The Slippery Slope of Temptation 

We all know that sometimes doing the right thing is hard; sometimes it just sucks. I’ve been struggling with desires that aren’t exactly in line with what God wants for me (and by ‘not exactly in line’ I mean absolutely not in line with His will.)

I used to be really closed off. I know that’s hard to believe because I’ve been spilling my guts here for years, but it’s true. I like attention, and I don’t have to work hard to get it these days. That can be a good thing, but it isn’t always. 

I’d love to say that I don’t know what draws people to desire a friendship/relationship with me when I meet them, but I know exactly what it is. I have a pretty positive outlook. I have some cool characteristics to offer. I’m friendly, sincere, and I extend a lot of grace because it’s been extended to me. I listen more than I talk, which is a relatively new characteristic for me. (I’m still striving to improve that one.) In short, I’m kind of cool, blah,blah, blah…and I love people. 

A few months ago I met someone that I had seen nearly everyday for months prior. He’s tall and handsome, and I often felt the desire to pray for him even though I didn’t know him. Earlier this year a mutual friend introduced us, and a friendship was born. There hasn’t been a single day that we’ve crossed paths without him hugging me, having a seat, and exchanging stories about our day, our past, our favorite grocery store, etc. 

He’s adorable and easy to talk to, and lately I’ve found myself struggling to keep boundaries in place in my mind even though he’s married. We have absolutely not done anything inappropriate outside of my agreement with his acknowledgment that we need to be careful with each other. We’re always in public, and we’re typically surrounded by other people that I know who come in to chat. I’ve just noticed that I think about him even when he’s not there. (I’m thinking about him now, and he’s not here.) 

I’m acknowledging this here for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s the truth, and I face the truth now even when I don’t like it, and 2. Loving Jesus doesn’t mean that life suddenly becomes perfect. Yes, He paid the price for my sins, and He extended His grace because without it, I’d be damned to hell. I’m so thankful for that, but I still struggle with doing the right thing. Right now I’m struggling more than I’d like to admit, but I’m facing it anyway. 

Religion likes to make us believe that once we become believers that we’ll no longer have problems. Religion urges us to act as though we no longer face temptation. God didn’t promise that life would be filled with sunshine and rainbows. Actually, Paul said just the opposite. In some ways, at least in this moment for me, it’s harder to fight the desire to sin. I didn’t feel tempted nearly as often when Satan wasn’t bothered by me; now he preys on my weaknesses, so I have to be on guard constantly. 

I have no plans to act on any of the thoughts that have played in my mind over the last week or so, nor will I be throwing him on the floor to do ungoldly things at any point…ever. I just won’t. I value myself more than that, and I value my relationship with God a lot more than that. There are lines that I simply won’t cross, but it would be naive of me to think that I’m immune to falling on my face if I try to deal with this without inviting God into the situation. (God knows I’ve done it a million times in different circumstances.) 

The thing is…Jesus was very clear when He said that anyone who even looks at another person lustfully has already committed adultry in his heart. (Matthew 5:28) Ouch!

God takes repentance very seriously, yet I seem to be struggling with turning away from my sinful thoughts (which include a desire for more attention from him among other things.) Confessing these feelings won’t change anything unless I stop giving them space in my mind, yet I’m having trouble wanting to do that too. 

The man is often at a place that I frequent, and that won’t likely change in the immediate future. I like him. I want to be his friend. I want him to experience the love and grace that I’ve experienced since getting to know Jesus. I just need to get out of the way so that can happen. 

Proverbs 19:23 says that the fear of the Lord leads to life, and He who has it will abide in satisfaction. In Monte’s sermon yesterday, which was timely, he said that living satisfied is a choice. Jesus is all I need, and I know that if I focus on Him, he’ll work this out just as He has in every other situation. 

My goal is to focus on who He is, to worship Him, and to fill my mind with gratitude for that and all He’s doing. He’ll just have to take care of the rest, and He will because, you know, He’s God and everything. 

Obesity and Energy Levels

I receive a lot of unsolicited advice about my “health,” and most of the time I appreciate it because people care enough to say something. It’s an important issue, but my size doesn’t accurately portray my energy level to many looking at me from a distance. 

Say what you want about my need to lose weight. That’s an undisputable fact, but I’m going to brag about my energy levels for a moment. 

I get up around 6 am during the week, and I’m up almost as early on Sunday mornings. Most days I’m away from home for more than 12 hours at a time. I’m gnerally not the “sit on the sofa while eating pizza while binging on Netflix” type, though I did make an exception for House of Cards. I’m the “wake up, hit the ground running, let’s smile because it’s finally time to be awake” type (at least most days.) 

