Thursday, June 30, 2016

As a Deer Pants - Thirsty Thursday: Repentant, Psalm 51

I once had the occasion to hear a truly repentant man read Psalm 51 aloud. It is powerful.

After Monday I was feeling a little beat-up (perhaps you were too?). How many times in my life have I wasted God's provision and care by not taking care to protect my ability to bear good fruit for the kingdom? Conviction weighs heavy on a heart that loves the Lord.

When Nathan told his parable and then turned the tables on an aghast King David that he was, in fact, the wicked man who had taken something that wasn't his ... he went into mourning. He owned his sin, and that in the end his sin, although it greatly affected the lives around him, was only an abomination against God.

He recognized God's holiness. He didn't try to tell God who he wanted Him to be ... "Well you're loving so you should forgive me" ... he acknowledge that he deserved judgement.

And with humility he begged God to remove his sin. Not so that he could be guiltless and carefree, but so that the Lord would no longer see it.  His greatest concern was not to have consequences removed from himself (and there were consequences if you continue the story in 2 Samuel) but to have his relationship with the Father restored.

He offers his turned heart as a living sacrifice. He recognizes that there is nothing he can do to make it right, but only can give God all he has in his broken heart. And he tells God what he will do when their relationship is restored. He will proclaim God. He will sing.

God wants to know us. He wants to show us who we are. And He only wants our brokenness in return ... not so He can trample us while we are down, but so that He can lift us up.

David knew there were still consequences. He was told what would happen to the child he and Bathsheba created in their sin, and what would become of his household due to his sin. But instead of being angry at God for not restoring everything he praised His holiness and His generosity of forgiveness.

God doesn't break our hearts just for the sake of breaking a sinful heart. He breaks our hearts to change them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What Shelby Said Wednesday - What Victoria Said - I not stinky!

This past weekend I took Victoria to change her diaper. She was, in two-year-old fashion, denying that it needed changed.

Mommy: Oh yes you do! You're stinky!

Victoria: I not stinky! Diaper stinky!

Mommy: Awww sweet girl you're right! You aren't stinky its your diaper!

Victoria: Poop stinky.

Sometimes as a Mommy I need to be reminded that even when their actions (or a diaper) are stinky, my sweet girls are not. They are God's princesses and He (and I) love them very much and we are blessed to be their parents!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Transformation Tuesday - Why Shakeology?

I've had several questions about Shakeology lately, so I'll try to address some of those in this post.

When I started my fitness journey, I was using a different protein powder to substitute for one of my protein servings each day. When I became a coach, it was partly because I was buying a Hammer and Chisel Challenge Pack (the BEST way to start, in my opinion, its a great deal - it gives you a big discount where you can at least try Shakeology and see what you think of it). Plus, there's a 30 day money-back, bottom-of-the-bag guarantee from the date your bag is delivered!

So it is from experience that I say Shakeology is a better protein powder. It tastes better, the texture is better, and I feel like I get more benefits from it than I did from "similar" products I tried. I know it isn't cheap ... but you get what you pay for ... and why would you want to put cheap fuel in your BODY? I actually saved up and sold old cell phones and things on eBay to get my Challenge Pack and to sign on as a coach.

What IS Shakeology?

I'll show you what Beachbody says, but I'll also tell you in my own words. I don't use it as a meal replacement ... I know some do, but I can't really speak for that. I DO often use it for my breakfast by adding veggies and fruit to it in the blender. I hide up to two cups of veggies in it on some days when I know it is going to be hard to get those suckers in!

I think of it as a (very tasty, filling, tongue and tummy pleasing) nutritional supplement. I actually stopped taking my (expensive) food-based multivitamin because Shakeology is giving me all of those nutrients.

Have you ever gone on a diet, only to deprive and resist temptation and work and hope and pray and sweat ... only to have the scale laugh at you? I'm telling you, I HAVE. I was hungry. I was grouchy. And I got nothing for my sacrifices. Shakeology basically tells your body "Hey, your basic needs are being met, it's all good!" so that the extra weight you are working on can go ahead and come off. When you go into a calorie deficit and aren't getting sufficient nutrients your body can actually see that as a famine coming and store up ... NOT what most of us are going for.

Food-based nutrients (you may have heard of these if you have done much research into vitamins) are more readily absorbed and used by your body. Otherwise they may pass right through, or your body may simply be unable to use them. What is the point of that??

