I’ve heard others lump Jesus into ‘one of the great teachers’ of all time and that’s just not possible. Jesus consistently made some pretty outrageous claims that made it clear who he thought he was. Throughout his ministry, he boldly stated who he was, which is one part of the trinity, the Son of God. Jesus explained the intimate relationship he has with the Father God on and off throughout the gospels and what is always impressed upon me is how the Son reflects the Father and vice versa. My insides quake a little and I’m awe-struck. My point is, though, is that he can’t be regarded as a great teacher and then ignore the parts where he claimed he was the Son of God. He’d have to be a crazy maniac to make such a claim if it weren’t true, and then everything else he said would have to be doubted, too.

Because if Jesus was right about who He was and was of sound mind, it’s a game-changer.

He can’t be a great teacher and the Son of God and a maniac. Each and every one of us has to make a choice when we come face-to-face with Jesus.

There’s enough evidence one way or the other to prove or disprove who Jesus was, and it comes down to your own brushes up with the spiritual.

And I can only speak from experience. There is no way I can deny Jesus’ sovereignty. Often there are no words to describe the depth of God’s love that has reached into my heart and mind, because of Jesus.

In my darkness, I’ve had my soul lit up.

In my parched thoughts and emotions, I’ve tasted the life-giving water.

In my uncertainty and chaos, I’ve felt the iron-grip of love hanging onto me.

In my wanderings and search for meaning in all the wrong things, I’ve known the grace that patiently waits for me.

In my struggles, I’ve experienced the healing of the greatest Counselor of all time.

I can’t do these things on my own. I’ve tried. No one else can offer these gifts to me. I’ve searched. God and God alone, through the love of Jesus on that cross, found a way to cross my soul’s barrier of darkness.

I’m no more, or less, deserving than you, either. All sin and wrong-doing and selfish acts turn us away from God. All of them! One is not worse than the other. He can’t tolerate it, as He is pure and holy and good through and through; but the author of Love made a plan and carried it out to save us in order to rescue us back to himself.

“For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world,
but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.”
– Jesus’ words (italics mine) from John 3:17 (AMP)

If Jesus is who he says he is, and truly is the Son of God, there’s no place you can go to run away from that. You can try for a while, but we all come face to face with a decision at different points in our life. It means you are never beyond his reach, either, no matter where you’re at.

“If I climb upward on the rays of the morning sun or land on the most distant shore of the sea where the sun sets,
even there your hand would guide me and our right hand would hold on to me.”
– Psalm 139:9 (GW)

There is nothing that you’ve done, are doing, or will ever do that can negate what Jesus did on the cross. From the cross and after his victory over death, Jesus never once made exceptions to his grace. From the moment of belief, the thief on the cross next to Jesus, received God’s grace through no work of his own (Luke 23:32-43).

“Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion
would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God?
I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace.
If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”
-Paul’s words (italics mine) from Galatians 2:21 (MSG)

It would’ve been unnecessary for Jesus to go to the cross if we could ‘make it on our own’ to God. It would’ve been unnecessary for Jesus to die for us if we were just so ugly, far-gone and lost in our darkness that there was no hope. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace and there is nothing we can do to ‘break’ it. It’s never-ending flow comes from a self-sufficient source. During Jesus’ ministry he continually sought out the broken, the sick, the ‘dirty’ ones of society. In my own life, I’ve repeatedly made bad choices that took me away from God and repeatedly God sought me out and rescued me.

Well, there is one thing that does come down to you.

The best kind of love is one where there is no force or coercion. God didn’t make us to be robots. It does come down to one choice that you make.

Is Jesus a great teacher?

Is he a maniac?

Or is he the Son of God?

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Call it a perspective shift. Call it a needed change. Maybe some disillusionment? On another level, call it disappointment and frustration.

My body responded AMAZING to paleo the first 10 months! A 20’ish pound weight loss. A stop to the spread of arthritis. Inflammation dialed down like you wouldn’t believe. Acne disappearing. Those little weird skin-coloured bumps on the backs of my arm vanishing. Sharp stomach pain came to an end. Heart palpitations over. Depression lifting off my shoulders. Never mind the much-needed learning about the sad state of our mainstream food-supply, learning about clean and whole food eating, and shifting my grocery shopping to local farmers and organic, non-GMO suppliers.

However.

