Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Of Statues and Idols

It's been a while since I last updated here on my health and the journey that I've been on, so today's the day to do that!

I have kept my commitment to stay away from Taco Bell, but I have eaten at McDonald's 3 times since December 30th, due to traveling, etc.

I ended my experiment from July to not eat out, but we have continued to try to limit our dining out to once or twice per week, particularly as a family.  My guys eat out together as a routine business thing on Mondays, and I may do it once during the week.  It's amazing how much money we've saved and have been able to use for other things.

I had blood work done a couple of weeks ago, and the greatest news EVER is that my A1C is now in the normal range!  I'm no longer pre-diabetic, THANK YOU, JESUS!  I have been so excited about that, you don't even know!

I still have work to do on my cholesterol, but that's something that I'll probably struggle with because it's hereditary.

My weight, on the other hand, is the highest it's EVER been in my entire life, 263.4 on Sunday, October 23rd.

I cannot seem to get a handle on getting my eating back under control.  I've tried to evaluate my life, my schedule, my shopping...

I've taken time to evaluate everything except my HEART.  Probably because I already know that THERE IN lies the problem.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to visit New York City, something I hadn't done since I was a teenager way back in 1981.

I captured these pictures of the beautiful Statue of Liberty.


Did you know that the Statue is 305 ft tall from the base to the flame?

That's how big I feel this idol of food has become in my life.

I often vacillate between feeling overwhelmed by this "burden," and feeling like King Kong, larger than life itself and able to conquer anything.

There are days that I swear I cannot get out of bed because the weight of this "thing" has me buried.  I can't breathe, I can't think, I honestly cannot take another step because I'm exhausted from fighting.

I have all the answers to any question I could ever have on how to eat right, how to exercise, how and what to prepare, shopping lists, books, dvd's, resources out the ying-yang!

It isn't a head knowledge problem.

It keeps going back to my heart.

I'm less than 3 years away from being 50 years old, and almost daily I ask myself, 
"When are you going to grow up?  When are you going to be a mature adult and do the right thing?"  

Because, honestly, it is a choice I make to not exercise.

It is a choice I make to eat sugar and carbs.

I make the decision to not purchase the healthy snack options.

Really, sin is a choice. 

Because after all, scripture is explicitly clear when it says in James 4:17, 
"Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." (NLT)

Today is November 1st, a new month, again, and I'm thinking about starting over, again, like so many times this past year.  But today is different somehow, because I've learned a lot over this past year about myself, and I feel more ready.

I had a dream last night in which I was talking to one of our pastors that preached this past Sunday, and I told him, "I feel like the past 10 years my brain has been a giant puzzle, trying to figure out who I am in Christ, what my position is as a believer, how God sees me as His child, and today it felt like the last piece of that puzzle got put into place." 

And that thought has stayed with me all day today.  I DO feel like something has clicked; some pieces finally came together about how I have been viewing God as my father, and using food as a substitute for comfort and security.  I don't quite have a handle on it all, but something has definitely changed.

And so I begin this month of thankfulness feeling grateful for what God is trying to teach me, thankful for His answer to my prayer that I wouldn't become diabetic, blessed with the loving support of my husband and children and countless friends who desire God's best for me, overwhelmed with the amazing church family and pastors that He has given that never cease to speak the truth to me in love, who are faithful to preach God's word and call sin "sin."  

I confess my rebellious heart to God and to all that read this, and repent of my sin, asking for God's help in turning away from this idol of food, idol of control, idol of fear and lack of trust in God's provision for me.

And I take a new step into letting go...again.  
Scared, but excited.  Nervous, but ready.  Trembling, but trusting.

Clinging to the promise, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

"Let's Eat! But first, take a picture!"

So, I've traveled a lot lately and had a chance to taste some amazing food.  Of course, I always have to take a picture.  And I thought I'd share those here.

Kenya has a wonderful thing they call "chapati."  Similar to a tortilla crossed with Indian fry bread, it is amazing!

We ate lots of rice and beans in Kenya!  Rice is one of their "staples," along with something called "Ugali," which would be similar to our grits, only thicker, and then is cut into slices.

Chai!  Every afternoon we would "take tea."  It is delicious.

We threw a surprise birthday party for our team leader while in Kenya, and it was the kids' first time to have hot dogs, which they called "sausages."  Very fun to teach them how to eat them with ketchup and mustard.

