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Archive for January, 2015

A year ago, I was struggling with overwhelming cravings for sweets and carbs, bloating every night, and frustration over having gained 20 lbs. (welcome to middle age), among other things. It was a relief to discover that grains – including gluten free grains – and refined sugar were the main culprits behind most of my issues. My digestive distress has actually been a blessing because it motivates me to eat healthy or suffer the consequences. However, for those who don’t have obvious digestive issues, but still want to lose weight and be free of cravings, a substantial diet change can be daunting. (Can I get an “amen” from the gluten-free choir?)

Why is it that we get motivated to eat healthy, and perhaps even attempt a “Whole 30” diet cleanse in January, but at the end of the month go right back to eating processed foods and all the junk we know we shouldn’t eat? There’s a reason they call processed foods “convenience foods.” If you look at the typical Paleo blog there is just nothing convenient about all the prep necessary to rely on fruits and veggies for your carbohydrates. Those of us juggling the demands of busy schedules and kids need to be able to balance nutrition with time constraints and different eating requirements. (No, my skinny-as-a-rail son does not need a low-carb diet!) However, there is a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off without spending hours (and money) at the gym or making weight loss the only priority in your life.

The “Mostly” Principle
I’ll spare you the details of my personal saga (because you and I both know there will already be many words in this post – if not, welcome to my blog), so to sum up:

  • Over the last 9 months I’ve lost about 20 lbs. and have kept it off, even through the holidays (while still enjoying small amounts of our favorite goodies).
  • I’ve mostly gotten rid of cravings for sweets and carbs (as long as I don’t eat grains or sugar during the day – if I do, it’s Hello Kettle Chips!).
  • I’ve mostly said good-bye to bloating and digestive distress that had become the norm over the past few years (caused by the above foods and legumes, including peanuts).
  • I’ve managed to do this by eating a “mostly Paleo” diet.

Are you catching a theme, here? The “Mostly” principle is what keeps me on track with healthy eating because I strive to eat grain-free, refined sugar-free most of the time. I try to consume mostly whole foods, but I do take advantage of some convenience foods. (Call me lazy, but I’m NOT making my own mayo or ketchup.) I cook from scratch most nights, but give myself the freedom to heat up a frozen GF pizza on nights when I just can’t bear to cook (like every Friday night). I don’t obsess over whether there is a gram of sugar in my salad dressing or turkey bacon, but focus on choosing the most healthy options that fit into my budget (because I live in the real world where organic foods are mostly too expensive). This is why my recipes are tagged as “Paleo-ish,” because I’m not a strict Paleo guru.

The freedom found in the “Mostly” principle is what has made my eating plan realistic for long-term success because the requirement of perfect adherence to a strict diet is often the enemy of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The meal plan that has evolved is one that is sustainable for life in a busy, gluten free family of four who likes to travel, throw parties, and occasionally eat out.

The Weekly Meal Plan
What makes my eating plan sustainable is the simplification of menu planning by designing a 2-3 week meal rotation that allows me to fix the same food for myself as for my family, with just a minor tweak; I omit the carbohydrate side dish for myself and eat a larger portion of veggies. So simple! If I get bored and want to swap in another diet-friendly recipe, I just find the slot that matches the side dish I’m using and plug it in to that week’s menu. I can’t begin to describe what a huge time-saver this has been! It’s even become the framework for the cooking lessons I’m giving my son this year, since repetition of the same menus will allow him to watch and learn, then assist, then prepare each meal by himself. Score!

When you look at the meals on my menu you’ll probably be a bit surprised that this has been my “diet” because we eat normal, kid-friendly food. Each night has its own theme, and I’ll move the nights around to fit my schedule as needed (like switching a crock pot meal to a busy night). My menu is simplified because I keep any grains separate and low-prep, so my family can help prepare that side dish while I focus my efforts on the vegetable side instead. (Initially, you might want to skip the potatoes for weight loss. Doing so, I lost about a pound per week. Now that I don’t want to lose any more weight, I try to eat a serving of potatoes or yams each day.)

As always, all my menus are gluten free! So even if you’re not looking to lose weight or curb cravings, you can still simplify your menu planning with the easy-to-prepare, “normal people” meals at the end of this post! Since too much dairy can also cause digestive distress, most of my meals are also naturally dairy free, with the exception of a few made with butter or topped with a little Parmesan cheese. However, I use coconut oil or olive oil in most of my baking, unsweetened almond milk when needed, and cheese is usually optional.

