Tag Archives: food

Grateful

After the intensity of yesterday’s post I long for the simple again.

Just the everyday thoughts and remembering the everyday stuff that makes life beautiful.20140605_224323

Like the grown kids popping into visit and my refrigerator being full enough to feed them all, no problem.

Full. Abundant. Lots of left-overs. Fresh stuff, too.

Like the cool air on my bare arms last night as hubby agreed to walk at a nearby park. The clouds were cotton on blue and by the time we left the pink tinged them with glory. We bumped into some longtime friends who were at the lake fishing. Our youngest son rode his long board, weaving in and out of the those who, like us, strolled the sidewalk.

Just beautiful, simple living.

Hubby and I went grocery shopping.

We found a great sale and bought meat. Chicken breasts. roasts. steak.

And we COULD. We could pay for it.

How many times have I taken such simple graces for granted?

Today blueberries arrived on my doorstep. I’m dreaming of blueberry pancakes. There’s already real whipped cream waiting in the fridge to top them.

The roses are beginning to bloom, and I planted bright fuchsia and dark purple petunias. Would you believe a few pansies lived all winter long in my flowerbed, right through the snow, and have raised their pretty faces to greet me?

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I put a bright pink Gerber daisy next to them, a feast for my eyes each time I travel my own sidewalk.

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I’m walking again, and those few pounds that tried to steal my weight loss are beginning to recede. I am empowered. Stronger when I walk.

My new-to-me $25 dishwasher is amazing. After the week and a half of hand washing I’m especially grateful. And it holds more dishes and gets them cleaner than the old one did. And after a week and a half of the chaos of repairing the damaged floor and having clutter everywhere, my living room and kitchen feel huge. Clutter makes me claustrophobic, but oh the joy of putting everything in its place again! It makes an ordinary, familiar room seem new.

20140605_224433-1Fresh mint and lavender now grace my glass water pitchers, picked from plants next to the driveway. Sometimes I add lemon slices.

This isn’t a fancy post. No careful wording, no effort to ease into a poetic feel, no going deep.

Just real.

Just me.

Just thankful.

Just hoping you and I can grab a little joy and rest in a little beauty.

Noticing the little things.

 

 

 

 

About That Weight Thing

Been processing life pretty hard. You’d think when a gal’s pushing 50 she’d have it all figured out. Evidently not. Life keeps sending transitions, putting me on my toes, changing. So I write about graduations and weddings and broken dishwashers and grace.

But as real life rushes and changes and challenges I want to hold onto all that stuff I learned in the year of my journey back to health.

And I haven’t thought about all that much lately.

Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last few months fluctuating between caring about my new healthy habits and blowing them off. As I wrote many times, weight loss and stronger, healthier bodies require a life-long willingness to change, not a one-time diet.

51pZjxywRgL._SL500_SS100_I’m disgusted with myself tonight. I ate a whole box of Raisnets. Not exactly a great choice, but a once in a while splurge would not be that big a deal. The problem is I’ve been splurging for days. It’s easy to do when you spend a week attending parties.

But it’s beyond all those graduations and weddings and baby showers.

Maybe the lack of concern for my body is related to sending my third born off to work in the mountains this summer only to then send him to the dorms at his chosen college.

Or maybe it’s related to the fact my daughter will be traveling with a humanitarian team to a not-so-safe country.

Could it be that I just didn’t care about focus while my house was torn apart with the dishwasher leaking under the floor saga?

There’s other stuff, too. Deep processing of grace and freedom. So deep that I’ve had tension stomachaches again, the kind I used to get when I was trapped in perfectionism and legalism.

But really, is any of that worth losing the hard-earned freedom of regaining my normal weight? Aren’t all of those a return to emotional eating?

Honestly, I’ve chosen NOT to be intentional about what I’m eating.

I feel sluggish. I’m not staying on a good sleep schedule. I’m ignoring the fresh spinach in the crisper. A friend posted something to facebook that explains exactly how I feel. Anybody relate?

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So I could use prayer, my friends. I look at pictures of when I was over 200 pounds and remember how I got that way one pound at a time. How I promised myself I’d never do that again.

I want to nip this attitude in the bud NOW.

I want to walk again. Do crunches and planks. Eat better food. I want freedom of movement and clarity of thought and all the gifts of being the size God intended when He created me.

