Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mt. Pleasant

Well, our two days in Mt. Pleasant for the kids' basketball tournaments taught me a few things. For one thing, it taught me again just how blessed we are to have our kids playing basketball with the organizations they are. We are surrounded by amazing coaches, players, fellow parents, and siblings. Our kids are learning a ton about basketball, and even more about friendships and playing to honor God.

On Friday night, Mikayla was having all kinds of fun at our hotel with her teammates while Dave took Luke over to hang out and have fun with a bunch of his team. Saturday, when they weren't on the court, they were running around the facility having all kinds of fun with their friends. We all came home 100% worn out from all the fun and competition. Another basketball season is behind us, but what a great one it was!

The drive home from Mt. Pleasant taught me how to appreciate the beauty of falling snow...and of driving slowly. It was a long, slow drive home. But we got home safely with all three kids sound asleep in the back seat. Kind of a fun preview of our trip to Florida. The biggest difference being that when we're driving to Florida, we'll be getting farther away from the snow rather than driving right into the heart of the snowstorm. I must say, there is something rather special about driving at night with my man & me in the front seat and all three of our kiddos sound asleep in the back. I think when I was little and dreamed of someday having my own family, that was one of those images I had in mind. Driving in a snow globe on icy roads just made it a wee bit less dreamy.

And the last thing the trip taught me...I have to be VERY careful on vacations to not throw all my hard work in the weight loss arena out the window. Oh friends. This one sort of makes me mad. Why in the world is it, that I have to fight so darn hard to lose an ounce...but I can gain weight so stinkin' easily?! Dave was happy that he hadn't gained any weight while we were gone. But after our 36 hours away from home, I wasn't so lucky. In fact, when I got on the scale this morning to see the report...I jumped off before it was totally done calculating because I could already tell I wasn't going to like the answer. I'm REALLY hoping that it was all water retention from eating too much sodium. And I REALLY hope I can get myself back on track tomorrow and actually make my 30 pound weight loss mark before our trip to Florida. It just doesn't get any easier, does it?!

So as I make plans for our trip to Florida, I know one thing very strongly: my enjoyment of the trip can NOT come from the type of food I'm going to eat while we're there. Because one day of letting myself enjoy eating the same foods as everyone else around me...led to a not very nice result on the scale this morning. I have to just face the facts. My body wasn't designed to eat junk food. In order to attain and maintain a healthy weight, I'm going to have to choose to eat healthier than most everyone else. And make the choice again and again...for the rest of my life.

I need to choose to be empowered by this fact. I need to remember how much better I feel when I'm fueling my body with healthy foods. I need to say no to chips and Costco cake and breakfast waffles. The thing is, I DID say no to a lot of the things around me! That's why it makes me mad. Why do I have to be so close to perfect in my eating to see any little downward movement on the scale?! Here's where the pity party can get off to a big start. Pity parties cannot be part of this journey. I have a lot of work to be where I hope to be by my 40th birthday! Now there's a place I'd like to see a party...a surprise party that is. (Is it wrong to make known that I really want a surprise party for my birthday? Since I doubt I'll ever get one, I guess I can mention it all I want.)

Well, God just continues to get more and more "in my face" in the area of food. He is asking me to give it ALL over to Him. All of it. As much as I'd like to think everything is OK in moderation...I've learned that just isn't true. Some things should never cross my lips. I guess I just have to embrace my genes. This is the body design that God gave me. Perhaps it's because He knew food was going to easily become one of my idols. This way, I can't hide that problem. God wants to make sure that I "have no other gods before Him". So maybe, this isn't a weakness. It's a strength. It causes me to face these idols in my life and put them aside so that God alone can be first. There's just no way around it (my body make-up, that is...not my rear-end). Just kidding.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hitting the Proverbial Wall

I don't know if it's a sign of how badly I need a vacation or how ready I am for the basketball season to be over...or just that I'm getting frustrated with how hard and slow this weight loss journey is. But I'm about at the end of my rope today! I just had to take a minute to vent and re-group my thoughts back to the "happy place." I know it's there. Somewhere.

Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Proverbs 15:13 - "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."

Proverbs 17:22 - "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Psalm 9:2 - "I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."

Psalm 16:9 -"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure."

Psalm 28:7 -"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."

Psalm 68:3 -"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful."
 Psalm 119:162 -"I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil."

I especially like that last verse. Rejoicing in God's promise. What is one of His promises that I find really comforting right now? This one: Galatians 6:9 - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Yes, if I keep working hard at this health journey, He WILL allow me to reap a harvest. I think the key is not so much that we shouldn't grow weary, but that we shouldn't give up when we do get that way.

Well, friends. The journey ahead for me is long and hard...but the harvest is great. I'm fighting my way to the 30 pound weight loss mark. I had REALLY hoped to be farther along than this by now. Unfortunately, I'm only averaging 5 pounds a month. When you have 100 pounds to lose, that's feeling like it's going to take FOREVER!! I mean, I was hoping to reach my goal in 12 months, not 20! Ugh. I keep trying to remind myself of my progress, and not get discouraged by the slowness and the length of the battle ahead. But some days that's a really hard reality to embrace. Some days. Like today.

So, now that I've vented, I'll re-read all those great verses. I'll remind myself of the Truths of God's Word. And the fact that I still could be at the 50 pound mark by summer! That will feel mah-velous. Just mah-velous. But no matter what the scale says or what size clothes I'm wearing, I am learning some very great things on this Made to Crave journey. I'm finding peace. I'm finding my beautiful. THOSE, my friends, are some really great things.

There. I needed that little pep talk. Have a great rest of your week everyone!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Time for Takin' It Easy!

Deuterononmy 2:3 ~ "You've circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north."

This is my theme verse lately. It's kind of alarming to me how much progress I can make in my thinking & my habits and yet how quickly all those old ways can come screaming back! I feel like that little orange craving monster has taken up permanent residence in my head the last few days.

When will this journey get easier?!

I'm starting to come to the rather depressing realization that it probably won't. Just like an alcoholic will always have to struggle to stay away from alcohol and a cocaine addict will always fight the urge to get another fix, those of us who struggle with weight will always have these unhealthy tendencies just lurking around ready to pounce on us at any weak moment.

I Peter 5:8 ~ "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

I'd never quite taken this so literally as I do now. Yes, my enemy (unhealthy food cravings that the devil is trying to use against me) is MOST CERTAINLY prowling around like a lion looking to devour me. To sabotage my efforts. To de-rail me. To discourage me. To make me throw in the towel.

NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!

Oh, believe me. I've been here before. I'm almost to the 30 pound weight loss mark. When I was at this point a few years ago, I quit trying. I let life pull me away from my progress, and fell back into all my old habits. The weight all came back on. BUT NOT THIS TIME!!

Yes, I've fallen a bit off the raw veggie eating track. Yes, I've given into my food cravings more the last few days (instead of filling all my cravings with God). Yes, I'm mourning the loss of certain foods and eating habits that I really need to say goodbye to forever. But I'm making this a GPS moment. "At the next available location (right now), make a legal U-Turn!" Thank you. I will.

Did you catch that? It's called grace. It's called forgiveness. It's called perseverance. 

It's called, being a big Jesus girl and putting on my Jesus girl armor:

Ephesians 6:10-18 ~ "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

Did you catch that part hidden there? "...after you have done everything, to stand." That's not a sit-by-the-sidelines-and-let-God-do-everything-for-us mentality. No. We have a job to do. An action to take. We are to "put on" the full armor of God. Then we are to "stand." And then: "to pray." 

So get back up and dust yourself off, ladies. We have a mission to accomplish. Not just in the area of food and body image either. God has some mighty big plans for us! This part of the journey, for me, is just the beginning. I know that! It's time for me to get back to work. Get to work putting, standing, and praying. Because, let me tell you, the view from this side of the mountain is gettin' old!

