Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Just Food

Before I begin, I feel it is important to clarify what this post is NOT about. 
It's not about dieting. 
It's not about weight. 
It's not about eating disorders. 
It's not about nutritious versus non-nutritious foods, nor it is about organic versus non-organic foods. 
Yes, all of these topics are legitimate and important topics in relation to food. 

However, today's post is solely about the control food can have on our minds and hearts

I've always been thin.  In grade school I was literally a bean pole.  In junior high and high school, I was a bean pole with acne.  So some might find it weird, even obnoxious, that I'm writing a post about food. 

Please don't misunderstand me, I fully recognize that I do NOT know what it is like to significantly struggle with my weight and nothing that I write today insinuates that I do.  I would never dream to compare myself to any individual whose struggle with food has direct correlation with their weight.  Just like I find it extremely insensitive (and obnoxious) when an individual with very nice skin complains to me about a single pimple on her face.  She doesn't get acne, just like I don't get low metabolism.

But please understand something:  In my experience, the issue of food and its control on an individual's mind and heart has become an epidemic across the body weight spectrum.  People of all different shapes and sizes can have an unhealthy mind and heart relationship with food.

While I have never significantly struggled with my weight, I am being openly honest in sharing that I have (and do) struggle with food and its control over my mind and heart.  Like so many individuals, I think about food too much.  I prescribe it to cure my boredom.  I seek comfort and refuge from it when I'm emotionally vulnerable  And, at times, I give it too much control in my everyday living...to the point that it dictates my highs and lows.  Simply put, at times I give food god-like control in my life.

Does this make sense?
Can you relate?
Have you personally struggled with giving food too much control over your mind and heart?
Recently, I felt the Lord breathe a new wave of grace over me when it comes to my personal struggle with food.  As I've asked Him to rescue me from food's control He has spoken one simple morsel of truth: "It's Just Food Renee."

In those moments of temptation to put food on the throne, I'm clinging to God's truthful message:

"Yes, food nourishes your body.
And yes, food satisfies your physical hunger.
But it's still just food.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for companionship.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for happiness.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for rest and relaxation.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for relief.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for fun.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for purpose.
But I can.

Food cannot nourish the deep, dark places of your feeble soul.
But I can.

Let me renew your mind so your thoughts about food are realistic, logical, true and pure.
Release back control of your heart to Me so that you can love Me fully, without distraction or competition.
Food is food.
But I am God. 
The Creator of this universe. 
The Giver of life. 
The Merciful Father. 
The Source of all grace, hope, and love.  
I am everything you need all wrapped up into one. 
I can perfectly satisfy you. 
I can wholly nourish you.
My daughter, this is My gracious reminder:
It's Just Food."

It's easy to make something powerless a god in our lives, especially when we are hurting, disappointed, weary, experiencing difficulty, or even bored.  The trouble is that when we release control over to something that is powerless to help us, the enemy gets a foothold and uses it to enslave our minds and pervert our hearts to his lies and trickery.  

And thus, like the Romans, we exchange the truth for a lie:

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator..." Romans 1:25 

Once we've exchanged truth for a lie and given something control in our mind and hearts, its tough to get it back.  We can spend years in therapy and never find freedom.

But I believe that with Jesus ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  I cling to the power of the gospel in my life:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  Galatians 5:1

If food has control over you, will you join me in approaching the throne of Jesus and asking Him to rescue us and set us free?  Friends, let's fervently pray for a breakthrough.  Let's exchange the lies of the enemy for the truth of God's Word.  Let's remember God's gracious message to us, "My children, It's Just Food."

And let's pray for our kids and their relationships with food.  If you are like me, you deeply desire for your kids to remain free from food's ugly control of their minds and hearts.

Lord Jesus,
For me, I ask for freedom from food and its yoke of slavery over my mind and heart.  Give me the strength and wisdom to stand firm against food and its deceptive control in my life.  May I know Your truth so that I am not deceived to believe any lies about food.

