So Much Freedom

A word that God continues to bring me back to this year is Freedom. Oh, I long to grasp what He is trying to give me! He is saying, “Lyndsay, there is so much freedom.”

Freedom from guilt. I struggle so much with guilt, and it is not from the Lord! Conviction, specific conviction, is from the Lord, but not guilt. Some of the things I feel guilty about is not having time for people outside of my home, like extended family, old friends, all the way to people around the world. This weighs heavily on me and God is calling me to just look to Him and trust HIM to give me opportunity to serve them when HE leads, not just because I feel a tug. I can’t give more than I actually have. I also struggle with guilt about not finding balance. With my health conditions, I really must eat well, sleep a lot, handle stress with prayer, yoga, exercise, and just keep a pretty regular routine. It’s frustrating to get sick and think it’s my fault, when I simply ate some sweets at a party (ok, several parties…Christmas is hard! Vacation is hard! Weekends are hard!)  I know the Lord is telling me that I need to operate from a heart of desiring wisdom, not rules or perfection or feeling trapped. He can work through me even when I’m down and out, but He gives me the freedom to choose a better way. He even gives me the freedom to choose joy and peace if I am sick. He gives me freedom to forgive myself and start again.

Also, another big one is freedom from fear. I have always thought of myself as fearless because I do it whether I’m afraid or not. My faith, because of God’s real presence in my life, has always been greater than my fear. Going to live in other countries alone, getting on stages, I wasn’t raised to do that! It doesn’t come naturally. But my purpose is stronger than my feelings. But fear comes in other forms. Like fear of disappointing people I love, fear that I won’t live up to the potential God wanted for me, and fear that I will forget and be left without valuable truths I’ve learned and priorities I have been given, beautiful memories and seasons of life. These are real fears! I am not strong enough to combat them on my own. But still God is saying, “Lyndsay, there is so much freedom.” He doesn’t want me focusing so hard on myself nor does He want me focusing on what may happen later. He gives us freedom regarding what we choose to focus on, isn’t that awesome?! He wants to set me free from trying to control what does or doesn’t happen to me and those I love. The more I trust Him, the less concerned I will be because my eyes are on who He is and on obeying Him in this moment. When your good Father is also your King, there is peace should you choose to accept it! And all we really have to give Him is this moment, right?

I think freedom comes when we let go of what we thought we had to have–to be happy, to be good, to be loved, to live a purposeful life–and we embrace that there is only One thing we actually are promised, only One thing we can keep in life and in death, and it’s not our family, our potential, our wise choices, or our legacy…it is the love of God. I am wrecked by the love of God! When I let it hit me, when I let that wave of His great love and mercy hit me, I can’t even see anything else. Even if all the guilts and fears and other issues were true and actually happened, I’d still be here, lost in the wave of His undying affection for me. It doesn’t mean we never think about anything or anyone else, it just means once His love takes the place in our lives that it deserves, everything else falls into lesser categories.

That is so much freedom.

#HowToBuild: Standing Your Ground

One of my favorite shows used to be ALIAS! Awesome music, Jennifer Garner kicking butt and saving the world, and of course I can’t leave out it was one of the first shows where the writers decided it’s not really necessary to leave a dead person dead! So an important character dies, but somehow they are back in Season 4. Love it! But anyway…

On that show, there was an evil man named Alvin Sloane. Time after time, he was always showing up with manipulation and just enough truth to get his lies accepted by his co-workers. Mr. Sloane wasn’t genuinely trusted by the third season or so, but there were times the CIA needed to use his expertise anyway and he would be in the brainstorming room giving suggestions. In one particular scene, they were discussing a problem and he piped in with his suggestion rather strongly, and the heroine, Sydney Bristow, who especially was aware of his ability to trick people, said: “Excuse me, you have no authority in this room.”

Remember that.

We are waking up every morning to an opportunity to walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit, right? Like it or not, and actually even believe it or not, we are also waking up to the presence of both light and darkness, Jesus and the enemy of our souls. If we are in Christ, we have His presence around us and His Spirit within us. We can awaken to it and acknowledge it, by worshipping, digesting His Word, praying…or we can do nothing and sink deeper into the flesh, which is more Satan’s playground than we like to think.

He’s having a blast wreaking havoc in us and around us when we have chosen to stay in the flesh, yet he never actually had the authority to do that. He does it simply because we didn’t tell him not to. We have to stand our ground.

