Monthly Archives: June 2013

Pondering Beauty

purple flowers by sidewalk with beeSome thoughts are too deep for a Facebook status.

I don’t mean too amazing or profound. I mean from a place too deep. I almost posted a status today, then deleted it. It felt too vulnerable to share.

Why I feel safe enough to write it in a blog post, like I’m about to do, I can’t tell you. Maybe it’s because a blog is like a journal, and I am willing to be a bit more introspective here.

Or maybe the answer is less mysterious. Perhaps it is simply that I have enough space here to explain myself and dare believe you’ll see my heart instead of being put off by a too quick sentiment in a short status. My almost posted status wasn’t a trite, “religious” sentiment or an attempt to look like a “good” Christian.

In my younger years I was accused of being “Pollyanna,” and a “goody-two-shoes.” I guess I couldn’t bear to have people read my status and roll their eyes, thinking I was trying to be “holy” or something. That status was too precious to me. Bubbling up from deep inside, it spoke my heart.

Here’s the deal. I’ve had a lot of attention over the whole weight loss thing. I’m NOT complaining. To have the kind of love and support and cheerleading that has come my way is breath-taking, an amazing gift. Each sweet compliment has been embraced, treasured, and received with gratitude–and a little embarrassment sometimes–but always with joy. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love.

(The snarky part of my personality comes out once in a while, too, like when I receive attention I would never have been given 50 pounds ago. You know the type I mean. It happens when someone befriends you because of how you look, not who you are. In those moments it’s like there’s this private place inside that rolls my eyes, doubting there will ever be genuine friendship for that reason alone–that I would have been invisible to him or her when I was overweight.)

Here’s the thing. I’ve enjoyed every positive word that’s come my way–like radiant or beautiful or skinny. I believe my Creator rejoices with me to see me back to the size He intended when He made me, but I don’t believe that there was a single moment, even at my heaviest point, that my God decided I was not beautiful.

Even my sweet hubby, who is not as all-seeing as God, still told me I was beautiful when I weighed 210 pounds. There is beauty in every single woman on this earth. I think women are one of God’s greatest expressions of beauty, maybe even the pinnacle, crowning point of creation. He made all these amazing things, then He made man, and He “saved the best for last,” designing woman in a punctuated, artful flourish.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman’s beauty. Still, the last few months I’ve needed to work through learning to receive attention again for who I am on the outside, not just the inside. And while I enjoyed feeling pretty in that mother-of-the-bride dress, while new clothes are a delight, and while I love having a neck thin enough to pull out the jewelry again without accentuating a double chin, I know real beauty isn’t an outside kind of thing.

Real beauty isn’t something we do–like fix our hair. It is intrinsic to who we are.

And so we come to the status I couldn’t bring myself to post on Facebook today:

While I’ve been blown away by all the support here on facebook for my weight loss journey, and have treasured every single compliment about how I’m looking now, the kind of beauty I most long for isn’t outward. Thin or heavy this is my heart-cry, “Let the beauty of the Lord my God be upon me.”*

I cried as I typed it.

I want so much for that kind of never-ending, glorious beauty to always shine in, upon, and through me, reflecting the breath-taking beauty of the One I love.

All the weight loss in the world, wonderful as it is, celebrated as it has been, will never give me that. Only God can choose to share that kind of beauty with me.  I know He longs to and has begun a work of beauty as I surrender to His Spirit and let Him iron out the ugly parts of my soul. His kind of being new beauty is free, purchased at the cross, and worked out by His Spirit each day as He makes me more like Jesus.

THAT is my heart’s desire.

Come, Jesus, let your beauty–the radiant, breath-taking beyond comprehension beauty of the Lord my God–be upon me . . .

*Paraphrased from Psalm 90:17 (KJV)

Today’s thoughts were stirred by the second teaching in Beth Moore’s study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman.

Sharing:

longing for inside outside beauty

Advertisements

The Shrinking Middle

weight loss beginning and end

11-2-12 and 5-19-13

The middle continues to shrink!

