The Gift of Lessons Learned

What would you say is the greatest gift you’ve ever received? Maybe it was an item of some sort you’d been longing for. Maybe it was a relationship you had been praying would work out. Maybe it was a lesson well received and needed.

I’m currently living in the middle of one of my greatest gifts … healthy life lessons learned. Progress towards a goal I never thought would happen. New habits formed when I thought the old ones would never die. Seeing God do things I. KNOW. I. COULD. NOT. DO. ALONE!!

LESSONS WITH FOOD

I love to eat. The only food I’m allergic to is walnuts. So you can keep those nuts of death but pass me everything else. And therein lies one of the deep roots of my weight problems. You have to eat to live. But I have spent so many years living to eat. Cheese, bread, sugary treats, buttery goodness… I did not have a grasp on healthy portion sizes. I didn’t have a desire to avoid things I knew would pack on the pounds faster than a cheetah racing to his next meal. Nothing felt off limits to me.

“”I have the right to do anything”, you say – but not everything is beneficial.”I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive.”

1 Cor 10:23

Over these last two months , God has shown me the enormity of this lesson. I had been living life “high on the hog” , exhibiting my right to have anything I pleased. What He’s shown me is that by doing that, I was putting way too many things in my body that had ZERO BENEFIT to me.

Not only has He killed the great Sugar Beast that was always raging inside of me, He has shown me that I don’t have to have 4 slices of bacon on my sandwich to enjoy it. One slice is good enough. When I break it up and spread it out, I still get a taste of bacon in every bite and isn’t that the goal of bacon anyway? Also, bread isn’t always necessary! This grilled chicken sandwich from a nearby fast food restaurant was delicious wrapped in a leaf of lettuce! Truly! Who knew?? See the bacon? And the yummy sauce? Still very WW friendly and low point when you take off the bun!

He’s also shown me that there’s more than one way to enjoy old favorites…in a more beneficial way. I’ve discovered pancakes that are different but so delicious. Sugar free maple syrup, warmed up, and in a small portion…not dripping off my plate…is good enough! And just look at this cheesecake. If you were to walk in on me eating this, you’d likely think I was having a “cheat day” or that I’d decided to heck with this diet thing. But nope….this one piece of cheesecake is exactly zero WW points , made with non fat Greek yogurt, sugar free pudding and eggs. Crazy huh?

Lessons with Exercise

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

1 TImothy 4:8

Did you know the bible actually talks about exercise being good? Valuable even! I’ve gone through phases in my life when exercise was important to me. Fun even. But for the past 14 or so years, exercise was nowhere on my radar. Working out became boring for me. Then it became difficult as I put on more weight. I’d get winded way too easily. I’d break a sweat. And neither of these things was even remotely desirable for me. But that’s what happens when you become content with “Fifty, Fluffy and Fabulous”.

But as God has been transforming the way I look at food, He’s also done a work in me on the importance of MOVING MY BODY!! Our bodies were made for motion and quite frankly, walking to the chair on the back porch or to the car in the garage is not enough!! So as I began this journey, I had to tell God “Exercise is H A R D and I don’t want to do it . But I know it’s important so PLEASE HELP!! I’m sending out an S O S !!!”

And just like that, He heard my plea and answered! In this second month of my journey back to healthy, I’ve embraced the fact that I need to bump up my workout routine. I’m not a “go to the gym” kind of girl right now. So Jesus and I have been meeting 5 days a week in my living room and He’s been getting an ear full from me as I’ve started jogging and carrying weights and high intensifying myself into an hour long sweat fest! Oh He’s had His work cut out for Him with me, that’s for sure. Slowly but surely, though, I’m starting to enjoy each day’s time with whatever “walk leader” is on tap for the day and , of course, any time I can “cry out loud to my Ultimate Walk Leader ” is time well spent. “Oh Lord do we really need to do this? Can’t you just zap me into physical fitness? Please keep my legs from buckling and the sweat from blinding me. And oh yeah, please don’t let me die!!” And what do you know…I’m still alive and kicking and ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Lessons with Attitudes

When my thought process was… “I’m over 50. I don’t burn calories like I used to. My metabolism is shot. Menopause has my hormones whacked out. I’ll never lose weight again.” …I was right. Nothing happened anytime I attempted to lose weight. When my attitude shifted and I began to let hope sneak in to those dark places of “I can’t” and my thought process became ” I absolutely CAN AND WILL do this! To heck with my age” , I was also right.

Working on getting healthier is a good thing. Moving easier is a good thing. Not being controlled by my appetite for junk food is a good thing. Losing weight is a good thing. This I know to be absolutely true… “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:7)

So my attitude when I have a slow week and only lose a pound or less is one of extreme gratitude! THANK YOU LORD!! Every ounce I lose at this stage of my life is a G I F T!! It should be harder than it is. But it’s not. And I know it’s because my attitude is in the right place. My faith is on point. And my Helper never leaves my side. I had a goal to lose 20 lbs in 2 months. I did it. Or I should say “we” did it. Because I know I didn’t do this by own strength.

As I close this post, I’d like to offer a prayer for anyone reading this who may be struggling to lose weight or to just have a better mindset about food and exercise.

