My Place for Change

In 2005, my sister lost forty pounds. I wanted to know, what had changed? She’d told me the First Place program was an answer to prayer. When I first heard about the program, I didn’t want to listen. I’d decided there was no hope for me. In the past, when I worked on my weight problem, I would struggle, give up and gain more weight than I lost. I convinced myself I was better off doing nothing and accepting my fate—fat forever. It took me another year before I realized running away from God’s plan is not the best plan. I could not conceive how God would use an obese woman who had failed at weight loss countless times to lead a First Place 4 Health Group. At 274 pounds, I had no idea the wonderful changes God had planned for me.

I ordered a Group Starter Kit and was surprised at how easy it was to bring a group to my church. I am forever thankful for First Place 4 Health and the people God used to get me started in leading a group. Do you realize God has wonderful changes planned for you too?  Maybe you are like me and experience resistance to change. Yet we ask God to change our situation, our children, our spouse, and even change our weight. It turns out, God transforms us as he answers our requests. When we are all in, embracing the changes God has planned, we discover something new we’ve never experienced. As a leader, I have the privilege to see dramatic changes in others’ lives. Members and leaders repeatedly tell me, “I am changed. I am different. I am free.”  Yahoo! Freedom comes when we are willing to allow God to change our mind, our heart, and our soul.

First Place is my place for a new way of thinking. The scripture I memorize reprograms my mind with God’s word. The Live It Tracker I complete helps me change how I feed my body. When I finally recognized healthy people work out every day, I made time to move my body. Romans 12:2 tells us the transformation begins with the renewal of our mind.

First Place is my place to discover unhealthy habits and identify and practice new habits that honor God. Before, I believed food brought me happiness, comfort, and love. What a big fat lie. Vicki Heath, our national director, says, “Food is not your friend, it can’t love you back.” It is not my enemy either. It is fuel for my body. 1 Corinthians 10:23 tell us everything is allowable (permissible), but not everything is good for you or beneficial. We have a choice and the choice often involves a change in our behavior.

First Place is my place for grace. Grace confounds our enemy who wants to convince us that there is no hope for us. When we accept God’s grace and unconditional love, we learn to love ourselves as God loves us. Jesus’ response to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   Paul goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  Are you ready to embrace your weakness? Will you embrace change? Say “Yes” to all God has planned.

Helen Baratta

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