Monthly Archives: August 2013

Journeying with God and Friends

Perhaps you’re out enjoying a camping trip or a day at the movies, celebrating summer’s end on Labor Day weekend. Since I have no real recreation plans, this weekend I’m re-living an earlier vacation.

This summer was a friend summer, with lots of good moments with folks I hold dear. I got away more than usual, first in Montrose, then Breckenridge, and later at the Broadmoor. I had one more mountain adventure I haven’t had time to blog about. My friends Heather and Niki provided this one. It included great food, amazing views, and late night conversations. (Also a bit of weight gain for the first time in 9 months, but I came home and dealt with that in short order!)

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The drive toward Buena Vista includes one of my husband’s favorite mountain plateaus. I usually prefer gurgling streams and lots of trees, but Jerry likes the open valley with peaks around the circumference no matter which way you look. I have to admit this trip through the high plain included some beautiful scenery, like this incredible sky.

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The view from the front door

Once we arrived at Niki’s in-laws beautiful home, the views again spoke peace and praise into my heart. This gorgeous home is over 4,000 square feet and built by its owners. I love the rustic feel, the rope trim, the natural wood, the personal touches that create an ambiance all its own. The space reminds me of my uncles’ homes back in Oklahoma, where much of the decor came from their own craftsmanship. It was the perfect place for our mountain get-away. (If you want to move to the Colorado Rockies, this home is for sale!)

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I started the weekend with high hopes for healthy eating. The three of us love good food, and Heather purchased several treats, the best Muscato I’ve ever had and my favorite dark chocolate (Lindt) were among them. Niki and I bought melons and I brought along my trusty salad and fixins.

Niki also treated me to my favorite flavors in a wonderful frozen yogurt with raspberries and dark chocolate. This would have all been well and good if I could have resisted second helpings and the bowls of popcorn.

But there’s something about midnight conversations that give way to snacking and another glass of wine.

It also gave way to a wonderful experience with the night sky. I’m a city girl now, but spent several years as a country girl. What I miss the very most about country living is the vibrancy of the stars. As we sat outside late at night, talking as good friends do, I was disappointed by some low-hanging wispy clouds that blocked a more complete view of God’s twinkle lights. I asked Him if He would please move the clouds on out so we could enjoy His handiwork. Smart people like my brother would give the scientific reasons behind what happened, but I’m audacious enough to think the Good Lord didn’t mind blowing those clouds out of the way just for our enjoyment. As the night lingered Niki and Heather continued chatting, but I curled up on the ground, wrapped in a soft blanket, and just stared at the sky, diamonds sparkling on rich, black velvet.

buena vista 7With the dawn of a new day came my determination to cut back on the portions and eat healthy. I even packed a wise lunch, some spinach, apples, pecans, and a small sandwich.

The problem is there was also a bag of my favorite chips: vinegar and sea salt. As I journaled beside a bounding mountain river later that day, the Lord pushed me to deal with an attitude He wanted changed. The angrier I grew, the more chips I ingested.

Sheesh. Will I ever learn?

You’d think after my amazing star experience the night before I’d be filled upon Love, but there I sat, atop a boulder, accusing my Savior and munching potato chips.

There with the sound of the rushing water filling our ears, peace prevailed for my friends, even as the rain sprinkled upon us. Niki held her face to the sky and as droplets of refreshment dusted her cheeks, she smiled.

Me? I got madder.

As the rain splatters decorated the pages of my journal, I slammed it shut and went to the SUV Heather had buena vista 11rented for the weekend. My friends delighted in the gifts around them while I sulked.

Angry words poured onto the the pages of my journal as I sat, shut up in a dreary car.

The Lord had me right where He wanted me. I’d shoved down some stuff that needed dealing with, and He loved me too much to leave me walking around without acknowledging the crud invading my heart and mind.

Someday I’ll write about all that. But not much yet. Suffice it to say it had to do with feeling like I received only trickles of the blessings He’d promised.

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It was several days before He got it through my thick skull that He had a river of blessings He wanted to give, but I had shut down to the possibilities. For all my brave talk and determination, down deep inside I was on the floor expecting scraps when the Master had laid an abundant table. There’s so much more to all that. Maybe someday I’ll be ready to share more, but this post is already twice as long as I typically allow myself, and the subject matter is still too raw.

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Lest you think all my time was wasted at that gorgeous river, I must say I did take some time that day to enjoy the it and the companionship of the best of friends.

