Five Ten

Pain can be an agent of great change.

In grace, we find that we are just that.

Changed.

And more often, it is through our pain.

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This post is day 5 of #write31days.

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Calling All Apples

The dreaded triathlon swim was last weekend.

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I survived. No, no, no – better than that! I did pretty darn well, considering I’ve a) Never competed in anything ending in -athlon before, b) become firmly entrenched in the 40+ age range, and c) been sporting a muffin-top to beat all muffin-tops for the better part of a decade.

And, it’s that last one that I feel the need to address.

Online.

For all the world to see.

But first… You know how you sometimes think you don’t look half bad? And perhaps you’ve even been working toward some fitness goal and are therefore convinced that you might even be looking pretty good?  And you live in your perfectly crafted delusional world for as long as it takes for someone to snap photographic evidence declaring quite the opposite?

Yeah.

Sigh…

An unfortunate side effect of All The Devil Dogs is, apparently, a spare tire.

Around one’s middle.

This picture below?  I’m putting it out there.  My friend Janet is grinning on my right.  She’s the toad friend who made me swim laps with her every day to prepare.

I’ll “spare” you the bottom half of the picture. Just know that I am now well aware of the effects of all of my Devil Doggery.

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Here’s the thing – I’m a textbook apple shape.  I’m talking, circle resting on toothpicks, People! I’ve always been that way. Even when I was at my leanest, I was a more slender kind of apple. Is there such a thing?

Well, I’m calling all my apple friends! If you don’t already know, we have the most dangerous body type, as it relates to obesity and heart disease.  Decreasing our weight as little as 5 pounds can provide amazing health benefits. Working off even 5% of our body fat can extend our life span significantly!

I know this.

And yet, I’ve still managed to run around town ignoring the ever-expanding inner tube around my waist.

No more!

Seeing that picture of my waist, even if it was while marching down to a quarter mile swim, scared me straight.

As in, rectangular.

Yup. I’m aiming to change my shape.

I’m setting some goals and giving myself plenty of time to slowly meet them. I’m going to make some dietary changes (no Devil Dogs will be harmed in this process). I’m going to add in some (some – let’s not get too crazy, now) consistent exercise each week.

And, God-willing, change will take place.

Yes indeedy. I’m going to work on becoming less circle-y and more oval-y. Any other shapes want to join me?

First order of business is to get a food plan going.  What works (or has worked) for you in the past?  Share in the comments.

It Had to Be Done

Things look a tad bit different, don’t they?

I do this.  I shake things up when they start getting too comfortable.

It’s a long-standing tradition, actually.  Ask my former teaching colleagues.  They’ll sigh and tell you that I had to switch my classroom around every few months. Just because. Ask poor Sweetman and he’ll tell you that just when I’ve lulled him into a false sense of security about a thing, I’ll up and change my mind.

My spirit has always had a wide ribbon of wanderlust running through it.  It must be the boat Captain in me. I’ve always been able to see a change for the adventure it could be.

There isn’t all that much that I can change around my home without inciting some outrage on the part of Sweetboy.  And Sweetgirl dispenses enough outrage about all sorts of other things, lately.  This is my little corner of the Universe to switch up.

All of that to say… things got comfortable around here. It was time for a change.

I’m into black and white right this minute.  This is not to be taken as a reflection of my thinking, thought, thank-you-very-much.

And, I deeply respect that some folks aren’t quite as down with change as I am.  So, take all of the time you need to absorb it (and hopefully embrace it).

Then, come on back and tell me what you think.

Because, one way or another, it had to be done.

Corner Turner

It drives Sweetman absolutely crazy with a capital K when he sees me turning down the corners of a page, in a book or magazine.  “Why don’t you just take a picture with your phone?”, he asks, as if I’m pinching him. “That’s so low-tech!”

He’s cute, but sometimes…

I love nothing more than picking up a book I’ve read and seeing lots of corners turned down. Those corners tell me to that there are treasures tucked within. Things I want to remember. Things I know I’ll forget as soon as I slide that book back onto a bookshelf.

Can I get an amen?

And sometimes, I need to turn a corner in life, too. For all of the same reasons.

Health, is one corner I’ve been working on turning, lately.  Now, I’ve worn down the edges of that particular curb, because, HELLO!  I’ve been around it a time or ten.

