Monday, May 27, 2013

Struggle #5-Turning to food rather than God

"Modern Christians, especially those in the Western world, have generally been found wanting in the area of holiness of body. Gluttony and laziness, for example, were regarded by earlier Christians as sin. Today we may look on these as weaknesses of the will but certainly not sin. We even joke about our overeating and other indulgences instead of crying out to God in confession and repentance." Jerry Bridges

This is a tough one. A very sensitive subject. It is also a VERY common struggle amongst women. God gave us food. Food is good. But we seem to always mess up even the good things He gives. Gluttony seems to be one of the “acceptable Christian sins”. Sometimes even joked about. But God doesn’t find it acceptable or funny. And neither should we. 

I have struggled with food my whole life. It has been my drug of choice. In high school and some of college I struggled with anorexia. I got down to like 80 lbs and still felt I needed to lose weight. My mother was a alcoholic and the only way she seemed to express her love to us was through food. I was angry with her because of her addiction and so I "paid her back" by not eating her meals... in a strange and sick way, I enjoyed watching her suffer with my eating disorder. After a year or so it turned into more of an image disorder and my "relationship" with food has been messed up ever since.

Now I am overweight and am struggling with eating too much rather than too little. God desires balance in this area. Few women seem to find that balance.

Let’s look at Gen. 25:29-34. 

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

Let's break this down. Jacob had food. Esau wanted food. Esau loved food more than something of greater importance, his birthright. Esau exchanged something as important as his birthright for food! How many of us do this daily? We exchange better health, being more attractive for our husbands, peace and practicing self-control for that cookie, that brownie, that "one more bite"... Let's not be Esaus ladies!
We give up so much good just to satisfy our cravings. Our flesh wins way too often.

Also consider Eve. Let’s turn to Gen. 3.6 

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

There is so much in this one verse it is crazy! She SAW the food and thought it looked pleasing and desirable (how many can relate to that pattern of events in their own kitchen or potlucks and family reunions?!) And then, the worst part, "she took some and ate it". This is where she sinned. We are not sinning when we look at food and see it as pleasing or desirable. It is when we are already full and we reach for more and eat it that we sin. Eating is not evil. Eating is a gift. Eating too much is sin. Our bodies show us whether or not we are practicing sin or self-control.
Notice also that Eve's husband suffers because of her decision. Many men won't admit it but they suffer because we overeat. Men are visual and when we carry around extra weight it's just not as visually pleasing... just keepin' it real ladies.

It also affects our relationship with our kids. The fatter I feel and the more I overeat the grumpier I am. The grumpier I am the worse I am as a mom and the less energy I have to play.

Lastly, it affects our relationship with God. He desires for us to crave Him more than we crave food. To pant for Him. To long for Him. To seek Him and His Word. We must desire Him above all else. There is a great book and video series on this called: Made To Crave. Click here to watch a video on it!

However, we can also swing to the other side of the pendulum and make healthy food an idol in our life! Many women may not turn to food instead of God and overeat but they are consumed with the latest research on health food and spend more time studying health than the Word of God. We are to set our eyes, heart and mind on Christ. Not on food. Don't worry about food either way. Jesus said “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink”. I know the context is more about trusting God to provide us with food but in the culture we live in there is plenty of food. Now it is more of an issue of not worrying about it in terms of thinking about it all the time. Food is a tool that we should use to do whatever it is the Lord has for us. We can enjoy it and not obsess over it.

One more thing: "Two mistakes accompany most discussions on gluttony.The first is that it only pertains to those with a less than shapely waistline; the second is that it always involves food. In reality, it can apply to toys, television, entertainment, sex, or relationships. It is about an excess of anything." Chris Donato. Some of you may not turn to food but you may turn to the television. The phone. Facebook. Alcohol. Whatever. We can all turn to something or someone instead of the Lord and His desire is that we turn to Him. He alone satisfies!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Struggle #4-Control/worry/fear/security

Don’t all of these just stem from not trusting the Lord? In fact, I would say that all our struggles stem from a lack of trusting God in some way… don’t ya think? My friend Mary Studt said: "I've come to realize that security in some form is an issue in pretty much every woman and girl's life. It just looks different at different stages of life."