Yesterday I put on my skinny shorts, and they had become my fat shorts. Too big, they made me feel heavier than I am.  The pounds are crawling off now instead of dropping, but my body continues to reshape.

I’d like to take credit for this, but honestly since the wedding a month ago my exercise routine has been up and down, and my calorie intake has had the same inconsistency.

But my shorts are still too big. Lucky me!

Giving credit where credit is due, one of the promises of the Benew system is that it shrinks fat cells.

That said, just being thinner is no longer enough. I want to be stronger. I’ve tapped into a new, healthier lifestyle and don’t want to let it go. I’ve slacked off, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up! Every single choice made for health is a step onto the path of perseverance in this benew journey.

With that in mind I got up this morning, did some stretches and shaping exercises, then walked the neighborhood. All of me benefits from the twitter of the birds, the blue of the sky, and the movement. I walked a ways, then jogged a few short distances. After that I circled a nearby school picking up trash and praying for the kids. I even sang a little. When I rounded the corner for home I spent a little time smelling the roses, literally.

roses pink bush

roses pink

 It cleared the head and heart even as it strengthened the body.

To be even more transparent, I’ll admit my head and heart needed a good clearing.  I’ve slogged through a bunch of stresses lately, and to make it worse I awoke way too early due to an upsetting dream. Thankfully, I don’t have those often, but even when the things we dream aren’t real our emotions feel as if they were!

My walk in the sunshine was an attempt to work out the crud. I also contacted a few friends for prayer, and made a point to stand up to the voices that tried to embarrass me and tear me down.

What about you? Is life digging at you? Is there a step back onto the path of perseverance in your physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual health that you can take?

What does that look like? Exercise? Prayer? A conversation with a trustworthy friend? More water? Resisting junk food? Turning from negative thoughts? Eating an apple? Smelling a rose?

roses red

Whatever it is, I’m saying a prayer for you and me as I close, asking the Lord to show us the next healthy choice and give us the strength to make it.

Share with a friend:

Discover the next healthy choice and do it!

Every  choice made for health is a step forward

Spirit Seeker Sunday 7

spirit 8 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

“The only way to negate an emotional eating trigger is to match it with truth.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

When I read this quote last March, I’d been on the journey to healthy weight loss for close to 5 months, but it hit hard.  I realized, despite many glorious moments of success, I was still susceptible to emotional triggers.

My initial response to the difficulties of that week was to worry, eat things I shouldn’t, and feel sorry for myself. Here I sit in June, three months later, having experienced even more success, but today I wish I could go wild in the kitchen and eat away at the stress I feel. (Ugh. That’s brutally honest.)

Still, I’ve learned that eating doesn’t make me worry less or feel better. In fact the result is that I feel worse because I inevitably end up disappointed in myself for making bad choices and frustrated with myself for turning to something that never truly satisfies.

Last March (after wallowing in my stuff for a while) my next response was to email my favorite prayer warriors and call them to their battle station. After I did that a line from a song started playing in my head, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” I’ve no doubt the Lord sent it in answer to the prayers of my friends and my own heart plea. It was the truth I needed to combat the emotional trigger than pushed me toward the pantry.

I only remembered that one line but looked up the rest. Maybe it will encourage you, too:
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Refrain

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Refrain

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Refrain

And so today I choose as I did last March to ask Jesus for strength to turn to Him and not empty things that won’t help. I’m hanging onto Jesus as my portion and fixing my eyes on Him.

May we  all “rest in his goodness” as the song goes.

Holy Spirit,

Please speak into our thoughts. Give us the truth we need to combat the emotional triggers we face. Help us to hang onto Jesus instead of reaching for what never satisfies.

How about you?

Was there a line in this song that meant something to you on this journey?  What kinds of things trigger you?

Share the hope:

Hanging onto Jesus

Are Some Cravings Good?

salsa - Jennifers

My friend Jennifer’s fabulous homemade salsa

What is up with the salsa cravings??

Since I started losing weight I can’t seem to get enough of it. I’ve been wondering why, and I think I may have found the answer.