At the end of that first paleo year I gained 10 pounds back. I blamed eating a stupid amount of paleo baked goods to that weight gain, but when I dialed those back the weight didn’t come off. I stayed at that weight for about a half year, and then proceeded to gained another 15. I blamed that 15 pound weight gain to introducing some gluten-free grains in my diet, but when I removed those the weight didn’t come off. I’m officially back at my starting weight from 3 years ago. And all the while continuing to eat about the same, and if anything making improvements along the way with added produce and reduced sugar. During this time I started and ended a paleo bakery which was a really cool experience but a painfully stressful one (stress ain’t good for finding your waistline). But the second round of weight gain grew on me AFTER I removed the bakery-stress from my life.

During this time my adrenals have crashed. This is not a phenomenon in my head but a very real and daily struggle with fatigue and irritability that was proven by a hormone test. Hormones are so much more than puberty and that monthly cycle; to name a few things this intricate, complicated system controls, hormones determine how well you sleep, your energy levels, how you cope with stress, and how much extra weight you might be carrying. I can very well testify that that weight DOES NOT COME OFF even with the best efforts. I can only do mild exercises because if I do anything intense I suffer serious repercussions of terribly disturbed sleep, inflammation, and painfully long recuperation times if I over-do it. That’s my hormones at work – well, in my case, not working that great.

Something is just not right.

And then I stumbled across stories just like mine. People who have this amazing initial success with paleo and then they go downhill. Kind of just like me. Huh.

I just love Stefani at her blog Paleo for Women!! I even bought her book and highly recommend it – it’s a great starting point to a wholesome healthy journey with your body and the food you put in it. Here I learned that obviously women have different needs than men and for the most part really shouldn’t be on low-carb diets. Crashed adrenals, hello?! Chris Kresser has patiently repeated again and again that everyone’s needs are different and one cookie-cutter diet will not work for everyone (he even wrote a book about it – a very good one). And it took me a long time to get past all those paleo bloggers who flaunt desert recipes galore and make it seem like you can eat all you want without gaining any weight because the ingredients are just so awesome. I fell for that for a long time!

With my body going down the tubes I came to the conclusion that I never focused on gut healing. Sure, it’s good to remove offending foods like gluten but repairs are needed. This led me to stumbling across several resources. One is Body Ecology which is exactly about healing the guts. Another resources is Trim Healthy Mama and the last, but possibly the most thrilling, to me is the Adrenal Reset Diet by Dr. Christianson. All three have contributed to a shift in my outlook on food. There are a number of common themes between all three, one of which is super interesting is the idea of food combining. The Adrenal Reset is about carb cycling through the day to help with cortisol levels. But from going through all three of these I’ve decided to introduce some of those foods that are prohibited by strict paleo. The one that catches my attention the most is foods with resistant starch (I don’t have patience to try and talk about science-y things!! but this is a fiber that helps with digestion and the link will take to you a blogger who does have the patience to explain it). And shocking enough, the foods with resistant starch in them are grains, legumes, and seeds … all of which most paleo eaters cut out of their diet! This type of starch, which is basically a type of fiber, is good for, ahem, controlling weight and getting junk out of your system.

I’m still staying clear away from gluten, but some of those other grains, seeds, and beans can be very nourishing as long as they are properly soaked and prepared. There are legitimate digestion issues with those foods, but there are ways to overcome that in order to utilize the nutrients found in them. I’m adding small amounts of beans back into my diet. And rice. Maybe some quinoa. Shocking, I know!

My Big Plan: I’m following Dr. Christianson’s protocol since my deepest issues are my flat-lined hormones. I’m also adding in fermented foods daily, which is Body Ecology’s advice and is very healing to those poor guts. As an aside, I successfully made my first veggie ferment! Nom nom nom salty & sour carrots that are good for pooping haha! I’m trying not to focus on weight loss, and instead focusing on self-acceptance and aiming myself towards healing on the deeper levels.

I see myself now as a clean-eater of whole foods that I cut up and prepare in my own kitchen. That paleo label just doesn’t fit anymore.

 

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The One and Only

Ever noticed that hole in your heart? That yearning for something? I have my entire life and I’ve tried many things to fill it up. Friendships, acceptance from others, romance, looking good, perfecting whatever it was that I was working on. Wherever I searched for answers, for meaning, I’d get a hold of some it and then it would flutter away in the breeze. No matter where I looked it seemed like truth and meaning and something substantial eluded me.

This blog was started with trying to perfect my physical health – honestly, at first it was just about losing weight. Sure, gaining health was a bonus, who doesn’t want that? But really, really, at the heart of the issue was I just didn’t want to be fat. To show the world I indeed have it all together. Just so I could fill that gaping chasm of gnawing fear and empty insecurity.

