Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Squeaky Prayers

It's funny what comes to your mind sometimes. The brain is so full of memories and whether by trigger or pure randomness, sometimes you end up thinking about the darnedest things! Exactly WHY your brain picks and chooses to remember seemingly meaningless things can be a mystery, but it can sometimes be thought provoking and/or entertaining. 

Such is the case with a particular memory of something I would have never considered significant (though it is somewhat humorous) that comes to my mind every now and then quite randomly. Maybe I remember it because it sort of turned into a running joke (and if you know me, you KNOW how I love running jokes - and I usually don't forget those!). At the time, though, it really wasn't supposed to be funny because it involves a prayer request. 

Let me set the stage for you. It's in my home town and in my home church. It was during "Kid's Klub"; which was a weekly after-school VBS type of thing. We had a time where we all got together for prayer. We always took requests and, of course, you sometimes heard some very sweet and innocent requests for things that you tried not to snicker about. It was hard not to laugh when some of the younger kids would ask for prayer about something you might think was silly (or when an older kid made a strange and inappropriate prayer request for someone or something that didn't exist - and everyone knew it except the adult in charge and couldn't figure out why we were trying not to laugh). 

Imagine, then, a sweet little girl who had apparently lost her cat. I can't remember her name, but when called upon to share her request, it was: "that Squeaker comes back." She was always dead serious about it too! So, we prayed for Squeaker to come back....over and over again....week after week...for a long time! Eventually, enough time had passed that it became obvious that Squeaker probably wasn't coming back. Yet, this little girl (or some other little kid that knew Squeaker) would bring it up. In fact, I know there were several of us that were always just WAITING for her or someone to make that request! It almost didn't seem like prayer time without it! Yet, we would always try hard not to laugh as we would whisper to each other, "It's pretty obvious Squeaker isn't going to come back!" or something a little more harsh like, "Squeaker is probably dead!". You can see, then, where I'm getting at with the running joke! Squeaker finally quit being brought up as a legitimate prayer request, but every now and then, just for laughs, one of us couldn't resist saying it (but could never request it without laughing a little). I commend Karen and the other adults for not kicking some of us out. Well, actually, I think they did eventually; us older kids anyways. Sometimes, we just couldn't refrain from being obnoxious.....yes, including me - I'm sorry to admit! Oh yes, I'm sure you're shocked (well, some of you might be lol). Anyways, that's another story! ;) 

I guess, for some reason, I am intrigued by Squeaker; the cat I never knew but that became so infamous! Clearly, he was a special cat or he wouldn't have been missed and prayed for so much. To my knowledge, he never did "come back" and I don't think anyone knows what fate befell poor Squeaker (but if any of you do, please let me know!). There are just so many unanswered questions, isn't there? 

Squeaker remains that strange and funny memory that sometimes gets me to thinking about other "squeakers". All of us have had prayers that have seemingly gone unanswered; whether they were "big" prayers or "little" prayers that maybe we thought didn't matter much. We pray for our "squeakers" and that our prayers will be answered in the way that we want. Yet, it doesn't always work that way. The free-wills of others, and God's will, are in the mix too and so things don't always work in concordance with our own will. Perhaps our "squeakers" don't want to come back; or maybe they can't/shouldn't. Maybe we need to let go of them. Maybe there's a good reason why we don't get an answer (or maybe we do but it's not the answer we had hoped for). It's complicated. Though, we are assured that God will work it all out for good (Romans 8:28) and that His ways are better and higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

This is the first time in a while that I felt strongly about posting a blog like this. As you may have noticed, I haven't been blogging as much as I used to. However, I felt that this was something I had to share. God meant this blog for someone. In fact, it's probably more for me than anything. For a while, I have felt that my prayers (in what I feel is my pathetic prayer life anyways) have all been "squeaker" prayers. I'm having a hard time seeing answers and I often wonder if there ever comes a time where you stop bringing up certain things and just let them go. Yet, we are told to be persistent in prayer. I can't help but wonder, however, if God ever chuckles at some of my prayers the way we laughed about Squeaker. Though, I'm sure the only thing God laughs at is the fact that we would think that anything is too big or small for Him for us to mention. He's Lord of it all; and He cares SO DEEPLY (1 Peter 5:7). No matter how many times we mention the same people, things, or situations, He doesn't tire of listening to us. I think we just get tired of praying and the waiting that follows (guilty here!). There is so much uncertainty because we aren't in control and so we desperately want a resolution and so we ask for those prayers to "come back" to us; to be answered the way we think they should. How often, however, do we truly know what we are asking for? He knows us better than we know ourselves! Dear Jesus, help us to trust you!

