Loneliness Stinketh!!

I vividly remember moving to Texas for the first time sixteen years ago.  My Dad and I drove pretty much non-stop from Wisconsin, all the way to the great state Texas. I first stepped foot on Texas soil, in Texarkana, Texas!  It was exhilarating, and a day to behold.  God was sending me out of the Mid-West, across numerous state lines, almost to the country of Mexico, to a city in which I knew no one.  I could have never prepared myself for the loneliness that was going to enter my heart that day.  It was the beginning of countless and lengthy separations from the ones I loved, and each parting leaving a deeper hole in my heart and cementing loneliness in my soul.  Sixteen years later, that painful ache still manages to creep in each and every time I take that last peek around my shoulder, as my family drives away from the airport. Too many times, my salty tears washed away their vision long before they ever drove away.

Yes, indeed, loneliness stinketh!

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(Saying goodbye to my niece and my mom at the airport.)

Are you beyond busy and find that you never even get to engage in an important conversation with your family?

Are you checked out from life?

Are you so absorbed with your career you have no social life to speak of?

Are you a stay at home parent who has yet, in ten years, to converse with someone older than one in elementary school?

Are you and your spouse seeming to live on separate planets?

Are you single?

Are you a widow or widower?

Well, then you already know the agony of aloneness.  It hurts. It lingers.  It paralyzes. It controls. It stills our hope.

Imagine, then, the loneliness and hopelessness, of a young child in India, who has been taken from his or her home and bought or sold into child trafficking.  “According to UNICEF, child trafficking is defined as “any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country” (wikipedia).  This is horrifying, God-less! Ladies and gentlemen, it is truly not good for us to be alone, and thank Heavens, we were not meant to be alone.

God absolutely, positively, created us to be in a community!

Genesis 2:18

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9:12

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

My heart truly aches for people who are lonely.  I grievously hate seeing living souls broken.  My heart cries because I have Compassion for them. I began this blog explaining the ache that enters my heart when I am separated from my family. It is painful, but, I have honestly never experienced the kind of loneliness an aspiring thirty something feels, who decides that he is so invaluable he choose to end his life, or the kind of loneliness that a young child would experience who was sold into child trafficking.  Thankfully, I am not in that category.  By the grace of God, upon moving to Texas, I  became a part of an amazing family: my church family.  These men, women and children didn’t know anything about me.  I was from a completely different culture. I dressed differently. I talked peculiarly. I was just not like them.  And God-forbid I didn’t use the words “ma’am or sir.” Yet, somehow this loving community embraced me.  They loved me with a gracious and forgiving love from the very beginning and showered me with affection.  I am so blessed to be a part of a Christian community, in which  God created us to be.

Sadly, millions do not have this privilege.  Millions and millions of people in America and beyond are paralyzed by loneliness.  They do not have a loving Christian community to impact their life.  But, you can change that today.  Romans 12:16 says,

Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:16

Often children living in poverty feel alone and isolated.  But, thanks be to God, when a child is sponsored through Compassion International, the loneliness and isolation fades. Not only do you create a way for a child get further away from the trap of child trafficking, but you also provide the privilege of placing them in a loving Christian church family!

I know that many of you are skeptical of organizations similar to Compassion, but I am here today, nearly seven years after sponsoring my first child and researching Compassion as a Child Advocate, to express that being a child sponsor is life-changing and Compassion International is a fabulous, trustworthy organization!!! Sponsoring a child is a way that we can do what God has commanded us to do in the Great Commission:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

Beyond the command, did you hear that promise?  God said,  “Lo, I am with you always to the very end of the age!”  Amazing how The Almighty reminds us that He is in control and that He will provide for us!  I know this from personal experience, yet…

 Satan battles with me daily in an effort to tear my trust away from God.

Yet another reason that a loving, Christian community is so essential.

