Archives for January 2013

The Power of SANITY

SANITY is what we gain when we shift our priorities and stop focusing on dieting, food, and on our weight—when we stop focusing on the problems of others, and on the situations and circumstances of life, and begin to focus on changing our own attitudes and behaviors—starting with our hearts.

SANITY is living in the peace that comes when we put our trust in God.

S – Stop your own destructive patterns.           Stop Sign 2

STOP repeating our destructive patterns.

STOP ignoring our personal issues.

STOP being alone in our confusion and pain.

STOP pushing God out of the picture.

A – Assemble a support

If you feel the need to communicate with other people in your same situation, ask God to open the door for you to get connected. God already knows the plans He has for you to be in fellowship with others. Ask Him to reveal that knowledge to you, praying for wisdom and discernment to walk boldly in God’s purpose.

N – Nip excuses in the bud.I-cant

There are so many different excuses for why we live in bondage to poor choices, challenging situations, and painful circumstances. Yet as different as the excuses are, many begin with the same two words—two words we need to ask God to help us remove from our vocabulary—two words that cut right to the heart of God, telling Him we do not believe His Word, and calling Him a liar—“I can’t.”

I – Implement a plan, define your

Although we may not have been responsible for some of the things that happened to us in the past, we are responsible for our future, and our future depends on the choices we make today to take full responsibility for every aspect of who we are.

Hope lies in learning to depend on God and to make intentional choices that will change our lives and not just perpetuate the status quo.

T – Trust the voice of the Spirit.worship photo1

The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).

Trusting your spiritual intuition and not worldly lies, emotional uncertainly, or even the head knowledge you may have becomes more natural as we understand God’s truth and hide it in our hearts.

Y – Yield everything to God.prayer-on-my-knees4

I have found that it’s often easy to see God in the exceptional things of life that make our spirits soar, or in the crisis situations that bring us to our knees. But it’s much more difficult to see God each and every day in the places in the middle, in the ordinary living of life; this requires a spiritual discipline that is beyond our human nature to acquire, a habit that can only come when we YIELD Everything to God and trust Him to be the Lord of our lives.


At some point, every Christian adult will have to release his or her problems to God and learn to trust Him for whatever happens.

Come near to God and He will come near to you.  James 4:8 NIV



Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.

Making The Choice To Change do you think your true calling is? Are you living in the truth and light of that calling? If not, why not?

How many years have we wasted doing things we don’t want to do? Being people we don’t want to be? Living lives we never imagined for ourselves? When was the last time you focused on your passion, your purpose, and God’s plan for your life?

What matters is what God’s dreams are for your life. What does He want to “work out” in you? When He formed you in your mother’s womb, He had all your days ordained for you (Ps. 139:16). He had a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 says He knows the plans He has for you, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

What could His plans be? What are the blueprints He carved out just for you? Ask Him. Say to Him, what is your perfect dream for me, God? Show me! Work it out for me! He loves prayers like that. They are invitations for Him to show His power, His strength, and His love for you!

When it comes to changing our choices, some of us have been caught up in the dance of dieting dysfunction for years. But it’s never too late to change if we want to. It’s our choice to be conquerors, to claim what is written in Romans 8:37 (NIV),

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Chuck Angel is the senior pastor at Harvest Church in Watauga, Texas.  Pastor Chuck is not only a man after God’s heart, but also a man after everyone’s heart who walks through the doors of the rapidly growing church God has called him and his wife, Jill, to shepherd.  He is passionate about connecting us with Jesus and about making the truth of Scripture come alive.  He wants every heart to know God’s love.

Pastor Chuck’s message on change featured five key points.  It was so powerful and so appropriate to those of us desiring to set healthy boundaries that I asked Pastor Chuck’s permission to share those five critical components with you here.

  1. We need to be fully aware that things need to change.
  2. We need to turn to Jesus for help in changing.
  3. We need to get in position for God to do great work in our life.
  4. We need to be in partnership with God for the full release of His power.
  5. We need to stay the course.  Deep change has to be walked out.

I hope you’ll find Pastor Chuck’s message of the 5 Change Constants to be helpful as you navigate the terrain of change. The Bible is filled with stories of ordinary people who did extraordinary things with God’s help. There is no doubt that He can do the same today for you.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

Food Sense and Sensibilities

woman with foodTraining ourselves to listen to our hunger may be one of the most challenging things we’ll ever do in our lives. We’ve spent decades eating what we’ve wanted when we wanted, or depriving ourselves of eating what we wanted when we wanted because we were on yet another diet.

Setting boundaries in any situation where they have been weak, non-existent, or violated has to first become an intentional act before it can naturally become a healthy habit.

Learning to listen to our hunger before we eat is a boundary that must be established on our road to finding freedom from the bondage of over eating or emotional eating.

