Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Crazy New Food Lifestyle (and why it pains me to even type this) . . . .

So, I'm making this huge announcement via social media because I find I tend to better stick to my guns if I do so.  Drum roll, please .tadadadadadadadada . . .  I'm giving up added sugar and greatly reducing my grains intake.  Since nearly dying a little over a year ago (not quite, but it felt like it, and I almost caused myself irreversible heart valve damage), I have had a bit of an awakening.  I've been mulling over some things, and I'm just plain tired of the daily struggle of not feeling enough.  I'm not thin enough.  I hit a size 6, then a size 4, so why not a size 2?  See what I mean?  I literally had to gain 10 pounds to reverse some of the issues I caused myself, and though I feel amazing for the first time in decades, I don't like the extra 10 pounds and want to lose them the RIGHT way -- not through over medicating myself.  That wasn't an awesome idea.

I lost 75 pounds on Weight Watchers just cutting carbs and working out like crazy.  Then I decided being a size small, and sometimes extra small, wasn't good enough.  I would see someone smaller and break out in a sweat because I wasn't as small as random-stranger-in-the-checkout-line.  Being someone who was always small, then ballooning up due to thyroid cancer, caused a girl who battled borderline anorexia to become a complete freak of nature.  Imagine starving yourself and your body NOT ALLOWING you to lose a pound?  Nice.

I'm sick.  In the head.  Literally.  When I look in the mirror, I have panic attacks concerning what I see. My clothes say size Small or size 6, but I literally see 200 pounds   If I can't feel my hip bones jutting out, I freaking flip out.  Ask my poor husband.  I will hide away under the covers and cry.  It's sad.  I'm sad.  For me.  I'm too old to still be fighting this battle!  I'm OVER. IT.  So, I've been preparing and have decided a few things.

First:  I can't eat anything that isn't real.  And even then, I have to be super careful.  My body metabolizes healthy fats as just plain fat and doesn't care that it's better than crap fats.  So, I truly do have to eat low fat despite the way my intellect rejects such a notion.  Healthy fats help you LOSE weight, right?  Sure.  If you have a thyroid and one that functions normally.

Second:  I MUST eat low-carb and zero crap carbs (which is where the added sugar comes in).  As much as I can help it and control it, I eat whole grains and 1/2 a normal serving even then.  However, if I have a little bit of pasta, some bread (which I hardly ever eat), or ANY TYPE of dessert that is made with regular crap white flour, I swell up, bloat, feel horrible, and I end up looking 6 months pregnant.  It's awesome.  My body clearly hates this stuff and is letting me know.

So, out with all of it because I need some peace of mind, and after so much prayer, I know God is leading me this direction in order to be set free (and think I'm crazy all you want, but when I quit freaking out every time I walk past a mirror, it will all be good).

Third (and last -- luckily for you), I'm focusing on running, weights, and power yoga this year.  My body doesn't respond AT ALL to wussy workouts.  I have zero results unless I work out a MINIMUM of 45 minutes per day combining interval training and weights.  I want to run a half marathon next year, so I'm making a goal to run three 5 k's this year while training for the mini.  Again, this is just something I have to do.

I need to be healthy -- mind and body.  I need to be healthy -- spiritually.  The three are so closely intertwined they function as a perfect trinity.  So, I'm sure I'll fall off the wagon, but I'm in.  And, honestly??  I'm not at all looking forward to it.  So, lets just keep being real with one another, and maybe we will actually see some lasting results.  I will keep attending my Weight Watchers meetings, and I will keep messing up, but at least I understand myself now better than I ever have.  It's no longer a mystery -- I'm no longer a mystery . . . and keep that piece of freaking chocolate cake away from me, pretty please!

Finding Quiet . . . (and how I fill my life with white noise) . . .

We Americans are a curious lot.  I find as I approach each new birth year that I have stripped something away I never knew was an issue before until it's gone.  Does that sound strange?  For instance, I've always been overly engaged and involved in church despite having 4 children to care for and a husband.  It somehow defined me.  If I didn't feel loved and accepted in my church in some type of volunteer or leadership role, then it effected my individual self worth.  Again, performance based motivation (which I have written about many times in the recent past).  Without realizing it, I have stepped back.  And how glorious it feels!  However, there is this little hole left wanting to be filled, only because it's used to being filled with what I like to refer to as "the white noise of the soul". It isn't necessarily "dark" as St. John of the Cross so eloquently writes.  This is a place in our life in which we have to have some type of distraction (background noise/fans/etc) in order to be placated.

