Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Six: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

This title is more than a Beatles song; but a fact I am grateful for. Last year about this time, I participated in a bible study by Margaret Feinberg called “The Sacred Echo: Hearing God’s Voice in Every Area of Your Life.” Aside from this being a study where I met most of the Lylas it was a great study in realizing that He can speak to us in more than the obvious way; through scripture. Today the “echoes” were endless and all were reminders that no matter how independent I think I am, or the confidence I feel in choices I make…. things are always made better with friendships.

I worked out twice today. God said he made me for more so I decided to start giving more. I ‘earned’ my Curves Smart Card today; a key fob that slips into each strength machine and acts as your own personal trainer. It gets you to push harder and reach personalized goals that the Curves trainers test your abilities on. I wanted the lights to turn green and blink to show me I was doing the right thing but with each pump of my arms or push of my legs I dug as deep as I could for my best friend… Jesus. I was made for more… I’m giving him more.
Lysa’s devotion today said that “Friends don’t let friends eat before thinking….. we need measures of accountability. While I cannot expect anyone else to make decisions for me, it was motivating to know that someone else cared about my struggles. We encouraged each other with this motto, “If it’s not part of our plan, we don’t put in our mouths.” Since I have become a Christian, Jesus has made me realize that I need accountability in my life. My life “Pre-Jesus” (the P-J Era) had zero accountability and we know where that got me, so this one is huge. The best part of my accountability partner is that she is the newest Lyla and a pleasant surprise that Jesus has dropped into our small group. Kathy wanted to do this study with me and as much as I wanted to ask her to participate, it was not something I thought she would be open to. “Um…. Excuse me, I know I have only known you two weeks and I don’t want you to think I feel that you need to do this with me; just having met you….but do you want to do a bible study about craving God and not food, with me?” Uh, yeah. Me being excited about it and sharing was enough that she took that leap all on her own and I am ever so grateful. So now I have a real life person to be accountable to in the newest Lyla, a friendly competition (even if we don’t call it that) with my mom and sisters 2500 miles away, and me being accountable in this blog to the 1 or 500 that may find it on the web…  taking what they need and leaving the rest. (Jesus loves the leftovers)
The most literal of echoes today was dinner with “Echo.” No… her name is not “Echo”, it is Michelle, but I met her in the Sacred Echo study and there were two Michelle’s. I referred to her as Echo a few times and it stuck. I haven’t seen her since she hosted a Lylas Soup Swap at her house in January, which was amazing but entirely too long ago. We talked about everything and nothing at all; conversation ranging from husbands and jobs, what I’ve been up to and her love for cooking. When it circled to smoothie talk I am embarrassed to admit that my notebook came out and I picked her brain for an hour on combinations, secrets, ingredients, storage options, and milk vs. vanilla yogurt, or juice. It was like we saw each other yesterday and something we both needed.
I love that I can pick up the phone and get the encouragement I need from Lynnette no matter what the topic. Mom always knows just what to say, regardless of the scenario. The best part of our relationship being that we have one at all, since I drifted away for about twelve years. I am excited to make friends at my gym and now going twice a day, getting more opportunities to put myself out there and name drop “Pssst….. I know Jesus and if you wanna meet him you can visit anytime.” (Okay… maybe that isn’t our first conversation; gotta ease them into it). I am excited that this part of my journey allows me to have something in common with my mother in law – Weight Watchers AND Curves and can’t wait to see results and compare notes with her the next time we get together. Lylas is about strengthening our relationship with him while creating better friendships with each other. How awesome that the common denominator for everything in my life is Jesus?
I guess I get by with more than a little help from my friends. Without them I can’t imagine where I would be but thankfully, with Jesus in the picture…. I will never have to figure that out.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day Five: Subject to Change

