Faking It

Sunday is my earliest rising morning of the week. Joseph has to be at church between 6:30-7:00 AM, and we’ve been carpooling for a few months. That gives me about an hour and a half each Sunday to spend out in the commons area before first service starts. Some weeks, I spend that time preparing to serve two groups of precious kiddos later in the morning. Others, I spend time in the Word and prayer.  Still others, I sit and stare off into space, because I don’t do well waking up at 5:39 (I usually snooze at least once, sometimes without even knowing I did it).

Today, I decided to start by spending some time in the Word. The Storyline reading plan we just started at Fellowship Greenville gives us Sunday off to catch up or meditate on that day’s teaching passage. I turned to Acts 4:32-5:11, one of the scariest passages of Scripture, in my opinion. I read through the passage, and I prayed something along the lines of, “Lord, help me with this passage. What do You want me to get out of it?” Then I read it again.

And again.

“Lord, help. I’m struggling to see.”

I read through the previous passage, where early believers prayed for boldness in the face of persecution – not deliverance, boldness. Humbling. Starting in 4:32, we’re given an interesting description (not prescription, if I’m understanding the passage correctly) of early believers living and loving sacrificially, to the point of selling their land so that no one was in need. In 4:36-37, Dr. Luke even gives us the specific example of Joseph/Barnabas selling his field and giving the proceeds to the church.

Then 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira. They sold a piece of property, and they conspired to keep part of the money but pretend they were giving all of it to the church (according to 5:4, they weren’t required to sell the land or even to give all of the proceeds from the sale to the church; this was a heart issue, not a rules issue).

Ananias went in first. Peter called him out on his deception, and God struck him dead. Boom.

Sapphira went in next, unaware of what happened to her husband. Peter called her out and told her the same men who dragged out her dead husband’s body would drag out hers. God struck her dead. Boom.

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things” (5:11). I can vouch for that verse. Fear comes upon me when I hear about this story.

But what am I supposed to do with this passage?

I read and prayed, prayed and read.

Believers who prayed for boldness. Believers who gave boldly. Ananias and Sapphira.

For sure, I saw the contrast. I pondered the contrast and asked God what was important about the contrast.

“They were faking it.”

Believers weren’t required to sell all of their land and give away the proceeds. The ones who did were acting out of their love for Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira knew they weren’t required to sell their land. They were free to do with it as they pleased, but they wanted the appearance of a fully surrendered faith like they saw in the believers around them. They wanted the praise of man without surrendering fully to Jesus.

My next prayer: “Lord, where have I been faking it in life?”

I thought about my life now and over the last 20 years. Had I faked having skills so I could land a job? Had I faked certain interests so a boy would like me? Had I faked my personality to make friends? I scrolled through my life like a VHS tape. I couldn’t think of anything.

“Your weight.”

Oh.

That.

I’ve been willing to surrender every area of my life to God, except food.

“Lord, You can have my money. It’s Yours anyway.”

“Lord, You can have my ‘career’. That’s tough for me, but I trust You.”

“Lord, You can even have my reproductive system. I’ll adopt one day.”

“I’m keeping food.”

Tears rolled slowly and smoothly down my cheeks. I needed to repent.

“Lord, You’re right. I’ve been faking a fully surrendered life. I haven’t given this over to You completely. I don’t think I even know how. Help.”

So, that’s where I am today. Breaking. Surrendering. Hoping. Anticipating.

Anticipating God to work in my life and teach me what it looks like to live a sincere, fully surrendered life.

So what about you? Where are you faking it? Your career? Your marriage? Your friendships? Your relationship with God? I’m asking God to show you and to walk with you as life gets real.

Week 17 Weigh-In

This week, I was reminded that I’m a weenie. 

Last week, I was determined to do hard things. I knew it would be good for my health long term, as well as good for my walk with the Lord. 
So, I planned on starting a juice fast on Thursday. I was right about one thing: it was good for my spiritual life. I prayed a lot trying to swallow that first batch of juice! Gross!
Husby and I talked after that nasty first batch of juice, and we decided to ease into juicing. We want to try different fruit and vegetable combinations so we’ll know what we like before juice and water are all we’re consuming. 
We’re going to be trying smoothies as well. The plan for now (once I buy more produce) is to replace at least one meal a day with a smoothie or juice. That works for us right now. 
The juice I did consume must have worked wonders for flushing out water weight, because …
I lost 9.3 pounds this week, bringing my total weight loss up to 38.6 pounds and my current weight down to 285.0 pounds. 
That means I lost all my holiday bloat, and I’m back on track. Considering the fact that I consoled my sad juicing self with whatever I wanted to eat, I’m quite pleased. 
My goal for this week: reach the 40 pound milestone!

