Thursday, November 25, 2010

Living the Dream

“Are you living the dream?” This was the somewhat perplexing question that a co-worker (Bob) asked me one day. It’s been a while, but I believe my first reaction to this question (which he asks frequently) was, “are you?” He said yes. This was surprising to me because who would ever guess that his job as a Walmart cashier would be anyone’s dream come true?! I laughed because even though working in the jewelry department at Walmart is nice, it’s not truly what I would define as “living the dream”. I do love the fact that I work in a department where I’m surrounded by things that glitter and sparkle (what girl wouldn’t?!) but it’s not the dream I thought I would be living. Oh, it’s a “dream” alright, but not my ideal (and more often than not, it’s more like a nightmare). However, just to clarify, I mean my life in general and not namely or specifically my new job. I have had so many life-altering changes thrust at me all at once. It’s been overwhelming to say the least!! Even as predictable as my certain future started becoming, it was still beyond any measure of preparation. Foreseeable and pending as something may be, it’s still hard to prepare for those mysterious certainties; even when they are foreshadowed. Warning bells serve their purpose; but there truly is no “ready.” It’s hard to weather a hurricane; even if you have withstood severe storms. Forces of nature are a lot heavier than every-day downpours!

Divorce and single-parenthood is my new reality; one that still hasn’t fully sunken in yet. My world is a pile of shattered dreams right now. Everything I ever wanted (and had) has been stripped away and replaced with something totally foreign. I had thought that I was living in a dream come true, but time began revealing that there would be no happy ending. Well, at least not for THAT dream! As an old classmate of mine pointed out, the dream isn’t dead; it just changed (thanks, Chris!). Things are different. There can be a new dream (and a better dream!). The one good thing about rebuilding is that you can restore and improve upon that which was shattered and make it grander than before!

Therefore, my goal is to have the kind of attitude Bob has. He views his job as a blessing and in doing so, he truly does “live the dream.” He mentioned the fact that there are lots out there that would love to live our dream right now. He said that there were hundreds of people filling out applications in order to live the dream of having a job. It reminds me to be thankful (especially because I’m full-time - which is not something you find at Walmart very often!). That, my friends, is what you would call a silver lining to the dark clouds of life!

Metaphorically speaking, things aren’t always ideal. Life is a series of dreams. No one has good dreams all the time. Some of them are strange, unpleasant, and even terrifying. All are different types having different effects. Some we remember, and others we dismiss and/or forget as quickly as they came. The one thing that is certain is that no “dream” lasts forever. They cycle and change (and so do we). As pitifully low as my faith has been, I know that it always rebounds. Therefore, I say with a budding resurge of confidence that Romans 8:28 remains true because God keeps His promises. So, I look forward to the fact that everything will work out for good because He has a plan and purpose for me and will use every element (both good and bad) of my life to develop my character and rebuild and restore me as He did Joseph, Job, and so many others. My faith in that promise will grow as my trust in that truth deepens and solidifies more securely in my heart. It may be difficult and horrible for a while (as several of my fellow sufferers have told me) but it will get better….someday. None of us know when (and sometimes we have to wait longer than we would like) but we all have hope.

As I think about all I have to hope for, I am reminded of a few stellar moments from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” (which my dear friend, Adam, recommended that I watch) in which the character vents her “what ifs”. She wonders if there will ever be someone to cook for in her kitchen, live in the bedrooms, or if there will ever be a wedding in her beautiful yard. A guy tells her there was a train track that was built nearby before a train was even able to run on it. Yet, it was a statement of faith that someday, there would be (and there was). And, in the end, their were people she cooked for, a friend and her baby to live in her home, and a wedding she had in her yard for a couple who were like family to her. Her wishes all came true; even if not in the way she originally thought. She was also blessed with a new love of her life. A friend had told her it would happen when she wasn’t looking; kind of like how she, herself, would wake up covered in ladybugs after exhausting herself for hours looking for them when she was younger.

That movie spoke of faith, patience, and being content where you’re at while you believe for better days to come; even if, like the character, I can hardly see beyond the pain of my divorce. I really related with how she said that the surprising fact is, divorce doesn’t kill you. One thinks that it would (and it should) because it’s so sudden and painful like that of a head on collision or a shot to the heart. However, you don’t die; you survive. It almost seems like torture, but you learn to live again. That is all I can hope for. And, like Scarlett O’Hara, I won’t let anything lick me! I will survive and overcome!

My aim now is to just keep “living the dream” each day; and be grateful for where I am at as I wait for better dreams to come true. There is lots to be thankful for; including the fact that I got to spend my favorite holiday with my family today (and drama-free this year!). This truly has been a blessed day! I have been blissfully happy as I relished each and every moment (and morsel lol) today with my loving family! I am truly thankful and blessed to have my kids, my family, and all my true blue friends and co-workers that have helped me go on living! Praise God for all of you!!

Grace and peace to all of you as you live your dreams!! God bless you all and God bless this awesome country of ours that we are fortunate enough to live in!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Faith Isn't Cheesy!

Sometimes, I just get that nudge inside that something has to be blogged. It’s a sense of urgency that has the feel of, “this is going to change someone’s life…I must share it NOW!” Though, usually, that someone is me. Whether anything I ever post helps anyone else or not, I’m always assured that God’s Word never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11). So, at the very least, it always does this poor soul some good! 

Oh, how I’ve missed this! I have a “welcome home” kind of feeling right now! It’s been months since I have blogged (my friend, Shane, pointed out that I am so far behind!). It‘s not intentional, but my life has changed so much in the past three months and I haven’t had the time to do many of the things I used to do. So, just a quick synopsis, for those who don’t know, before I get to the subject of what inspired this entry:

On July 8th, the day after my birthday, my children and I were forced to move out. We moved in with my Dad and step-mom and have been trying to adjust to our new life ever since. The kids seem happy and content, but Mommy is having a harder time. It’s difficult to adapt to so many things all at once and figure out how to cope and heal after spending over ten years of my life with the one I thought was going to love me forever. I had always thought (and been told) that I am a strong person, but I have never felt more weak and broken than I do right now. Though, what little faith I have left tells me that I will be eventually be ok; and the prayers and support of many keep me hanging on and give me hope (even if I’m only hanging on by a thread). So, please know that I am thankful for all of you who are helping me hold my head up! You all know who you are, but just to name a few, a BIG thanks to my Dad and Lauri (for whom I do not have enough words to thank or express my gratitude! THANK YOU for your support in every way and for being our refuge and safe place!), my Mom, Nat, and Ryan (whose love and support from afar is a comfort to me no matter how great the miles), and my Grandma Sauers who continues to amaze me with all she is able to give of herself (you are so brave to tackle the task of caring for Gianna when needed lol). To every single one of the rest of my loving family, I cherish and appreciate you as well! Thank you!! Also, my AMAZING friends (particularly - but certainly not limited to - Adam, Jama, Shane, Amy, April, Mama Saun, Facebook friends, co-workers, and Casey’s teachers). I would not survive this without you (and thank you for being true friends)! I am eternally grateful for your love, prayers, wisdom, support, and even the laughter you bring to my life when I need it the most!! I love you! OXOXO Oh, and to my haters, I am thankful for you too! I forgive you and you make me stronger, and I bless you!

And now, to talk about what stirred me to blog in the first place. It’s not too far off from what I have already been talking about, but the starting point is a little different (and maybe unusual). This blog is actually the result of an episode of “Glee” that I just watched on Hulu. Anyone that knows me knows that it’s one of my favorite shows (even if there is some content here and there that I don’t truly agree with). Apparently, “Glee” is pushing the envelope even further this season. This episode, “Grilled Cheesus”, nearly makes me want to say “I will never watch it again.” Almost. That’s because while there are often many mistruths, the show often redeems itself (though not usually all the way) by the end of the episode (Click on the link if you want to see what I mean. Please note that episodes expire after a while, so this link will not always work). 