Today was such a full day and not how one would expect. There were no errands to run, the gym is closed on Sundays, so no workout, and even though I had intentions on sewing, I never made it to my library to do that. Yet, my day was full; FULL-filling.
We had a guest pastor (Tim Elmore) today in church and the topic of his talk was: The Bucket List. The premise of a “bucket list” is to make a list of all that you want to accomplish before you ‘kick the bucket.’ Despite the service beginning with a clip from a movie of the same title starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the service wasn’t about making a list of things to do before you die, taking action and doing things while you can with no regrets at the end of your life. The service was literally about buckets and how we need to fill them.
As he walked to the table at the center of the stage, we noticed three large buckets staggered nearby; each with a different label. Tim told us that these represented the three buckets in our life: “In Your Control” “Out of Your Control” and “Within Your Influence”. Even though there weren’t a lot of blanks on the sheet inside of our program, my pen moved feverishly as he spoke, completely feeling and understanding what he was saying. It seems simple enough but as I mentioned yesterday; it is one thing to know the right thing to do and quite another to do it. Tim defined the types of things that could be found in each bucket and then proceeded to share the cards found in each one. In Your Control: Emotions, Time with Friends, Attitudes, Diet, Exercise (REALLY… I did not add the last two myself). Out of Your Control: Car accidents, Cancer, Job Layoff, Ballgames, Gossip. Within Your Influence: Reputation, Children, What People Think of You.
Let’s face it, sometimes Jesus goes old school and speaks fluent symbolism like Revelation but then there are other times where He just puts it out there; literally… in black and white. Sitting in row 5, nodding in agreement as he spoke, and writing as fast as my pen would allow… a smile escaped my lips as I said to myself “I am soooo getting this Jesus. Thank you for your affirmations and reminders through him.” God gave us the gift of freewill. Freewill = choices. Lysa’s devotion today said that the “way out” that God provides is the ability to decide in advance….” Not only do we have a choice but we must make a choice; which bucket do we put things into? There are many things that are in our control and it is up to us to use discernment in corralling those decisions; not giving up too quickly (because it is easier) to say it is out of our control, walking away from it. (Ahem…. Diet and exercise). I went through the “God loves me just the way I am phase and who has time to exercise….blah blah blah. I can’t blame family genes because I am the chunkiest of our tribe and deep down I knew that I could control my eating and exercise habits because I have seen results before; even not too long ago when training for the 3Day 60Mile walk. I even thought of blaming my husband because I was twenty pounds lighter when we met and if he didn’t make me so happy and tell me that he loves the way I look all the time, maybe I would have made changes sooner. (Poor Robbe….that is a lose:lose situation since him telling me I needed to lose a couple pounds wouldn’t have been in his best interest either).