This is the Kenyan version of cheese puffs, only they don't taste like cheese at all.  They're vegetable flavors, and without the nasty high fructose corn syrup that is in EVERYTHING that we have in America.  They have a very different taste than what I was used to or expecting.

A black forest cake from a local bakery.  Very delicious.  Not overly sweet.  Kenyans don't eat a lot of sweet things, which is awesome!  

We picnicked with chicken and fries one day.

And I had my first roasted goat!  They boiled it first, then grilled it, called "choma," meaning "roasted meat."  It was different.  Such a great experience.

In New York City, I enjoyed a place called "Sugar and Plumm," where we had these Lemon Ricotta pancakes for dessert.

This was my "Plumm Burger," which was ground chuck, blue cheese, jalapeno jelly, baby arugula and bacon.  Beyond yum!

Does it get any better than New York cheesecake from Junior's in Times Square?

Authentic New York pizza at the Staten Island Ferry.

Serendippity 3 has always been a place I wanted to visit, and I was thrilled we got to go.

They're famous for their Frozen Hot Chocolate, which is amazing!

My cousin got this 3 scoop hot fudge sundae, which was the best hot fudge I've ever tasted.

Chicken chili nacho appetizer to help with all the sweetness.

And my cousin's boyfriend got the "Bi-Sensual Burger," a beef patty topped with bacon, cheddar, chili, raw onion, lettuce, pickle, and tomato.  It was insane!

My pre-Broadway meal was a NY Hot Pastrami sandwich, which was something totally new for me.  I'd never had pastrami before, but it was very good.

I had my first visit to a New Jersey diner, attending a birthday party there, and had great Thanksgiving food.  Diners are EVERYWHERE in New Jersey!

And the day we left, I got to experience THESE bagels...oh, my!  Let's just say that Panera has NO clue how to make a bagel.  I brought some home and enjoyed them for breakfast for 3 days in a row.  

And so, there you have it, my food travel journal.  I didn't get pictures of the yummy Garrett's popcorn we had in the Chicago airport, or the best eggplant parm that my wonderful Italian friend made for us in New Jersey, but I think we covered everything else. 

You got to enjoy it without gaining any weight!!

I, on the other hand, need to head to the gym!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's Not Nothing...


Today marks exactly 9 months until I'm standing with my husband on a stage to hand our son his high school diploma.  It will mark the end of a 17 year journey of homeschooling for our family.  And it will mark the culmination of a walk that began 18 years ago this coming Friday, when we walked into the birthing center for that unexpected blessing to be born.

I mentioned on my Facebook today that this is like pregnancy, in reverse.  And I've thought about that all day today, as we worked through division problems together and one of us had tears trying to get the concept across!  And then there was laughter as we realized how terribly we communicate. :)  

How many things have I taught him?  
He learned to eat.  He learned to go potty.  He's walking because of our instruction.  He rides bicycles, drives, reads books, showers regularly, talks, does math and science.  He prays and serves the Lord.  He loves to work with his hands and he loves to serve others.  
He can do laundry and has basic cooking skills.  
And so, I'm looking at this 6'3" baby of mine that will make that important walk in 9 months and I'm realizing, "There are only 9 months left, but there's still so much I wanted you to know!"  

When you're expecting a baby, you have 9 months to get prepared for their COMING.  

When you're graduating your child, you have 9 months to prepare for their GOING.

I distinctly remember feeling this way with my first son; not ready, so much that I still wanted him to know before he went off to college or the military or got married, all of which he did within 4 years of graduating high school.  

So, this concept isn't new, but it just seems more final today.  
Maybe because this is my last child?  
Maybe because this means I'll no longer be part of the amazing homeschool support group that we have, where I get to see all my friends when there's a function?  

But maybe it's because I really don't know who "I" am without kids, without homeschooling, without being needed?  
And maybe I'm just a little scared at the next chapter in life?

I'm sitting in that thought.

But I've made a decision to pull back from everything else that I've been involved in over the past few years and just pour myself into my family, particularly my senior, and make sure that I've done the most that God can possibly help me do to turn him loose into this world to make a difference!  

He is an amazing kid, and I don't say that just because I'm his mother.  
He seriously is just a wonderful, delightful, incredible man and I am so very blessed that he calls ME "Mom."

So, as one lady said on a blog I read, but cannot find to link here, 
"It's not a death.  It's not a birth.  But it's not nothing, either.  It's something that deserves to be celebrated, to be grieved over, to be recognized as a passage of time. 
 It's different, it's hard.  
But it's not nothing."

