Monday, December 31, 2012

On Your Mark



Time's up. 2012 ends tonight and will only be a memory (a distant one for those of us over 40). It's a good thing. A really good thing. Goodbye 2012.

Goodbye is easy to say sometimes, and at other times, it is truly a struggle. I am personally kicking quite a few things to the curb:

- Goodbye excuses - you are only hiding my insecurities and lack of trust in the Father

- So long snooze button - you are not my friend

- Adios cheating...I STILL do not have enough discipline to just eat one bite

- Au revoir chocolate chips - you are my weakness and will no longer be in my house

I'm also saying goodbye to over 60 pounds that were packed on this time last year. I do not miss you AT ALL. I can walk into any store and pick up the size I think I am and it fits. That tastes better than any food I used to eat. And pounds - I'm talking to you - you are NOT allowed back in this house.

Saying goodbye means that we are entering a new part of our lives. It's time to start, to get going on a new venture. I'm saying hello to an inaugural phase of my life. Welcome to the following:

- Hello friends who have encouraged, supported and spurred me on. You are always welcome here. Your texts, emails, phone calls, etc have kept me from cheating, helped me run and focused my time on God's Word.

- Welcome back daily discipline of exercise. I will continue to run 3-4 days a week and add a cross training program for the other 2-3 days. I WILL be faithful to take care of what God has given me.

It's a race....a long one...not just for the here and now, but for the long haul. It's the beginning of tomorrow. We are becoming what we want to be. So, get on your workout gear, lace up your shoes and join me on the track.

ON YOUR MARK....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Ready...




A memorable guest book - a fingerprint tree featuring the prints of all the guest. What a keepsake!



The bride and groom, Matthew and Morgan Smith.


EVERY girl dreams about THAT day. EVERY.SINGLE.GIRL. As one of my little kids was scrambling around my legs to get a better view, I could see it all. The bride was coming down the steps of the old historic house on the arm of her doting father. The groom was shuffling his feet in anticipation and tears were already streaming down his cheeks.

Then, she stood there at the back of the pavilion with a smile that radiated the entire park. The hours and days and years that she had put into this relationship, this wedding and ultimately this marriage, were upon them both. He saw her, and he wept. I could hardly see for all the tears that welled up in my eyes. Two lives brought together by God on a mission trip in the desert to be united on this day in holy matrimony. It was good.

If Pinterest EVER had a wedding, this was it. Creative, fun, and full of ideas that people will copy for years to come. I've shown just one of them above. I'll have to make a board just to display all the ideas..that I would have NEVER thought of...NEVER.

In watching the groom's anticipation, I couldn't help but think that most of us are just like that right now...at this time of year. We are eating every sweet in sight and well, exercise, that will just have to wait. I get it. I TOTALLY get it. But, we all know that we have a PLAN!

Most of our plans involve the new year. It is the perfect time to start over in various areas of our lives. Getting healthy tops the list for most people. Now is the time to anticipate the changes that you will make in the new year. What will 2013 hold for you? Will THIS be the year that you REALLY CHANGE your eating habits and exercise plan? YES! It can be...it will be!

Stay tuned for more so that we can walk this journey together! I still fight daily for health..and I need people who are doing the same. Join me in 2013 as we battle side by side!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Year Has Passed

One year ago I signed up to be in a 5K in Meadowbrook here in Birmingham. It was supposed to be a beautiful day. I could walk the entire course. I was familiar with the area. Lots of great door prizes. Etc., etc. etc. Sounded okay to me.

Well, now let me insert some honest self-talk here...I did NOT want to do it. I was just starting the journey to being healthy and it was kicking my hiney. I had lost about 15 lbs so far but had such a long way to go. I had no running clothes...which was fine considering I wasn't going to be running anyway. At that point I had only walked two miles.

I arrive and there is a multitude of high schoolers who look like they run track on a daily basis. That does NOTHING to encourage an overweight mom of five. I see friends who are in good shape and look like they just finished running 5 miles to warm up. Jealousy and envy ensues. The desire to be like them in my physical body takes over and I feel lousy. Years of regret, bad decisions, poor choices and just outright sin come flooding back. How could I have messed up this badly and gotten to this point? Everybody has at least one issue that they struggle with...why can't I have her issue? God (AGAIN) reminds me that I'm not exactly succeeding in my own struggle...why would I want another....ummm, thanks Lord?

The race (ha...it's NO race for me) starts and I walk with one of my brothers. He's been a runner before and wants to pick it back up again. Running is NOT for me. I can barely run one minute. Did I mention I had only walked 2 miles at this point? And, I tried the couch to 5K program, and I was out of breath by the second walk point (that's less than two minutes running). We ran...VERY LITTLE...and by VERY LITTLE, I mean maybe 1/16 of a mile total. It was pitiful. I finished in over 48 minutes. That's 16 minutes per mile. The first finisher completed the race about the same time I finished the first mile. That's how slow I was.

But, I finished. And, it was the beginning of something much bigger than I could have imagined. It was the push toward running that I needed. It showed me that God would sustain me when I thought I couldn't go on. He would enable my body to develop discipline over time. He would set my foot to a trail or pavement or wherever He showed me to run. He would finish the race. I just had to be obedient to His call.

It's been the hardest journey of my life, but it has shown me God in new ways. It has given me a more intimate time with Him each day. Getting healthy for His glory has changed my outlook on life...and shown me so much more than I could have imagined a year ago.

And it began with one keystroke on the computer to find a local 5K. It started with completing a form and sending it in. And, then the first step of that race. That's how it began for me. A year later I am awed by what God has done.

Today, you can begin with one little step....what will it be?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Panic and a plan

I stepped onto the scale and saw the numbers...163.7. No, that cannot be. I tried again. Same numbers. Uh-oh. When did that happen, and how did it go unnoticed? Panic set in. This was the scene in my bathroom this morning.

I gathered my running clothes and hit the pavement. Madison and Jett went with me...I think we might have run a little faster than usual. It was only a 5K (hearing myself say "only a 5K" is a bit ironic considering where I was a year ago). We were all a little winded but felt the "good tired" when we returned.

While I was running I processed those numbers on that scale....wait, I could NOT have possibly gained that much weight (15 lbs) in three days. And, my clothes still fit. Those numbers do not define me but are an indicator of how well I am eating and exercising. No need to panic...something must be off.

Just as quickly as I had panicked, I was back in that bathroom rechecking my eyesight and the scale's accuracy. Sure enough, the number was NOT the same...it was correct this time...fifteen pounds lighter. I had apparently bumped the scale when I moved it to its rightful place the first time...oops. All that worry over a silly error.

The scenario made me aware of just how quickly everything can change. I can EASILY go back to my old ways. I am tempted daily to indulge and not to exercise. People said it would get easier, but it has NOT...it is still a battle every single hour to honor the Lord with my physical body.

With the holidays here and being surrounded by temptations (not here but elsewhere), I have a plan to sustain my weight. I would LOVE to go into the new year at this weight...and be able to say for THE FIRST TIME IN 25 YEARS, "I want to continue to be healthy this year." I will NOT have to say, "I want to lose weight." Hallelujah - praise the Lord!

The plan is to continue to run and prepare for another half-marathon in February (this one with Kaitlyn). Every afternoon/evening, I will insert another 30 minutes of activity, whether just walking, playing with the kids, stretching, treadmill hills, etc. Just something to burn another 100-200 calories a day. That will refocus my mind and help me to stay the course. I am only doing this during December to ward off the temptations and to be able to indulge a little!

What's your plan for keeping the weight away during the Christmas season???

Monday, November 26, 2012

Run a Half Marathon - Check!









I saw my fingers typing before I could stop them. I glanced at the names on the screen...all part of my accountability group. What was I thinking? My head believed it too. My heart wanted to trust, but my body was revolting. Are you insane? You will surely fail. How many times must you fail before you realize the goal is just too lofty...I mean you are 42 years old and just now getting healthy for the first time in over 20 years. With all of that talk running through my head, I re-read the email....

My goals (as far as running) are to finish a 5K (walking mainly), run/walk a 5K, run an entire 5K, finish a 10K, run an entire 10K and begin training for a half-marathon.

Before I could stop my right hand, I hit the send button, and it was out there to my accountability partners. A half-marathon? Really? I could not even run a 5K at the time much less 13.1 miles. It seemed like a long way away and perhaps I could just increase mileage each week and get there. I could always walk...or crawl.

