Say What?

THIS! Ladies and gentleman…God has lead me to this place for such a time as this. Revelation Wellness has been transformational in my life. I am starting training in August. Get on board…I can’t wait for retreat in November and to see what God has in store for me, my family, my community. It’s TIME!!! #Iamgonnabeafitnessteachergospelpreacher, #freedomstartswiththisFlint, #finallyfree, #loveisalwaysgreaterthanfear, #freelikeaFlint

 
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Because I Can

Yesterday I went for a walk around the local lake (Lake Tomahawk).  Not because I needed to log miles for race training.  Not because I wanted to burn extra calories or because I was afraid of weekly weigh-in.  I went for a walk because it was a beautiful sunny day and I had some extra time before meeting some friends for lunch.

In fact I lost track of time and was ten minutes late to our meeting.  All was forgiven and I didn’t feel guilty.  It was empowering to simply…..be.  To move my body because I wanted to AND I was able to do so.  To want to be in the sunshine and not hiding in the house making excuses about laundry and errands.

While walking there was young boy, no older than two, squatting in perfect form dragging a stick through the gravely dirt.  He was so excited to watch the path that he was creating and kept looking up at the sunshine.  Then his gaze would switch to the lake and the ducks swimming.  Next he would smile at his mother who was watching him with a loving smile on her lips.  As I walked past them I said something to the mom about that all of life was an adventure at that age and she replied something about the reminder of the gift of life.  I thought about that interaction for the remainder of my walk.  I too begin to look up at the beautiful sky, watch the momma duck and her four babies waddling along beside me on the path, notice the people and took it all into my senses.

I’m grateful for the experience.  I’m mindful of the reminder to move…not because I have to, but because I CAN.  I’m keenly aware of the gift of sunshine, movement, free time to just be alone and in silence.  This is what I am thinking of on this #ThoughtfulThursday.

 

Forward Motion

It has been months since I’ve written anything new.  I could start this post with the obligatory apologies, but I’m not going to do that.  This is my journey and it’s been full of lots of obstacles in the last months/year.  Besides that is what this post is all about…forward motion.  I’m not focusing on the past.  I’m picking up and continuing to move towards my goals and dreams.  Forward motion for this chick!!!  My new Friday focus is going to be #ForwardMotionFridays.  I will focus on ways that I am moving forward in my life, my faith, my weight loss and fitness goals.  I will provide a chance for people to share ways that they are working towards becoming more well-rounded, full, satisfied, forward moving person.

Today on my FB page I mentioned that I am training to run in a half marathon in Cherokee on October 1st.  I was scheduled to run the Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon last October but it was canceled due to inclement weather.  I was unable to run the rescheduled date.  Talk about a let down.  Sheesh….training for half a year for a race that I didn’t get to run was disappointing.  The entire weekend was a bust.  We rented a cabin that actually was unlivable due to blue mold.  We only got a partial refund.  We drove hours in the rain before realizing the race was canceled.  We only received a partial refund on a train ride we had scheduled.  The entire family was disappointed and even the dog barfed in the van.  Ha!!!  What a memory.  This was one of many emotional disappointments I faced in 2015.  I did not accomplish my weight loss goal (40 down by 40…or even 41).  So my 41st birthday has come and gone and I’m actually up in weight.  I am at 191 as I type this entry.  This girl could give up, give in and collapse into fear, doubt and stress.  That was my old way of coping.  I even debated on deleting this blog, canceling my FB page and just throwing in the towel.  After some thought and prayer I decided no….this was started as a way to chronicle my journey for me and to leave a legacy for my children.  If even one other person read these meanderings….that’s a gift, but not expected.  So…it’s still brought2ubythenumber40.  I will be in my 40s for a few more years.  The significant time period of 40 is still important, and I can accomplish the other goals related to this dream.  My ultimate goal of health, wholeness and holiness will never change.  I do believe that I can see 142.8 on the scales.  I just need to reassess the way that I get to that point and extend grace to myself in the process.

