Category Archives: Sidewalks and jet streams

Happy 4th of July!

A red, white, and blue post to wish you a Happy Fourth! (With all due respect to my lovely friends from “across the pond.”)

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Enjoy freedom where ever you find it today. Freedom to be yourself. To laugh. To worship. To dance. To cheer. To love. To celebrate . . .

Freedom to Move Forward Part II

south sudanI did something brave.

Different.

Unexpected.

(If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, this one won’t mean as much, so check it out!)

Just over a week I was surprised by the desire to visit a third world country as part of a team reaching out to spiritual leaders of a new country learning its freedom.

While I have long desired to serve others and even wished I could meet special people, like my World Vision “daughters,” I’ve never been one to jump at the idea of this sort of thing. Europe I’ve dreamed of visiting. Third world countries? Not so much.

But I couldn’t resist the truth: I was interested, longing to go, even.

But my mind went other directions, and I let the thought drop for over an hour until I “accidentally” stumbled right into the informational meeting about this trip.

Again intrigued, I stayed. Longing. Wondering.

I came home and went on-line to check out the application procedures. My computer wouldn’t let me into the system, and I walked away frustrated. Ended up in bed sick the next day and dragging for several after. But always in the back of my mind the desire lingered.

I prayed. Asked friends to pray. It seemed too big a decision to make without one of those huge, red check marks in the sky beside the “yes” (not that I’ve ever had that exact cosmic direction, but you know what I mean).

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As real life got in the way I assumed this, like many of my ideas (I’m pretty impulsive and interested in many thing!), would fall away.

Until Sunday, the deadline for that application.

Sunday Jerry and I took a drive in the mountains, lingered over a picnic lunch, and explored all the stuff 20140629_132412of yesterday’s post. As we descended back to the Colorado plains in our little silver car we were freer than when we began the climb. Hopeful for next steps. Excited about living outside the fear of getting it wrong.

We hit I-70, just below Genesee where the view opens up and reveals Denver far below, and I caught my breath.

“South Sudan,” I whispered.

“So it’s back to that,” said Jerry.

“I don’t have to wait for a cosmic sign. I can apply.”

And so I did.

God had revealed the freedom to move forward, to follow that desire inside of me calling out for attention.

To do something brave.

Different.

Hard and unexpected and adventurous.

To do it with His blessing even without a shocking confirmation of His will.

I could simply go for it.

Something that might turn out breath-takingly beautiful. Something that might hurt. Or even be dangerous. Certainly uncomfortable.

Something bigger than me.

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I came home, and my stupid computer (I say this with great affection) still wouldn’t let me into the application process. I stumbled a moment. Was it a sign I shouldn’t do this? I shoved the thought away and went with the forward motion of my heart.

Jerry offered me his computer, and I was in on the first try.

I don’t know yet if I will be chosen to even interview for one of the spots, much less as part of this team.

But I had the FREEDOM to try. The FREEDOM to reach way beyond who I am to do something I’ve never once before imagined.

The tears pool in my eyes as I type.

Where can I go in my newly-understood freedom of forward movement? What possibilities lie ahead that I never before dreamed? I have a catch in my chest where the breath should come out. It seems so crazy wonderful big.

This blog started as an inside-out journey to physical weight loss.

And that freedom plays into this one.

About a year and a half ago I was out for my walk. The pounds had dropped away. I had another 20 to go. I trotted downhill when blindsided by the urge to run. I couldn’t resist. I let those feet fly, pounding the pavement like I hadn’t done in years and years and years.

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to run! “What in the world are You doing with me, God?” I whispered. “What are you preparing me for?”

I heard no answer, but felt his chuckle in the breeze upon my face.

At 210 pounds the idea of the sort of venture I applied for on Sunday would have been immediately dismissed.

But I am freed for forward movement. Free in my body. In my heart. In my mind. In my spirit.

I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. I just kept soaring.

Wishing you a freedom discovery of your own,

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(South Sudan pictures taken from Wiki.)

