Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Romans 7 Life

....If you don't know Romans 7, this won't really make any sense at all...

What then shall I say? That the list of "allergy" food is intrinsically bad? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the list, I would not have known what was causing me to feel so bad.  For I would not have known what it was that was keeping me so swollen if the list had not said, “You shall not eat dairy (et al).”  But those foods, seizing an opportunity through the list, produced in me all kinds of cravings. For apart from the list, food is just food.  I was once as healthy as I could be apart from the list, but when the list came, cravings came alive and I realized how sick those foods were making me.  The very list that promised a healthy life proved to be death to me.  For those foods, seizing an opportunity through the list, enticed me and through it are killing me.  So food is good, and the list is helpful to me.

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was those certain foods, producing sickness in me through what is good, in order that those foods might be shown to be bad foods, and through the list might become unhealthy beyond measure.  For we know that food is healthy, but I have raging antibodies, because my immune system has gone haywire.  For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not eat what I know is healthy, but I eat the very thing I know will make me sick.  Now if I eat what I know will make me sick, I agree with the list, that it is correct.  So now it is no longer I who eat those foods, but the cravings that dwell within me.   For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to eat what is healthy, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not eat the good food I want, but the unhealthy food I do not want is what I keep on eating.  Now if I eat what I do not want, it is no longer I who eat it, but cravings that dwell within me.

So I find it to be true that when I want to eat right, cravings lie close at hand.  For I delight in the list of allergy foods, in my inner being, but I see in my body another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of cravings that dwells in my stomach.  Wretched woman that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself believe the list with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of cravings.

Living a Romans 7 Life--the Backstory

I woke up this morning with a pounding ears were ringing out of my throat felt like I'd been swallowing whole body throbbed as if I'd been hit by a truck. 

I want to believe this is just a random illness.  I picked up some bug through no fault of my own.  It will run its course, or at worst I'll need to take some medicine to make this thing leave my body.  Either way, I didn't invite this virus in and had nothing to do with its invasion on my members.

However...there's the little matter of cookie and cake which I simply can not ignore, no matter how hard I want to try.

Two years ago I started trying to lose weight.  I started walk/running (in January) every other day and watched every bite of food I ate.  I tried various different ways of eating...low calorie, eating several small "meals" a day therefore spreading my calories out "responsibly", Zone diet, I even tried eating a little more calories than what I believed would allow me to lose weight (because a real nutritionist told me I wasn't eating enough and my body was in starvation mode).  Nothing was taking even ONE pound off, much less the 20ish I wanted to lose.  Okay, honestly, it was more than vanity, I was tested at 31% body fat, the 20 pounds NEEDED to be lost.  But nothing was working.

Through a series of events I finally went to see a doctor who ran a blood test to determine if I had any food allergies or sensitivities.  I don't remember now if it was a RAST or an ELISA test, but it came back positive for ALL dairy (both beef and goat), beef, avocado, peanut, egg, dill, barley and garlic.  (The doctor told me since barley was on the list, I might be sensitive to all gluten.)  I had a lot of discussions with Dr. Google whose knowledge is far and wide, sometimes reaching the outer planes of what most people would consider reasonable. 

I decided to allow experience to be my guide.  I went all in and eliminated every single item from my diet COMPLETELY (with still maintaining the same calorie intake).  The first week I lost about 5 pounds!!  After the second week I felt better than I could remember feeling in a very long time.  Every time I would eat something on that list of foods I would gain about 3 pounds and either feel sick to my stomach or would swell up or have a terrible headache, or a combination of maladies.  I became convinced "food hangovers" were indeed REAL, and the list of foods to avoid was a good thing, not a limit on my dietary freedoms.

So why is it, if I was "convinced", I have continued to test my dietary limits?  I'd love to blame it on my Prince, the fact he can't seem to be supportive in the changes in my meal plan.  (Do you want some eggs for breakfast?  Would you like some pizza?  YYYUUUMMMMMYYYY ice you want some?)  I think I know how Eve must have felt in the garden that fateful day.  Just saying.  But...I know the truth is I make the decision to eat "forbidden foods" more often than what he has any influence over.  

I used to view eating those foods as a treat.  I would set up a meal as a reward.  For instance, as I was getting ready to run the Mardi Gras Half Marathon, I decided I would be very careful about what I ate...until after the race, then Katie bar the door Momma was gonna EAT!!  I expected to feel bad, but convinced myself those beignets, po boys and buttery Aunt Sally's pralines were WORTH the inevitable "hangover".  I basically ate what ever I wanted, and then some for three days and was mildly sick (in comparison to the amount of food I ate) for about a week.  If you asked me at the end of the week if it was worth it I may still have said yes, but not with the same gusto I would have had given sitting at Cafe de Monde the Monday morning after the race!

