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To Fellow Pastor's Wives -- Being In Ministry Will...

>> 6.30.2013

I think I've only ever written a few ministry related posts.  It's not due to lack of things to say reguarding ministry-- but a lack of courage to say them.  You know, there are just some things in life you don't talk about-- and usually that's most of life if you are a pastor or a pastor's wife.  What will people think?  What will people say?  What's appropriate?  What's not?  What will make your husband look bad?  Will this or that jepordize his "respect" among the congregation, etc.  The questions are really never ending.  But, this post is about 10 years in the making so read on if you are a pastor's wife or a pastor's wife to be.  Just stop here if you aren't...unless you want to know some of what really goes on within our PW hearts...and perhaps some ways you can be praying for us as well as for our husbands.

That being said, I want to start a series as a way to get my honest thoughts/advise down on "paper" to those just starting ministry or planning on going in to it.  These posts will be a way for me to share just a little of my struggles and what I've learned along the way.  Maybe it will help someone-- maybe it will only be therapy for me. I don't know.  Please leave a comment though if it helps you in any way.  Thanks!

1)  Being in ministry will not make you rich -- no really.  I mean that.  I used to think "Well, of course not.  We minister because we are serving the Lord.  That is enough.  I don't need to be 'rich' "  And, I'm sure this is what most of the congregation members think, too.  However, when all is said and done, we still live in a culture (though this is changing rapidly) where retirement is something to be planned for.  Purchasing a home is still looked upon as the only investment that can really be counted on.  Putting clothes on growing children-- and growing numbers of children-- is still a need-- as well as paying for all that food that they consume!  And, if you're like me and have chosen to stay home believing wholeheartedly that God has called you to staying home-- all these things will be struggles to obtain.  A much larger challenge than for many in your average congregations.  So, a few words of advice that I wish I could say I knew and took to heart at the right time:  In no particular order...

  • Don't get into school debt.  I know, almost an improbability-- especially if your husband has good seminary training.  Truth is, there are very few colleges and higher learning institutions that matter by name.  Everyone just looks to see if there is a degree on your resume-- and if you plan to stay at home, perhaps looking into other alternative types of training would be a better option for your post-high school education.  If you are in ministry, it rarely will pay the amount needed to pay for secondary education.  That's just the truth.  If it's missions you are interested in, even more so.  Remember all those loans will have to be paid before an agency will even look at you-- and you want an agency above you (trust me-- but that's an entirely different conversation.) 
  • (This one is still on debate for me -- too late, ha!) -- If you have large amounts of school debt, consider working longer before having children.  Many on the "conservative" side of Christianity might object to that statement.  I didn't REALIZE the amount of debt compared to the amount of income we'd have once I was home full-time so I have to say this really never occurred to me-- I mean, to the extent that it changed our "plans".  I wish none of my children away, but daily I wish my school loan black cloud away and it's very difficult to do anything about it now.
  • Find creative ways to make income and talk about those ways with your husband prior to needing the income it would create.  Needing income always makes business ventures filled with more pressure and urgency which can lead to not enough "thinking it through and counting the costs".  "Creative business ventures" translates into-- lots of extra time out of your current schedule which WILL mean him and you both needing to sacrifice time serving in the church to make it happen.
  • Trust God to bring you your "daily bread"-- and that's all He promises.  He does not promise cruise vacations (or even vacations that require a hotel stay, lol) like your congregation members.  He does not promise new clothes or weekly date nights at Texas Road House.  He does not promise anything aside from daily needs-- so if you are really into certain hobbies/places/events and feel it would be too much to sacrifice, then truly maybe ministry may not be for you.  (The first year in seminary we lived on the least amount of money I've ever seen-- I mean, I made more as a single person in a year than we did with three children, baby on the way, and TWO of us adults in the house!  That was the most exciting year of our lives...and we litterally had to wait on the Lord a few times so we'd have food for supper or toilet paper for those needs-- which, He sent-- an anonymous gift of hamburger and toilet paper awaited on our front porch the very night we needed it!  A complete, exciting George Mueller moment...)
  • Trust God to bless you with material gifts occasionally-- and then enjoy them!  My best examples of this are gift cards to the movie theater-- enough to cover the entire family!  We NEVER go to the movies.  We just can not afford it.  (I mean, guys-- it's a $70 dollar trip for a family of 6 and a popcorn and drink!)  Neither my husband nor I enjoy movies all that much so we don't lack for not being able to go, but we DO want to be able to give our kids this gift of something fun and different on special occasions.  We've been able to do that twice now using a Christmas gift given us by one of our congregation members.  This has been so wonderfully unexpected and a joy to our family.   
  • GUARD YOUR HEART AGAINST COMPARISON!  Did I write that boldly enough?  Probably not.  This is so difficult to do in our media driven world.  I am literally turning off my Facebook account today and I hardly ever watch TV-- both instances due to not wanting to indulge in comparison.  Sometimes it's comparing our lives/homes/opportunities from those in the church-- other times, though, it's comparing them to those also in ministry!  For me, this is the hardest.  I know God sends rain on the just and the unjust, but in my selfish, dark heart, I somehow believe that He should send the MOST rain to those who are trying to serving Him day in and day out-- dealing with people who many times only come to you with complaints or more things for you to do!  We have one set of ministry friends that just continually seem to get "blessed"-- flat screen TVs given to them, a boat, sale of house in weeks time when ours took 2 years and a short sale to finally sell; the list of differences between them and us seems enormous!  But, I have to cling to the fact that this world is not my home and He has seen fit to "bless" them in ways that He does not currently see fit to "bless" us.  He is teaching me something different...(like, all my life!  Phil. 4 anyone???)
All this being said, let me take one more moment to encourage you to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, NAME THEM ONE BY ONE.  It's not just a song.  It's the heart of thanksgiving that will allow you to continue to serve with a right heart attitude.  We have a family "Gifts" list that we've started this year and when I find myself getting particularly grumpy about finances, I start listing the gifts God has given me.  Here are a few of my recent ones:
  • Husband's job close to our home.  The kids get to see him for lunch and usually supper and this is more than many other families get to experience
  • Husband's flexible job schedule.  Oh, there are the "have - tos" for sure (MANY of them-- and many at night) but usually my husband is flexible should a need arise for doctors appointments and other unexpected needs.
  • Activities that the kids can attend with Daddy-- such as sports meets or various service opportunities.  They get to see Daddy's love for others in action and we pray this will become something they will learn to enjoy and do themselves as they grow.
  • A few generous congregation members that have taken us in as family.  We are allowed use of their pool, garden, and family conversation.  Their entire extended family have treated us as one of them and we are forever grateful that we have people who have stepped into being "family" for us when ours are too far to see often.  This particular blessing encourages my heart continually.
I'll write more later...but I'm sure that was enough to read for now!  Pray for a content heart.  One that is so full it can overflow to those around you as Jesus has called you to love.