I have had a few things in the “Out of Your Control” bucket of my life; breast cancer being at the top of that list. But Tim reminded us that things inevitably will happen that are out of our control, it is how we handle those situations that make us who we are and show others what is possible with a relationship with Christ; I couldn’t help secretly patting myself on the back for envisioning my vase by the front door, full of notes of things we were giving to him because they were truly out of our control. (Besides, the clear vase is so much prettier than a white 5-gallon bucket.)
There are many opportunities given to us where we are able to influence others, for the good and the bad. I am not proud of where I was but my influence used to be for my own personal gain and usually the demise of others; sometimes even my own children. In my relationship with Jesus, I am thrilled to report that the influence I now have is nothing to be ashamed of and I never have to say a thing because actions speak louder than words. I no longer worry about gossip or who has what to say about me. Like everyone else I have bad days but they are fewer and far between and never last long. I make it my priority to live by example and hope that others see Jesus in me without me having to wear the “I am a Christian” t-shirt or name drop my church in every other conversation. Wanting to exude HIM fully in my outer appearance as well as my heart is the reason I have taken this journey of changing my life on the outside the way he has done on the inside. How can I not be successful when he has already proven what is possible even with the most sketchy of candidates in me?
I never would have guessed I would be here… THIS point in my life, just two years ago. I can’t think of one thing that I have or do now that I had or did two years ago; the people I hung out with, the life I led, the job I did, the man I was married to, the lack of communication with my family and children, and the missing relationship with Him altogether. No matter how much we plan or think we have things figured out, each incidence comes with its own label “Subject to Change.” Where this may have been a scary revelation two years ago, I find myself grateful for it now. If things weren’t subjected to change, I wouldn’t have the life I have or the opportunities to make it even better. I told the woman at Curves when I signed up “This is not just about weight loss for me but a reason to get out of the house every day and a way to show others what Jesus is capable of – on the outside, as well as the inside.” The best part was that she didn’t even blink but seemed happy for me to make the realization and happier to take the next step. I wouldn’t have said that the life He has given to me was stagnant but it had gotten comfortable….predictable; volunteering at church, bible studies, small groups, sewing to get ready for some awesome Lylas adventure but… it was time for more, showing me that being a Christian doesn’t remove the label “Subject to Change.” “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I am grateful for the three buckets in my life and the freewill that God has given me to make the right choices about what goes where; diet and exercise moving to the top of my “In Your Control” bucket. And….if things weren’t subject to change, I can’t even imagine where I would be today but know that I would be giving myself the credit for all of the good things and blaming those around me for everything negative. Now I know that good or bad, it all comes from him and he will never give me more than I can handle. “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Day Four: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Soooo proud of myself today….and I think I even saw Cardboard Jesus wink at me as I headed out the door to the gym; my fourth day in a row. Woohoo. I am happy to be getting the activity part of this new lifestyle down but still find the food part a bit challenging. I can’t say that I never “craved” snacks before but I don’t remember sitting around the house wondering what time it was, how many points I had already eaten that day, and just what I could eat with the remaining points? It seems that when I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted… I didn’t. But now that I am watching what I eat and told that some things (or as many things as I wanted before) are off limits; I NEED it more and more and I can’t.
Activity….Check. Food cravings….Working on it. More time with Jesus….Soooo there and loving it. Of course I was super excited to find more gold from Paul when spending time in the Word today too. There are NO accidents. He says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers (ahem….Gidget), in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2
Paul urged me to offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God because it is my spiritual act of worship. THIS is just what I needed to hear. (Thanks Paul). When I am in church I can never sing during the beginning of the service when we worship him before our pastor speaks. I cry. I can’t even “Milli Vanilli” it without tearing up. (Note: Milli Vanilli was a musical duo from the 90s that lip synced everything and won a Grammy before anyone realized it; later stripping them of the award). But… I digress. I have recently realized that just looking at the projected words on the screen and knowing how they speak to me…gets me choked up. But Jesus knows that my heart sings above the congregation in perfect tune and doesn’t judge me for not moving my lips. That being said and reading Paul’s words, I was reminded that there are many ways to worship him and I have the opportunity to forget what the world is about and give him what He is waiting for; renewing my mind for what is possible.
I know what I need to do and am so grateful to have so many illustrations and examples of just “how to” do it. But it is one thing to know the right thing to do and another to live it. James was the epitome of this realization and put it best: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-26. I just need to remember that I can’t be too hard on myself but continue to move forward regardless of what the scale says, what others tell me, and what happens around me. I just need to do what I say I am going to do and not blame others for the challenge I feel when it comes to the cravings. Admittedly blaming Eve of all people (yes….Eve of Adam and Eve) for the downfall of ALL women. I thought it completely appropriate when I read Lysa’s devotion for today when she mentions Eve by name too. I literally giggled and was in awe as I opened the “Day Four” Email…. “Are Cravings Chasing You?”

I share with you: “Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. While the object that enticed her might have been an apple, the core of her struggle was that she wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil. The very downfall of humanity was caused when the first woman surrendered to a craving to eat something she wasn’t supposed to eat, and to pursue a power that she was never intended to wield.”  Whew…. At the risk of sounding like we are ganging up on Eve, I am soooo glad I’m not the only one that “went there” to notice that Eve started it all. Darn her. 
But today was a productive day and a fun day, crossing a few things off my To Do list; the most alarming of those things being a “Before” picture. What the heck? There is no “Before” picture without an “After” picture. Taking a picture now is truly just a chunky girl on the receiving end of a camera. Um…. Okay. But, after just five minutes I figured out how to use the time delay feature on my camera and began clicking away. Still working on the lighting and placement since it was just placed on my ironing board with a ten second “Ready, Set, Go.” In looking at them now (and hiding in a random folder on my laptop) I am holding my breath that there will be a couple “After” pictures to redeem myself.
I dress in layers and love mixing colors and patterns so that is handy, but… I would like the option of NOT having to wear so many tops or jackets to hide the “muffin top”…. proof that jeans are entirely too tight in some spots and saggy in others. So, truth be told, there is a “Current” picture that will hopefully be called a “Before” picture when the faith and footwork has been put to the test and an “After” picture will be, not only necessary, but appreciated and posted.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day Three: I Was Made for More....Thirty Seconds at a Time

I have been guilty of not taking enough time for myself….as have many of us. But if my husband, friends, kids, church, parents, or….pretty much anyone needed me for something, I would be there for them; as long as they needed, without question. Why is that?
Today our Small Group discussion was “Slowing Down and Celebrating.” It may sound a bit ironic at first listen but it is truly about slowing down and celebrating the moments as they happen…. even making those moments happen in the first place.
My husband was given a great opportunity to work in aerospace, even if is just for a short time until we see what God’s plan for him is. He left for Oklahoma on Monday and will be gone for a month; needless to say, I have a lot of time to myself. His opportunity has created an opportunity for myself…. in this journey of craving Jesus more than anything else. With no one to cook for, clean up after, or sit by the door for…waiting to get home from work, there is no excuse for me to not spend more quality time with Jesus or personal time for myself. I miss my husband bunches but I have to remind myself that I can’t sit at home and use that as a reason not to be selfish about wanting more for myself; more of what Jesus wants for me.
Lysa’s devotion today was a great reminder of Jesus wanting more for me, of being made for more; not settling when it comes to myself, not putting “me” after all others, and not being okay with being “chunky” saying “God loves me just the way I am…. I doubt he cares about what size I am.” And I actually was to that point before discovering this study, even pretending to be happy with the 200ish, size 16 frame that was my reality. No more….because He made me for more.
According to Lysa: “We were made for victory. Sometimes we just have to find our way to that truth.” He wants success for us in EVERY area of our life and this is one where I was definitely lacking so I vowed to Him, to my husband, and to myself to start making healthier lifestyle changes and not give up if results weren’t immediate (which I secretly hope they are).
Part of my “homework” and “footwork” for the Made to Crave study is activity. Changing to a healthier lifestyle means reading more of His word, learning what he wants for me, eating better, and getting in some exercise. I went from justifying I “have curves in all the right places” to being grateful for there being “Curves in all the right places”; Curves Fitness Clubs for women of course. They are everywhere and for that I am thankful because that means there is one very close to home so I could join and participate. They have a couple of different mottos that found me right where I was. The first one: “Stronger Together” – If I share my strength with just one woman, I can help her become fit, gain confidence, and avoid disease. Together we can make the world one million women stronger. The other motto that I see as I walk in the door or look at the clock: “Be ready to amaze yourself.” I smile as I add to it….  Be ready to amaze yourself and glorify Him.
I mentioned before my skepticism about Curves really being a work out that would work for me; although hoping it would prove me wrong because it is the ONLY “gym” close enough to my house to get to every day and really commit to. Just like my relationship with Jesus, I soon realized that you get out of it….what you put into it. The Curves workout is unique because you elevate your heart rate by working hard on the strength training machines and maintain your heart rate by moving lively on the recovery boards. The recovery boards are placed between the strength training stations so you’ll use them several times during a single circuit. There are at least a dozen of various machines “in the circuit” with recovery boards between each one. Curves works because it gives you a complete cardio and strength-training workout in just 30 minutes, where you can burn up to 500 calories every time. The circuit is made up of resistance machines that work every major muscle group, two muscles at a time. And with a circuit coach to teach and motivate, you’re sure to reach your fitness goals in no time. Whether you want to lose weight and inches, gain energy or tone up, the Curves circuit with work for you. (Information taken from

My skepticism was simple: How could sitting around in a circle, changing “stations” every thirty seconds really work? But after three workouts this week and a commitment to go six days a week for at least thirty minutes each day, I am excited at the possibility. I am going to improve my physical fitness by doing for “me” thirty seconds at a time. I am going to improve my spiritual fitness by committing to more times of solitude with “Him”.
Every time I get to my Curves, I walk in ready to amaze myself and glorify Him. With each push of my legs or pulling of arms or simply running/boxing in place on the recovery board, I want to give 110% for Him which is better than any personal trainer hovering over me. No… I am not saying that Cardboard Jesus goes with me and pushes me harder but I will do more for him than anyone else that could push me.
Paul says: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which God has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19
For a long time I felt I held no value; but in finding my relationship with Jesus and deciding to “amaze myself and glorify Him”, I have found the promise of my glorious inheritance.
Thanks Paul.  =D

