Monthly Archives: September 2009

He’ll Find A Way

This past weekend I spoke at a Womens’ Ministry Retreat in Orlando, Florida. The theme for the two-day event was “Faces in the Frame.” It was a wonderful time to get to know the ladies that were in attendance. We were all reminded that God has created us to be unique individuals. We all see an image “in the frame” and some of those images we like while others remind us of how far we still have to go. Let’s face it, we’re all on a journey.

I shared my story with the group on Saturday, but the night before I was asked to sing which I don’t often do at speaking engagements. But I selected the song “He’ll Find A Way,” which was written and performed by one of my favorite of all time recording artists, Babbie Mason.

The lyrics to the song never cease to motivate and encourage me. My favorite portion is, “If he can paint a sunset and put the stars in place. If he can raise up mountains and calm the storm-tossed waves…then I know for you…I know for you He’ll find a way.”

It’s such a simple reminder and yet so powerful. If the creator of the entire universe can do all the mighty and wondrous things he can do as God; then we should certainly be able to rest in the certainty that He can make a way for us regardless of what our struggles, burdens or heartaches are.

Apparently the song spoke to others besides just me. I had so many women approach me afterward picking out specific portions of the lyrics which ministered to them individually. Many of those in attendance were bound by issues related to their weight, health and overall worth.

While others shared of struggles that were different in nature. Some physical pain. Some emotional. Some were carrying burdens on behalf of others. But all seemed to take comfort in the fact that God can—and will—find a way for each of them. He can meet our needs like no other can.

I’ve often said that God customizes our help in time of need; but I also believes He customizes our trials to be just the thing that will get our attention. For me, my battle with my weight came to a crisis point about three years ago. His “way” for me was unique. Just as His “way” for you will be.

So if you are fighting against a weight issue or another matter, take comfort in knowing that He will find a way for you too!

Second Chances

This week The Biggest Loser made its return to TV for the eighth season. The theme of the new round of episodes geared at life change: second chances.

As the commercials have promoted, this season is all about second chances for the contestants. One contestant lost her husband and both children to a car accident two years ago and wants to live life again.

Another is a youth pastor who wants to live long enough to see his children grow up.

Still another contestant is a grandmother of nine and a former college athlete who has allowed her weight to prevent her from being active with the family she loves.

And then there’s the heaviest contestant ever to be cast on the show, a 30-year-old woman who weighs 476 pounds.

Everyone has their own special story and everyone has their own second chance worth fighting for. I found myself watching the premiere—already loving these people, cheering them on, and not wanting any of them to go home.

One of the goals of this season (and all the previous ones too) is to give the participants information so they can live healthier lives. This group of contestants receive shocking news about how life-threatening their excessive weight is.

One learns he has diabetes, and most are told that their biological age is well over their chronological one. The largest contestant I mentioned is informed that she has 55% body fat—so much that it could be overflowing into her lungs. (This was of particular interest to me as I was 60% body fat when I began the show two years ago.)

In keeping with the theme of second chances, television viewers got to see contestants run part of last season’s finale marathon; and a previous contestant who hadn’t “finished what he started” was even brought back again to continue his journey.

I’m not sharing all these details just to be an armchair TV Guide show critic if you are wondering. The whole concept of “second chances” just resonated so much with me that I thought it was a worthy topic for my blog this week.

God is a god of second chances. He’s proven that to me time and time again. And I think it’s important to know that and to embrace that concept in our lives. You may feel like you have failed at whatever journey you are on now. But don’t be defined and limited by that failure. Believe that there is a second chance out there just waiting for you to grab it and run with it!

I am continually impressed by the courageous spirits of the contestants that are on The Biggest Loser. And I consider myself blessed to be a part of the special “fraternity” that has been a part of that process.

But whether you watch this season or not, just realize that a second chance awaits you. Whatever goals or aspirations you feel you may have missed or failed to realize…let today be the start of your second chance at living the life of your dreams!

The Original “100-Calorie Pack”

There is a popular snack on the market today that boasts of the benefits of offering snack portions in increments of only 100 calories. While these are great—in theory—for portion control (if you can keep yourself from eating six of them because they are so small) I find them to be less satisfying because they are filled with processed food, lacking real nutritional value.

