He was 3 ½ and finally at that age where he understood what Christmas was all about. Or at least that’s what I thought! When I woke him up that Christmas morning…..yes, I’ve actually had to wake up kids on Christmas morning….he took one look out the window and decided I had completely pulled his leg.
“Mommy, it’s not Christmas! There’s no snow!”
He actually then attempted to crawl back into bed! Yep….not making that up. My 3 ½ year old child had to be coerced into traversing the stairs down into the living room where Christmas had exploded all over the place. His first “sign” of Christmas had failed. He had no reason to believe Santa had actually shown up because, well, how in creation would Santa’s sleigh traverse the dry, dead grass that covered our yard and everyone elses. He simply needed to see to believe.
Faith had yet to give him vision.
Four hundred years had passed. No word from God. No burning bushes. No parting seas. No visits from angelic strangers. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. This world was God-silent for 400 years. Y’all…that’s a L O N G time!! It’s many, many lifetimes. Many generations. I’ve gone through periods of my life where I felt God was ignoring me or wasn’t there…..but it was a period of a few months. Not years. I always managed to crawl my way back to Him only to find He really never left my side. During that 400 year period so many years ago, God was just silent. I can only imagine how the people during that time felt. And I don’t imagine it was pretty. How many let their faith completely fall because there was no evidence of God’s presence ? How many worshiped other things since God was not around? How many lead lives desperate for something more, something Bigger than them?
Faith needed to give them vision.
And I have to wonder, how did anyone manage to hang on to the faith of their predecessors with so many years of God silence? It would be so much easier to slip into the ways of the world and totally forget the things of faith.
But then it happened to a family who had somehow managed to not let too much of their world sneak in and damage their hearts. A family who had managed to hang on to their faith and find favor with God…
“The time came quiet…
All the glory had been left in heaven.
And the face of God turns one last time in the waters of the womb, and the membrane breaks and the amniotic fluid leaks and the skin of God slips naked and small into holy hands He made.
The birth of God – who can find words?” ……(from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp)
The years of God silence were broken by the cries of a baby. And our faith was given vision once again. Through a baby who would be King. A baby who would save. A baby whose life would show the world for the rest of eternity how to love…how to hope.
On this Christmas, know that whether there is snow on the ground or not, whether there are copious amounts of gifts under the tree for you or just one, whether you are surrounded by family or it’s just you, the only true sign of Christmas is all around us.
Emmanuel…God with us. God around us, waiting with open arms to lavish his love on you not only this Christmas but every…single…day!
I did my first Beachbody workout in July of 2019. I was four months and 35 pounds into my 80 pound weight loss goal. I had been doing some at home walking workouts but that’s about it. I was in better shape than I was four months before but was I “fit”? Not yet. I still had quite a ways to go before I would qualify myself as anywhere near physically fit. Gotta say, that in those first days of trying workouts that involved more than just marching in place and lifting my knees, I was a bit intimidated. A lot intimidated even. But with that intimidation came determination. So I set my mindset in a good, positive , happy place and I pretended I had been a stud exercise warrior all my life!! Nothing could’ve been further from the truth. Mindset is key,though. I was able to successfully “fake it till I made it”. Here I am around the time I started my first full Beachbody program…..
It didn’t take much time of just pretending I enjoyed my workouts. Something clicked inside me quickly. I started seeing results that I liked. My weight loss continued but most importantly, I noticed how much stronger I was feeling, physically and emotionally. I enjoyed these gym-like workouts in the comfort of my own home. I didn’t have to give one thought to what everyone was thinking of me while I exercised because I was alone in my living room. I could give it MY all without trying to complete with some random stranger’s all! I actually started to have FUN working out…two words I never thought I’d put together in the same sentence. In January of 2021, I decided I loved Beachbody so much, I’d try my hand as a coach. I love encouraging and motivating others to be the best version of themselves. To watch the lightbulbs go off as someone realizes they’re capable of far more than they imagined. It’s a delight for me to walk side by side with others as we share workout successes and challenges, nutrition advice, and tips on how to get in all the ding dang water!! Oh the water!! Why is it so hard to drink all the water?!?
As a Beachbody coach, there are two questions I get asked the most when someone is just starting out. One...which program is your favorite? And two...where should I start? These are such loaded questions for me because, well, choosing the one I’ve liked the most is similar to having to choose which of my kids is my favorite!! They’re all my favorite!! Each of the Beachbody workout programs I’ve done has had something I loved.
And as to where to start? Just jump in!!! I’ll often suggest doing the sample workout for a few different programs and go with the one that jives with you the most. I started with one I felt would meet me at my fitness level at the time . I knew of Kathy Smith from workouts of hers I had done many years earlier. I found her in a section of classic workouts on Beachbody on Demand and may have squealed. But it took me about 60 seconds to realize I had outgrown good old Kathy and needed something newer. So I moved on. Since all I’d been doing was walking, I figured a workout that was just dancing would work for me. Especially one that was dancing to country music…brought me right back to my Texas roots and the early 80’s when I spent hours two stepping and line dancing on dark dance floors in college town bars! Country Heatwas fun; however, it reminded me of how terribly uncoordinated I am and the term “two left feet” kept jumping to mind! I basically nailed the first workout over the course of a week before I threw in the towel and needed something different. (I’ve since revisited Country Heat and have managed a few other dances. They really are fun once you get the hang of it!) My daughter suggested 21 Day Fix. It looked scary. It used dumb bells…I had a set of 2 lb weights. It had cardio and pilates and yoga. I just wasn’t sure about it to be honest. But I put on my big girl pants and just did it. And you know what? I LIKED IT!! This was the very first program I completed and by the end of the 21 days, I was hooked. I had bumped my weights up and purchased a set of 5’s and 8’s. 10’s and 12’s weren’t far behind. I learned that I LOVED strength training. I learned that I could do cardio exercises and not actually die. I learned that I love the way I feel after I’ve accomplished a workout that I once thought was too hard.
