Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Journey: Why is obesity an epidemic in our country?

While I was on this journey last year to lose 45 pounds,
 not only was I learning how to count calories,
 how to fit exercise into my already bulging daily schedule,
how to plan ahead and list out my snacks for the day,
how to accept that loneliness, frustration, and boredom were emotions that were fueling some bad snacking habits,
but I also had to learn how to control my portions!!

It was another enormous "ah-HA" moment for me when I began paying attention
 to what a REAL serving size is.
I was a little ashamed when I realized that I was often eating enough for 2 or 3 people!!
It takes an enormous amount of self-control to only eat one piece of pizza when you're STARVING!
(Well, for me anyway!)
But that's just it.
I had to learn the foods that were "diet busters" for me and either:

1.  Avoid them completely until I wasn't starving
2.  Manage my hunger better with a salad or something ahead of time so I didn't gorge

I started thinking about this idea of self-control a LOT!
I thought about the way the American culture is overloaded with huge servings!
We want everything "super sized"
and instead of treating it like it is...enough servings for several people...
we eat the entire thing!!

I don't think we expect to go into a restaurant these days, and get anything less than 
a wheel barrel full of food on our plates.
And we wonder why obesity is such a problem?

 Americans are becoming more comfortable with and accommodating to being such an unhealthy size.
Have you noticed that clothing sizes are different/bigger than they used to be?
I'm convinced that the size 10 jeans I could buy today are waaaay bigger than the size 10 jeans I
used to buy 15-20 years ago.
They have such a large selection these days of clothing for the larger person,
as well as so many accoutrements to accommodate them.
I heard recently that the number of bariatric surgeries has just skyrocketed!
Obviously, we have a problem with obesity in this country,
but we want the quick way out of the problem.
We either live in denial (that hamburger isn't THAT big or I'm not THAT heavy, I'm just pleasantly plump!),
or want a quick-fix!

Why can't we be content with just one serving?
Isn't that all we really need?
Am I using my food to be my comfort?
Am I so overwhelmed with my responsibilities and daily stresses that I turn to that box of cookies?

Why am I not turning to the Lord with my burdens?

"The Lord is my portion, saith my soul;
therefore will I hope in Him."
~Lamentations 3:24

"I cried unto thee, O Lord:
I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion......
Attend unto my cry;
for I am very low:
....Bring my soul out of prison,
that I may praise thy name."
~Psalm 142:5-7

I get that obesity will not become completely extinct in our country if we all learned portion control.
I know there is so much more involved.
But I have observed that Americans eat way more than they need to,
and that the driving force behind that should be addressed.

Sure, it's genetic.
Because my parents had bad eating habits passed down to them from their parents.
And where did my grandparents learn unhealthy eating patterns?
From their parents.
That's the genetic link.

It became so intensely clear to me that my children learn how to eat
and why to eat from.....
I want them to learn that finding a quiet place to regroup when the frustration mounts,
or that a hot cup of tea or coffee with some sweet, lovely music can calm the soul
better than that bowl of ice cream.
I want them to learn that beginning their day in the majestic and peaceful presence of the Lord
will make all the days pressures pale in comparison.

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."
~Psalm 73:26

Monday, January 24, 2011

Illness and the Type 1 Diabetic child

We're sick again.
And I'm getting sick of it.
I mean, really?
We haven't been to our Pediatrician in a couple of years, and I almost broke down Saturday morning and took in my two oldest who are sick for the second time in 3 weeks!
Over the New Year's Day and the following week, I think you'll remember we had a nasty "barf-a-thon."
Now, this last Tuesday evening, my oldest red-haired daughter began coughing and complaining of a sore throat.
She didn't get out of bed until this morning.
And she's been running a fever, has laryngitis, and a congested, wracking cough.
On Saturday morning, it was my second daughter.
She woke up with a fever and sore throat, and began losing her voice more as the day got older.
My husband and I took turns going to church with the well ones on yet another Sunday.
Pray for us?

It's always stressful and wearisome to have a sick child, but especially so when she has Type 1 Diabetes.
Until we started living with this disease, I had absolutely no idea how ignorant I was to what our bodies just do for us.
I had no idea that your pancreas spills out insulin throughout the entire day and night whenever your body needs it.
When you need insulin.
When you move and exercise and run around, you need insulin.
When your body gets cold or hot, you need insulin.
When you get especially need insulin.
I was IGNORANT to how many things the pancreas regulates in your body.
Just another grace.