I actually use the vegan Shakeology now (pity because there isn't a vegan Cafe Latte yet) because I found my stomach preferred it to the whey-based protein. I have been diagnosed with IBS and let me tell you, my daily Shakeology (it has some psyllium ... soluble plant fiber, as well as some pre and probiotics to repopulate a healthy gut) has been keeping my tummy happy! I used to take an OTC supplement to help with that ... so that's one more thing I don't have to buy anymore.

Some protein powders have either a lot of sugar (Shakeology is low glycemic index) or they have artificial sweeteners (Shakeology uses stevia) which is a big no-no if you are clean eating (and a bad idea if you have atrial fibrillation in your family like I do).

While Shakeology isn't labeled organic ... the ingredients are organic. Have you ever looked into what it takes to get an organic certification? It's EXPENSIVE! Yard eggs go up by $2 a dozen ... ranchers have to have double the fences, have a separation between the animals and the road (that then has to be mowed because it isn't being grazed).

Of course it would be ideal to get all our nutrients literally from the food we eat! But there are several problems with that ... it would be nearly impossible to eat that much food, especially when you are operating at a calorie deficit in an effort to lose weight. And our food isn't as nutrient-dense as it used to be; an unfortunate side effect of the way we grow our food (seriously, I'll loan you Food, Inc. or Farmageddon). Plus, that'd be expensive!

So in short, Shakeology is a DELICIOUS way to get the nutrients your body needs so that your feedback systems are giving the green light to let go of extra weight. I've lost 36 pounds in the past 8 months and I have not gone hungry. I get chocolate every day! THIS is something I can do long term, and Shakeology helps support that! Plus it counts as a red container, and I need four of those a day!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Monday: Rooted, Fruit

Last Monday we started "Rooted" - a look into plant analogies and parables. We explored the protections God offers and our need to be diligent in protecting our vineyards.

But why? Why is it so important to protect those vines? How does a protected, blossoming vineyard apply to my life?

What is the purpose of tending a garden? Fruit. If you plant an apple tree, what do you expect? Apples! If you spend the early summer hoeing rows you expect to glean something for your efforts.

The Bible tells us that apart from God (the vine) we (the branches) cannot bear fruit. Without being in Him it is a bit like when you put the sweet potato in water in elementary school. Sure, its very interesting to watch it sprout roots and possibly even green shoots ... but then what? If you leave it sitting in that cup of water on the windowsill you won't soon be having baked sweet potatoes for dinner.

Great. We need to be in Him to bear fruit ... but again, why? For one thing, we are told in Matthew 7:16 that we will be known by our fruit. If you find a pear hanging from a branch in your yard ... you can be pretty sure that you have a pear tree (there are some exceptions to this, and the Bible addresses grafting too ... but lets leave that for another day).

And what if your fruit is shriveled? Tasteless?  Worm-eaten? There are consequences when God pours into us and we don't abide in Him and bear fruit.

Have you ever had a fruit tree that didn't bear fruit? Some trees require another tree of the same species nearby in order to be pollinated to bear fruit. Perhaps some nutrient is missing in the soil. In Texas we've recently had a severe drought and many trees became sickly or even died.

But when we abide in God He will provide all that we need to bear Him fruit.

In one of the harsher stories about Jesus (not a parable mind you) He was hungry on the road from Bethany. He saw a fig tree in the distance and began looking for fruit. I find it especially telling that Mark's gospel points out that it wasn't even the season for figs. Jesus told the tree no one would eat from it again and the next time they saw the tree it had withered from the root up.

There are no excuses for a Christian's life to be fruitless. I could say that it isn't my season to be focused on bearing fruit because I am busy with two small children. Ha! They ARE my fruit, my mission field.

Jesus expects fruit from us no matter what season of life we are in.

In Isaiah, God tells of tending His vineyard - Israel. He cared very well for it, yet it gave Him worthless fruit.

He literally tore down her walls and let her be trampled. He removed His provision, His protection, and His tending from the fruitless people. The Lord will visit His vineyard looking for fruit. He has provided everything you need. What will you give Him?

Yet sweet friends, there is hope. Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree that is not bearing fruit. Perhaps the withered fig inspired Him ... perhaps He told it to comfort his disciples who saw Him curse the fruitless, leafy fig along the road.

