renewing the mind: renewal stops

We’ve kind of defined renewing the mind, and we’ve talked about daily renewing our minds through Truth Journaling. We are going to get to “Renewal Stops” in this post, but I feel like God is taking us in another direction first…

Seek His Plan For You

There are so many great ideas for building a mind renewal practice that fits how God wants to restore and transform your thinking. Be sure to check in with Him.

When I was listening to the audio file on this topic, it would have been really easy to become overwhelmed with all of the great ideas. I took notes during the first couple of webinars, but then realized God isn’t calling me to “do it all”. He wants to tailor daily renewing my mind for my particular needs. Even though I’m listing the tools He’s using in my life, that doesn’t mean He’ll choose the same ones for you. So, seek His will on the matter. Trust me, it will work so much better if you do.

The Dailiness of It

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. ~ Proverbs 8:21 (NIV)

Why do I keep saying “daily”? Because I believe one of the pivotal keys is to make this a daily spiritual habit. It must be a priority to us. In the beginning we must make a conscious decision to do it. As our taste for the Lord grows and matures, we will crave Him and the time we get to spend renewing our minds. You may even ask Him to give you that desire.

I spent years (many many days) trying to make a conscious effort to change my eating habits. So much energy and thought and time was poured into what, when, and how much I should eat… not to mention all the tracking and reading and researching, exercising… and the obsessing about it, oh Lord, the hours of obsession. Well, I’ve decided to trade all of that for one simple practice, renewing my mind daily. And you know what, this practice takes a fraction of the time and energy all of those other things consumed. Which means I’m actually “free to live”. Gasp! You mean there is life outside of dieting, before and after photos, tracking food, mental beatings, and calorie burn? Yes, life more abundant and free!

You may be wondering then, “if this is to be my focus, when do I work on my weight?” You don’t, God does. When your mind begins to change, your actions will change as well. And to show you just a snippet of what is possible with God, He gave me an example to share.

Oh Glorious Bean of Coffee

Coffee entered my life when I was in tech school at Keesler AFB many moons ago. I had never been a coffee drinker until I discovered that one cup of the dark magic would keep me awake for hours during early morning classes. Some in my class might have called me hyper, but hey, I wasn’t snoozing. It was a miracle because our instructor’s droning had the opposite effect with almost equal power. Although I hated the taste, I was hooked immediately.I think I had avoided it until then because my PopPop would always say, “It’ll put hair on your chest”, and well, that’s the last thing a girl wants.coffee

A few years later I would discover that I simply could not drink full-caf coffee if I expected to be a functional human being. It was a full-blown addiction and missing my dosage by even 15 minutes would bring on such horrible withdrawal symptoms. Friends, it ain’t purty. So, I went cold turkey (quite miserable three days), and then switched to decaf. I even had to cut out caffeinated sodas (I rarely drink any soda these days).

I realized I could easily stick to one cup of decaf a day, 99% of the time, with little to no symptoms; so, I thought it was a good compromise. By this point, I had developed a taste for it.

If you’ve been following me through my “no more dieting” journey, you know that I now try to listen to my body and what it is saying to me about the foods and beverages I consume. Recently, I’ve begun to feel that having a daily cup of decaf wasn’t sitting great with me. I can’t explain it, just kind of “ick”. I tried to force myself to eliminate it a few weeks ago, but found that I seemed to want it even more. I even ended up having a, very unusual, three-cup-day. The tactic the secular books give you of noting how it makes you feel and reminding yourself of that when you think you want it… well, that wasn’t working. I would still make myself a cup every morning.

Since I’ve begun to practice renewing my mind in the mornings (typically before breakfast), I think I’ve had coffee twice in the past 10 days. That’s an 80% decrease in my coffee consumption just from a morning practice of renewing my mind with God. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about whether I was drinking coffee or not till I sat down to write this post and God decided to show me a way that this practice is already benefitting my physical body. That means I am naturally drinking less coffee. Say what? Just imagine, if renewing my mind affects my coffee consumption, doesn’t it stand to reason it will affect other eating/drinking habits as well?

Now, am I saying you shouldn’t drink coffee? Good heavens, no. Please don’t take away from this that I think drinking coffee is a sin. I’m simply saying I observed how it makes me feel physically, and I think cutting back on it is a good idea… for me.