And for my kids, I ask You to fill their minds and hearts with Your truth about food.  May they resist the temptation to release control of their minds and hearts over to food.  Through Your Spirit working in them, may they be empowered to stand firm against the enemies lies regarding food.  May they trust You with food and would you graciously remind them that when it comes to food, 'It's Just Food.'  I pray food would remain in its rightful place in their hearts and I pray You would be their ever present hope in times of trouble.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pretty is As Pretty Does

Look at how pretty you are!
Aren't you a beautiful little girl!
You look just like a princess!

These seem to be some of the most common phrases said to girls under the age of 5.

We've all likely said them.
And there isn't anything inherently wrong with saying them.
Little girls are, in fact, pretty and beautiful.

But when heard over and over again these phrases have the potential to prematurely rob little girls of the coveted freedom they possess.  A freedom most adolescent girls and women desperately wish they still had. 

This freedom being THE freedom to not care at all about what they look like.  The freedom to walk into a room without fear of looking ugly, fat, or fashionless to those around them.  The freedom to not worry about whether the people around them think they look good or bad.  The freedom to have no inhibitions or insecurities where looks are concerned.

This picture of Allie is a perfect example of the freedom I'm talking about.  She was helping me fold laundry the other day and she single handedly put together this little outfit.  And yes that is her bathing suit over a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt (she added goggles later on for kicks). 

She wore this ensemble proudly for a neighborhood party I hosted that evening.  Never once did she worry about what she looked like.  Never once did she feel insecure.  She could have cared less about fashion or vanity.  She was just being a little girl, using her curiosity, imagination, and creativity. 

Ahhhhh, that type of freedom from obsessing about beauty is so refreshing.  I wish she could keep this freedom forever.

But we all know that's impossible.  Sin has corrupted our minds when it comes to beauty.  We worship it.  And for many, they are enslaved by it.  No matter how hard they try to avoid its deadly snare, they can't stop obsessing over it. 

As much as we'd like to hope and think it isn't, man's main measure of beauty is based on the outward appearance.  So the more our little girls hear these phrases, the more quickly they begin to measure their own beauty on the outward appearance.  At an earlier and earlier age, they become crippled by physical insecurities and enslaved by an obsession to become the perfect specimen of outward beauty.

So how do we protect our girls from all this?

How do we help them hold on to the freedom that little girls should still possess?

How do we transform their hearts and minds with God's definition of beauty: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

I believe we can start with a simple, yet profound, motto: 
Pretty is as pretty does.

I had a mom friend tell me recently that she uses this "Pretty is as pretty does" phrase with her 5 year old daughter all the time.  When her daughter has a nasty attitude and is acting selfish and unkind, with a gentleness and grace she explains to her daughter how ugly her attitude and actions are making her.

But when her daughter has shown kindness to her brother or put someone else above herself, she joyfully explains how beautiful her attitude and actions are making her.

The goal, she says, is to change the way her daughter thinks about and sees beauty.  "I want her to understand that the condition of her heart, and nothing else, determines her beauty.  In other words, I want her to understand that "pretty is as pretty does."  She consciously limits how much attention and emphasis is put on her daughter's outward appearance.  The most attention goes to the beauty of her daughter's heart.

I love this mom's approach.
It's full of God's wisdom.


Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about clothing oneself with the latest fashions...it's about clothing oneself with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about appearing put together and flawless on the outside (while being unclean and depraved on the inside: Matthew 23:27)...it's about having a pure heart to see God (Matthew 5:8).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about looking to become a particular size, shape, or style...it's about looking to Him.  For "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about maintaining a youthful appearance with an hour-glass figure...it's about trusting that although "outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day" by Jesus Christ himself (2 Corinthians 4:16).

In summary, God's Word teaches that when our daughter's clothe themselves with His virtues, when they strive to have pure hearts like His, when they look to Him above anything else, and when they trust that their relationship with Him is daily renewing them on the inside...then they are radiantly beautiful!