The owner of the vineyard came looking for fruit, and finding none says that the fig is a waste of space. But the vineyard-keeper appeals to Him to let him have another year to care for it.

If you are still alive and breathing, there is still a chance for you to have a fruitful life. God is just and righteous and Holy ... and He is a God of second chances. Please don't test Him and wait for the owner of the vineyard to return looking for fruit ... ask Him to examine your life now and help you abide in Him and bear good fruit. The ax is already laid ...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Freestyle Friday - Mirrors (a poem)

This weekend in our adult Sunday school class, someone mentioned how the Bible is a true mirror. When we assess ourselves we aren't getting "the whole picture" but the Bible pierces into the heart and can show us who we really are ... if we let it.

I actually used to write a lot of poetry. In researching yesterday's post I came across a song written by Moses. Obviously David was a bit of a poet himself. And it reminded me that is also a tool that God sometimes uses. I always enjoyed writing poetry - sometimes it comes out structured, sometimes a glimpse of chaos frozen in the form of written words.

So. Now you know. Maybe I'll start sharing some more often.


I looked into the chrome-shine face
Examined what I saw ...
How many hours lay in waste
While judgement there was brought?

I looked on glittering lives of friends
And held mine alongside.
How many tears have found their end
When measurement was short?

I looked upon His written word
And invited Him to speak.
Giving over all "consume me!" ... tipping in like Alice's glass
In reflecting Glory not my own can peace be made at last.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

As a Deer Pants - Thirsty Thursday - God Loves You ... But ...

God loves us ... all of us. He is the very definition of love. But ...

Lately the girls have been quite taken with Prince of Egypt and the music from it. We listen to the soundtrack in the car a lot. One of their favorite pieces is "The Plagues." It is powerful. Overwhelming really. And it got me to thinking. The movie takes some poetic license, and I wondered if so many "I send" statements in the song did as well.

It turns out, they did not.

Pharaoh, his heart hardened, defies God. He denies His authority. He disrepects His commands.

Sound familiar?

Babylon did the same thing. In Jeremiah she is recorded as "engaged in conflict with the Lord." If history has taught us anything, let it be that any nation who rears its head with the audacity to oppose a Holy God will taste utter defeat.

God is love, but He is also power. Might. Most High. Just. Only His love withholds His hand from wiping us out and starting afresh. Or not starting at all.

How is it love to say I have not slain you just so my power will be made known? The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. When we know who He is, what Holy means, what true justice is, and how sinful we are how can we do anything other than respect Him, trust Him, and come to know Him? Isn't the opportunity to know and trust Him worth the show of force?

For a long time, especially lately, I've seen the bad things in the world as something God allowed, but didn't cause. How could a loving God cause such suffering, right? Job is an example - God permits Satan to torment Job. The Lord Himself causes Job no harm.

Not so with Egypt. I poured over the story of the plagues the last few days looking for any indication that the Lord had allowed the plagues. I grew up thinking that He had sent the angel of death, or Michael, someone, to enact the final horror on the Egyptian people.

What I've found instead is when one is in explicit disobedience to God, He will, Himself, strike. I will pass over. I will strike. Not I will allow them to be struck. And I think my beloved America is approaching that level of insubordination. We, as a country, are not only wallowing in sin ... we are starting to scoop it up, call it good, and call God's Word restrictive, hateful, incomplete, and untrue.

But the Lord is GOOD and He is LOVE and so there is always a way out. The blood of the first Passover lambs was the sign to Him. A sign of obedience. Of course He could have recognized His children's homes and passed over ... but the blood required a sacrifice and an act of obedience. If there were any Israelites who did not obey, I couldn't find it. After seeing God's power unleashed on the Egyptians I'm certain their faith was pretty strong in that moment.

He does listen to our prayers, and often when all hope seems lost, intercession can turn His wrath. These same people leaving through their bloodied door posts late at night later incite God's anger against themselves in the desert. Moses intercedes for them and the tide is turned. He is also merciful. 

If you aren't interceding for our country, now would be the time to start.

God is love, but He won't be disrespected. God is good, and He punishes evil. There is nowhere to hide from Him. And He hides His children, those who know Him and obey His statutes, under His wings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What Shelby Said Wednesday - What Victoria Said - NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

Last month Victoria turned two.

And she is two, and everything that comes with it. I don't know that she is more "terrible two" than Shelby was, or if it is just amplified by higher volume and more of a temper. When she isn't in the throes of a tantrum she is the sweetest little girl, smart and expressive and a tease.

