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Monday, June 18, 2012

Butterflies Gotta Fly... Breaking Out of My Cocoon

It's hot. It's humid. It's June. It is month number 6, the mid-point of this year known as 2012. Is anyone else thinking, "Wow, when did that happen?"

My birthday is in December. When I decided, and I mean really decided, to bring my weight and health fully under God's control, one of the key factors in helping me make that decision was knowing what I had NOT accomplished in that year. In fact, in December (2011) I looked back on the last several years of my life and realized that I had zero significant accomplishments, or memories, worth sharing. If I had to scrapbook the past few years, the pictures would be few and blurry. I had learned very little and grown even less... mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I hadn't stepped outside my comfort zone in years. I had built a cocoon of a "less than" life, and I wanted OUT!

On my 32nd birthday, I promised and challenged myself to try at least 12 new things before my 33rd birthday. I didn't make a list of things to try. I just promised myself to try new things and keep myself open to  experiencing newness again. At that same time, I decided that this would be the year of true change... the kind that can only come from the hand of God.

So, it's June already. When I wrote the date in my journal and realized that this year was half over, I started to panic. That's kind of what I do. It's my go-to response, but I'm working on it. I started to think, "Oh, no! I haven't done anything yet and am already behind!" because that's been true for the past few years. But then I stopped and breathed and decided to list what these first six months of 2012 have held for me. I wanted an accurate picture so that I could see what I need to do to change. My list surprise me.
  1. I made a commitment to God and to myself. I STARTED SOMETHING OF VALUE!
  2. I have tried 8, yes EIGHT, new things in my goal of 12. Granted, most of them have been food-related due to the fact that I'm changing the way I eat. But for a West Texas girl who grew up on a pig farm, eating sushi for the first time is a big deal! (Thanks to one of my best friends, Rachel, for guiding me in sushi eating! She picked raw fish that I managed to keep down and not spit out.)
  3. I GAVE MYSELF A VOICE. I actually went public with my story by starting a blog. I took the biggest sin issue in my life, one of my most shameful characteristics, and laid it out for the worldwide web to see. And so far, I've had over 1,000 hits on it and positive, encouraging feedback. Who knew?
  4. I joined a gym... and actually GO TO THE GYM.
  5. I lost over 45 POUNDS (46.2 as of today)! 
I think it's safe to say that "Praise the Lord!" is a more appropriate response than panic.

Yes, this year is flying by as quickly as so many other years in my life. But this year is different. This year means something new. This year, I'm living. It's not a big life or a fast life. It's not a world-traveling, sight-seeing life. It's not a life that is checking of bucket-list items. It's not an event-filled life with a social calendar that is booked every night (or even every other weekend, for that matter). 

But this is a life worth living. This is a life in which I sleep soundly at night and wake up excited for a new day. This is a life that enjoys a morning cup of coffee with a big side of God's Word and low-sugar maple and brown sugar oatmeal with low-fat margarine. This is a life of intent, love, and light... all because I opened myself up to God. I used to "pray" for God to change me, but I was so afraid of what change meant. I was afraid that change could only mean pain.

Pain is definitely a part of the package. I'm sore today because I ran for the first time on the gym treadmill instead of only walking (and didn't fall off, by the way!). I've shed quite a few tears as I turned loose some dreams that I had been holding too tightly. I've experienced some loneliness when choices I've made haven't lined up with the choices of those around me.

But all of that pales in comparison to the love, grace, peace, and downright happiness I've felt with Jesus. The more I open up to Him, the more I let go of fear and control, the more freedom I feel. I feel more loved and have become more loving of others. Things aren't great, and the bills still stack up every payday. But I'm happy to live life because I know that each day is a gift from God just for me.

God did not create me to be a caterpillar trapped in a cocoon of my own sad making. He gave all He had to give so that I could fly free.

Butterflies gotta fly, and my wings have spread! Bring on the rest of 2012!

Faithfully, fluffully His,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Taking Center Stage... Re-Valuing My Value System

As I've mentioned before, I use Lysa TerKeurst's "Made to Crave Devotional" a couple of times a week, and the last section I read was eye opening (Thanks, Lysa!). Lysa briefly shared that Esau and Jacob experienced a major life change that centered around a campfire and a pot of stew. Gotta love a Bible-based food issue, right?

I went back to Genesis to read the story for myself with fresh eyes, so here's the synopsis (full story found in Genesis 25:29-34). Esau and Jacob are brothers. Esau is the oldest and entitled to the biggest and best blessing from dad. He's also the big burly guy in the fam, super hunter, etc. One day after an unsuccessful hunting trip, Esau comes home famished and happens upon brother Jacob cooking some stew. He asks for some; well, demands is a better word. Jacob, in typical little bro fashion, wants to trade up for his cooking efforts. He agrees to give Esau some stew if Esau will trade him the eldest birthright. Esau declares that he's "about to die" of starvation, and thus agrees to the trade. This trade affects the future of nations (yes, plural). Esau sold his future for a bowl of lentil stew and bread! Darn those carbs!

He traded the long-term for short-term pleasure. I realized that I can totally relate to Esau and have placed myself in the same position many times. As with any food issue, the deeper issue was the desire for instant gratification and the focus on a flesh craving. How does this happen? Why do I do that? How do I stop?

As I contemplated those questions and prayed for understanding, the Spirit reminded me that God set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). When we elevate our flesh cravings, we lose sight of the eternal craving in our hearts for God. Not only did God put it there, but it's always been there and always will be, unlike an afternoon carb craving. Our God craving is how we know we need Him.

So why is our flesh craving often louder than the eternal calling that is ever present in our hearts? Perhaps, because it is constant, we manage to sometimes drown out the eternal, like a mom who tunes out her child on a road trip when the question comes, "Are we there yet?"

We need to embrace the eternal call daily; amplify it! Give it a microphone and crank up its volume. Knowing that it is the highest calling, we should live in such a way as to magnify that craving so that we always seek Christ more.

Esau is a classic example of a microphone in the wrong hands. He chose to amplify the call of his stomach over the eternal call of God. The same is true for me. If I spend too much energy focused on a chocolate craving, I end up taking the microphone out of God's hands and giving it to my flesh, or the candy bar in my desk drawer. And along with the microphone goes the spotlight. When I put the spotlight on the temporary craving, that craving takes center stage and throws God into the background scenery.

This is a total misplacement of values! When we elevate the value of a temporary craving over the eternal design God has for our lives, we choose to be last in line for the Father's blessing, just as Esau did.

Lord, forgive me! Let me not squander that which is eternally precious for a temporary satisfaction that ultimately steals my joy! Re-value my value system! Here's the mic, Lord! Take center stage!

And flesh... you can exit stage right!

Faithfully, fluffully His,