I now sponsor three beautiful girls from Africa.  Three years ago I moved into my dream house, a townhouse, double the rent. Three months after moving in to my apartment my car engine literally blew up, and I had to buy another “new to me car.”  Last year, I decided to start saving money for a trip to Rwanda, so my twin sister and I could meet two of my sponsored children, one of whom is also an identical twin.  On occasion I like to end the ache of missing my family and visit them, which means I have to fly across the country to see them.  And while I budget obsessively, I still worry how God will provide?  Fortunately, when that worry comes to roost, God counters, and always declares, “watch me!”  That I am, Lord Jesus!  My eyes are fixed upon You, the author and perfecter of my faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  Man, how I long to have a perfect faith!  To perfectly trust God, and to no longer worry! Can you imagine how peaceful that would be? Amazing!

Like me, you surely have questions…

How will you be able to sponsor a child for the first time or anytime for that matter?

How can you be a part of making disciples of all nations when you are saturated with worry?

“Lo, I am with you always to the very end of the age,” God promised!

Matthew 28:20

Sponsoring a child for $38 dollars a month may simply not be the best fit for you and your family.  However, there are many other ways you can support children and families in need through Compassion International.

God will provide a way!

Please prayerfully consider ending the loneliness of even one.

Check out the following link to learn more!

http://www.compassion.com/default.htm

compassion-bloggers-india

My Love Affair With Food…

I am in love with food, and my love affair with food has got to stop!

I eat food when I am happy.

I eat food when I am sad.

I eat food when I am lonely.

I eat food when I am at parties with hundreds of people.

I eat food, all the time, for every single emotion I experience.

Ninety percent of my pins on Pinterest have to do with food.

It is embarrassing, but that is the honest truth.  For thirty-seven years I have come to food to fill my needs, yet all it does is leave me empty.  Seriously, empty.  Fortunately or unfortunately, my love affair with food has got to stop.  I have been nursing a knee injury for weeks.

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All exercise, including training for two dualathons has ceased.  I have been benched again.  However, I believe it is a true intervention.  You see, I am obsessed with food so much, in fact, that I pretty much worship it.  I think about it all the time, and I have never been willing to adjust my eating habits to lose pounds.  Never!  Oh yes, I did the 21-day Standard Process Cleanse about six months ago, but as soon as the 21 days were over, I went straight back to my old habits and gained almost double what I lost.

I  reward myself with food, so when I work out like the “Warrior Princess” I am, then my trophy of choice is food.  Casa Ole’s chicken flameado and a house margarita (or two)!  Papa John’s the Works  Pizza, baby, with extra garlic sauce!  Chocolate chip cookie dough, and don’t even think that I wait to bake them. No, ma’am, all I need is a spoon and the mixing bowl. Pure happiness (or is it?)!

Just to fill you in, I have been consuming a minimum of 2500-3000 calories every day. I know this  because I use my Fitness Pal App religiously and count my calories. I’m obsessed with counting calories, and there has been no greater joy than to log in all the food I ate that day, and upon adding my workouts, see the calories instantly disappear. It was and still is exhilarating!!!  But foolish me, could never understand why I still wasn’t losing any weight.  I was dumbfounded. Angry.  Pissed! Why?  Why can I work out so much, and so hard, yet see no results?  Well, I had a little “heart to heart” with myself the other day, and  I discovered that I have been eating way too many calories. Shocker!!!  If I was satisfied with my weight, which I am not, as I am close to morbidly obese in the medical books, 2500 calories a day with exercise would help me “maintain” my weight. But I am no where near healthy.  I am 187 pounds and 5 foot 2 inches tall.  I must lose weight and after doing some research, I believe following a 1500 calorie diet is essential to my success.

What? What?

I know what you are thinking.  That’s like practically starving one’s self!!!  Believe me, I thought the exact same thing. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever JUST consumed 1500 calories in a day. Well, maybe when I was puking my guts out with the stomach bug, but even then I was somehow always able to eat food.  Like, for real.  My calorie count never even came close to 1500 calories while exercising like a freakin’ beast.

So last week after sitting idle, literally, and maintaining my 2500-3000 calorie meal plan WITHOUT exercising, I had a wake up call. A three pound weight gain in one week.  While I am not proficient at math, I honestly suck, I knew that three pounds a week, times four weeks, is twelve pounds in a month, and well, you get the picture.  No bueno!  I began to envision my 5 foot 2, thirty something self at 300 pounds or more.  My head began reeling and I felt nauseous.