Last week I bumped into my friend Kelly at a graduation party. She’s lost 100 pounds in the last year. I asked her how. The short answer was that every time she wanted a sugary treat, she ate a pickle instead. By eating a low calorie food instead of a high calorie food she resisted temptation and cut calories.

But she thinks there is more to it. She talks about it in her blog. It intrigued me, and I did a little digging around, too. According to some sites, vinegar can be used to help balance insulin levels resulting in less sugar cravings.

I think I have my answer. Kelly reached for pickles, which have vinegar. I reached for salsa, which has vinegar. My body knew intuitively that salsa would curb that craving for something sweet and make me feel better.

So that’s my tip for today–when you want something you don’t need, grab a pickle or eat salsa! And here’s a bonus tip. Unfortunately most of us want to pair chips with salsa, and most of us don’t need to eat a lot of chips. This week I solved the problem by scrambling eggs and smothering them in salsa. Yum! Got my salsa fix AND ate a healthy, low calorie, high protein breakfast that kept me full all morning.

(Of course sometimes you gotta just enjoy the chips, at least I do. The solution there is to decide on a reasonable portion, count them out onto your plate, then PUT THE BAG AWAY. And remember to take these kinds of ideas in BALANCE. Overdosing on pickles and salsa at the expense of other healthy choices won’t solve anything, and will likely cause problems with too much sodium!)

Tweetables:

Can you really lose weight by eating pickles?

Are some cravings good in weight loss?

It Happens

I just might frame that piece of paper.

InBodyYesterday Jerry and I worked a vendor’s fair telling people about the products I’ve taken to get healthy and lose weight. A vendor representing a fitness club had one of those machines I typically avoid like the plague.

Only today I got on it.

It measured my body composition–you know stuff like hydration, skeletal muscle mass, weight . . . BODY FAT.

I almost hugged the woman when she detailed my results. In every category I came out NORMAL. She even said, “do you drink a lot of water?”

“I try.” I responded.

“It shows!”

But here is the amazing part. When she looked at my body fat mass she told me I needed to drop 3.5 mom before the weddingpounds of body fat.

Seriously? Only 3.5 pounds???

This to the woman who weighed 210 last October?? To the one who stared at almost 60 extra pounds when she looked in the mirror?

It confirmed what I’d been feeling, that I had about 5 pounds to go.

I can barely believe it!

If you’ve been around here you know I haven’t been perfect on this journey. That I’ve struggled through the ups and downs most overweight people do. But today’s little piece of paper reminded me that change IS possible. It truly has happened and continues to happen for me.

If you know me, you know I’m not a hard sell kind of person. But let me say it straight this time. If you have been waffling about trying the BENew Weight Loss program, don’t wait. You don’t have to keep struggling. You don’t have to wonder if you can experience change. This can happen for you, too.

There are a few things in life I wish I could give to everyone I care about, a few things where my passion bubbles inside all of the time. One is a deep understanding of the full, total and unconditional love of Jesus Christ and God the Father. The second is the joy of emotional, spiritual, and relational health. And in the last six months the third has become the freedom of getting your life back after obesity.

I want these things for you, my friend. Love, joy, and freedom.

Believe you can find it. Pray for it. Stand firm in your choice for change. Don’t give up hope. Don’t quit.

Seek to be new, inside and out.

It can happen for you, too.

Share the hope with these tweetables:

It can happen for you, too!

Don’t give up!

Lavender and Mint – Simple Pleasures

Simple, no cost, no maintenance pleasure. If you’re on a journey to better health, you’ve been told to drink more water. Let’s face it. As fabulous as cool, clear water is, it can become a task instead of a pleasure to get the amount you need. There are lots of wonderful recipes out there to add a little pizzazz to your water. Mine isn’t anything new, but it feels extra special to me because it comes straight from my yard, to my refrigerator, to  my glass.lavender growing

A couple of summers ago I purchased a small lavender plant. A friend told me it was hardy, easy to grow, and had lots of uses. Last summer a friend shared a few of her mint plants with me. I threw them in the ground next to the lavender, no extra care, and they grew.

