Monday, January 31, 2011

Crave God, Not Food - week 4

I have been following a healthier eating plan now for three whole weeks. I have been exercising more than in the past (though not as much as I think I should). There have been moments of temptation that "caught" me, and others that I conquered. The conquering has happened more than the being caught, and the results are proving it.

Weight down this week:
3.2 lbs

Total weight down:
4.4 lbs

Want to know what puts a great big smile on my face? It's not that number on the scale. I smile because I feel good! As in, not bloated, over-full, gassy, nauseous, and disgusting. I smile because I feel victorious! Not out-of-control, weak, lazy, and trapped.

And for the record, those feelings are not because I am strong or have amazing will power. They are not because I am dedicated and committed. (I've pretty much proven that I am none of those things these past few years!) These feelings are because God is strong and is empowering me, because I am dedicated to Him and He is committed to me.

It's hard to explain... I mean, how can weight loss be a spiritual issue? Yet when I put it in that perspective - when my desire is to honour God with my body, my obedience, and my transformation - it feels more important somehow. More meaningful. Vital, even.

If you're on this journey too, how was your week? Share you victories and your struggles so we can encourage one another. And thanks for letting me share my journey with you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tough Parenting Moments: When Your Own Kid is the "Problem"

I looked at the unfamiliar number that had been left on the caller ID, puzzled. The gravelly voice in the message was difficult to understand. I listened again. Sighing, I handed the phone to Pat. Words I never thought I'd hear about my own offspring... Your children have been bullying other kids on the bus.

I honestly just wanted to cry. Or maybe pretend I'd never received that particular message; maybe a glitch in the voicemail system. Instead, I decided to step back and let Daddy handle it. They were in the office a long, long time. Every now and then I'd hear a raised voice in frustration, a voice lifted up in self-defence and justification, and tears and sniffles.

Two very solemn children emerged, went to their rooms, and penned letters of apology. Following review and approval of the letters, said children returned to their rooms - Bibles, notebooks, and pens in hand - to talk to God about their behaviour.

Here are the verses the Lord showed them...

Forget about the wrong things people do to you. You must not try to get even. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
~Leviticus 19:18 (ICB)

Blessed is the one who obeys the law of the Lord. He doesn't follow the advice of evil people. He doesn't make a habit of doing what sinners do. He doesn't join those who make fun of the Lord and his law. Instead, he takes delight in the law of the Lord. He thinks about his law day and night. He is like a tree that is planted near a stream of water. It always bears its fruit at the right time. Its leaves don't dry up. Everything godly people do turns out well. ~Psalm 1:1-3 (NIrV)

Sometimes God is a better parent than I ever could be. It's a shame I don't let Him (and my husband) lead my children more often.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

And the Winners are...

Made to Crave book #1 - Vicky (commented on Jan. 25 at 1:26pm)

Made to Crave book #2 - Glenda C. (of Gg - notes on the journey)

Made to Crave teaching DVDs - Julie R. (Princess Jules! It's you!)

So here's the deal... You girls need to email me at with "Made to Crave" in the subject line. I need your full mailing addresses and phone numbers (as some materials will be shipped direct from Proverbs 31 and/or amazon, and they sometimes require a phone #).

Yipee! Yahoo! Yay for you!!! I pray that the many nuggets of truth in this book will help you as they are helping me and thousands of others. And don't forget to check out the MTC webcasts for a little extra bonus material from Lysa!

P.S. If you're wondering how I chose winners with my ridiculously complex system of entering (lol) - I entered each name into a spreadsheet and gave you the corresponding number of entries, depending on how many ways you shared and such. Then I used to generate 3 numbers, planning that the third number would receive the DVDs. For curious minds, the numbers popped out to me on my computer screen were: 555, 213, and 107.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making Your Faith Real

One last reminder about the Made to Crave giveaway... To win yourself one of two copies of the book or the DVD set, head on over to enter. Comments will be closed at noon today (that's MST) and a winner announced in my post tomorrow.

Sometimes, faith in God becomes a routine of faith activities lacking in a heart connection. We can "do" everything right: attend church, join a small group, do group Bible studies, do personal Bible studies, have daily quiet time, teach Sunday school, tithe, and more...yet still feel as though something is lacking.

Do you know what I'm talking about?

Seasoned Christians often refer to it as a time when God feels far away. Newer believers may describe it simply as not "feeling" God or not really knowing if He's real and working in their lives. Either way, there's a lingering emptiness inside.

