Free from Accusation!!!!!

Free from Accusation!!!!! – April 8, 2012

This summer when I was on bed rest for 10 weeks with a fungus in my lungs I would read my Bible frequently and for some reason I literally couldn’t get out of the book of Colossians. Has that ever happened to you? I’ve always been a “3 chapters a day, and 5 on Sunday” type of girl which was engrained in me while at Christ for the Nations Institute by the co-founder we affectionately called “Mom” Lindsey. For whatever reason I was glued to this book and read it over and over again this summer until I had practically memorized it which is for me uncharacteristic and shocking! At that point I didn’t realize that God was priming my heart to get ready for this journey.

I have said many times that this blog is about my journey to getting healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of my posts focus on one or a combination of those areas of transformation. Spiritually I have gone back to basics in many ways as I explore who God created me to be and how my personal relationship with Christ affects my relationship with myself. Colossians chapter 1 verses 15 through 20 reflect the solid foundation from which my faith is built upon. It begins with creation and ends with that sacrifice of God’s one and only son Jesus Christ on the cross. Check it out below…

Colossians 1: 15-20 (NIV)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Awesome! I get excited every time I read that! This next part literally keeps rocking my world.

21-23 (NIV)

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Both science and the Bible are in agreement that the mind is a very powerful mechanism and it is where ALL action begins. Even though I know Christ’s shed blood on the cross paid the penalty for my past, present, and future sins I continued to live alienated from God in my mind under the curse of accusation, particularly in this one area. Here’s how defines the word accusation.



1. a charge of wrongdoing; imputation of guilt or blame.

2. the specific offense charged: The accusation is murder.

3. the act of accusing or state of being accused.

Let me give you some personal examples of the types of accusations that have gone on in my mind:

-“You ate too much of ……AGAIN”

-“You’ll never be able to lose this weight”

-“You are out of control”

-“You are a hypocrite”

-“You are a failure”

I am learning as I read Colossians that in order for my spiritual health to grow my mind needs to get in check with the truth of God’s word. His word states (Jen paraphrase of vs.22) that as a believer in Christ I have been brought back together (reconciled) to God and have been made spotless in God’s sight. It states that I no longer walk as one accused and destined to death but I am set FREE by Christ bloodshed for me on the cross. Christ is no longer accusing me as He has made me holy in His sight, but I continue to accuse myself in my mind. It is the bondage of these mental self accusations that have kept me in a cycle of obesity and from allowing Christ into this area of my life. Self accusations have kept me going around and around from weight loss plans to binge eating and never accomplishing a healthy lifestyle. I do NOT have to continue to live under the guilt, shame, and the deception of self accusation because I am set Free in Christ.

WOW! Do you know how freeing it is to have that revelation? WOW! This revelation has opened the door for me to begin forgiving myself for all the years that I have not taken care of my body. If the creator of the universe has forgiven me than how can I continue to beat myself up day after day for every little mistake? It gives me hope for the future and strength to break out of this cycle of obesity. This revelation also strengthens my positive self talk when negative thoughts and self accusations pop up which they do often. I repeat to myself the phrase “You are free from accusation!”

Oh thank you Jesus for your freedom!


What is the Function of the Mirror?

What is the Function of the Mirror? – April 4, 2012

Our Teaching Co-Pastor, Chris Carroll, has been teaching an awesome sermon series from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) over the past few months. Check out this link to view recent messages if you’re interested in watching any of them I highly recommend it: Firewheel Bible Fellowship. Anyway as he concluded the series this week he began the sermon with a funny analogy about people looking into mirrors at the gym. Well that got my mind rolling, and I’ll admit with full disclosure my mind may have wondered off just a bit. Have you ever noticed all those mirrors at the gym and all those people looking in them? These days I’m at the gym 6 days a week about 2 hours each day. I remember when we first started and I was just beginning this journey to getting healthy. I was so uncomfortable and ashamed of my weight that I despised that there were so many mirrors at the gym. I barely looked in mirrors at home let alone wanting to have every wall covered in mirrors. Plus I thought it was arrogant and prideful that many people stared at themselves, flexing muscles, posing, gloating in their triumphs, or so I thought!

