Monday, January 31, 2011

My porch

Our pets on the porch...the cat is begging for food from hubs.

My porch is my morning meeting place with My Father.  

Each morning, on my porch, I sit still in my white, wicker rocking chair and meditate on the beauty of my back yard:  green trees, singing birds, rising sun, and the light breeze waking the trees.  He is here.  He cares.  I praise Him for the beauty of His creation.

Like my prayer mentor, George Mueller, I need to spend time alone with G-d in the morning before I start my day.    Like him, I often need the Scriptures in order to “get my soul in a happy state”.    Some mornings,   I can tell my thoughts are not right because I feel out of sorts – not my usual happy, contented self.   Past experience has taught me that He will show me what to do if I am troubled

Following the example of Mr. Mueller, I keep a prayer journal.  Getting my thoughts out of my head and on to paper helps me.   Sometimes, I whine in my journal.  I write it all down in black and white because it’s for His eyes only. Needless to say, over the years I’ve learned my thoughts are not His thoughts.  My ways are not His ways.    

After journaling,   I turn to the Scriptures.  I ask G-d to help me through His written Word.  Show me the right thought is my daily prayer 

I open the Scriptures to my daily dose of Proverbs, and a verse leaps out!  The words speak directly to my immediate need.  I tremble in awe of the living G-d…so real…as close to me as my breath.    It changes me.  It lifts my bad mood.  Oh, how it comforts me to know that G-d is near, listening to me, speaking to me.  

How thankful I am that, unlike generations before me, I can hold His Words in my hands.  His Word is Living Water, quenching my dry soul.  It is the Bread of Life, nourishing my hunger.
My time with Him is precious and sweet.  I linger as long as I can at His feet, and come away refreshed, renewed, ready to start my day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Chewing Tobacco Diet

A chewing tobacco habit helped me lose weight.
This is me before the weight loss.

Wait! It's not what you're thinking. I'll explain.

I'm a teacher. One morning as class was starting, I noticed one of my teenage students walk past with a big wad of something stuffed in his lower lip. "John, wait!" I called as I stared intently at the bulge. "What's that in your mouth?"

His eyes grew big, and he stammered, "Uh … uh … "

"Are you chewing tobacco?"

"Yes, Ma'am," he said as he looked down, shuffling his feet, his hands clenched in his pockets.

John was my favorite student, a boy with a heart as big as Texas and as tender as a teddy bear's. He had confided in me weeks earlier that he felt God calling him to be a preacher. But I had watched him struggle, trying to be like the other boys in the class. He wanted to be cool, but the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him. While the other boys sinned with relish, John was     tormented by his struggles and ashamed of his stumbling. Trying to live in two worlds wasn't working for him.

"Miss Gail, I know it's wrong to dip, but I only do it every once in a while. And all the other guys do it!"

I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I thought: If they jumped off the cliff, would you jump, too? Instead, I prayed, "God, please show me how to help this young man. He's going to do great things for you, but he's headed down the wrong roads. Show me how I can be helpful."
Kicking the habit

Over the next weeks, I caught him with a "pinch" in his lip several times and always called him on it. He finally broke down and told me, "Miss Gail, I just love to dip. I love the taste of it, and I love to spit. I know it's wrong and everything, but I've tried to stop and I just can't." His pleading almost convinced me there was no hope.

His honesty poignantly expressed the struggle going on in my own life. Like him, I was addicted—not to tobacco, but to overeating. I was 100 pounds overweight.

God, please show me how to break my own addiction so I can help John, I prayed silently as we stood face to face. Then I had an idea …

"John, give me your chewing tobacco." I commanded.

He looked at me with shock. "What for?"

"Just give it to me. I'll explain later," I said, holding out my hand. Reluctantly, he placed it in my palm with a puzzled look on his face.

That night, I set the pack of chewing tobacco on my kitchen counter and prayed, "God, I know you can help me overcome my addiction. I don't know how. But I'm asking you to do it for me, so that John will see your power to help and believe it for himself."

The chewing tobacco on my kitchen counter daily reminded me to pray, "God, please do for me what I cannot do for myself." When I was tempted to overeat, I prayed, "Help me, God!" He answered every prayer.

Not my willpower, but God's

For the first time, I realized that when I'd tried to lose weight in the past, I'd depended on my own willpower. It never worked for long. I had just wanted to lose weight—I didn't want to change. But this time, God changed me. He gave me the strength to plan ahead by having good foods to eat, and to prepare lunches so I wouldn't hit the fast-food places. I also learned to love foods that I had previously shunned. The weight came off slowly but steadily, and I began to look and feel like a new woman.
To date, I have lost a total of 85 pounds and six dress sizes. It's been amazing to see God change life-long habits and reshape my mind and body.

Naturally, friends and family who visited my kitchen were curious about the pack of chewing tobacco on the counter. I had plenty of opportunities to share John's dipping problem and my prayers that we'd overcome our addictions.

In the past I'd never understood the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13, NASB). But that verse became very real during the months that God began to work in me. To date, I have lost a total of 85 pounds and six dress sizes. I can honestly say I have not struggled, or suffered, or felt sorry for myself as I had in the past. It's been amazing to see God work in me to change life-long habits and reshape my mind and body. When people ask me how I did it, I tell them about God's power.
Me - after losing 90 pounds! 

When John noticed I was shrinking, I told him how his struggle had spurred me on to seek God's help for my own addiction. I recounted how his pack of chewing tobacco played a part in my weight loss. He smiled from ear to ear, but then hung his head and asked me to keep praying for him. I assured him I would.

My prayer is that he will not take as many years to realize this simple truth that I am learning: "I will glory in my weakness, for when I am weak, He is made strong." I still keep his pack of chewing tobacco in my kitchen as a reminder to pray for us daily.

Gail G. Golden is a writer living in Port St. John, Florida.Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine.
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Living in paradise

Living in paradise is a wonderful thing.  Last week, I drove down the River Road as I call it and snapped some pics with my camera phone.  I love living near the water, and it soothes my soul to be near this beautiful river.  I feel rich when I ride down this road.  Just to see the water, the birds, the flowers and tress, and the gorgeous homes is such a blessing.

I hope you enjoy this little tour of my paradise.

As I headed south on the River Road, I enjoyed the white fence, the palm trees and oaks with moss draping a canopy overhead, and then I spotted a roadside fruit stand. Isn't it paradise to have fruit sold on the side of the road using the "honor" system? You pick your fruit and leave the money in the coffee can! I love where I live!

I feel so blessed to see sailboats, wading birds, and most of all, the night-blooming cirius. They only bloom one time and are spectacular. Just another benefit of living in paradise.

The River Road winds around the curves of the river and up and down her hills. There are some pretty high points that look over white sandy beaches - so pretty! We get our "Fall" color in December here in sunny central Florida, so I even get to enjoy the turning of the leaves.

Another joy is seeing the "painted ladies" - beautiful Victorian homes. Here are two decked out for the holidays.

The most beautiful part of paradise is seeing the sunsets. I believe G-d draws near at sunrise and sunset, because I feel such joy to see what He's creating. Thank you G-d for my simple pleasures and abundant blessings. Thank you for letting me live in paradise on earth.

I'm linking up to Grati-Tuesday, Something Beautiful Spiritual Sundays and Siimple Pleasures Fashionably Organized, The Two Savvy Sisters, Emmy's Closet and Sunny Bug