So how can we get past that point and rediscover (or discover for the first time) a true, living, active, life-changing faith that comes from having a relationship with the one true God?

I'd like to suggest that there are two steps we can take that will ignite our faith, both in ourselves and in those around us. And teaching these things to our children could make the difference between them growing up with a real faith of their own.

The Holy Spirit

When we believe that Jesus is our Saviour (that the only reason we have a chance at a fulfilling life here and in eternity is because He chose to rescue us) and accept Him as our Lord (we decide to let Him be in charge of our lives), God fills us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to us to guide us, to lead us, to counsel us, and to pray for us. The thing is, we don't always stay "filled up" - we leak!

If God is feeling distant, chances are good that we need to take some time to get refilled. My favourite way of filling back up is to pray a brief prayer, "Lord, fill me with Your Spirit," and then crank out some worship music and sing along with all my heart. Others may prefer a quieter, more reverent approach like meditating on a verse that's meaningful to them or listening prayer. Regardless of the approach, we need to ask for and expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Be Radical

The other thing we can do to fan the flame of our faith is get a little bit radical. While for some people radical might mean selling everything, living in a hut in Africa, and preaching the Good News, for most of us it's not nearly so wild. (Phew!)

In my life, radical means listening when I "hear" (sense in my spirit) the nudge of the Holy Spirit to do something. (Which explains why we need to get filled up first.) It's often a little something, a thing that makes me a bit uncomfortable. Like paying for the $5 of groceries belonging to a homeless man who's lined up ahead of me at the grocery store checkout. Or maybe volunteering to babysit for a friend in desperate need of a break. It's frequently as simple as turning the kids' and hubby's socks right-side-out as I put them in the laundry without complaining and/or delivering a lecture.

Radical is, by definition, revolutionary. For some of us, the only revolution we need to start is in our own hearts and homes.

If you're feeling a little faithless these days, if your walk with God has become routine (boring, even), I challenge you to try taking these two steps. Every day for one week, start your day by asking for the Holy Spirit to fill you up. Then go through the day ready to respond to those "nudges." At the end of that week, ask yourself if your faith feels more real.

I am willing to bet money (if I were a gambler and had money to bet) that your answer will not be no! How can I be so sure? Because it works for me, every single time I need a little personal revival.

Father, may we not become "dull" Christians with boring lives and little faith! Let us be women who are alive and on fire for you, so that we can in turn fire up those around us. Help us to teach our children, through example, how to have a relationship with you that is revolutionary. In Your Name, Amen.

"We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." ~David Platt

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm totally almost famous

If you're visiting from Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave webcast, welcome! I am so glad you stopped by! Don't forget to enter the giveaway (three prizes - 2 books and the DVDs!). The contest is open until noon tomorrow (MST).

As well, I would be so honoured if you would hang out for a few minutes, browse through a few posts, and (hopefully) decide to stop by again soon! (In the giveaway post, you can find links to some other posts you may enjoy, as well as a little hint at what's coming up this week.)

In my post yesterday, I forgot to share something special with you. It's so precious, I cannot believe I overlooked it!

Wait for it...

Imagine the suspense-building soundtrack...

I was quoted in Made to Crave! Yes I was!

You may not realize it's me, due to some confusion that resulted in a shortened version of my blog name (which is ET @ Titus2:3-5) being attributed with the quote. But if you know me and read what I write with any regularity, you'll recognize my "voice" in the quote.

So yeah, I'm totally almost famous! ;-)

My friend E. Titus sums up what i am discovering as well:

When I get all caught up in how unfair it is that my friend is skinny and doesn't have to work at it, how she can eat what she wants when she wants, and how much it stinks that I can't be like her, I remind myself that God didn't make me to be her. You see, He knew even before I was born that I could easily allow food to be an idol in my life, that I would go to food, instead of Him, to fulfill my needs. And in His great wisdom, He created my body so that it would experience the consequences of such a choice, so that I would continually be drawn back into His arms. He wants me to come to Him for fulfillment, emotional healing, comfort - and if I could go to food for that and never gain an ounce, well then, what would I need God for?

(pp. 150, ch. 10: This Isn't Fair!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crave God, Not Food - week 3

You've heard me talking for the past couple weeks about Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Made to Crave. Today I have the unbelievable opportunity to not only share with you the impact this book is having on me, but to give away two copies that Lysa sent my way! And because I believe in this message so much, one of you will also have the chance to win the six-session teaching DVDs as a special gift from yours truly.

