The Proposal

One year ago today I stood in my closet staring at my options. Excitement, aggravation, anticipation in my heart as I wondered how the evening would unfold. Led to believe we were headed out to dinner for a double date, I tried to choose something pretty. “Where are we going”  was met with ” I don’t remember, but first impressions are important…” How odd. My curiosity was raging.

Looking back I am sure I had his nerves stirred up with my endless questions. As the hours passed I got so impatient with all his vague answers and lack of details that I told him not to pick me up, I would just meet him there. “No baby, this is a date. Remember? You said I am not romantic enough, I will come pick you up.” But I wanted to envision in my mind what we were to do! Little did I know this man had a plan. By the time he got here I was almost mad at him. As he sat on my bed looking at me I hear “Are those new shoes? Do they hurt? Maybe you should put on comfy ones.” You have got to be kidding me. He tells me nothing then dares to critique my wardrobe. I make no eye contact with him, he should take that as a warning, bossing me around, telling me what to wear, unbelievable….”Fine I will just change my outfit.”

Here we go. I still don’t know who they are, how old they are, if they have kids, where we are meeting them, what her name is. He continues to hide his phone from me as he constantly texts someone intently. “What time do we meet them?” As we pass Cool Springs Boulevard and head toward Highway 96 it occurs to me maybe we are going to downtown Franklin. That would be fun! I look at him and get ready to ask him something again, “YOU are asking entirely too many questions”. Fine. I will not say another word until we get to where we are going. What if he is trying to surprise me? I may be spoiling it. I won’t talk.hot air balloons

Red, yellow and blue hot air balloons float along outside. My memory shifts to years ago, I was watching a red hot air balloon and contemplated  huge changes in my life, promising myself  one day I too would be as happy as those people up there.

As we pull into Pinkerton Park I recall him asking me recently what was the name of the park we visited in the beginning of our courtship.  He opened my door for me, leaving his phone in the car. I am determined to be good, relax and enjoy myself. As we head out on the usual trail eventually I notice the most idyllic setup. A pink blanket, lanterns with candles, little wooden crates, a dainty water decanter, all set up for a picnic any princess would swoon over. And we seem to be headed towards it. “Baby that is so sweet! Wonder where the couple is?” The closer we get I see a familiar sight. That must be our cuddle blanket from his sofa at home. HMMMMMMM……”You recognize that blanket?”

Flowers in my favorite colors, a yummy little picnic with foods picked out just for me and the sun is saying goodbye to us. It’s that magic moment in the early evening when the light around you makes everything glow warm and golden. What a perfect night , the weather is a delight.  We were supposed to watch the Notebook on his laptop but he forgot it when we left. So, I turned on Pandora. Music adds to the ambiance.

“Dance with me please? Its my favorite love song!!” He refuses and says he has to pack all this up so that he can go home. He has to get back to work. I am disappointed as I take one more sip of water, ready to help him gather things up. But he hesitates on one knee, knelt down beside me. He is looking at me as I turn towards him. I see his hand come out of his pocket a942344_644205912272306_237898973_n-1nd hear the sweetest phrase “Will you marry me?” I am in total shock, rendered speechless (finally). The love song plays around us as I wonder how he pulled all this off. The prettiest ring I have ever seen slides onto my finger as the one my soul longs for embraces me.

My dream came true. No way, no how this could have ever been any better, any more romantic and fitting. My favorite chapter in our love story. Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. Thank you for choosing me.

 

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Endangered : Chivalry , May I see your man card please?

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What is your definition of gentleman? Of chivalry? I must admit I had to look up the word chivalry. Apparently the roots of this policy of how men should treat ladies came from our knights in shining armor.

Knights were expected to be strong and courageous in battle and to kill and defend against the enemy or bad guys. But off the battlefield they were to show kindness to those weaker than them, such as the elderly, widows, orphans and ladies in general. Can we compare this to men of today? So they go off to work to beat up that paperwork, to negotiate and win battles at the office? On their route? Is it really so different today?

I left the house to get “hot and ready” pizza the other day. I thought it would be a cinch to tote all my groceries into the pizza joint, pick up the pizza boxes and take it all back to my car..quicker. As I neared the door balancing everything I was focused on not dropping anything and thinking about how to hold it all so I could take the cash out of my pocket. There is a “male” standing there inside the warm store, hands at his sides. No, he is not on his phone and he is not blind and he is not doing anything but watching me try to get inside the door. Was I dumb to try to be superwoman today? Should I have put all this junk in my car? Do the answers relieve him of his responsibility to open the door for me? Am I undeserving of his assistance? Is any of that relevant? I don’t know. What I do know is that the longer I thought about it the more angry I got. What if he had not only opened the door but warmly acknowledged my plight, smiled at me and offered to hold my bags,man offers to help lady up chivalry perhaps even helped me to the car? I considered asking for his “man card” but no, that would not be ladylike 🙂 If I were in his spot though I would have acted differently. Women can be chivalrous too.

Maybe part of the problem is the state of our families today. Many women are raising sons and daughters on their own. Some men who take an active role in their children’s lives are doing the best they can to provide and survive and these issues are just not important enough to discuss. So do we become a people who do not help one another out? If we decline this discussion are we then teaching entitlement out of default? Have we taught our children to simply watch others struggle as we march onward in our self – absorption?