The Pain that Precipitates Change

>> 5.18.2013

Really it's only ever pain that gets us to change anything we do in life.  I can not think of a moment I changed my route/mind/attitude/diet, etc. without pain being present.  In our bodies pain is the God-given source that signals to us that change needs to be made.  In our lives, the same is true.

Recently, I attended a women's meeting during which nutrition was the main theme.  Several women brought items I've only thought were crazy...until lately.  Items such as fermented vegetables (eww-- doesn't the word "fermented" just kind of make your skin crawl?) and keifer (again, I don't know why we don't give healthy foods a better name like..."Twinkie 2" ;)  Anyway, our group that day consisted of some mamas who have been on a health-seeking journey for years and some mamas who had never heard of these items and some mamas who had heard of them...but were still skeptical of their application into their life.  The mamas who brought the items to sample and have wholeheartedly embraced the most wholesome eating life-style in our American world made it very clear-- before their pain events, they would have never considered eating this way.  They didn't know about the health benefits and didn't know how "do-able" it really would be to their life.

I have to agree.  I am much further away from where they are in the journey, but I too began seeking out a better way to eat due to pain-- very real pain that was inescapable.  If I wanted relief, my only option was to change my diet significantly.

Perhaps that is where you are today. Or, perhaps you, like so many around me, think they can handle the pain and it'd be a bigger upset to have to change their whole diets.  I'm not here to say it's been easy.  Everyday I find myself at a loss for hours which would aid in more prep for easier meal consumption later on, but it's a fight I have to continue to make.  And I encourage YOU to continue today if you have not already begun a journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Books I Recommend (That I Am Reading On This Journey)
Gut and Psychology Syndrome -- by Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride (great information on how the digestive track can affect so much of your body's functions/thinking/behavior)
Nourishing Traditions -- by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (great read on the appropriate place GOOD fats, protein, and carbohydrates need to have in your diet.)
Trim, Healthy, Mama -- by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison (the current dietary life-style I am using to lose weight and eat in such a healthy way as never before. "Love me some buttah!")

I used to think anyone "natural" (doctors, other health professionals, and everyday people) were crazy and tricksters-- who ever would believe my son's asthma could be healed significantly with food?!  Craziness!  Schmucks!  Turns out...it probably CAN be significantly improved by his diet as well as my children's eczema, my weight issues, irritability...and, of course, stomach pain. And if I can heal from the inside out, starting with good foods, why would I choose another way-- a way filled with medications attempting to do the same thing...only having to overcome an abounding mess of unhealthy diet going in on top of it!? Simply because it's not "easy"?  That's no excuse and I personally am leaving that one behind.  It will continue to be hard...but anything in life worth having IS work-- and good health, as much as it is up to me, is worth having SO THAT I am able to live an energized life IN ORDER to bring glory to God, love to those He places in my path and bring HIS NAME to the nations. 

Weight Update:  199.6!  FINALLY blew that 200 mark! (14 total pounds and counting!)

NOTE:  I DO NOT believe, nor advocate, that food is THE ONLY way to heal anything, including asthma, etc. and I DO NOT believe that regular doctors are "no good".  They are just practicing the medicine they have been taught but many personally living healthy life-styles that they know their patients many times are unwilling to live.  I also DO NOT believe that seeking out a healthy life-style for the sake of a healthy life-style is the end all.  Our health is only to serve us in order that we may best serve Christ and not be burdened with lack of energy, spending time and money in the drs office, unable to be physically fit to do the tasks to which He calls us.


The Journey Continues...Progress Update

>> 5.04.2013

Okay, folks.  Here is my progress report--

In the three weeks since having been eating the "THM way," as many of the people following the plan from the Trim Healthy Mama call it, I have seen several good changes in my body. 

Weight-related:  lost 7.5 lbs (a good, healthy, inspiring amount for 3 weeks' time) and lost 4.5 inches. 

