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 12: Am I a Fraud?

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In the Sunday evening blog post before day 1 of this “breaking up with food” journey, I mentioned a scripture that had come to mind. Looking back over my journal, I realized I recently read it in the Keith Green biography, which then triggered my memory about a conference I attended (read that story here). I wrote it down from “No Compromise” on June 26. Then on July 12, as I was sitting in church, dreaming about eating peanut butter and jelly straight out of jars, my pastor shared the same Scripture.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves,
    reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
    for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
    and showers his righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

He was actually preaching about the parable of the sower, which he referred to as the parable of the soil. And the first type of soil is unplowed, or “fallow” as it is called in some translations.

And yes, I noted in my journal that the fact that I was listening to the preaching of the Word and dreaming of overeating clearly shows the division of my heart!

I will mention  as a side note here I do hear the sermon twice because I serve in both services – but still!

My pastor ended the sermon by saying that we all have these four types of soil in our hearts – and that we can be doing so well in one area or even many, but there is another area of fallow ground. You can watch the service here, including the sermon.

Oh, how true that is for me. I have always mentioned here and there, especially when speaking, my battle with food. But I guess I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like if I admit to this, and publicly commit to a journey of breaking up with food, I’d be seen as a fraud – that all that talk about freedom was just a cover-up. I mean, I even wrote a book called Learning to Walk in Freedom!

I wonder if Lysa TerKeurst felt this way when she wrote her book. She was already a well-known and popular speaker at the time.

That night, July 12, after hearing that sermon, after being reminded in several ways of this verse that meant so much to me early in my journal, after also being reminded in order to return to my first love, I had to do the things I did at first (more in this video), I committed to this journey of breaking up with food. People might think I’m a fraud, but I have no control over that. But I am choosing to be “all in” with God, and that means an undivided heart full of plowed, good soil.

Bible Reading: Romans 1-3
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 9: Breaking Up with Food

I’ve carried a burden
For too long on my own
I wasn’t created
To bear it alone
I hear Your invitation
To let it all go

As we sang this song at church Sunday, it struck me how deeply this applies to breaking up with food. I’ve tried so hard to fix this myself. I’ve thrown some prayers up to God here and there. But it has bothered me for a long time. I feel ashamed of it, so I don’t ask for prayer, or get the help I need.

I’m done with the hiding
No reason to wait

No more hiding.

I’m breaking up with food, and apparently, I’m doing it quite publicly with the accountability of the internet!

My heart needs a surgeon
My soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father
Again and again and again and again

On 7/13, day 1 of breaking up with food, I wrote in my journal, “I don’t have a food issue – I have a heart issue.”

Your Son for redemption
The price for my heart

One of the Scriptures that compelled me to start this breaking up with food journey is Psalm 86:11b-12a:

“Give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart.”

I need to let Him heal my heart, the heart that He knit together in the first place.

My heart has been in Your sights
Long before my first breath

I am letting go and letting God, as the saying goes.

Thank You, Jesus, for seeing my divided heart thousands of years before I even was born, and dying so that I could not only be freed from my sin, but so that I could praise You with my whole, entire, undivided heart, a heart that was in Your sights long before my first, premature breath that was almost my last. You have been so good to me.

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

Day 8: Breaking Up with Food

I wrote out an entry in my journal yesterday with the intention of typing it up for today’s post. Well, I had class tonight, and then someone came at 8 PM to help with our bug infestation. I’m fighting a headache, so I need to keep this short. I’ll save Sunday’s thoughts for another day.

Today is day 8 of #breakingupwithfood, which means with God’s help, I finished a whole week!

I was amazed at the clarity of mind I had this weekend. I went into an important meeting as well as Sunday services prayed up and feeling especially sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

The more I seek You
The more I find You

These lyrics have been on my heart today. The more I sought food and compulsive eating to soothe my heart and ease my hunger, the more I needed to keep running to those things, despite receiving no long-term satisfaction there. But the more I seek God and surrender and desire to know His heart, the more I find Him, and along with Him, joy, gratitude and peace.

Bible Reading: 1 John 1-2 (Sunday), 1 John 3-4 (Today)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Today I woke up to a flying ant infestation in my office. More on this in a second!

