Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Filled up.

I'm not gonna lie...  eating right isn't my fave and exercise (well, it sucks).  I would rather be doing so many other things with my time, but I'm alllllmooost 40 and the pounds pile up quickly and do not like to go away easily anymore.  Those shells and cheese, I cooked for the kids tonight, were looking delectable, but I didn't even lick the spoon and that 25 minute workout I did today,  I'm sure is a walk in the park to other people, but my heart was beating out of my chest and my face was bright red and dripping with sweat.  I'm thrilled about the 3 pounds I've managed to lose in the last 3 weeks, but I really just wish I could magically go back to pre-kid size and not have to do all this.  It was so cool when I could eat a snicker bar and drink a coke, without having to think about how it would affect me later, but it just doesn't work that way anymore.  I have to make a change.

A couple weeks ago a friend talked to me about the micro diet... I plugged my info into a calculator and a site gave me personalized numbers to keep track of.  The theory is that as long as your eat your micros (fat, protein, carbs) in the right amount then you should start losing weight.  I thought what the heck, why not give it a shot.  So, I opened up the Myfitnesspal app and started keeping track of my numbers everyday.  My calories are down, but the weirdest thing is I hardly feel hungry.  I thought I would starve to death and always be hungry.  I thought it was going to be so hard to resist junk, but the opposite is true, I don't have any cravings.  WHAT??????

Even at the Thanksgiving feast and the following days of leftovers I really didn't crave anything.  I had dessert that day, but it wasn't a must and the next few days when the pies and cakes lingered around I really had no urge to eat them.  What gives???

Tonight when I was making dinner I realized that I wasn't really even hungry.  I actually felt satisfied.  I didn't feel like I was missing out on shells and cheese or even my favorite mashed potatoes.  Those beans and quinoa that I had made for myself actually made me happy.  I'm not thinking about ice cream and cookies.  I'm not dreaming about Snickers or Heath bars.  I feel full and satisfied. 

I'm no scientist, but I have read that the brain tells us when we are hungry.  The brain really doesn't care what we feed it and often times the brain wants nothing more than to be satisfied with junk.  The problem is that there is no nutrition in the junk that our brain tells us to eat and so after a while our body cries out for more and the brain sends out another craving message, because we need protein, fat and carbs in the right amounts to keep our bodies running at the optimum level, we will continue to get this message for more.  What is going on in my body right now is affecting my brain.  My body is receiving what it needs to function and my brain is sending out a different message.  My brain is telling me that I don't need anything else, because I'm full.  I've also read that good, healthy food actually has chemicals that tell our brains when we are full and when we have had enough...  I'm not sure about you, but Lays potato chips  have NEVER told me when I was full.  Can't eat just one, right?! 

Junk is NEVER enough.  Junk never makes me feel satisfied.  I always want more. 

Well, tonight when I was standing at the stove that feeling of being full, got me to thinking, I haven't felt that empty feeling lately that drives me to shop or eat or run away or anything that makes me feel better.  I have been feeling pretty content lately.  I haven't had that nagging sense that I just need something or someone to make me happy.  What gives? 

Psalms 34:8 says, "O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him."

To be painfully honest I would rather do a lot of other things than get up in the morning and pray and read my Bible.  I could sleep or scroll facebook.  I could read a new book or just sit and do nothing.  I have to force myself to get my Bible out and I have to force myself to pray...  because like eating right and exercising... these things are not what I want to be doing.   For the last few weeks I have gotten up and grabbed my coffee and my Bible and found a quiet place to talk to God.  At first it's not what I feel like doing and I have to force myself to find things to praise Him for.  Not that there aren't a million things that I could praise Him for, but I am selfish and self-centered and it all starts with getting over myself.  Before too long as the praises come one after another I start to feel thankful, content, blessed...  I start to see how amazing my Father is and then humbled to be chosen to be His child.  The tears flow and my heart finds it's home again.  When I open the Bible after this time of praise I hear him talking specifically to me.   My brain is no longer running the show driving me to so many other things.   I find myself feeling full, satisfied.   The next morning I have to do this again.  I force myself to taste and see and I leave feeling too full for the junk I would normally veg on. 