For instance, I am prone to depression when alone.  From 2:45 until around midnight, my life is busy, busy, busy -- lots of noise (again, 4 kiddos), hashing out the day with the hubs, cleaning, going over homework, playing the role of General until my kiddos get to bed, meetings, extra curriculars, concerts, etc.  I work part-time, 3 days a week, doing office admin, bookkeeping, payroll etc.  I enjoy the work.  The other 2 days I somehow have time to allow myself to get depressed and feel lonely--purely circumstantial.  And it's absofreakinglutely ridiculous!  I mean, here I am with this blessed gift of time -- quiet time.  Do I bask in it?  Spend time communing with God?  No.  I whine about all the neat things I should be doing with others because it seems like so-and-so is always having lunch with friends, and I haven't really made anyone's "list".  I live in the world of Facebook -- you know what I'm talking about.  Here's a sample:

Beautiful Sarah has just posted a pic of her lovely children all wearing their coordinating Matilda Jane outfits, jumping on the bed in the perfectly made bedroom.  Beautiful Sarah looks like she just stepped out of the salon with her model-esque hair and perfectly air-brushed make-up.  She has a gorgeous smile plastered on her face, and she's laughing adoringly at her gorgeous children (who never argue or disobey).  A couple hours later, she's posting a pic of the healthy lunch she's enjoying with her "core group" of true friends that all somehow look the same as Beautiful Sarah -- perfection.  They are laughing, enjoying their lunch, looking pretty, blah blah blah.  Then, there is that shot of Beautiful Sarah working on her thesis or dissertation or some other world-worthy endeavor.  (At this point, I always wonder what happened to the kids who have mysteriously disappeared from the pics).  Her life appears to be complete, full, lovely, while mine seems to be a disaster.  I struggle just to breathe.

Then comes that curve ball from way out in left field:  darling oldest daughter is diagnosed with a dreaded chronic illness that will forever change the trajectory of her life, as well as all of ours, and can even be fatal.  Oh, and add to that a "surprise" brain tumor (benign, thank you Jesus), and life suddenly changes color.  It's no longer grey and fuzzy, it's RED.  YELLOW. BLACK. BLUE.  It changes from day to day.  All those tasks that once seemed so important, that social life I only dreamed of, is gone.  And I'm so glad.  You see, it dawns on me, all yellow/orange/pink, that my life is worth living simply in caring for another human being -- my heart beating, galloping for this child, these children, whom I love so dearly.  I really don't need more.  God is showing me what it really means to take one day at a time.

I love Matthew 6:34 in the NLT:  "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today's trouble is enough for today."  And I would add that today's blessings are enough for today as well and can carry you through that troublesome tomorrow.  My mind no longer has time to concern itself with depression, loneliness, and feelings of being less-than.  Sure, it will naturally try to take me there, but then reality hits.  Kiddo is having a bad day.  How can I help?  Who can I call on to pray?

Finding quiet is attainable in the midst of a cacophony.  Just breathe.  That's what I tell myself every day.  Close your eyes, and seek out Jesus.  He's right there, and he will meet you in the midst of it -- nothing complicated, no special technique needed.  Call out to him.  Find him in his Word. Look for him in the beauty of Creation surrounding you.  Realize what is truly important, then truly live one day at a time, keeping your focus on what life's worth living for.  I hope you find your quiet.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Whole Lot of Crazy

*Update:  You may as well just call me a big quitter because after all this, I'm back on Facebook.  I can't seem to "break up" with it due to the contact I have with my college friends, so I did do a lot of cleaning up by hiding and unfriending people.  Just wanted to make sure you know I didn't accomplish the impossible afterall!*

I have so much to write about, but no time to do so now.  Let me just cut to the chase and state that I do believe I'm going through a midlife crisis of sorts.  Good grief.  I'm not ready for this yet.  You know, I thought I would at least be in the full swing of menopause BEFORE the first pangs of MLC (short for Midlife Crisis from this point on).  I am all over the place.  Let see . . . I worked at Starbucks for 2 months, I applied to 3 different colleges, I nearly sold my flute, and I was ready to quit my church.  Totally freaking out.  Now that that has all passed, I'm mentally exhausted and feeling very contemplative over my recent experience.  The best thing to come from all of this?  I finally permanently deleted my Facebook account.  

