Back to the Basics

In my last post, I mentioned going through a plateau in my weight loss journey. There have been a couple of times when I needed the Lord’s Wisdom as to why my weight loss had stalled. In each instance, He has shown me where I’d missed it and gotten me back on track.

With this recent plateau, which has lasted at least two weeks now, I’ve noticed some bad habits trying to creep back in and reverse all that God and I have accomplished in these five months. For example, my cravings for sweets have increased exponentially. It seems most of the recipes I research are for Keto-friendly desserts. Being someone who has lived addicted to sugar for the majority of my life, sweets are something I need to lay down for good – regardless if they are considered healthy or not. All I’ve done is found a way to make eating sweets OK; I have justified it, because it’s Keto. If you think about it, that’s like a recovering alcoholic drinking “near beer” and saying it’s fine, because it’s not really alcohol or has very little alcohol. If the taste is still there, it’s the equivalent of a shark getting a taste of blood. No matter how small the taste, it’s going to feed that addiction.

I’ve also been missing the “control” in my portion control. Not every time, but with this way of eating, it should never happen. Keto and low-carb/high fat is a natural appetite suppressant, so with this being an issue, I need to reevaluate.

I have been asking the Lord for Wisdom. For a while now, I’ve been hearing the phrase “Get back to the basics” in my head and in my spirit. When I started Keto, I didn’t have any fruit, sweets or flour (Keto-friendly or any kind). If you have an addiction to sweets and carbs, it’s highly recommended to stay away from any and all fruit and breads when you’re beginning, because they cause cravings. I didn’t incorporate any fruit, Keto-friendly sugars or flour until I was a couple of months in. The only fruit I have allowed myself to have throughout this journey are berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, because they have the lowest carb counts. However, knowing what I know now, I should have left fruit alone. I’m not saying everyone should omit fruit completely. This is what I feel I need to do. Will I eat fruit in the future? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve read more than one success story where the person didn’t incorporate fruit back in their diet after they reached their goal weight for the same reason I feel it needs to be omitted from mine (and by diet, I mean the food I eat, not a diet in the traditional sense). It triggers a sweet craving, and for those like me, that can’t happen. And, that’s OK.

So, it’s back to the basics I go! I’ll follow up in a couple of weeks to let you know how it’s going. God has always shown me where I’ve missed it, and I believe this is where He’s leading now. 

On a side note, plateaus are a normal part of weight loss. They don’t necessarily mean you’re doing something “wrong”. From what I’ve researched on dietdoctor.com, if you are doing everything that’s recommended and you plateau, just keep doing what you’re doing. It should right itself. There’s no set time of when, but more than likely, it will. I personally believe my recent plateau is the result of my choices. That’s the great thing about my Father: when you ask for Wisdom and don’t doubt that He’ll give it to you, He will.

James 1:5-8 (The Passion Translation): “And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace. Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7–8 When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition?”

Is God amazing, or what?!

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Plateaus

For the past two or three weeks, I have been on a weight loss plateau. I began my journey on November 5th, 2016 and until recently, the weight has been falling off of me. Right now, the scale and the inches aren’t budging. At all. Granted, they aren’t going UP, either, which is relatively great news. At least I know I’m not doing anything wrong, I just need to, 1. be patient, and 2. maybe tweak some things to jump-start the weight loss again. The research I’ve done suggests this type of thing does happen, and they say just keep doing what you’re doing, and it should right itself. Remember that #1 where I said, “be patient”? Yeah, SO not my forte at the moment. My patience fruit of the Spirit is more like a raisin than a watermelon, but God will finish what He started! I REFUSE to give up. I REFUSE to quit. So, I won’t. It’s that simple.

I’ve been feeling as though I’m in a spiritual plateau, as well. I love the Lord so much, but it just seems daunting to get in the Word, prayer and everything in between. The amazing thing about my Father is, He’s still here. He still speaks to my spirit. I feel His presence, and lately, even with all of this, His presence has been even more tangible. The ENORMITY of His Love for me and for you is BEYOND human comprehension, and I want to understand and know it as much as I can on THIS side of Heaven. He’s been speaking about certain things for me lately through a VERY dear friend, and He is ADAMANT that it’s time I get with the program, dig in my heels and do/be what He has called and created me to do/be. The abundant life he spoke of in His Word isn’t for when we get to Heaven; it’s for here. Now. At this very moment and in every moment. John 10:10 (The Passion Translation): A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expectlife in its fullness until you overflow!” Life on this earth is far too short; there is far too much to be done. 

