A Beautiful Love Story…

Growing up in a military family, you can spot a soldier from a mile away. They have a certain “swag.” Each branch even has their own “swag,” you can tell Army from Air force, Navy from Marine and if for some crazy reason, they don’t have the military swag, you can pick them out based on their haircut ūüôā So, standing in line to go through security clearance this morning I met a man in the Air force. We started talking and he told me he was in Dallas for training but is currently stationed in California.


Having both arrived insanely early for our flight to Los Angeles we made small talk. We spoke about the military, and how long he’s been in, he told me about his wife and showed me pictures of his beautiful daughters and I mentioned God and he quickly reciprocated with confirmation that he too was a believer. Y’all know I never shy away from a chance to make a new friend and it was absolutely comforting to know he is a believer. As he asked me about Korea I told him why I was going I also told him about how I hesitated to follow through because of selfish reasons. I didn’t tell him what that meant but in his mind he knew and shortly after saying those words to him he told me a beautiful story about how he met his wife.¬†

The story started with Tim telling me, God always has a plan. He told me he had his life mapped out was completely on track with the way he thought things would work and was about to propose to his girlfriend of two years when she told him she didn’t want to be an air force wife. Devastated and unsure of what to do, he spent some time rebelling from God. He found his way back to trusting the Lord and met his now wife Amy. Tim told me about the first time he met Amy. ¬†While helping a friend move, she was in sweats and had a side pony tail. He saw her again, out with some friends and as she caught his eye, not recognizing her, he asked a friend who she was. He told me about their first interactions with each other on a group outing, Tim made a joke and Amy responded with a feisty comment that again caught his attention. As Tim found the courage to ask Amy out, they scheduled to have their first date on a Wednesday.

The Monday of the week they would go on their first date, Tim got on his knees and cried out to the Lord asking Him to speak. He didn’t want to go through the heartbreak he had recently went through and he just wanted to know what God’s plan was. Tim told me that in His time of crying out to the Lord he heard the Lord tell him, “You will marry her.” Tim explained he was thrown off guard by the¬†tug of the Spirit. Yes, he was seeking answers but how could the Lord be telling him he would marry someone he had only known for a couple weeks and hadn’t even been on a date with. Tim and Amy went on their first date and shortly after their first date he told Amy about what the Lord revealed to him during his time of prayer. As he told Amy this, Amy responded saying “I know.” Confused, Tim sought clarity and Amy said, “God told me the same thing the morning of our date.” They were engaged 3 weeks later and have celebrated 9 years of marriage together.¬†

As I heard this story my initial reaction was “that’s just crazy.” How can you know you will marry someone after just a couple weeks of knowing them? God reminded me of a couple things through my time talking to Tim. First, God is not a God of confusion ( 1 Corinthians 14:33), He promises that if we seek Him with ALL of our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Tim was seeking the Lord and asking God to speak and God spoke. He knows our desires and He knows where our heart is and in everything we go through, He always has a plan. Tim knew 3 things about Amy, he was attracted to her, she was witty and could banter back with him, and she loved the Lord. I think our generation definitely makes dating far more complicated than it has to be. This stranger in the airport has no idea what is going on in my life and in my heart but the Lord completely used him to open my eyes. Tim trusted the Lords plan and just went with it.¬†I am so encouraged by their blind faith to trust what the Holy Spirit was telling them, what a fun love story to have!

My Journey Down The Scale From 229 Pounds

***Warning, this blog is very long***
 
 
I’ve been going back and forth on what I should include¬†in this blog and¬†as I’ve prayed through this, the Lord has reminded me of how many people struggle with body image issues. The risk of embarrassment and judgement by others is lurking in the back of my mind but I am reminding myself of Galatians 1:10 and Romans 12:2. You are about to get a private look at a very vulnerable place, I hope by opening up and being 100% honest, lives will be impacted and it will inspire change. I know this is a sensitive area and please hear me when I say that some of the things I am going to talk about are not going to be fun for you to hear if you are struggling with body image but you need to hear them. I pray that God will use my words to touch your hearts so that you may also feel the conviction of recognizing we are to honor the Lord with ALL that we are and that includes how we take care of our bodies.¬†
 

