31 December 2008

My Confession of Pride

As 2008 draws to an end, I cannot help but reflect on this year, the successes as well as the struggles. 2008 has been a very challenging and difficult year for me, with many changes and trials.

In 2007, I lost a great deal of weight... physically, mentally and emotionally. I began to really trust the Lord and let him move in my life. I not only survived, but flourished in the absence of my husband during his deployment. In many ways, I was a very changed woman when he returned last December.

This year began both a year of trials as well as a year of learning how to wait on the Lord. We waited for orders. We waited for a new vehicle. We waited to move, and to see where we would live when we got here. Waiting has never been easy for me, so I guess I needed to learn some patience in that area.

The trials began in January when I went off my medication and began feeling things really for the first time in my life. At the same time, I had some things in my life that were very important to me come to an end. It felt in some ways as if my world was falling apart all around me. But I journeyed on.

Over the next several months, I continued to face obstacles and learn more about myself and what lay beneath... and it was a difficult time of growing. But I was enjoying the freedom that came with conquering some of my hidden pain. But as far as my weight loss journey, it had pretty much come to a screeching halt after Paul came home.

Once we left Virginia for New Mexico, I began to feel very isolated and separated from the family I had built in Virginia. I didn't feel like I belonged there anymore... like I had lost everyone that mattered to me. Even though I knew they were only a phone call away, I could not bring myself to call anyone. It was painful to be without them.... and calling felt more like the pain would get worse, not better from the short interaction. This spurred on my self imposed isolation.

I wanted to hide. I began to run.... from my problems, from my journey, and even from God. I slipped back into many of those behaviors I had worked so hard to conquer. I wanted to numb myself to the pain I did not want to deal with. I was afraid to face my pain here in my desert.... because unlike Virginia, most of my support system was gone.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me to pieces.... and he will always give me his shoulder to cry on. He will always listen to me cry and wail and talk, but he usually doesn't know what to say after. He tries the best he can to give me the support I need, but often that is done by suggesting I call a particular person who has more knowledge and experience in what I am dealing with.

It has been scary to even think of delving in deep and facing things here like I had done in Virginia, because to be blatantly honest.... I have not had to rely on God alone. He had placed people in my life to help me through things because He knew at that time I needed them there. But now I am on to a new part of my journey.... a place where I need to completely trust and surrender to God without that extra security blanket, and I was not willing to go there.

So instead I tried numbing myself again. But unfortunately, it no longer works. I am no longer living in my former world of complete denial.... so those old patterns did not really bring me any relief whatsoever. But this time when I tried to break back out of them.... my plan of attack really wasn't such a good one at all.

In the process of running from God, I have pretty much forgotten the right heart attitude that helped me last year. Last year I surrendered to God. I wanted Him to change me, change my eating, heal my deep wounds inside. And He did miraculous things in me. But somehow I was beginning to forget that it was HIM, not me.... so I started off on my journey again, only this time trying to do things my way in my own strength.

I'm sure that I don't need to tell you that it has not worked out very well. I was blinded to the fact that it was my own pride that was really driving me... not a deep desire to move closer to Christ. I didn't want to regain the weight "I" worked so hard to lose. I didn't want to regress into behaviors "I" worked so hard to alleviate from my life. I began to condemn myself for how "I" was eating, what "I" was and was not doing right. I tried to take matters, and my health, into my own hands.

I heard God ask me to give up my pop (soda), so I did all the while acknowledging that my heart attitude was not quite where it needed to be. I started to exercise everyday. I was making commitments to improve my health, all with the basic goal of finishing the weight portion of my journey. I want to lose that last 30 pounds. I want to feel good about myself again. I want to stop creeping up to the point where my clothes are tight and uncomfortable... and the yoyoing that takes place after when I continually go up and down those same 5 pounds.

I determinedly worked hard to build healthy habits that would get me back on track. But it wasn't working. I wasn't losing weight. I wasn't feeling better about myself. I was feeling discouraged, and I wanted to quit. And I kept hearing the Lord tell me exactly why I was where I was. He said to surrender, and I could not. He reminded me that the reason I could eat only when I was hungry, why I could say no to food, why I dropped 40 pounds so easily, why I could face the hard painful things I needed to heal from.... was because my heart was surrendered to Him. But it hasn't been now. And I have known it. And still I hear "surrender" and I say no.