So I kept on. 80 Day Obsession…Morning Meltdown 100…Liift 4… 10 Rounds…Transform 20…#MBF and #MBFA…Let’s Get Up…3 Week Yoga Retreat…9 Week Control Freak. These have all been soooo good but there are three programs that I’ve repeated multiple times. My faves. Here they are in no particular order…
Morning Meltdown 100 introduced me to a fiery red haired trainer who made me believe for the first time how WILDLY CAPABLE I was. She made me see that modifying exercises was OK. With two different modifiers in this program, I learned many different ways to take a hard move and make it easier without taking away it’s effectiveness. You DON’T have to take a burpee all the way to the floor!!!Who knew? That may have been life changing for me! One hundred days of cardio meltdown, upbeat strength, core inferno, total body badass, downbeat strength, freestyle flow, LIT cardio, FIGHT CLUB (I can’t talk about that one!), re-vibe. When that hundredth workout was complete, I stood in front of my TV in my living room turned gym and just let the tears flow. I truly felt accomplished in a way I never had before. I would never have imagined that I could get my 50-something year old self to do a move like this lightening bolt thing….yet there I was doing it.
2. #MBF and #MBFA were the second two programs I completely fell in love with. They are both three weeks long. #MBFA is a smidge more advanced than its predecessor. “Megan Minutes” are added, making #MBFA longer and a little more challenging. But you’ll be ready for the challenge! Each workout is set to music, which I learned in MM100 I LOVE! I am just a music loving gal for sure! Working out to a beat just always feels easier and more fun to me than simply listening to a trainer talk. This was the first workout program that included a cast doing the workout alongside the trainer, Megan, from the comforts of their own homes. Thank you 2020. I actually sorta loved this. The cast members were likeable and varied in age from 20’s to 60’s. Exercising alongside a couple in their 60’s was inspiring to me! The program includes seven different workouts a week, all including weight lifting and cardio, with the exception of the dynamic recovery day. I was introduced to a few new terms….AMRAP(as many rounds as possible) and EMOM (every minute on the minute)…and learned what it truly means to be your own best competition as you try to beat your own record from the last AMRAP workout. It was during these two “sister” programs, that I started seeing a bit of definition in my shoulders and arms! I never knew how much I’d appreciate a toned upper body. As I stood in my living room turned gym at the end of #MBFA, the tears flowed. Again. The celebrations by the cast and trainer at the end of a program will never get old or fail to move me.
3. 9 Week Control Freak may be my actual numero uno, top favorite of all time. And it’s one I avoided like the plague when it first came out. It had strange equipment I knew nothing about and didn’t have. I needed a door in my workout space to attach this necessary door track. A track that seemed like a pain to install. I work out in my living room . No door. But then I saw what my daughter was using instead of the track. It didn’t attach to a door . It just hung on the door and moved easily up and down the door frame with an open and close of the door. I rethought all the things and felt I could use the door in my front foyer for this band system. I could buy the resistance band door thingie (not it’s technical name!), a step and a core ball for a small investment. So with a different outlook on 9WCF, I bought all the things and dove in. Holy Cow!!! All that equipment that had scared me and made me not even consider this program became what I ADORE about it . SO! MUCH! FUN! Seriously! The resistance band door thingie is a game changer. With bands that have me pushing and pulling up to 100 lbs., I am seeing results I’m sure I wouldn’t see otherwise. The core ball has been a game changer for all the ab work. And the step? Well, I’m still trying to make friends with the step. While the rest of the equipment makes the exercises feel easier, the step seems to make everything a bit harder! Not that I’m afraid of hard things but I cannot for the life of me jump onto this six inch high mountain and land on two feet to save my life!! And there’s my coordination issue that is challenging for some step moves. So I modify many of the exercises that use the step. And that’s OK. Because the important thing is to have fun and fun it is!! Nine weeks of work. Five workouts per week. No two workouts are identical so the variety in this program is unmatched. Each workout begins with a twelve minute density round. A shorter round of a complex move. And then tabata cardio. Out of all the cardio exercises I’ve done through the years, tabata rules. The hardest tabata is 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for four minutes. Not too bad. But the reverse tabata is my fave…10 seconds on , 20 seconds off. Of course it’s not too bad…10 seconds of work is easy!! No wonder it’s my fave! This workout is a bit more advanced but I encourage people of any fitness level to not be afraid of it because the modifications make the harder moves very doable. And the modifier is my favorite. Autumn is a great encourager through every workout but there are many days when I tune my ears to Kat , the modifier. You just can’t go wrong with this one.
So there you go! I know my faves may be completely different than yours. That’s cool! I’d love to know what your faves are if you are a Beachbody person. And results. My results are mine alone and will likely look different than yours. But if you show up for yourself on a consistent basis without giving up, you’ll soon see your own set of results to brag about! If this all sounds fun to you and you’d like to show yourself how wildly capable you are and you need someone to guide your way and encourage your journey, I can help. Just comment and let me know .
I’ve been so quiet on my blog this past year. I’m not sure I’ve added one brand new post all year long. But you should see my list of started posts. It’s lengthy! Words about travel, faith, health, weight loss, politics, random stories all left unfinished and unpublished for one reason or another. The stopper in me is strong, I tell ya. So it’s amazing to me that my little corner of the written blog world added new subscribers and readers. Thank you new blog reading friends for the attention. It encourages me to write more.
Where to start though after such a long break? As I write this, the Christmas season has begun. I’m deep into both an Advent devotional and a full out Advent bible study. Through this early morning time with my cuppa Christmassy flavored coffee and my bible, I’ve been reminded of a super long break God took from the people many, many years ago. He was silent for 400 years. I can’t even imagine. How many generations felt nothing from God? Not a glance their way. Not a whisper with a comforting word of reassurance.
But God in His infinite greatness had a plan. It was a great plan, perfectly timed. He knew He wouldn’t stay silent forever…though come on. 400 years was plenty of someone’s “forever”. Bless it! He would make His great come back with a baby. A sweet , swaddled up newborn who came to be King. Jesus.
Jesus who would be the Light of the World , the Resurrection and the Life, the King of Kings, the Messiah.
Hold on there! Do you ever see something, hear something , smell something and you’re transported back in time to a memory? Lots of things do that for me. But right now, it’s the words “King of Kings” and “Messiah”. Right there, together, side by side. I have the sweetest childhood memory that involves those words. Let me take you back there with me , Dear Reader.
