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 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 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'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 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.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's a new day

Do you ever have a day that goes so awry that you formally request a do-over from God? Like you sit down and beg Him to allow all of it to be a bad dream? Okay, maybe I'm the only one. But, it hasn't just been one's been a lot of days...more than I can count.

Oh the regret I have over the many, many, many times I ate without thinking of how much I was eating or what I was eating or if it was even something God wanted me to eat. I feel great guilt over the numerous occasions that I taught my children to choose convenience over health/nutrition. And, should I even talk about the million times I failed to exercise and take care of my body? Probably not.

I feel guilty for one reason...I AM guilty... Most people feel guilt because they are guilty. I stood before a holy God and had to admit that I had sinned. Blatantly, defiantly, and without question. I had no excuse and no reason. Nothing. I was declared guilty of pride, gluttony, neglect and laziness. I was found guilty because I was guilty. I had sinned and had led others into sin (my family). I modeled the sins for them and encouraged them to sin likewise. Uuuggh. Guilty as charged.

But, one of the amazing characteristics of God is His ever-giving mercy. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Hallelujah, and praise His name! He is a loving God who allows us to sleep and experience His new mercies EVERY day! If we awake in the morning, we have been given another day to glorify Him and to honor Him in all that we do.

I am so thankful for our God's mercy which has spared our lives on earth up until now (I'm praying daily though that He will return for His bride). While I am still allowed to breathe here, I must do everything He demands and that includes making sure my body is honoring to Him. As I look back over the pictures from the last year, I am reminded of where we were as a husband and wife. In these photos I believe we weighed over 330 lbs and 200 lbs respectively.

Since that time JT has lost 89 that incredible or what? I am SO PROUD of him. He weighs less now than I have EVER known him to weigh. He is only 3 lbs away from the weight that he was when he entered Samford as a freshman 27 years ago! I am down 54 lbs, and I feel great. We both have more energy than ever and don't face the same struggles with food as we did. We do not REQUIRE a nap every afternoon (although those are still appreciated every now and then). We still wobble when it comes to the desire to exercise, but we are growing in that area too. We set out our workout gear the night before and stumble out of bed (generally moaning along the way) and hit the road. We ALWAYS feel better afterwards and thankful for the ability to run.

Praise be to God alone for His great mercy in giving us a second chance! Do you need one today?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seeing your photo

Two months ago I assembled all of the outfits, the blanket, the books, the soccer balls and we headed out to meet our friend, Allison, at a local park. It was finally time for our family photos. It would be the first time we officially took pictures of our family of 7.

My recollection of "family pictures" took place in a dark room in a local motel by Olan Mills' creepy guys. Or perhaps an every-ten-years-church-directory photo where all of our heads looked like they were photoshopped on wonky-like. So, I probably have a pretty distorted view of photo sessions and the pictures they produce.

Our time with Allison was wonderful, and the pictures made me cry...over and over and over again. I just saw God's beauty and grace and mercy in every scene. It was amazing. I ordered the large pictures I wanted for our home and really didn't think much about it.

But, God kept prodding my heart to order some smaller photos to put around our house and to give to a few family members and friends. It was on my to-do list for a while. I finally marked it off and placed my online order (with by the way which I highly recommend for quality and price and expedience). The order came in yesterday, and I was a happy girl.

Normally, they would sit on my desk until I figured out what to do with each of them, but again the Holy Spirit prodded me to put them in frames today. So, I did...while the littles were playing Japanese steakhouse upstairs (I know this from the sound of utensils constantly hitting one another and hearing "Fire" and "Catch this" from time to time).

When their little feet came bounding down the stairs, I showed them one of the photos in the keeping room. What happened next surprised me to my core and brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face and thankfulness to my heart. They squealed...literally. All three of them. They pointed a the photo and laughed and grinned uncontrollably. I told them, "There are more. I put them up all over the house." They ran from room to room downstairs trying to find all the new pictures of "our whole family." They would find a photo, tell the others, and then they would all stare at it as if they had never seen it before. But, they had....we have a book with all the photos from our photo session in it. They can see it whenever they hangs out in the living room...every day.

But, this was different....they didn't have to pick up the book...they could just look up and see the picture on the mantle...or on my nightstand...or in the kitchen... They were awed, amazed and so excited. My heart was beyond happy.

Now, why did they react that way? We ALL want to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves. There's not a ton of concepts in psychology that I totally agree with (and I've had years of education in that area), but the need to belong is one of those critical processes that everyone desires. That's one of the benefits of Biblical community...churches...clubs...groups...teams....they offer a place where people can belong. People feel wanted and needed.
In much the same way, churches are supposed to be places where Christ-followers belong. It's NOT about being needed by God, because we are NOT! He doesn't need us to satisfy Himself or He would not be self-sufficient. He is enough. Alone. He doesn't need anyone or anything. Yet, He desires to have a relationship with each of us. He pursues us.