Jesus called himself many things while he was on earth.  Isn't it interesting that he called himself the bread of life and said that those who come to him shall never hunger again.  He also called himself the living water and said that those who come to him would never thirst again. 

Jesus said "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: FOR THEY WILL BE FILLED." Matt 5:6

Filling up on Jesus leaves us satisfied, with no room for all that other crap we craved before.  When Jesus was teaching one day and there were a multitude of people (over 5000) and he knew the people were getting hungry He asked the disciples what they had to feed the people.  "They came back with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and said what is this with so many.  Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.   And they did eat, and WERE ALL FILLED: and there was taken up of the fragments that remained to them 12 baskets." Luke 9:16-17

When Jesus fed the people they had more left over than they started with.  When Jesus fed the people they were satisfied and full and had some left over.  When Jesus fills us up we will be joyFILLED, satisfied and content.  When Jesus fills us up we no longer have those craving for the junk that only leaves us longing for more.  Taste and see that the Lord is good. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Candy Crush

A few weeks ago there was this certain holiday that makes being a mom HARD.  You know the one.  Your kids dress up adorably, go knocking on random people's doors, and are given huge handfuls of CANDY...  Everyday from that day forward until all the candy runs out, every mother in America gets hounded constantly for CANDY.  Who came up with this horrible scenario??? 

Just yesterday my sweet little angel baby came up to me and angelically asked me for a piece of candy, to which I immediately responded "UM, NO!"  Didn't the little cherub remember he had already had enough junk that day????  Obviously not...  Right there before my eyes my little cherub turned into one of those Halloween goblins.  He whined, he cried and then when all that didn't work he says the meanest words a mommy can ever hear, "Well, I'm not gonna lub ju anymore!" 

Why you little bitty ball of frustration how dare you say that to me.  Do you know how much of my very being I have sacrificed to give you everything in this world that I think you need??????  How dare you.  I didn't say all that of course.  I just went about my business.  I know he's gonna love me in about 2.5 seconds when he makes his very next request, but this whole episode got me to thinking, about how I act the same way with the one who loves me the most.

Oh Lord, how many times have I asked and you have not given me what I wanted?  How many times have I cried and thrown a fit when you didn't provide the thing I wanted most?  When I looked with my limited perspective and deemed the object of my affection good, because well, it looks good... it's got to be good for me, and besides I JUST WANT IT!!!!!!

I want it.  I WANT it.  I WANT IT!  If you don't give it to me I'm not going to love you.  Forget all the good you have given me.  Forget about the sacrifice you have made for me, to forgive me of my sins and provide eternal life for me.  Forget that in those things your goodness and love for me has been proven a million times over.  Forget that I know that you are a good Father, who will give me every good thing I need...  I want that thing and I want it now. 

But, what if that thing isn't good for me?!?!  Do I trust you to decide what is good for me?  Do I love you enough to receive your yes, as well as, your NO?  This is the question I have asked myself many times in the last few years. The answer is always the same...

"Every GOOD and PERFECT gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, neither shadow of turning."  James 2:17

YOU ARE GOOD.  You know what's best for me and you are so good that, IF something were good for me, you would give it to me.  If something is not good for me, You will withhold that thing, no matter how much I beg, steal or borrow to get it, because YOU ARE GOOD.

David says in Psalms 119:75 "I KNOW, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me."

God had afflicted David in faithfulness.  That's a hard pill to swallow.  Sometimes affliction is the good thing that you will give to me.  Sometimes instead of getting a shining, colorful piece of candy, you hand me a stinking glass of apple cider vinegar...  cuz that's really what's good for me. 

No matter what though if I trust that you are good I can rest assured that...

"Blessed be the LORD, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." Psalms 68:19

You are good.  It's hard for me to remember that when you tell me no and withhold from me something that I "think" I want.  You know better than I do.  You know what that thing will eventually cost me.  You know better than I do...  Help me remember and believe that everything that you do is for my good!!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

I Just Want to be HAPPY.