In Matthew 6:25 Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…” easier said than done! What are some ways you ladies deal with worry? With a sense of anxiousness/lack of security? What are some of your fears?

Jesus also said in Matt. 11:28: "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Now that’s a great promise ya all!

God knew we would struggle with this stuff ladies! His Word is packed with scriptures on worry, anxiety, fear and trusting Him!

Luke 12:25 says: “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his  span of life?” I also like to say: “which of you by worrying do any good for the situation you are worrying about by worrying?”

Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it gets you no where.

I love this one: In John 14:27 Jesus said: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Isn’t that precious? That blesses me to imagine my Lord saying that. I can picture my own dad saying something like that and it comforting me. Imagine the Lord saying it!!

How many things do you worry about that actually happen? God gives us grace but not for our imaginations. Trust Him. Even if "the worst" happens, He will be there

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear..." 2 Tim. 1:7

Friday, May 17, 2013

Struggle #3-Perfectionism

This is part three of my five part series on common struggles that women face. To read about struggle #1 (clutter) go here. Or to read about #2 (loneliness) go here.

Definition of perfectionism
: any of various doctrines holding that religious, moral, social or political perfection is attainable (when it's not!!). A personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that DEMANDS perfection and REJECTS anything less (kind of like the guy below). 

Someone once said that a perfectionist is a person who takes great pains and passes them on to others. Families with perfectionists for mothers suffer. Perfectionists have a hard time making and keeping friends. They are not very happy because they know they will never be able to live up to their own unrealistic expectations and no one else will either. Our unrealistic expectations (especially on our children) can very much affect them, because they feel they can never measure up. 

If the bible says no one is good, not one, then certainly no one is perfect, no not one, except the perfect Son of God.

This is actually something I don't struggle with... In fact I could probably use a big dose of perfectionism. In college I just wanted to get a C (or even a D). I didn't care. I just wanted the degree. My house is never spotless. But I try to keep it picked up. I don't stress about people seeing my place a mess (as if we don't all have messes at some point!) or me a mess.

If I am going to work on perfecting something I would actually like to work on perfecting my relationship with the Lord. It may be tempting to be perfect in ways that make NO difference in light of eternity. But we should seek and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Let's work on perfecting that :)

Perfectionism is an illusion ladies. Don't believe in it. Don't practice it. It's not real. Life is a mess. A big mess. But we have a big Lord. Do whatever you do as unto Him but always recognize that you are a fallen, wretched sinner in need of a PERFECT Savior.

p.s. something to keep in mind when working on cleaning your home, organizing your home, "perfecting" your home/schedule is to keep your husband in the forefront of your mind. Talk to him. Ask him what he thinks is important. I have met so many women who spend so much time on things that don't matter to their men! Check in with him. Don't waste your time and energy on things that he doesn't even notice/care about. The bible calls wives to adapt themselves to their husbands. If it's important to him, make it imporant to you.

For example (this is beginning to be a long p.s.... oh well, we all know I'm not a perfectionist!), Scott likes the area by the microwave to be clean, he hates seeing dvds laying around, he doesn't like a lot of coats hanging on our coat rack (he says its for guests coats :)... He doesn't notice if the kitchen floor hasn't been mopped in a week, if the there are dishes in the sink or if I make ridiculously simple dinners all week. 

Find out what your guy likes and focus on that, not the other stuff. :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Struggle #2-Loneliness

The second common struggle women face is: loneliness. (The first one I discussed was clutter. You can read that post here).

Albert Einstein once said, “It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”  You can be the most active woman in church -- volunteering yourself like crazy and hosting every party -- but be riddled with loneliness.

