There are so many things I have loved about this blog, but probably my favorite thing is just being able to share what I’m learning from the Lord as I am learning. It creates such a passion to be able to share what I’m experiencing. And to have women come up or send a message and tell me that what I shared spoke to them, took them farther in their faith, encouraged them to pursue The Lord…makes every minute spent writing worth it all!
I would always prefer to speak well of my health, and focus on the blessings of life. However, I also believe in doing everything you can to bring glory to God in every situation. So, heres the latest. In the past I’ve shared a few things about some health issues I’ve experience and I was recently faced with another big health shock and an even bigger decision. This was fairly new territory and neither Jordan or myself had any knowledge about the decisions we would be making. Honestly, I was in a bit of a depression for the first two days. All I could think about were the negatives of every angle. But, as I began to share with close friends, one of them asked me a question that changed everything. I should have known she would ask. She always does. Tammy, yes By Faith She Tammy, asked me the same question she does every time I take a problem, concern, situation… to her. What verse are you claiming over this decision? Well, honestly I hadn’t thought about it yet. I had most definitely pulled out my trusty Fear Not booklet to focus my thoughts on the Lord and remind myself He was still in control. But, we still had a huge decision to make, so what verse was going to lead me in that? We desperately needed wisdom since neither of us had any on this subject. That was it! Wisdom!
James 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Wow! Yes Lord! I NEED Your wisdom. I am lost in this situation. Please lead me, guide me, show me which way to go! This became my prayer.
Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting. But did you know that the Lord began filling my mind with people who had been through similar situations. So I started calling them and asking questions. And guess what happened? I began to understand my predicament. I began to gain knowledge about my situation. Throughout the next couple of weeks, The Lord sent teams of people to give me guidance, personal experiences, and yes, you guessed it…WISDOM!
This was still not any place I wanted to be, but I know that my plans are not God’s plans. I also know that I would rather follow His lead than mine any day! I was now armed with the information I needed. Although, there were still a few pieces of the puzzle I just didn’t know which way to go. I began praying that these would be non issues. Things that were decided for me so that I could just trust that it was God’s way and not my own. He took care of each one of those pieces and the decisions were made with confidence.
Girls, God’s Word is TRUE! We can trust it. It never fails us. What decision, problem, or issue are you faced with today? Find a verse to claim over your situation. Read it, pray it, memorize it.
If you're not sure how to find a verse, try using biblegateway.com Using the keyword search, type a word that pertains to your situation. Need wisdom, or peace? Are you fearful or anxious? Try these words and see what gems you will find in God’s Holy, Perfect, Guide!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
I sat in the waiting room, at moments shaking, at other moments thinking I was going to be sick at my stomach...waiting. I had to wait over an hour. I was in a room full of women, all of us waiting for the results. Silence. I read Psalm 121 over and over and over until I thought, “Ok, just memorize it.” So I began to just memorize it.
Fear. Worry. Gripped by its icy, bony fingers.
What is your deepest fear?
“Fear, you say? Christians aren’t gripped by worry or fear.” We read verses such as Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” and we march boldly into tomorrow with no worries.
Or we could be honest.
We worry about money, death, our children, fear something happening to our children, our marriage, our job security, our aging parents...or health issues as we sit in a waiting room, gripped by fear, powerless to do anything about the impending outcome.
When the inevitable worries and fears come, and our world is shaken to the core, what do we do?
Jesus calls us to an unbelievable faith. If we are a Christ follower, then we must follow the ways of Christ. I know this sounds like a statement that would get a “Well, duh!” reaction from my middle school students, but think about it. Christ calls us to a simple life: we want to complicate it.
So here goes:
● First, I must be ok with the unknown.
As a Christ follower, I must admit and live by faith in Christ. This means that some days, most days, every day, I have no idea what will happen next. I must be ok with that.
This requires lots of prayer. “Lord, I cannot do this. Help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:24). You are a Sovereign God, and your ways are not my ways. Teach me to have faith that starts childlike but will grow as you lead me and I continue to trust in you and you alone. God, when I start to lean towards my understanding of things and trust in myself and my own power, please jerk me back to you. That jerking may hurt, but help me, God. I am desperate.”
● Second, I must accept that I am part of a large master plan.
“Father, I am a glorious piece of a larger plan that is beautiful. Help my issue with pride, that makes everything about me. Nothing is about me. It’s all about you. Help me to be find contentment in that.”