But woe to those who dare not "be nice me" (being nice being defined as doing exactly what she wants, how she wants it done, and when she wants it done - which is usually NOW).


Mommy: Victoria are you all done?

Victoria: NO! My food! My plate!

Mommy: OH! I'm sorry, I thought you were done!

Victoria: NO! All done! *flailing, threatening to throw her plate*


Mommy: And here's your blanket...

Victoria: NO! Blanket OFF! NO! Nonononono!!!!!! *kicking blanket, swatting at the air with an arm*

Mommy: OK, goodnight! See you in the morning!

Victoria: My blanket on! *in the saddest, why-are-you-neglecting-me? voice*


Shelby: Here do you want some sweet tea?

Victoria: NO ... yesh!

After a tantrum:

Mommy: Victoria are you two?

Victoria: NO!!!!!!

Oh yes, yes she is. And we love her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Transformation Tuesday - For the Ladies ...

Ok really, if you are a guy this really doesn't pertain to you and I'd suggest you move on. Sorry; it's an X-chromosome, hormone thing.

Ladies. Oh ladies. Since 2009 I've been charting my cycles. It has been crazy, because at least a couple of years of that time I've been either pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding.

But most of the time my cycles are pretty regular. Short (25 days on average) but regular.

And in that time I've observed some things.

When I was "being good" on my own, eating mostly the right things, but with out-of-control portions, I'd lose about three pounds every month.

Then in one week I'd gain it back. What? Why? Which week, you may ask? I bet you can guess. PMS week. I always blamed it on bloating, and I'm sure that was some of it. But why did I then have to turn around and lose those SAME three pounds the other three or so weeks I had left???

Now that I'm also paying more attention to my fitness and nutrition, I've observed some things.

During that week ... I struggle to eat. I actually feel almost as nauseated as I did during the first trimester of pregnancy. Especially my proteins, which I usually look forward to. Instead ... what little I do want to eat ... is carbs.

What does this tell me? I may have actually been eating less calories, but the ones I was eating were low-nutrition, easily digestible (easily stored) calories. And since low-prep carbs are more appealing than something closer to raw ... I was probably eating a lot of processed foods and all the lovely sodium and preservatives that come with it.

So what have I observed lately? The cravings are similar, and I may not get all my protein in and might be more likely to cheat ... but I don't seem to get the bloating anymore. And I keep losing weight (or at least not gaining) throughout my cycle.

It is a lot tougher to get motivated to do my workouts, and I struggle more through them ... but I also know that week is coming when I feel on FIRE and like I could do all six Chisel workouts in one day. So I think about what that day is going to feel like instead of focusing on how exhausted I am and how gross being sweaty feels.

And I've kept plugging away ... and now during "that week" instead of breaking out the stretchy pants and thinking even they feel more snug than I'd like ... I find that even my elastic waisted yoga pants are loose around the middle.

All these things that have affected you your whole life (or at least, in this case, since puberty) are something you can overcome ... or at the very least learn to work with. If you are interested in learning more, or want to share your struggles with me, I'd love to chat with you.

If you'd like to learn more about your hormones and how they relate to fitness and nutrition, this is an informative article that I found to be not only fascinating but helped explained a lot of what makes me feel the way I do during the different phases of my cycles.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Monday: Rooted

Last week I wrote about nature ... and beyond the fact that God created nature, my mind began blooming with examples of how God uses nature to illustrate His love for us, His plan for us, and what He expects from us.

For the next several Mondays, I'm going to explore this idea in a series I'm calling "Rooted: Plant Analogies in the Bible."

I'm a would-be gardener. I have an area of our yard picked out, but since we don't have a fence yet and we do have a menagerie of wildlife that frequent the area (gophers, rabbits, deer, possums, coons, wild hogs ...) it is most prudent for me to wait. But I love the idea of putting in the care of protecting tender sprouts, hacking at weeds, and patiently awaiting the harvest a home garden can provide (especially given how much produce I seem to buy).

In both Song of Solomon and Isaiah God paints a picture of a vineyard in need of protection. The young lovers of Song of Solomon have foxes to catch before they strip the vines of blossoms before they can even set fruit. And in Isaiah the Lord predicts the fall of Isarael after He strips away their hedges and their walls.

