The Quest for Treasure

oakI’ve got a new guilty pleasure.  I’ve begun watching the History Channel series, “The Curse of Oak Island”.  The show is in its sixth season, so I have some catching up to do, but now that the holidays are over, I’m enjoying doing a little binge watching.

Basically, the show is about the Lagina brothers, Rick and Marty, who along with several partners, (“The Fellowship of the Dig”, as they are called), are on a quest to find hidden treasure buried beneath Oak Island, Nova Scotia.

The Oak Island story began over 200 years ago, when 3 teenagers were drawn to the island by mysterious lights.  When they arrived on the island they noticed a circular depression in the ground by a tree from which they saw a dangling pulley.  Knowing that this was an area frequented by pirates, they began the first dig for buried treasure.  From there the history is a little murky, (as with any good mystery), but men have been searching for treasure on Oak Island ever since.

Theories abound about what the actual treasure could be.  Everything from the lost manuscripts of William Shakespeare to the crown jewels of France to the ark of the covenant and the menorah from Solomon’s temple.  While on the surface, some of these ideas seem at the minimum improbable and at the most a little kooky, the reality is that at least six people have already lost their lives in the quest.  It’s serious business.

For me, while I am intrigued by the treasure, and being a history lover, I’m enjoying finding out more about the time period surrounding the mystery, what really has drawn me in is the relationship between the Lagina brothers.  These two brothers couldn’t be any more different in temperament:  Rick, the oldest, is the dreamer, the romantic, the one who has whole-heartedly believed the story since he read about it in an article in Reader’s Digest back in the day and Marty, the younger, is the “show me the data” guy, the engineer, the “skeptic-in-chief”.  You may think that such differing perspectives would cause friction and certainly disagreement, and could lead to the dissolution of the “fellowship”, but actually, it has had the opposite effect.  Over and over, Rick and Marty have demonstrated their love for each other and for those in the Oak Island “family”.  Their familial bond has served to strengthen the fellowship and that in turn, has strengthened those with whom they have contact.  For me, this is the treasure of Oak Island and worth more than anything that has been buried.

The Lagina’s quest has reminded me of my own quest for treasure.  When I first put spade to dirt almost two years ago by starting the New Direction Weight Loss Program®, I believed that my treasure would come in the form of numbers on a scale. As I dug down to the harder soil, the packed down earth of life where emotions go to hide in the bedrock of failure and fear, I have discovered that those numbers on the scale were a mere pittance of the treasure that I’ve uncovered.

While on my quest, I’ve encountered others who were on a similar hunt.  We joined together and bonded into our own fellowship, “The Fellowship of the Lean”.  We have jumped into the “hole”, getting our hands dirty by lifting each other up, praying for one another, cheering each other on, supporting each other through difficult times and refusing to give up the quest.  This bond of friendship has been a source of strength and certainly has been part of my treasure.

Discovering hidden talents, and participating in activities that I never thought possible like writing this blog, speaking to various groups, publishing a book, hiking, biking and kayaking are unquestionably part of my treasure trove.

Perhaps the most abundant treasure came in the form of a deeper appreciate and understanding of God’s love for me.  Like a map with “x” marking the spot, God has led me to a wonderful destination filled with hope, and faith, and adventure.  Having a deeper relationship with Him has been the greatest treasure of all.

If you’re on a quest like me, and you’d like to be a part of the Fellowship, I’d encourage you to join the Through Thick and Thin Discussion Group on Facebook.  This is a closed group, so only those who are part of the group can view what is posted.  I hope you’ll join in the conversation by posting your own experiences, questions, tips and suggestions.  Who knows what treasure you’ll discover!

 

Surgery Update:  The arm lift surgery that I had back in November went really well and I’ve healed enough that I’m scheduled for the next procedure this week.  Surgery #3 will be a leg lift.  As with my other surgeries, I’ll be posting some pre-op/post-op tips about it in the future.  In the meantime, I appreciate all of your well wishes and prayers!