Ditch the Can, the Chair, the Dolrums

 

Ditching the Desert

I believe in giving oneself the space to heal after loss. That’s why I spent the last few weeks recuperating from the long hours of hospital stay 20140405_131421and eventual death of my beloved friend who was more like family. I slowed way down. Let the blog lie mostly silent. Spent a lot of hours in my (new) chair reading, being still. I’ve been taking time with the process. Throwing in the empty nest stuff I’m dealing with as well. Cleaning out old photos. Letting the tears drip. But even as I want to grieve well, I don’t want to live in the desert. And I certainly don’t want to gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. So I’ve been returning to healthier habits, taking my BeNew, walking, choosing raw spinach and strawberries and cashews. I’m going to walk through this valley, but I’m ditching the desert by making good, refreshing choices that aid the healing process.

Ditching the Chair

Okay, so we did get rid of the “famous” old blue recliner where I rocked all my babies. My daughter was20131222_140949 devastated, but not enough to give the worn out rocker a new home. But even as the old blue recliner goes, my memories do not. All four kids piled into one big heap. Babies nuzzling at the breast. Older kids, hot with fever and usually too old to held, clinging to Momma, rocking through the long night. Quiet hours pouring my heart into my floral journals. Whispers of heaven as I talk to God and listen to His responses to my questions and pleas. Hot tea sipped. Novels devoured along with the popcorn and chocolate. I loved that old blue recliner, but I release it just as I must release the long season of child-rearing. (But not before I proved that I lost enough weight that my brother and I could both fit in it!)

Ditch the Can

For me the Ditch the Can movement isn’t so much about ditching a Redbull or Five Hour Energy. I wasn’t IMAG3027-1-3really into those things. But what I do need to ditch is narrow perspectives. I’m ready to live a freer life on my terms, not tied to a publisher or a time-clock for income. DTC is kicking into gear for hubby and me, showing us what it’s like to live outside the boundaries of traditional thinking and to step into a place where we can ditch a lot of stuff like debt, miserly living, worry about finances, small thinking, and boxed in living. If you want to know more, visit my new page on this blog.

 

 

Ditch the Sitting

Okay. I’m still going to sit. I love  my new recliner, moved from Bernice’s house next door into my living room. I’m in that chair now, typing this blog, clinging to a bit of her presence.20140507_100115 But I’ve been sitting too much. Getting slow and stiff. This week I decided, “ENOUGH!!” I’ve clocked about 15 miles in my tennis shoes the last four days. I saw an airplane tail hanging out of a house, inhaled the fragrance of three different colors of lilacs, and strolled with a fluffy bunny (for real!). I walked with hubby and walked alone. I walked without a destination and I walked to Gunther Toody’s to have lunch with a friend. I walked in silence, strode forward while talking non-stop to my husband, and clocked multiple miles in prayer. I walked in the sunshine, the wind, and the drizzle. (I did stay home when it hailed, however.) And you know what? I loved it. Every step, every vista, every conversation and even the solitude. And walking makes me remember how it heals to get into the fresh air and notice things like bird song and flowers, lilac scents and cloud designs.

Ditching the Have-Tos

canopyDuring this season of transition and grief one thing I’m for sure ditching is the expectations I too often place upon myself to manage according to some arbitrary “have-to.” The world pushes us to rush through change, to get over sorrow, to perform instead of live. To do instead of be. I’m ditching the have-tos. I’m choosing to weep when I want to weep. To laugh when I want to laugh. To read a book even if there’s laundry. To take care of my heart and not just the dishes. Sure I’m prioritizing the stuff the calendar requires. I’m not advocating total negligence. I still believe in being responsible even in the season of grief. But I don’t have to rush through this time. I don’t have to perform, perform, perform. I give myself permission to “be.” For as long as I need to. For interludes throughout my day or week. To pause instead of push. To sit under a tree and stare upward.

Until next time,

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PS If there is a theme to these random reflections, maybe it’s ditching the doldrums. Choosing not to let the hard times of life steal away the good–like hope and dreams for the future, getting outside and enjoying blues skies, embracing good memories even as I allow for grief and season change. Even the time to mourn is ditching the doldrums. That, too, is good. Healthy.

