Monthly Archives: October 2011

The No-Excuses Diet

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Since moving to Utah five years ago, I’ve gained 30 lbs.  Can you believe it?  Well, no-neither could I.  Stir together a dab of depression, five pints of self-pity, a ton of teen-ager angst, cold winters spent indoors and a 100 wheelbarrows full of high calorie foods and there ‘ya have it.  The problem is, I have a carnival-type mirror in my mind that distorts the view making me perennially skinny, which, I guess, is better than perenially fat, but still not reality. But photos don’t lie.  Okay they fib a little maybe, but mostly they say things like, “Honey, you have such a beautiful face…” and you know what comes after that.

So.  I took one last wide-eyed look at myself and said simply and very firmly, “NO MORE EXCUSES.”  That was about 6 weeks ago.  Since then I’ve lost 13.5 lbs (picture that in raw hamburger-it’s a lot) very painlessly.  Here’s how it works ( my rocket-science mind came up with this all by myself):

Eat Less.

Profound, yes?  I count calories.  The great thing is, every food has them, so you don’t have to hunt to find them-calories, I mean.  Every allrecipes.com items have them posted, and tons of sites besides (Sparks, for instance).  Since this isn’t a diet but a life, I don’t freak out if John takes me to dinner.  I just pray and ask the Lord what he’d like me to eat.  Not to over-spiritualize or anything, but really-isn’t everything spiritual whether we like it or not?  I mean, everything affects everything else, ultimately ending up in the Big Scheme of Things, and since I will ultimately answer to God, I think I should ask His opinion on stuff.  But that’s another blog.  Okay.  So I give myself 1300 calories per day tops to lose a pound a week, and then reward myself with a few hundred less about 4 out of 7 days and use the leftovers for stuff like going out with John, since I can’t really know how many calories were in my “sizzling rice soup” (one evening) or the “southwest chicken salad” (the next).  We don’t go out to dinner much which is a good thing, but we went out twice last week ‘cuz he took two days off to celebrate no teenagers in the house.  I still managed to lose a lb.  But here’s what I’m learning:

1.  God does have an opinion about this stuff, so ask him to be your Personal Trainer.

2.  Don’t go hungry.  Unless you’re fasting and then it’s none of my business.

3.  Find some things you love to eat.  My personal favorites (i.e. I could pretty much eat these morning, noon and night):

Burritos made with no-fat whole grain tortillas (recipe to follow, eventually) 1/2 cup black beans, 2 T. grated cheese, 1 T. really good Greek yogurt

(My fave:  Fage 0% fat) and a shake of either hot sauce or taco seasoning.  Total: Yummy and 250 cal.  If I want to bank some calories, I cut the beans to 1/4 cup and the cheese to 1 T.  (T. means measured tablespoon for you non-cooks).

Fage Yogurt 0% the Supreme Being of yogurts.  I put Splenda or Truvia to taste and vanilla.  It is so creamy, it satisfies the “if I don’t get ice cream I’ll scream” craving.  130 calories for a cup.

Cookies because “man does not live by bread alone” and neither do I!  I buy the little box or bag-type cookie mixes-the kind that says the mix alone is 110 calories for 2 cookies.  Then it says something like add a bucket of butter, an egg, etc.  I don’t.  I add one of two things:  water or water and egg whites.   Egg whites (2-3) make the cookies chewy.  I know, I know- I could add applesauce, or pureed prunes, or mashed banana, but I don’t like cake-textured cookies, and for some reason, I don’t like try to trick my tastebuds into liking what they don’t like.  Anyway, I don’t know how much water I add-maybe a half cup (NOT runny dough, please!) and pop ’em in the oven.  My favorite:  anything chocolate chip or chunk.  For some inexplicable reason, I’m pretty good at limiting myself to two but if I really want to binge, I eat four in a day.  I’ll even eat the raw dough, BUT I have to count that too.  Usually I don’t make the eighteen cookies or whatever it says it serves.  I make the cookies twice as large and of course, then each cookie is 110, but they LOOK like I’m not dieting and I like that.  So I don’t eat four of those.  Ok maybe I do 🙂 if I’m having a “Cookies and nothing but cookies” day-but I don’t like the coma that follows.

