And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfectionism and Emotional Eating

Christmas isn’t easy for emotional and obsessive eaters. I don’t know how many Christmases I’ve stuffed myself so full of goodies that by the time New Year’s rolled around, I weighed five or ten pounds more than I weighed at Thanksgiving just five weeks earlier.

I can still remember driving west on I-90 after marrying my husband in North Dakota 27 Christmases ago and throwing cookies out the window as we drove along because it was the only way I could keep myself from eating all of them in one big shot as we headed back to Montana.

Eating too many Christmas cookies isn’t good for our health, our figures, or our morale, but we make a bad situation worse when we take an extra step and condemn ourselves for eating them. My guess is that there are more than a few of you out there who are now beating yourselves up because you didn’t eat perfectly this holiday season!

So I decided to write a post today about perfectionism and emotional eating. I'm hoping you'll read this and stop beating yourself up if that's what you're doing - because perfectionism will hurt your efforts to break free from emotional eating.

Here are just a few of the areas where perfectionism kicks in to slow down our progress in breaking free from emotional eating:

1. Wanting a PERFECT body.

The lie we believe here is that the only thing that’s acceptable is a skinny body. Is this true? Of course not! If life is about loving God and loving others, then it’s loving God and loving others that makes us acceptable, not being skinny. Not to mention the fact that God accepts us “as is.” He doesn’t demand that we shape up before He's willing to love us.

Believing we need to be skinny to be acceptable will actually hurt our weight loss efforts because it leads to self-condemnation when we break our boundaries. “Well, I’ll never be skinny anyway after all that food,” we think, “so I might as well just eat this and this and this.” And then we go all out in the eating department, which of course, is counter-productive to losing weight.

If we instead focus on the truth that life is about loving God and others, it won’t be such a big deal if we break our boundaries. God is far more merciful and gracious than a world who demands physical perfection. He won’t beat us up because we eat too much, but He will want us to have the right attitude about food and our bodies. So He’ll be hoping we come to Him and to His Word so we can see both food and ourselves through His eyes.

2. Trusting in the PERFECT boundaries.

The lie we believe here is that “if we can just find the right set of boundaries it will be easy to control our eating and/or lose weight.” So we try new diets and new boundaries, just waiting for the right one to come along that will make us lose weight and keep it off.

The problem is that unless we radically change the way we think about food, people, and life, we’ll eventually go back to our old ways of handling life’s problems with food, and we’ll gain our weight back—no matter what program we used to lose the weight in the first place.

The boundaries are a good framework for eating, and I believe they’re necessary for the emotional eater, but we’ll never have enough will power to make ourselves stick to our boundaries until we change the way we think about food.

3. Expecting life and people to be PERFECT.

If we expect life and people to be perfect, we’ll eat when they’re not. At least, we will if we’re emotional eaters. Developing a lifestyle of gratefulness, grace, and dependence on God will help us do away with a good share of those negative emotions that make us feel like eating in the first place.

4. Relying on PERFECT foods.

It’s easy to get in the habit of thinking we deserve to eat well, and that if we only eat what our body really wants to eat—the perfect food, in other words—we won’t feel like overeating.

While this might be true for people who have never turned to food for emotional reasons, it’s usually not true for the emotional and obsessive eater, because it’s often not taste and hunger that’s driving us to eat.

5. Condemning ourselves when we don’t follow our boundaries PERFECTLY.

This is a biggie. I might as well eat because . . . I will never get over this because . . . I am such a failure because . . . I will always be overweight because . . . All of these sentences can be answered with the same phrase— because “I broke my boundaries.”

But the truth is that it would be an absolute miracle if we could break free from emotional eating without breaking our boundaries time and time again. And I mean that literally.

God doesn’t normally choose to solve our problems with a one-time magic swipe of His hand. Instead, He allows us to go through trials, leaning on Him for strength, truth, and wisdom because He can teach us more by having us lean on Him than He can by doing everything for us.

Failure paves a good share of the pathway to success. But failure only leads to success when we step from failure toward God. Our normal operating mode is to step from failure to the refrigerator.

I did that for years, but it wasn’t until I was willing to make the sacrifice of taking the time to renew my mind that I began to experience significant change. God used the truth to transform me. My next blog post will be a renewing the mind challenge to you to start the new year off right!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How To Choose Boundaries

I’ve had a few questions lately about how to choose boundaries, so today I’d like to give some ideas that might help. If any of you want to share how you came up with your own boundaries, that would be great also. Please share your ideas in the comments section. I’ll be giving ideas for three different types of boundaries:

1. A set number of meals or snacks – example: three meals and one snack.

This may be a good boundary for you if . . .

• You like to eat meals with your family. Even if you’re not hungry, you’ll be able to sit down with them and eat a little bit.

• You like structure, order, and routine. This way you can plan out your meals and snacks and know when you can eat.

• You have a hard time telling when you’re hungry and when you’re full. With the meals/snacks boundaries, you’ll look at what’s available to eat before your meal and determine what a healthy amount is. Anything you eat above and beyond that amount would be something you would journal about.

• You tend to rationalize hunger i.e. tell yourself you’re hungry when you’re really not.

• You like to know when you can eat next.

2. Eating when hungry and stopping when full.

This may be a good boundary for you if . . .

• You have a hectic life and don’t have time for scheduled meals.

• You feel like it’s easier to control your eating if you eat only when hungry.

• You’re traveling and feel like nibbling all the time just because you’re on vacation.

• Would tend to use three meals and a snack as an opportunity to eat as much as you wanted at those meals and snacks and wouldn’t have a tendency to do that with hunger only boundaries.

3. Diets

This may be a good boundary for you if . . .

• You're faithfully doing one of the other boundaries and not losing weight even though you want to lose weight (and actually need to lose weight for your health).

Note: If you decide to go on a diet, you should be training yourself to follow one of the other boundaries while on your diet. For example, if you’re going to Weight Watchers and your lifetime boundaries are three meals and one snack a day, you would divide your points for the day between those four eating occasions. For example: 4 points for breakfast, 8 points for lunch, 8 points for supper, 3 points for snack. Then you would truth journal each time you ate more than your allowed points for each eating occasion.

One thing to remember with all the boundaries is that it’s impossible to find a set of boundaries that will be easy to follow if you’re an emotional eater. One set of boundaries may be more suited to your lifestyle and personality than another, but it still won’t keep you from eating when you’re stressed, bored, annoyed, etc.

What boundaries do is provide a structure to keep us from eating emotionally. You might say they keep us from eating whenever we feel like eating, because we feel like eating too often! Boundaries also provide a framework to know when to truth journal.

If you truth journal whenever you break your boundaries, the truth will start working its way into your heart, and there will come a time when you won’t feel like eating outside your boundaries. This doesn’t happen overnight, though. I just counted the number of lie/truth charts I have in a file for blog ideas and there were 17 of them – and I know I didn’t save all my charts!

If you’d like to read more about boundaries, look at the category headings on the left side of this blog and click on the link for boundaries. There are a couple of posts on rules and another one called “Not Even One Bite” that might provide helpful insight, as well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas

Christmas isn’t an easy season for emotional eaters. In a month where we’re surrounded by good things to eat, we’re also surrounded by opportunities for negative emotions that make us want to eat.

The funny thing is that we’ve taken a holiday designed to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who came to bring us peace, and turned it into probably the least peaceful time of the year. The stress of all the things on our to-do lists would send us to the refrigerator even if the Christmas cookies didn't!

So what do we do? Resign ourselves to the inevitable Christmas weight gain? Get rid of the Christmas cookies? Or use the season as an opportunity to change our focus and see life, ourselves, our to-do list, and even Christmas through God’s eyes?

This Christmas my goal is to keep my focus on God throughout the Christmas season and to avoid getting caught up in the negative emotions that seem to come with the season. Here are a few of the ideas I had to help me reach that goal.

1. Practice the presence of God as much as possible.
I think I mentioned before that I’ve been reading the book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a man who lived in the 1600’s. Here’s an excerpt from his book:

I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others.

Brother Lawrence said that developing this habit of always being aware of God’s presence no matter what he was doing did more for his relationship with God than anything he’d ever done before.

I’ve found that it’s a hard habit to develop, but when it works, it’s delightful. It’s like you’re having a side conversation with God while you’re doing other things. Or like He’s right there with you fellowshipping with you while you do those other things. I’ve also found that it makes things you don’t usually enjoy doing almost enjoyable because you’re doing them with the One you love.

2. Deal with the emotions that come up when they come up.
When I find myself craving Christmas cookies, I'll ask myself, Is it the cookies, or is it my emotions? If you have a tendency to eat to procrastinate like I do, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to eat at Christmas. Same with eating for stress. Or relationship problems—often there are more of those at Christmas. What we need to do when we experience those emotion-induced cravings is go to God and work through the emotions.

3. Stick to my eating boundaries faithfully.
This is more important than ever at Christmas. It's helpful to get in the mindset of not even one bite outside of the boundaries - because one bite usually leads to lots of bites!

4. Prepare myself for parties and other tempting eating events by renewing my mind before I go.

I have to tell you that I don't actually do this one because it's not an area of temptation for me anymore, but I thought I'd write about it in case you might like to try it. I think it would have helped me back in the old days.

Here's the idea - before you go to the party, write down a list of things you might tell yourself that would make you want to overeat at the party. Recognize the lies and replace them with truth. You might also make a list of the advantages of eating whatever you want at the party and the disadvantages. This will help you recognize the truth that it really is better not to eat too much.