On a Beauty Search

Some people love earth tones. You know, creamy, sandy, brown, beige and taupe.

I’m so NOT an earth tone kind of girl.

My kitchen is yellow. My office a soft green. If I had my way it would include splashes of bright pink.

Last year I fell in love with walking.

I adore cobalt blue skies paired with snow capped peaks. Rainbow hues in flowers lining a planter box. A profusion of roses. Rich green leaves–or bright yellow, red, and orange ones in fall.

But plain ole brown.

Not so much.

I usually love winter. Diamond dancing when sunlight hits snow. Frosty air. Twinkle lights and homemade snowflakes.

But this winter has grown long.

And in between the beautiful snowfalls there is sure a lot of brown.

And when it’s cold I’m finding it hard to brave the temperatures and walk.

This post is a reminder to myself that there is beauty in brown. If I will just get my you-know-what outside and put my feet to the sidewalk, I can find it.

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And if I look hard enough I might even find a little green and blue.

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So I need to dig a little deeper, hit the pavement, enjoy the world one sidewalk at a time . . .

And cling to the promise of spring.

Share it: On a beauty search

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of II

(For part one of this story click here.)

Valentine’s Day morning Jerry and I lingered in our beautiful vintage room at the Broadmoor. I couldn’t resist a long, hot bath in the large, tiled tub, complete with lavender mint bath salts from the Broadmoor’s spa collection. We chose a lazy morning over breakfast, so by the time we left our room we were starving.

We ate in the Tavern, next to La Jardin, which is a 1900s style garden room attached to the main serving area. (Since it was Valentine’s Day we needed reservations to actually sit in this beautiful room, so we settled for being close enough to gaze inside. Not that the expensive wooden decor of the Tavern left anything to be desired.)  La Jardin, with its 16 ft long chandelier, reminded me of the garden room dining area on the RMS Titanic, which I researched carefully to include in one of my scenes in our book, Titanic, Legacy of Betrayal. Of course this gracious space is on solid ground, not on the ocean floor. And Jerry and I loved it. Oh the opulence of the early 1900s!

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I chose a very wonderful french onion soup to start my lunch. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

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And I savored every bite!

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Afterwards we headed to the Espresso shop for that morning coffee I’d not yet enjoyed. It was now our after lunch treat, and we each ordered something sweet. Jerry opted for a chocolate filled croissant, but I chose entirely based on beauty. And the fact that you can NEVER go wrong with raspberries and chocolate. (Just another example of why the thoughts in my post last Thursday about maintenance and keeping weight in check after a time of feasting were necessary reminders for me!)

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What we did next was not romantic at all. We set up office in the very elegant lobby and worked on FAFSA, due that day if we were to get our son on the list to be considered for college scholarships. Oh well, real life sometimes invades.

While we labored away we were given a wonderful surprise. I spotted my friend Brandy Cole-Vallance. She stood next to a gigantic fresh flower arrangement with a huge sign advertising her new book. Brandy’s gorgeous cover alone would have made me want to read the book, but when she shared her premise I was totally hooked! (Don’t miss the painted ceiling in the picture below. If I’m keeping facts straight, it was painted by the same artist who did the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City. When he was told his work was perfect, He purposely included an imperfection, telling on-lookers that the only perfect one was God.)

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What’s especially spectacular about bumping into Brandy is she had only received her book contract the night before, in front of a ton of people at the Writing for the Soul Conference. Everything was still new and like a dream for this debut author, and I loved the somewhat glazed sheen of joy in her eyes. Authors often spend years honing their craft and networking before breaking into the business. Many never actually experience this moment; few get their contract in front of an audience. I had a taste of this in 2011 when my first fiction contract for Postmark: Christmas was given to me in front of 500 people at an ACFW conference. It’s truly a stunning experience.

Getting to hug Brandy and cheer her on was a divine appointment–a sheer gift. As state coordinator for ACFW,  I feel invested in every one of our wonderful authors. Their victories bring me great joy. Plus Brandy and I share an amazing agent, Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary, so we connect in two different, but precious, communities. Congratulations, Brandy!

