My Numero Uno

They can define you in dozens of different ways. They can sink you or save you; kill you or cure you. They can elevate or promote you. The can make you more important than you really are, and do so much more – in dozens … or hundreds of different ways. Heck, they literally bombard us daily before we even have a chance to put our feet on the floor.

What are they? NUMBERS. Image result for images of numbers 1-100

Our days are numbered in 24-hour increments. The numbers remind us when we have to be somewhere and the numbers dictate how many minutes, hours, days, weeks or months we can remain there.Image result for digital alarm clock

The numbers you receive on your blood work can decide your fate. Healed? Diseased? Remission? Normal? Your blood pressure and cholesterol? Both measured by numbers.

The amount of money you have in a bank account or the number of combined assets can mean the difference between living in a palace or living in your car. Your sales numbers can promote you to a higher position or demote you – or worse yet – get you fired. Image result for 401k memes

Your SAT numbered scores can help you get into a great college with scholarships or remind you that you’re probably better suited to a career in the service industry.

Without a social security number and a birth date, you probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. Both of these numbers are literally your ticket to health care, home and car loans, bank accounts, careers, universities … etc.

During World War II, all it took was a number tattooed on your arm to condemn you to a death camp – where the very name depicts unimaginable horror. Image result for images of world war 2 death camp tatoos

Our I.Q. is measured by numbers. The internet and the dark web operate with numbers. Scientific discoveries, curing diseases, measuring gestational periods – so much of life boils down to numbers, numeric equations, algorithms, geometry, etc., etc., etc.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a number of times – I hate math and I’m not great with numbers – so in my life, I try to keep the numbers as simple as possible. I know that if I eat too many calories in a day, the number on the scale is likely to climb. Just last week at my monthly WW weigh-in, I recorded a 2.8 weight loss which was a strong enough number to change my entire outlook for the day. It was a happy, happy, joy, joy kind of day – all because of a number. It’s crazy how much the numbers on the scale can dictate my moods, in spite of my best efforts to keep that from happening.

My number obsession isn’t limited to merely my weight and the number of points or calories I consume daily. I tend to obsess over numbers as they relate to my daily workouts. I push myself to unrealistic goals in the time I spend working out, or the level of intensity that I apply on the treadmill – which are all measured in numbers. See the source image

Numbers are frequently the reason for mood swings and being downtrodden or wallowing in the doldrums. If one of my blogs receives minimal likes on social media, I feel down and disappointed. If only a few people are added each week to my meager following – double doldrums are the result. Clearly, social media numbers make me crazy too.

It was in the midst of the low number doldrums this past week, that I got quite the message from God regarding my out of balance numerical obsession.

It started last Wednesday, which was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. My husband and I are participating in a 40-day challenge of Bible study and Lent related videos. We started discussing our desire to “sacrifice” something personal during this season leading up to Easter.

In past years, I’ve given up things that were tough for me (all things sugar related, to be sure!). Clearly, a person can survive without sugary foods indefinitely – so how much of a sacrifice is this, really?  This year, God laid it on my heart to sacrifice something that will really “cost me.” Something number related. Immediately, I was reminded of a story in the Bible regarding King David that deals specifically with numbers. The story can be found in both 1 Chronicles 21:1-26 and 2 Samuel 24:1-25.

In the story, Satan convinces David to take a census of his army and the Israelites. I was always confused as to why this was such a bad thing in God’s eyes. From my research, apparently David had no right to conduct such a census because the Israelites didn’t belong to him, but to God.  In part, David got caught up in how big “his army” was. David wanted to focus on the numbers, which God disapproved of.  Image result for census numbers

David knew immediately after the census was taken that he had sinned. The morning after the census, a message came to David telling him that God was going to punish him and the Israelites. God let David choose from three different punishments – all of which were very destructive and unpleasant. David makes his choice of which punishment he and his people will receive and wants to build an alter to make a sacrifice to God to repent and to hopefully stop the punishment.