But when your child doesn't have a functioning pancreas, you have to learn how to think like a pancreas.
Believe me, this has been mind-numbing.
Questions like these overwhelmed me when we were trying to take in all this information"

"You mean, people actually have to do this??"
"You mean, I have to know how many carbohydrates are in every morsel of food that goes in this child's mouth?"
"REALLY?  We have to check her blood sugar THAT many times a day?"
"I'M the one who has to do all the math to figure out exactly how many units of insulin to give her
at EVERY meal?"
"Wait.  There's more than one KIND of insulin and they work completely differently?"

And it only gets more complicated when she is sick.
See, when she's sick, she has to have insulin.
But if you give insulin, you have to expect that to affect her blood sugar.
Fine if her blood sugar is already high because of the illness, but tricky if it's in normal to low ranges.
Then she has to get some carbohydrates in her to offset the insulin.
No fun when you're vomiting and can't keep anything down.
So we had to learn the liquids she could have that contain carbohydrates....popsicles, soda, jello, juice boxes, etc.
But our problem has been that she hasn't wanted to eat.
So we haven't checked her blood sugar, or if we did, it was within normal ranges.
She started feeling exceptionally bad then.
Another thing we had to learn about.....KETONES.
Here's what our information defines these as:

"When the body can not use glucose (from carbohydrates) for energy,
it will break down fat cells for another source of energy.
Ketones result from the body's attempt to use fat cells for energy.
Ketones are acids, and can make your child sick."

In other words, an ill person with a healthy, functioning pancreas will just continue to put out the insulin necessary to convert carbohydrates into energy to keep that sick person's body functioning (brain, bladder, heart, lungs, etc.).  
Yet another grace.

But a person who has no pancreas has no insulin to get the sugar (glucose) into the blood stream for energy, so their body will try to convert fat into energy.  The resulting acid waste from that spills into the urine and are called ketones.
We have test strips in our house now to check her urine for ketones every two hours when she is sick. 

Because of this latest illness, we are becoming a little more used to having to handle these ketones.
At first, we sort of panicked.
When you're told that if her ketones measure "large" you may ultimately have to take her to the hospital,
you take it very seriously.

So she feels terrible, we pull out the test strips and see the dreaded PURPLE color.
Large ketones.
I call the doctor on call at Children's Hospital for instructions, and here's what we are told to do:

Check her blood sugar and urine for ketones....every two hours:

If her blood sugar is ABOVE 250, she can't have carbohydrates (think diet soda or proteins):
In addition to that, if she has:
Large Ketones- We give her 20% of her total number of units of insulin (both Humalog and Lantus).
12 units of Humalog

Moderate Ketones - 15% of total units of insulin for the day
9 units of Humalog

Small Ketones - 10% of total units of insulin for the day
6 units

Trace ketones - Use her correction scale (another chart we have to follow on well days)


If her blood sugar is below 250, she can have carbohydrates.
We were to start by adding in 45 grams of carbohydrates with large ketones.

Oh, and don't forget the 8-10 oz. of water every 20 minutes.

Thankfully, we have found her to respond quite positively very quickly, and all her numbers drop back to normal/safe ranges within a couple hours.  
I can't tell you the relief and security I've found in the lifeline at our Children's Hospital and how quickly they return our calls, and how encouragingly they coach us along!!  
We never feel like we've done the wrong thing, or that we were calling because we are hypochondriacs!

More grace.
A sigh of relief.

But I'll be so glad to be able to put the notebook and ketone strips away.
And to get back to the outside world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe!!

It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe, but this is such a yummy one and is so good for these cold winter days.  The first time I ever heard of this dish was when I was living in New Hampshire.  I don't think it's specific to that region of the country, though it wouldn't surprise me as it's so hardy and warming during the endless months of snow and cold up there.  Honestly, I've never seen a recipe for it nor seen it served anywhere here in Texas, but that doesn't mean that it's not here.
Doesn't nearly every good "homestyle" restaurant have a recipe for this?
My recipe is taken from a cookbook I have from a M.O.P.S group in Northwest Ohio where I grew up.  It's very good, but I'm sure it would be more amazing with some fabulous homemade sauce or other ingredients added to it (I'm thinking shredded cheese or those french fried onion things, and I've seen other recipes that use frozen peas and carrots and diced tomatoes too).  It's really delicious and one of the perfect "comfort foods!"

Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef (I always use a pound of ground turkey)
1 can corn
1 can green beans
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I prefer the organic brands without all the MSG)
3 servings of mashed potatoes (leftovers are great for this!!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown ground meat and place in the bottom of a casserole dish. (I used about a 3 quart dish)
Layer corn over meat, then soup over corn.
Layer beans over the soup.
Cover all with the mashed potatoes.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.  (I did mine uncovered.)

I think the next time, I'm going to mix some shredded cheese into the mashed potatoes before spreading them over the top of the veggies.  The idea of cheesy potatoes just sounds so good to me!!


(P.S.  Sorry I don't have any pictures of it in an individual serving on a plate, but you can find some
here and here!!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The first birthday of the season

It's here.
Just as I get the last box of Christmas stuff packed shut and stuffed up into the attic.
Birthday season has officially begun!

From now until May 23, we will be celebrating 5 children's birthdays, the Mommy and Daddy's birthday, as well as the Mommy and Daddy's anniversary.
Not to mention a couple of Grandparents and the only Aunt will be celebrating their birthday within that time frame as well.
We have at least one birthday every month until that date in May, with the heaviest grouping of them being in April when we will have a daughter's birthday, the Daddy's birthday, and the Mommy and Daddy's anniversary all in one WEEK!!

And the first birthday of the year in our immediate household goes to......

The baby of the family turned 3 years old yesterday.
In some ways, it's hard to believe that it has been three years since she was born,
but so much has happened in our lives since that time that it's hard to believe that
it has only been THREE years??
What a treasure she is.
So full of fun and sweetness...even with those occasional rotten spots!!

 We always start out the birthday celebration with "breakfast in bed"
complete with a donut for every year old they are now,
and the first present of the day.

 We decided to do the rest of our birthday celebrating at lunch today
especially so Daddy could participate with us on his lunch break from work.
The girls and I baked and decorated her cake,
and though we certainly would not have taken any awards for precision or beauty,
we so enjoyed working on it together.
Our nickname for her is "bear-bear" because of her little satin blanket with the bear's head attached that she so loved when she was even smaller.
Hence, the bears on the cake.

We all went out for a walk after lunch because we had such beautiful weather,
and I knew she would love to walk her "baby" in her new stroller. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Journey: Accepting that I must be a good steward of my body

As I moved farther along the road of this weight-loss last year, something occurred to me.

I would see these stories of men and women who so misused their food and completely ignored the warning signs of impeding danger happening in their bodies that eventually they became so morbidly obese that they would have to be cut out of their houses and hauled in special vehicles that could handle their weight to the nearest hospital that could handle the catastrophic damage they had incurred on their bodies.

Those stories left such an impact on me and I began pondering how and why such things could happen.
When most of these men and women reached a certain size, their poor bones just couldn't bear the weight anymore and they were often confined in an enormous bed in their living rooms.  I wondered how they continued to be able to eat.  I mean, if they couldn't walk, who was bringing the food to them??
Usually a family member.  And if that family member balked because they could see the danger this large person was in, that person would get extremely manipulative with them, and they obviously gave in to the large person's demands.  Obviously......I mean, how else could they sustain themselves?

So I began thinking......
"Is this really what God intended when He created our bodies?"

Why did God design our bodies they way He did?
Why did He create us with the need to consume food?  Such an enjoyable experience, most of the time.
Did He mean for us to literally feed ourselves to death?
Did He intend for us to use our food as a best friend?  A comfort in emotional times?  A way of escaping the boredom or stress or frustrations of the day?

Isn't that what He wants to be to us?
Shouldn't we find all our needs met in our relationship with our Heavenly Father?
Doesn't He want to meet all our needs?
Certainly He didn't intend for us to have a relationship with our food!!

Did He intend for us to just allow ourselves to slip into apathy, fatigue, and ill-health?

