Thursday, January 22, 2015

When Friction Starts a Fire {This Day Thursday:Renewal}

We tend to think of our values as neat nouns that fit in specific lists. The “values” list. And the “not values” list. At least that is how I tend to see them and explain them when called upon to do so. We don’t speak or act in certain ways because they just aren’t in line with our values. Some values are at the top and are indispensible. Some nearer the bottom and open to debate.

And then it happens, one value bumps into another. It budges in line. I value life more than money. Time more than money. But when money is required to enrich our lives or schedule, I’m forced to examine which I value more at this point.

It sounds technical, but it’s really not. Choices is all we call it. Maybe you sit and ask yourself, “Which do I value more?” Or maybe you just ask, “Can I afford to do this?” But what you are doing is weighing your values in the balances and seeing which holds more weight.

Where am I going with this? It has come into the forefront of my mind a lot in the last months as I’ve embarked on a brand new thought process with food. And no, this isn’t one of those “Watch out, she is on her diet again” moments. And yes, even if you have the healthiest body image in the world, you can still benefit from this line of thought.

Painful emotional times are often the result of friction between values in real life. For example, my RA is greatly influenced by the foods I put in my mouth. That caused some friction based on what I should eat and what I wanted to eat. I valued the health of my joints and the subsequent happiness of my home more than I valued bread (regular bread that is). So I eliminated gluten.

Cutting out gluten offered some relief, but not enough. So I took another step- no grains. Again, I valued health and happiness over overnight oatmeal (really, really yummy overnight oatmeal), so the sacrifice was made.

All the way until I found myself completing my first Whole30 and pursuing a paleo lifestyle minus the evolutionary theory.

It’s been a while since I researched anything so thoroughly, but in the process I came to a greater understanding of how awesome our bodies are and how God made us with such care.

But God also showed me more and more about the value of His law in my life, His Gospel in my renewal, His Word in my diet, and His wisdom in my decisions.

I will take four posts (at least that is the plan) to reflect on these things, because they matter to me and I believe they matter to you. But in case you are skeptical, take a moment to answer these questions:

* Am I sin-sick?
* Am I making choices that are inconsistent with my values, or harmful to those I value?
* Am I wearied by the junk I see happening around me?
* Am I struggling to see God's love in the events in my life?
* Am I enslaved to the bad choices I make?
* Am I in need of encouragment to keep making the good choices I am making?

Really you could have just answered the first question, but if you answered "yes" to any of these please stick with me in the coming weeks. God might not be calling you to a pantry overhaul, but He is calling you to a fulfilling, satisfying life with Him starting now- and I would love to walk with you. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hey, Me, GET OUT OF MY WAY! {This Day Thursday: Freedom}

So I've been in the midst of quite the internal struggle. Quite. At least, I think that's what it is called when you aren't sure you really love what you are doing, or who you are being, or how you are spending your time. You know, when things in your life change, but other things stay the same and you aren't sure if you should keep doing the same thing and ignore the freight train that is the rest of your life, or hop into a freight car and leave the same old thing behind.

Basically- to blog or cash my chips in. House wins.

Too many metaphors?

My first decision in this whole struggle was fabulous. I started reading Jeff Goins' book, You are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). I love his blog, so when his ebook came up on sale I whooped and downloaded it to my daughter's kindle. Months later I got my own kindle and actually started reading it.

Goins compared writing to a relationship he had that just needed to end. I pondered my relationship with blogging. Unable to conceive of abandoning writing, I contemplated what I really love to write.

Fiction. No brainer. It's my candy. I indulge, but sparingly.

So there you have it. My dirty secret. I'm a fiction writer at heart.

I mentally wrote my breakup letter to the blog. It's not you. It's me. 

But I guess I'm just not done yet. Because so much good happens here.

And the good is about to multiply. Less pictures maybe. Less neat and tidy lessons- seriously, this blog is the tidiest thing in my life. (I'm just speculating here, but I think that's one of many reasons why there are so many mommy bloggers. Honestly- you don't see random words strewn pell-mell across the page. No one walks onto the screen and drops their stinky words everywhere, thereafter becoming immediately oblivious to their deposits. Even chaotic thoughts appear in straight lines.) There will be more variety. More life. I've started making crazy good food. So if I can share that with you, why the heck not? Or if there is a lesson better illustrated in fiction, I'm going to go for it.

