Finding God

Chaos.

In the first month of 2018, I’ve lived a chaotic life. My family has endured sickness, unexpected delays, car problems, financial setbacks, unexpected obligations, personal sadness, disappointments, and a general uncertainty about the future. It’s enough to make me throw up my hands and cry, “Why, God? Why me?”

Have you felt like this?

Elijah, the prophet, did. Throughout King Ahab’s reign in 1 Kings, he had been a thorn in the king’s side. Elijah delivered messages from God to the king about Ahab’s disobedience, soundly defeated the prophets of Baal in an epic showdown at the altars on Mt. Carmel, and made an staunch enemy in Jezebel, the queen.

When Jezebel had most of the prophets of Israel killed and promised to kill Elijah as well, he ran and hid. But, Elijah couldn’t escape the presence of God. When God confronted him, Elijah began to whine.

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:10-12 NLT)

Whining. I have a PhD in whining. It’s my most unattractive quality. It happens when I forget my gratitude for all that God has done for me. Elijah misplaced his gratitude as well.

In a display of natural forces that only God could orchestrate, Elijah watched as a violent wind demolished parts of the mountain. He felt the earth tremble and shake. He witnessed the raging fire as it swept past.

After all the chaos of the natural elements, there remained the only thing that could possibly give Elijah peace: the gentle whisper of God.

God is not in the chaos of our lives. Don’t look for Him there. Chaos belongs to Satan. He reigns supreme in lies, disappointment, and chaos. He deals it out to us daily. And when we lift our hands and cry, “Why God? Why me?,” Satan thinks he’s won.

But that still, small voice. The voice of reason. The Source of peace. The Presence if the Almighty.

Father, help me to remember during the chaos of life to stop and listen for Your voice; for Your whisper. Help me always be grateful so that I don’t have time to complain. Thank you for your peace that passes understanding. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

shr

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Who is the King of My Heart?

As much as I would like to say that there is nothing above God in my life, I cannot. I fail miserably each and every day in giving Him first place.

So what kind of things do I place ahead of Him?

Family

Friends

Personal Desires

Frivolous Activities

“Me” Time

Sinful Thoughts and Actions

Preoccupation with Worldly Things

I was hit full force with this realization as I reached for my phone and my Bible this morning. I am in a Bible study of 1 & 2 Kings on my First 5 app. (Go to first5.org to check out this wonderful study tool from Proverbs 31 Ministries.)

As I clicked on the app, I thought, “I’m going to hurry through this and check out my social media apps and see what’s happening today.”

Then I read the scripture from 1 Kings chapter 16. The entire chapter is about God’s people choosing everyone and everything over God. I thought, “Don’t you people ever learn?”

And then God’s still small voice said, “But Sandy, do you?”

Whitney Capps wrote the commentary on 1 Kings 16. This is profound: Self is a terrible king.

What do we relinquish when we make ourselves king of our lives? We trade God’s riches which are great blessings for the paltry things we collect in the physical realm. We trade His omnipotence for the measly strength we can muster. We trade His omniscience for narrow-minded, short-sighted, limited wisdom of our own brains. We trade peace that passes understanding for fear, hopelessness, and uncertainty.

I am married to the world’s biggest baseball fan. Something happened the year we were married that I’ll never forget. In 1987, the Detroit Tigers baseball organization traded up-and-coming pitcher Greg Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for Alexander Doyle. While Doyle did help Detroit get to the postseason games, he was sidelined in a play and never fully recovered, eventually retiring in 1989. John Smoltz went on to team up with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and their “triple threat” pitching for the Braves is legendary.

In the end, it was a wonderful trade for Atlanta but not so much for Detroit. While no one could have predicted what happened to Doyle in postseason play, we can be certain of what will happen in our lives when we replace God with self.

Whitney closes her commentary with this:

When we dethrone God, we set ourselves on a path to hard times. It might not look like it now, but the spiral is coming and like this chapter, it will be hard to get through. I want to learn Israel’s lesson. I know my heart, and I know just how selfish I can be. I can’t be trusted with a throne, but He can.

I’m making a new effort starting now to insure that God is the rightful King of my heart.

shr

The Unmasking of a Fool

(I am doing a new Bible study of 1 & 2 Kings. I will be sharing what God gives me through this study.)

Background scripture references: 1 Kings chapter’s 1-4

1 Kings opens with the impending death of David and the throne of Israel being usurped by David’s son, Adonijah. Of course, Adonijah was doing all of this on the down low, knowing that his father’s successor had already been chosen by God — Solomon.

