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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grumbling in the Wilderness

My church started a new Bible reading plan a couple of weeks ago, and I'm really enjoying it. This morning, as I sat down to read, I asked God to help me make a new connection. I love it when He answers this kind of prayer!

The way this particular reading plan is structured, we read a chapter from the New Testament each day for five days, and then we read a chapter from the Old Testament that connects with what we've been reading in the New Testament. This week, I've been reading John's Gospel each day, and today's reading was Exodus 16.

So I started reading ...

"They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt."

I was doing OK in verse 1.

"And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, 'Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.'"

But after reading verses 2 and 3, I felt a sense of conviction that has never come over me before while reading Exodus 16. 

So what convicted me? The phrase "when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full" - that's what convicted me.

I'm sure many of us have read about the grumbling of the Israelites in the wilderness. We've probably been at least a little appalled by it, maybe a little uppity in our reaction toward them. "Seriously, Israel? Seriously? God just performed a whole slew of Red-Sea-parting-sized miracles and you're grumbling because you're HUNGRY? Seriously?"

The Israelites' grumbling indicates a level of disbelief. In spite of God's miraculous protection during their deliverance from slavery, they didn't believe God would provide for their basic need of food. Even though God had just provided for their basic need of water (cf. Exodus 15: 22-27 for the miracle when God transformed bitter water into sweet drinking water for them), the Israelites still doubted. They doubted to the point of grumbling (out of the overflow of the mouth the heart speaks (Luke 6:45)).

These Israelites, the very people of God, the ones whom God had delivered out of horrible slavery and oppression (the Egyptians killed the Israelites' baby boys in order to oppress them (Exodus 1)), would rather return to slavery than be hungry. 

The last phrase of verse 3 indicates the Israelites had a poor understanding of the character of God: "for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger". Their hunger led them to doubt, which led them to grumble, which expressed a root problem of an ill sufficient understanding of the character of the loving, mighty, just, kind, holy God who led them out of Egypt.

"Oh, Israel, how could you be so foolish? You probably still have sand on your shoes from crossing the Red Sea, and you're doubting God. Oh, Israel. Tisk, tisk, tisk."

Um ....

"Oh, Rachelle, how could you be so foolish? Your jeans are loose because of God's kindness to you in your weight loss efforts, and you're whining because you want to drink queso for breakfast. Oh, Rachelle. Tisk, tisk, tisk."

Oh, I may not admit out loud that I want to drink queso for breakfast (seriously - think I could mix it into a smoothie? delicious, no?). I may not grumble OUT LOUD each day that goes by. 

But I grumble. 

A lot.

A whole lot.

I have a grumbling spirit as I fall into my old habits. "God, I know You've done so much for me. I know You are holy. I know that because of what Christ did for me, my response should be loving obedience. I know I should make healthy choices, but Imma gonna eat Taco Bell again today."

I have a grumbling spirit as I ignore my new habits. "God, I know You were working miracles in me, and I actually enjoyed exercising on a consistent basis. I enjoyed it! I know exercising would be a good choice of obedience today, but I'm going to stay in bed instead. For many hours more than I need."

I have a grumbling spirit as I ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, promptings either toward good deeds or away from poor, sinful choices.

Guys, I just don't want to do this anymore. I am at a point in this journey where I would rather go back to being enslaved to FOOD than continue walking in the freedom of Christ. 

I needed to admit that to myself today. I needed to admit it to God. I needed to admit it to the handful of sweet, loyal readers I have. 

So I'm going to remind myself of some truth, and then I'm going to ask something of you.

"Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' ... 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst'" (John 6:32-33, 35). (This was the big connection between my reading in John this week and the reading in Exodus 16 this morning.) 

Yes, Jesus was talking about more than physical hunger and physical thirst. That's the point! I need to stop focusing so much on what I can and can't eat right now. I need to focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, the one who lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death on the cross, and was raised from the dead so I could walk in FREEDOM from the sin that so easily entangles me. I need to remember that there is SO MUCH MORE to living the abundant life Jesus came to give me than the physical food that sustains me. HE is the one who sustains me ultimately. 