So I am currently still drinking Shakeology regularly, counting calories using the MyFitnessPal program/application, and using exercise videos at home (Cize, 21 Day Fix, Kettleworx, and Beachbody on Demand).  I am using a new bodyweight only exercise app on my iPad and  phone called Runtastic Results and the 7 Minute workout application. I use a Runtastic walk/run training schedule for my half marathon training.   I am contemplating the next round of the Whole Life Challenge which begins in May, a Daniel Fast and repeating a round of 21 Day Fix.  I am prayerfully considering the right path and asking for wisdom to find a course to help me back on track and to finish this race well.  I am looking for a new doc and hope to get a physical done.  It’s been a few years since I’ve had one done.  So many things swirling around in my brain, but I know I am capable of making the right decision.

So discouragement is a real part of life.  It has been a big part of my adult life and I used to succumb to discouragement. I would delude myself into thinking I was handling my emotions by overeating, not getting enough sleep, talking to everyone about my problems, crying a LOT and even allowing myself to feel bitter and jealous towards those I thought were always succeeding.  It was and is an unrealistic thing to think that everyone succeeds all the time and that life is easy for people.  Everyone has stuff.  Everyone hurts.  Everyone faces disappointment daily.  My life isn’t any easier or harder than others.  However, it’s my life and it’s time to start moving forward again.  The founder of Mary Kay cosmetics (Mary Kay Ash) once shared that….falling forward

Isn’t that great?  So this falling and failing forward has a purpose.  It’s not just an accidental happening or a shortcoming in my character.  It is what is actually aiding my growth.

Forget the to-do lists that never got finished.  Forget the numbers.  Forget the goals that weren’t achieved.  Forget the plans that didn’t manifest.  Forget the haters.  Forget the doubters.  Forget the shoulda, coulda, wouldas.  Today I’m focusing on forgiveness and gratitude and falling forward (forward motion) into my new, my good, my next leg of this journey.  Success looks differently than it used to and it certainly looks different on me than it does others, but it’s a personal thing.

Today…I’m moving forward into health, wholeness, success, healing, holiness, joy and peace.  You can come along if you wish…..

Yours Always~

Janelle

 

 

 

 

Hearing What Isn’t Being Said

You remember in the cartoons there used to be a person who was having a hard time making a decision, perhaps feeling tempted by something and on one shoulder there was an angel and on the other a devil?  They were trying to influence the character in the direction that was preferred (the good or the dark side).  Inevitably whichever side won would smile and beam and the other would “poof away” into a cloud and disappear.

I have found myself in many situations where I feel as if I have two messengers trying to help me navigate a situation or circumstance.  Quite often this can be food related.  The voices that I hear are trying to sway me, pull me in their direction and influence me to make a decision for their camp.  It probably seems silly to some that there would be an internal dialogue over a second helping of something or whether or not to try something on the buffet, or to even have a piece of wedding cake at a celebration you might be attending.  Yet, for those who struggle with a food addiction that struggles is all too real.  It’s also not something that goes away overnight.  I count it a blessing that most decisions I make now in terms of food choices are made confidently and comfortably, but there are still times when I hear things that aren’t being said.  Voices fill my head with sounds that would strive to defeat me.  I must deafen them with the truth.  This takes form in both mental and often audible declarations such as: “I can say no to that food.”, “I don’t have to eat anymore.  I’m not hungry.”,  “Yes I DO have time for a run or a workout.”, “No I’m not going to get fat again.”, “Eat slowly.”, “Drink a glass of water instead.”, and “It’s fuel NOT a reward.”