Now please don't think that I'm missing that some people have lots of things that are completely out of
their control that cause them to be unable to take good care of themselves.
I know there are single Moms out there who literally have no time for themselves between the needs of their children, their job, and their home.
I get that some people have illnesses that confine them at home when they would much rather
be out walking and getting some exercise!
That's NOT what I'm talking about.

I was just thinking about me.  
I learned that emotional eating is not just eating when you're sad.
Boredom, loneliness, and stress are all emotions too.
Three years ago, things were stressful in my life, but I had no IDEA the tidal wave of life that was about to be coming at me.
It happens.
But I wondered if the way I had responded to everything was what God has intended.
I only have this one body.
I don't have another chance.
Only one shot.
This is it.
How am I using it?
Am I taking the best care of it (this body) as I can?
I know that I cannot prevent every form of illness to come into my life.

No amount of vitamins, supplements, exercise, visits to the chiropractor, refusing to eat anything that is not hormone, chemical, or cage-free, tofu eating, or vegan dieting can prevent something that God has written into the appointment book of my life from happening to me.
But I do believe that He expects us to take care of the gifts He has given us.
I really think that our Intelligent Designer created us in the most spectacularly detailed way to function amazingly when cared for properly.
I have a responsibility to use this one body, this one life in the way He designed it, for His glory.

"For you are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit,
which are God's"
~ 1 Corinthians 6:20

"...but that with all boldness,
as always,
so now Christ shall be magnified in my body,
whether it be by life or by death."
~Philippians 1:20

How can I do that when I abuse it?
How can I be considered a faithful "steward" if I'm trashing what He has given me, or ignoring it's flags for help?
How can do my best for Him, be the hands and feet of Jesus, if I'm too exhausted from being overweight or some other physical ailment that just needs a little attention?
I have to be responsible.
No one else can do this for me.
It's up to me.
I learned that I'm in a race....not to see who can finish first....but who can stay in it and finish at ALL.
Better be training, and as healthy as possible, and shaking off any extra things that may "weigh" me down.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may win.
And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.
They then do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable.
Therefore, I run in such a way,
as not without aim;
I box in such a way,
as not beating the air;
but I buffet my body and make it my slave,
lest possibly,
after I have preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified."
~ 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What Jesus looks like

I've been thinking a lot about the name....
the name {or theme, if you will} of this still fresh year.
A name that will embody the way I move, the way I respond, the way I think about, the way I treat....
my children, my husband, my friends, strangers the Lord unexpectedly places in my path, myself.
I've been pondering what it looks like to be like Christ.
Would those around me say, "I could never do that.  That's what Jesus would do."

"{Jesus} is patient,
{Jesus} is kind,
{Jesus} is not jealous,
{Jesus} does not brag and is not arrogant,
{Jesus} does not act unbecomingly,
{Jesus} does not seek His own,"
{Jesus} is not provoked,
{Jesus} does not take into account a wrong suffered,
{Jesus} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth,
{Jesus} bears all things,
{Jesus} believes all things,
{Jesus} hopes all things,
{Jesus} endures all things."

~1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

I want, not only complete strangers, but my HUSBAND, my BABIES to see a difference in me.

Like the Israelites saw in Moses after he came down from the mountain after spending 40 days with Jehovah.

"And it came to pass,
when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables
of testimony in Moses' hand,
when he came down from the mount,
that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone
because of his speaking with Him {Jehovah}.
And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses,
the skin of his face shone;
and they were afraid to come near him."

~Exodus 34: 29,30

Of course, I don't want my family to {be afraid} of me, but I do want them to know I've spent time with Him.
That what I am and how I respond to them looks {like Jehovah.}

This last year I learned something incredible to me.
It has revolutionized me.
And I'm ashamed to admit that I never understood this before FORTIETH year of life.
40 YEARS....and I never got it.
Don't think I had ever seen it.
Knew a whole LOT of what it looked like without it.
Couldn't figure out why it was so {amazing} {wonderful} {matchless}.
When you've never seen something displayed and had a name put to it, it's hard to visualize.

I don't want my children to miss it like I did.
I don't want my husband to feel strangled by the lack of it.
I want my family to experience the freedom it results in.

"Freedom is not doing what you want,
but the ability to do what you should."

This year I want to develop the habit of extending, of growing in, of living in the freedom of......

