Week 4 – Rest in His Strength and Sufficiency

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,”

Psalm 73:26

Being on a health journey has it’s ups and downs. It brings challenges and temptations, especially around the holidays! There have been times that I have feared failure, yet again, and other times I fear success…afraid of what losing pounds may cost me, or even worse, the expectations I may put on myself if I reach my goals…will I become extreme? Will I become prideful, or full of vanity? Will my personality change in a negative way? I think that these fears are what can keep us stuck, or going back to old habits.

Food is a good gift from God. It’s really not the enemy here. But, it becomes the enemy when we make it more than good, and turn it into an idol…something that we go to instead of God. I know I’ve been an emotional eater. It became my comfort when I was sad, stressed or mad, and my celebration during my happy times. God wants to be our comfort and our celebration. And, only He truly satisfies. I’m learning that all that food really does when I’m hurting or celebrating is bring further guilt and shame!

Because of His strength in me, I can overcome the temptations! I think we have underestimated His strength in us! We have to stop going into battles within while looking back at what was. We want to find comfort in what we always have, we longingly desire that one thing that we think will satisfy. Our love is our food, something that can never love us back! We are relying on our own strength in these moments! Romans 8:13 says, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

We think that if we are strong enough, we can do anything or be anything. But, Jesus warns us in Mark 14:38 that our spirits are willing, but our bodies are weak. I’m learning that it’s in my weaknesses God is giving me opportunities for growth. He is showing me so many areas that I can work on and improve. So many people, including my past self, have lost weight, or gotten healthy. Some have even reached their fitness goals….and most have done it in their own strength, not seeing the relation between body, mind, and spirit. But, the happiness is always short lived. Because when we are led by the flesh, we are working towards weight loss goals for all the wrong reasons. We think if a little is good, then a lot is better. We look in the mirror and cannot see the truth. A focus on the flaws increases the lies. This way steals time and energy from the most important people….God, ourselves, and our families. When we focus on willpower to lose weight, we become consumed by what we want our new identity to be. Then, we transfer our bondage to food to vanity. Satan is there waiting on the other side of good health, ready to show us any and all remaining imperfections. He’s sneaky like that!

There’s nothing wrong with improving ourselves. But, if we are going too far the other way….God has every right to step in and say “That’s enough!” He wants to show us freedom, not lead us into another form of bondage.

Others who are working on getting healthy, but doing it in their own willpower lose the fight, and their strength fails. It’s easier to give up and find comfort in what was familiar. (This has been me, over and over again!) I think it’s just uncomfortable and hard, and easy to just remain where we were than to keep fighting (especially when doing something like this in our own strength)! First Corinthians 1:25b says, “…the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” What I’m learning through this Wellness Revelation study is that until I connect to the Spirit, the true source of all power, I will continue to fail. True and lifelong self-discipline and obedience to the Lord does not come from ourselves, but from God in us by the power of the Holy Spirit! When I am physically or mentally weak, I must draw on the power of God within me. For so long, I have pushed that power aside, I think I just didn’t believe His power could work in me, or within me for something like weight loss. I felt like I would never succeed, but we must never believe our feelings. Feeling are meant to be felt, not control what we do or don’t do.

I now know that being connected to the Lord in this journey is the key to my success. No more yo-yo dieting! I want more than weight loss, I want to gain my life back! In the process, I’m finding freedom! And, when we have life, we can give that life to others, which is what I hope I’m doing! I am so passionate now about helping others, especially when it comes to the limiting beliefs that play over and over in our heads when we are in bondage! Now, I know that I must renew my mind on a consistent basis through His Word, and through godly mentors, teachers, preachers and podcasts that fill my mind with truth. The truth of who I am in Him. And, trust me…I thought I had been doing this all along in my Spiritual walk, but I was still in bondage when it came to my mind and how I thought. I believed the lies, and couldn’t see the truth, even when it was right in front of me. Living with the right mind-set helps us to remember that every choice we make is important. When we’re living intentionally, we can be His agents of change here on earth.