Eating paleo has been life-changing and I firmly believe that what we eat can hinder us or heal us; our food has a tremendous effect on just not our physical body, but our mind and emotions, too. Also, where we put our dollars to buy our food has a great impact on the world around us, too. These are values I hold dearly. This however, is but a small stepping stone to finding deep meaning in life. Even the paleo world led me into that crazy tangle of searching for answers that always slipped out of reach. And one day God told me that paleo is not my god and it will never fill that void in my soul. Food and health is not the ultimate answer that I am searching for.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned things along the way and taken a little of this and a little of that. And I’ve picked up some valued treasures of insight from those little pieces here and there. One inspiration sort of led to another, but I always felt like I was stumbling in the dark. Each time I tried to say to myself in regards to something new I was learning was, “There! Here’s the solution to finally help me feel grounded on my own two feet! Maybe this time I’ll get fixed,” and the wisps of ideas and answers either slip away from me or tangle my steps.

Yoga helps you get in touch with your light from within, but I can’t light and keep the fire burning inside of who I am all by myself. No counselor or book I’ve ever read has ever completely convinced me that I’m worthy, that I’m valuable or even came close to untangling the issues hidden inside me. I have some mighty defensive walls built up around my heart and no one could ever scale them. Whatever I seemed to learn never extended into the reality of my day to day living. In spite of all that I learned how to think better, nothing truly impacted what really happened in my head.  Nothing I’ve ever learned or read about fills this void at the seat of my soul.

God showed me that building my identity on anything other than Him will always be an unstable foundation, truly like trying to build your house on the sand. And that’s exactly what I had been doing, shifting around and crumbling to pieces.

God is the One and Only that lights my light within and keeps it burning; who else but the One who created me (and you) will ever truly know me (and you)? Jesus has been my One and Only who has convinced me that I’m valuable – He went to the cross to prove it. The Holy Spirit has been the ultimate Counselor and has managed to scale my walls and untangle those tightly-held issues that nothing else has EVER even begun to come close to doing. God the Father is the One and Only who has convinced me that my existence is a reason for joy. God is the One and Only that seeps Truth into my heart that inspires a bravery in me to believe that has never happened before.

It’s because He’s the One and Only that is Love itself. A burning, fiery, passionate Love that can be as gentle as a soft summer breeze or an explosion of magnificence that blows the mind. A love that wraps me up and saw me before the world began.

It’s God Himself that heals the gaping wounds of my heart and the One and Only who can finally settle my soul with satisfaction. No more of those ideas/solutions slipping just beyond my grasp because I’m being held wholly by the One who is the ultimate answer.

God has been pressing this passage from Psalm 139 into my mind and heart lately and I’ll share it with you:

9 If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me and the night shall be [the only] light about me,
12 Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day;
the darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth!
Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret
[and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors]
in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery].
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written
before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.
(Amplified Bible)

Almost two months ago I was completely motivated to make some changes. I had discovered a recent 15 pound weight gain, which had followed a previous 10 pound gain about a year before that. I believe God is teaching me the need for self-control in my health, money, and in my mental activity. Both to honour Him and to honour myself.

After a month and a half of eating so much better (cutting out all grains again, don’t think my body agrees with them; a treat every 5th day, a massive improvement from one everyday) and exercising more, I have not lost a pound. Not one. In my hubby’s encouraging words, though, at least I didn’t gain any more! I also take my measurements and with some inches lost and gained in different areas, I’ve still only shed 1 inch overall.

Talk about completely defeating.

With negative thoughts and feelings threatening to choke me all day long, such as: ‘what’s the point’, ‘my body is so broken’, ‘I’m so trapped in this fat’, ‘you’re doing all the wrong things’, and the worst, most powerful underlying belief is ‘my worth is in my body’, I’m refusing to give up. I also realized that certainly continuing to walk on the path I’m on is good for me, and choosing not to and to revert to old habits of continual self-indulgence is only bad for me.

I had a light-bulb moment yesterday while I was exercising, and I realized that every time I’ve tried to lose weight in the past 25 years, it was motivated by a very negative belief that I’m a complete shame when I’m fat. So I’m learning to say to myself that I choose to exercise and eat healthy foods in order to nurture myself, to celebrate doing good things for my mind and body, and not try to change all the things I don’t like about myself. This is really difficult to do because I don’t always believe it. But from now on when I exercise, I will say to myself that I do this because I want to care for myself. And instead of checking off another step towards frantically wishing to lose weight, I will pay attention to how I feel a little stronger and that I feel SO much better for loosening up tight muscles and that my mood and energy levels lifted significantly after a workout.

I also don’t want to ignore that my measurements showed that my body IS making some changes in response to my efforts. I did lose a little of something almost everywhere. And my past track record over my adult life has shown me again and again that my body is slow to respond to my healthy choices. Funny how my body has no problem to easily and quickly gain weight. Hilarious.