In reading through old journals, I can across this chorus I wrote a LONG time ago. I sang this during my worship time the other day.

Forever, I will praise
Through joy & hurt, I’ll praise
Through pain & peace, I’ll praise
No matter what, I’ll praise You anyways!

I remember the Corrie ten Boom story where her sister was thanking God for the fleas in their sleeping area at the concentration camp. Corrie could not bring herself to do so – until she found out the fleas were the reason the guards stayed out of their barracks. This enabled them to have Bible studies and prayer times freely, and if I remember the story correctly, the Bible they hid was never discovered.

I don’t have quite the miracle story! But I am looking on the bright side. I am a fairly messy person, and because of these flying ants, I’ve had to pack everything on my desks up, move my desks, vacuum and organize. I haven’t gotten too far because I had to work all day, but I will!

I have a lot more I wanted to say, but today is one of those days where I have wrestled to check off the list below – which makes it all the more important to do so! I work every Saturday right now 6:30-11 (yes, AM!). Then today I cleaned for about 75 minutes, had a quick lunch, and snuck in some reading before a 2 ½ hour meeting. I got dinner in the oven, had a snack, and then tried to finish the list below while breaking up kids’ fighting and continuing to make dinner. Still calling today a “win” with more to share in the future.

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 1-3
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 5: Breaking Up with Food

Hey! I got through day 5! Well, I’m still awake, so not quite yet 🙂

Today, I’m a little tired and a bit overwhelmed – not sure by what. I am helping out with a tragedy in an old friend’s family, organizing to meet some needs. I’m glad to help, but it’s been a bit more time-consuming than I anticipated.

I do thrive a bit on routine, especially in the morning. I did not get out for a walk first thing. My family needed me, so that also means I didn’t read the Bible right away. As I’m typing this, I haven’t even worshipped or prayed through my prayer cards, and it’s 5 PM! So I probably should have done these things before I put so much time into the other situation. Thankfully, I don’t need to do much more concerning that for a few days.

Also, another situation I hoped would turn around isn’t. That’s bothering me.

I stopped writing to worship and pray. When I worship in song, I usually just grab the guitar and see what comes out. I meandered to this song:

I will not forget You are my God, my King
With a thankful heart I bring my offering
And my sacrifice is not what You can give
But what I alone can give to you

A grateful heart I give, A thankful prayer I pray,
A wild dance I dance before you
A loud song I sing, A huge bell I ring,
A life of praise I live before You

“I Will Not Forget You” by 100 Portraits

It’s a beautiful song. If you haven’t heard it before, have a listen. Can you guess which line is my favorite?

I need to remember God in all that I do. He has done so much.

I had a long passage of scripture I copied into my journal today. I’ll just link to it here if you want to read.

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 2-5
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 4: Breaking Up with Food

I have always wanted to experience a “zap” moment in my relationship with food – a moment where Jesus meets me at the altar or in my prayer time and suddenly, I’m completely healed and free! I know exactly how to eat and when to eat and how much to eat, skipping at a healthy weight off into the sunset!

I think I wrote about this in my book 😉

The other extreme from the “zap” moment mentality is complacency or even hopelessness, where you have asked over and over for God’s help, and yet you feel like He has done nothing. So you begin to wonder if this is just how life is going to be? Struggling at this level until heaven?

I know logically that it is a cooperation. I do what I can do and God does what only He can do. I exercise my “no” muscle when it comes to food. I make better choices and use some sort of system (even if it’s hunger and fullness cues – which doesn’t currently work for me, and perhaps I’ll write more about that another time) to keep my food in check. And I consistently ask God to empower me to choose Him instead of food.

“Consistently” is the key word there. I would often ask God for help, of course, but then I needed to follow through and allow Him to change me as I made better choices.

That’s why the book is called “Learning to Walk in Freedom.” Somehow, despite writing an entire book on the topic, I have clearly struggled to put this into practice in the area of breaking up with food!

“Obey God because you are his children; don’t slip back into your old ways—doing evil because you knew no better. 1But be holy now in everything you do, just as the Lord is holy, who invited you to be his child.” 1 Peter 1:14-15

Well, once you know better, you do better, so I’m putting it into practice now! I didn’t sleep well last night (fatigue is another food trigger for me), but still chose well today. I also added worshipping to my checklist, whether it’s along with a recording or on my guitar (I don’t have a piano at home). Today, I sang “My Heart Will Trust” after breaking out in Psalm 23 during prayer time.