BUT WAIT-- it gets better, as I've just realized going back a bit in my blog.  I started in January at 212.8 and am now at 202.6 so I've actually hit the first nice feeling milestone: 10 pounds.  This is a healthy beginning.  Also, since January I've lost 10.25 inches all around which means that while the scale might not show the most results, all the time my body has been changing shape-- and that, my friends, is what getting healthy is all about.  I tried on a skirt that I couldn't wear in January and it fits now! (Never mind I don't want to wear a double-lined black full-length skirt in May that I would've worn in January, that's not the point!=)

Other Changes--
I've started waking up earlier.  This is weird.  I've never been a morning person and I suddenly find myself waking up and being able to start the day without an alarm (or, let's be honest, my husband saying, "I'm going to work now.") 
I've started falling asleep without any problems.  Also weird because, on average, it took me a good hour of laying down before I'd ever fall asleep.  Now I lay down, at the same time as before, but I fall asleep fast-- without any tossing, turning, huffing-puffing, etc.-- it's great!  I'm pretty sure that's the result of lack of sugar pulsing through my body b/c I'd been off of caffeine for quite some time without any changes in my sleep patterns.
I've made sourdough bread (a supposedly "safe" food for my IBS-- um, not true for me!) and my family likes it!  It's a combo of spelt flour (that I actually ground myself!! Very proud of this!) and oats (that were "properly soaked".)  Now, lest some of you think I've gone off the deep end-- I kind of have!  I'm also in the middle of reading Nourishing Traditions and LOVE the information I'm reading.  It is freeing; uncomplicating (that's not a technical word, I realize) all the health information I've ever read and it's filled with life-giving information!  No wonder so many people eating the typical American diet are so sick, over-weight, and in the doctors office ALL.THE.TIME.  I don't want this to be or my family members, so changes are needed!  And, thankfully, through the pain that forced me into all this research in the first place, change is happening!  I've got a long way to go, but I'm taking the right steps.

Caveat:  My IBS is still flaring up. (Sourdough bread was a complete no-no for me-- said to be easily digestible and good for those suffering with IBS, but it wasn't for me.  I still plan on trying to use it for my family though because it has many health benefits for them.) Sometimes it is a matter of eating a food I know I can't handle -- there are just so many yummy recipes from THM that include yummy berries and cream cheese and cottage cheese-- all of which are horribly bad for me right now.  But more often than not, the worst attacks come from sources I didn't know where going to bother me.  Still learning.  My next stop may be the GAPS diet...so if any of you have any information on how this has worked for you, let me know.  I need my gut to heal and I believe it is possible through the right foods.

What about you?  What changes are you making today that you know you need to make?  I'd love to hear about them!


Comments on Comfort

>> 4.23.2013

Just some thoughts that have been swirling through my mind.

We all love comfort.  I think it must be built into the heart of every human to love to be safe, secure, and feeling like all is well-- in one word this is "comfort," right?  When things are out of place, have gone awry, or are unfamiliar to us, we inevitably feel "uncomfortable."  And that can cause a complete domino collapse-- I feel uncomfortable so I:

GET ANGRY                     get irritable                         quit & give up      RUN
  hide            shut down                         walk away         EAT     drink           dive into another project  (dive into another relationship)        spend money          go on a trip  

go to the movies                  get my nails done                         read a book            
         go onto Facebook      play computer games          
                                                       WORK OUT EXCESSIVELY

Heaven's knows I could go on and on.  What we DO when we are uncomfortable says a lot about us.  Where we turn is a clear picture of the things we find most comfort in-- our security, our value, our treasure. 

God has a lot to say about this.  All throughout scripture He tells us to "have courage" and to "rest in Him."  He called himself our "Peace".  He said He came so that we might have "abundant life"...and yet I'd venture to say that most of us don't feel like we have abundant life.  No, most of us settle for getting through life.  Or, we strive for worldly comforts hoping they will get us comfortable enough that one day we'll be able to be so comfortable we can finally escape the feeling of being uncomfortable.  Trouble is, the more we chase all these ways of making ourselves more comfortable, the more uncomfortable (unsatisfied) we become.  In vain we turn to the things listed above, or something I didn't list above and we look just like our unbelieving neighbors.  People aren't attracted to God because those who claim to "know Him" and "love Him" are nothing like Him and don't seek after the things He calls valuable.  We aren't attracting people to God because our lives AREN'T ATTRACTIVE.  If they were, our church doors would be flooded by people who want what we have.  But, as I watch, in general, no one wants what we have because we don't live like we have anything different than they already have-- weight issues, marriage issues, kid issues, anger issues, spending issues, etc. 

And I don't want to be like that.  And I don't think in your very heart of hearts you do either.  So, where does this leave us?  I read a statement lately that said "Everyone wants a movement, but no one wants to move."  This is the problem.  We don't want to move because we're COMFORTABLE and being uncomfortable is...well, uncomfortable, right? 

To start we MUST begin on our knees where all great beginnings start.  After all, "The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom."  And that's just our beginning place.  We start on our knees and in the Word and we LISTEN.  Listen for HIS calling on our lives.  We read all about HIS HEART in His Word and we can't miss some clear callings.  I could easily list some of those values of God's here today...but I'm not going to.  If you want to know God's heart, YOU must seek it.  I can not seek it for you.  I can not answer His call on YOUR life for you-- I'm too concerned with answering that for me.  But you must start.  You can not run, hide, eat, shop, etc. your way out of it-- or you'll continue to live on in your pseudo-comfort.  The only TRUE comfort, peace, and security, is found in FOLLOWING HIM; the God of the heaven Who created you uniquely to answer His unique call on your life. (Eph. 2:10)

What are you chasing after today?


THM Recipes, Recipes!

