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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Walk for NEDA...

This coming Sunday a walk for NEDA is being held in New York. If you are interested in donating to the cause check out the following link...


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall Classes Are Starting...

That's right...

Classes for the fall semester are starting this week! Classes will run every Tuesday evening from 7:30pm-9:30pm, from September 22nd through October 27th.

Check back as we discover more about God's truth concerning our bodies through the classes!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chapter 10: How to Help Others Develop a Healthy Body Image

Christian women who have a healthy body image can be a beacon to others by their influence in the way they talk about, treat, and honor their bodies

This chapter focused on the influence that mothers have on their children. Mothers have incredible influence over their children. Because of this mothers need to be intentional about the way they speak to their children. All children must hear these messages about their bodies...

1. They are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
All children need to know that their parents approve of their appearance. Talk about your own body in positive ways. Children hear everything you say and they will pick up on negative and positive messages. Teach children that they don't have to look a certain way to believe that their body is fearfully and wonderfully made.

2. Teach them that God knows their body flaws
Children should learn to trust God with their hurts, including pain about physical appearance. Parents need to accept their own flaws in order to teach children to accept theirs. It is damaging if we try to fix our children's body flaws by helping them attain beauty by the worlds standards, rather than looking to God's standards.

3. Teach children that their bodies are a temple of God
God lives in our bodies which makes them very special. Children must learn to honor God and their bodies by not criticizing and rejecting their own flesh and how they were crafted by God.

Your example speaks louder than your words
What example are you setting for others around you?

Being a Voice of Reason to others:
God wants to bring you spiritual freedom from body hate. When we experience body hate, we exist without a sense of God's favor. When you allow body hate to rule in your life, you are not living the life that God has intended for you. God can heal the damage your body hate has done to your life. God can bring strength for you to battle comments and pressures from others. God can comfort your broken heart. Your true beauty is found in being in the image of God. He desires for you to be glad and experience life to the fullest. He desires for you to put off body hate so that you can love yourself, love others and life a full life. And when you experience God's grace for yourself, then you are able to encourage, pray for, and love other women as you are loved by God.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chapter 9: Healthier Ever After

You can live free from self-loathing by learning how to believe the truth about who you are. God longs for us to be focused on living in and enjoying our bodies, not being enslaved to them...

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment... instead it should be that of inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4

"The number one reason not to berate and mistreat your body is because God is the one who created you. He loves you, and when you love someone you don't want to see her berating herself."
How do you let God be the reason you love your body?

Staying on track to maintain changes in thought patterns and feelings takes some work...

1. Accept that you are not perfect
Be realistic and know that at times you will have a negative thought or feeling

2. Take inventory of your mind
Take every thought captive in order to attain emotional, psychological, and spiritual peace

3. Get enough rest for your body

4. Recognize negative feelings and deal with them daily
Take immediate notice if you experience negative emotions about your body, don't let them slide or they will continue to build. Examine your feelings and talk to God about them.

5. Enlist an accountability partner
There is power in prayer when two or more are gathered in the Father's name

6. Reread the book and complete the exercises

7. Don't judge how others look
When you are less critical of others, you will be less critical of yourself

8. Don't receive criticism about how you look from others
Resist negative words from others with God's help

9. Write yourself a letter about the new truth you are learning and read it when you feel negatively about yourself

10. Recognize the symptoms of relapse

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you'll never walk alone."
Audrey Hepburn

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chapter 8: Anchored in God's Word...

Basic principles from Scripture about how God views our bodies...

1. God knows humans are tempted to overemphasize how a persons looks in evaluating his or her character
"We need to be more concerned about how beautiful our hearts are than our looks"

2. God does not place the emphasis on outward appearance that humans do

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. " Isaiah 53:2
God purposefully created Jesus without "beautiful" characteristics

3. God knows that women are particularly interested in making themselves look nice
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment... instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4
God doesn't condemn outward beauty, but He wants so much for us than that.

4. What we think we look like on the outside depends on how we feel about ourselves in general
You can change your thoughts to think of yourself as beautiful, even if your outward appearance hasn't changed

5. It's fine to wear nice clothes and be well groomed as long as you keep this in balance with other qualities
"The important thing isn't the label, it's the balance you find in your life"

6. You can be outwardly beautiful and still be unattractive to others
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30
Beauty is not purely defined by physical characteristics, but by your actions

7. God decided that our bodies are the best temple for Him to dwell in
"God created me and he wants to dwell in me"

8. God made our bodies and that alone makes them wonderful
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14
9. God wants to make all things new in your life
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
There will be an adjustment period when your body image begins to change

The Testing Period...
Every day will bring challenges to see yourself with a healthy body image. God brings this testing so that we can grow in confidence and trust in Him. Standing firm in prayer will prepare you to stand against the temptations that will surely come. Prayer is the key to your victory over body hate.

