Friday, February 27, 2015

Saying No to Donuts and Yes to God

by contributing writer Kristen Webb

Reflections on 'Made To Crave' by Lysa TerKeurst


Okay, so I've got my guidelines of healthy, common sense, eating set and I am trying to live by them.  On one hand it is very freeing - the struggle to determine what I should and should not eat was taking up a lot of emotional energy.  Also I can avoid the guilt and other fall-out feelings that happened when I would rationalize my way into eating things I was unsure of.   Now, when faced with a food decision, I can determine if it fits into my healthy eating parameters easily.  I can avoid doing damaging things like  eating when I am already full.  I also have been making sure I eat small meals often and that I have regular protein so that I do not mess up my blood sugar and hypoglycemia.   This has had the happy result of me feeling much better physically.  It is very nice to not feel sick or dizzy, or that yukky feeling when you overeat and are uncomfortable.  These have been very good things that I am praising God for.

However, there are still some foods that, though they are not within my healthy eating limits, I crave hard core.  It has been hard emotionally to say no to these things.   If I am not going to get to eat them I feel a desperation and fear.   I also have realized that I feel I deserve and need the treats.  Somehow in my brain I have tied treats to celebrations, rewards, or the way to cheer up if I am having a bad day.  If I attempt to do any of these things without treats it just feels very wrong.  My mind really believes that the excessive treats will make me happy and inversely, if I do not get the treats, I will become depressed.

I recently attended my daughters public speaking contest.  While the judges deliberated following the speeches, mounds of donuts - sweet soft donuts - were provided!  Donuts were not within my healthy eating parameters for that day as I had my one gluten choice for the week.  Because I had determined clear guidelines I knew that if I was to obey God and stay on the healthy eating wagon I need to not have a donut.  But everyone around me was eating them and that was not fair.  I deserved one as much as any of them. The apple I had wisely brought to eat as a healthy option was tasting like dust in my mouth.

I felt like I needed to celebrate with my daughter because she did a good job on her speech.  I also felt I deserved a reward for making it through and enduring a headache.  It was crazy how powerful and painful my emotional need for that donut was.   My apple was not working as well as I thought it would in the fight against sugar and fat but I had another weapon in my arsenal.

In the Bible study, Made to Crave, I had learned about how my thoughts can be based on lies.  The idea that I needed that donut or that I could not celebrate without a treat - that idea is a lie.  Also the idea that I could not reward myself without sugar or that if I denied myself sugar I would fall into a depression also were lies.  That donut was not my only option to find joy or peace.  Part of my brain still has trouble and believes these things are true, but the truth is that God is my source of joy and peace and He can enable me to celebrate and reward myself without food.  He is a big Awesome God and He is not limited to food as His only way to make me happy.   This is still very hard for me to absorb though.  I struggle with depression and have been using food as my go-to option for years. This is a habit, like a drug habit or a smoking habit, and I feel such crazy pull to the donut.   I feel life will not be worth living if I do not get that donut.

But in the Bible Study I learned not only to distinguish the lies, but to fight them with the truth found in Scripture.  I had already found a Scripture in Proverbs to fight the particular lies that I was being faced with in that moment.

"He who deals wisely and heeds God's word and counsel shall find good, and whoever leans on, trusts in and is confident in the Lord - happy blessed and fortunate is He."     Proverbs 16:20 

The path to true good and happiness is not found in disobeying God but in following the guidelines He had already given me about what food was wise for me to eat.  Also I realized that maybe all along, the donuts in my life had not filled me with the lasting joy and happiness I was looking for. The donut would give me a few seconds of bliss while it was in my mouth but then it would make me sick for a few hours because of my allergies.  This is why God has given me the guideline to avoid gluten and sugar.   Also one donut would not really be enough.   I would be frustrated and wanting more instead of satisfied and experiencing peace.  The idea that huge amounts of sugar and fat is my go-to for instant happiness is the lie.  The truth is that God is my go-to for all happiness and peace and that trying to make other things that just leads to addiction and despair.   I was made to crave God, and if I replace my craving with anything other than God - including food - it results in this whole struggle I find myself in now with the donut. get out of this vortex of craving food and then crashing over food that is not good for me, I am going to need some serious power.   Serious power is exactly what God has huge amounts of and a food addiction is no match for God Almighty.  However, if I attempt to overcome this without God I am beat before I even begin, as my vast past failures can attest to.