I sleep well. When my head hits the pillow, it usually isn’t long until I’m dreaming. I typically feel rested when I wake up. I indulge in occassional Sunday naps, but it’s not a requirement…not even close. 

I have more energy and endurance than a lot of people who are much smaller than I am, but I don’t have as much as I had two years ago. This isn’t a post about comparing myself to other people because I don’t do that; this is about me. 

I’m aggravated with myself because I gained a significant amount of weight back, but I’m doing better. I’m consistenly eating less and making better choices. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s been better for the last few months. 

My routine feels pretty solid now, but I need to exercise more than I do. I need to do it consitently because I know that it will lower my stress levels and increase my energy levels. It’s a win-win, so why am I struggling to do it? 

I’m busy from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. I enjoy everything I do, so rarely does it feel like burden. I’m thankful for that. I don’t prioritize my workouts, which is no secret here. I know that needs to change, which is also not a secret. 

I know that I need to continue taking steps in the a healthier direction. I’m doing that by cooking chicken in my slow cooker and bringing my lunch to work, making more time to get enough sleep, drinking water, and eating vegetables. I know that there’s so much more to do. 

I just find it a little frustrating (and silly) that people (though most of them mean well) spend their time and effort telling me how I should detox, or how I should do this or that because it will give me more energy, etc. It’s odd because those people (the recent ones) aren’t as healthy, balanced, or energized as I am. They’re just skinnier. 

I don’t offer a lot of unsolicited advice, but if I did, I’d start by suggesting that people offer less unsolicited advice. I’d follow that up with the need to recognize that our looks don’t always portray everything that’s happening on the inside. In fact, it rarely does. 

This isn’t something that I plan to lose sleep over. It’s just a little PSA for those well-intentioned, yet misguided folks. I’m okay. I could sugarcoat what I’m about to say, but it’s not intended to be mean:

If you’re talking about this with me and I yawn, it’s probably just because these talks bore me. Thank you for caring. Just take a bit more time to pay attention to the reality of my situation if you’re going to comment on it. I’m juggling my priorities right now, and I’ll keep trying to do better. 

—–

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

Collossians 3:17

Two Years Later

I can’t believe that it’s been two years since I first walked in to NOLA Church. I know I gush about it frequently, but it’s because of the incredible impact being there has had on my life. 

When I arrived I was broken and in desperate need of the radical life change that Paul described in Romans. I was drowing in sin, directionless, and I was scared to change any of it. 

I thought I had to get my act together before I could turn to God. I knew what the Bible said about repentance, which is the act of turning away from sin. I just wasn’t ready to turn away; I honestly didn’t know where to begin.

My sins felt so big; my shame felt all-encompasing. At the same time I was filled with pride. I wanted the folks around me to know that I had grown up in church. I know verses like Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 29:11. I had tons of Bible passages memorized, even the one in John when Jesus says that we’ll have troubles, but don’t worry because He’s overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I knew all about Him, but it wasn’t until I showed up (and kept showing up) that I began to understand the difference between knowing about Him and having a relationship with Him.

I wrote about that a year ago. Those changes were significant, but I’ve gone through many new changes over the last 365 days. I’m definitely still in a season of major change, but it’s cool to look back at where I was and where I am right now.

At this time last year I had experienced a lot of growth, but I was still struggling with surrender. I struggle with it now, but it’s not as hard to invite God into my situations as it once was. 

The first time I met with my pastor, Monte, he said, “Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable” or something like that. I remember looking at him like he was crazy (and a little scary) because I love comfort. I seek it constantly…through food, relationships, and all kinds of other things that provide momentary satisfaction. I didn’t understand what he meant back then, but I do now. 

Surrender isn’t easy; it’s not comfortable, but it’s important to recognize that without God, I’m nothing. I mean, if you know me, you know that I haven’t always made perfect choices. I’ve made mistakes; I’ve been too dependent on things for satisfaction. I’ve been wrong a lot. 

In January of last year I had an opportunity to surrender my feelings to God, and I said, “no way.” I was prepared to fight Him for something that I didn’t really want instead of asking what He wanted from me. I did things my way once again because it was too scary to let go, and as a result I went through a lot of unecessary pain. 

For months I refused to ask God to intervene in that circumstance. I gave other things up (things that I liked that I knew didn’t please Him,) which made me feel as though I had given up enough. (Uh, note to self: God’s way is so much better.) I did not yet understand that I’ll never surrender something to Him that He doesn’t replace with something better. 

In July of last year I had an even bigger crisis of faith. I wasn’t prepared to give God what was already His in financial circumstances (tithing,) and after the realization that God doesn’t need my money, I started tithing because I wanted to put Him first in every part of my life (even money.) That wasn’t exactly easy to do because I like to be in control. I’ve always taken pride in being autonomous, and I still am. I just choose to say, “Hey God, I trust you to be My Provider,” and He has been so faithful. (God is awesome like that.) 