There is a lot more floating around in my head, and I may write more this week, but I'm going to finish up for now.

Here is what I would like from you: Share your stories with me. Has there been a time in your life when God performed a Red-Sea-parting-sized miracle for you and you grumbled afterward? 

Maybe you prayed and prayed for a job opportunity, and then you grumbled when He gave you the job, wishing you could go back to your old one.

Maybe you were in a terrible, possibly even abusive, relationship and you asked God to free you from it, and then you grumbled and wanted to go back to the relationship after God freed you from it.

Maybe you prayed for God to provide a way for you to stay at home with your children, and then you grumbled once you were finally at home with them.

There are so many situations I could list. I want to know if you're in a grumbling season now, because I'd love to pray for you. I want to know if you're on the other side of the grumbling season now, because I think many of us could be encouraged by you. I want to know about the miracles God has performed in your life, because we could all use a reminder that God is still in the business of doing miracles, and I'd like to rejoice with you.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Week 17 Weigh-In

This week, I was reminded that I'm a weenie. 

Last week, I was determined to do hard things. I knew it would be good for my health long term, as well as good for my walk with the Lord. 

So, I planned on starting a juice fast on Thursday. I was right about one thing: it was good for my spiritual life. I prayed a lot trying to swallow that first batch of juice! Gross!

Husby and I talked after that nasty first batch of juice, and we decided to ease into juicing. We want to try different fruit and vegetable combinations so we'll know what we like before juice and water are all we're consuming. 

We're going to be trying smoothies as well. The plan for now (once I buy more produce) is to replace at least one meal a day with a smoothie or juice. That works for us right now. 

The juice I did consume must have worked wonders for flushing out water weight, because ...

I lost 9.3 pounds this week, bringing my total weight loss up to 38.6 pounds and my current weight down to 285.0 pounds. 

That means I lost all my holiday bloat, and I'm back on track. Considering the fact that I consoled my sad juicing self with whatever I wanted to eat, I'm quite pleased. 

My goal for this week: reach the 40 pound milestone!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Week 16 Weigh-In

Happy January 1st! Tell me: How do you celebrate? Are you a planner and a goal setter? How many resolutions do you make? Do you make lots and lots, hoping at least one will stick? Do you forego resolving to improve your life because of failure to do so in the past?

I think I'm going to take the route of setting goals this year. I have two health related goals: 1) To be off my blood pressure medicine by the end of the year.  2) To weigh under 200 pounds by the end of the year. 

I need to implement plans in order to reach those goals. I know that because I didn't implement a plan to reach my end-of-the-year goal, and I was far from reaching it. 

Instead of working toward my goal, I went a bit crazy and did whatever I wanted over the last couple of weeks. My actions weren't honoring to the Lord, and they had pretty steep consequences for me.

Also, I was reminded again how easy it is to slip into my old habits. 

Habits make me think of one of my favorite pairs of shoes from college: a pair of well-worn Birkenstocks. When I received them, they were far from comfortable. In fact, it took months to conform those shoes to my feet. Interestingly, once they conformed to my feet, they were absolutely, positively mine, and I loved them. If you tried to wear them, you would probably hate them, because they conformed to my feet. Each day I wore them, my feet burrowed a little deeper into the soles, until the insides of those Birkenstocks looked like an outline of the soles of my feet. 

Right now, my new lifestyle is uncomfortable. Often, it's downright painful - physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Likely, it will be months (maybe longer) before my lifestyle is comfortable and is truly mine, before my lifestyle is part of me, an extension of who I am and what God has done and is continuing to do in my life. 

Going forward, I need to tell myself that the pain now is worth it. It has to be worth it. 