We all have various strengths, weaknesses and spiritual gifts that are important to being the entire body of Christ. Some churches are overly "heady" with lots of staff, little input from the body and a less-than-desirable-sense-of-belonging. Others focusing on the "belonging" more than glorifying God and members become the center of attention rather than the Creator. Each are off base. Church is to be a place where God is exalted, members are encouraged as believers and the world is being reached for the glory of the Almighty.

Do you see yourself in the photo of God's family? Do you see where you belong and how He loves you?

If you are not even in the picture, I would love to share a story with's about how much God loves you and cherishes you. He paved a way for you that you are not going to believe. It's an overwhelming photo of man's demise and selfishness...and of a God who gave up His Son to pay a debt He didn't owe...and of an eternal home that brings joy, peace and ultimate fulfillment. He has weaved my story....please email me at and I'll be glad to share it with you. I beg you.

The photos above are courtesy of Allison Lewis at She's booked up, just so you know.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Normal. It's a word I've longed for all my life. Literally ALL.MY.LIFE! I didn't exactly have a normal childhood with a mother who had a mental illness. I always longed for the normalcy of my friends who had mothers to come pick them up from school and help them with projects. I wanted that, but it did not happen. I just wanted things to be normal.

Fast forward many years, and again I long to be normal. I want to look at the weight/BMI chart and fall into the normal range. I do not want to see my numbers under the overweight or obese column. I do not want to only wear pants with elastic waistlines. I want to shop for regular clothes in a regular store....

When our family started this journey last November, I was in the obese category of every chart I could find (Yes, I was looking for ANY chart that would just show me as did not exist). At 5'6 and 208 lbs, I was obese. Over 50 lbs overweight.

But now, pull back the curtains, hear the angels sing, hallelujah, weight is FINALLY NORMAL!!! Ha! As I stepped on the scale yesterday morning, I asked JT to read it as I didn't have on my glasses yet. There it was...155 lbs. Finally! I knew that this was the weight I needed to reach to be normal on the BMI and the height/weight chart.

It has taken almost 8 weeks to just lose the last 3 lbs. So, I have no idea when I will reach my ideal weight. But, I will persevere...I will not quit. I will endure and run this race.

While I still have 10 lbs to lose, I am thrilled to be counted among the normal again. It feels good...really good.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Totally Confused

I have a confession to make: I sometimes confuse reality with perception. And, my perception can be a little WONKY at times. It can be sideways, backwards and upside down. It has a mind of its own. Let me explain.

When I am running faster than I should, I notice that I'm tiring quicker but I fail to link the feeling with the fact that I'm running too fast. When I look in the mirror and see the changes in my physical body, I don't see what everyone else sees. I see the me that was over 200 lbs. Even when I see photos of me then and now, I don't necessarily see a big difference. There's a gaping hole between reality and what I see.

But, this weekend my brother sent me 2 pictures. I hesitate to post them because in the latest one I'm squinting and looking quite old in my opinion. However, I CAN see the difference between these two photos. One was taken at the St. Patrick's Day race in Homewood in March and the other was taken this past weekend at The Good Race in Chelsea. For the first time I can SEE the difference in my face. Even though I have FELT the changes in my body and in the way clothes fit, I can now actually see reality.

(You can also tell my brother has lost over 25 lbs....God has given our family the challenge of getting healthy TOGETHER for His name's sake. We are all able to challenge and encourage one another which is a GREAT benefit!)

Oh, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for my Heavenly Father who has chosen to discipline me through physical exercise and healthy living. He has given me the tools to honor Him. He has given me opportunity after opportunity. That PROVES that He loves me...because He chooses to chastise me! My heart is thankful today!

Monday, June 4, 2012

My First 10K

When we started this new lifestyle of honoring Christ with our bodies (new to us, of course...not new to Him), I NEVER in a million years would have dreamed that I would have registered for a 10K race. But I did. And, I could NOT run a 10K at the time. A 5K - yes, a 10K - no!

It was at the end of April this year, and I saw the race on Facebook via a friend's invitation. There was a 5K too, so that helped the matter. If I can't do the 10K by then, I'll just change to the 5K (my backup plan). But, I kept running and knew I could run 5 miles by then. Then, two Saturdays in a row, I ran a 10K my neighborhood...near my know, a backup plan just in case I couldn't make it.

With the week of the race approaching, I began to feel sick to my stomach. Something wasn't right...what was it? By Thursday, I was in knots literally. I felt like throwing up and just kept envisioning myself not being able to run any of the race. I put out a cry for help to my friends on Facebook who came through BIG time. I needed advice and wisdom to help me get through these feelings. Friends flooded me with encouragement, advice, wisdom and challenges that boosted my confidence. But there was still something wrong...why in the world was I so nervous....