That brings me to share with you about a trip I made the other day to Barnes and Noble Bookstore. I found myself in the nutrition section and was drawn to a book about “eating clean.”

Reading it was fascinating. It reinforced a lot of what I already knew about eating clean—that it is about eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies were designed to function the best on.

When you eat clean you actually get to eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied.

As I thought more about the concept, I realized that we can mess up even a good thing when we distort God’s intended purpose for it. For example, oranges. If you drink too much orange juice it can actually negatively affect your insulin levels. That’s because man has created the “drink” and puts it in a concentrated state beyond how it was intended to be consumed. It’s much better to simply eat an orange. If you eat an orange in its natural state it comes in the perfect serving size and also comes with roughage that your body needs to digest it.

That’s when it hit me. God was the original inventor of the 100-calorie snack. I did a little research and found that a large orange, apple, banana, grapefruit, and even a mango all are equal to 100 calories! Plus, they come in the perfect serving size and it’s just the right amount to satisfy your hunger. Sometimes you can even eat the “package.” Everything in fruits and vegetables can be used by the body; even the seeds if you choose.

It really reinforced the fact that God created our bodies and designed them to work in perfect harmony with nature and with the food He provided for us.

So in actuality, there were 100-calorie packs in the Garden of Eden…they were called apples. It’s when we take things and overindulge that we get things out of order and mess things up. There’s nothing that tastes better than a naturally sweet strawberry or a perfectly ripe banana. There are no imitations for that.

With all this in mind, I’ve renewed my commitment to cleaner eating. And I hope you will too.

Talking to Myself When I Talk to Others

The obesity issue is an epidemic everywhere. My hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, is no exception. To combat and assist in the fight against it, one of our local news stations has created a very well-organized local weight-loss competition crafted along the lines of the national Biggest Loser show, which I know very well. The competition is called “Kick It Up: First Coast Biggest Loser.”

I’ve been involved in the process from the start and have found it to be an incredible blessing. Over 500 residents applied to be a part of this process and the group was narrowed down to 12 finalists. I had the opportunity to meet with them the other day and was asked to share from my heart.

I only had a few minutes, and the process of determining what I wanted to say to them in such a short amount of time was kind of cathartic. As I looked in their faces and shared, I thought about what I would have most needed to hear myself when I began my journey almost three years ago. So I thought that even though some of this may be familiar to you, I’d share the same thoughts with the readers here.

When I boil it down to the very basics, I believe there are three major components to the process of weight loss and making a significant change in your life: 1) Diet 2) Exercise and 3) Emotion.

Diet. When you are embarking on a journey to healthy living you may have to eat things you’ve never eaten before. Deal with it! I eat things now that I couldn’t even pronounce a year ago. Keep a food journal. It’s a lot easier to pass on the M&Ms when you have to write down the fact that you ate them. Don’t cheat. You are only cheating yourself. You can only benefit from nourishing your body with healthier alternatives to the junk you may have previously consumed.

Exercise. There will be pain. But realize the pain is worth it. As Jillian Michaels told me on many occasions, “You are not going to die…it’s just exercise.” You will make it through. And as your body becomes smaller and more capable and you build your physical strength you may even learn to love exercise and feel empowered by it.

Emotion. I think the emotional side of weight loss (and life change) is quite possibly the most significant, because it affects everything else. When it comes to the emotional side, just remember, you didn’t get this way overnight. The outside of you is very likely a manifestation of something that is going on inside. Before there can be change you have to be truthful and honest with yourself. Ask yourself the tough emotional questions about why you eat the things you eat.

Something that often occurs to me as I struggle daily with my commitment to the new life I have found is remembering the pain of where I was before. I remind myself of what it felt like to hurt in the morning before getting out of bed; to struggle with the simple little tasks in life that shouldn’t be overwhelming; to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. And then I renew my commitment—almost daily—to keep on doing what I’m doing.

I challenge myself with the promise to not accept anything less than my very best. I encourage you to make that same promise to yourself. I think that most humbling to me is the realization that in the end, it’s not just about me. It’s not just about you, either. It’s about the people you come in contact with. You never know who you will inspire or whose life, by your good choices and positive actions, may be changed.