Renewing the Mind: One Year+ Later

It has been just over a year since I began seriously building the practice of daily renewing my mind, and what a year it has been! I had no idea where God was going to lead when I made that commitment last year (June 2015) and I’m still surprised.

Accountability

I’ve had the lovely privilege of talking with Barb Raveling and even going through a study on procrastination with her. She has been a wonderful support and graciously allowed me to host an online study group named after her book, Taste For Truth. That study group has morphed into an ongoing Support Group which the Lord continues to bless. I am so grateful for the fellowship and accountability I’ve found there as well.

God has provided a blessing through a weekly call with my mom to hold each other accountable to renewing our mind. I’m so thankful to call her my mother, sister-in-Christ, and friend.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. ~ Matthew 18:20 (KJV)

Opposition

When I frantically scribbled notes from the audio I mentioned in that first series, I couldn’t have known the opposition I would face from the enemy. My family went through what we are calling, “a series of unfortunate events” that spanned months. I know this was directly related to the progress the Lord was making in my spiritual life, but as usual, the enemy is no match for the Almighty.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4 (KJV)

Holding Boundaries with Open Hands

My boundaries have changed in several areas, but the most significant have been with food and the scale. What I thought were ideal boundaries for me, were not, and I’m not sure how long I would have followed a different (more frustrating) path had I not been renewing my mind on a regular basis and seeking God’s will for me personally.

Although, in my mind, I knew it wasn’t about the perfect keeping of my boundaries, it took some time for the Lord to transform how I viewed them. I finally stopped looking to them for “salvation” from my obese prison and other food related issues. I am far more open to allowing God to choose my boundaries because He knows what is best for me at this time.

With the scale, I am weighing again – two times a week. Once on my scale and once at my WW meeting (they are different days). I still struggle with scale issues, but I’m using this as an opportunity to renew my mind about that number and break the stronghold of scale worship.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. ~ Psalm 32:8 (KJV)

Tools for the Journey

In that first series, I listed a lot of tools I was using at that time. While I still use most of them, there have been some changes. For instance, I no longer read Have your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans TooThis has a lot to do with the boundary shift I mentioned above because my focus has changed and I think far less about “the perfect boundaries”. Also, I don’t view my boundaries as a “diet” anymore. God can use any set of boundaries He chooses to set the captives free. Who am I to limit Him, if I even could?

I have added other tools though:

  • Scripture Lullabies – LOVE these for creating a calming atmosphere while I work on other stuff. They are a great way to passively renew my mind with scripture about who God is, how much He loves me, and who I am in Christ. It is not uncommon for me to play these for hours at a time, very low, in the background of my day.
  • Taste for Truth – A fantastic book by Barb Raveling which walks the reader through building a renewing of the mind habit about food boundaries and other food related issues. Have done this study several times now.
  • Made to Crave – Another great book by Lysa Terkeurst. It is the book which inspired this blog many years ago but means even more to me since beginning to build a habit of renewing my mind daily. I read a bit here and there. It’s important not to get hung up on all the “healthy diet” speak in the book and focus on the meat and potatoes (going to God for His truth and to meet our needs). Of course, a healthy diet is important, but our boundaries need to be chosen by the Lord and not by what someone else is doing.
  • Scripture Typer – This is a scripture memory app. Currently I’m working on verses about Truth and the Armor of God. I can practice verses at any time during the day, but it will also prompt me to review.

TransformationButterfly_Beauty

God is transforming my heart and my mind in regard to food/weight/body image. Overall, I feel much more at peace about this area of my life. When I look in the mirror, I see fewer flaws than I ever have. This is a true blessing as I would often avoid mirrors and cameras if I could.

I am more likely to keep my boundaries than not. This isn’t because my boundaries are perfect, but because God is changing the way I think about food. I just don’t get as much enjoyment out of dancing about outside my boundaries as I used to. It feels more like punishing myself than “treating”. And who enjoys punishment? I don’t.

I use food far less for comfort than in the past. This doesn’t mean I never use it for comfort, it’s just much less because God is proving Himself a much better comfort.

