"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." I Timothy 6:6 (KJV)Are you starting to feel the slightest nip of autumn in the air where you live? Oh, I do love the fall of the year! As I type this, I am looking out our kitchen window at the plethora of trees on the mountainside directly behind our townhouse. The leaves are rustling, and even though they have not yet begun to change colors or fall, and even though I am inside with the air conditioning running, I still sense a slight "change in the air." Our days are still very warm, but at night ~ well, I sometimes go out on our balcony, and the air is just a slight bit cooler. I am SO looking forward to the ushering in of my favorite season of all. The other day, my sweet husband said to me, "We're getting ready to go into your favorite time of the year." He was referring to that wonderful span of time that begins with my birthday (yesterday!) to his birthday on February 3rd, with Zach's birthday (the day after Christmas) and Thanksgiving and Christmas tucked right there in between!
Friday, September 4, 2020
Sunday, August 16, 2020
"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
I Corinthians 9:27
How I appreciate all who are praying for me! Thank you for the emails and comments that let me know you are continuing to pray and stand alongside me in this ongoing battle to "bring my body into subjection." I just wanted to drop in with an accountability update and let you know how I am doing and hopefully encourage you to keep pressing on in your own minimizing challenges.
As I spoke about in this post and this post, I began the discipline of intermittent fasting on July 25th. By God's grace, I am continuing to do that for 16 hours each day. I have not stepped on a set of scales, nor do I intend to for a very long time. Many failed weight loss attempts have taught me that for me to step on the scales too early in the game equals total frustration and defeat, so I am avoiding the scales like the plague!
I am taking it one day at a time, and I am applying the many lessons God has taught us in all other areas of minimizing to my current weight minimizing efforts. You can read all about those lessons in our new book, "Biblical Minimalism."
We are completely humbled and amazed at how God is blessing this book. May He continue to place it in the hands of those with open hearts hungry for a closer walk with Him. If you haven't yet ordered yours, I hope you will click here to order your copy today!
It is amazing how the Word of God is universal and Its wisdom applies to all areas of our lives. Whether it is severing toxic relationships, tearing down physical possession idols, or being set free from food addiction, Its precepts are all-encompassing, applicable, and entirely relevant.
I am trying not to set unrealistic goals, and I am certainly not making a vow, but my heart's desire is to continue the intermittent fasting until Christmas. I just keep thinking how wonderful it would be to not have to cringe when it comes time to take our annual Christmas photo! All of the sacrifice would be so worthwhile if I could face that camera with less dread knowing I had really tried and given it my all to lose this excess weight.
Whether or not you need to lose body weight, get out of debt, ditch toxic relationships, or let go of excess physical possessions, I want to encourage you today on your minimizing journey by reminding you that God is bigger than this. I will admit that the thought of needing to lose 60+ pounds is overwhelming to me. Its insurmountability is enough to cause me to give up, but I won't because the God within me is greater than the mountain in front of me.
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." I John 4:4
Through His strength, I can lose this weight, and you can overcome any minimizing challenge, too. On my own, I have tried and failed more times than I can even remember. Somehow, I have viewed weight loss as being in its own category outside the power of God, but this time I am enlisting all the power available to me, and I will conquer this. I can't do this, but HE can do this through me.
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Romans 8:37
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13I want freedom from obesity more than I want food. As the saying goes, "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I am reminding myself that God, not food, is my Source of comfort. When I am tempted at night to "break" the fast and turn to food for comfort, I will lift my eyes Heavenward and find my comfort in HIM.
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
You may wonder why I am talking about weight loss issues on a blog called Biblical Minimalism. I realize that this will not apply to many of you, and chances are, you have no weight to lose and/or have already overcame in this area of minimizing. Even if obesity is not an issue for you, I hope you can bear with me. Maybe the stuff we talk about here will apply to another area of excess in your life. Or perhaps you are struggling with another type addiction, unrelated to food, and maybe the things God is teaching me will be beneficial to you for something totally different. At any rate, I trust you won't give up on me, as I use this space to work through this journey.
I recently published this very raw, unedited, transparent post concerning my ongoing struggles with obesity. From the number of private emails I have been getting from different readers I have never heard from before, it turns out there are far more of you who share in my struggles than I imagined. My heart goes out to each on of you because no one else could ever understand or feel your pain more than I do right now. I want you to know I am praying for you and believing alongside you for victory for every, single one of us.
In our new book and in this post, I talk about the Whole Person Pie©, how our lives are made up of eight "slices" and how God should be the center.