I was 7 or 8. Maybe 9 or 10. Who knows? It’s been over 50 years and who can remember all the things anymore? I may not remember how old my little self was but I do remember exactly how I felt when my mom asked me to help her play the Hallelujah Chorus for a performance of Handel’s Messiah. My mother has been an incredible organist for as long as I can remember. I was a little girl just beginning to learn to play the piano. But she had full confidence that I could play three little notes for her and be the needed third hand she must’ve desperately needed . Or maybe she could’ve done it and just wanted this mother/daughter moment. Whatever, it was a confidence booster for her novice, nervous piano student.
At any rate, my shy, timid little self (don’t be fooled by this photo that makes me look far more outgoing than I actually was!) set out to make my momma proud playing those three little notes behind the words “KING OF KINGS”. Actually, it was six because those same three notes accompanied the next words in the song, “LORD OF LORDS.” As a full grown adult woman, I sing a lot. Humming around the house, music playing in my home 90% of the day. I can feel confident that this habit likely began in those days when I was practicing for my big Messiah moment with my momma. I can almost hear my little voice, humming or singing the notes that went along with “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Names of Jesus on repeat in my young, impressionable head.
Did my mother know the impact this would have on the entirety of my life? Did I? I don’t know. She was probably hopeful I’d develop a love of piano playing and maybe become a great organist one day. Maybe her love of music would develop in me. I’m certain she was hopeful I’d love Jesus forever. Some of these things stuck.
Jesus. He stuck. In my young and impressionable mind, those weeks of practicing my part in the Hallelujah chorus, singing through those names of Jesus over and over again….it was like the beginning of super gluing Him to my heart. I just wanted to do a good job. I didn’t want to mess up or embarrass myself or my mom. I’m sure that’s all it meant to me at the time . But those words, unbeknownst to myself in those moments, were speaking life into my soul.
The words we say to ourselves have power.
Choose them wisely! Your words to yourself should mimic the words your Creator says about you. You are loved, able, perfectly created, healed, strong, forgiven and so on! And if you’re a parent, choose the words you say to your children even more wisely! They’re gonna stick, whether they’re great affirming words or life sucking words. I say again, choose those words wisely!
I’m so grateful I was raised in a home by parents who loved me and spoke well to me. They never ever even cursed in our presence. But piano seems to be one of those skills you lose if you don’t use it . I recently had the chance to spend an entire week with my parents. Just me and them. It was fabulous. My mom still has a piano in the living room so, of course, I had to sit down on the piano bench and see if any notes would come back to me. I searched Mom’s music for something I could play with my right hand. I can still bang out a pretty decent treble clef only song. I found a hymn…of course…and started playing it. It didn’t take long for my mom to come into the room, taking over that pesky bass clef part that I couldn’t for the life of me play at the same time my right hand was playing. Playing piano with my mom …again. Creating a song together. Another sweet memory. We were both so excited that we could make out the song we were playing in spite of the fact that it’s been a good long minute since I played anything.
I guess I figured out where to start again after my rather long writing break. Jesus is always the right answer! Maybe now I can go back and address all those unfinished blog stories!
Until next time…which I hope is sooner rather than later… keep JOYFULLY clamoring!
Full disclosure here. What you are about to read is something I wrote six years ago. The actual scene on the toilet happened about three years before that. It’s a memory that always makes me smile and causes me to remember a couple of things: 1) what we allow in our minds will one day come out of our mouths and 2) people are watching us and being influenced by our words and actions whether we know it or not. Be mindful folks!!
If you’ve read this before, I hope you’ll enjoy it once again. If this little story is brand new to you , thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to go back in time with me!
It was a busy day like all the rest. Meals to prepare. Laundry to finish. Faces to wipe. Diapers to change. Songs to sing. Games to play. Books to read. Crafts to complete. Hugs to give. Learning to guide.
During one of those really busy moments, I heard a sweet little voice coming from the bathroom…
“Mrs. Becky I’m done! Come help me please”
“Just a minute Sweetie. I’ll be there in a second” (I was in the midst of a very important load of laundry, you know!)
So I commenced with my laundry rotation . But because it was so quiet and because my brain was so full of things I needed to get done, instead of going straight to the bathroom to offer whatever assistance little Sweetie needed, I walked into the kitchen to wipe the counters or some other truly unimportant task. Then I heard it. A sound coming from the bathroom….
Leaving a 3 year old in need of assistance in a bathroom could’ve resulted in many different scenarios. There could’ve been toilet paper pulled completely off the roll and scattered all over the floor. There could’ve been hand soap smeared all over the mirror as torrents of water spilled over the sink. There could’ve been other things that were far worse and harder to clean up! But what I found was almost as shocking.
She was sitting on the potty, patiently waiting for me……SINGING! I stood just outside the bathroom door and listened, trying to make out the song she was entertaining herself with. It wasn’t Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It wasn’t the ABC Song. It wasn’t even Itsy Bitsy Spider. As I tuned up my ears, what I heard nearly brought a tear to my eye……
“Come on and rain down on us. Rain down us Lord.”
Over and over…….
When I opened the door all the way to see this precious angel, she was not only singing this praise song, her hands were in the air and her eyes were closed. I promise…..I’m not making this up!!!
Not your normal every day preschool sing along song but I was deep in the midst of preparing music for a women’s retreat. In trying to learn this new song I would be leading, I played it ad nauseum throughout the day. It was our lunch music. It was our dancing music. We made up hand motions for the song. And within a very short time, not only did I finally know the song, the children I kept during the day obviously had it memorized and were ready to spout it out like a fountain in moments of boredom!
:::S I G H:::
As I think back on this day, it causes me to stop and think of the stuff that flows out of my mouth…especially during those times I’m not getting my way or I’m having to be super patient. Is it as sweet as chocolate flowing from a fountain or is it as smelly and nasty as garbage falling out of a garbage truck hitting a speed bump? Am I singing praises or spouting ugliness? Am I lifting up those around me or crushing their spirits?
Then I have to stop and think….when my responses in times of waiting are , well, less than stellar, what am I filling my head with during the day? Because you know, what goes in, must come out. Sweet chocolate or disgusting garbage.
Mmmmm….I like chocolate sauce!
When the baby just won’t stop crying, am I sitting in a corner crying with him or am I mustering up all the love I can find to bring comfort?
When the teenager is shoveling around an attitude that he surely picked up from who knows where , am I shoveling it back at him or am I responding back with grace and love?
