a quick update… well, sort of quick

Our summer break has seemingly vanished. We did finish week 4 of our “battle of the spouses” challenge and I won, but then we had to put the challenge on hiatus because we simply couldn’t worry about one more thing while we remodeled the kids’ bathroom. The last thing on our minds was trying to get in steps… especially after I realized that ripping out old tile and laminate flooring didn’t earn me any steps or activity minutes according to the fitbit (grrr). Maybe if I had attached it to my gloved hand. We were so sore and so tired at the end of each day for 15 days straight.

Then my back decided to quit on me for two days. Once I was feeling better it took me three days to paint the bathroom (lots of stripes). Then the husband and I took a trip for our 20th wedding anniversary. And yesterday we started our 2015/2016 homeschool year. We’re wearing our fitbits again, but I’m not sure if we’re back in challenge mode or not lol.

I mentioned that I had the husband weigh me (I didn’t look at the number) at the start of our challenge (June 1), and the scale has gone down since then. I totally surprised myself about two weeks ago by stepping on the scale and looking at the number. I didn’t do it without first asking God if it was ok. I felt like I got the green light, and while the number was higher than I’ve seen in a while, it was lower than it was on June 1st. Plus, I was about 10 lbs lighter than my mind had me guessing I was. A really cool thing that happened was, I didn’t seem to care one bit about that number. In fact, I’m not sure I could even tell you exactly what it was unless I went and looked at the sheet I wrote it on. It has taken so long to reach the point where the scale doesn’t set off “diet mentality” and the quest for a lower number. I simply do not care. I am trusting God to take this weight off. My job is to renew my mind to the mind of Christ and wait for hunger before I eat. That’s it. I’m finally believing that the scale does not define me, God does… and He says I’m His beloved child.

You know what, I would have said I gained weight while on vacation with the husband… but I didn’t. I actually released a pound… say what? Yep. No dieting. No counting. Little to no exercise even. (we were going for relaxation) Eating what I want, when I’m hungry. There were a couple of meals where I overate, but I assessed what happened, noted how bad my stomach felt, and moved on. Yes, I am slowly releasing weight, but it’s so not about that.

I cannot take the credit for the scale moving down. No, that glory goes to God and God alone. He is changing the way I think every time I renew my mind with His truth. Thought processes that held me captive for years are crumbling. I have a joy that seems to bubble to the surface more and more. The chains are falling, and it has nothing to do with some special diet that eliminates cravings… or appetite suppressants… or running goals… or size goals. It has everything to do with God’s power, His mercy, His grace… His love.

Are you wondering about that coffee habit? Well, I think it’s now reduced by at least 90% (probably more like 95%). Food, in general, is even more neutral to me than ever. My first reaction to stress or frustration isn’t always, “let’s eat”. Now, I pray…. most of the time anyway. How is this happening? God promises change for His children when we renew our minds with His truth. So, I’m consistently wallpapering my mind with His truth. I’m trying to make it a daily practice. I take the lies captive and make them obedient to Christ. I’m not perfect, and that’s ok, God is working on me in HIS time. He is bringing about changes that I’ve longed for, but deep down thought could never be. He’s bringing about true change that I’ve tried to manufacture over the years through my own strength. He’s doing this, not because I’m perfectly faithful at waiting for zero (physical hunger) or stopping at five (satiation), but because He is faithful… Because He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ask or think. He promised change if I would renew my mind, and God delivers on His promises.

If you’re thinking, “what on earth is this renewing of the mind stuff”, I’ve got a whole series on it. Check it out. God tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Give Him a chance to change you, and He most certainly will. I’m actually rather giddy about the first time someone notices I’m changing… I can’t wait to say, “God is doing a new thing!”


renewing the mind: crisis plan

This is the 4th post in this series on renewing the mind. If you’re just joining me, you can start here and move through them at your own pace.

It has taken me longer to complete this post than I intended, but here it is.

I am finding the pro-active approach to renewing my mind is very important. Before moving on to the topic of “crisis plans”, I would like to mention another proactive mind renewal tool that has been pivotal for me since I was a very young child. I suppose it is so natural to me that I didn’t even consider it to be something we must be proactive about, otherwise I would have listed it earlier.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11 (KJV)

The tool is scripture memory. I’ve been memorizing God’s word since I was able to talk. At a very young age I was involved in AWANA, and we memorized so many scriptures through that program. It’s true, I’ve been more lax about it as an adult, but I do find that God brings His words to my mind often. He has even brought scripture to my mind that I have never officially memorized. I don’t know if He’s just placing His Word in my mind, or if He’s bringing forward Words I’ve read (having read through the entire Bible several times over the years). Either way, He’ll prompt me with a passage or concept, and then I look it up and discover that it’s been in my Bible all along.