I’m so glad God doesn’t give up. His Love never changes never diminishes never falters. Life is a journey of valleys, mountaintops, wildernesses and deserts. But the great news is, these too, shall pass. In the meantime, He is ALWAYS here. NEVER will He leave us or forsake us. EVER (Deuteronomy 31:6). There are numerous situations in the Bible where mankind faced trials, tribulations, peril and even the possibility of death. But there are two words that bounce off the pages like a basketball on a gym floor: “But God.” As my friend and I discussed today, He is our Defender and our Champion. Trials will come. But God. Tragedies will happen. But God. Life happens. But God. 

These plateaus are temporary, but His Love is eternal. THANK GOD!

Hand in Hand Part 2

I wanted to follow up with my blog this morning. While Keto has worked for me, it may not be for everyone. If you are considering this, PLEASE consult a doctor before starting. This was the path God had for me. He may have a different one in mind for you. Everyone is different. Find what works for YOU.

Much Love and Blessings,

April

Hand in Hand

This blog was intended to be a journal of my weight loss – the struggles, triumphs and everything in between. Obviously, it hasn’t quite worked out that way, but that’s OK. 100 days ago is where my true weight loss story begins. On November 5th, 2017, the Lord took my hand in His and together, we began a journey.

It all started on November 1st: the day I had chest pains; chest pains that scared me into the realization that if I didn’t do something about my weight, I was going to die. Up to this point, I had been so frustrated and defeated, because no matter how hard I tried, I could NOT stop eating. Sweets and carbs were my favorites, and even though I had cut sugar out of my diet NUMEROUS times, I always went back. For the most part I ate healthy, or so I thought. So, on the morning of November 2nd, I sat in my car in the parking lot of my office crying out to God. My exact words were, “Lord, either You get me some help, or let me come home.”

Several months prior, I had researched a new doctor as mine had retired. Long story short, I found one, but I ended up never needing to go to her. Well, when the prayer left my lips that day, the Holy Spirit brought her name back to me. I researched her again that morning and found something I hadn’t seen prior: she is not only a medical doctor, but she specializes in obesity medicine. The first time I found her, I wasn’t in the mindset to finally be free. I truly believe that’s why I didn’t see that bit of info then. God has a way of knowing what’s best, doesn’t He? He’s cool like that.

I called as soon as her office was open, and they got me in THE NEXT DAY! Another long story short, I sat in her office and through many tears explained my situation. Years of struggle, defeat and frustration poured out of me in that short amount of time. As she offered me a box of Kleenex, she said something that would allow me to see the light at the end of a seemingly endless, dark tunnel: “I recommend low carb/high fat.” She went on to explain that when we eat too many carbs and sugar, our hormones become incredibly imbalanced, and no amount of willpower will keep us from overeating. It wasn’t MY fault! I literally couldn’t help it! Slowly, the burden of thinking I was to blame began to lift off of me. My next question was, is this something I can do for the rest of my life? I explained if it’s not, I’m not interested, because I’ve had enough quick fixes. Much to my relief, I not only CAN do this forever, I SHOULD. Low carb/high fat is 20-50 grams of carbs per day, and Keto is less than 20 grams per day. Keto is actually the path God led me to, because when I started eating this way on November 5th, I found it difficult to even GET to 20 grams a day, which is just fine. My heavenly Daddy, through this sweet doctor, saved. my. life.

I won’t say where I started, but I will say where I am now. I am 42 pounds lighter and over 34″ smaller overall (as of last weight/measurements). I’m no longer eating too much. In fact, there are days where I don’t eat much at all, because this way of eating is a natural appetite suppressant. Do I still crave carbs/sweets? Sure, sometimes. But, all I have to do is ask the Lord for help, and He IMMEDIATELY rescues me. His grace and faithfulness have kept me on track through this entire journey. He took my hand that day, and He’s never let go. I have absolutely no doubt, He will do the same for you.

One of my favorite scriptures proves this. Hebrews 13:5b in the Amplified:

For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

Need I say more?

It’s All About Perspective

Last night on my way home, much to my annoyance, I was stopped by a train. Not long after, a few cars behind me started to turn around. As I watched the train go by, a thought occurred to me: none of the cars in the front of the line were turning around. Why? It’s all about perspective; they could see when the end of the train was coming.

