Day 24: Blind Bartimaeus

I read Mark 10 (again) today. The amazing thing about reading the same passage of Scripture over and over is you often notice new things.

Today, I read the story of blind Bartimaeus.

I laughed out loud when in The Living Bible, they tell him to shut up! But he only shouted all the more and even louder.

I noticed this detail when Jesus called the man over.

 “Bartimaeus yanked off his old coat and flung it aside, jumped up and came to Jesus.” V.50

Why did he throw away his coat? In talking to my husband about this, he pointed out that coat was likely all Bartimaeus had.

A note from the Tyndale commentary: “There is a joyous extravagance and recklessness of response, when the soul becomes suddenly responsive to the call of Jesus.”

Matthew Henry says this, “Those who would come to Jesus, must cast away the garment of their own sufficiency, must strip themselves of all conceit of that, and must free themselves from every weight, and the sin that, like long garments, doth most easily beset them, Heb. xii. 1.”

Jesus, here I am, casting away my garment of self-sufficiency, freeing myself from every weight. Let my response be reckless, my soul responsive to Your call.

Bible Reading: Mark 10
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 23: The Believer’s Power

Have you ever really thought about the power available to you in Jesus Christ?

Today, I felt anxious.

Nothing seemed to go as planned. I had a speaking engagement tonight, and I didn’t feel I had adequate time to prepare.

Well, guess what? I did what I could, and God did the rest. He showed up, and everything went fine. It was better than fine.

However, I focused on that and the needs of my family today. Now it is 9:40 PM, and I haven’t written a blog post for breaking up with food!

I will repeat the above question.

Have you ever really thought about the power available to you in Jesus Christ?

Studied it, meditated on it, looked up the Scriptures on it?

I will leave you with a passage in 2 translations and the breakdown below of what the Scriptures are really saying here.

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15(NLT)

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 1When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Colossians 2:13-15 (NASB)

You were dead (in your sin)
Now made alive with Christ (in forgiveness of sins)
Cancelled certificate of debt/charges – wiped away literally.
And took it away/took it out of the midst (kill, destroy, or bear)
Nailed certificate of debt to the cross.
Disarmed spiritual rulers and authorities, disarmed means “to despoil a rival” (to strip of belongings, possessions, or value)
Made a public display of them/shamed them publicly
With victory on the cross

Maybe we’ll talk more about that another time!

Bible Reading: Part of Mark 8, and all of Mark 9 into Mark 10
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 22: The Rich Young Ruler

I read yesterday and today the three gospel accounts of the story traditionally referred to as “the rich young ruler.” I am preaching on this story this weekend, and it was so interesting to read it again in the synoptic gospels.

Synoptic gospels = fancy way of saying Matthew, Mark and Luke, but not John.

I never noticed before that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when He encountered the rich young man. He was going there to be crucified.

Despite the fact that He was on a mission to save humanity once and for all, Jesus stops to bless the children, answer questions about divorce, look at this young man and love him deeply, and respond to His disciples’ statements and questions.

What I found most interesting was the disciples’ reactions.

First, they were amazed.
Then, they were incredulous.
Then, indignant.

In Matthew, they were confounded.

In Luke, they exclaimed. Then they did not understand.

Yesterday, I attended a funeral. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the funeral of a child. The small casket was so heart-breaking. I can only imagine how her parents and siblings felt.

I am like the disciples. Sometimes, I’m amazed. Other times, indignant. A lot of the time, I don’t understand.

But in the midst of all the emotions, I choose to trust.

Bible Reading: Mark 10 (Sunday), Matthew 19 & Luke 18 (Today)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 20: Terminal Uniqueness

I’ve been attending an on-line conference the past 3 days called “She Speaks.” It’s been inspiring and intimidating. And worth it!

For years, I didn’t like attending womens’ events. Today, I am very confident in who God made me to be, but the woman He made me to be is, well – different than a lot of women. I never, ever think about accessorizing. I don’t dye my gray hair. I barely wear makeup. I don’t own foundation or blush or eye shadow. I have a smaller wardrobe than most men I know. I don’t knit or scrapbook or have a lot of shoes (I don’t think 3 pairs of workout sneakers counts!).

