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

Letting Go (with No-Carb Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken Recipe)

I remember a conversation I had with my husband, Kelly, so vividly it’s like it was yesterday.  This was just a few months after we were married in 1987.  We’d decided that I’d come off birth control and we’d start our family.  I said to him, “By next year, we’ll have a new Rosser to take to big family Thanksgiving dinner at your Aunt Ruth-Marie’s house.”

In the same conversation, we were discussing the longevity of my teaching career.  I was teaching at Eastover-Central Elementary School and was honored as their “Teacher of the Year” for 1987.  That was huge for me because I’d only been teaching for three years.  To have my peers vote to give you, a virtual newbie, an honor like that was overwhelming for me. “Yes,” I said confidently. “I will be teaching until I am blue-haired, squint-eyed, wrinkled beyond recognition, and walking with a cane.”

As confident as I was that day, neither of those things came to pass.

Image Source:  www.getv.org

Instead of getting pregnant, we found out about our infertility. “One in a million chance,” was what the doctor told us.  Of course, I told him that God was the Great Physician, and without much consulting with the Great Physician, Kelly and I decided that our journey included donor sperm and monthly visits to Duke Fertility Clinic.

Within the next year, I injured my back at school while moving a science kit.  It only weighed ten pounds, but something happened that morning that I can’t quite put my finger on.  All I knew was that I was in excruciating pain.  Five years and seven surgeries later, I was medically retired from a profession I thought I’d be a part of until I was…well, you know what I said in the first paragraph.

After six unhappy months of in vitro at Duke, Kelly and I finally let God have the infertility issue, and we adopted.  It was the oh-so-right thing to do.  We could not love our children anymore if they were our biologically.  At nearly 25, 23, and nearly 16, they bring us so much joy. They like to tell me that they may not have grown in my womb, but they grew in my heart.  I kinda think I’ll keep ’em.

The one thing I fought God on at every turn was the fact that I was not in the teaching profession anymore.  I spent YEARS filled with anger at how that dream of mine had taken wings and flown. Even with the joy of adopting my children and the absolute miraculous ways He brought each of them to us, I held God accountable for not healing me physically and returning me to teaching.

In 2002,  I did let most of the anger go and for the most part, I was able to move on with my life and be relatively happy. But the little sliver that I harbored in my heart, kept me out of God’s will.  Seven years ago, I really had a come-to-Jesus moment that forever eradicated any anger I had and brought me to my knees to beg for His forgiveness.

I walked into a church where I was not a member because we were looking for a new church home.  At the end of the service, a woman came up to me and said, “You know, we need someone to work with our children and when I saw you walk in today, I knew my prayers had been answered.”

That woman was my Aunt Melba Rosser.  We were visiting the Kelly’s home church.  I was just visiting to be nice.  I did not think we’d really choose to become members of Culbreth Memorial UMC.  For heaven’s sake, I’d been a Baptist for forty-four years!  But this is where God led us, the church family He chose for us — and even though He hasn’t healed me physically (yet — I’m not ever ruling it out!), He healed me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

This church  took me just as I was, knowing that some Sundays I might not be able to show up because of my chronic pain.  I have a fantastic group of parents that pitch in and do things that I can’t physically do.  We started with a very small group of five children.  Now I work with fourteen: one children’s choir, one youth choir, and a drama team.  We’re growing every year.

The one thing I realized I’ve always been teaching — God gave me three children to teach.  And that I’ll still  be teaching for years to come, just in different circumstances.

Is it the life I envisioned that day back in 1987?  No…it’s better!

What had you envisioned that was not in God’s plan for you?  What did He lead you to instead?

shr

No-Carb Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken (Serves 4-6)

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Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds

1 bottle of McCormick’s Rotisserie Chicken seasoning

1/4 cup of water

Nonstick Canola Spray

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Directions:

1.  Remove the giblets and neck from chicken.  (I freeze them to use for making chicken stock.)

2.  Rinse chicken thoroughly inside and out.  Pat dry.

3.  Spray crock pot with nonstick spray.  Add 1/4 cup water.  Turn on crock pot to “low.”

4.  Use the McCormick Rotisserie Chicken season and coat the chicken liberally with it.

5.  Place chicken in crock pot.

6.  Cook chicken on low for 6 hours.

7.  When done, remove chicken and place on a platter to rest for 10 minutes.

8.  Skin and de-bone chicken.

Serve with vegetables or salad or use in a sandwich.  I freeze the chicken diced or chopped in 1-cup portions in quart bags to use on salads throughout the week at lunchtime.  This is moist, delicious, and cost-effective.

Tips:   I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and checked the deli prices for one of their rotisserie chickens — $8.88 for one not nearly as big as the ones I cook.  I try to find whole chickens on sale and buy them in bulk.  They will keep in the freezer up to nine months.  On sale, I can usually get whole chickens for about $ .69/pound.  (Aldi has frozen chickens for $ .89/pound every day — which is not a bad price either.)