When I’ve waited too long in line and my feet hurt and I can’t stand it one more minute…..or my patience has worn thin…..or it’s just been a long day and I want some quiet…..how am I responding to those who need or even demand my attention? How are YOU?
That initial gut reaction can so quickly become something you’ll regret….something you probably will wish you could take back. When I think of Little Miss Sweetness in the bathroom, she could’ve so easily changed her response to my lack of immediate attention by, oh, I don’t know…playing in the toilet, making a mess of the bathroom, screaming out of impatience, crying from unbearable boredom. But earlier in the day, she had been filled with a simple song that overflowed from her heart and when she needed it most, she reached into her tank
and poured out praise….
she poured out love….
she poured out thankfulness…
I’m gonna close this little blog post with a video. It’s the song we were listening to that day and so many days before then. To this day, every time I hear this song I still think of that sweet baby girl waiting on me ever so patiently, singing like a little angel , praising Jesus in her own way…..from the toilet of all places. And I’m reminded how I need to work on waiting more patiently for attitudes to change , for things to work out as God wants them to, for each storm to pass. And I’m also reminded of how much I need to fill my fountain with good things so that when I need it most, the good things will flow out and splash on everyone within my reach!
Are your fountains flowing out “Chocolate” or “garbage”? Let’s choose chocolate!
I awoke today, not to the sound of my alarm, but to the sounds of my husband in the bathroom. I know he tries to be quiet with his morning routine and I appreciate that! But I still hear him. And that’s OK. He gets up and going at a decent-ish hour on work days so I usually need to be finding my way out of the coziness of the fluffy white blankets by then anyway.
Today, the husband is out of his at- home- upstairs- office with a view of our front yard and back at it in his office 8.9 miles from home. But still with a pretty decent view .
Today it’s back to normal.
As I sat at my end of the table this morning doing my regular morning things, I heard motion upstairs. Soon the 20 year old came down into the kitchen dressed in a nice white button down and navy pants. After a two week “really exposed to COVID” break from work, he left the house and headed to his office this morning as well.
Today it’s back to normal.
What would I do with my “back to normal” self today, I wondered. First on tap, was a trip to Kroger to pick up my Click List and then to Publix to pick up what Kroger didn’t have. Strangely, Kroger had paper towels today but no bacon or sirloin steaks. Since it’s always worth the extra miles to ensure there’s meat in my fridge, I welcomed the drive to an extra grocery store.
This was when it hit me. Just how “normal” was my day…really? First, I greatly dislike going into a grocery store…ever! So the thought of being excited to go to a grocery store, get out of my car, and walk into it was NOT normal. Then the sight of 75% of the people I saw coming in and out of the store wearing masks was NOT normal. For real, did you ever think it would be deemed acceptable to walk into any type of business with a face covering and gloves on your hands and not appear like you were there to rob the place? This may be “normal” today. But this isn’t normal. The way the workers had to back away from the asparagus before I could go near and grab a bundle wasn’t normal. The “go this way but not that way” signs on the floor, directing shoppers down one way aisles, was not normal.
I guess the directional arrows on the floor saved me from my previous “new normal” way of grocery shopping. If I turned down an aisle and there were actual real, live breathing people on BOTH sides of the aisle, I’d have a very definite “may the odds be ever in your favor” moment. I’d stop in front of the spaghettio’s, dead in my tracks, pretending to be fascinated by the wondrous display of canned kid food while I waited for the aisle to clear. But if I found myself forced to wander into the sea of people further down the aisle, I’d hold my breath and do my best to keep my distance. Tell me I’m not the only one!!
So many changes to our normal these days. Just like the directional markings on the grocery store floor, as we re-enter life outside our homes we may feel stuck between the arrows to go this way and the x’s keeping us away. One thing may feel OK for one person while the next person is still fearful. Masks or no masks? Gloves or no gloves? Pick up carry out food at your favorite restaurant , stay there and eat on their patio or simply just keep cooking ALL. THE. MEALS. AT. HOME ! Go to the salon for that much needed hair color or just let it keep getting rootier?
Speaking of salons, I couldn’t take my ridiculous hair another minute! So the second I got the go ahead to come in for my way overdue hair appointment, I jumped at the chance. THAT would feel normal, right? The overgrown hair would be cut to an acceptable length and the grays that had taken over in a most unbecoming way would be returned to their totally natural and normal shade of highlighted brown. That part did, indeed, feel normal. But having to wait outside the salon to have my temperature taken before I entered wasn’t very normal. Neither was the mask I was asked to wear in order to stay inside. I was grateful for the precautions taken so the salon COULD be open, but dang! These things were just so far off normal. I was happy to sit outside while my hair processed so I could remove said mask for a good half hour or so! To the folks who must wear a mask all day long to serve the community in any shape, form or fashion, THANK YOU!!! Seriously! And to the people who walked by me while I was enjoying a shady bench on a sunny day looking like a fridge full of leftovers, thank you for not making eye contact! I hope I didn’t scare your children!
Honestly, though, I’ve never been one who minded changes. Changes keep life from getting boring, right? Plus rolling with the punches life throws has always just seemed easier than resisting them at times. Chances are good the changes will keep coming and we may feel unsteady for a while. Some changes may feel OK. Some may be acceptable if only to keep the old normal things going. Some may feel like a big old NO WAY! One thing I feel certain of is that we’re all going to long for the days of old when we could go to the mall or to a ballgame or even to the grocery store and not have to worry about hand sanitizers and the appropriate face covering.
Another thing I know for sure is that when things feel wobbly and uncertain, it feels great to be able grab tight to something that is secure and solid. It keeps the room from spinning completely out of control. If only we had something in our lives right now that could be that solid, unchangeable bit of security we need. Oh if only we had something like that to hold on to…something completely trustworthy.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”…Hebrews 13:8
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”...Malachi 3:6
“God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man,that He should change His mind.”…Numbers 23:19
And with these reminders, suddenly this ever changing , wobbly, insecure time we’re in feels better. Because God! He doesn’t change. He’s that steady , solid, unwavering piece of security we so desperately need to grab hold of right now. He’s the one thing we can depend on when the news seems undependable. When we don’t have a clue what or who to trust, we can always trust Him. He’s the direction we need to take , our Perfect Guide. He’s our Protector and our Provider. He makes sure we don’t get consumed so why can’t we just allow Him to do that and stop letting ourselves BE consumed by bothersome things?