 

 

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Confession is Good for the Soul…and Weight Loss too

Earlier this week I got to spend some time with a very good friend of mine.  She and I have been fellow warriors in this battle to get healthy.  We’ve been on the same program, have both reached our goal weight and now are battling our way through maintenance.  The holidays have not been easy on either of us.  We’ve struggled through surgery (mine), injury (hers), sickness (both) and the usual hustle and bustle that comes with this time of year.  As the new year arrived, it came with the realization that neither of us were where we wanted to be.

I was really looking forward to being with my friend because I needed someone I could talk to who knows exactly what I’m experiencing because she’s experiencing it too.

Since my arm lift surgery in November, I have gained weight.  Some of it is due to the surgery itself, some of it is due to illness, but some of it is because I had a few too many Christmas cookies.  Over lunch, I took a deep breath and shared what has been happening with my friend.  As I shared,  I  was totally honest about how I was doing physically, how I was doing emotionally, and  about how I was feeling spiritually.   My friend in turn, shared her struggles with me.  As the two of us talked, and laughed (and cried) together, we could see the purpose in God putting us together first as friends, but specifically making sure that we were put together for this little outing.  He knew that we were struggling long enough and it was time to put an end to it.

As we chatted, this scripture came to mind:

“Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16

The more I read the Bible, the more I realize that God is amazingly smart.  (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)  What I mean by that is, many times I’ll read something like the James verse and think, “Confess your sins…yeah, I guess that’s something we should do.  I want to be forgiven, so confessing is a good idea.”  But then, the reality of scripture hits me like a two-by-four.

The James scripture says “Confess your sins one to another” – wait a minute, it doesn’t say “Confess your sins to God alone?” or “Confess your sins in private with your priest or minister?”  Nope, it says, “Confess your sins to EACH OTHER“!  Yikes!  Each other – Why is that?  Having just lived through this, I have a few ideas.

First of all, I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I had gained a few pounds.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed!  Seriously, think about it.  I write a blog about weight loss, I’ve just written a book about how to get through the holidays and maintain your weight, and I even have occasions where I speak on the subject of getting healthy.  While I’ve never said I’m perfect or that this journey has been easy, I still didn’t like the idea of having to admit that I’d gained weight.  It seemed contrary to everything I’m about and more importantly,  it was embarrassing.

Since I didn’t want to tell anyone, I had to figure out what to do on my own.  Bad idea.  Figuring out things on my own is what got me into this unhealthy mess in the first place. Putting myself in this position brought back some old, familiar, unwanted and unhealthy behaviors and emotions like secrecy, stress, and panic.

As I shared with my friend, the reasons why God tells us to confess to one another became apparent.  This act of confession took away my need for secrecy, which took away the stress which took away the panic.  Suddenly, things didn’t seem so overwhelming.  I even felt lighter!

By confessing my struggle, my friend felt she could confess hers and she began to experience the relief from secrecy, stress and panic as well.  The two of us began to see how powerful this moment was.  We remembered, once again, that we were not in this battle alone, we had each other and we had a God who loved us enough to put us together.

We didn’t end our time with only confession.  We did the next part of the verse too. “Pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  Right there in the booth of the diner, we prayed for each other.

What a huge moment for us both.  Bringing our struggles out into the light of day took away the shame and embarrassment that we’d been feeling.  Those feelings were replaced with hope, and strength, and encouragement and understanding.

I’m sure there will be times coming up in the future when I will again gain a few pounds and I’ll be tempted to keep that information to myself.  However, I’ve learned a valuable lesson:  “Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  

 

New Year’s Revolution

April 6If you look in the history books, you won’t find any significant battles that occurred on April 6, 2017, but in my personal history, that date is significant.  That is the day that my revolution began.

The word “revolution” comes from the Latin term “revolutio”, and literally means “a turn around”.  Revolution can also be defined as a sudden, radical or complete change.  That’s exactly what happened the day I began the New Direction program.  On April 6, 2017, my life turned around from one filled with defeat, frustration and failure to one filled with victory, hope and anticipation.  But the revolution isn’t complete, there is more territory to be conquered and that will be my focus for 2019.