Having a healthy body image is more about changing the way you think than changing your body.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chapter 7: Feeling Beautiful... Transforming Your Feelings About Your Body

By nature, women are emotional creatures. God made women that way on purpose. A woman's sensitivity is beneficial in expressing her emotions and being sensitive towards the emotions of others. But those same emotions can lead to either positive or negative feelings about her body. Negative feelings about your body can not only crush your spirit, but hinder you from receiving the life God desires for you. Scripture states...

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:13

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

"A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?" Proverbs 18:14

How much damage are your negative feelings
causing in your life?

Are you willing to let God heal your negative emotions?

Women often deal with
negative feelings in 2 ways...

Stuff their feelings with food
Try to change their feelings by changing their bodies

Neither of these bring peace to our emotions!

God is the only one who can bring peace to our souls and heal our negative emotions. When we give God consent to heal our pains, he will heal us... he PROMISES to heal us. With our willingness, God can turn our self hate into praise for a Creator who made us.

We may not have direct control over our feelings, but we do have control over how we think and what we do. Follow these 6 steps to start taking control of your feelings...

1st Step: Identify Your Feelings
Once you can identify your feelings you will discover that can change your feelings. Having negative feelings deceives you into believing lies about yourself. Sharing those negative feelings is needed to resolve them. God calls us to forgiveness for healing from our negative feelings.

2nd Step: Identify How Your Negative Feelings Are Harming You
What are your negative emotions costing you? Are you skipping social functions? Are your relationships being affected? Are you happy?

3rd Step: Believe The Truth
After assessing your negative feelings about your body you might come to conclude that you are wasting valuable time and so much of your life obsessing over these feelings. Instead of wasting precious time, focus that time on God's truth through Scripture. Surround yourself with Scripture about God's view of your body.

4th Step: Enjoy How Your Body Feels
Take the time to appreciate all that your body is capable of doing, feeling and being.

5th Step: Eliminate Body Shame From Past Experiences
If something happened in your past that is holding you back from forgiving yourself or forgiving others, God says that he is "faithful to forgive your sins and purify you from all unrighteousness. " 1 John 1:9

6th Step: Feel Confident In Your Own Body
Your negative feelings will change when you get the right thoughts in your mind. The choice is yours. Your feelings are based on what you think. You can change your focus from how you want to look to how you want to feel about how you look. You can be free from self hate and live in confidence when you trust in God's word.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Perfect People...

Check out this new song by Natalie Grant.
What a wonderful reminder that we don't need to be perfect... but that we serve a God who is!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chapter 6: Transforming Your Mind, Transforming Your Body Image

"Making peace with your body starts with what you believe..."
"What you think about your body is your body image. If you think negatively about your body, then you have a negative body image. If you think positively about your body, then you have a positive body image. A healthy body image has no correlation to what you weigh or how you look."
Change your mind...

What thoughts are guiding your life?
Is your mind influenced by God or by the world?

"Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2

In this Scripture we are asked to give our bodies to God as a sacrifice. We are to live in our bodies for God's glory, not our own. Living your life as a sacrifice means renewing your mind through the Holy Spirit. You need to believe in God's truth and turn away from the lies of the world.

7 Lies that the world tells us about our bodies...

Lie #1: If I change something about my body, I will finally like myself
The Truth: Healthy self esteem comes from believing in the value God holds of you, not in the value man places in you

Lie #2: My outward appearance is the most important thing about me
The Truth: Your outward appearance is what people will first judge you by, but your personality, self confidence, talents, abilities, and spiritual sensitivity are each vital to who you are as well

Lie #3: Everyone can look like movie stars if they diet enough and work at it enough
The Truth: We tend to look more like our blood relatives than movie stars

Lie #4: Attractive people don't have any problems
The Truth: We all have problems in this lie, and being attractive doesn't make you immune to problems

Lie #5: Being overweight is a sin
The Truth: It is not a sin to be overweight. The real sin for many is turning to food or substance to meet needs only God can meet.

Lie #6: I must compete with other women and look as good as they do
The Truth: You will always be the loser when you compete for beauty with other women

Lie #7: My body is who I am
The Truth: Your body is part of who you are, but not completely who you are

The world says that we have to look a certain way to be beautiful and valuable. God says that we are each unique and special. God says that true peace comes from a relationship with Him, not looking a certain way. The peace that the world offers from looking a certain way most often never comes.

Transform your body image:

Take time to write down 3 negative
statements about your body.
Go back and rewrite them in a positive way.

Thank God for making you...
we are all tagged with the label,

"Individually Crafted With the Compliments of Your Creator."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chapter 5: Biblical Characters Reveal God's View of Beauty...