I came to the harsh realization that I would never meet my writing goals or Biblical studies goals as long as I had the diversion of FB.  It was time.  And I'm currently detoxing, so I'll let you know how that's going eventually.  In the meantime, stay tuned for a quirky story detailing my adventure at Starbucks, my full freak-out mode regarding college and flute, as well as the first in a series of study ideas for those seeking to increase their Biblical Literacy.  Exciting times, I tell ya!  MLC may have some advantages . . .   In the meantime, enjoy my adorable dog.  She has the right idea, and I could learn a thing or two from her.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

All 'Er Nothing

During High School, I participated in show choir -- LOVED every moment of it.  For our Senior Year High School Musical (before Disney sabotaged the phrase), we performed Oklahoma!, and I played one of the lead roles -- Ado Annie.  One of my solos was "All 'Er Nothing".  I haven't thought much about that song until recently.  You see, it was a type cast of sorts because that is exactly who I am.  I am an "All 'Er Nothing" type of gal, and if I can't give it 100,000%, I won't try it at all.  Do you know how exhausting this is??  Terribly so, I assure you. 

When I took up knitting, I was IN IT.  I was going to knit everything that could possibly clothe the human body, as well as pets, and coffee mugs.  I truly do have a pattern for knit panties.  No.  I have not yet made them.  Crochet?  Umm, same.  Not only do I have to be able to make everything, I also need to, apparently, clothe everyone else and their grandmother as well.  Sewing??  Yep.  I can't just sew those darling blankets I adore making, or those cute shorts and pillowcase dresses, by golly I better be able to sew everything we will ever need for my entire household, family, extended family, and God Bless America--the entire U.S.  I am exhausted.

Recently, I decided to take up spinning.  You know, turning wool into lovely yarn.  However, I got really exhausted even contemplating it.  Afterall, I can't just buy the already dyed/carded/cleaned wool, I need to do all that myself, so now the hunt is on for some sheep and the tools needed to shear that sheep.  Do you see where I'm going with all this?  I have been asking myself a lot why God is "taking" away so many of the things I have loved doing in the past.  And I'm learning this.  He is telling me to relax a little.  I do NOT, indeed, have to save the world one stitch at a time (even though I know myself well enough to know I will try anyway).  After finishing reading through Interrupted once again by Jen Hatmaker, I realized something seriously profound that I had heard repeatedly but never accepted for myself.  We can all do something -- one small thing -- to help those around us.  I can literally feed my neighbor, share a mug of coffee while a friend cries out her heart, make a hat -- a single hat -- for someone who needs one.  Share the love of Jesus in a natural way that pours out of just being in community and being available always for whatever tiny task it is -- even if it's just opening the door for someone with their hands full. 

I have made all of life very complicated.  Ask my husband.  I love big.  If I'm not constantly doing something, I feel like a failure and slip into depression.  If I can't save the world single-handedly, one stitch at a time, I have failed the entire universe.  It's just too much, and I'm so thankful that Jesus doesn't even expect this of me.  Thank you, Lord, and Hallelujah.  I'm a leap before you look sorta girl, and those who know me best know this about me and have helped pick me back up after I fall.  We are a people obsessed with "calling".  I think, after living possibly half my life, I have finally figured out my calling.  Oddly, it doesn't really include knitting underwear for anyone (my children are rejoicing), including myself.  My calling is to follow Christ hard.  This is one area in which I CAN be "All 'Er Nothing".  He IS ALL, or I really am nothing.  I am called to follow hard after Christ, love my neighbors, and be present to act the moment he prompts me to.  If ever he should call me to knit underwear, I will.  I already have the pattern (and it's possible since Dorcas, aka Tabitha, sewed garments that were used as undergarments for robes -- just sayin' check the Greek on that one--good stuff).  But all the little things that I think aren't important??  Feeding people, being available for people, simply noticing another human being -- those are huge. 