3.  Walk.  Nothing crazy, just find a view you like and walk it.  A golf course, a park, a mall.  I HATE treadmills.  I am not a hamster.  The word alone should give us a clue:  Tread: rhymes with dread.  Mill: a device for grinding a solid substance to powder or pulp.  Who wants that?  I will, in a pinch (or an extra cookie) defy my better judgement and get on a treadmill, but I rarely last longer than 20 minutes and grouse and gripe all the way.    My husband and I like the mall-and yes we’re old but not that old-which makes us the youngest of the mall-walker set and that’s always good.  Joke all you want, but come winter I won’t be the one in a cast from walking on icy sidewalks.  I did that last year.

4.  Walk again later.  Gets rid of stress, and gives my feet something to do when I’m on the phone with my sisters.

5.  Drink water.  I hate this.  How can anyone “hate” water.  Easy.  My grandmother did.  My mother did.  I do and so do my daughters.  Some sort of wacky genetic disorder I guess.  But since we all have to do things we hate (like clean the toilet and laundry), I’ve added this because, well-it WORKS.  I picture my fat cells screaming in terror as they white-water raft right out of my body with every glass of clear discomfort.  8 glasses.  Or 4 big ones. Just DO IT.  Or improvise.  Slice a lime, put it in a 2 qt. pitcher and fill with water.  Then add a Crystal light or store brand equivalent.  Favorite:  Lime Margarita something-or-other.  No, it doesn’t have alcohol.  I can drink LOTS of this.

November Meditations for Mondays

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November 2011 One-a-Week Devos.

Take The Cut

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  Jn. 15:2 

We have an apple tree in the backyard.  It produces hundreds of apples each Fall.  The fruit is sweet, juicy and crisp.  There’s just one little problem:  the apples are about an inch and a half in diameter!  They are barely worth eating raw and it takes a whole lot of time to make even one pie.  One of these days I’ll learn how to prune the tree so we’ll have more useable fruit.

Likewise, God prunes us to produce more useable fruit. We may do a lot of things for God, producing abundant fruit, but when we branch out in too many different directions, we are in need of pruning.  So our Master Gardener starts clipping.  Ouch!  He cuts this ministry, he removes this gift, he scraps “this really great work” of ours.  He will not stop until he has a tree that produces the kind of fruit He wants.

Are we willing to take the cut?  Master Gardener, may we yield to the shears, saw or ax that you wield to bring forth useable fruit for Your glory! 

“B” Attitudes

…and He began to teach them, saying, ”blessed are the poor in spirit…”  Matthew 5:2,3a

B-rate movies are a waste of money.  B-rate attitudes are worse.  If B stands for “bad” I’ve had more than my share of B-rate attitudes.  These are any attitudes directly opposed to what Matthew 5 calls the Beatitudes.  Here, the Lord calls us to be humble (vs. 3), yet I often bristle with pride when I’m “dissed”.  He calls us to be sorry for our sin (vs. 4), but I could author a book titled, A Hundred and One Excuses for My Bads.  He calls us to be gentle (vs 5), yet I am a tyrant to injustices (except my own, of course).  In the remaining verses,  He calls us to actively seek Him, show mercy, be pure, peaceful and glad in suffering.  Yet I am often lazy, accusatory, have mixed motives, stir up strife and grip about hardship.

I can either “berate” myself, or ask the Lord to help me to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus: humble, yielding, serving, dying (read Philippians 2).  Almighty Attitude Adjuster, help me yield to the work of Your Holy Spirit.  Change my B-attitudes to beatitudes for Your glory through Christ Jesus my Lord. 

