27 February 2014

Intentional Sacrifice

**Intentional Sacrifice: Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible?**

As I read the chapter 17 in Made To Crave (The Very Next Choice We Make), I found I needed to understand what sustainable means.  Its a word I've used over my life time but never put it and discipline together.  Do you know what I'm saying?  We are looking at "maintainable" discipline. We are looking at an "encouraging" discipline.  Is it even possible to "maintain" such a discipline?  Is it possible to "maintain" discipline when it comes to the food in my life?

Well, to answer that question, I need to look at the other disciplines in my life.  Is it possible for Vivian to have sustainable discipline when it comes to other choices?  YES!

Why?

1)  I don't want to rotate men in and out of my children's lives, therefore, I choose NOT to bar hop, pick up any Tom or Harry that gives me some sort of attention.

2) I don't want to displease God who has been so faithful in providing for me!  I know there's not a man who can fill me nor complete me the way God can. If He wills for me to marry someday, He'll make it happen.  If He doesn't want me to marry, then contently single I'll remain! :)

There's other disciplines I maintain too!  Each one of these isn't by my own strength!  Each one has two part accountability.  There is God's Holy Spirit and then there is a person or people I do not wish to disappoint.  It's God's Holy Spirit Who gives me the strength and reminds me there is something better in store for me when I choose to listen to His guidance, teachings, and shepherding.  It's family, both my physical family and my spiritual family, who love me and want the best for me and I want the best for them.

So, why can't I have a sustainable discipline with food?  All I have to do is apply the same concept!

1) I'm powerless on my own and need to rely on God's special gift ... The Holy Spirit.
2) I want to be around for my children's future stuff: graduations, weddings, even their children
3) I want to show God's faithfulness to others but I also want to show my faithfulness to Him; I want to be faithful to God's promptings and walk in His Spirit.
4) I want to be strong (physically) enough to help my elderly mother; and to help her quit worrying about my weight ... it really stresses her out because she knows I'm destined to have what she and my siblings have: heart disease and diabetes.  My mother has NEVER been over weight BUT if she were, she wouldn't be able to keep her blood/sugar in check.
5) I want to present my body as a living sacrifice to God.  (I heard a joke about living sacrifices!  "The problem with living sacrifices is they crawl off the alter!" LOL Oh, how many times have I crawled off the alter?)  A living sacrifice pretty much means what have I been willing to give up for Jesus Christ?  If I were to be thrown in prison because of my faith ... And the guards rolled in this tray of good smelling food ... And said "In order to eat till your stomach is content, deny Jesus Christ" ... Would I be able to withstand the smells, the growling stomach, and say "Jesus is my Savior and LORD!"  OR "Would I deny Jesus just to be able to eat?"  Well ... I won't be able to withstand that temptation in prison if I can't withstand that temptation now!!

What choices do I need to make?

1) I need to plan my days better! Have bananas, apples, or something healthy to reach for when I am hungry but it's not time to eat the full meal
2) Don't buy junk food to be in the house that triggers my nose.
3) Breads.  I LOVE BREADS! Name it!  Know what my two favorites are?  Pizza crust from like Domino's or Papa John's.  AND Those croissant rolls from Sam's Club!  Those are the top 2!! So, don't buy them! LOL  If I have only one, I can't stop at one.  
4) When making choices, include God in the decision making.  Pray.  When the cravings hit, pray.
5) One of the things I struggle with is scripture memory. I have managed to memorize some verses BUT what I have found is when the cravings hit, the brain shuts down. Keep scripture cards or verses written in a handy dandy purse size or pocket size book. Keep "go to scripts" on me at all times.  When the cravings hit and the brain can only recall John 3:16, I can whip out another verse to go with it! Especially here in the beginning stages!