Now, let’s move on to the actual topic of this post.

Renewal Stopsrest stop

I guess you could consider this to be a form of “maintenance” during the day. I’ve started my day with time in the Word, prayer, and writing in my Truth Journal. Now, to maintain that focus throughout the day, I have some other tools in my arsenal:

Breaking Free Day by Day: A Year of Walking In Liberty – I love this little book because it takes the message of Beth Moore’s Breaking Free, and breaks it down into short daily devotionals. I keep a copy of this in the master bathroom by the toilet. Ok, so maybe you don’t want to talk about the bathroom, but we all spend time there. It’s generally quiet (especially now that my kids are older), and it only takes a minute or two to read one of the little pages. I love to multi-task, and I think this is a far better use of that time than surfing the net on my phone.

I Deserve a Donutdonut It was originally designed for crisis moments when you want to eat outside your boundaries (more on this later), but I also use it for daily maintenance. I have both the book and the android app. The book usually stays with my other resources on my desk, but the app goes with me anywhere I take my phone. If I’m using the downstairs bathroom, I’ll pull up the app (ok, so maybe I’m in the bathroom more than you are, but I doubt it). Or, if I ride along in the car with the husband on an errand, sometimes I’ll stay in the car and read through the app. To pick a category, I generally ask myself what I struggled with last, or the most. I might even randomly pick a category. I’ll click through to those questions and scriptures and answer/read them. Keep in mind, I’m not actually struggling in these moments I’m describing. I’m just using this time to solidify in my mind the truth about such struggles. I’m practicing what I want to think before I need to think it. I’m thinking about getting Barb’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project as well.

Music – I love music. God speaks to me through songs in such a way that it goes directly to my inmost being. Lyrics become a part of me, and so I have to be careful what music I listen to. I especially love songs about transformation, perspectives, redemption, freedom, gracepraise, praise, praise, and praise. Oh, did I mention, praise? Ha ha. Sorry, there are just too many to list out here. Sometimes, I’ll even picture God singing them to me… like the Tenth Avenue North song I mentioned the other day. Technology is terrific in this Third Day @ Red Rocksarena. I can listen on my phone, my ipod, online, in my car… I can pump music into my head while I work, while I play, while I walk… Of course, sometimes He prevents my ipod from working. That usually means “we need to talk”.

Dancing – It would not be entirely unusual for you to catch my girls and I dancing around the living room to the aforementioned artists (+ many many more) . No, I won’t be posting videos of that 🙂

Have your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too – Ok, so this is a secular book on hunger directed eating, but I have used it as part of renewing my mind. I will mainly read the chapter about why diets don’t work. I like her chapter on this better than Intuitive Eating’s because it’s simpler and more like having a conversation with a good friend. I’ve read this chapter over and over and over again… why? Because I want to be certain that my “intellectual” brain doesn’t ever try to fall for the diet lie again… and thus lead the rest of me back to the kool aid. Having facts regarding the truth about dieting in my head is very helpful to me. I don’t read it as often as I did a couple of months ago, but I know it’s there if I want a refresher. I think the reason I haven’t needed it as much, or the Intuitive Eating book for that matter, is because I do not believe diets are the answer any longer. I believe God is. Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the help I’ve gleaned from this book.

Ok, so those are some of my renewal stops. They help keep my thoughts from going where they shouldn’t by simply being proactive about the practice of renewing my mind. Still, sometimes those old thoughts creep back in. They are getting quieter, but we do need tools for those crisis moments when the enemy bombards our minds (and lives) with lies.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the “Crisis Plan” and tools I’m using in those situations.

battle of the spouses: round 1

I mentioned the other day that the Husband and I are going to compete against each other in a challenge we’ve designed to get us moving more. We’ve been unmotivated to move for far too long. We’re done lamenting where we were “fitness wise” less than one year ago, and it’s time to set these bodies in motion.

Today begins round 1 of our 3 round venture. Round one will last 4 weeks. We weighed and I’m already on my way to earning those quarters. Hooray! My plan is to post weekly with updates.

When we were drawing up this plan, I asked the husband what his goals for the 12 weeks were. Here’s what he said:

  • Be back on a regular running schedule.
  • Better eating habits.
  • Win contest.