Blessings, friends! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inspired

Wow. My brain is swirling with all kinds of inspiring stories right now. Things like:
  • Corrie ten Boom's life story ~ as I continue to read books about her amazing life, I'm challenged to step outside my comfort zone for God. Challenged to live out my life in such a way that others can see I am a passionate woman of faith. Challenged to be used by God in ways that I can't even fully conceive right now.
  • Lysa TerKeurst's webcast this week. Wow. Best one yet (and her last)! Every one of her guests spoke to me in a powerful way. I have been especially challenged this past week to make this journey ALL about making the self-disciplined choice for the rest of my life. To keep my focus not on what I can't have (certain foods), but on what I CAN have (a deep, personal, powerful relationship with my Creator!). This journey is truly NOT one about weight. It's one about my spiritual life. Oh, friends. This has got me thinking of some BIG things! Big things.
  • Lastly, some things that Lysa's husband, Art, said on the webcast. He mentioned the dreams that Lysa shared with him on one of their first dates. Her dreams of someday: writing a book, speaking in front of thousands of women, being on the Oprah show. She's done all of that! Art was talking about how he's tried to always encourage Lysa to follow her dreams. Then he discussed the one prayer that he has always prayed for her ministry: "Lord, keep her humble." In other words, never let the scope of her ministry go beyond the level of her faith. Wow.
Why does that last part really speak to me? Because I share in Lysa's dreams. Well, not the Oprah part. But, I too dream of being a published author. Speaking at women's conferences. Using my love of writing, my love of public speaking, and (most importantly) my love of the Lord to encourage other women. I needed to hear Art share those things just like I needed to see Karen Ehman sitting on that webcast couch.

Karen is an author, a homeschool Mom, a Michigander...are you seeing some similarities here? I first saw Karen at a Hearts at Home conference. I bought one of her books. I was encouraged by her weight loss the following year at the next Hearts at Home conference. Then...I saw her somewhere I never imagined I'd run into a Hearts at Home speaker/published author: at one of my son's homeschool basketball games. Yep! Karen's sons play for a team that my son's team plays in basketball. I was at a game, and there she was. Sitting on the stands behind me. I was blown away at how...regular that seemed!

That's when it hit me: God uses regular people! Regular people like Karen Ehman. Like Lysa TerKeurst. Like Corrie ten Boom. Like me.

And just like Lysa TerKeurst, my prayer for myself and whatever God plans to do with me (today, tomorrow, in ten years...) is that He'll keep me humble. Keep me growing in my faith and always staying focused on Him. Show me how I can be used for His kingdom. But not make it about me. Because it's not about me at all. Oh how I would love to have the privilege to encourage other women the way I've been encouraged by women like Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Lysa TerKeurst. It seems like too big of a dream to dream! But God is gently reminding me that He is in charge of my future. So I'm hanging on tight for the ride. Oh boy. What an exciting ride to be on!

Which brings me back to the whole issue of self-discipline. Whether it's self-discipline in my eating, or self-discipline in my exercise habits, or self-discipline in my time management and my finances...self-discipline is a spiritual matter. It's about choosing to be obedient to God. It's about choosing to be filled up with the fruits of the Spirit...and dying to self every day. I can already see the beginnings of some of those fruits in my life. The taste of them just makes me want to be filled up with them all the more.

Whew! What an exciting journey we are all on with God! A journey of being able to be used by Him in our own little tiny corners of the world. I'm SO thankful for all the great examples He's led on this path before us.

OK, time to hit the treadmill. Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oops!

Boy, I was sure reeling from that "go all month, work really hard, don't lose a single pound" situation. I wasn't exactly doing the best job of letting it go. I, instead, was hanging on to all the hard feelings associated with that dreaded number on the scale. I mean...REALLY hanging on. (My self-talk since Tuesday's weigh-in haven't exactly been the most uplifting of times.) Then, last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I had a little moment. A moment where I remembered a phone conversation with a friend on January 7th. That friend had asked me how much weight I had lost to that point and I said 21 pounds (and she proceeded to say that she had found it for me...much to her dismay). Hmmm....21 pounds on January 7th? Wait a minute. I must have mis-read my weight loss chart on Tuesday! Could it be?!