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1 & Psalm 23
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 3: Breaking Up with Food

I ended yesterday with a headache. Having a headache is a trigger for me, food-wise, because I get an upset stomach that is often only calmed with food. I laid down for an hour and woke worse, with a very unhappy tummy. I had already scheduled yesterday’s update to post, and so despite really, really wanting to overeat, I ate a reasonable snack, tracked it, and went about my headache-y business. I am prone to headaches, so I need to continue to look for solutions for settling my stomach that still qualify as breaking up with food.

Today was better. I even felt a glimmer of joy and hope. Yesterday, I felt really down as my headache grew. Food has been the friend I run to during trying times. I sat outside, praying and realizing for the millionth time that only God can fill that need. He may not always heal the pain, but He is always near if we draw near (as I coincidentally read today in James 4:8).

I’m writing this really late after work because I had a very busy day. I will leave you with a Scripture, all of which I wrote in cursive in my journal after coming across it in my daily Bible reading (I print my own thoughts in my journal and use cursive for God’s Word). It’s long, but please read it. It was both extremely convicting and oddly comforting.

“You are like an unfaithful wife who loves her husband’s enemies. Don’t you realize that making friends with God’s enemies—the evil pleasures of this world—makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy the evil pleasure of the unsaved world, you cannot also be a friend of God. Or what do you think the Scripture means when it says that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, watches over us with tender jealousy? But he gives us more and more strength to stand against all such evil longings. As the Scripture says, God gives strength to the humble but sets himself against the proud and haughty.

So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you.” James 4:4-10

Bible Reading: James 3-5
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 2: Breaking Up with Food

Some people tell me I overshare – that I’m too transparent.

This is one of those times I think I agree.

But not because it’s really an accurate assessment.

I like to share about things I have gone through and figured out. Yes, many of them are deeply personal. But I share because look! The problem is now tucked away in a box and tied up with a neat, little bow. I can speak freely of it because I (oh, yeah, with God’s help, of course) solved that problem.

I mentioned I’ve been looking over old journals. I have to see it feels pretty pathetic to see how year after year, I write about the same struggle with food.

That’s why I hesitate to write about all of this – but I’m going to write anyway. Despite the fact that I feel like I should have this figured out already, every day but Sunday, I will share a few (likely) random thoughts about breaking up with food.

I read this in James 2:12-13:

You will be judged on whether or not you are doing what Christ wants you to. So watch what you do and what you think; or there will be no mercy to those who have shown no mercy. But if you have been merciful, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.

Perhaps that’s not the most encouraging Scripture, but I needed to read it today. I’m grateful for God’s mercy today because I haven’t always been obedient in this area. God wants me to break up with food and the improper place it has held in my life, and so I trudge forward.

Thanks for trudging with me.

Daily Stuff
Bible Reading: James 1-2
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading Read: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #5: It Starts With Food by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig

I finished my 5th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig

This book is a little different than my usual fare 🙂 I mentioned in my last #EmptyShelf post that I struggle with overeating, and I was doing a modified fast with my church. The Whole30 program is based on this book, and so I borrowed it from the library.

I enjoyed the book. I can’t say I agreed with every conclusion. Some sections, I did not meticulously read word for word as I would other books. It’s not really that kind of book 🙂 I was interested in what it had to say about inflammation and some other health issues I face.

Well, the proof is in the pudding, right? Or lack of pudding, since pudding is definitely not allowed on Whole30 🙂 Now that I’m done with the fast/Whole30, I have noticed some changes. I do not crave sweets – at all. In fact, yesterday, I have some banana bread that I made, but that was the first time I had something that could be considered a “sweet.” I also notice less aches and pains post-exercise, but I’m still on a modified workout plan due to injury. I eat a pretty clean diet anyway (gluten-free, low grain, and mostly dairy-free, with lots of veggies and daily green smoothies), so the biggest change for me was not cutting out grains; it was eating so much fat.

All and all, it’s an interesting book/theory, and can be very helpful if you’re trying to clean up your diet. The program seems particularly helpful to those who have autoimmune disorders.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge: