How to Persevere in Life

Every once in a while we have those brave moments when we openly share our struggles with others because we are so very desperate to overcome.

I shared previously about my fat girl insecurities, and then again earlier this year about setting some personal goals for myself, especially learning how to persevere in this weight loss journey (this isn’t a post just about weight loss, so hang in there).

Yesterday I stepped on the scale for a weight check, hopeful yet worried. I haven’t been able to work out consistently for the last few weeks because a summer cold flared up my asthma. So, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

After taking a deep breath, I looked down to see The Number.

And promptly burst into tears.

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It’s not quite what you might be imagining because these were happy tears, thankful tears.  Tears that meant I really could persevere at this weight loss journey in spite of frequent obstacles.

The Number was the one I had been waiting on, the one that put me under a major weight-loss marker, the one that more than solidified my twenty-plus pound loss thus far.

Seeing that number provided positive proof that the lies I used to believe were just that – lies meant to keep me enslaved.

So when I saw the Number my heart just filled up to overflowing with gratitude. I was grateful for a God who never gives up on me, one who continues to work in my life to free me from myself and my own sin.

See, it’s really not just about the weight for me. It’s about knowing my Father is looking out for me, helping me along the way.  It’s about believing that I can persevere because He’ll help me!

I can lose weight.

I can choose to eat healthy foods.

I can live a healthy lifestyle.

I can get back on track over and over again, after obstacles get in my way.

I can do all of this and more, not by own might, but by the strength that comes from abiding in my Father God.

I can persevere.

How to Persevere in Life

Yes, remember that word from earlier this year that I didn’t really want?  Well, the Father is showing me in a multitude of ways that I can persevere despite incredible difficulty. I know how to persevere because of the power of Christ in me.

Even more, I can persevere because of His faithfulness.

The best part is that all of those things are true for you, too, my sisters in Christ.  If you have that personal relationship with Christ, then you have the power of Christ in you to finish your race well.

Recent world events might have you fearing for the future.

Life circumstances may be weighing you down.

A loved one may have betrayed you in the worst possible way.

Your family may be struggling just to survive.

But it doesn’t have to remain that way, friends.

We are capable of living victoriously even in the darkest of times because of the great Hope we have in an All-powerful God.  

It’s a Hope that never fails, a Hope that remains steadfast and true.

A Hope that tells us we are not alone.

We can learn how to persevere by saying “I can because He did.”

How Persevering Leads to Overcoming

Earlier this year, I wanted a word that sounded a little less like hard work and a little more like a mountaintop experience. To me the word persevere meant “get ready because more trials are coming down the line!”  But to my Lord and Savior it meant, “get ready to see the work I’m doing in you and wait hopefully for victory!”

I failed to realize then how close the connection is between persevering and living the victorious life because truly, one leads to the other!  When we learn how to persevere, we are learning to live in victory, to claim our very own Promised Land right here on Earth.

When we persevere, we develop the character we need to be the overcomer God meant us to be from the very beginning!

When God asks us to persevere in a life situation, it can sometimes feel like we're being sentenced to suffer.  However, according to scripture, persevering has some pretty fantastic benefits!  persevere in life, persevere in hard times, bible verses about persevering, persevering in faith, christian persevering

Listen to what the Scripture has to say about persevering, friends!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”                              Rom. 5:3-5 (NASB)

Are you low-down and desperate for real hope today, friends? Are you stuck on a plateau, believing the lie that you’ll never find your way forward?  Have you wasted so many years that changing now seems downright impossible?

Read it again. “[H]ope does not disappoint.”  Hope is never wasted, no matter what the enemy tells you.

Lift your head and see the Hope before you.

Persevere and watch His mighty hand at work!

Jen :)

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Sharing with: Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Tell it To Me TuesdaysTell His Story, A Little R and R,  WholeHearted WednesdayGrace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday, Saturday Soiree and Social Media Share

 

The Relief of the Fitbit Buzz

Relief – a de-burdening of sorts. A happiness that follows difficulty or worry.

I know it sounds silly, but this weight loss journey has been no easy thing thus far. The bad thing about that is it makes me want to give up – yes, already I want to give up some days.  The good thing about wanting to give up and knowing that I cannot, I just cannot, is that it draws me nearer to the Lord.

It’s no small thing that His word for me this year is persevere. Because lately every single day when it’s time to go for a walk, I have to push through this mental block.

I just don’t want to go for a walk today. My knees hurt, so I should rest. I don’t feel like it because I’m so tired. Maybe I can skip today and just work harder tomorrow. 

The thing is, I know that if I make excuses for one too many days, I’ll have fallen off of the healthy wagon again. And I can’t fall off again, at least not for good. This is the year, friends, that I persevere, that I rely on the Lord and His power to carry me through, no. matter. what.

There is no giving up this time around. 

And on most days when I’m walking harder and longer not because I want to, but because I need to, I’m just waiting. I’m waiting for my Fitbit (read “really cool pedometer”) to buzz.
I’m waiting for that sweet relief that says I’ve made it. I met my step goal for the day. I persevered through those 2 miles or 3 miles, or whatever mileage it takes to get me to that point.

It’s a relief.

And even though it seems silly, it means something to me!

I’m ten pounds in now, with a long, long way to go. But I’m learning more and more that He’s with me each step of the way. He provides the strength. He provides the nudge to get up and move. He provides the encouragement. He provides the will to persevere.

Relief of the Fitbit Buzz, follow me, persevere, weight-loss journey

And I just follow. It’s what we were born to do, really.

For His glory!

Jen :)

I’m joining my Five Minute Friday friends again this week (albeit a day late!). We gather at Kate’s place and free-write for five minutes with no planning, no over-thinking, no editing – just words. Come join us if you like!

Also sharing with: Grace and Truth

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Not By Might: The Power to Persevere

Walking shoes laced tight, I stand at the bottom of the fog-topped hill.  Already I’m weary and I haven’t yet begun the climb. With a sigh, I put one foot in front of the other and I’m on my way to the top.

Halfway up, I find myself breathless with calves and knees complaining, but I’m determined. I must be ready for the race in two weeks, and the hill I will face there is twice as large, twice as steep.

A few feet more and doubts start to creep in about my abilities, about my body’s abilities. And then I remember that persevering isn’t just for the spiritual realm but for this physical world, too, for my straining muscles and my apathetic mindset.

Music pulses through the headphones into my ears…

 “Greater things have yet to come,

Greater things are still to be done

in this Ci-tyy-yyy-y”

If I look too far ahead, I see only the fog stretching before me, creating the illusion that the hill stretches on forever. It will never end, I hear the voice in my mind and it grows louder with each step. This weight battle will never end for you. You might as well just give up now. Did you really think you could do this?  Do you really believe you will succeed?

I face a choice.

I can listen to my cramping muscles and the voice of that snake, the Enemy, or I can buckle down with God-dependent effort, determined to persevere even in this as long as the Lord allows it.  It’s the story of my life, really: keep fighting or give up.

Is there any middle ground between the two?

Often when we face life's "mountains" we feel the need to power through in our own strength. Whether we are on a weight-loss journey, a habit-kicking journey, a faith journey, whatever journey we are on, we depend on ourselves for success. What happens when our strength runs out? Here's how to find the power you need to persevere and succeed!

 

I hear the chorus again,

“Greater things have yet to come..”

And another voice echos in my mind.

Greater things not just for this city but for you, Daughter.  You will reach the top. By my power, you will see success. With My strength, you will persevere. You CAN do this.  And greater things will come, but you must fight for it. You must fight the whispers of the Enemy and the desires of the flesh.  You must learn to lean on Me, even in this. I will give you the power to persevere.

The fog clears as I near the top and my strength is renewed. When I round the corner and the incline levels off, I feel a sense of relief, but I also want it to be over. I long for rest.  However, the walk isn’t finished yet. In fact, it’s only just begun.

I keep plodding ahead, one foot after the other, asking the Father’s glory to be revealed in even this small thing, asking for knees that bend without pain and breath that comes easier.  A few blocks later, I realize I’ve come full circle to face the hill again.

But this time, I have faith.

I know I can do it because I’ve done it before, with His help. And no matter how much my body protests, I drag it up the hill once more.

It strikes me then, the connection between the spiritual and the physical. How I often run straight to complaining when I face “hills” in life. I start out grumbling and already thinking about giving up.

Believing I might be able to “power through” until the trial is over if I could just see the finish line, I search the foggy path ahead, eyes straining to see through to the end.

But the end is not for me to see.

What I am given is just a few feet ahead of me.

As long as I focus on those few feet in front of me, I remain strong, but when I look ahead to the stretched out future, my resolve falters.

 It’s then that I turn to the Father.

I’m reminded of the prophet Zechariah, faced with the task of encouraging the Jews to rebuild the temple and re-establish themselves in Jerusalem. They faced many obstacles and nay-sayers, as well. In fact, they were just the remnant of the Jews who lived there before, only a few compared to the former.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

 “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground…”

Zechariah 4:6b-7a

In this passage, Zechariah experiences a vision. Through this vision, the Lord Almighty reminds the prophet that the work needing done would happen not by human strength, but by the power of His own hand.

He also promised to give the remnant the power necessary to complete the construction of the temple.  Even more than that, He reminded Zechariah of His almighty power to remove any obstacles (mountains) that might get in the way of completion.

Continuing on, verse nine contains a promise that He will complete the work. And the next verse down in that same chapter we read this powerful phrase:

 Who dares despise the day of small things…?”

Zechariah 4:10

According to Nelson’s Quick Reference (Chapter by Chapter Bible Commentary),

“To the eyes of men, the temple project was but a small thing…but to the eyes of God, it was a source of great joy.” (p. 614)

My friends, we will face many hills in life, and mountains will stand in our way. Often, we’ll be tempted to quit before we’ve even really begun. The power to persevere on our own quickly walks out the door when the going gets gruesome.

It’s when we turn to Him for strength that never ceases and the will to persevere that we finally hit our stride.

Often when we face life's "mountains" we push through in our own strength. What happens when that strength runs out? Here's how to find the power you need to persevere and succeed!

Keeping in mind that He delights in even the small things, small acts of obedience, small steps up a great hill, we cling to that power to persevere.

Even more, those hills that we face can feel like level ground in grip of His grace.

But not by our might,

only by His Spirit.

Greater things…

Jen :)

Sharing this with: Tell His Story, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth

Who Controls Your Eating? ~ Grace and Truth Week 6

A few weeks ago my husband shared an illustration in one of his sermons that struck me in a new way, even though I had heard it before (based on My Heart, Christ’s Home by Robert Mounger).  He tells the story of Christ’s visit to a home. In the story, Jesus is shown from room to room, making various comments and pointing out sin and needs. But when He asks for a peak inside of the odorous hall closet, He’s denied.

We all have those closeted-off spaces in our hearts, areas we wish to keep to ourselves. Perhaps we feel the closet is too disgusting for Christ’s redemption. Perhaps we wish to maintain control over that area. Perhaps we simply don’t want to be told what to do with it.

When I heard the illustration told again, I recognized two areas that I’ve been unwilling to let the Lord have control of until recent years. Sure, I’ve given him bits and pieces here and there, but not the full access He is asking for.  One of these areas is my health, specifically my eating habits.

Lately, the Father has been teaching me how often sin comes into play in my eating. He’s making me call it what it is – sin.  He’s not letting me “off the hook” any longer.  He desires to free me from this slavery, and I’m beginning to yearn for that freedom myself!

So, I really appreciated Sarah Knepper’s post this week about emotional eating.  She was even brave enough to start a video diary and confess this problem face to face (well, digitally)!  I can relate to so much of what she wrote and said, so I’m happy to share it with you all.

emotional eating, over-eating, weight-loss-journey, Christian living

You can also find Sarah on facebook,twitter, and pinterest.

Thanks for the encouragement, Sarah!

Jen :)

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Fighting Weight Loss Failure

So, lately I’ve put myself out there in some big ways here at Being Confident of This in spite of my weight loss failures I’ve told you why I hate speaking my goals aloud, why it frightens me.

Claiming that I’m working on losing weight, self-control, healthy living, is scary because it also makes me accountable to all who hear those words. It makes me accountable to myself and to my Lord, too.

And the Lord must be doing some sort of work in this area of health because He just won’t let it rest. :)

Last week, I wrote about the 5th cookie – how we can be like disobedient children who want our things our way. As I walked away from that post, and headed into Valentine’s weekend, I was pumped.

I was ready!

Somewhere along the line, I decided that since it was Valentine’s Day, I would allow myself to cheat a little.

It began with just a few pieces of candy that our children shared with me and extended right on into the evening with fried food. In fact, that sin snowballed right through the weekend and into Monday!

The problem wasn’t just that I failed to reach my healthy eating goals.

The real problem with cheating on my plan is that I didn’t even ask the Lord if it was okay. I shut Him out.

Once we fall off of the healthy wagon, it's all to easy to feel like a weight-loss failure.  How do we get back up again? Where do we turn for help?  Read here for some encouragement on your weight-loss journey!

I hadn’t really thought about this before until one of my readers pointed out that when she wants something, she takes it without asking, even if she knows punishment (such as gained weight) will follow, because it’s worth it at the time.

I think all too often, I like to live in denial of the punishment coming my way, not because I think God is going to be angry with me, but because natural consequences follow my unhealthy choices, my weight-loss failures!

Truly, the worst part of falling off the healthy wagon this weekend wasn’t the over-full, bloated body but that I felt like such a hypocrite. Boy, did the Enemy seize on that feeling, too!  I knew I was wrong. I knew I had failed, disobeyed. I knew I was a weight loss failure.

He knew it, too, that father of lies.

Didn’t you just write about making healthy choices and respecting the boundaries God gives you?  Didn’t you just tell your readers that those boundaries are for your benefit?  You’re such a hypocrite!  You’ll never get a grip on this area. Success will always elude you when it comes to food… You’re doomed to life as a big girl…You might as well just give up now!

Whenever I start listening to the Enemy’s lies, I want to hide away like Eve in the Garden. Instead of running to the Father to confess my sin, I often try to deny it. I pretend it doesn’t exist. I blame others. I act like it’s not a big deal – just a “little” sin.

I justify.

But somewhere deep inside, I know the truth of my own choices.

I know, too, that my Father is gentle and patient and loving. I know He forgives sin and removes it from me as far as the East is from the West.  I know He’s waiting….just waiting.

I don’t avoid Him because of His character but because of the wound to my own pride.

I consistently fail on my own.

I need Him.

With each comment here and on facebook, with each share notification, I’m reminded of His lesson. He’s been calling me, using my own words to beckon me to His side.

He’s relentless. He pursues without tiring.  He does all of this because He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves you, too, friend, even those of you wallowing in failure as I have been the past couple of days.  He loves those of you who feel you have no hope left. He loves those of you who struggle with doubts about His very goodness.

You see, the Enemy’s initial accusations were true – I was a hypocrite by choice, but the rest of what followed was all lies.

I know that with the Father’s help, I can overcome, even in the area of healthy eating. I can say no to food. I can say yes to exercise.  I can learn to trust the Father’s boundaries, even after a failure, especially after a failure! I can trust His work-in-progress in me. :)

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

That promise always rings true. He is faithful, my sisters in Christ. Whatever boundary you’ve been struggling with, He is faithful. He is faithful to me, and He is faithful to you!

Don’t wait any longer.

Confess.

Cry out to Jesus.

Let Him pick you up from this place.

Let Him be the author of your come-back.

When you do, the weight of sin will be lifted; the Accuser will be silenced.

And you…you will be white as snow.

Jen :)

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Wholehearted Wednesdays, A Little R and R

My Fat Girl Insecurities

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the word aimed at me.

He spewed it out like vomit, his eyes filled with disgust. “Fat,”  the boy accused me, and I believed it even though I wasn’t anywhere near “fat” back then.

I always was a strong girl, a tom-boy with a hearty appetite, a girl who loved sports and climbing trees and running races.

My feminine side appeared on occasion, though, and like every other girl, I wanted to be pretty, to be liked.  I never saw my body as much of a hindrance to those desires until that day, the day he called me fat in front of the whole lunch table.

I acted like I didn’t care about the word, but my eyes burned and so did my face.

I stuffed the word way deep down inside of my junior high self and tried so hard not to hear it anymore.

Not long after that, I remember surpassing my own mother’s weight on our bathroom scales and shame nearly smothered me.  How could I, at thirteen years old, weigh more than my mom?  It didn’t seem fair, somehow.

For much of my life, I struggled with my fat girl insecurities. I learned early on that I would never be the skinny girl.  But I'm learning that I'm not the sum of my insecurities, that my worth comes from Christ alone!

 

During my high school years, I finally resigned myself to the fact that I just wasn’t built to be tiny.

I would never be a size 2-4-6 girl.  My healthy hangout would be the 10-12-14 range.

But my legs were built thick and strong for soccer, volleyball, softball, and basketball, so I called a sort of truce with myself.  I ignored the word within me and began to find things I actually liked about my body.