But, this last six weeks have given me a greater desire to than I’ve ever had before. The mysterious ER visit last month, not-withstanding, I believe God is making it very clear that my beloved devil dogs, though permissible, are so not beneficial.

And so, I’m choosing the courageous route to change. Again.  Because, I don’t know about you, but I find that wonderful things take place when I finally do make the turns of change.

Shedding of the old.

New horizons.

Shifts in perspective.

Appreciation for the journey.

It’s a process, turning a corner. When I put my turn indicator on, while driving, it’s not so that I can hear that annoying little clickety-clack over and over.

No.

It’s to alert the drivers around me of my intention. I’m letting them know that I intend to turn this car to the right (or left).

And, I’ve been flashing more than a few “turn indicators” in my life, lately. They haven’t all been met with acceptance or encouragement, either. And, that makes turning a corner all the harder.

But still worth the effort.

And I don’t have to do it alone.

I’m going be courageous and turn corners by grabbing hold of God’s unwavering strength.

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Those little turned down corners, in things that I’ve read, remind me that something great happened on that page. And, I’m just sure that the turned corners in my health journey will prove to be just as significant.

Yes indeedy,

Are you a corner turner, too? What corners have you been turning down lately? In books or in life!

2

This is my final week of studying “Made To Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies. I have been changed by reading this book. And although I’m probably going to be “in process” for a while about the deeply buried issues that have been dug up during this study time, I am forever grateful. The opportunity to study amidst this community of Overcomers, 45,000 PLUS strong? A gift from God, Himself! We begin our next study of Wendy Blight’s “Living So That” on April 6th.  Want to see what it’s all about?, Click here to do just that! And to see what some of the other final reflections were on this study, click the button below.

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Plans Were Made

When the plans were made for Sweetman and I to leave our old church and seek a new one closer to home, we knew it would be hard on us, and even on Sweetboy.  Our eyes were wide open, as were our hearts. Careful planning went into exactly how we would “try out” each church that was under consideration, so as to minimize dragging the kidlets from church to church. To the Children’s Ministry folks at each church that we visited, I’m so sorry for the endless string of interview questions.

We prayed God that would steer us in the right direction, as we deeply desired to find a church that would provide connections for our quirky boy. Getting to know new people and making the effort to get involved were on our list of things that we knew we’d have to be willing to do. We sought wise counsel as we went along with our plans. We prayed some more.

Each factor that we considered was carefully accounted for. We made our list and checked it twice, as it were.

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What we didn’t plan for?

How deeply this would affect Sweetgirl.  Always the one to get the short shrift in this family, she rolled with this whole decision from the get-go.

Until…

She received a birthday invitation from one of the friends she used to see at our Old Church. A lot.

And the tears… Oh, the tears!

“I don’t ever get to see that girl that I like anymore, mama. And I’m sad.”, said Sweetgirl.

My heart shattered into about five hundred pieces.

For her, yes.

And also, for me.

I thought we had planned for everything.  Indeed, we certainly had.

Only, our God reminded us that we’d left out one little curly cued factor.  And as she works through the hurt of change, I pray for the perfectly timed hugs and most needed words.

Change is hard.  It’s really just… hard.

How do you ease the hurt of change for the children you love? I’d really love some suggestions.

Mirror Mirror, Oh How Timely

You may remember that I was supposed to be en route to Arkansas for the wedding of my Sweet Cousin this coming week.  However, in an uncharacteristically spontaneous decision, Sweetman and I decided to spend this school vacation time with our children, who were not going to be attending the wedding with us.  They are young.  This time is precious.  And so, we will be venturing back toward a place that brings each one of us tremendous joy.

When I first broke the news, to The Nana and Captain Ahab, that we wouldn’t be joining them on this Arkansas Adventure after all, they were understandably upset.  And disappointed.  I detest disappointing anyone.  It causes me great stress.

I’d venture to say that I’m not alone in this.  Amen?

I recently began my next Online Bible Study, with Melissa Taylor and the ladies over at Proverbs 31 Ministries. (Don’t worry, you aren’t imagining it.  There was absolutely no segue there.) The study, this time around, is based on the book “Stressed Less Living” by Tracie Miles.

Ironic, no?

No.  God’s work in us is always timely.