I need God.  I need to stay close to God!  I need God to teach me how to meet my need for happiness and peace through God-approved ways.   When I put food above God in my life it does not give me that happiness and peace.  I am running after a lie and the result is sickness, guilt, and frustration - all in exchange for a few seconds of chewing!

So I leaned on God and He enabled me to say no to the donut.  (Actually I had to say no to the donut about 21 times before I finally was able to get out of the donut-infested building.)  I still craved the donut and it did make part of me unhappy to not be able to put it in my mouth, but my spirit was exhilarated.  This is not a quick fix: God is going to have to completely reprogram how I think.  I am going to have to keep replacing the lies with truth.  I am going to have to learn to crave God first, and look to Him to meet my needs instead of food.  I have a lifetime of attempting to get my satisfaction and peace out of what I eat.  Even though it has not worked so far, part of me still wants to cling to the lie and try that donut one more time.  So I now have my truth scripture from Proverbs 16:20 on a cue card and my goal is to memorize it - to get the truth deep in my heart, and from now on, to face every treat with God as my help and the truth as my weapon.

Join me again next week as I continue this food adventure with God.

 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.

David: The Fugitive - Sermon Video

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On Teacups & Friendship

At the beginning of February the Ladies Social team hosted a Winter Tea Party.  Here are some thoughts inspired by that event...

by contributing writer, Michelle McLaughlin

Life's busyness doesn't always leave room to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Drinking tea from a proper teacup and saucer.  Enjoying dainty treats made by hands other than your own.  Laughing.  Savouring the moments with friends made special through shared life-stories, hurts, triumphs, fears, laughter and joy.  Deepening friendships newly made.

With the many to-dos waiting to be done and the varied lists of needs yet to be fulfilled, it's too easy to get caught up in the getting-it-all-done.  It's too easy to be caught up in bearing daily life burdens alone.  It's too easy to mistakenly think we are each the only one with this many demands on our abilities, on our resources of inner strength, on our oh-so-precious time.

But it was in the enjoyment of a tea party amidst a roomful of women of all ages and stages of life where I was reminded that I am not so alone as I sometimes delude myself into believing.  It was in sitting with my dear friends that I was refreshed after a day made long by my own unkind, unprompted emotions.  It was in the sharing of burdens when I was nudged to remember I am not the only one facing these daily struggles of motherhood and cooking and loving and cleaning and dreaming and praying for these families we are entrusted with.

It was a tea party with fancy hats, delicate teacups and saucers, a fun photo booth and friendships.  We smiled.  We laughed.  We talked.  We shared.  A few of us even shed a tear as we listened to the life story of a woman made wise with embracing life as it unraveled before her.  A story permeated with her trust that God would see her through both difficult and joyful times.

The day began with bearing emotional encumbrances alone.  The day ended with a hot cup of tea infused with gentle reminders that I am not alone, that I am not the only one traversing this road of motherhood and womanhood.  

Enjoying a cup of tea is all about slowing down the hurry's and the have-tos of the day to enjoy the moment.  It is savouring the delicate aroma wafting from the warm amber liquid before that first lovely sip of infused flavour.  

Mingling our hearts and time with our friends infuses our joys so the harshness of life is lessened.

Michelle is a stay-at-home mother to 5 energetic boys, striving every day to find the simple blessings in a busy household of seven.  She has been attending HMC for a few years and volunteers in the nursery and with the Ladies Social team.
Michelle shares her life on her own blog at Simple Bounty.

[tea pot photo by Blaine Radstake ~ see all the tea party photos here]

Friday, February 13, 2015

On The Journey From Hopeless to Healthy

by contributing writer Kristen Webb

Reflections on 'Made To Crave' by Lysa TerKeurst


So my issues with food are not going to be a quick fix.  I thought once I finally nailed down my guidelines (after being wishy-washy for years) that I would immediately soar to victory.  Not quite the case in real life.  First of all, nailing down my guidelines was more difficult than I expected.