Tonight I’m reminding myself that every single choice for health is stepping back on the road I want to be on. I don’t have to allow this behavior to continue. I can live in the freedom of healthy choices.

Any advice?

Until Next Time,

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Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Practical Tips to Break the Food Addiction

OUCH: “When the desire for treats is triggered by difficult emotions, it’s not really a desire for treats. It’s a thinly veiled attempt at self-medication . . . our souls are thirsty and ravenous . . . if we fail to . . . fill our souls with spiritual nourishment, we will forever be triggered to numb our loneliness with other temporary physical pleasures . . . this issue is bigger than emotions; it’s really about spiritual deprivation . . . and self-medicating with food . . . vicious cycles I must avoid.” Lysa TerKeurst

One of the best parts of my journey to health has been discovering some of the “whys” behind my eating choices and learning to be mindful of those when I want to reach for food. It’s amazing how the realization that I’m trying to fill an emotional need with something that won’t satisfy, but will instead derail my goals, gives me strength to walk away.

Sometimes it is now as simple as a quick prayer breathed to the Lord, telling Him I want Him to fill my needs, not food.

It was harder earlier in my journey. Maybe because the cravings were more physical than they are now-metting with agent 2-along with being emotional, which they still are. During that time period I found a cup of licorice spice or peppermint tea helped curb the cravings and still felt like a treat. I could sip my no calorie tea and do something else I enjoyed rather than eat–like read a book, write in my journal, chat with a friend, or play on Facebook. I read later that peppermint tea curbs the appetite when you’re hungry and Licorice tea (I like Stash Licorice Spice) curbs sugar cravings!

God is sweet to give us great tasting, no calorie options. Early in my journey I also found that taking a walk when I got a craving was a great alternative. Once I started walking I no longer felt hungry, and the time it required often took me to the next scheduled meal, so I didn’t think about snacking between.

The other cool thing is that walking never fails to connect me back to God. I hear the birds and am grateful for the beauty of their song–and next thing I know I’m thanking God for the gift. Or the sun shines or me, or the sky is a brilliant blue, or I see a flower, a tree, a mountain . . . or I simply feel the fresh air upon my face. Nature draws me to the Creator. Another cool thing that often happens as I walk is that He’ll prompt me to prayer or I’ll use the time to listen to Scripture on the audio Bible app on my phone.

The last few weeks we’ve talked about spiritual practices and how they relate to weight loss, but God created us mind, body, emotions, and spirit. We also need tangible, practical, physical plans to help us succeed in our journey to breaking the food addiction.

What practical plan do you have for the next time you are tempted to self-medicate with food?

Father,

Help me not to self-medicate with food. Give me what it takes to break the cycles of food addiction. Free me to enjoy my life, not just my food. To find freedom not in eating anything I want, but in choosing a fuller life over a fuller tummy. Help me to turn to You when I am tempted to self-medicate. Be my healer. Show me healthy alternatives to my addictions, even if for a while they are simply distractions. But in the long run, draw me to Yourself.

Being practical in overcoming the need to self-medicate with food

PS. I truly believe my Benew products have reduced cravings and helped my physical self in this journey to break the food addiction cycles.

Mmmmm

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I’ve admitted in the past that part of my struggle with weight loss and healthy eating is my lack of tolerance for raw veggies. I’m always on the lookout for healthy ways to get some green stuff down.

Here’s another salad for the vegetable challenged: lettuce, pomegranates, walnuts, and kiwi fruit. I LOVE it.

I also enjoy a good turkey quesadilla. Unfortunately I discovered last year when I was diligently counting calories that though the quesadilla didn’t feel filling, the caloric intake added up quickly between the butter, cheese, and flour tortilla (the one in the picture is a typical white tortilla, but I have found healthier, lower calorie options). It was also not as nutritious as I wanted it to be.

My solution was to eat half of what I used to, put less cheese inside, and mix a little ranch dressing with a lot of cholula sauce, which has no calories, for a dipping sauce. (I don’t usually do dressing at all, not on my salads even. Mostly because I don’t really like dressing. But this is the one place I love a little ranch.)

