Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lay Down the Weight, Run with Endurance

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Hebrews 12:1-3

My life. at this moment. on how God wants me to handle this battle I'm in:

God wants me to sacrifice my body's desires to over-eat, and to seek Him and His plan for me, to lay aside all my fleshly lusts, to not grab a second/third/fourth helping of food, to not eat if I am really not physically hungry. To not conform to this world's teachings of, "eat to feel better, you deserve it, that's healthy, you won't gain weight with it..." and to renew my mind with, "PRAY and you will feel better, you deserve death but God in His mercy offered up His Son to die for your sins so in Him you have eternal life, food can wait until I am physically hungry again..." - it is not about weight, it is all about honoring God in everything I do (and, news flash: over-eating bananas is just as bad as over-eating chocolate cake. food is food. too much of it will make you sick - read Proverbs 25:16).

How do I expect to be used in the body of God if all I think about is food? All I do is over-eat and then feel condemned and over-stuffed, physically sick, sad and surprisingly, still empty about it all? God calls me to abhor idolatry (looking to food to feel good, worshiping a certain body type) and to cling to what is good- loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and loving my neighbor as myself, honoring Him in all I do. All for His glory.

Ameeeeen!


He kept on asking me to make a garbage truck out of play-dough. It worked for a few weeks, then he kept getting mad at me for apparently not doing it right. So I gave him a toy truck instead, and dedicated my play-dough creations to garbage for the dump truck. Problem solved!





Monday, October 13, 2014

Truth Journaling #4

The 4th and final truth journaling practice I tried the other day that amazed me (from Taste for Truth bible study, Day 24):

Situation: Food is controlling my every thought/action - I want a second & third serving of food.
Emotions: Exhaustion. Anger.
Thoughts: I can't stop eating. Good have more control over me than Jesus does. I want to say no but it looks too good. I want more because it tastes and feels good. Just one more bite just one more tortilla just one more portion. This is going to taste amazing and make me feel much better.

Truths:
  1.  If I walk in the Spirit I won't satisfy the desires of my flesh - so walk in the Spirit! Right now I am fully walking in the flesh alone and that's why I am ready to eat, eat, eat. Food has no control over me, food is lifeless, powerless and my KING is Almighty and Powerful!
  2.  I can say, "no!" It looks good, yes, because it is good. I can save it for later. I don't need it now. My body will take it as trash because I'm not even hungry. I can fully enjoy it as a nourishing gift from God later when I am hungry.
  3. I can have more later it will not feel good right now. it will taste good only a minute then I will probably have a stomachache.
  4.  I don't need another bite of anything! I CAN WAIT!
  5.  This will taste good for 2 minutes-tops! maybe! I will feel good for 2 minutes then I will feel sick and over-full, sad and weary. it. hurts. my. body. to over-eat.
Whew.
I think on this particular day I did this study after I had over-eaten at dinner. But it still prepares me for the next time I am tempted to over-do it at mealtime.

Remember: you're never too deep in the mess to renew your mind with scripture and truth. I have to remind myself of this. I would, of course, much rather renew my mind before making a mistake, but doing it afterward is helps me grow, and feel peace even after falling. 




He does this new thing. Where he eats with his eyes closed. Bahahaha





Saturday, October 11, 2014

What's Really Going On?

You know when you're in a situation where you truly believe that the world around you is falling into pieces, and you aren't going to make it through, and your mind is in a fog, your eyes cannot see the light, your body cannot find strength, and all hope is lost.

Guess what? Those are all lies. Try replacing them with what's really going on. (Truth journaling: an art I learned from Barb Raveling on how to renew your mind) Basically you write down everything you are feeling in quick, short sentences - don't give yourself too much work, keep it down to less than 10 thoughts - then number them, and slowly write out the truth on the situation.

The enemy likes for us to just feel and not dig deeper - so make him angry and make your God smile by replacing the overwhelming lies with the truth in the moment and the truth of God's word.