Then, the day came. In Orange Beach, Alabama where there's a beach and sand and supposedly the sun. It should be warm, right? Nope, the day we are to run, a cold front has arrived overnight, and it is now in the lower 40's. So, I put on my hooded running jacket and shivered. And shivered some more while we stretched and waited for the race to start. Surely, I will warm up...so I took off the jacket and walked briskly to the start line.

JT was a little nervous as it was only five minutes before the start when Madison and I showed up...there's always a line at the women's bathroom, you know! It's a good thing we went when we did as we were not able to go again until the race was over. That was a miracle in itself....

People crowded around, and my heart was beating out of my chest. Thoughts of failure and training and injury and finishing all ran through my head. And then, just like that, I saw people begin to run. I followed. We wanted to stay together as a family...that was our priority.

Our goal was simple...stick together and run the race. Don't go too fast so we give out before the end. Drink along the way and stay the course. As we approached the water station at mile 4.5, we felt pretty good. We ran along the main beach road and then headed back onto the trail system. We pass mile 6...okay, we are making it. Then, I hear my Nike app declare that we are halfway there. I celebrate just a little in my head. And I see the sign that reads "Alligator Habitat"...I might run a tad bit faster through that section.

By mile 9, my legs are feeling every single step. I am naming all the people around me (Turkey Boy, Bumblebee, Models3, Bible Scholars, Josh Moffatt...that was his real name..the youngest participant. I felt it my duty to know his name and encourage him. Chevron Stripe Girls, Blue Momma, Edna and Ethel...). I read all of the benches that are named in honor or memory of people. I read anything I can see. Whatever it takes to get my mind off the cramps in my legs.

I see mile 10 and know that we can certainly finish a 5K. The two miles it took to get to mile 12 though seemed more like 10! But, God sustained and kept us going. We followed JT's lead wherever he went. Occasionally, we started walking and tried to stretch out our stride to loosen the muscles or kick our rear to stretch the quads. It didn't work too well. My body was revolting. But, then we saw mile marker 12 and knew we only had 1.1 to go. We picked up the pace.

The most glorious sight was the small opening of the park ahead. I knew the finish line was close. I could hear it. We rounded the corner and heard the announcer call our names. Side by side we pushed forward. On the left side of the finish line, I saw Kaitlyn snapping photos, my nephews Clarke giving a high five to JT, my older brother Bill who traveled down just to see us finish, my brother David who had just completed his fastest half-marathon, Jett, Zeke and Elly who were screaming You Did It! I thought I would cry, but I didn't. I just praised God for all that He had done. He was and is and will be good. He gets the praise. This medal belongs to Him.

It was only a daydream on paper and in the cyber world six months ago. Now, it is a reality. Half marathon - check.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Twas The Night Before The Half Marathon...

One year ago our family was overweight and out of shape. I weighed over 200 pounds and needed a nap every day. I would easily tire from walking up a flight of stairs and gladly sat on the front porch to watch my children play (as opposed to playing with them). I ate junk and indulged in sweets on a regular basis. I had no desire to see what God's Word said about glorifying Him with my body...because that certainly didn't apply to me. I have 5 children and homeschool and lead all of the administration for a missions organization....how can God possibly expect me to be healthy too?

Then, He convicted JT and me of our sin and made our rebellion painfully obvious. It was ugly and it was wretched. We bore our souls to our Heavenly Father and repented. It seemed to take a few weeks to fully disclose every part of our eating/exercise/pride/gluttony to Him. He just kept revealing aspects our our lives that needed cleansing, and we continued to confess and repent. It was an emotional, desperate and freeing time. It was uncomfortable and healing, disheartening and refreshing. God was glorified, and we finally submitted, willingly.

It's one year later, and what a journey it has been. There were the early days of crying through meals while eating out, begging God to make it easier and faster, and coffee dates that saw me only drinking water. We stuck strictly to the plan God had placed before us, and we saw results. God set our feet to running, and we could barely run a minute without huffing and puffing.

There were certainly lows...walking (barely running) my first 5K and finishing in 48 minutes, trying to run a full 5K and not being able to run the entire course, trying on clothes and not being where I thought I should be, plateauing for weeks at a time with weight..... But there were highs that kept me going....running an entire 5K, finishing a 10K, trying on new clothes in new sizes, and now getting ready to run a half marathon.

No matter what has been accomplished, it is God ALONE who gets all the glory. This is NOT my story...it is His Story. He has only used me to bring Him honor. That's why I am scared silly the night before this race. I do not want to disappoint Him or fail Him in any way. I want His name to be lifted High...for His glory to be on display in and through this journey.

I hope to write more this weekend after finishing this half marathon...if I have to crawl across the finish line, I will finish. I will finish for His glory and His good name. And I will cry...a lot. Thank you all for walking this path with me. I could not have done it without you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Scared stiff

Scared...frightened...nervous...anxious. That's where I am today. And, don't you know that, in the sermon yesterday, Jim Shaddix said "Do you spend as much time in prayer" as you do being concerned about other things?...uuggh, why does he speak truth? I needed to hear that.

After surgery that required total bed rest for a week and a seriously adjusted schedule for a month, I began training for the half-marathon on August 1st. I set up a gorgeous spreadsheet with a plan for each day as well as goals for the weeks. The plan was to color code each day for reminders...yellow if I didn't do what I planned, green for everything went according to plan and blue if something extra happened or I went longer/faster. The chart is a beautiful thing.

I can look back and see many green days...a few yellows...and more than a few blues. It is a good thing. Remembering is critical for me. It is essential in the Bible as well. How many times does God tell the Israelites to "remember" where they came from and how He directed and preserved them? In Deuteronomy 6, God reminds them that He is the One who brought them out of Egypt. How could they forget?

God Himself remembers His covenant and promises in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and 1 Chronicles. God reminds His people to remember Him and what He has done, and He remembers His people and His faithfulness to them. In saying that, I know that God calls me to remember as well.

Remember...

God has been faithful despite my faithlessness (2 Timothy 2:13)
God has called me to honor Him with my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
God has transformed my mind to focus on His ways and His will (Romans 12:1)
God has allowed me to forget many old habits so that new habits have emerged and redirect my thoughts to Him alone (Phil. 3:13)

So, as I approach this week (it's been one year to the date this weekend), and I realize that I will celebrate by finishing a half-marathon, I am scared silly. But, God is gracious to calm me as He tells me to remember...remember where I was one year ago...remember the early lessons....the tears...the anger...the repentance...the forgiveness..the second chance at life. I will choose to rest in Him and remember today.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blinded

Photo courtesy of Tracie Hicks, Loganville, Georgia

Do you remember the hymn "Amazing Grace?" My favorite line was "Twas blind but now I see!" And when I'm running, I often hear Casting Crowns "And Now My Lifesong Sings" - again my favorite line is "I once was blind but now I see"....oh how I love those words. But, the lines that grab my heart the most are from Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise" - It says "There's a day that's drawing near when this darkness breaks to light. And the shadows disappear. And my faith shall be my eyes!" The book of Hebrews tells us that we are living in but a shadow of what is to come...I am so glad that this is not all there is! One day I will see Him clearly, and I will KNOW Him. I will no longer be blind or need faith. I will SEE!

This past week we had a team in Guatemala leading outreach to the village of Sacjavilla. The mission church there led the way with a medical clinic, construction projects and VBS for the kids. My job was to keep the medical clinic flowing smoothly which was not quite as easy as I anticipated. I ended up leading the introduction to the clinic in the triage area....as each person came in, I took his/her form, welcomed them, took their height, weight and temperature and sent them on to a nurse nearby.

Then, HE came in. The blind man. He shuffled in with a cane swiftly moving from the right to the left. On his other arm was his granddaughter who gently led him into the room. My heart broke. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the daily life of not being able to see. And, God reminded me that I am still so blind in many areas. I praised Him for opening my eyes in so many ways this past year and for the places that He will unveil this next year.

Almost a year ago (the Saturday after Thanksgiving will mark the official day), God convicted our family of living in a way that did NOT glorify Him at all. We were eating mindlessly, unhealthily, and without regard for Him. Exercise was non-existent. Our attitudes and behaviors around our physical bodies were sour and rebellious. He broke our hearts. He took the blinders off our eyes. We saw, for the first time, how our disobedience was hindering God's glory in our lives.

Are there areas where you are blinded today? Maybe there's something that you do NOT want anyone holding you accountable for? A subject that you have lots of excuses/reasons/justifications to support? A place that is hidden and not open for discussion?