I remember a conversation with a man I consider a gentleman. He told me as a lad of 10 or so he got on an elevator with his uncle. He made the mistake of stepping in front of a lady…When she exited Uncle smacked him upside the back of his head. He said “What’d you do that for?” He said “You don’t ever step in front of a lady. You open her door, you step aside, you give up your seat. For any woman, anywhere, anytime.” He said he will never ever forget that moment, it made an impression on him (and his head, literally). So men, let this be a lesson to you. It could make a huge difference in your son’s or daughter’s outlook on life. Daughters will learn to value themselves and not spend so much time in ungentlemanly company. Sons will learn what a lady is and how he should treat her. Moms, I know dad may not be around. Well that is indeed sad, so you have an opportunity to teach your sons how to behave. He best be helping you with the groceries, opening your door and never think of stepping in front of you. If you walk down the sidewalk he should be on the side the cars are on. He should practice giving up his seat to you, he should never be seated while a woman has to stand. Boys/ men have been given more physical strength and were designed in part to defend us and no it does NOT matter if we deserve it or not. Do not even start with some weak wimpy excuse. If anyone is hurting or bullying a girl or woman in a man’s presence and he does not step in to defend and help her then in my opinion he is not a man.

The inspiration to actually write this came after I read Matt Walsh’s blog this morning. I was motivated to write about chivalry from a female perspective. To all the real men out there, the valiant, respectful, gallant brave warriors of modern day chivalry, I tip my imaginary hat and say thank you. Thank you for treating us like ladies. For extending your hand, for teaching our sons and daughters how to behave like we should in a barbaric, unkind, unappreciative world.

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Our Father’s Novel~a plan for Bible reading

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little girl reading bible

March 25, 2013 at 10:23am

Okay! A couple of people have asked me what they should read in their Bible, where to start. I’d like to share where I was only a few years ago when I asked a very wise mature pastor this same question, it may help you feel better about the feelings in your own heart. 

I was overwhelmed at the size of my Bible and maybe it has to do with the way my dear Father wired me but I wanted to read the whole thing in like a month and totally comprehend everything immediately and be able to easily convey it all to someone and quote verses. Again like I said, in like a month. Yeah, right. Patience, young grasshopper. 

So I had to have a talk with myself and hear a great sermon and came to the conclusion that you cannot approach this like some other things in life like a hurdle that must be leapt over, JUST DO IT, get er dun, whatever, this is different. This is not a race, it is a relationship. Our Bible is a precious living breathing manuscript that out of God’s love wisdom and perfection He chose to hand down to us. We cannot be competitive about this. We must take our time, take a deep breath and know that this is going to take a lifetime. You have a lifetime to read and reread and study it all, I promise. 

So, every day be reading some of His poetry. Don’t you love dessert? I have a sweet tooth, as long as I have something sweet to look forward to I will eat my brussel sprouts. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Isaiah, Song of Solomon, these are the hot fudge cake reward for the tougher reading you will need to do to increase your knowledge. 

Alongside the “dessert” reading you must begin with the gospels. Read Mark, one verse at a time, even just a verse a day. LISTEN, if you only read a verse a day you are one verse closer to finishing and one verse closer to God. So read at least a verse. Ok? I know you can do it! Once you complete Mark, read it again. It will go faster this time. You do this for multiple reasons, to get to know the writer, to hear the tone of the book and to see things you didn’t see the first time. You will be amazed. THEN read it a third time before you move onto Matthew. Notice how the story is similar but not exactly the same. Isn’t that awesome! Jesus chose these men and they wrote the books but the men themselves were all different (like different parts of the body, hmmmmmmm), they had different personalities and different perspectives and this makes Jesus’ story so beautiful to see it in 4 different lights. Then read Luke, then John. Please read each book 3 times before you move on to the next one. 

Keep a notebook, journal, something and a pen or pencil beside you cause God is going to reveal things to you and you will want to jot them down. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3. I don’t know about you but when God decides to tell me something great I would like to have a little paper and pen to write it down cause my memory ain’t so sharp.

This journal “lives” alongside my bed along with my Bible on an ottoman and a couple of pens. I also write in my Bible and have sticky post it notes to mark pages. I use the Bible gateway website on my phone at times if I am looking something up and can only remember a phrase or even just a word of a verse and want to locate it. www.biblegateway.com This site is super cool cause you can click a button and see additional interpretations side by side. Another pen lives in my Bible always.

Bible shopping: Okay, I have a Life Application Bible cause it has all this explanation stuff at the bottom of the page to further understand what the meaning may be. It is the New International Version. I also have several King James Bibles and on a trip to Lifeway I discovered the Message Bible. It is gorgeous and small and shiny iridescent purple. It is my favorite Bible cause it is pretty, easy to carry and easy to understand. BUT I do not use this one exclusively because the language is so current I fear we may have lost some of the meaning of the verses. I recommend using more than one Bible but if you can only afford one just read that one.

Back to the order. . . once you finish Matthew, Mark, Luke and John go to Acts and Romans. Then read Ephesians, Exodus, I II Samuel, I II Kings, Nehemiah, Esther, I II Chronicles, Ezra, Genesis, Leviticus, Daniel, Colossians, Titus, Hosea, Revelations. I keep a post it note in the front of my Bible and keep up with what I have read so far. Indeed this is a journey. Once you finish the gospels and Acts, Romans, continue to read a “dessert” book alongside it but at that point you might just ask God what he wants you to read next and follow His lead. OR I was going through something, like most recently I read Hosea cause I was personally kind of feeling like Hosea’s wife and wanted some inspiration. There is no CORRECT way to do this but this works for me. Just try to complete a book at a time so that you have a plan of sorts and aren’t just jumping from page to page with no goal in sight. Eventually you will have read and reread several books.  

Feel free to copy and paste this list, print it out, hand write it in the front of your Bible or journal, whatever works for you to influence you that you have a plan and START!!!