● Third, I must be grateful.
That’s where my waiting room story picks back up.
Ladies came and went from the waiting room, all of us waiting for our name to be called, like some ominous lottery. And then someone spoke.
Light, casual conversation began. “I am so nervous that I can’t even speak,” I thought.
But as I was reading Psalm 121 over and over, the obvious began to kick in. “Why do I even continue to read this yet not trust in it as truth? God, help me. Free me, Lord for I am in bondage.”
“It’s not about you. Speak. Open your mouth. Are these ladies believers? Do they know the hope in Christ?”
So I began to speak. Weather, flu, schools, “I am a teacher”, and then God “lobbed me a softball”, an accurate reference to this moment as stated by my pastor Rodney Alexander.
The conversation turned to deeper matters. God allowed me opportunities to speak of His goodness, that attitude of gratitude that I am compelled to have, God’s ability to heal physically at any moment, all sorts of small tidbits of peace. I always walk away from these moments feeling that I never said enough, but remember, piece of a beautiful puzzle.
Something wonderful happened in that moment, besides the obvious golden opportunity to speak life and peace: I was no longer nervous. I realized that there was no way I could control the results that were coming any minute, but I could control what I did right now.
God is calling us to follow Him in every moment, every second. Those moments add up to a lifetime of following, blindly, obediently, trusting in a Sovereign, good God. The focus is off of me and on my King. Therein is peace.
The rest of the story: I was clear. The patient right before me was not.
I am grateful, trusting in the good and the bad to an Omnipotent God Who loves me.
“What time I am afraid, I will (by His will over mine, moment by moment, second by second) trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
Kathy McBroom is a middle school English teacher who resides in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, ten minutes south of Louisville. Her husband Robert is the Missions’ and Assimilation Pastor at Little Flock Baptist Church. She is an author, blogger, bible teacher and has recently begun “Manic Monday” a group which can be found on Facebook. She and Robert have two daughters, Rachel and Hannah, who are also teachers. You can check out more of Kathy's great writing on her blog.
Six Ways to Diffuse Depression
The Glad Game. Have you ever heard of it? It took place in a cranky aunt's home located in a town of hard-hearted people. Seems almost impossible, doesn't it? But a very determined little orphan girl wasn't deterred. She introduced the game to any who would listen by saying, "No matter how bleak the situation, you can always find something to be glad about."
Everyone, from the town recluse to the orphan's aunt, was eventually affected by "The Glad Game." All because of one little orphan named Pollyanna. "The Glad Game" changed the fictitious town, yet more importantly, it changed the author, Eleanor H. Porter, who penned the story. She was quoted, “Oh yes, my relationship with Pollyanna is personal. She got me thru my childhood.”
When the dark blanket of depression descends, a Pollyanna approach to life is the farthest thing from our mind. But should it be? Should we find something positive even in the bleakest of circumstances?
Like we discussed in part 1, bouts of depression can swoop down upon us unaware! But we who suffer from depression are not without hope! We don’t always have to resort to the pill bottle or the counselor’s couch to see the light of day. While there are benefits to those, we can choose to play Pollyanna’s “The Glad Game” but rename it as “The Thankfulness Game.”
My friend, it is healthy and good to be actively engaged In overcoming depression.
Thankfulness. What's so powerful about being thankful? Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical psychiatrist, scanned a woman’s brain two times, first when she was thankful, then when she was fearful. For the first scan, she dwelt on everything for which she was thankful. For the second scan, she meditated on all her fears of things which could go wrong.
The difference between the thankful brain and the non-thankful brain scans was stunning.
Her thankful brain lit up the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. This result makes sense. When we’re thankful, it adds a spring to our step and infuses hope into any situation and gives us the drive to push thru the hard things in life.
Proverbs 17:22 declares: "A joyful heart is good medicine!"
Her non-thankful brain showed a decrease in the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. Think about it, when we are fearful or down, our thoughts and actions become jumbled as if we’re walking through sludge. We're stunted from thriving.
Like Proverbs 17:22 warns: "A broken spirit dries up the bones."
Science proves the Bible!
Dr. Amen's brain scans prove Proverbs 17:22! Positive thoughts/thankful thoughts release endorphins - happy chemicals - which are stronger than morphine! "Being grateful for the wonderful things in your life literally helps you. . . “ (Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Making a Good Brain Great, p. 151) Read more about this in part one.
