Throwing Down the Little Debbie Cakes

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 1 John 1:9 (The Message)

Every morning, I see myself in the mirror. There are things to do: wash with my special facial cleanser, pat dry, apply anti-winkle cream (with SPF 30), brush my teeth, comb my hair, and gear up for another day. Over this last year, though, I’ve watched my face getting puffier, my chin growing “a second row,” and I don’t like it.

image

In 2013, I lost nearly 35 pounds. My best weight was 175. I was able to maintain that for almost a year. Then other things started happening in my body and slowly but surely, all that effort I put in losing the 35 pounds got lost in the fog of my chronic pain. And as I stood on the scale yesterday, I stared down at the number. 215 pounds. I stepped off, let the scale reset, and tried it again. 215, exactly the same as the first time. Just for good measure, I tried again. Nope, there it was: 215 pounds – all 35 pounds that I’d lost had, like the prodigal son, found its way back home…and those 35 found a 5 pound friend and invited it to visit as well.

I wasn’t shocked — in fact, I was glad it wasn’t more. I knew I had put on the weight. Now, it was a question of what I was going to do with myself — throw out my desire to trim this “temple” God has given me and just become comfortable in my fat or throw down the Little Debbie Cakes and say, “No more. I can do this. I need this. I want to be healthy. I want to clean up the temple and keep it sparkling!”

Little Debbie

I had already decided BEFORE I stepped on the scale that I wanted to at the healthy weight that just a year before had been just a few pounds away. I knew that I needed to eat low carb because carbs are not my friends. I just wanted a simple plan that did not include adding up calories. I had a lot of friends that have had success with the new Weight Watchers points plan and I joined yesterday (September 1). I loaded the WW app to my phone and found that all I had to do was list what I ate and it tracks my points for me. I like what the WW points plan offers me — simplicity and choices.

I got down on my knees and had some quality alone time with God. I repented for my gluttony. I discussed at length with God my greatest pitfalls (my love of sweets and carbs, my habit of gorging myself late at night, the fact that I could eat ice cream breakfast, lunch, supper). I talked with him about my “shame eating” — the times I’ve bought $25 worth of candy bars and hidden them from the rest of the family, eating them when I was alone, and hiding the wrappers WWAAAYYYY down at the bottom of the trash can. (Come on…I know some of you know what I’m talking about!) I was honest with Him about my unwillingness to call on Him in the grips of fighting off a craving and praying for help.

This morning, my morning devotional verse was 1 John 1:9. I was not surprised that God aligned my morning devotional scripture with the very subject for which I’d been baring my soul to Him. That’s how He works. Isn’t that cool? Here are the words that struck me like a lightning bolt (additions and emphasis mine):

We are fooling yourself, Sandy — God already knows your sin.

Admit your sins, Sandy, and come clean with God.

He won’t let you down, Sandy.

He’ll be true to Himself, Sandy.

He’ll forgive your sins, Sandy, and purge you.

So, with a clean slate, I’m on my journey to health again. If you are in a less-than-happy place with your weight, I understand. If you’re willing to start with a clean slate, God understands. If there’s something you want to share in the comments, I will pray with you. This is not a place of judgment. None of us is perfect. Our God loves to give second chances…and third, fourth, fifth, sixth…endless chances.

Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.

shr

Driven to Distraction

You know, I don’t pay attention to many car commercials, mostly because I can’t afford a new car. But I was watching television over the weekend and one caught my eye like none has in quite a while.

Perhaps you’ve seen it: they ask eight or so people to sit in a room and watch a video on a screen.  You hear a verbal command something to the effect, “Please do not remove your eyes from the screen.  Watch the screen at all times.”

Then the producers send in cute puppies, Vegas-style show girls, loud singers, and a host of other distractions.  And of course, not one participant keeps his/her eyes on the screen.

It’s a car commercial with a target audience for those that feel the need to text while driving.  The car they’re advertising has a text screen located high on the dashboard so that you can text and keep your eyes on the road. Sorry. This makes me nervous. PLEASE DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE — EVEN IF YOU OWN THIS CAR.

The fact that I can’t remember many of the details of this commercial says something. I have to say I wasn’t enthralled by the commercial enough to even remember the make or model of the car. From the moment the commercial started, I heard the still, small voice of God whispering in my ear, “That’s you, Sandy.  You’ve been distracted from Me.”  After that, all I could think of was the spiritual implications of how I’ve been distracted from God.

We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith. and He is the One who makes our faith complete.He suffered death on the cross. But He accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy He could see waiting for Him and now He is sitting at the right hand of God’s Throne.  Hebrews 2:12 ERV

I am a writer, so distractions can be the death of an afternoon of hard work or even an idea. But you don’t have to be a writer for distractions to wreak havoc on your life.

