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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Note: This is a re-post from December 31, 2008. I'm actually planning to make some goals this year, some of which will involve this blog and a helpful new weight loss tool. I'll be writing more about that in the next few weeks.

I used to make long lists of New Year’s resolutions. I even had resolution categories—spiritual, physical, recreational, personal, etc. Each year I completed many of those goals . . . most of them were in the recreation category:

1. Camp three times. Check.
2. Take one backpack trip. Check.
3. Ski in to ski hut one night. Check.

I was a raging success in the recreation department.

Unfortunately, the physical category was another story:

1. Lose weight. Afraid not.
2. Start exercising regularly. No go.
3. Eat healthy. Not really.

I racked up year after year of defeat in the physical realm.

Then three years ago I changed my goals. I didn’t write down “lose weight.” I also skipped “start exercising” and “eat healthy.” In fact, if I remember right, that was the year I stopped making long lists of new year’s resolutions.

Instead, I made one goal that year. I bought a journal and determined to go to God on a regular basis for help with my poor eating habits. I planned to eat three meals a day and journal any time I ate outside my boundaries.

I’ll tell you right now I didn’t follow through on my resolution. At least not perfectly. But I did keep at it. I journaled on a regular basis, and God began to shed His light on my compulsive eating habits.

I saved that journal, and I have it in front of me right now. Let me share some of the entries from that year with you.

2/28/06 Weekly reasons for breaking my boundaries:

It was there to eat: 3
I deserve it: 9
Overwhelmed with procrastination: 1 (Obviously, I hadn’t started writing yet.)
Cook’s “right”: 2 (I believe that was cookie dough.)
Mindless eating: 1
Stressed out: 1
Fear/Worry: 1

 I’ve missed the last three days of truth journaling, not because I’m perfect, but because I’ve been a total failure!

 I am so mistreated and overworked that I deserve a treat. Since I always have to be the bad guy and always have to get people (that would be my kids) to do what they don’t want to do, the least I can do is have a treat.

Truth: Barb, Barb, Barb—you know that treats don’t really fulfill you. How about, “Since I always have to be the bad guy, I’ll go and spend some time with Jesus who loves me enough to die for me!? Which would be better? Sweets or Jesus? There is no contest—turn to Him next time.”

(Note: Do you think I might have been exaggerating my circumstances a bit here?)

7/23/06 I’m feeling defeated today. I’ve been trying to change myself by will power, not with the truth. Plus I’ve been putting perfectionist standards on myself. Condemning myself when I fail. This is a stronghold—it requires spiritual weapons of prayer and carrying my thoughts captive. Getting up and using will power and positive attitude is not going to cut it! I need to go back to journaling when I eat for a non-hunger or non-meal reason.

8/3/06 I deserve a treat for doing so well at the potluck.

Truth: Do I deserve a reward for not eating much? No—people are starving to death in this world. I don’t deserve food just because I wasn’t gluttonous! This should be standard behavior—the norm.

9/2/06 Boundaries are a good thing, not a bad thing. They bring freedom to my life—freedom from discouragement, despair, lethargy, weight gain, unhealthiness, self-incrimination, etc. Does unrestricted eating bring any freedom to my life? I guess it brings the freedom to eat whatever I want—but I know what that freedom leads to: slavery.

9/23/06 For the first time in thirty years, I don’t feel like food has control over me, and I don’t fear it. Yet I walk each day in His grace, knowing that it could control me again and praying that God would give me the strength as I need it.

12/31/08 The victory has been lasting. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I still feel like eating for the wrong reasons sometimes, and I still follow through on those feelings and eat too much now and then. The difference is that I now know the solution. It’s not setting a goal to lose weight. It’s not determining that “this year I’ll finally get it together.” No, the solution is filling my mind with the truth—bringing my thoughts captive to God’s Word. Learning to see life as He sees it.

My hope is that a year from now, you and I will be different people—that we’ll be following God a little more closely, living His Word a little more consistently, and loving each other a little more like He loves us.

In order to make that happen, we need to see our lives from God’s perspective. This will happen as we read His Word and apply the truth directly to the areas of our lives that need it. For me right now, it’s procrastination. What is it for you? I encourage you to let His truth change you this year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best New Anti-Procrastination Technique of 2011

Today I want to introduce you to my best new anti-procastination technique of the whole year. It’s called the little green box (although yours may be a different color), and it was conceived by my daughter Jenny.

 Here’s how it works:
  1. Get a little box or a jar. 
  2. Write all your jobs on little squares of paper. 
  3. Fold up the little squares and put them in the box. 
  4. Shake up the box, and draw your first job. Complete it. 
  5. Go back to the box and draw another job. Complete it. 
  6. Keep going until there are no more squares in the box.