Breakfast
Changing the way I eat breakfast has been the key to eliminating cravings. I can occasionally eat pizza or a small amount of grains and refined sugar for dessert in the evening as long as I avoid them for breakfast. The good news is that grain-free muffins taste great (especially the day after they’re made) and fill you up because coconut flour is high in fiber, as well as really good for you (and does not taste like coconut, although it does lend a distinct flavor to baked goods, which is why I blend it with almond flour). Sweetening baked goods with fruit and honey is not only more natural, it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar like refined sugar, so my energy level stays steady throughout the day. Plus, shopping is simplified because you only need 2 flours as opposed to half-a-dozen needed for gluten free baking! 

Grain-free Muffins

I make enough grain-free muffins or pancakes for myself on Monday morning to last for the week, then just reheat them for stress-free mornings. I usually have 2 muffins or pancakes with an egg or piece of nitrate-free turkey bacon (or both) and a small serving of fruit, like an orange wedge or handful of berries. If I’m fixing hashbrowns for my family, I may just have one muffin and a small serving of hashbrowns.

Lunch
The key to eating a satisfying, low-carb lunch is to fill up on veggies and fruit, and make sure you have some sort of fat if consuming a low-fat meat like chicken or turkey (i.e. olive oil, avocados, nuts or cheese, if tolerated). During the winter, I like to make a big pot of hearty soup once a week that’s full of veggies and meat with no grains, corn or beans. If you chose a canned soup, which tends to be mostly broth and not filling, toss in some frozen veggies and leftover meat when you heat it or just round it out with some raw veggies.

Turkey Vegetable Soup

In the summer, I ate lots of salads for lunch with leftover roast chicken, canned salmon, taco meat, etc. Cucumbers add a nice crunch as a substitute for croutons, and you can load up your salad with whatever veggies you like. I quickly grew tired of salads, though, and ended up preferring lettuce-wrapped burgers or leftover meat and veggies. For a quick and easy lunch, I’ll heat up a Jennie-O turkey burger patty with some taco seasoning, then top it with guacamole and chopped tomatoes or salsa.

Bunless Guacamole Burger

We drove across the country on a 2-week trip last spring, and survived on turkey “sandwiches” made with thick slices of oven roasted turkey (from Costco) as the “bread,” filled with guacamole (squeezed out of single-serve packets) and sliced tomatoes, wrapped in a lettuce leaf. These can be made ahead of time for lunch on the go. With a handful of carrots and an apple (plus a bag of chips for my family members), this lunch sustained us for hours of walking around Washington D.C. Another variation is to spread some Dijon mustard on one turkey slice, top it with sliced avocado and tomato, then put another turkey slice on top and wrap the whole thing in a lettuce leaf.

Snacks and Sweets and Feeling Satisfied
The key difference between the way I eat now and the way I used to eat is that I used to eat until I was “full;” now I eat until I’m “satisfied.” When you cut out grains (and initially, starchy veggies like potatoes) you’ll notice that you don’t feel full, in the sense that you’re stuffed and can’t eat another bite. But by filling a third of your plate with veggies, a quarter to third of your plate with meat, and a quarter to third of your plate with fruit, you’ll feel satisfied. You’ll walk away from the meal feeling like you’ve had enough to eat to sustain you for the next 3-5 hours, but you won’t feel uncomfortably full.

Chimichanga Beef, Zucchini and Pineapple

Chimichanga Beef, Sauteed Zucchini and Fresh Pineapple

If you do get hungry between meals, a handful of almonds and a piece of fruit or handful of carrots should get you through to the next meal. Lara bars are great, sugar-free, all-natural bars you can throw in the car for running errands. Now that I’m not trying to lose weight, I also snack on sweet potato/root veggie chips (from Trader Joe’s) because the inherent sweetness naturally limits my portion size. For dessert, I usually enjoy a handful of salted almonds with about a tablespoon of semi-sweet chocolate chips, since a little dark chocolate is good for you! If you crave ice cream, try the Dole frozen chocolate covered banana slices that come in convenient 4-packs. (When I serve the family ice cream, which was my go-to easy dessert for them over the summer, I sometimes pull one of these out for myself – and the kids get jealous!) But as I said, once you’re free from cravings, a little dessert with the family from time to time should be fine.

