Monday, January 23, 2012

Feelin' Good!

Ready for some good news?

*I lost 4.4 pounds last week! Yes, I'm trying to get back on that losing weight and being healthy wagon! I took a little hiatus for the months of November & December, and boy did I pay for it! But I've been doing much better this month. My best friend Hayley and I have created a Google Doc spreadsheet to keep track of what we eat each day and how much we exercise. It's a great way to hold each other accountable, and it really is helping me. I have actually mustered up the motivation to work out, and the self-control to turn down a cookie, just because I knew I would have to write it all down. And not just write it down, but have someone else look at it. I highly suggest it, as long as you trust yourself not to cheat!!

*Scott is still trying to sell his motorcycle to help pay for the down payment on whatever house we end up buying. As a sort of last resort, we took it to the dealer on Saturday just to see what they would offer, assuming it would be highway robbery. We were pleased to find out that they would buy it for a decent amount, OR would sell it for us and only take 10% for themselves. So, hopefully they have some luck selling it. If not, we know we can get a fair amount from them for it. One step closer to a house!

*I had an awesome weekend hanging out with some good friends, enjoying a balance of rest and productivity, and leading worship at church for the kids. I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but Scott & I now lead worship for the 1st through 5th graders at church. I sing and he plays guitar and sings. We also have a friend on the drums, and another friend who does hand motions for the kids to follow along and get excited. This week I felt like was especially good. We had about 3 kids up at the front of the room jumping up and down in excitement. It's so awesome to serve God in this way and see kids get amped up about worship!

*I recently discovered how much I love The Big Bang Theory. Hey, that's good news, right? :)

PS--Sorry there are no pictures. I decided to stop pressuring myself to have a picture for every post, meaning I was carrying my camera around at all times, trying to capture the moments instead of just enjoying them. I know it's less exciting for y'all, but I think the living part is still more important than the sharing part. Hope you can forgive. :)

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

House Hunters

We are officially looking to buy a house! We've got our pre-approval for the loan, we've signed with an agent, and we've already taken a look at a few houses.

It's hard and it's scary. Yes, it's fun, but there are a lot of tough decisions that we have to make. Unfortunately our budget is tiny and there just aren't many choices here that are within our range. Statesboro hasn't been hit too bad with the economical problems that many of the bigger cities have. Local home owners are mostly older, well-established people, who aren't having any trouble paying their mortgages. So homes are holding their value pretty well, and they aren't selling for dirt like they are in Atlanta. It was so discouraging to look online at homes for sale in Atlanta and find that there are homes within our budget with up to 6 bedrooms! We can hardly find a 3/2 in that range here. Most of the ones within our budget are either in a bad part of town and/or they haven't been well maintained and need a lot of work. Since neither of us are particularly handy, a lot of work is not something we want to get into.

So, we've been met with some challenges. There are a couple houses we are interested in, one in particular. But there are things we'll have to sacrifice or settle with. For instance, in our current home we have a HUGE master bathroom with double sinks, tons of counter space, and plenty of ROOM to walk around and get ready in the morning. (we do not have a tub, though, which I would love to have one day) Most of the houses we are considering are older, built in the 70's or maybe 80's. And the huge master bath is somewhat of a newer concept. Back then the master bathrooms were actually smaller than the main bathroom. So, we're struggling with giving up the bathroom luxuries.

There are also just weird decorating things in these older houses---wood panels on the walls, hideous wallpaper, outdated carpet, dark wood kitchen cabinets, ugly colored kitchen counters, hideous tiles in the bathroom or kitchen, etc... Most of this stuff can be fixed or updated, but that takes extra money.

The main house we are considering doesn't have too many ugly features. It does have wood paneling in the living room, which is unfortunate. But we can just paint over it. I've actually seen online and in person several examples of painted wood panels that actually look nice. And if we still hate it, we can always take them down later down the road. The kitchen cabinets and counters are ugly, but we can paint/replace that stuff. There are couple other downsides--no laundry room (it's in a closet in the hall), and no actual dining's shared with the living room space.

BUT the bedrooms are a great size which is unusual for most of these houses. It's in a GREAT location. The house is actually in great condition...there is nothing that needs to be fixed or replaced b/c it's broken or dangerous. The landscaping is gorgeous. And it's right next to a cotton field which is right up our alley coming from the country area we live in now. And it's just minutes from everywhere we go in town. That will be much nicer than the 25 minute commute we have now.

But then you still have consider if it's really where you want to live for the next several years. What if something better comes along? But then--what if someone makes an offer while we're making decisions??

Tough call.

Anyway, that's what I'm up to other than school work, church stuff, and working both my assistantship job and my internship. This is a crazy busy time. I can't believe I'm even taking this 15 minutes to blog! Consider yourself lucky! ;)

Wish me luck with the house hunting! Please be praying that we use God's patience and wisdom in making these decisions. And if any of you home owners have any advice, I'd love to hear it!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Great is Our God!

