Thursday, March 31, 2011

Living in the Spirit

Scott and I have been reading the book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges for our couples small group. It's always amazing to me how God orchestrates circumstances in our lives to sanctify us. Scott and I have both been in a bit of a slump lately. Our pastor at Connection Church has been really bringin' it lately, stepping on toes, and getting real about our responsibility as Christians. Scott and I had grown weary of hearing these sermons. I know for me personally, I felt like they were not applicable to me. I thought, I don't need to hear a message about giving, serving, or any of that. I do those things! Sure, I can do them more, but for the most part, I feel like I've been a good Christian. I didn't think I was really sinning very much either. The past couple weeks have been a huge eye-opener for me, especially with reading this book and talking in group.

I realized that I do sin--all the time. I knew I wasn't perfect, but I'm like really not perfect! The book focuses on "respectable" or "acceptable" sins of society. No, I am not a murderer, drug dealer, adulterer, etc... But I do the things that society usually excuses like gossiping, lying, or being angry, impatient, or unkind. The first respectable sin that the book talks about is ungodliness. Bridges makes the distinction between ungodliness and wickedness or unrighteousness. Ungodliness does not mean you do bad or evil things, it just means that you ignore or are not aware of God. And the truth is, I often go through most, if not all, of the day without giving a single thought of my God and Savior. I don't talk to Him, I don't think about Him, I don't worship Him or share His love. I'm busy with my day and all my worldly duties and I "don't have time" for God...the one who gives me time and life in the first place. This was my first wake-up call.

Scott and I decided we wanted to become more God-focused. Being a Christian isn't something you do on Sunday mornings or at Bible studies. It's not a part of my life it is my life! Or should be anyway. So, to help recenter ourselves with the Lord, we both resolved to wake up early every morning during the week and pray, read the Bible, and spend time with God. We read the Bible together at night occassionally, but this is a time for us individually to spend with God. We've done this for 4 days now, and I can already tell the difference. I am definitely thinking about and with God more often during the day, and feel closer to Him.

My second wake-up call came during my first morning of Bible study. I prayed to God about wanting to be more Godly, and also about wanting to feel more fulfilled about all the good things I am already doing--serving, giving, worshipping, etc... Not knowing what I wanted to read for the day, I asked God to guide me and speak to my heart with His Word. I felt drawn to Galatians. I feel I can always turn there for some guidance because I love the Fruit of the Spirit as discussed in Galatians 5. On my way to that chapter, I glanced at Galatians 3. I decided to start there. That chapter is all about living by the law instead of by the Spirit. The Galatians were all geared up for Christ when Paul last saw them. Then he finds out that they have lost their joy. They have become obsessed with following and enforcing Christian laws and have stopped loving and enjoying God's presence in their lives. But the law doesn't save us, Christ does. The law doesn't bring us joy and fulfillment, Christ does.

2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a] 4 Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[c]

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Hmm...sounds familiar! If someone met me last year, shortly after I was saved, when I was constantly going on about Jesus, I was always listening to worship music, I was dilegently reading my Bible and spending time with God in prayer, I was loving life, if that person saw me now, they would probably wonder what happened to me. Did I completely forget all the I knew and loved last year? Have I already reverted back to struggling to redeem myself through works and the law? Don't get me wrong, the giving and serving and church-going that I do is GOOD. I should definitely be doing these things. BUT they should be giving me joy. Why? Because I should be doing them because I'm so in love with Jesus that it's all I want to do. The Holy Spirit should be living in me, guiding me to these Godly acts of worship and purging me of the sinful desires of the flesh. But instead, I ignored God with my general ungodliness and relied instead on following the rules, doing my good deeds, and resisting temptation by my own feeble strengths, just because it's "what I'm supposed to do."

But that's a miserable existence. The law doesn't bring joy. The law brings condemnation because our imperfect flesh cannot follow every order of the law---and you would have to follow ALL of it if you're going to get saved that way. But no one can do that. So, where's the joy in that? It's just frustrating. But Christ sets us free from that burden. And now we can live through the Holy Spirit in us that fills us with joy, love, and life. We can celebrate that we have been redeemed. And as we are sanctified and become more and more like Jesus, we will naturally follow the law more fully, we will naturally serve, give, and worship with cheerful hearts. Sometimes it's easy to forget these things. When you take God out of the picture by not thinking of Him or spending time with Him each and every day, it's easy to focus on the law and the simple acts of Christianity instead. Those things are a by-product of living in the Spirit (or living in the promise...), it's not a prerequisite to salvation and fulfillment. If you try it that way (and so many of us do) you're in for a very frustrating endeavor. You can't get to God by being good. You have to go to God who makes you good. :)

Thank you, God for drawing me close to you. You work out the circumstances in our lives to further sanctify us and get us back on track. Thank you for guiding me to this small group, to this book, and back to you. Continue to work in me, Lord. I'm ready to keep living in your promise! Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Hello, loyal readers.