David, as he languishes on his deathbed, finds out about Adonijah’s underhanded ways and makes sure that Solomon is installed as Israel’s rightful king. David’s last words were an admonition to Solomon: be obedient to God. (1 Kings 2)

In 1 Kings 3, we find Solomon, at twenty years old, is the newly appointed king. Solomon came before God, who promised to grant him whatever he asked. Solomon’s request? To have a discerning heart and to rule in the wisdom God would grant him. (At 20, that would have not been my request. How about you?)

My scripture for today was 1 Kings 4.

Solomon began using his discernment and wisdom immediately. He knew that he needed God and he recognized that he needed to surround himself with a council of other wise, godly people. He chose these men carefully and with their collective wisdom, the kingdom of Israel would flourish.

Solomon’s example spoke to me and these four questions arose:

On whom do I rely for wise counsel?

Are these people godly or do they “conform to this world?”

Do these friends show a discerning heart in their own lives or are they foolish in their decisions?

Are these people honest with me or are they “yes friends” who only tell me what I want to hear?

As a Christian, my goal is always to be more like Christ. Jesus surrounded Himself with wise, godly men He chose as His disciples. The Son of God, who could have chosen to walk His life path all alone, chose to walk it with likeminded individuals.

God never meant for us to bear our burdens alone. The formation of the church had a threefold purpose: to worship God, to share the gospel with the lost, and to lift each other up (delighting in our joys and bearing one another’s burdens).

If I choose to “go it alone,” then I am a fool. In and of myself, I am nothing. But choosing to surround myself with unwise and ungodly people (and to take their advise) is just as foolish.

Starting today, I choose to be intentional in the choosing of my council. I am asking God to reveal the true nature and heart of anyone from whom I seek guidance. I want to unmask the unwise and ungodly so that I don’t end up wearing the mask of a fool.

shr

Living in a Material World (When You’re Not a Material Girl): Part 1

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

I started a social experiment about image on July 24, 2017. Armed with a legal pad and pen, I decided that for a week, I would keep a list of all the references about being overweight I heard on television and radio, or read in print and social media. My intent was to continue this experiment for the entire week of vacation, but here I sit after only THREE DAYS and I’ve already heard and seen so much that to complete the week would be an exercise in redundancy.

There were very few programs I watched on television that didn’t make some reference to being overweight. There were NO publications I read during the last three days that didn’t have at least one article about how to lose weight, and every article promised that this was a sure-fire way to shed the extra pounds.

Let me share with you part of my list. Keep a tally of how many you’ve heard, whether it was on a media outlet or spoken directly to you or about you.

Every time I heard or read these particular words, it was in the context of weight: fatty, chubby, fat pig/fat hog, lard ass/fat ass, fatso, tubby, chubby chaser, tub of lard, chunky girl, broad as a barn door, fat slob, blubber butt, jelly belly, fat squab (courtesy of Gordon Ramsey on “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares”), over-grown slob, porky, south end of a northbound truck, chank (short version of chubby skank), pudgy, stout, cow/fat cow, buffalo butt, buffarilla, doughboy, whale/beach whale, heifer, fat boy/fat girl, hoss, fatty fatty 2-by-4, “not normal,” fat fanny, healthy girl/boy, wide load, 2-ton Annie, rotund, wide as he is tall, pot belly, beer belly, portly, whopper, lardo, sow, and Omega Mu (said by a frat boy in a movie about a girl, a reference to an imaginary sororiety whose members are all overweight).

strength to forgive

To put these words into a more personal perspective, I asked close friends and Facebook acquaintances to share with me some of the comments that have been made to them about their weight. I shed tears of frustration and anger as I read them, knowing how some of these vicious, uncalled for words cut my friends to the core. Please remember that these are OPINIONS and that they were not spoken out of  true concern for anyone’s well-being.

“Ewww…I feel so fat! Kill me now!” (This was said by the sister of a friend. The friend had just started her weight loss journey. Her sister is thin and not overweight in any conceivable way. Her message to her sister was clear: people who are overweight don’t deserve to live.)

“Don’t say you’re fat! You’re beautiful!” (This was a remark to a friend who was being honest about her need to lose weight. Her mother thought she was offering a supportive compliment, but it was taken much differently, as if being overweight was a commentary on beauty, as in fat=ugly.)

“Have you lost weight? Because you look fabulous!” (Lynn DeArgo, who had NOT lost weight at this point, felt the person who said this was well aware of the fact that she had, indeed, not lost weight. Lynn is happy to report that she has lost 22 pounds in the last three months and has joined a gym. She says that she feels fabulous, and that’s even better than looking fabulous.)