Imagine cleaning your house and happening upon some really interesting television show (Discovery ID can do this for me). You sit to watch a few minutes and the next thing you know it’s time to make supper and do homework with the kids — and that inch of dust is still layered on top of the mantel.

Just about the time you sit down for your quiet time in the Bible and a moment to commune with God, a friend with whom you’ve not spoken in ages calls…and it just seems rude to hang up. Before you know it, it’s been two hours and you now have to rush to get to your doctor’s appointment.

Or, let’s imagine that you are at the grocery store with your list — your concise, nothing-else-needed list; the list that you diligently went through the kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, and the freezer to make; the list you intend to stick to because you’ve promised God to live on a tighter budget and contribute a little extra to the “Imagine No Malaria” campaign at church.   As you turn the first aisle, you notice Nutter Butters are on sale (Or Oreos!) and you counsel with yourself saying, “Just one little bag won’t throw my budget off too much.”  And by the end of the grocery shopping, you’ve “one-little-bagged it” on every aisle and your budget is blown.

“We must never stop looking to Jesus,” is the first line in Hebrews 12:2.

And I fail to do it every day. If you think I’m writing to tell you how well I avoid distractions, my dear Child of God, you are reading the wrong devotion in the wrong blog. It takes great practice to ignore the pleadings of the world and while I’d like to say I spend a good portion of every day practicing avoiding distractions, I don’t spend nearly enough. I get caught up in the drama of the world and let the rush of “being in with the in-crowd” wash all over me.

The point I want to share with you is that God uses worldly things to remind me just how distracted I’ve let myself become. In my gluttony, He shows me a young couple who is barely making it on their own. In my gossip-carrying mouth, He allows me to see or hear a bit of unkindness about myself so that I can lay my hate-carrying tongue on His altar for cleansing. In my impatience, He allows me to experience waiting in a way that will only point me to Him. If I’m carrying a grudge or hate in my heart toward someone, He somehow shows me that I have the same quality I dislike about that person.  I must humble myself and forgive that person or there will be no forthcoming forgiveness from God to me.

In my distracted mind, God shows me a car commercial in which the message isn’t that I can text and watch the road at the same time, but that I can’t remain close to God and let a distraction take my attention away. I must remain focused on my Lord as if the distractions of this world are nothing or I will miss the joy that is waiting for me.

Do you have a something you’d like to share in the comments?  Do you need prayer?  If so, you can leave a detailed request or simply write “unspoken.”

Don’t miss the joy of the Lord, my friends! And whatever our distractions are, rest assured that God is never distracted from us.

If you don’t know about the wonderful missions project (Imagine No Malaria) by the United Methodist Church, please click on the link above, and if you feel so inclined, a donation would be greatly appreciated.

shr

The Situation

Thank you for those that have been faithful and kept reading the blog’s archives while I was away.  I stepped away from the blog for a year because I needed a spiritual renewal. I felt that I couldn’t share anything worthwhile with you until I got my own spiritual heart beating in sync with God again.

During the past year, I’ve also concentrated on the writing course I’ve been taking online for the last two years.  I prayed for God to open the doors and promised that I wouldn’t hesitate to walk through them.  That was an epic fail. I vigorously argued with God in that arena. And lost. Decided I was wasting precious efforts in the arguing and have walked  through those open doors (mostly — hey, I’m human, which means I’m flawed).

The next open door is an invitation to write my first YA novel, one that’s been in my heart and mind since I was 12 years old.  I’m in the active planning stage (meaning, I’m writing stuff on sticky notes, putting up on a storyboard, and doing lots of research) instead of the “just thinking about it stage,” which is, itself, a job that all writers have.  But if I never write it down, revising and negotiating with my characters and their storylines, then it’s just daydreaming and not constructively moving me toward my goal. I have a wonderful Christian writer/editor, Mary Ryan, who is my teacher in the course,  and who encouraged me to go into the Christian fiction genre (one of those open doors I found easy to walk through).

On my personal seeking journey, I wrote the following devotional.  I wrote it for me, but I hope there are others like me out there who need a gentle prompting to be aware of God’s presence in every life situation.

You will find me sharing Scripture from Isaiah frequently. It falls among my favorite books of the Bible, including Jeremiah, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ephesians. I have been devouring the book of Isaiah for the past two months.

Seek the Lord while you may find Him. Call upon Him now while He is near. Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)

I became a Christian at the tender age of nine. I knew and believed the story of my salvation, but I was a “baby” Christian (seeing God’s Word in simplistic, juvenile ways) for a long while — even into my early 30s. I was fed a great deal of “milk” during that time because I couldn’t grasp the real, deep meaning of some of what God had written in His Instruction Book. And to be honest, I wasn’t looking too hard.