>> 4.13.2013

Alright, friends.  Last I left you I had just received my very own copy of Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett.  (Have I ever told you I wish I could write a book that would be so much needed and so well received?  Selfish dream...but there, none the less!)  Anyway, I have now spent only 4 days trying to put into practice the words of wisdom in this book and I'm down...2.8 lbs!  I've always known that whatever I eat effects my weight one way or the other, but it truly is an amazing thing to realize that every. single. bit. counts-- and when it counts the RIGHT way, I'll be fast on my way to losing what so desperately needs to be lost-- a massive amount of weight!

So, for today, I just really wanted to share with you two of my favorite recipes I've made thus far. These are two wonderfully tasty recipes that are SUPER low in the glycemic index-- which means no blood sugar spike-- which means no crazy insulin action going on-- which means, proper food digestion and burning of fat that MUST GO!

"Loaded Fotato Soup" 

Cauliflower (1/2 12 oz bag)
Chicken broth, fat-free (2 cups)
Light Laughing Cow cheese (1 wedge)
Turkey bacon bits (optional-- if you want it "loaded"-- I didn't have any and it was still great)
Glucomannan or xanthan gum (sprinkles of)
Sea Salt, other seasonings as you desire (pepper, garlic, etc.)
Green onion (also optional)

1. Tenderize cauliflower in (simmering) chicken broth.  (I did mine in a pan...I'm sure you could use a microwave, but then there are those that are a bit against microwaving so...tenderize however you want!)
2. Scoop out tender cauliflower and place in blender.  (I have used my Ninja more in the last week than I had since I got it at Christmas time!  I never knew you could use blenders to make meals!  I don't get in the kitchen often, obviously.)  Blenderize (I like the sound of that) until desired consistency.  Put back in chicken broth.
3. Add 1 cheese wedge to broth in pan. Disperse it with a spoon, whisk, whatever. 
4. Season with sea salt, pepper, etc.  Serene and Pearl add nutritional yeast for its superfood benefits but I've yet to get mine in the mail=)
5. Add in turkey bits if you like/have.
6. Thicken soup with sprinkles of glucomannan or xanthan gum.  Do so little by little whisking briskly.  Get it to a normal potato soup consistency.  (This week I used xanthan gum while I wait for yes, the package in the mail that also contains my glucomannan.)
7. Garnish with optional green onion.  (Which I did because I can't have white onions while dealing with this IBS business so I love green onions now!)

This made PLENTY for one serving and filled me up!  In fact, it was too much.  I shared the left overs with my daughter who seems to love eating everything.  I even shared a few spoonfuls with my {very picky eater} husband who also enjoyed it.  (Wasn't exactly the same consistency, mind you, but he didn't know WHAT it was until I told him.  He said he "would eat" it again.  Whew!  One recipe down...several more to try to convince him of!)

"Time Healthy Pancakes"
Ingredients:  Old Fashioned Oats, low-fat cottage cheese, egg white, baking powder, sweetener, vanilla

1. Put 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats into...BLENDER...and blenderize (I know that isn't a word, don't you worry.  I just like the sound of it too much...) until it becomes a powder.
2. Add to powdered oats, 1 Cup liquid egg whites.
3. Add 1 Cup cottage cheese.
4. Add 2 tsp. baking powder (they recommend aluminum free, of course), and sweetener (2-3 tsp Truvia), and a dash of vanilla.  (I also added some cinnamon.)
5. Blend all of these ingredients well.  It will become a thick mess-- but all contained in your blender!  (FABulous!)
6. Ladle out onto skillet or pan in desired pancake size. 

These tasted and looked like the "real" thing.  I topped them with some yogurt and raspberries and they were delish!  This recipe should make 9 medium sized and they call a serving 3 of them.  That was plenty for me.  Store extras in the fridge separated by paper towels or they will stick to each other.  Now I have breakfast ready for the week days when time is more of an essential.

Try 'em!  Let me know how it goes...and buy the book!  (Or ask your mom for it for your birthday like I did!;)


Updating Blog

Just wanted to note that MANY of the links to my personally design pages (worksheets,etc.) are no longer working-- I know this!  When summer hits (just 5 weeks away for me and my kiddos!) I have planned to "correct" this and update the blog.  Until then...my visitors will just have to live with blog posts only.  Too much to do in life than sit fixing my blog right now!  I have things to share with you all...but I will do that as I can and without taking time to fix some of my broken links.  (They really aren't that important anyway, right?)

Thanks for your understanding!


Wednesday Weigh-In, Almost 3 Months Down...

>> 3.30.2013

In my ideal world, the one I think I like to live in more than not, I am 195 lbs by now.  In my ACTUAL world, I am down 1.6 lbs from last week-- and a whopping 4.6 since I started in January.  My inconsistencies have wreaked havoc on my "plan" and I'm tempted to give up.  Then I went dress shopping last night...and it all floods back REAL easily as to why this is so important.  Not only to look better, the sagging weight of post birth 4 times over and inconsistent healthy eating habits is abundantly obvious, and the lack of energy has returned.  Though I am exercising more often than Oct-Dec, and kicked my Mt. Dew addiction (once again), I've started to crave salt-- something I've never cared for in my life. 

Now sits in my hands, 4 hours old, a brand new copy of Trim Healthy Mama.  A 607 page book written by two sisters-- two sisters who hold 13 children between them, stay at home, and home school.  These ladies are accessible to me!  The biggest appeal is the great reviews this book has gotten by the way it has helped countless mothers just like me to be naturally and healthfully lose weight and bring light back into their married, motherhood demand-filled lives.  If you look for them on FB you'll see great comments about what the information they've shared is doing in normal people's lives.  I'm not looking for a lucky ticket-- but I am looking for some shoulder to shoulder help inside my kitchen as I navigate the stormy waters called "healthy eating".  Well, I guess I'm also looking for less "storm" in that kitchen of mind-- and more peace in my mental faculties as I work to find food that can nourish and bless my whole family. 