Nutritional Information (1 cup cooked chicken):  231 calories, 5 g fat, 119 mg cholesterol, 104 mg sodium, and 43 g protein.

Music Monday: Hurricane

Life has recently felt a bit disjointed, a little crazy, a little out of control, and a lot nonstop for me.  When I arose this morning, I felt run-down and a bit like an over-done steak.  Ever been there?  Are you there right now?

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Once, I ran out of gas driving my little blue Subaru in the days when I was first teaching school.  That was way before cell phones.  It wasn’t dark, but it was close.  I was on my way home from school and just about half a mile from my exit on Interstate 95 when the car sputtered, puttered, and I guided it off the road as it rolled to a stop.  Yep, the needle was below “E” if that’s possible.

Image Source:  www.automopedia.org

I sat for a few minutes, wondering what to do.  I decided to get out and walk to the exit ramp, go to the Exxon station and call my daddy.  Before I took more than ten steps, a pick-up truck slowed down and pulled up in front of my car.  It was the grandfather of one of my students (and the janitor at Eastover-Central Elementary School).  Once I told him what the problem was, he advised me to get back in the car, lock it, and he’d be right back.  In about twenty minutes, he was back with a full gas can and poured it all into my gas tank. The car started right up.  He wouldn’t even let me pay him!  Leon Patterson was an angel that day.  (As I later found out, he couldn’t really afford to be as generous as he’d been that October afternoon.  So, I made sure he always got extra goodies from me at Christmas and any other holidays that came throughout the year.)

I could have run out of gas on another road or at a different place along the highway that Mr. Patterson might never have passed.  Or I could have been driving my parents’ car that day, which Mr. Patterson would never have recognized.  But it was just the right spot and in the car Mr. Patterson knew belonged to me.  He found me along a highway in a situation that could have been dangerous.  In my heart, I know God sent me Leon Patterson that day.

Image Source:  www.touch-the-flame.deviantart.com

God sees us running around under our own steam.  He sees that our tanks are getting to that dangerous “below empty” level.  He’s just waiting for us to run out of gas and turn to Him for strength and solace and comfort — to give up the burden and take His lightness to our souls.

So, today — even though there was a storm raging in my heart — I just took a little time for Him.  I let Kelly run a couple of errands for me on his way home from work instead of dragging myself out of the house to do it.  I sang as I swept the kitchen (and grimaced at the amount of dirt that can accumulate in just a couple of days) and in between songs,  I spent a lot of time praying.  I sat down and played hymns on the piano.  I listened to my favorite Christian radio stations.

Image Source:  www.amerigas.

And Natalie Grant was singing my song.  So, I thought I’d share it with you, even though it’s late.  Who knows?  Even though the calm has finally come to my house, the storm may be raging at yours.  Just remember God made those winds, and He can control them.  Just let Him.

shr

Hurricane” (Natalie Grant)

A Very Special Music Monday: Like My Mother Does

Image Source:  www.quotesandwishes.com

I love you, Mama.  We are so much alike it’s scary…but in a good way.  Linda Hall, you are my best friend and role model. You taught me to be a good daughter by watching how you loved and cared for your own mother, my Granny Mae.  You taught me that a mother-in-law can be a source of joy through the relationship I watched you have with my Granny Brook. I realize that because Betty died so soon after Kelly and I were engaged, I’ve missed having her as a source of strength, example, and faith.  Thank you for loving Kelly like he was your own son.  You’ve made such a difference in his life.

My children love you.  You did the job of two grandmothers because you knew that Betty couldn’t be here to share the task with you.  You have offered them your love and advice.  The fact that Claire still gets up on Saturday mornings to have her weekly shot of “Grammy” time is a testimony to the great love and respect she has for you.  The fact that Steven waited so patiently (okay — maybe not-so-patiently) for your rental house to become available so that he could raise his family in the place where he was raised is a testament to our family’s great love and support of each other.  And even thought Martin is still living at home, working on his education, it means a great deal to him to be able to walk over anytime and see you.  I know their adoption papers say that they are not blood-related to you, but your spirit flows through their veins and your influence has shaped the persons they’re becoming.

Four Generations:  My Mom and Joshlyn (center), Steven (right), and Me (left)

Photo Source:  Sandra Hall Rosser

I’ve watched you struggle with eyesight issues all of my life.  Of course, I didn’t know you were handicapped until I was in high school.  You could do everything, except drive, and I just thought Granny Mae drove us everywhere because she loved being with us.  You play the piano like a professional and have been the pianist at Judson Baptist Church for fifty-four years.  You worked as a teacher’s assistant in the Cumberland County Schools and touched hundreds of children’s lives with your love and Christian influence.

