How Much Is Too Much?

Day 16.  Of 42.

One question has been crossing my mind lately, and it is:

Has my addiction just changed?

Let me explain.  If you remember from the original post about this journey of getting closer to God, while getting rid of my scale…the goal here is to not let a number on a scale determine my self-worth.  I need to take care of my body, but I really need to take care of my soul.  But yet, I wonder if I have just traded one number for another that I am allowing to identify myself.  Also, have I gone off the deep end, and am I exercising too much?

I don’t have the answers to those questions.  At least not yet.

I am in a recurring weekly competition, through Fitbit, with some friends.  Who has the most steps throughout the work week? Well, the last few weeks, I have been blowing away the competition.  And all I have been doing is taking a walk with Cheese the dog a few evenings a week. And I have made a greater effort to actually reach my daily step goal every day (on days that I don’t go for a walk).  

But then, after the first week, I noticed that there were a few moments where I legitimately thought I was going to pass out.  But that one, I figured out. Turns out, I had increased my activity level…but I hadn’t increased my caloric intake. So…no wonder I thought I was going to pass out.  So that’s a easy fix. For someone that loves food…just eat more food! Woohoo!!

But the nagging question still resides in the back of my brain…how much is too much?  

The first time Cheese and I went for a 5 miles walk, he lost the energy to pull me after about 3 miles.  Our last 5 mile walk was absolutely his fault. I had had one of those days at school that was just busy.  And I ended up walking. A lot. In fact, I had 12,000 steps in by the time I walked in my back door after school.  In case you were wondering, 12,000 steps is approximately 6 miles. And that’s just walking up and down the halls at school.  But then, I knew I needed to take Cheese for a walk. Part of my goal is taking him for regular walks is he needs the exercise.  He’s full of energy, and this has proven to be an excellent way to burn off the excess energy he has. So, I get home from school, already half done for the day.  But we hadn’t taken a walk the night before, and he needed to just go. So we walk. My goal was 3 miles. We get to the turning point if we are going to go 3 miles, or extend for another mile…and he’s still full of energy.  So I agree to go the extra mile. Literally.

The problem was…nearing the time that his energy level normally starts to wane, he is still raring to go.  So…we ended up walking 5 miles. And he could have kept going, like the Energizer Bunny.

I was pooped.  

So, again, I’m asking…how much is too much?  After months of inactivity, is this simply just a return of activity to my life, and the change appears drastic?  Is this the marathon runner in me, in it for the distance, because what’s the point of a 5k?  

So let me get to the point of why this question keeps nagging at me.  There was one summer I was at home from college.  I had had mono during the semester before. But I was also going dealing with some pretty serious anorexia and bulimia that summer.  It was the first summer that I ever weighed less than 200 pounds.

That summer was awful.  

In addition to the eating disorders, I would walk and work out.  Relentlessly.

I would walk for miles a day.  And then I would come home, and work out.  And I wouldn’t eat. Or if I did, I would throw it up.  

I was crazy.

Ok, technically, I still probably am.  

Because, who wants to be normal?  Normal is boring.

But the past fear has made me pause.  Because no matter how far in the rear view mirror that summer is, I remember it.  But maybe, just maybe, that summer is sitting there as a reminder of how not to do things.  

So here’s where I’m landing:

I’m not going off the deep end.  Because the activity level feels good for me.  And it feels really good for Cheese. The goal being for him to exercise enough so he stops acting like a lunatic.

But it has also brought about opportunities that I might not have had otherwise.  On Sunday, I met one of my neighbors, and had a lovely conversation. I have lived in my house for 7 years.  And she has lived there the entire time I have been living there. And this is the first conversation we have ever had.  I knew who she was. She knew who I was. But it took 7 years for us to actually talk to one another. That wouldn’t have happened if Cheese and I hadn’t been out walking.  

Also, it led me to not feel guilty when I went out with a group of teachers Friday after school.  I hadn’t planned it. But I also didn’t condemn myself for taking in way too many calories. I let myself just enjoy the time.  It fed my soul.