 

 

*Mark (3 times)                                                           *Psalms                   

*Matthew (3 times)                                                     *Proverbs 

*Luke (3 times)                                                           *Ecclesiastes

*John (3 times)                                                           *Ruth

*Acts                                                                         *Song of Solomon

*Romans                                                                    *Ephesians

*Ephesians

*Exodus

*I II Samuel

*I II Kings

*Nehemiah

*Esther

*I II Chronicles

*Ezra

*Genesis

*Leviticus

*Daniel

*Colossians

*Titus

*Hosea

*Revelations

 

Try not to listen to the enemy, here are some things he may tell you: you don’t have time to even start. You are too tired. You are not smart enough to understand. You never complete anything. You will never finish so why start? If any of these thoughts pop into your mind just say JESUS outloud, put on some Christian music, dance around the room, whatever works but don’t listen to him. And don’t get discouraged if you fall out of the habit for a few days. They say it takes 21-28 days to create a habit. So in as little as a month you can establish the most healthy habit EVER! YOU can unleash the power to change our world for generations to come. Daily Bible reading will change you and will change your life. Just get started, today!

 

******Update********* It is 11-20-13 and I look back at the post and am amazed, simply amazed at how much His word has taught me since I wrote this post. I have now completed 43 books of the Bible and have 23 to go. Some I have read more than once, some of the 23 I have already read but not marked off from this journey with Him. I hope this post encourages you to start. God bless you. ImageImageImage

Love, Falling Stars and God Winks

I am spoken for, engaged to be married to a man I like to refer to as my prince. But I used to have a prince who far exceeds him in every category. And His name is Jesus.
Long before I met Andrew I decided to date Jesus and that was one of the best decisions I ever made. On our dates he always told me I was beautiful and I never had to ask him to dance, He had just one favorite dance partner, me. And yes, we did have “our song”. We went many places together and if someone asked me if I had a boyfriend I told them about Him. Certainly many thought me mad but that is okay.
I did pray for a true human prince to come along and oh yes “the list” was made. We ladies think we know exactly what handsome looks like and what we need in a man. Sometimes our Father has other plans.. So. I prayed for my prince charming to appear and once I found some nerve I placed an ad on Christian Mingle.
His profile name was GodSeeker and mine was SecretUnderneath. Yeah, I liked him and was immediately interested in him when I first laid eyes on him. The dating ensued, progressed, but at some point you must decide where you are headed. Perpetually dating or courting is not the goal. So my emotions at times included doubt, fear, worry, anxiety at the thought of forever. Some of which was logical, some, not so much. Memories of heartbreak and pain are hard to give up especially if there are smaller hearts that got broken too.
Then one fateful night we began a road trip to pick up his children far away in North Carolina. As you might imagine it was a long journey and when it came my turn to take the wheel I was most uncomfortable. As he slept beside me I willed myself to stay alert while I talked to Jesus. My heart, it hurt. Palpitations I suppose from stress? Maybe lack of sleep, nervousness, who knows? I asked Him to ease my discomfort and to give me a sign that everything would be okay, a ray of hope that I should be driving all this way. But, I second guessed myself and said “Sorry, I am not supposed to test you.” As I gazed ahead up the winding mountainous road one quick glance at the sky produced a gift. One bright star made it’s way into our atmosphere from His. “Thank you Jesus”.
Months later we were once again in the car together on a journey and I was having real aching doubts. Does this man even love me at all? And if he does, will we be happy? “God I know you wouldn’t send me a falling star again, I never should have asked you the first time. It was probably just a coincidence anyway.” Guess what I saw? I couldn’t resist looking up of course.
Trying not be expectant but hopeful in spite of myself I spotted it. Drifting lazily upward with no reason at all to be there was a single white balloon headed heavenward.
When the day finally arrived for my prince to ask me to marry him I had no idea what was coming my way. Actually I was aggravated at him for being so vague about our plans and for instructing me in what to wear. We made it into his car and wound up at a park with a picnic prepared just for us. After the meal which was planned out just to please me, I turned on my Pandora. My shoes came off as I sat being a princess enjoying my favorite tunes. The thought hit me, we have never shared a dance! Just then “If You Want Me To” came on. Unbelievable! That’s our song! I asked him to dance with me. “Please Andrew, just dance this one song with me, it is my favorite.” I was confused that he wasn’t responding, then he dropped to one knee. His hand came out of his pocket. My heart stopped beating, the world ceased turning. “Will you marry me?”
I no longer believe in coincedences. Now what once was our song is now mine and Andrew’s song. Each day my faith expands. Yes, I will always be afraid at times, doubt will appear, I will be unsure about lots of things. What I have now to focus on at those times are the God winks. He is faithful and full of mercy. When I am afraid I just return to that moment when I caught sight of a white balloon floating above me towards home.