As I was struggling in my misery earlier today, I was trying to turn over my problems to God. I want to trust Him, I want to follow His lead. I need His help. And as I was just trying to let it all go into His hands, which didn’t feel like it was working because I still felt alone and choking on my negative thoughts, God came close and asked me to invite Him in to my space instead. Just invite Him in to the thoughts and emotions that were strangling my confidence and hope.

So I did.

And I’m stunned by how His comfort wraps around me. I’m amazed by His compassion for my pain. He whispers to my spirit that I’m so much more than my body. He gently turned my attention to my teeny son who was chattering about his Lego while eating his breakfast and showed me that there is so much more loveliness in a person than our physical appearance. That I have a purpose to love, teach, and nurture my son and my ability to do that has very little to do with how fat or thin I am.

I’m reading a book called Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion. Lately, God has been beautifully prompting me to just keep my eyes on Him. Whenever I feel like I’m just itching to do SOMEthing, anything, that surely God doesn’t want me just hiding at home cooking and cleaning, God has consistently called me to rest. Again and again. It is hard for me to accept, and harder to do, because I want to prove that I’m worthwhile by all the wonderful things I do (which doesn’t work by the way … because by those standards a person isn’t worth much when things don’t succeed or get accomplished) but God wants me to rest in Him. And I’m talking about a kind of rest where I’m in a place fully trusting Him. Yes, it’s good (and needed) to physically do something restful, but I’m learning to have my mind and heart at rest in Him through the day. Learning being the operative word! God had done some prep work in my heart so that when I read Jeannie’s words in black and white ink bare in front of my eyes, I was ready.

“He wanted me to rest in his selflessness, in his patience, in his goodness, in his wild love for me. And he knew that only when I realized that by grace alone I am not only saved but also accepted would I find peace and rest and real joy.”

His love for me, and you, does not change. I repeat. It does not change. His love stays the same when you’re on the top of your game and in your worst day. It’s because He IS love. What incredible freedom and joy there is when we start to grab a hold of that!

And He doesn’t want me believing all the negative criticisms running through my head. God doesn’t teach using shame, criticism, and judgement so those kinds of thoughts aren’t even from Him. If they’re not from Him, then I don’t want them to hold any value for me. In my journey to self-acceptance, the only place where I can feel its beginning is in God. In a place where I’m loved no matter what size I am, and in spite of any good or bad I do, I start to see my worth. My worth being a product of creation by the most incredible Artist. And the efforts and struggles I used to bring to my life start to unravel and fade away as I let my Creator fold me into his arms.

tell his story

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You have no idea how apprehensive I am about ‘religious’ language. It comes off as lofty and detached from real life. When I finally let God catch up to me once again, I told Him that things always have to be real. Messy. None of that goody-goody, fake Christian crap.

I was saved by Jesus’ love when I was 17 years old (because I knew I needed Him) but I spent at least a decade of my adult life shutting Christianity out. I was burned out by Christians being so, well, so annoyingly perfect. I tried that life, and it’s a lie to live like that. God doesn’t want us to live like that, either. In fact, He knows we can’t … that’s why Jesus on the cross matters so much. Only grace can save us, nothing we can do will ever be enough to earn our way to God’s love.

Thank God that He never loses His sheep (ya, that’s you and me … baa).

 4“Suppose a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 sheep grazing in the pasture and look for the lost sheep until he finds it? 5When he finds it, he’s happy. He puts that sheep on his shoulders and 6goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them, ‘Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep!”
– Luke 15: 4-6 GOD’S WORD Translation

I have felt the call of Love in my heart countless times. So many times God has spoken to me, and nudged me in a new direction that I would NEVER have done on my own. I have often questioned and doubted His presence in my life, because it can look so crazy to those who don’t know Him. But if it weren’t for God’s love, I honestly think I wouldn’t be here. Depression and anxiety are not small things to live with.

And yet that is what saves me. Brokenness. Coming to the end of myself. Knowing that I need something more than just myself to make sense and meaning of this life. I searched and tried out different types of thoughts or belief systems to try and fill this nagging void inside me. Nothing fills me up like the love of Jesus on that cross. Nothing gives me joy like the victory over death that He won for us.

Nothing compares to the love of a God who would do that for us.

Now I’m at this point where I want to love God back. I want Him a part of my everyday life. How do I do that without being fake? How can I do that without talking religious mumbo-jumbo?

I do it by surrendering myself daily to the grace of the cross. It’s a choice. That’s the only thing God left up to us. He’s done everything else. We just choose Him or don’t choose Him.

