There is no time like the present…

“For the next 60 days, try to stay in a continuous, honest conversation with God, willing to do his will moment by moment.”

SoulRevolution.net

This is the beginning of a challenge put forth by John Burke in his soon to be released book, Soul Revolution: How Imperfect People Become All God Intended.

John Burke spoke at the Leadership Summit and lodged some serious nuggets in my brain.

I missed out on being able to buy an advanced copy of his book.  🙁  Sadly, I was unaware that it had not yet hit stores, so I just figured I’d pick one up from Amazon.  It will not be shipped until October 1.

But God is moving in my mind and in my heart.  I am going to start the challenge by myself, right now.  Life’s too short, and this is too important, to put off until later.

Anyone want to join me?

The Practice of the Presence of God

I found this book in my boss’s office a couple of years ago and asked if I could read it. It isn’t very long, and can be difficult to read (Brother Lawrence was a seventeenth-century French Monk), but it is well worth it.

I lost track of the borrowed (and returned) book, but finally re-found and purchased it for myself. I am reading it once again and would like to share a passage with you that I feel I should read on a daily basis…

Being questioned by one of his own society (to whom he was obliged to open himself) by what means he had attained such an habitual sense of God, he told him that, since his first coming to the monastery, he had considered God as the end of all his thoughts and desires, as the mark to which they should tend, and in which they should terminate.

That in the beginning of his novitiate he spent the hours appointed for private prayer in thinking of God, so as to convince his mind of, and to impress deeply upon his heart, the divine existence, rather by devout sentiments, and submission to the lights of faith, than by studied reasonings and elaborate meditations. That by this short and sure method he exercised himself in the knowledge and love of God, resolving to use his utmost endeavor to live in a continual sense of His presence, and if possible never to forget Him more.

That when he had thus in prayer filled his mind with great sentiments of that infinite Being, he went to his work appointed in the kitchen (for he was cook to the society). There having first considered severally the things his office required, and when how each thing was to be done, he spent all the intervals of his time, as well before as after his work, in prayer.

That when he began his business, he said to God, with a filial trust in Him: ‘O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.’

As he proceeded in his work he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His grace, and offering to Him all his actions.

When he had finished he examined himself how he had discharged his duty; if he found well, he returned thanks to God; if otherwise, he asked pardon, and without being discouraged, he set his mind right again, and continued his exercise of the presence of God as if he had never deviated from it. ‘Thus,’ said he, ‘by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to it.”

As Brother Lawrence had found such an advantage in walking in the presence of God, it was natural for him to recommend it earnestly to others; but his example was a stronger inducement than any arguments he could propose. His very countenance was edifying, such a sweet and calm devotion appearing in it as could not but affect the beholders. And it was observed that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen he still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. ‘The time of business,’ said he, ‘does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence, pp. 28-30

Ok, so now what?

What does it mean when I’m not seeing any effects from my efforts? Does it mean that God isn’t answering prayers? Does it mean I am not working hard enough?

Or, more likely, does it mean that I am being given the opportunity to learn patience and perseverance?

I was so angry last night about my weight staying the same that I reverted to some old behavior and ate junk in the evening. Now I realize that I wasn’t behaving rationally. Spoiled rotten was more the mode. Today, I have repented (as I often do the next morning) and intend for today to be a day of fasting until I truly, unquestionably, hunger.

Katrina wrote a post this morning over at Faith Lifts about hungering and thirsting and it made me realize that we are called to not eat until we truly HUNGER. Not we feel like we might be hungry, or food sounds good, but when we are driven by our physical state to consume food. My eating has not been like that for a very long time.

One thing I am truly happy about though is that I’m on track with my physical exercise. I am still Walking the Walk with Leslie and it feels good. That’s one challenge I’m managing to participate in fully!

Well, enough for this morning. I have much to do. Have a blessed day!

Deprioritization of food

Ok, not even sure if that is a word, (too lazy to look it up), but I realized tonight that I need to “accentuate the positive” rather than focusing all my time and energy attempting to “eliminate the negative”.

Meaning – I am going to spend my time in the Word, listening to my heavenly Father, and am going to add things to my life like exercise and water and play time with J5 (and play time with J4!). Part of the insight that I believe God gave me while viewing the video with my mother the other day is that we become what we focus on. When I am doing diet plans, even ones as wonderful as Thin Within, I am still paying a great deal of attention to my “relationship with food”. Food is still on my mind a great deal, even if I am working hard to think positive thoughts. What I would like to be is free.