I would like some feedback on this post, if you don't mind. I'm honestly interested in your opinions on this matter.

Should I be offended or take it personally if someone "unfriends" me on Facebook?

I realize some people like to weed out their friend list and keep them at a nice, clean, low number that actually reflects the number of true friends that they have. Personally, I would never have the time nor energy to successfully thin out my friend list. Even if I did, I would probably only unfriend people who I either have completely forgotten, or people I added back when FB was new and I was adding anyone I'd ever met. For instance, I'm "friends" with all the students who were in my GSU 1210 class that I was a Peer Leader for. I was never friends with them, but FB was only about a year old, so I added them all. I added just about everyone I lived in the dorms with. That's a lot of  people, most of who I never see or talk to anymore. And there are a handful of people who I may have met at a party or in a class, and don't even remember at all anymore. Those people I would unfriend, knowing that they probably don't care and wouldn't even notice. And I'm pretty sure, if any of those people unfriended me, I wouldn't notice or care either.

I bring this up because today I realized I hadn't seen any comments from a particular person who used to pop up on my newsfeed a lot. I went to check out his profile, and realized we were no longer FB friends and his content was blocked. (And pls don't ask who it is. I'm pretty certain none of my followers know him anyway, but I don't think it's relevant to my question) Anyway, I was surprised because, though we were never super close, we used to hang out a lot because we had mutual friends, and I would have consider him a friend as well. We haven't talked much since he moved, and if I am being honest I guess we aren't really friends anymore in the real world sense. So, it doesn't really matter. I mean, if we weren't really friends then what difference does it make that we aren't FB friends? I guess what bothers me is that he would have to take the time and effort to specifically unfriend me. That seems like more than mere indifference, but a pointed choice to disassociate with me.

I racked my brain trying to figure out why this might happen. Had I really become so insignificant that I somehow didn't make the cut during a "spring cleaning" of his FB friends? Or was this a diliberate unfriending of me personally? The only thing I can come up with is our difference in spiritual beliefs. He used to be a Christian, or at least he attended church regularly. But in the past year or so, his statuses had become more and more intolerant of religion and Christianity. Apparently he is now a fully proclaimed Atheist. It doesn't offend me that he's an atheist. I know lots of atheists. It makes me sad for him, but not angry. But sometimes his statuses are sarcastic and hateful towards Christians, and that was offensive. But I never said anything about it. If it got too out of hand, I could always just block him from my newsfeed like I have with others who constantly curse or write about partying. It's not that I don't want to be friends with them, I just don't want to read that stuff everyday. Well maybe my sprititual beliefs and comments have offended him so much that he felt the need to completely unfriend me. We did have one small disagreement on FB, though I would hardly call it an argument. I wrote something as a general status update about God. He asked me a question, implying I was wrong. And I answered him, explaining what I meant. Then I quoted some scripture. Yes, my response was passionate, but I don't think I was attacking him in any way. And he never responded. This is the last "conversation" I remember having with him. I can't recall for sure, but I'm thinking I haven't seen any of his comments since that time. I'm wondering if my comment angered him enough to unfriend me.

So what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you unfriend people on FB? Should I even be thinking about this so much? (I'm pretty sure that's a big NO!) Have you ever been unfriended and confused by it?

Thanks for your thoughts and stories! I'm not really upset about this, per se, but I'm confused and surprised. No, it's not that big a deal, but since everyone knows it's not official until it's "Facebook Official," I'm wondering if unfriending is a statement that means our friendship is officially over! Not just that we've drifted apart, but that it must end now and forever. Dramatic? Yes. Unrealistic? Idk...

Thanks again, friends! :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I don't have a lot of time to write today, but I wanted to do a quick post to catch up on all that has happened since my last post!

~The second day of my Spring Break was spent cleaning the inside of the house and organizing drawers and pantries. It took several hours, but I rocked out to some Glee and that made it all more bearable.