It became a habit for me...after "big" races I would "treat" myself to a meal I had been missing.  After I ran the McKay Hollow course I had Mexican.  After the Long Course Training Camp I ate pizza.  After Rocket Man I ate steak.  After Rocket City I ate a hamburger.  The way I saw it, I was probably going to feel a little bad after racing, so I might as well eat "good" food (thinking the soreness from racing would mask the ill effects of the food...a little causation confusion if you will).

The problem is none of these foods cause SEVERE reactions.  I don't go into anaphylatic shock or anything like that.  Sometimes I don't even seem to get sick at all.  That is the very reason I ended up eating an America's Greatest Cookie Factory cookie and what ended up being a huge piece of cake yesterday.  See...night before last I had a little bite of cake and it didn't seem to do anything to, as is often the case, I decided the list was a bunch of hooey and stuffed my face with yum-ness.

And here I am, once again, wondering, could these symptoms I'm feeling be a random virus, a coincidence?  I just happened to get sick at the same time I ate cake.  Again.  Funny how in a year and a half I haven't gotten sick that I can remember at any other time...all the random virus attacks have coincided with eating food off that darned list.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Once Upon a Time, Four Years Ago...

Once upon a time, in a land not far from here, lived a lady named Dana.  Even though her life resembled that of some other fairy tale princesses (she was a step-daughter and an alien in a land not her home), she was instead a commoner.

You see, throughout most of her youth, Dana longed for the love of a man.  Her heart mistakenly believed that the right Prince would bring happiness and fulfillment.  And so she searched, experiencing disappointment after disappointment, emptiness after emptiness, void after void.  After a second failed attempt at "happily ever after," a new realization dawned upon her.

She discovered (or re-discovered) that she had indeed been adopted by the King Himself.  This All-Powerful and All-Wise King showered her with love and the fullness of His riches.  As she lived in the completeness of that love, Dana's heart slowly changed, and she longed instead only for that special relationship with her King.  However unhappy her life had been before, she now lived with joy and peace surpassing all understanding, regardless of the circumstance in which she happened to find herself.  Dana was content to spend the rest of her life sheltered in that love ... but the King had other plans.

In that season of joy and contentment, the King decided to introduce a prince from a far away land.  Dana immediately sensed the possibility of more "happily ever after" and pleaded with the King to change His plans.  She assured her Liege that she no longer sought the love of a man.  The King smiled, knowing her better than she knew herself, and He asked her to trust Him ... which she did.

Prince Dwayne and Not-Princess Dana met through the orchestrations of the King, and they began a courtship filled with excitement and travel.  Living in lands far away from each other meant more conversations than dates.  And, as the King knew would happen, the conversations turned to knowing and knowing turned to love ... deep love.

In time, a year after the introduction, Prince Dwayne asked for Not-Princess Dana's hand in marriage, which she gave willingly.  Reality beset the fairy tale as questions arose: Where would they be wed?  Where would they live?  How would their friends and families attend since they lived so far apart from one another?

As the questions mounted, the couple postponed making any firm plans.   After all, the King would provide direction at the right time, as He always had.

One day shortly thereafter, when Prince Dwayne visited Not-Princess Dana, they strategized on how to best spend their time together.  Not-Princess Dana had planned to meet with her personal physical fitness trainer early in the morning for her twice-weekly torture session (as she liked to call it).  Then her responsibilities at the honorable job provided by the King beckoned to her.  She was truly grateful for the job, and always strove to honor her King while performing her duties, but she had the undeniable feeling that her life lay in another direction.

Prince Dwayne, being a bit of a scoundral, suggested she skip the torture and the job and wile the day away eating grapes and cheese with him.  Ever the pragmatist, Not-Princess Dana reminded him of her obligations, even though she secretly wished there could be a way for this fairytale day to happen.

Prince Dwayne, not being one to give up easily, suggested that if the trainer didn't show up, they should take it as a sign from the King and fly off to a distant land and be married that very day.

Not-Princess Dana laughed, heartily, knowing the torturer/trainer had never failed to show for his session.  Although she desperately wanted the magical day to materialize, she knew it wouldn't, given the nearly impossible obstacles they faced.

She smelled the magic pixie dust as their carriage arrived at the den of torture, only to witness the inexplicable absence of a trainer that never failed to show up.

With magic in the air, Prince Dwayne and Not-Princess Dana deliberated over breakfast, contemplating travel and ceremonies.  Fortunately, the magic prevailed, causing them to see that precious time would be lost travelling, more plans would have to be made, stress would increase, and so on and so forth.  Instead, they called the local court officials and made an appointment to be wed that afternoon.