But I think I have come to a point where I do not want to keep saying no to God. I know his way is right. I know that He is not able to work in my life and use me like He wants to right now because I have been resisting him. I have been too wrapped up in my own pride to truly give myself to Him.

I have begun to read my Thin Within books again. This is the grace oriented approach to weight loss that really focuses on such simple principles. First, God loves me just how I am. Nothing I do will change that. Second, He wants to heal me while I grow closer and closer in relationship to him. And third, it is hurt in my heart, not the food that I eat that drives my addiction. If I do not face what is inside of me, I will not conquer my eating addiction, no matter how hard I try. And I cannot heal from my pain inside until I have surrendered it to God and allow Him to do all the work.

I know these are truths, because I lived it for almost a year. I surrendered my heart to God, and through my faith in Jesus, He did miracles in me.

And now he is showing me new truths... I have realized something important about the last five weeks of my life. All of my behavior, my choices to "improve my health...aka lose weight".... have been performance based. If I exercise everyday I will burn calories and fat. If I focus on eating smaller amounts, I will lose weight. If I chose to eat one food over another maybe it will help me to lose weight. Thin Within would call this legalistic.

As a friend of mine once said, if you are doing something because you think your salvation is at stake, that makes it legalistic. But if you are making healthy choices that involve adhering to a program (rules based on performance)because you want to be healthy and lose weight all the while knowing that it has nothing to do with your salvation, then that is NOT legalism. I have to say in that sense of the definition of legalism, she is absolutely right.

So I do not necessarily agree with Thin Within that it is legalism.... but the Lord showed me this morning that everything that I have been doing.... the choices that have been performance based... they are not about legalism. They are about CONTROL. I want to be in control of the situation. I think that is why diets are so popular.... it lets you be in control.... In control of what you eat, and when you eat, and how much you eat. It is a way to keep a sense of control while following a set of rules based on your performance, your ability to do what is good and right.

And control is the exact opposite of surrender. The Lord showed me that when I am trying to control my situation, I am acting out of my pride. And this is why all of my efforts have not worked. It is not the choices I have made (to eat right or exercise) that is wrong, it is my heart attitude in the way I accomplish them that has hindered my success.

So it brings me right back to what I have been hearing for weeks now..... SURRENDER. The Lord wants me to surrender everything to Him. Because when I do, He is free to work through me.

Lord God, I confess my sins of pride to you and anyone else who hears my plea. Forgive me for where I have gone wrong, and help me back onto the right path. Thank you for your patience and your faithfulness. Thank you for not giving up on me. I want to surrender everything to you, Lord God.... but I am afraid. Please comfort me in my fear and give me your strength to move forward. And thank you for reminding me that even though my support system is 2000 miles away, they are still there for me... just as you have been with me this whole time. I love you! Amen.

30 December 2008

Happy Anniversary, My Love!

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the day I became Paul's bride.

Although we have had our ups and downs, our relationship has always been strong and close, and it never ceases to amaze me how God could have brought us together in such a powerful way! We have had so many cards stacked against us.... so many reasons why this relationship should have never worked.... and through it all, God has kept us together and strong, especially during all those years when really neither of us knew Him.

I love my wonderful husband, and all the ways he is perfect for me. I am grateful for him every day.

Happy Anniversary, My Love!

2009... The Year of the Bible

Our church has declared 2009 as "The Year of the Bible". They have been selling Life Journals to be used on this journey through the Bible. And this coming Saturday, Paul and I will be attending the Pastor's seminar on how to understand and interpret the Bible.

I have found on my journey that those times when I am consistently in the Word, I am really moving forward and seeing God work in my life. But when I am not, I kind of fall into a rut. I am in that rut now.

But I have hope for this new year to come. I am looking forward to moving forward again towards building a life long relationship with God and His Word.

There was a woman who stood up Sunday to share the vision the Lord had given her the night before..... she said she wasn't going to get a life journal this year since she did it last year, but then she heard it was "the year of the Bible" and she changed her mind. Then the Lord gave her a vision and showed her that everyone who takes on the commitment this year.... who delves into the process of seeking and connecting with God through His Word..... they will have mighty blessings bestowed upon them this year. God wants to move in our lives in powerful ways... and He will if we let him. This is an encouragement to me.