Interestingly as I got further & further along with exercise I learned that the mirrors actually do serve a purpose while working out. I have learned from my awesome trainer to use the mirrors to watch my movements while doing specific exercises in order to ensure I’m doing it correctly. For instance I often raise my shoulders in error when I’m working out my chest or arms. Without the mirror I would be unable to realize I am doing this movement incorrectly. In the mirror I notice the error and can make adjustments accordingly. I have found the mirrors useful as well in my Pilates & Zumba classes. The function of the mirror in the gym is to enable you to see what your body is actually doing and not what you perceive your body to be doing. Oh how that concept applies to the rest of my life and I didn’t even realize it! The mirror forces you to face and deal with reality, keeps you grounded, and allows growth and change to truly happen where needed.

As I continued to ponder this idea of mirrors, both literal and figurative, and their functions I recognized that at my heaviest weight I would rarely look in the mirror. Was I avoiding facing the inevitable? I definitely know that I was blind to how bad things had gotten with my weight & overall health, until I had a “Damascus Moment” (Acts 9) this summer and was lying on my back for 10 weeks with a fungus in my lungs. The function of the mirror in the physical is to reveal what we may not realize or truly want to see. Without looking in the mirror in my mind I considered myself to not have a problem, to be the same old Jen as I’ve always been, and to stay contained in my bubble of self deception. In a way avoiding the mirror physically allowed me to keep wearing a mask and tell myself & everyone else that everything was alright when it wasn’t!

Then there’s the whole emotional component of looking in the mirror. Let’s be honest I’m sure that there is not a human alive who has looked in the mirror at least once in their lives and not liked something about their bodies. Not looking in the mirror kept me in denial emotionally about my body image issues which resulted in the shame and guilt I was carrying around. How had I allowed myself to get so heavy? How had I become so out of control with food? I avoided these questions like the plague and sunk deeper & deeper into emotional denial. Looking in the mirror and truly facing yourself is a powerful component to change. It may be a literal mirror or a virtual mirror, but we all have to come to grips with where we are in life, how we got there, and how to get on the better path. No human being is perfect and I firmly believe we are all a work in process. We halt our own personal progress when we stay for a prolonged period in denial about our circumstances.

Have you ever locked God out of an area of your life? I did for many years when it comes to my health, my food obsession, and honoring God with my body. In this case I see the Bible as a spiritual mirror. The Bible is God’s word and in it we learn about His character, His standard of righteousness, and His plan and purpose for our lives. This spiritual mirror must be allowed to penetrate the deepest parts of our heart in order to produce life and transformation. This spiritual mirror allows us to see ourselves through Christ’s eyes, it allows Him to produce healing in our hearts, and good or bad it prompts action on our part. As I spent time in God’s word I would gloss over places where He was clearly addressing this weakness in my life. I am learned to stay still, focus in, and allow the Bible to be the spiritual mirror it was designed to be. I am learning to embrace the change, growth, and molding of the Potter’s Hand!

So whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual change that needs to take place in my life or yours we need to allow the mirror to function for the purpose it was designed. Physically the function of the mirror is to bring us face to face with reality. Emotionally the function of the mirror is to reveal the depths of our heart in order for change, healing, and wholeness to take place. Spiritually God’s word functions to guide, direct, encourage, correct, and ultimately mold us according to His righteous standard. May our eyes be unveiled in these areas and may we have the courage to allow the mirrors in our lives to do their jobs!


Endurance – March 27, 2012

My husband and I began this journey to getting healthy physically, emotionally, & spiritually on Monday, August 29th, 2011. It has been exactly 30 weeks of learning, growing, and changing! To date I have lost 57.3 lbs and my husband has lost 55 lbs. Our lifestyle is being transformed most especially our eating habits & regular exercise. The results have been amazing as we learn to honor God with our bodies, channeling our stress or anxieties no longer through food but to God. We are learning to give self care the priority that God requires and how essential self care is to all other areas of life & ministry.

Reflecting on our journey so far I can see so many ups and downs. Let’s be honest here, I am definitely not Super Woman. I wouldn’t have been almost 300 lbs if I didn’t have some major issues with food. At times it is a daily battle to make choices that will honor the Lord. It is a battle to not fall into those old habits that are so engrained after many years of practice. It would be so easy to sit around and watch TV instead of going to the gym. It would be so easy to order a pizza after a long busy day instead of cooking a healthy meal. That is not to say we haven’t done those things from time to time. Lord knows we are and will continue to be a work in progress. We are learning balance and balance is NOT easy.