Exhibit A: being a parent is so hard. my child won't let me do anything. i am getting little sleep. he is so clingy it annoys me sometimes. his night terrors scare me i don't know what to do.

Dig deeper....
  1. Being a parent is so hard: truth ~ it is hard, but God is my strength and He can carry me through the hard parts.
  2. My child won't let me do anything: lie ~ I can actually do a lot, his tantrums last for less than a handful of minutes. 
  3. I am getting little sleep: lie ~ well, sort of true ~ on vacation, we get less sleep because Santi sleeps in the room with us and is usually a mess, but at home I actually sleep much more than I need to (usually) and Santi is a great sleeper. With regards to vacation time.... yes, I get little sleep... but Jesus says, "come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest!" so. do that. tell Him you're sleepy. Go to bed earlier.
  4. He is so clingy, it annoys me: truth ~  But Santi needs his mama at this time. One day he won't want a hug at all. Let him cling to you. Squeeze him and take it all in, even if your enchiladas are getting cold.
  5. His night terrors scare me, I don't know what to do: truth ~ I need to pray over him at night Pray for him to trust God, to feel God's presence and peace. I need to cast my care upon the Lord.
Seriously? When I was done with this (I did this down in Mexico toward the end of August) I felt so, so much peace. The entire moment changed, my mindset was God-led and not focused on myself. I need to do this more often! Like, every 5 minutes! Try it!

Exhibit B: I want to be a certain size (muscular, with complete self-control in food/exercise), I will feel better that way, then I can do other things besides one body image/weight issues bible study after another. I don't like the current body I have, I feel uncomfortable and have recently gained weight that makes me feel gross. Everyone that is at the size/body type that I want obviously has complete self-control and is full of joy. (haha, don't laugh, I was in an emotional state and these are the stupid things that came to my mind and screamed TRUTH! oh gosh)

  1. Aaaaactually... I want to be holy. Reaching a "certain size/body type" will not make me feel better. I am to focus on godliness. now. that's the only thing that is going to satisfy my heart right now and every day following.
  2. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) and really, what else do I expect after 6+ months of over-eating? Do I really expect to have not gained any weight? To have an itty-bitty waist and zero extra pounds hanging around? What can I do to not continue to gain weight? Maybe.... stop over-eating? I feel gross because the current culture tells me that weight gain is condemning and disgusting. I feel gross because I am not focused on the Word of God, I am focused on the words of the men and women around me. Glorify God in my eating, and I will reach the weight that honors Him - even if it's this new weight - just seek to please HIM and have peace in your body, Nicole!
  3. Everyone else has their own struggles, their own battles, their own wars. STOP focusing on them. Skinnier, healthier, stronger people are not 100% immune from spiritual battles. And if I reach a certain body type that I find "acceptable" guess what? I will still have a war going on. That's what this life is about. It's not heaven yet. I will still struggle, just with something new. 
Really, I recommend you try this next time you're in a whirl-wind of crazy emotions. Even in more serious states that don't include toddler tantrums or body image issues... Write down your feelings, and write down the truths that overcome the lies. 









Thursday, October 9, 2014

Moms (of toddlers) that Eat their Feelings

Barb Raveling wrote a book called I Deserve a Donut (and other lies that make you eat) and the other day I feeling quite angry and annoyed at my lovely son, Santiago James. Instead of going to God with my unsettled emotions, I decided to turn to food. It tasted good, felt good, made all feel just right in the world for just a moment, even though I was not hungry I ate, and ate, to numb the chaos before me. It didn't fix the situation, if you could guess, but I was able to examine my heart afterward and see what was really going on an what would really calm things down. I opened up the I Deserve a Donut app on my phone, and started answering the questions under "Emotions: Anger/Annoyance" - it blew. my. mind.

Why are you annoyed? Be specific. Santi is a pill. He screams. He gets his ways. He seems to have authority over us as his parents

Are you surprised by this person’s behavior? Why or why not? No. Because he is 2 years old.