The severity of my love affair with food smacked me straight in the face. I now have two options. I can continue eating the way I have always eaten, and consume obnoxious amounts of calories to feed my emotions, while still not being completely satisfied, or I can do an about face and do something completely fresh and new.  One thing is certain, I cannot begin exercising until I see a doctor and if I change nothing, nothing will change, except of course, for my weight, which will soar.

Fresh and new is what I have decided to do, and it scares the crap out of me. Seriously!  The “Warrior Princess,” she’s a beast!  She can do that stupid crab walk and bear crawl, and run the bridge and do flutter kicks and walking lunges, and triathlons and even those ridiculous frog leaps across the gym floor, which once took me a whole hour to finish, but tell me I can’t eat pizza and “the beast” goes bananas.

But I have to change today, and I have Chris Powell from Extreme Weight Loss to thank for that.

“It is so incredible to see just how much people can change in just 90 days.  Millions of Americans are just sitting around and they don’t realize that in 90 short days they can change their life forever. I mean, you at home?  What is it that you have always wanted? And do you know that you can just be 90 days away from a happier, healthier life?” – Chris Powell (Extreme Weight Loss)

Chris Powell was talking to me…TO ME!  As I sat staring at the television, Chris’s words changed me in the most  profound way! “What is it that you have always wanted? And do you know that you can just be 90 days away from a happier, healthier life” (Powell, Chris; Extreme Weight Loss)?

No, I did not realize that I could be just 90 days away from a happier, healthier life.  His words penetrated my heart! I honestly did NOT know, nor believe that.  Change has always seemed to take years and years and even decades in my family.  But I actually love change. I want change.  But in 90 days, I do not want to be the heaviest I have ever been.  Yet, it is the other question, that is most difficult to stomach.  “What is it that you have always wanted”  (Powell, Chris; Extreme Weight Loss)?  I have never allowed myself to answer that question.   Sadly, my deep lack of self-confidence and my constant feeling of worthlessness has taught me to believe that I don’t deserve anything good.  Frankly even fitting in a size ten pair of jeans is off limits, or at least it has been.  It’s kind of a curse, and as I struggle with my weight loss and my love affair with food, I am beginning to understand that until THAT mindset changes, my weight will literally never come off.  I certainly have a pretty big mountain to climb, but before I can use my legs again, I have have to get control of my food addiction.

I truly want to believe that in 90 days I will be happier and healthier than I have ever been!  I can’t even imagine what that would look like and feel like.  But thankfully, the journey has already begun.  Last week, after hours of pondering Chris Powell’s questions, I Googled his television show and soon discovered the FREE Vemma Bode App!

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The program,  is based on a 1500 calorie diet plan that focuses on Carb Cycling.

A carb cycle is a 7-day period where one alternates between two low-carb days and one high-carb day for six days, followed by one guilt-free day on the seventh day. The varied consumption of carbohydrates helps change how your body uses nutrients and supports your weight management goals. (www.vemma.com)

I say, if one cannot cycle, then why not try “carb cycling.”  Ba dum bum, cymbal crash!

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The Vemma Bode App has incredibly good recipes with menus that include food that I genuinely like to eat.  No tasteless tofu (FYI: my sister in law makes fabulous tofu, I just don’t) or crazy quinoa for me, though the plan allows for you to choose the protein, veggies and fats that you wish to eat each day, and if you are a vegan or vegetarian you can choose those options or simply choose your own meal.  It just so happens that I need the boundaries that this program offers and am choosing to follow the plan they provide (minus the shakes).  It also includes a “Guilt Free Day” which they encourage you to “reward yourself by indulging in foods you crave… but be careful not to go overboard” (www.vemma.com) and asks you to eat five times a day (every three hours), rather than just three times a day.  It’s truly a food addict’s dream! I mean, it is as if the creators of this program actually had me in mind when they created it! Incredible!

My first “official” weigh in day is in two days, though my anal retentive self has already participated in daily weigh ins, recording a 2 1/2 pound weight loss.  I am seriously lovin’ this!!!