From the time a grapevine flowers, it is almost four months until mature fruit is ready to be picked. In the Song of Solomon there is a need to keep those blossoms on the vines. The lovers don't express the need for a taller fence or a thicker hedge, but rather a need to catch the foxes.

The first thing I take from this verse is that we have something fragile and desirable that needs to be protected. In its time this vineyard will yield fruit. But we aren't able to built walls large enough to keep every imposition from threatening the fruitfulness of the vineyard come harvest time. We can't just put up all wall and distance ourselves from the world. We have to stay diligent and watchful. When temptations and sources of harm that can keep us from bearing fruit sneak into our lives we have to catch them. We don't simply observe them and hope that they won't have an impact on us, our families.

We can teach our daughters to have healthy boundaries, but we also must teach them how to catch those things which get past the boundaries. Perhaps they are stealthy, or perhaps they look cute and innocent in the beginning. They may seem small and of little harm, but if they snatch too many blossoms there will be no fruit. They can't be dealt with later. If allowed to scamper freely through the vineyard it may become too late to rescue a bountiful harvest.

But in Isaiah we see that there still is a need for a wall. In verses that read like a beautiful song with a sad end, God shows that without His protection, when He removes His walls and His hedges, the vineyard is consumed and trampled. Wasted. Uncared for. There can be no fruit when it is choked with thorns and brambles ... and no fruit without rain. Grapevines actually have very specific needs for well-timed rains when putting on fruit.

We have some mustang grapes growing along an old fence behind our house. Every year in the spring the hardened, bare, dormant vines suddenly spring to live with fresh green leaves. Blossoms peek shyly and become hard round promises of fruit to come. The vines grow incredibly fast during the rainy season.

And almost as quickly, when the temperatures climb and the rain ceases, the leaves become paper-thin and wilt. What fruit hasn't been spotted by damage, eaten by the various birds and beasts that may be able to tolerate the acidic fruit (these aren't your grape jelly and wine variety grapes, I hear you should wear gloves even to pick them!) become shriveled and unappetizing.

On the opposite side of the fence, thorny vines have all but overtaken the fence line and grow nearly to chest-height on myself. They grow quickly, and I never see any grapevines on that side of the fence.

Next week I will share why it is so important to protect the fruit-bearing capabilities of your "plant" as illustrated in the Bible ... which will also partly answer why God removed the hedges and barriers around Israel and let her vineyard be overtaken.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Freestyle Friday - Repurposed

I love repurposed things, especially when they already belong to either myself or my family. For example, our vent-hood cover is off an old creep feeder that was on the land our house sits on.

Even though we live in the country, I get a little nervous about the fact that our master bedroom windows aren't covered. Especially on nights when I hear ATVs zipping around; probably hog hunting, but what if it is someone who doesn't realize our unmarked driveway actually leads to a house someone is living in?

Plus, being an off-limits, East facing room that is closed off all morning ... it frankly gets kinda warm. I thought doing something to the windows might block a little of the morning sun and soften the edges of the room a bit in addition to giving some privacy.

Anyways, I decided to do something about it, but I didn't want to lose our views of the sunrise and the pond. And I didn't want to spend money.

My first thought was just to do what I had already done in the bathroom and make a short curtain of burlap with a tension rod and some quick sewing. I still had a good bit of burlap left over for our wedding ... but when I started measuring ... it just wasn't enough for three windows.

Then I remember we ALSO had natural (unbleached) cotton bunting from the wedding, which we used to soften the tables everyone sat at for dinner. I love our wedding. It was in my parents' backyard ... my Mom really did most of the work. I had a dream that I was getting married in their backyard before I even met Tim. Unbeknownst to me (and pre-Pinterest) Mom had started collecting ideas and the items needed to do them without telling me.

Everything was rustic; tin tubs for drinks, old tables, Mason jars ... I even fashioned the floral arrangements out of dried flowers and fresh Mother's Day bouquets (taken apart and grouped by color) bunched to look like the wildflowers you picked for your momma as a little girl and she put in a jar of water to admire. I love being able to take our girls to the arbor we stood under and tell them THIS is where Mommy and Daddy got married.

I fashioned curtains to hang high enough I felt covered were anyone to be outside, but low enough I can simply walk up to them and look out. To keep the look complete, I had them come to the same height from the floor on all three windows even though the windows are completely different sizes.