The title of the episode deal’s with Finn’s issue of a grilled cheese sandwich that appears to have the face of Jesus in it. It’s reminiscent of the stories we often hear about people finding Jesus or the Virgin Mary’s face in unusual places (and how people end up praying/worshiping the object rather than God himself. Satan is clever with these deceptions isn‘t he?). Finn tends to go to that extreme. He ends up praying to it and thinks that all his prayers are being answered when things start going his way (the team wins their game, he gets to fool around with his girlfriend, and he gets to be the quarterback again). Yet, he feels particularly bad when that third prayer happens as a result of the other quarterback getting injured which prompts him to share his grilled cheese nonsense with the school guidance counselor. She does set him straight by pointing out that winning the game came as a result of teamwork and a better coach. Also, what she appropriately classified as “inappropriate touching” was a result of Rachel’s own free-will (which, as of course she didn’t mention, wouldn’t be a prayer God would answer to Finn’s liking anyways considering it’s not something in line with His Word). Thirdly, the quarterback injury was a result of an opposing team member being over-age, on steroids, and practically crushing him to death. Finn expresses his disappointment by saying he felt rather ordinary again and like he didn’t have the direct line to God like he thought he did. Of course, those of us that know better would have told Finn that one DOES have a direct line to God, and that’s through Jesus Christ (and not a grilled cheese) who makes intercession for us (Isaiah 53:12, Romans 8:26-27). So, Finn doesn’t have to feel ordinary if he belonged to Christ and became an heir with Him (Romans 8:17). That should make you feel pretty special!

The entire episode just screamed “ride the fence” because it didn’t decide on anything. Just the basic, “whatever works for you is fine.” Sue Sylvester and Kurt both expressed their unbelief and disgust at the idea of God. Sue’s issue was the fact that she prayed hard for God to heal her sister, when she was younger, when she realized that the beautiful woman she valued her sister to be was ridiculed by everyone else (her sister in the show has Down Syndrome). However, her sister corrected her as they talked over a game of checkers and assured her that God doesn’t make mistakes and asked Sue if she would like her to pray for her and a teary-eyed Sue said “yes” (though they showed no prayers being made right then). 

Kurt’s issues dealt with his father who suffered a heart attack and was currently comatose in the hospital. He was pushing his friends (and their faith) away as they offered their help. One of his reasons was that he stated his anger at God for making him gay and then directing His followers to hate him. He also expressed that he didn’t feel that churches were welcoming of gay people (though he did attend church with Mercedes later on). Here we find a lot of twisted ideas (on both sides, mind you). First of all, God does not create or permit sin and Christ died to atone for it. We are born with a sin nature as a result of this fallen world (and we all have a free will) and the sin vices that we have vary from person to person. One person’s struggle is completely different from another’s. Take me, for example. One of the things that I struggle with is my weight and tendencies to overindulge. While I am accepted by God (and pretty much everyone else) just as I am, it isn’t permissible for me to be a glutton or to misuse/abuse the body that He gave me. Whether or not family genetics determines how easy/hard it is to maintain a healthy body is no excuse. I am still responsible for how I care for and rehabilitate myself to correct the problem. It would be a mistake for me to say, “I’m fat and that’s just the way I am and there’s nothing I can do about it and everyone should just accept it.” That would be incorrect thinking. There IS something I can do about it and I SHOULD (and am!). No matter what sin a person struggles with, there IS hope and we should actively work on obtaining our freedom through Christ from our various bondages. Deliverance is always possible (and available)!

That brings me to the other point of Kurt’s comments. He is wrong in stating that God directs His followers to hate gay people. We are told to love one another (John 13:35). Jesus does not condemn anyone who is in Him. He was infamous for dining with “sinners” prostitutes, tax collectors, and those whom society despised. However, He didn’t endorse their behavior, and those that encountered Christ had a change of heart/life. He approached people with love and gentleness, not condemnation. Remember the woman at the well (John 4:1-30)? How about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)? Didn’t he tell us not to throw stones (verse 7)? Though, notice that after he told the woman that he did not condemn her, he instructed her in that last verse to leave her life of sin. We who are in Him should not continue in sin (1 John 3:6-9, 1 John 5:17-19). And we certainly aren’t condemned if we are walking after the Spirit and not the flesh (Romans 8:1-2). 

However, Kurt is sadly right about one thing. There are many that hate and don’t welcome gay people. There are those that condemn, hate, slander, and ostracize. The body of Christ needn’t do this and that’s where some Christians twist “God hates sin” into “God hates people” and that is NOT true! No matter what the issue, we should have open arms to welcome and help people just as Christ does for us. It’s like an article I once read where a former homosexual was criticizing the church for not being there for Ray Boltz (and others) when they “came out” (I couldn't find the article I read before, but I did find a good one here). If they had, they might have gotten the help and support they needed but instead, they felt unsafe about talking about their struggles because of the way some (like the Westboro Baptist Church) treat people. We have support groups for sex/drug/alcohol addicts, anger and overeating addictions, and everything else under the sun, but in this area we are failing profusely and mishandling it badly! This bothers me greatly because I have close friends that are gay as well as those that have overcome it, so I have great compassion on this issue. Everyone is God’s creation; precious in His sight. They are a treasure to Him and they are a treasure to me as well, and I know how I would feel if someone starting listing my sins and condemning me to Hell for them instead of embracing me with love and being there for me to help me overcome my struggles. I would rather have someone say, “Let’s go for a walk, burn some calories, and go get a salad when we’re done!” rather than, “You’re fat and you’re doomed! Sucks to be you! Looks like you’re going to Hell, you glutton!” One statement says, “I love you and am walking through this with you…how can we help each other?” and the other says, “You’re on your own loser!” Which approach do you think is more effective, loving, and accepting? You can love and accept a person without endorsing sin. Jesus modeled that all the time. We should do the same!

Even though the show doesn’t always get things right, it does give you food for thought (if you know how to sort through the mess and know the truth from lies). It also illustrates the struggle we all have with faith from time to time. That’s what sparked inside of me so much when I watched it, because I can relate to it so much right now. Sometimes, I feel like Sue and Kurt and feel that maybe God really isn’t there and that if He was, He’s not a good God because of all I’m going through. But then, I remember that God isn’t the one who wrongs me, it’s the free-will of others that wrongs me. God is always perfect and good and can do no evil. People do things that are wrong, but God is there to make it right; though “when” He makes things right isn’t always on MY timetable. However, He promises that He WILL make things right (Hebrews 10:30). He who is judge is the one that will deal with everything accordingly and it’s not my right (or my job) to take on His role and pick up those stones. I am hoping for the self-control and grace I need to leave stones on the ground, because just like anyone else, I do fail and pick them up sometimes. If I do, I should give them to Jesus and He will put it in His rock pile to deal with. 

The biggest point that “Glee” made is that everyone needs something to believe in; especially in the hard times because what hope do you have if you don’t? Sue thought that that “fantasy” was useless, but that comes from a character who’s faith is only in herself. Real faith isn't fantasy or "cheesy". True faith is powerful! And, whether an atheist will admit it or not, the fact of the matter is that even they believe in SOMETHING because we are all created and geared to worship something; whether that’s God or self or someone else. The object/person that a person puts faith in may be different, but we all believe in "something." However, the problem with the general “something to believe in” idea is that it’s very vague and very misleading if you aren’t trusting in something (rather, someone) unfailing. Obviously, people fail us and we even fail ourselves. There is nothing completely unfailing, reliable, and trustworthy except for Jesus Christ. As Chad once said, “He’s the only way because He’s the only one.” Who else died for you, made you an heir with Him, and is coming back for you? Who or what else promises grace rather than earning “heaven” on your own merits and legalism? Why choose Jesus? Because He chose YOU! Now THAT’S something to believe in; and we'll see just what faith can do as a result!