“Unfair as it is, our society still discriminates the overweight… Your weight plays a role in how other people see you and treat you.” As much as I would love to tell you that quote is a lie, it is absolutely the truth. We may adore the people in our lives in spite of their appearance but our first impression of them has a lot to do with¬†what they look like. We judge the clothes¬†they are wearing, we are envious of how beautiful they are or we criticize what they could be doing differently that would make them more¬†attractive.¬†I confess to you that even having struggled with being overweight myself I am¬† guilty of judging others based on their weight.¬†

Prior to my most recent attempt at losing the weight I had gained, I tried numerous weight loss programs. You name it, I signed up. Jenny Craig 3 times, L.A. weight loss, Adkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, countless gym memberships, a profile on Spark Pages and none of it worked! For me, the motivation¬†for losing weight was all about the number on the scale. Do you know that 96% of attempts to lose weight by Americans end in failure? Yep, that was news to me too. No wonder so many people struggle with this. As I worked those programs, I lost a little bit of weight here and there but I always gained it back. There was no investment from my heart, and more importantly I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. For me, I thought¬†the reason I was single was because of my appearance ¬†After all, the world tells us that if we aren’t a size 2, we are ugly and unattractive. I believed those lies. It wasn’t until I heard the following words that the light bulb in my head made a new connection, “Do it because you are loved not so that you can be loved.” Those words awoke my soul and helped me realize¬†I was approaching this entirely the wrong way. My thought process was backwards. I was holding myself to the standards of the world and not the standards the Lord expects of me.
 
My size 16 pants

November 27th will forever be marked as the day¬†I was able to fit into a size 10 jean. To most women the thought of a size 10 makes them tense up but for me it was a huge accomplishment. When I started this journey, I was popping out of a size 16. If I’m honest with myself, I should have been wearing a size 18. Growing up I couldn’t gain a pound if I tried, I was so skinny you could see my hip bones! My years of pour eating habits and lazy lifestyle finally got the best of me and the number on the scale started going up. I knew I was getting bigger but I never weighed myself and it wasn’t until a new job required a physical that I¬†stepped¬†on the scale for the first time in years to read the numbers 229!!!! Admitting that to you is not easy but it’s important for you to know my number, not for me to brag about how much I’ve lost but for you to know that whatever your number is, you are not defeated by it. I know you feel it may¬†be a lost cause and you’re never going to lose the weight but that is a lie! I am proof that God changes the hearts of those who seek Him and He listens when we surrender to Him and ask for His help! ¬†