21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked. David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”  22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.” 24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.  25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.  2 Samuel 24:21-25 (NLT emphasis added)

I love that David was so repentant that his moral integrity wouldn’t allow him to offer anything to God that would be easy for him. David knew his repentance needed to match the severity of the punishment, in the fact that, it needed to be difficult and should cost him dearly if it was going to make a difference in receiving God’s forgiveness. Image result for david's sacrifice to god

The older I get – the longer I walk with God, my attitude mirrors King David when it comes to sacrificing something for God. Even though I KNOW there is nothing I could possibly sacrifice that would ever equal what Jesus sacrificed for me, I want to make a sacrifice that will be difficult for me. A sacrifice that will cost me something must do just that – COST ME; be it comfort, money, time … something big.

I prayed and asked God what that “something” is? I read several devotions on Ash Wednesday and watched a couple of videos and surprisingly, the message became quite clear. All the signs pointed to one thing in particular. My obsession with numbers – specifically with regards to my writing. God reminded me that I am writing for his good pleasure and no one else. While it is nice to receive positive affirmation or monetary contributions, that is all secondary. If no one buys my books or reads any of my blogs, I need to be okay with that. I need to stop checking my stats every day to see how many people have visited my site. I need to stop obsessing over how many people like my status or are following me. The numbers don’t matter and should not influence my writing in any way.

My sacrifice is the time I put into everything I write, oftentimes for little or no money, and very little positive feedback. My sacrifice is staying off of social media (except for posting weekly blogs – because hey, somebody might read them and be helped in some way). My sacrifice is to spend quality time with God, thanking him for the innumerable blessings in my life. My sacrifice is to write for God as if he is the only one reading my work. The only number I want to concern myself with is my one and only … my number one … my Lord and Savior!

Image result for Colossians 3:23-24

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Image result for Quotes by Francis Chan

Advertisements

Layers of Pain and Healing

This week’s blog started out in about three different directions. I stopped and started so many times, unable to focus on one particular subject. I’ve definitely had a little bit of writer’s-attention-deficit-disorder the last few days. So many words in my brain and my spirit, all fighting to be heard and read that my fingers can’t keep up with the verbal onslaught desperate to be recorded.

My writer’s ADD is the direct result of some things I heard at a Women’s Conference that I attended late last week.  For the past three days, my mind has been in a general state of emotional disarray. Some of the subject matter discussed by one of the speakers ended up poking the sleeping bear deep inside me from a den of buried pain. The “bear” has been roused, making me realize that I’ve still got a long way to go in healing from certain painful childhood experiences. Image result for don't poke the bear

The speaker focused a lot on that whole “healing happens in layers” thing. Like peeling away the layers of an onion, emotional healing happens little by little – one painful layer after another. Every uncovered emotional issue forces you to dig deeper, peeling away the pain one layer at a time.

Each time you work your way through an emotional trauma, it’s easy to get a little cocky and think, hey, life is finally good. I’ve got this  – And then … bam! God sends someone along who uncovers an old wound. That someone gets close enough to peel back another layer, revealing a repressed memory forcing you to face a forgotten experience. Suddenly there you are standing knee-deep in horrible memories – again – wondering just how much more is buried in there? (Do I really want an answer to that question?) Will the root cause ever be uncovered this side of Heaven? Is total healing even a possibility? 

The conference speaker got my attention when she said, “your inmost being is where the lies go to hide,” to which I can personally testify to. So many lies buried with the pain, all waiting to be resurrected when I least expect it. When the speaker stated (rather emphatically) “you have to feel it, to heal it,” my mind was conflicted between, “but I don’t want to feel anymore,” and “isn’t that what I’ve been doing my whole life?”

Emotional deficiencies, mental illness, depression, anxiety … it’s all so exhausting. I find myself asking God for the bazillionith time, “Lord, how can you possibly love someone who is as broken as me?”