I actually like renewing my mind. That’s right, there was a point when it felt like a chore and a time sucker. Now, I have to actually make myself move on with my day. Not every day of course, but more than not. I do still have days where I think, “Ugh, I don’t feel like renewing my mind right now.” Thankfully, those are few and are perfect opportunities to renew my mind about not wanting to renew my mind – ha!

I view exercise very differently. Exercise, for me, is no longer about weight loss. It is about feeling better. It is about using the body God gave me to do some pretty cool stuff. It is about leaning on God for strength to make it through the workout when my “can’t want to” brat is screaming. It is about time spent with Him (yes, you can exercise with God). Have you ever run down a trail imagining God running alongside you (with perfect form of course)? Try it, it’s pretty cool. I always imagine Him much taller than me where I have to look up to see His face or reach up to hold His hand. If anyone looks at you funny, just tell them you’re on a run with God.

I have released weight. No, it isn’t anything dramatic like “reality” TV, but it is still significant. God has removed more than 30 pounds from my body in the year since beginning to build a daily habit of pouring in His truth about food/weight/body image. I don’t believe that weight will come back as long as I keep my focus on the ONE who makes all things possible. I am still overweight, and while I do get discouraged over that at times, I know God is faithful to do what He says. Those emotions are other opportunities to turn to the Lord for His truth on the matter. The transformation process isn’t my job. It’s His.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time… ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11a (KJV)

one gal’s boundary is another gal’s prison

Wouldn’t it be great if God wrote a weight loss book? I’d totally be willing to spend a few weeks on a mountain with Him while He inscribed it into stone tablets. Although I’m sure there are others more worthy than myself for such an honorable task, I wonder, would it be high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat…

…actually, I think man came up with what is considered high or low in those categories, not God.

Speaking of mankind, have you walked down the “diet” or “weight loss” aisle in a bookstore? If you want to be overwhelmed and more confused, just take a gander through those rows of books. So much conflicting information in one place, yet the colorful covers are attention grabbing. The bylines and credentials are convincing. And the claims, well, they are enough to make you believe you’ve finally found the answer to your waistline woes.

We take on a different set of boundaries (or add more rules to our existing set) and maybe we even make it a few weeks. The dailiness of it all sets in and we announce, “this is just another diet” or “this is too hard”.

We run into a friend and she looks great. She’s obviously lost weight and while our first thought might be one of jealousy (come on, we’re being honest here), our second thought is probably, “Maybe I should do what she’s doing”.

Our latest weightloss “bible” gets pushed aside for a new one (or we keep adding rules) and we’re off and running again. That is, until we start looking for greener pastures or catch an interview with Dr. Oz on some breakthrough “power food” grown in a remote region of the Amazon Rainforest. This cycle could go on for the rest of our lives. Flitting from one plan to the next and never actually breaking free of anything.

Have you ever considered why there might be a myriad of weight loss plans out there? Sure, part of it is about money. Weight loss books and tools are highly marketable. It is also true that some of it is just “snake oil”.

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But maybe, it has something to do with weight loss not being a “one size fits all” sort of deal. There is a thought that no one knows us better than ourselves, but I beg to differ. God knows us better. He knows exactly what those of us with food/weight/body issues need. He also knows that what works for me might be a stumbling block to you (and vice versa).

This is why it is so important to go to God when choosing our boundaries. I wrote awhile back about taking a list of needs to the Lord and how He led me to the right boundary for me in this time in my life. Even though I know God has me at Weight Watchers right now, that doesn’t mean I’m never tempted to consider another set of boundaries.

When I see someone having quick success on the scale or hear someone bash tracking points, it’s tempting to think, “Maybe my boundaries aren’t ideal”. Worse is if I think that person thinks my boundaries are somehow “less godly” because they are based on a manmade plan.

Let’s get something straight. Food boundaries themselves are not gospel. They do not make us holy. They do not make us righteous. They do not transform us. They are a tool. As a gal in the Taste For Truth Support Group put it, “they are a means, not an end”.

God led me to Weight Watchers because He knows the ins and outs of every fiber of my being. He knows my background and the influences in my life. He also knows the season of life I’m in. Who better to decide?