It may look like a sudden sense of confusion, or a sudden line of thinking that brings you back to an old habit or addiction. It may be frustration and anger that just takes you by surprise, and you can’t believe you’re feeling and acting so ugly. It may be a habitual thing or an acute thing, but it’s negative, harsh, unforgiving, or fear-filled.

In those moments, I don’t always realize it is the enemy. And of course, sometimes it isn’t directly the enemy. Sometimes we have a process to work through to get where we need to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But thank God, it’s not always a big long process! Sometimes it’s just as simple as recognizing what is going on. Whether someone is coming at us with one of these negative, irrational, overreacting emotions or we feel it rise up in ourselves, we are the ones with the authority in the situation, not the enemy. The name of Jesus makes the enemy flee! He can’t fill us, he can’t control us, and he knows it. He can only make suggestions that turn to thoughts that turn to feelings that turn to words and actions and habits and sin!!! We must know his schemes but also his gaping weaknesses.

Speaking, singing, and praising the name of Jesus makes the grip of the spirit of fear, confusion, bitterness, unforgiveness, laziness, lust, and anger loosen. We don’t have to stay in that place, abused and oppressed. With the knowledge that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) we can know our place of authority over the enemy.

Here are some further scriptures on this, and just in writing this, I am so spurred on to ask the Holy Spirit to help me be aware when evil, un-peaceful, and divisive spirits are at work so that I can choose to not go along with them. We need a new normal, brothers and sisters in Christ, and that new normal is recognizing what is going on in the unseen and standing our God-given ground!

Ephesians 4:17-5:21

Colossians 2:13-15

James 4:7-8

1 Peter 5:6-11

Matthew 4:1-11

 

Curbing Sugar Cravings

I’m thankful to say I have never used drugs or alcohol, but sugar (especially combined with wheat/flours) is powerfully addicting, too! In the same way that these dangerous substances can make a person feel like they have no power to stop using and consuming them, sugar has the same effect. You can hate yourself for sticking another cookie in your mouth, yet actually keep doing it. “Why are you hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself”, I hear Satan chanting! Realizing it’s addictive is an important step, and knowing also that sheer willpower isn’t enough for most people, is quite liberating.

So what are some things that help- some things beyond just knowing what you’re supposed to eat and not eat and hanging onto those facts for dear life? Here are some ideas that help me…most of the time 🙂 Also, before I get into this, I want to say that I think eating sweets with friends and family some times is a good thing. This post is for people like me who struggle with eating too much, or alone, or too often. So here we go, some choices that may PREVENT STRUGGLE and DEFEAT:

1) Prayer– Duh, right? But seriously, if you want to live in freedom from ANY addiction, you need God on your side…and He IS. But sometimes we need to stop, look up, and let ourselves sink into His presence. All of a sudden we realize we are not alone, and maybe He’ll even give us the presence of mind to see past the moment into the rewards that wait for making the right choice. Any goal we make for ourselves, any desire God has put in us for wisdom and freedom, will require starting each day asking Him for help and humbling acknowledging that when stressful events come, You will need His help.

2) Self-Talk– Take some time to think through the conversation that you have with yourself right before digging into something you didn’t plan on eating and wish you didn’t want. What are you saying? Is it “I deserve this” or “I’ll just have one”? Is it “I have no choice, it’s here, and I know myself well enough to know I’ll eat it eventually anyway” or “I’ve already messed up today so I may as well go ahead and have all I want”? Figure out what dumb lies you are feeding yourself  and have a response of truth! For example, if it’s “I’ve had a hard day, I deserve this”, your response would be: “What I really deserve is something that will make me feel great, a gift to my tired body, not something that will make me feel worse both physically and emotionally!” And then give yourself that–a hot bath, or pencil in movie night that night, or check off days on a calendar that you go without sweets and when you get to 30, go buy yourself something! Be kind to yourself…Snickers bars are NOT kind.

3) Breakfast: Don’t skip breakfast, ever, and make sure it is protein packed and very little carbs. I don’t even eat fruit at breakfast. Keeping the sugary taste out of my mouth is crucial to me in the morning.