~Scott took Friday off and we went down to Tampa on Thursday night to stay with my Mom for the weekend. We spent all day Friday laying by the pool and reading while my mom was at work. Then Saturday we went to Clearwater Beach where I still managed to get sunburned despite slathering myself with SPF 50. But it wasn't too bad and this is the closest I've been to tan in a long time! Maybe I'll start this summer off right!

~I finished all three books in The Hunger Games series! Yes, that means I've read 2 books since my last post! I'm telling you, these books are AMAZING! Once you start the first one, you won't stop until you finish the last. I finished last night and all day today I've felt a weird sort of emptiness. I already miss the characters! I know it's crazy, but that just goes to show how well-written it was. I can tell you I never cared 1/10th as much about the characters in the traveling pants books as I did about these characters. I don't even like to talk about the story of the books b/c I feel like I can't do it justice, and I don't want to spoil one moment of it. Please, just buy the books!

~Jan Reynolds, my friend and co-worker who had been waiting on a heart transplant, passed away yesterday afternoon. She was such a wonderful and sweet person. She brought life and energy into our office. Whenever I had a question about ANYTHING, I always felt I could go to her b/c she was so patient and helpful and understanding. Even when I was filling in for Linda and working across the hall from her with about 100 questions a day, she was always there to answer them and explain things to me. I am very sad to say goodbye to her, but in the past 6 months or so, since she was put on the transplant list, she hasn't really been the same. She was almost a shell of herself. Weak, expressionless, and hurting. As sad as I am to say goodbye, I find it comforting to know that she's with God in Heaven now and not suffering here on this Earth. I know she's experiencing joy right now unlike anything I can possibly imagine. And that makes all the suffering of those missing her seem worth it somehow. Thank you to those of you who have joined me in prayer and/or by donating to her transplant foundation. It means a lot to me, my coworkers, and Jan's family.

~Lastly, I am on the University Store's Relay for Life team again this year. Thanks to my grandpa Cecil Murphey, and my best friend Hayley Vega, I am already up to $535! My goal is to reach at least $600. I'm already 89% there! If you would like to help raise money for this cause and help me reach my goal, go to this link. You can find my personal reason for relaying, a blog I've started specifically for that site, an indicator of my goal and donations so far, and a way to make a donation yourself. Visit me and check it out! And thanks for your support!

And that's about all I have to update you on today. I'm back in school after the break, and dragging my feet a bit. Actually, that's not really true. I've been working at a good pace, but I'm still dreading some of the many projects in my near future!

Send some motivation my way,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Break Day 1

Today was my first day of Spring Break. Technically all week is SB because I don't have classes, but I'm off from work as well for the rest of the week. Since Scott has to work, my big plan is to combine pure laziness and relaxation with productivity and projects! Today I slept in until 11:30! That means I got almost 12.5 hours of sleep. I know, that's WAY too much! Whenever I sleep that much, I always wake up feeling like a zombie. I was achy and felt like I'd been drugged or something. But if there's nothing stopping me, I could probably sleep all day. Today guilt stopped me from doing that! To continue with the laziness, I got up, had some cereal, and watched not 1, not 2, but THREE episodes of Gilmore Girls! Honestly, I probably overdid it on the laziness today. 

After forcing motivation upon myself, I took a quick shower and threw on some workin' clothes! This is not to be confused with work clothes, which are nice things. Workin' clothes are for chores and getting dirty! Today I decided to tackle cleaning up the outside of our house. I started with the back yard by picking up sticks. I know this sounds lame, but you wouldn't believe the number of sticks in our yard! I certainly didn't get them all, but I got all the big ones. I thought about racking, too, but decided to leave that for another day. Then I swept the front porch, car port, and back porch, threw away some random flower pots and things that have been setting around the yard since we moved in, and organized the stuff in the carport (paint supplies, car washing supplies, yard tools, etc...). Then I took the hose and hosed down everything! I went to town on the carport ceiling, the porches, the awnings, and the back walls of the house. I was shocked to see how much of a difference just hosing down the pollen, dirt, and moss made. The frustrating thing is, it still looks dirty because some of it is stained and some will require scrubbing to make it truly look clean. If you saw a before and after, you would easily be able to see the vast difference. Without that, it doesn't look like I really did much, unfortunately. But I know it's better and that's what counts! :) 

After all that, Scott came home from work and we had leftover night. Now he's reading and I'm doing this and American Idol comes on at 8. Happy times! 

