Today my daughter is getting married and I am overwhelmed by the grace of God.

tp jp before after

Left Teresa and Jenny around 1999. Right, Jenny and Teresa, 2015.


In 1999 I weighed 430 pounds and was on a course straight towards my death. When the cardiac surgeon came into my hospital room and told me the results of the angioplasty I should have been happy. He was telling me I didn’t need open-heart surgery. Instead I was mortified by what He said.

He told me if I didn’t lose weight I’d be dead in five years. My daughter was nine. I had elevated the foods I loved to be the main ingredient in living what I thought was an “abundant” life. However, it was only defined by the abundance of food I ate.

I had tried to lose weight throughout my life. What super morbidly obese person hasn’t been on at least 20 diets? Always I would diet and then go back to the way I had been eating.


This revelation that I would rather have my chest cut open, ribbed pulled apart and heart manipulated than give up sugary treats told me one thing — I was insane. Only a crazy person would choose that instead of giving up the foods that were heading them on a course towards death.

I still played around with my options losing weight by various means, yo-yoing back and forth for 10 more years until I finally understood what the doctor was saying. With high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and weight that was going back up to humongous, I humbled myself to own a fact God knew all along.

I am a Sugar Addict

I had to do three things that most addicts in recovery will totally understand.

I admitted I was powerless over processed sugar, gluten and foods made with both and as a result my life had become unmanageable.

I came to the realization that I had to allow a power greater than myself to restore me to sanity.

I made the decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God. Here’s the deal, I’d done this already hadn’t I? I became a Christian at age seven. However, I did not turn my desire for food over to Him because I didn’t understand that it was harmful to me at least not at that age.


Through the years I allowed certain foods to become a stronghold in my life to the point that I put processed sugar and flour above my beautiful daughter, my son and my husband. More tragically, I put those things above God.

God’s grace, the thing I received when I was seven, never left me though.

God is near to the weak. I believe He is actually attracted to weakness. Paul said it best. when he said “God’s strength comes into its own in my weakness.”1 I hate that I have an area of weakness. I hated it so much that I tried and tried and tried to overcome it to no avail.

It wasn’t until I stopped trying and realized I am only self-sufficient in HIS sufficiency2 that I can overcome this weakness. And so I surrendered the thing I had allowed to become a stronghold, an addiction in my life. When I did, I began to understand the abundance of grace that had always been in my life.

A Wedding

God knew this day was coming. This day of love, commitment and beauty for my only daughter. This day above all days that I will treasure forever and remember as a pinnacle. This day when she is no longer the responsibility of her father and I. She is given to her husband for the rest of her life.

I thought of this day when the cardiac surgeon who told me I had to lose weight turned and walked out of my room. How rude of him to tell me I had to lose weight. Seriously, no one tells a fat person that even though it is plain for all to see.

It’s sort of like the emperor’s clothing. No one would dare tell him he was naked except an innocent child. This surgeon, from a different cultural background, shot it to me straight. No tact. Just fact.

He might as well have said, “Stop it or you won’t be here for your daughter’s wedding.” It was immediately one of the things I thought of. I wanted to be present for all of the high and low points of my children’s lives. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

More Grace

God didn’t leave me when I was in my darkest hour pondering how all the weight had magically attached itself to my body. His grace that I couldn’t see or feel at that point was abounding even more in my life.

Again Paul, who called himself the chiefest of sinners, explains the relationship between grace and our failures so well. “As people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.3

When we fail, grace abounds more. Grace is over the top with abundance when we are at our weakness. Why? Because grace has its roots in forgiveness and God longs to forgive us. It is when we accept His forgiveness that we understand the magnitude of what we’ve done and therefore, the magnitude of the grace that not only forgives, but washes our failures away as if, in God’s sight at least, they never happened.

It’s because of the grace of God I am alive to witness and be a part of this magical day.

From grace I have taken over and over and over again. And yet grace is an ocean, wider and deeper than I can posibly imagine. It’s the atmosphere we live in that is as endless and life-giving. It’s an endless river flowing over me. It’s a perpetual fountain that never stops flowing. It’s all the colors in the rainbow heightened to the extent that our senses can hardly stand.

Beyond that it is the power that moves me and allows me to experience at much of God as I can contain and still He pours more of Himself in me.

Grace begins and ends in God. He has power, movement, flowing, dancing, calling every person, those who’ve accepted Christ and those who haven’t to come closer to their Creator.

And still in all of it’s abundance, God gives us even more grace.4

1 2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG

2 Philippians 4:13 AMP

3 Romans 5:20-21 NLT

4 James 4:6 NKJV


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Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.