5. Don’t be a perfectionist or a procrastinator when it comes to holiday jobs.
I probably need to give myself this lecture every day. Perfectionism and procrastination lead to stress. Things don’t have to be perfect. Things don’t have to be done all at once. Pace your holiday jobs throughout the month—if you do one thing a day, it will be more manageable.

Here’s an example. Today, I’m going to buy my Christmas cards and address the envelopes. That’s a job I don’t mind doing—but if I were to tell myself I have to send a bunch of cards today, I probably wouldn’t even get around to buying the cards because the whole process would seem too intimidating. (Yes, I know, I’m a bit on the pathetic side.)

These last three things on the list might seem like they have more to do with practical issues rather than walking with God, but the truth is that every part of our lives affects our relationship with God. When I obsess over food, it affects my relationship with God. When I demand the easy life or the perfect life, it affects my relationship with God. When I get too busy, it affects my relationship with God.

That's why I really want to develop this habit of practicing the presence of God - because I can't focus on Him and demand those other things all at the same time. Living in His presence helps me live for Him. Which is exactly what I want to do this Christmas season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal: Part 3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to be reminded that the race I’m running is the one that leads to Jesus Christ. It’s so easy to make decisions based on other things—what will be most fun, what will be easiest, or even what will require the least amount of sacrifice.

We tend to handle our eating decisions the same way. If our main goal in life is to have fun, then it will be hard to control our eating because limiting ourselves isn’t fun. If our main goal in life is to be skinny, then we’ll have to worry about eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. If our goal in life is to both indulge ourselves and be skinny, then we’ll drive ourselves crazy because those aren’t compatible goals.

What we need to do, with both life and eating, is to run the right race, or should I say the right races, because I think there are two different kinds of races we run in the right race category.

First, we run the race of our relationship with God. Our goal with this race is to keep Him first in our lives. In that race we need boundaries that will keep food from becoming either a controlling force or an idol.

Those boundaries will be different for each person depending on their eating weaknesses. In my own life the boundaries of three meals and one snack a day helped, but there was a season when I also had to give up sweets because I felt they were controlling me. I talked about that in Freedom from Emotional Eating.

The second type of race I see us running is the individual trial race. If you look at Hebrews 11, those saints each had different things God had called them to—and because of the nature of their calling they had different weights they had to throw off.

Take Noah for example. He would have had to throw off the weight of worrying about what people thought of him in order to build the ark. I imagine he would have had to put up with a lot of ridicule. Moses would have had to throw off the temptation to live the fun and easy life in order to do a job he wasn’t crazy about doing—leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses had to keep his eyes on his ultimate goal, God, so he could have the purpose and strength to do the unpleasant task before him.

We too have things God wants us to do even though they may not seem very big compared to the Hebrews 11 people. We also have things that get in the way of what God has called us to do. Food may be one of those things.

To look at boundaries this way, we might ask ourselves: what is God calling us to do with our lives, and what boundaries would help us run that race well? This will be different for each one of us, and it will probably change as we walk through life.

It could be that food doesn’t even factor into your individual race. I was surprised to discover that it did factor into mine. One of the races God has called me to run is the race of writing for Him. And when I get to a sticky part of writing and don’t know what to do (which happens a lot), my first impulse is to go get something to eat, preferably something sweet. God, of course, would rather see me turn to Him whenever I have problems writing.

I had to ask myself, “Are sweets a weight in my life?” My answer was yes. So I went back to my old boundaries—even though I don’t need to lose weight, even though food doesn’t control me, and even though food isn’t an idol—I decided to go back to the boundaries I talked about in my Bible study. Sweets only on social occasions, holidays and out of town trips. Fruit based sweets anytime.

And you know what? I’m finally at a point in my life where I didn’t mind giving them up. It wasn’t really a big sacrifice. That’s kind of exciting.

Breaking free from emotional eating is a process, a messy, disorderly process. You start out consumed with food. The first sign of success is usually the ending of binges. The second sign is usually being able to stick to your boundaries. Then comes moderation within the boundaries. And I’m thinking the last stage is when you don’t really care too much about food.

That doesn’t mean you progress through the process in a smooth, orderly, failure-free way. On the contrary, the process is riddled with failure. It’s easy to get discouraged when you see yourself sliding back a step. It will be far less discouraging, though, when you remember the real race you're running. It’s not the race that leads to a number on the scale. It’s the race that leads to God. The number on the scale is just a side benefit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal: Part Two

For the past two weeks, I’ve been thinking about how my last blog post relates to emotional eating. I had no idea it would cause me to
re-think my own eating boundaries, but it has. I’ll tell you more about that in my next post, but for now I’d like to talk about goals.

Here’s my question: Is the goal of being skinny a good enough goal to get you to give up the foods you love to eat, in the quantities you love to eat them? For me the answer to that question has always been no—except for special occasions, like weddings and reunions, or shocking moments, like stepping on the scale and seeing a number that you usually only see when you're pregnant.

In the past, if one of those moments happened to coincide with one of my rare bouts of actually being able to stick to a diet, I would lose weight—for awhile. But usually only until I reached an acceptable number on the scale, at which point I would joyfully give up the diet and revert back to my old ways, and eventually my old weight.

The fact was, I enjoyed recreational eating far too much to give it up
long-term for a skinny body. It was just like my old running career. The prize wasn’t worth the sacrifice.

Then one day I realized I was going after the wrong prize. That it really didn’t matter if I was skinny—but it did matter if food was affecting my relationship with God. That was the day I realized that sweets had become an idol in my life - and even though I loved God with all my heart, I was still turning to food for comfort more often than I was turning to Him. Crazy.

Although my love for God wasn't strong enough to actually get me to make the sacrifice of removing this idol from my life, it was at least strong enough to get me to want to make the sacrifice. For the first time in my life, I was willing to give up sweets--for good if necessary.

I spoke a little bit about that time in my life in Freedom from Emotional Eating, so I won’t go into detail here. Suffice it to say that having the desire to give up the idol wasn't enough to tear down the idol, just as having a desire to win races wouldn't have been enough to win races.

I also needed the right training methods (replacing lies with truth) and a good training schedule (boundaries). When the three of those things came together in my life, food lost its control over me. It’s been several years now of being free from its control, but what I just realized last week is that I’m still not free from its influence.

I’ll explain this more thoroughly in my next post. If you want food for thought between now and then, read Hebrews 11 and make a list of all the weights those old saints had to cast aside in order to run the races (or trials) that were set before them. Then spend a bit of time meditating on Hebrews 12:1-2 and ask God to show you if you have any weights you need to cast aside to run your own race. The answer might surprise you—it sure surprised me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keep your eyes on the Goal

When I was a freshman in college I joined the long distance cross-country track team. Now, I can just imagine what you might be thinking. Wow, Barb, must be really athletic if she was in cross country in college. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I joined the track team because I was a nice person, not an athletic person. Let me backtrack a bit. During the fall of my freshman year I made the mistake of taking a lifesaving course. The reason I say it was a mistake is because the teacher of the lifesaving course was also the coach of the cross country team. And that team only had four members on it. They needed five to compete. (Can you see where this is going?)

I had a terrible time saying no in those days, so when the coach asked me to join the team, I thought, “How bad could it be? It’s just a couple of months, and I do kind of like to run (emphasis on the kind of).” So I joined the team.

What I discovered was that when I had to get up at 5 a.m. (thank you, coach) and drive twenty miles out of town to find some hills to run three days a week—and then run for more than twenty minutes at a stretch once I got there—I no longer liked to run. But I felt too guilty to quit the team—because if I left, they wouldn’t have a team.

The races were even worse than the practices. I didn’t have a competitive bone in my body when it came to sports, and I always came in last. I just didn’t care enough about the goal of winning to work that hard at running. Instead my focus was on “Why am I running? This is so not fun. I can’t believe I’m doing this.” And that attitude got me last place every single time.

It occurs to me now that my walk with God is much like those races I used to run. If I keep my focus on what I’m giving up for God (I can’t believe I have to suffer like this), I’ll have a bad attitude—and I won’t do well in the race.

But if I keep my focus on God Himself, the Prize at the end of the race—I’ll do much better. Those hardships along the way won’t seem like such a big deal anymore, because God is worth the sacrifice.

This is true in every step of my Christian walk—whether it’s working on the sin in my life when it would be so much easier not to, doing what God has called me to do when I don’t necessarily enjoy it, or even continuing to press on when I see others dropping out of the race—if I keep my focus on who God is and why I’m doing what I’m doing, I’ll have a better attitude. And I’ll be far more likely to run the race victoriously.

The incredible thing about God is that He runs the race with me. He not only runs alongside me, offering encouraging words and help when I need it, He also stands at the finish line, cheering me on, eager to put His arms around me and shout, “Well done, good and faithful servant!!!”

When He’s my focus, I’m not only willing to suffer for Him—I’m eager to suffer for Him. I just need to keep my eyes on Him.

In my next post, I’ll look at this whole idea in the context of emotional eating.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My life is better when I stick to my boundaries

Belief: That looks good. I should eat it.
Truth: My life is better when I stick to my boundaries.

Where do I get the idea that life will be better if I do the things that aren’t good for me?

Well, the idea’s been around since the beginning of mankind. Just look at Eve in the garden with Satan. He convinced her pretty easily that life would be better if she did what God had told her not to do.