In this chapter we looked at some characters from the Bible and how God viewed beauty in their lives. Newman gives special attention to the nature of Jesus.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1, 14
We learned that this particular Scripture highlights how God feels about our bodies and the beauty of them. God created us and the bodies that we live in. By taking on the form of human flesh, God placed his blessing on our bodies. By such an action, God is demonstrating that he cares about the bodies he has gifted us with. Jesus Christ experienced life in an imperfect body, just as we are. Even with an imperfect body, Jesus showed evidence of a healthy body image.

Jesus displayed a healthy body image in the 3 important aspects already discussed:

1. Respect
Creating something gives you a great respect for it. God created our human bodies so he has respect for his creation. Jesus finds so much value in our human bodies that he came to earth and died so that our bodies could experience eternal life.

2. Care
Jesus took incredibly good care of his body. As a carpenter and lumberjack he would have developed great muscular strength. He was also aerobically fit enough to walk many miles between cities. Jesus ate a healthy, Mediterranean diet. He always ate and fed others nutritious food. His physical fitness was shown most when he survived brutal treatment and made it to the cross.

3. Perspective
Jesus wasn't the most attractive man in his time. But Jesus had the perspective of showing God's love through himself, not a perfect earthly body. People were not drawn to Jesus because of his appearance, but because of the love he showed others. Physical beauty isn't very important to God.

Think about it...
Is your beauty or someone else's beauty a problem for you?
How is your beauty affecting your relationship with God?
Why didn't God create Jesus with perfect physical characteristics?

"I think of Jesus as a short, balding, skinny, dark-eyed, dark-haired, olive-skinned man with crooked teeth and a big nose. And I totally love Him. I've never seen Jesus, but I love Him because of WHO HE IS."
(Newman 80)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chapter 4: The Body Manufacturer's Instructions...

In this chapter Deborah Newman touches upon some specific instructions from Scripture about how we are to care for our bodies. I will highlight just a few of those here...

"Hating your body is a sign that something
is out of balance in your life"

1) Don't worry about your bodily needs; God will provide for you
This truth comes from Matthew 6:25-33. In this passage of Scripture we are told that life is more important than food and our temporal bodies. Worrying about such things is done by those who aren't fully trusting God. But if we seek God first in everything we do, which includes trusting him for food, clothes and our body, then He will provide for us. When we put our ultimate trust in God we have no need to worry about these things because He will always provide for our needs. How often do we disregard the daily things that God does for us?

Take time to thank God today for...
Food in your home...
you are not starving to death
Clothes in your closet...
you are not naked
The ability to walk and run...
you are not paralyzed

God certainly does provide for our every need!

2) Don't worry about your body as much as your soul
This one really hits home. How many times have I been more concerned about exercising, making my next meal or losing weight than about spending time in God's Word? I am ashamed of the number of times I have chosen to worry about my body and not the condition of my soul. In Matthew 10:28-31 God instructs us to be just as cautious of things that control our soul as things that control our bodies. There will always be people in this world that can hurt and destroy our bodies, but we are in control of protecting our soul.

Are you more concerned about the condition of your body than your soul?
How often do you put exercise and food before being in the presence of God?

3) Don't offer your body to sin, but offer it to God
Sometimes sin can be a scary word. It seems so intimidating. In essence, sin is anything that pulls us away from the presence of God. When our thoughts and actions are being controlled by something apart from glorifying God, we are being sinful. Romans 6:11-14 states that our body should be offered to God, not sinful purposes. Our bodies are meant to be used for righteousness. Every day we are faced with choices regarding our body. Our bodies are gifts from God and He desires for us to give ourselves to Him so that his purposes can be carried out in this world.

What consumes your mind most of the day?
How does that affect the actions you take with your body?

4) Our bodies are temporary
What good news to know that we won't always live in these bodies that get sick, broken-down, and age. It's important to keep the focus that these bodies are temporary places for us to glorify the kingdom of God. In the end it will not matter if our bodies are skinny or fat, short or tall. Some day these earthly bodies will be traded for an eternity with our Heavenly Father. But when we become consumed with the condition of our body and food that we eat, we are in danger of straying from God's presence. 2 Corinthians: 6-10 states that "We live by faith, not by sight. It is better to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

Are you living as if your body is a temporary dwelling?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chapter 3: Why Our Bodies Were Created

Our bodies are God's perfect creation. God's love for us is so great that He made us from the dust of the earth and breathed His own breath into us. He created us in His very own image. Being made in His image, we are filled with His spirit . We show the likeness and semblance of God himself. He made every part of our bodies to function according to a specific purpose and in harmony together. Just as a loving mother delights in her children and sees no flaws, God looks at each of us and says that He created each of us perfect in His eyes. If our Creator himself says that we are made perfect, in His image, who are we to say that we aren't? The God of the universe says that we are beautiful and perfect because His very own hands created everything about us. When we overlook the beauty of our own bodies we are insulting the God who made them.