Paired with a big salad, my old favorite was no longer too much of an indulgence, and the fresh foods added health. It’s also a quick, easy, no fuss meal. (If you’ve already prepared the pomegranate ahead of time! Sheesh those things are work. But worth it.)

I love that this easy dish connects with many of my values–it’s a simple pleasure I found a way to hold onto instead of giving up during my get healthy journey. The less familiar fruit in the salad makes it feel exotic and looks beautiful. And the kiwi and pomegranates are antioxidants and great for my body!

I’m no longer counting calories, but I hope I’ve learned something about managing portions and upping the nutritional value of my meals.

Do you have a favorite you’ve adapted to your new lifestyle?

Share it: Salad for the vegetable challenged added to an old favorite=low calories and nutrition

Embracing Simple Pleasures

Are you like me? There’s nothing like a cold day to make me want to bake.

As the house empties of children, and I continue the goal of staying more fit, I find myself not indulging in a day of baking quite so often.

But even as I have backed off of this high caloric habit, I refuse to let it go completely. There is freedom in hanging onto life’s simple pleasures, choosing moderation instead of all or nothing when it comes to forming healthy habits.

And there’s nothing like the aroma of bread baking to make a house feel practically magical.

Oh the joy of a sprinkle of flour across a clean counter top and the feel of dough pliable in my hands! My absolute, very top favorite dough sensation is the feel of holly bread being shaped beneath my fingertips. (Challah bread for the more precise.)

Before winter gives way to spring I must celebrate this simple pleasure.

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The only problem with this photo series is I forgot to get a picture as the bread was pulled all warm and golden brown from the oven. (“Look at that! Another example of brown that I LOVE,” she thinks as she remembers her last post on earth tones.)

I guess you’ll have to take my word for it. It looks–and tastes–heavenly.

As you continue on the weight loss journey–or the journey of life–what simple pleasures do you embrace?

Simple pleasures: Challah bread

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!

jerry in the tavern

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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.)

brandy

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.

back home

Share it: Sometimes dreams do come true

Vigilance ~ Maintaining Weight Loss

IMAG3238-1Here I am again.

Life gets a little tough. Disappointing news hits. And I’m sitting at my computer dreaming of popcorn.

With extra butter.

For over a year I’ve fought to lose and then maintain weight.

After all of this time you’d think old habits could be completely broken.

Only maybe reaching for food to deal with emotions is more like an addiction that requires life-long, sustained effort to resist than a habit that can be broken after 30 days.

Today’s trigger is the fact that my youngest son needs another hip surgery. Tomorrow’s trigger may be something simple–like feeling bored.

But no matter which hits, I know food will solve nothing.

I just took a break to make a nice, hot cup of no-calorie, healthy antioxidant green tea. And I’m saying a prayer for strength, comfort, wisdom.

It’s one of those next better choices I seek to make over and over.

I started typing again only to have my rings irritate me because they are rolling around on my fingers as they often do now on chilly days. (And these are my smaller sets. I gave away the bigger ones.)

I love it that my fingers–as well as all parts of me–are thinner.

I hate it that the journey to health didn’t end when the chart said normal instead of obese. That even now I must be on guard to maintain.

But it is worth it, this new vigilance.IMAG3229-1

Never, ever again can I return to a lifestyle of mindless eating to numb emotion if I want to be strong and healthy, and maintain a normal weight.

And that is okay. Because food never solved the problems anyway.

Celebrating the Memories II

A high. Honest. Sunday at the ACFW conference was full of blessings. (You can read about the first two days on yesterday’s post.)

It started with a wonderful time at the Books and Such Literary Agency breakfast. I was honored to be seated next to the founder, Janet Kobobel Grant.

janet k. Grant

The food was amazing and included this darling spread of add-ins for my oatmeal.

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I also enjoyed posing with fellow authors who married daughters off this year. We had to get a few shots of the mothers of the brides. (By the way, Cathy West has recently released two novels I’m dying to read, and Beth Vogt asked me to read and review her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, which I loved. I also enjoyed her second book and am looking forward to the third in the series.)

mother of the bride pic

With authors Cathy West (left) and Beth K. Vogt (right.)

Dineen Miller also asked me to review her debut novel, The Soul Saver, which was fabulous. But don’t take my word for it. This book WON the Carol Award for the mystery/suspense/thriller category! So happy for Dineen! 2013 has been quite the year for her–marrying off a daughter and getting a Carol!

