The Battle of Weight Loss

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When I was growing up, I was a skinny mini.  I never dreamed that I would become overweight.  But, honestly, shortly after high school, I started putting on a few pounds.  I even had to diet while I was engaged to be married so that I could fit into my wedding dress.  Thankfully, back then, I didn’t have much to lose.  But, after baby #1, I gained a lot of weight and though I’ve tried a multitude of diets, I’ve never maintained well.  And, now after 4 babies and 18 years of being overweight, it doesn’t get easier!

When I was young, I loved going to the pool and swimming for hours!  And, I loved bike riding.  I even rode the MS 150 one year with my dad.  It was so fun!  And, both of these are great exercises that burn LOTS of calories.  No wonder I was able to remain thin back then!  Then, you know, after marriage, work, and having babies, you don’t have as much time to do those fun things like swimming, or bike riding.  I guess they just got put on the back burner.  And, my priority became kids, homeschooling, and other things.

I have tried dieting on my own, Weight Watchers multiple times, Weigh Down, The Flat Belly Diet, First Place 4 Health, and currently I’m doing Trim Healthy Mama.  I’ve learned a lot through all these losses and regains!  Here are some things that I have learned:

  • accountability is KEY.  Lose weight with a friend or two!  Surround yourself with people who will support you and encourage you on your journey.
  • Any diet can work, IF you follow the plan.  Some work better than others and have more freedom than others.  Some are also more healthy than others.  Find something that can become a lifestyle.
  • Find exercises that you enjoy, and doing them with friends can even make it more enjoyable!  I honestly don’t like to sweat.  I know that’s bad to say, but I really don’t.  I love the water, because it cools me, and I love bike riding because if you can get your speed up, there’s a nice breeze (not to mention getting to see God’s beauty through creation as you ride).  I’ve also come to enjoy Pilates for the firming and shaping that results (however, I definitely sweat)!  I also enjoy yoga for relaxation, and I’ve come to enjoy intervals because of the help with metabolism and energy.  I’ve found mixing things up and doing something different each day keeps me motivated, and helps me not to get bored.  And, I honestly think it helps trick my body and trim it quicker because it never knows what’s happening to it from day to day.  Ha!  🙂
  • The more you eat healthy, the less you crave the unhealthy.  It’s amazing what I’ve come to love to eat, and be satisfied with.  Things I never would have tried before!
  • Journaling helps me.  I weigh once a week, and journal about how I did.  Some weeks are very encouraging, others not so much, but when I keep track, I know what to do to improve.

Currently, I’ve been struggling with a weight loss, a weight gain, a weight loss.  Sometimes it feels like this battle will never end!  But, I have to remain positive, and see where I’ve come in only about 18 weeks.  I’ve lost about 35 lbs.  The exciting part is that 35 lbs is the most I’ve ever lost in any weight loss program.  So, this time, I KNOW that I will pass that hurdle, and continue going!  I have about 100 more pounds to lose.  That seems daunting when I see that number, but I truly believe it’s possible this time.  I just have to remain focused on the goal and stop the temptations before I allow them to overtake me!

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

                                                                                                            1 Corinthians 10:13

So, do you have any weight battle tips?  I’d love to hear them!  I am determined to win this battle!  Someday, I may be brave enough to post my before and after photos.  Can’t wait for that day!

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More Chaos, Less Order

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I am going to be completely honest here, and say that one of my all time biggest struggles is keeping a clean home.  Oh, I try to.  And, there’s been times in my life where I’ve done better than others.  But, it is truly a real struggle.  I don’t really know the reason why.  I think part of the reason is that I’m a perfectionist.  You may be thinking….”Well, if you’re a perfectionist, it would make sense that the house is always in perfect order.”  You would think so, however, I’ve found that my perfectionism also can cause utter chaos.  I rationalize that since I don’t have time to make it perfect like I want it, I might as well not do it at all.  It’s really pretty silly for me to think that way, because doing SOMETHING is certainly better than doing NOTHING.  But, sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed and almost paralized because I just can’t keep up with it all.  I have four kids, and with each addition, it seems to have gotten more difficult.  And, this overwhelmed feeling leads to much guilt, and feelings of failure.  It’s a pretty dreadful place to be.