He was tricky, though. He didn’t say, “Hey, Eve, God told you not to do this because He knew it wouldn’t be good for you—that it would make your life worse in the long run. But why don’t you disobey Him, anyway? After all, isn’t five minutes of fun worth a lifetime of consequences?”

No, he didn’t say that. He wanted Eve to forget about the long-term consequences of disobeying God. And he made her forget by focusing her attention on how fun, how really fun, it would be to eat that fruit.

Don’t we see the same principles at work in our own lives? When we break our boundaries, what are we focusing on? The fact that breaking our boundaries will lead to discouragement, weight gain, hopelessness, health problems, lethargy, laziness, depression, and not being able to wear our cute clothes? Or the fact that breaking our boundaries will be fun and tasty for five minutes?

Obviously, it’s the second. What we need to do is start asking ourselves this question when we're tempted to break our boundaries: Is five minutes of fun worth a lifetime of consequences?

And of course, the answer will be no. Our lives are better when we stick to our boundaries - even when the potential boundary breaker is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup blizzard. The more often I drill that into my head, the better off I’ll be.

Excuse me, I need to go ask myself a question.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting What We Want

And he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. 2 Samuel 12:20

I’ve been reading 2 Samuel in my quiet times, and the thing that keeps hitting me is how submissive David is to God. And how human he is. It comforts me to know that God calls him a man after his own heart even though he messes up from time to time.

Take the time with Bathsheba and Uriah. As I was reading that story, I wondered if David was ever really convicted about his sin before Nathan came and talked to him. Do you suppose he was so used to getting what he wanted that he didn’t even recognize it was wrong to take another man’s wife and then have him killed to cover up his sin?

And do you suppose we have the same problem? Are we so used to getting what we want that we don’t even realize it’s wrong to make “getting whatever we want” a goal? I see that with eating. Most of the dieting articles in magazines focus on indulgence.

Take this headline: Eat whatever you want and lose weight! I don’t know about you, but if I ate whatever I wanted, I’d gain a hundred pounds. Surely there must be a glitch somewhere in that program.

Some articles take a different approach. They admit we can’t eat whatever we want, but instead they encourage us to indulge ourselves in other ways. Take a bubble bath. Go shopping. Watch a good movie.

There’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but we need to be careful of our focus. Does God really want us to live a life of indulgence? Look where indulgence got David.

And look where it gets us. In the physical realm it’s a weight gain, but that’s not all. Think of the emotional consequences of focusing our lives on getting what we want. Discontentment, boredom, resentment, depression, unhappiness—you name it. We’ll never get enough of what we want to be happy until we reach the point where what we want is God. That’s when joy kicks in.

David always comes back to that point. Look at verse 20 of 2 Samuel 12: And he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped.

David didn’t worship after he got what he wanted with Bathsheba. He didn’t worship after he got what he wanted with Uriah. No, he worshiped after he got what he didn’t want. He worshiped as soon as he heard the news that his baby died—the baby he had been pleading with God to spare for the previous six days.

Isn’t that mind boggling? David was so submitted to God by that point that he didn’t even hesitate. God didn’t give him what he wanted, but he worshiped Him anyway.

That’s the point I want to reach. Where everything I do is about God. Where I worship Him even when I don’t get what I want. First reaction.

I’ll know I’ve made progress when I no longer feel like I deserve to be indulged.

Two hours later (I guess I haven't made progress yet.)

Yes, I know, I'm commenting on my own blog. Pathetic, isn't it? I just have to tell you what God did this morning.

I was sitting down to write and I didn't feel like writing, so I said, "I know, I'll check my e-mails." The only problem was that I wasn't supposed to check my e-mails because I have a boundary of three times a day, and I'd already done my morning check. The only reason I wanted to check them again was to - you got it - indulge myself.

So I said to myself (after checking my e-mails and then truth journaling about it), "Okay, I'm supposed to go to God for help, not my e-mails." So I went back to the Bible, continuing to read on in 2 Samuel, not really thinking there would be anything that would apply to my situation in 2 Samuel.

And that's when it hit me. In chapter 19, David submits again - this time to Joab, and I realized, I need to submit to God - even if it's just for an hour of writing. That instead of checking my e-mails (which is what I felt like doing), I should be worshiping Him.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I found that to be true this morning.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How to Handle a Trial

I don’t know how many times God has convicted me with what He’s given me to write. That happened to me this morning when I was working on a seminar I’m teaching at our church later this month.

In the seminar, I’ll be talking about how we normally handle trials and how that differs from the way God wants us to handle trials. As I was writing it, I was thinking to myself, well, I handle trials pretty well so it will be easy for me to teach this workshop. The more I wrote though, the more I began to see that while I handle some trials well, there’s certainly room for improvement—a lot of room, as a matter of a fact.

Take today, for instance. My trial today is that it’s 8:30 in the morning, and I’m already bored. My kids are asleep, my husband’s off grouse hunting, it’s too early to call a friend, and I’ve already had breakfast and my two cups of coffee for the day. My trial is boredom, and even though it’s a little trial, I still have to figure out how to handle it in a godly way.

According to my advice in the seminar, I should handle the trial by asking myself these two questions: How can I love God best in this trial, and how can I love my neighbor best in this trial?

But I wasn’t following my own advice this morning. Instead, I was asking this question: How can I have the most fun in this trial? (You understand I wasn’t asking the question out loud, but that was the direction my mind was taking. )

I thought of a few ideas of how to have fun, but they seemed like too much work, which showed I was also operating with another concern: What is the easiest way to handle this trial? (Which by the way is why I have a problem with emotional eating -- it's an easy way to add a little excitement to life.)

Now, normally, I would just go on my merry way, trying to find something fun to do. But instead, God used the things I'd written earlier this morning to convict me. I wasn't practicing what I preached.

So I asked myself the two questions I'm planning to tell everyone else to ask: How can I love God best in this situation? The answer? I could have another quiet time. How can I love my neighbor best? Well, since most of my real neighbors are asleep, I could love my internet neighbors and write a blog. So you see, that’s what I decided to do.

I would love to hear some of the wrong questions all of you ask when you’re in a trial. This is the list I’ve come up with so far:

1. What will be most fun?
2. What will be easiest?
3. What will be best for me?
4. What will give me the greatest life?
5. What will make me look the best?

Can you think of any I missed? If you can, please e-mail me or list it in the comments. I’m not giving the workshop until later this month, so I can still add questions to the list at this point.

Meanwhile, I better get going. I have some loving God and loving my neighbor to do. (And I will try to refrain from loving my refrigerator.)

P.S. I just read this blog over again, and want to add one thing. I'm not saying I can't ever have fun in life. I'm just saying I shouldn't live my life for fun - which is what I tend to do. Others focus on accomplishment, the approval of others, etc. My weakness is fun - so that's why I need to be careful about handling my boredom by focusing on fun. There are a lot of things to do around the house today that I consider boring, but really need to get done so I can focus my life on doing the other things God has called me to do. So, I hate to say this, but probably the next thing I should do if I want to love God and others is paperwork:(

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yahoo Group

Hi Everyone,

A month or two ago I got an e-mail from Elizabeth saying she would like to start a Yahoo group where women who were going through Freedom from Emotional Eating could get together and share their journeys. I thought it was a great idea.

She has it up and running now and the link is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FFEE/?yguid=133756361. Just cut and paste that into your browser and it should direct you to the site. The name of the group is FFEE, so if the link doesn't work just do a search for FFEE at www.yahoo.com/groups. Elizabeth is the moderator, so she can answer any questions you have when you join the group.

I'm really happy she had this idea and was willing to set it up as I am a hopeless non-techie! This should be a great place to get encouragement and help as you go through the Bible study. I'll be checking in from time to time as well, so if you have questions, go ahead and ask them in the forum - we can all help each other.

Hope to see you there!

Barb

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'll just break my boundaries, and then journal about it afterwards.

It’s been a busy week of canning and writing and school, but I thought I’d take a quick break to write a blog post. I hope you’ve all been doing well at sticking to your boundaries—I’ve actually been doing pretty well myself, so I pulled this one up from my (huge) file of past lie-truth charts.

Beliefs: 1. It would be so relaxing to have a lemon bar and listen to this beautiful music. 2. I was going to have one later, anyway (so it’s okay to have it now instead). 3. I’ll have one now and just journal about it after I eat it.

Truths: 1. True – although breaking my boundaries on a regular basis does not lead to a relaxing lifestyle. Having an eating obsession is stressful! 2. That’s like saying, “I’m going to get married later anyway, so I’ll just have sex now.” (Well, not quite, but I guess I was in a drastic mood the day I wrote this!) The truth is that breaking the boundaries once leads to a lifestyle of breaking the boundaries. My life is much better when I stick to them. 3. True (that’s what I did). Although, it would be much better to stick to the boundaries, it’s far better to plan to break them and journal about it, than to plan to break them and not journal about it.

The surprising truth is that even if you willfully break your boundaries, planning all the while to truth journal about it—and then actually follow through with it and truth journal—it will still be a good experience of replacing the lies you believe with truth. If your focus is on changing the way you think about food, the only real failure is when you break your boundaries and don’t renew your mind afterward.