How do you figure out what is a healthy diet?  

Because of some OCD tendencies - or maybe perfectionism - or maybe just being a girl - I have some food baggage from my past.   This baggage was not something I was able to get over on my own so I was going to need God's help to revisit my issues.  I prayed for wisdom and strength and I gave the whole confusing, mangled food-mess in my mind to God.

Like pulling a band aid off fast, God clearly revealed that my first issue was perfectionism.  God really is the ultimate counselor and it is so neat that He can supernaturally reveal relevant stuff in your head.

I had not been in pursuit of a healthy diet but the perfect diet - free from all errors and all imperfect food.   This was not a reasonable or even doable goal.  My first clue should have been when I went to the food experts to find the perfect foods and they couldn't agree about what was good and what was bad.  Furthermore, various experts have something bad to say about most foods, disqualifying pretty much all food known to man.  No wonder I was frustrated and stressed out! There was no way I could succeed at the perfect diet - I was already set up to fail!

For instance, if I ate a salad but had salad dressing on it I felt bad about the salad dressing because it is not a perfectly good food.  If I was really being a successful dieter I would have salad without the dressing.  But let's be honest -  that is not even worth eating!  Every time I ate something questionable (all food known to man) my anxiety level would go through the roof!   I was a mess emotionally and that just made me want to each large quantities of the kind of food all the experts agreed was really bad for me.   I got overwhelmed and decided not to make any firm guidelines, but I still felt bad about just about everything I put in my mouth.

I know God wants me to establish what healthy eating is for me and I can see now that I have to get over trying to do it perfectly.

I think I am also easily overwhelmed because my food choices are already limited by allergies and sensitivities.    I was feeling sick all the time.  A few years ago I went to a natural-pathologist who did a blood test to determine what food I am sensitive to.   Her tests showed I needed to pretty much avoid wheat and Lima beans and limit my intake of eggs, sugar, unprocessed milk, and almonds.  The Lima beans I have not had any trouble living without but I consume way too much of the other stuff on a regular basis.  Because I have been distracted by finding the perfect diet I have not had the energy to limit these things I already know I should avoid.   I should not have wheat more than once a week and only small amounts of eggs, sugar, milk and almonds but I have been avoiding making this a firm guideline.   I feel sick when I cheat on this stuff but I still have been binging on it.   But no more!  I solemnly declare to everyone who is listening that I will only have wheat once a week and only very small amounts of eggs, sugar, milk and almonds.   I will not binge or eat a whole package of chocolate chip cookies by myself.   I  also have been not looking after my hypoglycemia.  This is a clear medical condition and is easily managed.  I need to make eating smaller portions often and combining sugars and starches with protein a clear guideline in my healthy eating to avoid feeling sick and dizzy.  So shall it be!  I know that this is easier said than done so I pray that God will be my strength and I admit I need His help.

Okay, so avoiding some foods is clear from a medical standpoint but what about the vast number of other foods that the experts disagree about? strategy to avoid all imperfect foods has not been working so what should I do to find healing? Some wise women at the Made to Crave study suggested I try balance instead of extremes like perfectionism.   I need to let go of trying to do it perfectly and seek God to find a way to do it balanced.   I should not worry about what the dueling experts disagree about, just look at the basics they all agree on.  Also I need to get up to date information on what healthy eating really is.

Perfect food  is a myth and the reality is that most food has some good qualities and some not so good.  The balance is to eat the nourishing food that has lots of good in it and only small amounts of unhealthy content.  A little bit of fat in the dressing does not disqualify salad from being a good choice.    I need to measure my success by eating healthy not by eating perfectly.  In being balanced I also need to avoid (or limit to very small portions) any food that does not have much healthy content.  My diet is not an epic fail if I have salad dressing on my salad but eating a whole box of turtles is not success either.  I can rejoice in all the good the greens give me and rejoice that I am not having a dangerous amount of fat but a balanced amount in the dressing.  I can look to the Canada Food Guide for the specifics to find a starting point of  balanced, healthy eating.  Then I can celebrate each food victory each time I make a healthy choice.