I’ve read numerous books on cleaning and organization.  I’ve even implemented many plans.  I definitely have some favorite books I could recommend on the topic, and I may just list them at some point in case this is a struggle for anyone else.  But, the truth of the matter is….unless you put into practice what you read, and not just for a short time, but for the long haul, it will not stick.  It’s really quite a bummer.  I’ve often wished I could hire out help for keeping a clean house, but I am a stay at home momma, so I should be able to handle this!  I’ve had some great friends and family come and help me during some extra overwhelming times in my life.  They proved to be such a blessing, but the guilt returns once again when I’m unable to maintain what they helped me to create.

The longer I struggle with this, and the more I pray about it, I am coming to the conclusion that it’s really a whole lot about habits.  We get into these bad habits, like:

  • Leaving things out because we think it takes too long to put them away
  • Rushing to leave, so we don’t have time to pick up first (this is also a time management problem that seems to go along with the chaos of a messy home)
  • Spending too much time on screens….t.v., social media, phones
  • Sleeping in when getting up earlier would be a better choice
  • Staying up too late…then being too tired to accomplish much the next day
  • Procrastinating
  • Having TOO MUCH STUFF
  • Allowing things to build up to an overwhelming state
  • Not taking time out for recharging (I recharge by listening to Worship music, spending time in prayer and Bible Study, enjoying nature drawing and journaling, art, and date nights with my husband, or girls night’s out)
  • Not having a plan for meals…until the last minute
  • Not having a plan for each day

And, once bad habits are formed, they are VERY HARD to break!

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I’m currently reading yet another book on clutter.  I do find that reading the books help me to get motivated to make the necessary changes.  Since begining to read this latest book, I have gone back to making daily To-Do Lists.  It really helps me to maintain good habits.  Right now my list consists of:

  • Making My Bed as soon as I rise
  • Getting Ready for the day (Shower, Dress, Hair, Face)
  • Making and Eating Breakfast
  • Bible Study & Prayer Time
  • Daily Chores
  • Homeschooling

After I complete all of these things, I add to my list other things I’d like to accomplish that I may or may not get to.  For instance, right now, I am preparing for my son’s graduation so I have on my list to get the address labels made for the graduation invitations.  I’m also in the midst of planning homeschooling for next year, writing lesson plans, selling old curriculum, etc.  So, I add those things so I don’t forget anything.  And, if I don’t get to those things, I just move them to the list for the next day.  Having a list has really helped me stay better on task each day, feel more organized, and accomplish more. It has also helped me to prioritize the most important things.  So, for me a list is really necessary!  I can’t believe I allowed myself to stop using one for awhile.  Chaos returns with a vengeance when I don’t!

The last couple books I’ve read have really focused a lot on getting rid of so.much.stuff.  It’s impossible to keep a home clean when the clutter is overtaking it.  And, not really just clutter, but any access items.  We don’t NEED all the stuff that we own, but we just keep bringing more in!  It’s especially hard with kids and toys.  And, homeschooling makes it tough, too.  But, I do feel so much better emotionally, when my house feels like it’s been cleaned out.  Last summer, I did a major declutter.  I went through all the bedrooms, closets, clothes, toys, books, etc, and packed up probably 15-20 bags to give away.  It felt awesome!  That was after the last book I read on this subject.  I’ve learned, though, that after almost a year, it is something that needs to be done probably quarterly.  Otherwise more stuff keeps coming in!  With birthdays and Christmas gifts, with homeschooling books and supplies, with new clothes and shoes, and growing children….the stuff justs continues to accumulate.  And, once again, I’m feeling the suffocation of an unorganized, cluttered house.  And, honestly, I’ve learned you really can’t organize clutter.  It’s nice to organize those things you love and are keeping.  But, I must get rid of the rest!

So, since realizing I once again need to purge….I’m planning to tackle what I didn’t accomplish last year.  That includes the linen closet, bathroom cabinets, kitchen cabinets, and revamping of the kids clothes, shoes, and toys, and the most dreaded of all….the BASEMENT…otherwise known as the dungeon.  I’m actually hoping to get my entire family on board for the basement, and hoping to tackle it all over one weekend.  I don’t know if I will be able to accomplish it all in one weekend, but I do think it’s a great goal.  So, hopefully I can post an update with the before and after pictures!  And, if I’m able to maintain by developing GOOD habits to replace my bad ones, I will share my awesome list of books I’ve used over the years that have helped me a ton!