Grace and peace to all of you! God bless all of you for reminding me that there really is something to believe in every day because you all believe in me (rather, the one who is IN me - and I in Him). Thanks for building me up and reminding me who holds my future and that I’ll have the strength to make it through because of HIM (Philippians 4:13) and can‘t do it without Him (John 15:5)…nor could I do it without so many of you walking through this with me too! Praise God for all of you!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Birthday Blog and What's "Up" with Me

As some of you may or may not know, something is "up" with me. So, I will briefly share about it so people don't have to speculate or keep asking me. However, before I get to that part, I know everyone has also been curious as to how my big day (my birthday) went. :) So, I'll share the "happy stuff" first.

To sum it up, my birthday was AWESOME!! I picked up my BFF/sis, April, and we went to Fort Wayne. Before we went to The Forum for our scheduled spa day, we stopped by the mall to buy ourselves tiaras so we could wear them for our pictures later (BRILLIANT idea, sis!). :) Then, we went to The Forum and had an AWESOME time! First, a massage. Next, a facial. Then, a manicure/pedicure, followed by hairstyling. Then, as if that weren't enough, Steve offered to do our make-up. It wasn't part of our spa package, but everyone was so excited to be a part of our awesome birthday that they were just beyond generous! Steve did our make-up for FREE (though April tipped him generously)! Thank you, Steve! Thank you, Forum (and thank you to Lydia, Lisa, and everyone that worked with April and me!). You guys are AWESOME and made our birthday unforgettable!

Next, we went back to the mall. It was funny because we were all dressed up and wearing our tiaras and lots of people were staring at us lol. Pretty funny to be all dressed up and eating at Auntie Anne's before our photo session, but we were hungry after being at the spa for like six hours! LOL

So, the time came for pictures! The heat of the day took the curl out of my hair quickly, be we still looked pretty awesome! :) Despite having to wait a while, we got a free sheet of prints to make up for it (plus we had coupons for more) so we got a heck of a deal on some pictures! Awesome!

As if that weren't enough, April had made reservations at Baker Street for dinner. Oh my gosh, it was PERFECT! The place was BEAUTIFUL! Everything from the music, atmosphere, decor, food, etc. was AMAZING!! The food is worth every penny - and we got free birthday desserts! April got the cheesecake and I got creme brulee (my first time ever having it!). Oh my gosh, so good!! Delicious entrees, yummy soup and bread, and such heavenly desserts! Plus, we opened the gifts we got each other!! And, wouldn't you know it, we both got each other a musical card that played the SAME song: "Girls Just Want To Have Fun." Do we know each other or what?!! :)

As if that weren't enough, we decided to keep the evening going! After all, in just one more hour, it would officially be April's birthday. We didn't want our big day to end! So, we called up April's bro and we all hung out for a while and sang karaoke. Well, April and I did anyways (and so did our friend, Mikey, who sang happy birthday to us too lol). And, we had our tiaras on the whole night and got treated like the birthday princesses that we were! :) We had an awesome time and then finally had to go home - but not before having a ton more girl talk on the way lol. I love my sis!! OXOX

My birthday was definitely one to remember! Such a high point! Though, as we know, the highs can sometimes be followed by some lows (or in my case, a very BIG low!). Ok, so here's what's "up", people. To put it bluntly, the kids and I moved out (and moved in) with my Dad and Lauri the day after my birthday. Mitch and I are getting a divorce. Those closest to me know my situation and that this is something that I have never WANTED to do. However, I'm in the position where I HAVE to. That's ALL I will say publicly. I'm not a mean person, and I don't do character assasination (it only reflects poorly on your own). However, I can't speak for anyone else, so I don't know who has heard what and frankly, I don't care. Those that know me know my heart and my character and I trust that true friends will have the wisdom and discernment to see the truth and disregard any lies and junk that might possibly be out there. Like I said, I don't know that there is, but I'm just saying. As Dr. Phil would say, "I don't care how flat you make a pancake, it's still got two sides." So, if we are acting maturely, I would think that one wouldn't take one side of the pancake over the other and just truly look at the whole thing - if you know what I mean. I don't expect (or request) anyone to take sides. All I hope for is that anyone who has nothing better to do than examine hotcakes would at least have enough sense to know the pancake as a whole. Hard to cry out that one side is a little over-cooked when the other is burnt black. I don't know if this metaphorical jargon makes any sense, but you get the idea. I guess all I'm saying is don't judge either side too harshly (or at all) or take anything as gospel unless you know the whole truth. Unless you're prepared to serve up your own pancake on a platter for all to see, I respectfully ask for you to hold any servings of judgment, condemnation, rudeness, and self-righteous advice. Thank you! :)

On that note, I guess the only other thing I have to say is thanks!! THANK YOU to the people who have been with me now, and through the years, and have given me their love, compassion, and support! I appreciate the true friends that I have that truly understand what's going on and are supporting me 100%! It means everything to me (you have no idea!). Please, keep the prayers coming (for all involved). I'm a mixed bag of emotions; and having a really hard time managing them.

Also, for those of you that keep asking me how you can help me, my answer (in addition to my first request of prayer) is that you can help me by letting me help you! Most of you know that I'm a Team Beachbody Coach and aside from my main reason being that I want to help people get fit and healthy, I really need the income I get from it (obviously). So, if you're one of my customers, let me know how I can help you get the most out of Team Beachbody. It's mutually beneficial! I get to help you with your health and fitness and you are helping a soon-to-be single Mom provide for herself and her kids by purchasing Beachbody programs/supplements/Shakeology/etc. and/or becomming a coach yourself (all those interested in coaching, and all the benefits it offers, please let me know!!!). ALL NEW CUSTOMERS WELCOME!! I would LOVE to be your coach and have you on my team!! :) Check out my "before" and "after" photos here, and sign up!! This is more than a job/income for me. It's one of my passions and I am good at what I do and am meant to do it! It gives me purpose and it blesses me to give back to others and see people transform their health and their lives (just as I continue to do with my own!).

Ok, I guess that's it! Would have posted some pictures with this blog, but I'm not on my own computer. You'll have to check out my picture album (if you're on my friends list on Facebook). Grace and peace to all of you! God bless you all! Thanks for your love and support!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Changes for Changes

Last week, I mentioned that I had gained a few pounds back (went from 186 to 189 for whatever reason). Well, this week, I lost 3.4 pounds which puts me at 185.6! So, I'm slightly under what I was before I had that gain! 

I'm also doing a lot better with this new phase of ChaLean Extreme. Maybe this "lean" phase is starting to pay off! As I said previously, I'm definitely looking and measuring smaller (regardless of the scale). So, I've been proud of my progress! Now, it looks like the scale is playing catch-up. :) I'm hoping that next week's weigh-in will show me a few pounds lighter and that my momentum with that will start up again. After all, I've been working hard this whole time and doing my best to stay in balance. 

One thing that I have been wondering is if I needed to back off slightly. I read that you can sometimes sabotage yourself by OVER-training. So, I didn't workout on my Friday rest day (like I often do). And, this week is going to be a busy week (birthday included!). So, I'm going to take my birthday (Wednesday) off as my rest day instead of Friday. Plus, this weekend will be filled with extra exercises because I have a lot of miscellaneous sorting/cleaning/organizing to do this weekend; so I'm sure that will take a lot out of me lol. 

If there's one thing that I should know by now, it's that the body is unpredictable. Sometimes, you think you got it figured out and that you've found some kind of "pattern" or "formula" and that it should just keep working for you. It's just not true! I'm constantly changing my nutrition and exercise to try and find a new normal. It's a pain in the butt (for sure!) but you gotta give the body changes if you want to SEE changes! Changes for changes lol. If you are intent on just staying the same, then you can't ever expect anything to be different. Why stay in a rut? Change is good! We have to adjust and adapt and learn to accept them when they come! 