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day Two: Counting Gummy Bears

This morning was another great morning and another great opportunity to “Win for Him.” What could be better than losing weight with a Christ Centered program? Glowing on the inside and out and being immersed in His word while doing it. Woohoo.
I love that Jesus finds a way to use our past challenges for His glory and it is still hard for me to believe that the same “person” I avoided for so long forgave me when I couldn’t forgive myself and now, I do whatever I can to forgive those around me and share the mercy and grace He gave so freely. That being said… it would be really great to lose weight, be an example, and give Him the glory not just for what he has pulled me through from my past but for walking next to me as I learn to crave him more than anything else around me. Since accepting a relationship with Him I have done my best to strive to please him by soaking up what I can in His word; forming a true friendship with him and a crush on Paul in the process. I have started and stopped many things in my past 42 years but my love and interest in him has only gotten stronger in the past 16 months, never wavering…. always wanting more. I am far from being the most spiritually fit I can be but I will never stop striving for it. Why then am I so complacent when it comes to my physical fitness? Shouldn’t my outsides match my insides? You betcha… and it starts with this bible study. I loved, and completely saw myself in something Lysa said in her devotion yesterday…. “I was a woman who loved Jesus. Why couldn’t I figure this out? I had found victory in so many areas of my life, but this area alluded me.”
I know that He sees me as a success story already but what if I could give him a little bit more? What if the way my jeans fit and my arms looked could be credited to him too? I know that he celebrated when I returned “home” but imagine the celebration that could be had if I could run to him without my legs rubbing together; crossing a real finish line and breaking the tape as I run into his arms like long lost friends after entirely too much time apart.
I needed milk and a food scale today. Imagine my surprise when the local drugstore didn’t have the scale, even in the “As Seen On TV” aisle. Picked up a few things without giving up on finding the scale….that I never found. (Thank God mommy ordered me one and Cardboard Jesus will be on the porch waiting for it on Monday.) This is only Day Two but the snacks were screaming my name…I ignored them all. I never noticed the product placement before either. Do we really need four aisles devoted to Easter basket fillers; candy, grass, toys, and plastic eggs? I never really thought I “craved” food or snacks but in not being able to have them, they seem to be everywhere and I found myself craving them more than ever. 
Crave: [kreyv] verb, craved, craving
-       verb (used with object)
1.    to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly: to crave sweets; to crave affection.
2.    to require; need: a problem craving prompt attention.
3.    to ask earnestly for (something); beg for.
4.    to ask (a person) earnestly for something or to do something.

-       verb (used without object)
5.    to beg or plead (usually followed by for).
I wanted the Hostess Ding Dongs greatly. My “Inner Gidget” was begging for the Lays potato chips even though they clearly aren’t ever accused of being a health food. I earnestly thought to myself that I could have the Chips Ahoy cookies and no one would know the difference. Who am I kidding? He would know. He knows my heart and thoughts even before I do. Keep walking. Get out of that aisle and grab the milk. Done. I nearly made it to the cashier before spotting a .99 cent bag of Gummy Bears. I surveyed the package for the nutritional information but being new to the whole Weight Watchers Points Plus thing, couldn’t figure out the number of points per serving. They are little and chewy; harmless little bears. How bad could it be? Even Jesus likes juicy treats once in a while, right? When I got home I counted out the serving size of 17 Gummy Bears and was ecstatic to learn they were just four points; totally worth it.
The “Made to Crave” bible study is just that. It isn’t a diet scheme or weight loss manual; but a study to crave God and not food.  That being said…. It is up to us to pick our own healthy eating plan and I picked Weight Watchers, a program that has been worked very successfully by my mom and my mother in law. I want what they were able to accomplish… set a goal and make it happen by healthier eating and using this program to get there. Today was the first day I attempted the points calculating and even though I am still toying with various options in my profile and plan manager pages, I am having alot of fun plugging in foods and building menus. With all of these tools at my disposal…. how can I let that snack aisle get to me? I am allowed 34 points each day on the program and was given my first goal to reach of 211. I know with His help I will reach it. What does Jesus have to say to encourage me? 
Be bold. Be transparent. Be the spokesperson I created you to be.
I will NOT let Him down.
Lysa’s devotion today said “Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only One capable of satisfying them.” The choice has been made. For me there is no other. It’s out there. It is not about me but about Him. And to think that WHEN this works I can do it ALL over again with other friends and they can share with their friends, and they with theirs. Healthier bodies and healthier relationships with Him is a great thing to share.  
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 19 of a young rich man that wants to follow Him. Lysa summed it up as I, too, would imagine it… “I want you to give up the one thing that you crave more than me.” I don’t know about anyone else….but I realized today that there may have been a few things I craved more than Him without even realizing it.
To borrow from the “Crave” definition once more:  I long for Him and desire to be closer to Jesus than ever before. I require more of myself to show Him I am worthy of the love He has for me. I ask earnestly…I beg for help in making the best of this opportunity that has been given to me.
I will be bold. I will be transparent. I will be the spokesperson He created me to be