My friend, this is good news! Thankfulness can help heal a bout of depression!
Here are 6 ways we can play “The Thankfulness Game”?
1. Three things
When I'm in "the pit of despair," I make myself think of three things I'm thankful for. Why? Thankfulness is good medicine. I might be in my car or in my bed with the covers pulled over my head. No matter where I am, I can always mentally choose thankful thoughts of glee to sweep away the dark thoughts of "woe is me."
2. Thankfulness Journal
I have notebooks here, there, and everywhere to remind me to write thankful thoughts. It's not only fun, it’s life-giving to look back over the lists and see the faithful hand of God. Research shows the benefit of keeping a running list of thankful things:
“10 weeks later…participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group.” (Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Huffington Post)
3. Thankfulness Pinterest Board
Growing up, the sweet lady across the street kept a scrapbook full of her favorite pictures and quotes. I used to spend hours during the dark days of winter looking thru them next to a crackling fire with a warm mug of cocoa at my side.
Pinterest is a modern day version of her scrapbook. Start a thankfulness board on Pinterest and pin thankfulness thoughts and verses which inspire you. Simply type in "thankfulness quotes" or "Thankful verses" in your search engine search bar and then click images. Pin one or two a day. Check it regularly.
4. Thankfulness Screensavers
Speaking of thankfulness quotes or verses images, save a pretty one as your screensaver. Each time you pick up your phone or power on your computer, it will remind you to be thankful.
5. Thankfulness Sharing
Social media has enough negativity. There are others out there who need the thankfulness treasures you are unearthing. Like a flower girl casting pedals, share a thankfulness quote or verse on your social media page regularly.
6. Thankfulness Accountability Partner
I have a couple of precious friends I make (yes, I have learned I need to bully my flesh.) myself tell when I'm under a cloud of depression. They know when I tell them I am down-hearted, they are to point me to what is true and good and beautiful. They even sometimes make me tell them three things I'm thankful for and check in during the day to be sure I'm not wallowing in my pit of despair.
Life is hard. Dark days descend without notice. But God is good. He's given us a remedy for depression: a thankful heart. A cheerful heart. A glad heart. Pollyanna was right, “there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
How about you, my friend? What are some tricks of the trade you use to help fight the dark thoughts? Perhaps you're in the throes of a dark period. I'm sorry. That's hard. Let me know as I'd love to pray with you. But also, I challenge you to pick one of the 6 remedies listed above and faithfully implement them into your day. You can do this! I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Lavender - Audra's pick
We love us some lavender at our house! My kids even ask for me to rub it on their pillows before bed because of it’s calming and relaxing smell. A couple drops are great in a hot bath for smell as well as softness. I’ve even used it when I knew I was going somewhere extra stinky. I took a roller bottle and rubbed it on my wrists so I could get a good whiff occasionally as needed to help with the bad smell. Needless to say, lavender is frequently used around here.
OnGuard - Laura's pick
Well, I am new to essential oils! My mother-in-law gifted me with a starter kit for Christmas and it could not have come at a better time. We had the flu hit our house then I was traveling the first part of January and we came home to our daughter with strep. OnGuard was my best friend through it all and I stayed well the entire time! It is a protective blend made up of five essential oils: Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf and Rosemary Leaf/Flower. I use it as a hand sanitizer, soap, and a householder cleaner. I also take the beadlets during seasonal threats and I diffuse it regularly! Besides all the germ fighting benefits, the smell…is oh so good!
Frankincense - Rebecca's pick
Why do I love Frankincense? Let me count the ways! Number one: It is good for EVERYTHING! The common motto is, "When in doubt, use frankincense." Number two: Frankincense helps to focus energy, minimize distractions, quieten "mind chatter," and improve concentration. It is no wonder why God commanded it be burned as a perpetual incense before the Lord in the Tabernacle in Exodus 30:8. For this reason, I love to rub it onto my temples before church! Number three: It has deep Biblical meaning. I delve into the significance of frankincense, starting with its extraction from the tree to its use in the Tabernacle and Temple, in my post, "Why Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh." The details are so rich and mind-blowing. You will never look at a bottle of frankincense the same way again!