I have been on the other side of accountability and didn't like it one bit. When God unblinded us, the years of rebellion and disobedience came flooding back. It was overwhelming...and humbling...and embarrassing...and humiliating. It was a breaking of sorts...a breaking of our wills and desires. We had to submit to God's call on our lives for His ultimate glory. Only He could do this and get all the credit. We are weak and feeble. He is strong and enduring. We gladly accept His ways in all of this!

Take a good look at where you may be blinded today...face it and ask God to show you what He wants you to do. You never know where He will take you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Perceptions and Comfort...

I would like to control and adjust your perception of me. Yes, I just said that. I have no idea how many other people feel the same way. BUT, I do know that this same topic has come up at least 3 different times this weekend. One friend shared her struggle with it. And, she's reading a book about it. Another friend told me about an issue that she's dealing with that centers around how others perceive her. Yes Lord, I get it...the struggle is not just theirs. It is mine. I own it and I'm 100% responsible.

As I went to run this morning (in the frigid temps...well compared to a month ago anyway), I had Madison take this first pic....this is how I would like you to see me (loving life and ready to run at 5:30 in the morning)...please pat me on the back now:


But, truthfully this is how I felt and how I really was...no desire to get out of bed or run or study God's Word:




I would like for you to perceive me as a Christ-centered, giving, caring, loving woman who supports and encourages my husband and kids....a woman who devotes her time to homeschooling because God told her to do it....one who rises early to spend time in His Word and take care of her body in a way that honors the Lord...etc, etc, etc. The truth is that many moments/hours/days I am not Christ-centered. I care more about my own comfort and selfish desires. I do not care in the way I know Christ would have me to. I am ugly to my family and bitter about certain responsibilities. I have asked God to put my children on the bus some mornings (if God calls you to do that, obey Him. He has called me to obey Him by homeschooling, but there are days when I just don't want to do that). I struggle with teaching when a child doesn't "get it" or when learning is not happening. I want to stay in bed snuggled up under the warm covers. I want, I need, I, I, I, I...see the common theme!

I want to be comfortable! I looked in Scripture and guess what I found? 1 Corinthians 1:3 says that God is the "God of all comfort." Well, there it is. God WANTS me to be comfortable because He is the God of ALL comfort. I mean you can always find Scripture to back you up. Right? Nope, wrong. HIS COMFORT and my comfort are two totally different things. We, as Americans, have manipulated and changed the definition of comfort to be relative to each person. My idea of comfort is a beach bed in the Cancun with my husband, a good book, my children playing gloriously and quietly together, and the ocean waves. While it is restful, it is PURE laziness for me....which, of course, is a sin. God has NOTHING to do with sin so this is clearly not talking about my comfort.

My brutal honesty probably makes you think less of me, and I hope it does. You should think less of me. We should think less of people. Our minds should focus on the only perfect One there is. I am a sinner...plain and simple. I sin every day. I am selfish and unkind. I want things to be my way. I am critical and hateful. I want to avoid difficult people. I forget that people are starving. I think of myself and my needs. I detest lies to the point of detesting liars....instead of loving them with God's grace. I get easily frustrated. I lack patience. I seek friends over the Lord at times. I don't study His Word enough. My prayers are shallow. Uuuggh. Please think less of me. And, think MORE of Him. I must decrease and He must increase.

Today, my challenge is to get past my desire for comfort and for the perception of others (of me) to define who I am. I am a sinner who struggles daily to glorify Christ in my life. I am the woman who wanted to stay in bed today to sleep and stay warm. But, what I want submits to what He wants....so He told me to hit the alarm clock and get out of bed. He told me to study His Word. He showed me my sinfulness in 2 Peter. He showed me His glory and excellence. He told me to admit my sins. He told me to put on my shoes and be thankful that the weather is not hot. I will not control how others see me...I will, however, obey what He says. Ultimately, my life is about Him and not you OR me.

I am grateful to each of you who follows my ramblings and allows me to confess my sins each week. You encourage and challenge me in ways I cannot describe. I am grateful for you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ready to Give Up?


You want to give up...you want to give up badly...you want to give up desperately. Been there? Are you there right now? The fight doesn't seem worth the effort, and you are just tired of trying. You don't see the results you want or the changes are not coming quickly enough. So, why not give up now?

I OFTEN feel like giving up...pretty much every day at some point. I wonder if what I am doing is making a difference in my life, the lives of my husband and children or for eternity. Does it really matter?

It does. God allows us to breathe and live for His glory alone. So, if we are still here, we still have some glorifying to do. Giving up is not glorifying (unless you happen to be giving up things that don't honor Him). It is for cowards (of which, I am one) and it is not for fighters.

I like to succeed. I like to win. I love accomplishment (marking items off a list may make me a little giddy). Giving up doesn't lead to any of those markers. It does just the opposite and brings disappointment, rejection and hopelessness.

So, how do we combat that desire and feeling of giving up this battle with weight/food/health issues?

1. Remember! Time and time again in God's Word, He tells His people to remember a particular event or time. He instructs them to build altars to remember. Why? Because we FORGET so easily. Remember the disciples picking up the baskets leftover of bread? The very next scene sees them crossing the river and complaining about being hungry. What? How easily they had forgotten the Lord's provision. Go back and look where you have come from and the progress you have made. God will remain faithful to you no matter what you choose to do!

2. Plan. People without a plan and goals will rarely succeed. If you are aiming at nothing, you will hit it. Write down your goals and mark down your progress daily. I have a color coded spreadsheet with my half marathon training schedule. If I meet the goal for the day, I color it green. If I don't meet the goal, the box is yellow. And if I surpass my goal, I code it blue. I can look over the chart and see many green and blue boxes which reminds me that I'm making progress on the plan.

3. Seek support. We are not meant to do life alone. The people of God and the early church lived in community. They shared everything they had in common....this doesn't just mean their food, houses and goods..it means EVERYTHING! They gave each other encouragement and wisdom. Perhaps someone has conquered this battle in their own life that you are facing. Seek him/her out and ask for mentoring and wisdom. Find others who struggle with a similar battle and share your hearts.

4. Pray! This is the MOST important. We will fall flat on our faces if God doesn't win this battle for us. We must rely FULLY on Him and Him alone. We do not win the battle...He does. It is when we take control that things go awry! Surrender to Him daily and admit your weakness and desire to give up. Ask Him for strength and endurance to face the battles!

I'm totally with you on wanting to give up. But, my God is stronger than my desire to quit. He is greater than my wishes. I will NOT give up because the Holy Spirit within me spurs me on for His glory and my good. Do not give up my friend...let's battle this together!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Confession...

Laying my sins bare was the instruction I heard the Father say. And I have. But, there's more...there's ALWAYS more, right? Oh, how wicked and depraved our hearts are. How many of us really WANT to confess our sins and show people the sin in our lives. Not me!

But, here's another one for me to let loose...I'm lazy. Yep, lazy. I fight it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.OF.MY.EXISTENCE. I despise it but it's true. I learned it early in life. I learned that you can tell someone else what to do and do nothing yourself. Work still gets done and you get to sit on the sidelines. I specifically recall hearing, "Let's rake the yard." Now, first you would have to know that we had hardly any grass...it was mainly dirt. I think my mom just wanted us out of the house, but it was the notion that "Let's" specifically means Let US... I quickly learned the benefits of being lazy. Perhaps it was just my home life, but my mother was actually rewarded for being lazy. I saw it as a negative way to get things done...but things got done nonetheless.

Fast forward to just last week when I was sick. I slowly began feeling the sore throat which led to my eyes being swollen and full of allergies. Then, the fatigue set in and I felt like my muscles were loaded down with concrete. I wanted to stay in bed every day and do NOTHING! And I realize that I did need to rest...my body was screaming for it...I needed rest to heal. But, because I fight laziness I have to be extremely cautious even when I am sick.

What I want and what I do must be different. In fact, I gave it to the laziness tendency when it came to exercise. Instead of stretching or riding the stationary bike or even walking slowly on the treadmill, I just did nothing. I went five days without exercising at all. I realized that I had succumbed when I went running yesterday. God convicted me of my laziness and reminded me that resting can include exercising as well.

I need to see the common ground in resting and exercising. I can exert energy and be healthy while resting from other work. I must fight the desire to be lazy and stand firm in the truth of God's Word about honoring Him in all that I do.

Do you struggle with laziness? What do you do to combat it?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It Takes a Plan



Recently I have been swamped with messages from people who want to know how we REALLY lost the weight and how are we keeping it off. When I say "swamped," it's a good thing and not negative at all...I am totally surprised by how many people face the same struggle. I wish I had known (or at least paid attention to) where to turn when I realized I had a sin issue with food/health/discipline!