In this week’s chapter, the effects of stress and where stress originates, were being discussed.  We were encouraged to take some time to step back and take a good hard look at how stress affects our lives and how it can motivate us to make changes.

I so wish we could sit down over a cup of good strong coffee, or tea, and talk through exactly where the majority of your stress comes from and brainstorm ways to eradicate it from your life.  I also wish y’all could just magically appear, right here in my living room, and do the same for me.

One particular question that we were challenged to consider, struck a chord with me. What do you see in your life that needs the biggest change?

No small question, that one.

I look in the mirror and here is what I see: a body that is beginning to make changes, for the better, for the first time in a long time. Over that?  I have control. Oh, yes indeedy!

But, as I began to take stock of the other situations, people, and circumstances that bring stress into my life, two very clear thoughts began to emerge.

1) The rest of the stressors in my life are almost entirely beyond my control.

The passing of Sweetdog last July.  A new preschool schedule that collided with my Bible study Leadership position at church.  Our son’s unique challenges and the new changes to his initial diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. I was, and am, at best, able to manage these things.

At worst, I’ve eaten my sorrow over these things, let my anger ooze out onto my family because of them, or checked out emotionally as I realized my helplessness in them.

Realizing that I can’t control these things?  Acknowledging it by writing it down?  That was eye-opening!

2) Every time, and I mean Every Single Time, that I call out to God for him to just… HELP ME, please!… He does.

Does God instantly remove any stress that is in my life because I ask Him too?  No.  He’s not a cosmic vending machine.  This God, my God, is a God who sometimes lets the stress of a situation break me until I come to Him, completely depleted, and in desperate need of His Holy intervention.

But, sometimes, He answers me instantly.

And, always, His answer is timely.

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It surely is.  And always will be.

The mirror wasn’t as harsh as it has been toward me in the past.  Instead, this time, I saw many a mighty burden being lifted right up off of my weary shoulders.

I saw myself being rescued from the stress that so often encumbers.  And, right in the nick of time.

Going Overboard

 

They say that when you fall overboard, your first instinct is to panic and breathe in water.  You are supposed to, instead, close your mouth, take stock of your surroundings, and then take action. So easy for us fresh-air-breathing folks to declare.

 

Reading the book “Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”, by Jen Hatmaker, was a mistake.   A mistake of epic proportions.  The only way I can accurately describe how it made me feel is to say that I was in a pretty calm boat before I read it.  That boat ride became mighty rocky with each passing chapter.

 

Ironic, isn’t it, that #2 on the U.S. Coast Guard’s list of 3 things to avoid doing if you don’t want to go overboard was this?  “2.  No sitting on the gunwales – the edge of the boat – even if you are holding on tight.” (taken from U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary here.)   And, oh boy! Was I ever holding on tight!

 

I then began reading Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted. I gobbled it up like the first breath of much-needed air after being trapped, far too long, underwater.

 

But, unfortunately, I allowed myself to be pulled back under by the undertow of my daily reality.  “Too busy.”, I said.  “Not my cup of tea.”, I rationalized.

 

The tipping point is coming far too fast for my liking.  I’ve been feeling this pull towards greater generosity.  Less of me, more of Christ in me.  It’s been unavoidable.  And then, like a whispered truth that I’ve known all along, I’m swept along in this tidal wave of understanding.  This desire stronger than the strongest current, to start acting on this truth that I’ve always felt in my heart of hearts, but was unable to give voice to.

 

I must be the hands and feet of Christ in this very place that I live in. Not just talk about it or sing about it. No. Not even just read about it. Be the very hands and feet in any way I can!

 

Much like any other crisis situation or circumstance, going overboard will require much of me.  I’m more than a tad bit afraid of what it’s going to feel like.  What changing my daily behavior is going to look like.  How long will I feel as though I’m struggling for breath?

 

This is no light undertaking.  Trust me when I tell you that there are moments where I think these thoughts and feel like I’m attempting to water-board my very self!  Harsh image, isn’t it?  It feels every inch as harsh to think it.  Harsher still to feel it.  Viscerally.

 

And so, I am about to embark on some major changes, internally. I’m still working out the details.  There are far too many sharks waiting for me and my sea-legs need far too much firming up, for me to willingly go overboard at this moment.  But I know it’s in my future. And I’m strangely okay with that.

What have you read lately that left your life boat rocky?