Receiving Jesus

Posted by admin on January 2, 2015 under Encouraging Words, Journey Through John | Be the First to Comment

I woke up early, determined to start my day with Scripture reading and prayer.  So I reread some journal entries from a special retreat last summer with Soul Shepherding ministry leader Dr. Bill Gaultierre–the retreat where I heard this word from the Lord: “Be Christ to your husband.”

Since that retreat, I had surgery to remove a possibly cancerous tumor from my left leg (but it was not cancer, thank You, Lord), then hospitalization for cellulitis in that leg, an allergic reaction to antibiotics that sent me to the ER, and numerous doctor visits to try to close a deep hole from the incision.  Meanwhile, my husband suffered increasing disability from spinal compression, was in the hospital nearly a month after spine surgery, my dad fell and broke his hip, and my sister discovered her Stage IV cancer.  We also celebrated in subdued fashion Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

How did I deal with all this?  By the Lord’s grace, I relied on Him for a good measure of strength and patience, but not all.  I also turned back to Egypt, to food for comfort, and gained a good deal of weight.  I spent mindless time sitting around in front of the TV or the computer.  Now I have to get back in a program. But I need more than a program.  I need more than a miraculous healing of the hole in my leg or the holes in my heart.

I need You, Lord.

How often I have read these words with amazement:  “He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him.  He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” John 1:10-11

But, truth be told, I too, His own, do not always recognize Him or thank Him for His Presence, for His creating, saving work in my life. I do not always receive Him.  Instead, I suck in the world and try to fill myself with its emptiness.  Yet I am Your child, Father, and You are always with me.

Heavenly Father, cleanse me anew today.  Fill me with Your Spirit, with Your HPIM0146.JPGgrace and truth, Lord Jesus.  Make me a fit residence for my King.  Let me receive You in a new way in this new year, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Oops!

Posted by admin on January 7, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

The number on the digital scale flashed up at me–Oops!  Even though I worked out on the treadmill in the icy atmosphere of the garage, those two fig bars and the extra handful of nuts confronted me. Not to mention the bread sticks and salty soup at the Olive Garden.  Or the extra piece of cheese.  Or . . . .

I wrote down every calorie I consumed, but  I missed my weight loss goal for the New Year.  Alas!  I was too confident, even cocky. 

I have lost 80 lbs., donated my plus-size clothes to charity, and trashed a chocolate cake that tempted me.  But I still ate too much during the holidays. 

That ominous verse reverberated in my head: “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12 HCSB)

For the past two weeks, I let go of my support system–the weekly report and phone call with my weight loss counselor.  I can do this on my own, I thought.  As the days progressed, I regressed from taking thought to being thoughtless.  I lost my focus on the Lord, self-discipline, and healthy, balanced living.  Celebration turned to self-indulgence, self-pity, and self-deprecation.  Self, self, self, the prison of self.

Like a toddler who has fallen on her head, I can only crawl back to the Father.  Take my hands, Abba.  Help me up.  I can walk again with Your guidance.  With my eyes on You, I can reach the goal.

Some time in the future, when I lose all my fat, I won’t need to report in every week to a counselor.  My healthy habits will be more habitual.  But I will always need a support system of family, friends, and wise counselors–and I will always need to rely on my Daddy.

Maybe you too are experiencing frustration over goals, resolutions, habits, sins, and failings. 

The Lord is compassionate.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13)

What is that way of escape?  The renewal of our hearts and minds.   

“Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. . . put on the new self who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator. . . And let the peace of the Messiah control your hearts.  Be thankful.” (Colossians 3:2,10,15)

Ah, that is the key.  Be thankful.  Be content.  The Lord is in control.  God-power, not just will-power.  I am satisfied in Him. 

So be it, Father, so be it.  Amen. 

 

      1. Kids Sing For Every Prison There's a Door
  a song about the way of escape!

Losing It

Posted by admin on November 24, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

I used to pig out all the way from Christmas through New Year’s. 

This season, so far, I am thankfully aware of a new attitude–a curious detachment from food.  I cooked and ate my favorites–turkey with cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, corn pudding, fruit salad, pecan pie. 

But I also carried a plain baked yam and seasoned green beans to the family feast.  The yam and green beans filled half my plate; then I added small portions of everything else.  I skipped the rolls, pumpkin muffins, and some other things.  I enjoyed my pecan pie.

After dinner I walked on the treadmill for sixty minutes.  When I headed for bed, I didn’t even think about a midnight snack. 

I threw out some food.  The few leftovers in my refrigerator are unusually quiet–not one of them is shouting my name. 

What a relief!  Hallelujah!  I feel satisfied.