Here's one prayer that I hope isn't a "squeaker" one and that is: I pray that our desire (particularly my own) comes back; our desire to keep praying no matter what. To P.U.S.H.: "Pray until something happens" (whatever "happens" looks like). I hope and pray that the nagging doubts of the enemy that say our prayers are nothing but a squeak in God's ear would be gone in Jesus name! Satan loves being able to convince us that praying doesn't matter and that God doesn't hear us and is tired of listening - but that's not true! He delights in us (Psalm 149:4), but even Jesus knew that it wasn't about having it our own way but God's (Matthew 26:39). HIS way should be our delight (Psalm 119:174). If it is, we are sure to see the desires of our heart granted (Psalm 37:4). 

Grace and peace to all of you!! God bless you all as you continue to pray! Remember, nothing is too big or too small for God! If he cares about every sparrow (and Squeaker) how much MORE does He care for you?! Much. VERY much (Matthew 10:28-31)!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hoping for "Extreme" Progress!

I have remarked before that I workout consistently (more often than not) but struggle with my nutrition. This past week, however, it seemed to be the opposite situation (werid, huh?!). I actually did pretty well with my nutrition! I feel I ate well, and there was only one day where I didn't track my calories (yeah, that would be Sunday at the baby shower where there was food and....um...cake!). All the other days, I stayed within range....or a few calories over a couple times. I still worked out, but I didn't burn as much as I typically do (and I took Monday off because I had an exhausting weekend). I was kind of relaxed. Perhaps it was because I knew I was going to start ChaLean Extreme and that this would be my last opportunity to take it easy. ;) 

Anyways, I am at 196.2 pounds (which is a loss of .8). So, I almost lost a full pound. Not bad for a "low key" kind of week. I am hoping that now that I'm doing ChaLean Extreme, I will start seeing a lot of positive changes on the scale (and on my body). :) 

Since I'm on the topic of ChaLean Extreme, I will say that I am GLAD that I exchanged my P90 for it! I should have gotten it in the first place (which was my first instinct). Yeah, I guess you really should follow your gut (especially if you want to lose it lol). I am hoping I will finally tone up and build muscle and truly burn off this fat! Gosh, I am BEYOND tired of all this fat! And, after doing Chalene's workouts a couple times already, I feel like maybe this will truly be what gives me the boost (and results) that I need. It's intense, but the time goes fast and I almost enjoy it (yeah, I don't know if I will ever truly "enjoy" strength training!). Chalene does make strength training doable. Everything about her and how she does things makes workouts more fun! Yeah, I say that NOW...but once I get the heavier weights that I should be lifting, I might not say that (gosh, I nearly cried today just doing it with the weights that I DO have lol!). But, I know that on most of the exercises, I wasn't "failing" on my last reps and therefore, am not lifting enough. So, I guess it's nice to know that I'm stronger than I thought. ;) 

I look forward to getting through my first week of ChaLean Extreme. I only hope that I have enough energy to go around! In addition to a new workout, I got a garage sale to get ready for and a daughter with an ear infection to keep dealing with (oh my gosh, to say she is difficult to give medicine to is an understatement!). Needless to say, I have been (and am) exhausted! Motherhood has its varying degrees of difficulty. I always dread when Gianna gets sick. I would much rather give medicine to Casey because he has no problem swallowing a teaspoon full of anything....but her?!! Oh my gosh, you would think I was giving her a super-sized glass of  seaweed juice or something the way she carries on! It's just a teaspoon.....A TEASPOON! Yet, she cries and screams and fights it so much! Oh, the delights of a twice daily antibiotic (and that's not including the Motrin for pain!). Though, the ear finally appears to be draining so I guess that she IS getting better! However, we still have many more delightful days of medication disbursement left! You know, I didn't think there was much I hated more than strength training, but if you gave me a choice between that and giving my daughter medicine,.....um.........yeah! Strength training is bliss compared to the emotional and mental torture of giving Gianna medicine! My dread for that is far more intense than my dread for strength training (no joke, people! You have no idea!). 