Why does her behavior bother you so much? I can't do anything (eat in peace, have computer time, sleep, chat with family). I can't.... feed my selfishness.....

Do you think her behavior bothers God? Why or why not? No. well... yes. But He understands and is supremely patient with Santi, He is kind, slow to anger, knows that my toddler is a sinner just like me that needs a Savior, and isn't capable of really taking in his feelings right now and offering them up to Jesus. Again I say... he is 2 years old.

Do you think this person is open to change? No- I have to teach him, discipline him.

How do you think God wants you to respond to this person? Patiently, prayerfully, graciously, self-lessly


What would you need to give up, if anything, to respond the way God wants you to respond? my timing. my needs. my laziness...

Do you love God (or this person) enough to make that sacrifice? YES. I want to make this sacrifice to help Santi and to show God obedience.
Is there anything you need to accept? Again... Santiago is 2 years old. I need to guide him. He won't transform overnight, it takes time.

What do you think God wants to do for you in the midst of this difficult situation? Provide peace, hope, remind me to persevere and be firm. He wants me to discipline Santi (and God Himself will provide the wisdom to do so as I seek this from Him) because I love him, my son.
What can you thank God for in this situation? For Santiago's life. For hard times that remind me to run to Jesus and start seeing the world from His eyes, and not my narrow view of the situation that overwhelms me. I'm thankful that God has been my Father since before I was born, and He constantly guides and disciplines me ~ so I need to learn from His instruction and in turn guide and discipline Santi James.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Yep, you read that right, it even applies to our children: We are called to forgive them over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. No limit. There isn't a point when they stop needing it. There isn't a breaking point where you run out of the ability to forgive. Keep. on. forgiving them. They are fallen, wicked sinners just like you and I, and they need forgiveness, just like you and I. That's why Jesus Christ exists. to wash us clean, because we are rebellious messes.

1 Corinthians 13:7 (Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


You read it clearly, didn't you? Love bears all things, love bears toddlers and tantrums and chaotic melt downs right as you're about to sit down to a much-anticipated dinner. Love believes all things, love believes that life will go on, this chapter in your life will turn to something new, God is still with you, God still wants you to enjoy life, and God still gives you strength. Love hopes all things, hopes for a better life (the one after this one!) hopes for a happy moment (don't worry, it'll come in less than 10 minutes, believe me), hopes for the wisdom to raise wee-children into God-fearing adults. Loves endures all things, endures even the bowl of food that was thrown on the floor, the growling belly you own that craves the spaghetti on the table, the screams coming out of such a small pair of lungs, the fatigue that is calling out for a nap..

Colossians 3:12-14 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.


Bear everyone. Forgive everyone. Just as your King forgave you. Do as He did. Let's do as He does, daily.





The terrified look on Santi's face:




 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

YELL Truth at the Lies

Let's get a little personal, shall we? This was written on September 1st, as I needed to speak some rich truth in the midst of some anxiety I was feeling. Friends, this is how you are victorious over the heated discussions in your mind, the war zone currently in full swing, the battle field chaotic, the overwhelming thoughts of condemnation, fear, anxiety, worry, anger, depression, idolatry, sin... speak truth, no YELL TRUTH at the lies. Try it.

Rejoice in the Lord always, rejoice! Let my patience and gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry, or be anxious, or be stressed, or be troubled about anything, but in everything with prayer, pray about every unsettled feeling/thought that comes to mind! Praise God for every blessing; each small and large gift, be thankful for the moments that scare you and the moments that make you smile! Make all requests, hopes, wishes, needs, desires, known to God. Communicate with Him without ceasing. And God's peace, which far surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart in Christ Jesus. Imagine how deep, how wide, how far, how profound my Lord's peace is. Jesus Christ is the only mediator to God my Creator. Whatever true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, think about these things. I need to ask myself, next time I am unsettled, what is on my ind? Because if it's not honoring God I need to renew my mind. If I am thinking about over-eating, that is not lovely or worthy of praise. I f I am thinking about how poor someone's action are, that is not lovely or honorable. If I am thinking about how I long to have a certain body shape, in order to be beautiful and happy, that's not true. If I am thinking about how much I envy someone's photography skills, knowledge, or beauty, that is not pure. So my prayer is that the Lord may keep these words on my heart always. To rejoice always, to not be worried or stressed, to bring all requests to God with a thankful heart.