Free of thinking about food at all. I know I need to eat it, but I don’t think I am EVER going to be truly free until it doesn’t occupy precious mind space anymore.

I have still been very overwhelmed lately. It is getting better. I am spending time in the morning with my Bible, a Beth Moore book, and my calendar, prioritizing my day. Being a PT WAHM, (closer to SAHM than I used to be) I am finding that I need a lot more internal motivation than I realized. It is SO easy to become a couch potato. Not that there aren’t things to do, but without deadlines and requirements and external pressures, it can be a struggle. Add to that a touch of depression and you’re in for a sludgy lifestyle.

I purchased a DVD online last week. Leslie Sansone’s Walk The Walk: Miles 1 and 2. It lets you do a walking exercise routine in your living room. The one mile routine takes about 17 minutes. I’ve done it once. It was a workout! I can’t believe just how out of shape I’ve become – even with all day toy-pickup-patrol!

Anyway, I’ve decided that I am going to try an alternative approach. I’ve been “doing” Thin Within or some similar variation of it for so long – and my methods aren’t working. I am NOT saying that Thin Within doesn’t work. I am sure that it does, but right now I am not working Thin Within. So. On to another strategy. I am going to refocus – onto Christ. Onto doing things that benefit my Temple.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

Positive Thinking, Hope, and Faith

I have needed something to light the fire of my faith. A kick start. And God has done so in a way I was not expecting. Using a potentially controversial book called The Secret. The book itself isn’t what changed me. In fact, I haven’t even read it yet. I did watch about half of the video, but not enough to utilize it in the way it was intended.

I realized that all of my striving has been toward controlling my surroundings and my actions. And that striving left me exhausted, demoralized and depressed. What I hadn’t put my energy into was changing my thoughts.

My thought life is the one thing I do have the power to change. What “The Secret” proposed was that by thinking positive, positive things will, by the “Law of Attraction”, have to come to you. But I’m not writing to talk about all the things this book suggested, just to try to verbalize what I’ve been mulling over.

In an attempt to be “real” I have spent most of my life trying to listen to myself. To understand myself. To be guided by my “inner truth”. The problem with doing that is that I don’t have the answers. Well, I do have some. I know what I feel. I know what I lack. I know my pain and my need.

It’s time for me to get out of my head, and start expressing my gratitude and trust in my Abba Father. He’s the one with the answers. He’s the one with the plan, the grace, the blessings, the goodness. He IS it all.

The book talks about sending the right messages out to the universe. Why limit myself? I’m going to aim even higher! I want to have a living, breathing, daily relationship with the CREATOR of the universe.

So, yes, I will be doing a lot more positive thinking – in the form of praising God for what he has done, what he is already doing, and what he has planned to do for me, in me, with me.

My eyes have been on me. It’s time to get them up and focused on the amazing-ness that is God. He WILL change me. He WILL set me free. He WILL pull me out of the pit, and set my feet on solid ground. He has promised it, he already has the works in process, I just need to agree to go along for the ride! I need to cooperate with Him. I need to trust that the promises he made are already on their way! And they are. I am so very excited to see what’s in store!!!

Engagement and Accountability

No, I’m not talking about the marital kind of engagement. I’m talking about the mental kind. One of the things I know about myself is that when I am facing stress, especially common stress, and it builds up to the point where I am about to be squished, I disengage. I detach. I hate extreme emotions. They scare me. Funny, even “hate” seems like an extreme emotion, but that’s how I feel about having intense feelings.

I would rather eat until I am numb than feel something that disturbs me. I am afraid I will take action on the feelings. Feelings aren’t real. Emotions are just a disturbance. They happen outside of my happy little world of control. I feel ashamed when I lose control of my emotions and take actions based on them rather than on logic or plan.

So, I do everything in my power to disengage from my feelings. If I can somehow disable them, then I can’t be controlled by them, right?

Funny, I didn’t start out here trying to talk about emotional engagement, but I guess it’s all related. When I am in a funk, and don’t know what to do, I disengage from interaction with any groups that are related to weight loss. I am involved in a couple of Thin Within online groups. I have a few friends who are very involved and give me a lot of encouragement. But when I’m “failing”, when I am not doing what I “should”, I disengage. Which starts the downward spiral into deeper depression.