“Is that on your diet?” or “Are you sure you should eat that?” (Actually spoken directly to me, I despise it when people take an inventory of my meals! I think after losing 60 pounds, I know what I can and cannot eat.)

“I don’t think you should wear skinny jeans. I mean, they’re for skinny girls. It’s right in the name.” (This is an actual comment made to a Facebook friend, LaNeita, by a sales clerk at American Eagle.)

“Be careful. I don’t want you to have a heart attack today.” (A Facebook pal, Connie Rodriguez, submitted this to me. After losing almost 120 pounds and walking as exercise for a year, this was said to her by the person who checked Connie in at her very first 5K race packet last October. People just ASSUME things!)

“I just don’t see how you could allow yourself to gain this much weight! I mean, didn’t you look in the mirror every day?” (Submitted by Andrew, this was a remark made to him by his sister, whom he had not seen in two years.)

“Once you lose weight, dating will be so much easier! Nobody wants to marry a fat girl.” (Single mother, Tasha, submitted this. This is a direct quote from her mother.)

“You know, they can perform surgery to help you lose weight. Just think how pretty you’d be if you weren’t so heavy!” (Spoken to my friend, DiAnna Ligon by a TOTAL STRANGER at a benefit auction she attended. This upset her so badly that she left the benefit. I am pleased to report that she’s now lost 65 pounds in the last six months and is well on her way to reaching her goal.)

“I suppose she rolls down instead of walks!” (While out and walking for exercise, my friend was huffing it up a hill when a car of rude guys rode by and yelled this out of their truck window. Now she’s lost 40 pounds and in her own words, she’s “winning the battle.”)

“My goodness! What have you been eating?” (Pregnant with her second child, this is how the doctor and his student-intern greeted Theresa. She knew she had gained weight, but felt the remark was degrading and insensitive.)

What God Thinks about me 2

I share all of these vile words and statements with you because I know life is not only unfair, it’s often cruel. People have their own agendas and their cruel messages are more about the condition of THEIR HEARTS than YOUR WEIGHT.

What I want you to embrace is the fact that you are God’s masterpiece. You are a work of outstanding skill and artistry. You are His very best piece of work, His magnum opus. I invite you to return for the second part of this series because I want to share with you what GOD says about you. What God says about you is far more important than anything society says about you.

shr

 

 

 

 

Carry You

Yesterday, I woke to dreary, rainy skies. As I was running errands and driving, I saw a break in the sky and the sunbeams broke through in ethereal streams, almost like arms stretched down to the earth. The presence of God was so strong it was palpable. He flooded my thoughts with images and words of poetry, so much so that I had to pull over, grab some paper from the glove box, and write them down. 
Then, as I prayed last night, He gave me the very last verse. If you listen to God, He will give you wonderful gifts. I want to share yesterday’s gift with you. Please remember that these are not MY words, but GOD’S words through me. Have a blessed day!

shr
CARRY YOU

When the weight of the world is too much to bear,

And the load on your shoulders is filled with care,

Lay it all at the cross, Grace will meet you there,

And Jesus will carry you through.
When hope seems thin and strength is gone,

And you just don’t think you can carry on.

It’s a brand new day at the break of dawn,

And Jesus will carry you through. 
When your mind is filled with restlessness,

And the pain your heart is causing stress, 

There is One who waits to comfort and bless,

For Jesus will carry you through. 
When struggles cut into your soul like a knife,

And you cannot escape the confusion and strife,

Remember the One who has given new life,

Is waiting to carry you through. 
When discomfort overwhelms and takes its toll,

As the storm clouds gather and thunder rolls,

God’s still on His throne and in control,

Sending Jesus to carry you through. 
As worry dies and turmoils decrease,

God will give His unsurpassable peace. 

His Love and Mercy will never cease,

Now that Jesus has carried you through. 

(c) Sandra Hall Rosser 2017

A Day of Real Life Low Carb Eating

When I changed my way of eating (WOE) in 2015, I admit that I was more motivated by the words of my doctor and the thoughts of losing weight than I was by what God thought of me at 226 pounds. I was focused on not adding medications (which meant an added monthly expense to our budget) to my daily regimen and shopping in the regular women’s sizes for clothes. I wanted to change what I saw in the mirror, not realizing that my physical condition was just as harmful to my spiritual and emotional well being as it was to any body organ or system.