Oh the voices…they are there.  Sometimes they take form in an audible voice such as a friend or family member inviting me to a place to eat or suggesting something that I know I just can’t do/have at this time.  Sometimes the voices come in the form of a picture, advertisement or a commercial featuring something amazingly yummy, sweet and tempting.  Sometimes I have planned ahead and so I know that when the voices come I can answer them appropriately.   Other times I’m caught off guard and I listen to the wrong voice. The best times though are when I’ve planned ahead, prepared by saving calories/nutrition points and done extra workouts and so I don’t even have to listen to those nagging voices.  I know that I can make a choice that I normally wouldn’t make on a daily basis, but it will be acceptable.  I had such a time on Friday night, on a date with Nathan when I could share a piece of Key Lime pie with him and not feel badly.  I could eat a piece of bread with dinner and know the world wasn’t coming to an end.  It felt great and it absolutely did not sabotage me for the next day or the weekend.  The only voices I heard that night were the ones saying “Why don’t you date this man more often?”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not crazy.  There aren’t audible voices that tempt me, but I hope you understand that seriously there is a war that wages within me. It’s not just about food.  I admit that I hear things that aren’t being said in terms of emotional, spiritual and mental hurts, habits and hang-ups I have.  When someone offends me there are the voices….”How dare that person treat you that way.  You don’t deserve that.  You shouldn’t forgive them.  Hold onto that grudge.”  When I’m misunderstood or disrespected….”People just don’t get you. Probably because they aren’t smart enough, deep enough or capable compassion. Just dismiss them and their actions.”  Oh the things that I hear that aren’t true. These voices seem so loud at times.  I’m often bombarded with voices that seek to keep my drowning in fear, anger and sorrow.  These voices want to keep me isolated and destroy my relationships.  Popular music is often full of melancholy lyrics or anger.  That’s why I stay away from it in general.  A lot of movies have negative themes and a lot of art and fashion can be displeasing as well and cause emotions to rise within me that aren’t healthy.  Notice I said SOME because there is a lot of great art, music, sculpture, art and movies.  I’m just saying that I believe I should be careful what I’m putting into my heart and mind.

I’m grateful for the renewing of my mind and the truth that I hear.  Even though my situation or circumstance might not speak truth, it’s still being spoken over me, to me and in me by the Holy Spirit.  God’s Word helps to counteract the lies that I’m faced with but to hear the small, still voice of my Shepherd I have to practice listening.  Just as I have been trained in certain exercises and continue to train myself to be disciplined in moving my body more and eating less I must train myself to read, ingest and memorize the truth.  I can also hear God’s voice on a trail as I run, while I listen to worship when I’m cooking or doing laundry, as I run and talk with a friend, as I play with my children.  If my soul is ready to listen it can hear.  But to listen I must stop speaking.  I must be silent.

Also I surround myself with positive people who speak truth, have a greater understanding of reality and most often are aware of my struggle.  This support community intentionally tries to uplift me and be that “angel” on my shoulder helping me hear the voice of reason, the voice of truth.  I have such a community in Celebrate Recovery.  I’ve written about accountability previously, but I find it so important that I reiterate the point. It’s not bad to hear things that aren’t being said.  The question is….how will you respond?  How will I respond to what I hear? Will I have the courage to quell the negative voices and send them “poofing” away and walk in truth that is so much richer, higher, purer than a moment of temporary satisfaction that usually leads to guilt, shame and destruction.  Lord…may your still voice be the loudest that I hear.  May “You Speak”!!!

 

 

Rising to the Challenge

Today was an amazing day.  The Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon took place today in my home town.  Although I was unable to see the start of the race I did get to see a few finishers come in to the finish line at our local lake.  It amazes me what the human body is capable of and that these athletes could accomplish such an amazing feat.  These well-seasoned, trim, strong people of ALL ages and from many places ran in the elements on trails for either 26.2 miles or 40 miles.  The ultra runners actually summited Mt. Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi river).  This is mind numbing to me and I hope next year to be able to spend the day supporting the finishers, maybe even volunteering somehow for the race.  Here is a funny article written by a challenge finisher in 2013.