Hmm, I guess he wants to win too. Darn, he’s not going to make this easy. Well, I’m going to give him a run for his money… literally!

It’s On, Baby!

The start of our summer began with illness. Not a fun way to start the break. The Husband is finally beginning to show some improvement, and we’re hopeful he’ll be the last one to come down with this nasty bug.

Ever since the missed marathon… and then the black belt test… I have been less than motivated to workout. Sure, some of that was due to serious burnout (adrenal fatigue), but even when I began to have more energy, it was difficult to get and stay motivated. I do like how I feel when I’m consistent about moving, but the beginning is always fraught with soreness and pain (and injury)… which kind of puts a damper on that motivation.

So, the Husband and I have decided to throw down a challenge. We’re going to compete against each other for money and prizes. Yes, we’re funding this venture, but I really just want to beat him. Our challenge will begin June 1st and run in 4 week increments for a duration of 12 weeks total. Hopefully consistent exercise will become a habit by then.

Since the Husband will be stepping on the scale, I’ve decided to do the same, but blind. I don’t want to know the actual number, just that it’s going down. We’ll weigh at the start and then again every 4 weeks. Each whole pound lost will earn 25 cents and each whole pound gained will lose 25 cents. However, the scale isn’t the real focus here.

For every thirty minutes of physical activity, we will earn another 25 cents. We also wanted to add some incentive to pay attention to our eating habits a bit more. So, we each set boundaries for ourselves that do not involve “diet plans”. His boundary will be no more than 3 meals and 3 snacks per day (which should be really easy for him actually). My boundary will be to wait until I am physically hungry (at a zero) to eat. I’m continuing with what I’ve learned during my Thin Within Journey. For each day we stay within our boundaries, we earn another 25 cents.

At the end of every 4 week increment, we will tally the money. The person with the most, wins. They get to keep the money they earned, plus they get 3 awesome massages per week until the next 4 week increment is complete… and no, they don’t have to reciprocate (I really want this prize).

We are also each selecting a “couple activity” to win at the end of the 12 weeks. I think the Husband is afraid I’m going to write down swing dance lessons – ha ha. Of course, I could lose and have to do something he wants. I’m going to do whatever it takes to keep that from happening though.

I would really like to get back into an old pair of jeans and be back in the running groove by the end of this thing, but I’m truly leaving the results up to God.

Alrighty, if you want to join in with a challenge of your own, feel free to jump right in. What will your boundaries and goals be (please no specific scale measurements)? How will you reward yourself for sticking to your plan?

thin within: day thirty

thinwithinThis is it, the final post of this series. It seemed to come so fast in some ways. In other ways it felt like it dragged (struggles). Still, we’ve reached the end of this chapter and yes, I am changed.

Day Thirty

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;… Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. ~ Psalm 96:1-4a, 6

Today’s lesson was very short and sweet. There were no food charts or hunger charts or observation/correction tools. Today we were encouraged to keep up the care of the temple, using prayer and ready God’s Word “as a watchman on those walls, as a sentry guarding and preserving your newfound freedom.”

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

We were asked to re-do the “My Relationship with God and My Relationship with Myself” questionnaire. Like yesterday’s look back, I was quite amazed by the difference in my answers. I felt so much more confident when I did the questionnaire too. Only three of my answers remained the same and the rest showed “improvement”.

In closing, we were encouraged to “cling tenaciously to the Savior who has bought you, the King that has wooed you, the Master that has freed you, and the Hero that has rescued you.”

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. ~ Jeremiah 31:3-4

So, at first I really didn’t want to try on the “day three goal pants” again. Part of me feared there would be no change. I mean, I haven’t exactly been awesome at keeping my boundaries. However, I decided that no matter what happened, I would lean on God’s power and provision to see me through it.

I am actually shocked to report that while snug, I could wear these pants if I wanted to. Not only was I able to button and zip them, but I could still breathe 🙂 Instead of posting a photo of a chart for today (there wasn’t one to fill out), I’ve decided to post a photo comparing the pants I started this journey wearing and the “day three goal pants”. When I set the goal, I couldn’t even make the button/zipper opening meet (several inches apart), let alone button them. I’m sorry, but this is totally amazing to me.