This summer I’m harvesting. (I did last summer, too. You can harvest right away.) It’s very simple. I break a few leaves off, rise them, and toss them in a pitcher of water. I cover the pitcher and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day I have gently flavored (and scented) water to drink.

lavendar in pitcher

I add water a few times a day so the pitcher never runs dry. My mint and lavender leaves last 4-5 days before I decide they aren’t as potent as they were initially and need to be replaced.

lavender glass

I just consumed roughly 12 ounces of water as I typed this post. Each sip brought pleasure as a gentle whiff of lavender scented the air as I drank.

Of course you could have mint water or lavender water. You don’t have to do both at once, though I prefer it.

And just as aside, we served up fancy waters at Sarah’s wedding a few weeks ago. I love it that something as basic and healthy as water can become special with so little effort.

I wanted to write a profound post this first entry after my series about my daughter’s wedding. Guess I wasn’t really up to digging deep this time, but here’s what I’m thinking: Life isn’t usually about the big, impacting stuff–like weddings. Enjoying life is often about the simple moments, the tiny pleasures. Lavender leaves in water. A walk with someone you love. A brief pause in the rushing to enjoy the beauty right in your own yard.

Here’s a bit of what I savored in my pause this evening, right before Jerry and I sauntered through the neighborhood, holding hands in the falling dusk.

From the flower bed beside the front sidewalk

flowers 6

My mailbox. You can’t tell in this picture, but it is yellow, one of my favorite colors.  My sister-in-law painted it  as a surprise to cheer me up during a gloomy season. This year I planted red and white flowers beneath it to honor my neighbor, who hates yellow and has threatened to paint my mailbox red!

flowers 1

My other favorite color is pink. (Though since Sarah’s wedding I’ve become partial once again to purple, which was my favorite color in childhood.) I’m especially enjoying this unique flower this year. I love its cheery yellow face, so pretty framed in pink! It’s also cool how the yellow is outlined in purplish magenta.

flowers 4

What simple pleasures do you enjoy?

Pass along this healthy tip with these tweetables:

Drinking the water you need can be a simple pleasure.

Lavender and mint flavored water: ordinary to extraordinary

Simple pleasures and healthy choices

God’s Real Life Fairy Tale (Part V)

wedding, Darlene's disk (160)Maybe I’m just not ready to let go.

To write the last wedding post is to move on from the big day and into the reality that my daughter is a married woman. That she and David are now their own family.

My excuse is that I’ve been busy transitioning, painting Sarah’s old room lime green and black so her youngest brother could have his own room for the first time in his life. Honestly, I could have found time to write this post.

But to write it is to place “the end” on one of the most beautiful days of my life.

It really was a joyful time, a true celebration of all the beauty, hope, passion, and wonder of the new life that began with the ceremony I wrote about last time.

After the final prayer and their first kiss and man and wife, Sarah and David skipped (literally) down the sidewalk. It was time to party.

exit

The guest enjoyed chips and salsa and the “fun table” activities Sarah had prepared while the family took pictures.wedding, Darlene's disk (130)

wedding, Darlene's disk (129)

Although I’m becoming as bad as a new grandma at subjecting people to wedding pictures, I’ll just show you one of both sides of the family all piled in together and spare you all the other family pictures I itch to post.

family both sides

Then it was time to enjoy a wonderful meal of Italian food. A fun surprise is that the caterer’s sister is a dear woman in Sarah’s life, but was unable to attend. She sent a special little love message to Sarah in the form of Sarah’s favorite Miss Maggie dish, macaroni and cheese! What’s funny is that dish went first, before all the fancier dishes offered! The tables looked beautiful, all Sarah had planned and worked to create. Minus the napkin ring holders we couldn’t find at set-up time. My friend Deb, my sister-in-law, Anne, and I probably had 15 or 20 collective hours in the making of those napkin rings, but hey, if that is the biggest confusion of the wedding, who cares! Maybe Sarah can make some money on Esty!

wedding, Darlene's disk (126)

