Monday ponderings

We have been praying about what God has for our future. Some of the possibilities out there would mean a big change for us financially and of course another move.  This has led to well-meaning onlookers to warn us of the hardships of stepping down in pay and quality of life.

I have been thinking about our “stuff” and what we do with our current finances and how we long for them to be used to God’s glory. We have devoted a portion to supporting missionaries so I definitely keep that in our need to sustain side of decision-making.

Today I started my morning in Ephesians 1:7-14 and especially love verses 11-12

Ephesians 1:11-12 (NIV)

In Him you were also predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,

in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.

Since I was a teenager I have been taught by wise youth leaders to use each and every situation or obstacle, good or bad, to bring glory to God. To make the time in those moments not about me and how hard things are for me, or how I wish for different or better, but to look to God and be willing to see what He has already planned out so that I might give Him glory in return. Sometimes it isn’t something seen immediately, but God will always use our experiences in conformity with the purpose of HIS will, so I might as well make His will my heart’s desire.

The benefits of changing our “quality of life” in financial realms are actually a massive improvement to our quality of life. Maybe not to everyone, but for the purpose of serving God more fully and storing our treasures in Heaven instead of earth, benefits far outweigh any sacrifices we may have to make.

All this said, we still aren’t even sure what God will do and if doors that we are knocking on will open, but we are standing ready and willing in excited anticipation on this side of the door. I have a sticker in the front of my Bible that I got the weekend that I made God the LORD of my life and not just my insurance for after-life… it says:

ALL I am…

ALL I have…

ALL I ever hope to be…

I now and forever dedicate to the Lord Jesus Christ for His use and glory, absolutely, unconditionally, now and forever.

Now LORD JESUS, Hold me to it.

I signed this January 12, 1992. I will never forget that amazing weekend and how God grabbed my heart and jump started it again to live and truly live passionately in love with HIM.

If God is the one in control of my life, and He is, I have nothing to fear. He cares for each detail and has proved that to me time and time again in little and big ways.

This morning I listened to a song I haven’t heard in a while. I had it in my heart when I woke so looked it up online to refresh all the words. Listen and watch He Is No Fool, by Twila Paris.

May you have a day of knowing God is in control and finding peace within that knowledge and courage and strength to seek out what He has planned for you to do in order for whatever is happening to bring Him glory according to HIS will at work in you.

Blessings,

National Zoo trip, Washington DC

I briefly mentioned in a past post that we recently got to go to the DC zoo! It was a beautiful day, although a hot one too and that makes for hiding animals that are keeping cool out of sight. We did get to see some great animals though and the kids got to stand right next to a beautiful peacock that enjoyed his doting fans.

The lions were out too…

Look at those paws! There were about 6 or 7 lioness there that we saw, and three lions. We love big cats!

The kids were able to stop for a lesson on bird feathers and eggs as well, I loved watching them interact and show their excitement as the animal lovers that they are.

Here they are “unzipping and zipping” a feather that was dark on one side and colored on the other. God is an awesome designer.

Here is the dark side of the feather….

and then the colorful flip side! …

It was a hot day and we were definately tired by the end of it. I have to say my favorite parts were my oldest and I seeing flamingo’s fight, and the big cats.

There is also a building called the think tank that houses many brains! It was fun to see the different sizes of brains… but I still like the living animals better. 😉

If you go…

1. Take plenty of water, it’s a lot of walking and somewhat hilly.

2. Print a map before your trip, they charge $2 for a map there.

3. Check online or call ahead if there is something specific you want to see, they are doing a lot of construction and many exhibits were closed in our visit because of it.

Our camping week

Wow! What a week we had last week camping at Word of Life Campground in Pottersville, NY.

There is something about the adirondack mountains, they are majestic and inspiring and oh so calming to my heart.

This was our home for the week! We set up our site first and then took our son over to the Ranch to get registered.

This was both boys first camp experience. They were SO excited and both loved their week. Our 6 year old was a day camper this year but already expressed his desire to do overnight camp for next summer.

Once registered we hopped on the Ranch train to set up the cabin and meet the bunkmates for the week!