The night I put on the size 10 jeans ūüôā
Many of the people in my life have been asking “How are you losing the weight,” “What are you doing.” It is important for you to know that first and foremost, “I” am not responsible for the physical changes that you are seeing. Yes, I have put time and energy into honoring God with¬†my body but I absolutely would not be at the place I am if it weren’t for the Lord’s continuous voice speaking to me and the push He gives when I cannot find the strength. The first step for me was getting to a place of absolute surrender. When I realized I could no longer do this on my own, I asked the¬†Lord to help me and¬†He did.¬†
Surrender/Get support:
“God freed me from keeping it secret. What Satan planned for mass evil, God used for His great good!” Those are the words of Lysa Terkeurst, the author of Made To Crave. If you struggle with weight loss or any form of eating disorder please, please purchase her book. It is wonderful! The first step toward a healthy track of weight loss for me was shining light onto things I was keeping in the dark (Ephesians 5:8-11). By keeping things hidden I was never going to get any better. My community group knew I struggled with body image but they had no idea the extent of what I was going through because I didn’t share. I never told them I was eating fast food almost every day and spending hundreds of dollars a month just to eat out. I never told them I would choose where I wanted to eat solely based on who which place had the better dessert option. I never told them I was physically addicted to food and used it to treat every emotion I was feeling instead of turning to my savior who promises to be more than enough. First step – confession, second step – create a support group. When I confessed to God and asked for forgiveness an enormous weight was lifted and I instantly felt His presence with me offering to help carry me along through this journey. God reminded me that leaning on Him for strength was only the first step and I needed support from those who were in my life daily. So, I reached out to those I knew I could trust and asked them for help. I was raw with them, completely exposed, I admitted my weight for the first time in my life, I confessed when I messed up and they encouraged me and helped pick me up when I fell down. Their support helped give me the strength to keep going, and knowing I had to answer to God and my friends and family kept me from eating an entire pizza or indulging in a half a bag of cookies. I stopped binging and started praying and digging into the word.
Pray/Dig into the word:
I have a dear friend who has also struggled with over eating and body image. Her name is Kristin Kons, you may know her from the Television show Know The Cause. Kristin is such a beautiful soul and God wrote her into my story to speak truth and help me along this journey. Kristin you are beautiful and I am so blessed that you offer yourself daily to be used by God. You are such an inspiration, thank you for all you have done so far! You can click¬†HERE¬†to visit Kristin’s website Eating With Purpose where you can read her story and get some great healthy recipes. The first time I met with Kristin to discuss her weight loss journey, I had so many “Ah ha” moments. Kristin talked about surrendering to the Lord, she shared with me about moments when she stood in front of the cabinet wanting to make an unhealthy choice and just started praying and telling Satan to go away. She talked about quoting scripture and how Satan doesn’t like it when we use the word of God to combat his temptations. So, I began to equip myself and add tools to my toolbox to help fight the temptation when it came. I dug into the word and wrote down bible verses that spoke to me and just started memorizing them. Every time I was tempted to drive through Chic Fil A (waffle fries and chocolate chunk cookies are my weakness) I quoted 1 Corinthians 10:13 or 1 Corinthians 10:23. Every time my body lied and told me I was tired and couldn’t finish my 3 mile run I quoted 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 or Romans 12:1. When I wanted to indulge and have a second serving of the delicious food I was eating, knowing that my body didn’t need it I would quote Psalms 73:26 or Exodus 16:4. My prayer life began to be strengthened and my relationship with God was growing because I relied on Him and wasn’t trying to fight the battle on my own. The Lord reminded me that He is more than enough to satisfy my needs and He proved that to be true over and over again. When I broke down and gave into my flesh I surrendered again and He continuously gave me strength.¬†
Don’t give up if you make a mistake:
This one is huge! So many times in the past I would be on track, doing good and losing weight and I would make an unhealthy choice. That¬†one bad decision lead to fits of binging, feelings of guilt and shame and an easy target for Satan to attack and tell me things like “You’re such a loser, you can’t even go 3 days without fast food you will always be fat.” Over and over again I could hear the devil persecuting me and I believed the lies he was telling me so I gave up. I would find the courage to try again and again I would fail and give up. Kristin helped me realize it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you make a mistake acknowledge the mistake, confess it and get back on track. To this day, I still make unhealthy choices, there are days when I know I can fight the temptation and I choose not to and I have to repent from that and keep moving forward. This is not an easy journey, you will make mistakes, you will fail but you have to reprogram your thought process and believe that you can do it. Mark 11:24 tells us “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”¬†
 
Recognize and replace the negative self talk:
When I realized there is no way I was going to be able to do this on my own I googled “Christian weight loss” and up popped information about Dr. Frank Smoot. ¬† I downloaded his e-book and was completely encouraged by the way he used the scripture to help encourage others through the weight loss journey. Dr. Smoot talks about identifying our “self sabotaging believes.” These are the thoughts that trigger our emotional eating habits. You know what I’m talking about. If you have a bad day at work, you need the greasy hamburger from McDonalds. If your boyfriend breaks up with you, you find the nearest grocery store and indulge in the Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream. If you get good news, you want to celebrate by having a “treat.” Please hear me when I say it is okay to eat the foods I just mentioned¬†if you control your portions and your motives are in the right place. I would really encourage you to purchase Dr. Smoot’s book. It is very long but that is because it is jam packed with truth that will help you along this process.¬†
 
Additional tid bits:

– Portion control, portion control, portion control! I can’t stress this enough! If you are an emotional eater this is the number one thing you need to get into check. One of the best pieces of advice Kristin gave me was to get a small plate and put just enough food to fit the small plate, eat that and then come back to eat again after I had given it time to settle. We consume far more than our body needs and we need to slow down and enjoy our food. Cut back on your portions and eat more frequently.¬†

