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Tasting Truth

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”   Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

I am reading Taste for Truth and it has been a very enlightening journey.   Instead of using a specific diet plan or digging into the reasons why people overeat, this study focuses on the boundaries we may need and the renewing of the mind in order to gain freedom from the control of food.

I started drinking at age 15.  By age 18, I was using alcohol daily to cope with my home life.  I liked the way alcohol made me feel and how it made me more outgoing.

I continued drinking in my early to mid-20’s, but quit a couple of years before I became a mom.  I didn’t enjoy hangovers and had started to take notice of coworkers, family and friends whose lives were out of control because of alcohol or drug abuse.  I am one of the fortunate rare people who could stop using alcohol without support and have had less than 10 beers over the last 30 years.

Sometime in my late-20’s, I replaced my alcohol usage with food.  Unlike alcohol or drugs, our bodies need food so overeating is the acceptable addiction in our society.  I ate when my stress level went up because I took on too many volunteer positions.  Like many people, I often ate too much at celebrations.  My overeating was the most out of control when I had to deal with stressful family situations.

One particular time was the last time I saw my father.  My siblings and I were were physically, mentally and verbally abused by this man, so visiting him was extremely nerve-racking for me.  I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years, but my sister and I had to visit him before cancer took his life so we could ensure that our grandmother was taken care of.  I had a strong urge to get a drink after leaving his house, but thankfully my sister was doing the driving and wouldn’t allow it (thanks, Little Sis  ❤ ).  Instead of alcohol,  we both self-medicated with pasta and cannoli.   I can look back on that event now and realize that using food wasn’t any different than using booze.

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We have an enemy who wants to use our weaknesses so we are ineffective for the Lord’s work.  Through this study, I realized that I have spent more time overeating than renewing my mind.  By renewing my mind, this was my very first Thanksgiving that I DID NOT overeat and I feel I finally have gained control over food!!  Thank you, Jesus!!! 

If your story is similar and would like to learn how to break free from the stronghold of overeating, I will be leading an online study of Taste for Truth  beginning on January 2nd – February 24, 2017.  There is a companion book, I Deserve a Donut that is available in paperback, a Kindle version, and even an iPhone or android app (I purchased the Kindle version of Taste for Truth and the iPhone app of I Deserve a Donut for under $10).  You can click on the links to the books to look inside them and/or read the reviews.  The online study will take place in a secret Facebook group where only the members will be able to read your posts.  Feel free to email me at plewing@hotmail.com if you have any questions or visit http://barbraveling.com/  for more information on the author and her books.

Acting Like New Creations

When I first became a Christian 22 years ago, the LORD changed many things in me.  The first thing to go was my potty mouth.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I often used the LORD’s name in vain and used many vulgar words.

Many other things changed in my life as I read the Bible and studied with other believers.  My anger disappeared as did my gossiping.  I was calmer with my children and enjoyed life more.  Sure there were struggles and I continue to have struggles, but staying in His Word gives me the desire to turn away from my old life.

Professing Christians are allowing more and more of the world in.  I have been in churches where couples who are living together are allowed to teach Sunday school.  I have a Christian friend who told me that she wouldn’t wait for remarriage to sleep with someone.  Many of my friends have adult children or grandchildren who are turning away from the ways of God and living sinful life-styles.

In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul wrote about this very issue and what we’re supposed to do with Christians who continue to sin:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (ESV)

Believers should be new creations.  This doesn’t mean that we now have freedom to keep on sinning or that we won’t sin — it means we strive to be more like Christ.  If we truly love Him and say we are His, we will turn away from our sin.

butterfly !

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Heavenly Father, thank You for being a Wonderful Creator!!  Thank You for all You’ve created on this planet in order for us to live and for Your amazing beauty around us!! Thank You for Your sweet, sweet fellowship.  Thank You for each new day to serve You.  Father, please forgive me when I sin and please show me areas of my life that I need to change.  Please show me, Holy Spirit, how to be a new creation.   Please guide me to lovingly help Christian friends/family who have gone back to old ways.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, for God’s glory.  Amen.  