With this week being the beginning of the Lenten season, I’ve decided to tackle some of these overwhelming issues while at the same time drawing closer to God. For those of you who didn’t grow up in a Catholic household, Lent is a 40-day period of fasting, moderation and self-denial that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Its purpose is to remind ourselves of the value of repentance and the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf through his death and resurrection. Image result for images for lent

While I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, I’ve got enough ex-Catholic in me that I still recognize the importance of the Lenten season. As a Christian, repentance should be an everyday thing – not just something for a specific period of time.. Lent is a time that can be used for us to sacrifice something meaningful so that we might share in the suffering of Christ. As a child, I “sacrificed” childish things, like chocolate or sweet treats. Over the years, I’ve used the Lenten season to fast from things like social media, television, chronic worry or obsessive behaviors.

Many people fast from certain foods or bad habits (smoking, gambling, alcohol, etc.) during Lent. While others may choose to use their 40 days to spend more time reading God’s Word or setting aside a certain amount of time to sit  and talk with God. There are no specific rules or regulations on how one chooses to observe Lent. You don’t have to be a Catholic or Protestant – just someone who wants to draw closer to God.

Image result for Lenten season There’s a story in the book of Genesis, Chapter 32 that tells of Jacob spending a night apart from his family, wrestling with God for the entire night, until the break of dawn.

 

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:24-26 (ESV)

Jacob was tenacious, refusing to let the man (God) go until he blessed him. How I admire Jacob’s resolve. I want to use my Lenten season to challenge God in the same way Jacob did. I want to spend the next 40 days praying for emotional healing and I don’t want to “let God go until he blesses me” with answers. I want to uncover the root cause of why am I so wounded and broken that I can’t seem to ever feel joy? An unhappy Christian is an oxymoron, to be sure. But when one is struggling with clinical depression, you can’t just pray the dark clouds away. For me, the darkness may lift temporarily, but it’s always there. I suspect it has something to do with the lies buried in my inmost being. 

I know that with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, but I must ask myself, if God hasn’t healed me from the depression and darkness after so many years of suffering and praying … then the real question should be, God what do you want me to learn from this?  God never wastes pain. God did not give me depression, but God can certainly use the depression and all of the buried pain in my soul to draw me closer to him. Perhaps the purpose of delayed healing for any of us is for God to use our pain and our experiences to help others who are suffering.

Image result for the lies of satan

Realistically though, with regards to Lent – I know that whatever “sacrifice” I may make during Lent will never in any way compare to the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. My desire is to get to the point where my life is less about me and more about Jesus. I know WHO I want to be in Christ. I KNOW that Christ already sees me as who he created me to be. Every time I peel back another layer and look the pain in the eye and deal with it, I am one step closer to becoming the person God intends for me to be. Every layer brings me one step closer to actually believing that I am that person.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Image result for Quotes by mother teresa

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.” 

Image result for the lies of satan

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!

Image result for Revelation 20:10

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:

Image result for the devil doesn't come dressed in a red cape

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

Image result for I hate math

**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.

Image result for don't eat more food than you can burn off

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.

Image result for feeling cut off from God

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.

Image result for balanced life

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:

Image result for 1 john 4:19

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

Image result for Funny math memes

Don’t “THREAT” The Small Stuff

The human body is a natural wonder in the fact that it is capable of growing, shrinking – even incubating and birthing another human being. What a marvelous piece of fleshy machinery God has created.  

Over the course of my life, my body has transformed itself a multitude of times. Due to three full-term pregnancies and decades of yo-yo dieting, I’ve gained and lost well over 500 pounds over the past five decades. Yes, you read that correctly!

After having lost weight AGAIN for what I hope will be the last time, I’m finding that at this more “mature” age, my body is transforming yet again. Decades of all that yo-yoing and I’ve created some pretty significant challenges for my aged body. Not to mention, I’ve been double-teamed by Mr. Gravity and Father Time, who’ve had their way with my skin and various body parts. Things sag and hang lower than they used to. Joints creak and ache; muscles hurt more and take longer to recover. Getting older is no joke!

In addition to being older and somewhat wiser, my body now has the uncanny ability to predict the weather. Whenever the barometric pressure changes, my arthritic joints (mostly knees) begin an old familiar ache. Thankfully we don’t get a lot of precipitation in my neck of the woods, so the achy joints only flare-up periodically. There doesn’t even have to be any real rain in the forecast, but just the mere threat is enough to cause my knees to ache. 