Try to keep your notebook nearby and the next time you find yourself going to the refrigerator, pantry, vending machine, or about to drive into a fast food restaurant, I want you to deliberately stop yourself first and listen to what the hunger is really saying—and write down what is happening and how it makes you feel.

Knowledge is power and that holds true especially when it comes to the food we are putting inside our bodies and inside the bodies of those we love and are called to protect.

Try to buy only whole foods, and cooking from scratch more often. Begin to pay more attention to reading food labels, especially when it comes to the sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients. Looking at the protein level is also critical—the higher the better.

We need all the power possible as we change our eating habits and set healthy boundaries with food.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Romans 12:1

If we’re serious about honoring God by taking care of the bodies He has given us, a significant boundary that needs to be set with food is how we experience the act of eating.

We’ve become a nation where toxic food is acceptable and an environment of physical inactivity is normal.

Sadly, it’s not only easier, but acceptable to fill our bodies and the bodies of those we are responsible for with unhealthy food.

It is an irrefutable fact that if we eat less and exercise more we will lose weight.  But eating less doesn’t mean starving yourself for a few days and then binging. Eating less doesn’t mean living only on salad and depriving yourself of protein, and other necessary vitamins and minerals. Eating less doesn’t mean only when others see you eat.

The eating less I’m referring to is all about portion control, you can eat whatever you wish, just less of it.

Hopefully, the “whatever you wish” will soon consist primarily of nutritional, healthy foods that honor and respect your body.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

God is LOVE – Food IS NOT – Your Future Begins Now

the-futureNot all diets are destructive. What is destructive, however, is what we’re doing to our bodies when we frequently start and stop weight loss programs.

Studies have proven the greater the number of failed diets, the greater the likelihood that stress-eating has been your downfall.

What do you think we really hunger for? What is it you hunger for late at night, after everyone’s gone to bed and it’s just you and your emotions and the food calling your name?

Our bond with food is strong, and when we use it as a substance to avoid or substitute a feeling, we can find ourselves thinking about eating day and night

Mealtime memories can play a significant role in understanding who we are and why we respond as we do to food.

In my journey of piecing together the fragments of my life, I can clearly see when I started eating for emotional comfort, when I began to use food as a substitute for love.

It’s important to express and receive love in a healthy way, and sometimes people who have used food to avoid heart issues find that hard to do.

The heart of the gospel message is gaining compassion for others—trying to love the unlovable. But what if the unlovable ones are us? What if we have no compassion for ourselves—if all we have is self-loathing and hate for what we have become? What if every gauge we use to measure our own self-worth is associated with our weight?

The Bible says that we were created in God’s image—fearfully and wonderfully made.

Setting boundaries with food begins with a change of heart—not with a change of digits on your bathroom scale.

God Chose Us!  Max Lucado reminds us that we are a chosen people. When you stop and really think about this, isn’t it amazing? How much God loves us? In 1 Peter 2:9, the Bible says that we are “a people for God’s own possession.”

I’m thankful that I’ve come to understand what love looks like through the heart of God. To understand what trusting relationships look like as I’ve developed a relationship with a trustworthy God.

I once read that every extra pound you carry on your body equals a pound of emotional pain you are carrying in your heart.

My greatest prayer is that you will become emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready for a radical change in life as well.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.

It’s All About BALANCE

Balance 2We can be so busy and so intent on being “the winner” or being “the best” or “the richest” or “the thinnest” or “the most popular,” that we forget what is really important in our lives – our faith, our family, our friends, forgiveness, and fun! [1]

The journey to find SANITY doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t just a matter of understanding what the word means or what types of boundaries exist, although these are important things to know. Understanding boundaries really begins when we stop seeing ourselves as helpless in a drowning situation and realize how much power we have over our actions and emotions. More important, understanding boundaries is also being aware of what God’s Word teaches us about the critical aspect of protecting our hearts.

One of the most powerful actions we can take in life is to choose to be in relationships that bring out the best in us, that nurture our heart and that allow us to bring out the best in others as well.

We must ask ourselves,

  1. Am I treating the vessel God has given me with honor, respect and love?
  2. Is the person I am today the person God is calling me to be?
  3. Is my relationship with food and eating bringing out the best in me?
  4. If God has made a difference in my life, am I a walking, talking, visual example of that difference?

We are walking on a tightrope every day of our life.

Let’s think of God as our balance beam.

When we firmly grasp His principles, plans, and purpose for our lives, we can securely put one foot in front of the other and make it safely to the other side of any trial, tribulation, or turmoil.

But our steps need to be intentional and deliberate choices we make every single day. Choices based on balancing relationships, responsibilities, and boundaries.