All too soon Jerry and my lovely dream-of-a-stay came to an end. I waited inside the double doors as Jerry retrieved our car, standing just away from the blustery gusts of a very cold late afternoon. Two porters stood opening and closing the doors as each traveler came and went. Each was greeted with a genuine smile, and I found myself wondering if doing a job which required such consistent, cheerful kindness actually made a person feel happier. I finally got up the nerve to ask the smiling man during a break in the action. He said the Broadmoor was careful in its hires, getting good people who represented it well, but that being cheerful did help a person feel cheerful.

As I did the night before when I visited with our valet, I wondered at the stories this man could tell, at the people he’d met.

I think a novel series set at the Broadmoor is brewing. What do you think? Would you read it? I know I wouldn’t mind going back for more research! ;o)

I was a bit wistful as Jerry pulled into the circular drive and our dreamy experience ended. Thankfully the Creator topped it off with a gorgeous white moon to see us home.

The next morning Jerry made the boys and me our traditional Saturday morning whole wheat pancakes. Maybe the Broadmoor ambiance continued to flow through my veins because I decided my breakfast needed to be pretty. Which goes to show it doesn’t take a fancy resort to embrace moments of celebration. Like the smiling doorman, I want to find and spread joy in my ordinary days. It seems a worthy goal.

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Share it: Sometimes dreams do come true

Make Your Own Body Butter!

Body butter, pity you can't smell it
Body butter, what a pity you can’t smell it

The following is a guest post from my friend Marie Keats from “across the pond” in Southampton. We meet blogging because we have both fallen in love with walking! (Only she makes me look like an amateur!) Marie’s posts about her long walks have inspired me time and again to get outside and experience life one sidewalk at a time!

After Marie commented on my Stretchy Skin post about making her own body butter, I asked her to teach us how. This post is the result. I’m excited about trying it! I make my own laundry soap, and love it, so why not this? It’s a less expensive way to luxury (and firming up that skin!). I’m considering using castor oil and lavender in this recipe since I read it is good to help firm up skin. I have applied it directly on my loose skin since I did that research, but putting it in body butter would be much more pleasant!

From Marie:

Because I have eczema I’ve been using body butter for years and some time ago, probably around the first time I got made redundant, I got annoyed at how much the stuff cost, especially as I use tons of it. A lot of Googling came up with lots of different methods to make it at home and, as it seemed quite simple, I thought I’d have a go. Since then I’ve made so many batches I’ve lost count and I’ve tweaked the recipe over and over to get it just how I like it. About a year ago I shared it on my blog but my friend Paula in America was interested and wanted to share it with the readers of her blog so I thought it could stand a revisit.

My basic recipe is very simple, just four ingredients plus some jars to put it in. Some of the recipes I first looked at also used beeswax which would add more nutrients but would also make the butter more solid. Maybe that’s something I will experiment with at a later date but this method has served me very well over the years.

The ingredients are surprisingly cheap. My shea butter, glycerine and essential oils come from Mystic Moments, a local company that can also be found on eBay. They are based in Hampshire not too far from me but they do ship overseas. There are also masses of different suppliers on eBay so it’s worth shopping around but check out the feedback ratings before you buy.

Body Butter

Ingredients
This should make enough to fill two 200g (6.8oz) jars.

Ingredients
Ingredients

150g (5.3oz) Shea butter or cocoa butter (I prefer Shea butter)

100ml (3.4oz) olive oil (you can use any oil, almond oil is meant to be very good, but I’ve always got olive oil in the kitchen so that’s what I use)

30ml (or 2 tablespoon) glycerine (you can get this on eBay or from a good chemist)

Essential oils (make sure you use essential oils rather than perfume oils or you could have allergy problems. I buy 50 ml bottles that last for ages and most are just £5 or so. I’ve built up quite a collection over the years and they keep forever.)

Jars to put it in (I have some little kilner type jars that were once Body Shop body butter jars but any clean jar with a lid will do.