One of those eight "slices" is called "the physical," which, in my opinion, falls right next to "the spiritual" slice of the pie in order of importance. The physical slice of the pie is broken down into two parts - physical possessions (which you can read about in this post),
Friday, July 24, 2020
This morning, as I spent time with the Lord and begged Him once again to help me, He began to remind me how far He has brought my family and me in other areas of life. He led us to sell our four-bedroom, three-bath home with a huge garage that was overstuffed with excess and release about 90% of our physical possessions. He brought us out of extreme debt bondage to a place of being 100% debt-free. He released us from untold layers of spiritual bondage and the spirit of legalism. He has opened our eyes and drawn us out of so many weighty, encumbering, besetting sins, all glory to God. So, why is it so hard for me to get a breakthrough on the stronghold of obesity?
If God can enable me to let go of things that had become such idols, to leave the home that meant more to me than I could even put into words, to completely stop using credit, and to walk free from the entanglements of so many levels of spiritual bondage, why is the tackling of obesity any different?
"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1
My being physically overweight is no more God's fault than our being in debt up to our eyeballs was His fault. This is something that I have allowed to let happen, and this is something that I am going to have to put forth the necessary effort and self-control to change just as much as we had to let go of the home we loved and say good-bye to so many beloved physical possessions. Those possessions made their way into our house over years of accummulation and with our consent, just like these excess pounds made their way into my physical body with my permission.
Over two years ago, on June 1, 2018, I wrote this post. On June 5, 2018, I published this post introducing The P.O.W.E.R. Tool©. (You are more than welcome to download your own P.O.W.E.R. Tool© by clicking HERE.) To say I wrote those posts over two years ago and to see the state I am in today fills me with incredible remorse, even shame.
One thing about tools, they only work and help you out if you pick them up and use them. We have an electric washer and dryer in our basement. It is there, at our disposal, to use any time we want 24/7. We can either gather the laundry from the clothes hamper in our bedroom closet and the laundry basket on Zach's closet floor and walk that laundry to the basement, sort it, drop it in the wash machine, add laundry detergent, and turn the knob for it to begin OR we can leave our dirty laundry upstairs in our closets and allow it to pile up to the ceiling. We can complain about how much we hate the piled-up dirty laundry, or we can implement our washer and dryer to help us get the laundry clean.
When the Lord inspired me to design the P.O.W.E.R. Tool, I had every intention of picking it up each morning and using it to help me stay on track. Somehow, over time, I have completely stopped using this tool, and it shows—in very obvious, unhideable ways. When I wrote this post, I needed to lose 60 pounds. Yes, I said 60. Imagine my unimaginable shock when I stepped on the doctor's scale a few months ago to find that my weight had balooned up to an unthinkable number, and suddenly 60 pounds didn't sound like so much to lose. I am SO ashamed. Just being real here ~ sorry if this post is too transparent.
Obviously, I didn't have to write and publish this post. No one is standing over me with a gun to my head demanding I tell the whole world about the horrible stronghold I am dealing with on a daily basis. I could pretend that I have been faithful and self-disciplined and stayed right on track. I could lie, either by telling you those things or by saying I have steadily lost weight and have now reached my goal (OH, to be able to say that!) or I could just omit the truth and avoid the subject all together. There is nothing compelling me to write this post, other than a sincere desire to help someone out there who is dealing with and fighting against obesity as much as I am.
I want you to know that you are not alone. Today, I want to say to you that I am right there with you - even more overweight than I was on the day I wrote the post announcing to anyone who wanted to read it that I was 60 pounds overweight.
I wish I had a magic potion to offer you - believe me, if there were one, and I could get my hands on it, I would have already done so. I wish I could tell you to click on a link that would guarantee a miracle cure for your obesity. I wish I could hand you a simple solution that wouldn't require any type of effort on your part and would enable you to wake up tomorrow morning and see your ideal weight number miraculously appear on your digital scale.
I don't have anything to offer you but this ~
Sincere, heartfelt, genuine empathy because I am in the same, exact boat. I hate the fact that I have wasted all this time and fallen into such weight-loss apostasy and gone completely off the rails. TWO YEARS later, I am not only in the same, exact boat, "the boat" is straining even more now because I weigh substantially more than I did two years ago!
In my head, I KNOW all the right things to do. I have even made vows to God (it really, really sobers me to realize and admit this), and I have repeatedly and shamefully broken those vows. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for grace. Without it, I would have been cut off a long time ago. Why does He continue to forgive and put up with me when I consistently fail, fall short, and break my promises to Him?
"But thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness." Nehemiah 9:17
"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee." Psalm 86:5
"He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." Psalm 103:10
It's a good thing, huh?