Change doesn’t come easy for any of us.  Old habits die hard, if they die at all.  As I’ve begun the battle for the maintenance of my weight loss, some of those old habits have reared their ugly heads.  With flailing arms of temptation, they have reminded me that this battle I’m waging is far from over and if I’m not vigilant, I could find myself captured behind enemy lines.

During the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, opportunities for defeat abounded.  I’d love to say that each opportunity ended in victory, but I promised my mother that I wouldn’t lie.  While those weeks were mostly successful, I did have times when I overindulged or when I didn’t make the best choices.  From those times I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I intend to take with me into this new year:

  1. Chocolate chip cookies must go on my “do not taste, touch, smell or especially bake list” for the foreseeable future.
  2. Even though I’m on maintenance and all foods are allowed, I need to be more careful about what I’m eating.
  3. Sleep/rest is an absolute must.
  4. There is no substitute for water hydration.

I know if I want to be successful in this maintenance phase (and I do), I must continue this revolution with a fundamental shift in my thinking.  As you’ve seen from previous posts, I’ve taken this battle to three battlefronts, and my thinking must change in each one.

PHYSICAL BATTLEFRONT

  • I must embrace my new body as the “new norm”, not a temporary situation.
  • I must continue to plan my meals, especially those when I’m away from home.
  • I must get the rest my body calls for.
  • I must not overbook myself.

EMOTIONAL BATTLEFRONT

  • I must not ignore the emotions that are stirred up from the challenges I’ve faced.
  • I must ask for help from my support team when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
  • I must be honest about what I’m feeling.

SPIRITUAL BATTLEFRONT

  • I must allow God to be in charge.
  • I must continue the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study and worship.
  • I must listen to what God has to say and be willing to do what He asks me to do.

Over the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll be writing more about each one of these “must-do”s and I hope that you’ll share some of yours with me.  In the meantime, I’d like to invite you to join me in a couple of things.

First, as I posted last week, one of my goals for 2019 is to read the Bible in a year. I’ve selected a plan from the YouVersion Bible app called “The Bible Project”.  The plan includes devotional notes in video form, and a selection of scriptures to read each day.  One thing that I like is you can create a group to discuss what you’re reading.  If you’d like to join me in this plan, click on this link:

The Bible Project

From there, just read from the plan daily and post any comments or questions to the group.  If you’ve never read the Bible before, this would be a great time to start.  While having a time table is a good thing, there’s no pressure to get this done in a year.  For me, the goal is the same as for my dieting:  progress, not perfection.

TNT Ad copy PICSecondly, I’ve been invited to speak at a women’s event at Delaware Valley Christian Church in Media, PA.  I’ll be sharing more about how God has been walking with me through thick and thin while on this journey.  If you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you.  The event is free, and if you do plan to attend, please let me know so I can watch for you!

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, I hope you’ll consider joining the Through Thick and Thin Discussion Group on Facebook.  This is a closed group for anyone who is trying to get healthy.  (A “closed group” is one that you have to ask permission to join and only those in the group can see what is posted.)  On that page you can post questions, comments, recipes, helpful tips, and can support others who are on this same journey.  To find the group, click on the link in the sidebar.

I hope that your 2019 has gotten off to a good start and that you’ll consider having a revolution of your own!

 

 

Wrapping Up 2018

2018 wrapWell, what a year this has been!  I would say this has been the most eventful year of my life aside from getting married, and having my two children.  I had no idea when I walked into the New Direction® center on April 6, 2017 how my life would change by April 7, 2018.

Losing half of my starting body weight has certainly been the most visible change of the year, but honestly, that is only the physical manifestation of the other changes that have taken place.  God has blessed me with a more stable emotional life and a deeper faith over this year as well.  He’s also taken me places I never imagined I would go and as we move into 2019, I’ll be sharing more about those changes, along with the struggles that have accompanied them.