Having children changed that. Kids tend to ask a great many “why” questions — surprisingly-deep spiritual questions. At their young age, I could feed them “milk” answers, but in my heart I knew I was going to have to change if I wanted them to be more than “milk feeders”. I decided that I wanted to have a “meat and potatoes” kind of relationship with God — a hardy relationship that forced me into His Word and into His will.  It was hard, but I had the guidance of many God-fearing, scripture-quoting, patient teachers who helped me change my spiritual diet.

If you look at this verse from Isaiah, two questions may bounce around in your head:
Why do I have to find God; doesn’t He know where I am?
Isn’t God always near?

First, God knows where we are at all times, but the reason we often have to seek for (or find) God is because we’re on a journey manufactured by our own devices. We choose our wisdom over that of the omnipotent, almighty Father. We might be in the same BOOK, but not on the same PAGE as God. (Sometimes I was in the wrong LIBRARY in the wrong CITY in the wrong COUNTRY. I know what’s it like to that wrong!)

Secondly, when we are far apart from God, GUESS WHO MOVED? Yep. We did. Detours take us off the path of righteousness and lead us into the depths of despair, depression, and loneliness. BEING APART FROM GOD IS A PUNISHMENT THAT WE INFLICT UPON OURSELVES! God never moves! Thank goodness, He’s never-changing!

The great redemptive glory is the moment we drop on our knees and repent, asking for God to take over and to gather us into His warm, loving embrace — a hug, of sorts, for comfort and healing — He pulls up His “moving van” and moves us to his “home base” immediately.  If you’ll let him, he’ll leave all the extraneous, misguided misinformation behind and set you on a path of righteousness.

My life was completely changed when I gave God control and let Him lead me. I don’t always get it right, but I know enough to recognize the signs when I’m wrong — even when it goes against the popular choice of others. Not allowing God to lead you is like letting “the carrot lead the stick,” as my friend Pastor Eddie Brookshire would say.

I don’t know when He’s coming back, but Jesus IS coming back. It’s imperative that you seek Him while you still have time to find Him. That’s a call for URGENCY!

Calling on Him while He is near is a DIRECTIONAL REMINDER to only go through doors that are opened by God. It insures you will remain in His will and the promptings of the Holy Spirit will be easier to feel; the “still small voice of God” will be heard more clearly.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAD TO LET GOD MOVE YOU BACK INTO HIS WILL? If so, please share your journey in the comments.

I’m praying for you! If you’d like me and my church to pray for you, please leave your request, with details if you’d like, or just leave the word “unspoken” in the comment space.

Have a blessed day. And remember, if God’s not changing your situation, He’s using your situation to change you!

shr

Make Accountability Work for You: Skinny Cowboy Caviar (Low Carb Recipe)

Everything you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  (Colossians 3:17, GW)

Image Source:  www.yunbootcamps.com

Have you been at this weight loss thing a while?  I have.  I’ve battled it off and on for twenty years (read: yo-yo dieter).  Last year in our Bible studyMade to Crave, I read some interesting statistics.  When setting a goal and having accountability for setting that goal, the probably of reaching that goal is:

  • 10% when you hear an idea
  • 40% when you decide you will do it
  • 50% when you plan how to do it
  • 65% when you commit to someone else to do it
  • 95% when you have an accountability appointment with the person you’ve committed to

What do you think?  Has this been true in your life?  It certainly has in mine.  I’ve had the most success in my weight loss goal in the last ten months because I actually made myself accountable to some important people.

First, I made myself accountable to God.  This body of mine is His temple.  I had horribly abused His temple.  It’s important for me to show God that I love Him and want to obey Him by getting my temple healthy.

Second, I made myself accountable to two other people who also made a commitment to God:  my mom and my good friend, Michele.  Even though it was only the three of us who completed the Made to Crave Bible study last fall, we made a commitment to weigh/measure once a week and share our trials and triumphs.  When we’re having a rough time of it, we pray for each other.  When we have victories, no matter how small, we celebrate with each other.  We keep in touch.

Image Source:  www.warriorsofweight.com

We’ve all had great success in the past ten months.  My mom is five pounds from her goal weight and Michele is losing every week, getting fit and healthy.  Our success seems to be based on the last three statistics listed above:  we planned our goal, we committed to each other, and we keep our accountability appointments every week.

I want to let you know that all three of us are reaching our goals in different ways.   My mom is watching her portions and eating foods from the low glycemic index (my dad is a diabetic) and being more active.   Michele is doing Weight Watchers and walking.  I am carb cycling, eating from the low glycemic index, and exercising.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to get there — you just have to find a plan that works for you.  There’s no one plan that works for everyone.  To find what works for you takes, well, work. It takes research.  It takes talking to others who are on their weight loss journeys.  It takes trying out some different eating plans.  But it does not include FAD DIETING!  Remember, you didn’t put on your extra weight in two weeks and it won’t come off in two weeks.  It’s not how our bodies work.