I've been encouraged to just "not eat like my family does, to prep separate foods for myself and by my example they may or may not want to follow"...but that doesn't sit well with my soul.  I know I shouldn't find peace and comfort IN food itself...but being able to prepare meals my whole family can enjoy, talk around, learn from, etc. does something to inspire my soul.  That is the type of home I want to model for my kids-- not always being in angst about what's coming in or going out of the kitchen! (Which is what it has been for the past 2 years.)  I'm anxious to put into practice what I'll be learning and hoping to report back soon about the benefits I'm seeing as a result of what I'm learning.

So, here's to the next THREE months!  May they bring more visible results and energy into my life-- and wherever you are in yours, may the next 3 months bring the same to you!


Wednesday Weigh-In, Regrouping=)

>> 3.13.2013

Well, there's been a bit o time that has past since last we met-- only to be honest, I didn't think I was really meeting anyone so...I sort of didn't keep my appointment!  Then I found out I WAS being met...so, I thought I'd show up today!

Last week I honestly didn't weigh myself.  We had company and my scale was in the other bathroom unavailable for the time being...until I remembered AFTER LUNCH and, at that point, I was NOT going to weigh myself! No, no, no.

Today's weight: 209.6 (hmmm...)
"Ran": 2 miles in 26.30 minutes (my best time yet, but I realize that's not really running for many of you:)

The Journey--
I've found SPELT-- and it loves me and I love it.  Thus far I've made soft pretzels and bread with it for those days when I've needed something to go with my Chicken and broth (lol, no noodles since I haven't made spelt noodles yet!) or a little something more than a chocolate bar - ha. Spelt can be substituted 1 for 1 with flour only if it's a recipe with liquid you'll probably need to slightly lessen liquid or add a little more spelt flour.  That said, unless you intend to grind your own spelt "berries" (yes, they are called berries in whole form) then I suggest only using spelt if you have digestive issues or a very large bank account.  One 5 lb bag cost me $13.99!!!
I also love sugar.  Too much sugar.  In fact, without realizing it, the weeks I lost consistently and fairly easily I had no sugar (and, no gluten, of course) and the weeks I haven't lost any weight (i.e. the ENTIRE month of February!) I added that sugar back in (and only small amounts of gluten-- like that show up in spelt bread.)  This, I've realized, is a complete addiction that has got to go for permanent.  Who can live all shot up with sugar?!?  I also gradually went back to my Mt. Dew for 2 weeks and though I almost can hear some of you laughing now, it is my vice.  And I hate it.  I have not had any since Sunday now and am closing in on my constant sugar high.  I WANT to say I will not have any today...but I already had one of my oatmeal yummies and hot chocolate while enjoying a wonderful morning with just my littlest.  I need accountability!  Any takers?!?!

So, there you have it.  It's where I am.  I am always learning lots...but always falling down.  I guess the most encouraging verse for me today is:

 Proverbs 24:16a, "The godly may trip seven times, 
but they will get up again..."

Join the conversation!  Let me know how YOU are doing on your own journey!  (And then I can meet you here again next week!=)


Lift the Cross, Lift it Up...

>> 3.03.2013

For the first time ever, my husband and I were able to attend a Chris Tomlin (Louie Giglio, Kari Jobe, too!) concert.  I really wasn't sure what to expect, other than worship music, of course, but I walked away with two main thoughts and I'd like to share them with you today.

THE CROSS -- We must lift it high!
A few years ago a young man in his early 20s talked with my husband and I and expressed his thoughts on today's "Church".  One of his comments struck me as "odd" which was something to the effect of how so many churches were getting rid of their crosses.  He said, "Now, I'm not a believer or anything, but, if I was, I mean, I'd have a cross in the church I attended.  It's your MAIN symbol and you don't even want it around!"  Being part of the Church all my life, I hadn't really thought about it much.  I mean, cross, no cross...what was the difference?  Even if there was no cross in my church, I still knew my faith was centered around it -- around the sacrifice of the PERFECT, HOLY man/God who DIED was BURIED and the ROSE AGAIN three days later.  (The ONLY God to have ever done that-- and SO many witnesses to attest to it!) So...whether it was on the front wall or not didn't really cause me concern.

.    .    .

Until recently.  There are, in my opinion (and many other church leaders much more well-known than I, lol), two main issues the church must respond to today: Salvation found in Christ alone and our response to the issues of the definition of marriage.  (I won't address the latter today.)  With the rapid rise in Islam and other religions today, we Believers can not simply rely on a "culture" that understands and accepts the Truth of Christ anymore.  Actually, we are seeing more and more "persecution" daily right here on our own dear American soil.  I pray constantly that my children will learn while here in our home to love Christ fully and be ready to sacrifice EVERYTHING for Him...because I see a day approaching soon where Christianity in many outlets will not be allowed at all.  We will all then be living like so many of our dear brothers and sisters who know what it's like to daily "take up their (own) cross and follow Him."  We stand out, if we truly believe that there is only ONE WAY to God-- not through good works, not through Allah, not through Buddah, not through Joseph Smith, not through good health, Mother Earth...etc., ONLY through Christ-- and the cross is our symbol to tell the world.   Listen below to this song from Chris Tomlin that made me confirm in my own heart the need to rely on the cross, not the physical symbol but rather what/ WHO it stands for, and convicted me to cherish our religious symbols in a right way.