I so easily get caught up in all my shortcomings. I have been attending church more and it’s so easy to get this ideal Christian picture-perfect life embedded into my expectations for myself. I struggle with this like you wouldn’t believe. I choke on my own failures regularly.

But then God’s Spirit comes close and shows me (once again) that it isn’t what I do that makes me worthy. It’s not even His agenda for my life the things I think I should be doing! Otherwise what Jesus did on the cross is worthless. If I could do all sorts of amazing things with my life and prove myself to others and to God, then I wouldn’t need Jesus. But I can’t. No one can. It’s what Jesus does that matters. A king who left His throne, was separated from His Father’s presence, was tortured and died for sinners like us who might still end up rejecting Him anyway.

“I don’t reject God’s kindness. If we receive God’s approval by obeying laws,
then Christ’s death was pointless.”
– Galatians 2: 21 GOD’S WORD Translation

God has been showing me to learn to follow His agenda. And it always, always, always starts with Jesus’ grace and love. My last post was about me learning self-discipline (once again haha) with regards to my physical health; learning to set limits and create some daily goals. I am learning to do the same with my emotional and mental health. I have to set boundaries on what I allow my thoughts to dwell on. You have no idea how fast I can travel down a negative spiral of choking anxiety, fear, and resentment. That is not God’s agenda for me, nor you in whatever you struggle with. Daily, I practice focusing my heart’s eyes on Him, that I’m His through the grace of Jesus.

I will always need His love. His grace. I will never get past the point of needing Him. My eyes often stray from Jesus and I lose sight of what He’s done for me on the cross, but thank goodness that I can never get too far away from God’s reach. Gladly I ‘restrict’ myself by throwing my tether to Jesus. It boggles my teeny mind how a restriction can in turn give freedom!

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Anyone who has anything to do with children will hopefully understand that teaching them rules and consequences is good for them. When I taught, I had the odd kid come through my classroom who obviously was not held accountable for their actions. It’s not pretty, and in my mind, borderline disgusting. Being completely self-indulgent isn’t a pretty picture. Bringing up a child letting them have free reign will have long-lasting and disastrous consequences. Discipline, understanding right from wrong, and how to treat themselves and others around them are critical skills in growing up into a functioning adult. Being accountable to one’s actions and taking responsibility for what we’ve done helps us to be better people and to continue to learn.

Boundaries are needed throughout our lives. We understand to get a paycheck we have to show up for work. We know that to keep a spouse, we have to sacrifice sometimes what we want in order to help the other. We know that indulging in cookies everyday will at the very least make our insides feel gross, let alone the possible consequences of weight gain (been there, done that). And a parent knows all too well the many sacrifices of self (time, money, and energy) in our efforts to raise a child.

I’ve got some of the basic ‘boundaries’ in my life in control. I set my alarm to greet the little one I babysit for. I grudgingly go grocery shopping and prepare good food to feed me and my family in the best way possible. I’m quite faithful in my exercise practices, to varying degrees, depending on how I slept through the night.

But with the recent weight gain, something isn’t working. Some rules need to be readjusted. I had let up on a strict paleo diet and allowed non-gluten grains back in; my son has much better poops with more starch in his diet so I also used that as an excuse to include it in mine (even though it did the opposite for me, so constipated <!!!> … and I believe it’s the main culprit for a recent 15 pound weight gain). I’m also horrible with sweets; I open the door a crack to let a little in and before I know it, an avalanche is ripping the door off its hinges.

No excuses. So often I hear people say they just ‘can’t do that’. If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen. If you want better health, then commit yourself. Period. I say this to myself and I say it to you.

Ever since my 2-month streak of clean paleo, sugar-free eating back in the fall of 2013 that resulted in no weight loss and the worst streak of insomnia I’ve ever had, I was discouraged (to say the least). But I’ve learned since then that those with adrenal fatigue quite likely need higher carb diets since it’s hard for their bodies to use fat as fuel. I’ve also learned that the key to any health endeavor is to first deal with mental and emotional stress. Either way, I used that perceived failure to let me eat whatever I wanted to. I did also notice that including more sugar in my diet meant I slept much better through the night, so it’s been tricky finding a healthy balance and deciding on what sort of sugars (a direct hit or more fruit or more starchy veggies). I have a hard time moderating. I do much better with a ‘NO SUGAR AT ALL’ approach rather than just a little in a day. Somehow a dollop of honey in my tea leads to eating half a dozen cookies. Sigh.