Most people have strangely asked for our daily schedule, so here it is:
(keep in mind that JT works from home unless he's on a trip and we homeschool all five of our kids)

4:00 Wake up (I am not by nature a morning person...more of a 10:00 am - 2:00 pm and then again 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm kinda person. )
4:15 Eat a small bowl of instant oatmeal and 16 oz of water (this is the only thing I have found that works for my body - EVERY person is different and you may or may not need to eat prior to running. My brother eats Captain Crunch. Madison has bread with honey. JT eats nothing.)
4:15-5:00 Quiet time
5:00 Stretch and out the door for exercise. Prayer time.
7:15 Breakfast - 2 eggs, plain yogurt with fruit (we add cinnamon, vanilla and local honey to our yogurt), 16 oz of water, green tea. Every other day we have a muffin or oatmeal. We also have fruit with breakfast.
8:00 School (around 10:00, another 16 oz of water)
1:00 Lunch - grilled meat (usually chicken or fish), salad and veggies or 2 other veggies (one raw and one cooked), fruit, yogurt, 16 oz of water
3:30 Snack - protein bar or nuts with 16 oz of water
6:00 Dinner - fish/chicken/turkey (occasionally beef or pork) with at least 2 veggies, no carbs, no fruit, 16 oz of water
8:30 Green tea

Of course I am not including everything on our schedule but only the items that seem to be important to everyone. We have appointments, work, extra-curricular activities, ministry administration, etc that have to be worked into our schedule as well. Just like everyone else, we know that we prioritize our lives based on what is important. If someone invited us to an important event, we would make arrangements and adjust our schedule to be there. The same is true with exercising and health. We MUST take the extra time to address these areas.

God has shown me personally several areas where I needed to adjust in order to walk with integrity with Him: Planning, Preparation and Implementation. Here's what it meant for me:

Planning - In order to have the groceries that we need on hand and avoid eating unhealthy foods, I have to plan for our menu one to two weeks in advance. I simply use a spreadsheet on my computer and make sure that I include any appointments/special items that we have for that day. I purchase all of our groceries once a week based on this menu.
Planning doesn't just include food though. I have to plan ahead for exercise. In our house I am the first one up but am followed quickly by Madison. We both exercise before the sun rises. JT waits until an hour after breakfast and runs/bikes while the kids are working on school with me. Kaitlyn likes to exercise after lunch but changes up her schedule based on her workload. If we have a race or a long run approaching, I have to plan ahead for the younger kids as well.

Preparation - When I come in from running, I untie my shoes and put them on the shelf in my closet. I immediately take out the clothes that I will run in for the next day. When I get up in the morning, I see my outfit ready to go. I also have to make sure that my phone is charged and ready to go!

Implementation - This is the are where I struggled the most in the beginning. I would SAY that I wanted to do something differently. I was tired of clothes not fitting and not having energy and seeing my kids gaining weight, but I was NOT doing anything. What I proclaimed with my heart and mouth were NOT affecting my behavior. I would rather sleep in or eat what I wanted than to truly make the change. God has graciously extended His forgiveness and has changed my heart in this area.

Now when I wake up, I ask the Lord how to spend my time. He directs my steps. There are few times when He doesn't direct me right out the door!

I challenge you today to see where you are in life when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. How are you honoring the Lord? Does He want you to make a change? Then, what is stopping you????

Monday, October 1, 2012

Boasting...

Last week I was running when God puts this thought in my head: "Lay your sins bare." The conversation went something like this...

God: Lay your sins bare.
Me: What? Lord, are you serious? (yes, that's me questioning the Lord and not in deep respect either)
God: Lay your sins bare.
Me: Haven't I already done that?
God: Lay your sins bare.
Me: Okay, Lord. I do not understand but I will.
God: Here's one...stop allowing people to boast in you but point them to boast in me.
Me: Ouch. You are right. All praise and honor belong to You alone. I get it.
God: It may feel good when people are praising you but you are stealing from Me.
Me: Yes Lord.

Ummmm, okay where to start? Let's just start where He pointed out the sin. I am guilty of pride and wanting to hear compliments about our healthy lifestyle and how good it looks. I am totally and utterly sinful. I want to hear good things. I like it (a lot) when people say I am skinny (although I do NOT see myself that way at all). I enjoy the compliments. I do...I really do. But, no man is worthy of praise. None!

Encouragement is one thing, so don't get me wrong. I long for encouragement and need that too. But, praise is NOT mine for the taking. So, if you must boast, boast in Him alone. He DID this...and not me! I am weak and unworthy and so undisciplined. I want to give up regularly and make excuses and whine and complain. He graciously accepts me with all of my faults and pushes me to be more like Him. He knows what I can do because He formed me. He made me like this. He is worthy of all the praise and honor and glory.

Let's give Him the glory and point the success to Him alone. I will boast in what He has done! Praise Him!

More sin baring to come....uuggh!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I WANNA QUIT!



"I wanna quit!!" That's the theme of my life some days. I think I get easily caught up in my own little world which seems to magnify EVERYTHING. Raising five kids, three of whom are adopted and have a whole 'nother set of issues, the role of wife to a man who is out of town regularly, trying to eat healthy and exercise every day, homeschooling two kindergarteners, a third grader, an 8th grader and a 10th grader, daily quiet time with the Lord, managing all of our schedules, soccer, co-op, races, discipleship opportunities, time with friends, and oh, managing the ministry administrative side....it just gets a little much some days, you know?

Recently our family had the opportunity to go to Disney World where we had a blast...I wouldn't say it was restful...but it was good. I have to honestly say that it was the most fun watching Zeke...after EVERY single ride, restaurant, show, parade..he would squeal with delight. I saw several Disney cast members laugh because of his reaction. I think this picture sums it up...and it makes me laugh daily.




While we were so grateful for the time away, we had to face the reality of coming back home. And getting back into the swing of healthy eating (we ate about 80% healthy at WDW) and exercise (we did exercise there too) has been HARD! I wanna quit...every day!

So, whoever said this gets easier...YOU LIED! It is still a mental battle that I must surrender to the Lord every moment. This past Saturday I ran with JT and Madison who are both training for a half-marathon in November. They are ahead of me on training but I've been running on their long runs on Saturday anyway. Hey, who knows, maybe I'll just run that half-marathon with them at this point? I should if I'm training...or that's my thought at this moment...I'm sure that could change at any given moment. Anyway, back to the story. They were supposed to run 8.3 miles which would be the furtherest I've run (and them too) but I had agreed to go 7.5 because I had to take our oldest daughter to a birthday outing.

The first 3 miles were difficult and my body and mind kept screaming, "I wanna quit!" But once I get settled into the rhythm and focus my mind on God, I just keeping running. I am so grateful that the Lord is using the time to tame my mental laziness and turn my attention to His great name!

So, on Sunday we agreed to participate in an adventure race for Sozo Children (they work in Uganda...check it out..pretty cool stuff). We had never been in an adventure race and didn't know what to expect. Naïvely I thought that there would be a short obstacle every mile or so for 3 miles...I was WRONG. There were a dozen or so obstacles and most involved mud and water. The picture below is not a clear picture as we had to swim across a small part of a lake at the end which washed all of the mud off! But, looking back, it was fun....and I would do it again.



Just this morning I did NOT want to run. But the air was cool (thank you Lord) and crisp, and so I headed out. I spent the whole first mile (that's ten minutes) telling the Lord why I wanted to quit and justifying quitting at any given second. God gently reminded me that I need to spend that time praying and to stop complaining. So, I mentally recall the prayer list that He has given me.....

I think of friends waiting for their travel dates to China to meet their new children and a friend who is waiting for a double lung transplant and missionaries in Guatemala and a child who will forever be in a wheelchair yet praises the Lord and friends battling cancer and a friend who will marry off her daughter soon and friends who have children in college now or grandchildren and a friend battling an autoimmune deficiency and another who is battling an addiction and so many more. God is so good to take my mind off of me...and to place it on Him.

And now I can officially say that I am NOT a quitter. I am in this for the long haul. It is a lifestyle and not a quick fix. I am most looking forward to the half marathon in February because God has given me 53 people to pray for..that's someone every 1/4 mile (and one for the last tenth)...and I will need EVERY one of them. I will write their initials on my forearms and intercede.... I might miss a few princesses along the way..but my attention will be heavenward. I seek nothing less.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I have an enemy, and his name is ....