I’m learning to slow down, way down, and to stop living on auto-pilot in my daily routines. And, when I do this, I am more aware of the choices I’m making, the words I’m saying, and the actions I’m taking. I’m being more present in the moments, more engaged with people around me, and fully present. (I definitely have not perfected any of this….but, it is something the Lord is working on in me.)

I used to try to “balance” everything. I was trying to be a good housekeeper, a good homeschool mom, a good wife, mom, friend, Sunday School teacher, and working on myself by working out, eating right, and being consistent in my own time with the Lord. Now, I know balance is a lie. There is no such thing as perfectly balancing all the areas of my life. I was failing at ALL of it, when I was trying to balance it all. I was relying more on my management skills, and not being present in much of anything, nor was I enjoying life. Now, instead of trying to balance everything, I’m seeking wholehearted living. I wake up and ask the Lord to direct my day and to help me accomplish exactly what He has for me. I can show up as myself in every circumstance that comes up, and give what I can. I allow the Lord to direct me and live with a much greater passion and purpose. I know we all have a uniqueness about us, and I want to give my own voice, heart, mind, and body to whatever He has for me each day. And, I hope that He will use me to create hope, love, and joy in others. And, this takes belief! We can’t give away what we don’t have. We have to believe and act on truth. The truth is that God loves me and accepts me, and because of Jesus I am right with Him. He makes me righteous because He is righteous. He thinks, feels, speaks, and acts right in all circumstances through me. But, I must believe He is, or else my sinful nature takes over once again. I can trust and believe only if I’m seeking His heart throughout my day, every day. I also have to believe He loves me despite my mess, despite my failures. He met me where I was, and began His good work, transforming my mind, heart and body. We have to trust Him to strengthen us when we don’t feel like we are enough, (because those thoughts will still try to creep their way in), and trust him to remove pride in our hearts when we are again tempted to follow ourselves rather than Him. And, when we live wholeheartedly, drawing on the unconditional love and acceptance of God, that leads to true wellness.

He is sufficient for me. Sufficiency means adequate. When we live in sufficiency, our circumstances will have no power to define our worth. When we realize who we are is who God called us to be, we will be set free. Have you been held back by the chains of self-condemnation, doubt, or ridicule? When we trust the Lord is sufficient for us, these things will no longer have the power to control us. He gives us what we need, but not necessarily everything we want. We can be selfish, we sometimes are not satisfied with not having it all! But, I know I need to listen to my God-given body and be satisfied with everything about it, regardless of what I want, whether that be food or the way I look. I don’t need to have it all. I don’t want to be fixated on a number or a body shape. None of us will be enough or have enough apart from God. Only He will truly satisfy.

Many of the health struggles we have today could be avoided if we would just be proactive in eating whole foods, living wholeheartedly because we know we are wholly loved by a holy God, rather than seeking after things we think will give us the comfort or pleasure we desire. Our nation is sick. We get too much of what we want, but not enough of what we truly need (which is hearts that are healed and made whole by unconditional love, and that are set free to help set others free). We must engage our souls and spirits in shedding the access pounds. The flesh will not be strong enough on it’s own to fight a war greater than itself. We must continue looking in the mirror of our souls and spirits so that we can do the work of change. James 1:23-24 says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” We are missing out on the freedom God has called us to when we go away and forget to do the work He’s calling us to. We are invited to be a part of the solution, not the problem in the world. We can and will win this battle, not by our own strength, but by His. Now is the time to let the Scriptures search us, know us, and change us. And, we must always remember to work on ourselves before pointing out the flaws in others.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.”

Romans 12:1 (The Message)

With Love in Christ,
Dena

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Advent Series Week 1 – HOPE

It’s the season of Advent! A time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas! I will be writing a series of devotions leading up to Christmas. My hope is that in the busyness of the season, we can all take time to slow down and remember Jesus, the true meaning of this season.

Scripture passages: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Nahum 1:7; and Joel 2:25-27

With all the struggles we face, with all the doom and gloom and frustration we often feel, it can seem as if there is no hope. We feel like the world is spinning by, and we don’t have time to really enjoy it. At least, this is how I’ve felt at times, especially when I’m working on bettering myself. I can get caught up in checking off the boxes of working out, doing my Bible study that I’m leading, and working through that one that I’m attending, etc. I get so caught up in doing things — good things, that I don’t live in the freedom that Christ has given!

In Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel is taken to a valley of dry bones. The Lord asks him if the bones can live. I know when I’m going through the motions of life, I can often not feel fully alive. Nahum 1:7 tells us that the Lord is good, our refuge when we are struggling. He cares and wants us to trust Him. Trust and Hope can go hand in hand. I was trusting in myself and what I was getting done (because it made me feel good….until I couldn’t get it all done). But, I wasn’t seeking the Lord first and asking Him what He wanted me to do each day and then trusting His leading instead of my own. I often would worry that if I did something the Lord led me to do, I would fall even further behind in the tasks I knew I needed to get done. But, that wasn’t trusting God!

What made these bones come back to life? The Spirit led Ezekiel to speak life into them! We desperately need the Word of God to speak life into us, but we also need to look at people around us and speak life into them! Maybe they are stuck in the day to day and not living fully alive and they need someone to breathe encouragement and life into them! We, as believers, first need to get life from God’s Word, then speak that life by connecting with others. That’s when we can live truly abundantly!

I have lost a lot of years trying to “be better” or “do better.” Because I expected so much of myself, I expected a lot from others. And, then I’d beat myself up for my failures, and then beat up others with judgement for theirs. It’s not a pleasant way to live. I was missing out on the abundant life that the Lord really wants us all to live in now! I’m so grateful for the Lord’s patience with me and the work He continues to do in my life. I am finding the freedom He has had for me all along! Joel 2:21-27 brings much comfort to me because I know that the Lord will give back to me the years I’ve lost in “trying” and I will instead live in the freedom and abundance that He has for me every day!

Love,

Dena

Week 3 – Live Out His Purpose For You

“Everything is permissible for me” —but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” —but I will not be mastered by anything.

I Corinthians 6:12

I think I’m going to change the format of my Wellness Revelation Bible Study posts to just me sharing with you what the Lord laid on my heart during the week. It’s more relatable that way, even if you aren’t doing the study with us.

I believe the Lord gives each of us gifts and a purpose to live out, and ultimately it’s always to lead others into a life of joy and freedom in Christ. I had never really considered that was my purpose…. but the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s really His purpose for us all! We all have different gifts that help us to do this, and because we are all unique, He uses us in different ways to accomplish this same purpose. He created you to speak into the world in a way that only you can, and me in a way that only I can.

I’ve gotten caught up in the day to day grind, but I’m seeing that He has purpose even in those things if we will just slow down and allow Jesus to live through all the moments. As we live day to day, in whatever occupations we have or even as homeschool moms or stay-at-home moms, we can provide evidence that Jesus is who He says He is, and that He helps us, encourages us, redeems and sets us free, and saves us from our sin and ourselves. Even in our failures, struggles, and the day to day “To Do” list, He is our strength. He picks us up out of the grave and releases us from bondage. We get the opportunity to put His strength on display through the choices we make, the actions we take, and the voices we use. What we do shows Christ’s love and power inside us to a world that needs to see.

We have the opportunity to be the change. We are called to live for His higher purposes, a higher accountability, and to display self-discipline. If others see us making poor choices, what are we saying about our God of power and love? If we are walking around with stress rather than thankfulness and joy, our countenance shows it. And, that is not going to display His love or power in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I can have lots of goals for myself, my family, my home, and my work. And, these goals cause me to want to become a better version of myself. But, I can get caught up in trying harder to work out “my” plan. In becoming a better version of me (because He is convicting me in areas I need to improve) I can sometimes get overwhelmed with the “doing” and not just rest in Him. So, for me, a schedule is really good for discipline in my life, but I cannot let the schedule control me. I must rest in Him and His leading. I have to slow down and be present with others. I mean, why “do” the changing, if it doesn’t affect my peace of mind, my facial expressions, and my connection with others? I can’t find the peace of mind, a positive countenance and connection without His leading me at all times, and my constant connection with Him. Thankfully, His Spirit in us already gives us the self-discipline or self-control we need. He gifted that to us when we received Him as Savior and Lord in the form of the Fruits of the Spirit. I’ve often thought these fruits were things I need to work at or on, rather than realizing they are already given to me as gifts just for being His child. I just have to allow Him to live them out in me. We just live out the truth of His love, as dearly loved, valued, and cherished children of God who happen to live in a fallen, sinful world. We obey because we love. The more we love Him, the more natural the obedience will come. When we are obedient, self-discipline naturally follows.