Today during the conference, my husband was in the room as I watched a segment on putting together a good outfit, and we both laughed out loud!

I could see these differences and use them to distance myself from these women, but I chose not to.

Why? Because what I have seen so much in the lives of myself and other followers of Christ is that we let perceived differences divide us. In ministry, we call this “terminal uniqueness.” I don’t know who coined this term, but it appears to be based in recovery ministries. To me, it is the line of thinking that no one can help me or relate to me because no one has been through what I’ve been through. We could also extend it to mean that I am so different than this group of people that I have nothing to learn from them.

I spoke at my first womens’ event in 2003. I was sharing a 3-minute testimony because the event was gifting money to the ministry I was a part of. I had been a Christian for less than 5 years and was in a season of depression and anxiety. I thought we were going to a board meeting! When we arrived at the conference, there were well over 1000 people there. This was not what I signed up for! I read off an index card, voice shaking and hands trembling. And at the end, all those women stood up, clapping and screaming not because I put on a good show (trust me – I didn’t!), but because God did an amazing work in my life.

They asked me to come back the following year. And in 2006, I was a workshop speaker.

Am I different? Absolutely. Because God made me different!

I’m glad I didn’t check out emotionally because the last portion of the conference was extremely powerful.

Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering said at tonight’s session, “Satan shuts you down by making you love something more than God.”

This is exactly why I am breaking up with food. Today I’m 20 days in. It’s been a very imperfect week during this imperfect journey. But I’m not giving up. Because God has much more for me than a bag of pastel-colored Caramel M&M’s has to offer.

(Don’t ask any questions about that last part, OK? Rough week.)

Bible Reading: Romans 15-16
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 19: Is It OK for Me to?

Did you know the apostle Paul wrote an entire chapter of a letter to the Romans about food?

It’s true! I read it this morning.

It’s about more than food, of course. But seriously, the whole chapter is about whether or not it was okay for followers of Jesus to eat meat that had been offered to a false god or idol as a sacrifice.

Am I the only weirdo who has referred to a situation as a “meat sacrificed to idols” situation?

Here’s what we really mean.

Is it okay for a Christian to:

Do yoga?
Bake a cake for a same-sex wedding?
Watch R-rated movies?
View TV shows with a lot of sex or crass language?
Post bikini selfies on social media?
Go trick or treating?
Vote Republican? Democrat? Green/Rainbow?

Really, though, if we’re following the example set by Paul in Romans 14, it’s more like this:

Why does that Christian get to __________ when God won’t let me?

Smoke cigarettes (this was a big one for me)
Eat sugar and not get fat (go ahead and laugh)
Drink alcohol
Pierce or tattoo something
Ignore world hunger
Smoke pot (hey, it’s legal here)
Tell dirty jokes
Be mean

Some of these are a little tongue in cheek or over the top. Obviously, no Christian should ignore world hunger!

But the heart of Romans 14 isn’t really about food or yoga or gay wedding cakes. It’s about not causing another follower of Christ to stumble based on your choices – and it’s also about not thinking you are better than someone else who cannot, in good conscience, do some of the things you do.

This is very relevant to my breaking up with food journey as well as our world today. How do we lift each other up in the midst of disagreement? When perhaps we don’t see eye to eye on non-essential issues? Romans 14 is a good resource for these questions.

I’ll leave you with this rendition of some of the final verses. It really made me laugh. Gotta love The Living Bible!

Don’t undo the work of God for a chunk of meat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with the meat, but it is wrong to eat it if it makes another stumble. The right thing to do is to quit eating meat or drinking wine or doing anything else that offends your brother or makes him sin.” Romans 14:20-21

Don’t undo the work of God for a chunk of meat, people!

Bible Reading: Romans 13-14
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 18: Will I Ever Be Free?

Have you ever struggled with debilitating thought patterns? Circles of thinking that made you feel as if you would be bound forever, never to break free?

This is how I felt when I wrote the song “Will I Ever Be Free?”

I hear the darkness call my name
And I can find myself choosing to follow,
Once again, I cannot turn away
From this longing that leaves me so hollow

You can find a recording of this song here.

Part of it is sung, and part is spoken word.

