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Feeding our Hungry Souls (Spiritual Nourishment)

I think a lot about hunger – both physical and spiritual hunger.  I love food: the making of it, the sensory experience of food, photographing it, smelling it, and eating it.  I love to share food with others and teach them how to to make what I can, or learn from them about new things to create.  I’m amazed at how many parallels there are between physical food and spiritual food, and as much as I love a good meal, spiritual nourishment is far more important to me.

 

I realize that I often settle, in the physical realm, for food that’s temporarily satisfying, but in the end, leaves me hungry.  As a mom of littles, I’d fly by the counter and grab the crust and crumbs of my kids’ leftover sandwiches and then wonder why I was “starving” at 4 in the afternoon.  In the same way, I often graze on spiritual “fast food,” and then wonder why I’m impatient, lacking in wisdom, tempted to speak unkindly of someone, easily afraid, or any number of other kinds of immature.  I wonder, when I try to get by on spiritual crumbs, why my heart is hungry.

 

 

I shared this thought at Sal et Lux last week, and I’ve been chewing (rather, more accurately, stewing) on it ever since.  I am personally challenged as I think about this statement, because I realize so often both physically and spiritually, I’m tempted to be satisfied with crumbs.  Or worse, I’ll settle, in a pinch, for physical or spiritual fast-food, that doesn’t just leave me unsatisfied; it endangers me, body and soul.

 

Spiritual fast food, like the drive through stuff with which we sometimes feed our faces, is dangerous, because it gives us a false sense of nourishment.

 

What is spiritual fast food?  I believe it’s the little nuggets of half-truths, feel-good-statements, and snippets of scripture, even, that make us temporarily feel good about ourselves and our spirituality, but don’t actually nourish us with a complete “meal” of truth, as defined by the whole of the Bible.  It might be the pretty quote (even scripture) that I “like” on Instagram, or the podcast I listened to by an inspirational speaker.  Maybe it’s even the short devotional writing I read on my phone or in the book I keep in the guest bathroom.  (Do you do this, too?!)  Spiritual fast food is like a treat for my heart.  It’s often a good thing, but it’s not the best thing.  It’s more like a snack, and less like a filling meal.

 

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There’s a trend going around in women’s circles that I think of as “spiritual fast food.”  We find little devotional books that claim to put all we need to know in little bite-sized pieces, easily digested in just a few short minutes, or we watch snippets on social media, and think we’ve filled our spiritual selves.

Does that mean it’s wrong to read a short devotional or listen to an encouraging song about God or life?  To read a feel-good book or watch a show that lifts our spirits?  No.   I’m also not heaping guilt on you if you’re a busy mama or caring for an elderly parent, working two jobs or serving others with your time.  I’m a mom of five, and I’ve worked at least part-time while raising our home-educated kids… and I’m a serial creator-of-stuff-and-stuffer-of-schedule, so I know what it feels like to be rushed… to ever feel the weight of busy.  I also remember well what it was like to be in a season of babies and toddlers who were up before the birds (I promise it settles, mama-friend – just in time for them to want to stay up till hours talking, if we’re fortunate 😉 ).  Sometimes we have to settle for “snacks” in a short season, because it’s genuinely all we can get.

It’s awesome to follow an account on social media that challenges and encourages, (Gracelaced on instagram makes my heart happy, and I have tons of other inspiring social media accounts that grab my attention!)  and we know from Paul’s teaching that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). But we have to be careful that these little treats don’t become our full diet.

I am a chocolate girl.  I’ll go anywhere for good dark chocolate, and if it’s laced with espresso or crunchy cacao nibs, I’m all the happier.

But no matter how healthy, or raw, or naturally sweetened I find or make my chocolate, if it’s all I eat, day in and day out, I’m in trouble.  

I’m going to soon be nutritionally lacking or packing on the pounds, and I won’t have helped myself be well nourished.  I’ve got to eat a variety of foods that have good fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.

 

In the same way, I have to feed myself spiritual meat, by “eating” God’s word.

 

Again, I’m in NO way wanting to heap guilt on you if you are genuinely in a season where your primary ministry (your husband and children, if you have them) means you have to be creative about learning from God what He wants to teach you.  I am not trying to burden you that you have to carve out hours each day to read your Bible, else you’ll be spiritually emaciated.

 

I do want to encourage you, though, to make that “meat” a priority, even over “good things” like devotional books and uplifting Christian podcasts.  I want to challenge you, friend, to be intentional about eatting good food, spiritually speaking.  That means reading the Bible, itself, as often as you can.  Try to read whole chunks (full chapters and books), so that you can put the text and message in context.  Be intentional about understanding and applying the Bible to how you live.