Obviously you can be re-active, but typically, for me anyway, that means it will take me longer to reach the point I could have started with. It takes longer because I end up wallowing in the thoughts longer and I’m relying on my ability to remember, “Oh right, I wanted to renew my mind when these thoughts came up again.” And then it takes me a bit to stop sulking because the “club of condemnation” almost always comes out.

However, if I’m already practicing renewing my mind before the crisis hits, I tend to catch those thoughts/behaviors before they’ve completely ruined my whole day (week or month) AND I turn to God sooner because my mind is already being trained in that direction. I’m also finding that I am less likely to turn my attention to new and old diet solutions so I can “fix myself”.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)

I hope I’m not beating a dead horse here by saying, being proactive about renewing your mind is key! Ok, now on to the “crisis plan”

Oh Lord, I’m in the middle of a crisis!

Even being proactive, I still have weak moments. Yes, my flesh still screams and demands it’s own way. Yes, I still live in this fallen world with all of its multitude of ways to infiltrate the mind. A crisis (big or small) is going to happen, but with God’s grace and a few tools, we’ll be ready for them. These are by no means the only tools you can use, so ask God what will work for you.

For starters, most days, you will probably find a cross drawn on my hand in ink. I generally have to draw a new one every morning. At first, I was really fussy about the way it looked, but now, I keep it simple, and if it doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying you must draw on yourself, or tattoo yourself. If you aren’t at peace with an exercise like this, it isn’t for you. For me, it is a physical reminder, and one with which I am perfectly at peace.This little cross reminds me that I already have a plan when temptations do arise.

Knowing what you will do when you encounter negative thoughts or lies buzzing about in your head is a HUGE step toward winning the battle (read: be proactive, have a plan). Here is a list of tools I’m currently using in my Crisis Plan:

I Deserve A Donut – Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but seriously, it is a big resource in a little book (there is also an app). The author lists numerous rationalizations and emotions that prompt us to eat when we aren’t hungry. You can scroll down the list to choose the one affecting you in the moment, then turn to that page for help. She includes questions to prayerfully ask yourself as you process what you’re thinking/feeling, as well as scripture to point you back to God. You can journal these, or you can work through them verbally. I typically do them verbally, like I’m having a conversation with God.

Truth Journal – Heidi from Thin Within did an example entry for this during one of the audio clips I’ve mentioned in the last three posts. Barb Raveling’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, arrived in the mail yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to really dive in, but a cursory glance through it showed that the idea comes from this book. I am really looking forward to reading it.

Basically, when your brain is going haywire, you pull out this journal (it’s separate from your Faith Journal). The object is to take the lies and, what Heidi calls, “little “t” truths” and replace them with big “T” truths. A little “t” truth is a lie that contains an element of truth; or maybe it’s true in that moment but doesn’t have to remain so. Like the statement, “I want to keep eating” (see photo). That was true when I wrote it, but it is a want or desire that can change. A big T truth is God’s Truth and it doesn’t change; or it may be a truth that contradicts a lie I’m telling myself… Like in the example where I say I’m “behind” on my work. The truth in that moment was that I wasn’t behind at all, I just wasn’t ahead of schedule any longer.20150618_121311 (2)

To do this exercise, you write 3-5 short sentences describing how you’re feeling, or what is bothering you, leaving a space between each line. Then you number each statement (there might be more than one statement per sentence). After you’ve numbered them, you address each statement individually and write the big “T” truth in the spaces between the lines. As you address the lies, draw a line through them. The photo is the first entry I did of this sort. I was feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and had a desire to procrastinate. I chose this one because it was less personal than other entries I’ve made 🙂 In the past, I would let these kinds of thoughts fester all day long. This one little exercise on that particular day kept me from turning the day into an “I feel sorry for myself” eat fest.

Essentially, my Truth Journal is the place where I make a conscious effort of turning my thoughts back to God… I’m taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ in a very literal sense through this exercise.