Maybe if I had a new car, I could be happy.  Maybe if I had new clothes, I could be happy.  Maybe if my kids would listen.  Maybe if I had a glamorous career, or my kids were in school, or if I had her body or those friends or maybe when my kids are grown or wait maybe I want another baby.  I just want to be happy.  I don't want to feel discontent and longing for everything in the world.  WHY DO I FEEL THIS WAY???

I know I shouldn't feel this way.  I have everything I have ever wanted.  My girlhood dreams may not have been yours, but this is what I wanted when I was a little girl.  I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I wanted 5 children.  I wanted to be a wife.  In fact my reality is even more amazing than my girlhood fantasies, and yet I find myself feeling discontent most of the time.  They say you can't have it all and that is true, but does that mean we have to mourn for the rest of our lives the things that we chose not to have?

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: BUT envy the rottenness of the bones."

I don't know how long I've been in this funk, but it's been a while, and I'm sick of myself.  I know that I have absolutely no justification for feeling so unhappy.  I have a good life.  So, obviously being happy has nothing to do with what we do have or don't have.  Happiness must be a state of mind. 

Proverbs 17:17 says, "A merry heart does good like medicine, BUT a broken spirit dries the bones."

Proverbs 15:15 says, "All the days of the afflicted are evil; BUT he that has a merry heart has a continual feast."

Could it really be that simple?  If you see yourself as afflicted all you days will seem evil... even the good ones?  If you have a cheerful heart every day seems like a feast?  Can having a cheerful heart really be as good as medicine?  Can it change the way we view our life?  Famine or feast?  Is it really up to us?

Is being JOYFILLED as simple as being GRATEFULL???  I think it might be. 

Is it me or is the sun shining brighter this morning?  Are the birds singing sweeter?  Is my husband sexier and smarter than he was yesterday?  Are my children more adorable this morning?  Does the food on the table taste better? 

A few weeks ago I decided that instead of being a petulant, ungrateful, whiny child, I would get up and have a praise session.  I would praise the Lord for every single thing that I could think of.  The next day I got up and did that again.  I left my requests out and just spent time thanking God for anything I could think of.  The next day I got up and did the same thing.  All the sudden I had a new pep in my step.  I had more energy to put in my life and relationships.  I felt a calmness creep in my soul and that grew into a sense of contentment which turned into pure joy.  Nothing had changed.  In fact some things happened that would normally drive me into a pity party, but not this time.  My heart is full and I feel good. 

King Solomon, who was the wisest man who ever lived, says he gave himself to anything his eyes desired, but he came away with this...

"Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. Let you garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil.  Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which he has given you under the sun, all the days of your life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might.."  Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

God now accepts your works...  has the meaning that God wants you to enjoy your life.  His will is for people to enjoy the simple things in life and be thankful.  Being thankful for all the simple pleasures in life and keeping our eyes focused on our own lives and not what other people have is the key to being JOYFILLED.  Being happy has nothing to do with having more or different, but  trusting God that whatever he has given me is everything I need.  Turning my eyes from what I don't have to what I do have and being excessively grateful for the blessings that have come from His hand. 

"Blessed be the Lord, who DAILY loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." Psalms 68:19

Monday, November 14, 2016

Distraction of Depression

I never thought it would be me.  I have always been a fairly happy, go with the flow kind of person.  Never one to get down and stay down too long.  If ever I was down in the dumps one of those good cries where you're wiping snot off with your sleeve and your head aches for 2 days after, would be good enough for me.  I would wake up every morning feeling like it was a new, fresh start.  I would ridicule and mock those who struggled with depression, quoting verses and giving a pat on the back, with little sympathy for their situation.  That is until depression snuck up on me and would not go away.  All the sudden I had a new found empathy for people who couldn't just shake it off.  All the sudden I could see that you can literally have everything you've ever wanted and know exactly how blessed you are... and still be sad. 

I can't speak for everyone.  I won't pretend to have any answers.  I know that the reasons for depression are many and varied.  This is just a post coming from someone who has been sad a time or two and who has found comfort in God's Word.