As I reflect on the journey so far the word Endurance continues to come to mind. I touched a little bit on it in my recent blog “Never Give Up” so thanks for hanging in there with me as I continue with this theme. Endurance, persistence, stamina, patience, fortitude, and staying power all sound like great traits right? Whew they require a lot of hard work. I told you early on that our journey can’t be just about dieting, vanity, and looking good, or only losing weight. It HAS to be more than that in order to find meaning and purpose day in and day out. There is a passage in Romans 5 that comes to mind, check it out below:

Romans 5: 1-5 (NIV)

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

So you might argue that suffering is a strong word for me to use in comparison to my journey to getting healthy. Most days I’d agree with you but I’ll tell you there have been days that are literally painful and for those I’ll whole heartedly make the comparison with suffering. By God’s grace it is endurance that changes suffering into perseverance, then into character, and ultimately hope. Endurance requires a daily connection with my source of Power, aka. My Lord & Savior Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit. It is literally by His favor which I cleared don’t deserve and could never earn on my own (Grace) that I daily recommit to this journey. Just like toaster that is not plugged into the electrical outlet, if I’m unplugged for my source of power I will not be able to continue on this path.

Endurance also requires me to set aside how I “feel” on any given day and just do what is part of my program. For instance yesterday Adrian and I got up with some possibly horrible news about unemployment which piled an enormous burden of stress. It was tempting in that moment to not stick with our program for that day and go to the gym to work out for 1 ½ hours, eat our healthy lunch & dinner, etc. We could have rationalized that we just didn’t feel like it, weren’t in the mood, or didn’t have the motivation. BUT we endured and went through the motions even without passionate feelings. I’d love to report that at the end we were miraculously free of all stress but that isn’t the case. I can report that endurance does mean going through the motions until your “feelings” are in check. In the end we were glad we went to the gym and followed the program. I realize that my “feelings” have been driving this ship for such a long time, but not any longer!

A permanent lifestyle change requires endurance. It is a hard lesson but a good one. Endurance requires that I stay connected to my source of power and that I learn to not let my feelings drive my choices. It is critical that I stay engaged on a daily basis with Christ to continue to maintain the direction He has for my life in every way, not just on this journey. I want to allow Christ to define the path, NOT my feelings. Feelings are unstable and can be manipulated at every turn. I found this quote recently that I think totally breaks down endurance. As we reach our goal to learn to honor God with our bodies, no matter the cost, It IS Worth it! Check it out!

Never Give Up

Never Give Up – March 23, 2012

I recently hit a major mile mark in this journey to getting healthy. Actually my husband and I both achieved over 50 pounds of weight loss each! Hooray! Updated photos coming soon I promise! As a reward we decided that we each could have $50 cash to spend however we wanted. That may not seem like a lot of money but I am unemployed and as a full time student he has a part time job so let’s just say money is super tight. That $50 might as well be a thousand and it certainly felt like a wonderful treat. I ran across this canvas and had to purchase it. The message and the picture connected with me past, present, and future. Plus it matches my kitchen 😉 Yes I put it right in front of the refrigerator and my supportive husband did not complain at all!

This idea of “Never Giving Up” or never quitting has been very significant to me since I began to really follow Christ at 24 years old. I remember being a student at Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas in the first week of October 2002. We had speaker that week that asked us to write in our Bibles “Jesus I Will Never Quit!” and put the date, it was 10/2/02. The message still stands out to me all these years later because it dealt with the raw and honest truths that this life is not easy at times. We all face moments of wanting to give up if we are really honest. I like to do everything 100% and nothing less. When I struggle with accomplishing something I have had a tendency in the past to just throw in the towel, give up, and move on to the next project, maybe it’s the perfectionist in me? What stood out to me in that message was that I will fall and fail in this journey of following Christ but I made a commitment that day before God that no matter what I would never, ever, give up on my relationship with Him. That is a commitment I continue to renew and to this day is written with dates in my Bible.