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome to Day One: I'm Craving Him....Come with Me.

Over coffee a couple weeks ago, I told my best friend that I wanted to make a few physical changes. What she shared next, almost “matter of fact-ly” set so many great things in motion.

Lynnette told me that her mom and dad were reading and following a new bible study called “Made to Crave… Satisfying your deepest desire with God not Food.” When she told me that it was written by Lysa TerKeurst and had a participant guide, a book, AND a DVD… I knew I had to learn more. I checked out her website at and downloaded a free chapter… I was sold. So much so that I had to call mom and tell her all about it. The next thing I knew, within a few days, mom called me to say “You have a package coming.” She ordered the Made to Crave set for me and she and my sister were going to do the study too. How cool is that?
This study is more than the latest weight loss gimmick and doesn’t have a food plan to go with it; you get to pick the one you think will work best for you. It is a “How to Guide” for being the person God intended us to be.
I am blessed even to have a friend do this with me. I met Kathy just a few weeks ago in our Small Group, I jokingly told her in the driveway as we left that first night…. “Just you watch, we are going to be best friends. I just know it.” Who knew that a bible study like this would bridge that gap and make it a reality? We are going to be accountable to each other and use this book as more than just a study to get to the best “us” we can be for Him, but to be the best “us” we can be for each other.
So, yes…today is a Wednesday and it was Day One. Not a typical day to make a life change but nothing He has done through me in the last 16 months has been typical… why start now?
I slept in today, easing into my new life in Him. I took the dog out and High Fived my Cardboard Jesus when we came back in the house. (I could have sworn I saw him wink at me as if to say “We got this kid…. Make it happen.”). Donned the sweats and sweatshirt, made my list of things to do, and out the door I went. When I made it to the gym, I realized that my pink and grey NIKEs were on the ottoman in my library and NOT on my feet. No…I did not walk out into the snow with just my socks on; Curves frowns upon slushy feet in sneakers walking in and getting right onto the machines, so you need to wear snow boots and change into your work out shoes… kinda hard to do when they are placed neatly on an ottoman in a room two miles away. Oops. I giggled to myself and asked (out loud) “What would Jesus do?”  =)  So, I went across the street to the salon and treated myself to a manicure and pedicure. Can’t argue with Cardboard Jesus, right? The next two hours were spent pampering and reading, highlighting, and taking notes in the margins of my “Made to Crave” book.
I slinked out of my black furry snow boots, scrunched up the sweats to the knees, nestled into my massage chair, and dipped my feet into steamy hot, bubbling water. It wasn’t enough to just relax with my book….I had to boast of my decadent treat to Lynnette. When I asked Jesus what he would do in this scenario….calling her to brag was not the response, but I couldn’t resist sharing my surroundings to my best friend when she had several little ones under the age of six running circles around her.