But today as we all get ready to flip the proverbial calendar page, thoughts are sure to be turning to setting goals and dreaming dreams for the upcoming year.  For me, one goal that I’ve set is to read the entire Bible in a year.  I’ve learned over my lifetime that there is nothing more important to my spiritual health than continuing to read and study the Bible.  To that end, I’ve selected a plan from the YouVersion Bible app called “Digging Deeper Daily:  By Daily Bible Reading Podcast”.  The plan includes devotional notes, and a selection of scriptures to read each day.  What I like about this plan is that it combines Old and New Testament readings so that you can see how they relate to each other.  Another feature that I like is you can create a group to discuss what you’re reading.  I thought this would be a perfect fit for those of you who would like to join me in this challenge.  So…..

I’ll be starting the plan on January 2nd and if you’d like to join me, all you have to do is download the YouVersion Bible app (available for free in the app store or Google apps) and then click this link:

Digging Deeper Daily: By Daily Bible Reading Podcast

From there, just read from the plan daily and post any comments or questions to the group.

I do have a few rules for those who choose to participate:

#1 – This is not an exercise in perfection.  It seems like the goal would be to read the Bible in a year, and that is an admirable, achievable goal.  However, if you miss a day here and there (or a week or two), that’s okay.  Hopefully, you’ll be reading more than you have in the past, and that certainly is a worthy goal all on it’s own.

#2 – I understand that we come to faith in different ways and that there are many different beliefs represented in this group.  Please be respectful as you post comments.  (In other words, no picking on other belief systems.)

#3 – We will all get the most benefit if we all participate.  If you’re reluctant to post, please know that this will be a safe place to ask questions or offer comments.  Some of my most insightful lessons have come from “ordinary” people, not from Bible scholars.  So, no hiding your light under a bushel.

 

If you intend to participate, I hope you’ll drop me a note so I can look for you in the group.  In the meantime, I hope you all have a happy, healthy New Year!

 

Oops!

scale helpI had a feeling when I stepped on the scale this morning that I wouldn’t be pleased with the number it showed….and I was right.  I’m up a couple of pounds. In my previous life as a roller coaster dieter, news like this would have sent me tumbling down to the lower part of the roller coaster ride and if I stayed there long enough, I would have taken a few twists and turns through the bakery aisle and ended with a loop-de-loop through the local drive-through.  But not today!

Today, I’m actually excited!

I’ve spent the last year and a half losing over half of my body weight and then maintaining that loss, so you’d think I’d be upset about seeing my weight heading in the wrong direction.  But I’m not. I really am excited! Have I lost my mind? Some people might think so, but I have another reason –

I KNOW THE TRUTH!

The truth is that I know EXACTLY why I’m up a few pounds.  It’s not because I’m a failure at losing weight, it’s not because I can’t count on myself to not lose control, it’s not because it’s the holiday season and that’s just what happens and it’s not because there’s some mystery to all of this that I can’t solve.

In the past two weeks I have had surgery, the stomach flu, out of town guests, several luncheon dates and a business event.  All of this activity has wreaked havoc on my system. I’m retaining fluids, I’m not exercising, and my eating routine is totally out of whack.  And considering that I enjoyed my fair share of key lime pie this weekend, it’s no shock that I’m up a few pounds.

I’m up a few pounds because I’m retaining fluids from the surgery. I’m up a few pounds because my physical activity has been restricted. I’m up a few pounds because I haven’t fully recovered from the flu and I’m up a few pounds because I should have eaten a little less key lime pie.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”  (John 8:32) The truth He was talking about was not related to dieting, but still, knowing the truth about a situation can bring freedom.

Knowing the truth that there are concrete reasons why I’m up a few pounds frees my mind from self-condemnation.

Knowing the truth that I have been successful in losing and then maintaining this loss frees me from the spiral of self-defeat.

Knowing the truth that I have the tools and the will to get back on track frees me from the fear of failure and self-sabotage.

Knowing that I have a support system of friends and family who will come alongside me frees me from isolation.

I find all of that exciting!  Don’t you? But there’s more!!