However, there was another rising to the challenge experience today that I want to share.  My friend Drew and I (lovingly chauffeured by her husband Darrel) participated in the Band-Aid 8K.  This was a really fun race for a great cause.  My friend from college, William Talley and his wife Emily are the band directors at Asheville High School.  So I reconnected with a friend today and supported a great cause.  This was a fun course but had lots of challenging hills.  The temps were cold, but the views spectacular.  I think the best part of this well-organized event was that the band actually positioned themselves into smaller ensembles all along the route and played for the participants as they ran.  From classical to pop music we heard it all.  There were even band parents along the way at every turn with cowbells or drums cheering us on to the finish.  It was well-marked, well attended, well-organized and just a ton of fun.  I should have trained more consistently for this race.  I seriously hadn’t run in 27 days.  I walked on February 8th but hadn’t run since the 1st.  So…my hips are a bit sore due to being asked to run 4.97 miles after that sabbatical.   However, my heart is full.  After the race I was treated to a lovely meal by my precious friends Drew and Darrel.  We went to a yummy Korean restaurant in Asheville and I had my very first stone bowl.  Filled with varieties of seafood, veggies and brown rice and topped with an egg, it was the coolest meal ever.  It was Whole Life Challenge compliant and I enjoyed it tremendously.  So my first 8k, my first time at a new restaurant and eating a new cultural food made for a full day.

So how was this rising to the challenge?  Well…if you remember a few short years ago I couldn’t run AT ALL.  Now I’ve participated in several 5Ks, an 8K, a 10K and a half marathon.  I wasn’t last, even though my time was slower than I would have preferred.  I ROSE to the challenge.  I didn’t quit.  I didn’t avoid running a race.  I tried a new food.  I took a day for myself, felt unhurried and allowed expectation to be erased while I did something for me without feeling guilt, shame or regret.  I talked about the trim, svelte, conditioned athletes that ran the marathon/challenge.  Well today there was a variety of shapes, sizes and ages in the 5K and 8K races.  Yet…looks can be deceiving.

I want to talk about a runner I met today.  She finished last.  I must admit that when I saw her running and lagging behind I wondered if she would finish the race.  Remember I said I wasn’t last…well it was only by two runners.  These women amazed me.  They didn’t drop out of the race.  They were running at a pre-determined, planned pace and enjoying their experience.  After the race (Darrel, Drew and I were some of the only ones that stayed to cheer them on at the finish line) I congratulated them and met them. One woman who I’m sure by medical standards would have been considered obese (as am I actually..still even after a loss of 107 pounds) has run in more races than I have.  She’s completed a full marathon in Nashville and is delighted to be a runner.  I was every bit as inspired by her as by seeing the finishers for the challenge.  Rising to a challenge, any challenge is a gift, an accomplishment, a miracle.  The human body, and spirit is capable of amazing things.  I was encouraged, inspired and challenged today.  I want to keep rising to the challenge.

What is my challenge?  Is it a race, a specific mileage, a PR on a time?  Is it to lose the rest of the weight I desire?  Perhaps it’s to finish other things on my dream list?  Maybe though, just maybe it’s to be the best me I can be with all of the information, knowledge and faith I’ve been given.  I think it’s to love and be loved.  I think my challenge is to live a full, God-honoring life by loving people as Christ does, trying to accomplish more than I ever thought I could through God’s strength and sharing His love with others in the process.  Rising to my challenge means fixing dinner when I’m tired, washing laundry when I’m exhausted, listening to my child perseverate about a topic, doing endless hours of homework (all without being appreciated).  It means listening more than I speak, loving more than being angry, praying more than gossiping, and trying and failing more than being afraid.  My challenge is multi-faceted.  It’s bigger than I am, but it’s not impossible.  There will be many people on the same path that I am (trying to be a good spouse, a good parent, life-long learner etc.) but it’s my race.  It’s not going to look like anyone else’s.  It will be at my pace, my speed and ebb and flow.

I’m a blessed woman.  I’m so grateful for lessons learned, experiences shared and challenges accomplished.  I’m looking forward to 40 and beyond.  Maybe if I keep racing I’ll eventually be in an age group where I’ll place ;-).  Thanks for reading.  Share with me something that you’ve accomplished.  How have you risen to YOUR challenge?