Sarah’s handmade centerpieces, full of duct tape flowers and individually designed candle holders gleamed on each table. They were worth the months she spent creating them. (I think I mentioned earlier there was over 600 duct tape flowers at this wedding. She also designed the candle holders using rubber bands and paint! Each one has its own unique pattern, just like each of us was designed one of a kind!)

wedding, Darlene's disk (127)

Of course one of the especially fun parts of the dinner hour was that while Sarah and David wandered around greeting their guests, they had to pause often to kiss because the guests kept clinking their goblets. I love that old tradition, which I’d never experience until a couple of weeks after my own wedding. Jerry and I attended a huge family reunion full of people I didn’t know but who knew me because their cousin/nephew/great-nephew (you get the picture) had FINALLY been snagged. Since we were the newest married couple we kissed a LOT that night. As did Sarah and David on their special day.

wedding, Darlene's disk (145)

As we enjoyed our meal, the sun sank in the sky. It hovered on the horizon during the toast. Bryan, Ashley, and Jennie did an amazing job of honoring the couple. Ashley and Bryan made us first laugh, then fight the inevitable lump in our throats, then Jennie gave David the highest of compliments, declaring him even better than Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. She went on to say said Sarah was the only person she knew who could capture the beauty of their childhood fairy tales and take them into this real-life world. Jennie ended by toasting her “real-life hero and heroine.” I guess she and I had the same idea with the whole real-life fairy tale motif.

toast 3 toast 2 toast

The blue above them deepened as the twinkle lights shimmered, and Sarah and her daddy danced.

Dad and Sarah father daughter dance

wedding, Darlene's disk (149)

Then as the sky slipped to navy David and his mom, Ronda, made us all smile and emit a collective “ahhhhh.”

Ronda and David dance Ronda and David dance 2

It was time for Sarah and David’s first dance as man and wife. The sky had drawn its night curtain and tiny diamonds began to sparkle on black velvet. The stars showed up to witness the couple’s celebration and beam upon them, giving Sarah her dream to dance beneath their light.

dancing in the dark - David

dancing in dark - Sarah

Sarah and David had practiced the dance for weeks, which always left my daughter giggling and excited to learn she could move without two left feet. The delight of their first dance is forever etched in my mind. I’m grinning with a grin the size of Texas as I type this.

hugging in the dark and lights

wedding, Darlene's disk (150)

Soon the dance floor was full of young and old, graceful and not-so-much, and everyone had a great time.

dance jendance flower girldance Annedance Ash

Magic joined the night dance.

magic!

lights in the night

From the farmhouse where she went to warm up, Jerry’s mom, now 88 years old, gazed out the window at the dancing and celebration. She turned to her son with a smile. “It is evident HIS Spirit is here.”

Her simple statement said it all. HE celebrated with us, infusing the night with joy unspeakable. He pulled the couple together, surrounded them with a community of love, gave them this gift of lifetime partnership. And we all basked in His glory, shared with us that night.

All too soon it was time to cut the cake.

wedding, Darlene's disk (151)

Standing sentinel across its top was a reminder of all God was teaching us in this celebration. The words gracing it were hand-picked by the bride and groom, then hand-written by a friend. Another little touch of love, another reminder that provision was everywhere, community was irreplaceable, and His love, their love, and our love paramount.

cake toppers

The big day was winding down, but not before the couple had a little fun.

wedding, Darlene's disk (152)

There was the search for the garter (which David’s sister, Kristina said made her blush), the bouquet toss, and one last dance. Soon the couple dashed through sparklers held by cheering guests and flew into the car, which had been appropriately adorned by the groomsman. The couple drove into the night, the obligatory tin cans rattling behind them.

And now I must type, “the end.” It makes me cry. I don’t want to let the wonder go.

Someone asked how I could let me girl go. “How can I not?” I replied, “You have to let them go when they are this happy.”

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Grundy. We stand with you cheering on your union, confident in your new beginning and the One who gave it to you.

wedding, Darlene's disk (111)

(Special thanks to Kim at the Creative Pixel Photography and to my sister-in-law Darlene for the photos used in this post. BTW, I added a few more from Darlene into the ceremony post so click here if you want to see what you missed the first time around.)