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And back at the house, I could still thank God for the beauty of the Columbine, Colorado’s stateBuena Vista 2 flower. I’d never seen yellow and pink before, and I love the way they combine my two favorite colors.

The drive back to Denver with Niki and Heather included some good processing of my river attitude as we splashed through rivulets made by pounding rain on I-70. It took me several hours before I would talk with them about my journaling experience and several more days of processing with other friends, including Jill and Kay, whose weird dream about me had started the probing in the first place. It was actually a couple of weeks later when I got alone again with my journal that all the anger simply disappeared. Funny how it happened. The Lord showed me He was proud of me.

Proud?

Crazy that in all my failure He is still applauding, cheering me on, seeing the good in me. It blows me away.

The wonderful Heather visit concluded with a few special times–overeating at Carrabas, Heather getting me hooked on Downton Abbey (which I had sworn I wouldn’t watch until all the crises were wrapped up with a real ending), and a wonderful time of coffee and chatter with friends.

coffee with friends

Journeying with God and Friends

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The Lakeside Era

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Sunset over the at Lakeside. We usually ride the train together as a family about this time of night, but this year the train was being remodeled.

It might be the end of a Moldenhauer era. This summer, for the first time in probably 12 years, my daughter did not accompany us on our annual Lakeside trip. Also, for the first time in the same amount of time, not one of my children kept up with the summer library reading program thus earning a free pass.

Thankfully, my nephew did earn his pass. But the poor kid ended up on vacation when it expired, so he passed on the savings to my two youngest sons, and I accompanied them to Lakeside where we continued our tradition with my nephews and niece on the other side of the family.

This post has no real weight loss value, expect my own catharsis, my own attempt at returning toLakeside ferris wheel fleeting moments, to treasure the memories and say good-bye to an era. And maybe some transcendent wisdom about letting go.

It’s better than eating a bag of chips.

You could call this post an Ode to Lakeside.

It’s crazy to remember the days of the stroller. The frog was the boys’ favorite ride back then. I still remember Sam’s giggle as he was jostled up and down. The kids thought they were cool when they raised their hands while going on the tiny roller coaster in kiddie land. One time Stephen stepped off the boat into the water, dyed blue, and ruined his white socks. Seth didn’t like heights, and Sarah mothered them all.

Then came the days when the “big kids” brought friends and begged to run off by themselves, leaving Jerry and me behind with the “little boys.” This year my “little boys” towered above me, enjoying friends and cheering on their younger cousin, Lakeside roller coasterwho was still a little afraid of big, wooden roller coaster, a Denver historical landmark.

I hope we have another year or two of Lakeside in us. I hope next year my youngest earns his own reading pass again. He’s the only one young enough to even try.

But as the summer of 2013 draws to a close I say good-bye to the Lakeside era. (And believe that in a few years I’ll have grandkids to start-up a new Lakeside tradition.)

Meanwhile it’s my goal to blog, journal, pray, and cry if I need to. Whatever it takes to be real about the transition I’m in instead of stuffing it down inside where it creates an empty place I attempt to fill with food.

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I suppose part of any Benew journey is the need to process the past, enjoying the good memories, but letting go of what was to make room for what is and what is to come.

So as the sun sets on a Lakeside era, I’m enjoying its glow, savoring the fragrance of this unique life bouquet, and celebrating its place in my family’s journey.

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Transitions

Life: A Bowlful of Salad?

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Here I sit, munching salad and pondering the Benew journey. The salad surprised me.

As I made it a few minutes ago thoughts like boring filled my mind.

Sabotage along the lines of, “Really? For the rest of your life you’re going to mindful of how you eat? Avoid unhealthy, high calorie foods? Eat salad?”

But here I sit. The red and green grapes add sweet freshness to the spinach and the handful of mixed nuts a nice protein crunch. I’m super glad I didn’t give into the nagging negativity, the voice that tried to talk me out of getting my greens.

It seems all good things will be confronted.

It’s a strange place to be, this new phase where I am content with my body. I could lose a few more pounds, but I feel “normal.” I’m not counting calories anymore. I’m taking my BENew metabolism booster, but I only do a meal replacement shake when I want to, not daily like I did when I was serious about dropping weight. Sometimes I crave my BEfull shake, blended with frozen fruit. Other times I don’t. Sometimes, like today, I want left-overs and try to balance whatever they are by having a reasonable portion and a big salad. And sometimes I just want to blow off this whole journey. On those days I lie awake at night wondering if the bad choices I made will result in going backwards.

