The binge-purge cycle of our consumer-driven world (Guest Post by Lorretta Stembridge)

Every new January, I find myself mentally and emotionally traveling back to the top of that heap of months where the view is fresh and the air is clear and the days seem to endlessly trip over one another with their blank calendar whitenesses just waiting to be filled with the hopes and dreams for a coming year. There’s something so refreshing and hopeful found in taking down that raggety-edged, worn out old calendar and putting up another one, still shiny and slippery-slick with newness between my fingers.
I think the equation goes something like this:

new year + new resolve (x) new beginnings = new me. (tweet)

Right?

If only it was that easy. Yet, somehow, that’s the way we’ve been conditioned by the world to behave and believe.
I’m über-amused this time of year while waiting in the grocery store checkout line and I see the shelves that for two solid months held rich delicacies and delights, and those ridiculous magazines covered with this seasons “must-have” gifts, bodies, outfits and hair, and recipes for luxuriously decadent holiday meals and desserts….
THOSE SAME SHELVES are now weighed down with exercise equipment and weight loss programs, diet plans and workout clothes. Just two months ago, I could get the recipe and ingredients for the most luscious cheesecake on the planet and now I need to focus on the best bikini butt by summer!

Seriously?!! Do they think I’m that stupid?
Maybe I am.
Or maybe I have been before.

No, not about the crazy binge/purge cycle this consumer-driven world promotes…
… but I have, in the last year, learned a very important thing about myself probably just as sinister.

Fact is, if I’m not very, very careful I can be easily seduced.

There. I said it.

Fact is, I’m convinced, unless they are comatose or living in a hole,
every living person has a “price.” (tweet)

Call it “habit”, weakness or whatever… there’s a little something in us all where, if we are not intentionally anchored to the truth, we’ll find ourselves easily swayed by the “latest” movement or emotion or teaching or fad…whatever.

I know this because I’ve been what the bible calls a “weak woman”.
Ouch.
Yes… this one….here:

“…weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7 ESV)

No, not on purpose…who really decides to be this way on purpose? But it’s an area I have to guard because Satan would love to have his way with me again. People pleasing. Weak. Easily swayed.

The truth of this hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday as I was trying to write this first 2013 post announcing what “one word” God has been speaking to me for the coming year. I wanted to be pretty and profound…full of grace, deep meaning and beauty.

And I couldn’t do it.
I watched the minutes give way to hours. I changed positions and locations and started over more than ten times. And each time I was left chasing the wind.
Why?

Because I was writing for you.
Because I was writing for me.

And that’s not why I must write.
Not really.

It’s not why I hammered my stake into this piece of blogosphere almost one full year ago.
No, then and now, I was brought to this place from past pain, having looked dead in the face of my own depravity, led through the purging fire by the loving hand of God…. to testify….

to give an answer for the hope I have and you can have… because of Jesus Christ.

And it’s at the beginning of this new year that I wish to be absolutely honest and clear in all I do for our sake and for those who may join us in the coming year because we must be anchored deeply so that

“…we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.
We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Ephesians 4:14-16

It’s that important.

I said this to a dear friend today: “To whom much is given, much will be required.” which is drawn from Luke 12:48 and a difficult teaching from Jesus.
All too often we decide this means we’ll give from our happy blessings. And we should. But it also means we should give and give deeply from the wells of blessing we’ve dug and discovered through lessons learned the hard way: In pain.
Not to be morose or joyless but
true
because there’s HOPE.

This will be my “new year” resolution (slightly shaped by Jonathan Edwards) based on this word and this privilege God has given me to walk in for 2013:
Yield

With His help, I can and will learn what it means to yield.
Not simply yielding to just anything or anyone….
but to

The Call.
His voice, His word.

And, also, as the word in Psalm 1 reveals….
there will be a “yield” as a result. It’s His promise as I stay planted, abiding with Him and blooming wherever it is
He plants me.

More to come on that later. Join me?
There will be few changes around here for the coming year.

Perhaps we’ll eat some cheesecake…who cares about bikini butts anyway? Blessings!