People who aren’t food addicts or compulsive overeaters might not identify with my astonishment.  

I stare at my old plus-size pants in amazement.  How did I get so fat?  Like the compulsion that drives shoppers to trample each other on Black Friday, I always wanted more.  I thought more meant better.  As a child without parents, I tried to fill the lonely spaces and relieve depression with more food and more things .  Later I excused myself  by saying all the excess was for others, for my kids.  But I was the one who gained the weight, and I was the one who had to pay the bills when I spent too much at Christmas.

Eighty (yes, 80) pounds ago I went through chemo and radiation for breast cancer.  Afterward, I was swollen with steroids and crippled with sciatica.  Finally in remission, I didn’t want to take my health for granted anymore.  Obesity is strongly linked to cancer and the recurrence of cancer.  So I researched the best diets available and put myself on a hand-crafted one.  I lost 40 pounds–but then started gaining it back. 

God, help me! I prayed.  I didn’t want to die fat. 

My prayers were answered when I got into the UCSD ENERGY study, a behavioral modification program for breast cancer survivors.   I made a commitment to write down everything I ate.  I started exercising.  I learned to count calories and plan ahead.  At every session I learned more and more of the keys to freedom.  I am a slow learner and a slow loser, but my goal weight is now in sight!

Here are 12 weight-loss “secrets” that I follow every day:

1.  Calories do count.  When I eat less than than I need to maintain my weight, I lose.  For an older woman, the formula is body weight times 12.  For example, a woman who weighs 200 lbs. would multiply 200 x 12.   She needs 2,400 calories to maintain her weight.  If she eats 500 fewer calories a day, she will lose one pound a week.  (It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound.) 

2.  Exercise really is the magic bullet.  I started with five minutes; now I walk at least sixty minutes almost daily plus light weights and stretching.  I’m looking forward to taking dance classes or zumba.  The trick is finding something you really like to do.  Sitting is a killer.

3.  Be accountable.  Write down everything you eat; use an online program like www.CalorieKing.com or the Calorie King book to figure out calories.  Adhere to portion sizes; measure and weigh your food.  Be honest; snacks and nibbles have calories too.  Don’t buy treats that tempt.  Box up half your restaurant entree for another day.  Pay attention to that elusive feeling of “enough.”

4.  Eat what you like, but plan ahead.  I take a protein bar and water bottle in my purse to the movies.  On the way to a restaurant, I eat an apple.  Almost every day I eat the same breakfast –an egg white, veggie omelet with whole wheat toast and apple butter.  This fills me up with protein and fiber.  I write this down and then plan lunch and dinner.  I even plan for desserts and snacks. 

5.  Weigh daily.  Research shows that daily weigh-ins lead to greater weight loss.  Write your weight in a notebook with food intake and calories.  Don’t be discouraged if weight goes up a bit or plateaus.  If you are faithful to reduce calories, eventually you will lose.

6.  Eat healthy.  Enjoy a few healthy fats a day, like half an avocado or a few nuts.  I substitute healthy sweets like fruit, low-sugar ice cream, or gingersnaps.  I don’t go hungry.  (In the beginning I ate formerly forbidden foods, like cookies.  But I wrote it down–two cookies, 170 calories.  Now I usually want something more substantial for that many calories.) 

7.  Add color (antioxidants, fiber) to your diet with at least 5 vegetables and 2 fruits a day–red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple!

8.  Make sure you sleep 7-8 hours a day.  I am a night owl, but I am learning the hard way that less sleep = less weight loss. 

9.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  I work on this one–drinking more water and less coffee or tea (which do have great antioxidant properties when consumed without milk or cream).

10. Don’t go solo.  Enlist a support group–family members to encourage (not nag), a weight loss/exercise partner, a prayer partner.  Join a proven weight loss program or a research study.  There are many studies underway for diabetics, heart disease patients, and more.

11. Diversify and distract yourself!  Instead of eating, do something else you enjoy–exercise, shopping, spending time with family and friends, journaling, making music, sightseeing.  As Jesus said, “Is not life more than food?” (Matthew 6:25)

12.  Finally, forgive yourself.  I am sorry that my overeating perhaps contributed to my cancer.  But I asked the Lord to help me lose weight,  and I am winning the battle.  I am proud of my efforts and grateful to God, my family, my doctors, my friends, and the leaders and ladies of the ENERGY study.  My “fat” photos still hang around the house, because I am not ashamed of who I was.  I just don’t want to be that heavy again.  When I mess up and relapse, I forgive myself.  I say a prayer and start anew.  I refuse to go back to my old habits.