"Laying your body down
You took our rightful place...
We raise our white flag
we surrender..."

"We lift the cross, lift it up, lift it up..."

Our treasured symbol-- we MUST lift it high for it cost our Precious Savior EVERYTHING!

PASTOR SAEED -- We must stand by our brother in prayer!
Do you know this man?  Have you heard his name?  Have you heard it and then turned the radio channel or the news channel and think, "so what"?  Well, he is lifting the cross of Jesus high in the world's most dangerous prison known to humankind.  He is AN AMERICAN CITIZEN.  He was taken in the middle of the night in a country known to be severely against Christians.  He had been legally allowed to enter, to work on an orphanage in this country, assured that he would be just fine.  He has a wife and two daughters right here in our United States...perhaps they live in the state in which you live.  They could be your neighbors.  Pastor Saeed's most recent letter can be read here.  I beg you to do so.  PRAY for this man!  He is doing what you and I might imagine we could never do-- but one day we, too, just may be called upon to do this very thing.  It reminds me of Paul.  Paul wrote from horrible prison cells in which he endured many unspeakable hardships...and continued to praise the Lord Jesus Christ (the very One he'd opposed himself just years before) and lifted the cross high.  As I listened to this song being sung out in an arena filled with over 9,000 people, the Lord brought Pastor Saeed to mind and as we sung "lift it up" I couldn't help but pour out more prayers than I have yet to do for this man and his family and thank Jesus over and over for sustaining him, for giving him the grace to respond to his opposers with undeserved love; Christ's indwelling actions pouring out from this man.  (You can read more about this story here.)

If you are a Christ-follower take a minute to examine what your life is saying about Christ.  Are you treasuring Him and His sacrifice?  Are you "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16) or has some apathy set in?  Let Christ do His work in you...

If you have a favorite Chris Tomlin song, share it with me!


The Songs of the Sirens...

>> 2.18.2013

The words "youth culture" and "entertainment" commonly go together, but recently I was listening to a not-so-little-known conservative radio talk show host who asked the question, "Do you ever feel like you are living in two worlds?"  I'll paraphrase the rest of the context but he continued something to the effect, "In one, you watch all the people around you going from one amusing thing to the next, always trying to find another dinner to go out to, concert to attend, movie to watch, and it's like they are blinded to the reality of what's really going on.  In the other, you live in the reality of what's really happening in the world... this world ... is nothing like what I ever thought I'd see in my lifetime..."  This is how I live every day.  He may have been talking about some political issues, etc., but I am not.  I am talking about the reality that Satan is having an absolute hay-day with people of the "Church."  People who say, "That's not me.  I'm not like that. At least I _________ (fill in the blank, "go to church," "pray occasionally", etc.)" All the while they live just as godlessly as anyone who doesn't claim the name of Christ.  (Because they're  under "grace", right?)

What struck me, is that I used to think it was just the "young people" who were amusing themselves to death...but after thinking about it, I realized that most adults around me are doing the same thing.  Going from activity to activity without much meaningful anything in between...always looking for the next thing to make them "happy" and "not bored" and...well, ironically, hoping for some meaning.  There is hardly a soul that I know that spends time praying, seriously praying; praying on behalf of their family members, needy neighbors, themselves, missionaries, their Brothers and Sisters In Christ who are dying EVERY DAY for proclaiming the truth of the GOSPEL...no, they are too busy planning their weekends and watching some sort of screen at night to "unwind."  There is  hardly a soul spending time reading the Word of God, truly studying it to KNOW HIM BETTER.  No, that would be boring, wouldn't it?  Where are the righteous and God-fearing older women who are supposed to be teaching the younger women how to love their husbands and children?  Where are righteous and God-fearing older men who are supposed to be teaching the younger men how to live PURE LIVES?  It makes me inwardly weep.  It convicts me.

I am sickened by the lack of awareness, the ungodliness that surrounds me...even me, in my little rural town of rural Indiana, in my own little rural church...we are more than "falling" asleep.  We sleep SOUNDLY being sung to by the Sirens...like the days of the Greeks when people feel into a trance at the sound of their sweet melodies...

I'm afraid nothing but the fulfillment of the promises of Jesus regarding the end days will awaken us...and perhaps at that, only us who are already watching and waiting...

Where are you?  What breaks your heart?  I am the first to say I do NOT have it "all together" spiritually.  None of us will this side of heaven.  But I am hungering for MORE OF HIM and LESS OF THE WORLD more and more everyday.  For as much happiness this world can bring me-- a loving husband, beautiful children, happy days home teaching them, etc. -- I still resoundingly say from the depths of my heart, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come!"


A Recipe For You; Weigh-in "Wednesday"

>> 2.15.2013

Today I wanted to share a baked oatmeal recipe that I found online-- but desperately had to tweak because it was SUPER high in calories!  Original recipe: 462 calories PER serving!  (Too much for my breakfast, folks!)  MY recipe: 216 (according to my "spark" online site calorie calculator) !!!  Now that is a number my body can live with!  Here it is:

3 C oats (I use Old Fashioned...not instant, not steel-cut)
1/2 C brown sugar
1-2 TBSP cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
    Mix these together in one bowl.
1 egg, whole
1 egg white
1/4 C melted butter
1 1/4 C Almond Milk (I've used both sweetened and unsweetened and I can't tell a difference between the two taste-wise)
    Whisk these together in a separate bowl.  (You CAN mix it all in one bowl, of course, and save yourself a dish BUT I've found that the result is a more "eggy" baked oatmeal at the end...for whatever that's worth=)

Mix the two bowls together and then the mixture put in a 9 x 9 baking dish OR put in cupcake papers and have divided for fun individual servings.  (If you use cupcake papers lessen your cooking time.)  Bake at 350o for 30-40 min. until set.  For variations sprinkle cranberries, blueberries, almonds, or mini-chocolate chips on top!  Serve warm and enjoy!