Praying God’s Word – As I’ve mentioned over and over, Beth Moore is one of my favorite Bible Teachers, hands down. The resource the Lord led her to put together through this book is one that blesses me. This is the book I used to make the scripture index cards I mentioned in the very first post of this series. If I know I’m struggling in a moment with a particular stronghold, I can turn straight to that section and begin praying scripture immediately. I keep the book with my reference materials, and the index cards I made could end up anywhere in the house. There have been days I have literally worn them around my neck (lanyard).

Praise Fest (or Feast) – This is another one of Heidi’s tools. Super simple. You just start telling God (or singing to Him) how awesome He is. I’ll admit, I typically turn to this one last. If my mind is still stuck after doing the other two things, I’ll do this. I’ve found that praising God for using these struggles to turn my heart and mind back to Him is a terrific way to turn the tables on the enemy. It’s funny how thanking God for the crisis moments, really changes the way you view them.

A praise fest can look like any number of things. You can turn on praise music (or just sing acapella). You can also say aloud your “God List”. A “God List” is a running list of God’s attributes, benefits, character traits…etc. I don’t keep an official God list. Instead, I’ve decided to have my Faith Journal do double duty by underlining words or phrases that describe God or His character. Then, I can flip open the journal and my eyes quickly land on those words/phrases and I can start praising God for Who He is (see photo). I decided that I would underline them in green because it reminds me that I am growing closer to Him by knowing Him better.

Anyway, the next time you’re feeling low, give the praise fest a try, it works and leads me to the next one.

Treasure Hunting – I can’t remember what Heidi calls this on the audio, but she describes listing ways in which God has shown His glory to you throughout the day. You can also make it a list of what you’re grateful for.

I’m trying to make a habit of asking God for one special treasure each day (proactive) that shows His love, His glory, His presence in the mundane… I don’t remember to ask every day, but on the days I have, He hasn’t disappointed. It can be as simple as noticing a beautiful flower on my walk, or as big as God prompting Peter Furler to play a certain song during a Third Day concert at Red Rocks. Before Peter shouted the song’s title (Mac Powell asked what he wanted to perform next), God whispered to my spirit, “This one’s for you, Julie.” How could I not feel treasured in that moment? God is so good to me.

Ok, before I start weeping with joy and this post ends up waiting as a draft for another day…let’s keep moving… Treasure hunting can also apply to those crisis moments (reactive) because it is really difficult to dwell on the negative when you’re turning your focus to how blessed you truly are.

Thought Busters – There are moments, of course, when I do not have time to sit and work through my junk. Watching my daughter’s belt test last night would be a perfect example. I’m not about to walk out of the dojang while she’s kicking her heart out to deal with the thoughts bombarding me. No, I need to be present for her. This is where I use a short scripture or phrase to blow a negative thought to bits instantly. Of course, I must have these memorized (proactively hiding His Word in your heart) for them to be available when I need them. Here are some of mine:

Thoughts that berate my appearance get shot down with, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Thoughts about defeat or feeling like I’ll never win this battle evaporate with, “My God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ask or imagine.”

Thoughts that make me feel like I’m not making any progress are stopped with, “All things are made beautiful in God’s time.”

Thoughts that prompt me to think that I’m not doing anything to “fix myself” (you know, that urgent feeling to start a new diet or exercise plan so you can whip yourself back into shape)… with these thoughts I go straight for the jugular with, “In Jesus Name, GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN! I am doing something about it by trusting the God who made me! My hope is in HIM and not in anything this world has to offer!”

Obviously you have to prepare for these moments ahead of time. You may use scripture and phrases God gives you while you’re Faith Journaling or Truth Journaling. Ask Him for the right words. Even if you find yourself in crisis mode, and do not have access to “physical tools”, remember, your most valuable resource is the God of the universe and He is accessible 24/7.

I highly doubt this will be the last time I write about renewing the mind, but this is the end of this series… for now anyway. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me through these posts. I hope we’ve learned that we can’t just sit around expecting God to change us without our involvement. He wants us to walk this transformation with Him. Our minds are continually taking in information, and if we aren’t actively renewing them with God’s Truth, they will conform to or continue in the pattern of this world.

Choose this day whom you will serve…

Update: Renewing the Mind: One Year+ Later

battle of the spouses: week 3

I’m going to back date this post to Monday, but clearly I am a couple of days late posting it. I kind of felt convicted that I needed to take care of some things on my to-do list before I wrote another blog post. So, that’s what I did.