Because Phoenix averages about 300 sunny days per year, my brain and knees tend to forget that weather changes cause my joints to ache. Whenever my knees start to throb I head into panic mode thinking things are going back to the way they were before I had knee injections. But then it’s like, “Whew, never mind … it’s just the weather. Everything is fine!”

Last week I had a threat of a different kind. When I weighed myself at my regular weekly weigh-in, my weight was up three pounds. I know that three pounds is pretty insignificant, but for someone who’s just spent the last 18 months working to lose weight, those three little pounds were enough to push me over the edge of sanity and reason.

Familiar phrases ran through my mind: I’m so fat and disgusting! I hate myself! If I gain any more weight I’m going to kill myself! I’m such a loser! Blah, blah, blah, and a whole lot of other self-deprecating words, threats and lies conveniently supplied by the master of all self-destruction … our old lying enemy, the devil.

If you’ve ever suffered with any manner of self-hatred due to depression, anxiety, obesity, etc. you probably can relate – maybe even have your own self-debasing inner dialogues much like mine.

Because I truly believe I am wiser thanks to my relationship with Jesus and years spent poring over my Bible, this latest mini-meltdown over three little pounds crashed and burned out rather quickly.

As if on some pre-programmed auto-pilot, I had a “come to Jesus meeting” with myself. When my anxiety rises due to circumstances, I thankfully have a number of “Go-To” Scriptures that I say out loud designed to take the focus off of ME and my problems and put it back where it belongs … the Lord Jesus.

I refused to let this threat best me as it once would have. After chewing on the meat of these Scriptures for a bit, I did a quick inventory of my past week and what could have caused this slight weight gain. The likely culprit was that my husband was on vacation for the past nine days, and that man can eat! He’s very tall and thin and manages his Type 2 Diabetes by eating six small meals a day. Every time he would eat, I’d start thinking I needed to eat as well. I tried to limit my frequent snacking to zero-point Weight Watcher friendly foods. FACT: Those zero point foods are still dangerous if enjoyed in excess. Over the course of two days, I practically ate an entire 10-pound watermelon and about five pounds of grapes all by myself!

One of the drawbacks of maintaining a weight loss is that it still requires a lot of diligence to track what I eat daily. As with last week’s slight weight gain, portion control – weighing and measuring my foods – is crucial. Even fruit! Grapes might be a zero-point WW food, but three pounds of grapes contain a LOT of natural sugar and calories.

Most of us know regaining weight takes very little effort on our part. In fact, I could be the queen of that club! What took a year to painstakingly lose, could reappear in a matter of days or weeks. Portion control and pushing myself to exercise a little harder than usual will help to keep that three pounds from morphing into five or ten or more pounds.

Gone are the days of telling myself, “Well, I already blew it for today – I may as well eat a sleeve of Oreos or that bag of chips in the pantry! I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”  Many of us know, tomorrow can be put off indefinitely! The time to act is NOW!

I opted to immediately rectify the weight gain situation. I added five-pound ankle weights to my morning treadmill walk. I normally walk three miles with varying incline settings, but now I pushed it to four miles. I walked at a much steeper incline and a faster pace than normal. It was a great cardio workout that had me sweating like a sumo wrestler wearing a wet suit in a gym sauna room. (That’s code for a LOT of unladylike perspiration!)

By simply being diligent with portion control and increased activity, my weight was back to normal within two short days. What this little weight gain showed me though is that even the mere threat of regaining lost weight was enough to send me down the rabbit hole. If I wouldn’t have been immediately proactive, that three pounds could have doubled and likely sent me spiraling out of control, drawing me once again into the black hole of depression and the bottomless abyss of self-loathing.

The bottom line takeaway this week is: less food and more movement = less me and more God-given peace and joy. Don’t THREAT the small stuff. We can only do so much on our own, the rest is up to God.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

How strange to use “You only live once” as an excuse to throw it away. ~Bill Copeland