A good writer wouldn’t use the word “sometimes” repeatedly like I just did. But that’s where I’m living.

Sometimes. 

It comes from seeking a new normal, trying to sustain the healthier lifestyle I’ve chosen even when I’m not intentionally fighting to drop pounds. Before I was motivated by a goal. Now my only motivation is not to return to go backwards. (That and to look good in my friend Megan’s dress for the Carol Awards* in a few weeks.)

The never-never land of maintenance isn’t cut and dry. I no longer try to hit 12 or 1300 calories a day. I just try to eat smart and move. The lack of a calorie counter’s accountability is scary sometimes, and sometimes I abuse the freedom. Other times it’s freeing, and I do just fine. There’s that word again.

Sometimes.

I want to avoid extremes. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about calories; I also don’t want to throw caution to the wind. Thus this struggle of finding a new normal.

A friend told me her method for maintenance is to weigh every few days. If she’s gained a pound or two, she cuts back to 1200 again until she returns to her target weight.  It sounds reasonable. What about you? Anybody have good advice on the end of the weight loss journey, those days when you could lose a pound or two, but mostly want to maintain?

I want my eating life to be more than a bowlful of salad–but I also want to be healthy and sustain the better habits I’ve developed.

Invite a friend to the discuss on maintenance:

Is life a bowlful of salad?

*The Carol Awards, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers, honor a book ofHeartsongChristm.indd the year in multiple genres. My novella, “You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch,” included in the Christmas collection, Postmark: Christmas, is a finalist for best novella of 2012. Winners will be announced in September.

Reminder: I DO Have a Life

I’ve had a life for a long time. And it doesn’t only revolve around the kids or even Jerry. As all of them are less home-centered and stretching to new places, I am reminded of two things: 1) It’s okay to cry 2)I DO have a life outside of my family.

Part of a BENew journey is embracing changes. In the last year I’ve processed lifestyle changes, thinking differently about food and movement. I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) the changes that comes with having a different body. As my homeschooling family is growing up by leaps and bounds, I process change again. I hope to transition well, to give my loved ones wings to soar solo and to stretch new wings myself.

Today’s pictures are a celebration of this other part of my life, the world of writers, where I find community and stretch for new heights. Colorado has a lot of wonderful opportunities for writers. As Colorado Coordinator, I’m most involved with ACFW Colorado, but there’s a wonderful spirit of cooperation in our area with other writers groups, including Words for the Journey. A few weeks ago a bunch of writers, both WFTJ and ACFW members, gathered at the invitation of WFTJ to a “write-out” at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

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My thoughtful friend and fellow author, Megan DiMaria, makes sure I know about this event each summer and invites me to share it with her and the others.

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Megan used to be teased at her work because she brought a beautiful tablecloth to enjoy her sack lunch upon. She’s one of those rare people who truly savors beauty, and the Broadmoor is is a Megan kind of place.

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My Broadmoor day was so filled with magic, that I just had to dance in the empty ballroom.

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I pray I can dance into and through this latest transition of celebrating kids who do crazy things like get married and go to college.

And, because this blog started to process weight loss, I’ll admit it. I also pray I can ignore comfort food and seek comfort that makes a difference. This latest test of my new lifestyle is fierce and with it comes cravings I really should ignore. They only mask the real need, for me to recognize the passing season and give permission for mourning.

When Stephen drove away for his first day of “real” school away from me, I curled up in my old blue recliner and had a little talk with the Lord. I cried some, not sobs, but big bubbles of tears that slid silent and wet down my cheeks. But they are not just sad tears, they are proud tears, too.

This is how it should be, this transition, this quiet house. And I must remember to let the tears fall, take a walk, listen to music, or read a little, instead of reaching for some big cheesy mess.

How about you? What tempts you to run to the arms of comfort food? What do you do instead?

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Comfort or crash?

Mmmm Mmmmm Good!

orange julius (2)

Ever need a healthy pick-me-up on a long, demanding afternoon? I LOVED this. It was similar to an Orange Julius, but low in calories (205) and no added sugar. It also gave me strengthening protein and carried me until we had a late supper that night.

Some almond milk is only 30 calories a cup. This one is 40, but the recipe is based on a 30 calorie intake.

I believe in my BEfull shakes. They are designed by Life Force International to aid weight loss and lean muscle development and have blend of proprietary protein, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Additions like this one make them fun. I got this idea from my friend Dani.