You’ve seen me through bad choices, rough situations, emotionally crippling times, and countless other faults and sins I’ve endured in my fifty-one years.  Although I didn’t always appreciate your advice when I was younger, the older I get, the more I realize that you were right more times than you were wrong.  Even when you were wrong, you admitted it, and that made an impact on me.  As a parent, I’ve made countless errors, but I always admit when I’m wrong because it lets my kids know that I am human and need forgiveness.  I’ve even begun to hear that phrase that is music to my ears:  “You were right, Mom!”

In wishing my Mama a happy birthday, I have to acknowledge two other very important women who added to my spiritual and emotional education:  Eula Mae Carter (my maternal grandmother) and Mary Alice Westbrook (my paternal grandmother). I lost them over a decade ago.  Granny Mae’s birthday would have been on September 5.  Granny Brook’s birthday would have been on September 7.  I believe that I have received wonderful traits from my “September Superwomen.”

She watches over her family
    and never wastes her time.
Her children speak well of her.
Her husband also praises her,
   saying, “There are many fine women,
    but you are better than all of them.”
Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you,
    but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned;
    she should be praised in public for what she has done.                                                                                            (Proverbs 31:27-31, NCV)

My Granny Mae was a woman after God’s own heart.  She lived right beside my family as I was growing up.  My greatest memory associated with her is that she always had her Bible on the kitchen table and open to whatever she was studying.  I had the great privilege of having her as my senior high Sunday school teacher.  She lost the love of her life in her fifties and never re-married.  She worked hard all her life.  She loved me unconditionally but she never minded telling me when she thought I was wrong.  She was a woman who kept her opinions about other people close to the vest — not much of a gossip.  (Sorry, Granny Mae.  I’m striving to be more like that daily.)

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Three Generations:  Granny Mae (center), Mama (right), and Me (left)

Photo Source:  Reflections Photography/Diane Atkinson

She was the reason I was able to participate in any after school activities.  Because my mom was visually impaired (and I was not aware of the ramifications of this until I got my own driver’s license at sixteen), she and Granny Mae made sure I could stay for chorus, cheerleading practice, and any other activity where the school bus couldn’t take me home.  I cherish those times — the three of us coming home from school, sharing what kind of day I’d had with two of the three most important women in my life.

The thing I’ll never forget about her is that when Martin and Steven first came to live with us, she started making breakfast for them on Saturday mornings.  “I don’t know how long they’ll be with us,” she said.  “But we’re going to make memories while we can.”  When we found out that we could actually adopt them, the Saturday morning breakfasts continued and family from all over the neighborhood began to show up.  It was like a having mini-family reunion every week.  I miss that.

My Granny Brook was also a woman after God’s own heart.  She did not believe in mincing her words — you knew exactly where you stood with Alice Westbrook.  She lost her first husband when my father was two years old and married my Granddaddy Percy, who loved my daddy like he was his own child.  Living directly across the street from her while I was growing up meant that I could visit anytime I wanted.  She always had a garden and the best-stocked freezer!  Summer corn and butter beans in February was always a treat.  My husband says she made the best fried chicken, corn, and butter beans ever cooked on this planet.

IMGGranny Brook (left) and Daddy (right)

Photo Source:  Sandra Hall Rosser

The thing for which I’ll always be grateful is that she lent me the money to go college.  My tuition wasn’t much by today’s standards, but it was more than I could manage without a loan in 1980.  She loaned me the money, interest free.  She was proud that I would be the first college graduate in our family and that I wanted to be a teacher.  She loved my children and they loved her.  Martin and Steven got spend more time with her because they were ten and eleven when she died.  She and my grandfather used to take them to the Autryville Cafe for lunch.  Steven always called it “The Chicken House” because he always got a chicken leg and french fries for his meal.

Claire was only four when my grandmothers died.  Her memories are sketchy, so I always tell her stories.  My Granny Mae and Granny Brook considered her their “little princess” and no great-granddaughter was ever loved more.  I remind her that her middle name, Melinda, is a combination of her grandmothers’ names: “M” from Mary Alice, “E” from Eula Mae, and “Linda,” which is my mother’s name.  She carries a huge legacy in that name and she is proving to be a smart, strong, God-fearing young lady.

It’s my mother’s birthday.  I want to have her around for years to come.  The song I’ve chosen today is not necessarily sacred on face value, but the underlying meaning is sacred for me.  It’s generational in nature because I am what my mother is because she is what my Granny Mae was.

Happy birthday, Mama.  I don’t mind being told that I do things “like my mother does.”  It’s a great compliment.  I hope I make you proud.

shr.