Dinner
I’ve linked recipes that are already on my blog, and will come back to this post in the future to add in links as I post more recipes. My plan is to post recipes for all the options below. If you don’t like a particular vegetable on my list, substitute one you do like! (Although I’d encourage you to try the roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts before you dismiss them. Roasted veggies are amazing!) If the veggies listed aren’t filling enough at first, add a side salad to your meal and remember to include a serving of fresh fruit. During the winter, pineapples are reasonably priced where we live. A fruit salad made with pineapple, kiwi, and pomegranate seeds will end your meal on a sweet note. Diced pears with fresh blueberries or a mango/kiwi/blueberry combo also make good winter fruit salads.

2-3 Weeks of Meals Designed for Weight Loss for 1 in a GF Family of 4
(Serve with fresh fruit. Serve the carb listed to your family only.)

Day 1: Italian

  1. Spaghetti squash with meat sauce (ground turkey or beef in a homemade sauce or one from a jar)
    • Salad
    • Family Side: Brown rice spaghetti noodles (if your family doesn’t like spaghetti squash)
  2. All-natural Italian sausage (like Falls brand Hot Italian) with optional marinara sauce
    • Option 1: Serve meat sauce over thinly-sliced, grilled eggplant, topped with Parmesan cheese
    • Option 2: Serve sausage link with a side of yellow squash sauteed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper
    • Family Side: Garlic toast (buttered gluten free bread, sprinkled with garlic salt, cooked butter-side-down on a griddle or frying pan)

Day 2: Seafood

  1. Garlic shrimp stir fry
    • Frozen snap pea stir fry blend sauteed in olive oil with salt, pepper, and McCormick’s Garlic and Herb Seasoning; add thawed, frozen salad shrimp just before serving 
    • Family Side: Heat-and-serve rice or Seeds of Change Garlic Brown Rice and Quinoa
  2. Salmon burger patty (like Trident salmon burgers from Costco) or baked salmon (with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil) with fresh squeezed lemon juice
    • Buttered peas and carrots or snow peas sauteed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper
    • Family side: Rice or quinoa

 Day 3: Chicken Comfort Food

  1. Homemade or Costco roast chicken
  2. Baked, grilled or sautéed chicken with olive oil & herbs
    • Roasted broccoli or asparagus
    • Family Side (optional for you): Mashed potatoes or yams (mash microwaved yams with butter, unsweetened applesauce, salt and a dash of cinnamon, and top with dried cranberries or chopped pecans)

 Day 4: Mexican 

  1. Taco salad made with leftover roasted chicken and salsa or ground turkey with taco seasoning (and whatever veggies you like)
    • Family Side: Tortilla chips
  2. Beef Chimichanga filling (made with leftover roast from day 7), crock pot pork taco meat, or fajita meat with zucchini, salsa, and guacamole
    • Serve Chimichanga or taco meat with sliced raw zucchini “chips” for scooping up meat
    • Serve fajita meat with zucchini, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in oil with salt and pepper, topped with salsa
    • Family Side: Heat corn tortillas on a griddle with shredded cheese and fill with meat, salsa, and guacamole (optional); for fajitas, fill tortillas with meat, veggies and salsa

Day 5: FREE NIGHT!

  1. Pizza – Seriously, take one day off and eat a REASONABLE portion of whatever you want with a side salad or raw veggies, or keep it low(er) carb with my homemade pizza crust/bread stick recipe that replaces 2/3 of the flour with almond flour.
  2. Visit a buffet restaurant (like Golden Corral or Tucano’s Brazilian Restaurant) and load up on meat, fruit and veggies. If you’re super serious about weight loss, make your soup for the week on this night, and make enough for dinner with leftovers for lunches.