 

How Not to Pray

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…Matthew 6:5

Before Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, he teaches them how not to pray.  He says don’t be like the hypocrites who love to show off when they pray.  He says don’t keep babbling like pagans.  So, to all of us who go to prayer meetings and go on and on and on, hogging all the prayers and the time, STOP IT.  The fastest way to send everyone screaming from a Bible study or prayer meeting is to have one person monopolize the prayers.  Jesus doesn’t tell us to stop praying of course, he just says to do that kind of praying in your closet.  Alone.  Door shut. This is a great motive sifter.  If my prayers suddenly become stilted and brief when clothes and shoes in the closet are my only audience, well then, that other stuff I was doing in public was more like babbling.  Ouch.  Keep it simple.  Jesus did.  In a nutshell, He asked for God’s will to be done, for  daily bread, for forgiveness-just like the kind we give others (now there’s some food for thought), and for protection from the bad stuff.  Pretty simple.  Let’s try it:  Lord, help me.     Now, off to our closets!

 

Harold the Angel and Other Myths

Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Heb. 1:14

As a pre-school teacher, I’ve heard it all when it comes to definitions for angels.

According to my students, angels are:

Fat flying babies with bows and arrows that could poke their eyes out.

What we become when we die.

Big fluffy-winged white ladies who sing, play harps and live on clouds.

Sometimes named Harold (as in “Hark the…”).

Where do kids get this stuff?  From their parents, mostly.

There are so many misconceptions about angels, it is tempting to “throw the baby (angel) out with the holywater” and forget all about them.  But according to the Hebrews 1:14,

“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

Angels are important messengers from God,  and unlike most pictures we’ve seen, they are:

Comforting:  They ministered to Jesus after He was tempted and before He died.

(Mt. 4:11, Lk. 22:43)

Mighty:  “God sent his angel and he shut the mouth of the lions,” (Dan. 6:22).

Strong: “He will command his angels to guard you in all your ways”  (Ps. 91:11).

And a little bossy:  “He [an angel] struck Peter on the side and woke him up and said, ‘Quick!  Get up!’”

The point is, angels are real, they serve us, and though we don’t often see them hangin’ around, God has provided them to serve Him, and us.  Thank you Lord for sending your ministering angels.   P.S.  The Bible doesn’t say angels are scary looking, but I’m thinking they just might be because the first words to us humans is usually, “DO NOT BE AFRAID.”( Luke 1:13, 1:30, 2:10)  Or maybe their opinion of humans is that we’re a bit whimpy and in need of encouragement.  Which- ya know, we are. 🙂

 

 

 

The Benefits of Longevity (Pt. 1)

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John and I have our irreconcilable differences.  It would be strange if we didn’t.  We are total opposites. We are about as different as two people can be- and this is not some accident- it’s God’s plan.   Our love languages are different:  Words of encouragement and physical expression are his love languages.  Mine?  Vacuum the floor for me and I’m all over you. Well not you, him.  Finish the vacuuming first, of course.  I’m quick, he’s thoughtful;  I’m organized, he has a collection of socks on the floor;  I see what’s in front of me, he dreams. In parenting, I kick butt, he reasons (to a point); my idea of vacation is to camp and hike, his is a stack of books sidled up to an overstuffed chair next to a crackling fire (after eight kids, I admit his idea has great appeal). Early on, I freaked out if we look like we’re going into debt, he thought ATM’s were ever-winning slot machines.  I like to cook, he likes to eat. I rise before dawn, he does his best thinking at midnight.  This is just a sample of our  differences.  Pretty much you name it, we’re opposite.  But we have some all-important  similarities:  Singularly and together we have a non-negotiable love and commitment to Jesus.  And, before we married, we decided divorce would be a four-letter word in our house and we’d never go there-not verbally, not mentally.  That and prayer was about the only thing we had going for us, because we had some really wacky ideas about marriage-like, we thought it’d be okay to give each other privacy and respect if an old boyfriend/girlfriend showed up at the door-Yikes!!  The Lord protected us and changed our minds about that one.

