The “I’ll never go on another diet for as long as I live” post

The “I’ll never go on another diet for as long as I live” post

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.”

From 3 John 1:2, 1 Corinthians 9:27 , 10:31

Until next time, keep joyfully clamoring…

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Food Pushers I Love You, But Please Stop It…

Several weeks ago , I stopped and had lunch at the wonderful “Christian chicken” restaurant my son works for. It’s always fun to sorta sneak in there amongst the crowd of famished travelers, shoppers and parents entertaining their preschoolers and just watch my youngest do his thing. I had a hard time being sneaky that day though. He saw me as soon as I graced the side door entrance with my presence.

Now for my fellow WW friends, the Lord’s chicken palace is a great place to get a super low point meal. The grilled chicken nuggets have ZERO POINTS! That means GIVE ME ALL THE GRILLED CHICKEN PIECES…..PLEASE! They really are yummy! Plop them on top of your side salad and tada! You’ve got yourself a nice and healthy fast food meal for 3 measly points. Now isn’t it odd that the salad has more points than the chicken? Darn you cheese !!!

Speaking of c h e e s e, you may have heard about this new Mac and Cheese that God Himself created and gave to CFA. My son came home with a bowl of this deliciousness one afternoon after he got off work. Because he’s smart, he added a spicy chicken filet and some bacon pieces into it. I sat across my very own kitchen table from him and was in some sort of trance as I beheld his holy creation. I couldn’t move. Mainly because I was afraid Six Months Ago Me would take over and demand every bite of my kid’s food. I sat there and prayed (of course I did!), came to my senses and calmly asked if I could have one small bite of his Mac and Cheese Delight. He glared at me for a second, probably going over in his mind if he wanted to be a good son and fully support my weight loss goals OR be a good son and hand over a single bite of his food before I bit off one of his arms. There was a thin line there! I got the bite. I don’t know if this was a win or not because that one bite was so dadgum amazing it left me wanting to steal food from a baby. Hmmmm…..I behaved. But hey? Is it stealing food from a baby when said “baby” is a 6 ft 4 grown man?

Anyway, back to my original story before I got distracted by the Mac and Cheese of Jesus. On this particular day I was feeling mighty and strong in my resolve to eat well and make good choices. I got my grilled chicken nuggets and my well-done fries (I needed Points SOMEWHERE in this lunch) and topped it off with a refreshing diet lemonade. My sweet son came over and gave me the excellent news that his boss wanted to give me a gift….a peach milkshake!

Oh! My! Word!

A P E A C H M I L K S H A K E!! I’m certain this is what I’ll ask for on my death bed and I’m pretty sure that my mansion in heaven will have a milkshake machine that only makes peach shakes…oh and banana pudding!

I smiled at my precious son , my heart full of such love for this man-child of mine who had the power to bring me the gift of sweet , creamy, Georgia-peachy joy! Then he looked at me , shrugged his shoulders and said, “I told her you were on a diet and probably wouldn’t want it, though. She’s pretty insistent. What do you think?”

Oh the dilemma!!!! So I pulled out my WW app and like every great weight watching person diligently seeking their best and most well self, I looked up the Point value of a large peach shake. Because I COULD just have it and count the points and go about my day. But my jaw dropped flat to the ground because it became pretty evident that the “powers that be” did not clue in to the fact that all dreamy ice creamy treats at the Christian chicken place should NOT count as a a full day of Points plus some! Oh my gracious sakes alive!

Suddenly I was singing “let the devil know not today!” in my head and looking in my purse for the holy water to sprinkle all over this temptation! But my precious son was right….I did, in fact, no longer want the delectable treat I had so kindly been offered.

I sent him back to work, feeling strong and good about my decision to skip the shake. As I sat there proudly munching on my ZERO POINT chicken nuggets, she came to my table. TheFood Pusher. The really sweet and with great intentions Food Pusher. He was right, though…she was pretty insistent on gifting me that day. She offered me a small instead of a large…thank you but still no. Then I told her about my weight struggles and how far I’d come to overcome those obstacles. Our banter went back and forth for many minutes and it became clear to me our thoughts on getting healthy in our 50’s were a bit different. I also began feeling I needed to accept something from her so I asked for a lesser of the ice cream evils … a frosted DIET lemonade. That satisfied her need to gift me and I felt like I was still in control of my choices. For the record, I could have THREE small frosted diet lemonades for the same points value as that large peach milkshake! Jesus take the wheel!!!

Truth is, I should’ve passed on the ice cream treat altogether. I walked into lunch that day strong and with great resolve. I knew what I wanted to eat. I had my plan. But I let someone else’s plan for me break through and rule for a minute.