Note to self: take a sheet next year so if it’s so hot again, we can lay on top of the sleeping bags but still have a cover. 🙂

We went on a paddle boat ride on Andrews Pond! It was a short ride, and I have a small fear of non-motorized boats, but wanted the kids to have the opportunity. They liked it, but didn’t LOVE it… thus, the short ride. 😉

Then, the next day we went on a speed boat ride… that was so much more relaxing. 🙂

So much so, that our little one fell asleep!

 

Nightly story time with Daddy, a definate HIT! We were so thankful he could come with us, originally he couldn’t get the time off, but someone needed to give up their week and so he was able to switch! Yay!

This is our camp counselor for the week, he is a second year student at Word of Life and also raising support to be a missionary to Brazil.

We look forward to knowing him for a long time and supporting and following his ministry.

Our speakers at the campground were phenominal, both first time speakers at Word of Life this summer, and I am very thankful we chose this week. I’ll post more on that though…

Hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at our week, we had lots of fun even though it rained a couple of days!

Trip lists…

We have a camping trip coming up and it’s my first time camping since a class camping trip I was on in the 8th grade! Ha!

This time it will be my husband and I and 3 of our children. (ages 6, 4, and 2) Our 10-year-old will be down the road at his first week of overnight summer camp!

We’ll be at Word of Life Family Campground, my husband and I met as students at Word of Life in 1995 and haven’t been back since 1997. We’re looking forward to reminiscing and sharing stories with the kids. Our 13 year wedding anniversary is this month too!

We are trying to make this trip as frugal as possible so I am prepping a few meats and foil wrapping some breakfast burritos and chicken wraps ahead of time to throw on the coals or our over fire grill. I have a list in my head and on paper, but don’t want to be the only one working from the list so I put up small sticky notes up on two cupboard doors: one door has food prep list, the other has house-ready and errand items. We are living in a house that is for sale so it’s important that each time we leave it is show-ready in case the owner needs to bring someone by. (yay)

Some of the things we’ll be working on to prep ahead are marinated chicken and steaks, foil wrapping some ranch red potatoes, breakfast burritos individually foiled and frozen, oatmeal muffins, and a couple of other things. I’ll share as we go along what worked and what we tweaked. I have bottles of water frozen and ready and will be freezing grapes as well. Anything to help keep the cooler cold and feed us well! I am happy to say I don’t even have hot dogs on the list of meals!

We’ve set up the air mattresses we’ll be taking in the basement and have had weighted items on them for a few days to make sure they are hole-free as well! Being prepared with the right items is great, but not if they are defective! Thankfully they are still at the same firmness that we put them up with! Our kids seem to pop anything that can be blown up so this is a wonderful thing!

The littles that will be with us each got a special backpack (we home school so this is a BIG deal) and they will bring some of their favorite items for quiet moments throughout the week.

Any tips you might have feel free to share, if I don’t use them, one of my readers might!

If you go to Sea World…

It’s summer and some are planning staycations, but many will brave the roads or the airports and head away for an adventure. If you are heading to Sea World I recommend taking time for one of the behind the scenes tours, you can read more about them here. We took the behind the scenes tour as a family and loved the experience!

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We got to go see the tanks where they bring animals to rehabilitate them, which at that time included a blind sea turtle, an abandoned baby manatee, and a few dolphins. This is also where they put some of the dolphins for a “time out” if they start getting too aggressive with the others. 

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We also were able to pet small sharks, a very cool experience for all of us. 

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They took us by bus/shuttle to each different attraction to go behind and learn more about them, the beluga was another fun stop. No touching here, but we enjoyed it anyway. 

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The highlight and last part of the tour for us was the penguin house! We learned here that penguins have no bladder to hold waste so don’t stand behind them! 😉 We all got to pet a penguin and they are SO soft!

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Lots of fun memories for all of us. We also LOVE the Pets Ahoy show, some don’t go to this because it’s not sea life, but these pets are so fun to watch! 

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Enjoy your vacation where-ever you go or stay! 

