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Transformation Tuesday

20150410_185557-1before circa 2012

My best “before and after” pics so far.

In the past two years, I have gone from 324 lbs and a size 26, down 155 lbs (100 lbs of this in a 120 day INTENSIVE window of time) to a BMI healthy weight of 169 lbs (so far) and a size 8.

I was at one point on 16 different prescriptions, including multiple inhalers, had chronic fatigue and pain issues, recurring pneumonia, sometimes serious digestive issues (I thought this was normal for everyone!), breathing and heart-racing issues, cyclical migraines, hormonal imbalances, systemic yeast infection, and bad skin issues, to say nothing of my depression and purposelessness –

I didn’t even know that my core belief was that I was not “worth” saving.

In spite of a 4 month window where I had to have spinal surgery, I have not gained back any of the 155 lbs I have so far lost, and I am HEALED of almost all my issues.

Now – NO pneumonia, NO remaining prescriptions, NO fatigue pain issues, my menstrual cycle has been 4 weeks regular for over a year (first time in my whole LIFE!) and only “normal” cramping (instead of the excessive, debilitating pain to which I had grown accustomed), and more than one medical professional has told me I have a heart “conditioned like a runner’s” .. and I have energy like never before, and clarity of thinking.

ALL because of GRACE.  ALL because we have a GOOD FATHER in God who gives generously to all who ask for wisdom, without finding fault. 

ALL because God gave me a vision of what he had MADE me to be.  ALL because He introduced me to my best friend who “just so happened” to be a fitness/nutritionist who faithfully encouraged me for YEARS beforehand to do the HARD thing, to be prepared to “pay in pain” because I didn’t get to my state overnight, a friend who would ultimately give me the tool I needed to succeed, and teach me to use it!  ALL because He led me to the godly woman who would also be my wellness coach to deal with all the mental/spiritual mess I was in that led to my morbid obesity in the first place.  ALL because He wanted to SET ME FREE from my mental and physical food addictions.  ALL because he wanted to strip away the WASTE I had made of my life, and make me NEW.  Again.  🙂

He is GOOD.

~Leah

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Depression POINTS To Something More

@Grace2Grow: ‪#‎Depression‬ comes in MANY forms & 4varieties of reasons. For me one big issue: I perceive on an “intuitive” level &struggle 2identify ROOT.

* In fight against #Depression I PREACH 2myself: ‪#‎faith‬ = often NOT understanding. Still, God is pleasd I believ him when I dont FEEL like it.

* #Depression is very real for ALL, tho we like 2deny it. Perhaps bcuz #faith is supposed 2cureall. ‪#‎Jesus‬ IS our hope ESPEC in midst of fire.

* #Depression usually manifests when I’v tried 2TAKE OVR some aspect of my life – 2MAKE sumthin happen. ‪#‎EvidenceImNotYielding2SpiritsLeading‬.

* #Depression is not ALWAYS an indication of a lack of surrender. Sumtimes there’s grief that invades &drowns the voice of Hope. ‪#‎TheGoodFight‬

* More than ever Im persuaded that HOPE gives birth 2FAITH. So when Im battling #Depression I must actively HUNT 4voice of HOPE 2find LIFE.

* My experience = I can “feel” when weight of a #Depression (oppression) lifts. &Always this comes after I express my longing heart in prayer.

* I can KNOW I must pray & give my “groanings” 2God as an offering, BUT in midst of pain it feels like THE most impossible thing! #Depression

* It helps 2make a literal ‪#‎notetoself‬, even a tweet: God is faithful, our feelings lie, #Depression does NOT last forever, our ‪#‎HOPE‬ is sure!

Be BLESSED, Beloved ❤

~Leah

Rescued from Self-Loathing!

read this quote, today:  “Most of the teaching on love in the church centers on loving God or other people. Very little of it talks about loving ourselves. We have been taught how to subjugate ourselves, but not how to love ourselves without being selfish. Loving ourselves out of our soul is selfish; loving ourselves because of what God has done in our spirit is beautiful. Some of us have never learned that distinction.” ~Graham Cooke