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2 people falling star

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For the Love of a Friend

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This is Dana Lewis, friend of Ashley’s. She created a page on Lotsa Helping Hands but asked me to write this out for us all. We welcome you, we appreciate your presence here. Please take a moment to look through a window into her world…My heart breaks watching Ashley hurt. My Ashley, my soul sister. Tonight I walked over to see her, she sat before me with her long raven hair gone. As she opened her front door I caught a glimpse of the tiny scar on the sweet tender skin of her neck where the doctors took the evil knots out. How could any woman be this beautiful, unabashedly beautiful with all her glory, her hair stripped away?  Her voice is weak, her white cell count has been down. Today has been tough. Treatments are getting harder and she is physically tired and emotionally spent. Her youngest angel wanders down the stairs into the foyer, being the little fairy God intended her to be. My eyes drift to her as Ashley talks, shares and weeps. Her gaze follows mine to one of the two loves of her life and she pauses to smile now and almost giggles…our focus returns to the pain. Indescribable pain that will only increase as the battle rages on. It hurts, it feels like you are slowly dying from a terrible hangover. I chime in “but one with no relief?” “Right, there’s no relief.” Finally, time to sleep but your tummy hurts, a gnawing ache, your head in a fog, there’s a bad taste in your mouth and you hurt all over. Although you are cranky and tired it is now morning and as a Single Mother you must arise to feed the cherubs, care for them, arrange for pick-ups, drop-offs, give them love, maybe even get groceries before work but after breakfast, showers and getting to school. … this is indeed a battle. And now you feel bad, sad, mad because if nothing else at all you have always been strong. Damn it, just the sheer force of your will alone has allowed you to survive thus far. Now you are so vulnerable, so shaken, so worn. As a result maybe, just maybe for the first time in a long time – afraid. It’s hard to be strong when you are fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Haley has now climbed into her Momma’s  lap, safe in a perfect embrace. I get a peek at her smile again as she pulls Haley away from her to run her hand up her chest. “Drool, she is so exhausted she is drooling, it’s running down my shirt!” She shifts this sleeping child we both love while continuing to rock her.  God knew what He was doing when He planted us side by side as neighbors. It is an honor to write for this blog. My wish is that you visit the community page at Lotsa Helping Hands as often as you like, bookmark the page, send what message you have in your heart to her.  Go ahead, take a shift, get groceries, take a child to a game, make a meal or two or just come in and check on her. Yes, help out, we are so glad you want to. Just know this: the ultimate gift is prayer. Earnest prayer for Ashley, her family, especially her Mother, Mary Sue and her sister, Amy, who all put on their “Super Woman” capes everyday to help Ash…her sisters Tayler and Rebecca and her brother Derrick. And then most importantly: her girls ~ Hannah & Haley. Praise the Lord, they caught it early, the doctors say that once she reaches the end of her chemotherapy treatments, there is over a 90% chance it could be cured.  . Thank you so much for your precious kindness.

Helping Hands for Ashley Henkel – Sign in to a community | Lotsa Helping Hands

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Directions on How To Join: Instruct the people you’ve invited to fill out the right-hand side of the form which is a Request to Join the Community. Once they’ve done this, you will begin to receive emails back stating that there are “pending members”. Coordinators can “approve” the pending members from the pending members page on their Administration tab. Once you have approved them, members will be automatically added to the community and sent instructions for setting a password and signing-in.

