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Archive for January, 2013

My little break from social media is almost over. On Tuesday, I can get back on Facebook and Twitter, and I have been pondering on the roll it had and has in my life. All I know for certain is that I shouldn’t let it become the thing I need to fast from, if that makes sense.

It makes me angry at myself for even letting take any priority in my life, but unfortunately society doesn’t make it easy. It wasn’t enough for all the info in the world to be interconnected, but we had to create ways to be social on the internet too. I am not saying it’s all bad, but sometimes it’s the only “social” thing people do. We stay at home, on our computers “interacting” with people. As an introvert, I admit I think I have an easier time with socializing on the computer (or text for that matter lol), but I also recognize it’s not healthy either.

It seems that true social situations and gatherings are becoming less and less frequent. We claim we don’t have time to do this or that yet we can spend hours on social media and other stuff that isolates us from the rest of the world. Honestly, it hurts a lot less to hide behind a screen to talk to people. We can feel more freedom to either be who we truly are or pretend to be someone we are not.

We wonder why subsequent generations seem to deteriorate and wonder why people seem to have no interpersonal skills. Take a look at what our children are observing. Are they seeing us interact with others in real life situations, are they seeing social cues and how to react to them? Are we telling them to go on because we have to finish something important….you know like responding to a FB post or writing a blog post (OUCH!).

When I chose to take a break from social media, it was a tough one. I knew it would mean a sort of isolation from my family, friends, and rest of the world. I made sure I posted a couple of times that I was taking this break, knowing that the likelihood of hearing from most people would be low. I have had a couple of friends text me, but other than that the only time I recall talking to others is at work and at church. Now for the most part I can deal with that, but there were days where I felt a little lonely or “out of the loop”. It was those days that impressed upon me that I should be seeking to fulfill that part of me with God and reach out more to others outside of the internet.

I want my kids to see how things are supposed to be done from me, and not what the media tells them. I want to have more meaningful relationships with other people, deeper than what they had for dinner or the long line they are standing in. I want to be able to see others as Jesus sees them…and that can be hard to do through the computer screen.

Like I said, it’s not all bad. We just need to be more aware of what is going on around us. We need to be able to be plugged into real life enough to see others…that way we can share life with them too.  Just doing that can change our hearts and in turn change so many others.

 

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It’s been a great week in the food changes I have been working on. We are mostly eating real foods, with a few exceptions (mostly leftover processed stuff in pantry/freezer). I have been really enjoying this whole transition so far, and the more I read the more inspired I feel about this change. Even my picky 6 year old has surprised me: 1) she ate (knowingly) spinach in a smoothie 2) she loves dates, yes I said dates. I have to ration her on Larabars and Sprouts version in the bulk food area! :-O 3) She wants to help make homemade applesauce. She has been quite proud of herself trying new things 🙂

Shopping has been a bit of a challenge. I am not crazy about busy stores, especially if I need to read labels or learn the layout of the store. I know it’s not such a bad thing, as it means I am not the only one trying to do things better and it helps ensure that I have more choices in where to shop. I am also not thrilled about how expensive things are, but I am learning quickly where to go for what so I can save money. I am learning more that I LOVE SuperTarget. As much as I would love to buy local all the time and make my own, it’s just not possible on my budget and working. I have found that SuperTarget will save me quite a bit on the “health food store” type items, and still give me a few choices. There will still be a few things I will have to go to a store like Sprouts, Akin’s or Whole Foods for, but it should be only highly specialized things or things on sale. One of my goals is to get more familiar with the store ads each week and plan those special purchases better.

At this point I am so happy I kept my old fridge and put it in the garage. It makes great storage for flours, nuts, homemade baking mixes, plus extra freezer space. I don’t think I could do it without the extra space. Not to mention, risking losing more expensive food inside the pantry to weevils or moths. I have had that problem before, and it was devastating to my stash of stuff. If I need to store food in my pantry, I freeze it for at least 4 days, then transfer it to an airtight container (preferably glass). I also try to put bay leaves in the container and on each shelf, so it will deter the critters. So far so good (it’s been maybe 2 yrs since it happened last)I have been cooking like crazy, trying to make things ahead of time. I made some homemade baking mix and am storing that in the extra fridge. I also made some chicken broth in the crockpot and divided that up for the freezer. There are some other things I want to make to freeze, but time and space are my biggest obstacles. Part of me misses my big freezer, but it was waaaaaaay too big for our needs, so I might have to look into getting a small chest freezer. It’s almost a requirement to have if you want to eat healthier and save money. Plus it would mean less frequent trips to the store (or at least shorter trips just for items like milk and produce).