Deep Blue - Tammy's pick
I have a few favorite go-to oils, but Deep Blue is one I find I recommend time after time. In fact, I had a friend with severe back pain who couldn't get relief even from a chiropractor. I gave her Deep Blue to try. She couldn't believe how much better she felt. I love the lotion as a little bit goes a long way. Whether it's aches from working out, or pain in the neck from tension, or throbbing in my temples from a headache, Deep Blue is my go-to. A plus, it has peppermint in it, so it also elevates one's mood.
Young Living’s Joy Essential Oil Blend - Makiah’s pick
I am an avid essential oil user for everything from cleaning formulas to acne treatment! But as someone who has struggled with mental health issues, I have discovered essential oils can really help to lift your mood or make you feel more calm. I’m a fan of all Young Living’s emotional oil blends, but my go to essential oil is their Joy Blend. I love to put on the Joy blend either on my neck or ears just to give my spirit a lift, and help myself refocus on all the joy God has placed in my life. I am especially fond of this blend, because while it has emotional benefits, it also smells great and doubles as a perfume.
The Freshman 20. Unfortunately, I was too familiar with that weight gain phrase. I numbly watched the scale inch upward as my waistband stretched outward. I knew the verse,
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
As I nodded in agreement to the truth in this verse, I would stuff another cookie in my mouth as I sat on the couch like a lump. It was as if I was silently telling the Lord, “I know all about that 1 Corinthians 6:19 verse. I don’t do _____________, so don’t mess with my food or lounging around choices.”
When I graduated college, I had a choice to make: I could continue the upward climb on the scales, or I could get off the couch and do something about it. Now, years later, I’m so glad I chose the discipline of exercising.
With our busy lives, why should we make exercise a priority?
1. Exercise Keeps Us “Young” - Dr. Daniel Amen declares "exercise is the fountain of youth in so many ways.” in his book Use Your Brain to Change Your Age.
- It boosts blood flow to the brain;
- it increases chemicals that are important for learning and memory and
- it stimulates the growth of new brain cells. 1
2. Exercise Elevates our Mood - The Mayo Clinic has found that when we exercise “feel good” chemicals are released into the brain creating
- a sense of calm and
- a sense of joy. 2
3. Boosts our energy - While we might think exercising will tire us out, it has the opposite effect helping us
- get stronger by building muscle strength.
- be able to do things for a longer amount of time by increasing our endurance. 2
4. Kingdom business ready - The three previous reasons combine for the most important reason: energy and strength to do what God has called you to do!
I love the charge found in Romans 12:1:
And so, dear brothers and sisters,
I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice— the kind He will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship Him.
With our busy lives, how do we make exercise a priority?
1. Schedule - find a time that works for you and write it down on your calendar each week until it becomes a habit. Depending on my stage of life, I’ve worked out in the early morning, after work, or in the evening. The clincher is to schedule it and be consistent.
2. Location -. There are oodles of resources from multi-priced health clubs to low cost workout groups to free at home workouts. The key is to find a place where you’re comfortable and will be consistent. I’ve tried them all and found what works best for me in each season of life.
3. Preference - Some like weights, some like machines, while some like aerobics, or a walking track. There are so many fabulous exercise choices out there that we are without excuse. Find what type of exercise you like to do and do it!
4. Anytime, anywhere - I’ve developed an anytime, anywhere mentality. Whether I’m brushing my teeth, or pumping gas or microwaving my water, if I find myself standing still (and alone ;-)), I work some part of my body. Whether it is leg lifts or arm pumps or glut squeezes, there’s always something I can do to strengthen my body during the day.
With my busy life, here is how I make sure exercise is a priority:
During this season of life, working out in my home is best. So, when my alarm clock goes off on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I force my lazy bones out of bed and exercise. Sometimes I’ll rotate thru my Leslie Sansone walking videos, while other days I may pull up a YouTube walking workout. I’m always glad I did it when I’m done.
The Freshman 20 are history. All these years later, I feel stronger and have more energy than I did in my college years in large part because I choose to regularly workout. Motivation?
- I want my man to still look at me and say, “Ooo, la, la!”
- I want to be able to laugh and play with my kiddos.
- I want to meet sweet Jesus girls at the walking track to talk about the deep issues of the heart.
- I want to glorify the Lord by taking good care of the body He gave me to serve Him and others.
Therefore, by faith, I will do my best to maintain and keep my body healthy until I see my Jesus face to face.
“For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
How about you? What seems to hold you back from exercising? What exercises do you love? What tips help you make exercise a priority?
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
I think we all know the correct answer to this question, the church answer. But do we know why and do we truly believe that God is good no matter what our circumstances?