But of course, it’s even better not to break your boundaries to begin with. (Not to mention the fact that if you did this on a regular basis, you might gain fifty pounds by the time the truth finally kicks in!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

When It Seems Like God is Asking Too Much

I’d like to tell you about a friend I met over the internet. I’ll call her Amanda. Amanda ordered my Bible study and wrote me after the first chapter, telling me how much she liked it. She felt sure God would use it in her life.

Then she got to the second chapter—the one on trials. Amanda is very familiar with trials. She has some serious health issues and a husband who is not only emotionally distant, but has also chosen not to work for much of their married life. You can imagine how that would make you feel toward your husband, and it was no different for Amanda. She’d been angry with him for more than thirty years.

It was the third lesson of the second chapter that really stumped Amanda—the one where Bill is being a deadbeat and Mary has to choose whether or not she’s going to forgive him. Amanda e-mailed me and told me she was having a difficult time getting past that lesson. I encouraged her to move on—that the fourth lesson in the chapter might help.

Well, Amanda did move on, and God began to do a great work in her heart. Let me let Amanda tell you:

My truth journaling started out angry and defensive, I was trying to justify to God why I should be allowed to hold this grudge and anger. And then I was angry that your Bible study should even suggest that I deal with this!! I cried hot angry tears. I thought there was no way you could understand just how hard my marriage was. After all I was trying to stop emotional eating, what did my emotions have to do with my husband!!

Boy did I find out!! Yes, then the lies started to pour out. And I realized I was not wanting to forgive myself for marrying my husband. You know like - how could I have been so stupid. So I truth journal ALL of those emotions and am starting to see the lies that I had no idea were there!! Then I started feeling lighter, freer. But if I stop truth journaling about this when I think I'm too busy I can feel the heaviness returning. I'm looking so forward to God helping me resolve this. I now believe He will, no matter how my husband treats me, I can cling to Him!


This was only the beginning. God has continued to work in Amanda’s life. She realized she needed to work on the anger before she could really break free from the emotional eating, and so that’s where she focused her efforts. God blessed her work. This is what she wrote to me later:

I realize now that as God allows my husband to follow his own will, God is telling me to come even closer to Him. Maybe it sounds silly, but sometimes those angry lies become security blankets! So letting go of them for me was frightening. The biggest lie I believed was that I deserved to be angry with my husband if he sinned. It is freeing to finally let go!

I can see now that my husband's behavior comes from the lies that he is caught up in. I can feel empathy and sadness for him, instead of anger. And I no longer expect God to fix him for me! :o)


Have you ever been in a situation like Amanda, where you feel like you have a right to hold on to your anger? I know I have, and I’m guessing most of us have. For me, anger was a stumbling block. It got in the way of my relationship with God. When I was finally willing to forgive, that’s when I really started growing close to Him.

It was the truth that made me willing to forgive. As I carried my thoughts captive to Jesus Christ through truth journaling and option charts, God gave me the strength to forgive and submit to Him. I found it to be an incredibly painful experience, but the joy that followed made it worth the pain.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else is having a difficult time with the second chapter of Freedom from Emotional Eating. I realize the lesson in the third day of that chapter is a hard one—especially being raised in a culture that tells us we have a right to certain things. Let me encourage you today that God is always worth the sacrifices we make for Him.

Sometimes it helps to have someone to talk through your problems with. In another week or two I’ll be telling you about a yahoo group being formed where women who are doing Freedom from Emotional Eating can get together and discuss the things you’re working on. I hope it will be a blessing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PMS and Emotional Eating

Have you ever wondered how much skinnier you'd be if you didn't have to have your period every month? There's always that little window of time right before you get your period when you're craving everything in sight. The question is, how do we deal with those times of the month without stuffing our faces?

The answer is simple. We deal with them just like we would the rest of the month - by renewing our minds. The only difference is that we have to renew our minds a lot more often when we have PMS.

Things bug us more, we're more sensitive, and of course there's an actual physical craving going on too. While we can't do much with the physical craving, we can deal with the emotions.

When someone hurts our feelings, rather than going to the refrigerator, we need to take the time to journal. When someone bugs us - same thing - journal rather than heading for the snack cupboard. If we take the time to journal the extra emotions we're experiencing, that will help with the cravings.

Since PMS is kind of a joke these day, it's easy to excuse our actions because of our hormones. We have to be careful not to get swept into that trap. If we're working on bringing the thoughts that cause our negative emotions captive to Christ, we'll have lots of opportunities to do that during that time of the month - not because people are nastier, but because we're more sensitive!

I can think of two lies related to PMS in particular that might cause us to do things we shouldn't do, including eat. Here they are with their accompanying truths:

1. I can't help myself (I have PMS).

Truth: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I need to spend more time with Him and in His Word to get the strength I need to live the way He wants me to live.

2. It's okay for me to yell-eat-be annoyed-obsess-etc. (I have PMS).

Truth: Just because the world says something, doesn't mean it's true. God wants me to be loving, gentle, forgiving, self-controlled, and kind no matter what time of the month it is. I better spend some time renewing my mind, so that I feel these things on the inside - because whatever's on the inside of me is bound to come out, even more so than usual this time of the month.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I already blew it. I might as well eat.

I already blew it. I might as well eat.

How often have I said those words to myself? Maybe about a million times? When you think of it, though, it's a crazy thing to say. And a surprising thing to say, as well. After all, my mom taught me "two wrongs don't make a right." So why do I think eating is a good response to having already eaten too much?

To be honest, I'm not sure. Part of me wonders if it isn't the perfectionistic black and white side of me punishing the inept, can't-seem-to-get-it-all-together side of me.

At any rate, I'll try to journal it.

Belief: I already blew it.

Truth: At what point have I blown it - when I've eaten one bite outside of my boundaries, 20 bites outside my boundaries, or 100 bites outside my boundaries? Blowing it is a relative term. I can either look at what I've eaten and say, Well, at least I didn't eat more than this. It would be a victory to stop here. or I can look at what I've eaten and say, I can't believe I ate that much. What was I thinking? I'm such a loser! I'll never change. I think it would be far healthier and far more beneficial for me to look at it from the first standpoint.

So here's my truth: Thank God I didn't blow it as badly as I could have blown it. Stopping at this point and not going any further would be an incredible victory.

Belief: I might as well keep eating.

Truth: Since eating is a spiritual issue for me (because it used to be an idol in my life), this is a dangerous thing for me to say. It's like saying, Okay, I've already done what God doesn't want me to do, so I'm just going to plan a day of sin and enjoy it. I'll wait until tomorrow to live for God. When I look at it that way, I feel sick. No, I don't want to keep eating. I want to stop as soon as possible because I want to honor God in everything I do.

Here's my truth: The sooner I start living for God, the better.

Monday, August 31, 2009

That looks good. I think I'll have it.

I can’t believe summer is over and fair week is here again. Yesterday was entry turn in day, so the house was full of art projects and baked goods ready to go to the fair. Unfortunately, the kitchen is still full of baked goods, and I noticed them right away this morning when I went to get my coffee.

I began the morning with a bite of a chocolate brownie and one and a half sugar cookies. You’ll be proud to know I resisted the chocolate chip cookies. Although, technically, that’s not breaking my boundaries since I could look at the eating occasion as a very unhealthy breakfast, I decided to truth journal anyway because I know from past experience that breakfasts like that always make me eat poorly the rest of the day.

Beliefs: (Upon seeing the cookies) 1. Oh, that would be good. 2. I think I’ll have one (or two). 3. I’ll just call it breakfast.

Truths:

1. Oh, that would taste good, but it wouldn’t actually be good. After all, what is good? Is it something that’s fun and satisfies my desires or is it something that leads me toward God? Cookies and brownies that early in the morning won’t lead me to God – they’ll lead me to a day of craving more cookies and brownies in a house that’s full of cookies and brownies. That’s not good!!!

2. This isn’t a belief. It’s a decision, so you can’t really journal it.

3. I’m only calling it breakfast to justify eating it. In reality, it’s a crummy breakfast – not filling, not healthy, and not a great provider of energy. I’ll have to be really careful today and journal every bite that goes into my mouth outside my boundaries - because I know from past experience that 19 times out of 20, when I begin the day with sweets, I end the day with regrets.

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Blog Format

Life would be so much easier if I were a true techie. I just posted a blog about a new blog format and then tried to post another blog in that format. Instead, it erased my whole new blog format post and replaced it with the new blog. That is so annoying!!! Plus I can't get my old post back, so I'll just tell you in a nutshell what it said since I need to go out and clean the garage before I lose my momentum!

I've been having a hard time coming up with ideas for posts, so thought I might just try posting some truth journals for awhile and see if that might still be helpful. I've kept all my old lie-truth charts from the past couple years, so I'll pull some posts from those and also post any current truth journals.

If you look at the post right after this one, you'll see what the new format looks like. I'll try to put the belief right in the title, so you can tell at a glance if it's something you struggle with. I'll also try to start posting a couple times a week.

If you have an eating situation you don't know how to journal, e-mail me and I'll show you how I would journal it on the blog. I don't know if this will be helpful, but we can give it a try at least!

Belief: Eating will perk me up since life is so boring.

I'm sitting at my desk today looking at my to-do list and feeling like I'd rather be doing something fun like eating something really good. This is my belief:

Eating will perk me up since life is so boring.