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With author Dineen Miller

It was also fun to connect with Colorado author Olivia Newport. I had the honor of reading and reviewing her debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. It was a great story! If you enjoy historical fiction, check out Olivia’s novels. Though she’s a fairly new arrival on the Christian Historical Fiction circuit, she has several books out.

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robin-jones-gunn-300Saturday’s lunch included another keynote address by best-selling author Robin Jones Gunn. Suffice it to say that’s when the crying started for me. She talked about obeying God when things look different than we expect, about following Him through the twists and turns in our journey as writers. (Sound familiar? Kind-a like the whole curve ball concept?)

After a teary conversation with my sweet friend and new author who’s releasing to top reviews, Carla Laureano, I felt stronger than ever that I had to swing at that curve ball. (She says we cry every time we talk. And lest you misunderstand–I wasn’t the only one sporting waterworks.)

Sunday night boasted the ACFW Awards Gala. One of my favorite memories is sharing a quick hug with the amazing Brandilyn Collins. I thanked her in the speech I never gave for year after year of faithful prayers. The highlight of my ACFW conferences for many years know has been those precious few moments with her in the prayer room.

I was honored to sing with the choir, who kicked off the gala with author Cynthia Ruchti’s arrangement of “Praise Him from Whom All Blessings Flow.” I thrilled to sing a high B. It’s been forever since I got to sing with a choir, and it’s one of my great joys.

It was also fun to be a finalist and have my very own place cards for myself and special guests.

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I had to take a picture of my book and name in the program. (Notice the beautiful centerpieces peeking from behind!)

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After the gala, I told my agent, Rachelle Gardner, that I wanted a shot with her where I no longer weighed 210 pounds. It felt so good to sport a fancy dress at my new weight. And see, a real smile even if I didn’t win the Carol.

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I love any opportunity to share time with my fabulous friend and multi-published author Janice Thompson. It’s hard to believe we were friends back when she was a “new” author. She now has at least 18 books out! (And her weight loss story is amazing! We’ve been cheering each other on!)

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As I wrote in an earlier post, I weathered not winning my category in the Carol Awards mostly fine. It helped me keep a happy face when my roomy Kathy Kovach decided I needed a consolation prize, and I pranced around in my new shoes. (Note how nicely they show off my tattoo.)

consolation pirce

The next morning included a couple of awesome “chance” meetings as we got out of Dodge. The first was a super cool prayer time with a homeless man while we waited for our shuttle to the airport. The second was connecting with the Bicycle Lady, Dr. Reba Hoffman, while in line at Starbucks in the airport. She writes a great blog about her experiences. Suffice it to say I find her one of the most courageous women I’ve ever met. Her stories about how God led her to ride her bicycle from town to town to help women find freedom from the ravages of abuse are breath-taking.

At-the-Airport

Left to right, Colorado Authors Jen Turano, Carla Laureano, yours truly, Reba, the bicycle lady, Colorado Author Kathy Kovach and pre-published author Jill Buteyn, who WON her category in the prestigious Genesis contest for the not-yet-published authors. (Can you tell I’m proud of all our Colorado gals?)

The flight home included discussing theology with my seatmate, an amazing father of 3. I arrived  home exhausted and enjoyed cuddling up with my family, a pizza, and a movie.

And yes, I love sharing about my experiences–it is my blog so I get to do that. But these last two posts do relate to the question I left hanging a few posts back. As I write in upcoming posts about curve ball, just keep in mind these last two blogs–how happy and comfortable I am here in this writing world . . .

Grandma’s Pudding and the Red, White, and Blue

banana pudding 5I  pause only a brief moment to pull up the memory.

In my mind’s eye I see a hand built bar extending in front of the stove. On it is a black rotary phone, glasses, sweet tea, and pop bottles awaiting the evening meal, and there, covered in plastic wrap in a clear glass bowl is my grandma’s banana pudding.

A few years ago I happened upon notes in one of my cookbooks. I was thrilled. Grandma had been with her God for years, and I thought her famous banana pudding left with her. But there, in my own handwriting, were adaptations to the pudding recipe with the note, “Grandma’s way” next to them.