Throughout the Bible you will see many examples of people who have suffered from bouts of sadness.  People who were used by God in big ways to do amazing things, but also suffered from seasons of sadness.  I could give you many examples, the one we all know best is Job and there is a lot to glean from Job's life or even Hannah distraught because the Lord had closed her womb.  Jonah when God gave him a mission that he didn't want.  David grieving over the loss of his infant son.  Sarah waiting a lifetime for a son and not seeing that promise fulfilled.  There are many examples in the Bible, but the one I want to focus on today is Elijah.

Elijah was a powerful prophet of God.  Throughout the story of his life in 1 Kings we see many examples of Elijah calling down miracles from heaven.  Bringing a young man back from the dead, commanding a 3 year drought and standing strong against an evil King and his more evil wife.  We see him call down fire from heaven in a contest to prove who is the one, true God.  We see him slay the 450 false prophets of Baal.  We see him pray and God send the rain...  But as is God's way we see Elijah's humanity and weakness.  After a huge victory and miraculous display of God's power we see Elijah run and hide. 

I Kings 19:4-5 "But He himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and requested for himself that he might die; and said 'It is enough; now, O, Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.  And he lay down under a juniper tree and slept..."

Elijah had just witnessed God display his power in an extraordinary way.  He had just had a great personal victory and where do we see him next?  Running and hiding and laying down and begging for God to bring the end.  I would die laughing right here at the absurdity, if I had not done the same thing myself too many times to count. 

God sends an angel to comfort Elijah.  The angel says "Arise and eat." and a second time encourages Elijah to arise and eat and then the Angel says "because the journey is too great for you."

Sometimes the journey is too great for us.  God himself says we can't do it in our own strength.  Sometimes the pain is too great.  Sometimes the situation is more than we can bear.  I've heard it said God won't give you more than you can bear, but in this verse we see that the angel acknowledges that this is too much for Elijah. 

Maybe you have felt that way before?  Maybe you feel that way now.  You really don't know how you can keep going.  You're tired of fighting.  You're tired of trying.  You just want to lay down and rest awhile.  God knows. 

The angel touched him, and said unto him, "Arise and eat." And he looked and there in front of him was a cake baked on coals and  a jar of water.  And He ate and drank and laid down again. 

I believe that bread and water represents Christ.  The Bible says that Jesus is the bread of life and the living water.  I believe that for us who are in Christ there are times and seasons where the journey is too great.  Times where people will tell you to just get over it.  Times where the only thing that sustains us is the Spirit of God who dwells within us.  Sometimes comfort comes outside of ourselves because we can not bear to go on.  Sometimes the urge to lay down is too great.  But just like Elijah we still have a journey to take.  We still have things we have to do.  It's not time to lay down just yet.  Heaven and being with God sounds so much better than keeping on going, but it's not time to stop. 

I'm thankful that God is faithful to continue to pursue me just as he did with Elijah.  Elijah ran, but God found him.  Elijah gave up, but God comforted him and provided for his physical needs and gave him the strength to go on.  God was faithful to Elijah and God has been faithful to me when I would rather lay down and die. 

2 Cor 1:3-4 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the FATHER OF MERCIES, and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT; Who comforts us in all of our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted."

He comforts us so that we can comfort others.  God has allowed me to go through seasons of sadness so that I can better understand how to comfort those who are going through the same thing.  He has allowed me to feel the weight and burden of brokenness, so that I can better understand those who feel weighted down and heavy burdened.

You can see that Elijah got focused on himself.  He got distracted from his mission when he focused on how all of this was personally affecting him.  That's a natural, human response, but it's not the right one.  I believe that's what happens to me.  I am going along on my journey, trying to fulfill my mission and all the sudden I get distracted by how much this is costing me, then I get depressed and I lay down.  How easily it is for me to forget that I still have a mission. 

As I said in the beginning, I know there are many reasons for depression and this doesn't apply to many of you.  Some of your depression is physical or results from painful things that have happened to you in the past.  I feel your pain as well.  God wants to comfort you in your pain.  I don't want you to think that I think it's a simple matter... because it absolutely is not.  However, many times for myself, Elijah and many others depression creeps in on me when I turn my focus inward.