Writing hasn't been the issue. I keep getting in my own way. You ever do that? Use the word can't for no reason other than imaginary expectations?

Ugh. I hate imaginary expectations. And then someone asks me why I do something and I have no idea why except the little voices that sound a lot like me tell me I should do it.

Done with that. At least in this arena. Now I'm stepping out and hoping you will walk with me. Will you? Let's get wild in the random, untidy beauty that is life and may our steps resemble the dance it really is. That's where real growth happens. So if you need a little growth in your own life, let's do this thing together, shall we?

Break it down.

Do you ever get in your own way? 

Have you ever thought maybe you are getting in the way of a bigger plan God has waiting for you?

Remember: "For freedom Christ has set us free..." (Galatians 5:1) Don't be a slave to your own expectations.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

One Word: Resolve

October 2014 was a big month for me. I didn't blog about it, because I honestly don't think I really understood how big it was.

Because it was just food. And this isn't a food blog. I don't share recipes, I share life. And my life doesn't revolve around food.

So in late September 2014 I posed a dietary question on Facebook- curious about the paleo diet in hopes to alleviate some arthritis pain.

Hold on- before I continue- this post isn't about the merits of the paleo diet or any other diet for that matter. It isn't about whole foods and I won't preach about the evils of legumes. This post is about choices. Resolve. So roll your eyes back into your head and keep reading.

A friend from college told me about the Whole30 program she tried and about how awesome it was. Another college friend agreed. I looked it up. Got a bit inspired. Decided to give it a shot. I didn't wait to start on a certain date- I just started. And so began a 30 day adventure in eating, cooking, research. Good days, bad days, but eventually more good days than bad days. And the 30 days left me feeling better than I had in a very long time.

After day 30 I was technically allowed to reintroduce food, but it didn't take long before I was back in the same ruts. The cravings that had disappeared were back with a vengeance and moderation skipped town with my resolve.

So when I entered 2015, I fully planned on trying again. Another Whole 30-this time with thousands of other people around the world. There was just one problem.

I didn't want to do it.

No matter how good it made me feel, I just didn't want to. I would take the pizza topped with pain and guilt because it just tasted so good. I was fully aware that what I consumed had very serious and direct consequences with my health, but the fleeting pleasures of cheese, and sugar, and grains was too much to bear. And what good was a life in which I had to think so hard about my food?

The Whole 30 was nothing more than an empty religion.

So why did I start it again?

Because I heard their voices.

I downloaded their book, It Starts With Food, as part of a free trial on I'm...uh... thrifty. Which is why I didn't purchase the book in the beginning. I wasn't sure I was ready to invest. But now that I had the opportunity to own the free audiobook? I could do that.

And that made all the difference.

I was playing the game I see played out in Christianity every day. We settle for the abbreviated, free-downloadable version of Christianity. Enough information to get me started, get me to the deadline. Enough rules to tell me exactly what I need to do. Eat this, not that. Do this, not that.

So is it any wonder that I fall so far the moment a forbidden food crosses my lips?

We all fall for this all. the. time. It is an overplayed, and painfully effective, trick of the devil- to pass off rules and rituals for true love and service. To deafen us to the voice of a loving God who desires to lavish upon us grace upon grace (John 1:16). Who wants us to have a life full of joy (John 16:24) at His own expense.

The laws made in love become the landlords of our heart the moment they upstage the grace and mercy of God. Good intentions are ingratious gods when they attempt to commandeer God's intentions in our lives.

And no amount of resolve can stand under the weight of guilt heaped upon our shaky legs as all our works-laden aspirations crumble around us.

But just as It Starts With Food reminds readers that their health is directly affected by what they shove down their gullet, the Bible reminds us that in everything It Starts With God. Our salvation, our spiritual health. It all begins, and ends, with God.

I was a little nervous to announce my One Word for 2015, because the very word implies testing. It implies affliction and temptation.

It is: Resolve.

But these verses calmed those fears:

To this end we always pray for you, 
that our God may make you worthy of his calling 
and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 
so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, 
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Fulfilled in Him and by Him and for Him. We are more than conquerors in His power and grace.

In the spirit of those in the Bible who resolved to follow the Lord: Daniel, David, Jehosophat, Joseph, I rest confidently in the knowledge that no amount of testing will triumph God's power to accomplish His will in and through me.

And the same holds true for you. Now that's the way to enter the New Year!