Truth: Eating will actually make my life more boring, because it will cause me to be dependent on food for the exciting life. Since I can never eat enough to have a consistently exciting life, I'll always be unhappy - make that overweight and unhappy. Only God can fill my soul and give me the excitement I crave. I will be much better off going out to clean the garage than going in to the refrigerator to eat something that won't satisfy me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Lies of the Scale

So often the scale makes us gain weight - not because of the number we see - but because of the the things we believe about the number we see. Just as it's important to bring our thoughts captive to the truth when we eat outside our boundaries, it's also important to bring our thoughts captive to the truth when we weigh more than we think we should weigh.

Here are some of the common lies we believe about the number we see on the scale and the truths that can set us free from an obsession with weight:

1. I look terrible (because the scale says I weigh x pounds).

Truth: Although looks are influenced by weight, they aren’t determined by weight. If you look around you, practically every woman you see is beautiful in some way, no matter what she weighs. Enjoy your femininity – you don’t need to be skinny to look beautiful! (And don’t forget—it’s more important to look good on the inside than the outside!)

2. I need to be a certain weight (to be acceptable).

Truth: I am already acceptable in God’s eyes, regardless of my weight, and I don’t need to live up to the standards of the world.

3. I deserve to lose more after how much I suffered.

Truth: I don’t deserve anything. Whatever God gives me is a gift – a blessing from Him. I need to be more grateful for what He’s already given me.

Note: The thing God’s been teaching me about writing lately is that He will equip me to do what He’s called me to do. This has really helped me not to agonize over my writing. I put in my time and effort, and God is in charge of the results. This is just like eating. It’s our job to follow the boundaries and renew our minds when necessary, but it’s up to God to provide the results. We should be willing to suffer for Him even when we see no tangible reward—just because we love Him.

4. It’s not fair that I lost x pounds when Mary lost y pounds.

Truth: Life isn’t fair – sad, but true. God looks at me with eyes full of love and grace, and He asks me, “Will you rejoice with Mary or will you stomp your feet and demand similar treatment?” I need to love God so much that I’m willing to continue following my boundaries even when I’m not rewarded by the scale. Doing what God wants me to do is a reward in and of itself.

5. It’s taking too long to lose this weight.

Truth: I might be able to lose weight faster if I eat less and exercise more, but even then, you can only lose weight so fast. I must accept the fact that losing weight is a slow and often painful process.

6. These boundaries aren’t working (because I’m not losing weight).

Truth: This may be true. If I've been faithfully following my boundaries for several weeks and not lost weight, I may need to re-evaluate my boundaries. If it's only been a week or two, it's too soon to tell. Also, I need to be honest with myself. It's easy to tell myself I'm following my boundaries when I'm really not.

Note: Don’t be afraid to try a new set of boundaries. Some people thrive on programs like Weight Watchers while others do much better on the “eating only when hungry” approach. The key no matter which approach you’re using is to establish lifelong boundaries and change the way you think by renewing your mind, so that your desires will be changing along with your actions.

7. I gained 3 pounds this weekend (because the scale said so).

Truth: Since it takes 3500 extra calories (beyond the amount required to maintain your weight) to gain a pound, I would have had to eat an additional 10,500 calories last weekend to gain three pounds (that’s in addition to the 2000 or so calories a day I would have needed to maintain my weight). Chances are, I didn’t eat that much and part of that three pounds on the scale is water weight.

8. I’m so fat (since the scale says I gained two pounds), or I’m so skinny (because the scale says I lost two pounds).

Truth: I look the same today as I looked yesterday. Two pounds isn’t going to make or break me. Most people won’t even notice a difference in how I look unless I gain or lose a significant amount.

9. I might as well eat (because according to the scale all this suffering is getting me nowhere).

Truth:
All this suffering will bring me closer to God if I allow Him to help me work through the beliefs (I have to be skinny, etc.) that are causing me to be so frustrated with the number I see on the scale. Gaining weight after a faithful week of following my boundaries can be a wonderful, but painful, opportunity for growth as I draw near to Him and ask Him to help me sort through my emotions. It’s so easy to let appearance become an idol in our culture. A high number on the scale can help me work through this issue in my own life once again.

10. I’ll always be fat.

Truth:
If I continue to specifically renew my mind every day in the areas of weight and eating, and if I develop the habit of going to God rather than food for help with my emotions, it will eventually show up on the scale. I need to be patient.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is the scale a stumbling block?

I really appreciate the blogs I’ve read on the use of the scale. Some women have decided to give them up altogether because of their potential for making them stumble. I applaud that. The closer we come to the point where we see ourselves as God sees us, the better—and God doesn’t see us as a number on the scale. He sees our hearts.

I used to feel insecure because of my weight. In my mind, I could see this lineup of women, and I was standing at the wrong end of the line—the unacceptable end—the overweight end.

I felt self-conscious about my looks, and this made me self-conscious about my relationships. I worried that people wouldn’t like me because I wasn't "good enough." This often kept me from reaching out to others—at least the ones who intimidated me.

Even though I haven’t been heavy for awhile, I still sometimes see myself at the unacceptable end of the line because I don’t measure up to the world’s standards. I’m not sophisticated, I’m not fashionable (except for the rare occasion), and I don’t have a glamorous job. In fact, I don’t have a job at all.

I’m a home school mom, an occupation that carries its own stigma. Everyone has an opinion about home schooling and not all the opinions are good. At least in my own life, it hasn’t been a real self-image booster, even though it's been a delightful way of life.

So how do I get over my insecurity given my handicaps? Do I need to stop homeschooling and get a glamorous life? No, of course not. What I need to do is see myself (and my life) from God’s point of view. My insecurity sometimes interferes with loving others well, so it's an issue God wants me to work on. And I work on it, not by trying to look good in the world's eyes, but by working hard to see myself the way God sees me.

Every time I catch myself feeling insecure, I write down what I'm thinking - or what I think others are thinking about me. Then I compare those thoughts with God's thoughts.

Does He think I'm a loser because my outfit's not the greatest? No. Does He think I'm a failure because I gained a pound? No. Does He think I'm mean because I said something mean to that woman? Well, yes, He thought that was mean. I better apologize.

Sometimes these sessions lead to repentance, asking God to forgive me for my sin. Sometimes they lead to prayer, asking God to make me more like Him. And almost all the time they lead to a new view of myself as I lay down the standard of the world and pick up the standard of God.

God judges people according to their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7, Luke 16:15), and He's not crazy about the world's standards. It bothers Him when looks are valued more than character, when glamour is more important than godliness, and when a model-like figure is more desirable than a Christ-like love.

I think He probably grieves when He watches us judge ourselves by the world's standards, and then condemn ourselves because we don't measure up.

The scale can be a stumbling block, because it encourages us to see ourselves through the world's eyes. If we're going to step on the scale, we must be careful not to believe the lies that crop up when we see a number we don't want to see.

I'll be talking more about those lies in my next post. For now, though, try to see yourself through the eyes of the One who adores you—and if you're tempted to see yourself through the eyes of the world, watch out for the scale.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alone in the House with Ice Cream and Rhubarb Bars

The kids are all gone at backpacking camps, and I’m alone in the house with a carton of Blue Bunny cookie dough ice cream and a Tupperware container filled with rhubarb cheesecake bars.

Not only that, I still have an hour and a half of writing to do for the day and a decision to make that I don’t really want to make—both of which make me feel like eating. Not to mention the fact that it’s late afternoon, that magical time of day when the things in the freezer often call out to us.

But I’m not listening. Let me take that back—I was listening, but not anymore. Why am I not listening? Because I decided to truth journal about it (before I actually ate anything, for a change), and I no longer feel like eating.

This is what I wrote:

Beliefs: 1. Some ice cream would be good right now. 2. I deserve it after such a hard day. 3. And since I still have more than an hour of writing to do.

Truths: 1. It would be good for about FIVE MINUTES!!! After that it would make me feel bloated, uncomfortable, crummy when I wake up tomorrow morning, and weigh more than I want to weigh. Is that all worth five minutes of enjoyment? (I actually capitalized the five minutes again in my journal, but I’ll spare you that.) No, the answer is no. 2. Some days will go like this. If possible I need to devote my mornings to writing, so I don’t have any left by afternoon. But when I think of the collective suffering in the world, I’m one of the lucky ones. 3. That hour of writing is an opportunity for me to share in the sufferings of Christ(ouch).

Then I truth journaled about the decision, since that was another thing that was making me want to eat. And you know what? I didn’t feel like eating anymore by the time I was through.

There’s two things I think are really important to keep from giving in to emotional eating.

They are:

1. Start working on your emotions. If you only journal about the food, you'll be in danger of turning to some other bad habit to escape your emotions. If you learn to go to God for your emotions, you'll see things from His point of view and the negative emotions themselves will go away. Journaling about both the writing and the decision today gave me peace about both of those.

2. Make a commitment to journal or pray Scripture before you eat outside your boundaries – even if you’re already planning to eat. Just say to yourself, “That’s okay – I can still have the bowl of ice cream (or whatever), I just need to renew my mind first." More often than not your desires will change, but if they don’t you have nothing to lose. You can go ahead and eat what you were planning to eat.

Why don’t you give this a try and see how it goes? I actually got interrupted while I was writing this so it’s been a couple of hours since I was tempted by the ice cream. And I still haven’t felt like eating anything. I’m not using will power to avoid eating – I just don’t feel like it anymore. Because I’m believing the truth. But I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t taken the time to find it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Brilliant New Anti-Procrastination Technique

I think I’ve found the secret to overcoming procrastination. And yes, I think it’s going to change my life. Would you like to hear what it is? Okay, here goes—are you ready? Picture a drumroll . . . here it is . . .