So, did you know that in ninety days I will be living a happier healthier life?  Well you do now, and you can be a part of that journey by holding me accountable or better yet, start the program yourself .  Ninety days is a long time.  I am super excited, right now, but I have a tendency to let that excitement fade and go back to my comfort zone.  I cannot do that, anymore.  Won’t you join me?  Your prayers would be appreciated!

 

More Adventures In My 37th Year of Life!

So, if you aren’t in the know, I decided last April to participate in  37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life!  It has been a fabulous journey thus far, and the adventures continue…

#24 – Have Some Fun at The Mall of America/Nickelodeon Universe®IMG_2639IMG_2656

So, I fly in to St. Paul/Minneapolis often when I go to visit family, but rarely do I make an effort to go and visit the mall just for fun. So, that was exactly my plan on my latest trip home. My family and I spent the day at Nickelodeon Universe® which is an indoor theme park that features seven acres of unique attractions and entertainment. We were definitely entertained.  My oldest niece, who is seven, wasn’t scared at all, and rode on every ride with us.  Her favorite was this “skateboard” ride otherwise known as Avatar Airbender. I liked the FAIRLY ODD COASTER, Ghost Blasters, and  Pepsi Orange Streak, the best! I love rides!  The only thing I wish I had done was get a photo with Sponge Bob.  I chickened out –  LOL!

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#25 – Go to a Restaurant I Have Never Been To: Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company

So, I have always wanted to go to Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and finally made it happen. My family and I were pleased with the food, service and atmosphere, and we had a grand time!  I especially loved the Forest Gump Trivia Time with the waitstaff!

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#27 – Eat at the The Nook

The Nook is one of the recommendations made by Food Network Star, Guy Ferrari.  In fact this restaurant has, according to Guy, the #3 Best Burger of all time: Guys Big Bite!  This burger was worth the extra-special trip!!!!  It is a pepperjack, stuffed burger with bacon  topped with roast beef and cheddar.  I am salivating just thinking about it. The cheese was just oozing out! While my other family members weren’t “that” impressed (FYI: they didn’t have this exact burger), I was blown away!!!!  You must go and try THIS burger!  An extra bonus to this trip, was that The Nook is very near my Alma Mater!  How cool is that!July 2014 396

#28 – Eat Tofu

Confession:  I ate tofu and I liked it! Yes, indeed, I loved this tofu!   To the average Joe, tofu, is not something one craves, but since my first encounter with Spicy Baked Marinated Tofu with Vibrant Cabbage Stir Fry, I can’t stop thinking about it. My dad and I regularly talk about this unfathomably fantastic recipe! Kudos to my sister-in-law who is the best cook in all the world and made us this dish!! Seriously! As a family of carnivores, we usually cannot fathom a meal without meat. In fact, we were trying to figure out what we would do “if” we didn’t like it, but no one needed to do that because it was SENSATONAL! Now, we cannot fathom a week without this dish.  YUMMY!tofu

#29 – Learn to make my own salad dressing

I am trying to be more healthy these days, so ranch or Caesar dressing just doesn’t cut it anymore.  My faves have too many calories and too much fat and sugar.  So, I decided to take a crack at making my own salad dressing.  After many, many, MANY failed attempts, I have finally found the best dressing recipe (for me).

1/4 cup of white vinegar

3 TBL water

2 TBL Wildtree Italian Salad Dressing mix

1/2 cup of natural grapeseed oil

If you are curious about this recipe, you can purchase the product or others like it from the following link: http://www.mywildtree.com/shop/catalog.aspx – My friend Stephanie will gladly help you and their products are fabulous!!

#30 – (impromptu) Girls Night at the  Dueling Piano Bar in Houston

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If you know me at all, I don’t do impromptu well.  But on a whim, I got dolled up and drove to Houston to meet two of my girlfriends for a Girls Night Out!! It was truly one of my most exciting, personal, just for fun, nights I have ever experienced!  The Dueling Piano bar is the bombdiggity!  I could have stayed there all night long and I hope to return again soon!!!  It was so pleasing! From my requests one of the pianists said, “do you like oldies?”  Why yes I do, how did you guess?!  Could it have been that my list included “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Teenager in Love,” “Sittin’ On Top of the Bay,” “Hello, Mary Lou,” “Elvira,” etc.