Friends, we will all have to face Food Pushers as we work towards our health and weight goals. It’s just inevitable unless you live under a rock or in a far off space station orbiting a distant planet all alone. People generally like to share food. It’s a means of entertaining. Of saying “Hey I like you…join me”. Sometimes we’re gonna feel weak and give in. We’ll believe the lie that we “deserve” this treat. We’ll believe the lie that one bite won’t set us back! Believe me….ONE BITE can absolutely wake up a sleeping sugar monster inside you and remind him he’s famished!!! We’ll believe for a minute depriving ourselves of the treat in question is bad and giving in to it is our due reward.

You know what you truly deserve, though? Not the brownie or the milkshake or the 61 point Texas sized nachos!!! Yes, they DO exist! You certainly don’t deserve the massive amount of guilt you’ll feel afterwards either! You deserve believing YOU ARE WORTH MORE!! More than the”here now , gone in a flash” satisfaction of a few guilt-ridden bites . You deserve to feel amazing about your decision to eat healthier and to take control of what you put inside your body…no matter what anybody says!! Stand firm in YOUR convictions. Don’t let them be swayed by someone who doesn’t believe in you like you do!!

Let me take a minute and speak to anyone reading this who may be an unknowing Food Pusher. Please stop it!!! It’s nothing personal when someone politely tells you no thank you when you offer them something to eat. I promise!! Speaking from experience, I normally always want whatever someone is offering me . If I could eat all those delicious brownies you made and take them home with me and eat them in the bathtub full of bubbles I would. But what I really need is simply your support of my decision to eat healthy and be healthier no matter what your own opinion is !!

Now I just wanna speak to the person in the mirror. Can we just stop a minute and admit that we are way too often our own worst enemy? We can self sabotage like it’s our job some days. What then? What if the food temptations around you are so strong you just know you’re gonna crumble?

Walk away! Go outside. Take a walk. Just go into another room!

Bring to mind or pull up an old “before” picture or a picture of yourself at your goal weight!

Eat something better! I always have fruit around to grab in hunger emergencies. If the temptations are in your own kitchen, throw them out! It’s OK! If you just can’t throw out food because of all the starving children in the world and all that, I get that! Give it to a neighbor or box up all the tempting delicacies and donate them to a local food bank.

Pray! I’m serious!! Lord give me strength is a great little “flair prayer” even if you have to repeat it a dozen times before you feel an ounce of strength.

Repeat encouraging phrases. Write them on note cards and keep them at your fingertips. Words like I am strong! I can do this! I am worth more! Being healthy will feel better than this will taste! Whatever works for you!!

One of my favorite things to remember when I feel weak is simply a verse from scripture. It’s this…

I remember I can eat that brownie. Or that bowl of cheese dip. Or that ice cream. It will always be available for me. I’m allowed to have it. It’s not taboo! However, it’s not necessarily beneficial for me. It’ll make me feel bad. I’ll probably feel a twinge of guilt. Really, nothing good will come from it! So I decide to not let any food be the boss of me…and trust me I know some pretty loud and bossy food!! I think about all the years food mastered me. When I lived to eat and eat some more! When food was a great source of entertainment for me! And it makes me mad…and sad…and determined to be the master of what I eat and drink and not the other way around!

So Food Pushers, I love you! But I’m gonna choose to love myself more!

Until next time, keep joyfully clamoring!

A Very Weighty Story

A Very Weighty Story

I remember the day and the humiliation like it was yesterday. Standing in line with my 6th grade classmates in a warm , muggy gym in Arkansas USA. It was a day I dreaded every year once the powers-that-be declared it was important to know the height and weight and general fitness level of all little kids in elementary school. I dreaded it for many reasons. My fitness level was down around zero. I never liked exercising or playing any sort of sport. I guess that came from a lack of coordination, which I’m certain came from my very fast growth spurts. This particular school year it was all extra bad though. The summer I turned 11 was a painful one for me…literally! I had grown to the height of a giant, leaving all my friends looking like I could be their teenage babysitter. I can still feel those growing pains!!

So after going through a drill of excruciating tests that once again proved my total lack of fitness, I was made to stand on a scale, a line of class mates behind me waiting their turns. The girl who went before me was a perfect 4 ft something or other and weighed in at about 70 lbs. She was the norm in my class of kids who still looked like kids. The anxiety I felt as I waited for the teacher to say my height and weight out loud was ridiculous. I wish I could’ve stopped her. I wish I could’ve knocked her to the ground before she said my facts out loud. But I couldn’t. So my whole class heard the truth that I was 5ft 10 and weighed an enormous 125 lbs. Heavens to Betsy!!!! I was a freak!!

All I could think about was the 70 lb girl who went before me. She was normal. I was fat! Nobody else in my class weighed even close to 125 lbs. Of course, nobody else was even close to 5ft 10 either. But that didn’t relate in my barely 11 year old mind. It didn’t click that my weight was actually pretty darn low for my height. All that seared into my young mind was how much more I weighed than everyone else.

Having breakfast before school with my sisters during my “I’m a fat giant” days. It was clearly all in my head.

