Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fit for a Princess

With the desire to get in shape, I have not wanted to purchase any new clothes, but I am going someplace special tomorrow night. None of my dressy tops fit me as they are too small these days. My dresses have not fit for a while, nor have my skirts. So, since I am going to a Christmas show, I long to wear something feminine and fashionable. Maybe it is a girl thing, but is it wrong to want to feel pretty? Since I have gained so much weight over the years, I feel frumpy and well...ugly and not the least bit feminine at all. With this mindset, it is difficult for me to muster up the will to go above and beyond... presentable.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I am going to a Christmas show, but not just any show, it is a yuletide celebration featuring our city’s symphony. An extravagnza, really. Maybe it is selfish, but perhaps it is my feminine spirit wanting to wear the best I have. Only, my best is not fitting yet. With the desire to wear something pretty tomorrow night, I knew I had a window of opportunity to shop this afternoon. Well, on the way home from a birthday party, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to look.  A good friend of mine gave me a promotional gift card from Kohl's that she got in the mail and was not going to use. It expires today, so...I decided to fight the holiday hustle and bustle and went to Kohl's, just check things out. Even though I had the gift card, my cash flow is low, but I thought maybe I could find something fairly nice on my shoestring budget.

And I did, but I found even more…here is the story:
There it was, hanging up on the wall, a blouse fit for a PRINCESS! The recessed lighting above shone down on the textile marvel and I think I heard the singing of a distant choir. With bated breath, I reached up to see if there would be one for me. And there was! Unable to contain my little gasps of joy, I carefully freed the blouse from the display arm. Holding it out front of me, I admired the colors found only in deep forests and the pattern created by a genius imagination. Delight and elation consumed me as the price captured my vision. It was too good to be true! With haste, I made my way through the maze of garment racks to the price check machine. The sale price was $14.70!? Minus the $10.00 card, my Princess blouse cost me $4.70! I could just cry! The most beautiful princess blouse in the whole entire world is hanging in my bedroom. It is a rare find, a treasure indeed. What a blessing!

I know I bought my current size, but finding this beautiful blouse is more incentive for me to keep on keepin’ on!  I’m tired of feeling frumpy instead of feminine. Since there are more clothes to choose from in the smaller sizes, I hope my inner fashionista rises up, to help motivate me in my weight loss endeavors! As I shrink in size, I hope to have more shopping experiences that turn out to be adventures like today instead of a perfunctory chore.  With God’s help, I can do it!  I want to do it!  Not for the clothes, I want to be the me God intended me to be: healthy and feminine.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

If the blouse fits...wear it!

Day 2 of my journey to better health.  I am trying to come up with a clever name, but in due time.  So, before I set out on my journey, I was preparing by beginning to track what I ate and the exercise I was doing.  Knowing I had been putting in some effort, I tried on a blouse I purchased a while ago but never wore, but then, I got too big to wear it.  However, whoo hoo!  I tried it on today day and it fits!!!  And when I put on my jeans, I didn’t have to suck it in.  Joy!!!

Before I get too excited, this morning, I could not resist ordering French toast for breakfast.  I knew I would have to pay the piper later, but I am still paying… I already walked for 40 minutes. After tracking my calories and exercise, I still need to make up 228 calories.  So, I need to do some aerobics tonight before bed. So, I guess I will finish up this blog, work on my final paper for class a bit, do some aerobics, read my Bible, pray, and go to bed.
Though I am thrilled by the blouse discovery, I know the journey is just beginning. Looking back on today, I realize I cannot continue to make bad breakfast decisions like I did this morning. The excess calories in the French toast caused a ripple effect into my day.  Lesson learned.  I am not going to beat myself up for it, but I am going to think twice about French toast because the blouse fit today!  I want to wear it and keep wearing it until the blouse is too big for me! J

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Changing Focus

June…the last time I wrote in my blog was June?  Oh boy!  I knew it had been awhile, but six months?  Whoa…  Well, there have been some transitions in my life lately, the kind that take some extra struggle and effort to push through in order to stay on course.  So, since it has been awhile, I suppose now is a great time to change the focus of my blog. 