My Diet Adventure

So many of you asked how I lost weight. This is not the healthiest thing in the world so I would not recommend it long term. A little over a year ago I had lost some weight by cutting out carbs, sugar and any kind of dairy product. I have done something very similar this time.
I am eating mostly protein now. I eat every 2-3 hours without fail. I drink at least 80 ounces of water every single day. I eat 5-7 times a day every day.
Today I had an egg mcmuffin with no muffin for breakfast at 8:30 along with my multivitamin, also got a large unsweet tea and put stevia in it at work. I do not recommend drinking any caffeine at all but I do it occasionally. I may have drank a fourth of that, I put it in the fridge and drink it the next day. At 10:30 am I opened a can of tuna in water, put quite a bit of real mayo in it, stirred it up and ate it straight out of the can. If I were home it would get natural pink sea salt, pepper and pickles of some kind. At 1:00 I didn’t have any time so I only had a protein drink. I use EAS carb control and my favorite is strawberry, they are much better cold but if you are desperate you can toss one in your handbag and drink it warm, don’t forget to shake it up..I was supposed to eat by 4pm but had sales calls today and couldn’t stop. This is extremely rare for me. When I got back to the office I did tuna again with another multivitamin. It was 4:45. At 7 I had several bites of cheddar cheese and took a walk and wound up running 1.6 miles. Around 9 I stuck a spoon into the peanut butter and ate maybe a teaspoon of that. Then I took my 2 calcium tablets and fixed my Greens Drink. It is powder kept in the fridge and you mix it with water, shake it up, I need it for the probiotics. Lelan wanted zaxbys at 10pm (yes I am not kidding) so I got him zaxbys and I ate his slaw and like 2 french fries. I am still drinking water and will probably wind up with about 90 oz in me for the day. For me this was a terrible day, I didn’t really eat enough and I cheated a little tonight. Usually I have at least one real meal a day most days it is at lunch. I will have a salad which many times spring mix or spinach with cheddar or feta or goat cheese, sometimes bacon (only real, don’t eat that fake junk), grilled chicken never with any skin, nuts but only if they are not coated in something (totally raw is best), and salsa, guac and sour cream if possible. For dressings blue cheese is best with ranch as second. Vinegrette is a trap, if they made it they put gobs of sugar in it so avoid it. You cannot put any kind of bean, corn, tortilla strips, tortilla bowl, crackers, croutons, all no-nos. And measuring any of that, yeah whatever. I like dressing, pour it on. Some veggies are ok, watch your sugar content though. Avoid carrots, you may not have sweet potatoes or any root veggie at all, no white potatoes of course. Fruits like berries and granny smiths I gave up even though they are low in sugar, that tiny bit of sugar would make me have cravings later in the day.
Have breakfast very soon after waking. You need to eat soon after you wake up. You need to get your metabolism going. Fit in a veggie if at all possible. I put spinach in my egg, if I have a cucumber I will cut a bit of that up and put olive oil and salt on it. Yum.
Other snacks: half cup of almonds (coconut and cocoa ones are killer but limit this) walnuts, pecans, cottage cheese (limit to a cup and get the real kind not that putrid low fat stuff and organic is really yummy), cheddar cheese (you can have any hard cheese, you can have cream cheese and sour cream), canned tuna or chicken, just a grilled chicken strip, EAS low carb protein shakes, a scoop of peanut butter.
“Meals” I have are salads, grilled or baked fish or chicken, hamburger no bun with gobs of mayo, mustard, tomato, lettuce, pickles, yum. Steak ~ be careful with this, they put marinades on this you need to check the carb and sugar count online if you are eating out. You may also have brisket keep in mind most of the BBQs they put lots of sugar into the sauce so you cannot have it. Brisket is usually made with a dry rub which isn’t as bad.
If you are at the ball park which I often am, have a hot dog with mayo and mustard (no ketchup, no bun). I have been desperate enough at home before to do a slice of bologna with mayo and mustard……
I generally keep some baked chicken strips ready to go and some kind of salad and dressing. The best dressing you could ever use would be just olive oil and vinegar. Watch this when out, sometimes they are rancid which makes me gag, its old or the temp it has been exposed to messed it up. I always have bacon and the protein shakes, cans upon cans of tuna at home.
So, sometimes I crave something sweet or I crave carbs. I have resorted recently in keeping peanut butter ice cream at home. I don’t eat very much. I read the carb count in almost every box at the store and this one was not incredibly bad and I thought, well I am getting the peanut butter too. Now do NOT do this early in the diet because your body needs to reset itself lactose free. I am in month 4 now. I also keep the cocoa or coconut almonds so again I am getting a good protein in either cheat food.
But every now and then I really cheat. Sometimes I feel like I really need a carb so I will eat a few potato chips or eat mexican and eat a few chips n salsa or splurge on fajitas and eat the tortillas. Or if I have sweet tooth I may go crazy and get a small or medium sonic blast or come home and devour about 5 chocolate cupcakes. Yeah, I do. BUT I then act like I didn’t even do that, I eat the next snack or meal as planned I do NOT beat myself up about it and go along my way. Everyone cheats, just don’t go completely crazy, limit how much you have, keep bad stuff out of the house and away from you. When you go to the birthday party decide beforehand how you will handle the cake and ice cream. For me I make a decision based on how healthy I have been about my eating and exercising lately. If I decide to have some I don’t have very much. Sometimes I don’t do it at all. After all, it is just cake same as every other bite of cake I have ever had.
You may not want to have planned cheat foods in your home. Keep in mind, I didn’t do this until like the end of month 3. But for me that is better than me dreaming up fried chicken or something and leaving home to get an entire meal of fried food…..
I have a scale now and I weigh maybe 3 times a week. I have lost at least 25 pounds and I am almost finished with month 4. I also have those skinny clothes that get bigger and bigger, that is more fun and I think tells you much more than the scale ever will.
I am not an exercise freak. I love to be outside and love to put on my ipod and walk. Sometimes I cannot stand it and have to run. Some weeks I do this 5 times, it is always for at least an hour. Some whole weeks go by and I do nothing. Sometimes we all go ice skating together, I am good enough now that I don’t embarrass myself as much, it is a great workout. I am drenched in sweat usually, we go for an hour and a half. I have a bicycle now and sometimes when I go walk I just wanna go fast so I get on my bike, I love it. Sometimes I follow Lelan on his which is a challenge. You need to find something you like to do, I don’t care what it is and do it. If you like to swim find a way to get to swim often. If you like to hike go hike. Ignore the people who say you must do this or that or half cardio or whatever. Uh huh, just get off your butt and go get active and enjoy it. Your body, mind and spirit are all connected and if you force yourself to run and you hate it then your feet will tell your legs will tell your butt will tell your heart will tell your brain YOU DON’T LIKE THIS so it sends a signal to your metabolism not to work as good. Yep, it is a very scientific finding…Oh and by the way, when I go walk or skate or bike my heart rate goes up and my lungs expand, seems like a good thing so I will just keep on doing that. If you have a bad week and don’t do anything but warm your couch that is fine, maybe you were tired or stressed out, you needed a break. Come next week get out there again. Do not give up. If you mess up start over. Don’t wait til tomorrow or next week, start over again right now. Oh and the experts say that this whole thing is 90% diet 10% exercise so make sure you get that food part right folks.
You must drink your water. Find a water bottle you like. I found a 74 ounce jug with a handle at Publix. Whole Foods has reverse osmosis water, it is the best for you. You buy these huge jugs and just refill them, it is very inexpensive, almost unbelievable. If you do not drink enough water you will have cravings for real. If you need to squeeze lemon and stevia into it then do or if you have to, get that MIO stuff. Get the water down. IF you are like me and like your tea or coffee then drink that amount of water EXTRA to make up for what you lost by drinking the caffeinated drink. For what cooking at home I only buy grass fed, no hormones beef, pork and chicken usually at whole foods. The turkey sausage I get is delicious and easy to fix sometimes I have that with my egg in the morning or sometimes it is a snack on weekends, it is AppleGate Farms and Kroger has it, Whole Foods has it. Publix carries the apple chicken flavor and it is disgusting. I buy the best eggs I can find, cage free, not grain fed.
I cook my eggs in butter, real butter. Coconut and olive oils are sooooooooo good for you. Be careful with the temps you cook them in, they are rancid once they get too hot.
I promise once you get through a week of eating like this you will not have cravings, your glucose levels will stabilize and you will feel so much better. You are training your body to start burning fat again instead of sugar as fuel. If you have a yeast overgrowth in your body or tummy ( yeah many of us do ) you will starve it so this fat will shrink. You will have more energy. This routine is training you to eat protein at every meal, to use smaller portions and to eat more often. You can do it, don’t give up.
So this is an ideal day for me. Wake at 6:30, eat breakfast at 7:15 : egg in butter with pink sea salt, pepper, 1 cheddar cheese square melted in and 2 or 3 turkey sausage links, take a vitamin, downing the water. 10am tuna with mayo, pickles, a little onion, salt pepper. 12:30 go to Jasons Deli have spinach, spring mix, shredded cheese, a hard boiled egg, cucumber, red, yellow and green bell peppers, broccoli, sliced almonds, mushrooms and a lot of ranch dressing. At 3pm I have a cup of Horizon organic cottage cheese and my multivitamin. At 5:30 I have a hamburger no bun with mayo and mustard. At 8:30 I do a little scoop of peanut butter followed by greens drink then calcium. And I don’t eat a lot of food late but if I have my little nibble of peanut butter or a few almonds late like this it helps me sleep. I think the greens drink and calcium also help me sleep. Make sure you get plenty of sleep.
I see a gifted chiropractor every week. Dr Ben Sweeney is at 180 Chiropractic in Cool Springs and he has encouraged me every time I have seen him. He lives by the Maximized Living principles which you can google to study. His business partner Dr Gebhardt is also awesome. If you are not seeing a great chiropractor go see one immediately. Your spine to your body is like your motherboard, if it is malfunctioning somehow you will have a problem show up in your body. You might even lose your appendix, gall bladder and start to have trouble with your colon and constant headaches like me. Go see one now. Get adjusted weekly.
My motivation was my wedding. I want to be a beautiful bride when I take my little walk on the beach in my white dress with my fair prince. The full length picture included is fairly recent and the other one is the only one I could find that was about the time I started this change of habits.
Buying good food, taking care of yourself, seeing your chiro weekly, drinking water, getting sleep, exercising, it all takes time and effort. It will pay off though in huge dividends, it is an investment in your future and it is much cheaper than cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Get started right away. You are worth it.