As I think about this moment of sincere humiliation, I just want to go back in time and give little me a huge hug and tell her it’s all going to be OK. I’d just want to reassure her that she’s perfectly proportioned and beautiful and that , yes, the boys WILL bypass her gigantic height one day soon. I’d want to let her know that weight is just a number and not an indication of her worth as a person. I’d want to let her know how amazing it would one day be to be so tall…how it would be so nice to be able to help people reach things on high shelves. How it would be easier to see over other people’s heads in crowds and that would be especially important at the Shaun Cassidy concert!! How one day she would applaud her height because she could weigh more than her shorter friends and look amazing while doing so!

I thought about all these things last night as I divulged my current weight to my husband. I had been fighting a stomach bug for about 24 hours and was trying hard to down some egg drop soup and rice. We talked a minute about the blessing of a stomach bug…quick weight loss. I had managed to lose 2 lbs in 24 hours! I wasn’t sad about that! But as my husband cheered for my still over 200 lb weight, it just struck me as funny. I’ve now lost just shy of 45 lbs and I look and feel so much better than I did 5 short months ago. But I’m still over 200 lbs. I’m still just a smidge heavier than my biggest cheerleader. And the truth is, I AM SO GOOD WITH THIS!!!! SO. GOOD!

So if I’m good with how I look and feel right now, why not stop the insanity of trying to keep losing? Hmm….couple things. I know how much more amazing I feel at my goal weight. I’ve been there within the last 15 years and it’s even better than the good of where I’m at now. And then there was that ONE doctor in my life. ONE doctor who had the good sense to actually comment on my weight as she saw me heading over 200 lbs while pregnant with my first child. She looked me in the eye and said , “Becky, you may be tall. But you do not need to weigh over 200 lbs. It’s not healthy.” Harsh? Maybe. Truth? Absolutely. But I look back on that now and I appreciate that truth being spoken to me. Because for a good portion of my adult years, I’ve hovered at 200 lbs or been well over. And that doctor from long ago was just right. I don’t feel my best when I’m over that number or even hovering right below it.

I still have about 30 lbs to my ultimate goal but I no longer look in the mirror and make grimacing faces at myself. That little girl who once thought her world ended because her whole class knew she weighed 125 lbs can rejoice in 218 and mean it….and even admit that on a public blog with only a mild amount of embarrassment! According to “all the charts”, I’m still obese. Shoot, when I reach MY goal weight, that all mighty BMI chart will still tell me I’m overweight. But to heck with those charts. I think I’ll throw them away!! How did they come up with those numbers anyway? I’m in my mid 50’s!! I DO NOT need to weigh 4 pounds more than I did as a scrawny 11 year old to be at a healthy weight!!!

I left out one thing I’d say to my 6th grade self. And it’s probably the most important thing I wish I had known then. Which may be why I left it for last.

Dear 6th Grade Me…

STOP!

COMPARING!

And I’ll offer this same advice to you if you’re struggling with your weight right now and find yourself comparing yourself with anyone else. Even if that “anyone” is a younger you who lost weight easier and faster!! There are going to be people who lose weight faster than you. That’s OK. There are also people who will lose slower than you. Also OK. There will be people who can lose weight and eat dessert every night or pizza every Friday while you feel like you have to eat salad every day to even lose a pound. There will be people who can lose and never do a lick of exercise! While others work out every day and love it!

It’s ALL good . What YOU are doing is good as long as you believe in yourself and don’t give up. Just keep doing YOUR thing and you will amaze YOURSELF !!

Until next time…

Keep Joyfully Clamoring!!

Is This Really ” Living The Best Life”?

“You won’t realize how bad you truly felt until you start feeling really good.”

Friends who’ve been there done that

I was told this sooooo many times last year. And I was hoping it would one day ring true for me. I had been feeling gross! In the months leading up to my surgery last August, I’ll admit I felt amazingly hellish! But I have an extremely high tolerance for feeling yucky. I grin and bear it. I ignore it. I pray for healing. All the things. And normally I start to feel better and I go about my life as usual. I managed to skip my way past needing to see a doctor for about 10 years. Yay me! But a little over a year ago, things went south quickly. The draggy feeling. The rapid heart rate. The wondering most every day if I was going to just pass flat out with a house full of toddlers under foot. It all become too much to grin and bear.

So I made the doctor appointments. The first one told me I was anemic. As I went to the next doctor to attempt to determine the why, my hemoglobin level had dropped so dramatically I really should’ve had a blood transfusion that day. But the doctor wanted to try to get my level up “naturally” and wanted to wait 48 hours before she’d do a transfusion. What we did worked and, thank You Jesus, I was able to bypass the transfusion…barely. I love bypassing medical procedures!! But the “why” of all this crazy anemic business was clearly my uterus . I needed to start saying my goodbyes to it. The decision wasn’t difficult for me. This month marks the year anniversary of the day I said toodles to my once friendly, life bearing uterus.