I'm so, so thankful to God for this trial, I am thankful for the unsettling feelings that constantly bring my focus back to the Lord. I am thankful for His understanding that I am both flesh and have a spirit, I will fall short but God is a God of grace and is accepting me with a warm embrace. Each time I run to my King with prayer and supplication, He listens to me, hears my cry, washes me clean with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, and I am made new. Every. single. time.

My God is all I need. and I am joyous, even in this mess.



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Blessed, Lacking nothing.

Okay, friends and family, I am back. Time to blog for reals and share what God is doing in my life.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. 
Psalm 34:8-10

The Lord is good; kind, just, merciful, gracious, always-present, holy, a giver, my maker, my King. When I run to Him, when I feel tempted to over-eat or eat my feelings (we laugh but we need to really just ask why food calms us and ask yourself why you don't look to Jesus, instead), and I ask Him for help instead of suppressing my anxious feelings with food, I am blessed. God Himself tells me this! As His Holy Spirit inspired the Psalmist to write "blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him" He is promising His children, His adopted sons and daughters, His followers, that when we look to Him for refuge and safety and peace, we are blessed, we are radiant (see Psalm 34:5). So... why do I look to a quick sugar fix to be my refuge when I am stressed out, in a time crunch, emotionally unstable because my toddler is literally screaming for my attention and I have exactly 23 minutes before my husband leaves for work and my kitchen counter is full of partially chopped fruit and veggies that need to be ready for the lunch bag sitting in front of me? Do I find calm refuge there? Do I feel blessed? Not at all. I feel even more on edge, even more unsettled and chaotic.

Fear the Lord, desire to obey what He calls me to do: to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, all my mind, to glorify Him whether I eat, or drink, or discipline my son, or talk to my spouse, or work, or exercise, or converse with my parents, or talk to the cashier at the grocery store, or have small talk with my atheist co-worker, or watch TV, or prepare the day's meal. Guess what? Those who fear GOD lack nothing. I don't need more food, or a thinner body, or more possessions or a higher job status or a bigger (or smaller) house or more money or less bills or more children or a more well-behaved child or the ability and motivation to run 5 miles every day or 12-pack abs or the brain and wisdom of a theologian or more time to be able to blog frequently or better photography skills so that can be my full-time job. I know this is making it sound like I indeed lack a whole lot but the truth is: When I fear, worship, honor Him with my life, I am at peace with what I have right now. I am content. And what I think I lack (the brain of a theologian would be ideal) I can pray for, go through the necessary means to obtain, God willing, (in the theologian's case that would be to study, read, study, read, read, read, study, memorize, etc) and find.

Matthew Henry comments (my bold/underlines added):

Fear the Lord; that is, worship him, and make conscience of your duty to him in every thing, not fear him and shun him, but fear him and seek him (v. 10) as a people seek unto their God; address yourselves to him and portion yourselves in him. To encourage us to fear God and seek him, it is here promised that those that do so, even in this wanting world, shall want no good thing (Heb. They shall not want all good things ); they shall so have all good things that they shall have no reason to complain of the want of any. As to the things of the other world, they shall have grace sufficient for the support of the spiritual life (2 Co. 12:9 ; Ps. 84:11 ); and, as to this life, they shall have what is necessary to the support of it from the hand of God: as a Father, he will feed them with food convenient. What further comforts they desire they shall have, as far as Infinite Wisdom sees good, and what they want in one thing shall be made up in another. What God denies them he will give them grace to be content without and then they do not want it, Deu. 3:26 . Paul had all and abounded, because he was content, Phil. 4:11, Phil. 4:18 . Those that live by faith in God’s all-sufficiency want nothing; for in Him they have enough.