Day 6: Burger Joint Food

  1. Jennie-O turkey burger patty or beef patty with whatever condiments you like, wrapped in lettuce (optional – this is just too messy for me, so I prefer to eat it with a fork)
    • Sweet potato fries and salad or raw veggies
    • Family Side: Bun (we use the heels of our gluten free bread for buns)
  2. Buffalo chicken (cubed chicken breast sauteed in olive oil with Lowry’s seasoned salt, pepper and parsley, served with buffalo ranch dressing)
    • Baked fries or sweet potato fries, salad or raw veggies
  3. Optional Party Food: Buffalo Chicken Dip with celery sticks for dippers (FYI, I now cut back the ranch dressing in the recipe to 1/4 c.)
    • Carrot sticks
    • Family Side: Tortilla chips (for scooping up dip)

 Day 7: Meat and Potatoes

  1. Crock pot roast cooked with onion, celery, garlic clove and carrots (discard celery and garlic)
    • Green beans
    • Family Side (optional for you): Potatoes in the crock pot with homemade gravy
    • Family Side Option 2: GF sub rolls for French Dip with cooking juices
  2. Grilled steak or pork chops with Monterey seasoning
    • Green beans
    • Family Side (optional for you): Baked potatoes

As promised in my Pledge to Blog the Truth, here’s a snapshot of our menu this week. You’ll see that it’s been tweaked (because of ingredients that needed to get used up) and is yet another variation on the menu above. The possibilities are endless! 

This Week's Meal Plan

Remember to check back for detailed recipes to go with my menu plan. In the meantime, just remember the “Mostly” principle and enjoy a happy, healthy new year!

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Turkey Vegetable Soup

This hearty, flavorful without being spicy, soup is my go-to lunch most days during the winter.  It’s a dieter’s friend because it contains no starchy veggies or grains, but fills you up when served with an apple or other piece of fruit. Most canned soups are full of broth (and scary ingredients!), but this soup actually satisfies because it’s full of meat and veggies with just enough broth to call it soup.

It only takes about 25 minutes to prep, and 15 minutes to cook, but makes enough to last throughout the week.  I love cooking once and having lunches taken care of for the week!  I can pull this together for under $6 – local friends, ask me and I’ll tell you how – so it’s very economical.  If you don’t like or have on hand the veggies I use, just substitute your favorite veggies.  To save time and add variety, I’ve substituted frozen peas and carrots for the fresh baby carrots.  I’ve also used yellow summer squash instead of okra.  If you’re not carb-conscious, you can toss in some frozen corn or white beans.

Look at me, pretending to be a real food blogger with my ingredients picture. You're so impressed., right?

Look at me, pretending to be a real food blogger with my ingredients picture. You’re so impressed, right?

Hearty Turkey Vegetable Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
8-10 large baby carrots, chopped (or frozen carrots)
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced
1 lb. ground turkey (dark meat is perfect)
1 1/2 T. chicken flavor Better Than Bouillon
2 c. hot water
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes with onion and garlic*
1 can (10 oz. or 15 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 c. frozen green beans
3/4 c. frozen chopped okra, summer squash, or a second zucchini
1/4 c. diced mushrooms, optional (fresh, canned, or freeze dried)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

*If you can’t find diced tomatoes with onion and garlic (mine are from Albertson’s), just use 2 cans of diced tomatoes and saute 1/3 c. chopped onion with the zucchini, adding 1 T. minced garlic for the last minute.  If you can find the canned version, though, it’s a huge time saver and has wonderful flavor!

Directions:
Heat a large soup pot at one notch past medium heat and add olive oil.  Saute celery and carrots (if using fresh carrots), and onion (if you can’t find the diced tomatoes with garlic and onion) for about 3 minutes.  Add zucchini and saute for about 4 minutes, until zucchini is lightly browned.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  (This step seals in the flavor and helps the zucchini keep its shape instead of turning mushy.)  If you’re adding minced garlic, saute it for about 30 seconds.  Remove veggies temporarily to a bowl.  (I just use the bowl I’ll be eating out of.)

In the same pot, brown the turkey until no longer pink.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Don’t drain the juice that’s released by the meat – it’s not fat. Push the meat to the outer edge of the pot and let the juice pool in the middle. Add the Better Than Bouillon to the juice and stir until it’s dissolved.  Add water and canned tomatoes.  Throw in the bay leaf and bring the soup to a boil.  Stir in frozen veggies, mushrooms (if using), and the sauteed veggies.

Simmer 15 minutes, covered, or until veggies are cooked to your preference. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Serves 6-8.

 

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It’s that time of year when we reflect on the past and set goals for the coming year.  Dear one, if you feel lost, discouraged, overwhelmed, or hopeless heading into the new year, then I hope you will find comfort and encouragement as I share my journey from this past year.  I am praying for all who read this blog to experience your own resurrection year.