God actually has quite a bit to say about our health. In Genesis 1:29, God instructs Adam to eat the seeds, fruits, and plants He created for food. In Genesis 9:3, God further says that He gives us “every moving thing” and plants for our sustenance. In Daniel 1:8-20, God gives specific instruction to Daniel about what to eat to be strong and healthy. It’s clear that God never envisioned us consuming boxes of macaroni and cheese, Lean Cuisine, or Snickers bars as sources to fulfill our nutritional needs.

With these biblical lessons in mind, I modified what goes in my body and added movement to my once sedentary life. I’ve been on a quest to educate myself about how my body works and the WHY (the science) of eating healthier and exercising. I’m going to share something with you so that you know it can be done and that I’m not just talking about this in theory. Below left is me at my highest weight of 247 pounds. Below right is me at my current weight of 167.4 pounds. My goal weight is 157.

216

My public library holds a wealth of information and I frequent it now more often than I ever have. The internet also has information available, but I have learned to read everything with an eagle eye, because, despite popular belief, if it’s on the internet, information is not necessarily accurate. These are some sources you can bank on, and one of those sources is the Diagnosis Diet website, written by Dr. Georgia Ede. She likes to say it’s “where nutrition science meets common sense.” For those of you who may be reading any part of my story for the first time, let me encourage you to take an assessment of your body and its sensitivity to carbohydrates. Click here to take the test for absolutely FREE.

This test asks a series of twenty yes/no questions to determine your level of sensitivity. If you score 13 or more yeses, you are considered in the “red zone” and highly sensitive to carbohydrates that you ingest. I scored 19.

I always share this quiz when anyone asks me why I chose a low carb WOE because this was an eye-opener for me. Armed with the information from this quiz, I started researching ways to cut carbohydrates from my diet. I know this quiz is accurate because when I started eliminating carbs, I lost weight. Not only did I lose weight, I have kept it off. The number one question I get asked is “What are you doing to lose weight?” and the second is “What do you eat?”

So, what does one eat on a low carb WOE? I’m going to share a REAL FOOD JOURNAL ENTRY from a recent week with you. I use My Fitness Pal to log my meals (sign in name is sandyrosser, so feel free to send me a friend request if you use it too) and my food diary is public, so any friend on MFP can see what I eat. I set my calorie limit at 1200 calories per day now, but when I started eating low carb, my calorie limit was 1490…and yes, I lost weight eating nearly 1500 calories a day! (As I lost weight, I adjusted the calorie intake because I naturally ate less because my body needed less.)

Breakfast (352 calories):  2 scrambled eggs (using non-stick cooking spray), 3 slices Oscar Meyer turkey bacon, and 20 oz. coffee with 2 tablespoons of almond-coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of light cream, a little stevia, and a scoop of Perfotek hydrolyzed collagen protein (for joint health, but it also is great for your skin and nails…I’ve been using this since knee surgery in 2014)

Lunch (490 calories): 1 Double Quarter Pounder (no cheese, no sesame seed bun, mustard and pickle only) and a McDonald’s side salad with a DRIZZLE of their Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing (because the entire pouch has 11 grams of carbs…YIKES!)

370

Dinner (339 calories): 4 oz. grilled herb chicken breast (oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper), 1 cup stir-fried zucchini and onions (cooked in 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil), 1 oz. of BLOCK cheddar cheese*, and 1/4 cup fresh blackberries.

Total for the day: 1181 calories, 21g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 10 sugar**, 77g fat, and 88g protein.

*Cheese that comes pre-shredded has added carbohydrates in the form of potato or cornstarch. These additives keep the shredded cheese from sticking together and clumping. I buy block cheese and shredded it myself (as needed), eliminating those unnecessary carbs.

**Let me break down those 10g of sugar: 8g are natural sugars that come from the green vegetables and blackberries, while the other 2g are ADDED sugars from the ranch dressing, which is why I only used a little drizzle on my salad and why I make my own dressings at home to eliminate added sugars and preservatives.

I drink between 64-80 oz. of water daily to stay hydrated. I drink even more on days that I work out. I walk every day and I try to have 10,000+ steps at least four out of seven days. I don’t always meet that goal because life happens, but it’s my goal and I like meeting that goal as often as I can.

So, this is a day in my real life low carb WOE. If this is helpful for you, I’ll be glad to post more of my food journal for you in future posts. As always, your feedback is important and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you leave me in the comments.

Have a blessed week!

shr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support is More than Just an Underwire Bra

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…Hebrews 10:25 NLT

When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation that God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.  1 Corinthians 14:26 NLT

It’s been said that church is not a social meeting for Christians; it’s a hospital for sinners. Going there doesn’t absolve anyone from their sins, but being with other believers is a good place to stand in God’s presence and repent.