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Pushin’ Through the Pain

So, I wasn’t intending to inflict pain upon myself, but it inevitably happens (or shall I say “happened”) when you try and push yourself when you aren’t exactly in the best of shape.  About a month ago I started getting serious about working out again!  The three months previous, I still hadn’t recovered 100% from and “unknown” illness,  was super busy, and I just didn’t commit to exercising.  Now, I have a dualthon to train for!  It will be a 3.1 mile run, followed by an 18 mile bike, followed by another 3.1 mile run, and I can’t do this “cold turkey” or I will be the turkey.  Sadly, I continue to gain weight, due to my poor eating habits, which is seriously unhealthy and is frankly dangerous, hence my need for exercise.  Also, there are risks in exercising and training, especially when running and/or biking where there is traffic and/or you are in unfamiliar territory, which I have proven to do on many occasions. But I must take the lesser of two evils and keep pushin’ through the pain because I MUST get healthy.

Running on the treadmill hurts.

Getting up in the early morning to run the bridge hurts.

Pushing yourself to surpass your mph average on your bike hurts.

Sit-ups hurt.

Flutterkicks hurt.

It all hurts, but it must be done to get healthy.

Just over three weeks ago, I decided to go “head to head” with a train track, and unfortunately the train track won. Unbeknownst to me, the train track ahead had an “ever so slight curve” that became parallel, not perpendicular to the road.

Are you gettin’ what I’m puttin’ down? 

So, unavoidably, my tiny road tires fell in between the tracks, while all 185 pounds of me, that was traveling approximately 15 miles per hour, was suddenly catapulted through the air only to land and hauntingly slide over the tracks and onward across the pavement. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “where the rubber meets the road.”   My elbow hit first, followed by my shoulder and then my knee.  Thankfully there wasn’t a train coming, however, I was truly a “train wreck” after that and the pain was beyond excruciating.

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Believe me when I tell you that road rash  is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

I know it is probably not “cool” (literally or figuratively) to wear leather from top to bottom while riding a road bike (especially in this Texas heat), but I am strongly considering it.  That fall inflicted the most agonizing pain I have ever experienced.  With that said, I fell in the middle of the ride, some five miles away from home, so my only option was to dust myself off, and push through the pain.

God’s word is so true!!!

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)

Yeah, I was in pain.   I’m not sure if it could have really been avoided, since I was unfamiliar with the road, but I fell, and  I was in a great deal of pain.  I wanted to just curl up in a fetal position and call it a night, but I couldn’t do that. I HAD to keep going!  I find myself in situations like this time and time again.  Don’t you?  I fall off my bike, I injure my knee, I say something stupid, I hurt someone I love.  “Why Lord, why,” I lament.  Yet God encourages us through His word to keep on keepin’ on!  While it may be excruciatingly painful for a time, God will, as promised, get us through.  He doesn’t promise that we will be “happy as a lark” our whole life through.  No sirree, that is not true.  Fortunately, He does promise that when we go through those pain-filled times (and they will come), He will come to our rescue in HIS time, because He is our loving, Savior!

Oh, yes, lest I forget, I have had some great “first” experiences while exercising! This is my A.D.D. kickin’ in.  On my last vacation with my family we all went on a “family walk/run.”  This has NEVER happened before.  I mean, we are the family who drives around Walmart for an hour to find the closest and ONLY the closest parking spot. We are the family that entertains ourselves in front of the TV, watching movies while entering into a Coca-Cola and popcorn (dripping with butter) coma.  But not this time.  Every member of my family strapped on his/her running shoes and went for a run or walk!  I was so proud of our family!

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 Here is my niece and I on the run!

 She chose this fashionable tutu as her running attire! Isn’t she cute!  I also discovered that she is going to be a world class runner!! She is soooooo fast, and she needs to be my permanent running buddy! I literally got “smoked” by a four year old :) See, she’s keeping the pace!

Familyreunion 076My mom and my youngest niece even joined us on our walk/run!

We celebrated our run by jumping in to the lake – literally!  

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Clearly I am the heaviest one of the bunch as I am miles ahead of them in meeting the water.

One more reason to keep pushin’ through the pain!