He can make the not normal things feel more tolerable.
And with that, all I have left to say is HallelujahThankYouJesus and Have a Good Day!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may be wondering what’s up with my blog name. It may still feel familiar but you smell something different in here!
I recently had a convicting moment in my bible study time. I was challenged to check my motives in the things I do. Just because our motivations start out good doesn’t mean they will always stay good. It’s probably a good idea that we all step back every now and then and make sure we’re still on the right track!
So I took a look at my blog and stopped to think about why I’ve been so inconsistent in writing. Had my good motives of showing how God was working in my life …of bringing Him glory through my stories somehow changed.
What’s next is a hard to admit,true confession…..
What I discovered was…well…a bit more selfish and less than my original motivation. I mostly was keeping “God touches” in my writing but I learned from the likes and comments and views that the more I wrote about the God things, the less attention my blog got. And the less attention I was getting, the more my motivation to write things became smaller.
Did you catch that? The less attention *I** was getting the more I thought “why bother”! And that’s when it hit me. God didn’t ask me to write to show how fabulous I was or to draw attention to myself. He wanted me to write about how He brings joy and hope and love and all the good things into my life. But when what I wrote , whether it focused more on me or on Him, didn’t get the attention I perceived it needed, I took it all personally and withdrew.
My motivation to write somehow became more “how much attention can I get” rather than simply writing what God put on my heart for His glory not mine.
And for this Jesus loving gal, that was a big old OUCH!
So in an attempt to take any focus off me, I’ve changed the title of my blog from My Clamorous Life to simply “JOYFULLY CLAMORING”. Because I really want this to be more about showing the JOY that comes from living a life out loud for the Lord. A life not so much focused on MeMeMe but on how much fun life can be with Him!
I’m human. And I might fall back into needing all the affirmations. And I might write something that is more about me and less about Him. It could happen. I hope not. Because my true intent is to just share what I feel He wants me to. Period. If that moves someone to respond ,whether that response is just for them or they respond to me, it’s all good. My job is simply to be obedient.
Today is a big day. A sweet anniversary. A year ago today God grabbed me and said “I have a better plan!” You see, I had asked him sorta “tongue and cheek” to just make me magically thin and fit after my sister declared on Facebook she was ready to lose weight and get healthy. I knew I needed to do the same thing….but the past 15 years had only proved to me how excruciatingly hard this was! So why not ask God for this little favor! I thought it would be an amazing thing for Him to do. I’d just wake up the next day and be 10 lbs lighter. And as I barely changed my eating habits and continued my crusade to never exercise a day in my life, I’d continue to lose weight like butter slipping off a hot steak. It would be spectacular! After this past year of talking to people on social media who are trying to lose weight, God could stay quite busy helping people achieve their own pre-laid quick weight loss plans! People get so agitated and discouraged if they don’t lose 5 lbs or more a week.
But I digress. Back to God’s better plan! I did truly pray for God to make losing some weight easier for me. I did hope I could lose at super fast lightning speed. Because who doesn’t? I knew,though, I needed a mindset change and that’s what I honestly prayed hardest for. Because I knew that if I woke up every day thinking it was OK to be the “fluffy grandma” , that cookies were life and that sitting on the sidelines watching life pass me by was cool, I’d never ever ever lose weight again. I had to have better thoughts passing through my head.
So I went to bed on February 28,2019 with this prayer on my heart. And when I opened my eyes on March 1st, something was different! No, I wasn’t amazed at my new size 10 body staring at me from my bathroom mirror. The size 20 girl was still there with all her bed head glory. But what lay beneath all that crazy hair was not the same! I can’t explain it beyond God’s miraculous touch, but I knew I knew I knew that all my “I can’t possibly do this” thoughts had left the building and would no longer be an issue.
So I grabbed my phone and purchased the WW app. I scoured through YouTube for all the Leslie Sansone Walk at Home videos I could find. I threw out all the sugary , yummy junk that was lingering in my pantry. I went to Kroger and filled my buggy with lean meats and fruits and veggies and all the healthy things I once snubbed my nose at. I joined my sister’s Facebook group with others who were trying to commit to new and healthier lifestyles…because accountability is a good thing. Then I set about the business of listening to what God’s better plan was and doing it.
My first big surprise was how easy it all felt . It wasn’t hard to hit play on the walking video and actually spend 30 minutes marching and kicking around my living room. It wasn’t hard to kick the cookies to the curb and eat blueberries instead. It wasn’t hard to tell people “no thank you” when they offered me a piece of cake because they knew I always wanted cake! None of it was hard. And that was weird and so amazing.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to anend; they are new every morning.”…Lamentations 3:22-23
Part of His better plan for me was to teach me this. His mercies truly never end. It’s been an every morning thing. I go to bed each night unaware of what the next day will bring. But God knows. So He wraps up the strength I’ll need to make healthy food choices all day. He boxes up the stamina I’ll need make it through the harder workouts. He ties up all the positive words I need to say to myself. Then when I wake up in the morning, He hands them all to me…a new gift each and every morning.
So by this point, you must be wondering if doing all these things with my new “Jesus super powers” made everything so super easy that I reached all my goals at the exact time I wanted to reach them and never struggled.
And the answer to that is a big fat nope!!! God promised His forever presence with us. But He never promised us His presence would make life super easy with every single thing going just like we want. Over the course of this last year , some things have happened exactly like I wanted them to….like losing 30 lbs in the 3 months before our fancy Alaskan cruise. The picture above of my husband and I was taken on that vacation. We were standing in our “adventure cart” on a mountain trail in Ketchikan, Alaska. SO! MUCH! BEAUTY! Let me just stop here and say if you ever have the chance to go to Alaska, don’t think twice about it. Just go! Best as I could figure, losing 30 lbs would be a reasonable 3 month goal and it would be just enough to make me more comfortable with all the vacation things we’d be doing. And I was right. By June 15th , I had lost 33.5 lbs. Because God sometimes like to show us how He is able to do abundantly more than all we ask or think, simply because He loves us.