After sitting just ten minutes, two girlfriends walked in together for pedicures of their own. Note to self: Bring Lynnette next time….leave the kids at home. When lotions and potions….massaging and rubbing began I couldn’t help but imagine the perfect analogy; if “Grace” had a physical feeling….it would be a pedicure. I didn’t earn this afternoon to myself and I couldn’t think of anything I did to deserve it; just like “Grace”. I giggled to myself as I remembered my Revelation bible study; Jesus’ angel appearing to John and speaking in symbols. Yes, if “Grace” could be described as a feeling or symbol…. It could easily be a pedicure; a symbol that any woman could completely relate to.
Feeling freshly painted and relaxed, I went home to get my sneakers and then backtracked to the gym. I signed up for a yearlong membership and committed to coming every day; working the circuit at Curves as the music played and women filed in one at a time. I was skeptical and honestly didn’t think that the hydraulic machines could really do much since there were no weights hanging from bars and you shifted stations every thirty seconds but the workout was invigorating and challenging and I am excited to become a regular there and take advantage of all that they have to offer.
Next stop was to the coffeeshop to order a smaller, skinnier version of my favorite “foo foo” coffee. Much like the gym, I thought, “How good can it be if all the good stuff is out of it?” I got the smallest cup they offered, skim milk, and no whipped cream. I have to admit I didn’t mind the milk change but when she asked if I wanted the topping, I hesitated. She smiled as she noticed my inner struggle. I said “I would love the topping but know that it would be too much like eating a Twinkie and drinking a Diet Coke. You better leave it off.” I was shocked at just how yummy the tasty chocolate coffee was and felt tricked into liking it like telling our kids that something good for you….really can be good. I took my very small cup and headed to the grocery store to buy healthier choices to fill my pantry and fridge.
The market started off peachy since you walk into the produce section and many items there are good for you. But when I had to pass the bakery to get to the meat department, the craving for coconut cake was almost too much to handle. I admit that I slowed down but didn’t stop, not wanting to see something too irresistible on the first day. I was a good girl….getting my yogurt, water, cucumber, salad, a few diet meals, and some “must haves” for my new doggie. Paulie isn’t watching his weight but he does need something to nibble on as I have my meals. It was only when I reached the checkout and began unloading my cart onto the conveyor belt that I immediately felt like an old single lady with only her dog to keep her company. My items clearly said lots about me that I quickly had to make excuses for. It was only then that I noticed I never put my wedding ring on today either….remembering it was still on my bedside table, landing there just before bed, alone….last night. The cashier told me that I didn’t have to take the water out next time since it was so heavy and I had to say “Oh…. Thank you. My husband is out of town for a while and he usually lifts that for me.” Huh??? Lol…. I am sure that she didn’t care one way or the other but I had to make sure she knew I wasn’t the chunky older lady with just a dog waiting for her at home at night. I smiled to myself as I headed out the door. It was just one of those days. One of those productive, life changing, really making something happen kinda days.

Lysa’s program includes more than the book, the participant’s guide, and the DVD. It also includes a 21 Day Challenge. Today is Day One. The title of today’s devotion “Chocolate is my Comfort and my Deliverer.” Oops… I had a chocolate coffee. <gulp>