I still have not weighed myself.  And I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m not curious.  Because I am.

But I can also tell a change in my body.  My legs are more muscular (even after only a few weeks).  I’m sleeping better. But oh…I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.

I have been spending time talking to God.  I spend time while I’m walking talking to God.  Because how magnificent of a landscape does God paint?  And I sing while I’m walking. Worship, while I’m walking is so amazing.  And, of course, reading my Bible.

Ok, I have a confession to make.

I have never read the entire Bible.  

I had never read the entire book of Acts before last week.  And I’m now in Romans. Whew, Romans is going to take me awhile.  

Because every single word that Paul writes is said with so much conviction that it blows me away!  

So here’s the true measurement.  

I feel closer to God.  

So whether I’m walking 20 extra miles a week, or indulging in chocolate chip cookies…the thing that really matters is I’m succeeding in feeling God working in my life more and more every day.  

I Apologize If This Is TMI

I have this thing.  This…I don’t really want to call it a disease, because that gives such a horrible connotation that it just isn’t fitting.  I recently shared that I have been sick, and in a near zombie-like state for a few months. And I also recently got a diagnosis, and medication that brought me out of the zombie apocalypse.  

I have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

A big shout out and thank you to my parents, who so lovingly passed along basically every negative possible genetic feature in our family to me.  Including a family favorite from my mom…being difficult to diagnose. This resulted in me being sick for months 9 years ago, I mean months (an another zombie apocalypse) upon months, of not being able to figure out what was wrong with me.  My Dr. was at a complete loss, and was about to start the process of referring me to a psychologist because she thought it was a mental problem, when, during a last ditch effort to determine a physical cause, they discovered I had gallstones.  What should have been a simple diagnosis took months to figure out.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention, I did get one positive genetic trait.  From the dad. He didn’t noticeably get gray hair until he was 60.  I have had 11 gray hairs so far. So there, I did get something good from my parents.

Anyway…when I went to the Dr. a few months ago with some abdominal pain, I wasn’t optimistic about finding the cause.  Turns out, I had a cyst on my right ovary. Simple enough, with a simple enough solution. Birth control. Ok, no big deal.

I went back for a follow up 3 months later, and told my Dr. I had only started feeling like anything close to a human being a couple of weeks before.  Honestly, all I was capable of accomplishing was trudging to work, and I could not wait to go home, where I was a vegetable, until I decided it was finally an acceptable time to go to bed.  Even mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, felt overwhelming, and required too much energy.

My Dr. wasn’t happy in hearing that I still wasn’t feeling better, and took a look at the test results, and determined I had PCOS.  And prescribed Metformin, which is normally prescribed for Type 2 Diabetes. Well, of course I have a family history of Diabetes (on both sides of the family) so there is already a good chance I’m going to end up being Diabetic.  So let’s just try to prevent that as long as possible.

It took almost 2 weeks of being on Metformin for me to honestly and truly start feeling like a human being again.  The first couple of days, I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe it was a fluke, and any day I would end up feeling like a zombie again.  

A little over a month later, and I’m feeling more confident that it wasn’t just a fluke.

And I also feel like this is just one more negative genetic feature my parents (my mom) have passed along to me.  

My mom was never diagnosed with PCOS, and 20 years after a hysterectomy is far too late for a retroactive diagnosis.  But that being said, knowing what we know now, there is a high likelihood that she did have it. One of the things that she and I have been plagued with is horrible hormonal mood swings.  She has even made the comment many times that she’s amazed that she still has a family left because of how bad her hormones were. Honestly, she’s not wrong. It was tough growing up with that.  And it caused a strain on our relationship. And to be honest, a great deal of my lack of self-confidence came as a result of her mood swings.

Now, don’t think I’m throwing my mom under the bus.  This is something that we have dealt with. And we have a wonderful relationship now, and she is one of my best friends.  And maybe we are so close now because we have appropriately dealt with our issues from when I was a kid.

