Thursday, December 12, 2013

Merry Christmas and Ha Ha Ha!

      Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.  The actual day is pretty great with family and food and surprises, but I think I enjoy the lead up more.  There is more smiles and more laughter.  I really enjoy the Christmas music that has been a part of my life for so many years.   It brings so many warm memories to mind.  I like saying Merry Christmas too.  It just seems so warm and good.  People respond in different ways to my cheer and that's just seems that (most) people are much nicer, friendlier, cheerful at this time of year....or maybe it's just the Christmas glasses I wear.

     Whatever the case, this year the lead up has been like a roller coaster and I find my emotions all over the place.  Grateful for a place to live, a warm bed, good friends and yet just as quickly beset by runaway dogs, broken dreams, harsh words.

      As I sit here trying to reconcile with the good and the bad, I come back to the reason for the season.  Jesus did not come to a perfect world.  I bet if we were given the task to come save the world, we would have taken one look and said no thanks.

     In spite of all of the cold shoulders, harsh words, homeless kids, broken families, and criminal acts, God saw each one of us.

     So just for today....this minute....I am going to put aside the requirement to be cheerful or the need for the right song to be playing and realize that God is with us, among the litter of lives as much, if not more, than the glitter of our lives.  He is among us whether we acknowledge it or not, and that makes me feel pretty special.

May the glow of the candle that brightens your face,
Give hope to someone who is running a race.
         Be kind and gracious for it could be you,
         Who needed some kindness and understanding too.
                    You may be having a jolly good time and have nary a need.
                    So give some love to someone else and God will bless your deed.
Then your heart will be full and overflowing, such a mystery.
Your joy will burst forth with HaHaHas for everyone to see!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Headlines of My Life

Some days, most days rather, the headline of my life would be highly optimistic.  I mean, I have been working on the dreary details for over eight years now and I really am getting to the bottom of it.  Other days, my eyes fill with extreme moisture as the reality of the past beats me over the head and punches me in the gut and kicks me in the shin and, well, you get the idea.  It ain't pretty.

This past week I have experienced some of both types of days.  I probably shouldn't be quite so open but if you are a writer, then you understand that sometimes writing it out lets the bitterness seep out too.

Last Friday, the headliner was:  My Oldest Son Got Married Without Me. 

There....I said it.  It is truly difficult to believe and even harder to admit.  I KNOW, better than anyone, that I have made mountains of mistakes and terrible choices, but this son is the one who was my first; the one who I birthed WITHOUT pain meds, taught to read, helped understand it's okay to change our minds, and filled out endless paperwork to get him into the college of his dreams.  I have loved him with all my heart (still do) and battled on his behalf many times.  Yet he chooses to keep his life concealed from me and has notified me in past years that we no longer have a relationship.  I am blocked on all of the social media where I have sought any tidbit of his life and wellbeing.  Despite my sincere pleas for forgiveness and offerings to address my sins, answer questions, just about anything short of shooting myself in the foot, it has all been to no avail.

So if I sound a wee bit forlorn, it is about more than Kenny G playing in the background.  My heart is a little squeaky this week.  My eyes are a bit moist too.

Then tonight, sort of in a fit of frustration, I "put on my face" and headed out for a bite to eat.  The "I Gotta Get Out of Here Before I DO Shoot My Own Self in the Foot" kinda headline.  It was by pure mistake that I found a family-owned Chinese hole-in-the-wall with the very best, freshest, crispest tasty and healthy.  It more than met the physical need but the heart was still crying out.

Pastor Joel was spot on today.  Joel Osteen is the lead pastor at a huge church in Houston and I have learned so much from watching his sermon on television and reading his books.  Today he said it is is not by accident that a car has a very large front window but, wouldn't you know it, a much smaller rear view mirror.  There is a reason for that.  If we were to keep looking where we have been we would eventually get stuck and cease moving forward.  As we slow down to look back and linger over the view in that small piece of glass, we are held back from the wide open future and choices of direction, speed, and new adventure.  Pastor Joel?  How do you know the exact words that I need to hear every time?  I believe God knows that I listen to you and God speaks through you to me.  You are right:  It is such a waste of a good life to keep reviewing the broken places.  People from the past, ones I have loved and lost, still see the old me.  They have no idea, nor are they willing to admit, that I just might have changed, grown, matured.