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says,

“I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him.  It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.”  (Ephesians 1:19-20)

Did you catch that truth?  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to help those who believe in Him. That’s me!  I believe! So, how excited am I to know the truth that I have the same resurrection power living inside of me that was used to raise Jesus from the dead?  Pretty excited! Do you think these couple of pounds stand a chance against all that? Me, neither.

So today, I’m marching on.  I’m getting back into a proper eating routine, I’m going to make sure I get all of my water in, and while I’m still restricted on some physical activity, I’m going to be sure to get some extra steps in.  And most importantly, I’m going to be tapping into that resurrection power through prayer and Bible reading.  This is going to be a great day!

If you’re struggling through this season, I hope that you can get excited too.  I hope you can see that you’re not in this battle alone and that encouragement, support and yes, even resurrection power is available to you as well.

If you’re looking for a place to connect, I hope you’ll pop over to Through Thick and Thin’s Discussion Group on Facebook.  There you can meet many people who are battling away, just like you. If you’re looking for some specific, practical tips to navigate through the holiday season, check out my book, Through Thick and Thin’s Holiday Survival Guide on Amazon.

Author! Author!

Just ReleasedIt was April 6, 2017.  I walked into the New Direction® Weight Loss Center in Paoli, PA and began a journey that has been filled with twists and turns and unexpected adventures.  On my way to losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle, I have made new friends that have shown me what it means to be a warrior and to battle on.  I have learned that I’m much stronger than I think and most importantly, I’ve learned that a shared battle is a won battle…and a lot more fun!

I have shared much about my particular battle through this blog, and now, I get to share a little bit more through my first (and probably only!) book called, “Through Thick and Thin’s Holiday Survival Guide or How to Lose Weight, Not Your Mind”.  This little guide is only about 40 or so pages long, but it’s packed with advice, tips and strategies to help you maintain or continue to lose weight over the holiday season.

If you’re new to this blog, I want you to know that I have taken a 3-pronged approach in this battle to a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve rejected the idea that my situation was created just from an over abundance of caloric intake.  The life changer for me came when I finally embraced that fact that I was more than skin, bones and a little flab (okay, a lot of flab).  While I was all of that, I was also an emotional being and a spiritual being and frankly, the emotional part of me was what was driving my physical “bus”.  So, when I began this journey, I made sure to examine all three parts of who I am and include them in my efforts to get healthy.

The Holiday Survival Guide continues along that path.  I outline strategies for the Physical Battlefront, the Emotional Battlefront and the Spiritual Battlefront.  My hope and prayer is that those who read it will be inspired to look at their own battlefronts, apply some of these strategies and create some of their own on their way to victory.

Thank you to all who suggested that I begin this writing journey, and who have encouraged me to be bold enough to take the next step and publish.  This was certainly the most unexpected adventure of all!

To order your Holiday Survival Guide, click here.

 

Here are a few before and afters to show what can happen when you include all of you!

Blue Shirt Pic

Boating pic

When Life Gives You Mountains

My husband and I just returned from a week’s vacation in the mountains Virginia.  Even though it was a bit colder than we’d hoped, we still managed to get in some outdoor activities.

IMG_9484Our primary reason for heading to Virginia was to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail.  This is a 34.3 mile Rails-to-Trails bike hike that begins in Abingdon, VA and ends at Whitetop Station on Whitetop Mountain.  Most people take a shuttle to Whitetop Station, bike downhill to the small town of Damascus, VA and end there – a nice 18 mile ride.  The second part of the trip from Damascus to Abingdon requires pedaling the entire way and is not quite as scenic as the upper part of the route, so it’s a bit less traveled.  Our original intent was to do the whole trail from Whitetop to Abingdon in two days.  However, the weather wasn’t cooperating, so if we wanted to do it, it would have to be done in 1 day.  While I was sure I could handle the first 18 miles, I wasn’t so sure about the last 16.3, but I’m a gamer, so off we went.