It’s the same way in our walk with the Lord. Life brings ups and downs. Most of the time, we don’t know how situations will turn out, because we can’t see the end. But God can. He knows the end from the beginning. It’s not always easy to trust, but we as Christians are to walk by faith, not by what we see. II Corinthians 5:7, “For we live by faith, not by what we see with our eyes.” (The Passion Translation) Trust in the Father is a CHOICE, but the great news is, it’s ALWAYS the right choice.

One of my favorite scriptures in the Amplified Classic Translation is Hebrews  13:5-6, “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (underline mine). I don’t know about anyone else, but that comforts me, gives me courage and strengthens my faith!

Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere and he takes note of everything that happens. He watches over his lovers, and he also sees the wickedness of the wicked.” (The Passion Translation)

Psalm 46:10, “Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. I am the God above all the nations, and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.” (The Passion Translation)

Another favorite of mine is Proverbs 37:5-8, Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all, for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion and avoid everything that’s wrong. Then you will find the healing refreshment your body and spirit long for.” (The Passion Translation) Isn’t that beautiful? His Love for us is immeasurable and unending! And, it’s UNCONDITIONAL!

In those moments when you can’t see the forest for the trees, rest in your trust of the One Who sees beyond the trees.

Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

Let me start by saying how much I LOVE MY CHURCH! They are an amazing group of people. The love that permeates from each one is nothing short of astounding. I was a greeter with my friend Winter today, and I watched our pastor walk into the snow to offer his arm and support to anyone who may need it as they made their way from their cars to the building. I looked at Winter, and I said, “He is such a good shepherd.” She wholeheartedly agreed. He and his wife are the very extension of the heart of the Father, and I am truly blessed and immeasurably honored to know them.

Because we are Christians, the devil LOVES it when we miss even a single service. Why? Because he knows it will be that much easier to convince us we don’t want to go the next week, and the next and the next, until months or even years have gone by. I know this from personal experience. If I miss even one service, it’s harder for me to go the next week and so on. Recently, I missed a service, and before I knew it, three weeks had gone by. I had given in to my flesh, but NO MORE! Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).” (AMP)

The good news? Lamentations 3:22-23: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” (NLT) And, Romans 8:38-39: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NLT) What an INCREDIBLE God we serve!!

So, why is going to church so important? Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT) We need each other, and we need our shepherds. They are a treasure from the very heart of God. Love, encourage, strengthen and daily lift your pastors and their families to the throne. Doing what they do IS. NOT. EASY

Father, thank You, for my pastor and his family. I pray You would bless them according to Ephesians 3:20: superabundantly, far over and above all that they dare ask or think, infinitely beyond their highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams. Show each of us, as individuals and as a congregation, how we can be as much and more of a blessing to them as they are to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen and Amen!

 If you haven’t found a church home, I encourage you to seek the Lord as to where He would have you go. Take His strong hand, hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

Merry Christmas! Jesus is the ONLY reason for the season! Never forget, He is passionately in Love with you!

 

 

Thy Word

I’m sure most Christian homes in America have more than one Bible. I personally have several. That being said, all my Christian life, I have heard stories of believers from around the world. Stories of  struggle, adversity, torment and even death. I remember as a teenager, I was astounded to discover there are places in this world where the Word of God is so precious, they will risk everything for a SINGLE PAGE. I was recently reminded of this fact, and I still have trouble wrapping my head and my heart around that. Bibles are readily available at hundreds of thousands of stores across this great nation. We can read them openly, without fear of wrongdoing; we can worship the Lord in the same way. In too many countries, even professing faith in Jesus can have catastrophic consequences.

The Bible has the answers to every question you will ever have. There is comfort, peace, joy and love in the Word. God speaks to us through His Word. Psalm 138:2b says, “For You have magnified Your Word above all Your name.” (NKJV) If the Father esteems His Word in such a way, there is no question we should, as well.

John 1:1-5 tells us why the Word is not just another book. It tells us why it is so precious: JESUS IS THE WORD! That’s why it is living and active, as it says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Amplified)

Recently, the Lord reminded me of something someone once said, “How you treat your Bible is how you treat the Lord.” Unfortunately, like many Christians, I sometimes take the Word and my freedom to read it for granted. Life happens, and you find you missed a day, then another. Before you realize it, it’s been a week or longer. I’ve made a fresh commitment to the Lord to make it a priority to not just read it, but study it everyday.