Time to reign in and set some new boundaries. No more non-gluten grains. Ever. I’ve done this for a month now. Even though another reason for allowing them back in was for some easy-prep food, I’m surprised that I’m happier not eating them anymore. It means for more prep in the kitchen, but it’s a boundary I’m content with. Another boundary I’ve made is borrowing from Teresa Tapp’s God-made/man-made food plan. The basics she lays out is eat God-made food (unprocessed whole food) 2 days, then treat yourself on the third day with something more processed. She firmly believes in not depriving yourself for long-term success, and I agree with her. However, for myself, 2 days isn’t long enough before a treat of some kind so I am doing 4 days ‘on’ before I get a treat of some sort. And all of this is within the bounds of paleo. My treat is some sort of paleo baked good or a smoothie of some sort. This has been the perfect challenge for someone (ahem, me!) who has indulged in whatever I wanted for half a year, short of eating gluten (my arthritis simply does not tolerate that all all). I also find that I’m content with a much smaller treat than I’ve noticed myself doing in the past.

Another thing I’ve been able to do more of is exercise. Hopefully this is a sign of me crawling out of the depths of adrenal fatigue, but I also attribute it to Teresa Tapp’s methods. I went from not being able to walk more than 20 minutes due to horrid consequences of fatigue, a horrid night’s sleep, and arthritic flare-ups to being able to walk over an hour and be fine with it. I can do a T-Tapp workout 5 times a week and feel really good. Teresa takes the rehab approach, emphasizes the lymphatic system, and creates exercises that work with the body and not against it. There’s nothing wimpy about her workouts, I’m sweating like a pig after each one! My goal has been to step things up to try and build more muscle mass.

I’ve been going strong for a month now, though I think twice I pushed my exercise too far. I have not weighed myself yet as I think my body’s response will be slow. I don’t want to discourage myself from a number on the scale when I can feel a new confidence and strength returning to my body. My body has often been slow to respond in the past (except when I first went paleo) and I accept it’ll be slow while in the grips of adrenal fatigue.

Making boundaries for myself is a way of showing myself respect. That I care enough and that I am worth it. I’m much more happier following reasonable rules with goals for myself, than compared to when I just ate whatever and didn’t push myself a little while exercising.

Funny how that works.

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If you wanted to adopt a child, it is lengthy, challenging, and often very expensive. I looked into it a number of different times when I was younger and to go through with it would’ve been an all-encompassing, life-changing, committed process. Even before I actually received a chosen child!

When I read the following Bible verse, the word ‘adopt’ jumps out at me:

“Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ.
He freely chose to do this.”
-Ephesians 1:5, God’s Word Translation

God went through the lengthy (centuries of planning), challenging (we can be quite block-headed and not see His love), and very expensive (Jesus suffered on the cross and was separated from God the Father) process of adopting us. It is easy to overlook the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and some of us have heard the story many times. We get a little numb to it because of it’s familiarity. And we know the ending, if we believe, that Jesus won out over death; it’s easy to overlook its significance.

Sometimes, even daily (maybe moment by moment?!), it’s good to stop and take in what God has so generously given. God Himself, left His throne and clothed Himself like us. God didn’t need to do this. We’ve sinned against Him, and we’re broken because of it. But He did do it. He made a rescue plan and carried it out. Through Jesus, who had no sin in Him, we are given grace to cover all of our brokenness. It is nothing that we’ve done to earn this, it is freely given. All you have to do is choose to accept it.

If you adopted a child into your family, that child becomes yours. You would do whatever you could to train and support and love that child just that the same as a child of your blood. Furthermore, that child will receive your inheritance. By law and by your heart, that child is now yours.

God has done the same for us! Before accepting Jesus, we are spiritual orphans. But once we admit our deep need for Him, He gives us Himself. The Perfect Parent. The Lover of our Souls. The One who has Limitless Grace.

I’m learning to fight my way out of depressive, anxious thinking patterns and this means identifying the old ways and replacing them with new ones. I can’t do this by myself. God is the only One who has ever convinced me that I’m worthy of new ways. His love is without bounds and it never stops chasing me; the beauty of His grace is the only thing that makes me forget myself. He’s the only One who is able to heal me.

Daily, I’m claiming my inheritance through Jesus Christ:

  • I am God’s child. John 1:12
  • I am hidden with Christ. Philippians 1:6
  • I am given God’s glorious grace lavishly and without restriction. Ephesians 1: 5, 8
  • I am forgiven. Ephesians 1:8
  • I am included. Ephesians 1:13
  • I am not alone. Hebrews 13:5
  • I am set free. Romans 8:2, John 8:32, Galatians 5:1

These are rich gifts and ours for the taking. These are His promises. Through His death and victory on the cross, we become a part of Jesus’ glory as His children, which reaches out into eternity. To go from a spiritual wasteland, which is what it felt to me compared to what I have now in Him, to a place where the soul is truly quenched is something I don’t know how to put words to.