Keeping My Gaze Forward

My kids have told me that I have adult ADD because I get easily distracted.  I dislike hate how I sometimes allow things of this world or memories of my past draw me away from the things of God.  

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I desire to honor the LORD with not only my actions, but also with my thoughts.  I often wonder if the Apostle Paul was tormented by his past.  If he did, he didn’t allow his prior persecution of Christians to hinder his serving the LORD.   Philippians 3:12-21 shows how he pressed forward:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

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Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for loving me even when I sometimes gaze back.  Please forgive how I get distracted with the things of this world and help me to keep my eyes focused on You and Your work here.  Please guide me, Holy Spirit, and correct me when my mind wanders.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, so You will be glorified.  Amen. 

Being a Good Mother-in-Law


I married my husband at 21 and became a Christian at age 33.  I
never had a Christian mentor and could have used the help of an older Christian sister when my mother passed away when I was 42.   As I revisited the story of Ruth, I realized I want to be a better Christian mentor to my own daughter, daughter-in-law and to other Christian young women.

  If you’re unfamiliar with Ruth and Naomi’s story in the book of Ruth, Naomi had been a widow for 10 years when both of her married sons passed away.  Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and since both of Naomi’s daughter-in-laws were Moabites,  Ruth instructs the childless younger women to return to the homes of their own people.  Orpah does, but Ruth insists on staying with Naomi:

 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”  But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”  And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
Ruth 1:15-18 (ESV)

Each time I read Ruth, I wonder what made Ruth decide to stay with her mother-in-law.   Was it her kindness?  Was she just feeling sorry for her?   Had Naomi been such a good mother-in-law that Ruth desired to go with her instead of going back to her Moabite people?

  I would only want to go with a woman who was kind and upright. As a child/teenager there was so much turmoil in my own family, so I didn’t have good examples.  I married into a Christian family, but I’ve only seen favoritism and badmouthing of ex-daughter-laws which made me bitter.  Rereading Ruth has shown me the kind of mother-in-law I would like to be and how God has directed me to be.

Titus 2:3-5 shows the responsibilities of females in the church body:

Titus 2

Here’s my list of rules for mother-in-laws.  Please feel free to share any advice/rules that have helped you in your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship.

1. Pray for your daughter-in-law.
2. Always call ahead before visiting.
3. Do not be intrusive.
Don’t call too much, visit too much or do things without asking.
4. Don’t be critical of your daughter-in-law.
How she raises her children, keeps her house, her cooking, etc. is her business.
5. NEVER criticize your daughter-in-law to your son or other family members.
6. Do not gossip about your daughter-in-law.
7. Don’t show favoritism – this includes your own children, grandchildren, and other daughter-in-laws.
8. NEVER tell your grandchildren that their mom or dad is wrong.
9. Love and praise your daughter-in-law.
10. Do kind things for your daughter-in-law.
11. Always include your daughter-in-law.  Schedule special times with her, other daughter-in-law(s) and your daughter(s). Going out to eat or getting coffee together, a simple day of baking, getting manicures, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
12. If your son divorces, be kind to your daughter-in-law, especially if there are children. She will ALWAYS be the mother of your son’s children. NEVER talk badly about an ex-daughter-in-law, especially in front of your grandchildren.

 

Committing our plans

 A coworker has started using a weight loss program where she eats mostly carbs one day and then eats mostly protein another day (and also uses expensive shakes and supplements).  She shared with me how she will be under a “certain number” by the end of the year.  This information started to make me sad jealous because that particular number had also been my personal goal weight by the end of December.  

I felt sorry for myself for a few hours, but then I took out my scale as soon as I got home from work.  I had NOT weighed in since Thanksgiving because I had put the scale away while my toddler grandson was visiting — I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I have only gained 3 pounds!!!  I realized I should not have been so surprised because even though I have indulged a bit, I have also continued to drink water, do my yoga stretches in the morning and walk in the afternoon.

I have LOST and KEPT OFF about 25 pounds this year, so I am very, very thankful!!!