I’m blogging about this today in response to a friend who has the courage today to blog her “backslide“, and her real state of affairs. I want to be honest. Doing so to the “internets” seems about as “out there” as it can get. I guess seeing how things really are is a first step, yes?

So, I’m attempting to “engage”. I am reaching out for accountability. That’s why I started the May Day Challenge – in an attempt to force my own hand and get me back out there – living – instead of hiding and eating and disengaging.

Gotta run, J5 has a play group in less than half an hour and I have yet to get dressed. Time to “Engage the Day”.

Learning

Well, I learned today that I still have my free and stubborn will.

Tomorrow is another day. One in which His mercies will be new, and I can take a step in his direction rather than in my own.

Would be so easy to just give up…but I cannot.

Nothing to say today

I just wrote a really long email to my friend, Heidi, so most of my heart was just poured out there and I don’t have much to say. I will however, share that this post she wrote makes a lot of sense and will undoubtedly impact future posts of mine.

Turning around

The prodigal’s first right step was to turn around – to face home.

When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
Luke 15:17-24

It would be as ridiculous for me to continue to live in this way as it was for the lost son. I want to be found. I’m ready for the party to begin!

Weapons Not of this World

[This is my devotional for today over at Faith Lifts. Please, take a look over there and see some great articles by some wonderful Christian women! A Group Blog for Christian Moms ]

I struggle with my weight. It’s a battle I have fought, won, re-lost, tied, surrendered, revolted, and yielded so many times, I sometimes get sick of talking about it. But I have come to realize that is exactly what Satan wants. He wants me defeated. Or even worse, he wants me to pretend that nothing is even wrong! He wants me distracted and deceived, but I am a child of God and determined not to let myself become “easy pickings”!!

I recently listened to a heartfelt podcast by a woman named Crystal Munson. She was speaking on the topic of gluttony. After hearing her testimony, I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that my problem with overeating is in fact gluttony, and therefore is sin. (Please note, I am not attempting to convince anyone that their struggles with being overweight is due to gluttony – that issue is completely between each individual and the Holy Spirit – I’m just sharing what’s going on with me. 🙂 I do believe, however, that the scripture I’m about to share applies to any struggle with sin that God wants us to defeat.)

So, the next step for me was to try to figure out how to fight sin in my life. Sounds easy right?!? Ha.

I knew I needed direction from scripture. I will tell you right now, I have read so many Bible studies and Christian books and blogs on strongholds lately that I don’t know which of them talked about this Scripture. Though, I would love to give credit where credit is due, I guess ultimately the credit belongs to the Holy Spirit. He brought the scripture to mind as I questioned my next steps. What came to mind was the phrase “take every thought captive”. So I used my trusty BibleGateway.com toolbar and found this:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So, let’s see…

  1. Our weapons are not the weapons of the world – To me this means I do not need to look to Hollywood for what makes them successful. My tools of success won’t be coming from things I see on infomercials, or from Dr. Phil, or Oprah. Ok, so where do they come from? I must read on….
     
  2. Our weapons demolish strongholds – The stronghold that sin has taken up in the dead center of my life can’t stand up against “our weapons”. That sounds promising…!
     
  3. Weapon #1 – Demolish anything that blocks the knowledge of God – For me, that’s anything that gets in the way of my morning prayer and Bible study time. When I don’t actively put my “Getting to know God Time” first thing in my day, it gets blocked and procrastinated and de-prioritized so quickly it’s almost a lost cause. Getting to know God is not something that happens naturally. Satan’s forces actively work to get in the way of that. Why? Because that is where the all the Power lies. If we become separated from God, we’re powerless!
     
  4. Weapon #2 – Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ – Does anyone else see how amazingly powerful this is? If I can stop my gluttony when it is in the *thought* stages, before it becomes action? Then the battle can be won! If my self indulgent thoughts are allowed to wander freely in my mind, they become comfortable. Easy. Familiar. Then when Satan comes up and lays a ripe opportunity in front of me, the step into a sinful action is smooth. I lose the battle with almost no struggle.
     

Do you struggle with things that block your knowledge of God? What are some practical ways to help take thoughts captive and obedient to Christ? Please, share your reaction to this scripture. I’d love to hear more thoughts on this!