Grace and peace to all of you and God bless you all!! 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My "Little Black Dress" Moment!

Wow! It's already Wednesday and I still haven't gotten around to posting my weight-loss update, until now! Last week, I didn't even get around to posting it at all! Though, there wasn't much to say anyways considering that the scale showed a 1.8 pound gain (yeah, bummer). However, that was my first gain in a while so I wasn't too upset about it. I've been doing my best. I figured it had something to do with the fact that I was in the last week of the second phase of ChaLean Extremeand I always seem to level off at the end of a phase. Though, the upside was, the tape measure showed what the scale didn't. Almost everything that I measured was smaller (as it should be!). So, I know that I am building muscle and looking/feeling leaner (and my clothes show it too). So, the evil scale doesn't bother me as much....especially when I can wear a couple MEDIUM shirts that my BFF gave me of hers (yeah, I haven't been a medium since 8th or 9th grade!!!). 

I had to comfort myself with these kinds of things as I weighed in again Monday because it showed another gain (1.2 pounds). Though, when checking in today, it shows me down already. So, I'm not quite sure what's all up with that unless I really bombed with my calories (which I did go over a couple times last weekend - which isn't typical). Yet, as hard as I'm working and burning, I've been really hungry. Also, I had had that week a while back where I under-ate, so I wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing that again. Balance - such a tricky thing! You never know what your body is going to do sometimes! Just when you think things are figured out, it throws you a curve ball! 

The other thing, aside from the new and tougher ChaLean phase (oh my gosh, it's kicking my butt!), is probably a stress factor. I won't go into details, but I admit there has been some stress going on. I guess there's all sorts of things that has caused me to gain those 3 pounds in the past couple weeks (though, some of it could be just muscle too). Normally, I would be upset about it, but because my tape measure and my clothes (and my mirror) don't confirm the taunting of the scale, I'm not bothered. I know it will come back off (and then some). There's no stoppin' this. ;) I'm giving it my all and despite any mistakes or anything else that comes at me, I'm going to get there! 

Maybe the most recent thing that has me most encouraged about my progress is the little black dress test. A week from today is my birthday and my friend/sis's birthday is the day after mine. So, April and I decided to have a spa day and then get some BFF photos taken afterwards (and we have been looking forward to this for MONTHS!). We bought our birthday dresses last Saturday. You should have heard me in the dressing room! I mean, ladies, you know how it is when you pick out a dress and think "Oh my gosh, I wonder how that's going to look on me? Hopefully as good as it does on the hanger!" You slip it on and hope not to be disappointed and then your jaw drops when you look and the mirror and say, "DANG! That's me! Oh my gosh, I can't believe it actually looks good!" Yeah, it's a beautiful feeling of accomplishment and you just feel pretty (oh, so pretty!!). Yeah, that's totally how it was for me! I'm going to rock out in that black dress! :) 

So, my "little black dress moment" is enough to keep me in a positive mindset. Though, I still need to be ultimately and prayerfully focused on God because I risk failing horribly if I get to thinking I am too self-sufficient. I think that's why He allows these temporary gains because it is the tap on the shoulder to remind me, "Hey, you aren't invincible. You think you don't need me now? Remember who's really in control here. You can't do this alone (John 15:5). Rely on my strength and not your own (Philippians 4:13)." Yeah, we all need those pride busters to help us refocus! 

Grace and peace to all of you! God bless you all and thank you for your support!! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

God on the Greenway: The Storm

Many of life’s most memorable moments are the things that are spontaneous and unexpected. Whether it’s a pleasant surprise out of nowhere, or an ugly mishap that tragically changes your life, these are the moments that impact your entire being. 

Today, I had one of those moments. It was totally out of the blue; rather, out of the gray. The atmosphere was starting to get stormy and windy and there I was - running on the Greenway. I had been pushing my hardest because I’m hoping to run the Swiss Days 5k again this year (and beat my time). I was proud as peaches to run a mile in slightly under twelve minutes (usually, I’m thirteen or more). All total, I ran three miles in just over thirty-five minutes (I’m hoping to run it in thirty-five or less). I was REALLY pushing it and working hard to get as good as I got! 

However, that wasn’t my “big moment” of the day. Not even close! My moment was when the storm started to come in. I could see the white sky behind me and nothing but clouds in front of me. I had no idea that we were even expecting a storm, but I was rather excited about it! For some reason, I always hope for it to rain when I run because there is just something so refreshing about it (especially when you’re hot, pouring sweat, and your clothes are clinging to you!). However, I always think to myself that God has a sense of humor because He usually doesn’t let it rain for me. Sometimes, that frustrates me because I have actually prayed for rain lots of times when I ran. The irony always is, it rains before or after.  

As I neared the end of my run, it was getting extremely windy and dark. It didn’t look pleasant, but I had peace. I didn’t feel scared, even though it nearly looked like tornado conditions. There was even a car that stopped and a gal rolled down the window and said, “Melissa, get in.” I was pretty sure that it was my friend Patty, but I couldn’t see very well (come to find out, it was my friend, Lora). I didn’t stop and I kept going and told her I was just parked up ahead (thanks for offering though, Lora!). ;) I just couldn’t give up; not when I was that close! I had to persevere and push through! I knew He was with me and that I was going to make it! I had no doubt!

I finished my run and walked around the parking lot to cool down and bring my heart rate back to normal. I felt accomplished, victorious, and relaxed as I waited for the rain to make up its mind. I was still hoping to get caught in a downpour as a sort of celebration. Gently, it started to rain a little. I love the smell and feel of rain! It felt so good and calming and I was grateful for it; but wishing for more. It was so light and I felt like the drops were falling harder all around me except for ON me. I smiled as I thought of my friend Amy and how we always talk about “dancing like retards in the rain”. 

I also felt the crazy urge to be like Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump” and scream, “YOU CALL THIS A STORM?!!” I desperately wanted more because a while back, I had begged God to let it rain on me to show me that he was weeping with me (in regards to some personal pain I don’t wish to disclose publicly at this time). I didn’t get a drop that day, and it killed me. Though, I felt as though while I was begging for rain, somewhere there might have been a person who was begging for it NOT to rain. “Ok, God, I’ll give you that,“ I had said. I know that sometimes, we don’t even know what we’re asking for anyways and tonight, that totally dawned on me while I was walking and having my Lieutenant Dan moment. I had never really understood WHY God would only allow it to rain before or after my chance to go outside and run. I thought He was being a little funny with me by withholding what I wanted (or thought I wanted). You know what the reality is? He could give us exactly what we want (or deserve) but He holds back. He restrains. He disallows. Not to be mean, but to spare us and show us mercy (just like with Job and how He set limits on Satan and what he could do). Though, what turmoil He DOES allow develops our character. 

Everything suddenly seemed so obvious to me. He was saying, “Do you realize you are ASKING for a storm? A downpour?” Sure, I had a calm in the storm, but why ASK for it? What God really wants is for me to be sheltered and safe; to protect me. He will allow what He allows, but will not give us more than we can handle. He has withheld the rains and the storms (literally and figuratively) for reasons that only He knows. He has spared me from myself and who knows what else!!

All of these times, I would be thinking of Superchick’s “Stand in the Rain” song, or Michael W. Smith's “Healing Rain”, "Let It Rain", or any number of songs that celebrate being drowned in Jesus and overcoming pain. Yet, I was missing the clear message that God was sending me: You’re not alone in the storm. I will be your peace and your calm. I’m holding back the damage that can be done; the damage that sometimes you even ask for or bring on yourself. Why ask for the storms? There will be plenty of them to deal with and embrace without having to ask. 