Using kitchen scales and a measuring jug if your scales don’t weigh liquids, measure out your Shea butter and olive oil then add the glycerine. I find it easiest to use a measuring spoon for this as it’s a bit like treacle. None of the quantities have to be exact so don’t get too obsessive about the weights and if you need conversion tableshere is a good website that will do the hard work for you.

Melt the Shea butter. I melt mine in a big glass bowl in the microwave but you can use a saucepan if you like, just make sure you wash it well afterwards though! Give it all a good stir to mix it all up really well.

Choose your essential oil. You can use a single oil or a combination, whatever you have or what takes your fancy. Add the oil a couple of drops at a time until you get the strength of smell you want. I find between ten and twenty drops does the trick depending on the oil I’m using. Less is more here as you can add but you can’t subtract and you don’t want it too overpowering.

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Stir it all really well then leave to cool. Go and have a cup of coffee or something, actually go and have several because this bit takes ages. When it’s cool but not completely set get your whisk out. You’ll know when it’s ready because it will have changed from a clear liquid to a creamy colour but it will still be the consistency of soft butter when you dip your finger in. I have an old electric whisk I keep specifically for body butter but you can use your normal kitchen whisk just make sure you wash the beaters really well afterwards!

Whisk the body butter up. Use a slow setting at first to avoid it splashing everywhere (voice of experience speaking here!). Once it is really creamy leave it for a while to set further (about ten minutes or so). Now it will have gone even paler than when you stopped whisking and will have begun to harden. Give it another good whisk and you’re ready to transfer into your jars.

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The body butter will bulk up when it’s whisked, a bit like double cream. It looks good enough to eat but don’t be tempted, it won’t taste good! It will set a little more once it’s in the jars so don’t worry if it seems a bit too thin at this stage.

Now all you have to do is wash everything up (I normally wash everything I’m going to use for food twice just to be safe although none of the ingredients are toxic) then you can start slathering it on! I do this while I’m still wet from the shower as it keeps the moisture in and my skin feels silky smooth and smells lovely.

It really is that simple. Easier than making a cake plus it saves loads of money on shop bought body butter and you can use your favourite scents. Some of my favourite combinations are orange and musk, lime and black pepper and ginger and cinnamon but it’s fun coming up with new combinations.

If you’d like a smoother, silkier body then body butter is certainly the way to go. If you’d like a fitter, slimmer more toned body to go with that silky skin I may have just the thing for you too. Motivation is the main factor in getting fitter and slimmer and I know from bitter experience that it can be hard to come by. Thing is I have a plan to help with that. At the moment I’m working out all the details but keep an eye out on my blog over the next few days and all will be revealed very soon…

Tweet this recipe!

Make your own body butter to help shrink loose skin!

Joy in the Journey

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I’m pushing 50 but twinkle lights bring out the child in me. For the briefest of moments I am caught up in magic when I watch them blink out their message of hope.

To me they are joy personified, shouting out the hope that “into the darkness there came a great Light!”

Part of my goal in the shedding of extra weight is the shedding of the weight of sorrow, the too-serious Paula who can easily take up residence inside of me.

Twinkle lights bring out the play.

With the holidays upon me I’ve sought to return to my walking habits. I simply don’t want to ignore every piece of chocolate or holiday cookie. And so I need to move!

As it turns out the need for movement turned into what will be one of my favorite December memories of this year.

It was a gift of time, and it was given to me by my husband. I’d asked him to take a walk, but you know how it goes, there’s always so much work to be done. The next thing we knew it was dark.

But he went anyway when I asked, despite his weariness, despite the demands of his schedule. I don’t if he thought about how much I’d enjoy checking out neighborhood lights, but it was quickly apparent that his agenda included letting me feast on them to my heart’s content.

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He held my hand and talked to me as we tramped all over the neighborhood. If there is anything I love as much as twinkle lights, it is holding hands and good conversation with my man. I may even like it better. ;o)

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I had so much fun enjoying not only their beauty, but the playful and zany scenes created by them.