Let’s see, week three, was pretty good. There was only one day where I didn’t meet my “official fitbit goals”, but I made a conscious choice to rest that day and knew that would mean not hitting the goals. I was and still am at peace with that decision. My body needed a break. Plus, I think I needed to let that “perfection” idol take a topple.

I really felt like I made some strides in the food category, but I only had three days where I waited for zero the whole day. I don’t think this tells the full story, because I can tell there is a major shift happening. The reason for the shift lies solely on the practice of renewing my mind. Quite frankly, I really don’t care if I earn quarters for the food category or not, I’m loving the heart changes I’m seeing.

Let’s get on with the numbers:

Food Boundary: 3/7
Activity Minutes: 485

I beat the Husband again this week, and I’m now ahead by 18 quarters. I’m not sure he can catch up this week, but we’ll see. At the end of week 4 we will find out who wins the backrubs and such.

I’m still working on that next renewal of the mind post, but as I said, I felt some other things needed to take priority. I finished up the seventeen year old’s lesson plans today (Wednesday), so at least that’s off my list. I had already completed the other three kids’ prep for the fall. Which means, other than some print outs I need to add to their folders, I’m finished planning/prepping for the 2015/2016 homeschool year. I still have to do some lesson plans for the classes I teach at co-op, but those won’t be as complicated…. I hope.

Ok, all of that to say, I haven’t forgotten about the mind renewal series. It will be coming soon.

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.

renewing the mind: faith journaling

Yesterday we did a bit of an overview of what renewing the mind is and today I would like to share a tool I began using last week. You can call it whatever you like, but I’m calling it my “Faith Journal” and sometimes my “Mind Renewal” journal. I feel that by making this a habit, I’m stepping out in “faith”.

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. ~ Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV)

Faith Journal

I love paper journals. I always have. The Husband started buying me Moleskine journals a 20150616_124722 (2)few years ago and I would journal my prayers in them. I also receive journals periodically from my co-op students in all shapes and sizes. I’ve used them for grocery lists, project planning, lesson planning… etc. Well, this past semester, I was given this absolutely gorgeous journal. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write in it. Yes, it is really pretty. When I opened the gift, I gasped. You see, I had been talking to God about starting a special journal. I wanted to get away from my whiny prayers where I kept begging him to fix me (or fix what was wrong in my life). And here, He provided the perfect journal.

So, yes, now I knew He wanted me to switch gears, but I didn’t know what direction to go. I waited. I’m rather glad the journal was so pretty that I didn’t want to mark in it for fear of messing it up. It’s not one of those that you can just rip out a page you don’t like. It’s bound like a Bible.

When I heard Heidi talk about Truth/Faith Journaling (we’ll talk about Truth journaling later) on the Renew your mind audio, I knew immediately that this was what God wanted me to do with the new journal. It came with a gel pen also. Both in the color purple. It reminds me of royalty for some reason. And, as the Lord would have it, my birthstone is purple. I always loved blue because it made me think of strength and water, but purple now makes me think of my heritage in the Lord.

Anyway, the cover says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). I quote this verse a lot. It’s one of my favorites. I think I liked it so much as a kid because it sounded rather mysterious. I know that’s probably a really silly reason to like a verse, but hey, I was a kid.

Back to faith journaling… I decided to carve out time each day (at least once a day) to sit with my new journal, purple pen, Bible, scripture prayer cards (from Praying God’s Word), and any other resources I feel God is calling me to use (I Deserve a Donut is usually there too). I use this time to write God’s truth in my journal with the faith that He will embed these truths into my mind. Some days I write huge passages of scripture. Some days I add quotes from other sources. Most days I include at least one scripture prayer. And, on about half the pages so far, I’ve included in bold letters, “I AM FREE” in the margins.

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I try to do this first thing in the morning, but if I don’t get to it then, I pick a time and I disappear into my room where I won’t be disturbed. A lot of the Thin Within ladies use truth cards, and I think that’s great! I started making truth cards in a spiral of index cards, but felt that God was telling me personally to do something else. I already have all those scripture cards I mentioned yesterday, and I felt God saying those were enough. I knew I would do a journal anyway, so I decided that could be my version of truth cards for now.

I only write what is true or what I want to be true in this journal. My focus is on GOD’s Truth, and not my own version of it. If I want to think the thoughts of God, I have to know His voice. That’s why most of what I write in there comes from the Bible. I call it a faith journal because I’m stepping out in faith through the act of doing this practice before I even encounter temptation.