Nearly three years ago I wrote a post about how God had asked me to surrender my desires for comfort, acceptance, and security from anything but him.  However, by January of 2014, I realized that the past 5 years of “dying to self” had left me just feeling dead inside.  I had surrendered my selfish desires and dreams as God brought them to light, but it had not yet occurred to me to ask God to replace them with new ones.  That’s when a small spark of hope ignited as the phrase “resurrection year” began to resonate inside me.  The word resurrection seemed to leap off the page of everything I read.  In Romans 6, Paul talks about our old self being crucified with Christ so that we can be raised to new life in him.  I felt challenged to believe – and act like I believe – that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead can raise me to a new, victorious life in Christ Jesus!

The beauty of surrendering to Jesus is that the new life he has in mind for us is his original design for us.  God doesn’t want me to be someone else; he wants me to be the lovely girl he envisioned when he knit me together in my mother’s womb.  (Praise God, because the past 40 years of trying to be who I think everyone wants me to be has been exhausting!) Not coincidentally, it was on Easter – Resurrection Day – that God revealed that picture to me.  He brought to my mind the image of my daughter, still untainted by the devastation of bullying that I’d already experienced at her age.  I see so much of myself in her, and catch glimpses of who I could have been had the seeds of insecurity not been sown in me at the tender age of 8.  That day, God impressed upon my heart that he still sees me as that sweet little girl, and through his resurrection power he was going to restore me to that original design by mending what was broken and turning the chains the enemy had used to bind me into tools for compassion and mercy.  Hallelujah!

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 

Believing God for a new resurrection life means believing that God can make every part of us whole.  Is it really possible for our whole spirit, soul and body to be kept blameless?  Yes, when God himself, the God of peace, is the one doing it!  When I try to live a blameless life on my own strength I will absolutely fail because at the first sign of weakness my conscience condemns me.  The reason why we rejoice as Christians is because God – the only rightful Judge – invites us to approach his “throne of grace” with confidence to find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).  We are not perfect, but because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for us we can be sanctified (set apart, made holy) through and through.  The result is that according to Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  We are meant to live blameless lives, free from condemnation.  But how?

A Blameless Spirit and Soul
My resurrection year can best be described as one of “extreme cooperation.” While God is the one who sanctifies us through and through, we must invite him in to every part of our lives and past.  For the last 15 years, I’ve been diving into God’s word.  As promised in James 4:8, as I drew near to God, he drew near to me.  But what God’s been teaching me over the past year is that in order for me to live in continual victory each day, I have to practice the preceding verse: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  And I mean active resistance by taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  Every part of my life that has not been brought under the umbrella of Christ’s authority – habits, activities, thoughts, emotions, even unhealed wounds – is like a hole in my armor.  These vulnerable areas are where the enemy attacks, so learning how to resist the devil and cooperate with God is the only path to daily freedom for me.

My “resistance” began by simply avoiding those things that trigger an emotional response in me.  You see, years of battling insecurity based on lies and fear has led me to realize how misleading my emotions can be.  God’s been teaching me that in order to be able to trust that my emotions are based on reality (I’m feeling blah because I need some sunshine and exercise) instead of lies (I’m feeling blah because I have no friends), I have to cut down on the emotional stimulus in my life.  Articles that begin with “The Shocking Truth About…” or “5 Things Mom’s Should Never…” or anything that’s designed to produce shame or outrage are off limits to me, as are movies that glorify dark themes and open the door to fear.  If I expend all my energy dwelling on fearful thoughts, getting stirred up over the latest injustice, or feeling guilty about not measuring up to someone else’s standard, then I have none left for the real responsibilities in my life.  This leaves me wide open for the enemy to swoop in with blame because I’ve traded my productivity for an emotional trap.  (Maybe that’s why it’s called the worldwide “web”…)

This deprogramming has also been accompanied by reprogramming of my mind with God’s truth.  This part of my journey has been painful, but oh so rewarding!  By cutting out the noise, I’m now able to recognize when something has produced a strong emotional response that’s out of proportion to the trigger, indicating that there’s a past issue that needs to be dealt with.  God used Beth Moore’s book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, to show me that I can’t just try to put my past behind me; I have to put it in front of God.