I look forward to sharing with you all how God continues to change me on this journey I am on. Stay tuned....

23 December 2008

My Confession of Vanity

I am going to turn 35 in just a little over 3 1/2 months. I always imagined that this would be a difficult birthday, and I have to admit that I wonder where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday I was approaching 30. And actually, it was my 29th birthday that was so hard to take, because that meant I was going to be 30 soon. By the time I did turn 30, I was kinda over it.

I feel comfortable in my own skin here in my 30's. And the big 3-5 isn't really affecting me all that much..... if only there didn't seem to be the ever increasing number of white wirey hairs sprouting out of my brunette head!

Each day I look in the mirror, grumble, and I admit it.... pluck out half a dozen to a dozen pure white hairs (leaving many more behind). Of course I know it does me no good.... they keep coming back. And I keep thinking about coloring my hair. But I know once I start, it is a long term commitment I am just not prepared to make.... yet.

So I started to think about this increased vanity that is creeping into my life... and my mirror. Why is it so important to me to NOT have gray hair? Is it our society's youth obsession rearing it's ugly head in my mirror each day? Or a continuing reminder that I am not in my 20's anymore? To be honest, I am happy about not being in my 20's anymore... but it does seem like the older I get, the more quickly time passes.

All my kids are now school age. My oldest will get her driver's permit in just a couple of months. This three year tour (already a third of the first year gone) will fly by... and then Nikki will almost be ready to graduate and start her adventure into the world of adulthood. I am sure that the four and seven years for the other two will quickly follow.

I feel like I'm right at the beginning of a new stage in life. I am not old yet.... but I am not that young either. Maybe becoming a mother so early has helped me grow up quicker, but in some ways I still feel way to young to be thinking about coloring my hair and taking children for driver's permits..... and plucking out gray hairs everyday.

And I find myself watching the older women at church.... the beautiful ladies in their 60's and 70's with their gray and silver hair. I guess in a way I admire them for being simply who they are, gray and all, not trying to hide their faded youth behind boxes of hair dye. I would like to be like them someday.... I am just having trouble translating that into my life right now. I keep telling myself that everyone grows older and their hair turns white.... that is how God designed me, so why should I have a problem with that? Then I reach for my tweezers.

20 December 2008

What Is It About Those Christmas Cards?

So, I want to apologize to all my friends out there that they just may NOT receive their Christmas card by Christmas.

Every year, I think about cards. Sometimes I even buy them. But most of the time they are never sent. This year i really wanted to send cards since it is our first year away from Virginia. I bought them, though probably not early enough. And it seemed to take forever to get them ready. It didn't help that I kept putting them down and not returning for days at end.

But I did finally get them done.... and in the mail...... yesterday at 4pm. Even though they were supposed to post mark yesterday because they were in before 4:30, who knows.

So Merry Christmas Everyone! If you do not get our greetings in time, you'll have something to look forward to after Christmas!

Love to all.... we miss you!

09 December 2008

Small Victories

I have been working hard now for about three and a half weeks to change some of my habits towards healthier goals. I gave up all sweet sugary drinks (except my one glass of mocha ice coffee a day). I have begun drinking water on a regular basis instead of replacing my pop with other high calorie options. I am walking on average 5 to 6 times each week on my goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day. (I have quickly learned that I will not be able to come even close to that goal without the daily walk.) And I am taking a harder look at how often I eat, how much, and when I am turning to food for comfort rather than hunger.

After three weeks, I would have expected some progress on my scale to encourage me onward... but alas, that has not happened. I continue to hover at right about the same number week in and week out. It may dip down, only to return to the previous level.

I am trying not to get discouraged. In fact, I am trying to focus on making healthy choices, not on weight loss. But this has been a bit challenging. For instance, I really love my pop (especially Mountain Dew), and when I work hard with no apparent results, it makes me want to say, "well if I'm not going to loose any weight, I might as well drink the pop!"