I'm not sure why I entitled this post, "Weight Loss Confessions." I think I should have called it "Weight Gain Confessions," because weight loss doesn't show up in any of this equation.
My promises in this area don't really hold their "weight," pun intended, but I am going to openly proclaim that I am going to TRY to get back on the wagon today. One of the things that is motivating me very much right now is Kalen Bruce's new book, "10 Branches of Growth." Kalen is a USAF Soldier who writes from a perspective of being extremely disciplined.
And, that is the key. The Lord is showing me while reading Kalen's book that this all comes down to that one word - discipline, of which "disciple" is the root word. I call myself a disciple of Jesus, and true disciple of Jesus I am. I love Him more now than I have in my whole life, and believe me, that is a lot of love because my heart has been tender toward Jesus for as far back as I can remember. These days, I can hardly speak His name without tears. He has brought my family and me through SO much, and He means everything to me. I am His disciple - with all my heart.
But, physical weight is an area in which I am completely unhinged and out of control. I am so NOT under His subjection in this slice of the Whole Person Pie©. I can see so many areas of progress - I even feel (with much humility and realization of the fact I am subject to fail or slip at any given moment) that I have some slices of the pie completely minimized and under total submission to Jesus and His perfect will. Obesity is a continual reminder of the fact that when it comes to the physical slice of the pie - that important slice that includes the fact that my body is His temple - I am so far off track. It feels impossible to ever minimize this slice, but today, I am relying upon the truths in His Word.
"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Romans 8:37
I am going to TRY to start picking up the P.O.W.E.R. Tool© each day and check off the boxes as I complete them. I am going to TRY - try being the operative word - to start drinking the necessary amount of water each day and to get back on an exercise routine. One of the things Kalen talks about in his book is intermittent fasting, where he only eats between 11 am and 7 pm each day. He fasts during the other 16 hours. I really think I can do this. I think one of the pitfalls I have identified while reading "10 Branches of Growth" is late-night eating.
So, this is my accountability post, and this is me, asking you to please, please pray for me, will you? I know without a doubt that some of my health issues would improve or even be elminated if I weren't lugging around this load of excess weight. I long to follow Jesus in ALL areas of my life, including this one, and oh, my, in this one I am failing so miserably. Biblical Minimalism is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." I desperately need His help in becoming an overcomer in this area of my life, and your prayers are a Divine gift!
Friday, July 17, 2020
And, here is how I start stretching a pork roast into enough to feed us for about a week:
Friday, July 3, 2020
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Monday, May 4, 2020
It is interesting to look back and see that our journey has been preparing us for such a time as this. Except for “essential” and thought-out, purposeful reasons for being out and about, we are already used to being home. Home is the core of all our activity and the place we most long to be. I find an enormous sense of peace in knowing my little family and I are all together, safe, inside the walls of our home, and to tell you the truth, I don’t miss one bit of the fast lane hustle and bustle. For years, I craved this sense of calm. It has already become our norm, so I can honestly say that little has changed for us during this time of lockdown.
I am not in any way diminishing the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. My heart goes out to every person who is ill, has lost a loved one or their job, or been otherwise adversely affected by all that is happening. Standing on the other side of all my family and I have walked through, I just want to point out that positive change and good things are happening, too. Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, "in the day of adversity consider." Here are some things to consider during these times:
1. Social distancing from others is revealing how socially distant we have become from God and the people we love most. Being forced to stay inside is presenting an amazing opportunity to spend more time in Bible reading and prayer. Staying indoors with our families is giving space for reconciliation and restoration of fractured relationships. Families are staying inside their homes—together. For the life of me, I cannot find one negative in that. We have been handed a precious gift in the form of time and limited options on how to spend it. It warms my heart to drive down our street and see a family in their yard playing together, couples walking hand in hand on the trail behind our home, and children standing in line (at a safe distance, of course) outside the ice cream truck that comes through our neighborhood each evening. It reminds me of my childhood when life was a whole lot simpler and easier to navigate. Home is our personal haven. No matter what is going on in the outside world, we can close the door at home and realize that we are right where we are supposed to be. Though we are “sheltering at home” mandatorily, maybe we should consider making “home-sheltering” a voluntary way of living and spending more time there when this is all over. There truly is no place like home.