Monday, August 8, 2016

What Is Going On?

I have been making lots of changes over the past 18 months or so, and more recently had given up eating out.  And now I'm realizing that my body is really, really changing.

No, my weight is not dropping, unfortunately.  I actually weigh the most right now that I have in a while (260 lbs the last time I stepped on the scale.)

But other things are going on...like I can't handle taking vitamins and supplements anymore.  As soon as I do, I get a headache or start retaining fluids, like I'm being overloaded.  The same thing is happening to my husband, as well!  The best we can figure, we're getting so many vitamins and nutrients from our food and protein shakes that we don't NEED to take those extra things.  Woo-Hoo!

I have realized in this first week of August that eating out doesn't taste good anymore.  Can you believe that?  I went to lunch with my mom last week and had half a sandwich and a salad, and while it was ok, I really felt bloated and so very thirsty the rest of the day.  Not a good feeling.

Fruit is really all the sweet I "need."  Now granted, chocolate is ALWAYS going to be my vice, but if I'm hungry for something sweet, I find myself turning to fruit with greek yogurt more and more often.

I'm in love with fresh veggies.  Not necessarily raw veggies, but fresh vs. frozen.  I've been grilling squash and zucchini from my garden all summer, and it is just so stinkin' good!  I still struggle with salads, though.  Something about the lettuce just doesn't sit well with my tummy.

And so, while I'm discouraged on the one hand about my weight being UP rather than down as I prepare to fly to Kenya on Thursday, I remain ENCOURAGED by the progress I've made in being more in tune with my body, in realizing that fresh, whole foods are so much more satisfying, and in knowing that we really ARE making progress, even if it isn't reflected on the scale.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Top 5 Fasting Lessons Learned


It's the end of the month of July and I'm looking back over the past 31 days and marveling at what has happened.  I wanted to give you an update.

1. We saved right at $400 this month by not eating out.  
Can you believe that?  I was shocked.
I kept track on my phone of all the times I wanted to eat out, but didn't, and then also all the times that I/we would have eaten out if it had been "business as usual."
My husband and son didn't abstain in the same way I did, but they cut back quite a bit.
There were 2 times that I purchased food, once where I sat and ate a burger with friends, and once where we ran through the drive thru to grab a chicken dinner for the drive in movie.  But there was also 2 times where I met friends at a restaurant and sat at the table and didn't eat!

2.  There are opportunities for food EVERYWHERE!
I guess you're never more aware of something until you are "giving it up."  But I had never realized how readily available food was until this month.  Grocery stores have soup and salad buffets.  Gas stations have hot and ready pizza.  Convenience stores have 2 ft. sub sandwiches and hot corn dogs at the counter!  And it can all be bought with food stamps if you have 'em!  So, it's no small wonder why America is dealing with an obesity epidemic!

3.  It's not about the restaurant/eating out.  
It's a heart issue.  Always has been.
I've learned again that everything I do, EVERYTHING I do, proceeds from my heart.
You could put me in a foreign country where there was extreme food shortages and I could/would still desire my own way, still want to draw comfort from something other than Christ!  It's the constant battle that I fight, and I don't think I'm alone.  My peace, my comfort, my satisfaction MUST be in Christ alone!  So God has once again shown me that it isn't about the food, or the restaurant, it's about the motive and position of my heart.  

4.  God will answer your prayer.  And He's willing to do what you ask Him to.
I've been asking Him this month to really make me SICK of my sin, and even if it means literally making me feel sick to my stomach when I eat the wrong things.  And guess what?  He has done that!  I have been tempted, and one day I gave in to purchasing some rich, sweet chocolate cake slice at the Kroger bakery.  One bite was good; 2 bites was a bit much, and the 3rd bite I really thought I wasn't going to keep down!  I ended up throwing the rest away.   I actually laughed and said, "Very funny, Jesus!  Answer to prayer noted!"  :)

5.  He is enough.
This is the theme that kept repeating itself over and over this month.  It is something that I've been trying to teach my heart to remember.  I cannot do anything to add to this salvation.  There is nothing else I "need" outside of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Anything that I would try to substitute for peace or pleasure is rubbish!  I do not need to work harder, or try harder, or be anything other than the completely adopted and loved daughter of the King.  
He is enough.  
And that makes me enough.