I just couldn’t stop pondering and taking it all in. Even so, I felt numb; like I couldn’t even feel it. I wanted more, even though I was already drenched. It really was coming down (and I was soaked) but it wasn’t enough. I reached my hands high to the sky as if reaching for His presence. I knew that my heart’s longing was much deeper than a yearning for rain. It was about intimacy and presence; fellowship and assurance. I wanted to absorb it and drink it up. I wanted to experience something much deeper than what I could put my finger on.

By that time, I knew that I had stood outside for an efficient amount of time and that God was urging me to the safety of the van (He signaled with a soft thunder roll). I kept wanting to just stand there and be - I don’t know - washed. However, I felt like He was saying that it was enough and that He wanted me safe and out of the storm. So, I sat inside the van for the longest time; not really doing anything. The fire trucks that I seen and heard were reminders that there was danger in the storms and I prayed that whatever was going on, the people involved in the emergency would be ok. 

In the depth of my heart, I felt like I needed a bigger release. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. For the most part, the tears just wouldn’t come. Either I have forgotten how to cry or I have conditioned myself enough lately to stop wasting tears that I can’t even see the need for it anymore. Even as I type this, I feel that I’m on the verge - but nothing is coming. Well, Solomon said there is a time for everything. Even though I was alone and had the opportunity, it just wasn’t the right “time” after all. I think I was just crying on the inside; it didn’t necessarily have to “show” on the outside. Or, maybe I have already grieved and moved through its stages more than I thought and that’s why I have kind of a sad calm. 

As odd and strangely painful as it seems, all of it was a beautiful moment and I will never forget this run. What stands out most in my mind is something I heard once (I can’t remember where): ‘Sometimes He calms the storm. Other times, He calms His child.’ No matter how the wind blows, or how the rain pours, there is safety in the storm. He wants to get you to that place; He always provides it. Sometimes, you will boldly “Stand in the Rain”, just like the song. Though, you will always have a shelter from it. You don’t have to brave it alone and when God says “enough” you’ll rest in His refuge and He will cradle you in His loving and merciful embrace; drying you off from the downpours of life and wiping away your tears. He’s always right there. 

Grace and peace be with each and every one of you through all your storms! Our Father is our strength, our comfort, and our refuge! God bless you!  

Monday, June 14, 2010

Progress and "Problems" ;)

Everyone knows that I'm not a "Monday" person. Furthermore, I am not a morning person either. However, I have learned to love and appreciate both in the last few weeks. 

Of course, today is weigh-in day and I am happy to report that I am down another 1.6 pounds. I now weigh 186 (and falling). ;) Praise God!! 

I am very satisfied with that loss. I didn't think I would have one at all because throughout the week, my weight showed that I was staying exactly where I was. Despite burning over 4,000 calories last week (I know, right?!) I knew that I would have trouble showing a loss. Why? Because I wasn't eating enough. 

The thing is, none of this was really intentional. I worked out the same as normal and usually burn 2,500 calories. It ended up being more because of a few spontaneous workouts (as well as pushing harder when I DID workout; partly because of wanting to get some frustration out). One of my extra workouts involved the the Shaun T's Fit Kids Club video (I was helping Casey learn how to do it - and it's a very fun and simple video! I highly recommend it for kids!!). Then, I had a short workout with Brandi when I was showing her how to Turbo Jam. And finally, I decided to run on Friday (my rest day) because the Swiss Days 5k is coming up and I haven't run in a while. So, I burned quite a bit last week! 

Everyone knows that exercise burns calories, so I should have literally burned my entire butt off with that kind of number. ;) However, what you may or may not know is that if you don't consume enough calories, your body freaks out and hold onto all that it gets - and I know that. Typically, this is not my problem. Usually, I would be blogging about the opposite issue: overconsumption. However, due to the Shakeology, I have not been craving food (including sweets). That is an AWESOME thing for me, but now I have to be very purposeful in my eating. I still got an amazing amount of protein (and for once, my carbs and fat weren't on the high end of the spectrum) but I still didn't get enough calories. I KNEW that I was sabotaging myself by not eating enough, but I just couldn't seem to make myself do it (especially on the days where I had a nervous stomach - and those of you closest to me know why). Heck, even when I gave blood yesterday, the thought of eating their cookies to replenish made me feel even more sick to my stomach. But, I did have a cookie (and a couple doughnuts). I wasn't craving them and surprisingly, they didn't really taste that good to me. I NEVER thought I would have to MAKE myself eat the kind of stuff that I used to think I HAD to have lol. I did feel better and more stabilized after eating it, but that's the only reason I ate it.

Ok, so my goal for this week is to make sure that I eat enough. I'm still going to work just as hard and am excited about finishing this final week of the "push" phase of ChaLean Extreme. My fellow Beachbody coaches have told me, "just wait until 'lean'" so I am VERY excited to see a new surge of progress when I start that phase! I'm ready for it!! The "push" phase has been GREAT and I have really enjoyed it. Though, I can tell that my body is ready for a fresh change if it's going to continue to progress. No plateaus here!! Got to keep changing it up! 

Speaking of changes, I still can't help but do double takes whenever I look in the mirror. I am finally SEEING the changes in my body and for the first time, I am seeing and feeling the strength and definition in myself. Plus, there are clothes that I can wear that were tight only a few weeks ago (and now, they're not)! ;) Though, this also presents a very unique problem because there is going to come a point where I exceed the smallest size that is in my closet. Back in 2007, I got to 178. I am EIGHT POUNDS away from that, so anything beyond 178 (as I aim for my 150 goal) is going to mean that I'm seriously going to need a tailor! ;) And, I continue to have a frustrating shoe problem, because my size 11 shoes don't fit right anymore (but my feet still seem to be too big for a 10). So, progress is bringing its "problems". ;) Though, these kind of problems (while mildly irritating) are actually pretty welcome problems to have. ;) And, all of you KNOW that I'm tough enough to tackle it and will overcome!! (Philippians 4:13). 

Thank you all for reading and for supporting me in this!! Grace and peace to all of you! And, as always, if you have questions about Shakeology or ChaLean Extreme (or anything Beachbody) please feel free to ask! I'm an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and I'm here to help (sign up for FREE by clicking "sign up" on my page and I will be assigned to you as your coach!). God bless you all!! 

Monday, June 7, 2010


I have such a great update for you all!! I am so excited I can hardly stand it!! I have so many good things to report and I am just SO THANKFUL!! Praise God! What an answer to prayer!! 

Ok, first of all, I have an AMAZING loss to report! Last week, I was 192.2 but now (get this!) I am 187.6!! Can I get an AMEN?!! Woo hoo!! GLORY!! That means I lost nearly FIVE POUNDS this past week (nearly eight since starting Shakeology three weeks ago). I had been stagnant for far too long and I am SO EXCITED to finally be moving in the right direction! So glad to make it to the 80’s!! I feel like I am out of my own personal “fat” zone that I‘ve been lingering in for too long (if that makes any sense). I can’t wait for the 70’s! ;) The closest I got was in 2007 when I made it to 178. Getting beyond that is going to be one heck of a milestone accomplishment for me, that’s for sure! 

That’s not the only good news! My body fat is down by over 1% since the end of April! I am getting SO CLOSE to my goal of 150! I have been saying for YEARS that I was going to get there, but THIS YEAR is finally going to be THE year!! ;) 

Of course, I am super excited about my weight-loss, but maybe even MORE exciting is the fact that I am seeing the difference as well as feeling it (I got some curves!). Pretty soon, my clothes are going to be way too big (they are getting rather loose now) and my muscles will have even more definition as I continue building strength with ChaLean Extreme! Did you know I can actually do 1-2 pushups on my toes?! Ok, so I still do MOST of them on my knees, but WOW! Do you know how HUGE that is for me?!! I could NEVER push myself up before and I HATED push-ups! I scoffed when Chalene said that I would learn to love them. Dare I say it, I’m getting close to loving them! LOL That and I can lift up to 25 pounds (each hand) on some of the exercise! Count it, people! 50 pounds total (lower body exercises - like the squats). NEVER in my life have I been this strong - EVER! I feel so incredibly awesome! I’m getting strength and endurance! I am getting PLENTY of protein and Chalene is right, “your body loves muscle!” Finally, I’m making good choices and it’s all paying off TREMENDOUSLY! Thank you, God! 