When I truly, really, fully seek the Lord, I lack no. good. thing. And I really appreciate Henry's words regarding when God denies us, because He does, so believe it. When God does deny us something, let's say we are praying for a second baby for 5, or 10 years, guess what our King provides? grace to be content without and then we do not want it, we want more of Him, instead. Of course, if you let 5 or more years go by and this does end up being our situation, it isn't "easy as pie" to feel His grace and peace to be content in the situation, but this Psalm makes it seem like it is indeed easy. Just seek God. Just look to Him. Just eat at His table daily in prayer, worship, and the reading of His word.

We can get by with exactly what we have in this moment, we can have peace with less and we can have peace with more. Only because God is our Creator and our Shepherd who leads us, trust in Him.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Santiago James: 2 Years Old!

So... our child turned two years old. This is wild. Remember when he was a baby that didn't talk, walk, smile, chew, scream, throw tantrums, read book, or watch YouTube videos of garbage trucks? I sure don't.

For his bday, we made the slight mistake of renting out a place at a park, renting tables and chairs, ordering 20 grilled chickens, spending $430982392738249 on other food, decor, and party bags, then inviting every human being we know, expecting all of them and their offspring and their friends and distant relatives to come, so making enough food for all of them, their neighbors, and their bosses...

...and we ended up with, in all honestly, a beautiful group of friends and family. But with that, came enough leftovers/untouched food to feed a medium-sized village. No regrets. Just a lot of party planning that I stressed over, and I didn't need to. It was a blessing from God, though, to visit with friends and family, to give the food that wasn't eaten to future hungry bellies. It really broke through Eduardo and my slightly anti-social comfort bubble, too. Which was a good thing. Goodness me we are the last people to throw a big party that we have to host at, it just doesn't seem to come naturally to us to keep up good conversation with a large crowd. God surprised us both, though, and continues to work in us to break down those social barriers and love the people in our life more.










Thank you to all who were able to come and make this day so special to us, and to Santi. 'Cause I know he'll look back on these pictures some day.. maybe.. if blogs even exist in 10 years, and enjoy his 2nd birthday bash all over again.

Side notes: 
  • Santi chewed on licorice for the first time. I think I noticed Edu taking it out of his hand and tossing it in the trash. There were no tears shed, though, as Santi doesn't even know what licorice is, let alone the fact that it's supposed to taste good...
  • We invited over 100 people, and less than 60 came
  • The pinatas were made with cardboard boxes from my hubby's job (a computer company), along with clear packing tape and acrylic paint
  • We purchased close to $100 in candy for the party bags and the pinata fillings
  • Putting plastic table cloths on wooden table with packing tape in the wind causes me great stress and discouragement
  • The tres leches cake was made in my home with eggs, milk, white flour, white sugar, vanilla, and condensed milk, evaporated milk, whipping cream and full-fat milk. Oh. and kiwi, since we're vegan (bahahaha)
  • I blew out Santiago's "2" birthday candle. It wasn't him. I hardly gave him a chance. I feel bad about it.
  • We didn't give Santi his own piece of cake, since he had already eaten 34 pounds of pasta, 42 pieces of bread, and 4 family-sized bags of tortilla chips. That, and apparently his blood tests tell us he is allergic to milk. We didn't feel like testing it at the moment of the party. I didn't have Benadryl on hand, anyhow.
  • I accidentally opened 70% of his gifts, then realized he hadn't opened any, so I let him take over from there. The moment he opened his first truck toy, the grin on his face was aaamazingly cute and filled all with joy.




 








Some may wonder... what are we planning on doing for his 3 year birthday party? Well... it'll probably look something like this... one 3 year old. a mom. a dad. a grandma. a grandpa. cake. the end!