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Make a list, and . . . (here’s the brilliant part) . . . don’t put anything on the list that you dread doing!

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Now, I can just imagine what you’re thinking . . . That is such a dumb idea. How will you get anything done if you only do the things you want to do? Somehow, that doesn’t seem very brilliant—or responsible, for that matter.

Well, let me put your fears at rest and tell you that I’m not suggesting you stop doing the things you dread doing. What I'm suggesting is this: take the item that you don’t want to do and break it up into small steps—then, and only then, put it on the list—but don’t put the whole job on the list, just put the small step on the list! Now, do you see what a brilliant idea it is?

Let me show you two different lists, so you can see how it works. First, I’ll show you the list I actually wrote yesterday. Then I’ll show you the list I would normally have written.

List #1
Unpack: Computer case, suitcase, red bag, black bag
Put away suitcases
Weed: 20 weeds in carrot patch
Tidy: Living/dining room, kitchen
Do dishes
Look for graduation card for Sterling (I hadn’t come up with my brilliant new plan yet a month ago when I should have sent this card).
Paperwork: Take care of 5 pieces of mail.
Rhubarb: Pick 5 pieces and chop them up for freezer.
3 hours writing

List #2
Unpack
Weed
Tidy house
Send grad card to Sterling
Paperwork
Freeze rhubarb.
3 hours writing

See the difference in the two lists? The second one is shorter, but it’s much more intimidating. Why? Because I know very well that it would take hours and hours to bring the paperwork, gardening, and housework up to my perfectionist standards. In fact, the idea of it would be so overwhelming that I probably wouldn’t even bother trying. Instead, I’d force myself to tidy up and unpack, but that would be about all I’d get done.

The beauty of the first list is that it takes perfectionism out of the equation. When I see that all I have to do is just a little bit, all of a sudden, I don’t mind doing it. And what usually happens is I do much more than is on the list. But the really great thing is this: I complete the list. I don’t get discouraged. And slowly, but surely, I get those dreaded jobs done.

If you struggle with procrastination, why don’t you give this method a try? Make your list, but don’t put anything on the list that you’d likely procrastinate. If it’s something you don’t like doing, just put a small step on the list even if you really have to do the whole job that day.

Here’s an example. Today I had to make rhubarb cheesecake bars for a potluck we’re going to tonight. Instead of putting make rhubarb bars on the list, I put find rhubarb bar recipe and get ingredients out on the list. It may sound simple, but it really works. (My rhubarb bars are sitting in the refrigerator as we speak.)

Now, you may wonder why I didn’t say write one sentence instead of write three hours on the list. That’s because it’s a daily job that I don’t really dread doing. What I do with a job like that is to put six different “30s” on my list. Then each time I write for 30 minutes, I check one of the 30s off. It often takes me until late afternoon to get all of my writing done, but it’s not something I put off and never do like some of the other things on my list (thanks to hours and hours spent truth journaling when I first started writing).

Anyway, I hope this idea helps you as much as it has helped me. I’m still in the early stages of it, but it seems like it will be life changing if I can just remember to keep making a list each day.

Well, I better get going. I still have to pick out a card for Cheryl and address the envelope and write a message on the graduation card for Sterling. I better get busy. After all,who knows? I might just go wild and decide to finish both cards and mail them today!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Emotional Eating and 1 John 2



Summer’s here, and I’m afraid I haven’t been blogging much. Of course, you always worry about emotional eating bloggers who stop blogging. “Why aren’t they writing?” you think. Have they gone off the wagon? Are they eating like crazy and feeling too guilty to write? Will they ever start writing again?

Well, the answer is no, I’m not eating like crazy. I’m doing something much less fun—I’m writing like crazy on my new Bible study. Of course, crazy for me only means about three hours a day, four days a week. But when you factor in procrastination and interruptions it seems like about 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Anyway, I was studying 1 John 2:15-17 this week and couldn’t help but notice how much it ties in with our emotional eating struggles. Here’s what it says:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away and also it’s lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

It may not seem like it ties in at first glance, but look again. I think we get caught up in all three of the “loves” mentioned in this passage when it comes to our weight and eating issues. Let’s look at them one at a time:

Lust of the flesh: We get caught in this trap when we turn to food to satisfy our emotional needs and when we love the food itself so much we feel like we just have to have it.

Lust of the eyes: This happens when we see all those skinny, beautiful movie stars and think we have to have bodies like they do. (It also happens in restaurants when we see the person at the next table eating a gorgeous piece of cake right in front of us.)

Pride of life: When we feel like we have to lose weight to impress others, gain their approval, or live up to expectations (theirs or ours), we’re flirting with the pride of life.

As I studied the passage further, I realized two more things:

1. You can never get enough of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, or the boastful pride of life to be satisfied if you’re turning to them to satisfy emotional needs. You’ll always want more.

Lust of the flesh: Think of it. Do you ever have enough ice cream to be satisfied if you’re turning to ice cream to make you happy? Do you ever get enough chips if you’re turning to chips for comfort? Do you ever have enough graham crackers if you’re turning to graham crackers to avoid writing your Bible study? (Oh, wait a minute, that’s the question I’m supposed to be asking myself!)

Lust of the eyes: It’s natural for us to want to look like the skinny people we see out there, but when we feel like we have to look like them, we’re moving into lust of the eyes territory. Losing weight is a lot like eating. If we’re doing it to satisfy our emotional needs (to be happy, to feel confident, etc.), we’ll never lose enough to be happy. We’ll always be thinking, “If only I could lose a few more pounds . . .”

Pride of life: If we feel like we need to lose weight to be acceptable or admired,we'll never reach the point where we're satisfied with our weight. Why? Because in this country, skinnier is better—and we can always do just a little bit “better.” This is the type of thinking that leads to anorexia.

2. There will always be consequences when you turn to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life for happiness.

Lust of the flesh: It’s pretty easy to see the consequences here—if we eat too much we gain weight!

Lust of the eyes: This might lead to an obsession with working out and dieting or a fixation on the scale. Often the biggest consequences are emotional: discontentment, envy, discouragement, depression, and hopelessness.

Pride of life: Not only do you have the emotional consequences of insecurity, but there’s also the tendency to isolate one’s self. If we feel like others will judge and reject us because we’re overweight, we won’t want to reach out to them.

I thought it was eye-opening to see that we'll never be satisfied with food or weight loss if we're placing too much importance on them (which we tend to do). Another thing that struck me was the importance of seeing not just food from God's point of view, but this whole issue from His point of view.

What we need to remember is that life is about loving God and others, not about looking good and doing what we feel like doing. Let’s see how that applies to each of these “loves.”

Lust of the flesh: My purpose in eating shouldn’t be to indulge myself but to glorify God. I need to ask myself, “Am I honoring God by eating this food, or am I indulging the flesh?” If I were struggling with anorexia I would ask, “Am I honoring God by not eating this food, or am I putting my need to be skinny (or whatever the driving force is) above Him?”

Lust of the eyes: The bottom line here is this: LIFE IS NOT ABOUT LOOKING GOOD AND BEING SKINNY! Every time I step on the scale and beat myself up because I gained two pounds, I need to shout those words to myself. Every time I get insecure because of the way I look I need to shout those words to myself. Every time you do your morning beauty routine or work out and skip your time with God, you need to shout those words to yourself! (I left myself out of that one because I rarely do the morning workout or beauty routine anyway – I know I said I did the workout in my Bible study, but I’m afraid that was a short-lived phase of my life!)

Pride of Life: My main purpose for trying to control my eating should be to overcome the stronghold of emotional eating—not fit into a society obsessed with looks. Every time I feel like I’m not good enough, and that I need to make a desperate attempt to lose weight so I can be good enough, I need to tell myself, “God loves me just as I am. I don’t need to lose weight to be acceptable. I just need to keep working on this stronghold."

I guess the bottom line is I need to seek the approval of God and not men in everything I do. Live my life for Him, and glorify Him in everything I do.

Which means I need to stop eating graham crackers just because I can't figure out how to write my Bible study.

P.S. The other thing I've been doing lately is hiking with my husband and kids. The picture at the top of this blog was taken on one of our hikes last week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting Back on Track

Writing is so hard I deserve another granola bar. Besides, Mischief (my cat) is sitting in my chair (where I would conceivably have another quiet time instead of eating the granola bar), and I’ve wasted the whole day again. The least I can do is have a little treat.

Do you ever feel a little silly when you truth journal? Yes, these are your thoughts, but you know they’re immature before you even write them down? Well, you can probably see I’m speaking from my own experience. I actually wrote that entry while I was eating the granola bar five minutes ago. Pathetic, isn’t it?

Normally, I stick to my boundaries well enough that I don’t take the time to truth journal when I break them, but because I’ve been breaking them for three or four days now, I decided I better go back to truth journaling. The combination of writing a new Bible study along with still dealing with the things in my last post is making me want to eat.

There’s still a part of me that says, “Oh, I’ll just be more careful tomorrow,” or “Maybe I need to change my boundaries.” But the truth of the matter is that what I really need to do is bring my thoughts captive to the truth.

So here goes:

Beliefs: 1. Writing is so hard I deserve another granola bar. 2. Besides, Mischief (my cat) is sitting in my chair (where I would conceivably have another quiet time instead of eating the granola bar), and 3. I’ve wasted the whole day again. 4. The least I can do is have a little treat.