Whatever you decide to do, do it for the glory of the Lord.  If you place your faith in Him, commit to Him, and find at least two other people you can REALLY commit to, you will see successful results.  In fact, I invite you to partner with ME, personally, and make a commitment to me.  I will, in turn, make a commitment to YOU — to share what I’m doing each week, how I’m doing each week, and be your encourager!  I will be honest with you.  There’s no reason we can’t work together.

Photo Source:  Sandra Hall Rosser

Today, I’m giving you another personal favorite low carb recipe, Skinny Cowboy Caviar.  The first time I made this, I had it as a meal over mixed salad greens, but it can be eaten as a morning or afternoon snack as well.

Skinny Cowboy Caviar  (Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

2 large avocados, pitted and peeled

1 medium tomato, seeded and finely diced

1 medium sweet onion (I love Vidalia), finely chopped

1/2 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen — avoid canned because of the sodium)

1 cup canned black beans (rinsed well and drained well)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder (or ground cayenne pepper)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons salsa

1 Tablespoon, chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Juice of a small lime

Jalapenos or green chilies (optional, you decide how hot you’d like it)

Directions:

1.  Cook hamburger or turkey over medium heat.  Cook thoroughly, then drain.  (Weight Watchers trick:  while meat is in the colander, rinse a couple of times with boiling water to remove even more fat!)  Return to pan and add dry seasonings (garlic powder, chili powder/cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper).  Add onion, corn, beans, and salsa.  Mix until meat is coated with the spices and the salsa is bubbling.  Cook until onions are slightly translucent, but still a little firm.   If mixture seems a little dry, you can add more salsa, but you don’t want a soupy mixture.  Remove from heat and let cool.

2.  Roughly mash avocados into chunks in a medium bowl.  (Save the pits.)

3.  Add tomato, meat mixture, lime juice, and cilantro.  Stir well.  Mixture should be a chunky, like a dip.

4.  When storing, place the avocado pits on top of the mixture and keep in an air-tight container.  This helps keep the avocado from turning brown.  Mixture will keep in refrigerator 2-3 days.

Serve over a bed of mixed greens (my favorite way) or with carrot sticks, celery sticks, green pepper slices, crackers, toasted French bread, or tortilla chips.

Nutritional Information (per 1/2 cup serving):  225 calories, 15 g fat, 325 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates*, 12 g dietary fiber, and 30 g protein.

*By now you’re probably screaming at me:  YOU SAID THIS WAS A LOW CARB RECIPE!  THIS SAYS 18 GRAMS OF CARBOHYDRATES IN A HALF-CUP SERVING!  Truly, this is considered a low carb, low glycemic index recipe.  You have to look at all of the nutritional information.  Most of the fat in this recipe is considered good fat (from the avocados — click here to find out about good fats).  Yes, it has 18 grams of carbs, but look at the dietary fiber!  When the dietary fiber content is higher, it means that you’re eating healthy carbs (click here to find out about good and bad carbs).  Black beans and corn are two of the most fiber-rich foods you can eat.  If you just can’t justify 18 grams of carbohydrates in a half-cup serving, feel free to omit the beans and corn.

That being said, you cannot snack on this recipe more than once a day.  Moderation is the key.  It always is.  This recipe has all the makings of a great snack:  good fat, some good carbs, and protein.  The combination of these three nutrients will keep you feeling full because it takes longer to digest them.

Now, will you make that commitment?  Drop me an email at lbtk1@aol.com or leave a comment below.  I promise to answer. I promise to partner with you and increase your accountability!

Have a blessed weekend!  Get out and move your body!  Enjoy!

shr

It Takes Two (But More is Better)

Image Source:  www.bing.com

Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together.  If one falls down, the other can help him up.  But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NCV)

Have you ever had to do a big job all by yourself?  It might have seemed overwhelming to you.  You may have fretted over how long it would take you to get it done.  You may have stressed over time restraints or requirements for the job that made you want to quit, or at best, pull your hair out.

Ever had someone offer to help you get that task completed?  Didn’t it feel good not to have to shoulder the burden all by yourself?  Did your attitude immediately improve?  Did finishing the job with the aid of a helper even make the job more enjoyable?  Dare I say, fun?

The idea that two people working together can accomplish more than one person by himself/herself isn’t new but in today’s “all about me” society, it’s kind of gotten lost.  Part of the problem seems to be that if your share the work load and it has a successful outcome, then you have to share the prize at the end of the journey — be it something physical or simply words of affirmation that it was a job well done.  We, as the whole of society, are not good at sharing.