Week 16 Weigh-In

Happy January 1st! Tell me: How do you celebrate? Are you a planner and a goal setter? How many resolutions do you make? Do you make lots and lots, hoping at least one will stick? Do you forego resolving to improve your life because of failure to do so in the past?

I think I’m going to take the route of setting goals this year. I have two health related goals: 1) To be off my blood pressure medicine by the end of the year.  2) To weigh under 200 pounds by the end of the year. 
I need to implement plans in order to reach those goals. I know that because I didn’t implement a plan to reach my end-of-the-year goal, and I was far from reaching it. 
Instead of working toward my goal, I went a bit crazy and did whatever I wanted over the last couple of weeks. My actions weren’t honoring to the Lord, and they had pretty steep consequences for me.
Also, I was reminded again how easy it is to slip into my old habits. 
Habits make me think of one of my favorite pairs of shoes from college: a pair of well-worn Birkenstocks. When I received them, they were far from comfortable. In fact, it took months to conform those shoes to my feet. Interestingly, once they conformed to my feet, they were absolutely, positively mine, and I loved them. If you tried to wear them, you would probably hate them, because they conformed to my feet. Each day I wore them, my feet burrowed a little deeper into the soles, until the insides of those Birkenstocks looked like an outline of the soles of my feet. 
Right now, my new lifestyle is uncomfortable. Often, it’s downright painful – physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Likely, it will be months (maybe longer) before my lifestyle is comfortable and is truly mine, before my lifestyle is part of me, an extension of who I am and what God has done and is continuing to do in my life. 
Going forward, I need to tell myself that the pain now is worth it. It has to be worth it. 
So, this year, I’m ready to challenge myself. I want to do hard things. Enough with the easy living. I want to live a life that pursues the Lord and opportunities to be conformed to the image of Christ. There aren’t many opportunities like that while I’m watching TV and eating fast food. 
All that said, most of you clicked on the link to find out how much weight I gained. :0)
NINE POUNDS!
Holy cow. 
I gained 9.0 pounds, bringing my total weight loss down to 29.3 pounds and my current weight up to 294.3 pounds. 
You’re reading all of that right. I probably broke a record. 
While I’m sad that I set myself back so far, I’m actually glad I was able to see what two weeks of my old habits would do to my body. I needed to see the impact of my choices.
I’m not going to dwell on my mistakes. Instead, I’m going to move on and move forward. Dwelling on my sin won’t do me any good, but focusing on Christ will change my life. 
So, cheers to doing hard things this year! I’ll share about the hard things I’ll be doing in the weeks to come. What hard things will you be doing?

Week 14 Weigh-In

Hi, everyone! I’m sorry I didn’t post last week. I’ve been in a bit of a funk regarding this whole weight loss thing.

The funk isn’t just about not wanting to exercise or wanting to be able to eat pizza every day (seriously, I would) or having a deep love for deep fried appetizers and mini candy bars. This funk is really about me being a bratty Christian, one who is reckless with grace.

That reality struck me yesterday as I cleaned off a pile of candy wrappers from my nightstand.

“God, thank You for Jesus. Can I eat all the candy bars I want, too?”

“God, thank You for being enough, and I know You’re enough, but could I have more pizza?”

“Jesus, I know You gave your life away for me, but I don’t want to get out of bed and exercise.”

“God, this surely can’t be what You meant by an abundant life, right? I mean, an abundant life would include a lot more fast food. In my humble opinion.”

I had a particularly bratty moment when I didn’t get what I wanted one day. “James said we would be blessed in the doing! I don’t feel very blessed in the doing right now!” (See James 1:25.)

You see, I knew in the moment that I was misappropriating God’s Word for my circumstances, but I didn’t care.

Reckless.

I know the sacrifice God made in giving us His Son. I know the sacrifices Jesus made for me. I know the grace upon grace He gives – and that He gives MORE grace (James 4:6).