Lord, we can do all things with You by our side. You are our strength when we feel weak. You are the Yes You Can to our No I Can’t. You are our biggest cheerleader , always on our side. Give us eyes to see the things that are beneficial for our health and help us to walk away from those things that aren’t. Thank You for the gift of Your presence as we walk this road of healthy living. In Jesus Name…Amen


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The Evolution of a Convo with The Man Upstairs

The Evolution of a Convo with The Man Upstairs

I once was a little Catholic girl who loved playing church on Sunday afternoons with my sister. A plain, ice cream cone…hold the ice cream…made fabulous communion wafers. I guess we’d take turns being the “priest” serving each other and saying the words we had long memorized. I’m sure we sang “Kumbaya” when we were done but I can’t be sure of that. I did love a little “hippy folk music” back in the day!

Me with my sisters and mom in the courtyard of our church. Circa The Flying Nun days!

I had a period where I longed to go to Catholic school. I think I liked their uniforms. I was also fascinated by The Flying Nun and pictured all the nun teachers being just like Sally Field. Wouldn’t that have been sweet? Besides, I was such a good girl I had no fear of big, mean nuns blasting my knuckles with their extra long rulers of torture. Sadly for me, the Catholic school thing never happened. I also had visions of becoming a nun but this little fantasy clashed loudly with my desire to have a large family one day. Fast forward many years and I now have 5 kids…the nun thing never happened either.

In spite of my fascination with all things Catholic and religious as a child, I really have no memories of praying a lot. If God and I ever had any convos during my younger days, they might have gone something like this…

Hello My sweet little Princess. I am God and I love You.”

“Ummm, now I lay me me down to sleep? God is great God is good?”

I had no clue how to pray unless I could read it from a book. Original words to pray never, ever came to me…ever.

I once was a young woman in my 20’s who still loved God , still enjoyed church…though I did go through a phase of trying life without God. That didn’t work out well for me, by the way. I stepped away from the Catholic church and planted myself firmly in a Methodist congregation. I took my young daughter to the nursery most every Sunday while I sang in the choir and played a mean hand bell. I went to Sunday school when I could get up and dressed in time. But you know how it is with young children. Mom gets dressed and ready. Then it’s baby’s turn. You feed her, bathe her and get her dressed. Right as you’re about to walk out the door, baby barfs all over you and herself. You change everyone’s  clothes but as you’re doing this,  baby gets that scrunchy red face that means only one thing. Then you smell it. And well….I was lucky to get to my place behind my C bell before I had to ring it!

In spite of how holy I was with all that church choir singing and bell ringing, praying was still not the most comfortable part of my day. When God and I had conversations back then, they might’ve gone something like this…

Hello again My precious Daughter. I’ve loved you since before you were born. Like an open book, I’ve watched you grow through all the stages of your life. I have prepared great things for you my Princess. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.”

“Ummm, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come …and all that. Ummm, God bless my family and friends. Ummm, thank you for this day. Ummm and God, please don’t let that guy over there call on me to pray out loud!! I may burst into tears if he even looks my way! “

Breaking out of my memorized, rote prayers was still difficult. And scary. And the thought of praying in front of people like those Sunday school teachers made me want to hurl!

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I once  was a young woman somewhere in my 30’s, fed up with prayers written by someone else . Mesmerized by the beautiful words I would hear others pray, I was still mum with my own frilly, pretty, poetic prayer words. Why would anyone want to hear my prayers when that person over there prays so beautifully? So I guess I must practice. It might’ve sounded something like this…

Oh Father as You sitteth on Your holy throne in heaven, be pleased to look downeth upon us, thy faithful servants and bestow us with thy most holy of blessings. Let your love poureth out on us like rays of thy most holy sunshine. …”

“And who exactly is this? You don’t sound like yourself today Child. Don’t be tempted to role play before Me. Just be yourself. There is no formula or program or technique for getting what you want from Me. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Daddy you’re dealing with here and I know better than you what you need. Because I love you so much, you can pray very simply…in your own words. “

Really? But my words are so goofy sounding. And You! You are so awesome. I want my words to be right and intelligent and beautiful and meaningful…..”

Oh my sweet girl, they will be as long as they come from your heart and not the mouth of someone you deem more righteous in prayer! I want to hear from YOU! YOU!! Speak to me as if I’m you’re friend, because I am! “

Again, really? Have you heard me stumble through conversations with FRIENDS? You’re GOD!!  I guess I’ll try this because You , God, really are quite fabulous. I really do love You…ALOT! I’m so thankful for all You’ve done for me. I can’t imagine allowing my son to die for the sins of the world, yet that’s exactly what You did! For ME! Wow God! I’m humbled and amazed by You! Thank You for loving little old me in spite of everything. I trust You and believe You! In Jesus’ sweet, holy, and oh so precious name… So Daddy, how was that? Did I sound OK?”

Oh you precious thing! I do believe you’re starting to get it ! I love you so!”

Awww…I love You too!”

Journaling prayers has helped me feel more comfortable with using my own words when I pray!

Disclaimer: The words of God were not actual words I ever heard from God. But I did take some from The Message version of the bible.  And I took some from my own crazy head…this is what God sounds like to me