As I’ve gradually healed over the last year, that statement so many well-meaning friends shared with me has, indeed, rung true. A year with no cramps. No achy back. No planning my life around all those”days of the month”. A year with energy to move and groove like I haven’t in years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so good. When we were in Myrtle Beach a few months ago and we were walking to the pool, it really hit me. And it nearly made me cry. Because I hadn’t dreaded the walk that would end at the poolside cabana. I hadn’t tried to convince my husband why we needed to drive the few blocks to the pool. The walk didn’t wind me or tire me out. I didn’t feel like I was going to D I E !! A year ago I would’ve insisted on driving to this pool. But two or three or even four years ago, I would’ve insisted the same thing. It was in that moment that I realized the “good” I thought I had been feeling all those years wasn’t good at all. I had likely been anemic and ill for many years but I became so used to feeling weak and tired that it was just normal for me. I’m sure I blamed it all on just getting older because , you know, getting old ain’t for sissies and all that! But the truth was , I had just become blinded to my best life and was living a life of settled OK-ness.

Settled Ok-ness is not necessarily OK. Well, not if you truly want to live your best life.

And who doesn’t want that?

So why do we so often settle for the equivalent of the thievery of our “best life” ? John 10:10 says , though, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The thief here is that pesky devil. He longs to steal our joy. He longs to kill and destroy any and all good we feel or desire. He gets quite the chuckle when we settle for anything in our lives that’s less than God’s best for us…

When we just feel mediocre and declare it “good enough.”

When we’d rather engage with people on social media than face to face because hiding behind a screen seems easier.

When we’d rather sit on the couch and watch TV by ourselves and begin to feel closer to fictional characters than to the real people in our lives.

When gorging ourselves with junk food becomes the norm simply because it’s easy and tastes just fine. So how can it be that bad?

When we do anything in private that we’d never do in the sight of others because we know it’s not right. But if nobody sees you, well….

If our ears could hear things in the spiritual realm around us, I’m certain the uproarious laughter of that evil snake would ring loudly as we continue to live less than our best lives. Why oh why do we give him the satisfaction of joy at our expense?

Can we let that thought make us angry for a sec ? Because if someone came into our home and actually stole something we loved and worked hard to obtain , we’d be beyond angry. Yet, the enemy of our very soul steals from us daily and we just let him ? Can that thought spark enough fire in us that we flip over to recognizing our “best life” things? Because those best things are meant for us. Why? Because Jesus! He’s the “I’ in the verse above and He was the originator of “live your best life”. He came and did His thing so we could live that best life with abundance.

Abundance as in Amply. Bountifully. Comfortably. Copiously. Extravagantly. Fully. Freely. Well. Lavishly. Sufficiently. Thoroughly. Generously.

But do we? Do we live more in that abundance meant for us or do we live in a constant state of less than? I think we all know when our life isn’t quite as on track in all the things as it should be.

We are all just beautiful works in progress, aren’t we?

It’s a good thing our God loves us so greatly. And is so patient with us as we figure out that best life He has prepared for us.

I can’t sit here and tell you what your best life should look like. You can figure that out on your own. Better yet, pray about it and ask the Lord to reveal to you what you need to do to get to that best life! I’ll do the same. And I promise , once we’re there, we’ll never want less !

Until next time…..

Cheers to Another Year

Cheers to Another Year

I just celebrated another birthday. Cheers to that! It was not a biggie…you know, one with a zero at the end. But still one where I sat and realized I’m not that much younger than my early memories of my own grandparents. It’s a weird feeling. It’s almost like I hold my breath every time I look in a mirror. Will this finally be the day I look in the mirror and see my Mamaw staring back at me….silver, short grandma hair perfectly coifed. Nice, tailored dress with an apron over it. Sensible shoes. Perfectly polished fingernails. My grandparents were of the generation with that stereotypical “grandma look”. This “look” was beautiful and precious to me as a kid….but I don’t particularly want to stare at it every time I pass by a mirror! So please pass the hair color and the fancy skin care my way!!

This birthday, though. This year that sees me 4 years short of the next “zero at the end” birthday. It’s all caused me to stop and do some reflecting. I’m not really surprised that one of my very first real memories is of a birthday. My 4th birthday was a year my parents threw a little party for me. This shin dig was at our house, which was a sweet single wide mobile home in Fort Walton Beach. I can remember being super excited about my friends coming over…I can’t tell you a single one of their names today. And I can remember NOT being excited about the nap my mom insisted I take before the shenanigans began. But she let me fall asleep on her lap as she sat in her chair…that I DO remember. My head on her shoulder. Her arms wrapped tightly around me. Being warmly embraced by the love of my mother. That memory is much stronger than the names or faces of the kids who came to my house or the presents they brought for me.