Chocolate. Yep, chocolate. More specifically, Hershey’s dark chocolate chips. And, he comes dressed in a brown bag with beautiful writing on it. He tempts my soul.

In Matthew 4 satan tempts Jesus in various ways. I can say that I would have been the most tempted by the bread...hunger trumps fear in my life. Hunger trumps a lot in my life...more than I would like to say. To make matters worse, it's not even REAL hunger...you know, the kind my three youngest kids have known. It's hunger based on past poor eating habits and gluttony. It's hunger from boredom...and it's hunger to avoid stress. But it still feels real, and I want to feed it. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!

The enemy seems to tempt each person in their weakest area in ways that are unique to that person. Oswald Chambers says, " "A man's disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of that nature. Every man has the setting of this own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition." Matthew 26:41 tells us to pray in order that we might combat temptation because "the spirit is willing but the body is weak." It appears to me that satan tempts me PERSONALLY in the areas where I am weakest....eating and exercise.

My biggest struggle right now (and the struggles seem to change as I obey the Father) is chocolate! Yep...chocolate! We do not have junk in our house but we do have dark chocolate chips that the girls use in baking ABC muffins. They are delicious yumminess in a dark brown bag. Every time I enter the kitchen (whether at 6 in the morning or 9 at night), I am tempted to eat them...every last one of them! If I eat a few, I will find myself going back in ten more minutes to eat a few more...and again and again and again.

I have NO will power....which is a good thing in that God will use His strength only to fight this battle. I have to take those tempting thoughts captive and drink a glass of water instead. There are days where I am totally winning this battle and days I am losing it BIG time!

I am still at my goal weight and exercise has been a constant around here. It's helpful to have the family on board when it comes to hitting the road for a run every day. But, I am still weak and easily tempted. I am frightened and scared that somehow I will slip up and fall back into old habits.

I must daily relinquish my will and desire and hopes and plans to the Father. I must decrease....my desires for chocolate included...so that He will increase!

Dear God - You know my heart. It is wicked above all else. I am a sinner unworthy of Your goodness or mercy or grace. I am humbled by Your love, and I am so grateful for Your sacrifice. You paid a debt You did not owe, and I am so thankful. You know that I struggle with eating and exercise. I have been gluttonous, prideful, lazy and mindless with eating and health and the welfare of my family. Thank you for forgiving me...I am overwhelmed by Your love in forgiving me. Please show me Your ways when it comes to chocolate...I want it desperately...and not just a little...I want it a lot. I cannot seem to eat just a little without going overboard. I cannot do this but You can. I am asking You to do what only You can do. May You receive all the glory. I will boast in my weaknesses and magnify You in Your work. I pray that You will use this struggle for Your glory and my good.

What's your temptation today? Where do you struggle? Am I the only one who thinks chocolate may be the death of me? Does anyone else dream or think about it this much?

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Family That Runs Together







In February of this year the oldest girls ran a 5K with us at Heardmont Park in Birmingham. I remember that JT actually ran the whole race and we walked quite a bit of it. I think our times were close to 40 minutes (JT's was more like 37). After finishing my first 5K (in a while) in December in 46 minutes, I was pleased with that! This is what we looked like afterwards (looks like JT is the only one who actually broke a sweat)!


With all of the mission trips this spring and summer, we have been unable to run another 5K together until now. It's fun to prepare for a race together and to know that we will all finish. So, this weekend we laced up our running shoes for the Kenya Relief 5K at Veteran's Park on Valleydale Road. And, we finished!


Our finish times were definitely better but not what we have been running lately or what we had hoped to run. JT finished in a little over 32 and I finished in a little over 33. The girls finished in 37.

We discovered a few things: (1) We did not like the course at Veteran's at all. It is more of a trail run with some points of sinking gravel. We are not used to that and it felt like we were in quicksand at times. Plus, there's a cliff at the end that wears a person out! (2) If there is a surprise start and you are NOT ready (e.g. your nike app is NOT ready to go), you might spend the first 1/4 of a mile trying to fix the situation and then be mentally off for the rest of the race! (3) If you help and encourage others to prepare but forget to do the preparations yourself, you will not be content with your finish.

With all of that on that the table, there were some HUGE blessings: (1) We ran with friends and family which is ALWAYS a plus. Why not build community while you exercise? Thanks to David, Courtney, Jeremy and Josh for making it bearable. (2) Madison was the only girl in her age group so she won. She got a medal, and we were all pretty excited about that! (3) Breakfast with just the older girls afterwards was amazingly special...we needed that time together!


We hope to run a 5K in September as well, and hopefully, our times will reflect our training! We will keep running for His glory and our good.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Choices...What Do YOU Think?


Life happens...schedules change...special occasions come up...so, what do I do? I thought it might be a helpful idea to tell you a real-life situation that occurred this weekend. I'm not really sure how well I did, so I need some real-life input!

We had a family wedding in Georgia, so we all headed over on Thursday. (By the way, the wedding was spectacular...dreamy, in fact). We had NO idea what we would eat or what would be available, and I'm sure we should have planned better.

The rehearsal was Thursday night at 7:00 (that's one hour ahead of us). The rehearsal dinner was served at about 8:45. So, I planned ahead and fed all of us a protein bar and water prior to the rehearsal. With the three youngest kids still having food issues, we make sure to always have healthy food on hand to feed them (if you could see the look of utter fear in Z's eyes when the usual time of eating has passed, you would understand. He does not believe that he will get another meal yet...we are working on that.)

Rehearsal dinner included bread - I passed on that. Then, there was a salad with spinach, romaine, croutons, shredded carrots and Olive Garden salad dressing. I took the croutons off and ate the entire salad (probably a little too fast). Spaghetti with meat sauce was the main meal, and I about one half of the serving size (which I think equated to a typical serving size). There was homemade peach cobbler, apple pie and ice cream for dessert. I had a small serving of peach cobbler. In addition the toasts called for glass bottled sodas...what a cute idea! I helped the kids make their toasts (which were too numerous to count), so I didn't need to drink anything...I probably had 5 glasses of water!

For breakfast on Friday, we had the benefit of a great buffet at our hotel (can I just say that I HIGHLY recommend the Holiday Inn at Peachtree City in Georgia...awesome staff). I ate 2 scrambled eggs, yogurt (way too sweet for me), 2 pieces of bacon (we never have that at home), one packet of instant oatmeal, cantaloupe, water and hot green tea.

Lunch on Friday was at a local bread company. I choose a salad with chicken and lots of veggies. The dressing was on the side and I used about one-half of it. We also had a smoothie later that afternoon (a weight loss smoothie).

For dinner we met JT's aunt and uncle at a local restaurant. The menu at this place is HUGE...but there are plenty of healthy choices. So, I chose the chicken with mushrooms and peppers (sauteed in olive oil) and steamed broccoli. I drank 4 glasses of water and passed on bread and dessert.

Breakfast on Saturday was similar in that I ate eggs, blueberries, oatmeal and grapefruit. Water and hot green tea were the beverages of choice. Oh, and I also had another bowl of oatmeal at 6 (regular breakfast at 8) because the girls and I ran and walked 5.25 miles that morning. I have to eat a carb about one hour ahead of any runs longer than 4 miles. I think I drank almost 75% of my water intake for the day by 9 am.

Lunch on Saturday was a cup of chicken salad (the older girls and I were helping set up the reception, so that was our best option)....my sister in law made some AMAZING chicken salad (the kind with grapes, apples and pecans)....I wish I had eaten about 6 cups...but I got busy. I also had a protein bar and water. Afterwards I had a weight loss smoothie from Planet Smoothie.

Dinner was served at the wedding reception, and I knew there would be LOTS of choices...and I wanted EVERY ONE OF THEM!!! I chose one chicken salad sandwich, carrots, cantaloupe, grapes, a few squares of cheese, 2 meatballs and one small piece of cake. I joined the dance floor crowd to work off as many calories as possible. I drank about 6 glasses of water.

I feel pretty good about my choices but could have made several better ones along the way. I need your input....what should I have done differently????



Monday, August 13, 2012

Work to do...


What do you REALLY want? I mean, when it comes to your health and the health of your family...what do you really want? When I ponder that question, I narrow my desires to just a few things:

1. I want my physical body to be a testament to God's faithfulness and grace.
2. I want to honor the Lord with whatever I eat.
3. I want to honor the Lord with how I exercise and treat my body.
4. I strongly desire that my family is healthy...making healthy food choices, exercising and learning how to live in a way that brings God great glory.

