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//Beauty For Ashes//

"—to give them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." - Isaiah 61:3

Wow. I feel like I have not posted in so long! I think my own life took a hiatus from itself, but I am so thankful to be writing to you again. Mainly, because the Lord has placed a testimony on my heart to share with you all. One, very few people know about. Now, is the time I feel God wants me to bring it out in the open. To shed light on something that others may still keep in the dark. Bringing about healing and growth to set other captives free. One thing most people don't know about me is, I used to suffer from multiple forms of eating disorders throughout my past. Mostly, those eating disorders were fear-based, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual. The bottom line about any eating disorders is, they stem from not knowing your identity. When we look in the mirror we may see a false image of ourselves, made up from the lies the enemy whispers in our ears. Lies like, 'You are not good enough, you are ugly, you are too thick, fat, chunky, or chubby, and you need to be skinny.' But, those are not the only reasons someone may have an eating disorder. Yes, I battled with very low self-esteem at times, low sense of self-worth, and shame. One thing that I always turned to for comfort, as a child, was food. That later progressed in High School when I used to binge eat to stuff my feelings (of low self-worth or anxiety) and then purge it all later. This went on and off again for several months to a year. Once, I knew that was wrong, I would just go on crazy diets and my weight would fluctuate up and down constantly.

Something had to change I thought, and it did for a while. After college, I started going back to church again. I re-dedicated my heart to Jesus and my life changed for the better. I started having healthier thoughts towards myself as I slowly but surely started to realize my identity in Christ and what the Bible has to say about who I am. However, as the years progressed I still realized I was going to food for comfort when I was stressed, happy, sad, excited, etc. What I didn't realize is I had made food into an idol in my life. I associated every emotional action with a food reaction. This caused me to have unhealthy eating patterns and cause strain on my weight and self-esteem again. The more I ate emotionally, the more I gave food control over me. I tried to manage this again, by counting calories, tracking all my workouts, keeping a food journal, working out like crazy and obsessing about my image in the mirror. Though tracking food and exercise are wise choices, I was seeking to fix myself in my own strength, just to fail and fail again.

It wasn't until I surrendered my health entirely to Christ and sought His word intentionally for strength and healing, that I started to feel a healthy change deep within my soul. I started asking God that He would send His Holy Spirit ahead of me to guide me in my food choices, help me resist the temptation to overeat or turn to food for comfort, and bring glory to Him in my health and body. I started confessing His Word over my health and mind. I asked the Lord to reveal to me any strongholds in my heart that caused me to turn to food instead of Him when I was stressed. During one of my prayers, the Lord lead me to a devotional by Cathy Morenzo called, 'Weight Loss, God's Way." It is actually completely the opposite of what you think it would be. It is not another diet or what to do for exercise. Instead, it focuses on the issues of our heart. Where we turn for comfort. How we see ourselves in the mirror. It challenges you to get to the root issue of your relationship to food and your body, all through the scripture found in God's Word. This was a major eye-opener for me. Along with this devotional, I started reading, "Battlefield of The Mind" again by Joyce Meyer. It was a great way to aid in my Bible Study of the mind and how it affects the way we see food, even God, and ourselves. Though it has been a journey, God has taken me so far! I have healed and grown by leaps and bounds. I may still not be perfect and battle with tempting thoughts of emotional eating at times, but I know where my strength and my help comes from! The LORD. He is always using what is meant for our harm and turns it around for our good. He allows us to be a voice of hope and encouragement for others who may be battling similar struggles.

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13-14

Need some encouragment in your health journey? Check out the FREE devotional on the YouVersion Bible App called, "Weight Loss God's Way," by Cathy Morenzo. I recommend this devotional to anyone looking to overcome negative eating patterns or struggling with body image issues. You can also find my confession list, to speak God's word over your life here.

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