Never giving up translates very easily into this current season. In my post “Finding the path…to healthy eating” I describe my philosophy that dieting has a goal of losing weight whereas my purpose goes much deeper. I am following a path that I feel God has led me to get healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Allowing God into this area of my life and learning to honor God with my body is directly connected to my relationship with Him. I will never give up on my relationship with God and I trust that whatever path He places me on in life is so that I can fulfill my purpose on this earth. Therefore, I will NEVER GIVE UP NO MATTER WHAT!

Another part of the canvas that really spoke to was the target in the center. Do you remember my post “Targeting for Change”? In it I share a visual used by Weight Watchers called the “Target of Change” which shows how we gradually make changes beginning with the external (Environment, Attitudes, Behavior) and eventually to the internal (Beliefs & Identity). The target posted below has hung on my refrigerator since we began this journey. So you can see why I was super excited to find a reward that had both the message of Never Giving Up and the Target for Change all with colors matching my kitchen right!?!?!

This week was a hard week for me. I don’t know if it was the rainy, cloudy, and generally gloomy weather here in Dallas. Or possibly the fact that I’ve suffered a bit of insomnia. My food choices were on plan and honored God; I exercised daily, took my vitamins, and drank my crazy amounts of water (lol). My mood and heart were just struggling for some reason unknown to me. We all have those kinds of days, weeks and possibly months don’t we? I’m proud of the fact that even though my mood was “off” I pushed through and did not choose to use food as a remedy as I would in the past. By God’s grace I’m learning that even in the midst of an “off” week I don’t have to give into or turn to food. I don’t have to take on the “give up” attitude. He cares about those inevitable moments and wants me to learn to draw on Him instead of food. I found a really cool quote online by Fred Devito that says “If it doesn’t challenge you, It doesn’t change you.” I am learning to welcome the challenges both big and small so that my identity can be transformed into a vessel in the Potter’s Hand that honors God!

Healthy Roasted Veggie Lasagna

Healthy Roasted Veggie Lasagna – March 20, 2012

Prep time: Up to 90 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes, cool time 10 minutes

This recipe is my creation derived from some recipes I found from The Pioneer Woman & Martha Stewart. I made them healthier but choosing leaner cheese, using less cheese, and cutting the oil in at least half. I also tripled the veggies from the recipes I found. This means it is more vitamin packed, however it also means it added about 30 minutes into the prep time. This makes 8 large portions that I have calculated to be 11 WWP+ per serving. If you are a WW please make sure to recalculate the recipe based on the brands you choose as the pointsplus values can change. So let’s get started.

Ingredient List

1 Eggplant, peeled and cut into ½” rounds

2 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 red bell pepper

1 head of cauliflower

1 large red bell pepper

1 large yellow onion, cut into large dice

8oz package of Baby Bella mushrooms

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

2 Tablespoons of garlic powder, divided

3 teaspoon of garlic salt, divided

2 Tablespoons of Italian herbs, divided

1 cup parts skim ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, raw

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

1 2/3 cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Olive oil cooking spray

36 oz of Classico’s Traditional Sweet Basil pasta sauce (which is 1 1/2 jars or whatever kind you enjoy), divided

1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 425* and spray two large cookie sheets. We will begin by prepping all the veggies for roasting. Roasting these veggies will take more time but it adds a tremendous amount of flavor and it is totally worth it!

*Very important when prepping the veggie to try to cut them around the same depth so that they will roast evenly. *

Starting with the eggplant cut the ends off and peeled it with a potato peeler.

Then cut the eggplant into ½” circles (rather than long strips) See the picture below.

Next I tackled the zucchini and yellow squash. In order to maintain the same depth for even roasting I cut in half length and depth, then in ½” thick slices. See pictures below.


The red bell pepper I cored and cut into 2” cubes.

Deconstruct the cauliflower and cut into bite sized pieces. Spray olive oil cooking spray on two large cookie sheets. Add the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and cauliflower. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of garlic salt to each cookie sheet. Mix well and spread out evenly. Place on center racks in the preheated 425* oven for approximately 60 minutes.

Flip or mix every 15 minutes and rotate pans for even roasting. This photo was after 30 minutes; notice the browning on the eggplant. This color shows the added flavor that you are looking for in roasting veggies.

