Testimony Time

I am on a journey. And, this journey has no end.  No, it’s a not a “weight loss journey” although when I started that’s probably what I would have called it.  Because you know what, I don’t even have a scale in my house.  It’s not about the numbers.  I am not going to let a number on a cheap scale (or the expensive ones at the doctor’s office for that matter) define who I am.

This is a journey in discovering what I was “Made to Crave.”

I am not where I need to be just yet (I am only 5 weeks in) but I have gotten to a breakthrough point. A point where I can tell you about what is going on inside. Yesterday as I was reading my “Made to Crave” book, I came upon this question:

“What if this battle with food isn’t the curse we’ve always thought it to be?”

Double take.  “What if this battle with food isn’t the curse we’ve always thought it to be?” (emphasis mine) Wait, huh? Uh, yes of course I’ve always thought it was curse. I have been cursing my innate desire for chocolate cheesecake for a long time now.

How many times have I gotten caught up in the “It’s not fair” lie? I may think to myself, its not fair that I just LOOK at a piece of chocolate cheesecake and gain 5 pounds, while skinny little so-and-so over there can eat all she wants and never gain a pound.  I may say, its not fair that I have to work SO hard to lose weight (and then KEEP on working hard to keep it off!).  But you know what, that skinny person has her own battles that I know nothing about, I just don’t even know what its like for her. 

God made me the way that I am for a reason. He created me so that I would experience the consequences of bad food choices, so that I would continually be drawn back into HIS arms. God wants me to go to Him for emotional healing and comfort. And if I go to food for that, and never gain an ounce, well then, what would I need God for? There had to be a consequence for me always running to food, otherwise I would have never learned the lesson; I would have never made the decision to run to God when I am at my lowest points.

In thinking about this, I had two songs that came to mind. The first was “Blessings” by Laura Story:

What if our greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst, this world can’t satisfy.

We as humans were designed to have an innate craving. Different people crave different things. I crave food. But others may crave alcohol. Or shopping. Or sex. Whatever. But nothing in this world will satisfy us the way that God will! Let me tell you, I have many “achings of this life.”  That brings me back to that question. What if this battle with food isn’t the curse I’ve always thought it was? Maybe, it’s “the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.”

Then, during prayer time this morning at the Developing Youth Leaders conference I am attending, another song came to me.

                Hungry, I come to you for I know you satisfy. I am empty but I know your love does not run dry. So I wait, for You. So I wait for You. I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me. Jesus you’re all this heart is living for.

I call that a “God thing.” He put that song in my head. And it all sort of came together for me.  When I am “hungry,” I have been running to food, but I’m not hungry for food, my soul is hungry for something else.  Oh, how many times have I ran to food when really I needed something else. Feeling sad? Chocolate.  Feeling bored? Chips and dip. Feeling frustrated with circumstances beyond my control? Big greasy cheeseburger.  But each and every time, I should have gone to God.

In the past 5 weeks, I am proud to say that I have not ran to food because of an emotion. I have prayed to God or started reading scripture. Now, I’m human. I make mistakes. I fail. I don’t expect that I am 100%, every single time going to remember to turn to God instead of food, but I have made a huge step in this journey. I have discovered the problem and am getting to the root of it.

Jesus you’re all this heart is living for.

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Sometimes you need to see the whole picture..

How many of us have a list of “memory verses” that we know by heart? We pick and choose certain lines that give us that boost or encouragement that we need. But I am discovering more and more, that sometimes we need to get those verses in context, and see the bigger picture.

Thanks to a cute little song that we sing with the youth night kids at church, I have memorized Galations 5:22-23: But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

But when is the last time you read verse 24? The NLT says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Whoa. I must admit, it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus (that’s me, right? Well, that’s supposed to be me)….have nailed the desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. (Uh, have I done that? No? Hmmm…..)

I recall a time at one of the several spiritual retreats I’ve attended (Youth Councils, CBLI, something…) where we wrote down our sins/problems on a piece of paper, and then we came up on stage, and literally nailed them to a cross. It was a great moment.  But v. 24 says, “the passions and desires of my sinful nature.” You want to know what the desires of my sinful nature are? Chocolate. Buffets. Eating something because it tastes awesome but the rest of me feels like crap.