Not-Princess Dana begged leave of her employer and began preparing her dressing gowns, while Prince Dwayne scurried off to secure a bouquet of beautiful flowers for his bride.

Without pomp or circumstance, plans or stress, the couple were joined in marriage on that very day. 

And, with the continued blessing of the King, they are still living happily ever after....three years later.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Being a Hammer

I had a very interesting conversation this morning with my darling husband.  I've been struggling lately (story of my life).  I'm in the middle of a triathlon training group (Tri201).  I think middles of anything are difficult for me.  Beginnings are pretty easy--I'm excited about what ever it is I'm doing.  I'm pumped up and raring to go.  Beginnings are full of possibility.  Endings are fairly easy, too.  The end of whatever it is I'm doing is in sight and I can devote myself to finishing strong.

Middles are a different story.  The new has worn off.  It's usually more of the same of whatever it is.  The end isn't near enough to spur me on.

Middles are a struggle for me.  I begin to question what I'm doing.  Why I'm doing it.  By the middle I've forgotten what triggered the start and the end is too far away to be a motivation.  It feels like the end will never arrive.  Middles are work.

This morning I was in the middle of verbally processing (read: babbling on about something I don't quite understand trying to say enough words for it to make sense) when my dear husband gave me a great word picture.

He asked me to imagine a tape recorder and a hammer.  They are both tools used for very different purposes.  Obviously the tape recorder records and plays back...the hammer drives nails (among other things).  If the recorder "thinks" it needs to drive nails, it's going to break if it tries...and the hammer will never be able to record no matter what it does.  And if each of these tools strives to be like the other they are missing their individual calling. 

Furthermore...the hammer doesn't need a nail to be a hammer.  The tool wielder will use the hammer as He sees fit....for the job He needs it for.  It's not up to the hammer to a) try to be something it's not, or b) to find the nail to's just called to be a hammer and to be ready to be used.

Middles are hard for me because I miss the excitement of "learning to be a hammer" and I'm not quite ready to "drive nails"....I'm just "sitting in the tool box" BEING a hammer.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I's been close to four months since I've written anything on this blog.  Like everyone, I've been insanely busy!  I've been writing some on my running blog.  And...I'm on a Hood to Coast relay team!!  I won't go into that here, but check out our team's blog.

So...what was so important to get me on here today???  My talented husband has written a story that I love (as usual).  He wanted to enter a writing contest with a theme of "baggage claim"...and this is a link to his story....   It's not a popularity contest, so you reading it (or clicking on it, or liking it, or tweeting it) doesn't impact the judging (from what we know)...but it's just a great story, so naturally I wanted to share it with you all!!

One of these days I'll have time to write!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I woke up this morning thinking about what it means to be "powerless". ((If you're wondering why, just read my last blog entry....the first step is to admit I'm powerless over food.))

My first thought was a TV. A TV can't turn on without being connected to a power supply. But as humans, we can function without God's power. We are alive, we move around, we think... So the TV analogy doesn't fit very well. Then I considered my laptop. I plug it in until the battery is charged and then unplug it to carry it around (mainly to Starbucks!) so I can write (or web surf) where ever I please....until the battery runs down and it needs to be charged again.

On its own, the laptop is powerless. It must have an external power source.

On my own, I am powerless. "Where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121:1). What does that mean, particularly concerning food? That means when I go to the kitchen and I NEED food to fuel my body, if left to my own devices, I will choose butter and sugar in my oatmeal, or maybe even cake, for breakfast. (Cake has eggs and flour...two things I shouldn't have...let alone sugar and no protein.) Is it wrong to have butter (fake butter for me) and sugar in my oatmeal, or even to have cake for breakfast? No...that's not what I'm saying. But, for me, it's not the best choice. (To use yet another analogy, it's like putting regular gas in my car that has a turbo engine. The car will still run, but it would eventually build up gunk, and mess up the something or other and make the engine light come on. Obviously I don't know a lot about exactly why regular gas isn't the best for the car, but you get the picture!)

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh. He says it was given to him as "...a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself!" We don't know what that "thorn" was, but it was something Paul was powerless over. He asked God "three times" to take it from him. God's response: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Paul goes on to say he will boast of his weakness "so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

I think Paul didn't admit defeat to the weakness. He didn't give in to what ever it was. He simply admitted that he, by his own strength, was powerless over it. He couldn't make it go away on his own. He couldn't handle it on his own. He was able to rest in his weakness because of his faith in the almighty power of his creator. He knew God's strength was sufficient. Paul still had to live with the thorn. He still had to deal with the effects of the thorn, whatever it was. If it was some kind of pain, he still felt it. For me, I will still have to deal with the desire for certain foods (**unless God removes it from me completely).