Remember this family that I've posted about a few times? Remember how things went from bad to promising to hopeless? They moved Brian, the 7-year-old boy, into hospice because doctors said the brain damage was too substantial for him to make a recovery. Well I'm here to tell you that God is wonderful and amazing and CAN work miracles, no matter what doctors may say. (No disrespect to doctors...I'm just saying God can defy what seems logically impossible.)

The day after Christmas, Brian opened his eyes! This led to more tests which showed increased brain activity. They moved him back to the hospital in Savannah for a couple weeks. He has been steadily improving ever since. Last Friday they moved him to Atlanta, where the family lives, to receive treatment and therapy from Scottish Rite. He has been doing SO well! He is responding to sights, sounds, smells, and physical touch and pain. They are teaching him to sit up by himself and the beginning stages of eating on his own. They've already contacted a teacher in the hospital who can work on rehabilitating him to the point of returning to school. This is still a far-off goal, but every tiny goal they have set for him (which seems small to us, able-bodied people, but to someone with significant brain damage they are actually monumental) he has met quickly! I am overjoyed with the growing improvement in Brian and I'm SO thankful to God for answering the prayers of so many around the world.

A couple nights after moving him to Hospice, there were two separate candlelight vigils for him. One in Statesboro and one in Atlanta. Scott & I could not make it to the vigil, but we lit every candle in our house and spent close to an hour in prayer and worship for Brian. It was so powerful pleading with God alongside my husband. We were asked to pray for peace as he passed. I tried to pray for that, but I admitted to God that it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to see a miracle recovery. I wanted to praise God for it. I wanted to be able to tell this story for years to come to show how great God is. Granted, I should be able to do that regardless of the outcome b/c I know that God is great and His plan is perfect. But...I couldn't not pray for recovery. I just couldn't.

And I am unbelievably pleased to say that the prayers are working! Thank you all SO much for your prayers throughout this journey. The family can still use them! Brian still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, and there is still a lot of pain and exhaustion for the family. Please join me in continuing to pray for them, and in praising God for his mercy and love! :)

Have a blessed Tuesday, friends!


Friday, January 6, 2012

A Lesson on Self-Control & Donuts

I'm sure this will be the most profound blog you read today. I has to be when it's about donuts, right?

Last year I finished Christmas break weighing about 162 pounds. I resolved to lose 10 pounds in 2 months. And...I did it! Well, actually I was about 1.5 pounds off, but I lost that the following week. But for the rest of the year I sort of fluctuated 3-5 pounds here and there. Finally, I got down to 150 and seemed to rest there for a couple months. Then Christmas hit again! I decided I wasn't going to worry about my weight because I didn't want to miss out on the traditional Christmas foods. So, I shamelessly ate casseroles and stuffing and drank lots of wine! This week was my first week back at home as well as my first week working out in about 2-3 months! Yikes! And I resumed my weekly Friday morning weigh-in. I was horrified to find I had gained close to 5 pounds in just 2 weeks! And I had gained a couple pounds just before the break as well. Now I weigh 156 and the little line on my Wii Fit is hanging out just below the "overweight" line. Grrr!

I realized that much of this boils down to a lack of self-control. I'm perfectly fine with not eating out a lot and not keeping unhealthy food in my house. But as soon as someone offers me something delicious but deadly, I just can't seem to help myself! When I go to parties and social gatherings, I gorge myself on food. I'm that girl who stands by the food table and just talks to whoever happens to come by there. And if I have a good "excuse" like the holidays, it's all over.

This morning, after my weigh-in and during my prayer time, I started talking to God about my lack of self-control. I shared my frustration and helplessness. And then I realized, self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Meaning that since I am a Christian, and Christ lives in me, this fruit is grown in me by God. And it is freely given. Which means that I DO have self-control. I'm just choosing not to use it. I'm acting out of a selfish desire for instant gratification and pleasure. I'm putting my desire for something tasty right now ahead of my desire to live a long and healthy life, to look good and feel good about myself, and to glorify God by caring for the body He has given me.

As I was praying through this, I actually said to God, "I just hope no one brings donuts to work anytime soon!"

And guess what I found at work today? .......

DONUTS!! (Though they were plain glazed)

One of my co-workers brought them in for everyone and was so excited to share them with us. She actually said, "I was driving to work today and felt compelled by The Spirit to stop for donuts for everyone." (She's a very spiritual person.) Wow. Thanks for that curve ball, God! {No, I can't say for sure this was a test from God, but either way I believe He used this instance to speak to me about my self-control issues.}

Many people tried to convince me to eat one. My coworker even went so far as to put one on a plate and hand it to me! And you have to know, donuts are a particular weakness of mine (along with cake, cookies, ice cream, brownies, banana pudding, french silk get the idea!). They smelled SO good! I could almost taste the sugar wafting through the air. And I could tell they were still warm and fresh.