But I have ignored this voice. I know deep down that it is an unhealthy habit, and even if I never loose another single pound, I will be healthier for not picking the soda habit back up. And I know the exercise is good for me. I am only on my fourth week, but I am already seeing more energy in my day. And it is helping to prevent the "winter blues" and other depression related problems.

So instead of getting discouraged, I am choosing to look at all of my small victories of the past few weeks......

Each day I wake up, and I actually walk. I don't just think about walking. I don't promise myself that I'll walk tomorrow. I am walking.

I began with three laps around my block. This took me about 24 minutes to walk about 1.2 miles. Then I moved on to four laps around the block, increasing my numbers to 32 minutes and 1.6 miles (about 3600 steps). Today, I increased my walk to five laps, 40 minutes, 2 miles, and 4500 steps. (The walking goal for weight loss is 4000-6000 of your daily steps coming from a brisk exercise walking session..... and I have now entered this range!)

I finally was able to get my elliptical, though the power supply does not work.... so now I am waiting for another to arrive in the mail. I plan to continue my walking while I wait, as well as while I work myself up to the same ability on the machine as I have outside. Most likely I will alternate between the two, because I know my walks outside in the sunshine also help with any depression issues.

My goal is to get up to 6-7 laps around the block, but I am taking it slow. Today was my first day doing five, and I have been trying to add another lap every week or two. The weight loss session on my elliptical runs 56 minutes.... 4 minutes of warm-up, 48 minutes of low intensity exercise, and 4 minutes of cool down. I know it will take me awhile to be able to do all of that.

I feel proud of myself that I am setting realistic goals that I can succeed at. I don't want to get so anxious or gung-ho that I set myself up for failure. When I first got the pedometer, I thought I would really have to struggle to get up close to 10,000 steps a day, but with the daily walk I am averaging between 8,500 and 12,000. I think that is awesome for only three weeks in!

The harder part has been with food. I still am not eating any where near the quantities I used to, thus why I have been able to maintain my 65 pound weight loss. But I have been struggling here in New Mexico with comfort eating. And my portions have increased. So now I am trying to put less on my plate, and I have to relearn how to put my fork down when I am satisfied, even if I still have three or four bites left. Why is it so hard to say no to those last yummy bites?

I also have realized that as soon as I feel even the slightest stirring of hunger, I have given myself license to eat. But even though I am not eating large portions, I am still eating more than I need because I am not waiting until I am really hungry.

But this past week, there have been a couple of occasions where I have felt just a little bit hungry and all the voices in my head started screaming, "Yah! Let's eat!!!" but I didn't. Last night, instead of snacking before bed, I chose to not eat anything. Not a thing! Two hours later when I went to bed, I was not really any hungrier than when I decided not to eat, and I felt very good about myself for saying no to the food.

This morning I got up and ate breakfast with my wonderful husband around 8:30, after his PT but before he had to be at work for the day. Then I went on my 40 minute walk. When I returned, I was feeling a little hungry, and mentally I was really craving some sausage links. But it was only two hours after I had eaten, so I decided to wait a bit. Before I knew it, I got busy with some stuff and it was almost 1. Now I was really hungry, but if I had eaten before, I still would have eaten lunch about the same time, thus eating more food than I need.

The Bible says that we should worry about each day as it comes... don't worry about tomorrow for it will have it's own problems... just focus on today. I think that is working well for me right now with this journey as well. If I just focus on each small victory each day, then eventually they will all add up to one large victory down the road. But if I worry about tomorrow... if I fuss and fret about my weight and whether what I am doing today even matters down the road, then I am definitely not going to succeed.

And I know that the real secret to my success here will be when I am able to fully surrender this whole thing to God. I know I am not there yet, but each day I get a bit closer. I guess it is like surrendering in layers. Some levels are lifted and gone while others are still being worked on. But isn't that just the story of life?

Lord God, Thank you for all You are doing in me. Thank you for encouraging me and motivating me to make healthier choices in my life. Thank you for softening my heart towards surrender to You. Please continue to give me Your strength and motivation to continue on this journey. Give me the wisdom to see all my small victories rather than any sense of defeat that is not coming from You. Change my heart to be more like You each day. I love you! Amen.

April 2005

April 2005
Justin, Kim, Nikki, & Tricia

October 2011

October 2011