Notice my niece (the running machine) is having no part of our fun (see above).  

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Here is our after shot! It felt so good to jump in that cool lake!

A month ago I also started running “the bridge” with two of my friends!  We don’t have hills in these here parts, so any chance I can get to run “up hill” is great training! I am getting stronger and stronger!

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Finally, my last few bricks (1 mile run, 20-minute bike, 1 mile run) have also shown improvement, so I am encouraged!

Can’t you see the pain in my face from today’s brick!?!?!

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God is Good, All the Time! All the Time, God is Good!

Shooting For the Stars!

It was Spring.
But it was Summer I wanted,
The warm days,
And the great outdoors.

It was summer.
But it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves,
And the cool, dry air.

It was Fall.
But it was Winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow,
And the joy of the holiday season.

It was Winter.
But it was Spring I wanted,
The warmth,
And the blossoming of nature.

I was a child.
But it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom,
And the respect.

I was twenty.
But it was thirty I wanted,
To be mature,
And sophisticated.

I was middle-aged.
But it was twenty I wanted,
The youth,
And the free spirit.

I was retired.
But it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind,
Without limitations.

My life was over.

But I never got what I wanted.

“Present Tense” by Jason Lehman

I will never forget these words falling off the lips of Luci Swindoll in October of 2010. Still to this day, I do not ever recall being so aware of God’s presence as I did at that moment, nor have I ever been so overcome by emotion in a public venue, but there I was in the middle of the Alamodome hunched over, weeping. “My life was over. But I never got what I wanted.”  THAT was going to be me and the reality leveled me.  Have you ever felt this defeated?

One week later, my sister asked me to participate in the Chicago Triathlon with her and my brother (who at the time, was serving in Iraq). This couch potato and anything but an athlete,  said, “yes!” My journey to train for the triathlon also turned into my organizing a support group for families of soldiers overseas called “Walkin’ While We Wait.” It was a way to encourage healthy living and trusting God, so rather than “weeping, whining or worrying – we walked!” It is amazing how God’s hand was at work and  the dominoes began to fall. Had I never attended the Women of Faith 2010 gathering and heard those words, I know with certainty that I would never have said “yes” to my sister’s request, I would have never had the courage to start this organization and I would never have begun a journey to healthy living.  The domino effect continued as I soon became the proud mama of two amazing schnauzers.  I had always wanted to have two dogs, but never allowed myself the satisfaction, and so I  finally got my Chip and Charleigh Anne! That year I also  made it a priority to travel to see my family (who live 1500 miles away from me) returning home four separate times. Sticking with the family theme, these transforming words, along with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit gave me confidence to step out in faith and sponsor three children from Africa through Compassion International, something I had always wanted to do.  This one phrase, “My life was over but I never got what I wanted” had shaken me to the core and moved me to do more in that one year and the years following than I had done in all my previous 30 years combined.

Tonight, “Present Tense” stopped me cold again.  I began to wonder what Mukademari Beatrice, Uwineza Jacqueline and Blessing Muthoni dream about becoming? I wondered what my nieces and nephews and all of my precious students long to be?  I wondered if  they are shooting for the stars or if they regularly feel defeated like I had for most of my life?

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As a little girl I rarely remember feeling strong and courageous.  Oh, who am I kidding?  As a grown woman I feel very much the same way.  It is a struggle to live in the present. Unfortunately too many of us, children included, sit in the past and wallow in our fears and self-pity.  I heard a mother share that in the midst of yet another faux pas, her six year old son shouted in exasperation, “Mom, I messed up again…I just want to die.” How can a child be so riddled with defeat and hopelessness that he doesn’t want to live? My heart aches beyond understanding, and my lips pray for the precious children in this world. They need permission to shoot for the stars, and encouragement when they fall short.   Ladies and gentlemen, we have a responsibility to rally together and supply them with that blessing!

As I visited with students today after school (our first week of school for the year is complete)  most students were already counting down the days until Thanksgiving Break.  I wonder if my girls in Africa have ever felt the same way?  From their letters,  I surely pray this isn’t the case.