So, this year, I'm ready to challenge myself. I want to do hard things. Enough with the easy living. I want to live a life that pursues the Lord and opportunities to be conformed to the image of Christ. There aren't many opportunities like that while I'm watching TV and eating fast food. 

All that said, most of you clicked on the link to find out how much weight I gained. :0)


Holy cow. 

I gained 9.0 pounds, bringing my total weight loss down to 29.3 pounds and my current weight up to 294.3 pounds. 

You're reading all of that right. I probably broke a record. 

While I'm sad that I set myself back so far, I'm actually glad I was able to see what two weeks of my old habits would do to my body. I needed to see the impact of my choices.

I'm not going to dwell on my mistakes. Instead, I'm going to move on and move forward. Dwelling on my sin won't do me any good, but focusing on Christ will change my life. 

So, cheers to doing hard things this year! I'll share about the hard things I'll be doing in the weeks to come. What hard things will you be doing?

Friday, December 20, 2013

God Taught Me to Value What I Was Being Taught

I've been a church goer my whole life, even before I professed my faith in Christ. As long as I can remember, I have had a genuine love for church, though that love may look a little different now than it did while I was growing up. 

Now, I love corporate worship primarily because of the opportunity to sit under good teaching and to connect with God during the singing. 

Then, I loved corporate worship primarily for the singing (yes, they were hymns; our youth group jammed to Pass It On) and because I got to hang out with my best buddies. 

I had a really cute notebook I took to church with me. It was kind of a teal green color, and it was really a book cover for spiral notebooks. So, when I filled up a spiral notebook, I could replace it and still have the cute teal cover. Brilliant!

I started taking the notebook to church after I was shushed a few too many times while ripping open offering envelopes to write notes to my friends. Ah, yes, as you may have suspected, my cute notebook wasn't for TAKING notes during the sermon; it was for PASSING notes during the sermon. 

I would ask you not to tell on me, but the note passing would not surprise a soul. I will NEVER forget the time my pastor pulled me aside and talked to me about my behavior during church. It turns out my talking with my friend in the balcony (you know who you are! Haha!) and passing notes distracted him when he preached. MORTIFIED! I felt awful. And I was embarrassed. Now I'm reliving it. Oh my. I'm so thankful he was kind, gentle, and gracious when he spoke to me. 

He reminds me of how the Lord deals with me. 

Fast forward to my college days at North Greenville. I don't remember the exact moment I started taking notes during sermons, but there was a definite transition from passing notes to taking notes. Lots and lots of notes. I have filled numerous notebooks over the years taking notes during sermons. 

And I paid more attention to what was being taught. 

Through the process of taking notes, God taught me to value what I was being taught. 

This wasn't an overnight process. It took years. Sanctification often looks like that - very gradual, lasting change.

I want that for my physical health. Just like I went from passing notes to taking notes, I want to go from apathy regarding my body to viewing my body and my physical health the way God does.

I want God to teach me to value my body and my health. He created my body, knit me together in my mama's womb (Psalm 139:13). His Spirit dwells within me (Romans 8:9-11)! Both of those things AMAZE me. 

So ...

Why did I start this journey at 323.6 pounds?


My cognitive beliefs and my functional beliefs do not line up in this area. 

So I need Jesus! I need the grace of God. Just like He so graciously worked in my life over the course of a decade to teach me to value what I was being taught, I believe He will take the next several years (yes, years!) to teach me to value the one and only body He gave me because He made it and dwells in it. 

I'm looking forward to all He has to teach me! I'll be ready with my notebook!

Oh, by the way, don't be surprised if you try to pass me a note during church and I give you the stink eye. It's because I know it doesn't take much for me to regress to teenage Rachelle. :0)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Week 14 Weigh-In

Hi, everyone! I'm sorry I didn't post last week. I've been in a bit of a funk regarding this whole weight loss thing.

The funk isn't just about not wanting to exercise or wanting to be able to eat pizza every day (seriously, I would) or having a deep love for deep fried appetizers and mini candy bars. This funk is really about me being a bratty Christian, one who is reckless with grace.