When I hear others criticizing and ridiculing other people, it is difficult for me to join in.  You see, if I believe in second, third or sixty-nine million chances for me, it is incumbent upon me to believe in the same for others.  It is so very wrong to demand forgiveness, grace, or patience if you are incapable of giving it yourself.  God has and continues to forgive me.  I must forgive others.  I must forgive my son.  Yes, even Lane Kiffen deserves another shot somewhere.

The fresh vegetables fed the body but it was upon leaving the restaurant that my soul found its much needed sustenance.

As I approached my car I saw that a large, white pickup truck had swung into the parking space next to my driver's door.  It was so close that I could not even begin to squeeze through to get into my car.  Normally this would frustrate me no end but I was distracted by the sickness in my heart.  I began to walk down the sidewalk looking for the truck's owner, stopping at each business, asking if anyone had such a truck.  At the third restaurant, where by now I should have been throwing things and making quite another headline, the waitress took pity on me.  She calmly and quietly walked around the restaurant until she found the young couple who belonged to the offending vehicle. 

Immediately the young man pointed his finger accusingly at his girlfriend and said, "It was her bad driving."  She gave him a small shove and handed him the keys.  He willingly walked out to move the truck and glanced at the lack of space between the two vehicles.  He agreed with a nod of his head and a smile that he could see the problem.

As he moved towards his truck I said apologetically to him, "I know I am fluffy but I just can't get in that small space."  His response?  He said, "You're fine.  No matter what they tell you, you are perfect."

I am always amazed at how my God works.  He knows how much I need words of affirmation.  Sometimes He sends Pastor Joel.  Other days He sends a song.  Other times He sends a friend.  Today ended with a new headline:  "Some Days God Sends a Stranger to Tell You What You Need to Know."

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Real and Ruby Red

At this very moment I am nearing the end of Day 3 on the Extreme Weight Loss meal plan.  Chris Powell, the show's host and author, calls it "Carb Cycling" and I am doing great!

Many of you, my friends, already know that I have tried to lose and have moaned about it for years.  I am sure you are wondering "why is this time any different?"  There are two things that have made me excited about "this" time.

1.  The simplest answer is that over the past year I have watched my close friend slowly but surely lose a pound here or there.  Every few days he would announce that he weighed a pound less and last week he hit a loss of 74 lbs!  He did not use the same meal plan that I am, not even close.  The point is that his steady attack, despite setbacks, and his willingness to accept sloooowww change worked for him.  During his process, I fully realized that it is a journey.  No, those aren't new words to me but they finally have meaning.

2.  I am tired of living a life that is LESS than what I want.  My "chubbiness" has kept me from so many of life's joys, the most important one is feeling good and being proud of myself.  With the loss of confidence it has cost me some job opportunities, relationships and more.  I feel like it is now or never....I want better for myself, if nothing else but the sheer joy of feeling alive. 

3.  The past few years have been quite a work in progress on my inner self.  I have come to a place, that became apparent first few days of the Extreme meal plan, that I am FINALLY doing it because I want it.  In the past, I was always dieting to earn someone else's approval, and even love.  The time spent healing was well worth this new ability to choose what is right for me.

And yes, that was three reasons.  I probably could keep going.  It's been a lifetime of self-doubt and anxiety and ill-fitting clothes.  With that comes a lot of baggage....ya know what I mean?

Why do I like this plan?  Chris Powell said it is about 80% what you eat and 20% about exercise.  This removes that horrible pressure to get out to the gym and attempt to feel normal in a place where the only normal seems to be lycra on the thighs and two tank tops layered, bra optional.  Well...I overstepped with the bra but I bet you can understand that one too, eh?  I am not saying no excercise and if you have seen the Extreme Weight Loss show you know that is far from the truth.  Those folks exercise their butts off.  This plan requires a minimum of a 5-minute workout that alternates between high intensity and low intensity by changing the exercise every 30 seconds.  Who can't do 5 minutes of movement?  Suffice it to say that if a healthy weight is based on 80% of what I eat, then I feel reassured and find hope that I can change despite my level of exercise.  I can follow the plan and let the desire to workout come on its own as I lose weight and feel more confident and ready to face the workout environment.

