RYM 12 Week Challenge Ends

I can’t believe we’ve already come to the end of this challengeLast week we worked on treasure hunting again. It has been a really exciting 12 weeks. I’ve done many challenges over the years but I think this may have been my favorite. When I first felt like God was calling me to do this, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I gleaned from the last 12 weeks has been incredible. God has shown me such wonderful and very cool things through my time with Him and the willingness to step out in faith.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to complete these 84 days and to do with with such a fantastic group of women at the Taste For Truth Support Group has been beyond amazing. What a blessing!

If you missed out on the last challenge. There is a new one starting on March 31st at the Taste For Truth Support Group. Join us!

Also, for the final wrap-up video of the challenge: 12 Week Renewing the Mind – Week 12 Wrap-up

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Final Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes 7 days, + God glorifying music 5 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 5 days for at least 15 minutes.
Released 0.6 lbs the twelfth week :)*
Challenge Total: -10 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 12

Moving on to the twelfth week of this challengeLast week we worked on adding a body benefitting goal. This week, we are going to go on our final treasure hunt. 

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Treasures In Heaven

Most of us would nod a hearty amen at the verse above. We know we can’t take our earthly “riches” with us. We picture houses, money, cars, clothes, and jewelry… to name only a few. It is valid that we must keep all of these in proper perspective. We already know our “stuff” shouldn’t come before God and others.

But how does this relate to our pursuit of weight loss? After all, God wants us to take care of our bodies, right? I am so hopeful that at this point in our twelve week journey you have begun to pursue God above all else… even weight loss.

We have seen that we can certainly worship our boundaries, tools, exercise plans, or even 12 week challenges. Expecting these things to “save us” from our harmful habits and behaviors is futile at best and destructive at worst. Putting our faith in them is no different than laying “up for yourselves treasures on earth”.

If you treasure the tools and methodologies more than you treasure the Lord, your heart will be subject to the whims of this world, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

We want our hearts focused on God because He is faithful and He will not abuse that responsibility. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is our constant.  This cannot be said of anything else in our universe.

You can test where your heart is by asking yourself if you are still seeking after “self” or if you are seeking, above all, a true, thriving, and satisfying relationship with the Lord.

Vision Check

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

~Matthew 6:22-23

“How great is that darkness” indeed! Remember week two? We began speaking directly to our souls by looking ourselves in the eye as we spoke truth. I hope you’ve continued that practice. It is so important that we remain in the light. We don’t want to be full of darkness. Our old identities were dark, but our identities in Christ are light.

Where we were once enslaved by habits, we can now walk in liberty in Christ Jesus.

Are you still viewing yourself the way you were almost twelve weeks ago? When we focus on earthly things or the world’s vision, our spiritual vision is hindered and we are unable to see Truth.

Or, have you begun to believe you are who God says you are? I certainly hope so. Some things will take longer than three months to transform, but progress should be there if you’ve kept your focus in the right place.

One Master

 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” ~ Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

In studying this passage from Matthew 6, I was thinking how it seemed like Jesus harps on this way too much. I mean, shouldn’t we get it when he talks about not storing up earthly treasure? But He always has a purpose. He’s gone from something we all concede is really obvious and then He zeroes in tighter and tighter as we go.

He takes us from earthly treasures (external) to the condition of our souls (internal). Then, He goes one step further for those who think they are “managing” both God and their “idols”. They think they can follow both. Perhaps they will say, “Of course God is above all these things”, but their actions prove otherwise.

What do we put first? If we wrote out a timeline of our days, what would this reveal about our priorities? If I only have enough time one morning to have time with the Lord or exercise, and I know whichever I don’t choose will not get done that day (if I’m honest with myself), what does my choice reveal?

If I spend time tracking food and exercising, but fail to carve out time with the Lord, which master am I serving?

The irony here is that serving anything other than God crowds Him out of our vision. We become slaves to that which we give reign over us. When we surrender our freedom to earthly things, we are taken captive by them.

However, the opposite is true by allowing God to be our master. When we bow to Him, seek His face, and obey His commands, we realize we are free. The beauty is, we are then free to choose boundaries and an exercise plan with God’s blessing and help. As we continue to bow to His authority, He gives us the strength to keep our boundaries.

I agree, it makes no human sense to be mastered by something and yet be free. This is only possible when God is the master.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
~ Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

 So, as we go through this final week of the challenge, we are going on another treasure hunt. It is my prayer that by treasure hunting the past three weeks, you will become even more convinced that the Master you have chosen is more than worthy of this position in your life.

Week 12 – Alrighty, we’re keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes 6 days, + God glorifying music 4 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 7 days for at least 15 minutes.
Released 4.8 lbs the eleventh week :)*
Challenge Total: -9.4 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 11

Moving on to the eleventh week of this challengeLast week we worked on taking all thoughts captive. This week, we are going to add a new healthy habit. 