Why? What would make me remember anything about a day fifty something years ago? I’m sure it’s because of the love I felt that day. Because love is a powerful thing!

And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”…1Cor 13:13

Little me looking adorable enough in our “nap chair” that this could’ve actually been the day of that 4th birthday party.

With love powering my sentimentality and with birthdays on my mind, I’m not surprised that memories of birthday’s past have been filling my head this week.

  • Year 15 was celebrated at a local and newish water park. This was 1978 and water parks just weren’t all they are today. But by late 70’s standards, this one was…well…standard. I only remember it having a few different big water slides. I remember the brown bikini I had that summer, certain it showed off my tan all the better. I remember the friends who joined me on this day. And the plethora of cute lifeguards hanging around for me and my teenage friends to gawk at…I mean to save us if our lives were ever in peril from the swishing, raging water! I also remember feeling incredibly loved because my parents knew this outing would make my heart happy . And they were right!
  • The following year we were in a new town. It’s H A R D to move to a completely different state when you’re 16. The summer of this milestone birthday found me knowing pretty much zero people. We had only been in small town Texas for a few weeks, school had yet to begin, and our neighborhood was devoid of anyone even remotely near the ages of myself or my sisters. But this birthday made my heart smile because even in the simplicity of our family of five sitting in a Pizza Hut eating strangely amazing pizza, I felt all warm and cozy inside. It was my birthday and my family, who I knew loved me, surrounded me as we munched on my favorite food together. I think your favorite food and love will always go hand in hand!
  • How can I ever forget my next momentous birthday? I turned 18 in 1981. My friends and I celebrated with an overnight party and our first legal drinks. We made strawberry daiquiris and planned to wake up in time to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. Because why not? What could be more special than royal love! I really needed this time of friendship and love on that very day. When I left my friends later that morning , after basking in the richness of this royal wedding and all the birthday fun, I learned of the death of my beloved Papaw. How sweet of God to surround with me so much fun and love right before what was one of the worst days of my young life.
  • By far my most memorable adult birthday was the big 4 – 0 ! This day saw my one and only surprise party. Somehow my husband was able to pull off a full fledged unexpected gathering of new friends, old friends and family from near and far. How I managed to not notice the line up of my Texas family’s cars as I strolled through the parking lot to the fellowship hall could only have an act of God. The love I felt that day bowled me over. As I walked through the different “layers” of friends and family who had come to celebrate this day with me, the affection we shared was sweet. It was almost like a glimpse of heaven.

Looking back on these birthdays from the past, I’m struck by one thing. The REASON I remember them. There was a very evident strand of love weaving through each of those days. The love of my mother’s arms…the love of a group of friends….the love of family. The feeling of being seen and known and loved is a powerful, grounding feeling. It’s a necessary one, I think.

We all want to be seen.

We all want to be known.

We all want to be loved.

God made us to need these things. Maybe that’s because HE sees us and knows us. And He IS love. Perhaps when we’re craving love, we’re really craving God. Hmmm….because as good as human love is, His love is a million times better. It just is.

So cheers to another year. A year to be loved and seen and known. A year to love and see and know.

Until next time…

The Good Fight for the Skinny Jeans

The Good Fight for the Skinny Jeans

I had finally done it! That long awaited, can-I-really-do-it goal was mine! And with it came a post card from a popular blue jeans company. The nice lady at the Weight Watchers meeting handed it to me when she announced that I had made Lifetime…HALLELUJAH!! I still remember that day so well. Taking that shiny postcard and checking the box that said YES SEND ME MY FREE SKINNY JEANS!!! Asking these folks to send a size pants I hadn’t worn since I was a senior in high school felt surreal! Would they really believe I was the size I said I was?! Mailing the card …snail mail was still a valuable tool back in 2004! Receiving that package a few weeks later with those glorious jeans wrapped neatly inside! Putting them on for the first time and that feeling of giddiness and pride that those teeny tiny jeans fit! I was certain those jeans would be my favorites forever because they symbolized the fact that I can really do whatever I set my mind to.

I also remember the feeling when I looked at those teeny tiny award jeans hanging in my closet just a few years ago. They hadn’t fit in years. I looked at them in disgust wondering if my big toe would even still fit in them. Like most women , I had hung on to my “skinny” clothes well after they no longer fit . But on that day, I realized the fight in me was hibernating so soundly I really had no reason to hang on to the skinny things in my closet. All they were doing was taunting me…

Hahaha! Look at you! You’ll never fit in us again!

I hope you enjoyed your time wearing us because look at you now.

Why are we still in here? We don’t fit you and we neeeevvvveeeerrrrr wwiiiilllll!! Bwahahahaha!

I couldn’t get those nasty, mean pants out of my closet fast enough! The sound of their mocking voices sent me into a fit of silent tears and woe. The messages they were sending me as they hung there next to my pants 6 sizes larger were too negative for me. But they were right. I was too big for them and I always would be so why keep them .