But I stomp my feet and throw fits (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) and demand what I want. Every time, I’m telling Jesus He isn’t enough. Every time, I’m telling Him my way is better. Every time, I’m telling Him He doesn’t know what He’s doing with my life.

Reckless.

But.

Here’s the beautiful, glorious, gracious truth:

He loves me anyway.

He won’t stop loving me.

When He looks at me, He sees Jesus, and He loves me.

He knows I’m broken, and He offers healing.

He knows what I want, and He offers me better things.

He offers forgiveness through Christ when I sin, even when I’m really bratty about it.

The same is true for you, believers, and can be true for those of you who don’t believe if you place your trust in Christ.

This doesn’t mean God won’t discipline me or allow me to go through trials. He has, does, and will continue doing so. And I’m thankful for His discipline! I’m thankful for the trials! They’re making me more like Christ. As evidenced by my regular foot stomping (and not in the cool, Irish dancing kind of way), I still have a long, long way to go. I’m thankful the Holy Spirit is taking me down that journey, one step at a time.

I’ve been pondering some of the ways I can tell God has been working in me over the last 3 months (yes! 3 months!), and I thought I’d share them with you (though small they may be):

  • My typical school routine included purchasing fast food for breakfast during my commute. Often, it was Sonic. When I went to Sonic, I purchased at least a large, sometimes a Route 44, Diet Dr. Pepper with vanilla, and I slurped it as I rode the elevator to my class on the second floor of the school building. For at least the last two months of school, I took the stairs on my way to class, and I haven’t had a soda in 3 months. God is gracious!
  • We participated in a scavenger hunt a couple of weeks ago. MANY trips up and down the stairs and all over the church building were involved – with 10 children – 8 of which were BOYS. Three months ago, I don’t think I would have made it past the first couple of clues, but I stuck it out for the entire scavenger hunt. God is gracious!
  • A few days ago, we helped a friend move out of her second story apartment. Three months ago, I don’t know if I would have been able to help, especially with the constant trips up and down the stairs. But I did it! God is gracious!
  • Three months ago, I rarely went to the grocery store, and I had grown very slack about meal planning. While acknowledging I still have a LONG way to go in this area, I’ve seen definite improvements. God is gracious!
  • I used to make multiple trips to QT for snacks during the week (there is a QT close to school). Now, I don’t remember the last time I purchased something to eat there. God is gracious!
  • It had been YEARS since I exercised regularly, and exercising has become a priority for me (most weeks!). God is gracious!
  • I lost 1.5 pounds since my last post, bringing my total weight lost up to 38.3 pounds and my current weight down to 285.3 pounds. God is gracious!
So, what about you? Is there an area in your life where you stomp your feet and insist your way is better than God’s way? For me, it’s food. For you, it could be something completely different. Maybe you won’t submit your finances to God. Maybe you’ve sensed God calling you to change jobs or to move into a neighborhood you don’t like. Maybe God has been nudging you to go on a mission trip to meet the needs of others and share the Gospel with them. Maybe He wants you to watch less TV and spend more time in His Word and prayer. Maybe there’s a relationship in your life that needs mending. I could go on, but I bet I don’t need to. You know what it is without me providing more possibilities.
What’s stopping you? 
Christmas is a week from today. God has already given you the greatest gift EVER – His Son, Jesus, God with us. What’s He asking you to give to Him? I bet you won’t even have to wrap it. :O)

Week 12 Weigh-In

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We enjoyed time with part of our family, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone else over Christmas. 

My eating has been all over the place. I have the munchies non-stop. Thankfully, I’ve kept up with exercising. 
I lost 2.9 pounds, bringing my total weight loss up to 36.8 pounds and my current weight down to 286.8 pounds. Considering the munchies … and the Japanese food … and the Chili’s … and the two trips to CiCi’s pizza … good grief, I’m pleased!
Now I need to get back on track for real! I have a goal for the end of the year, and I want to reach it!

Week 11

“The nice thing is we’ve lost weight, so we take up less room in the bed,” said Joseph with a hint of optimism and a dash of sarcasm. The bed he referred to is the full size bed we share at my grandmother’s house. We’re used to our plush king size bed at home. First world problems. 