I love how people say "God will do ALL  the work".  Well, that's only partly true. There is something I have to do.  I have to make the choice, the intentional sacrificial choice, to obey God.  It's a contract. IF I'm willing to live in obedience and mercy, He's willing to give me the strength to live in obedience and mercy.  
3. Intentional Sacrifice ~ Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible? - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.veeX00YO.dpuf
3. Intentional Sacrifice ~ Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible? - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.veeX00YO.dpuf
3. Intentional Sacrifice ~ Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible? - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.veeX00YO.dpuf
3. Intentional Sacrifice ~ Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible? - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.veeX00YO.dpuf
3. Intentional Sacrifice ~ Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible? - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.veeX00YO.dpuf
3. Intentional Sacrifice ~ Lysa talks about lasting, sustainable discipline and the importance of making one wise choice after another. What will this look like for you after our study ends? Do you believe it is possible? - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.veeX00YO.dpuf

19 February 2014

#Beneficial

The nice thing about Thursday's Blog Hop with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study is ... there are 4 topics to choose from. I always think "I'll go with ____" and then change my mind last minute!

When you think of "beneficial", what comes to mind?  What images does it project on the movie screen set up in the back of your brain?  Does it conjure the thought "What do I get out of doing this?"  What? That sounds selfish doesn't it? Well ... that's okay!  Know why? God wants us to benefit from Him being our Daddy!

Beneficial means "producing good or helpful results" OR try this one on for size! "receiving or entitling one to receive advantage, use, or benefit"

Here's what I'm learning.  Because of who I am in Christ, I receive an advantage from God to do THIS life!  That "advantage" is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the "ace up my sleeve", "the 8-ball in the corner pocket", "the secret ingredient of the family recipe".  The Holy Spirit is about "producing good" fruit in me and a slice of that fruit is self-control (Galatians 5).

On Sunday, I lost a lot of weight.  I was on my treadmill, listening to my iPod.  I'd raise the incline, lower the incline. Speed up, slow down.  The tunes landed on "White Flag" by Chris Tomlin.  As I listened to the song and huffed along ("huffing" not "singing"), I found that I had cranked the treadmill up to 4.5 (speed).  At 3.8, I'm at a very fast walk or jog, 4.0 my short legs have a hard time keeping up so I have to move them in a running fashion. I'm at 4.5 changing the words to personalize the song "I raise my white flag, I surrender all to You, all to You. I raise my white flag this war with food is over ... I'm tired of fighting and it winning .. It's over, over". I was stomping my foot down and I think my treadmill thought I was going to kill it!  In that moment, it was like the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders and I heard a Voice tell me to cut the speed down a bit.  The Voice I know full well because I have heard this Voice speak in my heart many a time over the last 10 years ... that nudge, that push from the Holy Spirit.  For the first time in years, I feel free!  For the first time in years, I do not feel trapped by food!

Self-control / Self-discipline, whatever you want to call it is 1) A slice of the fruit of the Holy Spirit and 2) It's only beneficial if I choose to do it.  Self-discipline is embracing the boundaries God is setting up for me and not seeing them as a bunch of rules to keep me from enjoying His delicious gifts BUT seeing them as beneficial to me.  Boundaries to be more aware of what I'm eating, how much I'm eating, when I'm eating.  Boundaries to say "no" to certain activities that rob me of not just exercising my body but that rob me of exercising my spirit ... those quiet alone time moments at the feet of Jesus!

God doesn't want to starve us of good things. And I think the best way to see following God's ways are beneficial for us is to end this little blog with His Words of Truth ...

 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

For He satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9 (NIV)


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)

12 February 2014

My Pity Party

The Question .... "What clues you into the fact that you are relying on your own strength in your battles with food (or any other struggle)?"

**Edited** I didn't like what I wrote so I'm starting over.

I like what Lysa says about a pity party.  However, after I have had some time to think about what my clues are I have a better answer.