Oh, and this isn’t all!! The other pleasant surprises I have gotten through drinking Shakeology every day is the fact that it really does what it says it does! My cravings are GONE! I am NOT kidding!! My sweet tooth has disappeared and I am not insanely hungry and consumed with thoughts of food and eating all the time! Actually, quite the opposite! I have to pretty much make myself eat! I do “feel” hungry, but I am not really hungry “for” anything. You know what I mean? So, that’s nice because then I can actually choose nutritious foods on purpose because my body isn’t demanding that I eat pizza or something else that is bombarding my brain. I think it’s because the nutrition in Shakeology is so perfectly complete that my body is saying, “Hey, we got the essential nutrients we have been telling you to feed us. We won’t bug you with food now. Thanks for giving yourself what you need to function! Anything else is bonus! By the way, we‘re getting rid of the extra fat now that we know we are getting a steady supply of the right nutrition. We don‘t need this ‘cushion‘ anymore!” 

Another pleasant surprise that I started noticing is the fact that my eyes aren’t itching like crazy. This time of year, my allergies are HORRIBLE! I can’t remember the last time I itched and itched at my eyes! Could it be? Is this awesome and delicious nutrient packed shake helping with how my body copes with my allergies too?!! Oh my gosh, no way!! This is HUGE for me!! 

The verse that is on my mind right now is this: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” - Matthew 5:25. 

You know what that verse means to me? It means that for the first time in my life, I know the relief of what it’s like not to think about food all the time. I truly have better things to do! There is more to life than food and I am LIVING it! I feel so incredibly free! Food is now just that: food. I eat for the purpose of fuel and nourishment and that is it! I’m not binging or craving insane amounts. I am satisfied; so incredibly satisfied! This may sound cliché, but Shakeology has been such a miracle for me! I only wish I had tried it sooner. If I had only known that I would feel so much better, truly have more energy and not be so tired (oh how I battled depression and fatigue!) and gotten more….um…..”regular” I would have done this a long time ago! Well, I can’t get back lost time, but I’m sure making up for it now! Praise God! 

I feel like I’ve gotten my nutrition and exercise straightened out so well! Now, I can focus on other things now that I don’t have to try so hard with this! I am so grateful! Now, I am free to help and inspire others and be a better and healthier me now that I can function better! I’m so excited to continue on this journey!! I feel like I am living life now and I LOVE being a coach and helping others to achieve their goals too (click here if you want to sign up for a FREE Team Beachbody account and join my team!! I would LOVE to help you! Just click "sign up" at the top of the page). 

Grace and peace to all of you! Thanks for all your support!! God bless you all!! 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Finally! An EXTREME-LY Awesome Update!

Three words best sum up this week‘s update: “Thank you, Jesus!” After being stuck at about 194ish for what seems like FOREVER, the scale finally moved today!! And not just by a tenth or something miniscule either! No. Today, it read 192.2 which is a loss of (get ready for this!) 3.2 pounds!! Ladies and gentlemen, can I get an AMEN?!!! I'm almost to the 180's and well on my way to my goal of 150! Wow! It’s about time!!!! Oh HAPPY MONDAY (did I just say “happy” and “Monday” together? Hey Daryl, make a note of this! LOL!). 

Even though I was hopeful that this week would be “the” week for change, I wasn’t holding my breath. So, I actually feel a little surprised by today’s awesome numbers! Though, it shouldn’t really be TOO surprising, because I have been doing well (much better than what is “typical” for myself). The past couple weeks, I have had very few calorie binging days (if any). I have been much more self-controlled. I attribute that first to Christ and the fact that I am really trying to listen to His guidance when he nudges me towards (or away from) a food choice. I have also been trying to stay consistent with reading some specially selected food-related verses every morning to get my head in the right frame of mind for the day. I do much better with my choices when I do. 

Secondly, I have completed the first week of the “Push” phase in ChaLean Extreme. I have adjustable weights now (which are making a BIG difference) and I am super proud of the fact that I can lift more than what I ever thought I could! Also, dare I say, I am enjoying the Push circuits! I typically hate strength training, but something about lifting really heavy (and seeing how strong you are) and only having to do 6-8 reps in these circuits, instead of 10-12, is a LOT more fun!! Furthermore, the fact that I see an ever so slight definition in my arms is encouraging (I am now a typical dork flexing in the mirror lol). Watch this short video clip if you want to see what ChaLean Extreme is like!

Last but not least, I have been drinking Shakeolgoy every day for two weeks now and I’ve got to tell you something: Shakeology, combined with the other things mentioned above, has made a BIG difference!! I’m just as skeptical as the next person about nutrition/protein drinks and the like, but this stuff is 100% different and 100% delicious! Not chalky, TOTALLY chocolatey, and TOTALLY good for the body! I laughed at the claim that it actually satisfies and reduces your cravings, but after drinking it for two weeks, I can honestly tell you that they’re not lying (this is coming from a gal with the world’s worst sweet tooth!). My “sugar monster” has been tamed TREMENDOUSLY and I don’t battle insanely ravenous hunger anymore! Food isn’t on my brain as much as it used to be, I don‘t crave sweets as much, and I truly do feel less tired and like I have more energy! Though, you could always say it’s a placebo effect, but even if it is, it’s STILL worth it (and, hello, it tastes good and is good FOR you!). Plus, the scale is SHOWING it! Still aren't convinced? No problem! Take a minute to watch the following video. It shows you just how many fruits and veggies you would have to eat (and how much it would cost) as compared to just one glass of Shakeology! It’s an eye opener! I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big vegetable eater, and even if I was, I could never eat all that food (or afford it) each day in order to get the same nutrition! Even Chalene Johnson loves her Shakeology (you've gotta read her humorous blog entry: "My Shakeology Apology" LOL). 

Now that you've seen the video, be sure to visit my Shakeology page so you can view more information; including nutrition content, recipes, and how to order some! You won’t be sorry! You even have a 30 day guarantee (you can send it back, even if the bag is empty, and get a refund). You got nothing to lose - except the weight! (By the way, Team Beachbody Club members save 10% on all orders and coaches get a discount of 25%! Let me know if you want more information on either of these options! At the very least, please visit my profile and click “sign up“ at the top to get the basic FREE account!). 

Grace and peace to all of you! Thank you, everyone, for continuing to be supportive! I love all my cheerleaders out there that keep me going (and accountable). I’m doing well! All things through Christ (Philippians 4:13)! I can’t do it without Him (John 15:5). 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Accomplishment Isn't Future Tense

“Ok, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Just keep remembering to breathe and maintain good form.” This is what I had to tell myself yesterday; and it had nothing to do with working out. I was trying desperately to be calm, composed, and steady in my breathing. That’s because I finished the first phase of ChaLean Extreme and my results are nothing like what I expected. 

This month, I only ended up losing a total of 1.6 pounds. Yep, that’s it…..for the MONTH! My measurements have also remained the same and I couldn’t be more agitated. I’m especially perturbed because I actually did really well this week (and it looked like I had a loss earlier in the week). Aside from Sunday, I didn’t royally screw up my calories and was a “good girl”. I even worked out on Friday (one of my rest days). Yet, what do I have to show for it this week (and this month)? Yet, I know that really blowing it Sunday (especially since Mondays are my weigh-ins) isn’t smart. So, that’s my own fault. 