– Get moving! We live in a beautiful world full of God’s magnificent creations. Get outside and soak it in. Admire what surrounds you, you don’t need to go for a run, just walk, even if it is just 20 or 30 minutes a day, set aside some time to stay active.¬†
– Educate yourself!!! Please, stop consuming food if you have no clue what is in it. There are so many added chemicals that are completely unnecessary and cause our body stress. Our body is not intended to consume the process foods so it doesn’t break it down and it is getting stored causing excess weight. Check out the youtube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”¬†and go from there.¬†YOU are responsible for what you are consuming, not the people producing the food.¬†
– Eat clean! With the resources available to us, there are countless recipes and options for healthy eating. It is delicious food. Don’t believe the lies that you are missing out by eating healthy you will be gaining so much more.¬†
And finally, I want to say that if you are reading this blog with a “goal weight” or size in mind, the things I have written will not help you. If there is one thing I have learned through this entire process, it is that my journey will never end. I have an addictive personality that will always make me want more. I am a sinner who is drawn to all things evil and I lack self control and will power to achieve anything 100% on my own. I will forever have to seek the Lords support and help no matter what size I am or what the scale says. I say that because I want you to know that you are not alone. I am still¬†taking this journey with you and if you need support, encouragement, advice or have questions you want answered, please, please contact me. I will pray for you and help you in whatever way possible.¬†

You’ll Be a Better Wife Because Of It

Hello my name is Brandy, and I am a control freak. I want things done the right way and by the right way I mean my way. I’m a tad bit OCD, my shirts get hung on white hangers and my pants on blue hangers and if you try to help me and mess it up I will be kind to you but will secretly go back and correct every single thing that is wrong when you’re not looking.¬†

In past blogs I’ve mentioned my struggle with releasing control of my singleness and lately God has certainly been testing my ability to let go. A couple weeks ago I met with my friend Kristin for tea. Right before speaking to her I had an uncomfortable conversation with the man who has my heart and I was telling her about it. After listening to me rant, Kristin said some very powerful words, “Brandy, the Lord is shaping you to become a virtuous woman who will be an amazing wife, stop interfering with his work.” God used Kristin to speak right to my heart and convict me of something I needed to release. I went home that night and spent hours in prayer and confession asking God to take from me the thing I couldn’t release.¬†My heart has gone through an emotional roller coaster over the last year and I have invested so much time, energy and emotion into something and I don’t want it to¬†go away. I want it to flourish and grow. My controlling self wants to keep investing and¬†keep pouring into it but I’ve realized that I don’t have the proper tools to nurture the growth it needs, only God does and realizing that has made the process of letting go a little easier.¬†
 
While visiting with my friend Andy, who I haven’t seen in over 8 years, we began talking about relationships. I was telling him that my heart is stuck in Dallas. Physically, I may be leaving for Korea in a couple of weeks but emotionally, my heart is not ready to go¬†yet. As Andy and I were speaking, he really encouraged me by reminding me that in the next 12 months, God is going to do wonderful and amazing things in my life. My walk with Him will be strengthened and my heart will be changed and transformed and when God is done writing this chapter of my life I will have so much more to offer the man I will marry because I will be a much better woman than the one I am right now.¬†I love thinking about how God is going to grow me over the next 12 months. I know He has a plan far greater than anything I can imagine and I am so thankful. In everything we go through we are to praise the Lord and be thankful because it is all a part of His plan for our lives. So, in the midst of the hurt and heartache, I will continue to be thankful for where the Lord has me right now and where He is taking me next.¬†