Weight LAST week: 209.4
THIS week: 208.6
GOALS:  working out more often and decreasing my time to get to 2 miles!  I started on the treadmill again last month and wasn't even able to stay on for 30 minutes!  Now I'm up to 30 minutes and running 2 miles in 27.5 minutes.  I'm aiming for 3 miles in 35 minutes by the end of April so...we'll see how it goes!


Weigh-In Wednesday; after a month

>> 1.30.2013

Weight today: 208.8 -- not a large loss but I consider it a great success because:

  1. It wasn't up!
  2. We had a crazy weekend that lent itself to all over the board eating due to traveling/late night ER visits, etc. (I still just basically starved myself through those "out to eat" trips, lol-- I think at least SUBWAY should have gluten free bread!)
  3. I added two workout days AND got myself BACK TO THE GYM for my early am group workout.
  4. I had two people comment to me about how I look "are you losing weight" and "your skin looks good"...and I'll take BOTH of those as complete testimonies to what getting off of gluten is doing for me.

Still struggling to find my low-gluten groove...really still need to be completely gluten-free and then I'm working to discover the other foods that give me problems.  I hope you all are making progress with your own goals this year.  Next time I hope to have time to post some of my favorite new recipes!


A Few Of My (Current) Favorite Things

>> 1.23.2013

(And yes, actually, Sound of Music is one of those...but that's not what inspired me to share these today=)

As homeschoolers, we are constantly changing things in our home schools in order to fit the needs of our individual children and their growing educational needs.  One item I found earlier this year that we've started using on a regular basis is called "Logic   Links."  Brain Ware is the maker of these fun cards with 166 "puzzles" that use chips to be arranged in a certain order according to clues.  Even our youngest, 4 now, has started being able to use and think through the answers enough to do the beginning cards.  The box says ages 6+ but as long as you are working on them together and the child knows his right and left, they can be done at a younger age.  (Click here for a more detailed description. Also note: there are leveled workbooks available that contain the same puzzles/concepts. I found the box to contain the same information but rather than purchasing all the levels separately, which cost $12 each themselves, I purchased Logic Links box/game for $12.99 and have all the levels available in one box!)

Another of my favorite things, and always has been but I find myself at a loss without them, are...(drum roll please!) individual white boards!  It may seem like an obvious thing, but if you have elementary students and are NOT using these items just consider purchasing them and see how "boring writing work" can turn into loads of fun.  (Also, lots of fun games can be had quickly and with ease when each student in your home has their own.)  (Here you can see my Pre-K using his white board having JUST written his name for the very. first. time. all. on. his. own!  I was way more excited than he was!)

I've talked about these next "extras" before, but wanted to share with you again another way you can use this EXCELLENT quick, grab and go, fun-adding, tools; Education Cubes.  Using soft baby blocks with see- through pocket sides, Mama Jenn, another homeschooling mom, came up with a creative tool to learn/review just about any topic you can think of!  My kids have done these with math fact, number words, Spanish words, movement commands, and now our very own 50 States and their capitols.  We became members, a one-time low cost fee, at Mama Jenn's Education Cube site, ordered the blocks from Amazon, and then just visit Mama Jenn's Education Cube site when we need our newest review topic and print and go.  I love it because I'm not so good at adding in the "fun" dimension to homeschooling but after awhile even I make myself bored!

 (You can tell we have some SERIOUS Cube players!!!)

Another current "fav" is the iPod.  Although it's a blessing and a curse all rolled into one, I have come to find some really neat ways the iPod can be used during school hours.  One of my favorite ways, besides the plethora of truly educational games that are out there, is being able to use it to memorize Scripture (or play lines!=)  Our kids are a part of the AWANA program which focuses a lot on Scripture memory.  By the time kids are fluent readers they do not need the amount of help memorizing that younger ones need.  In the mean time, though, I find myself up to my neck-- okay, sometimes just plain drowning, in a sea of "to-dos" not only to maintain a house and help in ministry, but to run actual learning school environment (curriculum, grading, etc.) that I simply can not give the younger ones the time they need helping them learn more Scripture-- no matter how important I think it is!  Enter the iPod.  We've started recording the verses that the younger ones need to memorize that week on the iPod and then they are able to play it to themselves over and over throughout the week.  This has proved to be one of the best ways to use an iPod I could ever think up!  (Along with Audio Scripture that can just read the Bible right out loud to me while I fall asleep. =)

My last "fav" I wanted to share is just the good 'ol fashion wipe board books.  I used to think these were a bit of...twaddle, to borrow a certain person's words from the past, but I have come to find these are truly great for learning; a book to use while I read our current Read Aloud to the older ones, etc. and the younger ones enjoy it, learn from it, and feel like they are apart of the school day.  I am no longer feeling guilty about using these!  (I don't know what kind of absurd pressure I was putting on myself before anyway...)  I highly recommend any like this and this and this.

Hopefully this post has given you a few new ideas or sparked your interest in products you hadn't seen before.  I think searching around for new ideas/tools, etc. can get a bit unproductive so I just thought you might all benefit from seeing what we use often in our home educating house!


Wednesday Weigh-In

Happy to report: 209 even this am!  That's almost a 2 lbs loss.