So this morning, that was one of the first things I did. And to my wonderful joy I find...I was looking at the wrong number on the chart when I thought I had gone an entire month without losing a SINGLE pound! Oops! Actually? I lost 5 pounds! Still not where my "goal" was (which is the number I was looking at for January). But, hey...5 pounds is a WHOLE lot easier on my mental state than ZERO. I'll gladly take it.

You may not care one iota what my scale says. But I just had to set the record straight that I, in fact, DID lose a little weight after all my hard work in January. I mean, I wasn't perfect. But I worked hard! My soul needed to see that number on the scale head in the right direction. But I sure learned a few things about my emotional progress on this journey. I have a long way to go and a lot more bad scripts to replace. Lysa talks about covering up the number on the scale with the word "Peace". I want to know my progress too badly to do that. But, then again, after the mental funk I've been in the last two days because of that stupid number...maybe I should!

Oh, but you know what my wonderful husband reminded me of last night? (I was having a mini-emotional meltdown and at least part of it was brought on by that stupid scale!) He reminded me of how far I've come. Regardless what that scale shows, it's obvious that I'm heading in the right direction (and he listed a few specific things). What a blessing to have a man who rejoices in each of my weight loss successes, but doesn't scold me for any of my mistakes. Hmmm...know who that reminds me of? Bet you do. It's a precious thing when our husbands are godly men. SO thankful for that man of mine.

It's time to get some schoolwork done and then get all bundled up in my snow gear this afternoon. This thinner version of myself is really looking forward to playing outside in the snow & sun with my kiddos. It feels good to actually want to do that. Another piece of progress.

Thanks for listening to me today! Have a great weekend...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day!!

Snow!! It's been one of those rare occasions where the meteorologists have been talking up this storm like it was going to be huge...and it really was! Last night there was so much snowing and blowing and drifting and white-outs just outside our bedroom window, that we slept with the curtains open so we could watch the show throughout the night. That howling wind woke me up a few times and all I could say as I looked out the window was, "Wow!". Truly amazing.

Then Dave and I were like kids on Christmas morning as we woke up and started seeing the 3-4 foot drifts in our driveway. And we watched with hilarity as our dog assessed the unusual situation and wasn't quite sure just WHERE he was supposed to go to the bathroom amidst all that white stuff.

After an hour + of Dave snow blowing our driveway (while I watched with coffee mug in hand under the covers in our room with the local news on the TV), Dave came inside and we continued to watch the scene out our bedroom window: neighbors clearing their driveways, cars getting stuck, neighbors coming to the rescue of the cars that were getting stuck. Who knew our little street could be so interesting so early in the morning!

I sit here now with my thoughts kind of all over the place. A lot of my "jumbled-ness" is due to the fact that I've spent a large chunk of the afternoon enjoying some time reading in my comfy chair covered up with a blanket. The house was quiet (Dave was napping, the kids were playing with friends). For about 3 hours it was just me and the Corrie ten Boom story "Hiding Place". Have you read it? I'm ashamed to say this is the first time for me.

My interest in reading it is because of the movie "The Return to the Hiding Place" (also a Corrie ten Boom book) which will be coming out this summer. It was filmed some in Holland and Manistee. Friends of ours have kids who were extras in the film. My kids might have also had that opportunity, but it was all happening at the same time as my Dad's 3-week hospital stay last July (horrible timing obviously). Anyway, I wanted to educate myself on the story before the movie comes out. I also want to educate the kids on the story, so I was thrilled to find a short book and unit study on Corrie ten Boom at the homeschool convention I went to last weekend. You know how it is once you get your mind on something? Well for the last week or so, I've seen things on Corrie ten Boom everywhere! From friends quoting her on Facebook to her name being mentioned at the convention...her name keeps popping up.