I recently had a serious health scare that landed me first in the hospital and then on an operating table. For several days (which seemed like an eternity), the “C” word (cancer) was used many times as a possible cause for the problems I was experiencing. I was transferred to a hospital nearby in order to have a surgical oncologist perform my operation.
The unknown is a tough place to be. I hope God will allow me to share what those days were like and the kindness He showed me by covering me in His amazing peace in another post, but for today He is leading me in a different direction.
A couple weeks after the surgery I received the wonderful news that there was no cancer found. What an answer to prayer! Days later I returned to church for the first time. During the worship as we stood to sing and praise the Lord, I felt so truly grateful for the healing the Lord had provided. I was happy to be back with my people and to be feeling somewhat normal again. But a strange question shot through my mind, almost as if God Himself was asking. What if He hadn’t healed me? Was He still good? Did He deserve my praise because of what He had done for me or because He was God? After all, the lady in the front of me buried her daughter just months before, and another friend her husband. A young boy standing nearby actually was battling his own life threatening illness right then. There were scenarios all around me and even circumstances in my own life that had turned out much differently than anyone wanted. So what did I make of this and what was true about God’s goodness?
I believe in the sovereignty of God - that He knows what is best and that He has a plan. James 4:13-14 reminds us that our lives are in the hands of God and we ourselves should remember that we aren’t promised another second. It is only by His will that we live another day. I also believe in the power of prayer. I know that it touches God’s heart when His people come to Him in desperation and plead for His healing power. 2 Kings 20 tells the story of King Hezekiah. God reveals to Hezekiah that his life is over and he needs to prepare for the end. But Hezekiah cries out to God and God answers, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5
As a side note, let me ask, why is it that we are so surprised when God answers our prayers? While I was in the hospital having tests run and waiting for surgery, I looked at Jordan and said, “I think something is wrong!” “Why? Are you hurting?” he asked. “No, I’m not having any pain and that’s not normal.” I told him. “Something must be wrong.” At this point, we hadn’t told many people that I was sick because we had no idea what was going on, but Jordan quickly reminded me of the friends and family we had asked to be praying. One of the main things we had asked them to pray for was that God would ease the pain. Instead of thanking God for answered prayer, I was questioning why it was happening. “Just rest and enjoy this answered prayer.” he encouraged. Praise God!
Was my healing God’s plan all along or was it because the prayers of His people? I am so very thankful that the Lord chose to heal my body and restore my health, but I don’t know the answer to that question, and probably won’t know this side of heaven. What I do know is that He is a good God no matter what the outcome and that He deserves praise because of who He is, not for the things He does that I agree with. Fortunately, when this question shot through my mind in church that day, I had already talked through the answers with God while in the hospital. I knew that no matter what His will revealed, He had been so faithful to me throughout my life that I could trust His plan, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped for.
If you haven’t walked with God for long or if you aren’t a believer, this may be puzzling to you. How could you believe that a God who would allow bad things to happen, could be good? When I first became a Christian, I didn’t understand this and there are still many days that it’s hard to comprehend. But when I chose to believe Him and trust what His Word said was true, He slowly began showing me through my life circumstances how true it was. It’s actually been through the harder times that I’ve learned to trust Him more.
It’s like the pain I experienced through my recent illness. It was horrible, excruciating pain. I would have done almost anything to make it stop. But the doctor told us that the pain actually led us to discover the problem and the need for surgery so he could remove what was bad inside. Without the pain, we never would have known it was there and it could have created horrible problems. So many times the pain and problems in life show us our true need for God’s healing in our soul instead of our body. It’s only through trusting Him that we can truly experience His goodness in our lives. Our circumstances will by no means become perfect, but the condition of our souls will be changed forever and each day of life will become sweeter.
Here are some of the promises that I can lean on when it’s hard to understand or trust God’s plan.
Jeremiah 29:11 promises that God has a plan for His children, to prosper them and not harm them, to give them a hope and a future. This does not mean that nothing bad will happen in our lives. This does not mean that we will always get what we want. There will come a day in all of our lives that we will come to the end. But when you know The Lord, He has a future plan for us, even in death.
In Matthew 26:36-42 Jesus knows he is about to die a painful, humiliating death on a cross. He is praying, asking God if there is another way so that He doesn’t have to experience this. But then He says, “Father, not as I will, but as you will.” Even Jesus didn’t want to go through this horrible situation in His life, but He knew God had a plan and that God’s will was always best.