It’s true, our lives belong to God, and as such we have a responsibility to Him. Although it is our responsibility to nurture our relationship with the Lord, it’s far more of an honor, privilege, and blessing to be able to do so, especially through prayer.

Some of us may struggle with the emotional side-effects of not setting the appropriate boundaries at the appropriate time. Just because we have felt unable in the past to make healthy choices in circumstances or relationships, doesn’t mean we are doomed to continue the same course. We can jump off the gerbil wheel of insanity at any time—and into the arms of a loving Father who will never forsake us.

 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.  Deutoronomy 31:8

1Dr. Debra D. Peppers, Ph.D., It’s Your Turn Now (Kirkwood, MO: Impact Christian Books, Inc., 2001), 84.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.

Defining Our Boundaries

the dreamVisible boundaries such as fences, signs, and dividing lines painted on streets and highways are easy to identify, but boundaries are also the unseen—invisible structures that support healthy, productive lives, and those can sometimes be more difficult to identify.  Unseen, not non-existent.  There’s a big difference.

Webster defines a boundary as, “something that marks or fixes a limit…a territory, border, frontier.”

Personal boundaries are limits or borders that define where you end and others begin. Your personal boundary is defined by the amount of physical and emotional space you allow between yourself and others.

Physical boundaries define and protect your body, your personal space, and your sense of privacy. Other physical boundaries involve clothes, shelter, safety, money, space, noise, and so on.

Just as physical boundaries define who can touch us, how someone can touch us, and how physically close another may approach us; psychological boundaries define where our feelings end and another’s begins. Many of us with eating challenges have no idea about this differentiation.

How can we set healthy boundaries, replace destructive habits, and undo the damage we’ve done to our bodies?

Quite simply, we cannot do this on our own—our sinful nature will keep us from making the transformational changes we need to make. Only through God’s help can we receive a new nature. Only by reorganizing our relationships and putting God first, understanding our responsibilities in Christ, and developing spiritual discipline, can our lives begin to grow in the character of Christ.

Do you wonder how to know if a lack of healthy boundaries is part of your life? If you can answer “yes,” to one or more of the questions below, it may be time for you to start making different choices based on new personal property lines—that is, boundaries.

  • Do some people take advantage of you?
  • Do you sometimes have trouble saying, “no?”
  • Do you often suffer from feelings of guilt?
  • Do you ever feel as though you have no control over some areas of your life?
  • Do you try to have too much control over some areas of your life?
  • Do you avoid conversations you know you should have?
  • Do you wish you could be more assertive and in control?
  • Do you lose patience with certain people or personality types?
  • Do you feel anxious before a difficult conversation?
  • Do you think of what you “should have” said after the conversation is over?
  • Do you know when someone is violating your space?

God gave us the physical vehicle—the vessel—to carry out His purpose and plan for our lives – followed by the glorious gift of His plans!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

Understanding Our Responsibilities

RSCN0444I’ve talked with hundreds of women and men around the world about the topic of boundaries. It’s clear that not only do we lack healthy relationship priorities, but we’re confused and often deeply troubled about what is and isn’t our responsibility in the first place, and we’re responding to the ensuing havoc this confusion causes in sometimes catastrophically unhealthy ways.

In her book No Limits No Boundaries, Pastor Tiz Huch (in photo at left with Allison) doesn’t imply that we don’t need boundaries, but that when we enter into right relationship with God, His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness have no end.  When we act as children of God we have choices to make, and those choices should revolve around how God wants us to act.  He has established boundaries as written in Scripture, and He has instructed us to live according to them.

Contrary to politically correct opinion, we are not all created equal, especially when it comes to needs.

It’s important to our heavenly father that we guard our hearts and grow in a healthy heart relationship with him. He never intended for us to be responsible for everyone except ourselves. The more time we spend in his presence, asking him to order our steps, the more clarity we will have on our responsibilities.

If we truly want to balance our responsibilities and build healthy relationships we must become emotionally strong and take control of the things we can control. The well-known Serenity Prayer is good to remember at this time.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

It’s God’s plan for how He wants us to live. Taken from the Book of Matthew the meaning is crystal clear;

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  Matthew 6:34

In other words, take it “one day at a time.”

This problem of being “overly responsible” is becoming an epidemic, we’re not sure anymore what’s really normal, what a boundary is or isn’t, what were actually supposed to be responsible for, or even what it means to live a balanced life. The only way we’re going to be able to sort any of this out is to explore how and when it all started to go haywire in our lives in the first place.

How did our relationships and responsibilities get so off track and our lives become so unmanageable that we turned to food as the answer?

Two words… unhealthy boundaries.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

God Will Reveal Himself

God opens our eyes and heart in direct proportion to how much we open our arms to Him.  We’ve got to get to the bottom of what’s eating us for us to seriously change why we’re eating.