So, what say you?  Are you ready to follow hard after Jesus, "All 'Er Nothing"?  I just may be on to something here . . . I can quit laying out the fleece so he will show me "just one more time, Lord" what it is he has called me to -- what he called YOU to as well.  Food for thought . . .

I leave you with this gem . . . You are welcome.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hearts Made Whole: A Review

I just finished reading the 2nd book in the Beacons of Hope series by Jody Hedlund.  I had not previously read the 1st in this series, but I wasn't at all lost.  This particular title, Hearts Made Whole, was a fantastic read.  It addresses the issue of the capability of women to do a job as well as a man (in certain areas--a lighthouse in this case), PTSD in combat soldiers before the disorder ever had a name.  Substance abuse, scandal, and a murder scheme all rolled into one, this was one fast-paced book that will keep readers on their toes. 

What I most enjoyed about this particular title was how very complicated it became, and how there was never an easy way out.  Each situation demanded hard work and commitment.  Abuse was also highlighted in this novel and reveals its devastating effects on all.  Besides a few cheesy romance moments (pure scandal during this time period), this is a very entertaining read with much value. 

Taken: A Review

Hang on, friends!  Taken, by Dee Henderson, is her newest action-packed, intelligently written
offering to the world of fiction crime novels.  This book does not disappoint!  It digs deep into the psychology of victims of abduction/assault, and the difficulties they face after freedom trying to acclimate to a society that has been, for the most part, absent from their lives.  The man or woman freed must learn to operate within this society while at the same time dealing with the hurt, fear, psychological torments endured at the hands of their captors.

You will meet two lovely main characters in this book that made me long for more, as well as a whole host of supporting characters with deep storylines all their own.  Private investigator, Matthew Dane, experienced the restoration of a lost child and is intentionally sought out by the one who found her freedom, Shannon Bliss.  Theirs is a story of healing, transformation, deep friendship, trust, and abiding companionship.

I anxiously await the next chapter . . .

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Experimental Mutiny, Take 2 . . .

I love Jen Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  It address excesses in our daily lives while the majority of the surrounding world is pining away (um, literally) for basic necessities.  I had another thought, though.  What if?  What if we conducted a little Experimental Mutiny in our local congregations?  I mean at the very base level.  What if we stripped away EVERYTHING that is excess, and we only presented the necessities?  What if we had a music "fast" of sorts?

I think we are so spoiled and entitled, and if things don't go our way, we pitch a fit, withhold our funds, shake our fists, etc., and all the while the world around us is still homeless, suffering, dying, and longing for a Savior.  Hold on with me a bit . . . one common theme I have heard in the past decade is that music style is completely dividing churches and the scenarios (toddler tantrums) I mentioned above are part and parcel to the experience.

So, what if we all got a little dose of reality and rediscovered what worship really is, and what it isn't? What if we stripped it down to the bare bones for just a teensy bit so we could recenter our thinking on Christ?  What if??

I'm a musician, so I love music.  Period.  This would be difficult for me, and music is so vital to the faith community, it's absence may just be so shocking that we learn to appreciate what we do have a little more.  So, what if we walked into our American church tomorrow to this . . .

Enter sanctuary/auditorium/gathering place.  House lights/natural lights.  Absolute silence.  Someone begins reading passages of Scripture from the podium.  This is immediately followed by a time of corporate, guided prayer centered around unity as the body of Christ and a call to action to love our neighbors and serve our community.  The Pastor delivers a sermon, followed by a time of communion.  Closing Scripture/Benediction/Prayer.  Exit in silence.  No media.  No nothing.  God's Word.  Prayer.  Breaking of Bread.

Would we all survive it??  Could we possibly learn something from this Experimental Mutiny??  Can we be reminded that music does NOT equal worship?  I have no idea how this would work, what it would look like, or what to do after.  I do know that as long as God's people are centering their everything around the foot of the Cross, the Gospel, all else pales . . . I do know that all we need is Jesus.  He is enough.  Maybe I'm on to something here . . . . maybe we should have a little Experimental Mutiny against our very selves . . . our own desires and needs.  Strip it down so it's just us and Jesus.  The end.