Life didn’t suddenly become perfect because I love Jesus. I still struggle with food and other things. I know that my desire to eat more than I should is something I have to surrender. (Again, I’ve proven that I can’t do it on my own.) I’ve also been open about how hard it is to turn away from it.) I just know that life without God sucks, but knowing Him gives me so much hope. 

In looking back I see that I’ve grown in my relationship with God. I’m not as self-centered as I was, and I love sharing His love with everyone I meet. I want others to feel the peace, joy, and contentment that I feel because of His mercy and unconditional love. I get passionate about it because  it has radically altered my entire life. 

I couldn’t have imagined all of the amazing changes that I would experience the first time I went to NOLA Church. I am so thankful for God’s love and for the community of people there who have walked with me on this incredible journey so far. 

I’m humbled and amazed by God’s willingness to use me as His vessel, and I’m already looking forward to seeing where that leads in the next year. As long as Jesus stays at the center, I know it will be better than I can imagine.

*****

You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Romans 2:3-4 (The Message)

Are Cankles A Job Hazard?

I feel like I’m adjusting well to life at the office, but I’m having one issue that I wasn’t expecting. My feet and ankles are swelling.

Is it safe to assume that it’s because I’m sitting a lot more than normal? Several people have said that, but why would sitting make your feet swell? What should I be doing to combat it?

I’ve been taking my lunch to work each day, and I’ve made packed healthy and well-balanced meals. I’m also drinking a lot of water. I bring it by the gallon, so I can refill my pretty Starbucks tumbler all day.

I’m not incorporating exercise into my daily routine yet, but I know that will help the swelling too. Won’t it?

It’s amazing to realize how much I move around on an average day. Coming here has definitely made me much more sedentary than I was, so I need to figure out how to be active during the days that I’m here too.

I walk to the far restroom when I need to go, and I spend my little breaks walking around the building. I just need to do more, and I’m not sure where to start. I’m only here Monday through Thursday of most weeks, but that’s a big chunk of time.

I’m eating healthier things, and I’m going to bed earlier. I’m drinking water, and I need to exercise.

Does anyone have ideas to help reduce the swelling? If so, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

Embracing Change Today

I’m writing this post from my new office. (Don’t worry; I’m on a break.) My desk is in an office in the corner of a government building, but I don’t mind. It’s just so weird to have a desk after so many years of doing everything from home or the coffee shop.

Kenlie Tulane Cup

Change is scary, but I I think I like this one. It feels good to do things differently, and it’s not as scary as I thought. I’m not sure why I dread things at times that end up being good for me, but I’m guilty of that sometimes.

In this case I’m just really thankful for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to creating some good habits while I’m here.  I packed my lunch and snacks: salad with roasted chicken, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and pretzel thins with a Laughing Cow wedge. I also brought my Nalgene that I plan to fill a few times a day while I’m here. 

Sometimes change isn’t as horrible as I worry that it will be, and on days like today I’m thankful for that.

Meal Planning

It’s been a long time since I did meal planning, but I’m working on a list for things that I can make and take to work with me next week. I typically work from the comfort of my home (or Starbucks,) but I’ll have to be more proactive with planning if I want my transition to go smoothly. 

I don’t know if I’ll have access to a refrigerator and/or microwave, but I’m assuming that I will. I want to prepare healthy snacks and lunches that won’t bother others. (I will not be the woman who makes popcorn at the office. It seems invasive to me.)

I know I could bring things like almonds, but the fact is that they don’t do much for me. I need to come up with some ideas that will be healthy, yet appealing. 

My plan is to pack fresh fruit in one container and fresh veggies in another. I also have olive oil popcorn from Trader Joe’s, which will be easy to portion out. I purchased some KIND bars earlier this week, and they’ll definitely make their way into my rotation as well. Maybe I’ll do almonds and string cheese. I have a stash of rosemary and balsamic chicken breast from Trader Joe’s as well. Greek yogurt should probably go on my list too.

I want to lose weight. I want to get my habits under control, and I think that this could be a good way to do it. Today I am making chicken and spinach soup, which shouldn’t have a strong scent if it’s reheated. It’s easy and delicious, and adding a little tortellini thickens it up nicely too. ( I think tortellini is fine since it will be portioned out.)

I haven’t been doing what a person needs to do to lose weight, but I’m going to give it another go. I think that with some planning, I can see success again. What do I have to lose (except weight?) 

Should I Cancel Cable TV?

I don’t spend a lot of time at home. It feels like I’m always out somewhere, and when I am home I don’t watch a lot of TV. There are a few TV shows that I watch regularly, but I’ve been watching House of Cards on Netflix most recently. 