4) No refined carbs: Breads, buns, tortilla chips, potato chips,  gluten free or not, will turn around and make you crave sugar. I think fruit, potatoes, brown/long grain rice, quinoa, etc are fine personally. They are unrefined carbs and I kinda feel like if God gave them to us, then they’re good…but I understand that’s up for debate! If those unrefined carbs make you crave sugar, then go for awhile without eating them and see how you feel. I genuinely don’t recommend going carb-free, but just having one or two small servings a day of unrefined carbs.  If you go carb-free, there are some physical repercussions to your kidneys and if you go back to carbs at some point, your weight will come back so quickly. 🙁

5) Exercise: Exercise makes you feel great; endorphins are sweet! And when you have exercised, you are less likely to “mess it up” with doing something bad for yourself like eating sweets!

6) Plan: For most people, they are not going to want to say, “I will never eat this or that again.” Maybe it’s a good idea to pick out some events and holidays that you will have sweets, and when you have cravings just remind yourself that you will have the chance to have your very favorites then. We are big kids…we can do the delayed gratification thing!

7) Sleep: Get plenty of sleep, friends!!! That gives us automatic presence of mind to not do, eat, and say thoughtless things. Also, the hormones that are excreted in large amounts when we’re tired are dangerously similar to hormones that make us feel hungry. We usually can’t feel the difference and consume extra calories when we really just needed sleep.

I am convinced that you have to personally believe the facts you have read about sugar to make a difference, and you have to make changes in your lifestyle to ward off disaster instead of always picking up the pieces! But no one can do it for you, it’s an internal thing…a change from the inside out, because you really want freedom and better health.

Let’s Journey as Well as we can!! That’s being a good steward of what we’ve been given!

 

A New Year!

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I love the new year!! Even though winter isn’t my favorite time, I really love starting a new year of possibilities and ideas. My daughters will turn 9 and 6 this year; that I cannot believe!! My husband and I are going on an awesome trip, a gift from a loved one…a very loved one, haha! My best friend is having a baby. There are some other exciting things happening, too, that I’ll blog about in the months to come.

Along with the new year comes…drum roll…resolutions! I can’t say that I really have any resolutions this year, just some direction on what I want to make sure I focus on. And one of the things on my list of course is wellness. I lost 20 lbs in 2013 by going essentially wheat and sugar free, and I am so thankful! I want to keep that going, and possibly lose a few more.

I’ve been talking with people lately who would like to get started on a real-life plan such as what, by God’s grace, I did last year, and I have a few suggestions–nothing I haven’t blogged before, but here we go:

1-BASIC: Exercise 15 min a day. If I can’t get up and do it in the morning, I try to squeeze it in before dinner or even do yoga before bed. My favorite exercise is lifting weights, walking, and yoga. I think exercising almost every day is better than long hard workouts 3 x a week.

2-GETTING STARTED: Compile a list of why you’d want to go off of sugar and wheat. Do some research and see what it is doing to your body. Eventually, you’ll look at bread and think, “Hmm…white, puffy, I don’t want to look like that…or feel that heaviness in my tummy either.” There are dozens of reasons to go off this stuff but you have to find the ones that resonate with YOU. I don’t eat wheat because I know I can keep my weight steady by not eating, because when I got off of it I stopped having any acid reflux (within 6-8 weeks), and because my digestive system is so much happier, just believe me. I don’t eat sugar except on special preplanned occasions with friends and family because it steals my vitamins, overloads the work of my pancreas and adrenals, gives me infections, makes me want more and struggle with self control issues, makes me gain weight, puts a tire around my middle, and keeps me from living in the victory of health and clarity God has for me. Other people go off meat or dairy for these same reasons. How do these foods physically make you feel? You get to choose to stop eating them if you don’t like the way your body reacts! If you believe in your reasons, even if you mess up, you’ll keep going back to what is best for you. You have to take care of yourself!

3-HOW TO: Get an accountability partner or group, and tell them your intentions. Make a commitment to let them know when you went off track. Get junk out of your house. Have lots of good food you do like in the house, always have an alternative to fill the void of foods you are eliminating. Also, learn your triggers and try to work ways around them. Decide a date you can have what you want, for example a summer vacation. Chances are, after eating poorly for a day you will be craving how you were feeling before. One more thing, know those scripts you tell yourself, like, “Well, I may as well eat that, because I didn’t have time to exercise today anyway so it’s just a bad day overall” OR “I can have that because I worked out so hard” OR “I deserve this! I’m a free woman!” The fact is: Freedom is being in control of yourself and reaping the benefits.