Loved her reference to size…. “You are beautiful and loved, no matter if you’re a size zero or a size thirty. You are beautiful just the way you are. But God loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to stay in a place of defeat.”  I know it….whew. I have never been a zero or a thirty but have been a fourteen/sixteen for more years than I can care to remember. I love how Lysa gives her “number” in open honesty in the first chapter of the book. But then I love anyone that is transparent for others to follow and so I, too, am “outing” myself. Before heading out today, I stepped on the scale (out of range of the mirror of course) and the numbers tipped at 215. Huh? I was so proud of myself for losing weight, once being as much as 265, that I guess 215 looked pretty good for a while….for a while. Oh well…. Have to start somewhere and it truly is just a number (one I hope goes down though). Part of joining Curves included an assessment with medical questions, another visit to the scale, and a measuring tape taking a series of measurements all over.....all over. I had just gotten used to the 215 number when their digital version blinked 223.  I whispered to Jesus “Guess we have our work cut out for us. You ready for this?”
Today’s devotion goes on to finish with…. “The process of getting healthy has to be about more than just losing weight and focusing on ourselves. It’s about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change for the right reasons.” I have not done this for the right reasons before; always living superficially and wanting to please others more than myself…and there were many. But this time I have amazing resources available to me; friends, this bible study, membership to Curves and Weight Watchers online, a supportive husband, and doing it for the RIGHT reasons. When asked to give two goals as part of my assessment, I immediately responded…. “I want to be as physically fit as I am spiritually fit.” (Where did that come from? I surprised myself and tried not to look too shocked at what just came out of my mouth.) My next goal… “I want my outside to match my inside. I have this awesome love for God and feel energized inside and I want it to be apparent on the outside too.” (WOW…. Really? No doubt that this is a "God thing" because it surely wasn't something I could have come up with on my own.)  She agreed that they were two really good goals and before I could think about what I was saying, I replied…. “I know, right?” We both laughed. When I walked out of the gym and breathed in the chilly Michigan air, I knew this time was different. My goals weren’t the superficial “I want to zip up my jeans without laying down on the bed” or “I want to wear a belt and tuck in my shirt”… (Those were real goals I gave years ago when asked…. Although those would be nice perks to the program.)
Psalm 139 said it…. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I look forward to learning more about craving Him and not food and being fearfully and wonderfully successful in this part of my journey.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just Another Road Trip - Living Obediently

To say that our lives are one unexpected experience after another would be an understatement, but we have learned that each moment is part of His plan and we never pretend to know what is going to happen next….let alone the reasons behind them.
I have been home just over two months. About three weeks after I got back, my husband was laid off via phone call just two days before Christmas. Weeks before his contract was due to end, he asked his supervisor and liaison at the contract house, if his assignment was secure or would be ending. He was told his work was good and that no decisions were made one way or another but he would be the first to know as soon as anything was solid. On the last day before the company shut down for a week, he worked a normal day before coming home at 4:00pm…by 5:02pm the phone was ringing and it was his contract house that placed him at his latest assignment. They were calling to inform him that he was no longer needed, asked if he had any “personal affects” left in the office, and said “Don’t worry, you are eligible to receive unemployment compensation.” It was not the news we hoped for but a scenario we prayed about often in the weeks before. We took solace in knowing that this was part of His plan for us and not for us to try and figure out.
We have a clear vase in the foyer near our front door. We put worries and drama on pieces of paper, fold them into quarters and throw them inside. Every folded note is a reminder of things that we can’t control but know Jesus is working on behind the scenes….. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
We wrote yet another note to Him, placed it into our vase and prayed. We knew that when we called on him, he listened to us and we promised to continue to live by faith and footwork…. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12.
Our faith and footwork motto has been extended to include….living obediently. We have had faith that Jesus will provide for us…. he always has. My husband has been diligently searching for a job online, attending the JobShop at our church each week, networking with up to a dozen contract houses, and going to job fairs; fulfilling the footwork part and now Jesus has asked us to take that a step further. A company found his resume online, phoned him, interviewed him and then offered him a position in aerospace…IN OKLAHOMA. It was not part of our plan but we know that it isn’t about us but what Jesus does for us….no longer being behind the scenes but asking us to be bold and go where He directs us, wherever that may be.
The job is just three to six months…to start but we are grateful for whatever He gives to us and jumped at this opportunity. Tomorrow my husband is on a flight to Oklahoma and my Cardboard Jesus has already packed up his backpack and will be boarding the plane with him. I was gone for six months and we vowed never to be apart again. But, we now know that the distance and time between us then was also part of his plan and my husband being gone for a month will seem like no time at all. Where we once were questioning his unemployment for two months we realize just how grateful we were for so much time together before this amazing opportunity. “In their hearts humans plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Jesus…my life is yours. All that I have is because of your grace. This job that you have blessed our family with, no matter where to or for how long…is all because of you. We are living obediently and do not pretend to know what your plan is for us but always promise to follow the path that you light for us. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

I have never lived on my own. I went right from high school to college to the army to a husband. Tomorrow it will be me, Cardboard Jesus, and Paulie…my new cocker spaniel named after “You Know Who.” My husband will be gone a month and then home for two weeks then gone for a month, etc. Praise to Him for this awesome turn of events. We will continue to share His grace as he has shown it to us giving a whole new meaning to “Paying it Forward.”