(guest post by Loretta Stembridge at Dancing on the Dash)


*2nd edition of Chasing Silhouettes now available HERE

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in which i boast of my weakness (guest post by anita mathias)

I have steadily gained weight since I left school which means I am now 115 pounds heavier than I was then! I have been tempted to consider my tendency to gain weight as a thorn in my (literal) flesh, a weakness. You know, bad metabolism, low thyroid, la-di-da.

Well, all somewhat true, and I could accept it as a thorn in the flesh to live with, as people accept ME or CFS—except that, in my case, there is sin involved, and sin is never, never to be accepted, but to be striven against, and conquered (I believe!).

I recently admitted the part sin had played in my weight gain and repented deeply. For me, eating chocolate or sweet treats is sin because my body simply does not need it. So I am abusing a body which is already slowed down with extra weight. Similarly, eating for pleasure when not hungry, or to medicate low spirits, stress or boredom–especially eating things not super-nutritious for my body–is abusing the body and “temple” God gave me.

Or to put it another way, it’s the sin of seeking comfort in anything except other than the Comforter. Idolatry: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jer. 2:13).

(And since that deep repentance in mid-October, I have not bought chocolate or sugary treats, save for a magnificent Pere Noel Stollen in Luxembourg, shaped like a huge Santa Claus that ogled me!!)

Believe it or not, I only acknowledged that comfort eating or emotional eating was a weakness of mine earlier this year. I am not yet wholly free of it–it was a habit of decades after all–but do substitute raisins or popcorn for chocolate or crisps (potato chips for Indian and American readers!)

And perhaps the next step will be not to eat at all if I am not hungry, but do something else. Run, perhaps, which also gives a high and a healthy one. Garden. Pray!

* * *

This is how I am now training myself to think about food: Is what I am planning to eat a blessing or a curse to my body?

What’s a curse to my body? Sugar, chocolate, white flour, white rice, high-fat foods, or, indeed, anything eaten when I am not hungry (since I am overweight). What is a blessing to my body? Fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, and seeds, in particular

I’ve been largely vegan for 3 weeks, following Dr. Furhman’s brilliant diet (which is fruit, vegetables, beans, soups, and salads as a main meal) but not entirely so.
* * *

Peter in Acts 10 sees a great sheet lowered from heaven with clean and unclean animals. He refuses to eat.
“Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Tim 4:4.

No food God made is “bad.” On the other hand, many foods man has made are not good for us. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which is smuggled into pretty much every processed or fast food, are deeply addictive, and according to the New York Times, toxic, and so our family is cutting out sugar and as many processed foods as possible, even making our own hummus and dressings. Yeah, hard-core!!
* * *

Alcoholics Anonymous is a brilliant organization, and much of their wisdom can be applied to self-medication with food. Realize that you cannot break this habit on your own, and that you need help.

They have an acronym HALT for times when alcoholics might be most tempted to have a drink—when they are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These are also times when those who seek comfort in food might be tempted to a massive food blowout.

My struggle for health is now becoming so entwined with my spiritual life that they are becoming almost one and the same. It’s like a conversion experience—being transformed by the renewal of the mind. Cultivating new responses. Practicing a new way of living. Tuning in to how I am really feeling instead of numbing my emotions with a bar of chocolate, or a high carb numbing feast.
* * *

You know how David prayed seven times a day. Well, I have an inbuilt call to prayer now that I have given up sugar and chocolate and white carbs and am trying to stop all “comfort eating”. Cravings become a reminder to pray.

Feel the need to eat when sad or bored or stressed or angry—but not hungry? Well, I try to slow down and take the time to “eat Jesus”. Eat his flesh, drink his blood. Ask his Holy Spirit the Comforter to fill me.

And so my weakness provides a reminder and pathway for me to seek God and experience his power. And so, when I am weak, I will be strong.

(Post by Anita Mathias; read more of Anita’s work HERE)

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Friends,

As you might know, I have pledged to help raise support for FINDINGbalance this month. Fb is a Christian non-profit that helps people eat well and live free from eating and body image issues. I have personally benefited from the work of Fb over the years and am committed this month to help give back.