I'm not going to attempt to tell you how to sew them other than I cut the bunting to a size to allow for seams on the sides and bottom, but only sewed a rod pocket on the burlap and left the edges raw. Then I just sewed the two pieces together with a zigzag stitch lest the burlap threaten to unravel.

Oh! And you can see one of our repurposed hymnal holders on the wall in the corner too ...
It really made our room feel more soft and cozy, but still with a rustic feel. And I just love the nostalgia of being surrounded by things from our wedding.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

As a Deer Pants - Thirsty Thursday: Nature

Sometimes I wonder what would have become of me if I hadn't been raised in a Christian home and going to church. Since being outside feeling the wind or the heat, watching the weather change before my eyes, listening to the calls of wild things communicating with one another and the night, wondering at the deafening cacophony than can echo off as small a pond as the one in front of our house ... I think I know my answer.

Though I fight logic tooth and nail like a true creative, I am a scientist. I like to study things. I find a certain enjoyment in natural order. Explanations, especially those that are unexpected, fascinate me. The inner workings of a single cell are like a world within a world, a delicate ballet that our bodies manage to duplicate millions, billions of times over without even a thought from us.

I'm fairly certain I would worship science and nature. I would see them as gods of their own, reasons for everything. Most of you who know me know I'm not much of a tree hugger ... but that's only because I know that this world is also subjected to the fall of man. Death wasn't just the penalty for Adam and Eve but for all of creation with them. We should be good stewards but I know we can't save the planet anymore than we can effect world peace.

But I was raised knowing that God created all these things I found so fascinating. And so I worship Him when I observe them. A hike through the woods alone is like a walk with God in the garden, or at least as close as I can imagine. Looking through a microscope at the order ... the intricacy ... the art of the things around us brings me to my knees before Him.

And I am thankful. Because I know worshiping nature would lead to worshiping self. Look how wonderful I am. Look at these instincts I can rely on. My DNA made me who I am and I free myself to be that.

But I know that is the way that leads to death. Live and let live ... I'll be me and you be you ... it sounds so altruistic, so tolerant. It is what the world around us clamors for every day.

We cannot put God in a box and tell Him how we want Him to be. We can't blame Him for the nature within us that is at war with His Law. His Law is greater than the laws of nature. He gave us a soul and when we ignore that and live by the flesh we are against Him.

He isn't a cruel God. He has given us a way out, a Helper. He wants to help us overcome all of our brokenness, if only we will recognize that us and everything around us is broken. Bad things don't happen because God is indifferent ... they happen because sin smashed into our world and wrecked a perfect design which is now only a dying echo of what He made. God is good because He has a rescue plan. We, and this world, WILL be whole again. Trust Him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What Shelby Said Wednesday

In case you didn't know, my in-laws have a flock of sheep, and we live next door to them. Sometimes we go over for dinner and stay to help with chores. Shelby has actually started to really be able to help, which is awesome ... how many kids get to do things like that??

Well, this weekend we did that. Shelby was helping her Daddy feed the rams - the grown-up boy sheep. I wasn't there to hear this first hand (I was with Tori, who was making friends with lambs):

Personally I think Daddy handled it wonderfully. At least now one of those dreaded lessons that you know will come up when you only have girls is at least broached. I'm sure it will come up again at the most embarrassing time possible.

Tim: Oh boy. Shelby was asking about "those things hanging down" on the rams ... I told her they were their boy parts to help them make babies. I said the ram sheep have boy parts and the ewe sheep have girl parts and that they are different looking parts. She didn't ask anymore, heh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Transformation Tuesday - Be That Turtle

There is a pond in front of our house. On any given day there may be a dozen or so turtle sunning themselves on branches floating in the water or along the edges. But once and a while we have seen a turtle making a desperate treck away from the pond to parts unknown. I'm that turtle.

Ok ... maybe not literally THIS turtle cause I think he's actually missing a foot ... but you get the idea
I've shared before that I'm pretty good at losing weight. And gaining it back. I've been a yo-yo dieter and binge-exerciser for as long as I can remember. Even in high school I remember some episodes of running in the wee hours of the morning while the whippoorwills whistled shyly into the navy blue sky.

This time is different. I've already stuck with it longer than I ever did in the past. Last week I started a round of 30 Day Chisel; doing just the Chisel exercises from Hammer & Chisel (because I don't really feel a need to add muscle right now, but to lean out and tone what I've already built).