Cut a large onion in a large dice. Clean & cut 8 oz. of baby bella mushrooms into 1/2″ thick pieces. You can use any mushroom, I like the depth of flavor of baby bellas. Spray a large nonstick pan with olive oil cooking spray. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and heat to medium high. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic salt and sauté onion and mushroom mixture until lightly caramelized and tender. *You could probably also roast the onion and mushroom in the oven I just didn’t have any more room in my oven*

As all the veggies are cooking mix the cheesy combination: 1 cup of part skim ricotta, 1/3 cup of finely shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, 2 eggs, 2 Tablespoons of Italian Herbs, 2 Tablespoons of garlic powder. Mix well and set aside.

Once the veggies are all complete begin building the lasagna by spraying olive oil cooking spray in a large & deep baking dish. Place 2 Tablespoons of pasta sauce and spread evenly.

Then place the first layer of pasta in the bottom of the baking dish. *Note* If you choose to use “oven ready” lasagna noodles as I did you will notice that they absorb ALOT of sauce and continue to do that each time you reheat the meal. So if you like a lot of sauce and choose to use this noodle I recommend adding at least an extra 1/2 cup of sauce to each layer.*

Before I continued building the lasagna I mixed all the roasted veggies together with the onions and mushrooms EXCEPT the eggplant that I kept separate. Here is how I built the layers from the bottom up:

Olive oil cooking spray

2 Tablespoons of pasta sauce

Oven ready lasagna noodles, even layer

Pasta sauce, even layer

1/2 of roasted eggplant pieces

1/2 of veggie mixture

1/3 cup of finely shredded mozzarella

Oven ready lasagna noodles, even layer

Pasta sauce, even layer

1/2 of roasted eggplant pieces

1/2 of veggie mixture

All of the cheesy ricotta mixture

1/3 cup of finely shredded mozzarella

Oven ready lasagna noodles, even layer

Pasta sauce, even layer

1/4 cup of grated parmesan

2/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella

Here’s what is looks like all built up! Looking good so far 🙂

Next wrap really tightly with foil. Place in preheated 425* oven for 60 minutes or until noodles are cooked completely through. After taking it out of the oven allow it to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting into it. Cut into at least 8 pieces, serve & enjoy! Here is the final product when cut, super yummy!

Lazy Man’s Cabbage Rolls

Lazy Man’s Cabbage Rolls – March 3, 2012

This is a really easy, healthy, and tasty recipe. My grandmother gave me the original and I modified it just a bit to make it healthier. They call it Lazy Man’s Cabbage Rolls because it is a deconstructed roll that still maintains the same yummy flavors without all that hard work.

Here are the ingredients:

Cooking Spray

1 medium sized head of green cabbage, cut into 1” squares

1 large onion, diced

1 lb of extra lean ground beef (93%/ 7% at least)

½ cup instant rice (I used Minute rice)

1 ½ Tablespoons of garlic powder

1 Teaspoon of garlic salt

½ Teaspoon of ground pepper

15 oz can of diced tomatoes

15 oz can of tomato sauce

10 ¾ oz can of tomato soup (I prefer Campbell’s)

1 ½ cup of water

So here is how you prepare this meal. Preheat the oven to 350*. Spray large baking dish with cooking spray. Cut cabbage into 1” squares, if you have a large head of cabbage as I did just use ¾ of the head of cabbage. Place cabbage into the bottom of the baking dish as shown below.

Brown ground beef with onion & seasonings until cooked well (mine was still in the cooking process in this picture.

Add rice, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, & tomato soup to the meat mixture and bring to a boil.

Pour meat & tomato mixture over the cabbage in the baking dish.

Add 1 ½ cups of water, cover tightly with foil, and place in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes until cabbage is tender and the majority of the liquid is absorbed. Here is what the final product will look like!

I portioned this into 8 servings and according to my calculations it is only 4 WWP+ per serving. It is low fat, packed with veggies, and super easy to prepare. Let me know if you enjoy this Pina Family favorite!

What Message Does My Life Speak?

What Message Does My Life Speak? – March 3, 2012

Have you ever heard the expression “Live Out Loud”? The phrase is in a popular song and my interpretation is that our actions transmit a message. This concept has been transformed in my mind lately. I’ve never really sat down to think about how my life affects other people. I’ve definitely never functioned with a belief that I lived in an island all on my own or anything but as we have continued on this journey I am enlightened by the reality that how I live, good or bad, sends a message.