We rented our bikes from a local Damascus bike shop and I have to say that I had a few mixed feelings when I saw this verse painted on the back of the shuttle van:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

I thought, “Uh-oh, this may be more challenging than I anticipated.”  Undeterred, we hopped into the van, made our way to the top of the mountain, disembarked, then jumped on our bikes and off we went!

IMG_9517The first 7 miles or so were completely downhill, so all that was required was coasting and breaking.  The trail parallels Whitetop Laurel Creek which was just beautiful.  There were many wooden bridges along the way that offered lovely views of waterfalls, and panoramas of the area.  Eventually, a little pedaling was required, but only enough to maintain speed.  2-1/2 hours later, we made our way into Damascus.  At that point, we were feeling pretty good, so we decided to grab some lunch and give the second part of the trip a try.

IMG_9521The journey from Damascus to Abingdon was quite different.  Instead of bordering the creek, this part of the trip borders fields and pastures filled with livestock, as well as ponds and the occasional road crossing.  While the rumor is that this part of the trip is fairly level, (I still don’t buy that), it did require much more leg power to keep rolling.  And unfortunately for me, the last 3 miles or so were definitely uphill.

By the time we reached mile 25, I could tell I was running out of steam.  Usually, I always have some song running through my head, especially when I’m exercising.  So I switched from the gentle songs I had been singing, to ones with a more robust tempo.  I don’t know why, but the old hymn, “Shall We Gather by the River?” insisted on being sung the most.  While I don’t think I ever sing that song outside of a bike hike, it does have a great tempo and downbeat to keep you going!

By the last 3 miles, I was losing even more steam.  If Uber was available on the trail, I might have made a phone call.  At this point, I remembered the verse from the van, and began to say it in my head and eventually, I was saying it out loud.  I knew the Apostle Paul wasn’t writing about a bike hike, but I wanted to claim that verse for strength anyway.  Frequently during this portion, my husband would bike along side me letting me know that he was confident that I could finish and encouraging me to keep going.

2 miles to go – I remembered the verse from Proverbs, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”, so I began chanting, “I think I can.  I think I can.”  One mile to go my chant was down to “Think-Can, Think-Can” and by the time we were on the last quarter mile all I could get out was “Th–Cuh, Th–Cuh”.  A total of 3-1/2 hours later, exhausted, but feeling elated, we coasted into the parking lot  where the shuttle van was waiting to welcome us back like a hot cup of cocoa on a snowy day.

Mountain hikingI went on this trek thinking that I would enjoy some time outside, view the lovely fall colors and spend some much needed time with my husband.  I did do all of that, but there was so much more!  I also received a physical, emotional and spiritual reminder of what life has been like for me over the past year or so and how figuratively lacing up my boots, putting one foot in front of the other, relying on family and God, particularly when things are difficult, can lead me to unexpected, beautiful, and satisfying places.

I’m sure there will be times in my future when I’ll be down to “Th–Cuh, Th–Cuh” again, but I’ll remember the Creeper Trail, tighten up my boot laces, and “Gather by the River” once more.

An Invitation!

Copy of New Direction
Painting Party

Recently some of my Through Thick and Thin and New Direction® Facebook friends thought it would be fun to get together and finally meet in person, so we came up with an event and you all are invited!

Join us for a painting party on Nov. 10th from 10-2 being held at Delaware Valley Christian Church in Media, PA. We’ll have some fun learning how to paint a New Direction® inspired painting, we’ll have some time for lunch (bring your own), and then I’ll share a portion of my hot-off-the-presses “Holiday Survival Guide”.  Everyone will get a copy to take home. The cost is $30 and is payable at the door (cash, please). You do not need to be a member of New Direction to attend, but you must RSVP by Nov. 7. Just click here to let me know you’re coming.  Hope to see you there!

Holiday Survival Cover Vertical2

 

Freedom!

Live in Freedom PicI’m feeling a bit reflective today. Don’t know if it’s the change in the weather or because I was awake at 4:00am this morning (Note to self:  your body is not quite ready for spicy food), but I’m feeling the need to take a look back at this journey I’ve been on.