If you're like me, you are probably thinking, "Sure, as if I need another diet book! South beach, Dr. Phil, Cabbage Soup, blah, blah, blah." If there is one thing I want you to know, it's this: Made to Crave is NOT a diet book! Not even close! What you will find between those pretty blue covers are pages rich with spiritual truths - not only what God's Word says about our relationship with food, but how our relationship with God can make all the difference in changing our "issues" with food.

Here's a quick video from Lysa explaining (in a way I never could!) how Made to Crave is different.

Lysa answers other questions here.

Just in case you're not convinced, let me tell you a bit about my weight loss progress these past two weeks. I have been following my healthy eating and exercise plan, reading the book and working through the study questions, as well as watching the weekly webcasts. I have lost 1.2 lbs, 1% body fat, and 1" around my waist. (No, it's not the wild and crazy progress promised by some diet programs, but I've had that before and always ended up back here. This time, I want slow and consistent.)

Here's the more important thing, though - I feel great! I feel empowered, strong, committed, in control, confident, and beautiful. Yup, even beautiful. Having barely changed my body composition at all, I feel prettier by the sheer fact that I am not being a lazy, junk-food eating girl. Don't you want to find your "want to," too?! After all, you (and I) were made for more than this. More than this failure, more than this cycle, more than being ruled by taste buds. We were made for victory. (ch. 4)

Okay, time for the fun!

The grab (3 prizes):
- Made to Crave book
- Made to Crave book
- Made to Crave teaching DVD

Enter to win:
- just leave a comment between now and noon (MST) on Wednesday (Jan. 26): 1 entry
You can increase your odds of winning by doing the following...
- subscribe to the blog, whether by "following," email subscription, or another feed reader; don't forget to leave me a comment letting me know you subscribed (or that you are already a subscriber): 50 entries
- "like" on facebook: 25 entries
- "follow" on twitter: 25 entries
- "share" this post on facebook: 10 entries
- "retweet" this post on twitter: 10 entries
- send a friend to either like/follow/subscribe (and have that friend mention your name): 30 entries
Your name can be entered up to 151 times! So if you really, really want to win... *wink*
Remember to leave a comment on this post letting me know if/when you've done each of the above. (I don't want to miss any entries!)

 And just so you don't worry about hitting subscribe/like/follow only to discover you've wasted your time, here's a sampling of what you'll find here at Titus 2:3-5...
* When God Messes up Your Plans
* Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks
* How to Repair a Cracked Vase

Later this week we'll be talking about (among other things)...
* Tough Parenting Moments: When Your Own Kid is the "Problem"
* Making Your Faith Real

Thanks for stopping by! I am so excited to spend the next few weeks getting to know you better! And hey - if you just can't wait to get your hands on Made to Crave, you can order it here.

Be blessed,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Family Vision

I find the concept of developing a family vision, values, and goals an intriguing one.

Does your family have any of the above? How did you develop them? Tell me all about it!

I really love what Lisa's family did - they took a retreat to talk about their hopes and dreams.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Exercise

I just want to apologize to my many American friends who miss out on the opportunity for one of the best workouts of their lives...

This is me and my main workout tool for the day - the shovel.

The best part of this exercise regimen is definitely the heaving of heavy shovelfuls of snow. They only need to be tossed up about 5-6 feet in the air. (We have had an unbelievable amount of snow this winter!)

You can't tell, but there is a 4 foot tall bush dividing our driveway and the neighbours.

This slightly less dangerous pile is the kids' "mountain." The only problem is that the driveway needs to be re-shovelled after they climb it!

And just to put this small pile in perspective... Remember my friend, the shovel? I'm guessing it's just under 5 feet tall.

Definitely the most effective calorie-burning twenty minutes of my life. The best news is - I get to do it all over again today!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chirp, Tweet, Twitter

Thanks to some not-so-gentle nudgings from my friend, Louise, I have ventured into the wide world of Twitter.

You can totally follow me there, too! (Seriously, it's very sad to have zero followers, lol! Gives a girl a complex.)

And hey - can someone tell me how to work this thing?!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Crave God, Not Food - week two

First, just a quick reminder that Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave blog tour will be coming through the Titus 2:3-5 blog next Monday, where I will be giving away two copies of her book. If you don't have the book already, make sure you stop by to find out how to get your name entered up to 66 times (or possibly more)!

I learned a lot this week, as I worked to stay focused on eating well, exercising, and going to God with the moments of temptation. Overall, I feel really good about what I did well, and I'm okay with moving on from where I got tripped up.