Job is a short Old Testament book, and such an encouragement when you are going through a difficult time. Life went horribly wrong for Job, and even though he didn’t understand why, He knew God was sovereign and His ways were right.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 says, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
Followers of Christ are victorious even in death because Jesus has defeated sin! The only reason to fear death is if you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord, because then in death, you will have to pay for your sins yourself.
Romans 8 is filled with verses of hope for God’s children. If you don’t have time to read the entire chapter take a look at these verses:
Verse 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
So even the bad stuff that happens in our life, God will use it for our good.
Verse 31: What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
My future is secure in Jesus! No matter what anyone does to me or what happens in my life, God is for me and my life is in His hands. I have nothing to fear.
Verses 38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
As God’s children, even in pain, even in heartache, even in death, we cannot be separated from Gods’ love!
Follow us at By Faith She.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him
Driving along a winding mountain road somewhere in western Colorado in the stillness of the dark night, I silently cried out to the Lord while careful not to wake my sleeping husband who had dozed off in the passenger seat. It was during this lonely drive, the final leg of a ten-day dream trip spent traversing a couple thousand miles across mountains, sleepy hollows, geysers, and forests throughout five different states, that I had a moment of reckoning with the Lord.
There is something about prayers whispered in the night that cause one to be more honest, as if spilling out the contents of the heart is safer under the cover of darkness. This honest conversation between the Lord and I caused me to take inventory of my life and my condition. I confessed that my life was stuck in neutral, neither going forward nor backward, while my condition, both mental and physical, had decelerated at an alarming pace. Despite being 37 years of age, an age when one should be spry and full-of-life, I had next to no vitality or zeal. And, there was one notable thing above all others – I was tired ALL THE TIME.
My chronic fatigue was something I could no longer excuse nor deny. Our dream trip in which no stresses of life accommodated us – no children, no work, and no schedules – should have found me full of vigor and enthusiasm. It did not. Instead, I slept in the car any chance I got. While my husband hunted down every single geyser and bison in Yellowstone National Park, I curled up in a ball and slept. I could not shake the exhaustion off. The trip, although filled with some unforgettable moments such as viewing a rainbow at 11,000 feet, found me feeling exactly like I did back at home where the demands of life drained me morning, noon, and night.
“Why Lord? Why?” I cried. Why I couldn’t shake this lethargic state of mind and body off, I did not know. But, since we were having a late night confessional, I pressed in, unwilling to believe that this was simply how life was supposed to be (which, I will add, is EXACTLY what the enemy wants us to believe). No, it couldn’t stay this way. I refused! I could not continue living a life that required two to three naps per day and the few waking hours were spent thinking about the next nap.
As I began to take inventory of my health, I started to see red flags that I had been ignoring. I was 35 pounds overweight despite eating child-sized portions and grazing throughout the day. My once thick hair was thinning, my fingernails split constantly, chronic neck pain had become my nemesis, seasonal allergies were a mainstay, headaches were frequent, mental fatigue clouded my thoughts like a cloak, and I had developed a gluten sensitivity. And, the biggest meanie of all…I was addicted to sugar. Completely. 100%. Addicted.
My favorite way to consume sugar was through Coca-Cola. A cold Coke greeted me when I woke up in the morning, revved me up during my afternoon slump, and gave me that final kick at the end of a long day. I never went longer than a couple of hours without a sip of its caramel-ly, fizzy taste. In fact, I was drinking one while the Lord and I were having our little chat. It was my drug, my constant companion, and my reward.
But, it was also leeching the life out of me.
Depressed from my state of mind and body, I knew that something had to change and it had to start with me. But, I also knew myself well enough to know that I couldn’t last a single day, or perhaps even a single hour, if I relied on my own power. I had failed in my attempts to kick my sugar habit many times before so I knew that another momentary resolve simply wouldn't be enough to carry me through the hours, days, and weeks ahead without my drug. I needed a power greater than myself. I needed the Lord.
“Lord, I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to sleep my life away. I don’t want my children to see their mommy in the bed all the time. I don’t want to simply survive. I want more! I want that abundant life that you talk about. Will you help me find it? Will you help me do the things that I know I should be doing but can't?”
And, then, I added,
“Will you help me stop drinking Coke?”