After those first three months of abundance , I had new lessons to learn. And the biggest thing God had for me was wrapped up in the s l o w n e s s of the weight loss I would have for the remainder of the first year. I lost 33.5 in the first three months. Over the next NINE months ( and to this very day), I would lose only 32 more pounds. The tail end of my first year of weight watching was full of plateaus, roller coasters… gaining and losing the same 3 or 4 pounds over and over. I’m telling you, a weaker person would’ve just said “Hallelujah for those first 30 pounds but this is for the birds” and thrown in the towel.
Now I’m human. And even though I had given God control of this venture into “healthierness”…yes,that’s a word and I just made it up and it’s good…I still felt big needs to help Him speed things up when the wheels started screeching on my weight loss. So I changed my WW plan . I changed my exercise program.
And ya know what?
I kept losing weight! Yay me!!
You wanna also know what?
My efforts didn’t speed up a thing! Yep. In spite of all my incredible efforts to get to my goals and reach the end of this race quicker , I was still barely losing 1/2 a pound a week. What the heck was going on?? I had accepted the fact that I was gonna lose slowly because of my age and I was OK with that. But this just seemed excruciating. I needed to have another serious chat with my Leader about this.
It went something like this…..
Me: “Hey God! I know You’re for me and with me and all that but I’m just wondering if You , for some reason, have put my request to lose all this weight on Your back burner. I still have a good 15-20 to go and I’m not even losing a pound a week. This is gonna take forevah!!” (insert semi-frustrated grunt here)
God: “Take heart, Sweet Girl, and wait for me. Be strong. I am making you strong now. Don’t you feel that?”
Me: “Yes! I’m so much stronger. I DO feel that. Have You seen that I’m lifting heavier weights now? And I’m doing real burpees! I still can by pass the cookies and cake but even if I have just a bite, that sugar monster You helped me slay stays asleep!! Seriously!! But I really thought I’d be at my goal weight and coasting through maintenance by this point. I need help to not just grow tired of this!”
God: ” What you are doing is a good thing. You’ve made so many positive changes . Continue to use my strength to help you not grow weary in doing these good things. And at the proper time, you will reap the harvest of your efforts because you did not give up. Remember that My timing is perfect even when it’s not the same as what you’d like.”
Me: ” Oh I know!! I won’t forget that. But I’m still an impatient human, just like You created me. I also know to You a day is like a thousand years and that makes me a tad bit nervous! Please please please tell me I’ll reach my goals quicker than that!!”
God: “Stay faithful to the good things I’ve taught you this year. Let your perseverance finish its work . You don’t want to reach your goal prematurely. Let all you’ve learned and accomplished come to completion so that you won’t be lacking anything. When you feel frustrated , like you don’t know what you’re doing anymore, come to Me. I love to help. I won’t look down on you or think you’re weak. I’ll just help you. Ask boldly and then believe without a second thought that I will help you.”
Me: “So if I do these things I don’t see how I can help but reach my goals. In Your time and in Your way. I will wait patiently. I will stay steady and strong. One good decision after another. One at a time. “
And that my Friends, I guess is the secret to my success over this past year and into the years to come. By my own power , I’m a mess. With God leading the way, I at least stand a pretty darn good chance of getting what I truly need. Healthy weight loss….not super fast, at the speed of light loss. A mind set that is changed for the good and for the better because anything that is slowly simmered is superior to something quickly boiled into a mushy mess.
I’m still a work in progress and will continue to be.
I look around my house at all the signs of Christmas approaching. The tree in the corner brightly lit. The garland on the mantle with stockings hung with care underneath. The wreaths on the front door and windows. Scattered nativities to remind us of the birth of Christ. Snowmen to remind us there’s rarely any blasted snow in Georgia!! Gosh, that reminds me of the Christmas my #4 kid was three years old. First, we had to wake him up on Christmas morning to run downstairs for present time. What three year old has to be woken up on Christmas morning? And second, he thought we were fooling him that it was Christmas because when he ran to the window he saw no snow! And how could it be Christmas without snow?? Little goof ball actually climbed back into bed!! Oh my! He’s gotten used to brown grassy Christmas time in the 18 years that have passed since that morning! We just live in a big snow-less bubble!!
In spite of the fact that I have seven whimsical stockings hanging, each with their own child appealing design on the front, all five of our kids have grown up and are adulting like bosses these days. Yes, these are the stockings I purchased at Michael’s back in 1998. Yet every year I have this inner debate with myself over whether or not to gift these stockings to their much older owners or just continue the tradition of hanging them in order on our mantle. Each year, “continue the tradition” seems to be the winner. Because as non-traditional as I am sometimes….as much as I attempt to live in each present moment…these stockings are the holder of so many Christmas memories from the childhood of my five. And I hang on to them. Why not? I loved Christmas with my own 5-pack of adorable kidlets at home. I miss it to be honest. Christmas isn’t the same without the pitter patter of their little feet racing to the tree on Christmas morning.
It’s just not. Not whining here. Just stating facts and all!
With that said, while I embrace the memories held in each Santa stocking, I am also learning to embrace each new moment of Christmas-ing with my adult kids. We’ve had to start new traditions. Sometimes each year has been the beginning of a new tradition….no biggie! We’ve had to bend a bit. That’s OK…God made us flexible on purpose! But all this has lead to doing Christmas well with these amazing grown up people!
So I don’t stomp my feet and insist on having Christmas my way!! I cringe at the thought of creating that much stress for my family!! Stress is born when a momma holds on too tightly to wanting all the Christmas things to remain the same year after ever-lovin’ year !!! That would get boring, right? But I’m not gonna lie. If I could have all my babies and their babies under my roof every merry Christmas Eve night , I would be happy as a kid who just found Santa’s workshop! But the last thing I want to do is put pressure on my sweet things who are trying to make more people happy than just me. So come here New Way of Doing Christmas! Let me give you a big old hug!
I’ve also found this year the need to be more flexible with the day and time of our family celebrations. We celebrated Thanksgiving the weekend before Turkey Day because of conflicting work schedules. It felt a bit weird in the planning but when that Sunday came, I found a Macy’s parade on YouTube that we watched , the Cowboys were playing football and nothing about the day felt less than completely Thanksgiving-y! Tiny changes in our Christmas celebration will happen as well because sometimes ya gotta share your people. And that’s OK! Sharing is caring and all that. I think we all learned that when we were kids!