“God is a father who graciously adopts believers in Christ into his spiritual family
and grants them all the privileges of heirship. Salvation is much more than forgiveness of sins and deliverance from condemnation; it is also a position of great blessing.”
- “Adoption” from Bible Study Tools

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I have two full-length mirrors in my house. In one of them when I look into it, there’s a window and its natural light is behind me. In the second mirror in a different room, the window’s light hits me on the side and front. And guess what, I don’t look so bad in the mirror where the light is coming from behind me, but as soon as I check myself out in the second mirror, all my flaws are crystal clear. The dimples, the bumps, and the rolls are glaringly obvious. Funny how just the minute before in the first mirror, I was feeling not so bad about how I looked … even kind of liked my outfit. And the next minute I’m frantically changing my clothes.

Almost a year ago, I decided to stop weighing myself because I was trying to teach myself that my self-worth isn’t in that number on the scale.

The training failed.

Right around that same time I had lab results come back that I was deep into adrenal fatigue and at that point I had already gained back almost 15 pounds since going paleo (I had initially lost approximately 30!), but I stayed at that ‘extra’ weight for about half a year. Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue, and the body puts on weight in this survival mode; I just want to make this clear because I don’t believe eating paleo has led to my weight gain, it’s the adrenal fatigue. Even with eating super-duper clean paleo last fall for two months (no added sugar even!), though, I didn’t lose a pound. I was so sick of that scale measuring my success so I cut it out of my life.

It gets worse in my little world. None of my clothes are fitting me. Not even clothes from just six months ago. I can feel the weight packing in on my tummy. It makes me cry. I feel so frustrated and trapped. So I sucked it up and weighed myself finally to finally just see. And I have gained back all my weight that I lost two and a half years ago.

No more denial. No more looking into that mirror with the light behind me and thinking things aren’t so bad.

My very first instincts were what to do, how to plan, how to change. However, I had a good friend give me the beautiful reminder to take this time to just love myself. To show kindness to myself. To not make a plan and try to change myself. With many tears, and sometimes a moment by moment conscious decision, I’m learning to do this.

In spite of this needed advice, it is very hard to not make a plan.

With adrenal fatigue I have to be very careful with how much I exercise and what sort of exercise I do because I WILL crash with fatigue that can take up to a few days to recuperate from, or I get so crazy wired I have a brutal night of sleep. I currently exercise as much as I’m able to without creating very bad consequences.

I did have a light bulb moment though! This last 15 pound weight gain corresponds directly to when I started allowing non-gluten grains back into my diet. I discovered that they didn’t bother my arthritis so I allowed an easy food to prepare back into my diet (cooking paleo from scratch is a LOT of work … don’t let any paleo blogger out there fool you otherwise). These non-gluten grains do make me quite constipated though, but I ignored that little symptom (which really isn’t little – we need to poop) for the sake of an easy breakfast. Oh how I love Udi’s cinnamon raisin bagels with honey all over them! I was also eating popcorn 1-2 times a week. In the evening. Not the greatest idea. I am cutting out all grains again from my diet and adding in more veggies, one of the very few changes I’ve made.

Not weighing myself for almost a year did nothing to improve my self-worth because with this weight gain, I’ve been devastated. Embarrassed. Frustrated. It’s very painful and challenging to separate my body image from who I am.

I’m learning it’s about choosing to see myself with kindness, acceptance, and love even in what I consider a despicable state. That I’m still Marni, the same person from before I knew officially my new weight gain. The same person when I weighed 30 pounds less. I can look at myself in one way and only obsess about my flaws or I can look at myself in a new way and start valuing myself as a person, whole and imperfect. This really is a choice. Just like walking from one room into a different one and choosing which mirror to look into.

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When we suffer hurts, daily disappointments, or chronic illness it is so easy to strike out at God. Why would a good God allow such pain?

A loving God didn’t create robots – we have free will.  We ‘broke’ our world when we chose to live for other things instead of God: money, ‘be my own boss’, food, human love, … name your thing. Remember Adam and Eve? We were born into a broken world and we continue to break it when we live without our hearts and eyes on the One who created us. Our God only wants you to be with Him when you choose to be with Him. And only He can mend the brokenness we long for.

I looked to human approval, food, weight loss, paleo, T-tapp, DYT to fill the void. As if each one of those things could complete me. Set me on the right track. Point the way! Live my life as if ‘I’ve arrived’.