Well, here's to hoping that I survive the week and that progress is on its way!! God bless you all and thanks for your prayers and support (I need it so much!). 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Mixed Bag Blog

I know that this isn't typical for me, but this blog is going to be sort of a mixed bag - a VERY mixed bag! There has been so much that I have wanted/needed to blog but I haven't gotten around to it. So, forgive me for being scatterbrained! 

First off, my weight-loss update for this week is that I am down .4 pounds to an even 197. I am grateful, because I wasn't sure which way the scale would go this week. I walked and ran a lot last week (and burned a nice amount of calories) but I only did strength training twice instead of my usual three. This was an extremely busy weekend, so I didn't get too upset with myself for not getting that third strength training day in. Besides, I hate strength training and I totally think that running around all weekend and holding/hauling bags of pageant stuff, and what not, should count as strength training....and likely cardio as well! So much walking this weekend! My feet can attest to the fact that I have been moving a LOT! Which, I assume, made up for my lack of food-tracking this weekend. I know I didn't do my best, but I could have done a lot worse. So, the fact that I pretty much maintained (and lost that tiny bit this week) is good enough for me! 

This could also be the week where I start getting better progress! As I mentioned before, I got my refund from beachbody.com for that Power90 I sent back (and purchased Chalean Extreme instead). The UPS tracking says that it's in transit to its final destination right now, so maybe I'll get it today (instead of Friday like they told me). That would make it nice, because I took yesterday off and was totally lazy. So, I was going to do my strength training today. I will wait and see if that box shows up in a little while. If not, I guess I will do one of my other strength training videos one last time before starting Chalean Extreme on my next strength training day. I look forward to a fresh new bunch of exercises and am hoping for good results!

That's pretty much it for my weight-loss update! The other thing I wanted to briefly blog about was our trip to the Galilean Home. I mentioned tidbits here and there, but I haven't really given a full report. Considering that I was sick a majority of the time, and this was a much different trip than my first time, I guess I don't have as much to say. Last year, a team got together and we all went (and we plan on doing that again the second week of June - mark your calendars!). I blogged things day by day. This time, however, I will give a condensed synopsis. 

Basically, my family and I spent our Spring Break down there and Maggie (who had been volunteering there) came back home with us. While we were there, the kids got to enjoy pre-school with some other kids and Mitch helped with some light construction. I helped take care of the babies as best I could, but my illness got in the way (mainly the beginning of the week). Thankfully, I was well enough by Thursday to actually help take some of the babies to the prison to see their Mamas. We also got to celebrate Casey's 7th birthday with some delicious chocolate cake that Maggie provided for us. Spencer, one of the kids at the home, was also celebrating his birthday (the day after Casey's). 

Overall, we had a good time in spite of illness and a few other incidences (like when Casey decided to pull the fire alarm for some reason). The week went by so fast, and so did the drive home! On the way down, I had horrible body aches and was feeling awful! On the way back, Maggie and I watched "Gone with the Wind" so that took care of the driving time lol. It also helped us forget that we were packed in the van like sardines considering that we had all of our stuff (plus Maggie's) packed in there. 

I guess that's pretty much all I have to say about that. Next things worth mentioning are the events of this past weekend. I was/am hoping to blog them separately. Though, in case I don't, I'll just mention a few things. One of them being that Mitch and I enjoyed our much anticipated trip to Indy on Thursday to hear George W. Bush speak at the Life Centers event (which also included Mike Pence, Miss America Katie Stam, and Sandi Patty). We enjoyed hearing him speak about his faith, life in the Oval Office, and so many other things. Though, I thought that he talked more about that than he did actual pro-life content (in my opinion, Mike Huckabee's speech last year was much better in that regard). Still, it was a great evening and we enjoyed hearing the things he had to share. He really had the crowd laughing a lot! He really does have a sense of humor and knows how to take/make a joke (even at his own expense) lol. Oh, and a BIG THANK YOU to our friend, Cindy, for watching our kids (it was a late night!). 

I also enjoyed Sandi Patty's testimony of how she and her husband adopted their son, Sam, who is now a teenager. They both had children from previous marriages and were trying to work on their blended family; not quite deciding for sure if they wanted to add to it. She said they had talked about adopting a boy and naming him Sam (after his father, I think). They kind of placed it on the back burner and she just prayed that if God wanted them to do it, He would just place a baby in their lap. She said be careful about prayers like that lol. She said that she was contacted about finding a family for a baby boy whose adoption fell through. She and her family talked about it and long story short, when they came to see him in the hospital, the boy had ironically already been named (and you'll never guess the name!). Yep,...."Sam". She said there was a little heart with his name on it and rainbows on it too. She sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in honor of him and the fact that his birth mother chose life for him. How precious is that?! 