Now that I know what it looks like.....I want to show it.
I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

The Year of Grace

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Journey: Making a plan ("Plan-of-a-snack")

One thing that was terrific for me in learning how to manage my weight and eating habits was to PLAN out ahead of time the snacks that would fit into my daily calorie budget.
Let me tell ya, I was almost always ready for a little something half-way between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner.
Those were my two "tricky" times.
Especially after lunch.....about 3 pm!!
If I wasn't careful, I would start vacuuming up whatever I saw laying around the house.
And those aren't "free" calories!!

So it made sense to me to make a list of snacks that I knew I loved that had a label on it so I knew exactly how many calories were in it.
Here are some of my favorites:

A mini bag of microwave popcorn (100 calories each)
with a diet 7-up
This is super satisfying and fills you up!!

A tube of "go-gurt" yogurt....frozen!!!
Yummy and only like 70 calories
(I did stop buying these though when I realized they are LACED with high fructose corn syrup.
In their defense though, I do believe they have begun marketing these gogurt tubes without the HFCS under the name of "Gogurt Simple".  Check them out!)

Remember that a serving of fruit is always a great way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake,
as well as fluid and fiber.
A cold crispy apple is delicious, as well as one banana (already pre-packaged for you!),
or those cutie little clementine oranges.
If I was starving though, these weren't the best at satisfying and could even make you want to eat more...
like a teaser somehow!!
A bowl of fresh strawberries with a dollop of whipped topping is fabulous though!!
Very satisfying and packed with vitamin C and fiber.
The prettier I made it look, the more satisfying it was to me.
Who doesn't want to try something like this:

I learned that protein is a GREAT hunger buster, so I tried to add more protein into my mealtimes to curb that hunger longer.
Some yummy protein snacks are:

Cheese sticks and a few crackers.
(Beware though:  Cheese and peanut butter are calorie DENSE!!
They have a LOT of calories in just a mouthful.
Self-control is key here!  That's why I liked the pre-packaged cheese sticks because one serving is one's all figured out for you.  Stop with one.)

My new favorite secret weapon is a little treat I discovered when looking for a higher protein snack.
These protein bars are delicious, easy to toss in your purse for those morning or afternoon shopping trips,
and always satisfied my craving for chocolate.  They became a staple snack item for me.
They are a little pricey though at about $1 a bar.
I bought mine at Costco in a 3-box package, but I also found them at Wal-Mart in single boxes.
They come in different flavors with the Chocolate Peanut Butter being my favorite with the
 Chewy Chocolate Chip coming in a close second!!
These bars are packed with 20 grams of protein and very little carbs, so they really curb your appetite!

Another great protein snack is a simple hard-boiled egg.
This is a great snack for my diabetic daughter too, because it has no carbs in it, she doesn't have to take insulin to eat it!!
One large hard boiled egg has only 70 calories!!
You don't want to be poppin' five of these babies in your mouth the cholesterol!!
Again....moderation and self-control!!

Finally, another thing I learned about myself that was an "a-HA" moment
was that sometimes when I felt body was trying to tell me that I was just thirsty.
So I learned to use that hungry feeling as a cue for a drink.
I started trying some water (which I HATE),
or a diet 7-up or sprite, 
or a cup of hot tea or decaf coffee.
When I learned to slow down for a minute and incorporate a "coffee" break into my day,
it gave me a definite stopping point where I could catch my breath,
and then go on with a little more energy.

Making time for a little refreshment in my afternoon was another lovely
routine that I've learned to love about a healthier lifestyle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Journey: Taking exercise to a new level

This time last year, I was just a couple weeks into my journey of learning a healthier lifestyle and working towards my goal of losing 45 pounds.  I was closely following the program on, and was seeing success.  Of course, I knew that weight loss involved not only monitoring your calorie intake (which was a lot of fun with the online journals and charts and little topics to read), but it involved using up the calories you consumed.
It was like an "a-ha" moment for me to put together that our bodies were intelligently designed to run like machines.  To be alive and simply function, your body has to have energy.  To have energy, your body was intelligently designed to have to consume food, which it converts into that energy.  Take in less fuel (food) than your body uses and you lose weight; take in more fuel (food) than your body needs and it just stores it all and you gain weight. 
 Simple, easy principle.