2. When my husband’s 35-year career in banking was brought to a screeching halt, he came to realize he never enjoyed that kind of work, and he began to open his mind to new possibilities. He was eventually offered an amazing opportunity to do something he can physically handle, and he is now settled into a meaningful job he really loves. If you have lost your job, I feel your pain. I know how the threat of homelessness feels. I am keenly aware of the panic of looking into an empty freezer. But a beautiful new life is hiding behind the loss of your job. Something better is coming to you. Be aware and watchful. One day you will find purpose in today’s pain. There is a reason for this and sometimes the only way out of a rut is to be pushed. Embrace the possibilities ahead of you. You were not meant to keep doing what you were doing, and brighter days are coming.
3. Maybe “normal” shouldn’t be normal anymore. Maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to get back to it. Maybe you are not meant to stay so busy. Perhaps tucked into this whole worldwide shutdown is this lesson screaming to be taught – you are not designed to run through life. You are intended to slowly and methodically walk out your days in a state of peace. Take a deep breath and instead of fighting against this time of stillness, embrace what it may be trying to reveal to you. Spend this time reassessing your priorities. What is most important to you now? Perhaps it is time to start saying no to commitments and obligations that are no longer serving you and your family’s best interests. Maybe you need to shed relationships that have become toxic. Make two lists — things you are involved in and people in your life. As you write the lists, pay attention to how each entry on the list makes you feel as your hand jots it down. What brings instant anxiety to you? What brings a sense of calm? There is no better time than the present to do this. Stillness and quiet bring incredible clarity of vision. Don’t waste this time complaining and wishing for the old “normal.” Normal has been given a clean slate. May it emerge from this crisis new and improved and what it should have been all along.
4. Make productive use of time indoors by minimizing, decluttering, and organizing. Tackle those projects you’ve been putting off because you never had time for them. Now you do! Make a to-do list and try to cross off one task each day.
Continually search for the good. It is happening – we just need to look for it.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
2. Make that phone call you've been putting off. You know, the one you never quite get around to. Maybe you know it will be a long-winded one, so you never have enough time to devote to it. Perhaps you know it will be emotionally draining, so you keep avoiding it. Now is the opportune time to pick up the phone and dive in. Give that person your full, unlimited attention. Make them feel they are the only person in the world. Listen to them and hear them out for as long as they need to talk. You just never know how much they may need you or what it might mean to them to know you care enough to make them a priority. Just do it.
3. Fill out that card you've felt prompted to send. You know, the one you bought a while back with a particular person in mind, but just never got around to exerting the energy required to let your pen convey your heart. We are so used to doing everything online and through a keyboard, we are losing the beautiful art of handwritten communication. You don't know what may be going on in that recipient's world, and going to their mailbox and finding your heartfelt words may be just the shot of courage they need to keep pressing on. Put aside your laptop, and go fill out that card.
4. Finish that project you've never had time to work on. You know, the one that nags at you each time you look at it. It's time to shush the nagging voice and face it head on. Dig in and do a little at a time until you are completely finished. Imagine the feeling of relief and accomplishment you will feel to know you have seen it through to its fruition.
5. Spend that quality time you've been intending to spend. Let's face it. Marital relationships drift apart when they are neglected. Children grow up way too fast. Shower them all with love and unrivaled attention. Put away electronics, and play a board game as a family. Set aside time to sit in your child's room and listen to them talk about what's going on in their life. Work a jigsaw puzzle together. What a great opportunity to cook a homemade from scratch meal, try out a new recipe, or make your family's favorite dessert!
Monday, March 2, 2020
I felt at times that I couldn't breathe — my clutter was controlling me, hovering over like a drone, controlling my every move. Piles of papers here and there, my clothes hanging in two separate closets. Books filled the ten bookcases in our two story home, many of them unread.
And my schedule! I felt pulled in all four directions, ready to split open. Rushing here and there — I had convinced myself I had to be everywhere for everyone, but unfortunately, least of all for myself. I couldn't decide where to focus next — on the stacks of articles I had cut out, or the emails from my personal and business account I must open. No breathing room to read a magazine or a few pages in a novel.
And although I was fairly disciplined with social media, even that was a distraction. As an author, I needed to be on social media, but six — posting each day on all of them?
What had I done to myself?!
All my life, I have loved to travel. It's a source of inspiration to me. Especially as a writer. But this past year, due to our financial situation, I have not had the opportunity. And it's been extremely difficult to be content. How will I get my inspiration? My joy?
That's why, in 2020, my word for the year is CONTENTMENT. I desire to be fully content with whatever God has in store for me. My guiding verses are:
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
Well, in being content, I found little ways to inspire me that were within my reach—
— Going on short ”author’s dates” to local museums or events.
— Visiting little-known buildings, sites, or towns with historical significance.
— Watching historical fiction.