 

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I’ve created a printable to encourage you as you make a point to grow deep.  Print it out, tape it into your journal or pin it to your inspiration board, and be encouraged as you make spiritual nourishment a priority. Grab it using the quick form below!

 

 

If you’d like a couple more resources, here are some good ones, with thoughts on more in-depth Bible study:

Awesome resource for inductive Bible study

This post has a powerful question to ask when you read the Bible (because it’s all about knowing Him better…)

As an easily distracted girl, I enjoyed this encouraging post.

 

How is God challenging you to eat “good food,” spiritually speaking?  Do you have tips for how to dig in deeper?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Much love, friend.

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Five Essentials Steps for Real Life Change (Guest Post)

If you follow me on Facebook, hopefully you were able to join in Winter: A Journey of Stillness.  Together, we took ten days to start the new year by quieting our hearts and listening for what God had to say to us about our new year.  You may have felt a prompt to make some life changes, and if so, my friend Elisa’s thoughts for us today will be right on point.

Five Essentials Steps for Real Life Change (Guest Post by Elisa Pulliam)

 Do you know what the secret is to experiencing real life change?

Oh, yes, there’s a secret. It’s not a magic pill. Nor is it something that you should hire someone to accomplish for you, although that would be ideal. It’s not even something that you can demand of God, although submitting to Him will make the process a whole lot easier.

The secret to real life change begins with the “ah-ha.”

What’s an “ah-ha”?

As I learned through my life coaching training, and have come to see time and time again in my own life along with working with clients, the secret to real life change happens when we we reach the magical “ah-ha” moment. It’s in that moment when we discover the heart of the issue and our part in it, with a desire to own the next steps. That’s because most of what we perceive as a dead-end, stuck-in-a-rut reality is not as hopeless at we think it is. We can change our approach. We can embrace a new mindset.

 

While we may not be able to “heal thyself”, we can certainly choose an attitude that lines up with a eternal perspective as we move through treatment.

We might not be able to change others’ behavior, which is causing havoc on our personal life, but we can choose a response that reflects the heart of Christ and the truth of Scripture.

We might not be able to erase the past, however we can move towards seeking God to heal our wounds and give us a new way of thinking that is in line with His Word.

 

See, the real life change we crave is often a matter of embracing a biblical mindset over focusing on our circumstances — that’s because most of our circumstances are out of our control.

 

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While there are limits in what we can do to change the circumstances of our lives, there’s nothing stopping us from inviting God to change our character and countenance as He accomplishes His purposes in us and through us.

 

It’s a process of real life change that starts with harnessing the “ah-ha” moment momentum and then moving forward practically and purposefully in what I call the 5 Essential Steps for Real Life Change:

 

  1. Identify What Was and What Is: Clearly articulate the circumstances, mindset, and habits that need to be changed, even pinpointing how it all came to be, along with the “ah-ha” moment that invites real life change. Write it down as a reminder in the future.
  2. Count the Cost: Prayerfully consider what the cost is to not move forward in real life change. Consider what will happen if you stay “as is” compared to take the sometimes uncomfortable and scary steps forward.

  3. Own the Obstacles: Consider the obstacles that made change impossible in the past and may make it challenging in moving forward. Own your sin and be honest about temptations, as you make choices about what to do differently.
  4. Prepare to Persevere: Brainstorm ways to seek help and accountability for moving forward. Set a goal date or a “check-in” date to have a finish line, or lap marker, to press on towards.

  5. Take Action with Accountability: Share your desires to change with someone who is willing and able to support you in prayer and through asking honest, grace-filled questions. A life coach can serve you this way, most definitely, but so should a friend or a spouse.

 

 

God’s sustaining, transforming power is available to you, my friend. He’s just waiting for you to say “yes” to His sanctifying, abundant life-giving invitation.

Would you like practical and biblical encouragement in the process of real life change? Consider Meet the New You and the companion online course, Infuse: A Soul-Strengthening, Life-Changing Encounter with God.

 

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Elisa Pulliam is a life coach, coach trainer, author of Meet the New You, speaker, and life-long mentor passionate about seeing women experience authentic life transformation for the sake of impacting the next generation. Her mission as owner of the Kaleo Agency, a life coaching and leadership development company, and as founder of moretobe.com, a ministry passionate about training and equipping women to mentor, is fueled by God’s redeeming work in her life and twenty-plus years in youth and women’s ministry. She counts it a privilege to connect with other women online and in real life, and strives toward savoring each moment with her husband of 20 years, Stephen, and with their four tween and teenage children.