How do you think God feels about your body?
How do you think God feels when you hate things about your body?

How much energy do you spend every day hating yourself or things about your body? Start turning the tables on your negative energy. Instead of indulging yourself in hating your body, use that time to embrace the body God has given you.

Read through Psalm 139 and think about how much God delights in you.
Make a list of all the miraculous things that your body is capable of doing.

Immerse yourself in God's love. His love for you is so great and so powerful. His love and unconditional acceptance can overcome all doubts and fears that you have. John 4:18 states that "there is no fear in love." Because of this we don't need to fear being unacceptable - we can fully embrace God's acceptance. We can love ourselves and our bodies because of who we are IN God and TO God.

Do you know how much God loves you?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chapter 2: The Truth of Perfectionism

In chapter 2 we learned about the truth behind perfectionism. Perfectionism is at the root of a poor body image. When we strive to be perfect in all things, we are doubting God and the way that He made us. And Satan loves to capitalize on our doubts and desires for perfectionism. Satan was once beautiful and wise, but his heart became proud and he tried to glorify himself above the God of the universe. Satan still tries to use wisdom, beauty and our desires to be perfect to influence us. When we accept the deceiver's whispers that we're not thin enough or not beautiful enough, we are being fooled. Making yourself beautiful or perfect is not an act of worship to God, it is a distraction from God. Satan would love for all women to feel ugly and useless so that they cannot be influential for God's kingdom. When we put off Satan's lies and trust that God made us in His perfect image, we can be used in His kingdom for good.

Overcoming a poor body image can be done by looking back at how it developed. Think about past experiences with family, friends, coworkers and classmates...

  • How did these past experiences influence how you view yourself today?

We often believe things that negatively impact our body image if we are told them often enough. But believing this false information about our bodies blinds us from seeing who we really are.

  • What have you been told about your body by others?
  • What have you been telling yourself about your body?
  • At what times or what situations have you struggled with body image the most?

It is important to overcome the negative body image that you have of yourself. Prayer is a powerful combatant against these negative thoughts.
You can ask God for His help...

Dear Heavenly Father,

I recognize that I struggle to know and live out what is truly perfect. I can see how my heart is drawn to Satan's message that perfectionism is the answer. I can easily get focused on wanting perfect beauty rather than wanting You. In the name of Jesus Christ I stand against the world of advertising, diet, the beauty industry, my vanity, and Satan himself. I resist every force that would seek to distract me from who I really am and what you desire for me to do in, and through, this body You gave me. I reject the distorted concepts and ideas that make body perfection sound plausible and desirable. I oppose every attempt to keep me from knowing full fellowship with you.

"The secret to true beauty is being at peace with who you are"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chapter 1: Healthy Body Image

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-16

According to Newman, having a healthy body image requires 3 components...

1. Respect
What a wonder of creation we are. I am overwhelmed when I think of how God crafted us together in our mother's womb. From the moment of conception he was creating us, uniquely and wonderfully. The way our body was created and functions is not an accident. We are such complex organisms, capable of so many things.
  • Do you recognize that God made you the way you are for a reason?
  • Have you ever been in "awe" of the way your body was created?

2. Care
God created us with a natural desire to care for our bodies. This desire, under control, is essential for survival. But, out of control, can lead to destruction. Satan provides many temptations for us to harm our bodies. Even he knows that our body is a gift to be cared for.
  • Are you taking care of the body God gave you?
  • Are there times that you feel the temptation to harm, overwork, or not take care of your body? Why?

3. Perspective
God has created each of us differently. We are each on this earth to fulfill a different purpose. Some are teachers, artists, nurses, or homemakers. Others are short, tall, thin, or heavy. Regardless of what we do or what we look like, we have a purpose in this world. Our title and outward appearance have nothing to do with the mission that God created us to accomplish.
  • How do you measure your self worth? Do you compare yourself to others? Do you look at God's truth about who you are as his creation?
  • Does your occupation or appearance affect the work God has for you to do?

Do you have a healthy body image?
Are you showing respect, care,
and perspective for your body?


DO IT...

Think of one physical characteristic that you like about yourself -
THANK GOD for it!

He made you that way!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chapter 1: Poor Body Image

"The reason we can't look at ourselves and appreciate objective realities isn't because our mirror is distorted. Our body image has little to do with how we look on the outside and everything to do with what we think and feel on the inside." (Newman p.15)
Body image issues are not simply a result of what we see in the mirror. Instead, it's a matter of what's going on in our minds. What are the influencing factors in your mind that lead to poor body image?