Truths: 1. Writing should be a joyful act of worship—something I give to God, and I’ve lost sight of that. Forgive me, Lord. I need to expect that some days will be easy, and some days will be difficult, and some days I’ll write the whole day with nothing concrete to show for it. I need to accept the fact that writing isn’t an efficient occupation and do it anyway. 2. Mischief would be perfectly happy on my lap, or I could go outside for my quiet time. 3. I haven’t accomplished much, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m imperfect, and life is imperfect. Some days will be like this. 4. The best I can do is see this day from God’s point of view so I can experience peace. I’d rather have the best than the least.

Wow. I had no idea all those things were going on inside of me until I started to truth journal. I thought this was going to be a simple blog about getting back on track after a few days of eating outside the boundaries, and in the name of efficiency I thought I’d write down the truths while I was writing the blog.

Instead, I spent ten or fifteen minutes on my first lie, and another ten minutes on the third lie. God obviously had some things to say to me about my attitude.

Did you notice that God used the thoughts that were at the top of my head making me want to eat to show me what I really needed to work on? As I looked at my thoughts through His eyes, I began to see things differently. His peace began to steal into my heart once again.

Do you see what bringing your thoughts captive to Christ does? It changes the things in you that need to change. It gives you peace. It did both of those for me just now. I often find—no, I take that back—I usually find that truth journaling is a time of intimate fellowship with God.

And you know what? It’s the only type of writing I do that’s always worth it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Running from God

I forgot how crummy it feels to run from God. That’s what I was doing earlier this week. It wasn’t anything extreme—no drugs, no alcohol, not even much ice cream—in fact, if you lived with me, you wouldn’t have known I was running. But I was.

What did it look like? Well, on the inside it looked like this—incredible boredom, subdued grief, mild panic, and extreme restlessness. On the outside it looked like a woman complaining and making jokes about how bored she was but not doing anything to get unbored.

Actually, that’s not quite true. I did try a few things. I wandered around the house. I wandered around the yard. I even read a good book and watched the Survivor Finale on the internet. I also called a few friends and told them how bored I was.

What I didn’t do was go to God for the help I needed to cope with life. Instead, I just coasted through the days trying not to think—trying to cover up my emotions with recreational activities. And it didn’t work.

I was miserable. Yes, it was a functioning kind of miserable, but miserable just the same. How much better life is when I go to God for help as soon as I need that help! You know why I didn’t go? Because I didn’t want to think about it.

You see, a lot has happened the last couple weeks. First I gave some talks on emotional eating at the local hospital (a scary experience); then I had to wait three days to go back for further evaluation after a suspicious mammogram (everything turned out okay), and then we had a graduation party for our second son (who will be going to college in the fall) with all the accompanying “life with the kids has been so great—I can’t believe they’re all leaving” emotions.

In the midst of all that my oldest son left for a three month adventure in Europe and the Middle East, traveling alone, and sleeping who knows where (it’s a budget trip).

All those old feelings of being sad about the kids leaving and worrying about their welfare came back to haunt me—but instead of dealing with my emotions—renewing my mind and seeing the situation from God’s point of view, I just tried not to think about it.

Do you ever do this? Life is nagging at you, but you don’t want to deal with it? You’d rather just escape? Well, I can tell you from experience this is a bad idea—you can’t escape!

I love living at peace. I love making God’s priorities, my priorities. I love trusting in His sovereign nature and even submitting to His will. But none of these things happen by chance.

If my focus is on escaping life or even on making life so great I don’t want to escape it, I’m not going to live a peaceful life—because I can’t find peace without God.

I did find peace eventually. The third day of my run, I submitted to God. I prayed with thanksgiving. I truth journaled. I asked myself, “How am I seeing these situations in life? How does God see these same situations?” What I did was get God’s perspective on my life. And when I got His perspective, I also received His peace and joy.

We can’t create the perfect life. We can’t control life. We can’t guarantee our kids will always make wise decisions (or us, either, for that matter). But we can trust in God. We can rely on His goodness. We can recognize His sovereignty. We can go to Him with our concerns.

I’m through running—at least for this week. My goal is to be through running for good, but I’m not na├»ve enough to think I’ll never stumble again. So much of Christianity is learning how to live for God in each new situation that comes up. It just seems like I've had a lot of new situations lately.

I'm going to keep pressing on, though. I don't want to be a mom who worries. I don't want to be a woman who's afraid to do things that make her uncomfortable. I don't want to be a person who feels like life has to be exciting all the time. What I want to be is a woman who loves God and lives in His presence all the time.

Even when it's hard.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Working on the Emotions

According to a 7/19/06 ABC news report, about 140,000 people have weight-loss surgery each year, and it's estimated that somewhere between 5 and 30 percent of them pick up new addictive behaviors afterward.

That was three years ago. I can only guess that the numbers have gone up.

This underscores for me the importance of not just working on the lies that make us eat, but also working on the lies that are causing our negative emotions in the first place. If we don’t go to God with those negative emotions, we’ll have to do something else with them—and that something else could very well lead to another addiction.

Let’s look at this issue from the standpoint of just one emotion. Take the emotion of anger—do you ever feel annoyed with your friends or family members? Is there anyone at church or work that really gets on your nerves? How do you respond in these situations?

Here are some possible responses:

1) Eat.
2) Truth journal so you don’t eat.
3) Withdraw—ignore them or get out of the relationship.
4) Try to be nice even though you’re silently resenting them.
5) Get your feelings out by talking to a friend or writing in a journal.
6) Try to change them. Maybe if you say the right thing, they’ll see the light and change.
7) Feel sorry for yourself.
8) Yell at them.
9) Learn to see them through God’s eyes, then accept, forgive, and love.

Of course, we all know the right response—but it’s certainly not the natural response, is it? We would really have to spend some time bringing our thoughts captive to the truth if we wanted to respond with that last option. That option, though, is the only option that will bring peace (unless of course the other person is willing and able to change, which doesn’t usually happen).

Now you might think that the second option is a good option also. I agree—it’s a good option—but if that’s all you do, it can be a dangerous option. Why? Because those negative emotions still need to be released. If you only work on not eating and don’t work on getting rid of the anger, you’ll be in danger of turning to another escape to get rid of those negative emotions.

Women often tell me that Freedom from Emotional Eating is just as much about regular life as it is about eating. That’s because it’s regular life that makes us eat. If we don’t learn how to deal with our problems the way God wants us to, those emotions will still be there in need of an outlet. If we don’t eat, what will we do?

So much of the Christian walk is about dying to our “rights” and being willing to do anything for God. Because we’re so entrenched in the world’s way of thinking, it’s hard for us to do that without first taking the time to carry our thoughts captive to the truth.

I find that when I take the time to line my thoughts up with God’s thoughts, it helps me submit to Him—and submitting to Him always brings peace.

And peace is one of those emotions that doesn’t make me feel like eating.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hi everyone, I was having my quiet time this morning and came across this great Bible verse. It's Jeremiah 23:29.

"Is not My word like fire?" declares the Lord, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?"

God's Word is perfect for breaking down strongholds. I thought this would be another good verse for us to pray through!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Lies That Precede Special Events

Whenever I feel like I have to be skinny I gain weight. Something about the dilemma of trying to meet the world’s expectations for my body just makes me want to eat.

Have you ever felt that way? You have a special event you’re planning to go to, and you feel like you just have to lose a few pounds before then? I haven’t truth journaled much for these kinds of things, but I need to, because they honestly always make me gain weight.

Today I want to look at the lies that make me feel like I have to be skinny for certain things. I want to prepare myself for those events ahead of time, so I don’t get swept into the idea that who I am on the outside is more important than who I am on the inside. Care to join me?

The Lies That Precede Special Events

1. I need to lose x pounds before this event.

Truth: This is actually a bad time for me to try to lose weight. It will feed into the idea that I have to be skinny for this event. Knowing my track record, the pressure will probably make me gain weight instead. (Note: This is true for me, but it might not be true for you—I imagine each of us is different in this regard.)

2. I have to be skinny for this event.

Truth: Any time I say, “I have to be” or “I have to have,” I’m in danger of making that “have to” an idol. God wants to be the only “have to” in my life. It’s presumptuous of me to say I have to live up to someone else’s standards (even if that someone else is me). I need to forget Hollywood’s take on life and embrace God’s view of life. If I’m going to work on something before the event, my character might be a better choice! (Something about this truth is making me want to grab some pom-poms and start cheering.)

3. If I’m x number of pounds I’m skinny, but if I’m y number of pounds I’m fat.

Truth: X and Y change throughout life. The number on the scale I now see as “fat” looked skinny to me a year ago. Weight is relative. I need to remember that.

4. If I’m not skinny, people will condemn me.

Truth: I can't change how others see me, but I can change how much I let it affect me. I'll have to be careful to steep myself in the Word before this event, so I see myself through God's eyes and not the eyes of others. Plus I'll need to be careful to love those who condemn me, and not condemn them back.

5. It will be terrible if I’m not skinny.

Truth: It will be life if I’m not skinny. After all, haven’t I been “not skinny” at these events before? It’s not the end of the world if I’m not skinny!

6. It will be embarrassing if I’m not skinny.

Truth: It will be an opportunity to grow if I’m not skinny. If I take my embarrassment and go to God with it and use it as an indicator that I’m not seeing life through His eyes, it can spur me on to greater intimacy with God as I work on lining up my thoughts up with His.