Here’s what I used to make my afternoon pick-me-up:

4 oz orange juice

6 oz almond milk

2 Scoops BEfull (vanilla flavor)

For taste, you can play with the amounts of milk and orange juice. I used less orange juice than you might prefer in an effort to keep the calories down.

Besides supporting healthy and weight loss, I see this shake as one of those simple things that makes life better!

Enjoy!

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A great tasting, healthy boost for a long afternoon

Spirit Seeker Sunday – Rise Up!

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photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

“Rise up, do battle with our issues and using the Lord’s strength within us, defeat them.” Lysa TerKeurst

I like the sound of that. Not temporary victory, but full-blown defeat.

I was praying for someone the other night. These people were in crises and the enemy was having a hay-day with them and their emotions. I prayed that the enemy would not be allowed to mess with them, that they could work through their issues without him playing them and escalating their problems and anger.

As I prayed I got a shadowy picture in my head of God’s leg and boot pinning the enemy to the ground so that my friends could have a fighting chance.

It reminded me of something I learned about the famous Bible passage in Ephesians 6, which likened spiritual armor to the armor of the day, worn by the Roman soldiers. The passage says the Christian’s feet are covered with the gospel of peace. The shoes of a Roman soldier were weapons of destruction. They had spikes on the bottom of them designed to literally trample down/over the enemy. At first these two images seem to contradict each other, but as I thought about it, they didn’t. The gospel of peace says that Jesus, the Son of God, gave His live to bring us into a perfect, peaceful relationship with His Father. When He connected us to God He trampled down the enemy, held him back so we could do business with our Father.

But what does all of this have to do with weight loss? This journey to better health DOES have a spiritual component. The enemy doesn’t want us to live in the body we were created for. He wants us to be tired, discouraged, and held back. But as Lysa said, we CAN rise up, do battle, and win!

A huge part of the battle is simply tackling our excuses head on. I have been the queen of rationalization. As the weight crept on during those 7 years of struggle in my family, I told myself I couldn’t deal with one more thing. Thinking about my weight wasn’t even an option. All my energy had to go into survival and caring for the overwhelming needs of my husband and children. Finally, in the last couple of years I began to acknowledge my weight and cry out for help. I wasn’t ready to tackle it yet, but, especially in the quiet of the night, I admitted I had a problem. I asked God to give me the strength and courage to face it. Then I asked that He would show me how to win that battle.

I don’t know where you are today. Maybe it’s all you can do to simply face the struggle, admit your rationalizations, and give God permission to change you.

The beautiful thing about our Lord is He is patient and willing. He brought BENew into my life when He knew I was ready. He answered my prayer for direction and help. I’m still in process, not perfect on this journey to reclaiming my body–but I feel stronger and more victorious than I did 50 plus pounds ago for sure.

Father,
Help me to be courageous enough to face my stuff and surrender to Your Spirit of change.

How about you? Feel like fighting? Playing dead? Giving up? Or socking it to the enemy?!

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Rise up and win the weight battle

Extraordinary Ordinary

Life’s simple pleasures come in the ordinary, especially when someone is intentional about eking extra good out of what’s in front of them. (After my sniffling momma post on Wednesday, I’m thinking I need to embrace the joys of the good days, not just wallow in “those” days.)

Extraordinary happened for me the end of July when Sam played a double-header. Jerry didn’t have to work until later in the day and got to come to the first game.

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While the boys warmed up, he took my hand and led me on an adventure.

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The games were played at Chatfield High, which is in the greater SW Denver area, close to the foothills. Just a few steps behind the school lay a golf course, tennis courts, and a soccer field. But best of all was an untamed area, wilder than my treks through the neighborhood with foliage more desert plain than what I’d enjoyed in the mountains.

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It sung its own song, and despite prickly flowers and dry earth, we found much beauty (and a tennis ball and two golf balls, but that’s another story.)

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As usual, I was especially drawn to the yellows,

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pinks, and purples.

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But even the dry browns held a unique artistry.

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Our walk was brief, but the long, repeated flights of stairs back to the ball field made me feel I’d earned my lunch.

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Working movement into our day was only part of the importance of this snapshot of living. It was really about grabbing hold of a little bit of life, a fleeting moment that could just as easily have been lost as I sat bored, waiting for the next game to start.

Instead my hubby invited me on a mini-date. We admired God’s creation. We held hands. We were together. We saw something new.

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Eking extraordinary from ordinary