Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weighing In; Cutting down

Three of us in my household are weighing in regularly. (That I know of)

Some of us weigh ourselves more than once a day.

It's a regular topic in our house, and that's because we're working hard on it and are having some modest success. When you're afraid of what the scale says, you generally avoid it. Which is what I'd done for the last year or so. But, "the time has come, the walrus said..."

Of course, my husband loses faster than I do. Men do. They can think about not eating and drop a pound, whereas, we women just look at pictures of food in a magazine and we can't fit in our favorite jeans.

Consequently, when we do actually eat, we want it to count.

So we're avoiding bad stuff, like desserts, and sausage. Guess what? We're surviving without them just fine. Who knew?

What are you trying to cut out of your life?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Seduction of Food

I've been trying to shed a few pounds. Who isn't? The only way it works for me is to say 'no' to foods I want. Not all foods, but some. I've realized just how tied I am to some food choices, such as that bit of chocolate in the afternoon. Or the butter in my oatmeal (now I've really confessed).

Sweets in particular can all but take over every holiday, if you think about it. What is Valentine's Day without chocolate? What are birthdays without cake? What is Easter without a basket of candy? What is Christmas without cookies, pecan pie, gingerbread? mouth is watering...

I've been doing without sweets (mostly) for a while now, and guess what? They don't have as big a hold on me as they did.That doesn't mean I don't want them. I just don't want them as much. I can live without them.

Food can be a seductress. I mean, we have to eat everyday, right? So it's natural that what we eat is a matter for thought regularly. And after all, food was the object of the first temptation. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! My father used to say "I don't live to eat, I eat to live". I can't quite claim that as my mantra. But I am trying to put food in it's proper place - as a tool for living. I hold the tool. It doesn't hold me.
Jesus said life is more than food and clothes. I think He meant that there is meaning in life far beyond what we see, hear, taste, or touch. After all, chocolate can only so so much for you, and then it lets you down big time. I don't want to be seduced by anything.

What is your relationship to food?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Do You Do Everyday?

During my 30 day Count Your Blessings Challenge, I had a birds eye view of the greatest moments of my life, and I am blessed indeed. It was a challenge in more than one way.  

If you take the time to do this, I guarantee it will be rewarding.

Now I am released to freestyle swim in the blog stream, and it is exhilarating.

Blogging everyday makes you feel a sense of responsibility to the outside world. I feel many of you are reading, and wanting to chime in. I'd like to hear your thoughts on a variety of subjects.

Today's question is:

As you go about your day, what one thing do you consistently do each day? Is there something that you'd like to do more consistently?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Wrap It Up: Day 30 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

Well it's happened. I've got blessings running over and I've run out of month.

In my attempt to wrap this up, I've got to share with you some of my hopes and dreams.

I have four adolescent/young adult daughters. How many times over the past couple years would I have loved to pamper them! To take them all for pedicures, shopping and lunch on a whim. To buy their friends lunch. To throw big backyard parties. To let them decorate their rooms all at once, refurnish their bedrooms. To take them on family vacations, to buy their yearbooks and new school clothing (both - not one or the other). To go and get our hair done all together. To buy them the books they want. To buy them all new bikes. To help buy them each a car. To travel to visit colleges. To pay for college. It's been so tight. Instead they've seen the utilities turned off. Heard us for hours on the phone with creditors. They've never been hungry, but sometimes it wasn't the food they wanted. They've shopped second hand frequently. I could go on, but I don't want to sound whiny.

The question sneaks in: Where's the blessing?

Two-part, if you must ask. First of all, I know what my girls are like when they don't have everything. And finer girls you never saw! Having everything you want usually makes a different (and not so pleasant) person out of you than not having everything. My girls are living proof of this, and I am so proud of them.  I guess underneath it all, more than the material blessings, the nurturing of their spirits is what I've truly wanted. The second part is this. I've trusted God with my whole life. If He can promise me that all things work together for good and His glory, then I can trust that no matter what I go through, even when I'm in the middle of things that  I've messed up, it's safe.
I'm safe.

You're safe.

We're safe.

It's the only way to live. Jesus said life is far more than clothes and food, even more than our physical bodies.  And we can trust Him. You can't learn this on a Sunday School picnic. At least I wasn't chosen to learn it on a Sunday School picnic. Maybe you were.