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There’s an app for that…

Noting my choices has made a big difference for me in this past week. I have always tried food journaling on past attempts to regain a healthy weight but end up giving up on that usually after only a couple of days. I found the app Lose It, on my EVO phone and LOVE it!! This is a free app that tracks my calorie intake as easily as selecting from a list foods pre-programmed by them, or by scanning a bar code, or creating my own by entering the serving size, calories, fat, fiber, and protein. I told the app how many pounds I wanted to lose in a week and how much I am currently, as well as my height, and it calculated how many calories I should have each day in order to reach my goals. I can also input exercise with their pre-programmed list of work-outs (including housework!) and the app plugs in how many calories I burnt on that activity. (of course this is an estimate, it doesn’t know if the sun is beating down on me while I’m biking and making me work harder or if the wind is strong, etc…) Overall I highly recommend this app for anyone that knows they need to keep track of their intake better and struggles to keep it all straight. I like that I can look at my day as a whole and see my nutrients for that day and add more protein or fiber in the next day or lower my sodium intake.

Putting plans in action

I have been continuing on with my Made To Crave book/Bible study and also listened to Bob Harper’s book, Are You Ready?, and I am excited to say that over the last 2 weeks I have lost 5 pounds! My ultimate goal is to get back down to where I was on our wedding day (150), which is still 62 lbs away, but I learned from Bob’s book that I need to set smaller goals for myself and stop being so panicked and hard on myself about my body and my food choices. So my first smaller goal for myself is to get out of the 200’s and get to 198. So far so good!  I learned I need to make deliberate choices about what we eat… because we all love simple indulgences that can be eaten mindlessly here at our home, I need to be careful even purchasing such items and then if I do partake to count out an actual serving and note my calories.

Keeping prayer and God’s promises to care for all my burdens has been a wonderful part of this journey. Yes, even struggles with weight loss is a burden He does care for and will carry for me if I surrender myself to Him. I have some friends that have joined this journey and we are all at different stages in our journey so sometimes I feel almost a justification to fall to temptation since actually taking time out to be on the phone and accountable to each other seems one of the harder parts of this process, but then I remember that it isn’t for that accountability friend that I am determined to have success in this particular study/challenge. My desire is to learn more about why I make the choices I make, whether with food or activity and how those choices affect my health here and now and also how they affect how I communicate with/depend on God. I am accountable to God first and foremost, I have asked Him to help me achieve this goal and if I don’t it won’t have been HIM that failed me, but me that failed to keep my focus on His power and authority in my life vs. foods power.

Am I willing to sacrifice what I think I need (chocolate, ice cream, fries) for what is better for me physically and what will allow me more energy and focus to be the woman God made me to be? YES! Truthfully, those Hershey Kisses we all love in this house have been less satisfying to me this week and less worth the calories too. Do I still like them? Duh, it’s chocolate! But asking myself why I want that sweet treat and what is making me grab for them as more times than not ended in me closing the cupboard door and turning to God in prayer for peace, strength, and whatever need drew me to that sweet spot in the first place. Sometimes it’s simply boredom, and that has been convicting as well, if I do have moments of quiet with nothing pressing to do, why am I not quicker to engage my hands to opening the Bible and spending more time with my Creator? THAT will always satisfy with no sugar highs or guilt for over indulging either! 🙂

The whole chapter of Matthew 19 is both encouraging and challenging to ask myself what I am willing to sacrifice to follow Christ, to be available completely for His use and Glory. It was a sacrifice that the rich young man in the passage was sad to be asked of, sacrificing his comforts financially was too much for him to cope with and he went away sad.  I know it’s wholly different to sacrifice wealth vs. sacrifice eating foods that don’t benefit, but it’s a sacrifice of this comfort food that will allow me to better know His abilities to care for me and use me more completely.

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

So how are you doing? Don’t be discouraged, start again if stopped and we can talk from where we both are. Encouragement doesn’t have to come from someone in the same stage as you and each one on the journey can encourage the other no matter where they fall in line. (Just look at traveling Geese!)  Forgive yourself and move on, we weren’t created to live in guilt or regrets, multiple times daily I give my desires back to God and ask for help.

