contentment. The same can be said for personal relationships. If we are neglecting “our people” (spouses, friends and family) that will add up to troubled or failed relationships. That is simple math.

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As much as I hate math (and boy, do I ever!) the reality of life is — I need to pay close attention to the simple math equations that life throws at me every day. Whether it’s my weight, my diet, health issues, career, time commitments or relationships with loved ones and God – it all adds up to those simple math principles. Every thing in our lives comes down to balance.

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These are all examples of what works and what doesn’t. Less is more may not always add up in any of the aforementioned life situations. BUT, Work smarter, not harder; you reap what you sow; give and take; you get what you give;  or do unto others as you would have them do unto you … ALL are simple math equations that we might want to employ in our daily lives if we want to experience any type of success. If any of you reading this don’t need this simple math lesson – I’ll preach it to myself, because I desperately need to be schooled in these basic life lessons!

 Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you. Deuteronomy 4:2 (NLT)

The greatest of all simple math equations, comes down to the most basic, profound and important life principle of all time:

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition

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MY 500 Pound Life!

Last week as I was channel surfing for something to watch on television (as I frequently do because even with a couple hundred channels to watch – there is NEVER anything good on TV!) I came across a show on the TLC Network called, My 600 Pound Life.

The title is pretty self-explanatory. This is a program about morbidly obese people baring their souls in a desperate attempt to get medical intervention for their out of control weight/health issues. I couldn’t tell you if anyone on this program got the much-needed help they sought because honestly, I wasn’t able to sit through an entire episode. Image result for images for TLC my 600 pound life

The show was difficult to watch, not because I was repulsed by the large people being featured – but their pain, both physical and mental filled me with such sadness and empathy I had to turn the channel after the first 10 minutes.

Clearly, people who reach that level of obesity have more than “just a little eating problem” going on. Someone who weighs 400 – 700 pounds or more doesn’t simply wake up one morning to discover they’re as big as a Kodiak bear. To amass that amount of weight it would seem likely that each of these people have some sort of story to tell. There are obvious medical reasons why someone might weigh that much, but most likely there is a lifetime of sadness, depression, abuse (physical, verbal, mental or sexual) that might cause someone to “eat their feelings” to such a degree that they end up weighing 600 pounds.

Everybody’s got a story. Maybe some of our stories aren’t as obvious as someone who weighs a half-ton, but if you take the time to really talk to someone, it doesn’t take long to discover that each of us are dealing with our own stuff.  Most of us have things we try to hide that can make us unhappy or miserable. There are no completely “normal” problem-free people. They do not exist.

I may not weigh 600 pounds, but in the past I’ve felt the pain of being obese. I’ve been ridiculed or talked about because of my weight – so I can only imagine that someone who is 600 plus pounds probably never wants to leave their house. People can be mean and if you are so large you can’t even weigh on a regular doctor’s scale – there are going to be people who will blatantly ridicule, tease and shame someone of that size. Image result for shame of obesity

If I were to add up all of the pounds I’ve gained and lost since I went on my first diet at the age of 14, the number would likely total around 500 pounds. How is that possible? I’ve lost and regained the same 30, 40 and 50 pounds more than 10 times throughout my life.  That’s my story. Each and every time I regained weight that was difficult to lose, I was eating my way through life’s problems: unresolved childhood molestation and depression, divorce, rejection, the death of both of my parents. My story – your story … we’ve all got a story.

It’s common knowledge that if you lose X amount of weight, when you regain it (as so many do), you typically add an additional 10 pounds to the previously lost amount. The number of people who actually lose weight and keep it off long-term (2-5 years) is less than 5%. Image result for yo-yo dieting

I finally woke up and realized what I was doing to my body as a result of years of yo-yo weight losses and gains. My revelation happened a couple of years ago during a routine Bible study. My epiphany struck me like a thunderbolt.  Two Scriptures that I “stumbled” upon caused me to question … were these Scriptures always in the Bible – or did somebody just add them?  I was quite familiar with the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6. This is a verse I always reference whenever I do a book signing for my diet devotional book, Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers.  However, when I paired this Scripture with 1 Chronicles 28:20, God may as well have been talking to me through a bullhorn.

 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) 

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly. 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

When I read these verses I feel as those God is standing right beside me letting me know He’s in this whole weight loss thing with me. When I feel down or depressed because losing weight and maintaining a weight loss is so tough, God is telling me to stay strong – don’t get discouraged because He is right there with me. This verse pretty much guarantees me that God is not going to let me travel this road all alone. He is promising me that He’s in it for the long haul until ALL OF THE WORK that needs to be done in MY temple is completed. As far as I’m concerned, He’s talking about me and my body.  Image result for MY body is the temple of the holy spirit

I am so encouraged by these Scriptures, so much so that whenever I feel myself being pulled back into the pit; caving into the darkness and despair of my old life – I pull out these Scriptures that I’ve printed on a 3×5 index card. I read them and re-read them over and over again until I feel that peace that only God can give. I may not think I have the strength for this healthy lifestyle for THE REST OF MY LIFE, but God has assured me it’s more than just a possibility. This is my reality as long as I include God at every turn.