Monday through Friday were great! My food choices were right on par, I exercised daily (I've got a few videos at home, plus karate class on Wednesday nights), and I tracked calories in and calories out on sparkpeople. I read the introduction and the first two chapters of MTC*, as well as watched the first webcast. Because I couldn't resist, I weighed in on Saturday morning. The scale reported a loss of 3.8 lbs!

Saturday was my day off from exercise with a planned "cheat" meal thrown in. My intention was to eat well all day, have my treat at dinner, and return to the routine on Sunday. At dinner, I decided to enjoy the most delicious spinach and artichoke dip with baked pita chips. The plan was to follow up my yummy appetizer with a bowl of cheddar and broccoli soup. Mmmm! Two of my favourite things.

That's when mistake #1 happened - I looked at the menu. I was hungry, and I looked at the menu! Instead of having the soup, I ordered fish and chips.

Then we went to a movie. I had full intentions of enjoying a couple handfuls of popcorn and a small pop. But it's quicker and easier to purchase the combo meals through the little kiosk. Which brings us to mistake #2 - we ordered a large popcorn, two large pops, and a bag of Rolo minis.

Sunday was a fresh start, though, and I wasn't going to let my two mistakes get me down...

Mistake #3 - Slept in and didn't have breakfast before church.
Mistake #4 - After swimming with the family, decided to be lazy and buy lunch.
Mistake #5 - Ordered my standard choice off the McDonald's drive-though menu, rather than a healthier choice.
Mistake #6 - Decided that I had already written off the day with the fast food lunch, so I may as well finish off the bag of Rolo minis. And join the kids in chowing down on potato chips. And eat the last cinnamon bun (I had picked them up for the kids' Sunday breakfast) from Cinnzeo.

Needless to say, my weigh in this morning did not go as well as the one two days ago. I'm sure there's a combination of factors that contributed - some weight re-gain, some water retention due to all the salt and sugar, less water consumption, no exercising...

Anyway, to the point already! :-) My total weight lost this week was one pound even. My body fat also went down by one percent. AND, my waist measured half an inch less.

When I started, I knew this battle would be hard - harder than I ever imagined. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn't part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot.

Don't rush past that last paragraph. I used my cravings for food as a prompting to pray. It was my way of tearing down the tower of impossibility before me and building something new. My tower of impossibility was food. Brick by brick, I imagined myself dismantling the food tower and using those same bricks to build a walkway of prayer, paving the way to victory.

~ Lysa TerKeurst, MTC, ch 3

It could've been a great week had I not allowed the weekend to go sideways. Lessons learned!

Lesson #1 - Plan, plan, plan; and stick to the plan.
Lesson #2 - A slip-up (or six) simply means I pulled one brick off the walkway and stacked it back up on the tower. It does not mean that the walkway is forever ruined. If I lay more bricks down than I stack up, eventually the tower will be fully dismantled.

A setback is the perfect set up for a comeback.

~ Katherine Lee, MTC webcast

So tell me, how did you do this week?

* MTC is my lazy way of typing Made to Crave.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I won't

But if you don't want to worship the LORD, then choose right now!
Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did?
Or since you live on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you'll worship their gods.
I won't.
My family and I will worship and obey the LORD.
~Joshua 24:15 (CEV)
Each morning since January first, I have spoken that passage aloud, trying to remember every word and punctuation mark in sequence. Today, I claimed those words as my own declaration of allegiance.

Will I worship the same idols that my ancestors did? Will I bow down to the gods of corporate America, allowing my career (or lack thereof) to determine my worth? Will I allow the tidiness of my home the actions of my children to rule my thoughts and define my identity?


Since I'm living in the land that belongs to a society of accumulation, will I, too, bow down? Will I worship the things I have, continually questing for more? Will I allow the fact that I have an old, used truck and a beaten-up, broken-down Blackberry make me feel inadequate, lacking, less-than?

No, I won't!

My family and I - we will worship and obey the LORD.

Who defines my worth? Only Him. What gives me value? Serving Him. How can I be filled with joy? Worshipping Him and Him alone.

Father, this is my declaration today. When the idols of this world try to lure my focus away from you, I will turn away. I choose to keep my eyes fixed upon You. I choose to seek Your face and submit to Your will. I choose to place my significance in Your love for me. And I pray, Lord, that You will use me to teach Your ways to my children. My desire is that all seven of us will one day say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!"