In other news, I've been speeding through books lately! I know my goal for this year was to read at least 1 non-school related book a month, but I've been doing WAY more than that! It's so awesome! And I really owe it all to Scott. I used to read constantly, but when I started dating Scott, I ended up only reading what I had to for school. He didn't really like reading, and I would rather spend time with him than go off by myself and read. But now he LOVES reading! And this means we can spend hours together on the couch, outside on the front porch, or in bed reading together. I love it! :)

The last book I remember mentioning on here was Lipstick in Afghanistan. After that I read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants followed by The Second Summer of the Sisterhood. I think there are at least 2 more books in this series, but I needed a break. I enjoyed them, but the characters are often too whiny and predictable for me. I'm sure I'll come back to them eventually, but I wanted to read some different things first. A couple weeks ago we visited my grandpa and he loaned us 4 books that he highly recommended. One is called Jerk, California and the others are a trilogy. The first book in the series is called The Hunger Games. I started with Jerk and Scott stared with The Hunger Games. I enjoyed Jerk, California. It is about a teenage boy with Tourette's Syndrome. It's basically a coming of age story, where he travels across several states, meeting people who were close friends with his late father and visiting windmills that his father had built. The trip ends with a visit to his grandmother (his dad's mom) in Jerk, California. She, like him and his dad both, has Tourettes. This boy who never knew his father, has always felt out of place and like a freak, learns about his dad, his family, and himself through this journey. He also brings along Naomi, his love interest who leaves him confused and unsure of her feelings. This trip pulls them apart and brings them together, helping them define their relationship and who they are individually as well. I highly recommend this book, and I'm so glad my grandpa suggested it. 

Now, as much as I enjoyed that book, it was NOTHING compared to The Hunger Games, which I read in just a couple days. Scott and I are both DEVOURING these books! In fact, the only reason I'm blogging right now is so he can finish up the second one so I can start it! The plot is completely unique and unlike anything I've read before, but the characters and their emotional conflicts are universal. The books take place sometime in the future in what used to be North America. The community is set up with a Capitol that rules over the rest, which is made up into 12 districts. Each district is confined to its own space and has its own trade. For instance, one is known for mining, one for agriculture, etc... Each year a lottery is held. When children turn 12, they put their names into the drawing once every time year until they're 18. Each district draws two names--one boy and one girl. The selected 24 children then compete in what is called The Hunger Games. Basically, they are set loose in an "arena" which is essentially a large yet contained landscape, and they fight to the death. Not only are they fighting against one another, but they also have to survive by finding food, shelter, and protecting themselves against wild animals and whatever else might be a threat in the wilderness. The last child standing wins for their district, and that get district gets plenty of food for the following year. I thought it was going to be like gladiators or something, but it is much more complex than that because it's a huge area and surviving the elements is half the challenge. That's the premise of the book and it is completely enthralling. I won't tell you much about the characters because that's what really makes the book so lovable. But please--read it!! And Scott just finished the sequel so I'm off to start it now! Hooray! :) 

Until next time...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Do it all to the Glory of God

Have you ever heard someone say that everything we do, we should do to the Glory of God? Or that all we do should bring God glory? This is something I’ve struggled with in the past. I’ve thought, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? I mean, I can’t stop everything and pray and read the Bible all day long! First of all, no it’s not realistic to stop everything and pray/read the Bible all day, BUT we could all probably make more time for that in our daily lives. That being said, that’s not really the point of this post. The point is, aside from the obvious ways of bringing God glory, how can we do it in our daily activities? How can we make EVERYTHING about God? By no means am I perfect at this. I take things for granted, I completely ignore God on many occasions, and I even sin outright (yes, can you believe it??). But I do have some thoughts on the matter of giving God glory. Here is how I think of bringing glory to God, outside of the obvious forms of worship (prayer, study, fellowship, giving, etc…).

I’m thankful for my blessings. This one is an obvious one, but it’s not an easy one. The easy thing is to take blessings for granted. Many times we go beyond that and even feel entitled to them. But I try to be thankful for everything, and sometimes I’ll just stop and thank God for all the blessings that immediately come to mind. These things range from food, shelter, my bed, sheets, clothes, friends, family, furniture, cars, my job, protection, salvation, beautiful scenery, clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe…the list is literally endless if you stop and think about it. And just opening our eyes and realizing these blessings, and taking a moment to say a quick “thank you” to our Creator, is a great way to bring God glory, even in the middle of a routine day.