One Day, I will give up this dream that there is something to achieve, something I can receive from this preconceived vision of beauty and victory in the way people see me, of honor and pride, if I wasn’t so torn up inside by this choice, this decision cause that’s exactly what it is, I can no longer fool myself by saying I didn’t choose this, that I can’t lose this, because I use this, and I abuse this body You gave me, oh, yes, You made me, and my mind tells me that what You created is not good enough.

I love this song. It’s kind of cheesy/cliché, but I absolutely love the end.

This performance was in May of 2001. I had been following Jesus just over 2 years and was still deeply entrenched in my eating disorder. I’m so grateful I’m not in that place anymore! And a Scripture I read today reminded me of how I broke free from that place and how I will continue breaking up with food today.

Freedom step 4 of my book is “Think Like a Free Person.” This is the place that everything flows from – everything. Every addiction, every behavior, every false belief, every idol, every life-controlling issue. Everything.

One of the Scriptures this freedom step is inspired by is Romans 12:2, which was part of my Bible reading today.

“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.” Romans 12:1-2

Yes, Lord, when I think of all You have done for me, it’s not too much to ask that I lay down my body and its broken desire for food for You, that I lay down my faulty ways of thinking and let You transform even my mind. Let Your ways really satisfy me. That is what I desperately need. Let me learn this from experience, as I choose to open my life and my heart to experiencing more of You.

Bible Reading: Romans 12
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 17: You’re After My Heart

Deep breaths.

Today is my dad’s birthday. In case you’re new to my blog, my dad graduated to heaven November 9, 2012. He was only 64 at the time. He’d be 72 if he were still here.

I am about to speak frankly. My mom is an alcoholic and just struggles a lot with life. I love my mother dearly and don’t wish I had a different mom. But due to her behavior, the way she talks to me and her disease, we do not have a relationship. We can’t have much of a relationship. If I let you listen to some of the things she’s said to me, you would be horrified (she leaves voicemails for me while drinking).

That makes the absence of my dad all the more difficult.

I started the day with a nice walk and some worship, a work meeting, some healthy food, some worship time, some Bible reading, some deep thoughts. I even worked on a song I’m writing.

What happened after that? It’s not really worth recounting.

I wish my emotions weren’t tossed to and fro so easily. This is another reason I eat. I’m gathering quite a long list of reasons! But when my eating is out of control, that’s my focus. I fixate on that as a source of many problems.

I’m tired of talking today. So I’m going to share a song with you that’s been hitting me so deeply, especially with all the talk about the heart.

This is just the chorus of this song by Rita Springer. It’s called “Landslide.”

You’re after my heart and You’re gonna win it
You’re after my heart and I’m gonna give it
And every piece, and every part
You’re after it all, oh, You’re after my heart

Bible Reading: Romans 10-11
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Trying

Day 16: Do Not Let

Yesterday was hard. Very hard. I posted at 8:15 PM my Day 15 post and still wanted to eat and eat and eat. And I did eat, more than I needed for sure.

How do I know I ate too much?

When I say in my goals below “food tracked,” I mean that literally. My daily goal is to simply track my food, and I do this using the WW app. I have been following WW for over 10 years, and it seems to give me the boundaries I need without being overly restrictive.

My long-term goal is obviously to not run to food for comfort. However, my goal right now is a little different – to track whatever I eat and get in that habit, and then work on the running to Jesus instead of food. But going 14 days with relatively reasonable eating is a big win for me.

Might I need to be more restrictive at some point? Perhaps. But this is a great starting point for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve even tracked for several weeks straight.

So anyway, normally when I wake up after a night like last night, two things happen:

  1. I beat myself up over my bad choices.
  2. My dejected state makes me feel as if I might as well make poor food choices for another day (or week or month or year) before I get back on track.

Today, there was none of that. I felt no condemnation when I woke up. I decided today was a new day, and today I would choose joy. I put worship music on my phone, popped in my ear buds, and went for a walk.

Later this verse was part of my daily reading:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1a

Jesus’s words rung very true to me. “Do not let.” Unless the depression is clinical (which I don’t believe mine is), I have some choice in the matter as to how my heart feels.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5

Today, I chose not to let my heart be troubled over yesterday’s choices, or over all the things that bothered me yesterday. I choose joy. I choose hope.