I found a box and filled it with everything in my closet that didn’t fit and never would again. My resolve to load my closet with nothing but larger sizes was strong. I threw that box of rude small clothes in the donation pile in my garage and commenced to filling my closet with as many upsized clothes as I could. And with that one move, I closed and pad locked the door on any motivation I could muster up to be fit again. But I didn’t really care. Nope, not one bit!

Until, of course, I did.

I’m three months into my journey back to healthy. And the fight in me is stronger than it’s ever been. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I felt so determined to do something. I mean, one night last week I actually stopped watching TV at 9pm and instead of heading to bed, I welcomed good old Leslie Sansone onto my screen so I could walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. (If you’ve ever done a Walk at Home video I’m sure you just read that in her voice, huh?)

I can hear the old me screaming “Why would you do such a thing? That’s so weird!!!”

But something has clicked in me that has finally caused me to realize my health and my fitness at almost 56 years old is a fight worth fighting! At this age, I feel the natural state of my body is plain, flat out rebellion. It wants to sit still because moving makes all the achy things ache. It wants to gain weight whenever I look at food because why not? Does my metabolism even still exist?? It wants to fall apart because it’s getting old and worn. It’s worse than a rebellious teenager sneaking out at night to do those teenage things parents tell them not to!

So yes!! It takes some work , a healthy dose of motivation and an amazingly good attitude. Sorta like parenting those rebellious teens! But my GOOD health is worth FIGHTing for. Being able to move with ease is worth fighting for! Not feeling 110 is worth fighting for! Having more energy is worth fighting for!

I spent the day at a spa with my oldest daughter this past weekend . We did some amazing, relaxing things…facials, massages, hot tubs, saunas. Aahhh! But we also worked out! Say what?!?! And when my daughter looked at me on my fancy treadmill and said with a bit of amazement, “Mom, you’re JOGGING! GOOD job! ” …..well that moment let me know that my worthy FIGHT was paying off !

While my ultimate goal is to live a healthy life and to forever believe I can, my little “side goals” involve losing weight. When you have 80 lbs to lose to get to that elusive healthy Body Mass Index, it’s smart to set small achievable goals along the way. That first 30 lb goal is within a half a pound…so what the heck. I’ll just call it because I like to round up! With 30 lbs comes the need to dig out the size “less than” pants or just buy smaller clothes. This has been fun. But remember that day I threw out my skinny jeans? I threw out ALL my skinny clothes.

Or so I thought? Procrastination and hiding things from myself real well sometimes pays off!

I was searching for a paint brush in my garage this week. I’ve been working on refinishing my beloved but very weathered front porch rocking chair. It has needed to be made new just as badly as I have! As I was digging through the things in my way to where I thought this paint brush might be, I literally tripped on a taped up Amazon box. My first thought was “What did I order that I threw in the garage and forgot about?” But then I saw the box was slightly open on one end and what appeared to be clothes was peeking out. I held my breath. Could it be?

YES!! The box was filled with pants of all the “less than” sizes I once determined were only worthy of donating. It was filled with the lie that I never would or could be at a healthy weight again.

But as I dug through the box and found those teeny tiny award jeans from 2004 , I knew something with every fiber of my being .

The GOOD FIGHT to get back into those teeny tiny jeans is worth it because I AM WORTH IT!! I WILL be in those jeans again. They may be horribly outdated by then but hey…jeans are jeans right! And at least they’re not bell bottoms!!

So I’ll persevere however long it takes. I’ll stand firm in my conviction to be a better, healthier me. I will fight the GOOD FIGHT and finish this race.

And I will win life!!

Until next time….

Travelin’ with the Oldies…Another Imperfectly Perfect Tale

We’d been on the road for what felt like hours. Queen blaring Platinum Hits from the car speakers with occasional outbursts from our road guide, Weazer the Almighty Waze Voice.

“Stay on this road for 30 minutes then turn left.” ” Careful, car on the side of the road ahead.” “Keep right, then stay in the left.two lanes.” “Cracker Barrel at the next exit. Take it. You need to eat”

OK, our handy dandy speaking road map didn’t actually say that last thing. But it wouldn’t surprise me if one day it could! Technology knows no bounds, does it? There’s no reason for me to believe that one day our cars won’t automatically pull off at the nearest restaurant when it detects its passengers are in need of nourishment!

We were hungry , though, having been on the road a sufficient amount of time to need food and drink. After noticing a billboard advertising a decent place for grub at the next exit, we took it and began looking for the tell tale white chicken in the red circle marking our stopping point. But then Weazer pipes in and tells us we need to turn left at the next light. That didn’t seem one bit right, but we had been obedient to her directions all day and saw no reason to stray from her guidance . Traffic was horrendous as it is most every where on a holiday weekend so scooching into the left lane was no simple task!