All of this is helping me rediscover my love of cooking. I used to love it so much, especially making bread from scratch and other things people just don’t do anymore. When I was going through the separation and divorce, I didn’t feel like cooking. I think there was something so emotional tied to all of that. I was mourning so many things: the loss of the marriage, loss of dreams, loss of staying home and having to go back to work after 5 years. I didn’t really want to eat out, but I sure didn’t want to cook. It felt like it took so much more out of me. But eating out and processed frozen meals take a lot out you than I had realized. Now I get to cook with renewed purpose, to provide a better life for me and my family. I can now let myself go, and put myself into what I am doing, if that makes sense. I look forward to experimenting with food again, but this time in a healthier and more whole way.

One last thing before I wrap it up. I have been trying to pick one good spiritual habit at a time to do with my kids. I have issues with trying to do too much at once and getting too frustrated. Anyway, so back when the kids started school this year, I chose to pray with them every single morning in the van before I take them to school. It isn’t long or fancy, but short and simple. Even if we are yelling at each other moments before, we pause and pray, and I think that helps our attitudes for the rest of the day. Our next addition to good habits has to do with meal time. Sadly, I had totally let this go on for way too long, but praise God for new starts 🙂 We will be focusing on eating together…at the table! I know, seems silly, but I know it’s for the best. I have been horrible at sitting in my recliner and eating. My pain in my feet and legs makes a valid excuse most of the time, but God has been convicting me more and more. I can spare a little bit even if  I am hurting or tired to spend with my kids. Much to my surprise, the kids were super excited.  My 14 year old son even grabbed our Dinner Time Devotion book, and I didn’t even ask him to bring it to the table. The only argument so far is who gets to say the blessing over the food 🙂

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Sometimes you just have to lay it all out and let God know the truth about how you are feeling. I am talking raw and emotional, just getting it out. I am feeling that way right about now, and honestly I think God would love more of that from each of us…because at least then we would be holding nothing back.

I know He has blessed me beyond measure, beyond what I ever deserved. But the more frustrating times have a way of clouding over the blessing. I am feeling angry, frustrated, and trying to understand why I have to feel so stuck. It’s been about a month since my last major issue (van needing radiator), and now I have another major issue (plumbing/sewer issue #3 in the last 6 months). I just don’t get it at the moment.

I wanted so badly to move, but God wants me to stay. I wanted a different job position, and God said, “not yet”. I am trying to pay off debt, but stuff keeps happening that costs quite a bit. Things start looking up, and yet another obstacle pops up. Sometimes it’s so tiring! Sigh.

But I think back and try to remember what God has done. I am so thankful for it all! Last year alone blew me away. I know that all this stuff that keeps getting in the way will seem like nothing in no time. I will be able to look back and see what God has done this year, and be even more amazed. Even when life doesn’t seem too good and I feel overwhelmed, I know God is still good. He is still faithful. He is still near me like always.

So for now, I will keep that all in mind, along with being thankful that I still have use of the plumbing on half my house…the half with all the bathrooms 🙂

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This week I have been learning so much about how food can affect us. I knew it’s a huge thing, but I guess I didn’t give it serious enough thought. I am reading like crazy, trying to absorb what is useful and put aside other info that is not so useful. It’s not an easy task with the internet…there is a lot of conflicting information out there. Even with scientific studies, there is always a study that will disprove the previous study, and then you have to research who did the study and who funds the study, etc.  Ugh. It’s such a headache! I ran into all of this years ago when I was a semi-vegetarian for a while (eating meat only twice a week), so this confusion is not new to me.  

At this point in my life I am finally able to start solidifying what’s important regarding food. It’s weird…the more I read the more I see that there are strong beliefs about food that remind me a lot of political and religious beliefs. It’s all about what you do or don’t support or eat. I don’t really feel as strongly as some, but I am glad to finally be able to find a way of eating I can stand behind and know it’s not as extreme as my experimentation in vegan/vegetarianism. (I am not knocking those who choose that, it just wasn’t right for me and my kids. I will still eat an occasional vegetarian meal, but it’s not something I want to do full time). Like I mentioned in my last post, I have REALLY wanted to do a more “whole foods” approach for quite some time. The more I read the more it makes sense to me and seems like a more reasonable option for a long term lifestyle change (I will spare you my anti-fad diet rant lol).