Speaking of love and charity, I want to finish up this blog by congratulating Angela Witte, the new "Queen of Charities" pageant winner (and Miss Congeniality too!). If I get around to blogging more about the pageant and the whole experience, I'll be sure to include more details and such. In the meantime, you can check out the photos I've posted on Facebook (and some professional photos will be uploaded soon, I'm told). The main thing that I want to say, at the moment, is that I went into it hoping that I could help raise money for charity, bring awareness to the ones that I cherish most, have fun, and make new friends! I'm not sure that I did all that well at raising funds (though, I tried!) but as for the rest, I feel that I have definitely accomplished that! If there's one thing I value most about things like this, it's the fact that I get to make connections/friendships with such amazing people! That alone makes the experience worthwhile! 

Well, that's all for now! Thanks for reading!! God bless you all!! 



Monday, April 12, 2010

Walking on the Water

Last week, I skipped out on posting a weight-loss update because there was really nothing to post (considering I had stayed the same - a horrid 201 pounds). I didn't want to post anyways because I have been beyond frustrated. I had been feeling that the majority of my ups and downs were unfair and undeserved considering all the effort I put into losing (especially during the Fit Life challenge). At the end of the challenge, I was 195-ish. Then, it came time for our vacation/mission trip to The Galilean Children's Home. Naturally, most people gain a few pounds over vacation. Though, I had expected (as last time) that when I did, it would fall right back off the next week as it usually does (once your body realizes that you are back to your routine). Usually, I lose what I gained and then some. So, it was hard to gain about six pounds and then feel like you got back into a rut (especially when I was sick and had no appetite for the first part of the week and thought that the consolation prize would be that I WOULDN'T gain!). Ugh, how could everything go so wrong?!

Needless to say, these last 2-3 weeks have been tough (and rather strange). I had fully intended on keeping my momentum going and then, naturally, I got thwarted. The vacation weight was expected, but not the illness and extreme moodiness, frustration, etc. that I have been experiencing was not. The emotional roller coaster is what sadly leads me to get into old habits of having more "cheat days" than I should and moderation becomes far from my mind. Despite the warnings and nudges from the Holy Spirit, I ignore the foreshadowing of "Very well. It's your choice, Melissa. But, remember, there are consequences." 

I can never quite figure out why I stupidly and willfully make wrong choices in temporary moments of weakness when I KNOW that I am horribly sabotaging myself (and all the blood, sweat, and tears I have put in). I once heard Beth Moore say that sin's greatest lie is that it can give you more than what it takes away. It really "clicked" with me as probably the truest and most revealing thing about sin that I have ever heard! Yet, I still struggle with overeating; even though I KNOW that it will never give me more than it takes away (well, except for the massive and generous amounts of pounds it "gives"). No matter how many times I realize that I'm trading a moment of extra calories and temporary satisfaction for extra pounds, I still give into the temporary way too often! Such is the tragedy that is this mess of sinful flesh!

Another thing I can't quite figure out is how I can be so consistent about exercising (even though there are many days where I HATE it and don't want to do it) and so inconsistent about my nutrition. My mistakes with food practically waste my progress with fitness. Then, there are those that have the opposite problem. They are fabulous with their nutrition, but they hardly ever work out. Both situations keep you stuck on a plateau and from getting the results you want. If only I could figure out how both types of people could learn to do well in BOTH areas instead of just one! If only we could share/swap motivation, somehow, and get the best of both worlds! 

With that being said, I did work out a lot last week. I have taken more "rest" days here and there since finishing the Fit Life challenge, but I think that's a good thing. Typically, I work out 5-7 days a week and for a while, there wasn't a single day where I rested. Without the pressure to perform for a team/challenge, that has eliminated some of the weight-loss stress which, in itself, can cause you to have stunted progress. So, even though I still sometimes feel "annoyed" by taking a day off, I do so when I have to (like if I am on the go and busy all day - which might be a workout in itself anyways). In fact, I didn't work out yesterday and that was partly because it was Sunday (and I was tired and needed the break) and because I gave blood. However, I took full advantage of the fact that they tell you not to skip meals. So, I ate whenever I felt the need to (and a little beyond that). Yesterday was not an "in range" calorie day. Generally, I wouldn't be as bothered by fudging up, but the majority of my week was filled with mishaps and overindulgences. I don't think I had many days where I stayed in range (and I didn't always get all my water drank either - one day of that due to the fact I dropped and broke a FULL water bottle! ARGH!). I have been clumsy and careless in more ways than one this week! 