I responded thusly:  “I see what you’re trying to get at, here, but I humbly beg to differ because of these things, biblically speaking:  a) Jesus did *not* command us to “love ourselves” as that was already presumed, and is more often talked about in Scripture as the root of our PROBLEM, namely that we love/seek-after ourselves too much, b) this idea of “loving” ourselves IS taught very MUCH in the modern church (it’s not a “neglected doctrine”!), though I’ll grant that no distinction is often made with regard to what you describe as “loving ourselves because of what God has done in our spirit,” BUT I daresay, c) this “distinction” – while attempting to hit on a real truth, is nevertheless a false distinction, because the truth is that when we LOVE GOD for who he is and what he has done in spite of the fact we are “unlovable” in our fallen state (while we were yet his enemies), the FRUIT of this loving God *does* produce a supernatural ability in us to NOT LOATHE ourselves, because of grace.  But “not loathing” (or let’s call this “accepting” ourselves BECAUSE of the work God has done to redeem, and HE has MADE us acceptable) is NOT the same thing as “loving” ourselves, but instead we are commanded to DIE to ourselves, and I think THIS is in fact the distinction that most of the modern church is missing…..”

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see the so-called “proof” text for the presumed command to “love” ourselves, but the command is NOT to love self, but to love OTHERS:

Matthew 22:34-40

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced (muzzled) the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of their number, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.

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another often used “proof” text is Ephesians 5:23-30 where the Apostle Paul talks about how a husband loves his wife “as his own body” ~ the “presumption” again is that we love/care for ourselves, but people take this to be further “command” to love ourselves, but in context, the command is to husbands to love their wives (someone OTHER than themselves).

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and below is the actual command from Jesus concerning dying to, or “denying” of our self ~ which is opposite of what is typically taught in most of today’s churches (and more in keeping with loving OTHERS over self):

Matthew 16:24-26

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?
see also:

Romans 12:3, 9-10

Amplified Bible (AMP)

For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.   ….   [Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

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Dear friends, let us love ONE ANOTHER as Christ commands and as HE enables by the power of his Holy Spirit.  Let us love in the way HE has loved us, and as the FRUIT of our loving HIM first with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength!

God help us be discerning, and help us truly “die” to ourselves in keeping with the Gospel of your grace, NOT that we loathe ourselves for sin, because that also denies your GRACE, and the fact you have RESCUED us from ourselves!, but rather that we simply have our gaze so fixed on YOU! (Heb. 12:1-3) that our ability to look our ourselves too long – whether for love or hate or anything in between – would grow strangely dim in the light of your glory and grace!

~Leah

Like David

I LOVE HOW SCRIPTURE is so honest with its “heroes” ~ we see their flaws as well as their faith, as in the case of King David. David wasn’t perfect, but he was quick to repent. David didn’t run from God in his sin, he would receive and yield to the rebuke of God’s Word and turn and run TO God for grace and forgiveness. A man guilty of adultery and murder, he was also a man who loved God and knew God’s covenantal lovingkindness, who poured out his soul to God in worship, who longed to build God’s temple…and instead God told him HE would build DAVID’S “house,” promising an everlasting throne for one of his descendants (Jesus), the Anointed One of God. David was “a man after God’s own heart,” flawed yet faithful, zealous for God’s glory. THIS is a godly man.

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(We meet David in 1 Samuel 16 when he is first anointed to be king, and follow his story through the rest of this book and 2nd Samuel, and the first part of 1 Kings. David also authored the majority of the Psalms and was known as a musician before the Lord. A few key chapters to read:  1 Samuel 17 David and Goliath, 2nd Samuel 7 God’s covenant with David, 2 Sam. 9 David’s grace toward Mephibosheth, a picture of God’s grace towards us, 2 Sam. 11-12 his sin with Bathsheba, Ps. 51 David’s repentance over that sin, Acts 13:20-25 God says David is “a man after my own heart.”)

Like Ruth

I LOVE HOW SCRIPTURE tells Ruth’s story ~ an “outsider” to the people of God, exiled from her own “unclean” land & people by HER decision to live among the people of God & remain devoted to her widowed mother-in-law. Ruth showed FAITHFULNESS in the face of isolation & poverty because she believed the God of Israel was the one true God, & she was willing to work hard, w/o any recognition, w/o any reward, to serve where HE had placed her. God directed her every step! She ended up working for (“gleaning” in the field of) the very man (Boaz) God had chosen for her “kinsman redeemer,” & God made her beautiful to him & gave him the desire to “fight” for her, protect her, advocate for her, & “raise her up” as a jewel of God’s favor.
Not only is Boaz a picture of Christ, but Ruth in marrying him ultimately becomes part of the lineage of Jesus, the very Messiah to the people of God for whom Ruth was at first an outsider! And she is a forerunner to the Gospel being made available to ALL the nations of the world through Jesus! I *aspire* to be more like Ruth ~ a woman of character, doing whatever she could & whatever she MUST for the sake of loving God & serving those whom he had given her, ultimately trusting HIM with the outcomes of her life, w/o nursing her own “expectations” for how she might think her life should go, but fully yielding to the Lord’s hand, one step at a time. ♥ ♥ ♥
(see the book of Ruth, Leviticus 23:22, and ch. 25, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, and Matthew 1 geneology of Jesus)