The section of my scripture prayers titled, “Idolatry”, is fantastic at keeping God in a proper perspective in my mind. Most of them talk about who God is, how great He is, and all that He has done. It’s a bit difficult for an earthly idol to hold a candle to those descriptions. So, generally, that’s where I start my “mind renewal” time. I ask God to keep my mind from wandering, but if it does, I want Him to bring my focus back to Him.

I know that at any point in the day, I can carve out a bit of time to renew my mind some more. It is not uncommon for me to do this multiple times a day even, especially if I come across a truth I want added to my journal. I might jot a note on a sticky and put it with my journal for the next day, or I might sit down right then and add it. Usually though, having my “renewal stops” throughout the day works to keep my mind in the right place after journaling in the morning.

We’ll talk about “renewal stops” tomorrow, but I hope this gives you an idea of what Faith Journaling looks like for me. Eventually I hope to add art to my entries. I love the Bible Art journals I’ve seen from Cathy Maher (Thin Within) and others.


renewing the mind = transformation

I promised I would do a post on this topic, and here it is. I’ve decided to break this into a multi-part series because as I was writing, it kept getting longer and longer. I apologize in advance for the length, but it is my prayer that the Lord will use this to His glory.

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~ Romans 12:2b

Renewing the Mind – Looking Back

“Renewing the mind” is not a new concept for me. I first heard about it when I went through Beth Moore’s Breaking Free years ago (the link is to the updated edition, I did the original). The study resonated with me but I was so convinced diets were the answer. I totally missed the simple message of how to break free because of my strongly held beliefs.

20150616_093238 (2)Later I purchased Praying God’s Word and proceeded to copy onto index cards almost every scripture prayer from the categories with which I struggled most. I still have them. They are color coded by category and kept in two three ring index card holders. Obviously I understood I needed to apply God’s word to my situation. However, I went about applying those scriptures the wrong way. You might be thinking, “how on earth can you mess up praying scripture?” Well, when you have your priorities out of whack, it’s easy.

20150616_093309 (2)You see, I tried to apply God’s wisdom to my diet worldview instead of conforming my boundaries to God’s wisdom. Read that again if you need to. There is a huge shift in mindset revealed in that sentence. Because my mindset was backward, I would often lament, “God, why aren’t you helping me lose weight? (focused only on the result) Why aren’t you fixing me?” (navel gazing)

He would tell me to “get out of the way so He could.”

Still missing the message, I’d further complain, “I’m tired of struggling with this.”

To which He would reply, “Then stop.”

I have so many prayer journal entries (and blog entries) that go along these lines. Sometimes I might actually take His advice for a few days, but then I would fight even harder or look for the next weightloss tool, plan, regime when I didn’t see “results”. I would pray those scripture cards for a few days (while starving myself on some diet) and then stop (when I couldn’t take it anymore and would binge). I was angry that it didn’t seem like God was keeping His word to help me resist temptation.

He kept telling me to stop striving, but I wouldn’t.

He would tell me to rest in Him, but the worldview I had called that “laziness”. I had to at least “appear” like I was trying to fix myself. I mean, there is absolutely nothing admirable about someone who has just given up and let themselves go. I thought that’s what He was telling me to do… give up on ever being thin… which, in truth, was my object of obsession for so long. He wanted me to stop putting my trust in diets (my idol).

So when I found Intuitive Eating and one of the principles was to “put weight loss on the back burner”, I thought they had the answer I was looking for because it “sounded” like what I thought God was telling me. Plus, they had “principles” to follow. God wasn’t giving me any steps to make this weight go away. I wanted a list of rules. I am grateful that the book convinced me to stop dieting, but one thing it lacks is a focus on God. Because of this, the message is hollow and self-serving.

All this time, God was really telling me to give up my worldview. He was telling me to lay all of my diet mentality at His feet. Ultimately, He was asking, “why are you still searching, as if I’m not enough?” That question has grown louder and louder in recent months and now, every time I think about looking for the answer to my weight issues in another diet, I can hear God saying, “Am I enough or not?” I didn’t realize it at the time, but listening to that Tenth Avenue North song (the link above) over and over on my ipod, was a way of renewing my mind. Eventually, it became louder than the need to search elsewhere. Then, when the message of renewing my mind was presented again last week… I was ready to listen.