Would you like to join me today in claiming our families for His glory? Feel free to write your desires, prayers, or verses in the comments.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Messed Up

I am a spiritual mess.

Do you know that inner sense? The one that says, "God is doing some work here. Be ready." I'm feelin' it.

Have you ever felt all choked-up and teary-eyed at church, during Bible study, while listening to someone share, or during worship? It's this inexplicable feeling of being on the brink of sobbing. Mmmm-hmmmm. Every single time I walk through the church doors.

Do you sometimes feel as though there should be something you're hearing or learning from God that isn't quite getting through? Kinda like having a word on the tip of your tongue, but not being able to locate the word. Yup, you guessed it. I've got it.

Our women's group is studying Priscilla Shirer's Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted. Naturally, our discussions surround the life disruptions we are currently or have recently experienced. One woman's husband has decided to leave his long-time career in order to pursue farming. Another woman was surprised with an unexpected, late in life pregnancy. Cancer. Moving. Financial strain. Everyone's lives are rife with interruptions.

Except mine. I've got nothin'. My thoughts go back to a year and a half ago, when we felt God leading us to move. Now THAT was an interruption! Career change, school change, find a new church, give up a ministry, new house, new friends... Virtually every aspect of my life was cut short. But currently, everything is cool, mellow, settled, comfortable.

Uh-oh. I know what that word means. I remember... In my walk of faith, I long ago decided that comfortable would be a dirty word.

There are no current interruptions in my life. Except for that unsettling sense that God is working. And until I spoke these words aloud yesterday, I had no idea they were in my heart.

I don't want more change, further life alterations, additional upheaval! I can't take it. Not now. A season of rest is in order, surely. But God, we uprooted our whole family for You! Isn't that enough? What more could You possible want from me?

Oh dear. True, I'd rather not have any sort of interruption right now. But I'd rather have the security of knowing that I'm walking in obedience than the security of "sameness." I think.

I need God to change my heart. I need God to change my mind. I need to remember that it's not about me.

Maybe you can help a sister out. Why don't you tell me about your current life interruption (or as Priscilla calls it, "divine intervention"). Are you resisting? Or willing? Did you run at first, like Jonah, until God brought you back to where He needed you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


"Mom. Mom. Mom. Mo-om. Mo-om! MO-OM!!!"

My child persisted, her voice grew louder, and my name became a two-syllable word. I was trying to chat with another mom while we watched gymnastics, but the child whose class finished first was vying for my attention.

Chances are, if we hadn't been where we were with lots of people around, I would have responded to her persistence with a firm (and likely loud), "Stop interrupting me!" Instead, I did my best to merely ignore her.

With five kids, I tend to feel as though every single task is disrupted - working on the computer, chatting on the phone, cooking, talking to my husband, vacuuming, exercising, even laundry (though I don't mind being cut short from that one)... Frankly, I don't like it when my plans get messed with.

Sometimes (understatement of the year), God has a different plan than I do. The only way He can get my attention and obedience is to flat out interrupt me in the middle of where I'm at. I wonder if I ignore His interjections in the same way I try to ignore my kids'.

How long do you suppose God was telling me it was time to step away from leading women's ministry? Eventually, I imagine He just said to Himself, "Well, she's just not hearing Me. I guess I'll have to uproot her so that she has no choice but to release that ministry and step into this next thing I have in mind."

I wonder how many times He tried to tell me I should tithe and give generously, before He allowed us to experience painful financial struggles (which led to our receiving such a generous gift from someone else that we simply could not imagine not giving of our own finances)?

In both those situations (and many more), in retrospect, I can recall God nudging me long before He intervened. But obedience would have messed up my comfortable plans, so instead I ignored Him.

Priscilla Shirer calls the interrupted life the privileged life. She explains that we are given the divine privilege of hearing from God, and we are invited by Him - personally - to join Him in His work.

Do you feel like your plans are being messed with?

Maybe you planned to have a thriving career, but having children resulted in a need to be home. Life interrupted? Or divine invitation?

Perhaps you planned to be happily married to the man of your dreams, but you're still waiting for him to show up well into your thirties. Or are you married, but discovered that sometimes, happily just never seems to come? Life interrupted? Or divine invitation?

I want to learn to view God's intervention in my life as His divine invitation to partner with Him. I don't want to be the girl who has her fingers stuck in her ears and sings, "La, la, la, I can't hear you," when God speaks. If God asks me to join Him in His work - even if it messes with my hopes, dreams, and plans - I want to say yes right away.