Up until this point I have been very content with the message my life sends to the world around me. My life resume speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

I am the child of wonderful and respectable parents who absolutely love me unconditionally. I have had the honor of having my life deeply impacted by not ONE but TWO sets of amazing and God fearing grandparents. I have a husband who is brilliant, handsome, absolutely adores me even after almost 7 crazy years together, and most importantly loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind. I have a wonderful & supportive extended family and friends. I could go on and explain all my academic and professional accomplishments but I think you get the point right? At the onset I am an outstanding citizen, from a good family, in a healthy relationship, educated, loved, and a productive contributor to society. Right?

Wrong! The reality is that the message that my life sends goes a lot deeper than all of that. As I journey further down this path of getting healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually I am humbled and horrified to look back and see some of the areas that my actions fell short of God’s glory. My obsession with food, gluttony, and obesity showed the world that my true worship was not 100% completely to the God I claimed to serve. My heart was divided between the physical desires that constantly scratched at my mind and my love for God. The message of my actions didn’t match my word! In retrospect I can see how my co-workers, friends, associates, even neighbors could probably see just by looking at me something that I was oblivious to. I have a problem with food! So rather than 100% of my life message pointing people to the Christ that I follow, the loudest message of my life was “Food is my god”!

Please hear me on this; I am in NO WAY stating that Christ followers have to be perfect in every area of their lives. I’m a firm believer that we are all a work in progress and no one will ever be perfect. However, when we live in such a way that our actions are blatantly in conflict with our words….well let’s just say there is a problem that must be addressed!

When I started this blog it never occurred to me that I would inspire others. It is a humbling reality that only God can get the credit for. Did you know that part of my new identity is a “regular” at the gym, oh yeah that’s what they call me, these strangers who walk up and tell me that I inspire them by how hard I’m working. Seriously only the grace of God can cause that kind of authentic transformation in my life and yours! I am daily in awe of how God has been using our journey to touch the lives and hearts of other people. It has been amazing the numbers of people from friends to complete strangers that email, stop us at the gym, talk to us at our WW meetings, and message us that express gratitude and encouragement from our New life message. I thank God for the opportunity to point people to Jesus on daily basis. God ALWAYS has a plan for our pain and struggles and when we are faithful to Him, He truly will bring something for the good out of it. It reminds me again and again that our daily lives speak a message to everyone around us. I thank God that He alone is transforming the message of my daily life to give Him glory! My new prayer is that I may live a life both outwardly and inwardly that honors God each day!

Questions for you to ponder…

1. What message does your life speak to the world around you?

2. What areas of your life message are you challenged to change?

3. What is the first step for that change?

4. How have you seen God use a struggle for good in your life?

5. How would you like God to use your current struggle?

Exercise???? Exercise!!!! Exercise.

Exercise???? Exercise!!!! Exercise. – February 27, 2012


My husband and I have been on this journey of getting healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually for exactly six months and have definitely experienced highs and lows along the way. In the beginning I had loads of questions regarding exercise. I shared with you all in my blog post “Finding the path…to regular exercise” some of the history behind me and the dreaded “E” word. So when approaching exercise in September 2011 I battled physically through limitations due to the infections in my lungs and being morbidly obese at almost 300 lbs. I also battled emotionally through a life history not being athletic, shame from trying in the past and giving up, and shame from being overweight in the first place. Somehow I functioned by an irrational belief that everyone else in the world knew exactly what to do at the gym and that everyone would be looking at me with judgment and criticism. In the past I would have allowed these limitations, insecurities, and questions to ultimately cause me to give up yet again but not this time!


My husband, my personal trainer, and several wonderfully supportive friends have really been an amazing asset as I am learning all about exercise for the first time ever! After about two solid months of training, exploring the gym, trying different activities, and learning about the muscles in my body I have gained a huge amount of confidence. By this time God had been really working on my heart and attitude about this exercise thing. I had a revelation that Exercise is NOT Punishment but is part of God’s perfect plan for our overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Have you ever thought about that? Exercise was divinely inspired! Wow! It still rocks my world to think that the God of all creation intricately designed our bodies to function at their maximum potential only as worship him through exercise, eating healthy, getting plenty of water, and appropriate rest. Wow! It honors God when I exercise, mind blowing!

