Live It Articles

Why First Place?

Why First Place?

Ever wonder where the name “First Place” came from? It started with the faithful folks at Houston’s First Baptist coming together to create a Christ centered weight loss program. They wanted a scripture verse to represent the biblical precepts of the program. The scripture from Matthew 6:33 fits perfectly. Jesus was sharing with his disciples on a hillside on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, probably near Capernaum. Those folks were worried about so many things like what they would eat, how they would clothe their families, and provide shelter. Jesus knew this, and Jesus said, “seek first” the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things would be added to you as well. We worry about some of the very same things. Food can be thought consuming and worrisome. Jesus said seeking Him first would be the way to successfully navigate through life. His promises are

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Restoration – Are You Ready?

Restoration - Are You Ready?

When I attended my first freedom retreat, I began in earnest to inspect the situations and actions of my past. I discovered the various barriers that I had created to protect myself. Unfortunately—or, perhaps, fortunately—these same barriers were obstructing my relationship with God, so eradicating them would mean a new freedom that I had no idea existed. During the retreat, I inventoried my life. In doing so, I had two valuable realizations. First, memories of drug and alcohol abuse within my birth family bounced back into the forefront of my thoughts. I was ashamed and embarrassed by my dad. Second, onlookers of my life might say that I’ve had great success in my career, my marriage, as a mother, daughter, and sister. Yet, my dad’s perfectionist expectations and the withholding of praise and affection still caused me to feel like I could never measure up, particularly to his vision for

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How’s Your Face?

How's Your Face?

I am a strong woman. There is no getting around it. I know that there are times that I am intimidating and (dare I say) loud and sometimes come across as pushy and demanding. In my 20s and 30s, I really fought against this and so wanted to be different. To be meek. To be mild-mannered. To be gentle. I did not like the skin I was in (and, to be honest, I am not sure if many folks around me liked it either.) But in myself, I could not be different. I couldn’t change. I couldn’t stop being my selfish, rebellious, strong-willed woman. That all changed in 1992 when I came to the end of myself and cried out to God. I bowed my knees to the one true God and received Him as my Lord and Savior and the gift of His Spirit living in me. Now, because

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Help When You Need It

Help When You Need It

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. GALATIANS 5:13 I will never forget the day when I was driving with Vicki Heath to look at a conference center where we planned to have a Wellness Retreat. The conference center was about halfway between Charleston, South Carolina, where Vicki lives, and Savannah, Georgia. Vicki was driving when my cell phone rang. The call was from our precious daughter-in-love (law), Lisa, telling me that her dad, George Gerdes, had died. George was only 71 years old. He had died from an abdominal aneurysm. We were all in shock; George had not been sick, and he was driving home from work when the aneurysm struck. I flew home immediately, and we all pitched in to help plan the service and the dinner afterward at the

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I Understand

I Understand

“I am overwhelmed” is the most frequent statement I hear from new members and leaders.  I remember how comforting it was to hear another leader tell me, “I understand, I was overwhelmed too.”  I find any time I take a step into a new area of ministry the enemy steps in and attempts to intimidate and overwhelm me. Our enemy will do whatever he can to stop you and me from moving forward towards God’s plan. The best advice I ever received was a friend, pointing out that if the enemy was going to spend time trying to stop me, I must be on the right path. Because she understood, I surged forward with courage and confidence. I was recently asked, “Helen, back when you first began First Place For Health (FP4H), what changed in you, that made you more obedient to starting a group?” I could sense they wanted

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Train Your Brain

Train Your Brain

I remember not long ago eating everything in sight. It was one of those days when nothing seemed to satisfy. I ate something sweet then needed something salty then something sweet.  It went on and on. Believing that strong people practice the discipline of confession, I recorded every bite on my tracker and emailed it to my accountability partner, Mary Ward. All I put in the Re: line was, “What was I thinking!” Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking that day, but this is what I know today: Your thoughts are the boss of you. What controls your mind controls your behavior.  Some of you may remember way back to 1974. On the evening of February 4, 1974, a group of men and women knocked on the door of apartment #4 at 2603 Bienvenu Street in Berkeley, California. They burst through the door, guns drawn and kidnapped

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Everyday Encouragement

Everyday Encouragement

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11  My neighbor Marcia lives just a few houses down from us. What a blessing she is to me as we walk together six days a week early each morning, starting out in the dark, but ending in sunrise, and thanking God for it! One morning this week, it was apparently too early for me. I put on two shirts, as it was a chilly morning (in Texas, a cold morning), laced up my walking shoes, and was ready to go—except, I looked down and noticed that I was still in my “glow in the dark” pajama bottoms. I quickly changed, but Marcia is such a good friend that she would have gone with me in those pj’s, and we would have started our morning walk with a good laugh. We spend the

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Beating the Odds – Get Serious

Beating the Odds – Get Serious

January 17 has come and gone, and so has the commitment to get healthy for the majority of Americans. According to an article in Newsweek, “Strava, a social network for athletes that tracks runs and bike rides looked at more than 108 million entries in the U.S. and found Thursday (January 17, emphasis mine) is when Americans are most likely to bail out on fitness resolutions.”  Research shows that less than sixty percent of us are still committed to the resolution after six months. What happens in just 17 days? Why do so many of us just quit?  How do you beat the odds? I don’t have all of the answers, but I have some. These are simple habits I have developed (not quickly, I must say,) that have kept me focused and faithful to my wellness endeavors: Have a quiet time with God. He is our source of strength.

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Long Life

Long Life

I spent my 30s and 40s obese and nearly beyond hope. My obesity was a symptom of a deeper issue. I ran to food for comfort, friendship, and satisfaction. My recliner was my favorite spot in my house. Discovering First Place For Health (FP4H) in my late 40s helped me focus on what is most important: Christ in first place, including my weight and wellness. Surrendering to God transformed my life as I turned to Him for strength. After four years, at age 50, I’d shed 116 pounds and began a new journey. Maintaining a healthy weight required me to look deep into my past and discover the why behind my unhealthy relationship with food.  Through Bible studies, teachings, and group meetings, FP4H fueled my need to prioritize my health. Ten years at a healthy weight has changed my outlook. Now, as I approach my 60th birthday, I might have

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The Super-est Super Food

The Super-est Super Food

It’s not that I’m a food snob. That’s not the reason I walk the aisles of my local grocery store with a judgmental attitude that I prefer to call “discernment.” It’s because I’m wiser than I once was. No matter what’s on my grocery list, I notice things with invisible labels: Empty Calories Not the Best Choice Better Option in the Next Bin You’ll Regret This One Not Worth the Miles It Will Take to Work This Off Instant Gratification/Long-Term Payment Plan Might as Well Mainline Trans-Fats Heart Attack Platter Eat at Your Own Risk Why Is This Shelved with Real Food? I also notice gems—like veins of gold sparkling among the layers of tundra gravel. Superfoods! Be still my— I mean, be active, my heart! Blueberries Kale Cherries Broccoli Spinach Tea Legumes Nuts Seeds Olive Oil Ginger Some resources list ten superfoods. Others 25. But of all the lists

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