I learned that you can lose weight even if you don't exercise by following that principle.
But when you're trying to take in less calories than you're using,
it can be difficult to stay within your daily calorie target.
The easy way to "earn" more calories was to exercise.
Basically, however many calories you burn off, you need to consume.

So, say, I walked for 30 minutes and worked off 200 calories,
I needed to eat that many more calories so I didn't go too far below my calorie target.
If you go too low, then your body wants to go into "famine" mode and hang on to 
fat so you don't starve yourself.
Remember that you 're already working at a "reduced calorie" intake,
and not the calorie intake that you normally need to eat just to maintain.

So you should already be taking in 400 less calories per day to lose weight.
If you add an addition 200 calories (from the exercise) then you're going to be taking in too few calories and your body is designed to protect you from starvation!!
I was constantly reminded at how wonderfully we were created, and how loving our Heavenly Father is to think of all these things for us and to care for us!!

I learned that balance is the key!!

So I started exercising whenever I could.
It wasn't much at first.
It was still winter.
Remember I was struggling with being able to keep warm, so I wasn't inclined to go out on cold days.
I looked into a gym,
but couldn't afford it.
I wasn't terribly interested in going somewhere else to work out either.
Plus, there was the child care to think about.
So I simply started walking.....around the neighborhood.
For about 20-30 minutes 3 times a week.
No biggie.
Not stressful.
And I lost weight because of it.
After awhile though, it got kinda boring.
I wanted to do something with my mind during that time.
Then an opportunity came up at church for me to perform in a drama about the life of Fanny Crosby.
It was going to take a LOT of memorization.
I was intrigued by the challenge because I wasn't sure if my memory was as sharp as it had once been.
I was just starting the treatment for my thyroid, so my mind was still covered in a fog.
But I used that exercise time to memorize my lines.
We were performing this drama at Mother's Day in May.
As we got closer to Easter, I started thinking I needed more time to memorize.
So I started walking more.
I bumped up to 45 minutes of walking 3 times a week.
The weight started coming off steadily, but very gradually.

By the time Mother's Day rolled around,
I had all my lines memorized and had lost 20 pounds!!
What a feeling of accomplishment!

But then what.
After that was all over, I needed to keep going.
I had been telling my friend about my goals, and she was noticing the weight-loss.
I needed to add more time in because my calorie intake had been adjusted down because I was at a smaller body size now.
So I started setting my alarm for 6 am,
and would go out to the walking track that was about 5 minutes from my house.
I started by walking around the track 3 times which took me about 30 minutes.
Gradually, I added a lap as I could tolerate it.
Pretty soon I was doing 5 laps (which is exactly 4 miles) in about 65 minutes.
Then my friend asked if she could join me.
I could only go on the days my husband wasn't working (since he leaves the house at 4:30 am),
so that was about 3-4 days a week.
When my friend couldn't go along,
I needed something else to occupy my mind.
I was so encouraged by memorizing the story of Fanny Crosby,
that I wondered why I hadn't thought of memorizing scripture while walking!!

It was then that I caught a radio broadcast of a lady who was accustomed to memorizing
entire BOOKS of the Bible.
And entire book??
Why not, I thought.
My favorite book of the Bible is Philippians, and through the years I've memorized large portions of every chapter, but never put the whole thing together.
So that was the starting point for me.
I began in the fall.
It has been slow going, and I've gotten distracted.
The weather has changed again, and it has gotten colder in the mornings.
I'm only up to the middle of the 3rd chapter.
But it's my goal to get back to that and finish the entire book by the end of February.
Yikes, I can't believe I just put that out there!!
But there it is.
And after that?

Who knows?
Maybe Ruth or Esther or another "Prison Epistle."

Would you like to join me?
Leave me a comment if you're interested.
Maybe a few verses a week?
I like to take a half a chapter a week, but that's just me.
Maybe you like to do more?

Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The drama continues.....

Yesterday afternoon, Ashlyn comes to me and says,
"Mom, either I have the chicken pox or a really bad rash."
I ask her to show it to me.
When she lifts her shirt, this is what I find....

I follow it around her middle and down her thighs.
Out of nowhere.
Nothing new to eat or drink or lotions or balms or salves.

She has been over "the monster" for 5 days now,
but I know that with an autoimmune disease like Type 1 Diabetes,
her body can react like this to a virus.
But then, I know of other children who are perfectly healthy who end up with rashes after viruses.