But those things don't always happen. And why not? Because of ME! ME AND MY EXCUSES!!! Whenever my physical life (or spiritual life) does not honor the Lord, it is only because of ME and my SIN! I have come to realize that I am the problem...Me...only me!

If I want to be totally transparent, I could have a million excuses (well, that's not true...I might get to a hundred and just give up making excuses too). Here are my "go-to" excuses:

1. I don't have enough time. (I think we all agree that we all have 24 hours in a day and we choose to do the things that are most important to us. When's the last time you wet your pants or didn't brush your hair before going to the store or wore your pajamas to church? We DO what we want to do in most areas of our life.)
2. I have so many other things to do and this is just not a priority right now. (Of course, it's not a priority. God allows us the freedom to choose how to honor Him with our time. If we got tickets to a great football game, we would totally rearrange our schedule, hire a sitter and go to the game.)
3. I am scared (tired, angry, etc - Feelings always precede action or the lack thereof. Feelings will not determine if I do or do not do the right thing. We do not allow our children to hit just because they are angry or to pitch a fit because they are mad. Likewise, we as adults do not need to make decisions based on how we feel).
4. I'll do it later (NO, I won't! I'm just delaying saying that I am not doing it now).
5. I do not want to do it (Who does? Who wants to do something that can feel painful or like deprivation at times? Nobody. Who cares what I want...it's not about me!)

Every day I am full of excuses of why I don't want to eat right or exercise or teach my children how to make good choices. I have given and heard almost every excuse known to man. How about you? What's your excuse today?

I just recently saw a commercial advertising the newest "Extreme Weight Loss Makeover" (or something along those lines). The mom wants to change for herself and her family, but when she really begins the work, she is full of one excuse after another. She is adamant about her excuses. I wanted to blast her...then, I took a breath and realized that I am her. I am the same way.

Have the excuses gone away...nope. I still have them EVERY day, but I no longer allow excuses to dictate my behavior or my attitude or my desires. I LONG for the day when there will be no more excuses, but for now, I tell my sinful flesh to take a hike because there is work to be done for the Father.

Now, get busy people....there's more to do.

Monday, August 6, 2012

You are the teacher







Recently I heard a saying that made me stop and think: Children will not take care of themselves the way we take care of them; they will take care of themselves the way they see us, as their parents, take care of ourselves. Ummm...ouch!

This is true, as we all can attest. WE are the teachers of our children. We teach them to eat, to sleep, what to touch, manners, how to talk and so much more. They learn just as much from what we do as they do from what we do NOT do. They are always learning which means we are ALWAYS teaching. We came to a point where we had to look at what we were teaching...

We saw the results of our parenting in the areas of eating/exercise over eight months ago. Our children's eating habits, diet, lack of exercise, unhealthy choices were a DIRECT result of the lessons we had taught them. We were at fault...100%. There was no one else to blame. It was all of our doing.

When looking back at my own childhood, I have tried to remember and access the lessons I learned when it came to food and health. We ate from a garden but I don't recall learning the "whys" behind that. So, now we are training our children daily about why we eat what we eat.

Here are some basic steps we took to help us parent our children in the area of health in a way that would honor God:

1. Read passages from the Bible about food/health. Explain what God expects of us in regard to our bodies!
2. Make a menu for each week and stick to it. Our youngest three children still struggle with some control issues and knowing that we WILL eat is important to them. They know that there is always a menu on the refrigerator, and they can see what we will eat for every meal that week.
3. Snack smartly! In the back of our vehicles, we have a cheap plastic 4 drawer bin that is attached to the last seat with bungee cords. One drawer is always full of bottled water (think 2.99 for a 24 pack....when we see a sale, we pick up several cases) and another has healthy snacks in it (peanut butter packets, boxes of raisins, trail mix, nuts). Being on the road doesn't mean we HAVE to eat fast food or pull into a convenience store for junk. We can still make wise choices without spending lots of extra money because of our lack of planning!
4. Educate, educate, educate. We not only want our children to learn to make healthy choices but to understand the reasons behind their choices. They need to know what carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. are and why their bodies need them. They can learn to read labels and see what is truly important!
5. Model wise behaviors....this is SO hard! But, when my children see me at breakfast, they know that I've already run several miles. They see their daddy come in sweaty from a great workout. They KNOW when we go to the park that everyone will be doing something to exercise! You can tell them to "go outside and play" all day...but if you are not exercising, they will be less likely to exercise when they get older!
6. Pray together. Seek God and His wisdom on how you should eat. Let your children see that you are vulnerable and cannot do it alone. Depend on the Father and admit your failures to Him. Praise Him as He sustains and teaches you!

I hope that one day our children will look back at the last eight months of our lives and KNOW that we fought for their future. We have been desperately trying to teach them a new and better way to live for the Lord. We pray that God will remind their hearts of His Word and His commands about health.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Again???

Here are the clothes from my closet (the second time) laid out in piles so that I can sell them to get some that fit!


I NEVER thought I'd be here again...right here cleaning out...here AGAIN...have I mentioned AGAIN? When I cleaned out in April, I truly thought I was done and fully ready for the summer and fall/winter. I guess I should have done a more thorough search of the clothing and actually tried on the items for the colder months. Because they were about 6-10 sizes TOO BIG. I honestly didn't notice.

In hopes of getting some help in the "style" department, a friend recommended that I go back through my closet and do some adjusting...try on everything, take pictures and see what you really like. Now, determining what I REALLY like is an issue...I'm more of an analytical thinker and there's not a creative bone/muscle/tissue/thought in me... I am serious - the reason I enjoy Pinterest is because I can follow instructions and copy someone else's idea easily, but to come up with that on my own...umm, nope!

So, with the help of Safety Patrol (who I believe volunteered just to monitor my health and make me sit down after EVERY outfit....Lord, I truly do thank you that this child will one day be used by You to save lives...I have NO DOUBT), I took every.single.thing out of my closet and tried it on. We took pics so I could see how it fit. There were things JT could have worn...I am not jesting. I had to let go of some items that I actually wore and liked. I think I have 4 items left for winter...since it doesn't get that cold in Alabama, I'll be sporting a t-shirt under my winter jacket (never mind, I bet that doesn't fit either but it was in the mudroom so I haven't tried it on yet).

Apparently, when I cleaned out the first time I still had a slight plan B...get bigger in the winter? I'm not sure if I just didn't want to deal with long sleeves and sweaters at that point or I honestly thought some of the size 14s and up would fit or if I thought I was going to gain weight by then....I am still pondering all of those options. Part of me was definitely planning on wearing some of those clothes because I thought they would fit well (as opposed to how tight they were).

Commitment....it's where I am. I have grown in the development of commitment over the past 8 months. Only by the grace of God! It is God alone who has created a level of commitment in any of us who live under this roof. There have been days of utter exhaustion and frustration and a strong desire to give up. But, He has reminded us of why He is bringing us through this time. And, we must be committed to Him!

No matter how I FEEL, or what I THINK, or what is going on in my life (or the lives of others), I must remember that He is my FIRST LOVE. I live FOR HIM. I will die FOR HIM. I must eat FOR HIM. I must parent FOR HIM. It's ALL for His glory and for Him alone. I will not bow down to my own desires or feelings or thoughts that will definitely lead me astray.

His Word stands true no matter how any of us interpret or believe it. It is true. What I think of it doesn't matter...nor does what you think of it...or anyone else. Thus, when He says that our bodies are the temple of the living God, it is true. How are you housing Him today?

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Breakthrough or Breakdown...In the Dressing Room

Safety Patrol and I on our morning exercise duties this morning outside!!!

This past Friday I made good on my promise to take the kids to see Ice Age (on a side note, they can handle the father figure in a movie getting separated from his family only to pursue them and find his way home. If the mother is turned into another animal, abducted, even thought to be hurt, etc, they do not handle that well. Nightmares for weeks and endless questions about my safety....we will not be seeing any movies like that. Again. Ever.). We were right across from the mall, and since we have a small list of clothing needs (after clearing out all of our closets), we headed over there for a few minutes.

Of all days, they had a fire in the mall...that should have been a clue to leave, but alas, it was not. I went into the department store to find a few pair of pants for Z, but I would have to haul everyone back in the van (insert huffy sigh) and use a different entrance. So, since M needed a few things, we headed to the women's department.