7. I might as well keep eating, since I’ll never be able to lose weight by then (this is said, of course, after the diet has failed a few times).

Truth: If my goal is to break free from the stronghold of emotional eating (and possibly another stronghold of focusing too much on appearance), I might as well use this event as an opportunity to carry my thoughts captive to the truth. This whole experience can draw me closer to God as I work on all these thoughts and emotions that are racing through my mind. I need to remember—the goal isn’t to be skinny. The goal is to learn how to live life the way He wants me to live it.

I don’t know about you, but this is making me want to put on a swimsuit and go to the beach! Breaking free from the need to look good all the time is just as important as breaking free from the need to eat all the time.

Why don’t we make a choice today to view ourselves through the eyes of God and not the eyes of the world?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Does It Ever Get Easy?

Do you ever wonder if you’ll struggle with food for the rest of your life? I know I used to feel like that. Eating seemed to be that one thing in life I would never be able to get a handle on. I didn’t control food—it controlled me.

I know many of you who read this blog feel the same way I used to feel. You wonder if you’ll ever get over it, and you’re tired of the battle. It’s hard to keep pressing on when you fail time after time after time.

Of course, Monday mornings are always hopeful. That’s the traditional day to start the new program, right? We eat all weekend with the idea that we’ll be good “starting Monday.”

But Monday never lasts. By Thursday or Friday (if we last that long), it’s back to the same old story—breaking our boundaries, feeling discouraged, and wanting to give up.

Here’s the interesting thing. Since we have a tendency to handle life’s problems with food, our natural inclination is to handle the problem of trying to stick to our eating boundaries the same way. When it’s hard, we eat! Of course, that breaks the boundaries and leads to the feeling that we’ll never get over the problem.

So what’s the answer? Are we stuck in an endless circle of failure and discouragement? No, a thousand times no! The answer is God. He can set us free from anything. He’s the Creator of the universe. He can move mountains. Of course, He can set us free from emotional eating.

What we need to do is study His Word to find out how He sets people free. What does God use to change behavior? Let’s look at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. When He prayed this prayer, He knew He wouldn’t be around much longer, and He was praying for the ones He was leaving behind.

In John 17:15 Jesus is telling the Father, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” This could also be translated “keep them out of evil.”

He goes on to say how this is accomplished in verse 17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” The Greek word for “in” that’s used here has an essence of “by means of.” We are sanctified and kept from evil by means of the truth.

In other words, we don’t change our behavior by getting up Monday morning and saying, “This week is going to be different! This week I’m going to stick with my plan!” No, we’re changed by the truth.

Remember, it’s not about the boundaries. It’s not about the plan. It’s about truth—and truth comes from God and His Word.

Food no longer controls me, but it’s not because of any brilliant displays of self-control and determination on my part. It was an incredibly difficult battle to change the way I responded to life. It often felt like I was limping along barely able to make progress.

When I felt that old urge to pull myself up by the bootstraps and “wait ‘til Monday,” I had to tell myself, “No, that’s not the way it works. It’s the truth that will set me free. I need to spend more time with God today. I need to cling to His word. I need to carry my thoughts captive to Him.” And that’s what set me free.

It’s also what keeps me free. When I feel tempted to go back to my old ways, I pull out my trusty lie-truth charts and start filling them out again. As I write the truth, I see my desires change before my eyes.

The Bible is a life-changing, joy-giving book. I’m amazed by its brilliance and transformed by it’s wisdom. This Monday morning, I encourage you to look for the solution to emotional eating in its pages—and not in another program!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cinnamon Bread and Chocolate Clusters

Today I want to walk you through an actual journaling situation. When I first started working on eating with lifelong boundaries, I tried to journal whenever I broke the boundaries—or at least before I went to bed that night.

Now that following the boundaries is more habitual, I don’t journal much even if I do break the boundaries. The thing that makes me pull out my lie-truth chart again is when I’ve broken my boundaries and feel like there’s a good chance I’ll break them again the next day. I would guess this happens maybe once or twice a month. (It used to happen all the time, so I’m making progress!)

Since this happened to me today, I thought I’d show you how journaling works in a real-life situation. First I’ll tell you what I ate today and then show you what I journaled about.

Breakfast: ½ chicken sandwich, 1/3 cup yogurt with berries
Lunch: 1 chicken sandwich, small bowl applesauce
Snack: An incredibly yummy dark chocolate, almond, caramel cluster that came in the mail today from a friend.
Supper: Three pieces cinnamon bread (made by my daughter), small ham and cheese omelet, celery
Snack: strawberry orange smoothie (about 6 oz.)

My boundaries are three meals and one snack so, technically, the only time I broke my boundaries today was with the smoothie. However, I hadn’t planned on eating the chocolate for a snack. I was planning on having a piece of cinnamon bread when it came out of the oven and another for supper - but when I opened the envelope with that yummy chocolate cluster I couldn’t resist, and I ate it right away.

So what did I journal about? The chocolate and the third piece of cinnamon bread. Even though neither one was a technical breaking of the boundaries, both of them were indulgent eating occasions, and I knew I would be facing more temptation tomorrow (lunch with friends and more cinnamon bread in the house). I knew I needed to bring my thoughts captive to Christ tonight if I wanted to glorify Him in my eating tomorrow.

Let me show you how I journaled it:

Chocolate: 1. I have to have this right now because it looks so good.
Truth: I have to go truth journal or pray Scripture or get someone to hide this right now because it looks so good, and it will be better for me not to have it.

Cinnamon bread: 1. I should have one more piece of cinnamon bread. 2. It’s so good it’s worth having one more. 3. It’s okay to have three (it’s just one more piece, after all).

Truth:
1. I should stick to my original plan. When I break my boundaries, I almost always end up eating more than I want to eat. I can never get enough cinnamon bread to satisfy me in this situation. I’ll always want more (unless I eat enough to get sick, of course). Since I’ll always want more, I should stop not when I’ve had enough (because that will never happen), but when it’s a reasonable amount.** 2. It’s never good enough to stuff myself and feel uncomfortable for! 3. Although it’s okay to have three pieces, it’s not wise to have three pieces.

**Note: There are many times when I do feel satisfied with a small amount of a sweet, but not when I’m in an indulgent mood like I was at dinner!

Now here’s the funny thing—I was doing the truth journaling while I was drinking the smoothie, and you know what? As I was writing, I was thinking oh, it’s never good enough to stuff myself; I don’t think I’ll have the rest of this smoothie because I don’t want to feel stuffed. And then I gave the rest of the smoothie to my son (don’t worry, he’s a healthy eater!).

I am now ready to go to bed, and I’m not worrying about breaking my boundaries tomorrow. There’s still cinnamon bread in the house, and I don’t even want a piece. God has used the truth to take away my wrong desires and replace them with holy desires. It was worth truth journaling tonight.

P.S. Did you notice I didn't condemn myself for breaking my boundaries or say things like, "I can never stick to this"? The only reason I didn't say those things to myself, is because I don't actually believe those things anymore. And the only reason I don't believe them anymore is because I truth journaled thoughts like that so many times in the beginning that the truth is ground into my head!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

When To-Do Lists Drive You to the Refrigerator

I had a hard time sticking to my boundaries yesterday. It was one of those days when I felt like just sitting by the fire with a bowl of ice cream in my lap and a book in my hand doing nothing. Now if this had been just a fluke day in my otherwise diligent life, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The problem is that I often feel like sitting in front of the fire doing nothing. I’m a lazy person by nature.

Now I suppose I could say, “Well, that’s just the way I am. Besides, there’s nothing that really needs to get done today.” But what if I were to say that day after day after day? What would my life look like?

I know what it would look like, because I’ve lived it. You might think it would be a fun, relaxing life, but it really isn’t. What it is is a series of last-minute “oh no – I need to get this done today!” moments. It’s a feeling of being overwhelmed and out-of-control—feeling like you’ll never catch up with life.

Does God really want me to live my life like this? I don’t think so. I know that my laziness keeps me from doing things He wants me to do, so I’m working on bringing this area of my life captive to Christ.

Instead of sitting all day by the fire yesterday, I did this. First, I pulled out my procrastination verses and prayed through them. Then I truth journaled about my list (It would be more fun sitting and eating by the fire all day than working, I don’t feel like working so I shouldn’t, idle time is the best time, etc.), and finally I broke my jobs into smaller more manageable tasks and got to work.

Now you might say, “That’s crazy—all that work just to make yourself work? Why not just force yourself to do it?” Here’s the answer. If I just force myself to do it (which I’m not good at anyway), I miss the opportunity to renew my mind and change the way I think about work.

It took a lot of effort yesterday to carry my thoughts captive to Christ through truth journaling and praying Scripture. It would have been much easier just to sit by the fire and eat ice cream with the plan of “doing better tomorrow.” It would have been much easier to just try and force myself to do the work. It would have been much easier to give up and say, “I’ll never change.”

But do I really want what’s easy? Or do I want to please God? I can’t do both at the same time in this situation.

If I continue to renew my mind when I feel like procrastinating, one day I’ll have victory over this area of my life. I’ll probably never be a “let’s get it done” sort of person, but as God changes the way I think about work, I'll actually be more inclined to "get it done now" rather than waiting until later.

One day my first reaction will be to do the list—not head for the refrigerator. Taking the time to renew my mind now will lead to a weight loss later - because I won’t be eating to procrastinate anymore.