One day not long ago, I had "one of those days" where I had left my Bible home. I have this handy dandy New Living Translation that IS perfect to pack around. At work, I'm a custodian and I have to wear a smock. The smock has BIG pockets and I slide that handheld, large pocket sized Bible down in it. That way I always have God's Word with me.  When on break of any kind (including potty break), I can read it. I don't always read it but CAN read it. Just knowing it's within reach settles the ole brain. So, my Bible was at home.  It was also a day when EVERY minute felt like it was consumed by "other things".  Name it! I bet it was distracting me, bidding for my attention. I didn't pray as much.  By the end of the day, I was feeling "mean".  Tired. Exhausted. All I wanted to do was go home and go to bed and forget the day had existed.  That did NOT happen!

Long story short, I blew up at my son! Monster Mom came out with a vengeance! Should he have been disciplined? Yes. Should I have acted the way I acted? No.

I was running on empty. I hadn't taken time with God most of the day.  I did my morning prayers and devotional but that was it! When you think about it, we are told to eat 3 healthy meals a day and have 2 or 3 healthy snacks in between. What makes us think we can make it all day on just ONE meal with our God?  If we are suppose to eat (healthy) through out the day to keep our physical strength up, shouldn't we be feasting on God's Word and God's Presence through out the day so we are NOT relying on our own strength to carry us through out the day?

My signs are: frustration, irritability, lack of control of the tongue.  I can have pit parties but when I really step back and look at how I respond on a day when I haven't spent time, that precious time with my Savior and LORD, I see where things "get on my nerves" more ... I can see my tolerance level is a lot lower ... I can see how my tongue lashes out at people closest to me.  These are ALL signs that I have relied on my own strength through out the day ... PERIOD. I don't care if it is food choices, shopping choices, name it ... I've lived on my own strength for that day and it has WORE me out!

When it comes to food, I think I'm past the pity party stage. I don't care there are skinnier women out there.  The only thing that bothers me is the stupid commercials for ChristianMingle.com and Eharmony.com.  They always use these slimmer men and women for the ads.  Instead of having a pity party like I use to, I now get a little upset.  Why can't they show the plus size woman or man finding her/his match?  Not only that ... how can it be a successful match until they've been married 10 to 15 years at least? Most first time marriages end after 7 years. .... Oh, wait ... That's ANOTHER blog! And as you can see ... that is how Vivian ends up relying on her own strength instead of focusing on Jesus and what He wants me to do NOT focusing on how lame those commercials are.  It's THAT fast folks! The second we take our eyes off Jesus and put our focus on something else, we begin relying on our strength and that will wear us out each time.    

09 February 2014

Discipline, Self-Control

Why is it we do not realize our physical health is reflection of our spiritual health?  I'm not referring to heart disease, cancer, cataracts on the eyes.  I'm referring to our weight.  I can hear you already! "Vivian, you are one to be talking! Your WAY over weight!" Well, that's why I'm talking about it because I'm making that connection!

For the first time in my adult life, I am making a connection between my eating/exercise lifestyle to my spiritual health.  It all started with A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. There were some hard questions in a section of that book!  And I purchased Lose It For Life. There are some hard questions in that book too!  Questions that asked about my hurts and pains of the past.

Before we go any further, I realize some folks struggle with a real medical issue that causes weight to come on as well.  Do not feel this post is "one more put down about over weight people".  First off, I AM OVERWEIGHT!  I'm 110 pounds over healthy weight thank you very much!

Why am I over weight? How did I get here?  I found out why.  I never surrendered part of my heart to God. I THOUGHT I had!! I prayed to Him.  I asked Him to heal those hurts, pains, betrayals, and such.  However, I kept playing the victim over and over again.  I'd lay my troubled heart on the alter and before getting up I'd snatch it back.  I'd really like to blame my evil twin because I don't recall picking that junk back up.  Just one problem, I don't have an evil twine ... I don't even have a twin!  So, it's all me.

The first time I heard a connection between physical discipline being a part of spiritual discipline was in a web cast through Discipleship.org. I was listening to Mark A Maddix speak on Spiritual Formation. I heard it. I didn't get it.  There was a seed planted there.  A seed planted.  I received the Email with the talk's power points. I read through them. Liked his tweaked version of the definitions of spiritual formation.  It didn't sink in! Here it is ...

“Spiritual Formation is a process of being transformed into Christlikeness, through communal practices and participation in the “means of grace,” while giving attention to the care of self, which is demonstrated in loving others and being actively engaged in God’s redemption of all humans and creation.”
      Mark A. Maddix, 2011
 I did the Proverbs 31 "Yes to God" Online Bible Study.  Then came "A Confident Heart".  There was one section that really hit home and made me realize there were things in my heart that I hadn't surrendered to God.  One day, I was walking around LifeWay Store. I wondered into the "dieting" section and this title jumped out at me "Lose It For Life".  I took the book off the shelf. Went to the comfy chairs, sat down, and read the introduction.  Know what?  It affirmed what I was reading in "A Confident Heart"!  So, I bought it.  It too asked some tough questions.  There is one whole page marked with all my hurts, pains, betrayals.  God was like "Vivian, I want those. I want to redeem those."

Now, I'd like to say I laid them all down right then and there.  Sometimes when something has been in our heart so long, it grows a huge tap root.  These weren't things I could just surrender ... There were things I needed help surrendering!!  I needed the Holy Spirit to take a grubbing hole, pick ax, and post hole digger to my heart!  This junk had taken root!  A deep root!  This stuff is the stuff that set me on searching for comfort, love, escape.  This stuff is the stuff that drove me to food.  This is the stuff that the enemy has used for years to keep my trapped.  As long as I was trapped by this stuff, I couldn't experience the fullness of God's presence.  I needed help!  Fortunately, I knew who to turn to.  God hadn't left me to do this on my own.  He wanted to dig that root out as much as I wanted help getting it removed!  Once I saw that stuff still had a hold on me, I prayed!  People, it don't got me NO MO! (Yes, I worded it just like that on purpose!)

However, I'm left with the habits.  The habit of turning to food and not God.  Which brings me to Made to Crave study through Proverbs 31 Online Study.  I have to be retrained.  I have to be reprogrammed. My weight is evidence of my struggle.  I didn't put it on over night and it will not come off over night.  It will require discipline!  It will require self-control! Do you know what those two things are?  Fruit of the Holy Spirit.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:19-25 (NIV)
 
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG) 

I know this is what God is wanting me to do.  This week end, I received more affirmation!  Folks, there IS a connection to our choices and our spiritual health/development.  Don't give me a legalistic check list "Well, I don't drink or get drunk. I don't sleep around. I don't smoke. I go to church 3 times a week. I attend every Bible Study offered."  The question is ... What is Jesus asking you to give up to follow Him?  Consider this  passage in Luke:

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:18-23 (NIV)

Do you see the list Jesus gave this fellow?  "You know the commandments ...."  The fellow must have been excited!  "All these I have kept since I was a boy."  But then Jesus busted his bubble.  This fellow had something, longed for something, craved something more than he wanted "to inherit eternal life".  The question is ... What is it Jesus is telling you to give up to have a closer walk with Him?  What is it that Jesus sees in your life that you desire more than you desire Him? Those are questions only you can answer!  Maybe it is shopping.  When you have argued with your spouse, kids, or co-worker you feel the the need to have a shopping trip?  Maybe it's television or movies.  When you have had a stressful day, do you feel the need to escape into a good story line from your favorite TV series?  When you are frustrated and find yourself wringing your hands, do you search the cabinet for something to eat?  What do you turn to FIRST in time of trouble, sorrow, stress, anxiety, frustrations? Whatever that is ... that is probably what Jesus is telling you to give up.  ANYTHING WE PUT FIRST BEFORE GOD, IS WHAT GOD IS GOING TO ASK FOR! If you by-pass God for shopping, for entertainment, for sex, for food, for scrapbooking, for beer, for cigarette, for church activities (yep, busy life at church sometimes is our drug of choice), etc; God wants.  This is something only God and the individual can work on.  It's different for each one of us.  Mine happens to be food and entertainment.  God wants them both!