That reality struck me yesterday as I cleaned off a pile of candy wrappers from my nightstand.

"God, thank You for Jesus. Can I eat all the candy bars I want, too?"

"God, thank You for being enough, and I know You're enough, but could I have more pizza?"

"Jesus, I know You gave your life away for me, but I don't want to get out of bed and exercise."

"God, this surely can't be what You meant by an abundant life, right? I mean, an abundant life would include a lot more fast food. In my humble opinion."

I had a particularly bratty moment when I didn't get what I wanted one day. "James said we would be blessed in the doing! I don't feel very blessed in the doing right now!" (See James 1:25.)

You see, I knew in the moment that I was misappropriating God's Word for my circumstances, but I didn't care.


I know the sacrifice God made in giving us His Son. I know the sacrifices Jesus made for me. I know the grace upon grace He gives - and that He gives MORE grace (James 4:6).

But I stomp my feet and throw fits (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) and demand what I want. Every time, I'm telling Jesus He isn't enough. Every time, I'm telling Him my way is better. Every time, I'm telling Him He doesn't know what He's doing with my life.



Here's the beautiful, glorious, gracious truth:

He loves me anyway.

He won't stop loving me.

When He looks at me, He sees Jesus, and He loves me.

He knows I'm broken, and He offers healing.

He knows what I want, and He offers me better things.

He offers forgiveness through Christ when I sin, even when I'm really bratty about it.

The same is true for you, believers, and can be true for those of you who don't believe if you place your trust in Christ.

This doesn't mean God won't discipline me or allow me to go through trials. He has, does, and will continue doing so. And I'm thankful for His discipline! I'm thankful for the trials! They're making me more like Christ. As evidenced by my regular foot stomping (and not in the cool, Irish dancing kind of way), I still have a long, long way to go. I'm thankful the Holy Spirit is taking me down that journey, one step at a time.

I've been pondering some of the ways I can tell God has been working in me over the last 3 months (yes! 3 months!), and I thought I'd share them with you (though small they may be):

  • My typical school routine included purchasing fast food for breakfast during my commute. Often, it was Sonic. When I went to Sonic, I purchased at least a large, sometimes a Route 44, Diet Dr. Pepper with vanilla, and I slurped it as I rode the elevator to my class on the second floor of the school building. For at least the last two months of school, I took the stairs on my way to class, and I haven't had a soda in 3 months. God is gracious!
  • We participated in a scavenger hunt a couple of weeks ago. MANY trips up and down the stairs and all over the church building were involved - with 10 children - 8 of which were BOYS. Three months ago, I don't think I would have made it past the first couple of clues, but I stuck it out for the entire scavenger hunt. God is gracious!
  • A few days ago, we helped a friend move out of her second story apartment. Three months ago, I don't know if I would have been able to help, especially with the constant trips up and down the stairs. But I did it! God is gracious!
  • Three months ago, I rarely went to the grocery store, and I had grown very slack about meal planning. While acknowledging I still have a LONG way to go in this area, I've seen definite improvements. God is gracious!
  • I used to make multiple trips to QT for snacks during the week (there is a QT close to school). Now, I don't remember the last time I purchased something to eat there. God is gracious!
  • It had been YEARS since I exercised regularly, and exercising has become a priority for me (most weeks!). God is gracious!
  • I lost 1.5 pounds since my last post, bringing my total weight lost up to 38.3 pounds and my current weight down to 285.3 pounds. God is gracious!
So, what about you? Is there an area in your life where you stomp your feet and insist your way is better than God's way? For me, it's food. For you, it could be something completely different. Maybe you won't submit your finances to God. Maybe you've sensed God calling you to change jobs or to move into a neighborhood you don't like. Maybe God has been nudging you to go on a mission trip to meet the needs of others and share the Gospel with them. Maybe He wants you to watch less TV and spend more time in His Word and prayer. Maybe there's a relationship in your life that needs mending. I could go on, but I bet I don't need to. You know what it is without me providing more possibilities.