~Janelle

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Overpriced Bacon and Undeserved Blessings

Yesterday I traveled to Whole Foods to buy overpriced bacon.  This was an intentional trip.  I wanted bacon without nitrites, nitrates and cured without sugar.  This choice of pork product is because I’m currently participating in the Whole Life Challenge.  In a future post I’ll blog about the process of this journey and how it’s been a wonderful tool.  Anyway…I think it’s so cool that the package literally has less than five ingredients listed.  I love buying things where I can pronounce everything in the ingredient list.  Perhaps you are giggling at my fanatical, legalistic bacon choice for a silly game that I paid money to participate as a player.  Maybe you think it foolish that I would pay $6 for less than a pound of bacon. Although it isn’t the most frugal grocery purchase I’ve made it isn’t one that I would consider wasteful.

Whole Foods seriously makes me happy.  This store is ALIVE.  It is beautiful, organized and a happy place to shop.  It’s brimming with beautiful colors, a variety of exotic smells, products that I can’t pronounce some I’ve never even heard of and certainly haven’t tasted.  This store intrigues me, challenges me and helps me to realize that living in America is a blessing.  I have the privilege of traveling to a store where I can choose any number of products that I want to eat and drink. Clean drinking water is a gift that I dare to say most Americans take for granted.  We shop in stores that have aisles of water to choose from.  You could spend an entire day in Whole Foods.  From coffee to dinner, from meetings to dates, from shopping to learning…it can all take place there.  Live music, classes, fun events, and lively sales take place at this one store.  I wish I could shop there more regularly but I can’t.  One I can’t afford it, two it’s not easy to shop anywhere with five kids in tow and three I simply don’t have the time to make it to Asheville.

Yesterday was a gift.  It didn’t feel like one because I left the house in a tizzy.  A frustrating morning, full of harsh words and unkind actions.  Words that can’t be “unsaid” or “unheard”.  I tell you I’m a worn out woman with a raw and exposed heart.  I’m feeling so overwhelmed and under prepared for this life that is mine. I’ve been told by a friend that she feels I’m fully equipped for the work that God has called me to and I know God’s word says in Eph. 2:10 (ESV) “For we are his workmanship , created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Most days I feel FAR from capable of this task of being Nathan’s wife, mother to my 5 J-s and working on becoming fit, whole and healthier.  It all seems hopeless at times, too much, too grand for me and like I’ll never get off of the hamster wheel.

So there I was in the middle of the gourmet overpriced bacon section, spending time looking at all of the wonderful non-gmo, free trade dark chocolate (I didn’t buy any) and smelling all of the wonderful smelling food on the lunch menu and feeling blessed.  Blessed that I have a husband that allows me to leave the house for a breather.  Blessed that I have a vehicle to take me to the overpriced food warehouse FULL of selections of healthy food that I can use to fuel my body and those of my family.  Blessed that God has forgiven me and even though I certainly don’t understand the season of my life I can trust in his goodness.  The blessing continued into the evening.  Unfortunately so did the harsh words, the moments of silence, the hurt feelings.  It’s a paradox how love and anger can reside within a person at the same time.  So unusual that someone can scream at you and then cry in regret a few minutes later.  Being human is such an experience.  I’m so glad Jesus came to save us from ourselves.

There were two very wonderful friends that blessed me and held me up with prayer and some wonderfully encouraging texts full of truth and scripture. Fuzzy pajamas, leftovers, a nice warm bath with goats milk and lemongrass soap and a book helped to make my evening pleasant. My head hit the pillow and there were still unresolved feelings of inadequacy, fear and sadness, but there was a rising Hope within me and a feeling of warmth in my spirit.  I was reminded by my friends last night that suffering is not hopeless.  We suffer with a purpose.  It makes us more like Jesus.  All of the bad stuff that happens seems unfair BUT grace is most assuredly unfair.  I don’t  deserve a second, third or 100th chance. Yet, the work of the cross assured that I am forgiven and will always be forgiven. My life is not unnoticed.  I was also reminded that is a privilege to share our sufferings one with another.   Jesus is not going to let me drown in my grief or the troubles of this life and neither will my support team, my community, my faith family.