Check out some statistics about body image...
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins)
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al)
  • The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.
  • Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women (Smolak)
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry)
  • 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted “often” or “always” (Kurth et al)
  • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders (Shisslak & Crago).
  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day (Smolak)
  • Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year (Smolak)

Is our culture to blame for poor body image issues?
Would you struggle with your body image if you didn't see thin models on TV? Would you struggle if you didn't hear dieting commercials on the radio? Would you struggle if you didn't see exercise tips in magazines?

If you were the only one on this planet would you have a poor body image? Have you ever thought of the influence that other people, magazines, TV, and the radio have on your body image? How can you eliminate these influences on your mind?

Our Savior Lives...

Each of us have been created with a longing in our hearts. As Pastor Ric stated in a sermon recently, we all fill that hole with something. If we don't fill it with God, we will fill it with something else. Things of this world will never bring happiness or contentment. What our hearts truly long for is Jesus Christ as our Savior. We were created this way by Our Creator, God.

Jesus came to this earth, while we were yet sinners, and made the ultimate sacrifice. He paid a debt for each of us that we can never repay. He gave his life. Because of His great love for us, we can have confidence in the promise that he is always with us. Our great Savior is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. In the darkness, the light, the past, the present, and the future; He is our God. He has always been and will always be our God. His promises never change. His love never changes. His sacrifice never changes. Jesus Christ lives. Our Savior is ALIVE today!

Let that place in your heart be filled with Christ's love for you this Easter. Find peace in knowing that He has always been your God and always will be your God. He is always with you and will always love you.

Have a joyous Easter holiday!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Week 6 - Finding Your Identity in Christ...

Each class thus far has led to this; finding our identity in Christ. After all, that's really what it's all about. Recovery from an eating disorder must be based on finding your true identity in Christ. An eating disorder can so easily become your identity, so much that you don't know who you are without it. When you learn to put on Christ and take off your old self, you no longer need an eating disorder to be your identity, best friend, hobby, coping mechanism or escape. When your identity is in Christ, your meaning and purpose in life is based on your birthright as a child of God and what Christ did on the cross.

We watched a Nooma video, entitled Name. This video addresses the issue of finding our true identity. Here are some tidbits from the video...
"We each have this unique path, a calling, a life that God has given us; and Jesus invites us to be our true selves and yet we get sidetracked, we get distracted, we get hung up on how we're different from her or we aren't like him and we end up asking the wrong questions."
Do you have a sense of a unique path in your life?
If so, what is it?
Are there ways in which you get distracted by what others
do, say or think?
"You and I have pasts, families we come from, things we've done, mistakes we've made. Where we've been and what we've done have shaped us into who we are today. So we have to embrace our story, our history. You don't have to be proud of it, but you must claim it because it's yours."
Have you claimed your past?
"We need to be saved from all of the times we haven't been our true selves. All the times we've tried to be someone else. All of the lies we've believed about who God made when God made us. All the times we've asked the wrong questions: What about him? What about her? What about them? We've missed the voice of Jesus saying, 'You, follow me.'"
What would it look like for you to completely trust Jesus when he says,
"You, follow me?"

We believe lies from the world about who we are. We often believe that our identity is found in having the right appearance, status, recognition, or achievements. But our true identity does not come from things of this world. Our true identity comes from being a child of God. Our sense of worth comes not from self, but from being created in the image of God. We have been chosen by Him..."we are God's possession, chosen and secure in Him" 2 Co. 1:21-22, "we are chosen in Christ to be holy" Eph 1:4, "we are chosen by God to be adopted as his child" Eph 1:5.

Through our adoption in Christ we can...
-Be healed of past hurts
-Accept God's truth and love for us
-Find comfort and peace in God's purposes
-Live empowered to share Christ with others

My prayer for everyone struggling with an eating disorder comes from Romans 12:1-2:
"Give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
You can make the choice today to exchange your heart, purposes and dreams for God's. When you give your whole self to Him as an act of worship; your mind, body and soul will be transformed. When you find your identity in Christ, you are no longer the person you used to be. Allow Christ to be your identity so that you can find His good and perfect will for your life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Week 5 - Accepting God's Grace and Forgiveness


What you believe determines how you behave and how you behave determines how you feel. Your true beliefs then are reflected by your feelings. Quite honestly, my feelings haven't always been in line with my beliefs. Each of us in the group acknowledged that we believe that God forgives sin. It's a fundamental belief of Christianity. However, truly believing that God forgives sin means that your behavior is to repent, ask forgiveness of that sin and consequently feel free and cleansed of your sin. In the bondage of an eating disorder, we each expressed feelings that it was hard to feel forgiven or "free." In which case, our beliefs were not truly that God forgives our sin, but that God forgives other peoples sin.