But now I look back on my life, with such a different perspective than before.  I have much more compassion toward my mom now, knowing that what happened wasn’t a result of her being completely unhinged and outrageous.  

For many, many years I honestly wasn’t sure if I even wanted to have children, because I didn’t want to be the same type of mom that I had growing up.  I wanted something better. And I wasn’t sure if I could be such a person.

As I have gotten older, I have realized that I do, in fact, want to be a mom…and I’m hoping that at the ripe old age of 37 (and being ridiculously single) that it isn’t too late for me.  

But also, maybe the fact that I haven’t had children yet is God answering my prayers from when I was younger.  I didn’t, and still don’t, want to be the type of mom I had growing up. And maybe it took this diagnosis for that to truly come to fruition.  

I also look back and wish that this could have been diagnosed at a much younger age, because maybe I wouldn’t have went through some of the things that I have been through in my life.  Because I have felt the hormone swings before, felt completely unhinged and outrageous. When I had brought it up to Dr’s previously, the initial reaction was to put me on Prozac. Which didn’t really make sense to me at the time, but I was desperate enough to try it.  

After a few months of realizing that the side effects of the medicine were horrific, in addition to the fact that it did absolutely NOTHING to solve the problem it was prescribed for, I stopped taking it.

And then I just tried to deal with the hormones.

Honestly, it is no surprise that I have struggled with my weight my entire life.  Because I have moments where I just cannot eat enough food. I am a bottomless pit.  And no amount of water I drink, or trying to talk myself out of eating anything has worked.  So I go through a vicious cycle of eating everything under the sun, and gaining weight, and then feeling guilty for eating everything under the sun and beating myself up for doing that.  Over, and over, and over, and over again.

Looking through the symptoms of PCOS…weight gain, fatigue, acne, pelvic pain, headaches, sleep problems…I can check all of those (and more) off.  Irregular periods, mood swings…check and check!

So where I thought I was just crazy, and needed to spend a little more time with Jesus, now I know that there actually is something wrong with me.  But even better, it can be fixed! At least, I hope it can be fixed.

So here’s the deal…this is still new.  Yes, I’m starting to feel like a normal human being again.  But I have a lot to learn about how to handle myself now.

For example, once I started feeling better, but still dealing with some of the hormone swings, I started eating.  And eating and eating and eating. I gained back nearly all of the weight I had lost being sick. And I beat myself up over it, a lot.  Hence the journey I’m currently in the middle of, banishing my scale.

But also, I have started exercising a lot more.  Basically, Cheese the dog and I are walking our tails off.  The weather is finally starting to swing in our favor, and between the nasty winter weather, and being sick, I have been cooped up for too long, and I hate it.  So, a huge and immediate increase in working out has thrown off my nutrition. I am keeping track of my calories, and I increased (slightly) the amount of calories I have been eating daily.  BUT, I don’t think I have upped that number enough. A couple of times in the past few days, I have felt shaky, and light headed. And I wondered if maybe low blood sugar was the culprit. Or if I simply am just not eating enough food to counterbalance the increase in activity level.  But, I’m bound and determined not to give up. So hopefully we can figure this out. Cheese enjoys the walks, and the time spent with mommy. I enjoy the walks, and being outside. And honestly, just being active feels amazing.

But I am also smart enough to know that I am not all the way there yet, and I may need to change some things up in my daily routine before all of this is said and done.  

So…here’s to more progress, even if they are baby steps.  

8 days down.  34 to go.

Here I am, Lord…

…Send me.

So the conversation went like this…

Me: Ok, God, I’m willing to go.  I’m surrendering to your will, and your plan.  But I have a couple of questions.

God: You’re human.  And I’m familiar with you.  Proceed.

Me: How much is this going to hurt?

God: A lot.  But I don’t want you to focus on that.  My strength will get you through.

Me: Well ok then.

I’m on this journey, a journey where I’m focusing on my relationship with God.  And I am feeling it, all the way down to my soul.