When I wrote in the past, it was usual randomness, but as of today, December 1, 2012 I have decided to make major changes in my life as the result of the struggles over the past year or so. For most of my life, I’ve not sought direction for my life’s journey.  I’ve kind of wandered…letting life just happen to me.  However, this past year has been a time of recalibration resulting from encouragement and admonishments from a variety of people, a journey to the other side of the world, and taking a class called Perspectives.
The combination of all these things culminated in a decision to make changes because I have growing clarity of not so much where I am going, but who I am following.  That is the person of Jesus Christ. Before you roll your eyes and click out of this blog, let me assure you I am not going to beat you over the head with religion or religious mumbo jumbo.  Rather, I am going to share what is happening in my life right now and how my faith in God has been the catalyst.  It has nothing to do with religion, but has everything to do with finally seeing the truth of the ultimate purpose of my life… that is to glorify God in what I say and do. 

The big question is am I bringing glory to God in my life? Honestly, perhaps some but not to the degree of my potential! God gave me a creative mind, a sense of humor, a flair for writing, a love of words, a capacity to love, an ability to help, the need to collaborate, the enjoyment of entertaining, an interest in other cultures, a heart consoled by music, a passion for purpose which is the desire to have my life count for something…something that matters…something that lasts.  A legacy that is eternal.  Not for me, but for God.  But…I’ve settled. 
Up until the past couple of years, I had settled for less than God’s best for me, sometimes realizing it, sometimes not. Then for a couple years glimmers of changes and glimpses of “maybe if’s” would pop up, but they would not last.  Then, I started working as a homeland missionary.  I had no idea how my first year would be so challenging to literally everything in my life. In addressing those challenges, I found many were interconnected and weaved into my psyche and not so surprisingly into my constant battle with weight issues.  It seems to me the challenge I need to address first is my weight.  There is so much I could write about which is why I am changing the focus of this blog. 

My unhealthiness is as much of a spiritual problem as it is an emotional and physical one. So, my blog is intended to document my weight loss endeavor. By chronicling the spiritual, emotional, and physical battles, my hope is to inspire and encourage others.  Addressing the spiritual problems head-on, I believe I can win the war against my weight. Bringing God into it only makes sense because I already mentioned I want my life to bring glory to God.  Right now, I do not do that by being unhealthy…very unhealthy. Getting real with God is best way to get real about my weight. 
So, my weight loss plan begins with God and prayer. When I pray for help in losing weight, God does not reply with eat right and exercise.  He takes me to places in my life that are painful and difficult. God is revealing the spiritual nature of my battle by taking me into my pain. If I do not address the pain in my life, I will not achieve life-long transformation as I so desire. So it starts with prayer…then eating right and exercise.

As far as diets and exercise programs, there are tons of them and there is a ton of advice.  The advice is as varied as the humans seeking it.  So, I am not following or promoting any particular plan or program for eating or exercise. 

This is my plan:
Pray…talk to God! The best counselor and physician I know of.

Pray…Thank God for my healthy food and eat it with a grateful heart

Pray before and if possible during exercise.  Thank Him for protecting my heart and lungs despite my destructive behavior so I am able to exercise now

Track it all… thank God for successes and failures. Treat failures as learning opportunities. 

Drink plenty of water…thank God I have clean drinking water

Sleep 7-8 hours at night…thank God that I have a bed to sleep on, a pillow for my head, and for a roof over my head.

Read my bible – research what the Bible says on health and poor health.  Thank God that I have the ability to read and to own a Bible.

Find accountability partners willing to be tough and speak truth in love.  Thank God for these people.

Form Online Community – dedicated to prayer!

Pray against the negativity that will come swooping in

Pray against sabotage, direct and indirect

Pray for strength to stand firm in my convictions

Keep my eye on the prize

Pray for the grace to run the race

Defeat negativity by remembering God’s goodness in all things

Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness.  Remember I am doing this for God and not for me.  My improving health is just a by-product of my desire to bring God glory through my life and living it as He intended me to live. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Kind of Like a Dandelion...