My monthly bill for cable and internet is $158. That doesn’t include special channels like HBO, etc. That’s what it costs for one cable TV/DVR box and internet, and I feel like a sucker when I think about the money I’m wasting every month for something that I’m not really utilizing. 

I used to leave CNN on mute in my living room while I was at home, but the news is far too depressing to leave streaming into my environment all day. I still follow the news closely, but I rarely use my TV for that purpose.

On the other hand, I adore Hallmark movies. My DVR is filled with Christmas movies from my favorite channel, and I watch them throughout the year. Mom and I love to watch Snowbride when she visits, and sadly, it is not available on DVD. 

I don’t have many options for cable providers because I like in a historical building, so options like Direct TV are out. I can either stay with Cox Communications, or I can switch the AT&T Uverse. Making the switch won’t solve my problem either because Uverse doesn’t include Hallmark Channel (unless something has changed since the last time I checked.)

I’ve thought about giving up cable before, or switching to basic. I don’t care enough about any TV show that I can’t wait to see it until it shows up online or via Hulu the following day, but it’s the Hallmark movies that make it a tough decision. (Judge me if you want; I’m just keeping it real.) 

I’m not sure what I’ll decide, but I’m curious to know if anyone here has given cable the ax. If so, are you happy with your choice? 

Stress Subsiding

Yesterday I talked about some of the stress that I’ve been under, and I’m starting to feel it subside. Yesterday I signed a contract with a new empoyer, and I’m looking forward to doing life differently for a while. I really enjoy working for myself, but it can be stressful too when you’re not sure when the next opportunity will pop up. I like knowing what I’ll be doing, how and when I’ll get paid, and I like the idea of sitting at a desk all morning with my coffee like a reguar person. Ha. 

I am feeling pretty good about my resume too after hearing some favorable things from another potential employer this morning. The truth is that I wish I had given more consideration to the latter (possible) opportunity, but it was encouraging to hear that various places see value in my education and background. 

My hours will begin earlier than normal, but I’m looking forward to finishing the work day early. That will allow me to continue to work on other projects, and I can stay involved in my church too. (That’s really important to me!)

I’m also looking forward to working in an office regularly because I will develop some healthy habits. I’m going to do some food prep over the weekend, so I can be armed with healthy foods. 

It feels good to be moving in this direction, and I’m thankful for the oportunity. Remember how I mentioned that God is faithful? Yeah, He still is…

Fear and Anxiety

Last week was rough to say the least. I got some bad news on Friday , which added to the stress that I’ve already been feeling. In spite of some difficult circumstances I’ve been pretty grounded in the fact that God is in control of everything until Friday morning.

My emotions rushed over me for a few minutes, and I broke down and cried. I thought about the obstacles that I’m facing and the obstacles that my mom is facing, and almost immediately I felt silly for being anxious about it.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

In my heart I know that God will carry me through the things that are happening now. He’s been so faithful to me in everything else, yet I still felt a few moments of fear in which I let myself crumble.

After crying for a few minutes I remembered a story that I had read in the book of Mark about a man named Legion. The part of the story that hit me was that even the demons in the story had to recognize Jesus’ authority. When we worship God fear and confusion melts away because it doesn’t exist in the presence of God.

I turned on my favorite worship playlist and spent the next several minutes just praising God for never leaving me. I thanked Him for everything He’s done to make my life worth living. I just basked in who He is, and I immediately began to feel better.

I still need God to move in some specific situations for my mom and me, but I have peace. I have a renewed understanding that He’s going to provide for us, protect us, and love us regardless of the circumstances we face.

Most of my life I think I’ve confused having peace with the absence of problems. When everything is going smoothly it’s easy to feel peace, but things happen. Life isn’t always perfect. In 2 Corinthians Paul “boasted in his weakness” because God is so strong.

Recognizing that He will be strong when I’m weak definitely gives me the freedom to let go of worry and fear.

*****

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Jesus Makes All Things New

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, then you may know that I think Jesus is awesome. You may also know that I spent a lot of time ignoring Him, but over the last couple of years that has changed significantly. I still have struggles like everyone else, but I love Jesus. I also love the peace that comes with the realization that He loves me.

I blogged at All The Weigh for nearly six years, but I’m making the change to All He Says I Am because it represents who I am now. I’ll still continue to talk about my weight, friends, travels, family, Jesus, and day to day things, but God is a huge part of my life now.

My biggest priority is understanding God’s character and who I am in Him, and I spend a lot of time reading His Word to understand it.

Bible

So, I’m here, and if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll embrace the changes with me. Either way, I’ll be here, and I’m thankful for my new little space on the interwebs.

*****

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17