My outward size still has a ways to go, but I am confident that He who began a good work in me will see it to completion. Yes, this is the end of this blog series, but I will still update as I go along. I’m currently participating in a private online group that is going through the Thin Within workbook (12 weeks). They are currently beginning week 5 (remember, these posts are not posting in real time). Up until now, my focus has been on finishing the 30 day book, but I’ll shift gears to working through the rest of the workbook with them. Why? Because I want a full transformation and that requires continually renewing my mind.

I cannot expect to go through a 30 day study and have 28 years of diet mentality thoughts and behaviors completely gone. Am I more like a naturally thin eater than when I began? Absolutely, changes have taken place. However, the Bible tells us to put on the full armor of God. I’m not going to let my guard down because I know that when I’ve done that in the past, I’ve been pulverized. I end up working in my own strength. I end up thinking “I’ve got this” and my focus shifts away from the One who created me. When that happens, like Peter, the “laws” come rushing back. For him, it was the law of gravity. For me, it is the law of sin and death… it is the “path of my performance” instead of the “path of God’s provision”. It is living by sight rather than by faith. I choose faith. I am reminded of the following verse as I consider what has happened in my life time and time again:

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” ~ Matthew 12:43-45 (NIV)

The visual created for me as it applies to this journey is: In the past, when I’ve begun to rely on the Lord fully, I’ve started by tossing out the world’s views with God’s help. Then, I begin to see my body changing. Things are coming together and I grow more and more confident in myself and less reliant on God. I become lax about renewing my mind in Christ. Then, that old diet monster (with its worldviews) returns to see what’s going on, he finds that my exterior looks to be “in order”, but I am utterly defenseless because I’ve set down my sword. I’m so busy “hammering with all my might” that I don’t even notice the intrusion. I work harder… in my own strength, to cling to the ground I’ve gained. Pound, pound, pound… until all I’m thinking about are the pounds, pounds, pounds. Diet Mentality brings Fear that I will go back to my old habits, so I work even harder (slash this, cut that, burn more). Fear brings Discontentment who says, “It’s not enough… more, more!” Discontentment brings Failure who shouts, “Where’s your God now?” And Failure brings Hopelessness and Futility… “a chasing after the wind”.

The next thing I know, I’m crying and saying, “why did I let this happen again.” No more! God’s grace is sufficient for me! I will keep the “sword” in my hand because God’s Word is sharper than any two edged sword!

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. ~Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

Alrighty, that’s the end of Day Thirty for me. I pray that your journey through this book is one of Freedom and Joy.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only god our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. Amen. ~ Jude 24-25

thin within: day twenty-nine

thinwithin

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:25

Day Twenty-Nine

Today was about looking at our journey now that we’ve applied God’s truth in building the walls of the temple. The author uses the example of Nehemiah’s restoration again and how the work continued in the hearts of the people after the physical walls were completed.

Being in community with others traveling this journey is very important… as well as prayer and worship. I know God is going to use this struggle in my life to help others find freedom. In my heart I know I’ve been set free, and I’m just waiting for my outward appearance to reflect that freedom. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that the process of renewing my mind is far from over. It  is still a daily effort to take thoughts captive to Christ. I’m in it for the long haul though. I am no longer content with the goal I set at the first of this study. I’m instead going to trust God for the goal He gave me to shoot for.

Also in today’s study, we completed (again) the questionnaire from the beginning. We then compared our answers to see changes in our views. I was actually quite surprised by my answers. While there were a couple that didn’t change, most did… for the better. Clearly my mind is being renewed, which is exactly what I need… for “as a man thinks, so is he.”

We will not neglect the house of our God ~ Nehemiah 10:39b

Today was Mother’s Day and the weather cancelled services this morning (snow). The family hung out at home. For today’s gratitude statement, I thanked God for the snow. It was so pretty. Yes, I broke my boundaries today, but I know that’s just going to be something that happens on this journey. When it does, I have two choices, I can return to my old thought patterns or I can make it an opportunity to take those thoughts captive to Christ. I can choose to practice renewing my mind.

Tomorrow is the final day of this study, but it is far from the end of this journey.

 

thin within: day twenty-eight

thinwithin

Today was rather an emotional day, but I lived through it.