So, it's been a month of reflection and learning, growth and discovery.  I can feel the stirrings of big changes coming on and I'm not exactly what that's going to look like but I'm excited.
Stay tuned!



Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Month - New Challenges

Today is the end of a month, and the 6 month mark of my "No Taco Bell or McDonald's" challenge that I embarked upon on December 31st.

183 days ago.

It's been a very LONG 6 months.

I have learned some things about myself, and I have listened to the Lord speaking to my heart about some things that need to change.

One of those things He is asking me to do begins tomorrow morning.

He wants me to give up eating out.

At any restaurant.

None.

For the entire month of July.

It may seem trivial to some people, and it might seem totally reasonable to others.  For me, it is a difficult thing to surrender.

The fast food hasn't really been "hard" to walk away from, as long as I had the option of still going to a restaurant.

And that's where the idolatry has been revealed.

There is such pleasure in the eating out, so much comfort and familiarity to me.  An unhealthy sense of refuge, a place of peace and joy that comes over me when I go inside an eating establishment.

These are things I should be deriving from Christ.  From devouring His Word.  From spending time in His presence.

But instead, I get more excited about planning a lunch date with a friend.  Or thinking about what restaurant has lunch specials. Or searching for coupons so we can all go out to eat.

And so, as I prepare my heart for my trip to Kenya in 7 weeks, I will be spending the month of July fasting from restaurants.

It is not going to be easy.  Not at all!

Because, once again, it reveals that while I have stayed away from fast food, it wasn't the "food" that was the issue.  It is my heart.

What's the old saying, "You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl?"

Yeah.  You can take away the food that she loves, but you don't take away her love of food.

Rules, regulations, fences, legislation, all those things do not 'fix' problems.  They merely serve to identify how wicked a heart really is.  How rebellious and determined a person will become, and how quickly they will find a way around them.

My desire in this time of fasting is for the Lord to really break my heart.  (I know those are scary words to type!)  I want Him to be Lord of my entire heart.  For Him to be more appealing to me than anything this world has to offer.

And so it begins.





Monday, May 9, 2016

Where Am I?



I've had lots of people ask me, "How are you doing?  Where are you at in your weight loss journey?"  So I thought today might be a good day to bring everyone up to speed.

To update my last post (before the picture story of my son), it's now been 131 days since I've walked through the doors of my 2 former hangouts.

But walking through the doors is just a formality.  In my heart, I desire to return.

I find myself in some dark, uncharted territory.

I am struggling.  Vacillating.  I always seem to be somewhere between desiring to do what God wants me to do, and driving around and around the McDonald's parking lot.

Our church is currently studying through the book of I Samuel and we're in the chapters where Saul is becoming impatient of waiting on God.  And I am SO DEEPLY identifying with Saul!  And I HATE that!  I want to be the "man after God's own heart," the one that is constantly searching and running after God, who despises their sin and hates anything that God hates.

But I'm not that person.

I'm lazy.

I am rebellious.

I love quick fixes and fast food and easy answers.

I think I have the answers, that "I can handle it."

It's so easy to raise my hands on Sunday morning, to cry tears and confess sin and pray prayers of repentance.

But then it's Monday, and the house is a wreck, it's time to go grocery shopping, and everyone's rushing to meet the demands of the outside world and I find myself turning to the wrong things to meet the needs that arise within me.  

Or using the excuse that "I'm exhausted from the weekend" to stay in bed and not go to the gym.

I've allowed the first anniversary of my father's death and memorial service to overwhelm my thoughts and though I've TRIED and striven to keep control of where those thoughts take me, I have found myself being drawn into places of darkness again.

Honestly, I'm scared right now of the place I'm in.  I don't like it.  I want to get out.  I feel lonely and weak...so very, very weak.

I know that it's a season.  This will not last forever.  It could be hormonal or physical or emotional issues at play.

But for now, today, it's where I am.

There are a few things that I'm going to do to try to help myself; I'm going to get dressed.  I'm going to leave the house and get out in the sunshine.  And I'm going to meet a friend and have some adult conversation over a yummy lunch.

If you're reading this, and you know that prayer works, I do ask for you to pray for me this week.  I need it.

I want to get back on top.  To find my will power.  To be in close communion with God.  To desire to care for my health.  To count the reasons that I SHOULD care for myself.

Can you remind me?  Not just platitudes and canned answers.  Be firm with me.  Be in my face.  Help me lift up my arms.  Because today, I have no strength.