What do we need in order to do His work? Energy!!! His job is to do the work in and through us, our job is to take care of ourselves and make healthy choices that will benefit us for the long haul. If I choose to live a healthy life, I am allowing myself the opportunity to be on mission, living out His purpose…what He created me for—reaching the unreachable in the darkest places. The types of foods we eat definitely affect how we feel, and how we do our work. There is power in our food. What else can get into the smallest cells in our bodies and change them? Only God’s Spirit, and Jesus, the Word, can go that deep. And the quality of life we enjoy is determined by the quality of food we eat. I’ve also recently realized that the foods that I eat and the way that I take care of myself definitely affect the way I think and the mindset that I have. So, it’s not just good food for our bodies, but we also need to be fueling our minds at the same time! I do this through getting still and opening the Word of God, through worship that penetrates my soul, and through awesome podcasts, and good books. And, recently I took on a 30 Day Gratitude challenge where each day I am writing a personal note of gratitude for different people in my life. All these things are awesome ways to fuel the mind.

If you are anything like me, we can easily become overwhelmed and stressed with all the things that need to get done on a daily basis. We are busy! We are busy doing good things like leading a Bible Study, leading a homeschool co-op class, keeping the house clean, cooking healthy meals, running our kids to their practices or to church functions, or to lessons, and working on ourselves by working out, and growing as a person. It’s A LOT. But, I’m learning that it’s in the being still, even for just a few moments each day and surrendering my day and my tasks to the Lord, that I am able to be more joyful, more upbeat, more ready to take on all the things I have to do. And, when I take that time to be still, He multiplies my time. But, when I don’t take the time, not only do I not get as much done, but I also become grouchy with the kids, worn out so much quicker, and my mind starts going to dark places where my self-talk becomes a punching bag within. I want to live a healthy, whole life (mind, body, spirit, soul) so that I am freed up to love myself in a healthy and righteous way (not selfishly) and to love and pour into others.

I loved Alisa Keeton’s story, in Chapter 3 of The Wellness Revelation, about The Very Hungry Caterpillar children’s book, and how that Caterpillar got distracted with all the different types of foods available to him – most of which were unhealthy – and how we are like that caterpillar because we get distracted so easily with all the things going on around us. But, just like the caterpillar had a chance to turn things around by going into a cocoon, we also have that opportunity. I feel like that’s where I’m at right now. I’m in a cocoon where I’m discovering lots of dark places that need changed. And, I’m doing the hard things, just like the caterpillar….and those hard things take time. But, I get to go into this cocoon with the Lord who is with me all the time. We like to rush, we want to see the change NOW. We want to see the beauty of the butterfly emerging and flying into freedom. But, we can’t rush through the struggle and suffering or the beauty doesn’t emerge. We have to go through the hard, the times it may feel easier to give up, but if we stick to the disciplines the Lord is laying on our hearts and keep pressing forward, eventually the change and the beauty, and the freedom will come! And, though I can’t wait for that day, I’m treasuring these moments of growth the Lord is taking me through, the hard things, the life lessons, these times waiting on the Lord and His timing. I am becoming dependent on the voice of Love to lead me and give me strength through the hard, dark cocoon.