I take care of my blessings. God gave me this body. When I exercise, I’m taking care of his creation. I’m cherishing what He gave me and protecting it. God provided this house for us. When I clean the house, I’m taking care of his gift. God brought Scott into my life. When I serve and love my husband in any way, I’m honoring the gift. When we wash our cars or change the oil, we’re preserving the blessing of transportation that God gave us. When I take my job seriously and complete my tasks to the best of my ability, I am diligently using the gift He gave me. And when I write, sing, or counsel others, I’m practicing the talents and skills He’s given to me. He gives us these blessings and gifts for us to use and enjoy. By taking care of these gifts, we are bringing Him glory. And I believe it brings Him even more glory when we acknowledge this fact. Sometimes when I’m cleaning my house or having a rough day at work, I get the urge to complain. But when I think about it as preserving gifts from God, my whole attitude can change.

I talk to God. This is something I can always do more. Yes, it’s praying. But no, it doesn’t always have to be done on my knees, in the privacy of my bedroom, at church, or before a meal. I pray while I’m driving. Just talking out loud to God about what’s going on my life, my struggles, and my general thoughts. And throughout the day, I may say quick little silent prayers. Anything from “God give me strength,” to “thank you,” to “please bless so-and-so.” I believe in fervently praying, but sometimes a quick little blessing can do a wonder on your heart and can bring God glory in the middle of whatever else you have going on.

I love with purpose. It’s easy to love only the loveable people. It’s easy to only talk to and spend time with people you know and like. It’s more difficult to talk to a stranger or someone who you find annoying or rude. But purposefully asking God to replace those feelings with love, and making a genuine effort goes a long way. You don’t have to be best friends with someone to love them. But by trying not to think mean thoughts, and by being considerate, you are bringing glory to God. It’s more than just being polite. It’s responding when you see a need, caring when they need someone to care, and just showing them that you know they exist and you think they are important. You are showing them God’s love. This brings Him glory, and they will see that love in you. This is another thing I can always improve on, but I try to be aware of my actions and thoughts towards others, and seek God when I struggle to love.

There are more ways to bring glory to God, but these are just some ways that I try to bring Him glory throughout each and every day.  It seems to all stem from an awareness of God’s grace and love, and having a thankful heart.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Ahead!

Today is that glorious day that we all had to drag ourselves out of bed an hour earlier than usual. Yep, we had to "spring ahead" an hour. During my pre-Christian days, this was not as big of a deal. But today, waking up at 7:10 AM to get ready for church really meant waking up at 6:10, which is around when I wake up on a normal work day. I forgot all about the time change, but fortunately our cell phones make the change automatically. I did not oversleep, but was confused when I sat up and looked at the clock. Nonetheless, we made it to church, had some La Berry (we were probably the very first customers today...I've never been there when it hasn't been packed to the brim!), ate left overs for lunch, and started in on some Sunday afternoon chores. 

The best part of today and this time of year in general is the beautiful weather! I LOVE spring and fall in South Georgia. I hate, hate, HATE the summer. And I'm indifferent to the winter. I don't love it, but it's not miserable enough to hate it. I guess it's not quite spring officially, but students our on Spring Break as we speak, the sun is out, the pollen is out, and the bees are out. In my opinion, it's spring. In Scott's opinion it's already summer! He forgets how awful it is here in the summer. 

But, as I said, I love the spring. It's just the right temperature outside. I love when it's in the 60's and 70's. Low 80's is acceptable, but anything above that is pushing pure misery. To welcome the gorgeous weather, we spent about an hour this afternoon putting screens on all our windows. So, now we have all our windows open and the house feels cool and fresh. In our little apartment we only had one window in the living room and one in each bedroom. It was nice, but didn't provide a good air flow. Now with multiple windows in every room, including a sunroom with 8 windows, it's paradise having all this fresh air. Thankfully I don't suffer from severe allergies. Mine basically consist of itchy eyes and an occasional sore throat and ear ache. I take Claritin every night, and that pretty much takes care of it. I'm so blessed to not have to deal with all those sinus issues that my poor husband and his family have. So, I can happily enjoy my house, and all the fresh, sunny air! 

These pictures aren't great, but you can see that we have all our windows open! The first one is a view from the sunroom. The one on the far right is our front porch...perfect for some afternoon reading. And the middle one is Zoe Cat enjoying being as close as possible to the outside world! 

So, friends, enjoy this weather! Go outside! Sit on a bench and read, take your dog for a walk, wash you cars, fish, do some yard work, do SOMETHING! But don't let this wonderful day pass you by! :) 

Warm thoughts,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Not surprising...