1 Year Sober

5 months ago I went through the¬†process of being¬†matched with girls who¬†would be in community with me. I met so many¬†amazing girls through the process.¬†I met girls who were solid in their faith, I met baby Christians who were hungry for the word and who’s passion inspired me and¬†I¬†met 4 amazingly beautiful girls who would soon be part of the community group God chose me to lead.
Throughout that entire process, I prayed heavily for the girls who would be in my group. I had no idea who God would choose but I knew He had a plan, He always has a plan! I prayed the Lord would soften my heart to whatever struggles they had. I prayed He would equip me with compassion, love, empathy, insight, and wisdom to help them through their struggles. I prayed that with all the flaws written all over me, they would see through the flaws and trust I was serving our creator and I would lead them well. I prayed God would remove my insecurities and self doubt and replace it with confidence in knowing that He equipped me to lead them well. I prayed the Lord would move, that He would speak to us and we would hear Him and He would change our hearts.
As I got the news of who would be in my group I was so excited but also overwhelmed. Through the process of sharing life maps, these girls revealed struggles I had never dealt with and I doubted my ability to empathize and encourage them through what they were going through. God quickly minimized my fears and doubt as I got to know these girls. The relationships I began to form with them completely opened my eyes and changed my heart. During one of our times of sharing, my friend who is celebrating 1 year of sobriety today,¬†shared these words… “Some days after I get home from work, I would love to have a glass of wine, just one glass… But I know I can’t have just one glass.” Those words resonated with me so much that night. In the midst of my struggle with food God used her words to help me realize I had an addiction, a dependence on something I could not control and He completely broke me.¬†Her words stirred inside my heart that night and still ring in my head today.
You see, all the time I was praying about how I was going to impact these girls and shine light into their lives, I completely forgot about how God would be using them to shine light into mine. I am so blessed to be allowed to be part of their lives and part of their story and I am so thankful for the encouragement, accountability and truth they have spoken and continue to speak into my life.
S, I am so incredibly proud of you, your dedication and drive are such an inspiration. Your journey has helped give me the confidence that I can fight my addiction as well.
M, your love and compassion for others brings joy to my life. I love how big your heart is!
J, the insight and wisdom you bring to every conversation we have inspires me. I love the boldness you have when you speak truth into my life.
B, you have been my rock! You have encouraged me and held me accountable even when I didn’t want it and you’ve done it in such a loving way.
I am so blessed by all of you! I love you girls!

How Do You Know If You Are Doing God’s will?

Recently, I asked a man I know¬†if he had any resources on discerning God’s will from Satan’s distractions. He was a very broad question, but I was searching for answers, any little bit of an answer. He¬†didn’t have any resources to give me but he provided a response that held great value.¬†He said “I don’t know much but I do know this; we are created to be made in the likeness of Christ and we are created to do good works. So, if you are striving to become more like Christ and doing good works, then I believe you are within¬†God’s will.” I thought to myself “That’s it?, Really?” In his short response he seemed so confident. I was expecting him to say more, surely it had to be more complicated than that.
In my head, I always try to piece things together. Everything has to have a purpose and a place and if it doesn’t fit I usually discard it, and sometimes I find a place for it. I realized through my conversations with Matt,¬†and some sermons¬†I¬†recently listened¬†to,¬†I have been finding a place for a lot of things lately and trying to make them¬†fit.
In one of the messages I was listening to yesterday,¬†JP said “Our desperate desire to know God’s will replaces our faith.” Ouch, how true¬†is¬†that. I think so often we want answers, we want clarity, we want¬†to know what is going to happen next and God never promises us we will know, He just asks us to trust Him. JP’s message also reminded me that in all we do we are to love God and love people. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whoever we are serving, God wants us there. He wants us loving on them, He wants us showing them compassion, mercy, kindness and gentleness, and He wants us to show them WHO HE IS!
In¬†Matthew 28:19 we are told to¬†“…go and make disciples of all nations…”¬†there are two verbs in that sentence, “go” and “make.” Up to this point I’ve gotten caught up on the “go” part but I realized “make” is the active verb here, that is what we are called to do. Wherever we go, wherever we are, we are to disciple others and grow God’s kingdom. God gives us the ability to make choices and decisions about where we will serve Him and how we will serve Him but the bottom line is we should always be extending ourselves. With some new information, I am currently reassessing¬†things and¬†I¬†realize now the choice is mine.¬†My eyes have been opened to new things lately and I just love how God continues to reveal himself.¬†I will never get sick of learning and growing.