Truth and Love

some recent reflections:

@Grace2Grow: The real maturing of the Christian doesn’t occur in seminaries as if by mere intellectual education ~ it occurs by living w/in the community of a flawed but redeemed church Body, loving &patiently forbearing, &laying down ur life for another.

@Grace2Grow: GOSPEL life isn’t mere rigorous doctrinal study; rather, it’s COMMUNION w/God, worshipping in Spirit &Truth, necessarily communing w/others who r also united w/God by his Spirit, together growing 2loathe what God loathes, love what he loves, & live as he lives.

@Grace2Grow: We hv 2long cultivated a sloppy acceptance of “truth” as that which is handed to us as tasty, sugary morsels prepared by others. We cannot now expect to have the necessary capacity to examine and test and discern having so long left these thoughtful disciplines to atrophy. And how can we then complain if we discover we have been deceived?

@Grace2Grow: GOSPEL life isn’t merely loving one another as Christ has loved us, though that might arguably be the fullest expression of it. The TRUTH that undergirds it is the very GOSPEL work of Jesus, itself. Had he not pursued us when we were yet his enemies, &died as a ransom 4our souls 2reconcile us 2God, &were we 2remain ignorant of &cut off from this ROOT, there could be no FRUITFUL Love.

…One of the books I am currently reading is E.Metaxas’s biography of BONHOEFFER.  It is … touching me DEEPLY.  I’ve always admired Bonhoeffer from afar, but now find him as admirable a man as I have never known, and one whose story is very fit for our own time.  The above reflections spring from some of the real-life lessons he learned and would teach on.  This book captures well these themes, and works them out in a way that I feel is having a very formative effect on the trajectory of my own life.  If you can manage the time, I highly recommend the read ~ you may find it easier to tackle in “audiobook” format.  😉

Blessings!

~Leah

A Hedge of Protection

I was speaking with a friend, yesterday, about Psalm 139 which talks about how God knows us so intimately, and oversees the details of our lives with absolute precision.  In some translations, one early verse reads, “You hedge me in, before and behind….”

We were discussing this idea of being “hedged in” by God ~ in context, this has reference to the fact that the Lord both goes before us (as to clear the path, to lead), and follows behind us (as a rear guard soldier for protection).  And some Christians use the idea of praying for “a hedge of protection” in this same way ~ sometimes alluding to other Scripture which talks about how the Lord sends his angels to keep watch over us.

But the nuance of which my friend and I were speaking had to do with a conversation he’d overheard involving two of our coworkers.  One, a believer, was trying to describe to the other, a self-described “Buddhist Catholic” (who has no real Gospel-centric faith in Christ, but only believes in him as a kind of mystical “ideal”), what it is like to create “hedges” our MINDS, such as to protect against temptation to wrong thinking or wrong desiring.

What was remarkable was how foreign this idea was to our BC friend.  It was clear there was no frame of reference for reining (reigning?) in one’s thought life like this, let alone one’s lived-out life (such as avoiding temptation to sin).  And it occurred to me that this may be largely because our BC friend is very accustomed to letting her “heart” lead.  She perceives this as a kind of nobility, like “love” is the highest virtue in her life.  But instead, I find that it leaves her subject to the whims of her own emotions, she is often battling anger and depression on a day to day basis, and she lacks conviction about anything that’s “true” except perhaps her belief that all men are pigs and that’s why you can’t trust the Bible cuz it was written by a bunch of men, and so on.  She is very like the woman at the well in John 4, and I pray she will yet have a STUNNING encounter with the Savior, himself, that will send her running to tell everyone she knows that she’s found the One who alone can save our souls!

My “take away” from these reflections and conversations is three-fold: 

1)  Love is not fickle, easily tossed about as by waves of the sea, or convictionless.  So to HAVE some “boundaries” is like to anchor the heart (spirit) of a man, so he isn’t adrift and ultimately drowned.  It is from this position of strength that he is MOST free to truly love.