The undeserved blessings continue even into this evening as another friend will be blessing me with a facial, some peaceful kid-free time and some health food!!! I’m a blessed woman and tomorrow morning as I eat two slices of my overpriced bacon with my over easy eggs and roasted veggies I’ll think of the high price of scandalous grace and how I’m treasured beyond measure.  Tonight as I’m being pampered I’ll take it all in and pray that I can find ways to extravagantly love those in my world.  I’ll keep praying for eyes to see my children and my husband as Christ sees them.  For God so loved……If He lives within me then I can love.  He can forgive them and I can walk in that forgiveness.

I pray that the scandal of grace will hold me in this season.  It’s 27 days until Spring and I would certainly love to wake up on the first day of Spring and know that the thaw has occurred and that a newness will come to my heart, my life, my family.  Buds of peace will bloom and new attitudes will blossom.  But I’m not going to wish the rest of winter away.  I’m going to rest in the growth that is taking place even though I can’t see it.  I’m trusting in the process of the Sovereign God.  The one that prepared his Son for his journey to Calvary can prepare me for the work of my life.  Change takes time and these growing pains won’t kill me.  Bacon and blessings….two things I’m grateful for during this lenten season.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I’ve always wanted to be beautiful.  What little girl hasn’t?  I mean from the early days I’ve seen princesses in their gorgeous gowns with their “Prince Charmings”. As I grew I became bombarded with images of magazine models that were airbrushed to perfection.  Voices from without and within told me that I wasn’t up to standard and years of comparing myself to others truly caused me to think of myself as sub standard.  As I’ve continued to grow, change, mature and walk towards health and wholeness I’ve been finding MY beautiful.  It’s amazing how many truths it takes to replace ONE lie.  Accepting compliments and feeling beautiful are much harder than believing that I’m sloppy, lazy, still fat and a hot mess.  Literally I look in the mirror and still see “her” sometimes.  The “her” that only wore jeans with elastic or sweat pants.  The “her” that felt bad physically and emotionally most of her day.  The “her” that had a husband that loved her, but didn’t realize the full potential and safety of that love.  Oh how I long for the day when that image is wiped from my brain and the reflection I see is only one of a “Jesus” girl full of peace, love and joy.

So what is my beautiful?  I’ve been wrestling with this lately.  The numbers are changing again but I’m still not in clothes that I wore while living in Washington. I’m weaker in terms of lifting, physical endurance and stamina.  I’m still making up ground and it is a very slow process.  Also I’ve been thinking about what people see versus what I see.  Not only in the physical realm but can people tell I’m set apart, different, loving and looking more and more like Jesus daily? That’s more important than achieving a number, a PR in a race, or any of the dreams I have.  I want to leave a legacy of love, trust, service and beauty.  I want the world to be a better place because I was in it and I want my kids to know how special they are.  It’s my heart’s cry that I can lead them to an understanding that Jesus loves them and that they can have a relationship with him. To know and be known.  To lay my head to the pillow at night knowing I’ve honored God, myself and others…that’s beautiful.

My friends and pastors Tim Moore and Joe Chambers helped me train for a half marathon in March-July 2013. While on a run in 2013 Tim asked if I could realize emotionally, spiritually or physically the transformation I have undergone.  He mentioned how the change is very evident to other people.  He said that almost weekly he and his wife Melissa could see a difference.  I’ve often thought about this since.   It causes me to grapple with and honestly inspect my thoughts and feelings.  I’ve been wondering what might be clogging my continued progress. I’ve blogged about my thoughts as to why I gained some weight back and could not achieve my goal at the original time.  The finish line is in sight and if I want to cross it, I’ve got to regain focus.  A new sense of passion and purpose is coming from celebrating successes and making small, realistic goals. I think even after 4 years there are days this changes feels like a dream.