A new 4th of July tradition was born that day, and I held my own bowl of banana pudding high when I arrived at my brother’s house whispering, “Grandma’s recipe.”

It was first on my to-do list this morning (well right after the 3.77 mile walk with hubby and the two eggs and 1 chicken sausage I ravenously consumed after that.)

The pudding was made the old-fashioned, southern way–layered vanilla waffers and perfectly ripened bananas.

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Whole milk, sugar, eggs and flour on the stove, don’t stop stirring.

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Finally, just when you think your arm is going to fall off, it thickens.

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Then you add the real butter and real vanilla. (Grandma used margarine, but even the best banana pudding ever sometimes needs tweaks.)

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Once mixed, it flows over the bananas and wafers, then is decorated with a few crumbles, just like Grandma did.

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Then it is off to the refrigerator where the cookies become mushy, the bananas softer, and the flavors invade each other to make a new one, slightly altered by their unity.

Today is a celebration day. Not a day to count calories or worry about the waist line. It’s a day to embrace my little family and rejoice that my son asked for Grandma’s pudding, pulling my past into this cycling of life to the future.

Celebration isn’t about money or bells and whistles. It’s the simple things, like Grandma’s pudding and cuddling under a blanket together to watch fireworks. It’s also the deep things. Gratitude for loved ones. A humble embrace of freedoms earned by another’s sacrifice. A moment’s reflection on the value of the human soul, the meaning of liberty. (Thanks, Jerry for the link.)

Now to bake pies and fry chicken. I wanted to grill in the backyard, but the kids wanted a picnic at the fireworks site. Call me old-fashioned but sandwiches and chips just don’t cut it today, so I’m off to the kitchen.

It’s a good thing Jerry and I walked before breakfast.

Happy Fourth!

Tweet it!

Grandma’s Pudding and the Red, White, and Blue!

Weight Loss Journey Day 57

Today I took a chance. I did something kind-of brave because I sensed God asked me to. The results were breath-taking. God is amazing. He really, really loves us. He answers prayer.

(At first I wasn’t going public with the story. I treasured it to my heart for a time, but as I reflect on December 19, I decided to share the journal entry. It is to God’s glory. He is amazing . . . So if you’re my Facebook friend and wondered what happened that day, now you can know. Here goes:)

I finally did it. I finally knocked on the stranger’s door like He told me to do a week and a half ago. I texted my son with the address, just ‘cause I had no idea what I was getting into and figured someone should know where I was.

At first no one answered. I told the Lord, “I’m only doing this once. If this is your deal, and You led me here today like I thought You did, You’re going to have to send someone to this door. I’m not going to find the courage to come back and try again.”

The door opened.

I stood there, awkward, fumbling for words.  “I . . . uh . . . can I just tell you my story?”

A woman, probably in her 30s, stood before me, brow wrinkled.

“I . . . take walks for exercise and I . . . um . . . sometimes pray for the people in the houses I pass. And well,”

I’m crying now, feeling silly, but feeling Him.

“when I walked past your house a while back, I felt like God showed me how to pray. I boxdon’t pretend to always hear Him perfectly, but . . . do you guys need food?”

The woman begins to cry. I wrap her in my arms and cry with her. “I have food in my van, can I bring it in?”

She nods.

On my second trip into the house with food, an older woman comes downstairs. She tells me how her daughter (the woman I met earlier) lost her home and moved in with her five children and how the cute little guy on the couch is her grandson. She babysits for her granddaughter, a single mom.

“My husband and I are retired,” she says. “We’re trying to help, but it’s hard. In the mornings I wake up and tell my sweet Jesus that I don’t know how we’re going to make it, and He has to help us. It’s hardest on the little ones. They don’t understand when we have no meat, but I tell them if we have beans and macaroni, we have food.” A tear traces her cheek.

The woman’s faith, perseverance, and strength humble me. That I get to serve such a faithful servant humbles me. How God loves the two of us through this incident blows me away, reminds me that He is the One who Sees. That His love is bigger than I can fathom.

Amazed by my God, on cloud nine I drive home.

(But I wish I hadn’t taken so long to obey. I wish I’d given them food sooner.)

Real Time:

I’m undone again as I post this. No updates today.

How About You?

What has happened in your life that leaves you undone–in a humble, good way?