No more. I don’t have a actual cross that I can literally nail it to tonight, but I just got on my knees and I asked God to crucify the desires of my sinful nature.

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Sweet Place of Breakthrough

In January 2008, a friend suggested to do a “biggest loser” competition among a group of friends, in which we all put in $25, and winner takes all! To make it fair, it was calculated by percentage lost instead of pounds lost. At that point in my life, I had a 19 month old daughter, and her high energy levels were taking a lot out of me! I knew that I needed to lose the weight, and since we were tight on cash, that monetary incentive was enough to get me to start. I joined sparkpeople.com to help me track my food/calories and my exercise, and I joined a local womens fitness place similar to Curves, and my motivation just kept up!

I started at 270, and by Feb. 25th I had lost 20 pounds and was feeling GREAT! And, it had seemed that several friends in the competition had lost their motivation and weren’t doing as well (we had weekly weigh-ins), and it dawned on me that I could win this thing! And you know what….I did! I remember having a conversation with a coworker who is also a great friend of mine (she was not in the competition), and she was amazed at my determination. I wasn’t sure where it came from, but I sure was motivated. I had hit that sweet place of breakthrough….that motivation kept me going, and kept me going strong. By the summertime, I was down to 220. I was feeling great. I remember being able to fit into size 18 jeans again. What an amazing feeling.

By the time September came around, my schedule really picked up, and I was having a hard time fitting the Fitness center into my schedule. And, during the summer, I relaxed a little bit on my eating habits as a “reward” for doing so well.  Well, as you might have guessed, the pounds started to come back on. In April of 2009, I found out that I was pregnant with my son, and my starting weight at that initial OB appt? 270. Back to where I started. Depression sank in. I could not believe that I was right back to where I started. Well, the emotional eating combined with the pregnancy, even more pounds came on.

I was so sad that I failed. I couldn’t understand how I had such a great breakthrough, yet still failed. But I am starting to understand it all now. I tried to do it alone. I didn’t ask for God’s help.

That’s why I really think its going to be different this time. I want to crave God instead of craving food. Whenever the cravings come, I either start to pray or turn to Scripture. I can’t say that I’ve come to that sweet place of breakthrough again this time, but I’ll get there. I know I will. God is on my side.

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You. Are. More.

Almost two years ago, I attended a retreat for teens and young adults, because it was part of my job. I had no idea walking into that retreat what I was going to get out of it. The theme on the posters: “You. Are. More.” It was all about breaking free from the labels that the world gives us. Ugly. Nerdy. Weird. Loner. FAT. God sees us as so much more than that!  Enter in the awesome song by the same name, by Tenth Avenue North:

Let me just say, that retreat and the accompanying song has stuck with me. To this day, when the song comes on the radio, I get a little teary-eyed.

Fast forward to today. I just read Made to Crave chapter 5: “Made for More.” Guess what that reminded me of? Yep. Brought me right back to Youth Councils 2012. Lysa Terkeurst writes, “We were made for more than this. More than this failure, more than this cycle, more than being ruled by taste buds.”

YES. God does not want us to struggle with food! Nor do I! I hate it. But it is one of my greatest weaknesses, and the devil who prowls around like a lion, just watches me and tempts me at my lowest moments when my resolve is fragile. I want to crave God more than I crave food. I want to be able to take that food craving that satan throws my way, and spit back scripture the way that Jesus did in the desert instead of caving into that chocolate my taste buds so desire.

You. Are. More. Even though I broke down some barriers two years ago at that youth councils, I still struggle with identifying myself by my circumstances:
Cassie, the girl who is “morbidly obese”
Cassie, the girl who has been fat for as long as she can remember
Cassie, the girl who runs to food when she is sad, angry, tired, etc.
Cassie, the girl who is too lazy to exercise (and makes excuses about how busy she is)
Cassie, the girl who screws up, again and again and again….

It is time, once and for all, that I identify myself as a child of God:
Cassie, the forgiven child of God (Romans 3:24)
Cassie, the accepted child of God (1 Corinthians 1:2)
Cassie, the made-new child of God (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Cassie, the loved child of God (Ephesians 1:4)
Cassie, the confident child of God (Ephesians 3:12)
Cassie, the victorious child of God (Romans 8:37)

God created me for more. And He created you for more too.