After eight months of eating healthy and exercising, I can finally look at clothes in a new light. I only have 2 pair of capris that fit, so I found a rack where there were plenty (and they were on sale). I delightfully picked up a single digit size and hauled my littles into the dressing room (at Belk, there's plenty of room for all of them which is a very good thing). I put them on, and my kids immediately shouted (and I do mean SHOUTED), "Momma, those are TOO big." I looked in the mirror several times and checked the tag over and over again. Can this be so? I know that every brand fits differently, and even every kind of pants in that particular brand fit differently...so I tried some other brands/types. They were all too big.

If my kids hadn't been shaken to their core by my tears, I would have dropped to my knees right there in the dressing room. All those moments of weakness, questioning, doubt, fear, sweat, weariness, and fatigue came flooding back. The images of early morning runs, tying my running shoes, grocery store runs without entering the middle aisles, saying no to desserts, choosing healthy portions, eating well, and exercising no matter what I felt like flashed before my mind. People who have held me accountable and encouraged me came to mind. God used those moments to remind me of how far He has taken me.

I had tried on all of four items when I just couldn't stand anymore...that's a side effect of surgery...I only have so much time on my feet, and then I am done. If I sit up straight without my feet elevated or stand for more than 30 minutes, I am worn out. I'm hoping that disappears soon!

All the way home I just praised the Lord for His conviction. I remember my tears back in December over what I could and could not eat....and over my lack of ability and endurance to even walk a 5K...and about not fitting in a size 18. I recall my desire to do something different but not knowing how or what to do. God reminded me of the days when I would say one thing (I don't want to look this way or feel this way) but how my actions proved differently. Wow...His conviction is good, and His Word can be trusted! When He says that our bodies are His temple and we should honor Him with our bodies, He MEANS it. And, He will do it through you.

You are not alone today in your struggle to get healthy, lose weight, tone up, and honor God with your physical body. He will enable you to do it. If He commands it (and He does...read His Word and see what He says), He will make a way for it to happen. You must be willing to submit your will, your appetite, your preferences, and your excuses to His ways. Submit and know that it will NOT be easy. You will still have to suffer the consequences of your eating habits/lack of exercise....I say this with great experience. I am STILL reaping the results of years of bad habits. But, our God is faithful, and He will be faithful in spite of our faithlessness.

Take those first steps today, and seek the Lord. Admit the sin in your life as it relates to eating/exercising. Ask for forgiveness. Repent and turn the other way! He will show you what He wants you to do! What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surrounded by community

Community... we often long for it and desire it with our core being. We witness it when a tragedy happens and marvel at how people pull together in such times. Some of us envy community when we see others who have it. We see it modeled in the New Testament church. Look at the guys in Acts and see how they handled church...it was called community. They shared everything they had in common. They met each others' needs. They ate together. They worshipped together. It's the model that we are to follow.

Many people come home from mission trips with a great sense of biblical community. There are few distractions, ministry happens and true community is built. People eat every meal with one another, share life together and minister alongside one another. It is often grieved and longed for once people are home.

I have experienced times of great community in my faith journey. I have often been surrounded by people who were the hands and feet of Jesus to me and I was the same for them. It has been beautiful and messy and glorious!

Over the past few weeks I have seen my community grow. A good friend from my small group, LL, put together a meal plan so that people could help our family after my surgery. Honestly, I hesitated to even tell people about the surgery much less about the need that we had for meals (with a wife down for the count, only 12 days until the next international trip and 5 kids to care for, I figured my husband could use the help). But, people stepped up big time. They filled all the slots and then some.

And by the way, these people are no slouches in the kitchen. They can cook..yummy, I tell ya. One friend drove 35 minutes just to leave the meal on my counter because I was taking a nap. Another went to Homewood to pick up our favorite sweet (Steel City Pops, of course) and surprised us with them. A good friend came early to bring her meal so I could have some adult conversation. One brother came by to check on me and hung out for a while so I could get some work done. A friend brought our favorite lunch on a day and let me borrow a book she hadn't even read yet. A great friend dropped everything and spent a Sunday afternoon with me. And, there were more offers to get groceries, take the kids, drive me around, move in (that was my personal favorite),etc.

Then, there was the day when I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I had already been to the doctor twice to get excess fluid drained. The first time, I passed out which pretty much messed with my mind (feeling helpless and out of control can do that to a person). That experience was topped with the knowledge that JT was about to leave the country for 2 weeks, and I still couldn't lift anything...or drive...or make it through the day without resting...and still taking care of 5 kids. I woke up that morning with tears that wouldn't stop. I sent a text to some good friends/family who immediately shot back encouragement, calls, wisdom and prayers.

When I am part of a community and give to others, it seems natural and God-ordained. When I am the one who has to take...it's harder...much harder. But, I see that God has a purpose in both. He inconveniences the one to minister to the other. It's like a body...one is the eye and one is the foot...seems like I've heard this story before. It is true, and I know it to be true (and even if I didn't know it, it would still be so).

People who have given up their own schedules and preferences and agendas and desires to minister to me in a time of need....that's my community. I'd name them all if I didn't think I might forget a name or two or three... I am blessed beyond measure!

Community....I love it, I crave it, and I need it. I'm glad to be part of one. And to all of my community...I love you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back to work....


I've been out of commission for two weeks now with absolutely no exercising. In fact, the first week I was on complete bed rest except for trips to the bathroom and the doctor. Last week I was able to get up more but still required a nap EVERY day (due to the fact that I am not sleeping all night yet). But, the doctor has released me to begin walking again. After a few weeks he says I can start to run again! Woo-hoo!

I probably need to clarify...I do NOT feel like doing anything. I am in still in some pain though it doesn't prohibit from doing normal tasks. It's just uncomfortable and distracting. I want to stay in bed all day or just sit in the recliner. However, I know that I must get up and become active.

So, a plan is needed. Why? Because I really, really enjoy a plan...and marking things off a list is a pretty good thing too. It might make me a little giddy. I'll put something on my to do list just to mark it off (even after I've done it), so I'm all about a plan! So, this is the system I have developed for my get-back-to-running status!

I dare to put this in writing in order to be accountable to my friends and family. I need people to ask me how I am doing in this area. But additionally, I know that I may or may not have to change this plan based on how my body is reacting. I hope that my recovery speeds up and this goes even faster than I thought. Reality is that it may not, and I may have to slow down. I am preparing myself for either way!

Week of 7/17 - Walk 1 mile a day for 4 days (with my husband out of town and my older girls in protective mode, especially Safety Patrol, I'll be doing this on the treadmill)

Week of 7/24 - Walk 2 miles a day for 4 days (on the treadmill for 2 days, outside for 2 days)

Week of 7/30 - Walk 3.1 miles a day for 4 days (walking with someone in the family outside every day)

Week of 8/6 - Begin training for 5K in September with the Jeff Galloway app on my phone

Friends, does this seem reasonable to you? What are your thoughts? I need all the advice/wisdom/input I can get!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mindlessness


We live in a society where to-do lists reign, relaxation (to the point of laziness) is often promoted and mindlessness is encouraged. Think about it....

We turn on the television to entertain us so we don't have to think.

We ask our children for just a few moments of quiet so we don't have to use our brains.

Our prayers become repeated mantras with no actual conversation with God.

We go to church and check that off the list for the week.

We study God's Word by just reading it and knowing that we don't have to do anymore.

We eat without even thinking about our food.


I have been through these cycles in my life where I was literally just coasting without thinking AT ALL! I have eaten a whole meal without contemplating what I was eating or how much. I have certainly given in to spur of the moment temptations and not even thought about what I was eating.

How about you? Do you eat without thinking about it....do you eat without making sure it's what God wants for you? Does what you eat line up with Scripture?

To combat mindless thinking, our family set guidelines to help us. First, we make a menu every week with whatever is going to be harvested from our garden plus healthy choices from the grocery store. We also put our schedule of important activities on the menu so we can account for those meals that need to be quick! Next we shop at the grocery store every Friday morning or early afternoon. We stick to the outside aisles where the good food is located.

In addition, we prep many of our meats (marinate them) and veggies for the week on the weekend. I promise you our "littles" can go through a 5 lb bag of carrots in less than a week, so we make sure to cut them all up early! With some of the prep work already done, it is easier to cook during the week and helps us to avoid the temptation of eating out.

Speaking of eating out, we do occasionally get an opportunity to do just that. On Sundays and Wednesdays, we eat out before church. We plan for where we are going to eat ahead of time. We look up the nutritional guide online and decide what our healthy choices are. We have to think through EVERY meal in order to make decisions that honor the Lord.