We need to get away from this kind of thinking.  I am proud to say that I attend a church where people love to work together.  Everyone has a part in the success (or failure) of the mission of our church.  We look to our pastor for guidance and support, but we all have jobs that are necessary for the good works of the Kingdom of God.  How absurd would it be if the pastor of our church greeted the congregants, taught the Sunday school classes, counted the offering, led the singing, played the piano, took up the offering, kept the nursery, and preached the sermon in our service?  No pastor I know would (or could) do all those things by himself.

Jesus calls us to be in each others’ corners.  We help when we’re asked, but we should also offer to help without being asked.  Jesus asked His disciples to follow Him and help Him spread the gospel.  When He left this earth, He asked them to carry on with that same work.  That’s our goal today.

I have to tell you that I depend on many people to help me in my life.  We work together as friends and family to do far more than we could accomplish if we worked singularly.  I fall down a lot and I need people to lift me up.  How sad would it be if I was down and out, reaching out to people for help and support, and NO ONE responded?

One of the reasons I’ve had success in losing weight is because I’ve made myself accountable to other people.  I’ve shared my successes and failures.  I’ve asked for ideas to help me get my temple in better working order.  I admit when I fail (and I fail many times a day).  I pass on encouragement when I can.  In fact, I offer encouragement to many people about many things because God encourages me daily.

And you know what?  No one has ever said to me, “Just stop!  Stop making me feel better!  Stop telling me that you understand the crisis I’m in!  Stop telling me you love me no matter what!  Stop showing me kindness!  Don’t you dare offer me any hope!  And while we’re on the subject, stop praying for me!  How dare you talk to God about me behind my back?”

Image Source:  www.bing.com

Besides belonging to a really great body of believers in Christ, I have the ultimate support of my family and I am also in two great weight loss support groups.  These are ladies and gentlemen who have walked many miles the same kind of walking shoes I’m wearing.  If you don’t have anyone who gives you support and you’re struggling, I can help.  I promise to care because that is how God programmed me.  I care about people.  I care about you.

My message is this:  you don’t have to go it alone.  You don’t have to face this big, scary, ruthless world all by yourself.  The more people you open yourself to, the more you will gain in return.  What you may find is that while you started reaching our to receive, you just may make it your mission in life to give.  You can’t receive or give all by yourself.  It really does take two — but more is even better.

shr

Check out these great groups and make sure to tell Karen and Jackie that I sent you!

Get Skinny & Healthy with Karen and Jax Skinny Friends

Weight Loss Wednesday: The Best Kind of Freedom

IMG

   Me:  2008  (unhappy, unwilling, unmotivated, just “un” period)

The fact that I’m sharing this photo (courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles) is a sure sign that I do, indeed, have a the best kind of freedom.  For the longest time, I cringed when I had to show my identification to anyone.  I felt like a prisoner, chained by my excess weight.  You know that look you get when they’re checking the picture and looking at you to make sure you’re who you say you are?  I would always drop my head and vow to do something about my life, which was out of control in every single aspect — physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually,

At this particular time, I wasn’t weighing myself.  When I did, the number on the scale made me physically ill.  Then I would take out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and make all the hurt go away.  (I freely admit that ice cream is my food drug of choice.)

In the fall of 2008, I started watching “The Biggest Loser.”  I would cheer for the contestants while snacking on anything sweet I had available.  Sweets are my addictions.  If I never ate another nut, bag of popcorn, chip, or pretzel, I’d not shed a tear.  But sweets — now that’s a different story.  On my worst days, I could eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  (If you think I am exaggerating, I will let you talk to my husband.  He’s watched me do it too many times to count.)

At the end of the season, I decided to make a change.  January 1, 2009 (I know.  It’s so cliché to start a diet on New Year’s Day, but that’s what I did), I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see the number that stared back at me in big, bold, black print: 225.8 pounds.  Nearly 226 pounds on my 5’6″ frame.

I went to the freezer, took all the remaining ice cream out and put it in a trash bag.  I went through the pantry (I had a shelf dedicated just to me), and threw away Oreos, chewy granola bars, and scads of other delectable, but destructive, items.  I immediately put the bag in the outside trash bin and headed to the grocery store.  There I loaded up on lots of produce (fruits and veggies that I really did already love, but had abandoned for Hagen Das), lean meats, chicken, fish (which I had avoided at all costs up till then).

My next assignments were to scour the internet for low-fat recipes and get myself moving.  (Most regular readers know that I have degenerative disk disease and nerve damage from a back injury in 1988.  It was my finest excuse for not exercising for twenty years, despite the fact that physical therapists had told me that walking and strength training — especially strengthening my core muscles so that no more disks become herniated in my back — would alleviate some of the daily, chronic pain I lived with.)

Long story short, I lost twenty-five pounds in 2009.  I felt really good about my lifestyle change because DIEts always DIE because they are based on deprivation and unrealistic expectations.  It’s a lifestyle change that has to be permanent.  I was also in a great place with God, my family, and friends.