Only God can reach deep into my broken places and give me what I’m desperately seeking. Nothing soothes like God can, everything else leaves me searching for more. Restless and unsatisfied.

I’m not saying that relationships, eating, taking care of yourself are bad things. The problem is when we use those things to be the ultimate answer. I’ve done it my entire life! Can I be whole and worthy when I finally lose the weight and keep it off? Can I be worthwhile when I center my world around living a paleo lifestyle? Am I finally valuable when other people accept me? These are shaky things to build my self-worth on. Trust me, I’ve tried. And each of those things fail miserably when it comes to filling that hole inside me.

What is the most bizarre revelation to me is when I finally admitted to myself that I’m sinful. I do and think hurtful things. I have run my entire life away from that scary truth, trying to prove myself. I have always striven for these unreasonable ideals of perfectionism and resisting my reality and shaming myself because I cannot reach them. I can never attain what I think I should. I can never earn God’s approval outside of Jesus. When I finally let go and admit that I can never reach these expectations, it’s surprisingly a big relief. When I finally go to the cross and agree with God that I’m a sinner, that I desperately need Him, and nothing can save me but the grace of Jesus, it’s like coming home. It’s here where I find my infinite worth. A breath of fresh air through my soul. A thirst is finally quenched by Living Water.

I love T-Tapp, it’s an excellent exercise program. Teresa has developed moves that work with the body, not against it. I recently have been practicing her walking workout and WHOAH! Who knew that walking could be so challenging lol! Well, it can be for those of us who have sloppy posture and years of lazy habits. Anyway, I’ve been trying to apply her teachings of proper forms in my normal life. And it’s hard. It is a mindful effort because my body slips back into sloppy form effortlessly; it’s the default position. Yet my body feels better already for my efforts in spite of some pretty sore calf muscles the first few days. The tense muscles in my upper back ease up a bit when I, well, use the proper muscles to hold my body up instead. But this takes a deliberate effort and I often forget throughout my day.

I’m finding this is the same thing with my faith in Jesus. Without a deliberate effort to trust in His promises for me, I easily slip back into old habits of thinking. Of needing to prove myself. To find my value somewhere. Repeatedly, I bring myself back to the cross where He already proved my worth. Where I least deserved it I receive the healing, all-encompassing love that I long for.

Learning to walk in a new Way and my burdens are lifted. Even in this broken world.

She was sick for 12 years. She saw every specialist, tried everything and anything to find a cure, and spent all her money. Nothing worked. She must’ve been exhausted. Not only was she sick, but she was considered dirty by the people in her day; everything she touched was seen as contaminated. She could not participate in family and community events. She was completely isolated.

I can sort of connect with this woman in Mark 5: 21-34.

Sick and tired of nothing working. Feeling dirty and unworthy. Yet she never gave up hope and had enough faith to chase Jesus through a crowd. I can’t help but think that she must’ve been struggling with some shame, yet she knew a good thing when she saw it. She couldn’t let Jesus go without one more try. Desperate for His goodness, believing He was true, she still tried to access Him without Him noticing her. Just a touch of His robe …

I’ve always been curious about that part in this story: how Jesus healed her without being aware of it about to happen. In verse 30, “Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my robe?'”  God gave me a loving nudge (oh how I love those nudges) telling me that His promises for us are wide open. It’s open access to those who believe. He’s waiting for you and me. Ready. We just have to believe and walk on through that welcoming door. Just have to reach out and touch His robe.

Sometimes I really struggle with this big love God keeps trying to show me. It’s mind boggling. Sometimes it feels like a terrifying (Hes’ so big) joy (He’s so full of love). He’s just so impossibly huge, there’s no way I can make sense of it. I struggle with cynicism. I struggle with my doubts. I even like to choose the little bits of God that are kind of nice, and leave the rest to the categories of “that doesn’t make sense” or “that is not for me” and fill in my own blanks.

With that sort of belief system I find no comfort and often find myself at a dead-end. Empty. I have yet to find anything of real substance besides of the love of Jesus on that cross, and thank God He keeps leading me to that place.

God finally put it to me straight. Either I believe in all of His promises or none of them at all. Either He’s the real deal or just a sham. Why would He come through with some of His promises and bail on others? Either He died and rose from the dead to save us from our sins and connect us to His heart, or He didn’t.

I am going to side with the God who is bigger than our universe, who orchestrates creation, and loves with a love I can’t fathom. Because there is a reverence humming deep within me that sees God even when my eyes can’t.

I’m going to wait upon His promises of Light even when sitting in the dark. Because His “Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out” (John 1:3-5 The Message).

I’m going to reach out to touch that robe.

 

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