 

Prayer Changes Everything

Prayer changes everything.  I’ve said this with my mouth for years, but it’s finally beginning to sink into my heart.  Recently, I’ve had an ongoing interaction with a fellow believer that’s grating on me.  We have a difference in opinion about something, and with all my being, I believe that I’m biblically “in the right” about the issue.  It’s chafed against me, causing “righteous indignation,” as the person’s way of dealing with the issue has, I believe, caused others to go astray.  Somewhat embarrassed, I can tell you that my go-to-tendency is to get irritated, to talk when I can of my irritation, and to go round-and-round constructing well-crafted reprimands to say to her, either for real, or in my head.

Thankfully, I have a small group of women I’m in contact with who speak the truth in love, and one of the things I’ve heard from them is to “let it go.”  They don’t mean to forego confronting an important issue, but rather, to commit it to prayer and be willing to wait for guidance on what to say, and when to say it.  But how do I do that?  Especially when I’m right?

 

How do I wait patiently before addressing an important issue, letting God determine the timing and process?

 

I begin by prayer.  By that I mean intentional, ongoing conversation with the Lord about this person.  When I’m tempted to tell her what I think, or to “sound off” to another person who knows the situation (and I tell myself it’s for advice, or for commiseration), I instead tell it all to God.  Mind you, He already knows.  But talking to Him about it is genuinely sharing in a safe place.  He’s not going to go blabbing to others.  He loves this person more than I do, and He loves me too.  He’s the only One, actually, who can do anything about the situation, and the bonus is that He’s going to work on me in the process.

Something incredible happens to me as I tell God about this woman and the situation.  First, I get it out.  I vent.  It lifts the load somehow because I’ve shared it.  I’m real with Him, too.  I dump it out, and I let my ugly show.  He already sees it anyway.

Then I begin to see from a new perspective.  As I tell my Papa all my frustrations, learned scripture begins to come back that sheds Truth onto the problems.  Past experience reminds me of good, and of not-so-good, ways this thing can be handled.  And sweetest of all, I begin to think of this person the way He does.  Clarity comes and I may see that yes, she’s wrong.  But also, I am.  I begin to ache for how the areas she handles incorrectly will bring her harm.  I see in a new light how it may harm others.  Almost invariably, this realization drives me to pray more, to ask God to intervene in ways only He can.  It drives me to have a heart of love toward the person I believe is wronging me.

 

When I drop everything to pray about a difficult person, I also begin to see myself in a different light. 

 

The still, small voice of my God reminds me how close I am, always, to making some grave error that will harm me or others, and of how many times He has stopped me, or saved me, or forgiven me for those errors.  He begins to challenge me, “little one, but for my grace, that would be you.  And it has, time and again.  Give grace.”

 

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Sometimes, and far less often than I might like, He calls me to speak the truth.  In-all-capital-letters: IN LOVE.  When I’ve genuinely walked this little journey of God-talk full circle, He may take some of those truths, and some of the wisdom He shares, and ask me to speak it to the person I began praying for.  But something has happened by this time: I now long to share it for the good of that person, and for the purpose of reconciliation.

I don’t mean that the person will always like me, or be happy with my words.  It might even cause emotional or relational division.  But if my heart’s longing is for their best, for their ultimate deeper reconciliation with the God who made them, and if my involvement is infused with gentleness, speaking the truth has a bigger purpose than my personal opinion, or my status of being liked.  Now when I speak, I’m not seeking retribution or personal gain, but am willing to be used, literally, for the good of another.  Now, when I speak, I’m not just not seeking my own elevated status, but I’m willing to be put down, to build another up, eternally speaking.

 

Prayer changes everything.  When I give God control with my words, it changes me, and allows me to be used for GOOD.

 

 

Praying for someone doesn’t always get magical results that match my requests.  It doesn’t always change situations.  But when I pray “in earnest,” and “without ceasing,” it always changes my heart.  Whether it drives me to speak up or be quiet, it teaches me and grows me closer to the likeness of my God.  It creates in me a new heart, a new mind, toward another.  Praying for another literally changes my heart, my mind, and my actions toward that person, with the potential to bring them good in the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

 

How has God used prayer to change you?  How has He used your brokenness for another, for good and Glory?

 

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