What about you? What kind of difference do you think it would make if you began to view life's interruptions as God's invitation? Is there something you would have said "yes" to long ago?

* My thoughts have been inspired while studying Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Resisting Temptation

There is left over cake on my counter from small group last night (I didn't indulge, by the way). I'm feeling kinda hungry. My muscles are a bit sore. And I needed a reminder on the best way to fight through the temptation (which is why you get a re-post)...

In point-form, some steps to help you (really it's for me, but feel free to grab onto these if you need them as much as I do today) pray your way through temptation:

1. Pray about your issue constantly - even at times when you don't feel as though you're struggling. When you wake up, before moving from your bed, remind God (and yourself) that you are prone to being tempted (whether it be yelling at your children, smoking, using foul words, gossipping - just sharing a nasty laundry list with y'all, though God and I kicked the smoking one many, many years ago), and ask Him to help you. Keep on reminding Him all day. It's not that He needs reminding, but we need to remember that He is the only help for our struggles.

...pray continually ~1 Thessalonians 5:17
2. Pray the Word of God the very moment you find yourself staring temptation in the face. It helps to write out Scriptures that speak to your struggle on index cards, so you have God's specific Words handy. Try using a concordance and writing out verses on: temptation, sin, perseverance, faith, holiness, trials, struggle, submission, and so on. If you believe the Bible addresses your issue specifically (such as immorality or anger), look for verses on those topics as well.

In Matthew 4, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert and the devil tried to tempt Him into sinning against His Father. Jesus' reply to each suggestion of the devil was,

It is written...
3. Seek trusted people to pray for you. We are not in the battle against evil on our own - we have brothers and sisters who can stand beside us.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. ~James 5:16
4. Remember that at each juncture, you have a choice. You can choose to submit yourself to temptation (and thus to sin), or you can submit yourself to Christ.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. ~James 4:7
...God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crave God, Not Food

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him."
~ Lamentations 3:22-24

Over the past twelve years, probably nine of them have begun with a secret resolution in my heart. It's secret for a couple reasons... First, I don't necessarily "do" the resolution thing. Second, I am not too keen on setting myself up for public failure. Nine years with the same resolution pretty much screams the fact that I've messed it up eight times or so!

During my few years blogging, though, I have also discovered the motivation that comes with some public accountability and the joy of encouragement from others who understand. As God and I have been continually lobbing this issue back and forth, I feel that that the best way to keep my heart focused on what God wants for me is to speak my secrets aloud.

They're nothing new, you've heard them before (if you've been reading here for any amount of time)...

I have a problem with food. As a result, I have a problem with my weight and health.

Food is my friend, my comfort, my warm fuzzy on a late night. I turn to food and ask it to fill all my empty places. I go to food to celebrate, to grieve, to get angry, to fill loneliness and boredom. And then I consume until I am so filled up that I feel sick.

I tend to turn to food at times when I should be turning to God. What has happened to my body is the evidence of my idolatry. Once again, I find myself ready to lay this issue before God (and you), so that He can sift me and get rid of the stuff in my life that is not pleasing and honoring to Him.

I will be joining a community of women as we study Lysa TerKeurst`s Made to Crave together. We will have the benefit of weekly check ins with one another, as well as weekly webcasts taught by Lysa. And I will be sharing about my journey here each Monday morning, to keep myself accountable on this journey. As is my prayer with every messy part of my life, I pray that by sharing my journey and the lessons I learn along the way, you will be encouraged in your life as well.

And hey - if you are doing this lifestyle change, too (whether with the help of Made to Crave, another resource, or on your own) - why don`t you stop by on Mondays so we can celebrate our progress together?

Because of the Lord`s great love, I will not be consumed by my desire for food,
for His compassions for me never fail.
They are new every morning, and every time I want a snack;
great is Your faithfulness - You are faithful to fill all my empty spaces.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion, not food;
therefore I will wait for Him to satisfy my cravings."

P.S. On January 24, I will be hosting a giveaway of two copies of Made to Crave. If you want to buy a copy now, go here. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Change of Plans

As a child, I was sure I would grow up to be a teacher. Probably because there were a couple teachers I really loved, and I aspired to be like them.

As a teen, I was certain I'd become a counsellor. In part, because that's what all my friends told me I should be when they came to me for advice. Also likely due to the fact that I spent some time in the presence of some great counsellors who helped me through a lot of junk.

While taking my degree in psychology, I began to think maybe I'd prefer to be a social worker, helping and protecting children.