Four years ago I was lugged up the steps in a wheelchair to join the family Thanksgiving feast.  I was in the middle of chemo and radiation; I felt terrible.  Today I am so thankful for life.  Losing 80 pounds is a victory I could hardly imagine–physical, emotional, and spiritual.  It is one of the surprisingly good things that came out of my cancer.

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)

Less of Me

Posted by admin on March 28, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

March, 2012

I have been obese since I was 28, when depression hit me and I found comfort in the kitchen.  I tried weight loss programs, overeaters, and recovery groups with mixed success.  Hearing all those sad stories just made me head for McDonalds!

I wanted to lose weight for many reasons.  As a Christian, I knew some people would look at me and be distracted by my fat.  Either they would feel sorry for me and figure I had a problem, or they would judge me.  I didn’t want food to be an idol in my life.

Over the years I talked with Christian counselors who helped me face deep issues of loss that led to my eating disorder.  I began to let God bring all the dark things into the light.  It was a big step when I told my husband what I weighed. 

I was still very heavy in 2008 when I walked out of a mammogram with a cancer diagnosis.

Losing weight became secondary to fighting cancer.  I was happy to I eat anything that didn’t taste like metal as I went through chemo and radiation.

Swollen with steroids, crippled by a bulging disc in my spine, I weighed in at 256 lbs. when I finished treatments.   

In recovery,  I have had to deal with other health challenges and the emotional issues common to cancer survivors.  I believed the Lord had healed me through my medical team, yet I still had anxiety. I was afraid I would return to my old way of dealing with problems.  So with fervent prayer and good counsel, I began to plan my meals.  I started exercising too.  Glory, hallelujah, the weight began dropping off.

What burned in my mind was this:  I want to be free.  I want to honor God in my body as the scriptures say:

“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” (Romans 6:12)

“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought at a price [the death of Jesus]; therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

However, after I lost about 40 pounds, I began to lose focus.  The scale started going in reverse.  I couldn’t get back into the program I had designed for myself.  Help, Lord! 

Then I saw a poster in a doctors office: a research study for breast cancer survivors.  It didn’t “pay,”  but the focus was diet and exercise.  I applied, prayed hard, and was selected “at random.”

In the program, I take responsibility for my weight by writing down calories, weighing daily, and exercising.  I substitute things I enjoy (prayer, memorizing scripture, exercise, writing, music, spending time with family and friends) for food.  I used to alternate between fastings and feeding-frenzies; now I eat at regular intervals and make good choices.  If I suddenly crave something when I am actually full, I can say no to it, pray, and do something else.  The craving doesn’t become a crisis.  I can offer it up to the Lord as a spiritual fast.

Once I had a craving for the caramel-pecan rolls I remembered from childhood.  I searched the internet to locate the restaurant that sells them.  Too far to drive.  But one day I was in the neighborhood.  Just coffee and a pecan roll; I’ll write down the calories.  The line of customers stretched through the store.  I cut through to the bakery case.  There was my desire.  HOW many calories?  No!  I really didn’t want to do that to myself.  At home, over a veggie omelet and whole wheat toast, I gave thanks–I don’t have to smother sorrows with sweets anymore.   

The Lord has used many wonderful people–husband, family, friends, doctors, counselors, nutritionists–to bring me more and more healing.  I am so grateful to them all.  But at rock bottom, I know it is the Lord Himself who has fathered me my whole life.  He has treated me as tenderly as a mother.  Psalm 27:10 expresses my life experience:  “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up.”

I am losing weight, but what I am gaining through cancer and this time of recovery is invaluable.  I know that I am greatly loved by the Lord and my family.   I used to run to the refrigerator to fill the emptiness when my husband was deployed.  Now I know Jesus is always with me.  I can run to Him, sing a praise song, remember His promises, and pray.  I don’t have to console myself with cookies.  But if I plan to have one, I eat and enjoy it!   The Lord has removed the shame.

Life is short.  I’m looking forward to trading in this old body for a new one.   Yet while I am in this “house,” as St. Paul puts it, I need to repair it and clean it up.   There are closets I don’t like to open, and the paint is peeling off.  But I don’t have to fix it in my own power; my Landlord is the master carpenter.   He promises to finish His work in me before He moves me into new quarters.  

 “For we know that if our earthly house, a tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  (2 Corinthians 4:1)

To God be the glory!

After Cancer Treatments, Summer, 2009

      1. Kids Sing Death

Song from my musical Pilgrim’s Progress.  This was recorded live at church in spring 2008 right after I received the cancer diagnosis.  I was the director; tears rolled down my cheeks as I rejoiced with those kids!