I'm empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Am I human? Yes.  Will I slip up?  Probably.  I hate to say "no" and find myself wolfing down the donuts at church this AM!  Temptation will be waiting for me as soon as I open those glass, double doors! I like what Chapter 8 in Made to Crave spoke about ... Delight in obedience.  The Holy Spirit and I are going to take this one day at a time.

Which I'll leave you with this video ... "One Day At A Time"

05 February 2014

Delighting In Obedience?

Is THAT even possible? To "delight in obedience"?

YES!

When the kids' father and I divorced, we "dated" for a little while afterward.  I use the word "dated" loosely. There was a part of me that wanted to put our family back together.  I wanted to provide my children with a "whole" family ... complete with Mom and Dad ... Dad and Mom.  Then something happened that scared me to death!  The kids' father and I had sex. Yes! You read that right!  We had sex outside the bonds of marriage.  The little voice inside my head kept saying "It's ok. He was your husband. Aren't you still married in the eyes of God?"  Then there was another voice. A disappointed voice ... "You AREN'T married now."

For 3 days God did not talk to me.  Want to know what Hell on Earth is like?  Folks, I can tell you!  It is not hearing God's Voice.  Not being in God's presence.  It is a black moment when God is hurt and disappointed.  I cried. I begged. I pleaded.  When God opened up to me and spoke, it was stern, "matter of fact", and to the point.  "Who provided means for you to get your car?  Who provided you means to purchase much needed clothing? Who has put a roof over your head and food on your table? Who provided you the job you have? Who has opened the flood gates of Heaven and poured out blessings on you and has showered you with true love?"

Now, to some ... that might not sound like God.  If you ever read the book of Job, you'll find a Voice just like that! God will be honest with us!  At that point, I didn't care about how He sounded like a stern Father or a jealous Lover!  I was so happy He was talking to me!

I had a problem.  How would I get out of the tangled mess I was finding myself in?  How was I going to avoid becoming the woman of "yesterday" again?

Obedience!  Complete surrender of my desires ... that desire to be in a physical relationship.  That desire for "me to fix my family".  ALL my thoughts about what a perfect family is and should be surrendered.

I delight in obeying God because I have found when God says "Don't do ?????",  He is looking out for my best interest!  I have found when God says "Go ahead, do ??????", He is looking out for my best interest!  Obeying God isn't about ALL  this list of things I have to give up, it is about trusting God knows better than me.  I have also discovered when I disobey God, I find myself in a world of crazy mess!  Sometimes its not even the story I have described.  It can be as simple as allowing the busy to take over my prayer life.  I had that happen not long ago and my reaction at the end of the day didn't reveal a woman who walks in delightful obedience to the Living God! I'm not sure who that woman was THAT day! Some kind of ugly!

Now ... what I talked about at the beginning of this post IS  a long time ago! I'm not defined by that moment. Even the other day when "the ugly" came out, I'm not defined by that moment either. However, I'm at a new place.  Food and entertainment do not define me either!!  God is calling me out to trust Him and lean on Him even more!  I will delight in obedience to God's will and desires because He IS trustworthy, IS faithful, and DOES know what is best for me.  It's time to surrender the gods in my life that keep me from experiencing the full Presence of God. When I find myself in a stressful situation and I choose whatever food is available to consume for comfort, that is me by-passing God and choosing food over Him.  When I have had a long day and I don't want to deal with what is going on at home and I choose to lose myself in several episodes on Netflix, that is me by-passing God and choosing entertainment as an escape instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus and finding rest.  God is now saying "Vivian, it's time.  It's time to take our relationship up several steps. You are able to do it! I've been with you through many other hard patterns to break and I WILL be with you now. It's time. I want to tear down the idols on the shelf of your heart."

I was only going to share part of Isaiah 55. However, the whole chapter is more fitting! If you don't have time to read the whole thing, read the the bold parts:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

01 February 2014

I Am ... You are ..

Saw this on Facebook and had to share! I do know who should get credit, just know it's not mine. 


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