Even after admonishing you that you need to take your measurements, I hadn't really jumped back into that. This seemed like a good place to start, so I got out my tape measure and my notecards. I found the one from when I started in November, about 7 months ago.

Wherever you are on your journey, seven months might sound like a long time. But let me give you my stats:
  • Weight: Start 191 - Now 156.8
  • Chest: Start 38.5 - Now 35.25
  • Right arm: Start 14 - Now 12.25
  • Left arm: Start 14.5 - Now 12.5
  • Waist: Start 38.5 - Now 31
  • Hips: Start 44 - Now 38.5
  • Right thigh: Start 25.5 - Now 20.25
  • Left thigh: Start 25 - Now 20.5
  • Right calf: Start 16 - Now 14.25
  • Left calf: Start 16 - Now 14.25
I've lost 34.2 pounds ... 33.25 inches ... my HIPS are now the size my WAIST was when I started!! My thighs alone have lost 5 inches EACH.

The first round of 21 Day Fix I lost 8.2 lbs. I could be disappointed that trend didn't continue. But ya know what? Rather than lost a lot of weight fast, I'm happy to be a turtle this time. Slogging away one pound at a time. Celebrating the little victories (running around without getting out of breath, doing things without my lower back seizing up, finding out I can wear a size 6, being able to stop modifying various exercises).

What I'm doing is sustainable. I can do 30-40 minutes of workout most days of the week. I can eat on the portion fix eating plan. And I can sure drink Shakeology. Of course I have days where I'm not perfect! But being a turtle means not blowing my whole week because of it.

Being a turtle means not continuing to skip workouts just because I missed one and got off-schedule.

Turtles don't set unreasonable goals ... but they stay focused on the ones they've set. The rabbit may pass you by, but they are sacrificing something. And when the rabbits have run out of energy and are napping ... the turtles will keep on going and maybe even offer them a hand along the way.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Monday: Self-Control

Writing about the fruit of the Spirit has been eye-opening to me. It started as something simple, but God is using it to convict me and grow me. I love how His Word is living and active ... that verses and concepts I've been reading my entire life can still teach me and change me.

Self-control ... temperance ... moderation ... self-restraint ... forbearance ... patient endurance ... abstaining from the enforcement of a right. The definitions for this fruit of the Spirit seem endless. I used to think of it simply as not giving in to things we long for and lust after. Self-control ... skipping the birthday cake and munching on pickings from the fruit and veggie trays, right?

That is a form of self-control, but I think the one that stood out to me was abstaining from the enforcement of a right. Not just giving up those things which are at worst sinful, or at the least not profitable ... but giving up something you have every right to. Sometimes we call it "paying it forward ..." when someone dings your car and you choose not to file on their insurance. When there is a choice between the "right" thing and the "forgiving, loving, selfless, and also-right thing" and you choose the latter.

Self-control isn't just listed in the Bible as a fruit of the Holy Spirit living within us ... it is frequently a suggestion of how to be a Christian and example of Christ among others. How to stand out AND show love at the same time. What it really means to live IN the world without being OF the world.

In some cases, for certain kinds of service within the early church (and many today) it is flat-out a requirement.

Why? Why self-control? It is easy to see when it affects someone else how turning the other cheek could influence someone who doesn't know and has a misconceived notion of what a Christian is ... but what about in my private life?

Self-control takes practice. Letting the Spirit move instead of your passions isn't easy (especially if you have any Irish blood if you know what I mean). In the end, self-control isn't just about having control over yourself ... it's about controlling that mean ol ugly self so the Spirit can shine instead, bringing Glory to God. When the self gets out of control, Proverbs warns we are vulnerable to attack.

It is sometimes hard to see self-control as a priority when our other priorities are "right" in our heads. We love God, we've accepted Christ, we're doing good works for others ... why all this "self-control" nonsense? If I'm trying not to sin isn't that enough?

The fact is, our comfortable lives often make it hard to see the seriousness of the battle roaring around us. What we do, and don't do, and the lives we can win over (or turn away) are being grappled over in an epic unforeseen struggle. The outcomes are eternal. It is very serious. Everything that we do should be tempered with what is most glorifying to God; what best keeps our lives from being misleading or irrelevant.

Where can you begin to practice more self-control? If I can't keep myself from drinking too much, eating too much, blowing up at friends and family, how will I be able to be diligent in prayer and receptive to the Spirit's leading?