IMAG3051I can’t see dog sleds without thinking of Balto,
one of the kids’ most beloved movies when they were small.

IMAG3073Did you know Mickey and Minnie have been dating since 1928?

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Good to know Santa bathes

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And that He’s got that naughty and nice list saved on the computer.

But who knew he liked pizza?

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 You’d think he could do better than an outhouse.

As much as I enjoy the silly stuff, I love the nostalgic even more.

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All in all, it was such a lovely night.

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Jerry made sure we made the trek to this place,

which has decked out like this for at least 25 years.

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Isn’t this scene sweet?

As I walked, full, happy, and alive, it was like God whispered to me, “You like this? Wait until you see the fullness of my galaxies of stars.” And I could almost see myself as some kind of cosmic being zipping in and out of space, drinking in the mysteries of the universe. As I thought about that I gazed at an almost full moon. I didn’t even try to capture it on my phone.

It was an amazing night.

So, my friends, celebrate the holidays this year by exploring your world one sidewalk at a time. Burn a few calories. Hold hands with someone special, chat with a friend, or simply get away by yourself. Pound the pavement to enjoy the lights. It’s sure to bring you . . .

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(and better thighs.)

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Beyond Wishful Thinking

san diego toe“When it comes to personal growth in how we care for our health, we need to move beyond wishful thinking.” Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional

For years I lay awake at night, the reality of my obesity weighing upon me. I wanted to change, but I did nothing except wish I could.

Actually, that’s not true. I prayed, whispering into the darkness, “This is out of control, Lord. Show me what to do about it.”

Eventually, He did. At just the right time He brought BeNew into my life, and I slowly formed a plan. It didn’t all come together the first week or the second. I gradually reduced calories and added exercise. I faithfully took my weight loss support.

Yesterday my husband and I wore matching turquoise shirts to church. How his eyes lit up when I pulled them from the closet and suggested we wear them. See, these shirts were purchased almost 25 years ago in Carmel, CA.

We bought them on our honeymoon. My 55 plus weight loss and his 20 pound drop means we can wear them again after many years of leaving them in storage. His eyes twinkled all morning, enjoying the great memories and the fact that both of us were able to once again fit in them.

The real work is done. God led me on a journey and gave me a plan for health. Now it’s a daily decision to continue the habits I’ve worked so hard to establish–to fill half my plate with fresh vegetables and fruits instead of majoring on the carbs, to take a walk or do some crunches, to have ONE chocolate, not five.

It’s hard to get it through my thick head that this plan is a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix. It’s easier to fall back into old habits even though I’ve had new ones for months! It goes back to that whole concept of intentionality, of being mindful of my choices.

Back to the plan I established and committed to God.

My plan has been pretty simple. Take BeNew. Move more. Eat wiser in a way I can sustain, and mostly to look to Him for wisdom and strength for the journey.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

What’s your plan?

What do you think it means to commit it to the Lord?

Father,
Thank you for this reminder that our health is important to you. That you care about our weight loss journey and the plans we’ve made to help us toward success. Please establish our plans. Help us to be wise in how we approach this journey, and help it become something we can sustain. Thank you for walking with us.

(BTW, just noticed the kindle version of the Made to Crave Devotional is on sale for $5.99)

San Diego III – Embracing a New Community

I can do the convention thing.

I love connecting with and old friends, learning, and growing. I love hearing what works for others and cheering them on. At the Life Force National Convention a special treat was meeting people who follow this blog and have shared it with friends and family. I can’t begin to explain how encouraging it is for a writer to know her words have made a difference.

I will admit to a few awkward moments, where people greeted me like an old friend. I’m sure they thought they knew me because they’d seen my weight loss pictures or blog, but I knew we’d never actually met. Still, it says something about the beauty of the community where a room is full of welcoming, smiling faces and hugs are offered freely.

san diego 63I awoke every morning to the sunrise through beautiful arched windows. Sharing a condo with others on my team was amazing. You get to know people when you see them with bed-hair first thing in the morning.