The time has just blown by!!  I cannot believe I have not written in my blog since April 25!  My last blog post indicated I needed to start viewing my life in the perspective of a story.  Well... lately my story has certainly been a doozie!

There is no way to detail everything that has happened since April 25, but I can tell you for the first time in my life, I can actually say I love what do for a career.  Loving my career was the result of viewing my life through the perspective of a story, not just any story, though... history.  Everyone has a story to tell, but I was not viewing my daily activities and comings and goings as part of a larger story.  The people I work with every day have their own stories but together, we impact various parts of the world in which we work.  I can bring joy, peace, love, kindness, gentleness into my daily activities or I could choose to bring jealousy, anxiety, judgment, intolerance, or a host of other negative attitudes with me to work everyday.  Believe me, I've been the latter kind of person in a work environment (even this one) and looking back I see what a waste of flesh it was to be that way nearly every day.  I was in a rut or steeped in self-loathing. Or something...

As I have been attempting to take stock of my life and realize what I do every day plays into the bigger story of history, I know I must choose daily what path I will take.  Do I want to give or do I want to take?  Should I invest in this person or that person or both? What if I could make a difference in the world?  What if what I did mattered?  What I have learned from viewing my life in the context of a story is everything we do matters!  Every choice affects another person's story.  Seemingly insignificant choices have the potential to be...a spark ...a catalyst ...a spring board answer to someone's prayer.  They also have the power to be ...a worst nightmare ...a bad day ...the last straw ...the last chance.  We just never know.  

So what does this all mean.  What am I talking about?  Well, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and as follower,  I must be willing to do what He showed us to do in the Gospels.  Love and forgive.  Help and have faith.  Submit to Him and say lead me.  Ask God to reveal himself and listen, live, and love.  What I have yet to mention, though, is the one thing that frightens me the most.  That is the concept of "dying to self".  To be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ is to say, not my will be done but yours.  It means giving up what I want to let someone else have it.  What is the best part of "dying to self"?  It means once I die to myself, my dreams are not my own, my life is not my own.  It means I am about to really live the life intended for me to live!

My words are nothing new; the words are ancient.  According to the scriptures, I must "die" to live again!  Not physically, though someday I will, but spiritually, to become part of a bigger picture where I can freely give of myself for a greater cause, something "more than this".  What does this look like?  To me, it is sowing seeds of hope and faith into some other person's life, when all seems lost to them.  It's planting seeds of love and care, when there is no evidence of reciprocation.  It's extending grace when it is undeserved.  Being aware of all the things happening all around allows the Holy Spirit to give flight to my dreams of making a difference in the world around me.  It's kind of like a dandelion...  All it needs is just a little wind to die and live again. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feet Don't Get Cold In Fairy Tale Snow

twilight... wide open spaces, misty meadows, and pristine forests all blanketed with snow...  the unknown... the villain... the hero and heroine... danger... resolve... valor… triumph…*sigh*

Give me a fairy tale and I am whisked away into a world of magic and make-believe, loving every minute of the suspense weaved with adventure and danger.  Fascinated by these stories, I am often left wondering, are these tales intended for entertainment only?  Or could they also be metaphors or parables of how we should view our lives?  Should I have a life story of epic proportions?  I think so, because as I see it, my life is more than just me.  My life has eternal consequences and what is more epic than eternity?

When I view my life as a series of events, most of them seem very routine and, quite frankly, boring.  I’ve made safe choices so the rate of success could be quite high. Not that I figured it out before making the decisions, I believe my sub-conscious steered those.  Yet, when I look at my life through the lens of a fairy tale, it's little wonder why my life is a bit stagnant.  Why I feel like I am stuck in a rut…  Why my soul feels weighted and downcast…

Sure, the essence of life is inherently wonderful, but something is missing in mine.  I think I know what it is, but fear I might be considered insane if I mention it.  But I must take the risk… My life is missing the adventure I was born for!  This is not a novel concept.  I have been reading about this kind of reaction to the perfunctory life.  Perfunctory.  Just uttering the word renders me sleepy with apathy.  Why bother? What’s the point of a routine life? It’s simple and predictable, but God gave me the gift of imagination and the need to create, which is neither simple nor predictable.  It seems as though I have been under some sort of spell and need to fight against the mechanical me and, in triumph, wear the Imago Dei.  To wear the image of God that was intended for me is something to fight for and live for 'til the end!