In 2010, my greatest supporter and the love of my life — my husband, Kelly — became ill.  He was constantly at the doctor and they offered every diagnosis under the sun for almost eleven months.  I did not actively decide to abandon my lifestyle change, but I wasn’t as dedicated as I was the entire year of 2009.  I actually was able to maintain my weight (198 at this time) for 2010.

On December 1, 2010, Kelly was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) and we spent the next thirty-three days at UNC Cancer Hospital.  (See the post about this journey in the related articles below).  I walked everywhere at the hospital.  I lost another six pounds in 2010.

I give all praise and glory to God, for Kelly went into remission after the first chemo treatment, and has been in remission ever since.  We experienced four hard months of follow-up chemo treatments that were very hard on Kelly’s body.  I returned to my comfort eating habits.  (I should have bought shares in Ben & Jerry’s — no joke) and I gained eight pounds by the end of the year — now, I saw 204 staring at me from my enemy, “The Scale.”

For two years, I roller-coastered — anybody ever do that?  (I hear all the “amens!”  Thanks for being honest.)  I even posted a picture with a post I wrote about my “intentions” for getting back into my healthy lifestyle.   I did lose a little weight, but my heart wasn’t in it.

In October 2012, I went for my first visit to my new family doctor.  My blood work was horrible — pre-diabetic signs, high cholesterol, blood pressure through the roof.  And on “The Scale” that day before Dr. Meredith, Nurse Michele, me, and God, there it was staring back at me — 209 pounds.

The first thing we addressed was the blood pressure issue and the fact that I hadn’t had a pap smear in ten years. (I hear the gasps. I’m gasping with you.  Seeing it in print is sobering!) I know it was a horrible decision and I make no excuses.  My lesson — it’s worse to not have a pap smear and worry that something is wrong than to go to the doctor and get a little lecture — Dr. Meredith was kind, but firm.  She said there were other things we’d address at my next visit in four months.

That very afternoon, I watched an episode of Dr. Oz which dealt with body shapes.  I quickly identified myself as an “apple.”  His next words hit me hard — women with apple-shaped bodies (that means you carry most of your weight in your belly) and are over-weight have triple the chance of developing heart problems.  I thought of my Granny Mae, who died of congestive heart failure in 2001.  I thought of my blood pressure reading from the doctor that same morning — 160/100.  I thought of my husband, my kids, my precious granddaughter, and my friends — and I got on my knees beside my bed and prayed to God for forgiveness for not being a good steward of my temple.

You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves,because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NCV)
Image   Me: 209 pounds in October 2012

Even through Thanksgiving and Christmas, I lost five pounds.  On January 1, 2013, “The Scale” read 204 pounds.  Four years later and I’m looking at the same weight as I was on January 1, 2009.  This time, I knelt beside the scale and promised God that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER see that number on the scale again!

Talking with my friend and prayer warrior, Michele Bedsole (who is one of my accountability partners — and ACCOUNTABILITY is going to be a post for another day), we decided that our women’s Bible study would be “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkhurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  There were three women who did the study (felt like that was the devil trying to discourage us, but we forged ahead anyway).  Ladies (and gentlemen as well — this book speaks to everyone), this book changed how I looked at why I overeat.  I realized that lack of will power was really a lack of faith.  I didn’t believe that God could change this body of mine and I’d forgotten to turn to Him when I felt overwhelmed.  I let the “comfort of food” be the god of my life.  This was an eye-opener to me.

In January, my daughter, my daughter-in-law-to-be, and decided to join Gold’s Gym.  The upfront fees were enormous and I just couldn’t afford to pay it.  (FINANCIAL STRESS — that’s also a subject for another post.)  As we started to walk out, God whispered, “negotiate.  Don’t take “no” for an answer.”  So, I poured my heart out to this woman who was taking our application.  She called her manager over and I poured my heart out to him.  I almost fell out of my chair when the deal they offered was only five dollars more a month than the monthly fee if I paid that huge membership fee up front.  Of course, I had to agree to a two-year contract instead of a month-to-month, but God and all the angels were cheering me on.

All winter, we went to the gym.  We “treadmilled” and “ellipticalled.”  We used the weight machines.  We danced in Zumba (I did what I could, stopped and watched others when I couldn’t do the moves because of pain, and joined in again when I could.)

At my four-month check-up with Dr. Meredith, I was down to 194 pounds — a fifteen pound loss since I’d seen her in October!  She looked at me and smiled.  “I guess we don’t have to discuss weight loss after all,” she said and gave me huge hug. (Then she told me I had to have a colonoscopy — there is always a balance, the good with the not-so-good.)