A couple of days ago, I was reading my Bible, in the book of Acts.  Oh, you know what, you need, no you really NEED to read these verses.

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

-Acts 20: 22-24

I read that…and my reaction was…

Imma need a minute.

Paul’s conviction to follow what the Holy Spirit was telling him to do is so great, nothing could stop him!  Even his friends that were traveling with him tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem, because they knew what lay ahead for Paul.  But nothing, nothing could stop Paul from what God had called him to do.

I feel insignificant compared to Paul.

But at the same time, Paul was specifically called to this task.  Not me.

I am called to a different task.  One that I am still discovering every day.   I know that God has a plan for my life. To utilize me in a way that he has specifically designed me to accomplish.  Me alone. In fact, we are all put here for a purpose, a specific purpose. Each of us has our own, unique, and sometimes challenging plans from God.  We may work together for a time on some of these plans. Sometimes we will be heading down the path all alone. And the absolute terror of what lay ahead might seem overwhelming.

But there is a comfort.  Though there may be no human companionship along this path, God is always by our side.  

So yes, our path, our purpose, our calling from God may be terrifying.  It may be painful at times. But the challenges, the hardships, the pain, the sorrow, the negativity should never be our focus.  Because, as a Christian, those things are inevitable.  As Christians we are, unfortunately, not promised an easy life.  

That just sucks, sometimes.  

But that’s just how it is.  

So we are called to walk forth boldly, and with confidence and conviction.

I don’t know what the future holds for me.  But I have finally let go of my hold on the future, and the plans that I have made to let God fully lead me in what He wants me to do.  And I know that there will be pain and struggle ahead. But instead of being terrified, so completely terrified that I can’t take a step forward, I walk forward, boldly, with God’s strength holding me up.  Because there will be pain. But God will get me through.

Here I am Lord.  Send me.

Progress Report #1

4 days into my life, post banishing my scale, and I’m not gonna lie…this is hard.  (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read Be Gone, Evil Thing!)

Have you ever been addicted to anything?  I’m not even talking about smoking, or alcohol or things worse than that.  You can be addicted to just about anything. So, then, breaking that addiction can be a challenge.  

That’s basically what this feels like.  Like I’m feening to weigh myself.

I haven’t.  But I kind of want to.  

I have handed this struggle over to God, but I’m not so sure I can handle not being in control.

Why, as humans, as Christians, do we insist on turning something over to God…Jesus take the wheel…and then picking it right back up.  Ok, sometimes we yank it back from God’s hands. And hold it close. Like we’re a toddler unwilling to share a toy.

This happens all the time.  I know I do it way too often.  One moment, I’m completely trusting God to handle something, because lord knows I’m not strong enough to handle it on my own.  But then I keep worrying about it. And I pick it back up. Because worrying about it is obviously going to make me feel so much better about the situation.  And my worrying about it is obviously going to solve the problem.

I’m sorry, can I roll my eyes any louder?

When you hand something over to God, wouldn’t it be fantastic if He gave us this big, flashing neon sign with the answer?  

Of course it would.

Have you ever actually gotten such a sign from God?

No.  

God does, in fact, speak to us.  But sometimes we have to pay very close attention to the world around us, because God isn’t going to use a big, flashing neon sign.  Nope, he’s going to use what is happening in the world around us to answer our prayers.

Now is this going to look exactly like what we want it to?

Probably not.

So it can be frustrating when God is speaking to us, but we’re not using the right tools to hear him.  We aren’t using the correct ruler to measure the progress on how God is handling the situation.

So how does this all fit in with banishing my scale?

Stick with me, I can explain.

When I banished my scale, I did so purposefully.  Because I was using my scale, and the number on it, to determine my self-worth.  The number on the scale was telling me something that deep down, I just know isn’t true.  That number was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, not strong enough, not worthy enough.

When whatever ruler you are using to measure your self-worth is telling you such negative things, BANISH IT!!