me in a white shirt march 2013

me at lucky store July 2013

Sitting in the Pew Alone ~ from one Divorced Church Member

No matter who left who, divorce feels like rejection. It is a fog that surrounds your very being with every step you take away from one life altering decision that was anything but easy.
Going to church is an activity you once did with your spouse, your child or maybe not. Maybe you always begged her to go, now if she ever does it won’t be with you. Or maybe your child always goes with his dad since he has her on the weekends. Maybe you spent too much time at church and that’s one reason why he finally left. Whatever led up to this point, you now sit alone feeling rejected inside your fog with a gaping hole in your heart.
As you look around all you see are happy fulfilled married people with shining eyes who seem to glow. As a woman, now that you are divorced the married men act differently towards you, the brave ones still speak to you but in a guarded way, they are afraid to get too close cause you may be lonely and cling to them. The rest won’t even make eye contact which leaves you feeling like you don’t exist at all. Surely they just don’t know what to say to you. The women are worse somehow because if they do speak, they hug you if they know and say things that make you feel so pitiful. If they don’t know then they ask “where is your husband, your child?” And this happens multiple times and you have to tell them and every time you repeat your little memorized story the knife cuts into your gut again as the fog thickens. When she looks at you with her sad eyes it isn’t her fault but you feel so ashamed.
You sit in the pew surrounded by fog, the pastor tells his joke. What is the joke about? Oh, of course, he is talking about a family again. A dad, a mom, children. He speaks of the roles of each family member. You peer out of the fog to watch a wife nudge her husband and smile as he puts his arm around her. No one touches you anymore. What did that feel like? Somehow it feels like they mock you.
And the adventure of discovering a small group that fits begins. Why do I feel like a leper? Like I have a dreaded disease no one wants to catch. And then it happens, you are in a room filled with happy married couples talking about someone getting divorced : “Why didn’t they try harder? The Bible says it is wrong. How could they just give up? Didn’t they make vows to one another? Didn’t that mean anything? How could they do that to their children?” And the wound deepens as the fog thickens. You stand there reliving all the pain of those moments while you doubt everything and your pain intensifies until it seems to take on a shape and color. Somehow you wander into the single parents’ class and sit through an hour of people commiserating while putting down their x. Wow, that was uplifting…
Alone in the pew then alone afterwards. Busy happy families dart off into their busy worlds and leave you behind stumbling along in your fog, planning to eat lunch alone and go home to nap alone.
My daddy died. The church sent a gift and I got a phone call. I got divorced and no one looks at me. More rejection.
Now, at home suddenly there are a million more things to do, everything needs repair, the toilet is leaking, the car is making a weird noise. Or maybe now you have to figure out laundry, cooking, bathing the baby. How in the world will you fix your daughter’s hair by yourself? Pay the bills? Feed your children? You feel so inadequate and overwhelmed and there is this enormous weight of making decisions all alone now. No one to lean on if I mess it all up.
But God. But God placed these people in my life, these angels, my true friends who did not attend my church. There was a place to stay when I had nowhere to go. There was food, clothes, a warm hug, someone to hold my hand. A friend says to me, let me help you think this through. Let’s get your child into counseling, right now. Like life after divorce is this car ride down the road and the friends are the rest areas, you get a safe break before you get back on your way again, slightly refreshed for the drive ahead.
As a woman I personally encountered a group of Christian men in one of the circles I belonged to. These were kind men who somehow were not afraid to speak to me, look me in the eye, or even touch me. They were bold, wise, intuitive. They gave hugs. Safe, warm hugs, believe it. I am not sure why but those interactions were very healing. And each time I got a hug, guess what? The big red D etched into my forehead got fainter, and the fog faded. And it is okay to smile again.
Please don’t be sad for us, the divorced church members. Read this and think, search your heart. How would you like to be treated? Is it fair to judge decisions if you haven’t walked in those shoes? Do you have any idea what they may have survived to arrive here appearing intact? Please consider your words and remember that love is the key. Look around, invite him to lunch. A smile, a real hug, a true gesture of kindness goes a lot farther than anything you will ever say to him. And those ladies you see sitting alone, hmmmmmmm wonder if they have something at home that needs to be fixed? What would it hurt to ask her how you can help? Maybe you should bring a friend along so that if something heavy needs to be moved you can handle it. Be the hero God intended you to be cause guess what? Right now she needs one. Be bold.

