Emotional

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

Giving

Wess Stafford, the former CEO and President of Compassion International, said, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is generosity.” When we freely give to those around us, we are truly rich. When we freely give and expect nothing in return, we are truly rich. When we freely give, and it costs us something, we are truly rich. Giving generously does not mean you have to impact your bank account (even though that is a key way to be generous.) The most expensive commodity we have is our time. Time cannot be saved. Time is limited, and we won’t have more hours in the day when the kids get out of the house, or we retire. We are all given 10,080 hours a week. What are you going to do with your weekly allotment this December? Will you be selfish and keep it all for yourself?

Read more

Are You All In?

“I need to be in community with other people who have the same goal.” said one of my group members. Another said, “I joined your group because I need a kick in the ….” Me too, I need the accountability and encouragement. I’ve been in a First Place group for thirteen years, and I’ll likely be in one for another thirteen years. Today, I talked with a future leader who said she felt the Lord was leading her to start a group.  She recently read about the program in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word, in the Food Strongholds section. Then a friend, knowing she was interested in healthy living, gave her two books written by First Place for Health.  Just in case she needed more encouragement, she was talking to a family member, who told her about a local Christian weight loss group. You guessed it, a First Place group.

Read more

Stay on Track

Summit is over, and you are motivated. Great speakers and information have spurred you on. You’ve recommitted to tracking, moving, and accountability. Congratulations! Now what? What steps do you need to take to stay on track? Plan for success. First Place for Health® is not a place where you do any of this alone. With both our virtual and live groups, you will be surrounded by a community of support, cheering you on, and encouraging you when things feel hard. I happen to be in two virtual groups. We often use FB Messenger and email to stay in touch throughout the week. There have been many times I’ve reached out to ask for prayer when I’m feeling weak and about to make decisions that will keep me from reaching goals. Another FP friend and I use the Marco Polo app to keep each other accountable and share prayer requests because

Read more

You Are Worth It!

You Are Worth It!

In 2010, a week after I reached my healthy weight, I flew to Houston, Texas, to attend my first Summit. Each year, FP4H hosts this two-day event with success stories, breakout sessions on leadership, nutrition, spiritual growth, and a keynote speaker to inspire us. I marveled at the vast size of the facilities at Houston’s First Baptist Church. I’d never been in a mega-church before. It resembled a community college, and I needed a map to find my way around the campus. Even though I attended one of the largest churches in Pittsburgh, PA, it was dwarfed by this 4,000-seat worship center. In 2010, starstruck, I met leaders and teachers I’d watched on the DVDs and read about in books. The speakers challenged my perspective: Vicki Heath, then associate director, shared: “If you do not quit, you will succeed.” Becky Turner, emcee and breakout session speaker, said: “Say ‘no’ so

Read more

Joy Busters

Joy Busters

“If you only knew my circumstances.” How many times do we defend a poor choice because of a pothole we encounter on our journey? The enemy works hard busting our joy with challenges to our life’s order. He intends to convince us that we should abandon our healthy habits when life gets tough. The world’s faulty thinking teaches us to approach our problems on our own with self-reliance. We are told to pull up our own bootstraps. Then when we falter, he works overtime with feelings of shame and inadequacy. We isolate ourselves as we try to “deal with it” on our own. Jesus understood this when he said, “…the cares of this world… choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Jesus understands what it feels like to be overwhelmed. He challenges us not to be caught up in our cares and no longer focused on the Lord.

Read more

The Joyful Journey to Health and Happiness

The Joyful Journey to Health and Happiness

How do you picture joy? After turning in my manuscript for my newest book, Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, I thought I would create some lovely photos with inspiring verses on them. I opened my graphics AP and typed in “JOY.” What I anticipated seeing were images of giggling children, cozy families, faces of smiling friends, maybe some inspiring nature shots, breathtaking sunsets or perhaps a strong, fit person reaching the pinnacle of a mountain top. NOPE. What I saw were pictures of sugary desserts: cookies, cupcakes, seven-layer chocolate cakes, ices cream, cheesecake—more and more sugar! Righteous indignation rose up within me. “Satan, you are such a LIAR! That is not JOY. These foods lead to bondage and brokenness.  God wants to give us JOY!”  Phil 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. (Phil 4:4 ESV) To rejoice is a verb,

Read more