How do you eat purposefully?

Monday, July 9, 2012

A change in plans....

Surgery...I haven't mentioned it publicly because it was really something that I don't feel comfortable discussing. So, that's all the information I'm giving on that. I had surgery on July 3rd and came home to six wonderful caretakers. They have been at my bedside every half hour with something to drink, entertainment, food and encouragement.

Since JT would only be home for 11 days after the surgery, we would need some help. Biblical community to the rescue. My friend, Lora, set up a meal schedule so that we wouldn't have to concern ourselves with cooking each night. What a HUGE blessing! Never underestimate the help that a good meal brings to this family!

I am humbled and so grateful for friends and family who have texted, sent emails, made a meal, etc. to show us their love. I am overwhelmed. Saying thanks is just not enough!

My fear before and after surgery has been the same...that I will get used to not exercising at all and fall back into lazy patterns. My eating has stayed consistent, but my body just wants to do nothing. Please pray that God would give me endurance to exercise and the patience to know that it will take a while to return to running like before. I am trusting in Him to be faithful just as He says. I know that He will sustain me!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Poop in the brownies


A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13.

The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family's church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it. The cons were that it contained ONLY 3 profane words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time they said), and act of intimacy was ONLY implied. The pros were that it was a popular movie - a blockbuster.  Everyone was seeing it.  If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie's stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards.

Many of the members of their Christian church had even seen the movie and said it wasn't "very bad".  Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it.

The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; "Now we've got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!"  So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie.  But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.

The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.

The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well - they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed.

Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a "little bit of poop" and not be affected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with "just a little bit of smut" and not be affected.
Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room.
Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, "Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?"

JT told this story many years ago to the students at our church. It has never left my mind. And, I find myself thinking about it now. What's a little extra dessert going to hurt? It's only a little. A few extra calories today won't undo all the work I've done so far. It's not a big deal. Do you hear my justifications? I do, and I KNOW that I cannot go down that road.

Let me be clear. There is nothing inherently wrong in sweets, but I have rules that govern when and what I can eat to keep me out of trouble.

1. I cannot eat alone. If I want a sweet, I need to be with someone who knows my struggles and can hold me accountable. It was definitely easier to eat a few sweets on our vacation in Cancun because JT was with me...he knew how much I had run that day and we shared only three times...a very small dessert.
2. I cannot eat a sweet after 7 at night. I have NO way (or no intention) of getting rid of those sweet calories before going to bed, so I'll just drink some green tea and go to sleep.
3. I will not eat on a whim. Just this week my girls were baking delicious cinnamon rolls for their business. The house smelled amazing. But, I posted my thoughts on Facebook, and my friends stepped in to encourage and challenge me!
4. I will seek accountability when I know that I'm tempted. If I have not planned to eat something, I will find something else to do or call a friend.

These rules are mine because I will spiral down a road that is ugly. Once I eat something sweet, I want MORE, MORE, MORE! I don't want to stop. So, these guidelines help me to honor Christ with my body.

What about you? Do you have any guidelines that help you to exercise self-control in regard to food/exercise? I would love to hear yours!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weight Loss Continues



The last time I showed you my scale, at least my toenails were painted nicely. Now, you can see how long I go in between getting that taken care of...and yes, this is the way they will be for the next few weeks too. But, on to more important things....do you see those numbers? 153! That means I have officially lost 55 lbs! I only have 8 more to go to get to my goal of 145 AND I am in the normal BMI range (that still thrills me) AND my pants no longer fit (any of them). I am going to have to go to the thrift store soon and find some that will stay up on their own.

I cannot honestly say that this has been a fun journey...it has not. There have been points where I just wanted to stuff my face full of sweets and work on the computer all day. I have been drawn to quitting, laziness, gluttony and apathy. But, God continues to pursue me in this area and pulls me back to Him. I resist and He reminds. I quit and He pursues. I make excuses and He points me to His promises. Oh, I am overwhelmed by His never-ending love and grace.

I do have to tell you that there have been markers along the way that took WEEKS to get past - 167 lbs (I was there for 3 weeks), 161 lbs (2 weeks), 158 lbs (2 weeks), 156 lbs (3 weeks). I didn't think I was going to lose any more weight, and it seemed so fruitless to keep going. But, I am NOT doing this for the weight loss, although that's a GREAT side effect. I am walking this journey because God instructed it. I am obeying Him, and yes, there are benefits. But, it is HARD...really hard some days and some weeks. When I DON'T see the results, I get frustrated.

Isn't that the point, Sheryl? You don't see what YOU want to see and you begin to question the journey and the Creator. It's NOT about YOU...it's about Him and His plan. Your job is to follow and to follow in such a way that He gets all of the glory and honor! Lesson learned AGAIN!

Are you frustrated today with where you are physically? Are you tired of wearing elastic pants? Do you want to try on clothes and not cry? What are you waiting for? Get out there and honor your Creator!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weeding Again...



Our family was poor...very poor...when I was growing up. We had a garden which seemed huge to me at the time, although I am not sure how big I would consider it now. Obviously, it was so big because I was once small. But, it seems enormous when it was time to work in the garden which seemed to be every hot day of the summer.

My brothers and I often watered, weeded and picked the garden. We spent many hours snapping green beans, shelling purple hull peas (until every last fingernail was appropriately colored) and picking tomatoes. I NEVER made a connection between the healthy food of the garden and the temple God gave us in our bodies...NEVER.

As a matter of fact, even as I sit here, God is showing me how I viewed the garden..as a sign of being poor. We couldn't afford all of the boxed food at the grocery store, so we had to grow our own. It was not a good thing in my eyes. It was just a reminder that we couldn't do the same things as other kids my age. Wow!

Now, our family has a garden, and my eyes are being opened daily to the references to gardens in the Bible. Genesis 1 finds Adam and Eve in the garden - it's the perfect place. 1 Corinthians 3:5 talks about the Gospel as planting seeds, watering it and then harvesting a crop. John 15 refers to Christ as the vine and reminds us to abide in Him alone! Galatians 6:7 speaks to reaping and sowing while Luke 8:5 provides us with a look at scattering seed.

Yesterday it was time for some weeding in our own garden, and I must say that I was NOT looking forward to it. Weeding is not fun in the heat of the day and brings no satisfaction to my soul. As I'm hunkered down over a squash plant, I hear Jett making huffy breaths about his chore...serious huffy (getting louder with each one to make sure I can hear him) breaths. God quickly reminds me of the Luke 8 passage.

So I begin to share the importance of seed falling on good soil. It was one of those moments when God just speaks the truth, and although I hear myself saying it, I KNOW it is meant for ME more than for my son. You remember the passage, right? A farmer is going to sow his seed. As he scatters it, some falls along the path and gets trampled on while birds eat the remainder of it. Some seed falls among the rocks and doesn't grow because there is no moisture. Other seeds land in the thorns and weeds and get choked out. But, some seed falls on the good soil and yields a harvest 100 times MORE than what was sown.

We do NOT have to interpret this parable on our own...Jesus did it for us in Luke 8:11-15. The seed is the Word of God! The seed that fell among the thorns "stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." What? How did I miss that before? They are choked by the things of this world, and they do NOT mature! That was me!!! I was so enamored and addicted to the temporal pleasures of food that I did not heed the weeding God was doing in my life!

God is constantly weeding my life. He removes the things that do not honor Him so that my life will reflect Him more. How much more fruit would there be if the weeds were not there?

What are the weeds in my life? Those attitudes that do not reflect Christ (generally when I'm thinking of how something feels to me or how it affects me...self-serving thoughts), moments of weakness when I am thinking of all the foods I cannot eat, wrong motivations to serve, impatience with my children, expectations of others, etc. There are more than I can name. God weeds them out by showing them to me and digging deep to get rid of all of them.

He has been weeding the health/exercise portion of me for the last six months, and I have to tell you that it's been MIGHTY painful. It has become a focus of His in my life, and I feel like He has a huge spotlight on that area and is weeding it LIVE ON CNN for the world to see. It hurts and it is embarrassing and humiliating and humbling. God is constantly revealing another weed in that area that needs to be removed. I cringe and I submit. I am being weeded for His ultimate glory. His work continues and I'm in pain. I long for what I cannot have. I am not satisfied with the time it takes. I complain and moan. He weeds anyway and reminds me that I am still not where He wants me to be.

At the same time I am thankful that He is the Gardener, and He knows what is best. I do not (clearly). Today is another day...a new day...and I am eager to see He is doing in the Garden this morning.