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Summer Evening at the Park

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This is it, my favorite part of this day. Between work and a meeting with time to kill I choose the park, great idea. Outside with no deadlines I absorb, write, interpret, create. No one to judge it but me. I keep my hair over one shoulder so the sun’s rays touch my back where the neckline dips down. It is about 90 degrees and as the sun warms my skin I adjust my skirt carefully to cover my knees. Beneath the wooden bench sit my consignment find heels as I relax cross ankled at an angle facing the parking lot and grass. In my full skirted red floral dress I feel like a Spanish maiden, lacking only a red rose held between my teeth. The sky above is a pale baby blue with fluffy happy white clouds floating lazily along. As an airplane flies over, I wonder where its going. The bugs that unluckily land on me meet their end. 

Everything changes. The cars come & go. The basketball game gains and loses players. People grow stronger and either win or lose. The wind tosses the leaves as the clouds shift and the sky brightens to a new hue of blue above the cloud line. The birds eat, fly and grow as the grass and trees reach toward heaven. Trees sometimes seem to grow in rows, like they are standing in line to get somewhere. Which one was the first tree? Is this one the leader? 

People show up who just got off work, they are relieved to be here, maybe some are not. Either dreading or looking forward to some exercise. Grass crunches beneath a man’s tennis shoes as he carefully balances a box full of soccer balls. I hear car engines, voices, balls bouncing, hands clapping, children, swings and birds. A little girl is running past me now, she is smiling ear to ear and giggling because she is excited to get to play, she is alive, head to toe. Her dad follows behind her with a straight serious face. Play. When did you last play? Did you stop playing when you became an adult? How long since you laughed? Laughed from deep inside your soul til your cheeks ached…

Life is short. I made a good choice today, a choice for me. Was I productive at the park? Not really, but I am working on slowing my pace and living in the moment more. So this is a step in the right direction. When we are frantic and busy it is easy to miss the little things and not be grateful for all we have. Be sure to do something you enjoy every single day, just take a deep breath and look around you, who knows what you might notice.

Sunday Drive

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As a little girl I would look forward to getting home after church. Mom would have us dinner on the table soon (lunch) then we would go for a drive. We would get in the brown Oldsmobile and it would carry us down some country road. As I sat in back unbuckled gazing out the window at corn, cows and barns,  Mamma and Daddy would chat about most every family’s house we passed, they seemed to know all of them. Their health, their children, their crops, I hardly listened as I bumped along in the back. Magically the ride would slow as we neared a friend’s house for an unannounced visit. Even so we were warmly welcomed and all good southern women feed you, so soon we’d have something homemade warm and yummy in our tummies. We were so excited to see each other again as we dashed off to play outside. Of course, we stayed for hours, us wildly roaming around, parents had no idea what we were into. Pots of coffee fuel multiple games of rook while they talk and laugh. The one and only TV set lacking a remote played in the background but no one noticed. Inevitably dark would overtake our sky which signaled the grown ups to talk about leaving. But wait! A genius plan we had to hide my shoes, surely Momma won’t make me leave without them…little voices begging to spend the night together so the fun won’t have to end. Then we would say goodnight a thousand times and begin playing again cause they changed their minds and started to talk once again. Why do they talk so much after they say we have to go? So I climb back into the back seat but not for long, my favorite thing is to lie in the back window. This is the perfect spot to see all the stars so now I imagine I am in my spaceship, destination: moon. As I fly through the heavens above I think of all the fun I had with my friends and drift off to peaceful dreams.

My internet dating tips

The prince and his princessMy prince charming found me on an internet dating site. True story.

After being married for 13 years or so my life changed dramatically and I was once again single for the first time since I was like 18 or so… I was clueless. I found that I had an enormous amount of emotional energy and energy in general so I threw myself into doing things with my son, into work and I started running, a whole lot.
I did date some besides from dating sites, I met guys at social gatherings, from facebook, from church, from friends lining me up with someone. I rarely wanted a second date. I usually just wasn’t attracted to the guy.
Eventually I got on Match.com which wasn’t bad, there was a lot of traffic there. I also tried Chemistry.com and a few others. But my fave hands down was Christian Mingle. On CM I found the men to be genuinely interested in finding a Christ-like woman. I didn’t get onto CM until spring of last year. Here are some guideline though I generally followed which might help you navigate the internet dating world:

*Your Profile~ Ok, this is huge. Yes, many guys really read this. Please be real. If you are funny then be funny, if you are serious, be serious. Talk about activities you like, books you like, music you like, let them know what makes you tick without giving too much away..they like a little mystery. Do not get your friend to write it, it needs to be your language, your description. But get help if you are stuck.

*Your tagline~ Please don’t be boring. Come up with something goofy or funny or all about you. Sometimes the guy’s tagline alone would make me smile so I would respond to his request to chat just from that.