I am still too early to give any details on results, and it could take quite some time to phase out most of the processed stuff. Being tight on money, I can’t bring myself to throw away most of the “junk”. I think it will be easier on my kids to phase it in too. My older 2 are pretty adaptable when it comes to food, but my 6 year old is HIGHLY resistant. She will be the hardest sell on all this mainly because she will still be getting junk over at her Dad’s house too and she is one of the pickiest eaters I know. She is slowly starting to try foods, and for right now I require her to take just 1 bite of new foods. If she doesn’t like it, I won’t force the issue, but I will NOT fix her another food other than what is served. So far, so good this week 🙂

Exercise is going to be another challenge. I HAVE to do it if I want to lower my blood pressure and eventually get off my medicine for that. I am still hurting in my feet/knees, so I have to take it a little bit at a time. Honestly, all I want to do is sit around and rest, but I know I can’t do that every day. I am still going to stick with my 3x’s a week goal though, and do the best I can. I will be sticking with walking and one of my fave video workouts, Walk At Home w/ Leslie Sansone .If I can do that for a few weeks, I may add some upper body stuff from one of my other fave workout videos.  

 

Now Reading: In Defense of Food : An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

 

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Of Stories and Health…

Stories have been on my mind for a while now. It’s not just our current message series at LC , My Story. It all started at least a year ago (I really have no idea how long it’s been!) when I was reading several books by Donald Miller. It seemed that all the buzz about him had to do with “Blue Like Jazz” , but it was “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story ” that got my attention more. I was fascinated at the idea of having a better story, after a what has seemed to be a lifetime of just bad decisions, depression , etc. So that has been in the back of my mind for some time. I am still working through some of this mentally, and I think the messages at church will definitely help 🙂

With that in my head, I know that the goals I set (which I talked about a couple of posts ago) will help my story, and I have that confirmation in my spirit that these are realistic and the direction that God wants me to go. So first and foremost, focus on God, and the second thing I will focus on is my health. 

Up until I had my children, I thought of myself as healthy. I rarely got sick enough to miss school and while I was not into sports, I always thought I was strong for a girl 🙂 Anyway, from the time I graduated high school up until 3 or so years ago I had gained over 75lbs. My cholesterol was seriously high (high enough the dr wanted me on meds, but refused after some research) and my blood pressure was creeping higher and higher (high enough I am on 1 med for)  I have been sicker than I have been in quite some time (flu, colds, stomach bugs etc), and for the past couple of years I have been having pain in my feet and legs almost daily (some research and a talk w/ a PA revealed I was having gout like symptoms but all that is a post for another day). Here I am, still early on in my 30s, and I feel like an old person!!!

Now I have lost about 40lbs and have cut out diet pop, most drinks with HFCS and I am feeling a little better than I did a couple of years ago (my pain was much worse then, I could barely walk some days!). I have gotten a little taste of what it will be like to take better care of myself, and am wanting it more and more. There is so much more I want to do in this life…more ministry, take care of my children, explore this world, and this life given to me… and I know things HAVE to change.

So I am going to break down the bigger goal of “getting healthy”. I would love for this to be accomplished by the end of the year, with God’s help :

-Lose 30lbs – I am not the type of girl that likes to obsess over my weight. I probably *could* stand to lose more than that, but I just want to be healthy…not a bean pole! 🙂

-Lower my blood pressure/cholesterol – This is the one of the main goals of all of this. I can’t stand to be on meds, and I honestly would love not having to worry about this. I won’t even go into how the dr I was going to basically shrugged when I asked him what I could do to lower my bp…basically he told me dietary changes probably wouldn’t impact my bp too much…wha?!?!