So my challenge this week is to take the time and view my life through the perspective of a story.  If I look at my life in the context of a fairy tale with the backdrop of the imagery described at the start of this blog, maybe I can break the spell.  I need to see my life in the context of the supernatural to get the full experience of what is really going on, right?   It is in the supernatural realm where the battles are fought according the Bible and I believe I am in a fight for my life right now.  In my mind, the supernatural realm must be kind of like the fairy tale world, where things are not as they appear and some things defy nature, reason, or expectation.  Okay... so... In my imagination, it's twilight...there are wide open spaces, misty meadows, and pristine forests all blanketed with snow... I sense a battle looming... I will stand my ground and fight because feet don't get cold in fairy tale snow. 

Ephesians 6:10-13 " strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Humility - A Most Attractive Feature

Humility is the most attractive feature a man can possess.  It has taken me years to derive at this personal opinion, but watching a chick flick last night with friends confirmed this in my mind.  The leading man in the film we watched a word...dull.  Flat and boring.  Okay, that is three words.  But, he was distracting, but not in a good way.  His presence on the screen made it impossible to watch the gorgeous Italian scenery behind him.  In all fairness, maybe fifteen years ago, I may have thought he was the bees knees, but now at this season in my life...not a chance.  I was rewriting the movie in my mind all the way through and the leading man was no where in my script.

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-romance and I love the whole chick flick genre, but when the leading man's lines are laced with arrogance, I lose interest.  Much like I would in real life.  Confidence is one thing, arrogance another.  At one time, I may have found the dialogue funny and clever, but last night I found the leading man's comments belittling and insulting.  Perhaps I have been jaded by failed relationships.  Or maybe, just maybe, the recovery from the fallout from failed relationships has made me wiser.  The rose colored glasses have been replaced with a reality of what is really important in building a relationship.  Communication.  

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."  This is what the Bible says in Colossians 4:6.  Salt is more than a seasoning, it is a preservative too.  Additionally, in Matthew 5:13-15, we see the Bible calls us to be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the earth".  These are the kinds of notions that stir my little romantic heart.  The Bible and romance?  Can it be?  Why not?  It makes perfect sense to me.  

Communication, is the cornerstone of a relationship, at least for me and I am attracted to conversationalists.  Humility, as I mentioned before, is the most attractive trait, but following a close second is a sense of humor.  This is how I break it down and why the verses in the Bible solidify my thoughts on romance.  Humility can engage in conversation.  Arrogance cannot.  Wit is endearing.  Insults are not.  Humility is the light.  Wit may be the salt.  If the communication isn't happening and I am not sincerely laughing, what would be the point of a relationship?  I am to be salt and light to the world...How could I possibly be in a relationship, especially a romance, when the other person isn't already salt and light too?

This view of the world affects how I watch movies, especially the chick flicks.  The leading man cannot be over-the-top rude or arrogant, because that is not the least bit interesting no matter how cute he thinks he is.  There is no substance.  Nothing inspiring nor endearing.  The leading man must be humble and witty for a movie to be remotely plausible to me.  Those traits inspire and create a foundation to build upon.  Humility and wit (salt and light) is the fresh air in which a relationship can breathe and flourish.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Little Surprise

Tonight, some friends came over to my apartment to watch a chick flick.  Much to my surprise, one of my friends brought me some flowers!  She brought me flowers in place of candy snacks that were brought in for the movie.  I'm not eating sweets right now and so she thought I should have something for the movie.  How delightful!  How thoughtful too :)  The picture is of the flowers given to me.  Aren't they beautiful?    

Little surprises like these are blessings to my life.  I love how God works through others to touch our hearts.  It's awesome!