We must choose to believe that what God says is true. His word remains TRUE whether we believe it or not. His word remains TRUE whether we act like it or not. (Romans 6:6-9)

In certain circumstances, our feelings and beliefs may not line up. In those instances, we have a choice to make. We can either allow our feelings to dictate our beliefs, or we can choose to behave in a way that will change our feelings. When we make the choice to trust in God's word and behave contrary to what we are feeling, God will honor our choice. When we choose God, he lavishes His love on us and will change our hearts to be in line with His truth.

Forgiveness must be displayed in two ways; by forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. People with eating disorders are generally perfectonistic and addictive in personality. For this type of person, forgiveness of themselves does not come easy. We each acknowledged that we are much more willing to forgive others than ourselves. Along with unforgiveness comes shame and guilt that we have failed God, others, or ourselves.

We took some time to journal about what source of unforgiveness or guilt we are still feeling today. Upon some reflection, we tore these pages out of our journal and went outside. In a small galvanized bucket, we put our papers up in flames. Forgiveness is certainly a process. While we acknowledged the work that it takes to experience forgiveness, we took this first step together in giving God some of our hurts and struggles. Our prayer at this time went something like this...

"God, You already know everything that is written here. Thank you for walking this earth and for understanding all of these struggles and pains. Thank you that you love us so incredibly much, that you have already died for these things. You died so that we could experience freedom from sin and unforgiveness. Thank you for your promises that you will never leave or forsake us and that you will never recall our sins or hold them against us. You have said that nothing can separate us from your love. Your love for us is so great that you will never let go of us. Please walk with us on the journey to let go of these things and to trust you. Guide us as we continue on the process of forgiveness and truly accepting forgiveness of ourselves.
Thank you that through Christ's death and resurrection we can experience true freedom."

We listened to this song by Casting Crowns and reflected on what it means to be free in Christ. God gives us the choice to lift our chains and give Him the ultimate power over our lives. Jesus holds all the power on Heaven and Earth and WE ARE FREE in Him.

"Our old self was crucified with him so that sin is done away with, that we are no longer slaves to sin, because anyone who has died is free from sin. Sin is no longer your master, because you are not under law, but under Grace."
Romans 6:6-7, 14

Monday, March 16, 2009

Taking a Break...

It's time for Spring break, which means that we won't be having class tomorrow evening, March 17th.  We'll pick up with our 2 remaining classes on March 24th and 31st.  
FYI - We will start our book study of "Loving Your Body" by Deborah Newman after our classes are done.  Stay posted for more details about the book!

Enjoy your Spring break, girls! See you next week.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Week 4 - Finding Comfort in God's Love

This week we talked about the differences between the world's perception of love and God's love. The world's love is based on conditional things. The world says that we can fall in and out of love. It is based on our feelings or emotions at a specific time. The world's love is based on performance, that somehow we have to earn love by doing or being someone we're not. But God's love is unconditional. God's love for us is not dependent on what we have done or how we feel. We are perfect beings created in His image and He is well pleased with us. No matter how far we stray, he loves us. He always desires to draw us closer to Him and reveal his amazing, unconditional love for us.

God's love can be described like this...

"The love of God beckons you to come. It does not send you away, it is not hard to find. It calls out like a mother for a child. Like an angel that proclaims the glory of God, it never ceases. God calls out to you, "Come!" His voice echoes across all that is, "Yes you, come closer, deeper in. Sit upon My lap, let Me look at you. Let Me hold you My child, I love you. I love you. I will always love you."
I am so thankful that God doesn't treat us the way we treat others. Our relationships in this world differ so much from God's relationship with us. When I have felt wronged or hurt in relationships, I have wanted to pull away and give less of myself to that person. We remember hurts and hold on to pain. Yet how often do we ignore God's voice? How often do we wrong and hurt Him? How often do we make poor choices? Yet, God never walks away from us saying that we've hurt him too much or been away for too long. Instead he continues to pursue us. He relentlessly tries to win our hearts so that we may experience comfort in Him.

God's love is exemplified in this song by Matt Redman. God's love will never let go of us. The song states God's truth, that even in the midst of life's storms, God is near. We each reflected on a time in our lives that we experienced loneliness. At times when God feels far away we often rely on our feelings to dictate our basis of love. In these storms we believe feelings that we are unloved, unaccepted, and undeserving of God's comfort. In the midst of these storms it may be hard to experience God's ultimate love, but looking back we can see how God was carrying us.