Yesterday was the deadline for my first weight loss goal of 10 pounds. I wasn't surprised to find that I did not meet my goal. As I mentioned in my previous post, this week was a horrible food week for me. With outings and conferences and meals with no options, I ate things I usually don't. And even though I stuck to my workouts, I knew it was unlikely that I would lose the 2.6 pounds I still needed to lose. The good news is, I got pretty darn close! I still managed to lose a pound this week, and I was only 1.5 pounds away from meeting my 10 pound goal. I am pretty pleased with this. And I truly believe that if it weren't for the circumstances of this week, or maybe those 2 weeks of having a cold, I really could have met this goal. This is exciting because it's fueling me for my next goal. I decided to go ahead and set another 10 pounds in 2 months goal. Unfortunately Wii Fit, which is what I use to keep track of all this, will not acknowledge when I meet the previous goal because I already set the next one. So, I'll just have to do a little victory dance when I lose that last pound and a half. But I know what I'm capable of now, and it's a great feeling. I'm glad that I'm taking things slow because it makes it all seem more possible. And it really is a lifestyle change. Unlike a crash diet that may make me drop 10 pounds in a couple weeks, this is something I can carry on with for the rest of my life. Of course, I won't be dropping 10 pounds every two months for the rest of my life...OBVIOUSLY...but at some point I'll reach a healthy weight and then I'll just continue on maintaining that weight and being healthy. It's exciting to think of how my body will look, and even more exciting to think of the years I can potentially be adding to my life by being healthier now. 

So, with my first deadline coming to a close, I decided to take a short break and take the weekend off from worrying about what I eat. I realize I didn't even meet my goal so this may seem very counterproductive, especially considering the slack week I've already had, but whatever! Scott had some great ideas for this weekend, and I wanted to enjoy them, guilt-free! Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Last night we had Buffalo's for dinner. We got a plate of nachos first and then I had a chicken wrap that had yummy sauce, fried onion straws, and french fries! I only ate half my wrap...but still. Oh, and I also had a margarita, followed by a couple glasses of wine after we got home. The one good thing was that we cleared our living room and made a dance floor and danced around for a couple hours, singing and acting silly. (You know you wish you did stuff like this...admit it!) So, I'm hoping I burned some calories with that. I didn't feel too bad about last night, but today we went to El Som. The last few times I've gone there, I've tried to stay away from the chips as much as possible, and get a smaller portion meal. Today I went all out and got chicken nachos. That's right...lots of chips, sopping with cheese dip! Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, we went to the movies and had popcorn! (Side note--we saw Red Riding Hood, and it was SO good! Very well done! Suspenseful, beautiful, captivating...go see it!!) But anyway, back to the point. I know I had decided to take the weekend off, and it's not like I eat like this every day, but I have felt awful ever since. I've come to equate it with drinking. When I drink too much (which rarely happens these days) I'm usually enjoying it while I'm doing it. But then later that night and the next day, I feel terrible. Not only does my body feel run down, gross, and icky, but I feel like a loser for getting out of hand like that. That's how I feel after eating all that junk. My body feels sluggish and bloated and gross, and I feel like a loser. 

I started off the day feeling wonderful. I realized that almost ALL my pants are too big!! It's a great feeling! I put on a pair of jeans that for some reason I hadn't gotten rid of yet but hadn't worn in month because they're too small. Well, they fit great! I look amazing in them, I must say. And while they still seem to fit really well, I no longer feel great or sexy. I feel like a bum. I didn't even eat dinner because I still feel SO FULL! I am not taking tomorrow off! We may go to La Berry, but I don't feel bad about that. Frozen yogurt piled high with fruit...doesn't make me feel guilty. But other than that I plan to eat right again. And maybe we'll do some workouts at home tomorrow. And Monday evening it's back to the gym for me! Gotta hit the ground running for the next round of goals! :)

Oh, and one more thing--my husband is AMAZING! Despite my complaining about all this food, he took me to lunch, took me to a movie, took me SHOE SHOPPING, and then we went BOOK SHOPPING, and well....if that isn't love I don't know what is! ;) I felt a little guilty about all the money we spent today, but it is nice to get doted on like that, and I know it makes him happy when we can afford to do fun stuff every now and then. 