My June check-up was equally fantastic.  My blood pressure was down — 120/76.  My bad cholesterol was down (but my good cholesterol was down).  The pre-diabetics signs were gone.  And best of all, to me, I was down another fourteen pounds — 180 pounds and proud of it!

Today, I stepped on the scale, even though it’s not my day to weigh-in.  I usually weigh on Sundays and I thank God for whatever the number is on the scale.  In fact, Sundays are for praise and worship.  No requests to God from me on a Sunday.  (Thanks to Jodie Bailey, friend and talented author of Freefall, for that suggestion a couple of years ago in a Bible study she led.)  I wanted to report my actual weigh to you when I showed you my follow-up photo.  (If you compare it to the second photo in this post, you will notice that I couldn’t even pull the exercise shirt over my belly!)

Image

Me: 176 pounds on July 3, 2013

If I calculate from January 1, 2009 that’s a loss of 49.8 pounds.  Since October 2013, when I really and truly made the commitment to honor my body as a temple of God, it’s a 33 pound loss.  I know that it’s been me physically doing the work, but God has been my ultimate Trainer.  I don’t make it through a day without Him.  I give all the praise and glory to Him.

The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released. (Isaiah 61:1 NCV)

And THAT, dear readers, is the best kind of freedom — the freedom to be all that God wants me to be, to be faithful and fruitful, and to follow Him — wherever, whenever, whatever.  Don’t you want that kind of freedom?

shr

P.S.  If there are particular questions you have for me, you can leave them in the comment section or shoot me an email at lbtk1@aol.com.  I’ll be glad to answer anything.  I’m an open book.  And I want to say that every day since last October has not been a success.  However, I have not abandoned the lifestyle — I just made a fresh start the next day.  In fact, every day is really a fresh start for me.  Let every day be a fresh start for you.  You can do this too.  I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.  I’ll offer you suggestions that have worked for me and I’ll share what I’ve read and studied about how the body works and treats food.  I am not an expert.  I’m just a believer.

Photo Credits:  North Carolina DMV and Sandra Hall Rosser

Related Articles:

Faith it Forward:  A Chance to Say Thank You (lbtk.wordpress.com)

If You’re Weighting On Me (lbtk.wordpress.com)

How Can I Keep from Singing:  Beautiful (lbtk.wordpress.com)

How Can I Keep from Singing: Beautiful

If you read LBTK regularly, you may have noticed that this post is a little late, with good reason.  Sunday afternoon, I completely lost my voice and the sore throat I already had, became more uncomfortable and painful.  By yesterday morning, I had also added a low-grade fever and a general “yucky” feeling all over.  So I went to the doctor…and tested positive for strep throat!  I can’t remember the last time I had strep throat!

As I got ready for my appointment, I looked into my bathroom mirror and took a quick assessment of what I saw.  The very first thought that ran through my mind was “I am fat and ugly.”  Then I listed everything I saw that supported my assessment:  dark circles under the eyes, puffy checks, double chin, thinning hair (wild from tossing back and forth as I slept), crooked nose.  The only saving graces I saw were that I love my blue eyes and I have very few wrinkles.  These two characteristics made me smile — until I realized that it’s possibly the fat in my face that is filling out the wrinkles!  Blue eyes, schmoo eyes — they were bloodshot and matted with eye boogars!  Again, I was thoroughly disgusted.

So, off I went to the doctor and frankly, I sulked the entire way.  I was pulling into the parking lot of the doctor’s office when “Beautiful” by MercyMe started playing on one of my favorite radio stations, WCLN 107.3.  I sat and listened to the entire song before going in.  I was thinking about Claire. “Beautiful” is my prayer-song for Claire.  She is so impressionable at this point in her life.  I often pray the lyrics of the chorus for her:

You’re beautiful.  You’re beautiful.

You are made for so much more than all of this.

You’re beautiful.  You’re beautiful.

You are treasured.  You are sacred.  You are His.

You’re beautiful.

I entered the reception area with this song on my mind.  When the nurse called me back, the song stopped playing and I started to focus on the part of the doctor’s exam I consider a form of torture — the weigh-in.  I have often thought I’d rather take a bullet than have to weigh-in at the doctor’s office.

I shared in February that I have decided to make a lifestyle change — adopting health-eating habits and adding more physical exercise to my routine — so that I can avoid some health problems to which I may be genetically predisposed:  high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.  And to be perfectly honest, to lose weight so that I’ll look better in a dress when that whole renewing-of-the-vow thing rolls around in October.

My mom, dad, Kelly, and I are weighing-in every Monday morning and reporting to each other about our progress.  Having to “check in” with other people has really motivated me to stick with my plan and have the courage of my convictions.  I have been losing weight slowly and steadily.  But yesterday morning when I was feeling so rotten, I forgot to weigh at home.  Looking at the doctor’s scale, I started to panic just a little.  Okay, maybe I panicked a lot considering that my heart rate was up and my blood pressure registered higher than normal.