“We are doing exams that end the school year. I am always grateful for the love you show me. Keep praying for me to perform well.” – Mukademari

“My schooling is going well and I am preparing for second term exams” - Uwineza

“At school it is going good. I am in primary 4. I did well in term 1. I request you to continue to pray for me to study well.”  -Mukademari

“Someday I would like to be a Pastor and preach the Gospel” – Uwineza

Because of Compassion International and my sponsorship, my girls are able to freely attend school which “provides them with Bible teaching, health screening, hygiene and nutrition education, physical exercises, field trips, games, opportunities for community service, scholastic materials, tutoring and school and home visitations” (compassion.com) Each time they write they talk about school and what they learn. Their words encourage me! I pray that they would know what beauties they are and that they are dripping with potential.  Unfortunately, the statistics are stacked against them, and billions of others.

Did You Know?

(www.crin.org, http://www.unicef.org, http://www.childinfo.org)

  • Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.
  • The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.
  • Of the 67 million primary-school-age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.
  • Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.
  • Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls. The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls.

I don’t want my girls or any children to succumb to the false reality that they are worthless. I don’t want them to reach the end of their lives saying, “my life was over, but I never got what I wanted” (Lehman, Jason).  I want them all to finish school, and be who God created them to be!!!! I want them to live in the present and  shoot for the stars without fear!

I pray, also, that you and I can live in the present and take full advantage of the opportunities set before us!  Furthermore, when we falter or fail, may we love each other enough to pick each other up, offer forgiveness and keep movin’ toward those stars!

Join with me and pray for my girls.  Better yet, won’t you consider sponsoring a child (by clicking on the previous link) so you can save one more child from being a statistic and change the end of his or her story from “My life was over and I  never got what I wanted” to “my life was over and I DID everything that God wanted!”

 Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Soooooo, seriously, ladies and gents.  Why on earth do we put ourselves through cruel and usual punishment?  Like for REAL?  This last week was my first serious week of regular exercise.  Of course I should be eating right too, but that is, and always will be my arch nemesis.  I attempt to both, “eat well” and “exercise,” but it is a continuous, exhausting, struggle.  With that said, just seven months ago I had completed training for a dualthon in Austin, and I was running my mile in about 8:44 and was averaging almost 4 1/2 miles in 20 minutes during my brick.  For those of you not in the know, a brick is an essential part of triathlon and dualthon training which, according to beginnnertriathlete.com, “refers to training on two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other, with minimal or no interruption in between, just as you would do in a race.” The brick I did today was one mile run, followed by a 20-minute bike followed by yet another mile.  The last time I did a brick was in January.

Fast forward to August of 2014, I have gained approximately six pounds in that time, and due to illness have been refraining from exercise, until this week. Today proved it. The excruciating pain in my lungs and my legs this afternoon was indeed, cruel and unusual punishment.  Had I JUST stayed the course and continued to exercise regularly and eat well, I would have probably lost about ten pounds, would be rockin’ a 8 1/2 minute mile, and my lungs would not have felt as if they were the size of a dried up prune.  But NOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!  A 10:14 mile run, 4.1 mile bike, and 10:37 mile run. I just can’t keep it together.  My body hurt so badly, I literally thought I was having a heart attack.

So, now, I find myself training for two dualthons, one in October and another in December and I am back to where I started?  It frustrates me, beyond measure, that I do this to myself.   “So why do you pay money to put yourself through such strenuous exercise,” you might pose?  “Well, because racing seems to be the only approach that keeps me committed to exercising regularly.”  If I miss a day, or number of days or God-forbid, a week of exercise (when training for a race), I lament, “Kristy, for Pete’s sake, you paid money for this upcoming race.  Are you just going to throw it away?” Then, the thought of throwing money in the trash races through my mind, and I get off my derriere to workout.   Regretfully, if I am completely honest, I battle with self-worth, and simply declaring, “I’m worth it,” doesn’t push me enough.  Maybe you can identify?

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As frustrating as today was, I am determined to stay the course and compete in both races, lose ten pounds (or shall I say, “get rid of ten pounds,” because, by golly, I DO NOT want those ten pounds to find me again) and get healthy!  Why don’t you set a goal for yourself too?