Well, I hope you are having success with any goals you are working towards! I have more to talk about in regards to my other "resolutions" (though I seem to always focus on just this one...), but I'll save it for another post! Oh! And happy Spring Break to my fellow GSU students! :) 

Here's to hoping for a speedy metabolism...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The deadline approaches....

As you know if you have been following me for a while, I have been trying to lose weight. I did not want losing weight to be my "New Years Resolution," but somehow, after creating a list of resolutions with things like eat more veggies and drink more water, I ended up deciding upon a weight loss goal after all.  I wanted to do shorter-term, smaller goals than I have in the past. Rather than deciding to lose 30 pounds, I wanted to start with 10 and see what happens from there. And I decided to give myself time lines and check points to help encourage and motivate me. So, I decided my first goal would be to lose 10 pounds in 2 months. I weigh myself once a week, on Friday mornings, and so far I have been clipping right along at a consistent pace. Only once have I not lost anything, and I haven't gained any. So, if nothing else, this is good news. 

Well, my 2 month deadline has finally arrived. Tomorrow morning I shall weigh-in and see whether or not I've met my first goal. Honestly, I don't think I have met it. This has been a terrible week for this. Last Friday night we went to a Murder Mystery Dinner and didn't have any options in the menu. I tried to eat light, but it still comes down to eating bread, potatoes, and some delicious beef thing drenched in creamy sauce. I tried to load up on the salad and asparagus to off-set the calories, but then I pretty much threw in the hat when they served chocolate mousse for dessert. The next day we had Barbaritos for lunch and then went to La Berry. Not the worst food for you, but not the best either. But the real kicker was working at the Youth at Risk Conference in Savannah from Sunday through Tuesday. The Hyatt spoils us there (because we pay them outrageous fees!). They were constantly bringing us cookies and sodas. The lunch and dinner options were amazing, but fattening. And the breakfast only consisted of danishes and muffins. No fruit or yogurt or cereal or anything remotely healthy. Fortunately I did go to the Hyatt gym every night I was there. Hopefully that helped balance some of that out. Since I've been home I've been trying to eat less and eat healthy. I went to the gym today as well. Tonight we're having salad and baked potatoes for dinner. I've done all that I can to make up for the bad decisions this week, but I honestly doubt I've lost much weight. I'm just hoping I haven't gained...or at least not much. As of last week I still needed to lose 2.6 pounds to meet my 10 pound goal. I'll be sure to update you tomorrow to see if I'm ready to move on to my next challenge or if this one is going to go on for yet another week. 

The good news is, I have lost 7 pounds so far and I'm constantly being complimented on how much healthier and thinner I already look. I still have a ways to go. After meeting this challenge I'll still weigh 150 pounds. I would LOVE to be around 125...but that's super wishful thinking. I'm just going to keep up with the 10 pound goals until I am either satisfied or my body plateaus. Growing up I was always around 125, and I weighed that all the way up until about 5 years ago. I know as we age it's harder to stay that small, but I know my body can do it without looking sick or too skinny. It's hard to imagine shedding that many pounds, but I know it's not out of the question, and that's exciting. But for now, I'm hoping for 150 tomorrow and maybe 140 2 months from now! 

Here are some pictures of me from last Friday night. This is just before leaving for the Murder Mystery Dinner. We were actually running late and Scott was very annoyed that I made him take not one but TWO pictures of me before leaving the house. But I wanted to show off my weight loss, my super cute new haircut, AND my brand new dress which is a SIZE 6 I might add!! Granted the style is flattering and just right for my body type so I can pull off a smaller size. If it were more fitted in the bottom I would probably still need a 10. Of course, all the 10's and 8's that I tried on in the store that fit my bottom were completely hanging off my top. While I still have a bit of a belly and I'm still pretty bootilicious, I better stick with something small on the top and flowy at the bottom! 

Until thinking skinny thoughts!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Gift of Giving