And, I know if you’re at all like me, you know that breaking bad habits and starting new ones is another HARD thing. It takes around 3 weeks or 21 days to break a bad habit. But, it takes about 3 months before new habits become established as a part of our daily lives. It’s a compound effect….the more we do the hard thing/the new habit, the better we get at doing it, and the more good habits we can add over time. I think in the past, I’ve tried to add too many good habits at once, and I couldn’t keep up with all the “good” I wanted to do. It’s better to add one small thing at a time until it becomes easy, then add another. Don’t go and try to change everything about yourself in a day or a week or even a month! It’s too much! Slow and steady wins the race! And, most importantly we have to allow the Lord to guide us. He wants us to be free, even more than we do. He wants us to live abundantly, that’s what He designed us for. But, we have to listen to His leading in where He wants us to change, and to trust Him with the ugly moments, the hard times, the struggle in the becoming who He designed us to be.

Here is another passage that has really spoken to me through the cocoon stage:

21 “Fear not, O land;
    be glad and rejoice,
    for the Lord has done great things!
22 Fear not, you beasts of the field,
    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

23 “Be glad, O children of Zion,
    and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
    he has poured down for you abundant rain,
    the early and the latter rain, as before.

24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
    the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will restore[a] to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.

26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Joel 2:21-27

I feel like this passage is telling me that He is the restorer of all things! Whatever the locusts have eaten, He will restore! All the mistakes I’ve made, all the years I have struggled, all the wrong I’ve done, He is making new and is restoring. Praise His Name!! I also love in verse 23 where it says, “…..he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.” The definition of vindication is: the action of clearing someone of blame or suspicion; proof that someone or something is right, reasonable, or justified. He loves me so much that He doesn’t want me to feel shame anymore, to feel guilt from the wrongs I’ve done. He wants to clear me, but not only clear me but bring abundance into my life! I believe we can live an abundant life in the here and now, we don’t have to wait until heaven for that! He gives it now! We just have to pursue Him, love Him, live in Him and He through us!

Love you all!

Dena

P.S. Please let me know by commenting if you can relate to any of this! I’m hopeful that sharing some of my struggles and growth that others can relate and somehow benefit.

Wellness Revelation Bible Study Introduction

How would your life be different is you could lose what’s weighing you down and be free to live the life you were created for?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could embark on a single program that would help you get both physically and spiritually fit, while freeing you to pursue God’s dreams and goals for your life?

Maybe you have always struggled with your weight, riding a constant roller coaster of numbers that go up and down. Or maybe you find yourself increasingly stressed out by the world and all its demands.

In The Wellness Revelation, certified fitness professional Alisa Keeton will challenge you to get fit with God so that He can free you to find your purpose. She teaches you that when you become fit physically and spiritually, you will be better equipped to love and serve others. The Wellness Revelation will change the way you perceive yourself and the way you live.

Included in this eight-week journey are teachings from Alisa, fitness training, Bible study, small group questions, and more. Alisa will encourage you to love God, get healthy, and serve others, and she will provide you with the tools to do so with courage, confidence, kindness, and freedom.

It’s time to make a change from the inside out.

-Alisa keeton -Author of The Wellness revelation and founder of revelation wellness

I am so excited to get started with this study! This week we will just cover the introduction as I’ve had several people still want to jump in, so if that’s you, it’s NOT TOO LATE! You can still order the book here, and jump in with us! Also, don’t forget to join the Facebook group to have a community to support, discuss, and grow together with! You can join that group here!

What I loved about the introduction was that the focus was an “exercise” of faith. This is not a program that you strive to do “better”, but one in which you lean into the Lord, and allow Him to transform you from the inside out. When we learn to do this, we are better able to love and help others. Calories in = receiving the fulfilling love of God so that you can give away His love to someone else = calories out. The world is waiting for us to be “fit” for love!

In the next eight weeks, lets move closer towards our true selves – the people who embody God’s love. We will face many obstacles throughout this journey, but we are on a quest to exchange the old lies we’ve believed for His truth, and to be truly set free! This will be a transforming and renewing journey, where we become more of the people we were always meant to be!

Please share what you are excited about or concerned about as you embark on this journey! We are here to support and encourage one another, so the more we share, the more we will get out of this study!

*Disclaimer: I must inform you that as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Love,

Dena

Still on the Journey, but the difference is already showing!!
Join me as I dig back into the Bible Study that helped jump start this journey!