As I originally stated, I would still keep track of my nutrition, more as a tool to keep myself in check, and avoid gluttony.  Not going to lie, I have a tendency to binge eat, on occasion. So keeping track of calories helps keep me in check.

And I have been doing that.  In fact, my nutrition has been on point this week.  

It also helps that the weather has finally decided to stay above freezing, and I have been able to get out and exercise (ie, let my dog Cheese take me for a walk) every day.  Between being sick, and the weather, an overwhelming laziness came over me. And that isn’t me. At all. So I am taking full advantage of the weather.

So between eating right.  And exercising. And despite a cold.  I feel great!

Of course, because I feel so great, I’m curious about what that number on the scale is going to say.  

IF…and I do say IF…I would decide to break down, and allow my scale to return from exile, 1 of 2 things would happen.  The first option would be that it would confirm my feeling good, and the number would have gone down. But then, I’ve been exercising, and even though there are other factors in play (loss of fat, gain of muscle, etc).  So the second possibility is that the number has gone up. Which even despite the fact that I may have lost fat and gained muscle, would crush my soul. I would be devastated. The feeling fantastic would immediately turn into depression, all because of a stupid number on a scale.

So let me ask you this question, why, oh why, oh why are we not satisfied with how we feel?  

Right now, the ruler based solely on how I feel is amazing.  And I guarantee, the moment I step on a scale, that feeling is going to change.  

That, that right there is what has stopped me from breaking the exile.  

I.  Feel.  Good.

Nothing else matters.

So even though I’m curious, I am staying strong.

Actually, no.  No I’m not. I am not strong.  God is strong. God is giving me the strength to do this.

4 days down.  At least 38 to go.  

What Am I Not Doing?

What am I not doing?

Talk about a terrifying question, with some potentially terrifying answers.

Last night, I talked to a dear, sweet friend.  A friend, who, we both agreed, do not talk often enough.  She’s been my person, and my support, even though sometimes we go months without talking.  

The exciting thing is is that she’s getting married.  I am absolutely over the moon happy for her. Genuinely, ecstatically happy.  Because she is happy. You know the kind of happy that just explodes out of someone’s face?

Well, it just so happens that her fiance has never been married before.  And, as women of a certain age, that doesn’t happen very often. But his comment was that he has been waiting for her to come along.

She sent me a passage that her fiance read to the point he memorized it.  And he let that keep running through his head. It’s a beautiful passage titled “A Message From God About the Perfect Human Relationship.”  But this beautiful, well written passage, prompted me to ask, once again…what am I not doing?

As a Christian, as a Jesus follower, what am I not doing?  

I am certain that I am far from perfect.  There is not one thing in this universe that I am more sure of.  But I also know that I am better than I once was. (Isn’t there a country song in there somewhere?)

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

So I know that God has this super awesome and amazing plan for my life!  And I’m going to let God take control of things. And it’s going to be, like, the best thing ever.

Meanwhile, in the back of your mind…

So I’m just going to say that, and play along for a little while…and hope that saying that makes all of  MY hopes, MY dreams, MY plans come true. Because, clearly, I know what is best for my life.

Hey guess what?

That’s not how it works.  Not even close.

I know that’s what has been going through my head.  

I DO want God to use me for whatever he has planned for my life.   Honestly, purely, genuinely. In the depths of my heart, I want God to use me. I want God’s plan for my life.

But at the same time, what I haven’t done, is let go of MY plan.  

So here goes.  I’m letting go of my plan.  Because maybe it isn’t in God’s plan for my life to get married, or have kids, or travel (more than I already have), or be the perfect teacher, or perfect gardener, or be in perfect physical shape.  And it’s honestly, truly terrifying to let go of those plans. I have spent years and years and years making those plans. Hoping for those plans. Dreaming for those plans.  

But I also know that releasing my hold on those plans, right now, opening my heart freely and without reservation to God’s plan for my life, there is hope.  There is excitement. There is joy. Because all of those plans that I spent years dreaming up, those plans are NOTHING compared to what the reality of God’s plan is for my life.