I have 4 words pinned on my bulletin board at work that remind me of how to stay spiritually strong and healthy. These words are: prayer, study, giving, and fellowship. These are areas that I can always improve, and I use them to check myself--to make sure I'm putting forth the effort on my end to work on my relationship with Jesus.
I may decide to do a blog on each one of these topics, and it would make sense to start with the first one, prayer, but today I'm going to skip a couple and talk about giving. When I think of giving, I think not only of financial giving, but also of giving services. These services can range anywhere from listening and attending to someone who needs to talk all the way to manual labor.
We know that God calls us to give. This command is brought up multiple times throughout the Bible. But why? Is it just because it sounds nice? Christians should be good people and good people help each other? I believe it's more than that. I believe when God created us and our lives, He purposefully created us to depend on others. From the very beginning of our lives we cannot exist without others. We need two people to conceive us, we need a mother's womb to grow in, and then we need someone to feed us, clothes us, and comfort us. Just because we grow up and learn skills to do things on our own, doesn't mean we no longer need other people. We need people to care for us and about us. We need support, love, and friendship. And some things in life, we simply cannot do on our own. Yes, I believe we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13), but I believe part of God's provision for us is through other people. And just as we each need others, others need us as well.
One night, while Scott & I were reading the Bible together, I had a vision of a large web-like structure. It reminded me of a brainstorming technique for writing papers, where you start with your topic in the center circle, then you draw lines out of it, connecting to other circles that are sub-points or supporting evidence for your main topic. (Note the image) And I was thinking that in our lives, we often think of ourselves as being at the center. It's pretty difficult to not be "self-centered" in this way because our own lives are all we really know--it's all we live and experience. Then we may draw our lines to circles including friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, etc... These are the people who impact our lives, and likely whose lives we impact as well. But there is way more to the picture than that little scope we can easily see. Each circle has its own lines connecting to other circles. The circle for my mom, for instance, would have it's own lines coming off connecting to my siblings, her husband, her coworkers, etc... And you could just shift your view to her circle and see a whole new set of connections. And you could do that with any circle. So, while our own circle seems to be in the center in our minds, really there is no center. It's all connected in this massive, interlocking web. And I think of God as being above all the circles in this web, with a direct connection to everyone individually, as well as the web as a whole.
What does the image imply? Well, to me, it means that each individual life in this world depends on the lives of other individuals. And it doesn't stop there. While we may not be directly connected to someone, our web interlocks with their's somewhere down the line. And if you plucked one person out, it would affect the entire web. That may seem extreme because people die all the time and it doesn't directly impact us, but I believe in some subtle way we all impact the whole world. That might sound CRAZY and like I'm going off into some kind of weird branch of spirituality or something, but I'm saying all this to emphasize the fact that our lives here on this Earth are not meant for us alone. We are supposed to serve and give to others because they depend on it and so do we. We depend on others to help us, and we also gain a lot by giving.
Giving to others brings us closer to God. Our actions are pleasing to Him, and He will bless us for them.
Proverbs 22:9: A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Hebrews 13:16: And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Giving is also a way of serving God. We are commanded to love God and love others, and loving others is a direct reflection of God's love and how much we love Him. To truly love someone, even if they aren't easy to love, is a love from the Father. To give to someone who may not appreciate it, repay you, or deserve your help, is a demonstration of God's love. So, this all means that giving is a way of sharing the Gospel. Telling people the Good News of Jesus is certainly a great way of spreading the Gospel, but to really let people see and understand what that Gospel looks like, often requires action.

1 John 3: 17-18: If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

And while giving surely brings blessings upon the giver, that should not be our motivation for giving. It's really hard not to expect gratitude, recognition, or returned favors when we give to someone. Even if they can't pay us back, we generally expect them to at least say thank you or make some sort of gesture of gratitude. Or sometimes we do things to help others and we go completely unnoticed. It's hard not to try to draw attention to ourselves so that we can get that recognition we feel we deserve. But God calls us to give freely and cheerfully, with no expectations of returns.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Luke 6:35: But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Matthew 6:3-43: But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This is challenging for me. I love to give, but part of that is because I love the feeling I get afterwards. I crave the recognition. I don't necessarily want a returned favor or payment, but I want to be thanked and I want to be acknowledged for my goodness. But that's just my pride sneaking up on me. My challenge for myself now, is to give more freely, and not seek out those affirmations. I know that my actions are pleasing to God, and that should be enough.
Giving brings forth blessings, togetherness and love with others, it makes the "world go 'round," so to speak, and it brings us closer to God. We are acting in His love, with His Holy Spirit working through us and guiding us, and we are following His commands of loving God and loving others. I've found that when I'm seeking a passionate relationship with God for my own good and for that fluttery, feel-good feeling that it brings, I often fall short of what I want. But when I seek God in order to be used by Him to help others, I am closer to Him that I ever expected. Our pastor Brandon Williams at Connection Church once said in a sermon, "Our purpose in life is founded in someone else's need." I believe this whole-heartedly. I challenge myself to act on this belief, and I challenge you to ask God to guide you and use you to serve others as well.
In His Love,
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