I can have confidence in knowing I’m walking in the way He’s leading me, and at the same time recognize that what is freeing to me (yes, I think tracking points is freeing), might feel like a prison to someone else. Likewise, there are things God has led me away from because they negatively affect me (trigger my old disordered eating patterns), but these might be some of the very things He knows will speak to someone else.

Of course, there are things which are unhealthy. God is never going to lead us to a plan which will harm your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual well being. So, if that’s happening, it’s not God’s plan for us.

Besides, as Barb Raveling often says, we aren’t transformed by the perfect keeping of our boundaries, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. It’s really easy to make it all about our boundaries, but that’s just exchanging one idol (food) for another (boundaries).

Keeping my eyes on Him is the only way to see clearly and experience freedom while living with food boundaries.

 

 

 

Taste For Truth and Freedom From Emotional Eating – Studies Begin August 8th

The Taste For Truth Support Group will be hosting the following Bible studies simultaneously beginning August 8th:

51n8CMGHsmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
What: Taste For Truth Study
When: August 8, 2016 (Approx 8 weeks)
Where: Taste For Truth Support Group
Supplies Needed: Taste for Truth; I Deserve a Donut (book or app); Praying God’s Word (optional), and a Journal (any kind)

 

FFEE_


What:
 Freedom From Emotional Eating Study
When: August 8, 2016 (Approx 8 weeks)
Where: Taste For Truth Support Group
Supplies Needed: Freedom From Emotional Eating; I Deserve a Donut (book or app); and a Journal (any kind)

 

The Taste For Truth Support Group is based on Barb Raveling‘s book. Our goal is to provide an atmosphere which promotes support and accountability in the area of food-related strongholds. Join us for the study, stay for the accountability.

 

keeping momentum when the “good feeling” dries up

Most of us are great at starting a weight loss journey. We pick a plan. We stock our fridge and pantry. We weigh/measure ourselves. Maybe we even take “before photos”. We can’t wait to get started. We’re going to transform our lives. This time will be different. This time we’ll keep it off. This time we won’t cave.

Unfortunately, the “good feeling” often dissipates like water in the desert. It lasts only about five days for two thirds of those who embark on a new journey. By 19 days it’s gone for almost everyone else. These sojourners wither up and quit. By the end of 4 weeks, there are but a few lone flowers hanging on for dear life.

So how do we make it past the honeymoon phase with our motivation still intact?

Willpower

Some of us will be able to white-knuckle it to our goal weight with sheer willpower. The drawback with willpower though is that our supply is limited. We wake in the morning with a supply of it, but the more we have to exercise it, the more we use. Once it’s gone… it’s usually gone for the rest of the day.

If all that is keeping you in the zone is willpower, you will eventually run out of it and cave. That’s one reason trying days will send us to the drive thru faster than you can say, “Good gollie, I’ve blown my boundaries.”

If you have a myriad of lies bouncing around in your head all day, you’ll run out even faster because every time a lie comes up, you must use a bit of willpower to ignore it or process it.

Willpower doesn’t work. Not in the dailiness of this journey anyway. It might get you through those first few days, but beyond that, you’re at the mercy of your limited supply.

Boundaries

Some of us will lean heavily on our boundaries. We’ll bow down to our boundaries and expect them to motivate us. We’ll put so much stock in our boundaries that it becomes a religion in and of itself.

We expect our boundaries to save us from ourselves. We expect them to keep us from giving in to our bad behaviors.

Unfortunately, all our boundaries have the power to do is say…. “Warning, you’re approaching the line… warning, you’ve crossed the line.” We are still free to live inside them or dance about outside with reckless abandon.

Boundaries are there to say, “that’s far enough”. Whether we listen or not is entirely up to us. They cannot save us. They cannot transform us.

Accountability

Obviously I’m a proponent of accountability if I facilitate an online support group and attend Weight Watcher meetings. Accountability can be a good thing.

However, some of us will lean heavily on others and while accountability is certainly a fantastic motivator, it has its drawbacks too. Like willpower and boundaries, we are the ones responsible for making it work. We have to take the time to be accountable to ourselves and others.