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Accountability

No, I didn’t quit. Sorry to leave you hanging (in case I do have any readers out there who were particularly concerned about why I haven’t posted in several days). I attended a retreat for Youth Leaders in the Salvation Army. It was a great time.

Healthy eating update: Today was a good day. I kept my calories low, and despite the food cravings that I have had, I have turned to scripture instead. I haven’t started tracking my weight yet, as I still haven’t purchased a scale for my house, but I am tracking what food I eat daily at http://www.sparkpeople.com. I used that website daily during my weight loss of ’08, and it was a big help. So far so good.

Chapter 4 of Made to Crave is good. Its basically about accountability and asking a friend to help you along the way. Honestly, when I made the decision to do the Made to Crave study and start a healthy eating journey about 3 weeks ago, I just figured this would be between me and God. Well, that’s great and all, asking God to join me and help me in this journey. But seriously, having a person right there, an audible voice to tell you “You can do this,” is extremely helpful. So here’s what I’ve done. I came clean with my hubby. I told him about what I am doing and about this study. And we’re going to do this together. Because we both NEED to lose weight, for our health.

Now I love my hubby and all, but….he’s a guy. I don’t think I need to explain to anyone that even though guys can struggle with food too, its a little different for us girls. So I need a girlfriend to come along side me too. I got that gal in mind, and I’m going to give her a call.

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I declare: I am weak. I need help. You struggle with food too? Join me.

My favorite moment of this Made to Crave online Bible Study so far, was the past hour I spent on facebook. They created a facebook event, and posted questions & activities for us to do in an hours time. Great questions, and its so good to read the responses of others. It helps make this study feel real, like I am in a room full of women.

Here is the part that struck me the most though. Author Lysa Terkeurst writes, “If I admit my struggle with food to my friends, they might try to hold me accountable the next time we go out.” The M2C study posed the question, what is your biggest fear about sharing your struggle with others? My mind quickly came up with the answer, I don’t want people to judge me because I struggle with food.

Then, I read others’ answers:
It’s embarrassing
I’ll be judged by others
That I’ll fail again, and everyone will know
That they don’t have the same struggle and won’t understand
That they’ll think I have no self-control or disciple
They’ll judge me every time I slip up
They’ll see my weaknesses

As I read these SAME answers over and over and over again by different women, my brain just went STOP! Look at all these women, saying the same things….we’re all afraid of the same things here. Let me say that again with different emphasis. WE are ALL afraid of the same things. I did not just list one person’s fears. That question currently has 758 answers to it on that facebook event. On the M2C online blog, they have stated that over 42,000 women have joined this study. Clearly, if there are that many of us joining an online bible study, we are struggling with the same things! Why struggle alone when we could be doing this side by side!

Then my brain did another STOP! Since I have come to this revelation, why haven’t I shared this struggle with others? Okay, you got me. Why should I be afraid? Surely there are other women out there who struggle with food too, right? RIGHT?!?!?!?

I am not going to walk this path alone anymore. I’m going to share it. Hopefully that means I’ll have more readers of this blog. And I suppose I’ll have to change the photo in the header of this generic blog. I’m not walking this alone anymore.

““My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

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Permissible, but not beneficial

“Some of you say, “We can do whatever we want to!”
But I tell you that not everything may be good or helpful.”
1 Corinthians 10:23, CEV

Just because we CAN do something, does not mean its a good idea. Seriously. I should have learned this lesson in life already.

In Chapter 1 of Made to Crave, author Lysa Terkeurst brings up the very good point brought to our attention by 1 Corinthians 10:23, just because something is permissible, does not make it beneficial! Just because I CAN eat an entire pint of that java chip ice cream, does not make it good for my body. Just because I CAN sit at home in bed all day and get no exercise whatsoever, does not make it good for my body. Just because I CAN ignore my Bible and go on facebook instead, does not make it good for my soul.

Praying that every time I try to do something just because I CAN, that this token from God’s Word will come to mind.

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