Great things are coming in 2018. Some good, some bad. We need to be full of the Word of God; we need to be ready. The Word is as much life to our spirit as air is life to our bodies. If our physical bodies can’t live without air, even more so, our spirits can’t live without the Word of God.

 

No Complaints

Recently, I was getting ready for bed, and I made the comment, “It is so cold in this house!” As I got into bed and covered myself with my VERY warm blanket, a “chilling” thought occurred to me: how many people are without warm blankets tonight? From there, I thought, how many people are without a warm HOME tonight?

Immediately, I asked God to forgive my complaining about the house being cold. I have SO much to be thankful for: I have a roof over my head, food, clothes, a good job, family, friends and a husband who loves me immensely. I have no cause for complaints.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (Amplified)

God has given us His most precious Gift: Jesus. Regardless of what I do or don’t have, I have Jesus. And that is everything.

 

Past? What Past?

Recently, I was listening to Pandora, and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in years. It was the song “Bye Bye” by Jo Dee Messina. She said something that struck a chord with me (pun intended). She said, “Got a left foot down on my accelerator and the rear view mirror torn off, cause I ain’t never lookin’ back, and that’s a fact.” What hit me most was “the rear view mirror torn off, cause I ain’t never lookin’ back.This is how we should be about our past, as well. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! There are many more scriptures stating the same thing. Isaiah 43:18-19a: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, every sin of your past was wiped away. Gone. Forgotten. Hebrews 10:17, “Their sin and lawless acts I will remember no more.” The only person who would bring up your past is the devil. He will remind you and remind you until you are convinced that God remembers, too. Rest in knowing you don’t have to think or worry about past mistakes ever again. They aren’t being held against you. Why? Because, God does not remember! He can’t! The blood of Jesus washed all of it away. When His loving eyes see you, He doesn’t see who you were. He sees Jesus and what He did for you and who you are in HIM.

Keep your eyes on the only One Who matters: Jesus.  Just like my post yesterday: because of Jesus, all is possible. He made a way where there seemed to be no way. He willingly came, suffered, bled and died so we can have life and have it more abundantly: John 10:10. We could live 1,000 years and still never be able to earn or deserve the gift Jesus gave to us. That’s what makes it so precious. The Father knew there would be people who would never love Him in return. He knew there would be people who would never accept His incredible Gift, but He offered His only Son anyway. And Jesus, knowing the same, WILLINGLY offered Himself. That is Love. That is Agape Love. John 3:16, “For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” (The Passion Translation) 

I heard the coolest quote when I was a teenager, but I don’t remember who said it: “If the devil tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future!”

Because of Jesus..

Several weeks ago, a very dear friend of mine’s son passed away unexpectedly. He was 25. I can’t wrap my head around the immense grief she is going through. He was her firstborn, but regardless of where he lands in the family, it’s an enormous loss that every parent dreads. I was emailing a mutual friend of ours, and we were discussing this precious lady. I have a beautiful orchid on my desk that was given to me, and it had one single flower left on it. At the moment I was reading my friend’s response, that last flower fell off of my orchid. It was as if the orchid was grieving, and it reminded me how incredibly precious but fleeting life truly is. Thankfully, because of Jesus, there is life beyond death. The orchid will bloom again in its time, and when we pass from this life to the next, we will, too. We will be more alive in the presence of the Father than we ever were here. Jesus gives us hope and peace, because we know death is not the end. For those of us who have made Him the Lord of our life, there is more peace, joy and love than we could ever imagine waiting for us when we leave this world behind.

 My heart grieves for my friend. I have hurt for her in ways I never thought possible. I pray for her, and I will continue to pray for her. I will continue to lift her and her sweet family to the very throne room of God. Again, because of Jesus, we have access to Him. Don’t ever be afraid to tell God how you feel; He already knows, anyway. I remember a time as a teenager, I was really upset about a situation with another friend. I was alone in my bedroom, and I said, “Lord, who can I call to talk to about this? I’m really upset, and I need to talk. Who can I talk to?” I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “Talk to Me.” So, I did. I poured my heart out to Him, and it was exactly what I needed. He’s there, even when you don’t feel He is. He is but a whisper away, and when you need Him, He will be there. Don’t give up. Don’t let go. Run to Him. His arms are ALWAYS open, ready to embrace you in love and peace. His love for you is IMMENSE. You are in His thoughts. You are in His heart. DON’T. GIVE. UP.