We ended up missing the turn we were suppose to take and ended up in a shopping center parking lot. But that was OK. Surely the restaurant we were looking for would be in this general vicinity. Because you know, Weazer wouldn’t lead us astray and all that!

But no sign of the white chicken in the red circle anywhere. Frustration was mounting and we were getting H A N G R Y !!!

Then like a little birdie whispering in my ear, it hit me. We had exited to get food, but we hadn’t told Weazer to change our destination. We’d just said it out loud. And so far, this particular technology doesn’t have ears and it couldn’t hear us. So faithful Weezy had been rerouting us back to the Interstate we had just exited! Her one and only task was getting us to our resort in Myrtle Beach! But since we were so tuned into her guiding voice AND we were delirious from starvation, we didn’t clue in to the fact that we hadn’t aligned our need for food with Weazers need to tell us exactly where to go.

Once we realized what had happened, we started cracking up at ourselves. Oh my!! Being 50 something certainly has it’s hysterical moments!! We did end up getting back on the Interstate and found a place to eat at the next exit. And when that voice came over our speakers again, telling us to get back on the designated route, we just looked at each other and started laughing all over again, telling this electronic leader NO!! WE WILL NOT FOLLOW YOU WE’RE GETTING FOOD THIS TIME!!!

Aren’t we adorable? Bless our hearts!

This “senior moment” has had me thinking about things over the past few days. There’s more than one marriage moment to share out of this story of our laughing together at ourselves. And they are things that I’m certain have helped get us to now.

Moment #1…Find the humor in every situation! Laugh more!

Oh we’ve had stages in our lives when we growled at each other more than we even cracked a smile in the other’s direction. We are both married to an imperfect person with the capacity to drive the other bonkers!! So before anyone reading this thinks all we do is laugh and be hysterical, know that truth!

In fact, it wasn’t too long ago when I realized we were taking just random stuff way too stinking seriously and we needed to lighten up and laugh together more. Just being mindful of that turned things around again. The faster we can find the hilariousness in any given situation, the better we feel. Laughter is just good medicine…Proverbs 17:22 assures us “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Y’all, as we get older, we don’t need help in the drying up of our bones. The suddenly new aches and pains and stiffness in the joints gets real!! So no crushing of the spirit …..just a big dose of cheer please !!

The little hats are funny! But they’re not as hysterical as me trying to dance….which happened shortly before this picture. There’s no photographic proof of how hilarious my dance moves are but I’m certain that if any of my adult kids had been present, they would’ve been adequately embarrassed!

Moment #2…Some times in life (and in marriage) we need a redirect!

On this traveling day, we were obviously very tuned in to the voice of the Waze chick. So much so that even when we veered off course to do something of our own choosing, we followed her re-direct. It didn’t matter that we didn’t think she was leading us to an actual restaurant! It was just important at that moment to be obedient to the voice coming from our car speakers!

In the course of our 25 years together, I’d be lying if I said we have stayed on the right track and done all the things perfectly and never veered off course. It would be more truthful to say MARRIAGE IS TOUGH!! There have been times when we have totally sucked at it! There have been times when we wondered if we’d survive till the next anniversary. But one thing we have done well…in the midst of every single trial , we’ve found our way back because we let God take the reins and redirect us to the proper path.

Every. Single. Time.

And quite frankly, that is the biggest reason I’m even sitting here able to write these little blog posts celebrating our grand and glorious silver anniversary! So my biggest advice to young marrieds, old marrieds…shoot ALL the marrieds… is this. Let God be in control. Period! If you stray off the path of a great, healthy marriage and think you can find your way back by your own power, rethink that. It was your own power that got you off track in the first place! Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of You; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

When God’s voice has been the loudest. When His voice has been the one we allow to guide us. Those are the times when our lives and our marriage has flourished. The more closely we follow the path God sets before us , the better off we have been. I could go on and on about this because it’s probably the most important marriage thing we’ve done. But that could be a post of its own.

Moment #3…Sometimes it’s OK and even beneficial to change the way you normally do things.

Now this is a subtle point in this imperfectly perfect story. Maybe you picked up on the fact that this little excursion was to Myrtle Beach and it was on Memorial Day weekend. We had planned this short getaway to the beach months ago. At that time, we were just looking forward to a holiday weekend with our toes in the sand as we listened to the waves crash to shore. We are certainly a couple who loves just chilling on the beach and not bothering with much of anything else!! What we didn’t know when we booked this long weekend trip was that Memorial Day at Myrtle Beach has a long standing tradition. I’m not sure why we didn’t think about the fact that this South Carolina beach town has hosted the largest African American Bike Rally in the United States for the past 39 Memorial Day’s!! This is an event that has hosted crowds as large as 400,000. That’s a lot of bikers folks !!! Now we could’ve braved the crowds and just headed to the beach as planned. But we felt the need to keep the crowd around us a bit more PG rated than what we encountered when we simply went to pick up some groceries!! And since I like to keep this little blog of mine PG rated as well, you’ll just have to imagine some of the things we saw while we were out and about.