Like My Mother Does” (Lauren Alaina)

Beautiful and Wonderful

If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and not liked what you’ve seen, you’re not alone.  I have spent a lot of my years being self-critical about my reflection.  I have always complained about the bump in the middle of my nose, my thin lips, my fat cheeks, and my thin, lifeless hair (which is mostly gray under the beautiful color job my stylist gives me every six weeks).  I’ve worried over freckles, wrinkles, lines, and dark circles.  I’ve cursed my fair skin and longed for tons of melanin so that I could be a tanned goddess.  (Although I do have a nice “glow” now as summer is winding down, my daughter had the same glow after two days at the pool.)

Image Source:  www.bing.com

I have to admit that I’ve kind of been aged-obsessed as well, and it started early on.  On my twenty-fifth birthday, my mom had this gorgeous cake made.  It was inscribed, “Happy Quarter-of-a Century Birthday!”  I freaked out and cried.  I refused to eat it.  To this day, I don’t know why.  I was twenty-five, for goodness sake!  I was obsessing over the fact that I was halfway to thirty.  Such a crazy, immature thing to do! (This is probably my most embarrassing admission to date.)

I have purchased magazines that told of facial exercises, beauty tips (and tricks), recipes for facials, and advice on the latest, make-up trends.  I wanted to be glamorous.  I’ve wanted to be the girl that turned heads. I’ve secretly wished to be movie-star-beautiful.  I’ve wanted to be anyone but the Sandy I saw in the mirror.

But I don’t feel that way anymore.  I have finally realized that I am beautiful.  In fact, I’ve always been beautiful — I just missed it.  I am beautiful because God made me beautiful.

I praise you because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way.  What You have done is wonderful.  I know this very well.  (Psalm 139:14, NCV)

The knowledge that I couldn’t achieve beauty in the Walgreens beauty aisle was a freeing realization.  The realization came with a peace that I’d never known.  I stopped watching the infomercials and started to read my Bible more.  I put God’s Word into action:  I started smiling more;  I started speaking to strangers and sharing Jesus; I started sharing hugs and telling people how much I loved them (even the ones who are unlovable some of the time);  I started checking up on the sick in my church and community;  I reconnected with people with whom I’d fallen out of touch.  Suddenly my life was full of OTHERS and less of ME.

And a funny thing has happened:  I’ve started getting compliments about how beautiful I am, how young I look, and how much thinner I am (even though the scale sometimes didn’t agree).  I learned that God has cornered the market on beauty and all I have to do to tap into that beauty is to let Him shine through me.  God has His own brand of charisma and because He lives in me, I have charisma too.

Image Source:  www.newdaywithchrist.blogspot.com

The lines, crow’s feet, wrinkles, freckles, and the bump in the middle of my nose?  They’re still there.  I just don’t mind them anymore.  And when I look at myself in the mirror and doubt starts to creep in (and it does), I just say a quick prayer of thanksgiving.  I close my eyes and count to ten.  When I open them and look back in the mirror, I see Jesus looking back.  How beautiful and wonderful is that?

What makes YOU beautiful and wonderful?

shr

Weight Loss Wednesday: The Best Kind of Freedom

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   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: You Are My King (Amazing Love)

It’s a song that’s been done by several great recording artists:  Newsboys, Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, and Phillips, Craig, & Dean.

Album Cover Credit:  www.amazon.com

When you come across a great song like “You Are My King (Amazing Love),” it’s easy to see why everyone wants to do their own version of it.  That’s what’s so great about Christian music.  An artist may be known for writing or recording a song first, but one of the greatest compliments to a Christian songwriter is that many artists want to record it.   The fact that a song speaks to so many individuals and allows so many people to worship through a certain song is something that is almost exclusive to Christian music.

Image Credit:  http://academiaparainfo.wordpress.com

Let’s face it, “Firework” is signature Katy Perry.  “Unchained Melody” is The Righteous Brothers straight up and down.  “Love Me Tender” will always be an Elvis classic.  Songs like “You Are My King (Amazing Love)” are so inspiring that anyone can make them their own.  Songs such as these are just classic praise and worship.

Album Cover Credit:  www.amazon.com

Out of all the versions from which I could choose, I chose the one by Newsboys because I heard them do it first.  It’s their version that first brought me to tears.  It’s their version that made me visualize the great sacrifice of Jesus and how what He did for me allows me to be royalty, for the spilling of His blood makes me His child.

Image Credit:  www.mne.com

 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.  John 3:16-18 (The Message)

shr

“You Are My King/Amazing Love” (Newsboys)  http://youtu.be/NJrcwzBlaXw

Related Articles:

“Take 5 + 1 with newboys’ Jeff Frankensteinhttp://backseatwriter.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/take-51-with-newboys-jeff-frankenstein/

“Amazing Love”  http://karenhancock.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/amazing-love/

“You Are My King:  Additional Verses” http://christianity201.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/you-are-my-king-additional-verse/