Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mulling in Frog Stew or Today's Frogs/Tomorrow's Freedom

Do you want to be free today, or hang on to your frogs for one more day?

Moses asked Pharaoh, “You name the time. When do you want me to get rid of these frogs?” Pharaoh replied, “Do it tomorrow.” (For the whole story, see Exodus8:1-10.)

I have always found his response so thought-provoking. If Pharaoh had truly become sick of all the frogs, then why did he not say, “Do it now? Get rid of these infernal creatures this very minute!” The entire country of Egypt had been overrun by these obnoxious amphibians. Their beds, ovens, dishes –you name it! – had become infested, and they had no peace. However, Pharaoh chose to hang on to his misery for just one more day.

Oh how we can all see ourselves at times in this scenario! What is it that has invaded your life, has stolen your joy, but yet, you have become comfortable with it? Sometimes it is easier to stay miserable rather than to make the effort to change because we get used to a life of bondage. Sweet freedom lies right there on the other side of our willingness to make a change, but we continue to choose slavery to our frogs, because mulling in frog stew takes much less effort!

We can attribute this metaphor to just about anything in our lives that holds us in bondage, but my frogs have been in the form of overeating, not exercising, being overweight, and being unhealthy. I have allowed those frogs to overrun my life and to rob me of a life of health, energy, confidence, and the joy of freedom.

When I see the opportunity to make a change and to finally rid my life of these frogs, I do just like Pharaoh, “Do it tomorrow.” I want to sleep in just one more day instead of exercising. I want one more day of eating junk food. I have to wait until our freezer is empty of all the ice cream, and my pantry is cleaned out from all the faux foods. I am willing to feel like crap just one more day because I don’t want to get rid of my old life of bondage.

Why do we do that? Why do we hold on to what makes us miserable when joyous freedom is in our sight?

Even since I wrote last week’s blog about surrendering my fat, I am still struggling with wanting just one more day of bowing down to the frogs. I know that sweet tea is a terrible choice for a drink, but I want it! That handful of M & M’s will only cause me to veer off track, but I want them! Do I really?

Maybe it’s my “want to” that is all screwed up! What do I really want? Am I really willing to give up my long term goals just for a fleeting, temporary craving? Or, am I indeed ready to deal with these frogs once and for all? All it takes is to conquer my short term indulgences so that my long term desires can be fulfilled. Once I take the plunge and get used to living without my frogs, I won’t even want them anymore. Once I get a taste of sweet freedom and the joy of restored health and wellness, I won’t even believe that I traded all that for a life infested with frogs. But, the reality is that I have done exactly that.

But, not anymore!

I will approach this one day at a time.

  • Today, I choose to trade my fleshly cravings for something much better – restored health and wellness.
  • Today, I will drink water instead of sweet tea.
  • Today, I will go for a walk instead of staying on my can all day.
  • Today, I will turn to God for emotional support instead of self-medicating with food.

  •  Today, I say good-bye to the frogs for good!

Are you ready to kiss some frogs good-bye? Be encouraged. If you would like prayer for strength, let me know in the comments. You are not in this alone.

Be blessed!

Shari Lewis

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Surrender My Fat for a New Me

This is me at 120-30 pounds overweight. It's time to do something about it!

  Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires…  Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:12, 16 NLT

I’m going to go a completely different direction with my blog for a while. My passion has been to share insights with you that I have contemplated through my study of Scripture and of life experiences. However, now I am going to just be real with you and share an intimately personal struggle. I know I am not alone, and perhaps this journey will inspire others to make positive life changes while at the same time holding me accountable.

I have struggled with my weight and an eating disorder for years. Whew! I feel freer just letting that out in the open. Well, it is actually already out in the open because anyone can see that I have gained about as much weight as a whole person! Of all secret sins, overeating is one that cannot stay hidden for long. I feel so ashamed and frustrated!

I hate this picture, but it works perfectly for my before picture. I can't wait to hold it next to my after picture!

Call it self-medicating, coping, or whatever the excuse, I know that I have allowed it to become an idol. I have allowed it take control of my life. It is plainly sin, and I am reaping the consequences.

Understand that I am not a legalist. I know that my relationship with God is fully intact, and I am 100% forgiven because of the price Christ paid for me. However, to continue in sin without repentance drives a wedge in my relationship with God, and prevents me from fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. I know that God accepts and loves me, but I also know that He disciplines me because He loves me and wants what is best for me. I have played tug-of-war with the Holy Spirit’s conviction for far too long, and my heart is grieving to know that I have allowed something to hinder my walk with Him. I just can’t do this any longer!