I liked my blue eyes and  long, dark hair.  I liked my smile. I even began to like some of my curves.  I liked my brain (it’s a good one!) and my athletic abilities.

So the word remained hidden for the most part, only whispering to the surface when my friends were all asked to attend banquet (missionary kid date night) and I sat at home by myself or when we tried on clothes at the second-hand shops in town, shops filled with clothes from China and other countries where my size seemed non-existent.

Nevertheless, by junior year, I was growing in the confidence that comes from Christ alone and the word bothered me less and less. I thought I had won the battle, defeated the Enemy.

When I met my husband a few years later, I never felt more beautiful.  Even though I couldn’t call myself thin, I knew I was healthy, and I was alive in Christ.  He was tall, dark, and handsome, and he loved the Lord and he loved me.

And then I conceived our firstborn not long after our summer wedding and I found myself alone in our country home. My parents and siblings had returned to the mission field, and my husband kept busy with classes and work and ministry.

I grew depressed.

I used my pregnancy as justification for eating anything and everything I wanted.  

Instead of filling myself with Christ, I filled myself with food.

I had already gained about 20 lbs. before our wedding because like any girl in love, I spent all of my free time with my soon-to-be husband, not realizing I was failing to take care of my body.  By the time our sweet son was born, I had gained about 80-100 lbs. (give or take) in a little more than a year.

I can’t really be certain because at some point, I quit weighing myself.

I just gave up.

For much of my life, I struggled with my fat girl insecurities. I learned early on that I would never be the skinny girl.  But I'm learning that I'm not the sum of my insecurities, that my worth comes from Christ alone!

Then, one year our church offered a First Place for Christ class, focusing on putting Christ first in all areas but especially in the areas of nutrition and wellness.  It was just what I needed.

The idea that my body had been purchased at a price convicted me.

I knew I needed to quit filling my God-sized hole with food.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,

who is in you,whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Since then, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of healthy eating and exercise… and fallen right off again. And back on, and then off, and back on, and so forth.  Healthy living will probably be a lifelong struggle for me, my personal thorn in the flesh. It’s been a lesson in perservering, overcoming obstacles. :)

In the meantime, I’ve birthed three more children, including a set of twins, my body changing with each pregnancy.  My weight and health are still a work-in-progress, and I’m okay with that.

The word still haunts me on occasion, it does.  It sneaks up on me when I walk at the gym or play soccer with my kids.  Occasionally, I hear it faintly in my ear when I look in the mirror, tempting me to give up, quit fighting, resign myself to the word.

Fat.

But I recognize the Enemy for who he is and even more, I know the power of Christ within me.

I know the Father promises to never give up on me, but to complete the work He started (Phil. 1:6).  I know that man considers the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. I trust in my new creation status.  I believe His Word when He calls me “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He says the same thing about you, too, my sisters in Christ!

We are not the sum of our insecurities, for we were created for more than this!

We’ve talked before about how insecurities keep us fearful, and that’s just how the Enemy wants us to feel – alone, afraid, unworthy.  My sisters, our God is greater than he who is in the world.  He is greater than our deepest shame and insecurities.  Our God loves us, pursues us, redeems us, and calls us His beloved.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Nothing can separate us from His love, not even our layers of fat. :)

We are daughters of the One True King, and the value He has placed on our lives is the blood, the life force, of His one and only Son.

Let us then live as children of the Light!

Jen :)

Also sharing this post with: Cornerstone Confessions

The Loft is open, come on up!

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
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UPDATE: The Loft is now hosted by Leah Adams.

Now it’s time to link up!

This Week’s Topic: “Greatest Insecurity” (We are going vulnerable here, asking you to share your greatest insecurity. How do you recognize it when it creeps up? What does insecurity sound like to you? What do you do to silence it? Any scriptures that help you fight it?)


Next Week’s Topic: “Something Funny” (Laughter is good medicine and after this week’s topic, we all need a belly laugh. Or as one co-host put it, we need to spit in our coffee. Tell us a funny story, share a funny quote, post a funny picture or video, crack a funny joke. Just be careful with that coffee because this is going to be good :) )

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Also sharing this post with: Cornerstone Confessions, Jennifer Dukes Lee, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Wholehearted Home, Teaching What is Good, Sew Crafty AngelMessy Marriage, Missional Women, My Freshly Brewed LifeBeauty Through ImperfectionsRich Faith Rising, Beautiful Ashes, Grace & Truth Christian Living