It was fun at Christmas to visit Ohio and join a gym for only the two weeks we were there. This may seem strange but we were so committed to exercise and didn’t want to fall out of our routine while traveling. I wondered if my confidence would translate in this new environment and it did! I wasn’t intimidated by the “regular” muscle men types that love to mark their territory and get annoyed with new comers. I felt comfortable using unfamiliar machines with the general knowledge that I’ve gained. I was able to modify our workouts based on the equipment available at this facility which was quite different from our gym in Dallas. I even taught my mom two of the work out routines my trainer developed for us. Let’s just say my exercise enthusiasm & momentum could not be stopped, I was a leaner, meaner exercise machine!


So if you’ve been following my story you know what comes next. Immediately after our holiday trip to Ohio I got sick again, Bronchitis Ugh! Since I was released from bed rest in last August 2011 with the fungus infection in my lungs, I’ve had bronchitis 3 times in five months. (September 2011 – January 2012) Each time I was put on bed rest for at least 3 weeks, had to take oral and inhaled steroids along with a bunch of other meds, and did up to 4 breathing treatments daily. Adding that up it is 19 weeks of bed rest since June. Let me just tell you that continually takes a toll on me physically and emotionally and it would be very easy to lose whatever exercise momentum I have built up with that fighting against me. I mean let’s be honest I have built a routine of exercise avoidance for 35 years and with only 6 solid months under my belt I think the odds are definitely against me if I was a betting girl 😉

However, I’m a firm believer that God uses everything for His glory and definitely has a purpose & lesson in everything. I think my lesson through all the ups and downs of illness regarding exercise has been that I need to Exercise Period. As long as I have the approval of my doctor, trainer, and husband I am going to exercise. Rain or shine, good mood or bad mood, low or high motivation, and fat days or skinny days I am going to exercise. Especially when challenged with continued illnesses that are likely to occur I maintain a commitment to exercise. I maintain a commitment to honor God with my body through Exercise. I knew when I began this journey that it would be long and trying but I also knew and hold on to the confidence that as a Christ follower I can trust in an ever loving and faithful God to continue to guide and inspire me along the way!

In Christ Alone

In Christ Alone – February 20, 2012

In Christ Alone

Words & Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

In Christ Alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

Here is a link to Natalie Grant’s remake of this classic hymn so you can hear it too!

This hymn has such profound value and meaning to me as a Christ follower particularly as I walk through this journey of change. I believe that all human beings are separated from God through a nature we are born with that willfully and deliberately violates the holiness of God (Romans 3:23). I believe that the son of God, Jesus Christ, came to earth through a virgin birth, lived a holy and flawless life, died a brutal death on a cross, and three days later rose from the dead (Matthew 1: 20-21, John 3:16, Acts 2:24). God made this sacrifice so that we may be reconnected to him and no longer separated by sin (John 3:17-18). I have in my life sought out satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace through relationships, through money, through alcohol, through trying to be perfect in my own power, and through food. In my life none of those things compared to having a personal intimate relationship with a living God. I don’t think my life is all that different from yours is it? I believe deep down in the core of our being we are ALL searching for the hope, love, and peace mentioned in this beautiful hymn.

Yet having received Christ as my personal savior and walking through this life in relationship with Him I find that some of the words ring heavy in my heart. As the writer states…

And as He stands in victory

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

I know in my head that as I have confessed my sins to Christ and have been forgiven I too am walking in this victory. I know this in my head but if I’m being honest with myself and you there are days that my feelings don’t match up with this reality. There are days that the curse of sin seems to be drawing me over and over again to that kitchen, or restaurant, or dessert. There are days that I feel very far away from this truth. The reality is that the word of God is clear and true no matter how my feelings waver. When my feelings begin to dominate my actions it is time for me to get those feelings in check! I am forgiven and happily reminded as I read my Bible or sing a song like this that the truth of God’s word has and will time and time again reset my wondering feelings. I don’t know about you but I need reminders like that from time and time again.