I was ashamed at myself for coveting my friend’s weight loss.  By going home and weighing myself, God allowed me to see that what I had been doing was working and that I need to stick with it.  I am committing to get back on my diet plan on December 28th so that I will be under a particular weight by my birthday in April.  I used a weight loss calculator to see if this is a realistic goal and it is — by keeping under 1700 calories per day and continuing to exercise daily, I can do it!!   

proverbs 16-3

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 Do you have any plans you need to commit to the LORD?

Teaching each other through fellowship and NOT programs


I became a Christian at age 33 and
never had a Christian mentor.  When my mother passed away, I really could have used the help of an older Christian sister to help me then and to also hold me accountable in my spiritual growth. Titus 2 shows the responsibilities of church members, with verses 3-5 directed to females:

Titus 2
I believe many Christians have become too busy for real relationships.

Most churches are not hurting for programs.  With so many activities during the week, there are great needs in the church for workers and leaders.  I have witnessed how many churches put people in teaching positions and even leadership roles way too early in their Christian walk.  I have also noticed that there are many people within the church body who do not believe that we each have responsibilities within the church — their actions, of course, contradicting Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.  I have also seen many give up serving in the church when their families are grown or even stop attending when life gets difficult.

 I am so VERY thankful for my current church home, Grace Family Fellowship. We are a reformed, family-integrated church that desires to walk in obedience to the Scriptures alone, and we align our families and our church in this same manner.  We believe that the leadership of the father in the home is paramount to the instruction of the family (and NOT the youth pastor or children’s minister), and that fellowship of the church is needed in order to have true accountability. We believe accountability begins with proper delivery of God’s Word through expository preaching. 

I now have more time for relationships with both older and younger women. I enjoy visiting with the younger women in my church, and I sometimes bring meals to give them a break from cooking.  These younger gals in my church are teaching me so much as I observe their obedience to the LORD in their actions, the way they allow their husbands to be the head of their households, and especially in the ways they work with their children — these young women do not expect the church to teach their children.  They also do not have their children in every extra-curricular activity like so many families do today.

So how are things done in your church?  Do you have so many programs available that you have little time for authentic fellowship with other believers?  Do you find yourself totally exhausted from all the volunteer work that you do?  Have you ever been mentored, or are you currently mentoring a young believer?  Do you have time for real relationships — not just reaching out to friends on the Internet?

Relax — but DON’T be lax

 I have been doing really well following my diet plan and exercising.  We have gone away twice this summer, and I planned ahead by packing healthy snacks.  I used my fitbit and would log on to my account to check my stats — if I was close to 10,000 steps, I would find a walking trail and go for another 20-30 minute walk. 

 Last week we came back from a 5 day DC trip.  When I weighed in the next morning — I FREAKED because I was 5 pounds heavier!! I could NOT imagine why — I had brought healthy snacks, I chose healthy menu options at the restaurants we ate at, I drank plenty of water, and I walked A LOT (one day over 15,000 steps according to my fitbit).

 I really, really looked back at what I ate and sadly remembered: the 3 bites of cheesecake that I didn’t count (or maybe it was 4 or 5?), the roll with butter that I didn’t write down (wait, I ate 2!), the handful(s) of my husband’s peanuts that I failed to add to myfitnesspal, the piece of my daughter’s chocolate bar that I forgot about, and the handfuls of her gluten free granola I neglected to add either!!  Ugh….and what about that small double chocolate gelato I ate after we had toured DC all day?  How did I do this?

When we go on vacation, we relax and get lax.
The bottom line is that I let my guard down.

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I am very happy to report that I was able to get back on my diet.
I exercised and lost that 5 pounds plus .4 more in a week.

 By letting my guard down I ate things I shouldn’t have.  When we let our spiritual guard down, there are far worse effects than just gaining 5 pounds:  we become apathetic to the things going on around us, our prayer life suffers, we stop going to church, we cuss, we start looking at our coworkers of the opposite sex, we watch shows we shouldn’t, etc.

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 Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful season of summer.  Thank You for allowing us time to relax and time to spend with our families.  Thank You for the beauty of this planet!  Holy Spirit, please remind us to not let our guards down while we’re relaxing and enjoying our vacation times.  Please convict us when we get lax in our spiritual disciplines and encourage us to stay firm in our faith.  Thank You for forgiving us when we fail You and thank You for pointing us back in the right direction.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.