In the process of doing so, God took me back to key moments in each decade of my life when I either was or felt like a victim.  It was an uncomfortable, but crucial, exercise because it shed light on how the enemy continued to get the best of me as an adult.  All he had to do was press my “victim” button to elicit a strong, emotional reaction from me. Of course, I didn’t know why I was having the “yucky feelings,” but felt powerless to overcome them, nonetheless.  By going back to the origins of those initial hurts with Jesus, I not only had the opportunity to ask God to heal the wounds, he invited me to speak truth to the younger version of myself who fell prey to the lies because she didn’t know the truth.  Instead of feeling ashamed of her, I now have compassion toward her, which undermines the enemy’s attempts to keep me in captivity over past failures.

There’s a reason why Jesus says, in John 8, that the truth will set us free.  Every stronghold is built on some sort of deception by the enemy.  He then uses guilt over falling for it to keep us in bondage.  But somehow, in the timeless mystery of God, by speaking God’s truth into our past he can free us from bondage to it.  It doesn’t change the past, but we no longer have to feel like victims of it.  Now, whenever I feel that telltale victim response begin to rise, I ask God to take me back to where it started so that he can bring truth and healing.  That’s how I actively resist the enemy, and he does flee to the glory of God!

A Blameless Body
In order for my body to be kept blameless, I had to ask God to do in me what I could not do on my own, to align my eating and exercise habits with my beliefs.  Now please pay careful attention to this distinction: I’m talking about my beliefs, not some imaginary holy diet God has for all believers.  I am purposely saving the details of my physical transformation for another post because I don’t want anyone to get the impression that there’s One Right Way God wants us all to eat or exercise.  That’s legalism, and I won’t put words in God’s mouth.  However, I mentioned earlier that my conscience condemns me when I try and fail to do what I feel is right.  In order for me to be free of blame – from myself! – I needed God’s help to make permanent changes.  I don’t “work out” or eat perfectly every day, but God has shown me how to live in freedom (from cravings, energy crashes, and from discouragement) – which requires adherence to tighter boundaries for my own safety and good. When all our hope and joy comes from God, the things that were once toxic to us (addictive foods, unhealthy habits or relationships) either become completely undesirable or are made safe because they no longer hold power over us.

It’s the great paradox of following Christ: we are set free to choose the narrow road where there are fewer choices, but the ones that remain all build us up in Christ and lead to freedom instead of enslavement to the multiple counterfeit pleasures offered by the enemy.  This path to freedom is not about what you do (or don’t do) for God, but simply pursuing a deeper relationship with God each day.  The result of finding your satisfaction in Christ alone is perfect peace.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

God taught me how to have a steadfast mind in the process of teaching me to take better care of my body (because our mind, body, and spirit are all connected). He invited me to literally walk with him along a dirt road on the edge of our subdivision, which I’d forgotten about, that looks out over a farm edged by mountains in the background.  When I was frustrated, my normal response would be to vent to someone or drown out the noise in my head with more noise on the internet, which only made things worse.  But God began inviting me to take a walk with him instead.  I would bring my thoughts before him as we walked in one direction, then allow the Holy Spirit to remind me of who God is, what he’s done, and what his Word promises he’ll do for me on the trip home.  (The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, a gift to us to remind us of all God has told us – but we’d better be actively reading the Bible so God can tell us in the first place!)

Am I feeling fearful, anxious, in turmoil?  I bring my feelings to God’s throne of grace and invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth over them.  He then reminds me that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).  He also reminds me that God’s perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18), so God has the authority to drive out my fear and replace it with his power, love, and a sound mind.  I then thank him for who he is, all he’s done, and in advance for what he’s promised to do for me because praise is the key to joy in all circumstances, and trust in God alone is the key to a steadfast mind.

I learned during my resurrection year that the God of peace is able to keep our whole spirit, soul and body blameless. He is faithful, and he will do it for you, too.  Praise God!

If you’re feeling that same sense of longing for God to “clean out your closet,” like I did last year, please leave a comment so I can be praying for you.  In addition to the Bible, perhaps some of the books that God used to guide me on my journey might be useful to you, as well.  (I don’t get any money for this blog, so I’m sharing this purely for your benefit, not mine.)  May God bless you as you seek him and invite him to raise you to new life in Christ this year!

 

 

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