So we didn’t do this beach trip like we normally do. We could’ve let disappointment rule but instead we chose to embrace this change in the norm and enjoy ourselves. What we discovered was this new plan was good! We had a short walk to the massive pool area at our resort where a nice, comfy lounge chair awaited each of us. There was always an inflatable pool ring ready to carry us down the Lazy River. The drinks were plentiful and the music was cheerful. The people lounging around us provided us with good conversations. We didn’t have to go far for a snack or , most importantly , the bathroom!

What a great weekend where we learned there’s more than the normal way to enjoy a beach trip! Getting stuck in our ways can be oppressive and we don’t even realize it . It can be a joy to be “an old dog doing a new trick”!

So be encouraged today to not take yourself so seriously that you can’t find the cheerful things God has placed in your day. Be encouraged to make God’s voice the loudest in your life and in your relationships. And be encouraged to do old things in new ways.

Until next time…

Tales from an Imperfectly Perfect Union…Part One

As My Man and I quickly approach our 25th wedding anniversary, I suddenly felt that nudge to celebrate that fact on my blog. Because a 25 year marriage is something to celebrate and talk about and share stories from. It’s something to honor! Not because we’ve done the past 25 years so perfectly and y’all will learn so much from how we’ve so grandly done marriage. But sorta the opposite! We’ve been so IMPERFECTLY perfect at most things over the past 25 years that someone is bound to see a bit of themselves in us and think “Shew! I think we can make it too!” Because as lovely as marriage is, it’s just hard at times.

So I’ll start from the beginning…because why not?

Valentines Day 1994 found me drinking a glass of champagne with a ring in it. Because I’m NOT the romantic one in our relationship, I had actually forgotten this detail of our engagement . Shocking, right? How could I forget any details of my long awaited engagement? Even though I longed for this moment when My Man would finally pop The Question…for real this time…I was probably so exhausted from single momming our seven month old son and my two young daughters that this memory likely got caught behind night time bottles, diaper changes and homework !

Hey wait a minute! Back up a second!! Hold please while I rewind this a bit…….

Late November 1992 found me not drinking a glass of champagne. It found me drinking nothing but water. Because I was pregnant. And not married. In the early 90’s, being unwed and pregnant wasn’t as hip and socially acceptable as it is in 2019…at least not in my church going, Jesus loving, God fearing mind. As a 29 year old divorced mom with two young children, I was still not fully grasping how big and deep and enormous God’s love for me was. So while I fully accepted and already loved the baby I was carrying, I felt shame for doing things backwards. I knew I needed to be married…and soon. So when My Man and I digested the news that we were going to be parents together, it was just sort of decided that we would get married. No grand gesture of a proposal was made . There wasn’t even a ring. There was just the decision that we’d get married over Christmas break. We invited my family out from Texas and we’d have a small, intimate ceremony…somewhere. But it didn’t happen quite like that.

My family did come for Christmas that year. But it was mostly to help me lick my wounds from the broken engagement that really never happened in the first place. My Man wasn’t ready to get married. And while I saw ALL the reasons TO be ready to tie the knot, somehow he was able to see the wisdom in not getting hitched right then and there simply “because we had to.” He had no raging hormones coursing through his body at the time to make him feel the false urgency I was feeling! Pesky old hormones!!

Sometimes God tells us “Not yet”. He stalls us with a “holy hold on” because HE sees the big picture! And He simply loves us too much to urge us down a path we’re not quite ready for. There was so much for us to grasp and learn in the journey to the day when the love we had for each other was true and real and not forced because we had to. There was so much God in the journey that got us to that Valentine’s Day in 1994 when I almost drank my engagement ring in a glass of champagne!

We trusted the journey and in the process we learned a valuable life lesson. One we’ve clung to many, many times in our 25 years.

WAIT ON THE LORD!!

Isaiah 40:31 tells us “They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”

If we had run ahead of God and gotten married too soon, I can only imagine the added heartache we would’ve endured. We both feel certain we would’ve ended up divorced after just a few years because we would’ve married for the wrong reasons. If we had gotten married too soon, we would not have built up the strength to endure the inevitable hard times. We would’ve fallen short of making our marriage fly. We would’ve grown weary of doing the right things because in the back of our minds, we would’ve always been doubtful that we had even started with the right thing.

Our marriage is certainly a mix of questionable decisions mixed with some excellent ones. Whose isn’t? But I have to say that NOT deciding anything in the heat of a moment and truly waiting to hear from God has been one of the excellent things… something we’ve gotten good at. We may have gotten off to a slow start but God took that…our humanness…and He made something beautiful.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

I have more to celebrate and I’ll do that here over the next many weeks leading up to our big day. So until my next tale…