I need to give myself some food "Grace" and stop being a tyrant to myself.   This is especially important because my choices are already limited by my sensitivities.  I need to get creative finding healthy options I can eat to replace the things in my diet that I can't have.  I need to not feel bad if these options are not perfect, but rejoice in the good parts of them.

Continue with me in the following weeks as I take this food adventure with God.

 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.

David: The King In Waiting - Sermon Video

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Freedom From Food? Giving Your 'Cookie Monster' to Jesus

by contributing writer Kristen Webb

Reflections on 'Made To Crave' by Lysa TerKeurst

I have issues with food.  Even my kids tell me on a regular basis - usually after I've eaten half a pie or their share of something.  Until recently I just shrugged it off and didn't worry too much about it, feeling it was an endearing quality.  If there is a acceptable problem for a Christian to have it is eating and I thought it was not really impacting my faith.  But more than that I felt as a "good Christian" there were so many things I gave up (like not getting drunk or sleeping with men besides my husband) that there should be something I could indulge in.  Food seemed pretty safe and so I just let myself go there.  I did not admit this to anyone - especially myself - but now I am taking a Bible study at my church called "Made to Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst and God has used it powerfully to open my eyes.

I would have to classify my previous limits about food as wishy-washy.  I  never really nailed down my goals or aspirations but kept them vague.  I think I did this so that I did not have to feel compelled to actually follow any "rules".  If you don't set the bar at a particular height then you don't have to feel bad about not reaching the bar.  But the funny thing is that the indecisiveness I used to protect myself from failing caused me huge amounts of anxiety.

Here's what it looked like in my real life:

I would eat a cookie and immediately feel bad because a cookie was "cheating".  I am not only sensitive to sugar because I have hypoglycemia but I am very allergic to wheat which is the second ingredient in cookies after sugar!  Despite those realities I somehow convinced myself that it was okay to have cookies.  Now I did not do a good job of convincing myself and so I still had that deep down unrest when I ate anything that was not perfectly good for me.  But one cookie is just the start of the food drama that overshadows my life.

One cookie does not satisfy me.  It just makes me want more cookies.  Since I do not have any set limits it is fairly easy to convince myself that it is okay to have more cookies but again, I'm terrible at fully convincing myself so that nagging anxiety and guilt deep down still exists.  Two cookies are not enough for me, the second one makes me want more too, so number three finds its way into my mouth.   The uneasiness of compromise sucks the joy out the situation.  When left unattended with cookies I have eaten 7 large ones including ones that were earmarked for my children.  I have taken cookies out of the mouths of children!  I have also eaten an entire tray of turtles!  This does not bring joy to my life but I am driven by an all-consuming need for food and because I didn't want to limit my indulgence, I didn't make clear limits.  Eating like this makes me feel sick but I still struggle to find ways to keep doing it.   I thought the lack of limits would help me eat more cookies guilt-free but this brilliant idea was not working.

My struggle is as old as the fall and I don't think I am alone in my pain.  My eyes have been opened through taking this Bible study and I am starting to realize that the root of this problem is trust.  I am afraid that if I give my food choices to God I will not get to eat all the fun indulgent things that I think will bring me happiness and satisfaction.  Yes, I am deluded, and still thinking that somehow the road to happiness is down the road of no limits, even though this has not worked in the past.  I think Satan must be laughing at how his lies are so effective - that he has me unwilling to give up what is causing me immense misery. all boils down to me wanting control and thinking I know how to do this food thing better than God.  I am afraid that if I give my food choices to God He will hold out on me and limit my freedom.  Like Eve in the garden, Satan lied to her and as a result she was questioning God's goodness because He had limited her freedom and told her not to do something.

I look like such a fool clutching to the food that is harming me not only physically but spiritually as well!  I need to give this area to God completely and submit everything I put in my mouth to Him.


This also means figuring out what are healthy food choices for me by asking God for wisdom.  This out of control cookie monster needs some clear limits.  Anytime God asks us to yield something to Him He is not holding out on us - He wants to save us from the mess we end up in when we refuse to give Him control!  Not trusting God with my food is not an acceptable sin, it's just a sin like any other.  True freedom lies in giving this area to God not holding it from Him.

Join me in the following weeks as I take this food adventure with God.

 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.

Saul: Israel's Transitional King - Sermon Video

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