We’ve been at my grandmother’s house for a whopping 3, maybe 4, hours, and my jeans already feel tighter. My resolve is slipping. My scale is scared. 
“Home” does that to me. 
It conjures up emotions I’ve stuffed down with enough fast food and processed pastries to fill out a pair of size 26 jeans with no room to spare. 
“Home” triggers my food reflex faster than anything/anywhere/anyone else. Because I conditioned it to. 
“Home” wasn’t always a place I wanted to escape to. More often, it was a place I wanted to escape from. And I did. As quickly as I could. I had to return home to graduate high school, because I had already left town. 
When I couldn’t escape physically, I escaped mentally and emotionally, often with a bag of marshmallows or a bowl of ice cream or a roll of cookie dough. Or all three. I zoned out in a dark room, illuminated only by the flicker of the television, and I ate until I was numb. 
As soon as my car reaches Horry County, I’m hungry. 
My grandmother’s kitchen beckons me all hours of the day and night. The later in the evening, the louder the siren song grows. 
Tonight is no different. I hear the kitchen calling for me. I already answered it once, eating half a chocolate chip cookie. I only stopped because the cookie was really gross. 
So, tonight, I’m trying something new. I’m praying, and I’m reminding myself of things I know to be true:
God is good.
 
God is wise.
 
God is kind.
 
God is faithful.
 
When no one else wanted me, God adopted me into His family. Because of Jesus, God is my daddy, and I’m His little girl. I am a co-heir with Christ. 
When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. 
Because I placed my trust in Jesus, God sees me not only as though I never sinned but as though I always lived right. Because Jesus paid the price for me. 
The satisfaction of food is fleeting. God is eternal.
The imperfect homes I’ve had and will continue to have on earth are temporary. I have a perfect home waiting for me in Heaven, and it’s eternal, and it’s with Jesus!
God loves me because I am His and because of Jesus. He doesn’t merely tolerate me. He doesn’t love me in spite of my flaws, my failures, my FAT; He just loves me. 
I didn’t deserve the grace God extended to me through Jesus, and I need to stop making other people earn grace from me. 
I have been forgiven much, and there is joy in forgiving much. And freedom. 
I can have marshmallows and ice cream and cookie dough and the other things I didn’t mention eating. In moderation. And with pure motives. 
I don’t need food to cope or to medicate or mask my emotions. I just need Jesus, and He is even more available than convenience food. 
There will be numerous disappointments in this life, but Jesus isn’t one of them. 
Food that is seasoned with guilt never tastes as good. 
I probably should have gone to counseling, but I can’t change that. I can confide in the Wonderful Counselor anytime and any place. And He won’t charge me, because the bill has already been paid. 
There are many other truths worth rejoicing in. What truths do you preach to yourself when you face temptation or when you need strength or encouragement?
I’m skipping my weigh-in this week, but I’ll weigh in next Wednesday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Week 10 Weigh-In

Hi, everyone! Since I posted a lengthy update a few days ago, I thought I would keep this one somewhat brief. I’m typing on my phone to hold myself to that. :0)

First, Joseph and I are extremely excited! We’re going on a mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico in June. We’ll be working with an orphanage. As we know more, I’ll share with you. Sadly, if I hadn’t started losing weight, I probably would have ignored God’s call to go. I just couldn’t imagine being able to do it physically. I don’t even know if I would have been able to fit in a seat on the plane. But, I’m now well on my way to being able to fit in a seat and to be able to endure physically what we’re asked to do. 
We’ve decided to use our weight loss journey to raise money for our trip (we need $3400 total). You may recall that we give each other $10 when we lose 10 pounds. We’ve had a few people offer to match that as encouragement for us. We’re extending that opportunity to all of you. If you’d like to pledge $10 for my next 10 pounds (or Joseph’s or both), let me know. You can pledge for one round of 10 pounds or for every time I/we reach a 10 pound milestone. We’ll be raising money through May, so you can jump in at any time. I think this would be a fun way for you to partner with us on our trip. 
Second, I weighed in today. I lost 3.9 pounds, bringing my total weight loss up to 33.9 pounds and my current weight down to 289.7 pounds. God is so good and faithful! I’m happy to report that He has helped me lose 10% of my starting weight. It feels so good to reach that milestone! Once I reach my goal weight, I will have lost 58% of my starting weight, so I only need to do what I’ve already done about 5 more times. That’s not too bad! Right? Haha!
Thanks again for your support and encouragement. I really appreciate you!