If we rely too much on others, we never learn to stand on our own two feet. We can become dependent on waiting for someone else to say, “I’m holding you accountable to keep your boundaries today.” If no one holds us accountable, we give up because we haven’t learned to hold ourselves accountable.

Even if we do get good at holding ourselves accountable, there’s still that little problem with having a limited supply of willpower. Yes, holding ourselves accountable can tap that resource dry.

Results

20160317_074833 (2)Some of us will rely heavily on results to keep us motivated. I’ll not deny it. It is most certainly motivating to see that scale move down. Unfortunately, it isn’t realistic to believe the scale will always move in the right direction. Our weight will fluctuate and often it it totally out of our control when it does.

So, basing our motivation on that scale is a bad idea. If I had used the scale as my sole motivator, I would have quit last week when it didn’t move despite living within my boundaries all week (and had barely moved down the week before). I had two weeks in a row of disappointing weigh ins and it had nothing to do with whether I kept my boundaries or not. I had kept them.

Good Things

Don’t get me wrong, all of these are good things to have in your toolbelt. Using your limited supply of willpower wisely is important. Having boundaries reminds us that eating what we want, when we want isn’t beneficial. Accountability can be an excellent tool when we keep it in proper perspective. And of course, it is certainly motivating to get results.

Yes, they are all good things, and can even carry you a good distance on this journey. The problem is, they don’t transform you from the inside out. Other than willpower, they are all external and willpower is limited.

Renewing the Mind

God tells us in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We are transformed by God through the renewing of our minds. When we take the lies captive and replace them with truth, God changes our beliefs. When our beliefs change, our actions follow.

What we believe in our heart of hearts motivates us to either keep our boundaries or to ditch them. That is why it is more important to rely on truth than our feelings. Our feelings will be tossed about by life’s circumstances. God’s Truth doesn’t change.

When we begin to rely on God more and more for strength and trust Him to bring about transformation, a really cool thing happens. We begin to look to Him for the motivation we need to keep going. His strength is limitless (unlike our limited willpower).

When we focus on building a habit of renewing our minds to the mind of Christ, a peace washes over us. It’s a peace which surpasses all understanding. It’s a peace which will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Something We Need to Accept

Traveling this road to freedom from our food/weight/body image strongholds is usually not an overnight thing. It takes hours upon hours of removing the lies at the root of our old behaviors and pouring in copious amounts of God’s Truth.

It takes time and how long depends on the depth and magnitude of the lies. But there is hope! I’ve seen it in my own life. When I began building a practice of constantly renewing my mind last June (2015) I had to have faith that God would do what He said He would do. I didn’t see much fruit in the beginning.

Then, little by little, my attitude toward my weight and body began to change. It sparked new life into my motivation to keep going, so I poured in even more Truth. God revealed lie after lie and taught me how to recognize them. He applied His truth through the time spent in His Word and prayer.

My weight fluctuated a lot in those beginning months. Up, down, up, down, stay the same, up, down… and so on. I kept pouring in truth and then last September (2015) I went through Barb Raveling’s book, “Taste For Truth” for the first time (currently on my third trip through the book). She walked me through choosing boundaries and once God led me to the boundaries I need at this stage of my journey, all the truth I’d spent months pouring in began to turn the tide.

Chains broke… the captive looked up and saw the light… He lifted me out of the pit and although I’ve had slips here and there, God has never left me or forsaken me.

To date, since last June, I have released 25 pounds (most of which has been in the last few months). However, I have released far more in the way of lies and anxiety and fear during that time.

My motivation is intact because God is faithful. When my delight is in Him and not in food/weight/body image, my cup runneth over and I don’t have to fear the joy of the Lord drying up.

“Good Feelings” will come and go, but the Word of our Lord stands forever!

Psalm 121 (NKJV)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Taste For Truth – Online Class Starting May 9th

The current group at “Taste For Truth Online Class” is nearing the end of the study and I’ve decided to continue. I am changing the name to “Taste for Truth Support Group” and will start back through the study again beginning May 9th.

This group (based on Barb Raveling‘s book) is a place where you can hold yourself and others accountable to building a habit of renewing our minds to the mind of Christ, taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ, and living happily within our food boundaries.