Tummy issues:  have all but subsided on this FODMAPS diet-- only thing is I still have pain every morning upon waking-- so if you have any ideas as to what that could be from, I'd be happy to hear from you! =)

I have received two bits of info that I'm currently "chewing" over and I thought I'd share them with you briefly.  The first is over the debate of "To weigh or NOT to weigh".

TO weigh--

  • It keeps me motivated and knowing that I'm headed in the right direction when I want more of those blasted WONDERFUL Martha Stewart Chocolate Chip cookies the kids and I made the other day (in lieu of formal "math class").
  • It keeps me accountable
NOT to Weigh --
  • If you're losing weight you will begin to see it in your clothes/mirror
  • Weighing keeps the focus on too much that can occasionally fluctuate the WRONG way and then it can upset you to throwing you off/discouraging you away from your previous goals.
  • We are fearfully and wonderfully made-- and focusing on weight can cloud this TRUTH right out! 
I'm currently voting for "weighing" for myself because I know I'm focused on transforming my kitchen into a "Real Foods" kitchen...this IS lifestyle change I'm attempting to do because I WANT to, it's GOD-Honoring to treat my body and train my kids in this eating well way, and my body is depending on it in every daily situation to feel well enough to focus on something other than my tummy pains!  (Pain is ALWAYS the best motivator, right?=)  I also am confident in who God has created me to be.  I look in the mirror and see many good things about myself and praise the Lord for the talents He's given me.  I'm happy to be me (most days anyways, lol) and I'm happy/content with the life He's given me to live.  I feel I am weighing in for good reasons and have the right mind-set not to be dragged down when the scale says someday, as I know it will eventually, that I've gone up .2 pounds.

Second bit of information I'm not "open" enough to sharing, yet at least, but it's been a good book that shares the idea that weak internal muscles can result in IBS-like suffering as well as other symptoms.  I'm working my way through that so, thank you "Reader Friend" for passing that along!

Exercise Goal:  I did NOT complete as much of that as I'd wanted-- but two more days than I had the previous week so I feel good about it.  Next week I'm aiming for two more!

How are YOUR goals coming?  I'd love to hear from you.


Weigh-In (Wednesday) er...Thursday!

>> 1.17.2013

Okay...so I've been gone for awhile...trying to get my life "in order".  I'm sure all of you have, too!  Well, I decided that wasn't going to happen before I ever wrote again (I mean, come on, it's never going to happen anyway, right?!) So, I thought I choose blogging over laundry because this quiet time doesn't come often! (Two boys at b-ball practice, the others on the Wii...yes, my substitute babysitter when I just need a LITTLE quiet=)

I have decided to weigh myself in on Wednesday...and YOU all get to "watch" me. Ha-- i'm glad you really don't but I decided to try this type of accountability.  It's not so much being accountable to you, as it is to me.  To keep this thing going THIS time.  I've never written on weight issues on here, I think some may look down their noses at me for doing so-- and that's okay with me.  In the happen chance that it helps me AND someone else, though, I believe that enough-- even if it just helps me!

For my own "notes" I thought I'd start these posts by remembering from whence I came! (Again, for ME!)

  • 2008-- had 4th and final child, topped off at 248 lbs!!!  (I look at those pictures and can.not.believe. what I'd become)
  • 2009-- started a series of "Biggest Loser" challenges with some of my absolute bestEST friends!
  • 2009-2010 -- dropped 50 lbs with hardly a glance over my shoulder (well, I mean, I worked at it but honestly not that much!)
  • 2011-summer 2012 -- bobbled up and down, got used to living in a new location, mostly muscle went to fat and began struggle with constant belly pain =(
  • Summer 2012 -- still struggling with lots of belly pain, I started a 60 day Challenge at a local small-town gym.  I worked HARD with at least 60 minutes of intensive workout (Insanity-type program) and ate REALLY well (spinach, kale, low-carb,etc.) and dropped-- NOT A SINGLE pound!  And, before you go on saying, but inches count! You have to know that I didn't even drop a pant size!  I dropped fat around my knees-- yes, my knees!-- and a little around my waist-- 1 inch to be exact!
  • Fall 2012-- complete frustration.  LOTS of belly pain, LOTS of tests with drs. shaking their heads in wonder...and I added the old habit of drinking Mountain Dew back in...yeah-- that = LOTS OF INCHES back on...and about 2 more lbs.
  • December 2012--  Completed all the tests with the drs. and I'm as healthy as all get out (minus the weight issue) but still have lots of belly pain.  Decide to "self-diagnosis" myself with IBS and check out of the mirey muck of self-pity and DO something, yet again, about this weight!
CURRENT:  Weigh-In Wednesdays!  (I'm only a day late in posting-- I've weighed every Wed. in January!)I'm hoping to weigh in briefly and post it here to HELP MYSELF with motivation.  I'll also track some of my findings about IBS as I'm just learning about what to do/eliminate to start with a clean slate.

1)  Lose 52 lbs. by December 31, 2013-- TOTALLY doable so long as I keep at it
2)  Figure out how to maintain LOW belly pain, as it seems like something I'll be working on for a long time.

Jan. 2nd Weigh-In:  212.8
Jan. 9th Weigh-In:   211.8
Jan.16th Weigh-In:  210.6

I'm right on track! AND, I've dropped the Mt. Dew again, eating a low FODMAPS diet for elimination purposes (IBS stuff I'll post on later), and began working out this week at home-- aiming for 30 min/day.

What about YOU!?  Do you have any weigh related goals?  Share them with me!


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