Truth is, though, I’m not certain if I’ll ever stop missing my kids being little at Christmas. Not a Christmas has gone by since my kids started growing up and adulting that I haven’t had at least one “moment” in my darkened living room as I sat basking in the glow of the lights from the tree. A cozy fire roaring in the fireplace. A lone tear escaping my eyes. Memories flooding back of my own childhood Christmases, blurring lines with remembrances of the joy I felt each Christmas with my own small children.
Have you ever done this? If you have, know it’s OK because now you know at least one more person who does the same. We don’t ever want to forget the good memories we made with our young families. But living in the moment as we build new memories is honestly just as amazing. I can look forward to each new Christmas no matter how we “do” it. The other night, my man and I hopped in the car by ourselves with no children buckled in anywhere and toured the neighborhoods in our town so we could ooo and aah at their spectacular light displays.
I also bought Christmas cards for the first time in a bazillion years. Pictured on our” re-entrance to holiday card sharing ” is just me and my man. Just us. None of our kids. None of our grandkids. Felt weird…but also very accepting of our empty-ish nest status.
I’ve known forever that Christmas isn’t about the things we do to bring on the Christmas feels. I’ve known forever that the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus….God sending His Son as an adorable baby with a mission to be our Savior. So part of doing this Christmas season well is letting my focus be more on that and less on what my now vintage stockings remind me I’m missing.
Because even in the memories of “1990’s and 2000’s Christmas” is Jesus. In the “right now Christmas” is Jesus. He’s the only thing with any amount of consistency. He’s always the right answer. Especially when the house is too quiet. And when our row at church, which used to hold all seven of us, feels empty. When we’re singing Christmas carols off key by ourselves. And when those grown up kids we love so much may not even see in person the stockings we hung just for them. Jesus is in it all. Always and forever.
So Merry Christmas to the young and those who will always be young at heart. Happy Holidays to one and all.
Until next time, keep clamoring with all the holly jolly you have!
Istood in the kitchen. Shirt pulled slightly up and tucked under my chin. Waistband pulled slightly down. I opened the junk drawer and found it. The tape measure. The tape measure and I had not spoken for years. The scale and I had the same relationship. We were estranged. Honestly, I’m not sure what made me pull it out that day. I mean, I hadn’t exercised in eons. So it wasn’t like I was needing to see how many inches I had lost because of the amazing number of crunches I’d been doing. Maybe I just felt like torturing myself that day. Who knows? But for whatever reason, I took a deep breath, sucked it all in and wrapped that 60 inches of tape around my midsection to find my number.
I think I died a little inside that day.
Depending on where your mouse lands when you google “what’s a healthy waist measurement”, this number should be anywhere between 31.5 and 35 inches if you’re a woman. Around 40 inches if you’re a man. I’m tall and I’ve always carried more weight in my belly. In other words, I’ve never been a “Twiggy” but in my younger, healthier days, my waistline was at least in the high range of being a-ok. So I figured in spite of all the weight I’d gained over the years , I was probably at least in the healthy man range.
I wasn’t. Not even close.
Deeming the tape measure defective, I threw it in the nearest trash can as quickly as I could. There was no reason to keep such negativity in my life after all !! Ugh!! But the number on the white tape had already left it’s mark on me. I cried out in despair and defeat, “HOW CAN THAT BE?”
I added it to my Click List order. (side note…..if you live near a Kroger and they offer Click List, DO IT!! You’ll never walk into another grocery store again if you can help it!) It’s completely possible if I had to find the tape measure on the shelf myself ,I may have just skipped over it. Because really? Where the heck are tape measures in a grocery store?? But I figured the nice Kroger employee doing my shopping for me would know where it lived and not die with frustration searching the store for it. I got my groceries home and started emptying out the bags. I was way more excited to see that blasted tape measure than I was my bag of whole wheat pasta! I finally found it. My new tape measure was pink.
I stood there in my kitchen and held this girly pink thing. As excited as I was by my $2.25 purchase, I was equally intimidated by it. The first time I wrapped this indicator of my girth around my parts was several months into my weight loss journey. I was in the first week of a new workout program and it felt like a good time for a reality check. But I admit it was still scary. I had thoughts of the last time I had measured my mid section running through my mind and I simply wasn’t sure I wanted to know this number again. By this point in time, I’d lost over 50 lbs. I knew in the rational part of my brain that my measurements would be smaller. My number on the scale was less and my clothes had a new lower number. But the irrational part of me was still screaming “IT’S ALL A FLUKE!!!”
I put on my brave face and wrapped my new pink tape measure around my waist. I closed my eyes and prayed, “Lord this is just a number. It’s not an indicator of my worth or my ability. No matter the number this tape measure lands on, I will praise You.”
I opened my eyes. Placed my finger on the spot that would be my number for the day and I looked. It was still larger than “Dr. Google” deemed healthy but by golly. It was less than it was that day a few years ago. A FOOT LESS! A foot!!!
I continued with my daily workouts. I continued putting the right food in my mouth. I continued praising God for all He’s done for me the past 9 months. And 50 days later, I measured again.
And once again, I exclaimed, “How can that be?”
But this time it was an exclamation filled with joy not despair or defeat. It was an exclamation filled with gratitude not shame. It was an exclamation that caused me to pause and thank the One who changed me.
“For this I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to Your Name.”…2 Samuel 22:50
If you just love being on a diet, raise your hand…
As I sit here waiting for nobody to raise their hands, let me finish my fat free cottage cheese and mandarin oranges! I have serious love for this stuff! I’d almost take it instead of ice cream…almost! Seriously! I’m fighting the urge to go grab another bowl of curdly cheesy orange love. Cottage cheese was once the food of my dieting nightmares. Now I crave it like it was ice cream! Oh my word!! Who am I??
Truth is, if someone caught me eating cottage cheese they’d probably ask me if I was on a diet. Oh how I hate that word! Honestly, when someone talks about “going on a diet”, I just wanna cringe! I. HATE. DIETS !!! I’ve been on dozens of them throughout my life. And in spite of the fact that many of these diets helped me lose weight, not one of them was successful. Every single time I’ve gone on a diet, I’ve ended up overweight again. Every single time was just progressively worse than the time before.