I can’t help but feel that I am dishonoring my Creator by not respecting and cherishing what He has created. I want my body to be a prime example of His handiwork so that He will be glorified with my life. I know that He understands my weaknesses and compensates with His strength, but to be a living sacrifice for His glory is a form of worship to Him.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV

Big mama!

Putting the spiritual aspect aside for a moment, I could go on and on with the physical negative consequences I am enduring as well:

  • ·         Poor health, no energy, constant intense pain, high sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
  • ·         Nerve damage
  • ·         Lack of confidence and insecurity which has had an effect on virtually every area of my life.
  • ·         Self-consciousness around my husband and uncomfortable physical relationship
  • ·         Mal-nutrition leading to multi-nodular goiters and removal of thyroid, which in turn lead to paralysis of a vocal nerve. That led to constant choking when eating and drinking and being unable to sing for three years. Although I have been healed, my voice has never returned to its former quality. I allowed my poor eating to rob me of the thing I have always loved to do best.
  • ·         Foggy thinking and memory
  • ·         Poor dental health and having to spend a fortune to correct teeth
  • ·         Struggle with guilt
  • ·         Possible shortened life span and lessened quality of life
  • ·         Miserable sweating and overheating

Have I painted the picture of how miserable I am with my weight and poor habits yet? For the most part, I am a joyful and fulfilled person in so many areas of my life. I thank God that I am so blessed! However, I want to show my appreciation by living a life of freedom and longevity since Christ came to set us free and give us an abundant life. No longer do I intend to continue in this bondage!

My moment of realization hit the strongest during the week of Vacation Bible School. I hadn’t realized just how out of shape I had become until I tried to do choreography with the kids. I had to constantly take Advil just to get through the week, and all the panting and sweating was really embarrassing! I also made up my mind that when my grandson wants to play dinosaurs, I am going to have the energy and stamina to enjoy playing with him.

So, here comes the moment of truth. I don’t want to say how much I weigh, but I’ll give you some clues. I weigh 90 pounds more today than when I was nine months pregnant with my daughter. I am approximately 130 pounds overweight. So, you see, I am not talking about a few uncomfortable pounds. I am talking about morbid obesity!

I want to have confidence to sing without being self-conscious.

I refuse to depend on surgical procedures, fad diets, or medications. My goal is to restore health, and I want to do it in a healthy way. I know that I am horribly addicted to sugar, and that is where I need to start.

My plan is to omit sugar completely until I can manage allowing an occasional treat in moderation. I will also follow a diabetic formula of thinking of percentages with each of my meals: 50% vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% whole grain or starchy veggies. Of course, there is room for healthy amounts of monounsaturated fats as well. In between, I will drink plenty of water and snack of fruit and nuts. I will learn to pay attention to true hunger and eat in moderation. I will not follow this rigidly or legalistically, but I will obey the conviction of the Holy Spirit to take care of His temple.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT

I also cannot do this without including exercise. Since I am so out of shape and in a lot of pain, I will have to approach this gradually. I am committed to walking and beginning an Ann Jillian program for beginners. I can’t wait to get back in shape!

I will share pictures and progress reports with you along the way. I hope this inspires you to make some positive changes as well. There is strength in numbers. Share with me, and we will go through this journey together!

Here is to optimum health!

Shari Lewis

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Y2K, Lasagna Puke, and Crying Babies

Dare to Speak Praise, Sing Praise, and Live with Confidence in God

(Response to The Faith Dare, by Debbie Alsdorf, Day 20)

Y2K, remember all the hype?  My friends and I used to dream about what life would be like at the turn of the decade, the century, and even the millennium!  I would be 33 years old.  Would I be married?  Have children?  What would technology be like?  Would we be living in space stations by then?  Years of watching “The Jetsons” growing up fueled my imagination with grandiose ideas of robot housekeepers, push button dinners, and flying cars.

How did it turn out?  Sick kids!!  Yep!  I spent my New Years Eve that year cleaning lasagna puke off the walls and out of the carpet and rocking a crying baby all night long. I cried along with her!  You might even say I threw quite a temper tantrum!  Waaaahh!!!  Not quite the romantic Y2K I had dreamed of!  Who said motherhood was glamorous?