In the throes of my youngest son’s “teenage-ness,” he boldly confronted me by hurling this accusation at me, “You think you’re so much better than everybody else just because you go to church on Sunday!”

“If I’ve given you that impression, then I’ve been doing this motherhood thing all wrong,” I said. “I go to church so that I can be around other people who are sinners and celebrate the fact that I am saved by grace. I go to church because when I look around the congregation, I’m certain I need to be there more than anybody else.”

And I mean that with all my heart. I find that worship in church is a God’s way of healing me from the sinful way I’ve conducted myself during the week. I don’t have to go to church to repent and come back into a good relationship with God, but it sure does help.

TOPS_Logo-BW

I feel the same way about my weight loss support group in TOPS. Taking Off Pounds Sensibly is more than a name — it’s a motto and a way of life. I celebrated my one-year anniversary on April 5, 2017. It’s been an exhilarating year with lots of ups and downs, but overall, a year of tremendous progress emotionally and physically.

If you know any of my background, I started this weight loss journey way back in 2010…and in 2011…and in 2013…and finally, in 2015. I have a great support system in my immediate family. When I finally took charge of my health in 2015, I lost half the weight with the tremendous support of my mother and my husband, Kelly. The only problem was that neither one of them were trying to lose weight WITH me. There’s only so much support you can get from someone who’s not going through the same experience as you.

My great friend, Trisha Smith, her husband, George, and several others organized a new TOPS chapter (NC 947) in January 2016 that met just three miles from my house. I read each Facebook post she shared about this new chapter and thought, “This sounds like fun. Maybe I need to join.” But I didn’t.

I would comment on her posts and even tell her I was thinking about joining. I told her than it January, in February, and in March. Every Tuesday night during their meeting time, God would nudge me and I would ignore Him. Kelly said several times, “It would probably do you a lot of good to join.” I ignored him, too.

Ignore, ignore, ignore…until I gained back some of the weight I’d worked so hard to lose. I stood on the scale that Monday morning, April 4, and stared at the scales, devastated. EIGHT POUNDS! Some of you realize how hard it is to lose ONE pound, let alone EIGHT. And then to gain it back? God pushed me that morning, and it was not gentle. “Do it now,” He said.

And before I could talk myself out of it, I contacted Trisha and said, “I’ll be there tomorrow night!” Even though you’re allowed a free visit before you decide to join, I came with national dues in hand and paid that first night. I was not going to give the devil a week to talk me out of it.

Can I just be honest? It’s the third best decision I’ve ever made (behind choosing Jesus as my Savior and Kelly as my husband). I belong to a group that is more like family than some of my biological family. It’s been the real source of my success, over and above any way of eating I’ve chosen.

Of course, I recommend TOPS and if you want to get more information on this organization, just click here. If you do a Google search, you can find other groups as well. Perhaps there are local groups that meet at a health facility or area churches that you could attend. For lasting results of weight loss, you need a support group. You need a support group like you need a great underwire bra! (Maybe more!)

If you’re ready to look for a group, but don’t know what to look for, let me offer some advice. I’ve narrowed down my “must be” list for a great support group to just four guidelines.

  • Your group must be EMPATHETIC. Empathy isn’t something we’re born with, but it’s something that can be easily learned if we practice it consistently. Basically, empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes…to view their situation through their lens, not through your own. That means we cannot pass judgment, but instead, embrace all that someone else is experiencing without pitying them. This, by far, is the most important requirement for finding a support group that will work for you.
  • You need a group that ENGAGES and ENCOURAGES each other. There has to be a great deal of positive reinforcement in a weight loss group. It’s morale-building and soul-soothing.
  • Your support group needs to have an EVALUATION PROCESS, based on honesty but spoken in love. (It all goes back to empathy.) Evaluation keeps you accountable to yourself and other group members. Without honest evaluations, both individually and group, then your support group experience will be as useless as a flat tire — it certainly won’t take you very far!
  • Finally, a support group should EQUIP YOU WITH REAL POWER, not “power-over.” (Real power versus power-over is the topic of an upcoming post, but if you’re interested in getting a head-start, let me recommend I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown. It’s a game-changer.) Real power comes from within yourself and is borne from empathy. You cannot have real power by stealing another person’s power. (That’s power-over.)

These are the same guidelines our family used when we were looking for a church home. They’re great guidelines for a reason — they help you find a place where your needs will be met, where you can find comfort, where you can blossom, and where you will ultimately find your greatest successes.

If you have questions, please share them in the comments. If you belong to a great support group, please share that as well. Tell me why you love your support group!

Thanks for reading. God bless y’all!

-shr