I think I’ve found a “sweet spot” though that will keep me from ever having to “diet” again. I’ve pinpointed five things I’m doing that I’m certain will keep me from boomeranging back to where I was in this before picture. And because I like to share , I’ve written these things down for any of my “dieting” friends who may need a boost.
Picture on the left was a year ago. The snazzy dressing room selfie was a few weeks ago . I hate dressing room selfies by the way. But I couldn’t help myself because I was a bit stunned at the “smaller than I’ve been in 16 years” size jeans I was comfortable wearing. I waited until I was back in my car before I allowed the tears of joy to begin dripping from my eyes.
(Side note…I’m not a weight loss expert even though I did work as a Weight Watchers leader many years ago. I’m not even a nutrition specialist. I’m just someone who’s walked this road a time or two and learned a few things along the way. )
1. Find your proper motivation…
Honestly, if your motivation is to lose some weight and get to a certain number, that’s not enough! I’ve been there done that. When all I wanted was to be several pounds under 200, this motivation alone failed me in the end. Because once I got to that elusive number, I celebrated the “end of the road”. And you know what happened? I got lazy again. I got a bit cocky thinking I no longer needed to do all the things I had been doing that got me to this point. I had arrived and now I could relax. That worked for me for a while. But Picture One up there is the proof of my failure in making a number my motivation.
That “getting to xxx-pounds” can be a good start, but a better lifelong motivator needs to go deeper than that. EVERY DAY I want to feel amazing. EVERY DAY I want to be able to get up and move and groove and enjoy life with my family and friends and not ache because of sugar induced inflammation. I want to be able get up off the floor without needing help. I want to be able to cross my legs and bend over to tie my shoes. I want good numbers at EVERY yearly physical as a result of my good health choices. These goals motivate me more to a lifetime of good choices than simply reaching that number well under 200!
2.Give yourself a fair chance to create new habits…
How many times have you started a “diet” and given up within a couple weeks? I’ve done this too many times to count. When I think about why I gave up so many times it usually boils down to a huge lack of patience with myself. Those first few days of exercising were hard and I didn’t like getting sweaty or being out of breath and really? Who has time for such things? Then it was hard to drink enough water or to cook more and eat out less or to simply keep track of what I put in my mouth all day long. Those times I gave up too soon were also the times I didn’t give myself enough time to break my old bad habits and create new healthy ones.
The “researchers” ….whoever they are…say it takes 21 days to bust out of a bad habit and create a new one. But I say be patient even beyond 21 days. That new habit may be created but in my own experience it’s gonna take a bit longer to make sure it sticks..to get to the point where drinking water and exercising and picking up an apple instead of a brownie is just second nature. Once all the good habits become second nature, your chances of ever having to be on a diet again diminish greatly!
3.Believe you can do this…
From the day I had a “weight loss expert” tell me losing weight was just harder for women in their 50’s, I stopped believing I was even able. I filled my head with all the lies of “I can’t”. And I was totally right. As long as I believed I was unable to lose weight, I was doomed to a life of being overweight. I could start with a decent attitude but the second I allowed doubt to slip in , it was all over. Such a vicious , ugly cycle that lead to a “diet mentality”. Yuck!!
If you want to stop that vicious cycle, you MUST get the words “I can’t” out of your vocab!! You CAN eat vegetables. You CAN skip dessert. You CAN exercise every day. You CAN do every single thing it takes to get healthy. You CAN do all the hard things AND live to tell about them! Believe all these “I can” statements. Write them on sticky notes and put them where you can see them . Fill your sweet head with the truth that you can do this . BELIEVE IT! It’s true after all! This simple change in believing in yourself will be a big part of stopping the diet yo yo.
4.Be willing to do things differently…
Are you a creature of habit like I am? I can certainly get set in my ways. And I was pretty darn set on ice cream every night after dinner… and don’t you dare offer me the no sugar added variety! Yuck! Three cups of coffee every morning with enough Extra Extra creamer to make my black coffee the color of my favorite white sandy beach. Resting every day during the kids nap time…do not make me get up off the couch for anything please! I had some pretty solid, not very healthy habits. For so long,the thought of changing any of my routines made me cringe. But the day came when I knew I had to.
And seven months into this new journey of healthy disciplines, I’ve come to realize I still need to be open to doing things differently every so often. Why? Because my weight loss stalls from time to time. This happens mostly when I get in a rut of eating the same foods, doing the same workouts and basically fall into a bit of boredom with all the things. When I start to feel even a smidge of the ho-hum, I’m far more likely to fall into that “diet mentality”. I’m far more likely to skip the workout, eat bigger portions, run for the full sugar ice cream! Left unchecked,this leads to finding a seat on a roller coaster you will get very few thrills from!!
5.Don’t put time limits on your goals…
“I must lose 50 lbs by Christmas”
“Losing ten pounds a month is necessary for me to be successful.”
I can’t count on both hands the number of times I’ve put limits on myself. Some were realistic. Most were not. A few of my self made limits were met. And when they weren’t? Well, cue the wah-wah music. Utter defeat. Failure. Feelings of worthlessness and weakness set in. And most of the time, those unmet timed goals lead to gigantic steps in the wrong direction.
Being healthy, eating right and losing weight isn’t a sprint with a big old fancy finish line at the end. Treat it as such and B A M!! You’ve arrived. You’ve achieved your goal. You’re done. And now you don’t have to worry about that stinking old “diet” anymore. Surely we all know what happens next.
As long as you have a heart that’s beating and breath in your lungs, that journey to your healthiest self isn’t over. There are no time limits to your healthy goals. Eating right and exercising isn’t a punishment we must endure as penance for being overweight. It’s a reward for a life well lived.
Set goals for yourself. Goals are good. But time restraints on a plan to lose weight could backfire. Make it a LIFETIME goal to do all the right things, to eat well and move more. If that’s your lifetime goal, the weight will come off and stay off.
And you’ll never have to go on another “diet”again. Ever.
I’ll end with a prayer for you from my favorite encouraging book…the Bible.
“Dear Friends, I pray that you may enjoy GOOD HEALTH and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. Lord help these friends show discipline in their bodies and keep them under control. Whatever they eat or drink, whatever they do, may they do it all for the glory of God.”