Scripture shows us over and over what God's heart is for His children.
This is the Father's heart for us...
  • "He chose us before the foundation of the world" Eph 1:4-6
  • "He totally and unconditionally accepts and loves me just the way I am" Eph 1:4-6
  • "He will never abandon me, leave me or forsake me." Heb 13:5
  • "He exults over me with great joy and singing." Zep 3:17
  • "He takes great pleasure in me" Psalm 149:4
  • "He does not recall my sins or iniquities and does not hold them against me." Heb 8:12
  • "He will never fail me or fall short of meeting my needs." Psalm 89:33-34
  • "He gathers me in his loving arms and carries me all my life." Isaiah 40:11
  • "He will not let anything separate us from his love." Romans 8:35-39
  • "He loves us with an everlasting love." Jer 31:3
Using God's promises of love for us, we wrote a love letter from God to ourselves. What would God being saying to us about how much He loves us? How does He want to show us comfort in times of loneliness? What does He want us to believe about ourselves?
This is the letter that I wrote when we ran classes from the fall (October-November 2008)...

Dear Jen,
You were made in my image and I love you just the way I created you. Even at your birth I had great plans for your life and have only had good in mind for you. I unconditionally accept you because you are my child and I take great pride in my creation, as any earthly father lavishes love on his son or daughter.
I know the struggles and pain that you have been through. If you trust in me, I can wipe all of your tears and take away every pain. In any trial that you face, I will never abandon you, leave you or forsake you. I am with you from now until the end of the age. I will never fail you, even when you think that you have failed me or yourself. If you simply put your trust and hope in me, I can meet each one of your needs. I know your needs before you even ask because I know more about you than you know about yourself. I know every anxious thought in you and I can promise you peace so that you will never be anxious or worry again. All of your anxieties and pains are not too much for me to handle. Find rest in me and be strengthened by my promises when you are tired and too weak to go on.
You cannot do anything to make me love you more. I cherish everything about you and love you so much that I sent my son to die for you. He died so that I could have a relationship with you; so that you could love me and I could love you. Your sins are not counted against you anymore because you are forgiven and worthy of love.
I am the same God that was with you through times of loneliness and in times of joy. I will always be with you and I will always rejoice in you, my child.
I love you,
Father God.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Week 3 - Fear Not

Our classes have been structured to follow the progression of a typical eating disorder.  The first week we discussed the issue of control.  An eating disorder often starts because we believe it is a way to find control in situations that are out of our control.  Last week we discussed the issue of worry.  Our worries are often what trigger destructive behaviors associated with eating disorders.  This week we discussed the idea of fear.  Even when the eating disorder is brought to light and we no longer want to struggle with it, fear often has such a grip on us that we can't let go.

Fear can have incredible power and control over us.  We discussed the concept of fear in respect to VALUE.  Fear comes from the potential of losing something we value.  The greater the value something is to us, the more we fear it.  Therefore, when something has no value to us, we have no fear of losing it.  In this respect, when we are afraid to let go of our eating disorder we are giving it value in our lives.  However, God clearly states in Scripture that we are to fear only 1 thing... Himself.

Fear of God is recognition of His value.  Without God we have nothing.  Mark 8:36-37 states, "What good is it for man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"  Fear of God puts things in perspective.  Nothing we have, nothing we accomplish, and nothing that happens to us will last.  We should not fear losing things of this world because they have no lasting consequence.  When we fear God and value Him above all else, we realize that things of this world have NO value in our lives.  When we fear anything other than the God of the universe we are not in line with his plan for our lives.  

We spent some time listening to The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.  This song is a powerful reminder about God's truth.  We will always be bombarded by lies from the enemy.  The enemy will always try to deceive and have us believe the lies that "we've tried before and failed."  The wonderful news of the gospel is that we have another voice to listen to.  The voice of truth tells us that we don't need to be afraid.  God says that everything we go through can be used for His glory.  God says that he can use a tiny stone to defeat a giant and that the waves are never too big for us to reach out to Him.  We have a choice to make.  While we hear many voices out there, we can choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.  God is holding out His hand to us saying, "fear not," come to me and I will give you the strength to stand.  

Make the choice today, and every day, to listen to the Voice of Truth.  

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline."  2 Timothy 1:7

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Week 2 - Casting Our Worries on Him...

Worry implies the absence of trust in God

This statement is such a humbling realization. I often worry so much and trust God so little. Sometimes I think that people just worry, it's what we all do. While it may be true that humans worry, God says to trust Him and cast our worries on Him. As I was planning for our meeting, I realized that I label myself as a worrier. I've held an unconscious belief that a worrier is who I am and it's just what I do. But as we explored this topic I discovered that God didn't create me that way. I was created to live in peace with my Creator. Worrying is something that we do when we're not trusting God.

Eating disorders are fueled by constant worry. These worries, our "triggers" are what take us from unhealthy thoughts into destructive behaviors of binging, purging and restricting. On a large posterboard we listed some of our "triggers." Our list included family situations, school stress, food, being alone, feeling that we're not good enough, and change.

So, what exactly does the Bible say about worrying?