My 500 pound life is my past. My temple, while currently under construction – WILL BE FINISHED CORRECTLY someday.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

What’s YOUR story!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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NOT TODAY, OLD MAN!

Last week I heard a quick story about the iconic Academy Award winning American actor and director, Clint Eastwood who recently played a round of golf with country singer, Toby Keith. Toby asked Mr. Eastwood how he’d managed to continue working and thriving in his career for so many decades. Image result for Clint Eastwood golf

Clint, who is now 88 years old, explained that as long as he remembered one thing, he knew he could stay the course and continue to be relevant and productive.

“What’s that one thing?” Keith asked.

“I can’t ever let the old man back in,” Clint replied. Image result for toby keith golfing with clint eastwood

That is great advice if you understand the Bible at all.  In Scripture, “the old man” refers to our old sinful self – the person we were before we said “yes” to Jesus.

I’ve been doing battle the last couple of weeks with “my old man” — that person I was before I committed my life to following Christ. The battle has been waged in my mind, my spirit and my body.

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It seems as though every morning, the battle begins before I’m even out of bed. The desire to roll over, stay in bed and sleep for a while longer is stronger than ever. My internal wrestling match tugs at that lazy “old man” who is tired of getting up early every morning for the sole purpose of exercise. Image result for our old man sinful self

The “old man” argues his point, painting a picture that all of this exercise really makes little difference. I’ve stopped losing weight, so it’s not like I’m going to exercise away those jiggly parts that insist on clinging to my hips, thighs and belly. I mean, really? At my age – who am I kidding?

The “old man” has some strong arguments, but he doesn’t just stop at the exercise thing. Lately, he’s been whispering in my ear about keeping my daily food diary and staying on top of my portion control. Why bother? I mean, haven’t I been at this whole weight loss thing for nearly two years now. Shouldn’t I have all this down? Why bother with diaries and measurements and portions, when eyeballing goldfish crackers is so much easier than counting out 45 little fishies. Who’s got that kind of time? Image result for fighting with the devil

The enemy is clever and subtler than ever. His end goal is to push that “old man” back into my life like an unwelcome squatter, where eventually he will convince me to ignore all of the dedication and hard work I’ve put in. The “old man” wants his life back. He was happiest when I was miserable to the point of suicide. The “old man” is a beast, demanding to unleash the monster he is and re-insert himself into my healthy lifestyle. See the source image

Every time I choose to deny the “old man” his place, he rebels. Some days though, the “old man” screams rather than whispers. I told you – he is a monster. Some days it’s hard to hold my ground and remain steadfast and committed to exercise, healthy eating, a strong body and some semblance of sanity.

I frequently ask myself, why does the devil care so much about little old me? It’s not like I’m making a huge impact on society or doing anything grand for the kingdom of God. The problem with Satan is, if any of us are doing ANYTHING, no matter how slight, to spread the love of Jesus or share the Gospel to the unsaved – we are a huge threat to his world of darkness. Image result for fighting with the devil

I am basically a nobody in the grand scheme of life – but I have asked God, “Use me, Lord,” and I know this terrifies my enemy, Satan. Image result for God use me He fights back, the only way he can with me. My battles are likely different than yours. The monster customizes his plan of attack to suit our individual likes and dislikes. The beast is tenacious.

There are days when I’m absolutely sick and tired of maintaining this whole healthy lifestyle. I can get really angry when I realize that in order to stay at this weight I absolutely cannot now – nor will I ever be – able to eat what I want, when I want in whatever amount I want. Quite frankly, that is the strongest argument the “old man” taunts me with daily. And. It. Sucks!

The last two or three days, the “old man” literally has climbed on my back and has made me so miserable that I have made some unwise food choices. I’m smart enough to recognize these attacks for what they are, yet that doesn’t make them easier to endure. The only way to quiet the “old man” is to do what I do best. Exercise. I don my work out clothes, lace up my Fila’s and walk as fast as my short squat legs can carry me. I walk until I want to drop from exhaustion. If I can’t shut the “old man” up by reasoning with him (because there really is no reasoning with a monster), my only other choice is to wear him out before he wears me down. Image result for fighting with the devil

I walked about six miles yesterday and listened to every darkness crushing, positive uplifting, soul soothing praise song I had in my play list. Christian music has always had the power to lift me out of the deepest, darkest pit. Thank you — Cory Asbury, Josh Baldwin, Zach Williams, Lauren Daigle, and so many others, but especially Hillsong United. Their Not Today song needs to be ever on my lips and the anthem of my soul that will eviscerate the devil!

Ultimately, the choice is mine and mine alone. Do I let the “old man” move back in and bring back his destructive sidekicks of depression, shame and self-hatred … or do I push through every single day facing the fact that life’s not fair and all these limitations DO suck, but my God is bigger than all of these limitations. My God is bigger than my “old man.”

Today’s choice is … Let the devil know NOT TODAY — whenever I say your name – Jesus!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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