So, do you struggle with keeping a clean home?  Clutter?  Disorganization?  Have you conquered these struggles in your life?  If so, I’d love to hear how you got from Chaos to Order!

The Temptation of Pride

I am a long time follower of Jesus.  My relationship with the Lord began when I was a child, and I learned to study God’s Word as a teenager.  I’ve had lots of ups and downs in studying God’s Word through many different periods of my life.  I think all Christians do.  However, I’ve recently discovered that sometimes long time Christians who’ve read parts of the Bible over and over again can become numb to the words.  So, in considering this, I asked myself: “Why is this?”  We become numb to it, or feel like we aren’t getting anything out of it, even though the study time began with prayer and we’re reading our Bibles daily.  Surely I’m not the only one that feels this way.  We are so busy in this day and age.  Myself included!  Sometimes I think we are so busy that we just can’t slow our minds down enough to ingest what the Lord is wanting to tell us.  So, in our rushed minds, we also rush through our study of the Bible and feel nothing.  We just have a common routine of being able to check our study off our daily to do list.  Does this mean we shouldn’t have this daily routine, especially if we feel we never get anything out of it?  Absolutely not!  Good habits are sometimes difficult to maintain, so making it a priority to even open the Word is important.  But, I think when we feel we aren’t getting anything out of it, we are really just forgetting to open our hearts and minds, and to slow the pace within us.

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I know this has been me, more often than I’d like to admit.  Often times I have my To-Do List that is always considerably longer than I’m even capable of completing in a day’s time lingering in my mind, and I feel like I have to hurry and get things done, including my time with the Lord.  This is the ‘Martha’ in me, and not the ‘Mary’.  (See Luke 10:38-42)  I’m more worried about what gets accomplished than I am about hearing from the Lord, and growing in His Word.  God’s Word tells us in Isaiah 55:10-11, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  So, if God’s Word is true, and I believe it is 100%, then we are meant to receive something from the Lord EACH and EVERY time we open His Word.  So, why do so many people NOT feel like they do?

I know this has been me, because when I really, truly, deeply within myself am hungering for growth, the Lord shows me something new; something that’s been there all along, mind you, but I was too rushed to see it and soak it in.  I’ve also read the same passages over and over again, reading the words like I read a story, and not really thinking much about what I’m reading.  So, I come away ‘knowing’ the story, but not really the message behind the story.  One such story that I know I’ve missed messages in, or didn’t understand the complete message was the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32.  I always thought the whole story was about the son that took his share of his inheritance, squandered it in wild living, and then came to his senses and returned to his father, who was waiting for him with open arms. I also always felt the older brother had reason to be upset!  So, I tended to side with him.  However, in really studying the passage, I came to realize that passage has a lot to say about the older brother.  In fact, nearly half of the story is about the older brother.  And, I realized that the older brother really had a heart problem.  He felt he’d done no wrong, and didn’t understand why his ‘naughty’ brother was getting all the attention.  The Lord showed me that the older brother was in fact wrong.  He had a prideful heart!  He felt as though he was better than his brother.  But, Jesus takes us as we are…..good, bad, and ugly.  Another story that I had read multiple times was the story of Mary and Martha (mentioned above).  I felt Martha’s pain!  I couldn’t understand why the Lord rubuked her when all she wanted was some help.  But again, it was a heart problem.  Mary had chosen relationships over regular duties.  Martha was probably worried about cleaning the house, and preparing a meal.  But, Jesus wants our hearts much more than our service.  How did I miss these messages for so many years?  I believe that it’s a prideful heart that causes us not to hear from the Lord.  We think….I’m doing the right thing, I’m spending time in His Word and in prayer.  But, deep down we think we’ve heard all of this before, that what we’re reading is boring or doesn’t apply to our exact situation.  So we try to go at this life on our own figuring we can take care of whatever we happen to be going through on our own.

Thank You, Lord, for putting up with my pride.  Create in me a clean heart and a humble spirit.  I want to feel what Hebrews 4:12 says:  “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

May we all slow our pace, get rid of our pride, and really desire to grow in His Word, and in better relationship with Him.