1. Worrying accomplishes nothing
- Worrying steals our time
"Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life? Why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are." Matthew 6:27-29
2. Worrying is not good for you - It can make us physically sick
"Worry weighs a person down, but an encouraging word cheers a person up." Proverbs 12:25
3. Worrying is the opposite of trusting God - God promises us peace if we do 3 things. If we 1) give up our worry, 2) pray about everything, and 3) thank Him for what He has done, He promises us a peace that will guard our heart and minds.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
4. Worrying puts your focus in the wrong direction - God has a plan for our lives and He promises to take care of our every need. We have nothing to worry about!
"So don't worry about these things, saying, "What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?" These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
Matthew 6:31-33

Even though Scripture tells us not to worry, we often find ourselves doing it. We continue worrying because the lies of this world have become strongholds in our mind. A stronghold is a place that is well defended; a fortress. For a long time we have self defended the beliefs we have in our minds. It's time to destroy those lies and for God to renew our minds!

To destroy strongholds in our minds we need to give God control of our thoughts. We can set our minds on Godly things when we repent of our actions, renounce the lies we are believing, renew our minds, and resist further temptation. It is a lie that God is anything less than pure and perfect and that He cannot be trusted. Instead, we can accept the Truth that God has been, and always will be, pure, perfect and trustworthy.

God is completely trustworthy. He promises us peace, security, comfort, peace, love, and contentment when we trust in Him. Why would we worry when we can cast all of our anxiety on Him? (1 Peter 5:7) Give your worry to Him today and experience His good, pleasing and perfect will for your life (Romans 12:2).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Week 1 - Giving Up Control...

For our first week of classes we discussed the issue of giving God control of our lives and our eating disorders.  All of our "addictions" are a way to find control in our lives, which may otherwise feel out of control.  We look for control because it's an escape from hurt relationships, family situations, stress, etc.  What begins as a way to gain control over something in our lives, turns into something that not only controls us, but consumes every fiber of our being.  For each person that truly seeks recovery, it is a realization that we must give God control of our lives for us to find contentment again.

Each of us face a battle in our minds.  There is a constant battle to believe Satan's lies or to accept God's truth.  Satan tells us that we're not good enough, or not thin enough, or not strong enough.  God tells us that we can only find truth in Him.  The idea that we can control our lives is a lie.  As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for over 10 years, I know this is a lie.  My attempts to control things always failed and will always fail unless I allow God to have control over my life.  

God made us in our mother's womb and he has good and perfect plans for our future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Why wouldn't we want him to control our footsteps?  

We took some time to listen to a song by Caedmons Call called Piece of Glass.  The song talks about the mirror and how it's lies begin to consume the mind of someone with an eating disorder.  Listen...

The good news is that we don't have to rely on a piece of glass to determine our self worth because in Christ we already have self worth.  We are accepted and loved unconditionally.  The mirror will always lie and deceive, but God's word is truth!  God's word says that...
  • "My help comes from the LORD, maker of heaven and earth."  Psalm 121: 1-2
  • "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1
  • "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:12, 13
We listed some affirmations about ourselves from God's truth on post-it notes for each of us to keep on our mirrors.  Fighting the lies of this world requires constantly having your mind filled with God's truth through Scripture, songs, and prayer.  Each girl in the group offered an affirmation for us to write down.  Our post-it note this week read...
  1. God loves me just the way I am
  2. God's plan for my life is beyond my wildest dreams
  3. I find my value in the one who gives me value
  4. If you can't believe it's truth, then trust the One who knows it's true
  5. I am good enough
  6. The size of my heart is more important than the size of my jeans
  7. There is more that God wants me to be than skinny.
Who has control of your life? You or God?

True Reflections Classes Info...

We officially started the Spring session of classes at Daybreak this past Tuesday, February 17th.  True Reflections classes will be held every Tuesday evening from 7:30-9:30pm until March 24th.  Over these 6 weeks we will be covering various topics pertaining to eating disorders and pursuing God in our recovery from them.  Working thruogh these issues as a support group we hope to learn more about who we are in Christ and gain victory over "what's eating us."  Check here each week to see what God has been teaching us!

Our topics schedule:
  • February 17th - Finding contentment in Christ by giving God control
  • February 24th - Letting go of anxiety by finding peace in Christ
  • March 3rd - Releasing our fears of the unknown by seeking security in Him
  • March 10th - Finding comfort in Christ by breaking free from loneliness
  • March 17th - Embracing God's grace and forgiveness from shame and guilt
  • March 24th - Finding your identity in Christ

Friday, February 13, 2009

Loving Your Body...

For our first book study we'll be reading "Loving Your Body" by Deborah Newman.

A sneak peek:

"This book diminishes the world's beauty myths and reminds us that God accepts us and wants us to see ourselves as He does. You'll discover that developing a healthy body image begins with identifying who you are in Christ first, so you can gain acceptance of who you are physically."