51n8CMGHsmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Building a renewing of the mind habit isn’t easy, but it is so worth it. No matter how your journey is going, we want to walk it with you. Here’s the information if you’d like to join in:

What: Taste For Truth Study
When: May 9th – June 30th
Where: https://www.facebook.com/groups/163532310695887/
Supplies: Taste for Truth; I Deserve a Donut (book or app); Praying God’s Word, a Journal (any kind)

 

 

for God so loved… YOU

I had a very different post in mind for my next one, but when the Lord blinds you temporarily… it might be a good idea to listen to (and do) what He says.

 Be still, and know that I am God: ~ Psalm 46:10a (KJV)

So, when I was sitting in the “dark”, I finally said, “Yes, Lord, I’m listening”…

Silence.

I turned on the scripture lullabies I listen to almost daily. I always put them on “shuffle” so the songs come out random (although there is nothing random with God). I do have to choose a song to start with so I picked, Be Still and Know. The second song told me what He wanted me to hear… the next two songs confirmed the message without a doubt. And as I pause to consider what to say… many songs later, He brings the same message up in another song.

And here we are, at the keyboard with one eye open and the other patched, poised to deliver this simple message.

God Loves YOU! (Psalm 86:15)

He loves us so much that even in the midst of our sin… in our pits… our strongholds… our addictions… our unfaithfulness… (Romans 5:8)

He gave His Son. (1 John 4:9)

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He didn’t just send His Son to earth to live amongst us, He sent Him to die in our places. And not just to die, but to be tortured and beaten before He would endure a barbaric crucifixion. During which, Jesus would pray for mercy for us… the very ones responsible for His pain. Yes, every sinner is responsible… and the Bible tells us, “All have sinned“.

Who does this?

The One True God, that’s Who.

Why?

Because God Loves YOU!

Then, three days after His death… after the guards had shoved a spear into his side to ensure He was dead… three days later, He rose from the grave.

He died for YOU!

He conquered death for YOU!

55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV)

And for what? So that we may be called His children. So that those who put their trust in Him might be saved and live with Him eternally. To set us free from the law of sin and death.

Behold what manner of Love the Father has given unto us! (1 John 3:1)

God forbid we should forget what Jesus endured to bring us everlasting life. He gave everything. Everything.

Because He loves YOU!

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]. 38 For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:37-39 (AMP)

Songs for your listening enjoyment🙂

In case you are wondering, the moment I finished writing the bulk of this post, my eye stopped hurting and I was able to remove the patch.

Be still and know…

why “now” is the perfect time

We’ve all played this little game. New Year’s resolutions are inspired by it. We’re waiting for the perfect time to start following our boundaries…

The beginning of the year… the beginning of the month… on Monday… after the Holiday… after vacation… after our company leaves… after I get over this cold… after the kitchen remodel… after things settle down…

…and we keep putting off living within our boundaries until the perfect time.

I have a little secret…clocks-1098080_640

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PERFECT TIME.

It’s true. We’ve fooled ourselves into believing life will slow down or stop long enough for us to successfully address our food issues without distractions. That will never happen.

Why? Because life doesn’t work that way… For that matter, humans don’t work that way. We will always find a “reason” why “right now” isn’t the best time to follow our boundaries. This lie is so destructive because it is so simple we hardly question its motives.

What’s more, if we refused to believe the lie of an ideal time waiting on the horizon, we might discover that following our boundaries in the midst of utter chaos actually makes us stronger.

Say what??

That’s right. Think about it. Growth usually happens during times of great stress. What if we decided to make a commitment to renew our minds even though everything in our lives screams, “YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!”

What if we lived within our boundaries during the most chaotic time of the day, or week, or month, or year? What if we made ourselves renew our minds about said boundaries when we are most tempted to break them.

What we do when we are stressed or worn out by life becomes a deeply ingrained behavior and often shapes our beliefs moving forward. So far, we’ve practiced living outside our boundaries (or in defeat) because we believe the lie of an ideal time in the future when following our boundaries will be “easier”.

However, if we chose to turn to God in those moments… if we chose to stick to our boundaries when we can come up with every excuse in the book not to…

…we would quickly realize that now is the perfect time.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24 (KJV)