Over my years in ministry, I've often pondered going to seminary to be a pastor.

It's interesting how I am not in any of those careers, but am instead now pursuing a career/ministry as a speaker and writer. And yet, I am all of those things I aspired to be...

While I have not chosen to home school or work in a school, I spend countless hours every day teaching. Just last night Braeden (12) and I were talking about eclipses. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to explain the logistics of setting up a ministry. Only moments ago I sat down with two three-year-old boys to train them in the fine art of sharing.

I don't have a master's in therapy, and have never received pay to talk people through their problems, yet I have the opportunity to counsel many. Friends continue to ask me for advice and trust me with their problems. As my children get older (especially the girls), moments where a listening ear and a word of wisdom come more frequently.

I am not employed by the government, nor do I rescue children from abusive homes. Yet the message I have lived and am now called to share - it's all about changing the lives of women, children, and families for the better.

It's unlikely that I will ever bear the title "Pastor" or "Reverend," but developing a Scriptural message to inspire transformation in women is pretty much that job in a nutshell, isn't it?

I marvel at the way God can weave together His plans and purposes with our hopes, dreams, and talents to create something of Kingdom significance.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
How is your life different than what you hoped or expected?
And can you see glimmers of those hopes and dreams, albeit in a different form than you anticipated, woven throughout your life?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's not for us, it's all for You...

I had the opportunity last night to put my new year's resolution to practice...

Laying in bed, longing for sleep that my mind wouldn't afford me, I looked at the clock. 10:22pm. I asked the Lord to grant me rest, curled up cozy and warm, and lay there fully alert. I knew what He wanted from me. Yet I hoped, I prayed, I begged for sleep, knowing that I was truly exhausted in spite of my current state. I bargained, "Please God, if You just give me this sleep I need tonight, I'll do what You ask tomorrow." 10:38pm, I unfurled from my cocoon, stuck my feet inside my slippers, and headed downstairs.

I wanted to be annoyed. Like one of my children when I ask them to do a chore, I wanted to sigh at the intrusion of my time - of my sleep - and say, "Fine!" Yet before those thoughts were fully formed, His Spirit within me asked a question, "Who is it all about, Tyler?" My spirit replied, "It's not about me."

For many months I have procrastinated and offered excuses. Updating my book proposal from its previous state would be so much work! Upon its first writing, the comparative analysis listed only one other book. I hadn't known any better then, but now, knowing that my research needed to be thorough and comprehensive, I shied away from all that would be required of me.

I say that my struggle with anger and journey to freedom were not intended for me alone, but so that other women can benefit from what I've learned. But did I really live it?

In His grace, God gave me a fresh opportunity to stand behind my words. He reminded me that it's not about me, my desire for a good night's sleep, my wish to avoid hard work, or my own timetable. It's about Him and what I can do for His glory, to draw others nearer to His heart, in His timing.

Once the "send" button was hit to get that updated proposal in the hands of the two people who asked to see it (in August, no less), I hauled my bleary eyes back into bed. I still couldn't sleep. But now it was for the excitement of knowing that I had been obedient, and the anticipation of how He might choose to use my mess for His glory in the lives of other women!

Five thirty (ahem, more like 5:45) came far too early this morning, but with a couple Advil, a good dose of caffeine, and an hour in bed this afternoon, I'm sure I'll make it through. ;)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things Worth Investing In

I spend money on a lot of things. Some are necessary - like food, gas for my Suburban (Which, incidentally, cost me $116 to fill this week! Ack!), and so on. Some are unnecessary but enjoyable - like McDonald's, movie rentals, a cute pair of shoes. Some are important, but often get neglected - such as cosmetic repairs around the house. (Man, do we ever need a new coat of paint on these walls!) The same goes for how I spend my time and efforts. Necessary - housework. Enjoyable - TV. Neglected - writing.

Today I'm thinking of the many things that are worth our investment, but are set aside all too often. Three biggies come to mind...three areas that I want to be sure I'm not neglecting...three relationships that will require both our efforts and our finances if we want them to thrive.

1. Our hubbies (or wives, for the one guy who may actually read here).

Courting keeps our hearts turned toward the one we love. Never stop dating. Date regularly.

No matter how great our relationships are, there is always room for improvement. Be willing to spend the time and money on books, seminars, etc. that will build up the marital bond.

Time away. Together. The only way to truly assure your spouse that he is more important to you than kids, work, ministry, etc. is to be willing to leave all those things behind (for a weekend or a week) and be alone with him.