So, how did we get here, thirty-eight years later?  Here being bliss.  Here being really, really happily married and loving hangin’ out with each other and having FUN?  Well, we make adjustments and allowances.  We forgive a lot.  We appreciate each other, and our differences.  We cover each other’s back.  Okay- so he leaves a pile of trash on the floor next to his chair, I put a trash thingy right where he drops it.  Ta-Da!  Problem solved.  I freak out at the finances, he takes on the responsibility of paying bills (the Big Spender should, ya’ know).

This we know:

1.  We will not change each other (God may-but that’s HIS business).

2.  We will both make big mistakes (but how else do we learn?).

3.  We will get through it.

Our business is to love each other deeply, pray for each other,  and adjust, yield and bend -which are palatable  way of saying, “we die to ourselves”.  Is that a bad thing?  In this day, it would seem so, but we are living proof that the outcome is being…BLISSED and BLESSED.  Of course, we wouldn’t have that if we didn’t believe in longevity.  And God.

Contention

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Last week I was reading Proverbs and discovered five verses pertaining to contentious people, four of which pointed the finger at women.  I say, “Them’s fightin’ words”.  Which proves the point (-ed finger).  So I’m thinking of all the ways I can be contentious.  The word has many meanings, none of which are part of Proverbs 31’s virtuous woman (but who needs her, anyway?)  Pr 21:19 says, “Better to live in a desert than with a contentious and vexing woman.”  Notice, it says “woman” not “wife”, so all you single gals don’t get off so easily, and I’d better add my role as a mother to the mix, too.

Definition of Contention:  1. Strife; struggle; a violent effort to obtain something, or to resist a person, claim or injury; contest; quarrel.

Definition of Vex:                1. To irritate; to make angry by little provocations;   2. To plague; to torment; to harass; to afflict.  3. To disturb; to disquiet;                                                          to agitate.  4. To trouble; to distress.

So, let’s see…I can recall many examples of contention in my history.  The cleverest of all were those times when I actually thought my contentiousness was “spiritual”-which was basically, 100 % of the time.  Well, maybe it was-but it was from the wrong spirit!  I’ll include under this heading the times I thought I heard a “word of the Lord” for John.  Funny how that “word” always agreed with my strong opinion on something.  Anyway, isn’t that another way of taking the Lord’s name in vain?   “Contending for the faith” is quite different from being “contentious in faith”, and a fine line divides them.  Which is why I need Jesus everyday- and to mind my own dang business when it comes to my husband’s faith.  I have no business deciding his calling, his means of supporting us, or inflicting my brand of “hearing from the Lord” on him.  I am to be his helpmate which means I am to PRAY for him, and leave it at that.  Yes, I have opinions, and yes, I share them (isn’t that obvious?)-but it is not for me to live my faith vicariously through Him.  Basically, when I go to the Word, I hear “shut up and pray”.  A lot.  Which means, no spiritual “fuming” at him, or judgement disguised as disappointment (which sounds much more spiritual, does it not?)  And no using my personal ambitions to move him.  So, this is a post to be continued, but for now, I’d just like to say, “Gee I’m a jerk sometimes (and thanks, John-and God- for loving me anyway).

Ahhh…Bliss

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I am experiencing my favorite earthly bliss at the moment:  John and me, and all the time in the world.  For two long days. At the moment, we have two floors of silence and privacy  (Tim is in Moab; Zach and most of the girls are at work, and those that aren’t, are totally ignoring us 🙂  As if that wasn’t enough, we are  in bed with tall mugs of coffee from the little maker on the bathroom counter.  A slice of toast made from the 7 Grain Bread I made yesterday (honey and butter for John, cinnamon for me), Spicy Indian candles, music, and our laptops.  I’m looking at recipes and writing devotionals. John’s being his amazingly brainy and generous self by helping make this blog user-friendly for his tech-challenged wife and dreaming his techie dreams.  “Did you know they’re coming out with a new ___________?”  He says (Fill in the blank with the latest and greatest by Apple computer toy, only half of which I vaguely understand). We’ve been amazingly blessed with 38 years of marriage and eight great kids, but who would have imagined this on top of it all?  Blissed and Blessed.  Thank you, Lord.