I need your help to meet my goal.

I have pledged to raise $1000 this month and if I’m able to raise this amount, it will not only be a huge blessing to Fb, but I will also receive a scholarship to their Hungry for Hope conference next May here in Nashville, which would be a huge blessing to me personally.

Will you consider giving $15, $25, $50 or any other amount of your choice TODAY to help me meet my goal?

You can do it in just a few clicks HERE.

Thank you so much for your consideration.

Emily

about a skinny girl who wrote an eating disorder book

Maybe it’s one of the reasons I whisper hallelujah each time I find a boy in my womb growing long and limber, although I know eating disorders are just as real for them, 25 per cent real in fact, and we just don’t realize it…

That men sometimes hide in toilet bowls and candy wrappers and weigh scales, but 75 % of women struggle with disordered eating and I never really wanted to have a girl. I never really liked the color pink, and I still struggle with OCD and I joke that it’s like ADD only different acronyms but when the stress becomes high it’s truly debilitating.

Prayer is the only antidote and if I did have a girl, I fear I’d always be adjusting her pink ribbons….

(for the rest of this post, and a chance to win a copy of Chasing Silhouettes, won’t you join me at my friend Amber’s place tonight? love to you all…)

When food becomes a way to control your environment (Guest Post by Paula Jenkins)

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About three months ago to the day, my family celebrated little Zoom’s first birthday. It was a lovely event. Family and friends came over for an elephant themed party. I owe you guys some photos of that party.

There is likely a reason I’ve haven’t posted those photos. When I went back and looked at myself I was shocked.

At the time, I no longer fit into my clothes. In fact, I had gotten so heavy that I did not own a single pair of pants that fit me, and I’d moved on to wearing dresses because it was all that fit.

Now I see that I’d been eating because I was still upset and confused about the traumatic events that surrounded Zoom’s birth. There was so little I could control over those 56 hours. I’d gone in to labor naturally, and then labored for 56 hours. The doctor quickly decided at about hour 54 that I would need a cesarean. When Zoom was born, he had respiratory issues and was in the hospital for six days. He did not come home with us. None of this was in a birth plan, anywhere, except in the back of my mind as the things that just couldn’t happen, ever.

Every pregnant lady probably has one of those “in case” discussions with her partner, husband, coach. I’d told Sean one night “If for any reason they have to take the baby away from me in the delivery room, you follow the baby. I’m strong, I can be alone, I won’t be as scared as the baby. You go with our baby and talk to him. He knows your voice and knows you will keep him safe.” I get tears in my eyes now knowing that something I said as a “not a chance in the world this will happen” discussion is what ended up happening. Just before I went in to the operating room, I told my doctor that I could only do this if Sean was allowed to leave with the baby and my mom or sister was allowed to come in after he left with Zoom. And that is how it happened. My mom came in and stayed with me as Sean took our baby to the nursery.

A year later, food had become a way to control my environment. And based on the terrifying events of Zoom’s birth, the world had become a scary, unpredictable place. Food was predictable. Feeling full was predictable and comforting. I was holding on to what I could to keep going.

Nearly 12 weeks later, I’ve lost 9.42% of my starting weight, meaning I’ve lost about 13 pounds. It may not seem like a lot based on “Biggest Loser” standards, but a 10% loss is good. It means nearly 2 pant sizes on me. I’m 4’10” tall.

For me, this weight loss has been a great deal more than losing 13 pounds. I’m regaining “Me.” The parts of me that got lost somewhere on September 9, 2010 before Zoom was born, as the cesarean was becoming a reality. The parts of me that battle to re-believe that I am strong, that I am capable, that I am in control. The parts of me that are fierce, unstoppable, and excellent. The woman who excitedly stated to the front desk at Labor and Delivery “I’m here to have a baby,” is re-awakening to all that it means to be alive. She is here, she is brave and she ready to take on the world.

(thank you, Paula, for sharing your heart here today…)

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