That's where the power cord comes in...I am powerless over my desire for food, but God is bigger than that desire. He made my body need food to function. Food isn't bad in and of itself. However, just like regular vs. premium gas, there is a better option of fuel for breakfast than cake. So I will admit I am powerless over food and ask God for His strength to make a better choice for breakfast. The tricky part is to step out in faith and eat that better choice "knowing" it will satisfy my body's need for fuel.

I remember being in a sticky situation one time, a time of extreme temptation. I looked up 1 Corinthians 10:13: "...God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." Immediately SEVERAL ways of dealing with the situation I was in came to mind. Not just one way out, but SEVERAL. Instead of choosing any one of those SEVERAL escape routes, I tried to bear up the temptation by my own strength, and naturally lost out to it.

When I go into the kitchen this morning, I will be faced with all kinds of choices for breakfast. If I go mindlessly I will most likely eat the worst thing in there (for me). Instead, I will boast of my weakness, admit that I'm completely powerless over food, and ask God for His strength. I'll not lean on my own understanding, but in all of my ways I will submit to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Then, by His strength, I'll choose from the good-for-me options and thank Him for giving me the power to eat well.

Let me take a pause here and just try to explain some things for those of you who don't have a "thorn" you can readily identify and are trying to understand my "thorn". My thorn really isn't food. That is the way it manifests itself at this moment in my life, as it has been many other times. But my "thorn" has taken many shapes in the past: alcohol, the "need" for affirmation from men, my job and the need to excel in order to feel a measure of significance. I think a thorn can be anything I focus on more than I focus on God, anything that takes me away from Him and who I am in Him, anything I think His power and might "can't" conquer. That may or may not make a lot of sense, I just don't want anyone to get caught up in the fact that because I'm talking about issues with food this post doesn't apply to everyone. I think we ALL have "thorns" they just might look vastly different.

**Also, there have been many "thorns" in my past which God saw fit to completely remove from me. But, make no mistake, the manifestations might look different, but a thorn is a thorn. I think that's probably why Paul's thorn was never explicitly defined or identified.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Paying the Landlord

I love the pastor at my church.  Not in a freaky sort of in the "I love chocolate" kind of way.  Week after week he comes up with sermons that are not only scripturally accurate and solid, but that somehow manage to dig down to the core of my being and force me to examine myself in light of truth.  On top of that, he's (dare I say) ...entertaining!!  It's nice to go to a church service I don't have to pump myself full of coffee, or prop my eyes open with toothpicks, to get through.  More than that, it's "nice" to go to a church that keeps me thinking all week.

Last Sunday, in the midst of a great message, he shared an analogy whose deeper meaning will forever change me. 

Imagine you are living in an apartment.  Day after day the landlord bangs on your door demanding more and more rent...which you have no choice but to pay.  One day someone shows up and tells you he has a condo waiting for you that has been bought and paid for in full--all you need to do is move.  Naturally you load up the U-Haul...but just as you're putting the final picture on your new wall, the old landlord bangs on your door demanding to be paid.

This is an illustration of Romans 6.  In a nutshell, when we are "saved", we are no longer slaves to sin.  The problem is we sometimes still "pay the landlord" even though we don't owe him anything.  We were challenged on Sunday to prayerfully examine our lives, asking God to reveal any sin areas that need to be dealt with.

I have known for quite a long time one major are of sin in my life is gluttony.  I don't eat to live...for a long time I have lived to eat.  Sure, I've tried to break this cycle many times.  For the last seven months I've had some external "forces" that have "assisted" me in breaking my addiction to food (allergies).  There's a sense in which we are all addicted to food because, yes, we all have to eat to live.  But, I go WAY beyond just satisfying a basic need to fuel my body.  Truth be told, I worship food.

If I were addicted to heroine or alcohol or cigarettes, you'd applaud my admission.  I could join an "anonymous" group and 12-step myself to freedom.  I started to say there's not a program for food addiction...but, alas, Overeaters Anonymous has proven me wrong.  However, my point is most people look at me like I'm crazy when I say I'm addicted to I've said I'm addicted to breathing air!  The worst part is, I KNOW I don't look the part.  I'm at the point in my life I can even call myself "thin".  So it makes it that much harder to confess my sin.  To make matters even worse, because I'm a runner, it's not like I can avoid eating.  I have to fuel my work outs.  But, I think anyone would agree...fuel doesn't have to look like this:

I used to believe I had no power over food.  In the analogy it would be like giving all my bank account information to the landlord.  The truth is, because of what Christ did for me on the cross...there is NO sin-including gluttony-that has any power over me at all. 

I'm living in the condo...and I'm going to open the door that landlord is banging on and tell him to get lost!!!