What is loneliness? Ironically it’s not being alone. The strange thing about loneliness is that we feel it most intently when we are with people. Loneliness is the knowing in our heart that we were created to really, truly know each other in the deepest sense but we feel stuck with superficiality. But we don't have to remain there. You can initiate getting to know people in real, transparent ways. Talk about things other than the weather, fashion and the latest in Hollywood/movies (who cares?!!) When someone asks: "How are you?" Be honest!

We want to talk about real issues. We want to be known. But we have to be real in order to be known. When we are known we aren't as lonely.

According to surveys, one of the three greatest fears of teen girls is that they will never be truly known and loved. I’m not sure we ever outgrow that, girls! Some of the loneliest women I know are married.  

Even Jesus experienced acute loneliness. His disciples forsook him and fled in his hour of greatest need. In that darkness of loneliness, Jesus confessed His unshaken confidence in the presence of God when he said, “You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

No one will ever fully make you feel complete/not alone except your Creator. The sooner you accept that the less loneliness you will exp
erience! He alone knows us fully. He alone can make you not feel alone.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Struggle #1-Clutter!

I did a "ladies' day in May" at my home on Saturday. It was a blessing to sit with sisters in Christ and talk about 5 common struggles women face. I wanted to share with you all what we talked about!

Struggle number one: Clutter.

Definition: to fill or liter things in a disorderly manner. (but I have also had too many things in an orderly manner that I would still consider clutter :) 

Many women struggle with stuff. Too much stuff. "Gotta have more" syndrome! Clutter=stress and mess. Get rid of it and find freedom and joy! :) 

Author: Susan Verstraete writes:
A friend of mine lost nearly everything she owned in a house fire. About a year later, I asked her about what she had learned through that trial. Looking back, she was surprised to remember all the people who expressed envy. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” they said, “but I really wish this would happen to me.” 

What were they thinking? That the clutter in their homes was out of control, and the only way to be free involved the fire department.

I can relate. My husband and I have reached the point in our lives where having fewer possessions is an attractive goal. Clutter causes us stress. I can’t protect my husband from workplace frustration or my son from traffic or either of them from a thousand other irritations in life, but I can get rid of excess clutter and organize my home so that they can find the scissors and the tape on the first try.

Still, though, I am often snared by the promise of a better life through consumerism. We never have a shortage of items to purge during my annual sweep through our home. How else can I explain accumulating three drip coffee makers and a coffee press? 

Here’s what I preach to myself as I’m combing the house for items to give away: 

1.  Jesus said that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Luke 12:15

2.  Spiritual life can be choked out by clutter, which is part of "the cares and riches of this life." Luke 8:14

3.  God is pleased when we give things away cheerfully.  2 Cor. 9:7

4. Sharing our excess goods is one way to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Luke 3:11

5.  One of God’s names is Jehova Jira – God who provides. If we give away something and end up needing it later, we can trust God to provide. Phil. 4:19 

6.  Giving to those in need stores riches for us in Heaven, and is an expression of love for the church. Luke 12:33

7.  Sharing what we have pleases God. Hebrews 13:16 

8.  Everything we own has been given to us by God. We are only stewards of our stuff. Psalm 24:1

9.  God is not a God of confusion, but of order (think about how this is exemplified in creation). An orderly home reflects God's character. Genesis 1

10.Hoarding goods "just in case" can be a way of trusting my stuff to keep me safe instead of my God. Psalm 31:6 

Sometimes it helps to remember that one day I will be called to give up everything. No physical item will go with me to Heaven. There's nothing I own that I need to be perfectly happy and at peace with God.

How about you? Do you struggle with clutter? Pray and ask the Lord what He would have you give away and receive the blessing of a less cluttered life! If it's not beautiful, necessary or useful then get rid of it!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Top 10 ways for me to enjoy life more

1. trust in God rather than myself (prov. 3:5)

2. look over offenses rather than take offense (prov. 19:11)

3. pray instead of worry (phil. 4:6)

4. allow the Holy Spirit to change people instead of me striving to change them. (john 16:8)

5. submit to my husband instead of disrespecting him and forcing my way (eph. 5:22)

6. exhibit the fruits of the spirit in my relationship with my children-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control (gal. 5:22)

7. seek to serve rather than be served. (phil. 2:4)

8. listen more, talk less (james 1:19)

9. think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy rather than dwelling on what is false, impure, not lovely, worldly, fleeting. (phil. 4:8)

10. live my life for Him and others instead of myself! (Luke 10:27)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Not According To Plan

Today did not go according to MY plan.