And then, I was asked to become a blogger on Midwest Almanac site, reporting about places in my state to explore. What an opportunity! Yes, this would add to my schedule, but it also fed my love of travel and developed writing skills.
That's what I had to decide. What were my main goals in life, keeping in mind the gifts God had given me? Pondering that thought, these three stood out:
— Fostering relationship with God and His Word.
— Encouraging my own family and those in my church body.
— Developing my writing skills and sharing them with the world.
Everything I did from now on had to reflect and further those goals. . .
Simplicity was my word for 2018. I was dedicated to cutting the clutter and making room for creativity to blossom and grow — and freeing up time to write for the glory of God. Every word.
I asked myself: Will what I’m about to think or do help me achieve my goal? I must chip away at anything that is unnecessary, to reveal what is most important — that ‘one thing.’
- Too much time online. Do I need to watch all those episodes in the next few days? Keep up with my friends three times a day on social media? Or chase every link in an email? Probably not. So, I made the choice to go on social media once a day.
- Anything that clouds my vision, or distracts me. Things that steal my peace. I want to breathe freely! Things like a too-busy schedule. Do I really need to attend all those meetings? Each event I’m invited to? I looked at my goals. Will doing all the things on my schedule help me to reach them? Or do they work in conflict? I needed to leave room to breathe!
- What about unnecessary shopping trips? Do I pass a resale shop or clothing store and stop, just in case they might have a scarf to match my latest outfit? (Yep. I'm guilty) Or, do I wander through three grocery stores to search out the best deals? Is saving a few dollars worth the hassle?
If possible, I vowed to go out of the house only once a day. Or run just one errand after work. Or, attempt to combine errands in one location to save time and energy.
- Do I purchase things I don’t really need? Can I use two blenders at once? Wear three black skirts in one week? Do I need another pillow on my couch? Or a set of dishes for every season or holiday?
I was struck with the contrast between this Indian family below from Peter Menzel's book, Material World and the sum total of their worldly possessions. Now that's simplicity. If a fire consumed all they owned, it would be unfortunate. But to lose their most precious possession, their children, would be devastating. I'm sure they treasure their irreplaceable gifts most highly.
Why do humans have a need to collect? To buy? Maybe even to hoard?
Truth is, the more stuff we own, the more time and energy it takes to take care of them. I was determined to declutter a drawer at a time — and vow to get rid of one item for each I purchased.
Is it my goal to outdo Martha Stewart? Will my friends notice if I simplify my centerpiece or offer only two side dishes? Or (for heaven’s sake) care if I order out healthy fare once in a while?
I don’t think so. They would much rather have a happy hostess! I have two easy-to-prepare meals (one for spring/summer and the other for fall/winter) I can serve without stressing out.
I wonder if I expect everything in my life to turn out perfectly? If I really and truly examined my heart, I'd have to say yes. I do. Well, it's not going to happen. Sorry. Not in this life anyway. That's the purpose of storing treasures in Heaven - to enjoy them forever!
I need to be willing to lower my standards when perfection is not required. My loved ones will still support me, especially if I explain my need to simplify (and I do, often). I may get that tiny house yet — but not until I get my hubby to agree!
Do I have too much on my mind? Do I feel so stressed I can’t think?
That tells me it's time to take a break! Here are a few simple ideas I've tried:
Taking a brisk walk- and breathing in the fresh air.
Reading a calming book or magazine.
Praying, meditating or reading (listening to) Bible passages.
Listening to an encouraging podcast.
Stopping for a cup of calming tea, a tall glass of lemon water, or piece of fresh fruit.
Inviting a friend out for tea.
Taking a detoxing mineral or essential oil bath.
Lying down with cucumbers over my closed eyelids and listening to dreamy music.
Doing something that calms my spirits — painting, baking or, believe it or not, decluttering.
Downloading the "Pigment" app and coloring away or being mesmerized by the "Silk" app.
Keeping a Gratitude List.
I am no where close to being a full minimalist, but I am on my way and down the road a ways. As each situation, possession, or decision comes my way, I now make it with a minimalist frame-of-mind.
What about you? Are you tired of the race? Want some peace? Consider cutting down the clutter in every aspect of your life. Give it to God. Your vision will be clearer, and your future, brighter!"
Jarm Del Boccio has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine."
Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. You can connect on her author’s website/blog at Jarm Del Boccio.
"My Passion is to Make Scripture and History Come Alive for my Readers: Illuminating the Past. Making Sense of the Present. Offering Hope for the Future.” Jarm Del Boccio
“The Heart Changer,” her debut MG historical/biblical fiction, released with Ambassador International April 26, 2019.