In terms of spiritual and emotional progress I do believe there has been growth as well.   I know that I am a much different woman in the areas of my thinking, habits, approach to food, realization of my food addiction, etc. than I was in Oct. of 2010.  I don’t say that lightly.  I still struggle and there are days that I want to overeat.  However, the conviction/realization of my error comes so quickly and I am able to slow down and realize that the food didn’t taste as good as success feels. My body is NOT my own.  I’ve been bought with a price and for me to just mindlessly eat food, or even worse, to make a purposeful choice to overeat or eat unhealthy foods is an issue to me now.  Yes, I’m aware that this sounds crazy, legalistic and super spiritual to some of you.  For me…it’s part of my faith.  It’s part of my daily living out my love and honor for the One who saved me, redeemed me and changed my life forever!!!  If I don’t focus on clean eating, portion size and using moderation I will derail.  I still have trigger foods and I avoid buffets at all costs. It’s about dying to myself and submitting to God’s will and not my own.  Putting my desires aside to do the right thing not the easy thing.

Over the course of the last year I have been faced with circumstances that have deepened my faith.  Truly pressing in to a life that is not my own has been difficult but so freeing.  I’m finding more and more consistently that my responses are gentle, kind and purposeful.  Yes, I still get angry and unfortunately act on that.  I’m far from perfect but I’m progressing. I’m spending more time being mindful of who I am and who I want to become.  Eliminating negative influences and renewing my mind through God’s word is a form of soul care that I’m adopting.  Guarding my time and making living a full life a priority is important.  Daily I’m looking for the good in people and praying to love them just as they are, and if called upon to serve them without expectation.

I still struggle with seeing myself as I am currently.  I realize I’m smaller because I remember the sizes I used to wear.  However, there are times I still don’t really “get it”.  Once JoyAnn and I were shopping at Target.  I kept holding up these clothes and thinking “these must be for really skinny people”.  I brought some things into the dressing room and some of them were the right size and some of them weren’t.  It was surprising to find out that I’m somewhere between a large and a medium.  Although women’s clothing sizing is ridiculous.  I have everything from a medium to an XL in my closet.  It’s just hard to know what will fit and I don’t always have the time to try everything on before I leave the store.  It was nice to know that I can fit into different things.  I’m not pleased that most medium/large shirts are sleeveless or have very short sleeves.  My arms will NEVER be what I want them to be (without skin removal surgery).  My son James says they are “flappy dough arms”.  I’m not interested in “skinny jeans” EVER.  I don’t even want to try anything that says “mid rise”.  The scales and/or tag might say a certain number but my body tells a VERY different story.  Years of obesity, five children, two sets of twins, shame, guilt, up and down weight fluctuations really take a toll or your physique.

I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  I KNOW that it is worth every tear, every drop of sweat, every run, jog, walk, lifting session.  However, I don’t want to become prideful, obsessed or “miss the mark” when it comes to the true point/depth of this transformation process.  Skin removal surgery would be helpful in terms of cosmetic, but is it the right thing for me?  Nathan loves me, even though I look like a Shar Pei.  He is the only one (minus a doctor or physician) that will ever have to see the not so pretty, complete picture of who I am physically.  It is a gift to have a spouse such as Nathan that sees me physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally and loves me unconditionally.  On the other hand after YEARS of hard work, wouldn’t it be worth the pain of the surgeries to finally realize my goal and SEE it with my own eyes?  We don’t have insurance, so is the cost worth it?  Are the scars worth it?  Should I endure pain and long recovery times just to fit into a certain size or wear a sleeveless shirt and not be ashamed?  Maybe, JUST maybe the issue isn’t my sags and bags…it’s still a wounded heart???  I’m not sure.  I’m praying through all of this.  I know MY beautiful is in there.  Just typing these words seems prideful, selfish and brings a twinge of guilt.  This journey is about so much more that the way I look.  I want people to know that.

I need to update my site with more recent pictures.  I need to keep the transformation ever before me so I don’t lose sight of who I am and who I was.   Beauty is really in the eye of the beholder and I pray that can see the beauty the wonder, the joy and progress all around me.  I pray that I can see me as Jesus sees me and that I can honor the compliments others give.  Also I pray that I can see the beauty, joy and grace in others and help to cultivate change, growth and love all around me. I’ve been forever changed by this process and the outpouring of love, service, help and support I’ve received.  If change is possible for me….I KNOW it’s available for you.  May we all realize the beauty that is possible.  We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.  I was at 285.6 and I am at….whatever I am today!!!