3:30 a.m.- Charis wakes... MY plan: Charis wake at 7 a.m.

4:00 a.m.- get Charis back to bed.

7:00 a.m.-Blood drive people arrive at church fellowship hall (right next to bedroom window) and begin chatting and unloading all their loud equipment. MY plan: sleep in until at least 7:30.

7:10 a.m.-Kids wake up to phone ringing two times in a row. The blood drive people set church alarm off and needed help.

7:15 a.m.- EVERYBODY is up. NOT MY PLAN :)

7:30 a.m. - I decide since I am sleep deprived that I want to be mean to my husband. Not a good plan. Especially since it is supposed to be his day off... who wants to spend their day off with a crabby wife?


8:00 a.m.- Decide to be nice to my husband and we have a nice chat while kids run around and make a mess and I pretend they aren't. That was not part of my plan. But it was nice!

The times start becoming a blur after this....

Some time a little later-Scott goes and donates blood. Ricky follows.

Around 11 a.m.-Friend comes over. Him and Scott talk forever (okay, not forever, but close). MY plan: spend family day together at park... or at least have daddy take big kids to the park so I can clean.

12:00- Scott realizes he can't take kids to the park so we settle for a picnic in backyard. NOT my plan.

1:30-Scott gets ready to go to office. DEFINITELY NOT my plan on his day off but because he is doing something special with kids all day Saturday while I host a ministry event at my house he has to go. I am left with four crazy kids to myself. Not my plan.

Things get blurry again :)

I notice Johnny isn't napping... not good. Not according to plan.

4:30- Charis wakes up and I am desperately trying to keep Johnny awake so he doesn't fall asleep at 5 and wake up at 4... Mission somewhat failed: he fell asleep at 5:45... still not my plan.

5:45- Johnny is passed out on floor, Ricky starts sniffling like he is getting a cold, Charis won't stop crying and has a cold, daddy is still at office... can you guess?! Not my plan!

6:30-nurse Charis again to try and get her to sleep. company comes over while I am in back. Ricky wakes up Johnny which throws him into a screaming fit I finally get him to go back to sleep... Not my plan.

7:00-Lay Charis down, company leaves. Tell Ricky and Rhea it's bed time (they usually go to bed at 8:30... but NOT TODAY! I like that NEW plan. :)

7:30-Realize Charis is still crying. Go in room to see she has had a...for lack of a better term... poop-explosion. We don't have a bathroom to bathe her in right now because we are remodeling so while I hold her in one arm getting poop all over me with her screaming I take the baby tub and put it on kitchen counter and fill it with bowls full of water from the kitchen sink... I realize I didn't get a washcloth so I grab a bib and she starts screaming because I forgot a towel and so when I took her out she was freezing. Get a diaper on her asap and nurse her again. lay her down. I think she is finally sleeping.

I am still in pajama clothes and haven't showered and never got around to putting on mascara... ALL OF THIS WAS NOT MY PLAN.

But it was probably His plan. His plan is always best. His plan refines me and makes me more like Christ.

"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

This verse blesses the very depths of my mama soul. I have LOTS of plans every day... and my day never seems to go just as I planned. That's a good thing.

Motherhood in general never seems to go as planned and I think that is just the way God planned it. You see, He knew we were controlling (Genesis 3:16) and what better way to break a controlling spirit then to ruin it's plans?! He knows best. What do I know?

Motherhood is all about sacrifice. Sacrifice of sleep. Sacrifice of pride. Sacrifice of CONTROL. The sooner we realize and accept this the more we will enjoy motherhood.

Let go of your plans and allow His plan to work in your life and in your heart. He can do great things with a humble mama.