So besides feeling the horror of how Corrie was treated during her time of imprisonment, I've been really struck this afternoon with the reality of her faith. I mean, I guess that's where the rubber really meets the road. When you're put into a situation that is 100% out of your control...the only place we (as Christians) can turn is to God. The worse Corrie's situation seemed, the more she clung to the Truths of God's Word. In those moments where all she probably wanted to do was toss up her hands and cry out in despair, her faith was put into action. Or rather, she believed without fail so that God could go into action.

Then that got me to thinking about some of the truths that Lysa TerKeurst has been unpacking in her study "Made to Crave" the last week or so. A lot of what has been hitting me right smack between the eyes is the realization that for too many years, I have sat around waiting for God to make my weight loss journey easy. I was waiting for Him to turn on some magic switch and for me to not have be made too uncomfortable on the road to a healthier me. I was like a gardener who didn't put in all the time weeding and watering...but just wanted this lavishly beautiful flower garden. It doesn't work that way obviously. Yet, somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I thought it was supposed to be that way for me on this health journey. The comment about us doing the "natural" so that God can do the "super"...that's what Corrie ten Boom did. She did what was in her power to do so that God could work through her in a supernatural way.

Since it's a new month, that means it was time for my next "official" weigh-in yesterday. I have been regularly stepping on the scale over the last month, but I haven't actually written my weight down. Well, much to my dismay (but not my surprise, since I've been stepping on that scale all throughout the month), I didn't lose a single pound since my last weigh-in. Not a one. Oh boy. That was NOT what I wanted to be able to write down. In fact, I haven't written it down yet. I am refusing to write the weight down on my tracker until I've lost at least 1 pound. I just can't bear to write the exact same weight as I did a month ago! Can't do it.

What does this mean? Well, to the old me, this would have meant it was time to give up. It would be proof that this weight loss thing is just too hard. Just too impossible for me. I may as well resign myself to the fact that I'll always be a fat girl. Get used to the fact that I wasn't meant to be thin. Take heart in the fact that at least I have gone down 25 pounds and two pant sizes. That will just have to be enough!

Well, not this time, friends. I am busy today having an internal argument. In fact, I've fueled this internal argument with caving into some foods I know I shouldn't have had (Daddy's pancakes, the neighbors traditional "snow day doughnuts"). It's almost like that doubting mini-me who sits on my shoulder wanted to have one more big shot today to scream into my ear: "See. I told you so! You just need to give up the fight now. It's over. This is always going to be your issue!"

Can you tell I'm frustrated with myself? I'm frustrated that I didn't lose any weight for an entire month. I'm frustrated that I continue to fall into food cravings that I know are just going to make me be full of guilt and shame when I'm done eating them. I'm frustrated that after 25 pounds lost and almost 4 months into this journey, I'm still taken down by some of the same schemes of the enemy. But most of all...I'm frustrated that during these moments I didn't behave like Corrie ten Boom. I didn't filter all I was feeling through the Truth of Scripture. I didn't dig into my Bible or my verse cards and come up with some great verses to fight back with. I didn't do all I could naturally do so that God could do the super part. I didn't persevere.

So rather than sit here right now and have a mini pity party for myself because all of this "stuff" is hard. I'm going to rejoice in the journey. I'm going to be thankful for the opportunity to gain self-control and perseverance. I'm going to be thankful that this journey is not over just because I made some mistakes and had a bad weigh in. This journey is about SO much more than the number on the scale or the size clothes on my body. This journey is a spiritual one. It's one that means I get to have a more intimate and personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. I get to become more and more like His Son! I get to. Wow.

Oh, friends. Did you hear that? We get to know Him better! We get to become more like Him! That is worth every frustrating moment. It's a precious gift given directly to us by our Jehovah God. Just like all that snow that fell last night. A precious gift. How we choose to look at it? Well, that's up to us.

2 Peter 1:5-7 ~ For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to kindness, love.