I would be particularly furious, and tempted to throw in the towel completely, if it weren’t for the fact that I KNOW that progress isn’t confined to the scale and measuring tape. In my heart, I KNOW that I have made a lot of improvements; many of which are still in their infancy and might take another week or two to show their fruit. The first one being is that I am more focused and concentrated on the spiritual aspect of this whole journey; which is why I did much better (for the most part) nutritionally. I’m still working hard physically, and have just started the second phase of the program. The new change in exercises will be a big help because I know that I was reaching a bit of a plateau and was ready for the change. Furthermore, I hadn’t had heavy enough weights until now. I just got my new adjustable ones this past Friday and worked out with them for the first time on Saturday (and am truly feeling the soreness now). So, this is a good thing. If I had had adequate weights to begin with, this past month’s progress could have been a lot better.

Additionally, I  know (and have been told) that sometimes you gain before you lose. That’s the whole “muscle weighs more than fat” stuff. So, that’s ok with me. I can honestly tell you that after a month of doing this intense training (and sweating like I’ve never sweat in my life!!) that I feel stronger and my endurance is improved. I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was and can lift more than what I used to! Whether the scale says so or not, I feel that I am starting to look leaner. My body fat is down by like 0.4% this month (better than nothing). I know that I can (and will) continue to improve as I continue to have the kind of “good weeks” that I have had this past week. 

As some of you may now, I have also been drinking Shakeology for a week now (and I’m loving it!). I look forward to drinking it every day and it’s just as fun to drink as it is to think of new concoctions in order to enjoy a variety of different tastes. As I continue to drink it, I think that I will continue seeing even more improvements. It really does taste good and with all that’s packed into it, it seriously does keep me satisfied until the next meal. I was skeptical about how it says it can help reduce food cravings, but I can now vouch for the fact that it does. Anyone that knows me knows how I have an impossibly bad sweet tooth. However, I have been craving sweets a LOT less (I‘m not kidding! It‘s a miracle lol!). It is becoming easier to say “no” to overeating when the Holy Spirit tells me to “stop” because the “sugar monster” has been tamed a little more. ;) Praise God for that! 

My level of fatigue has also decreased. I feel that my energy level is starting to improve. While the amazing vitamins, fruit/veggie powders, enzymes, anti-oxidants, and pro-biotics from Shakeology do factor into that, I attribute all my success to Christ and the fact that I am really focusing on renewing my mind in His Word. After all, you could be doing everything “right” (as I have been doing for the most part) and still have poor results if your spiritual self isn’t in check. That’s why I have seriously refocused on that core aspect (and it‘s truly helping!). In fact , my small group is reading “Battlefield of the Mind”, by Joyce Meyer. I read it in High School and it helped me greatly! Once again, re-reading it is helping me to be more aware of my thought life and helping me to choose different thoughts and behaviors in order to overcome my bad habits and choose better ones. Your life is the product of your thoughts. If you’re expecting positive things, it has to start in your mind. You can’t have positive results if all you have are negative thoughts. 

So, despite the disappointments, I remain hopeful and optimistic. I’m learning and improving and I will be patient with myself. Everyone loves rapid progress and immediate gratification, but it doesn‘t always work that way. I will celebrate every victory; even if it doesn‘t look the way I think it should. This next week (and month) will be better. All three aspects (spiritual, nutritional, and fitness) have been, and will continue to be, improving. I don’t care what the scale says right now because I know that I have much to be proud of! Every recent investment that I have made to further my progress has been a worthwhile one because I am a good investment. Whatever the cost, it is worth it because it not only benefits me, but will benefit my family in the long run. I am a better me when I’m taking care of myself and I also have the confidence of knowing that the kind of battle I’m fighting won’t be passed on to my kids. My kids see me eat my salads, measure my portions, drink my water, take my vitamins, and drink my Shakeology (though, of course, they think it’s a “milkshake” and are constantly asking me for one). They also see me workout and Gianna often mentions the word “healthy” and “taking care of my body” (though, I think some of that is due to “Sid the Science Kid” lol). Both of them already have a good head-start, and have always been at the right weight for their age (and actually lean towards the skinny side). This is good because they have a lesser chance of being an overweight adult if they aren’t an overweight child. I will continue to make sure that this stays true for them and that they learn how to take care of themselves as they continue to grow. 

I can’t even begin to tell you the relief I feel that I’m going to be the one to break the cycle in my family! My battle will NOT be theirs! My children will have better habits and choose good things for themselves because I’m trying to live the example and teach them to do the same. Food isn’t always on their brain. They aren’t eating constantly. They eat when they’re hungry and stop when they feel full (and when they do, they say that the doctor needs to help their tummy because there’s too much food in there lol. So, they don’t fill it up too full very often because they don’t like that feeling). They are a big inspiration to me because, like Jesus said, we need to be like little children. I want to be like them; eating when I’m hungry and stopping before I’m full. I want to be self-controlled and not have food on my mind. I notice that my kids usually only mention food when they’re actually hungry. Apparently, they already understand the simple fact that there are better things to do than to think about food and your next meal all the time (especially when there are starving people who really are forced to think about it all the time. We are so blessed to not have to worry!). I heard someone say once (can’t remember what country they were from) but they were talking about how Americans don’t savor and enjoy their foods. We are thinking about our next bite and not even enjoying the one we are working on or we’re already planning in advance when and where we’re going to have our next meal. So much of our lives revolve around food and we don’t even know it. Then, we wonder why we are the fattest nation in the world. 

Grace and peace to all of you! Thank you for your support! Thanks for celebrating every victory with me and encouraging me (especially in these “slow” moments of progress). Accomplishment isn’t future tense; accomplishment is NOW! Through Christ, I am accomplishing things RIGHT NOW (Philippians 4:13)! HE is my immediate gratification and He will continue to see this through to completion (Philippians 1:6)! Amen!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Battle of "Wills"

Every Sunday, I used to come home from church service and immediately blog what was preached. I did this because not only do I love to write, but I often feel overwhelmingly compelled to share absolutely everything. Even though it’s good to blog the things that I learn, sometimes it puts more pressure on myself. I overwhelm my mind when I feel that I am “responsible” for putting everything out there; feeling that I am screwing up or making Him unhappy if I don‘t do His “will“ for me by writing every time I have the notion. I was scared that I was being wasteful of my gift; burying it in the sand like the wicked servant. 

I am well aware of the fact that I struggle with being “all or nothing”. Therefore, I have been a little “low-key” for a while. I still blog, but not as much as I used to. It’s taken a load off my shoulders as I’ve learned to just “be” a little more and blog when I’m overwhelming moved to do so; instead of blogging overwhelmingly because I feel that I always have to move! ;) Having balance and “going gray” is a good thing! Unless it’s a clear cut and absolute “thou shalt not” that God has laid out in His Word, you don’t have to be stressed about every little thing being right and wrong. Sometimes, things really aren’t that black and white. 

This is why I’m blogging the sermon today. I truly felt the undeniable nudge to share this time because David Shepherd’s sermon was about this very concept.  He talked about the fact that we get so caught up in God’s “will” that we stress out about everything and become so indecisive. I can totally relate to that! In fact, that was closely tied into my legalism/perfectionism problem that I was in heavy bondage to for many years. Every now and then, that kind of thinking still creeps up on me and I have to renew my mind (Romans 12:2) and remind myself that I don’t have to do everything “right”. David reminded us that our life and our outlook is directly determined by the kind of thoughts we think (I highly recommend “Battlefield of the Mind” , by Joyce Meyer. It’s a big help in dealing with transforming your mind and learning to have positive and Christ-like thinking. I read it in High School and am now reading it again). 