But wherever you are, I hope you, too, are learning to trust Him, the One from Whom all blessings flow.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review for BE THE PEOPLE By Carol M. Swain, PhD Clarion Call to American Roots

Carol M Swain, PhD is a black woman. She grew up in a shack in the south with no indoor plumbing. She is now a professor at Vanderbilt University, and professional speaker and activist. She has a voice worth listening to.

With compelling research, and a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, Ms. Swain urges Americans everywhere to become educated and active in fighting against the growing pollution of the original American ideal. Aligning her points with the biblical truth, she exposes the widening gap between our founding fathers’ vision of America, and our modern distortion of it.

She states, rather daringly, among other arguments, that African Americans are more well-to-do and educated in America than in any other country, and that, inexplicably, this is a direct result of the tragedy of slavery.

Believing we have not yet reached a point in our country where we are able to discourse comfortably about distressing behavioral trends across racial lines, by stating this she pushes open the door for even more discussion.

Complete with Appendices of the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, this book is an excellent resource for anyone who cares about America. Even a scathing liberal would do well to listen to this textbook black single mother, who knows whereof she speaks.

I have received a complimentary copy of WE THE PEOPLE from Thomas Nelson Publishers in return for my honest opinion.

The Alarmist Alarms in All the Right Places

The Alarmists

By Don Hoesel

Colonel Richards and his team at the Pentagon have discovered an alarming number of ‘coincidental’ occurrences around the world that threaten security in ways they can’t quite interpret. So they call in Dr. Brent Michaels, a professor of Psychology, as a consultant to help analyze the data as it relates to human behavior. It isn’t the first time he’s assisted the government, but this case appears to be more global than anyone realized. Someone is capitalizing on the 2012 ‘end of the world’ fears by escalating catastrophic events, but that someone is rich and powerful enough to keep his or her movements practically invisible.

Working alongside Captain Madigan, or ‘Maddy’ a pretty young woman of faith, causes Michaels to rethink his atheistic mindset. He also has ample opportunity to reflect on eternity when in the course of research the two are shot at, and Maddy is wounded.

Following the team from the Pentagon to Texas, Afghanistan, Antarctica, and the exotic and wild Eritrea near Ethiopia, one is aware of the truly global nature of the modern world, and the inherent dangers that creates. I can’t tell you the ending, but I really liked the way Hoesel presented everyday people with a compelling Christian faith. 

I don’t normally like books with blood red covers. But I liked this one. After all, it is a book about the end of the world. 

I received a copy of The Alarmists free from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest opinion.

Perspective: Day 29 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

In the years I've been a wife and mother, I've collected a lot of stories.

Some of these are good, with happy endings, and some are not so happy. I've known people who have lost children, lost mothers and fathers, made a fortune when a rich aunt died, lost everything, and just about everything in between.

The enduring sense I make of all these is that attitude counts. Period. No matter where you find yourself in life, if you can muster a positive, and grateful attitude, your story will in the end be successful. If you short-circuit the process with whining, and self-absorption, you will implode on yourself, and not only cause others pain, but create a life of loneliness.

Times are hard. Not as hard as they could be, but things are not exactly going swimmingly in most parts of the world. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic.

We owe it to ourselves and those around us to live for things that will last. To value honesty, integrity, kindness, gratitude, respect. Everyday brings a new opportunity to start over. Will we fail? Without question. But the blessing of having lived for 52 years has given me a broader perspective on the habits of the spirit that make a person attractive and successful. In other words, I've made mistakes,too. But I've also reaped the blessing of a grateful attitude. It's a gift you give yourself everyday.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blessed to Be an American: Day 28 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

It has been two hundred thirty five years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Since that time, there have been forty four presidents, almost half as many wars and conflicts, the invention of the electric light, the automobile, telephone, and computer. The economy has faltered several times and we have righted grave errors, one being the institution of slavery, another the problem of monopolies (oops-we haven't managed that one yet, and perhaps not completed our work on the abolition of slavery) .

From all appearances the old patriot is somewhat of a laughingstock. It is no longer quite as fashionable to love your country. Funny thing though. We still do. Are we leaving in droves? Quite the contrary. We have a big immigration problem. And if you look around there are A LOT of new Americans. According to author Carol M.Swain, PhD, in her book, Be the People,  there is an organization that whisks over wealthy foreigners just in time to have a baby, thus accomplishing citizenship for the sake of citizenship, not residence. The people in other countries know things about America that we have taken as a matter of course.If you don't believe this, ask them why they've come. I've heard stories of children having to cross barbed wire to go to school, of religious persecution. I learned this just because I asked, "Why did you come here?" I've heard that even in some highly developed countries clerks wouldn't think of smiling or asking, "How can I help you?" when you walk into a store.