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” ~ Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Whatever You Do 

In this “Information Age” we are bombarded daily with things the health experts think we should or shouldn’t be doing. This information is often conflicting from one guru to the next. If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves caught in a never ending cycle of chasing the next answer to our problems. Have you ever spent hours researching a new diet plan or a new supplement? I have.

The enemy would love for us to get so caught up in following the world’s advice and bombarded by information that we forget to consult the Lord on what we should do.

Still, despite all of the information out there, common sense tells us some things are beneficial, such as: drinking water, eating veggies, adequate sleep, taking a multi-vitamin…etc.

We’ve focused on food boundaries and exercise, and during this week as we focus on our bodies again, it is time to add another beneficial habit. What that habit will be is entirely up to you. We want to choose something good for us on a physical level. It needs to be simple and clear. Using the things I listed above, your goal statement for this week might be:

My goal is to drink 64 oz. of water each day this week.
My goal is to add a green salad three days this week.
My goal is to go to bed 8 hours before I have to get up every night this week.
My goal is to take my multivitamin with breakfast every morning this week.

There could be other habits you find more important than these, so feel free to choose something else. Be sure to write down your “My goal is” statement for the upcoming week.

Beginning any new habit will take some discipline and focus. As a daily reminder, be sure to say your goal statement aloud each day. Please only choose one new habit. Once you have this one down, you can add another one in the future.

Remember, our priority is to renew our minds and to seek God’s guidance as we travel this journey. We want to think God’s thoughts about all things, even our habits. So, as you build this new habit, make sure you are glorifying, thanking, and praising Him in the process.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
~ Psalm 86:12 (ESV)

Week 11 – Alrighty, we’re keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes 6 days, + God glorifying music 6 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 4 days for at least 15 minutes.
My wt. stayed the same the tenth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4.6 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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SSMT 2017: Verse 6

I’m a little late posting my latest verse (will back-date this post), but I am still working toward the goal with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team. For more information, check out Beth Moore’s post.

I posted my sixth verse over at Beth’s Blog where Beth has included a wonderful video of encouragement. I loved that she referenced our focus verse from last week’s RYM challenge lesson. Over the next two weeks I’m going to be working on memorizing Hebrews 10:36.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” ~Hebrews 10:36 (NASB)

I’ve chosen this verse because I have decided to change my food boundaries. My weight has been stalled for 6-7 months in the same 5-8 lb range (been in the same 2 lb range for almost 3 months of that). Weight isn’t the only reason… in fact, it isn’t even the main reason I’m changing boundaries. I’ve been feeling crummy lately (partly due to stress and partly do to what I’m eating).

I’ve clung to my WW points boundary (Mar 2016- Feb 2017) and then switched to tracking calories 4 weeks ago (still not losing and still feeling icky). So, now I’m going to try being more choosy about what I eat. I’m already vegan 90+% of the time, but I have strayed from my original intent to be “whole-food plant-based” – which basically means less junk and processed foods. Yes, there are junky vegan foods.

Anyway, I will definitely need “endurance” and right thinking as I make these changes, hence the verse choice.

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 9

It’s crazy that we are already to week nine of  this challengeLast week we went on our second treasure hunt of the challenge. This week, we are going to tackle a biggie. 

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)

Forgiving One Another 

Breathe. Take a deep breath, and ask God to help you stick with me this week. I guarantee, it will likely be painful and unpleasant at first, but God has big things in store for us when we truly learn to forgive.

For years I would have said, “Of course I forgive others, God says we should, so I do.” Unfortunately, I was very deceived and didn’t recognize all the anger and bitterness I carried.

I grew up hearing stories about that guy in the book of Matthew who was forgiven some huge debt only to turn around and have some poor guy thrown in jail for not repaying a much smaller debt. (Matthew 18:21-35) I always thought, “How horrible of that man! I’m nothing like him!”

In fact, I was exactly like him, without even realizing it. Forgive? It was something I said with my mouth but my mind held on… replayed the hurt… swore never to trust that person….etc. I claimed everything from “they aren’t even sorry” to “I’m protecting myself” as justification for holding a grudge.

Webster’s says that a forgiving person “allows room for error or weakness”. If that doesn’t convict, Webster’s also says someone who forgives will “give up resentment of or claim to requital for” or “grant relief from payment of”. Um, are you needing to take some deep breaths again? Yeah, me too.

Isn’t this the very thing God offers each of us through the gift of salvation? Without His grace and mercy, we would be utterly destroyed. He wipes away our enormous sin debt, and yet we hold a rude remark against a neighbor. Yep, we’re like “that guy”.

Obviously, some of us are dealing with much bigger grievances than rudeness, but there is nothing too big for God’s redemption. In our own strength, we cannot forgive the big stuff (and maybe not even the small stuff), but we’re not supposed to be operating in our own strength.