Will you join me today and let's pray about how our kids understand beauty!

Lord God,
I pray my kids would trust and treasure you're measure of beauty. May they grow to understand that You measure beauty, not from the outside, but by the condition of the heart.  In their hearts may they know and honor Your view of beauty: "Pretty is as pretty does."  May they beautify their hearts rather than their outward appearances.  I pray they wouldn't obsesses over outward appearances but rather that they would seek after and look to You with their whole hearts so that you can make them radiant and pure of heart.  And may they clothe themselves with those virtues of the heart like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Obsession With Fame

"You don't have to be famous to be unforgettable."

I first heard this quote on a commercial encouraging men and women to consider teaching as a career.  It's stuck with me ever since.

In our culture so many people are obsessed with fame.  Everywhere we turn an individual is looking for his or her 15 minutes of fame.  And many will go to shameful lengths to attain them. 

People spend precious time, even hard earned money, in order to know all about the rich and famous.  They study them.  They strive to live, act, and think like them.

And why?
Because deep down, we all want to live a life that is unforgettable.

The point of the quote is to remind people that it isn't how many Twitter followers, Facebook friends, You-Tube views, or blog hits that measure the value of one's life.    

Rather it is about the sincerity of one's living.

A sincerity comprised of service to others rather than oneself.

A sincerity rooted in kindness.

A sincerity that finds true joy in being unforgettable to just one person.

A sincerity that hungers to be a blessing to others.

A sincerity that drives one to keep going even if no one else sees or acknowledges one's efforts.

Like the commercial pointed out, a good teacher's work is full of this kind of sincere living.  Hence the reason why each of us has at least one teacher who made a great impact upon our lives.  They might not be famous but, to us, they are absolutely unforgettable. 

And it isn't just a teacher's work that is unforgettable.  Every day millions of people are working hard and living with great sincerity.  And most of them aren't famous.  Even so, another person's life has been greatly impacted by their sincere living.

I recently took a trip to Cambodia and spent a few days at an orphanage there.  I'll never forget one woman who worked behind the scenes at the orphanage.  She helped serve the children meals, brushed and braided the girls' hair, and served as the "house mom."  She epitomized sincere living and her work everyday matters.  Truth be told there are very few people in this world who know her name.  Yet, to those orphan children she so faithfully serves and nurtures, she is unforgettable.

Our kids are growing up in a culture that puts way too much emphasis on fame.  Their generation
believes the lie that if you're popular, then you're somebody special.  And so again and again we see young people today doing whatever it takes to be noticed...popular...remembered.  And in this quest for fame, they've lost sight of sincere living.  In its place is a compromised state of living that is selfish, unkind, and greedy.

I don't know about you but I would rather my kids not get caught up in this hunger for fame game.  I so desperately want them to avoid the pitfalls associated with an obsession for popularity. 

The truth is, I have firsthand found tremendous peace and fulfillment in thirsting for God rather than fame or popularity.  Fame is temporary; popularity dries up quickly.  But God fills the soul with an abundance of hope and love.  And it is out of this abundance that He gives us the strength and grace to live a life that is sincere and thus, unforgettable.

So let's pray our kids thirst for Him rather than fame. Let's pray they find an abundant peace in Him.  And let's pray He gives them the strength to trust Him to direct them toward a path of sincere, unforgettable living.

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you:  my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."  Psalm 63:1

Lord, may this be the cry of my kids' hearts!  May their souls long and thirst for You above fame.  When the dry and weary land of popularity leaves them parched, my they find an abundance of living water in You.

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you."  2 Thessalonians 3:16

Lord, as my kids hunger after You may they be filled with Your peace at all times and in every way.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, may they grow to trust You in all things...especially as they resist the temptation to be obsessed with fame.  In all that they do, may they acknowledge You.  And as they do, would you direct their paths toward sincere, unforgettable living that impacts others one person at a time.