Our traditional New Year's lasagna
After feeling sorry for myself for a bit, and whining like a big baby, I had a profound realization.  Yes, even amidst the crying and puking!  It suddenly occurred to me that I did not have to be acting like this and making the situation worse.  So what if things did not turn out as I had hoped and dreamed of for over thirty years of my life to celebrate the great turn of the millennium?  This is what I had been dealt, and there was no way out except to change my attitude.  I had the power to transform the atmosphere at that very moment and to make a decision to respond differently.

I just started singing.  At first, I sang “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”  Somebody tell me why in the world I always veered to that song when my babies cried?  That was one of my strange mother quirks in those days!  It seemed to soothe them, so there I went.  “Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?…” 

However, as I looked into their sweet little sick faces, my heart began to melt to think how miserable they must be feeling, and that their mama’s attitude had not helped much.  I began making up songs of thanksgiving and praising God for His wonderful blessings.  Instead of looking at the mess, I began to see how very blessed I was.  I began waltzing my baby around the room and singing worship songs to the Lord.  I began smiling and feeling full of joy and gratitude – even running on 0 hours of sleep! 

I became so overwhelmed with the peace of God that filled my home that night.  Wow!  I know the kids saw it in me, and I could certainly see the change in them. What a huge difference a little attitude adjustment can make!   I even smiled and returned to my sweet and gentle mommy voice.  No more grouchy mama!

I learned one of the most valuable lessons in my life that night.   I learned that I always had the choice as to how I would respond to situations in my life, and that I could always make things better by speaking praise and thanks instead of complaining and whining.  I learned that I never had to let circumstances pull me under, but it was my perspective and my approach to the circumstances that made all the difference.

I do not live in a world of denial, however.  I still have normal emotions and get upset once in awhile. I am human!  However, the severity of my pain and discouragement in life is greatly diminished when I remember to praise instead of whine.

I still have my pity parties here and there, but I will never forget the lesson I learned that Y2K.  I can always go to God for the emotional strength and the peace I need.  He has it in abundance!  I can also encourage myself in the Lord and not give in to the mulligrubs.  Instead of making things worse by complaining, whining, and focusing on the negative components, I could instead give thanks, praise, and focus on God’s blessings.   Speaking God’s Word over my situations, on top of giving thanks and praise, will turn any oppression or defeat into victory, joy, peace, and overwhelming blessings. 

So, maybe Y2K wasn’t so fun, but it was one of the profound turn-arounds of my life!  Thank you Lord!

Now I'm rocking grandbabies!

Answers to Today’s Questions…

Today’s truth is speaking to me…

We can fuel the funk by giving in to whining, neediness, and a rotten attitude.  Our thoughts, words, and outlook can determine how long we stay and how deeply we become buried under our problems. We can allow discouragement to grow and overcome us. 

Or, we can intentionally give God praise and thanks in all situations.  We can turn our whining into thankfulness and see a major life turn-around.  Praising God will bring major benefits – such as setting our hearts and minds on Him, defeating the enemy, turning our attitude around, connecting us with the power of God to make lasting change, setting our minds above our problems, honoring the God who delivers and sustains us, giving us strength and victory, and reminding us who we are and who He is!

God is asking me to…

Speak words of praise and thanks daily.
Look for the good in all situations and recognize my blessings.
Play worship music throughout the day and fill my mind with praise.
Spend time in focused praise and worship, in which I am doing nothing else, every day.

My challenge it to…

Recognize when I get whiny and put a stop to it.
Continue to praise when life gets tough.  Overcome the challenges of PMS, depression, boredom, and feelings of being overwhelmed, and praise anyway.
Speak blessings when I feel like I would rather whine or complain.

Today’s Prayer… (Debbie Alsdorf)

Lord, I come today and confess that I whine. I am sorry. I want to learn how to praise more than whine and complain. I am realizing that when I whine, I am showing an absence of trust in You. Lead me in Your way, in my mind and with my mouth.

Favorite Quotes… (from The Faith Dare, by Debbie Alsdorf)

“We also need to look at how whiny and needy we have become while living so much of life for self or within the confines of insecurity about self.  This type of life is not God’s abundant best for you.”

“Constant complaining only serves to keep the negative fire burning brightly.  It’s time to put out the fire’s flame. Don’t fan it.  Put it out!”

“If your situation is not good, then thank God that He is!”

“We do not have to live in a place of discouraged neediness.  We can live as a daughter of the King!”

“Inner strength is God’s best for us…And His will does not add up to being needy, whiny, and discouraged all day long!”

“What if your troubles today are forming inner strength in you for tomorrow?”

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”  Philippians 2:13

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT

“God is working in me and His work is good – this is my confidence in all situations.”