So who knows.
Maybe it's the virus.
Maybe it's the new shower gel she got 2 weeks ago at Christmas that she used only once 3 days ago.
it woke her up last night itching her,
and this morning it has spread it's tendrils up her neck and cheeks,
and down her legs to her ankles.
It's uncomfortable today, and the benedryl doesn't seem to be offering much relief.

So I'm home from church again for the second consecutive Sunday.
I enjoy the quiet bonding time with my sweet, brave girl,
but I miss the corporate worship time with my lovely church family.

I'm still praying about the goals I have in my mind for this year,
and intend to get back on track with those this week.
It seems we're being tested about how serious we really are in being more
this year.

Purposeful in our
our relationships with our children,
the use of our time,
our surrender to God's work in our hearts,
and His leading in our lives.
Being less entangled and weighed down
by things,
and having more freedom to respond immediately to the Lord's promptings.

To gain a deeper understanding of simply resting in Him.

"Come unto me,
all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me;"

Learn WHAT?

"I am meek and lowly in heart:"

"You shall find rest unto your souls"

"My yoke is easy,
and my burden is light."

~Matthew 11: 28-30

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The MONSTER of 2011"

That's what I'm calling it.
This stomach virus that crept into our home unawares on the very 2nd day of this new decade.
This horrible thing that has wreaked havoc on our bodies and minds.
It began it's strangle hold on Ashlyn and I.
About 2 hours apart nearly smack in the middle of the night.
Why does that happen?
Why can't the misery begin during the day when others are up, and you have others around to keep you company, or to check on you, or the noises of the house to distract you from the pain and to entertain you?
Why, oh why, in the night does the child come running to you from their bed, past the bathroom (mind you), to jolt you from your sound sleep to alert you to the fact that they are going to throw up.....which upon this said announcement....they promptly do.
On your carpet.
Splashing the side of your bed?
Why, in the 21st century, when scientists have enough information and knowledge available to them to sustain human life ON THE there not one doctor who can explain to me why this phenomenon occurs???
And why can't they explain to you how to prevent it from spreading to every. single. member. of the family.
Washing hands does not work.
Washing every piece of fabric in boiling water does not work.
Cleaning every. single. surface that the sick ones have touched, licked, drank out of, peed on, thrown up on, slept on, walked on, or breathed on with disinfecting wipes and lysol spray does not work.
Quarantining the ill ones to one room in the house does not work.
Sanitizing all the tooth brushes does not work.
Come ON!
What's the big mystery here PEOPLE???
It's enough to send me racing to the brink of insanity.
And just when the first group is feeling better, getting back into the swing of things, and you've got the floors bleached and all the linens washed, folded, and put away.....
the next group starts bedtime, of course.

Out of the 8 of us, 5 have surrendered to its tortures.
All girls.
The boys have stood strong.
My husband was on the cusp of being broken by it's grip.
The evening following the attack on Ashlyn and I, he started feeling nauseous and had the cold sweats.
But fortunately for all of us, he held strong and didn't give in.
Last night, it turned it's cold fingers to our oldest son.
He did throw up once and has been slightly feverish and achy today, but that's it.
The only one who has gone completely unphased and has enjoyed the unusual routines of the last week is our youngest son.
We'll see.
I have no idea if we'll make it to church on Sunday.
This monster strikes unexpectedly.
Your stomach starts hurting just all-of-a-sudden.
You throw up once and feel better.
You can walk around and have conversation and feel like your out of the woods.
But as time goes on....the pain and nausea intensifies.
It peaks and comes to a head after about 12 hours wherewith you finally can collapse into sleep.
My youngest son wouldn't do well by that.
He can't even wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, much less be aware that he needs to get to the toilet to throw up!!
So I would have to have him on a sheet on the floor next to me all night long.
I would have to be able to hear him getting sick in time to roll him over to a pan or something before it goes all over him and the floor!!
It's exhausting.
I have been an emotional wreck all week.
I hate to hear my girls crying for me to make it stop.
Begging me for some medicine to make it better......or to make them throw up.
Listening to them gasping for air.
Ashlyn has had the hardest time with her Diabetes.
But that is for another post.
When I'm not so tired.
When I can see the humor in it all.
Right now, I'm just pondering why on earth this week?
We have laid plans for this year.
Good plans.
We're excited about what lies ahead.
Just as we open the door and step into some new beginnings....
Right on our faces!!
So, now we feel a few steps behind.....and it's just the first week.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Where there is no vision.....