The new patriot's time has come. Above all, the new patriot needs to be wise, not just sappy over the sight of the flag, as I admit I do. However, my kids don't. What happened? Many of us are sitting around waiting for America to deliver on that promise, our dream. We don't even know we're living it. We may have set our sights on material blessings rather than the original American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.Who among us can say he doesn't enjoy all three in some measure?

Last I checked, the majority of my neighbors were still friendly, polite, and followed the law. They didn't open fire on me because we have a different religion. When I go the the bank or the grocery store, there is a reasonable exchange, and the food supply is unhampered and regulated. My roads are fixed, my mail delivered, my local courthouse is trying cases and putting criminals behind bars. I can have as many children as I like, of either gender. I am free to work where I like, to worship at any place of worship, to speak my mind in private, and in public. These are things that spring from a healthy law abiding society.

Globalization and awareness are the new bywords, the passwords of our culture. Jesus had a global worldview, and no one could accuse him of a lack of awareness. These are not new virtues, but are sometimes used as emotional buttons to promote a narrow rather than broad agenda. Today's patriot should know what is happening down the block as well as around the world. After all, every action, no matter how small has consequences.

I just met a young man who is voluntarily joining the Marines next week. My own brother just finished basic training with the Army and will be stationed in Seoul, Korea as a Chaplain's assistant. Why do people do this? Ask them. It's an education to talk to a soldier. An education we all need. For the new patriot knows things, about his country, about her neighbors, about the world.

I pledge allegiance to America. Not because it's perfect, but because it's up to me to make America better.

The goal of freedom and justice for all is a lofty one.

We are not the people we used to be.

But we are not yet the people we should be.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 26, 27 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

What began as a challenge because I was experiencing a great amount of difficulty, is now a challenge to fit all the blessings I can count in thirty posts. I now deem it impossible. Invariably when I'm discussing or thinking of one blessing, a dozen will crowd in, and soon they are college freshmen in a Volkswagen with room for just one more 'small one'!

But, I  soldier on.

Yesterday's post, a digression, about the beautiful stars is a perfect segue for my next subject. My love of nature.

I consider food to be a part of nature. Edible living things. Therefore my love of cooking, and eating, is included. 

Ever since I was a teenager and was responsible for many of the family meals while my mother was at work, I have always loved to cook! There are an astounding number of possibilities for recipes, and food groupings. So much so, that I wonder at our default to pizza, tacos and burgers!
My $25,000 sandwich!

I've been a fan of the Joy of Cooking cookbook for years. the description just under the title of my 1946 copy reads: a Compilation of Reliable Recipes with an Occasional Culinary Chat. The two copies in my bookcase are well-worn from my hands and the previous owners' hands. I plan on handing them down someday as I consider them necessary for any serious cook. Oops! You see, there I've done it again. I was talking about the blessing of food, and in walked something about how a book can be a blessing.

Well, about food. Isn't it lovely how we can always find our appetite again, eventually? Even after Thanksgiving! It always returns. That 'relishing' feeling when shopping, or poring over a menu or recipe book, or talking to a friend about a particular food. Everyday we get to eat. We can eat something different if we want, or make our favorites over and over. We can experiment. We can taste. We can explore a world of flavors, and sensations. And the colors! Beets, and romaine. Summer squash and red potatoes... Don't get me started.

On to the rest of nature. Rocks, trees, mountains, rivers and oceans!

My love of planting began when I was a child. I loved to help my father landscape our yard with decorative rock and plant the garden. His foot on the shovel was far stronger than mine back then, and I think of him every time I turn over soil.

Peaches from our tree
I have a friend who literally drives his backhoe down my street to bring me rocks he has unearthed in his job as an excavator. They are proud, permanent reminders of God's amazing creative ability. They serve no real purpose. I just like to look at them.

Trees. I have palm, ash, maple, magnolia, pear, palm, cherry, orange, lemon and peach trees in my yard. They all give their blessing to  me! The silhouette of  scrub oak against the golden rolling foothills near where we live is an unmatched masterpiece. Only God can make a tree.

A trip to the coast just to watch the ocean can reset my life in a day.  I have experienced the Atlantic, the Pacific, as well as Lake Michigan, The Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi, Tuolumne, American and Thames rivers, the Delta, the Bayous, and the Dead Sea. They all have their blessings! 

The relentless and faithful roll of the waves and flow of the current is certainly meant in part for the soul.