Also, this plan is all "real" food.  Measuring is done by looking at the palm of your hand, two fingers, a fist or two, and the size of your thumb.  No special tools and no special foods.  This makes it so simple to me.   I have all of those things with me at all times!  Best of all, it is lots of eating....just the right things.  Rotating through a schedule of Low Carb and High Carb days and a day of reprieve every week.  With 3 meals and 2 snacks each day I am at the end of Day 3 and I have yet to feel cheated or starving.

I truly believe that overcoming this battle is in my life plan.  I believe in God and I don't think He would work so hard to change the inner me if He didn't think we could get the whole job done!  I really want my outside to match the inside.  Right now, I don't believe the out of control body reflects the new and improved inner compass.

So hey, if you are out there and wanna tag along....keep reading.  My first goal is in 90 days, or on December 1st, to lose 50 lbs.  I have my ruby red slippers on and I am grabbing my power back and making the change I want to see!

"You always had the power, my dear.  You just had to find it out for yourself."  Glenda, the good witch, The Wizard of Oz.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Real Gurl Goes Extreme!

Many of you have watched or at least heard about the television show, Extreme Weight Loss.  I recently watched an episode at the urging of my daughter and I was immediately hooked!

As I have followed each episode I have always felt encouraged and happy to see the person overcome and change their lives in a huge way.  They always seem to feel great and extremely happy when their final goal is reached.  I sit there and watch jealously as they stand before an audience of friends cheering them for their hard work and dedication and experience the cat calls and whistles at how great they look.

Jealously?  Absolutely.  Being at a healthy weight is a battle that I have waged since second grade.  I am happy for the Losers but so long to experience what they must be feeling.  I can only imagine the high.  The fight for a healthy weight has gone on so long and at this age, it is time to DO something rather than sit in the recliner and watch everyone else have the "good" life.  I want to FEEL good!

A few weeks ago, before watching the show, I began to take the dogs up to the middle school where there is a track and lots of field.  As they were zooming around the field and sniffing every, single dandelion, I began to walk the track.  I wanted the dogs to move along and get done so I could just go back home.  It was a slow, lazy walk around one time to get the dogs moving.  I enjoyed letting the dogs run free rather than be on a leash so I returned the following day.  It was pleasant weather with a light breeze and we stayed an walked a bit longer.  Not "exercise" mind you....I was just walking the dogs.

But as the days went by and we continued this routine, I found that I felt better and decided to weigh myself.  I had lost 10 lbs!  Just that small change had made such a difference.  I was inspired and so I started watching what I was eating.  Watching the Extreme Weight Loss show improved my attitude and I felt inspired to find a way.  And who doesn't LOVE Chris Powell?  He is so positive and supportive.

So I am really interested in change but not knowing a food plan that would work for me.  I am like most people and have tried every plan.  Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, ephedrine pills, Sugar Busters, Fasting, No Fat, No Carbs, Nothing White, but I drew the line at the Pork Rind diet.  I mean, really, that is just gross to consider!  I had some success following Take Shape for Life.  I really believe in the program and I watched so many people I know lose massive amounts and look great.  I heard many reports of better health, less medication and happier living.  But like everything else, it wasn't the diet that didn't was ME!

Watching Extreme Weight Loss, there is something super encouraging to see someone weighing in at 500 lbs.   They must want change badly to be willing to share with the whole world their obesity, fat rolls, and favorite death inducing meals and feel the pressure to succeed.  They are suffering with medical issues, bad skin, aches and pains, heavy breathing and then to see them emerge  looking like a model, all within 2 hours (including commercials), is just amazing.  They withstand every emotional and physical complication and exercise their butts off!  But we never see much about the meal plan they follow.  So I did some digging, or Googling rather.  And that is where I am today....

Today I am standing on the stage of my life.  I am not dying but I am on high blood pressure meds, have cholesterol and other nagging issues.  I stand before you , my friends, on the high dive, challenged to jump!  I am afraid of failing again.  I can either go back down the loooonnnnngggg ladder or I can hold my breath and Just Do It.  This the first day of "Carb Cycling" and I jumped in! 