If you are from the school of thought who believes the Lord looks upon requests such as this as insignificant or laughable, please allow me to correct you. He doesn’t. I am His child. And, just like my own children come to me with both small and large burdens and I listen to them, so does He. His Word tells us in Psalm 116:2 that not only does He listen, but He bends down to listen. Isn’t that the most comforting and beautiful picture? The Lord bends His ear to our whispered prayers, looking intently upon both our faces and our hearts, and has compassion for us. You can trust that your prayers are never a bother, too insignificant, or out of His reach. In fact, He longs to hear them.
I concluded my prayer by saying something that I had never said before. It was something radical! In fact, I couldn’t believe it came out of my mouth. But, once it rushed out, there was no taking it back. I said,
“Lord, I want to fast from Cokes for two weeks.”
Whoa! Did I really just say that? I had never…not once…fasted in my life! Where did that come from? Yet, as shocking as it was, I knew it was the answer. I had to do it! Then, I decided to do what all good addicts do: I finished my remaining Coke. The fast would have to start the next day.
When my husband awoke, I hesitantly confessed my fasting pledge to him. And, just like my own response, he said, “Whoa!” followed by, “Do you really think you could do this?”
No. Not for one second.
But God can.
The following two weeks found me longing for the caramel-ly, fizzy taste of my mineral-leeching vice, but I persisted. How? I prayed. I meditated on Scripture. I thought about how tasting that ice cold Coke wouldn’t be worth the remorse that I would feel if I broke my word to the Lord. This last thought is what primarily kept me going. God never, ever breaks His Word to me. Now, it was my turn to keep my word to Him.
After those two weeks were over, I was happy to realize that I didn’t die! I had actually done it! And, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “If you went this far, why not go further?” “Yes, Lord!” was my response. “Why not go further?!”
And, so I kept going.
Now, here I am, 25 months later, still Coke-free!
The girl who couldn’t go a single day without a Coke, has now gone 760 days without one! And, it is all because I chose to lay it at the Lord’s very capable feet and leave it there. Not a sip has passed my lips since!
It was several months later when I felt led to give all forms of sugar (with the exception of fruit) the big heave-o as well. Guided by the brilliant book, The Trim Healthy Mama Plan, I embraced the nutritional knowledge shared by two of the healthiest, funniest, and smartest sisters that I know (well, I don’t personally know them but feel as if I do). And, like my former Coke days, I never looked back. Not a gram of sugar has passed my lips in 21 months. Praise God!
The wisdom contained within the pages of this book has been a tree of life for me. I have clung to it with all my might and have led scores of other women to it as well. Everything that was once lost to me – vitality, zest for life, energy, confidence, hope, and spiritual growth – has rebounded and returned much stronger than ever before.
My 37 year old self doesn’t hold a candle to my nearly 40 year old self. As I approach my over the hill birthday, I feel as if I have successfully scaled every inch of that ginormous hill and then reached back down to pull others up with me. Both the view and the companionship are amazing!
Ironically, life without sugar is so very sweet! My meals are packed with nutritionally-rich, yummy foods that I wouldn't have dared touch in my sugar days. Allergies and sickness of any sort have been non-existent these past 21 months. My chronic neck pain is no more. Naps are very infrequent and only when my mind and body need a Sabbath-like rest. I have dropped all the excess weight and do not live in fear of regaining a single pound. I am free from negative self-talk. And, most importantly, I have grown significantly in my faith. I am walking out the Lord’s will for this season of my life – teaching nutrition and brain health Bible studies, blog writing, mentoring women, and nourishing my family – far better and more faithfully than I have ever done before. There is not enough blog space to tell you the countless stories of all the people, including that of my own 9 year old son, who have benefitted from that one bold prayer whispered in the still of the night. Its ripple effect has been far-reaching and life-changing for many.
Today, if you find yourself on the same darkened winding road as I once was with all hope lost, I want to encourage you to give it to the One who is more than able to carry heavy loads. Not only can He carry your load, He asks for it. You will find that His shoulders are strong...much stronger than yours. But, when you ask, you must believe and not doubt James 1:6.
Whether it’s Coke, sugar, excess carbs, a worn-out body, or a worn-out spirit, pour out your heart to Him. Lay your burdens a His feet and then wait for the ripple to begin. You can do this!
Next week: I will share my top tips on how to successfully stay sugar-free. Like our Facebook page here: By Faith She to follow along.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.