I loved doing real community where one person borrows my almond milk while another shares Vitali-C with me. Meanwhile I’m literally holding my knees together waiting for a turn at the bathroom at the same time I’m throwing clothes across the sofa for a friend to pick from because her suitcase was left behind.

I’m not my gifted daughter, who knows what to put with what and how to make everyone’s natural beauty shine, but I loved suggesting this necklace or that. Maybe the whole experience was a throw-back to my college days when people were everywhere and a fair amount of chaos abounded.

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Getting ready for the gala was a huge family kind of moment. You should have seen us–grown women styling each other’s hair, sharing clothes and jewelry.

There were a few guys in our condo. Thankfully that night they were wise enough to mostly stay quiet and out of the way!

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The one who put together this family lodge was the amazing Robin. She has a heart of gold and has been right there for me all the way, always working to ensure I have the best opportunities to learn and grow. Being with her in this very real environment only made me love her more.

She did the mom thing beautifully–encouraging everyone to go to bed so I could sleep (I’d opted for the couch–less $$ and the chance to be in the middle of the hub-bub of my new community), and getting  little sleep herself as she arose before dawn to do things like drive people to the airport. Robin did a lot of encouraging me on my freak-out day, which wasn’t this one and is for another story.

The gala that night was a ton of fun. I got to once-again wear my friend Megan DiMaria‘s beautiful dress.  I returned it last Saturday at a writer’s seminar. She introduced me to another friend of hers saying, “this is my friend Paula who’s taken my dress all over the country, and this is my friend who has taken my dresses all over the world.”

Thinking back to my first San Diego post all I can say to that is someday I plan to be the one taking dresses all over the world!

I could blab on forever about my experiences, but it seems like if you’re kind enough to read about my benew journey there ought to be a some kind-of take away value. As I think about it, the thought that rises to the surface is how important it is to surround yourself with good community. When considering a job, a volunteer organization, a business partner, a church, or anything else, let the kind of people that place attracts be a guide in your decision-making.

The reason we got involved with Life Force International initially was because we experienced such amazing results with the product. But the reason we chose to become involved in the business of LF was the community. Long before I saw this as anything but a new venture for my husband, he was all in. Why? He told me he’d rarely been in an organization who lived out servant leadership like LF does.

Now that I’m buying into this new business venture, I see what he means as I embrace this unique community, and it welcomes me.

When making choices about a job or other community, consider the people the place attracts.

San Diego II – The Beach

Some sidewalks led to more exotic spaces than others.

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Not that I don’t like strolling through my neighborhood, but there was an extra excitement bubbling forth as Sarah and David urged me down the sidewalk in San Diego leading to the beach. I couldn’t resist stopping to capture pictures of sea lions

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and several of the dipping sun.

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But Sarah and David ran ahead, calling that I must hurry if I was going to watch the sunset from the sand.

So I rushed ahead only to pause and snap more shots, then revel in the fact that I could run barefoot across the lawn of a green park and catch up to them. A year, and almost 60 pounds ago, I couldn’t have done it. I’m still shocked than I can now.

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Once across the little park we rushed down some stairs to a beach so we could feel sand beneath our feet

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and dip our toes in the ocean

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as the sun took her own stroll on the horizon.

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While she journeyed, we played her glow.

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Once the sun disappeared

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into the ocean

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all that was left was a faint fragment of light reminding us of where she’d been. It was hard to see anything but shadowed outlines.

Sarah urged me to walk a little closer to a big rock. Trusting soul that I am, I did. Not making any new discoveries I questioned the quest, and she urged me on. I stepped closer. Suddenly the big rock arched it’s back, and I realized I was just across the space of my living room from a sea lion!

Delightful! (But too dark to capture on film.)

Sharing the moment with Sarah and David, knowing we were there for work, but playing together as family, was surreal. A hunger grew within to share this type of thing with Jerry and all the kids. To work and travel together, seeing the world, experiencing sunsets on horizons all across this great planet. And I was reminded of that day on the mountain last July when God told me it was okay to dream of such things.

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Some sidewalks lead to more exotic beaches than others.