Be Gone, Evil Thing!!

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a practicing Catholic.  I was raised in a small town, with a large Catholic population. And I have been to a couple of Catholic weddings in my life.  That is the extent of my relationship to the Catholic Church.

Banish: to compel to depart; send, drive, or put away.

Have you ever stopped, and realized that God has been working in your life, and answering your prayers, and you didn’t even realize it?

That happened to me.  This morning.

There are a lot of different pieces involved in this realization happening.  So I am going to attempt to be concise with the summary.  Yes, I said attempt.

I have always struggled with my weight.  I grew up the fat kid. And I was miserable.  And then I ended up the obese woman (weighing in at nearly 300 pounds).  And was even more miserable. And over the years, I ran the gamut of every single eating disorder possible.  

Every.  Single. One.

And (yikes) 13 years ago, I decided to do something about it.  I joined Weight Watchers, and lost a bunch of weight. And then I started running.  And then I turned into a marathon runner. All good things.

But over the years, no matter what, I have been obsessed with my weight.  I will say that when I was training for marathons, the number mattered a little less, because you know what, I could run 26.2 miles.  

But the number still mattered.

And a little over a year ago, I was uncomfortable.  I had been through a tough year, and I had gained weight.  Granted, I hadn’t crested 200 pounds, but I was getting close.  So I once again joined Weight Watchers, and I lost some weight.

I’m not getting paid to say this.  I think Weight Watchers is amazing.  Going to the meetings, which do, in fact, feel like an AA meeting, only for food, are wonderful.  The community is so supportive. It’s fantastic. Even though I’m not currently a member, I still think it’s amazing.  

Anyway…moving on.

A few months ago, I got sick.  In the grand scheme of things, what ended up being the cause of my illness isn’t horrific.  There are many, many, MANY things worse than what I went through. What I’m still recovering from.  The point is, I was sick. And I felt like a zombie ALL THE TIME.  And what happens when you’re sick, and you feel like a zombie? You often lose weight.

I lost weight.  

I wasn’t sad about it.  Because, I’m obsessed with the number on the scale.  

A month ago, I finally got a diagnosis.  And I got medicine. And a couple of weeks ago, I woke up one morning, and I DIDN’T feel like a zombie.  

One, unfortunate, side effect of the medicine is it can affect your stomach, mildly.  But honestly, I don’t care.

EXCEPT…it made the number on the scale go up.

For several days, I struggled.  Because there is a balance. I feel like a normal human being, but the number on the scale is going up.  And, being my own worst critic, I felt my self-worth being lowered, and lowered, and lowered. Because of the number on the scale.

So, I banished my scale.

Me.  The girl who has weighed herself every morning for years.  

I banished my scale.

Because, at the same time, other things were going on in my life.  

I made the conscious decision to make a greater effort to actually spend dedicated time reading my Bible.  And at the same time, I have been praying for God’s guidance on what I should do with my life. And let’s be real honest, I prayed for God to help me get my eating under control.  

You know, one of those prayers where I focus more on what I want than what God really wants me to do.

Guilty.  As. Charged.

One of the other things that I have consciously been praying for on Sunday morning’s before I go to church, is that God helps me hear the message He wants me to hear that day.  And since I started praying for that on Sunday morning’s my listening skills have improved during the sermon at church.

I’m going to say that 99.99% of the time, that the message I take away from the sermon isn’t what the pastor intends for the purpose of that sermon to be.

But it is ALWAYS the message that I need to hear.

That happened yesterday.

The sermon series that we are currently in is focusing on 1 Timothy.  Yesterday specifically talked about the end of Chapter 3, and Chapter 4.  One verse stood out to me. It also helped that the pastor made a joke about this particular verse.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

Train yourself to be godly.

Physical training is of some value.

Godliness has value for all things.

Ok, so the joke the pastor made yesterday was about how since it’s RIGHT THERE IN THE BIBLE, that physical training isn’t everything…go ahead and eat the donut.