Blessings,

 

Simple Joys

We got a small pot belly pool off of Craigslist about 2 years ago and the summers have not been warm enough up here to use it until this week! Yay!

Our children are more than thrilled with the back yard addition even if it is still cold! It’s been so fun to laugh with them as they play and enjoy being outside. They usually have to be MADE to stay outside so this is a welcome change!!

The pool is shallow enough that our 2-year-old can stand just fine in it, but she stands there shivering so today I got her a tote bucket to call her own and filled it with about 3 inches of hot water and 4 inches of pool water and she loved it!

Using simple things to make life sweeter is so much fun!

Have a blessed day!

Thought for Food…

No, that title isn’t suppose to be Food for Thought, chapter 3 of our book study through Made to Crave is about preparing a plan of eating and action for ourselves.

This is a daily battle, not one that is a quick fix and not one that will be always fun or easy. Why bother then!?

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Yes, my weight loss struggles, my choices to make between what is best for me and what would be fun to eat or do ARE trials that will produce perseverance and I will finish lacking in nothing, mature, and complete! THAT is the goal after all, the side effects will also be being trimmer, firmer, and able to fit into those goal jeans. Daily, I need to remind myself that choosing what is best is NOT depriving myself, but gifting myself with the JOY of self-control and health.

So make a plan, I see all sorts of different meal planning ideas out there and the key is to find one that works for each of us. Is there something that looks completely divine yet way too calorie full or fattening? See if you can find a way to cut the calories in it! This is a wonderful learning process that will encourage us that healthy eating doesn’t mean rice cakes and spoons of peanut butter as a meal. 😉

Take a few moments sometime soon to sit down and list out some meal and snack choices for the week and make your grocery list reflect anything your missing too.

Grocery store tip: Buying the low or reduced fat isn’t always best! Be a label reader. Many times in order to reduce the fat they load up the sodium and the calories remain the same. Compare labels and don’t be fooled by weight loss marketing.

 

 

An encouraging video

I hesitate to share this video only because I am not a fan of the 700 club and Pat Robinson, however, Karen Ehman was mentioned in my Made to Crave devotional this morning and a further look to her site www.karenehman.com led me to find her story in this format.

It is encouraging to see her success and to hear that it was not through a text book “diet”, but from making changes, even small ones. I feel the same way about weight issues and ministry as what she tapped on during her interview. My ministry can be so much greater if my body is healthier and showing my obedience to God even in my food and care choices. (like exercise)

http://www.cbn.com/media/index.aspx?s=/vod/SUT2_KarenEhman_090507

So, I’ll cover chapter 3 of Made to Crave tomorrow and it starts the planning process of making a plan. Have you made a plan? Remember, this is not a study about finding our how-to, but about finding our want-to.

In the Made to Crave participants guide page 12, Lysa defines the HOW-TO as diet programs and the WANT-TO as the spiritual and mental motivation to make lasting changes.

So lets talk. I will be calling those in Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants group that personally know and setting up times with them to weekly talk and pray together as we encourage one another to continue on this journey to put food in its proper place and grow our relationship with God instead of our waistline. 😉

If I don’t know you and you would like personal accountability, I encourage you to connect with the person that referred you to this study and make a weekly appointment call.

In this call we can discuss… (the following questions are from the Made to Crave Devotional: 60 days to Craving God, Not Food, by Lysa TerKeurst page 18, which is from www.karenehman.com weight loss Wednesday blog topic)

1. Did I overeat this week on any day?

2. Did I move more and exercise regularly?

3. Did I eat in secret, or out of anger or frustration?

4. Did I feel that, at any time, I ran to food instead of to God?

5. Before I weighed in, did I think I had a successful, God-pleasing week?

And our own personal questions:

1. Is there anything specific I can pray for you this week?

2. What verse encouraged or empowered you this week?

3. Are there any exercise tips to share?

The call doesn’t need to be a long one, but even writing the questions was convicting for me to be more pro-active in my steps to better health and shrinking pants.

Have a blessed day!