Stay tuned...Miracles do happen....and I am ready for mine!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Real Gurl Goes to College-Second Term: Can I Really Do This?

The beginning of the second or winter term happened to coincide with the sudden need to move.  It was a stressful time to move and start another semester.  My very wonderful family, friends and life group came through and helped me get packed, moved and settled.  As I started the first week of the term under the clouds of pressure, I got scared.

The old voice loves to chime in at these times. 

"See?  First term was just a fluke.  You knew you couldn't do this.  Who did you think you were anyway?  Maybe you should just get out now."

I battled through the first week and then came my resolve:  I would drop Algebra II, the class that needs most of my attention, and replace it with something less homework driven.  I would pick up the math again in the spring.  That seemed right to me.  I immediately felt better.  Speech, Women's Health and Psychology 202 would be fine.  Just replace the math.

So I look through the courses that I am lacking, trying to find a good replacement for math.  I must hurry because I have already missed the first week.  I needed a history class and saw religion and Old Testament as an option.  I was thinking how hard can it be?  I grew up hearing about this stuff every week in Sunday School.  We will read about the beginning, Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments....I would really like that!

My first day of class found me waiting outside of Room 1610 with about 20 other students.  This teacher is precise and doesn't show up until just at 9 a.m.  As he approaches, pulling his rolly cart behind him, I smile.  He is a tall, lean, elder man.  He has white hair that I have noticed always seems to fly away, glasses, a bushy white mustache and best of all....about 15 pens/pencils in his shirt pocket!  I had a sudden dose of "what did I do" and then decided to make the best of it.  By the end of the first class, I really liked him and found myself very engrossed in the lesson.  He is very serious about the Old Testament.

That said, this is the class that I am struggling in the most.  I enjoy reading and talking about the issues and storylines.  I like hearing about the history of the battles and how the Old Testament, Hebrew Bible and Roman Catholic Bible compare.

It's the tests!  I just can't seem to conquer the material when it comes to answering the questions.  I am halfway through the term and I am struggling to have a Cminus!  So this Tuesday, at his invitation, I am meeting with him to get tips on how to study.  Honestly, I am surprised that I am having so much trouble in a class I am enjoying.  But this is where I need to override old shortcomings and get a different outcome. 

I always tell my women's groups:  If you don't like something, change it.  I need to take my own advice.

I CAN really do this.  I can, I Can, I CAN!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Road to Affirmation

Self Affirmation by Laura Holzbach
~I may be alone but I am not lonely.
~I am not proclaiming Dr. Phil status but trying to do my best in a world suffering from a chronic case of PTSD.

~I am far from perfect and can provide numerous witnesses to attest to this.  It is futile to pursue perfection, as it does not exist anyway.

~I am not holy but I am forgiven with the most loving grace and mercy ever known.
~I am not crazy but I am squirrelly, which is to say that I am forgetful and easily confused, causing frustration.  And I get skittish sometimes.

~I am not hard.  On the contrary, I am sensitive, soft-hearted, kind, accepting and can only hope for the response in return.  Of course, imperfection can cause any of these traits to disappear on a moment’s notice creating a need for me to ask forgiveness.
~I have known loss in great magnitude and yet can still feel blessed beyond measure.

~My life, once broken by my own hand and shattered into a million pieces, is beginning to take shape.  It has taken a lot of pain and work but now the hand of God in all my life I see.

~Where nightmares and weeping were once frequent, unwelcomed visitors, I can now enjoy the pleasure of having dreams and the power to see them to fruition.
~The road ahead used to seem dark, scary and and I longed for it to end.  Now the signs are for a fulfilling future ahead.

~I am an encourager, an optimist, a possibilitarian.  I just can't help it.  And these traits have helped me through my darkest hours.  I give points, stars, hugs and smiles.  In my world there are prizes.  Even lollipops.  This is my joy.

~I believe in unconditional love.  In fact, that is the only kind of love I choose to believe in.  I will love you in spite of anything that separates us.
~And this is my favorite part about me:  If I love you, I love you always.  Love is not a faucet to be turned on and off at will, but a supernatural spring of healing emotion placed in us by God, who is Love himself.

~Because I am loved, I can love.