Despite all this, I am down 3.6 pounds today and am at 197.4 pounds. Oddly enough, however, I really wasn't a bit excited. For one, this is weight I have already gained and lost a few times over. In my mind, this hardly counts considering that I was lower than this a couple weeks ago when I went on vacation. Secondly, I feel that I didn't deserve it at all because my eating was so poor (even though my exercise was great). I would LOVE to trade this week's loss with a week in which I did my all and totally deserved to see a number like this and didn't. You know what I'm saying? 

Today's loss is a pleasant (but undeserved) surprise. I think it was a combination of being a pint lighter in blood and in doing some workouts that I hadn't done in a while (including getting to run TWICE on the Greenway!! YAY!!). My body has actually been a little sore this week; which is actually a little bit of a pleasant feeling because you know that things are changing. So, I feel that I am headed in the right direction and I am determined to do better. Spring is here and things are brighter and better in a lot of ways (even if the allergies come with it!). 

One of the changes I am most looking forward to is undertaking Chalean Extreme. What happened to Power90? Well, after a great deal of consideration, I returned my Power90 to beachbody.com(and am awaiting my refund so I can purchase Chalene's program). It's not that it was ineffective or that Tony Horton isn't awesome, but it just wasn't for me. If there's anything that I have learned about exercise, it's that I have to find something I enjoy, or I will hate it all the more and sabotage myself with stress, dread, and eventually giving up on it. Not only do I have to change up my exercises and keep things fresh, but I also have to be true to my preferences. This would have been avoidable in the first place if I had just ordered Chalean Extreme to begin with, but I had heard so much more about Tony Horton and felt I HAD TO do his. Like I said, it's nothing against him (his programs are great!) but it's not for me. The workouts that I tried were just a little dull and repetitious and everything from the people (which were few) to the set (very bland) and the music (very lame) bored me! Though, maybe I should have opened and tried the other DVDs that I bought, but I figured if I wasn't really liking the first couple workouts, it wasn't likely I would like any of his others. I guess Chalene's personality style, music, sets, energetic people to watch, variety of moves, etc. is just more "me" and I better enjoy working out when it's her on the TV screen. And, her program is very similar to Tony's, so I believe I will get the same results (and I will stick with her as I already have with Turbo Jam). I would also LOVE to try her "hip hop hustle" sometime as well! She is just SO FUN and inventive and everything about her is entertaining, effective, and more enjoyable!

Well, I guess that's my report for this week! I've had lots to think about and learn lately, and it's all been good for me in the bigger scheme of things. So, while I know some of you like to think I'm too hard on myself, it's really not like that at all. Besides, who doesn't have moments like these? As unpleasant as they can be, they are beneficial and crucial to growth. Sometimes, you have to experience the frustration of learning the same lessons over and over again because the repetition cements truth into your mind. After several years of doing this, I can tell you that I'm improving as I continue to learn (and relearn) what I need. It's probably taking me longer than it should, but I'm still going! :) If I can only remember that faith and focus on Christ needs to be the center for this (and anything I do) I will walk on water! My moments of sinking feelings are the result of looking in the wrong direction (or looking directly at the raging waters beneath my feet). What I need to be doing most is remembering that Jesus is right in front of me; always with me. He may allow me to sink so that I can learn a faith-filled lesson, but He will never let me drown! Though, being empowered by the Holy Spirit is voluntary. I have to allow Him to help me by yielding and calling out to Him; realizing that my ways have a proven track record of failure. Yet, it is those failures that pave the road of growth and all those stepping stones of mistakes can still be of help to me (Romans 8:28). In my weaknesses, He is strong. I'm learning to be more appreciative and thankful for His grace and His downright awesomeness!! ;) 

To wrap it all up, watch this YouTube video of Britt Nicole's song "Walk on the Water". I love this song! God bless you all! Thanks for your support! Grace and peace to you!