I reluctantly put the doughnut back in it's box and walked away. I came back later and literally stood over the donuts, contemplating whether I should have one or not. A couple people came in with various reasons why it was okay "it's the weekend!" "you can just work it off later!" "You deserve it!" Painfully, I still walked away. And I'm happy to report that I did NOT have a doughnut today! :)

As crazy as this sounds, I really did have to lean on God for this one. I know, this is making me sound like a lunatic fat woman. I'm not obese in any way...but I know I can be healthier and thinner than I am now. All my immediate family members are bone thin. Growing up I was always thin. And Wii Fit tells me my ideal weight is 140. So I should at least be able to do THAT. But it's hard. Sometimes I feel like it's harder for me than others who I know have lost weight or are naturally thin. I crave more, I love food more. Maybe not, but that's how I feel.

And it scares me sometimes that I can't seem to control it. I worry about when I get pregnant. I worry that I will feel it gives me license to eat and I will become obese and never lose the weight. And today God showed me that if I just use the self-control that He is working to grow in me, I can lose weight and make smart choices.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not swearing off sweets entirely. And I will certainly have donuts again in my life. But it's good to know that if I just turn to God to control my urges, I can say no. Even to donuts!

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekend and eat some sweets for me!!! ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Not Bad, 2011. Not bad at all!

2011 was a great year. It definitely had it's ups and downs and bumps in the road. There was no shortage of family drama, as usual, and there have been some deaths and tragedies along the way as well. But overall, I would say God blessed me abundantly in 2011. Last year I made a list (a LONG list) of resolutions. So, I'll go through those to see which ones I actually did. But before that...other things I'm proud of/loved about 2011:

  • Losing 10 pounds in 2 months (now if only I can do that again!)

  • Getting all A's and surviving Practicum
  • Landing my dream internship for this semester in the First Year Experience office at Georgia Southern University.
  • Disney World!

  • seeing more of my sister

  • Finding more ways to serve and be involved in our church
  • seeing my best friend Hayley and her sweet baby more often

  • growing closer to God and closer to my husband (who even knew we could be closer??) :)
Okay, here's the list from last year. I've put in italics whether or not I met them. 

1. Eat more veggies! –I would say, yes. But I could still do better.
2. drink more water. –I’m not sure why I even did this one. Water is basically all I drink!
3. search for more alternative recipes for some of our favorite dishes (ie, whole wheat pasta and breads, fat free sour cream, egg substitute, etc...) – definitely yes! I’ve found what I like and what isn’t worth messing with. Still always up for a new, healthy recipe though!
4. find more ways to be physical throughout the day (walk around every 30 minutes at work, lift weights while watching TV, always take the stairs vs. the elevator, etc...) –eh…more or less. Mostly less…
5. do more physical activities for fun, like riding bikes, taking walks, dancing, etc... –I’ve done some fun and physical things, but not as much as I should.
6. spend more time outside. –Yes, I feel like I’ve definitely done that. Though I do tend to hide in the AC during the deathly heat of summer.
7. visit family more often. –yes. There are always more people that I wish I could see more often, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job seeing as many people as possible.
8. hang out with friends more often. –definitely yes! When we have a free weekend, we usually fill it with friends!
9. Spend more time with God. –Absolutely! I get up 30 minutes early every day to read the Bible, pray, and journal. Of course I can always spend MORE time with God, and my time could be more meaningful. But I’m pleased that I’ve kept this up for almost a whole year and have no intentions of stopping.
10. Continue paying off my student loans each month, even though I don't have to since I'm still in school. –within reason. Some months it just isn’t possible. But I did make a few payments.
11. Find ways to give more, whether it be with money, time, possessions, etc... –this is another one that could always be better, but I’m pleased that we are giving more than 10% each month and finding ways to serve regularly for the Kingdom.
12. Read more books! –definitely, yes! I feel like I read a lot last year! Really good stuff, too! Hunger Games, The Help, Water for Elephants, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lipstick in Afghanistan, Jane Eyre, etc…
13. Do at least one project around the house a month. –I started out strong on this one, but fell behind about halfway through the year. But I think our house looks really nice and we’ve made a lot of improvements.
14. Make all A's each semester –done!
15. and lastly--write more. –no, definitely not. Maybe one day…

And here are some plans for 2012! 
I'm not making a long list of resolutions this year,
but just a few things that I hope to see happen. :)

  • Continue to get all A's, survive both sets of internships, and GRADUATE in December! 
  • Blog more!!! (I can dream, huh?)
  •  Lose 10 pounds, per usual!
  • Buy a house!!!!
  • Put a baby in my belly! :) We're hoping to get pregnant towards the end of the year so that I'll be done with school before having the baby.
  • Spend even more, genuine, time with God and learn to love Him and others even more!
I have a lot of recapping to do from the holidays! I realize I'm doing things a little out of order. But here's a teaser for what's to come (or for what already happened...however you want to look at it!)

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