On a completely separate note (this is my ADD kicking in), today I had the blessing of attending a Women’s Ministry event!  Amazing author, and speaker, Donna Pyle, was our guest! You neeeeeeeed to sit at her feet and soak in her words because Jesus is there!

“Perhaps you’re experiencing a detour through a spiritual desert right now…Keep walking.  We all experience desert seasons.  Maybe you’re right in the middle of one of those seasons, or you have just emerged from one. Perhaps you see the dry, crackled ground ahead.  Are you ready to give up?  If that describes you, take heart. Jesus offers something better.  He shows you the path to streams of living water that will quench your soul’s thirst.  He cannot bear watching you shrivel up without hope.”  (Donna Pyle, Quenched, 2014)

Indeed my body is out of shape and in need of an overhaul, as I expressed above, but heaven forbid we forget our souls?  Certainly, I was in need of water during my brick today. According to my doctor, I drink more water than any person he has ever seen (at least I can say I’ve finally won an award – LOL), but I am achingly in need of  “living water” that only our Savior can give.  Maybe you find yourself suffering in your relationship with God and/or simply need to be fed spiritually?  Dive into God’s Word, the Bible.  And if that is just too overwhelming for you right now, I would  suggest you check out Donna Pyle’s latest book, Quenched: Christ’s Living Water for a Thirsty Soul, and/or any of her amazing Bible studies from her website: http://www.artesianministries.org/ 

Blessed be the journey!

No CARDIO = No Party-YO :(

Due to my super busy schedule, at work, I have not made the effort to do my regular cardio workouts (ie: biking and running). In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I actually went for a run. On second thought, yes I can.  It was the Biggest Loser 5K. However, that was sadly, in MAY! I mean, I should be shouting, “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY!”  Yikes! That is insane! After all of the hard work I put in to compete in the dualthon in December, and completing the Standard Process 21-Day Cleanse in April, I am back up to 184 pounds and returning to my “comfortable,” old eating habits.

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I HATE IT!

 It makes me sad, and frustrated, and makes me long to be that girl that can just eat anything she wants, but doesn’t gain a single pound. Unfortunately, that is not who God made me to be, and I have to accept that.

Tonight, I had to nip it in the bud! After getting home from work at 9:20pm, I simply put on my workout sneakers, changed into my workout clothes (for I am not a woman who can just wear “whatever” when I work out. Believe me, it would not be a pretty sight, and I would probably score a couple black eyes) and made no excuses. I turned on the treadmill and walked, with a 4 incline, for one hour.  Side note: over a month ago, I canceled my gym membership and was basically gifted a friend’s treadmill. It was a minimal cost for the greatness of this machine, but as is the case in most homes, it was starting to collect some dust and some dirty clothes.

Fortunately, tonight I got her workin’ again!

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After my workout I felt unbelievably energized!!!  

Oh my goodness have I missed cardio!  In fact I learned a hard lesson: “No cardio equals no party, YO!” I’m not kidding.  I have missed my cardio workouts. I miss my bike. I miss running with my running buddy.  I know that life happens, and work happens, and often there are times when I just can’t do it, but I have got to find a way to stop setting my workouts aside and reaching for food during busy, stressful times.  I am not in the partying mood right now. I am sad because I sabotage myself.  I move forward and then at the first onset of stress, I move ten miles in the other direction.  It is pitiful really, and it is something I have GOT to figure out before I have a heart attack or get diabetes.  Nine days ago I joined a free online exercise accountability group.  We do a challenge a day and share our goals,  joys, sorrows and failures with each other on Facebook.  I have sadly missed a few challenges, however, this group reminds me of the importance of having people to exercise with.  You need people to hold you accountable.  These thirty men and women are doing that for me. Yes, I have failed to fulfill the challenges on a few days, but thankfully, I have continued to press on, because I know they want me to.   My personality is one that needs that extra encouragement and push from others. I am not going to apologize for it, but simply accept it, and realize that being surrounded by people who will encourage me to be healthy is essential to my success. It has been proven time and time again throughout my life.

I don’t know where you are at, my friends?  But, I hope that you will join me in kicking those bad, unhealthy habits for good. We all need to stay on track and commit to healthy living!

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

Genesis 1:27