Day 30: The Least of These

Some people complain that following Jesus is boring.

I think maybe that’s because they are not doing it right.

Following Jesus, truly surrendering to Him every day, is an adventure! Saying to God, Lord, whatever You want to do today, wherever You want to take me, whatever You want to show me, however You want to use me, I am Yours.

My pastor is a missionary kid. 71 years ago, he was born on the mission field in the Dominican Republic. He told us a story today about when he was a child and his dad was dying of dysentery. My pastor didn’t realize it at the time, but they brought him into his parents’ bedroom to say goodbye to his father because they believed he would die overnight. God actually healed him! About 2 years later, a little old woman came up to him at a church where he was speaking while home on furlough* and asked what he was doing on a specific date and time. He thought back and he remembered: that’s when I was dying of dysentery! She said God directed her to an old issue of a missionary magazine and had her up all night, praying for him.

What a testimony!

And then other times, God has you sit with a sick friend (as I did today) and make sure she’s OK. And then prompts you to text her throughout the day to see if she needs anything.

That’s no less God’s work than the missionary sharing the message of the Gospel or the old woman praying for healing or the doctor cleansing the leper’s wounds or hugging a hurt child.

Do the work God has for you today. It may seem mundane compared to going to the jungles to share with unreached people. But it’s not mundane to the person you are serving.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 11
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

*(furlough is a periodic break where missionaries come back to their home country and raise support)

Day 29: The More I Seek You

Today is my oldest son’s 13th birthday!

I got married later than most of my friends, and we waited 4 years to try and start a family. So I was 32 when I had my oldest.

Birthdays always seem to make me sentimental. And slightly sad. I jokingly said to my oldest this weekend that I have birthday PSTD. The thing is it’s not really a joke. My birthdays weren’t great when I was a kid. Some of them (like when I celebrated turning 14 with my mom, who was in rehab) were downright traumatic.

I’ve mostly healed from this around my own birthday. It was actually a really nice day this year. But I still wrestle with it around my kids’ birthdays.

And a pandemic birthday no less!

Thirteen feels like a big one. My son is very tall for his age (5’11”!), and I know that makes it feel as if the time is passing even more likely. I wish there were some way of knowing that I am doing this mom thing correctly for him, setting him up for success with whatever comes his way.

But there is no guarantee.

Today in my quiet time, I sang this:

The more I seek You
The more I find You

I was pretty sure I had mentioned that song before, and I did on July 20. I feel good about my choices this past week and humbled at the same time. I’m just so glad I don’t have to try and do life without Jesus.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 7-8 (Sunday), 9-10 (Today)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 27: Over and Over and Over

Grateful today.

Feeling rundown and tired, but grateful.

It’s hard to believe I’m approaching 4 full weeks of this journey! And I’m grateful. There have been days I wanted to not have to care or think about this so much. Maybe one day I’ll get there? Who knows. For now, I’m grateful for God sustaining me and calling me back to His heart.

I read something very appropriate in my daily Bible reading today:

I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to. For instance, take the matter of eating. God has given us an appetite for food and stomachs to digest it. But that doesn’t mean we should eat more than we need. Don’t think of eating as important because someday God will do away with both stomachs and food. But sexual sin is never right: our bodies were not made for that but for the Lord, and the Lord wants to fill our bodies with himself.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

This speaks to the core of the issue for me. I don’t want anything to have a grip on me other than Jesus Christ Himself. I want to know nothing else but Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). I want to (Philippians 3-style) consider all things, including food, to consider them trash that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection (v. 10) – the same power that was exerted to raise Him from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20).

I sang this Dennis Jernigan song in my worship time today:

With our hands lifted high to the sky
When the world wonders why
We’ll just tell them that we’re loving our King

Jesus, I surrender – over and over and over.  I choose to love You and serve You – over and over and over.  As I pray “have Your way in me,” I mean it with new strength and resolve. For as another song says, “It’s only in Your will that I am free.” Yours and Amen.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 5-6
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 26: Just Say No

Yesterday, I went to a very small birthday party. There was a professionally-baked, gluten free cake.

And I said, “No, thanks.”

Was it a special occasion? Yes. The little girl we were celebrating has had a really rough year. Did the cake look yummy? Oh, yes.

But several things went through my mind:

  1. How am I going to track that?
  2. My kids can’t eat it (food dye). I don’t think it’s fair then for me to have some.
  3. It’s my oldest’s birthday Monday. We’ll have cake then, and I’ll probably have a piece.

Here’s the thing. I’m not sure when I started to reward myself with food, perhaps after I started recovery from the eating disorder. I can make everything into a special occasion and a reason to use food to celebrate. I love whipped cream on ice cream sundaes. Brownies. Cake of any kind. More ice cream. Anything with peanut butter. And then maybe some chips.

So for now, I’m saving those special foods for the RARE celebration.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 2-4
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 25: Here’s My Heart

25 days.

I’m 25 days into this journey of breaking up with food.

When I get on here to blog every day, I honestly have to resist the urge to tell you how I ate and how I feel. I seriously want to do that every day – as if that’s the only indicator of success or failure! The fact that I’m still here and still writing shows that God is still working, deep in my heart.

That said, if I’m honest, my food choices were a mess last week. As I mentioned before, my goal right now is to simply track my food (which I did), but I overate and I chose poorly. I woke up Monday and decided to choose more wisely, which I have.

My food choices impact me physically (obviously!), emotionally (kind of obviously) and spiritually (less obviously). I feel it in my body and my mind and my soul. Knowing that I will choose well today frees up my brain space for other things (I have a helpful video about brain space).

But hey? Can we go back to 25 days????

I don’t have much else to say. My mind is swimming tonight after an all-day, borderline migraine and a lot of time in the car, blessing a sick little friend of ours on her birthday, plus sermon prep and practice. All I can think about is the rich young ruler! And what else God might want to deal with in my heart.

Lord, here’s my heart.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 1
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

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