This time two years ago, I was a slave to food. There’s no other way I can put that. Food was a constant in my brain and I could see no way of escape. My weight had soared to an unimaginable height and if things didn’t change, I was headed for real trouble.

Of course, I continued to try to lose weight, but it seemed like every time I tried, the distance between start and failure shortened. In the spring of last year, I gave it one last “college try”, and was able to last a whole 3 days. At that point, I threw up my hands, and said, “God, I got nothin’. What do you have?”  Oh, if I only knew to ask that question years ago! What anguish it could have saved me!

God answered that prayer so fully that it still overwhelms me. I thought I was asking how to get physically healed, but God knew that wasn’t the only problem! I needed to be emotionally and spiritually healed as well. And that day He showed me that He’d already begun the healing process with me years ago and now it was time to pull it all together.

He “pulled it all together” by putting me on the New Direction® program and by inspiring me to write Through Thick and Thin. New Direction® certainly dealt with the physical side of things, and Through Thick and Thin has allowed me to start integrating the lessons God had been teaching me. He revealed some pretty significant truths to me through the writing process and I guess that’s what I’m thinking about today.

First truth?  I got nothin’.  Oh, I used to think I had something.  I used to think I was all that and a bag of chips, but no.  In the whole world of somethings, I got nothin’. Yes, I am a capable person.  Yes, I have some skills and some talents.  Yes, I make a mean meatball and can bring a classroom of third graders to full attention, but when it comes to knowing how to live my life apart from the tyranny of food – I got nothin’.

 It wasn’t until I finally surrendered to that truth that I finally found true freedom!  Who knew that giving up would bring victory?!? Um, that would be Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

 That’s the second truth:  apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.  Seriously.  I couldn’t even stay on a stupid diet for 3 days!  But, I asked God what He would want me to do, He answered, I listened, I trusted and I took action, and here I am a year and a half later having lost half of my starting body weight and have kept it off for six months!  Seriously – apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

This practice of remaining in Jesus has been essential to my healing process.  What does it look like to remain in Jesus? Well, for me, it looks a little like this:

Trust:  I trust that God knows me so much better than I know myself and I trust that whatever He asks me to do, I can do with His help.

Pray: To find out what God wants me to do, I need to ask Him.  I need to stay in constant conversation with Him. So, as I go about my day, I include Him in my inner dialog (and sometimes my outer dialog).  I continually ask Him for feedback, for direction, for motivation, for strength, for endurance, for patience, for clarity, for wisdom, for peace, for…..  You get the idea.

Listen:  Prayer is not a one-way conversation.  I’m not just talking to myself. I’m talking to the God who created the universe!  So, it’s important that I listen for what He has to say. I wish hearing God was as easy as calling a friend or reading a text, but really, it’s not as hard as you may think.  When I’m paying attention, I can literally feel God speaking to me.  And that’s the key: I have to pay attention!

Sometimes He speaks through other people.  Sometimes someone will say exactly the thing that I needed to hear in exactly the moment I needed to hear it.  That’s God. Sometimes I’ll hear a song and the lyrics will speak directly to what I’m going through.  That’s God. Sometimes I’ll “hear” a voice inside me, not in the “You need to see a psychiatrist” kind of way, but more in the I know what I know what I know kinda way.  That’s God too and that’s how God sent me to New Direction.  I just knew that this was what He wanted me to do.

One of the best ways I’ve found to listen to God is through reading the Bible.  That book is pretty awesome. I’ve been slugging my way through reading the entire thing this year and while some portions of it are pretty tough to get through (Have you ever read the book of Numbers?  Even the name….), the entirety of the book is nothing short of miraculous.  God has spoken to me countless times through His words. Such encouragement, strength, and love I’ve found there.  Here a just a few of my favorite things God has said to me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:37-39

Trusting, praying, listening – these three things have been vital to my success in living a healthier physical, emotional and spiritual life.  By trusting God, praying and listening to Him, I have been freed from my former life of slavery. I thank God that while on my own, I may have nothing, but with Him, I’ve got more than enough.