The Meaning Behind Strings to Wings

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I have wanted to write for a very long time.  I started writing when I was a teen, but it was just in personal journals that I began with:  “Dear Imagination”.  Now I see that and think it is rather funny.  But, it was during those times of writing in my journals and studying God’s Word those many years ago, that I felt like writing was something I could do.  I enjoyed writing.  It made me smile, released whatever feelings I may have been having, and it just felt right.

I remember one summer, after I came home from a Christian Youth Camp called Super Summer, I would sit in the quiet of my room for hours everyday, just listening to Christian music and spending time in prayer and Bible Study.  I loved that time in my life.  I grew so much Spiritually during that time and it was beautiful!  I even remember my mom, at one time, being concerned about me because I was spending so much time hanging out in my room.  But, to me, it was a place where I could meet with the Lord and be filled.

It was during that time, I began writing a devotional/journal/notebook that I called AGOGE, which is greek for Manner of Living.  At that time, I did everything with pen and paper, kind of like a sketch of what I hoped it would become.  We didn’t own a computer, this was the late 80’s or early 90’s and computers were just starting to become common place.  But, I did what I could with what I had.  I did own a pretty fancy typewriter that erased if you made a mistake, which was heaven to me after using one that you had to pull the paper completely out, white out your mistake, then try to realign your paper to type over where you made the mistake.  I was very grateful to have the typewriter that corrected mistakes!  (And, now I am extra thrilled to have a husband who owns a computer business!)

Anyway, I made the devotional/journal/notebook and once I had it typed how I wanted it, 3 hole punched, and put into a small notebook, I took it to my pastor to show him.  He was such an encouragement to me!  He told me that I had a gift and that I really ought to try to get the book published.  Well, I was a teenager!  I had no idea how to do that, but he gave me some information to check into and encouraged me to run with it.  He is also the one that helped me come up with the name AGOGE.  I am forever grateful, and to this day I think of him as the best pastor I’ve ever had.  (Not just because he encouraged my writing, but because he preached with conviction, he lived what he preached, he loved on our family, and he mentored many people into true disciples of Jesus Christ.)  He is retired now, but he is still very much active in ministry.  That’s the way it should be when you love Jesus!

I regret to say that I never did get AGOGE published.  I still have it tucked away in a file cabinet. But, I did happen to to make several copies of it and sold it for super cheap (probably the price of the notebook) to people who wanted a copy.  And, it did sell.  I was happy with that.

I tell you all of this as background.  Once I got married, and involved in Youth Ministry with my husband, my writing got put on the back burner.  I was living life.  I was newly married, learning ministry with my husband, and working.  My creativity played out in new ways then.  I LOVED to decorate homes, try out faux painting techniques, refinish things, and the like.  I also worked full-time, so I just had to fit in these creative activities when I had time.  And, then we began having children.  Well, with one child, the creativity continued into scrapbooking, along with the previous mentioned things.  But, once the second baby came, along with feeding issues and doctor visits, all came to an abrupt halt.  Once we got through the difficulties, more life happened and more struggles occured.  Maybe someday I can write about those bumps in my life, but those will be for other posts.  I am grateful now for the struggles and bumps, even as difficult as they were, because God used them to shape me into the person I am today, and He continues to work in my life growing me into the exact person He wants me to be.

Now we have 4 children, and have been married for 22 years.  My husband is still doing youth ministry, but I stay at home to homeschool my kiddos (one is about to graduate this year, and my youngest hasn’t even started school yet), and life has been super crazy.  However, I feel the Lord nudging me on to venture back into writing.  Except this time through blogging.  I’m excited and thrilled!

Remember how I mentioned above the struggles and bumps along the journey my life has taken me?  Well, it was through those difficult times that God gave me the thought of how my heart is on a string.  It is super fragile, but placed in His hands will be held and given wings to fly above whatever circumstances come my way.  And, in training and raising my children, I have the same goals for them.  That I will eventually help them to cut the ties at home and be able to fly on wings as eagles.  So, originally I came up with a super long blog post name.  It was….Hearts on Strings Getting Wings.  But, after speaking with a good friend who also blogs, she encouraged me to shorten it, as it was too long.  So, I came up with Strings to Wings.

We all are on a journey through this life, and all of us have fragile hearts.  Hopefully when the pressures of life come and the strings get worn or cut, we will have grown enough to not fall to the ground, but to fly above those circumstances, and soar.