When I stepped on the scale, I closed my eyes and held my breath.  (Hey, who knows how much an intake of new breath weighs?  I take no chances!)  While the nurse fiddled with the knobs, “Beautiful” started playing in my mind again, only this time, the prompting of the Holy Spirit encouraged me to claim its message for myself.  I suddenly felt every muscle in my body relax.  I was concentrating so much on how beautiful I am to God, the nurse had to ask me to step off the scale twice.  And I had to ask her what I weighed.

Now, I am going to do something that is brave or stupid — you can be the judge.  I’m going to share my starting weight and my current weight with you.  If I can be accountable to God and three other people on a weekly basis, I can be accountable to all of you once a month.  This is an exercise in faith — faith in God that He will help me meet my goal weight of 155 pounds and faith in you, that you will support me with your prayers Ready?

On February 27, 2012, my starting weight was 204 pounds.  My current weight, as of March 26, 2012, is 196.6 pounds.  That’s a loss of 7.4 pounds in a month.  I’m giving all the glory and praise to my Father in heaven because He is the one I turn to at ten o’clock at night when I want to plow through my fridge or cupboard and devour a thousand calories because I’m having a craving.  It’s His messages from the Bible that comes to mind when I don’t want to exercise.  It’s His strength that is the greatest when I am at my weakest.  For I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

Since I am asking for your prayers, I want to tell you that you can send me your prayer requests as well.  You can leave your request as a comment or send it to me privately at lbtk1@aol.com  I already have a prayer notebook designated just for you!

I want to know what losing 49 pounds looks like, so I had Kelly take a “before” picture of me. Although I am a little scared,  I feel led to share this picture with you for two reasons:  so that those of you who don’t know me outside the blogging world will know that I am who I say I am and so that if you’re like me and need to know that you’re not alone in this, you will have a touchstone.  Here I am:

 

I chose this video of “Beautiful” because it shares the words on the screen to accompany the music.  When you listen, pray the words of this song for yourself.  Above all, remember that Jesus is totally in love with you, just as you are.  You are treasured.  You are sacred.  You are His.  You’re beautiful.

shr

P.S.  I want to thank my fellow WordPress blogger, Fiona, for nominating this blog for the “Beautiful Blogger Award,” as seen below.  You can read her amazing blog at http://oilofjoyandgarmentsofpraise.wordpress.com/  I humbly accept the nomination.  (And if anyone has an idea of how I can put this award in a sidebar on my page, please get in touch with me, as I am completely lost on how to proceed with this!)  Since it’s my job to nominate other bloggers for this award, I will list them below the picture of the award and give you links so that you can check out all the wonderful things these people are posting.

If you read anything in LBTK that has any meaning, please know it’s God working through me.  I am nothing on my own. “Humanly speaking, it is impossible; But with God, everything is possible.  Matthew 19:26 (NLT)  Again, I give Him all the praise and glory.  I am His servant.

Jodie Bailey:  Faith and Fiction with a Touch of Southern Grace www.jodiebailey.com

Thoughts from the Porch http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/

Momentum of Joy http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com

Lori Schulz http://lorischulz.wordpress.com/

Anna’s One Life http://annasonelife.wordpress.com/

At Least We Made it This Far… http://trishadm.wordpress.com/

Brave Fish http://identitylovefaith.wordpress.com/

Dear “Beautiful Blogger” Award Winners:  You inspire me.  Your words are beautiful, thus the reason you’re receiving this award.  It is now your job to pass this award on to seven (or less) other bloggers along with links to their blogs.  Post the award and provide a link back to the person who nominated you. Thank you for making a difference in my life.  Keep writing! 

“Beautiful” (MercyMe) “http://www.youtube.com/embed/8WnAq0o2Xl8?rel=0

Image Credits:  www.equicknews.com, www.studiobotanica.com, www.uglypets.blogspot.com, www.spinachandskittles.com, & www.flickr.com

Related Articles:  “How Can I Keep from Singing:  His Strength is Perfect”  http://wp.me/p22liv-7b

“I Love Myself…And That’s a Bad Thing”  http://pewtopractice.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/i-love-myself-and-thats-a-bad-thing/

“A Quick Thought for the Day — I AM NOT HAVING AN IDENTITY CRISIS!”  http://nightshade130.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/a-quick-thought-for-the-day-i-am-not-having-an-identity-crisis/

“The Cactus” http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/the-cactus/

“Silvi’s ‘Jesus Book'” http://christianinamerica.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/jesus-book/

“Day 84:  Do You Know What You Eat?”  http://busymomof03.org/2012/03/26/day-84-know-what-you-eat/