.......the people perish."
~ Proverbs 29:18

I like to insert the word {family} in place of people sometimes.
"Where there is no vision, the {family) perishes."
I'm not trying to change the Word of God, but trying to apply it right where I am.

These last few days I've been trying to wrap my mind around beginning a brand new year.

"Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it."
~ Anne Shurley (of Green Gables) 

And for that I am truly thankful.
One of the many graces of God.

This last year has seen tremendous victories in our family.
From my reaching my goal of 45 pounds of weight the tremendous way our son
has blossomed through his struggles with his ADHD.

But of course, there is still room for growth.
Our children have many hurdles to overcome.
We've struggled in the last several months to keep Ashlyn's blood sugar under control.
Her BG numbers have been sky high, and we face the giants of complacency
and the hormonal changes of puberty before we can claim victory in this struggle.

Although by God's grace alone,  we are winning the war over a lifestyle of debt and greed,
we still struggle in daily decisions over our finances and how best to handle what money
the Lord HAS entrusted us.
We want to give more.
We know we can do better and are thinking about how to best accomplish this.

We are praying for more space this year.
Many days, I feel strangled by trying to do multiple tasks in one space.

My hair is falling out.
Yes, you read that right.
Maybe "thinning" is the more accurate word to use here, but I need to resolve that.
It's starting to bother me.

We need to get a better handle on how much media flows through our house on any given day.
It's also becoming a giant that needs to be addressed.

Spiritually, I need more of God.
I learned that more deeply than ever this last year.
I learned that a quick 15 minute read-through a "Proverb-a-Day" is NOT enough.
20 minutes is not enough.
30 minutes is not enough.
I discovered it takes me nearly 30 minutes just to warm up and keep my mind focused on what I'm reading.
I need at least one full hour of time to read God's Word, think about how that nourishes my heart and mind,
to ponder how it applies to right where I am.
I'm not even sure that's enough time.
I discovered that I do indeed have that time in my daily routine very early in the morning.
Before the children are even gaining consciousness.
When the house is still, and quiet, and dark.
I learned that His burden is indeed light;
His yoke really and truly is easy!

This coming year, I want to have a vision of things we can accomplish in our family this year...
physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially.

My husband and I have been hammering a new budget we are committed to following!
I highly recommend the resources found at Crown Financial Ministries.
In fact, they have a FREE resource kit available right now for you to download and get started with.
 I encourage you to check it out, and use it.
Follow it!
Their "mvelopes" program has been invaluable to us, and I highly recommend that also.

I want to stay on track and maintain the weight I lost last year,
and keep working towards healthy habits!
Check out "Calorie King" or "My Fitness Pal."

Spiritually, I want to keep up those early mornings with hot coffee and the Word of God.
I also want to finish off memorizing the book of Philippians.
I've gotten sidetracked by life again.

I want to be more deliberate about teaching my children spiritual patterns and habits.
My oldest daughter is 13 now.
That means I may potentially only have about 5 more years of close discipleship with her.
That's not much time, and so many things I want her to own for herself.

In thinking about being more purposeful, more deliberate in my life, I came upon this:
Giving this year a name.
Read more about that here and here.

"The Year of......"

I'm praying about this.
About clarity, and having a deliberate purpose for my life this year.
What I want to accomplish so that my life is a fragrance, like incense, an act of worship for the Lord.

"Feel within deep latent urges to get things done,
to be rising above this slough of unconscious mediocrity that seems to characterize my days.
Father, if these strong currents be flesh driven,
I pray thee staunch and slay them,
but if sublimated, channeled into courses which will do Thy service,
then intensify them,
mobilize them,
give them direction, 
for I long--Thou knowest how earnestly--
that the bride of Thine own dear Son be made perfect and entire in my day.
Yea, Lord, if it cost me my bride in this life,
let me have They grace and power to bring to the Lamb the reward of His sufferings."

~~ 21 year old Jim Elliot
December 22, 1948
7 years before his slaughter on the mission field at the hand of the savages he committed to sharing the gospel with