2)  The Lord IS ultimately our true Hedge of Protection.  He encompasses us about, like the picture we think of when as little kids we sing, “He’s got the whole world in his hands!”  But this is more than just universal power on display, this is a personal, covenantal, enduring FATHERLY protection, reserved for those whom he loves and who love him in return (savingly).  He will ALWAYS guard and preserve his children and deliver them to the better and the best of his ultimate will.  (This is the “mountain” of the promise in Romans 8:28.  You might also read the so-called “hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 with this in mind!)

3)  And lastly, as a brief allusion back to my previous post about “No More Josephs?” ~ We ARE to also hedge OURSELVES in, to set proper boundaries, to say to ourselves we may “go this far and no farther.”  Not that we are seeking to earn the good pleasure of our Father, but because in Christ we already HAVE it, and we LOVE him, and so where he draws lines for our good, we are eager to agree with him and obey.  Thus we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  Thus we do not look on a member of the opposite sex as to lust after them in our heart.  Thus we do not give room to the enemy by allowing sinful anger to take hold of us.  Thus we flee from temptation and flee to Scripture and seek out the Lord’s presence so we are powerful to resist our spiritual enemy.  God’s GRACE is sufficient!

And we LOVE it, because it is the overflow of our Father’s heart, and we love HIM.

Be Blessed!

~Leah

Love What God Loves?

Christians must weigh this distinction: legislating morality vs. addressing the root immorality is a comparison (at minimum) between mere “salt and light” effect (which is good, especially for the immediate life in this tent, earth) and REAL HEART TRANSFORMATION which is only possible thru Jesus (which is great and ESSENTIAL for whatever permanent dwelling is ours after this immediate life)….

Dare I ask? Is our energy being wasted on what is surely passing away just so our OWN lives might be more comfortable, today? And to the degree this might be true, how do we gain an eternal perspective, and LOVE our neighbors enough to desire their eternal LIFE and relationship w/God MORE than our own comfort/protection/status quo?!

What about our efforts and passions would look different if we love what God loves, as WELL as we think we hate what he hates??

Do I…?

Some recent tweets/reflections concerning how I have used my mouth (or typed notes) ~ Do I even realize what I’m saying??

  • Do I really mean I’d do anything 2protect this relationship? Then that must include not making emotional demands of u 2assuage my neediness.
  • Do I really think I’m willing 2sacrifice 4ur good? Then that must include prayerfully enduring silences when u need 2withdraw &be quiet.
  • Do I really mean that I want 2b led by Christ’s Spirit in all things? Then that includes joyfully yielding 2His leading when he says WAIT.
  • Do I really give u freedom, &trust u2discern &execute priorities as God leads? Then I must willingly lay aside any offense when I’m not it.
  • Do I trust God has shown me this desire he intends 2fulfill? Then I give thanks &walk by faith even when not yet seeing the manifestation.

Thank you, Lord, for how you teach us!  You are beautiful, my sweet sweet song!  ❤

~Leah

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You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again

You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my Father in Heaven (2x)

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song

You ride upon the clouds
You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me (2x)

You are my strong melody, yeah
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect rhyme
And I will sing of You forever

You poured out all Your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me (2x)

You are my Father in Heaven
You are the Spirit inside me
You are my Jesus who loves me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0mPveeVhd8

Hearing from God

It doesn’t count as “hearing from the Lord” ONLY when he says something you WANT to hear. When he tells you what you DON’T want to hear, and you obey anyway, out of love for HIM, out of a desire for HIS glory and the application of HIS wisdom, then you might be more rightly reassured….  🙂

Read today:  “The Holy Spirit can speak the truth in love—to our hearts. When the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts through the Word—and in those still small voice moments—He shines the truth light on areas of lives that need attention. While it’s painful at times, there is a sweet sense of relief, too. We know that He only speaks the truth in love for our benefit, so that we grow up in all things!… If the Holy Spirit speaks the truth in love to you, don’t resist, rebel, get defensive, make excuses or go into a depression; just take an honest inventory and let the Lord use it to help you grow up.  [Pray]  ‘Father, the truth sometimes hurts, but I have enough sense to say bring it on. I thank You for [speaking] the truth in love to me, so that I can grow up into all that You want me to be and do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.'” ~Beth Jones, Valley Family Church

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