2. Our families.

One on one time. Want to turn your child's heart toward you, toward God, toward obedience? Show that child how loved he/she is by investing a couple hours in just being together (with no one else).

Learning time. I believe it's impossible to ever learn all that we need to know about parenting. Raising our children to love and honour God takes practice and lots of learning (on our part and theirs). Again, books and seminars will seldom be a waste of time or money.

3. Our friends.

Friendships require time together in order to grow and stay healthy. While some long-distance friendships may stand the test of time, many quietly fade into something that "once was." Evidence that time together matters. Certainly our marriages, families, work, and ministries require a great deal from us, often leaving little in the way of energy, time, or finances. But a failure to invest in our friendships will eventually reveal itself as those relationships drift.

The beauty of friendship is that it is the one relationship where our financial investment doesn't need to be much. While a spouse will likely grow dissatisfied with "home dates" over the coffee table, a girlfriend never does. Time is the key commodity that will keep friends close.

I once heard it said this way... Every 5000 kms or so, we make an appointment (or nowadays pull into a line up) for an oil change. We spend time waiting while the work is done, then we spend money to pay for that work. It isn't always easy to sacrifice either the time or the money for that oil change, but we do it. We do it because we know that investing in regular maintenance on our vehicles will help prevent major breakdowns. (And we all know that major breakdowns take a whole LOT of our time and money!) If we put off this investment too long, something inevitably goes wrong.

Aren't our relationships more valuable than our cars?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome, 2011 - It's Not About Me

I have been blogging here for three full years now. That's three New Year's Days, three years of "resolutions," 1095 + days worth of thoughts, convictions, inspirations, and self-evaluation. To be honest, that much accountability is a little bit terrifying!

Coming into 2008, I resolved to put an end to my Procrastination. No more putting off the things that should be done today, or right now. No more ignoring God and listening only to myself. No more laziness and procrastination. My self-report card: C. There has been definite growth and improvement in some areas, like things that need doing around the house. But there are some things undone today that I know could have been done long ago (ahem, updating my book proposal).

As the calendar page turned for 2009, My New Year's Resolution was captured in a passage from the Word: Psalm 25:4-5. My self-report card: B. It was a big year of spiritual growth, change, hearing from and listening to God.

I declared 2010 to be The Year of Consecration, because if there's anything I want in this life, it's that I will look different, sound different, and BE different...set apart for His high purpose. My self-report card: D. Many of the things I had in mind at the writing of that post are unchanged. Potty mouth - still there; over-emotional - yup, nothing new to report; eating/weight issues - let's not even talk about it; parenting struggles - some good strides made in that department, I think (this is the only reason I didn't give myself an F).

What a relief that I don't have to write myself a report card, because my inner perfectionist can only see how I've fallen short. My inner spirit, though - the Spirit of the One who lives within me - He writes report cards akin to those brought home by Kindergartners. There is no A-F scale, no percentage points, no red ink. His report card gives "E" for effort, "I" for the heart's intentions, and "G" for grace.

As I stand on threshold of a fresh, new start once again, I will resist the urge to base my self-worth of my Kingdom value on my own report card, and instead accept His evaluation of who I am (not what I've done). It is only through His lens of grace that I can possibly imagine, for another year, placing before myself goals and hopes and dreams that I may or may not achieve.

The year of our Lord, two-thousand and eleven, is going to be my year of "It's Not About Me." I want to filter each action, each reaction, every decision, every circumstance through the lens of "How can I bring God glory?"

Here's what I think that may look like, lived out:

An invitation to speak - how can I let God's light shine through my feeble words, so that women will want to know Him better?

A house that needs cleaning (when doesn't it?!) - how can I go about my work as an act of worship and service to Him, so that He can be glorified in my home?

Children that misbehave - instead of plain old discipline "because they need to learn," how can I teach them to desire better behaviour so that they might bring honour and glory to God?

Too busy for a social life - how can I learn to see not only the value I get from taking time for friendship, but how my friendship might be used to bless someone else and offer her encouragement in His Name?

Working on (again) my food/weight/health issues - how do I want to treat my physical body (His temple), not just for me and my well-being, but for His glory and His use?

Bring it on, 2011. Because with Him, I know that I will never be graded lower than a G.

Do you make new year's resolutions or come up with a theme for your year? What's yours for 2011?

Side note: my theme phrase for this year has been borrowed from a Max Lucado book of the same title.

This post has been linked up at my friend Sandy's place - God Speaks Today.