-Walking/exercising 3x’s a week – I would love to be able to go walking 7 days a week , but my schedule (and feet and knees!) won’t allow at the moment. So minimum goal is 3x’s a week 🙂

Cut out processed foods as much as possible- This ties in with the others. I have researched tons over the years over various diets and beliefs about eating and I think this will be the best and most realistic starting point for myself and my family. I did originally lose about 25lbs or so doing Weight Watchers, but a lot of the foods I was eating were still highly processed and had so many chemicals. As far as “diets”, WW comes in a close 2nd, in my opinion because of the emphasis on healthy eating (whole grains, fruits and veggies and sensible portions) Anyway back to the whole processed foods and junk…I have a hunch that I will feel loads better overall, and it’s my hope that the pain in my knees and feel will go away even more than it did when I gave up most HFCS.

If you are curious about cutting out processed foods, I have found 100 Days of Real Food to be an excellent resource. I am learning a lot, and one of my fave things about it is that it’s not militant about this health journey. It’s about baby steps and choosing what’s works best for your family (and sometimes that means letting your kids have some cupcakes or whatever at school lol). I am still trying to figure out what it looks like for my family, since I am strapped for time during the school year. But the phasing out of the bad stuff is already happening! yay!

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It seems like the past couple of months God has been bringing to my attention certain things I needed to address, and the past few weeks have really solidified that in my mind. Looking at it, I see that repeatedly God had been whispering to me about, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. But tonight is when I feel that a new start has been made it my heart, and now to figure out what to do to change things in myself so that I can make sure not to make the same mistake again. I am so thankful for all the people in my life that have been honest with me, and so thankful for God softening my heart to listen without overreacting.

I have been reflecting on all these recent happenings, and reflecting on some things my counselor had brought to my attention a couple of years ago. The more I think on it, the more I realize that I had not dealt with some things very effectively or I put them on hold while I dealt with life in general. I have put up so many walls and didn’t realize how thick or high they really were. By the time I had landed in counseling, I had built up such a wall that no one was allowed in. Not family, not friends, not God, and it was killing me from the inside out. I had been hurt so many times I was fed up with people. I was so sick of being used, abused and cast aside, that I wasn’t going to take any chance of letting it happen again. I found myself in a very lonely place with no one else, and it was no one else’s fault but my own.

Through counseling and prayer, God had begun to break down some of those walls. I was starting to choose to interact with people, build and rebuild relationships and slowly letting people get know me. I was slowly letting God in too. God then healed me of my depression, and then I was left being able to feel again. To feel emotion in a more normal state can be terrifying if you have lived in depression your whole life. Its raw and can feel somewhat untamed. There are so many ups and downs, but overall it’s a wonderful feeling, its vibrant and alive…just to be able to feel.

Things were going great, I was pluggin’ along, pulling out a brick here and a brick there and God was helping me take down my wall. Then it seemed like a huge wave was heading my way. Things weren’t going right in so many areas of my life, and there was so much change happening all around. (and for me change throws me way off).  Internally there was a panic mode I went into, and I perceived that I was in danger again, and started trying to put bricks back! Externally I didn’t hide it well, and I tend to wear my emotions on my face way too much (or sometimes it’s just me getting lost in thought, but that’s a whole other blog post). I was being too reserved in areas I shouldn’t have been, and wasn’t trying to be honest with people with what was going on inside me. I knew I would be ok if I could just work through my feelings of being overwhelmed and I could fix things later… but I failed to see that those outside of me could not see my heart and mind. In all of that I was being incredibly rude and hurtful all because I didn’t want to be hurt again.

So here I am left with bricks in my hand. I am sitting and looking at them, and now a decision has to be made. I don’t want to build a wall again even though that is what is comfortable. I could just set it down, only to pick back up later, or I can let God help me find a way to start destroying the bricks I have taken down so I can’t pick them back up. Yeah, its uncomfortable and going to leave me vulnerable…but I don’t need a wall to protect me. Even as I type this, I am recognizing more and more that the enemy wants me to have that wall, because when it’s all said and done the wall will be so tight that it would leave no room for God and eventually take my life.  And I am realizing that more and more, that God can do a better job than any wall. He would protect me from the things that truly hurt and destroy, all while allowing the things that will help me love and grow through. He would allow a freedom that no wall could ever allow.

Lord, Help me break down these walls, and destroy the bricks and stones that make it. Help me be more aware of how I treat others and how my emotions impact them. Help me to be humble enough to apologize to those I need to apologize to, and help me move forward.  Change me, Lord, because I don’t want to be the same…

 

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