As a relatively new believer I was still navigating the terrain of faith—trying to figure out God’s plan and purpose for my life.

When it came right down to it I had the “human doing” thing mastered—but reaching the “human being” stage took me considerably longer. Mainly because my thinking was still so scrambled from decades of painful memories, poor choices and something I didn’t want to admit even to myself—a profound lack of trust that I was really safe in the arms of God.

I love what Henry Blackaby writes about this kind of mixed-up thinking in his acclaimed book; Experiencing God,

You need to believe that He will enable and equip you to do everything He asks of you. Don’t try to second-guess Him. Just let Him be God. Turn to Him for the needed power, insight, skill, and resources. He will provide you with all you need. 

Setting Boundaries with Food is about taking responsibility for our lives and our choices, including the choice to intentionally develop and nurture the important relationships that define who we are—relationships with ourselves, others, food, and most important, with God.

Could it be the reason many of us avoid addressing painful or traumatic life issues is because we’ve spent years stuffing them as far down as possible and we don’t want to dredge up the truth? Could it be that it’s easier now to create our own truth, evading the deep heart issues at the core of who we are, affecting everything we say and do?

Our first responsibility is to make our relationship with God the most important in our lives—to trust, obey, and depend entirely on Him.

Take time now to write in your journal about your relationship with God, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How would I describe my relationship with God?
  2. How would I like it to be in the future?
  3. Is God already revealing things to me about unhealthy relationships?
  4. Is God showing me new directions for developing healthy relationships in my life?
  5. Have I ever thought of food and eating in the context of being in a relationship with them?


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God, How to Live the Full Adventure of Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 31.

Reorganizing Our Relationships

Setting Boundaries with FoodCould it be that excess weight is only a symptom, the result of our soul’s internal struggle to relinquish control, find love, and experience peace?

My heart stuck in my throat as I looked down at my medical chart. Tears stung my eyes as I tried to comprehend what the doctor had written before excusing himself to take an emergency phone call, leaving my opened chart on the desk.

Morbidly obese? How dare he!  My initial anger gave way to a deep, incomprehensible pain as the truth of his words sunk in. Yes, sometimes truth is painful.

Sitting in my car sobbing, I prayed to God for this dance of dysfunction to end.

We’ve got to change the way we think about dieting and break the destructive habit before it breaks us. What we need is a way to find balance and sanity that will bring long-term peace and hope to our lives—not just short term weight loss to our bodies. What we need is the strength and determination to stand up and say, “I’m tired of focusing on food and on my weight—this insanity has to stop—enough is enough!”

For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing (Luke 12:23).

Dieting and setting boundaries with food are two entirely different things. While a focus on the first may or may not yield weight loss, I can almost assure you that a concerted effort to address the second will. Returning food to its rightful place in life can yield amazing results on any number of issues, not the least being our weight.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Oswald Chambers said, “Christianity is not walking in the light of our convictions but walking in the light of the Lord, a very different thing. Convictions are necessary, but only as stepping stones to all that God wants us to be.” [1]

God wants us to be more than what we eat—or weigh.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

[1] The Quotable Oswald Chambers, Compiled and Edited by David McCasland (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2008), 59.


Setting Boundaries With Food

A. Bottke BEFORE WLSA. Bottke AFTER Pic #1For years my life was filled with a never-ending stream of drama, chaos, and crisis that revolved around the life of my drug-addicted son—it was absolute insanity—and it was not how God intended for me (or any parent) to live.

Following the Six Steps to SANITY helped me realize the futility of harboring negative feelings of guilt, frustration, anger, fear, and inadequacy and develop new strengths to begin living a life of freedom from the bondage of the poor choices my son was making—and learn to make better choices myself.

While there are countless reasons why so many people struggle with their weight there is one common denominator that cannot be denied—food—too much, too little, the wrong kind, at the wrong times, eaten for the wrong reasons, and often an inability to set healthy boundaries with it.

I’m going to challenge you to give up destructive dieting and unhealthy eating patterns for the last time—to say good-bye to the vicious cycle that has held you prisoner in your own body for years—perhaps decades.

Many of us have confused the empty space in our stomach with the one in our heart, stuffing one while ignoring the other.

As a believer, I prayed long and hard about my decision to have gastric bypass weight loss surgery after being declared “morbidly obese”.

Now, instead of trying to control my food with the latest fad diet or weight loss trend, I rely on the Six Steps to SANITY to help me focus on the spiritual food that has sustained me over the years as I’ve learned more about the role healthy boundaries and balance plays in virtually every aspect of life.

The Six Steps to SANITY can bring hope and healing to hurting hearts. During the course of writing—and living—the Setting Boundaries™ books, I’ve found strength I never knew I had—you can find this strength as well.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.