Celebrate this last part with me will you?

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

I love to read that over and over again and let it sink into my heart and mind. As I walk through this journey to getting healthy I have hope that there is NO power that will keep me from the will of God. It is not my cravings, my failures, my defeats, my obesity, my laziness, my perfection, my schemes, or my strength that I have to depend on. I can depend on a loving and living God who holds my life in the palm of His hand. I am certain that he cares so much for me and you that he has every hair on our head counted (Matthew 10:29-31). He knows & provides every breath we will ever take. He commands my past, present, & future and nothing can separate me from him! I am encouraged, strengthened, and invigorated by this truth! So on this journey through life I can scream to the mountain tops that Here In The Power of Christ I’ll Stand!

Are you able to scream that too? Do you have questions or trouble with anything I wrote? I would love to hear from you so please comment below or if you’d like to be more private please email me at

Dear Future Self…

Dear Future Self… – February 12, 2012

I was watching an episode of a popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” and in the episode the single guy would write a letter to himself after a breakup with a girl. He did this so that in times of future desperation & loneliness when his “future” self would be tempted to get back together with the girl he would pull out the letter he wrote post break up. This letter of course was filled with all kinds of humorous advice, feedback about the relationship, and reminders of why he broke up with the girl in the first place. He would always title & begin the letter “Dear Future (and then fill in his name). This gave me a great idea for a letter I want to write me my future healthy, fit, and trim self.

I have heard so many stories of people who have worked very hard to get healthy through disciplined eating, vigorous exercise, and plenty of water & sleep. Then after they reach their goals they become comfortable and casual about the disciplines that were such a huge part of their lives. Lysa TerKeurst has a chapter in her book “Made to Crave” titled “The Curse of the Skinny Jeans”. In this chapter she details and unspoken expectation she had that arriving at her goal weight would bring with it a perfect life free of troubles, trials, and temptations. I myself have shared with you that I have fallen into a cycle in the past where I have lost 40, 50, even 60 lbs and then got caught up in the moment and “fell off the wagon” as they say. I found that even after such an accomplishment “life” still happened. Temptations were around every corner along with the stress that led me to indulge each and every time.

I have hope that this time is going to be different for a multitude of reasons…..just in case I thought it would be fun to write my future self a letter filled with the truth about what those indulgences lead to. So here is goes!

Dear Future Jen,

I am SO proud of you for reaching your goal and learning to honor God with your body. I know that you have gone through so many ups and downs throughout this journey and you have learned a lot. It must feel so good to see that number on the scale and fit into those clothes that you worked so hard to achieve. I want you to cherish every moment of this success with the Lord and fully embrace the new identity that you have developed.

In this glorious historical moment in your life please remember these few things. Please remember that this is one step in a lifelong process. I know you may fall under the momentary illusion that you have “arrived”, don’t fall under that spell. You MUST embrace this process the rest of your life and never under estimate the power that this addiction had, has, and will have over you. Continue to be committed to accountability, to faithfully following a healthy food plan, and making choices with your body that honor the Lord.

For years of your life you built habits to run to food during times of stress and anxiety. You fell into the pattern of making food a bigger priority than God, than your husband, and your family. You turned holidays and special occasions into feasts of gluttony and did not honor the true meaning of the occasion. Remember the shame and despair you felt when buying clothes a size bigger, again and again. Think back to those uncomfortable moments in tight airplane seats, walking up flights of steps, and squeezing into small spaces filled with humiliation and regret. Ponder the effects your weight had on your breathing, the horror of pneumonia over and over each year, chronic bronchitis, swollen feet and hands, and not even being able to take your wedding rings off to clean them. Running to food, over indulgence, being out of balance and unhealthy only caused your suffering and pain.

I pray even now for you Future Jen, I pray and ask God to “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:9-12)

With much love & hope for the future! Your future is bright!

Past Jen

Whew! I don’t know about you but that totally made me cry which I didn’t expect. Have you ever thought of writing a letter to your future self? Would you have the courage to write and share it? I think I could have gone on and on with this exercise, I could write to my future “wife” self, or my future “counselor” self, or even my future “mom” self by God’s grace. I wonder what you would say to yourself? What topic you would choose to address? I’d love to hear your letter if you’d like to share it!