Day Twenty-Eight

Today my oldest son’s graduating class received their diplomas. We passed another milestone without him here. I think what feels really strange about this milestone is that we won’t have another one like this again. All milestones after high school graduation vary from person to person, and so we would have no way of knowing when/if he would have gone to college, gotten married, become a father… etc.

Anyway, we decided to volunteer as ushers for our co-op’s high school graduation ceremony. We got to see the entire thing and it was so special. I love the way they celebrate each graduate. Yes, I shed some tears, but was able to keep it to a minimum to keep my make-up intact.

Today’s lesson wasn’t about graduations though, it was a continuation of yesterday’s topic. We considered what it means to “take my yoke upon you”. I took away that it means I’m not doing this alone. I’m going to be yoked to something, so the best choice is the one whose “yoke is easy” and whose “burden is light”.

Then we talked about procrastination. EEEKKKK! The author tells a story about “Cassandra” whose house is a mess and the task seems insurmountable. It was a great visual of how we can break large tasks down into smaller bits. Then we were asked to list things we put off doing. I had quite the list. I do believe I’m called to do everything I listed, but I definitely need an attitude adjustment about some of it.

Lord, Let each moment of this day be lived for You and Your glory and by Your strength only. Guide and direct my steps. Amen.

Next we moved on to making sure we schedule time to rest. I think the lack of rest is one of the reasons people procrastinate. We’re tired of “doing” (especially what we don’t like doing). So, we were asked to list things that we enjoy and try to incorporate those into our schedule.

Observation and Correction

I’ll admit, I tried to fill out the chart after the day was done. I usually try to do it after each meal. So, I’m not going to bother posting a photo of it because I can’t be entirely sure it is an accurate representation of today’s food occasions. I do know I felt rather successful after our lunch out. I was really hungry when we sat down to eat. I know when I stopped eating I was at a solid five – maybe a six, but considering how hungry I was, the six was still a success. I could have easily scarfed down way more before I realized it.

We were kind of cooped up indoors after getting home from lunch. It’s been raining and hailing here for like a week. Today was stormy again and even started snowing this evening. We all kind of lounged in front of the tv for the evening… eating. I didn’t even get out my boundary bowl.

thin within: day twenty-seven

thinwithinWe’re getting down to the end of this thing… well, the end of the study, not the end of the journey.

Day Twenty-Seven

Today’s lesson was about something our family has been working on for over a year now. Over a year ago, we drastically reduced the kids’ commitments, which reduced mine. Then, when I completed 1st degree black belt, I decided to take a break from TaeKwonDo.

I completely believe that people today are far too busy for their own good. Sure, there are things we must do, but we do a lot of things that aren’t necessary. I really believe our shift in priorities is the main reason I’ve been able to focus on this quest to become a naturally thin eater. I am so not there yet, but I know from past experience that I would have returned to dieting long before now.

The author gives reasons for why we become weary, and we’re asked to do an exercise where we write down our schedule for the week. Mine is looking rather busy for the upcoming week (today is Friday), but that’s because we’re finishing up our lessons (homeschool), volunteering at a high school graduation ceremony in memory of our deceased son, and we have co-op stuff to do (which also breaks for summer this week). Oh, and since next year’s curriculum arrived today, I have to write up the 15 year old’s summer school lesson plans because she wants to shoot for graduating high school a year early. Of course, I’ve written pretty much nothing on Sunday because it’s Mother’s Day* and I just never know what kind of mood I’ll be in that day.

Aside from this being a busy time of year for us just because everything seems to “wrap up” in May, we’ve tried to reduce our commitments significantly. I think my problem with growing weary is trying to do everything perfectly… in my own strength. Oh, and I seem to have no trouble making myself a mile-long to-do list… which rarely get’s finished. I’ve gotten a lot better at telling others “no”, but not so good at telling myself “no”.

Observation and Correction

This morning I took two sips of my green smoothie while standing in the kitchen and decided I just didn’t feel like eating right then. I did finish it later. Dinner was pizza while watching TV with the kids. I started out feeling pretty good this morning, but by bed, I felt kind of yucky. Tomorrow we volunteer at the graduation. Maybe I’m just feeling rather emotional about that.