Renewing the Mind – Looking Forward

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve recently gone through the Thin Within audio series on soundcloud about renewing your mind (there are 4 parts to it). Like I said, the concept isn’t new to me, but the execution, and understanding what it looks like, is. The audio contains some interviews with ladies who took up the practice of renewing their mind daily and it has completely transformed their lives.

When I say, “the practice”, I’m realizing that it isn’t any one method per say, but rather it could look different from one person to the next. There is a common thread though.

Beth (Moore) has said it. Heidi (Thin Within) has said it. Countless others have too. Renewing your mind is about more than just stopping the wrong thoughts. Yes, we can stop them, but if we don’t replace them with the Truth, they will return. When we’re told to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, this goes beyond just saying “no” to a negative thought or a lie.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

bibleYes, we have weapons, but for now, I want us to see that we can demolish strongholds and “pretensions” that contradict God. We can even take our thoughts captive. Some people stop right there with the practice of renewing their mind. They think that just stopping the thought is the answer. I want to make it clear that renewing our mind goes another step further. I’m referring to the final statement of the passage, “make it obedient to Christ”.

If you were training a dog and all you ever did was say, “no, don’t do that”. Would the dog ever learn what you do want from him? Probably not. Would his behavior change. Um no. Your mind is similar in that if we say, “No, don’t think about that”, but we don’t tell our minds what to think… where will our thoughts go? Probably back to the original thought, but who really knows, they could head to something even worse!

However, if we grab that thought, and then change it to mirror God’s thoughts on the matter, this will renew our minds. Renewed minds change how we think. Changed thinking results in changed beliefs… and well, we already know, from painful experience, that we act upon what we truly believe.

So, what should our thoughts look like? Can you believe, God tells us that too.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8 (NIV) check out some other versions for more insight

If the thoughts we’re thinking don’t match up with this list, then we need to take them captive to Christ. If you’re like me, you’re probably bombarded with thoughts on a daily basis that fall outside of this description. Well, we’re not going to try to do the impossible of changing them all in one day… or of trying to change them on our own. We’re going to focus on doing what we can, and leave the supernatural stuff to God.

What can we do? We can take up the practice of renewing our minds daily. I do encourage you to listen to that audio series I mentioned earlier. You’ll learn about other methods than the ones I plan to discuss. I can’t really share what I haven’t been using, so I’m only going to talk about the practices I’ve felt compelled to adopt into my daily routine. Remember, your daily routine may look different from mine, but if the common thread is the same, we’ll still be renewing our minds.

If, like me, you’re looking for lasting change, we won’t find it in a man-made system. God tells us we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds. I love what Cathy Mahr at Thin Within said in one of the audios when asked if she thought the changes in her were permanent. She said that she’d never seen a butterfly return to being a caterpillar. God says she’s a new creation, and so she lives like one. That, my friends, is what God accomplishes through the renewing of our minds. He makes possible, the impossible.

 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” ~ Luke 18:27

Let’s change our worldview. Join me tomorrow as I share about “Truth Journaling“.



battle of the spouses: week 2

This past week I felt like I turned a corner in the journey. I don’t know what the scale says, but I know some really cool things happened. First of all, I was able to wear a pair of shorts that have been hiding out in my closet. Before this week I didn’t even want to attempt trying them on because they already symbolize “being overweight” to me. If I couldn’t get into them, I think I would have cried my eyes out. I was standing in my room complaining to God on Tuesday about not having decent looking shorts to wear (I can get on my junky/work in the yard/workout shorts still). I felt him say, “what about the khakis?” Of course I immediately said, “no, those won’t fit. I bet I can’t even get them over my rump.” He told me to trust Him, so I reluctantly went to the closet to get them.

Gasp. I wore them a few times this week and while they are snug, I could still breathe, which is always a plus when choosing clothes to wear. So, thankfully I have another pair of shorts I can wear now. I am on the cusp of my wardrobe really opening back up to me since gaining weight when I initially stopped dieting last Oct/Nov. Praise the Lord!