We put way too much stress on ourselves by over-thinking or thinking negatively. Our lives are the product of our thoughts. Most things are fairly basic and trivial decisions that don’t have to be agonized over, but we get so worried about correctness (or beating ourselves up over the “wrong” things) that we get too caught up in deciding rather than just living and being. That’s how it becomes all about “us” and we truly miss out on the fellowship and relationship we are meant to have with God. It becomes all about “law” and not grace. It’s like a sermon I once heard about being human beings rather than human doings. As David said, God didn’t say to seek His will, He said to seek HIM: 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. - Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV)

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. - John 6:29 (KJV)

When I was living in “right” world, I was stressed, fearful, and miserable because I was consumed with doing everything correctly and was scared that God would disapprove and be disappointed in me if I didn’t do exactly what I thought He wanted me to do. I totally missed the fact that He is a loving Father and not a stern dictator with a yardstick in His hand; ready to slap my wrist every time I screw up. The previous verses had been quoted to me many times before by people who cared about me and saw that I was exhausting myself with my legalism. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people would pray over me and tell me “you are trying too hard” and I couldn’t understand what they meant because I thought I was supposed to give my all to please God and figure out His “will“ for me. Though, the simple truth is exactly what Jesus said: Love God; love others. Believe in the One He sent. Simple faith. Or, as I read in the book “Walking With Arthur”, just find the good that lies nearest and do it (It‘s an EXCELLENT book! Click here to read the review I posted a few years ago). If you’re so consumed with God’s “will” and your ultimate destiny, you will totally miss the “right now”. After all, each moment you live in the present is a stepping stone to where you will be in the future. It’s like a little card I have that says that God isn’t “I was” or “will be”. He is “I AM” for a reason.

As simple as it may seem, it took me a long time before any of this truly stuck. I lived in a persistent state of  perfectionism and condemnation for many years. In fact, it took me 3-4 years for this particular verse, that someone spoke over me, to truly sink in: 

To whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. - Isaiah 28:12-13 (NIV)

By doing and doing, I was falling backward rather than moving forward. I was doing more harm than good to myself and being held captive in my own prison. How miserably exhausting! I didn’t realize that I was trying to live without grace and that it was for freedom that Christ had set me free so that I would never again be in bondage to another yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). Without realizing it, I was trying to earn my right to be saved when in all actuality, it had NOTHING to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with Christ and the price He already paid! 

So, what is “God’s Will” and what does it really mean to us anyways? David said it’s pretty simple. There’s His Will of decree; which are the things that are ordained, absolute, and cannot be changed. It cannot be undone and it is what it is. That is, His creation of the world, the plan of salvation, the fact that He is holy and just, etc. Then, there’s His Will of desire; which are the commands that He gives us. He gives us His Word and His Holy Spirit to show us how to live, but our own free-will can obey or disregard it. Then, there’s God’s Will of direction. It’s the character of our lives, His plan and purpose for us (which is usually pretty general; we don’t always know the specific details at every given moment), and who we truly are. Who we are and what we are meant to be isn’t narrowed down by our location, occupation, education, etc. The essence of who we are is hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) and depends on the character that the Holy Spirit cultivates in us (Romans 5:3-5, Galatians 5:22-23). Money, status, and stuff doesn’t define you or give you character. Furthermore, you don’t have to be wealthy in order to be rich. True riches are in wisdom (Job 18:18, Proverbs 8:11). James 1:5 says that God will freely and generously give wisdom to those that ask. Though, as David pointed out, we truly need to have prayers of faith because the next two verses of James say that we won’t receive if we don’t believe. As David said, “We need to stop pleading with God to show us the future and start living like we understand that He holds the future.” Amen to that! It’s like a poster I once seen that said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” 

The bottom line is, quit worrying and start living! Trust and believe in the One God sent! Love God and love others. When you do that, you are truly doing the Will of God and abiding in Him (John 15:5)! There’s no need to “hyper-spiritualize”, as David put it. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Stay connected to Christ on a daily basis by renewing your mind with His Word and keeping the prayer flow going! Then, you will make good decisions (more often than not) that are in agreement with the Holy Spirit, as you live moment to moment. Live in the “now” and trust that He holds your tomorrows! Each day is a gift; which is why it is called the “present”. Don’t miss out on the good you can do TODAY because you are wondering about your ultimate purpose. Those little things make up the bigger picture. Don’t waste those “little” opportunities to make a difference because sometimes, those are the ones that matter the most!

Grace and peace to all of you!! God bless you!! 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Key to Consistency

For this week's weight-loss update, I don't have any weight-loss to report. I stayed exactly the same this week. I wish I would have worked out on Friday's "rest day" by running on the Greenway, but I didn't have time (and I really did need the rest). I walked plenty on Sunday (my other rest day) as we were out and about, but that was also the day where my eating wasn't the greatest (though I did pretty well the rest of the week). 

I wasn't expecting a loss this week anyways. It's that "time" again, plus I figure I'm at a plateau. Though, that is about ready to change as well because I am finishing up the first phase of ChaLean Extreme and will be starting the next one soon. So, the change in exercise will get me going again. Plus, I just ordered some new weights. All I've had to work with are 5's and 10's, which aren't heavy enough for many of the exercises. Even though I still sweat (and feel it) decently enough, I KNOW I am capable of more (which would give me better results too). 

At this point, I'm content with the fact that I'm a little stagnant because I know that I've got momentum and that the new changes will payoff as soon as I start the new phase and get the weights that I need. Add to the fact that I've also started drinking Shakeology on a daily basis and I'm absolutely SURE that I will start seeing more changes (I will blog about Shakeology in more detail a little later). 

I feel like I'm on the right track and that I'm making the "extreme" changes that I need to make in order to get results. The one thing I am still lacking is the fact that I'm always needing to pay more attention to the spiritual aspect. As I've always said, if that part isn't doing well, then nothing is going to go well. Have Christ; have success. If that's lacking, then your success will be lacking. It doesn't matter how much you "will" it or want it. If you're doing it all on your own, you aren't going to get very far (and if you do, it won't be for very long). I need to constantly remind myself of this because I know that without Christ, I am nothing and can accomplish nothing (John 15:5). I NEED to stay attached to the vine if I'm going to bear good fruit! Otherwise, all I can expect is up and down progress and lots of frustration! 

Christ is the key to consistency!! Even if my exercise, nutrition, and everything else is spot on, I know after YEARS of doing this that Christ is the only thing that is 100% effective and the source of any true success (the best part being that He truly wants you to succeed and all that He offers is FREE! No cost, no shipping and handling, nothing! He already paid the price!). Satan would like nothing more than to distract me and help me forget that (and sometimes, he succeeds). However, my spirit knows what works and if I'm led by my spirit, it will conquer the flesh that says "I can do this myself" every time! If at any point I'm not doing well, I should examine my heart and face the glaringly obvious reality that I'm slacking spiritually and then pump up my spiritual muscles like I would my physical ones. The spiritual strength I get from Christ will give me the strength for everything else. The Holy Spirit is the one that nudges me when I'm about to make a bad food choice, ignore a workout, or get prideful in myself. If I listen, I can prevent any mistakes I might make. If I ignore it and go with my flesh, thinking that I'm somehow "above the law" and that I can escape any negative consequences, then I deceive myself. 

Christ keeps me balanced and I desperately need Him if I'm going to succeed! My progress would be a LOT better (and I would get to my goal quicker) if I stayed completely dependent on Him! I am forever praying that I would better understand what it means to be reliant on Him. I could stand to review the stuff I learned in "The Lord's Table", that's for sure!

God bless you all! Thank you to all my family, friends, sparkpeople peeps, and my new Beachbody family for all the encouragement and support that you offer! I appreciate it! Thanks for walking with me on this journey!! Grace and peace to you!