What's stopping you? 

Christmas is a week from today. God has already given you the greatest gift EVER - His Son, Jesus, God with us. What's He asking you to give to Him? I bet you won't even have to wrap it. :O)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Week 12 Weigh-In

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We enjoyed time with part of our family, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone else over Christmas. 

My eating has been all over the place. I have the munchies non-stop. Thankfully, I've kept up with exercising. 

I lost 2.9 pounds, bringing my total weight loss up to 36.8 pounds and my current weight down to 286.8 pounds. Considering the munchies ... and the Japanese food ... and the Chili's ... and the two trips to CiCi's pizza ... good grief, I'm pleased!

Now I need to get back on track for real! I have a goal for the end of the year, and I want to reach it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Week 11

"The nice thing is we've lost weight, so we take up less room in the bed," said Joseph with a hint of optimism and a dash of sarcasm. The bed he referred to is the full size bed we share at my grandmother's house. We're used to our plush king size bed at home. First world problems. 

We've been at my grandmother's house for a whopping 3, maybe 4, hours, and my jeans already feel tighter. My resolve is slipping. My scale is scared. 

"Home" does that to me. 

It conjures up emotions I've stuffed down with enough fast food and processed pastries to fill out a pair of size 26 jeans with no room to spare. 

"Home" triggers my food reflex faster than anything/anywhere/anyone else. Because I conditioned it to. 

"Home" wasn't always a place I wanted to escape to. More often, it was a place I wanted to escape from. And I did. As quickly as I could. I had to return home to graduate high school, because I had already left town. 

When I couldn't escape physically, I escaped mentally and emotionally, often with a bag of marshmallows or a bowl of ice cream or a roll of cookie dough. Or all three. I zoned out in a dark room, illuminated only by the flicker of the television, and I ate until I was numb. 

As soon as my car reaches Horry County, I'm hungry. 

My grandmother's kitchen beckons me all hours of the day and night. The later in the evening, the louder the siren song grows. 

Tonight is no different. I hear the kitchen calling for me. I already answered it once, eating half a chocolate chip cookie. I only stopped because the cookie was really gross. 

So, tonight, I'm trying something new. I'm praying, and I'm reminding myself of things I know to be true:

God is good.
God is wise.
God is kind.
God is faithful.
When no one else wanted me, God adopted me into His family. Because of Jesus, God is my daddy, and I'm His little girl. I am a co-heir with Christ. 

When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. 

Because I placed my trust in Jesus, God sees me not only as though I never sinned but as though I always lived right. Because Jesus paid the price for me. 

The satisfaction of food is fleeting. God is eternal.

The imperfect homes I've had and will continue to have on earth are temporary. I have a perfect home waiting for me in Heaven, and it's eternal, and it's with Jesus!

God loves me because I am His and because of Jesus. He doesn't merely tolerate me. He doesn't love me in spite of my flaws, my failures, my FAT; He just loves me. 

I didn't deserve the grace God extended to me through Jesus, and I need to stop making other people earn grace from me. 

I have been forgiven much, and there is joy in forgiving much. And freedom. 

I can have marshmallows and ice cream and cookie dough and the other things I didn't mention eating. In moderation. And with pure motives. 

I don't need food to cope or to medicate or mask my emotions. I just need Jesus, and He is even more available than convenience food. 

There will be numerous disappointments in this life, but Jesus isn't one of them. 

Food that is seasoned with guilt never tastes as good. 

I probably should have gone to counseling, but I can't change that. I can confide in the Wonderful Counselor anytime and any place. And He won't charge me, because the bill has already been paid. 

There are many other truths worth rejoicing in. What truths do you preach to yourself when you face temptation or when you need strength or encouragement?

I'm skipping my weigh-in this week, but I'll weigh in next Wednesday. Happy Thanksgiving!