Maybe you’re like I was and are thinking, “I don’t have a problem forgiving.” Well, I hope you’ll come along for the ride anyway. If nothing else, you will get a chance to solidify the practice of forgiveness before a root of bitterness ever has a chance to take hold. Of course, there could be something hiding under the surface too. Be open to God’s leading. This topic is far too big to tackle in just one week, but we’re going to begin to address it and ask God to do some healing.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” ~ Colossians 1:13-14 (ESV)

Week 9 – Alrighty, we’re keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day, + God glorifying music 6 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 2 days for at least 15 minutes.
I’m down 0.2 the eighth week :)*
Challenge Total: 5.2 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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New Christian Weight Loss Podcast

Barb Raveling has started another blog which will feature “Christian Weight-loss” related podcasts. She is calling it Taste For Truth Weight Loss Encouragement with Barb Raveling.

It is brand new so she only has three out there right now, but I know she’s got a backlog of recordings she’s already working on. Also, the second one is my interview with her about my renewing the mind journey to that point.

I think you’ll find encouragement in these podcasts, so I hope you’ll check them out. Barb is so gracious to share her knowledge on this subject.

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 7

We’re half-way through this challenge and no doubt, those who are pressing through are experiencing change that only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we addressed taking inventory of outside influences which may be counteracting our renewing of the mind efforts. This week, we will be focused on the physical parts of us again with an emphasis on exercise.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

 Your Body, A Temple

I know it seems crazy to be doing a weight-loss challenge where exercise isn’t even introduced until week 7. That’s ok, I’ve been called much worse than crazy. This doesn’t mean I haven’t exercised for the past six weeks, quite the contrary, but this week we’re going to renew our minds about it so we can think God’s thoughts on the matter.

For years I only saw exercise in terms of how it affected my weight or made me look. I treated my body like a temple alright, but I focused on the “temple of Jules” and not the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Exercise was about making me look good, allowing me to eat whatever I wanted, or trying to regain a figure I had lost.

Exercise, fitness, workout stats, flat abs, toned arms… they were an idol in my life. I bowed to them like I bowed to food. I spent years believing lies and living in utter fear of being overweight. As so often is the case, life happened and I could no longer practice my “exercise religion”. Eventually, “that thing which I feared came upon me” (Job 3:25) and I found myself classified as “obese”.

I tried for a while to get back what I had lost, but I was still trying in my own strength and still worshipping all the wrong things. It would be many years and countless injuries later that I would discover a much healthier way to view exercise.

Most would agree physical exercise is important for the health and wellbeing of our bodies. Even the Proverbs 31 woman understood the need to be physically strong so she could endure the day ahead. (Proverbs 31:17). Exercise helps all of our bodily processes function better. It also improves our mood and lowers blood sugar. When our bodies are strong, we are less prone to injury. And yet, none of these have anything to do with fitting into a size two dress or looking great in a swimsuit.

There is a vast difference in focus when we use exercise to aid our vanity as opposed to doing it to honor and glorify the Lord. One feeds our flesh and one feeds our spirit. We are to be good stewards of what He has given us to care for. Unfortunately, so many of us end up worshipping the temple (or berating it) rather than worshipping the One Who made it.

Which leads me to the focus of this week. Yes, we are going to exercise, but we are going to ask God to keep it in proper perspective. One way to do this is to thank God after every workout for the ability to accomplish the task. I often thank God for my legs and joints after a run because I know, from my days on the injured list, that without these things, I couldn’t run.

You see, it is all about perspective. Are we grateful for the ability to move our bodies and offer our workouts to God as a form of praise? Or, are we bitterly lacing up our shoes because we ate a box of donuts the day before, and now we must pay the price? Perhaps we live in a third category of feeling guilty for not exercising. I spent years in the latter two categories and can tell you they are not the best way.

“I Can’t Want To”

When my oldest daughter was three, she would often say, “I can’t want to” when asked to do anything she was less than thrilled about. Maybe that’s how you feel about exercise. You think you “can’t want to”, but is that the truth? Doesn’t the Bible say we can do all things through Christ? (Philippians 4:13)

Sure, exercise is difficult, but a funny thing happens once you build the habit of exercising regularly for the right reasons. After a little bit, you actually want to do it. You begin to notice you feel better physically and mentally, and when you add praising God, the “want to” comes even faster.

Each day you set aside the old negative mindsets around exercise and you work-out with God, it gets easier. Now, obviously, you need to choose something that is somewhat enjoyable to you, or at a minimum something which interests you. I’ve done various forms of exercise over the years and, while figure skating and taekwondo rank pretty high on my list, I much prefer to be outside in God’s creation. This is one reason I enjoy running, walking, and hiking the most.

Maybe you think you’re too out of shape to exercise. Well, then it’s time for a trip to the doctor. If your doctor clears you for moderate activity, there are many things you can do. You don’t have to just sit on the sidelines, but you also don’t have to run hurdles in the one hundred yard dash. Pick some form of movement and get started. The most important part of whatever exercise program you choose is to do it to the glory of God.

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” ~ Psalm 119:36 (ESV)

Week 7 – We’re going to add 15 minutes of exercise at least three days a week as we continue to actively renew our minds by keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day, + God glorifying music, & kept my food boundaries.
I’m up 1.6 the sixth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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