I prayed and prayed some more. I begged God to reveal to me the source of my fear, and He did...the nervousness stemmed from MY fear of failure. That's right...failure. I KNEW in my mind that my body could run the entire 6.2 miles. I KNEW it. But, I also knew that I could give up easily and finish but not finish well or in the time I would like.

You see, it's one thing to admit you are a ___________ (insert your own failure name here).... for me, it is a QUITTER! I quit so easily sometimes as I have shared before in a previous post. I can run 5 miles one day and not be able to make it one mile straight the next day. I begin to walk a little and find myself walking TOO much. I easily give in to the temptation to walk a LOT!

Okay, back to the's one BIG thing to admit that you are a quitter. It's a WHOLE 'NOTHER BALLGAME for others to see me QUIT! I can easily, readily, freely, begrudgingly admit that I am a quitter to the internet world. People believe it but haven't necessarily seen it. When friends and family SEE my failures, they KNOW them to be true. It becomes a totally different relationship when you SEE that person as a QUITTER. I didn't want anyone else (my friends/family) to SEE my failure.

Uuugggh....I dislike that part of me greatly. Why would I want people to only see the best of me? That's deceitful and doesn't honor God. Please forgive me my friends!

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here's the lowdown on my first 10K! First, I was thrilled that my brother David and my friend Courtney were going to run the 10K as well. It definitely HELPS to know that I had support nearby and someone else who was going through the same pain as I was! My new friend Wanda and my friend Alice also tackled the 5K which inspired me to see them at the finish line! We lined up and off we went.

Courtney and I ran together, and I felt like we were going at a reasonable pace. When we hit the 1 mile mark, my nike app told me that we had an average time of 9:20 per mile. Okay, that may be really SLOW for some of you, but for me, it was TOO fast. I am used to running between 10:30 and 11:00 per mile. So, I knew I needed to slow down. But, I wasn't sure how. No need to worry...God sent a mountain around 1.25....have you seen the hills in Chelsea, AL? Seriously, it looked like Mount Fuji to me. What was funny to me was that I could see the hill approaching from mile 1. A friend, Pam, had told me via Facebook that she thinks about "Blessed Assurance" when she climbs hills. What music came on as I approached the hill? Blessed Assurance! Kid you not people! I ran about halfway up that hill and literally gave out. I had to walk the rest of the hill. I was disappointed but I seriously couldn't climb it all. And I thought of my friend Brian's comment...your goal is to finish. So, I walked fast.

As soon as I topped the hill, I ran again and ran for a a while. When I started walking, my brother passed me and encouraged me on. I was thankful. I kept my eye on him and Courtney the remaining time. I knew that if I ran most of the way, I could keep up.

I failed to mention that when I passed the first drink station, I clearly did not practice drinking water properly enough. I immediately regurgitated the liquid but kept going. Gotta work on that one. So, I was prepared to walk through the next drink station and actually sip the water this time. When I rounded the corner, I saw my friend Barry (who was working at the event) running toward me in street shoes. He ran with me for a little bit and made sure I was doing okay as I drank a little water. That inspired me to keep going (thank you Barry). (As a total side note here, Barry was the person who held me up as I walked back into our burned down house the night of our fire. I literally sank to the ground with tears and he picked me up and told me to keep going. That, my friends, is an encourager.)

I walked up the hill to mile 4 (have I mentioned that there were mountains in this wouldn't know it by driving the course but believe me, there are mountains in Chelsea). I was able to catch water off a sprinkler and cool off my face as I ran most of the rest of the way. Miles 3.5 - 5.5 were all running, and they were either flat or downhill. Somewhere around the lake lay a deceitful looking winding path that literally went straight up for about 20 feet at the end onto another hill! I wish I was joking. I had to walk up the rest of the path and most of the hill.

By then I was at mile 6 and only had .2 to go...and it was all downhill!!! I was almost in tears at this point just thinking back over the journey that God has had our family on. He has taught me more about myself and more about relying on Him than I have ever known. I truly know what it means to rely on Him for sustenance. I rejoiced in His goodness and praised Him for His great plan. My favorite running song, "Stronger" by Mandisa, came on and I worshiped the Almighty as I ran. I crossed the finish line!

God allowed me the privilege and joy of seeing friends as I finished. What an honor to celebrate with them! And what a blessing to celebrate with others as they completed their 10K journey! We took lots of photos and enjoyed the time waiting to see results!

You are NOT going to believe this but I came in 3rd for my age group (40-49). I was awfully proud as you can tell by the ridiculous grin on my face. I got a medal, and you better believe it's hanging up in my bedroom right now!

My next goal is a half marathon which I probably won't run until February of 2013. I cannot believe I just typed that....