Another cool thing is that walking is getting much easier. I’m loving the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. With all the rain we’ve had, there are beautiful grasses and wildflowers growing all along the trail. My feet hurt less each day, and while my knee still acts a bit temperamental, even it seems to be getting stronger. I am seriously considering adding some jogging in week 3. The husband started running this past week, and I think I’m a tad jealous. So, I planned to ask God His thoughts on the matter for me. I felt like I was supposed to work up very slowly so that these exercises put as little strain on my body as possible. I do not want to stress out my adrenals again. No, I don’t know this for a “scientific fact” and I haven’t been told this by a doctor, it’s just what I think my body is communicating to me personally. Well, last night when Peter Furler sang, “I am free to run”, I was fairly confident that God was giving me the green light to add running. (More on Peter Furler in another post)

Up to this point, I have set some Fitbit daily step and mileage goals. My official setting has been 10K steps, 5 miles, and 30 active minutes; unofficially I’ve started shooting for 12K steps and 60 active minutes per day. I plan to bump up the “official” step count goal to 12K starting today. By God’s grace, I have met my Fitbit goals every day these past two weeks.

Although the shorts, and the increased stamina are great, I am loving that waiting for hunger is definitely easier. It is also becoming easier to avoid beating myself up if I eat past full, or if I take a bite of something when I’m not hungry. I’m getting better at “moving on” and turning it over to God.

How is this happening? I have only one explanation. This week I began the practice of daily renewing my mind. I’m sure I am far from perfect at it, but after listening to the Thin Within 4-part series on renewing your mind, I decided I couldn’t ignore this practice for another minute. I’m going to do an entire post on this topic alone, probably sometime this week, so keep an eye out for that. I know this practice has been the biggest breakthrough I’ve had since turning from the diet lie. God promises that His Word will not return void and I am confident that promise is at the root of the progress I’m seeing. I love the peace in my heart too.

Alrighty, so what did this week look like by the numbers? Here ya go:

Food Boundary: 4/7
Activity Minutes: 694

As you can see, I’m not doing this thing perfectly, but that is not my goal. Perfection is impossible and only frustrates me anyway, so I’m putting in the work with renewing my mind (post to come, I promise), and leaving the results to God. I truly believe that as my thoughts conform to God rather than to the pattern of this world, amazing things will happen.

I am still in the lead on the quarter acquisition by 15 quarters now. The wildcard here is what the scale will tell us at the end of week 4. In the past, the Husband has had the advantage there. Again, although I mention the scale, this is not my focus. I don’t know what I weigh and I don’t want to know until God tells me it’s ok (if He ever does).

So, that was week 2, let’s move on to week 3 shall we?

who am I

Yesterday I listened to the most recent webinar for the Thin Within workbook. The discussion ended up being about naturally thin eaters, but the part that I grabbed on to was who we are in Christ. I know that as my mind changes and I begin to see myself through God’s eyes, I begin to behave differently. I’ve done numerous posts out here about believing what God says about us, but I truly believe this is one of those cornerstone truths, that if grasped, our lives would look significantly different.

The world is screaming, “who am I?” There is a way that seems right to man… and that journey to death is fraught with mixed messages and confusion. The search for answers from the world tosses man back and forth by this opinion or that. Until we realize God is not the author of confusion and disorder, we will continue to look for the answer to “who am I” outside of Him… and continue to “chase every breeze that blows our way“.

We don’t have to search any further than God. In the webinar, Heidi mentioned a song by Mandisa, so I thought I would share it here, but before I do, check out what she has to say about the song… enjoy.

The Truth About Me by Mandisa

We’re going to ask, “who am I”. Doesn’t it make sense to ask our Creator?


battle of the spouses: week 1

Well, we made it through the first week of our challenge. I’m going to give a summary of my week, but before I do, I just want to say that I AM CURRENTLY IN THE LEAD! I don’t have much of a lead though.

The husband and I decided to go by “Fitbit Activity Minutes” to decide our active minutes. We felt this was more “fair”. Of course, I was less than thrilled to realize that I spent five days digging and setting a new walk path in our backyard and NONE of that work counted as active minutes because my lower body wasn’t moving enough. I also spent two days on other yard work as well (7 days outside). Your lower half has to move for 10 minutes straight before it starts logging active minutes. I would walk to the garage and back and then spend 15 minutes on my hands and knees digging, hammering, leveling. My arms were very active and very sore. I would end up walking for at least an hour a day, in addition to all the manual labor on the walk path, just so I could earn some active minutes.

As for the food boundary, we both earned the same number of quarters for this one. I had three days where I didn’t wait for hunger the entire day. This is what my week looked like by the numbers:

Food Boundary: 4/7
Activity Minutes: 486

My body is so tired and sore today, so I’m not working in the yard. The path still isn’t finished, but I just need a break to recover. I think the Husband is going to start catching me. I’m only 4 quarters ahead of him, which he can easily make up.

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!