Here are a few advantages to the system:
  1. It’s fun. Even if the jobs are crummy, at least you get the thrill of drawing them from the box. 
  2. It’s not as overwhelming as a job list. Because you can only see one job at a time, you lose that tendency to look at the whole list and get discouraged. 
  3. It’s relatively easy. When I have a big list, I look at a few jobs on that list and automatically dismiss them because they’re too hard. When I see that same job on a little piece of paper, I think Well, it’s just one job. I guess I can do it. 
  4. It’s motivating. Because you want to see what the next job is, you’re more inclined to finish your first job. 
  5. It’s satisfying. As I see the little slips of paper disappear from my box, I think Wow, maybe I can finish my list after all today. I’ve had much more success in emptying my job box than I've ever had in finishing a physical list. 
In my next post, I’ll share a few more ideas about this box system. But for now, it's time to draw another job from the job box!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Do Boundaries Make Your Life Better or Worse?

Many of us have grown up with the idea that we should be able to do what we want when we want. This philosophy usually works when we’re young because we have parents who pick up the slack.

If we don’t feel like doing our chores, they still feed us. If we don’t feel like studying, they still let us sleep in our beds at night.

Because life is easy, we tend to grow up with the idea that we should be able to do what we want when we want . . . without consequences.

This philosophy might be workable if we were able to live with our parents all our lives, but it doesn’t work real well otherwise. Because what happens is that we grow up and enter a world where actions have consequences.

If we buy whatever we want, we end up in financial trouble. If we flirt with whomever we want, we end with a marriage crisis. And if we eat whatever we want, we end up with a weight problem.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: do we really want to do whatever we want? Is that really a good life when you think of all the consequences? Or have we been fed a lie?

Question for the day: Do boundaries make your life better or worse?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Growing Pains

When our son Tim was little, he used to get growing pains. He’d often crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night, and we would massage the kinks out of his legs so he could get back to sleep.

We were his best hope for getting rid of the pain.

Growth is often painful. But while we can’t run from the pain of growing bones, we can run from the pain of a growing relationship with God. All we have to do is say no. I don’t want to grow.

It’s easier than saying yes, but we pay a price. Here are just a few of the things we miss out on:

  • Intimate times with a Father who loves us.
  • The security and safety of His arms.
  • The healing of His Word.
  • The brilliance of His truth.
  • The beauty of His grace.
  • And the exhilaration of His growth.

We say no to growth because it’s too hard.

The Israelites said the same thing. Listen to God’s words in Jeremiah 2:30: In vain I have struck your sons; they accepted no chastening.

God loved us enough to give us free will. He doesn’t force us to shape up. Instead, He waits until we’re willing to have Him work the kinks out of our character.

Sometimes He waits forever.

And if you look at Jeremiah 1 and 2, it’s not easy for Him either.

Note: Check out God's Chisel Remastered by the Skit Guys for a great video on growth.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Steps to the Disciplined Life . . . Not!!!

The other day my husband looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you’ve been so diligent with your writing. I’m amazed at how you’ve persevered with it.”

The reason he’s amazed is because he knows me so well.

We’ve been married for 28 years, and for most of those 28 years, he’s lived with the lazy, inept version of me.

The new, (somewhat) disciplined version is unusual.

I always wanted to be a disciplined person. Each year, I’d read the articles about how to become disciplined in three easy steps, and I’d try to do what they told me to do. But it never worked.

I was just too inept.

And I had the sneaky suspicion that those articles were written by people who were disciplined to begin with.

So what I’d like to do today is write a “Three Steps to the Disciplined Life for the Inept Person” post. Here goes:

Three Steps to the Disciplined Life for the Inept Person
  1. Decide what you want to do.
  2. Renew your mind whenever you don’t feel like doing it.
  3. Repeat as often as necessary until you feel like doing it.

It’s simple, but it works. Here’s why: It’s hard to drum up discipline when you don’t have it to drum up. Our only hope is to go to God for help.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 that we’re transformed by the renewing of the mind, not by making a plan and sticking to it. That’s a comforting verse for all of us inept people. Change is possible.

But we need to do it God’s way. Paul says we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds. Not by making a plan. Not by drumming up our non-existent will power. And not by following three easy steps.

We’re changed by the renewing of our minds. God does the changing. We do the renewing of our minds. His truth is what changes us.

As an inept-by-nature person, my only hope for being disciplined is to keep renewing my mind in all the areas of my life where I’m undisciplined (which is about a hundred).

God will transform me, but not in an instant. At least not usually. Usually it takes about one journal’s worth of renewing my mind to see some real victory.

If you’re tired of being undisciplined in some area of your life, I want to encourage you. Go to your local bookstore. Buy a journal, and start renewing your mind.

Ask God to help you see that area of life from His point of view. Then search the Bible for some good Scripture. Write those verses in your journal. Carry your thoughts captive to the truth every day you don’t feel like doing whatever it is you want to do.

Write out your prayers. Truth journal. Do whatever you need to do to see that area of your life from God’s perspective. And then sit back (as you continue to renew your mind) and watch Him transform you.

And when it happens, write and tell me about it.