Except, I personally think donuts are disgusting.  And if (when) I fall to the sin of gluttony, it’s not going to be a donut.  Mexican food. Brownies. Yes. Donuts, no.

Oh, I forgot to mention…even though I banished my scale, I did weigh myself yesterday morning.  I nearly cried when I saw the number. But I weighed myself.

I haven’t even gained all of the weight back that I lost being sick.  And I almost cried. Because I gained weight.

Because I tied my self worth to a number on the scale.

So during the sermon yesterday, seeing the words Paul wrote in 1 Timothy about the qualities of what a leader should have, I made a decision.

The fact that we are currently less than a week into Lent is purely coincidental.  But having several Catholics in my circle of people, it has been a topic of discussion lately.  In addition, my BFF, also a non-Catholic, has decided over the past few years, to participate in giving something up for Lent, more as a test of her willpower.

So that got me thinking.  Which, obviously, can be dangerous at times.

I have never participated in Lent, or giving something up during Lent.  

And my own personal religion focuses more on your relationship with God rather than rituals just for the sake of rituals.

But I understand the concept of Lent, and believe that when done appropriately, it’s a cool thing.

So, the concept here is that you give something up to replicate the suffering that Jesus went through for 40 days in the desert.  

But what if we looked at it this way…

Giving something up for God.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m semi-permanently banishing my scale.  I’m going to focus more on my relationship with God than I do my relationship with my scale.  Because God is the one that provides me with the self-worth and self-confidence. A number on the scale, that’s not telling you (or me) all of the wonderful things that God has gifted me with.

I spent some time yesterday trying to lay out the “rules” during this scale banishment.  Do I just focus on eating healthy food and exercising? Do I still count calories? Do I just forget about weighing myself, and let the chips fall where they may?

Well, knowing myself like I do, I knew a few guidelines still needed to apply.  Because if I go out there unrestricted, I’m going to forget about any of the physical training.  It’s going to be chips and salsa all day. Only to be interrupted by brownies and cookies.

That isn’t going to accomplish the goal.

Over the past 24 hours, I have refined some of the guidelines that I am going into this with.  I am still going to allow myself to track calories. But only as a way to keep myself in check so I don’t go all full gluttony.  But I’m also not going to beat myself up for indulging in some Mexican food.  But I’m not going to weigh myself. I’m sure over the next few weeks, some of those guidelines may (will) change. But I’m flexible like that.  And right now, I’m thinking if I can hold off until Easter (I mean, it is that time of year), I will allow myself to weigh in again. But my hope is that by then, I won’t care enough to do it.

A very sad thought went through my brain yesterday on my way to church.  I was horrified at the thought of what would happen if someone invited me to go to lunch after church?  And of course, that was going to blow my getting back on track. And then I was going to get down on myself because I blew my calorie budget for the day.  Do you have any idea how far I would have to walk to work off all of that food? And I’m NEVER going to lose weight if that happens!!

Did you just read that?  How depressing is that? I was putting myself down, over going out to eat.  After church. With friends.

So I made a command decision to knock that off.  

Yes, I want to put healthy things in my body.  But I NEED to do healthy things for my soul.

You know how sometimes God just puts words in front of you sometimes, and you read through it.  And then you read it again. And it just hits you so deep in your soul that you know the only way those particular words could have been put in front of you at that exact moment was God.  It’s a God thing.  That happened this morning. Do you know Lysa TerKeurst? Have you read the things she writes? I haven’t met her. But her honesty, and willingness to share about her own messy life, and remaining one of God’s girls just hits my soul on a regular basis.  This morning, I read a prayer she wrote.

“Dear Lord, help me to see myself the way You see me.  Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge.  You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Lysa, thank you for writing the thing that I needed to read today.  

Because God created me.  God created me exactly how I am.  And God loves me. For exactly who I am.  

Not one person, not one single person, doesn’t need to hear that.  Understand it.