Bible Reading: Romans 9
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check

Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 15: Forfeiting Grace

Church was wonderful yesterday, as it was the previous Sunday. I drove home, on day 14 of breaking up with food, amazed that it was day 14! Not amazed at myself or anything I had done, but amazed at the grace of God, grateful that He had empowered me over these past 2 weeks. Awed by the increased sensitivity to Him and to the Holy Spirit that has come as I’ve stopped running to other gods. As it says in Jonah:

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9

Yesterday, I basked in gratitude.

Today? Eh. Started the day with a lovely walk with a friend. When I got home, I realized I either lost the new bottle of my migraine supplement that has been helping me, or perhaps the bottle got recycled. Who knows? But it’s gone and it’s not sold anywhere locally.

Then another thing happened and another thing happened and I’m reminded why I eat. Food brought me short-lived feelings of joy among the challenging moments of life. It brought distraction. It brought false satisfaction.

But I go back to Jonah again:

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9

If you’re not familiar with the story of Jonah, you really need to be! The book of Jonah is only 4 chapters and could be read in one sitting. God called Jonah to go preach at a place called Nineveh, but Jonah ran the other way. Long story short – because of his disobedience, Jonah was thrown overboard by the men on the ship he was using as an escape. Jonah was then swallowed by a big fish that God provided to save him. The above verses were part of a prayer Jonah prayed, and right after, the fish deposited Jonah on dry land.

Jonah’s worthless idol was his pride (which he actually continued to cling to, if you continue reading).

But I want to be different. I don’t want to cling to worthless idols anymore. I can’t afford to forfeit any grace. I want my life to be a sacrifice of praise, and so what I have vowed (truly breaking up with food once and for all), I will make good. I will choose to trust.

And I will give all the glory to God in the process.

Bible Reading: Romans 6 (Sunday) and 7-8 (Today)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 13: Adam Versus Jesus – Who Wins?

I didn’t sleep well last night and have been fighting a migraine all day. I work Saturday mornings, and then we needed to run an errand. Lunch helped me feel better temporarily, and then I feel asleep in my chair while trying to get my Bible reading, daily reading, and prayer done. It’s almost 6 PM, but I have finished!

I shared elsewhere the following about my checklist below:

These are my daily health goals. I know some of them don’t seem to be about health, but in order to choose well food-wise, I need to do them all.

Day 13, and I have found this to be true!

I’m still fighting a headache, but not as bad as what I usually experience.

In June, I tracked the frequency of my headaches. I had a headache 19 out of 30 days, and was in pain from June 19th well into July. I’m grateful July has not been nearly as bad. I’m hoping more consistently healthy food choices will help.

I wrote this whole section of Scripture in my journal today:

And what a difference between man’s sin and God’s forgiveness!

For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this one man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s mercy. Adam’s one sin brought the penalty of death to many, while Christ freely takes away many sins and gives glorious life instead. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all, but all who will take God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s sin brought punishment to all, but Christ’s righteousness makes men right with God, so that they can live. Adam caused many to be sinners because he disobeyed God, and Christ caused many to be made acceptable to God because he obeyed. 

The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. But the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace forgiving us. Before, sin ruled over all men and brought them to death, but now God’s kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:15-21

I love how The Living Bible uses italics to contrast what Adam caused and what Christ accomplished. Unfortunately you can’t see it in the above quote, but you can see it here. I started by just writing that first verse, but couldn’t stop until the end of the chapter because it was so good.

Man’s Sin through Adam Versus God’s Forgiveness through Jesus Christ

Brought death             Vs.      Brought forgiveness
Penalty of death       Vs.      Glorious Life
Death king over all Vs.      Kings of Life
Punishment to All       Vs.    Men Right with God
Many to be Sinner      Vs.     Many to be acceptable to God
(because of Adam’s disobedience)  (because Christ obeyed)
We see our sinfulness  Vs.   We see God’s abounding grace
Sin ruled over men, bringing death     Vs.  God’s kindness rules, giving right standing with God and eternal life through Jesus Christ

Sorry I couldn’t figure out how to make it prettier, but you certainly get the idea. I will leave you to ponder that until I return Monday!

Bible Reading: Romans 4-5
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check