God.  Loves.  Me.

And that’s the most important thing.

Life is a Marathon…

…not a sprint.

Running a marathon has turned into a vitally important part of my life.  And not just because the process of running a marathon is what eventually led me to rebuild my relationship with God.  But that’s a story for another time.

Our spiritual walk is a lot like running a marathon.  Maybe you’ve never ran a marathon before…so let me help you out here.  

A marathon is 26.2 miles.  The only distance of a race that can be classified a marathon is 26.2 miles.  That’s a really long dadgum race to run. And a lot can take place during that run.  

Our own spiritual walk can parallel a marathon as well.

Roll with me on this one.

First of all, all of the training, and all of the preparation is something that you must do yourself.  No one can do it for you. In order to be successful, you must do the training yourself. I’m not saying that you can’t have help along the way.  But you must put in the work to receive the reward at the end. And from personal experience, you can put in varying degrees of effort during your training.  But also know, the more you slack during training, the more painful parts of the race will be. Hello, consequences.

At the beginning of the marathon, there is a lot of fanfare, fireworks, music, etc.  Big things are happening! At the moment you cross the start line, there is so much adrenaline pumping through your body that you are positive that you are going to fly through those 26.2 miles!  And in our own spiritual walk, maybe not at the beginning of your walk with God, but maybe even at the beginning of a new chapter with your walk, there is excitement. You feel God like you have never felt Him before.  There is this big new plan for God to guide you through. And you are excited!! This is going to be AWESOME!!!

But then, that second step, though.

For me, running a marathon, my wall has always come very early.  Like, mile 2 early. You’ve heard about this before, right? That brick wall you metaphorically run into, and everything is awful and terrible and there is absolutely no possible way that you can carry on and this is absolutely the dumbest thing you have ever done.  Yeah, I hit that before mile 2. During a 26.2 miles race.

Because, once you get past all of the fanfare at the beginning, reality starts to set in.  Holy guacamole, you are running a really long distance. The spiritual walk can be the same way.  You can wake up one day, not long after you feel this call from God, and the reality of your life completely changing can overwhelm you.  Overwhelm you to the point that you absolutely cannot go on. This is absolutely the dumbest thing you have ever done.

It is at this point that some people just give in.  They quit. It happens all the time.

But what happens if you don’t quit?

You keep moving forward.  You keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you push past that wall.  You realize that yes, you do still have a long way to go. But it’s ok. You. Can.  Do. It.

During the race, there will be times that you run with people.  You talk, and pass the time. And it makes that part of the race a little easier.  Other times, you will feel completely alone. You have no one to talk to. No one to support you.  Or so it feels. So you’re just out there, all alone. Running. There are times where there is a big crowd cheering you on.  Everyone shouting, and cheering and supporting you. Even if they don’t know you. And life is so amazing, you feel like a rock star.  But then you keep moving forward, and the crowd thins out, and there isn’t any cheering. And you definitely don’t feel like a rock star anymore.  

But still, you keep moving forward.  

Mile marker after mile marker after mile marker are now behind you.  

And all of a sudden, there it is.  Mile marker 26. You have .2 miles to go!  

There is a crowd.  And you can see the finish line.  And you can see the people handing out the medals.  And right behind them, oh thank goodness you see the med tent full of ice packs!!  

And just like that.  You just ran a marathon.

Our spiritual walk can be tough at times.  You will meet people along the way that will support you.  And you will also meet people along the way that are going to try to get you to stray away from your goal.  Sometimes you will feel so supported that you just know there is no way that you can fail. Then other times that you feel so alone that you might as well just quit.

Some people are faster than you.  Some people are slower than you. Some are stronger.  Some are weaker. No matter what, you can support people along the way.  

But one thing finally hit me about running a marathon.  You might be running this race by yourself. But you are not running this race alone.  

There are other people on the very same journey that you are on.  It’s going to look different for everyone. But we are all running a race.

Just.  Don’t. Quit.  You got this.