*Your pics~ PLEASE be real. I hear this complaint from guys more that anything else…She was 10 years older than her picture, or 50 pounds heavier. Oh yeah, and ladies, guys are visual..You need to load on up at least 3 pictures. They wanna really see your face and you may want to load a full body shot. Get some help, if you have no idea what color to wear, consult a stylish friend to assist and maybe take the picture for you. Guys if you load a pic of your without your shirt on NO I am not talking to you. Keep your clothes on please.

*Winks~I personally think this is the stupidest feature ever. If you think I am cute come on now, open a chat box and tell me HI. And no, I don’t ever wink at a guy.

*Emails~ I always responded. Yeah, I did. If he had the nerve to say something to me then I needed to take the time to answer him. If I didn’t like him I would simply say “No thanks” or “That was sweet, I am not interested.” “Good luck to you, no thank you” or “No thanks and God bless” You do NOT apologize. You do not owe this person an apology, it is not your fault you don’t wanna talk to him. If he acts ugly after the NO (and he may and that is HIS problem) you do not respond back and you immediately block and/or report him.

*Chat~ Ok, this is what I like best. You can immediately get to know him a little better and you can tell a lot about him hopefully. I rarely drive this part. Let him ask you questions, he needs to pursue. “How are you tonight” “I am great” is a fine response. Less is more, remember he needs to pursue and you don’t need to let him know everything about you quickly. Do NOT tell him your name. I waited until the 3rd or 4th chat for this. He isn’t getting my name, my child’s name, my address, where I work, no no no. You will know when you feel comfortable for this. IF he asks your phone # immediately that is not good. They will ask for your email as well, proceed with caution. Always keep in mind, you usually easily block emails, texts, calls, etc. But you can’t change your address so easily 😉 You want someone with energy who is interested in you and interesting. Boring doesn’t work. And the single best questions I found to ask are “What is God teaching you now” or “What are you studying in your Bible now” WOW, you will learn a lot from his answer. And whatever he says, probe him further. Many times his answer meant GAME OVER for me. Next.

*Know what you want~ if you don’t know what you want then don’t waste his or your time getting on the site. Do you want to get married soon? Do you just want to date? Make friends? Have a chat buddy? A texting buddy? Do you want more kids? Do you have a job? A car? Please be honest. If he is an upstanding guy and interested in you he will start to ask these type questions before he asks to meet you. I would never take a step to meet someone before I knew all those vitals and more. Consider what is important to you, maybe make a list of what you need to know before you take the risk of meeting him. If he asks you any stupid questions or gets too personal do not hesitate to end the conversation. You do not have to be nice about this “I gotta go” will suffice then block him. Listen, some of these guys are nasty, when they get rejected they can be mean. Just block him then you don’t have to deal with it. He should never ask you “what are you wearing” or anything that disgusting.

*He asks for your # ~ if you feel safe then you can do this. I do not recommend chatting on the site for months before you speak by phone. The person will be different from chat to phone then from phone to in person. Many times you will like one of those 3 “personalities” but not all 3. That’s the key is to find someone you like all 3 ways. You may want to only text for a while then move to voices to see if you even like him in text mode, it will be different that chat mode. I don’t like unresponsiveness or neediness either. If his gear is way lower or higher than mine I move on. Once you talk, again don’t give too much away too soon, there will be time for this. At this point I drive a bit cause I am invested in him a bit by now and I need to decide if I am going to take my time to meet him in person. So I want to know his intentions, dreams, goals, #kids, where he lives, about his family, his denomination, etc.

*He asks to meet you~ This will only be by phone and he will have to ask or he isn’t meeting me. So if he says “I would really like to meet you” well that is great but he didn’t ask to did he? Remember, you are the princess and he best treat you as such or you ain’t got no time for him. You are a locked treasure chest and You and You alone hold the key. You will only meet him in a public place such as a coffee shop, a park if you feel this is ok, a very casual restaurant, whatever. But you meet him there, he does NOT pick you up. I don’t do this until date 3 or further out depending on my comfort level.
He best be opening the door and making good eye contact with me. Do NOT hesitate to end the date immediately if he does something you don’t like. It is perfectly fine to say “excuse me” when he begins to detail his stay at the mental institution (Yes, this HAS happened to me). Go find a server or an older gentleman to walk you safely to your car. Your safety and comfort level is your #1 priority. You owe him nothing.

*Date 2 ~ Again he is going to have to ask me for a date formally by phone or he isn’t getting one and he won’t succeed in asking the night of or a couple days before. DO NOT go on date 2 unless you are very interested in him. If you are very unsure talk some more, wait it out or just say no. And no, it isn’t ok to drag it out and continue chatting, this is not fair to him. Or to you.

*Continuing on dating site~ for me I will still be on there until several dates. Maybe not as often but until we decide we are exclusively dating and we have clearly defined that fact and what it means to each of us and where we are possibly headed I am not leaving the dating pool. And he will have to ask me about this. I sure ain’t gonna mention it first since I am a princess.

*Being alone ~ I am not going to be alone with someone until several dates, he is not coming into my home until I am extremely comfortable. He will eventually get to sit on my sofa with me but I will be quick to tell him it is time for him to go home I am sleepy and I get up and take him to the door. And no, it will be quite a while before I am ever alone in his place especially for any length of time. By the way, a gentleman will NEVER push you on any of your boundaries, if he does he isn’t a gentleman and you ain’t got time for that.

*Meeting family/children ~ After making a couple of really dumb mistakes I learned this has to wait. You have to put your kids first. Until I was sure I really liked the guy I wouldn’t talk to him in front of my son on the phone, he knew it was my week with my son and he would have to call me after 9pm or call in the mornings or wait. I don’t care how much you adore this new guy already. Whatever, men come and go, you will have this kid the rest of your life and you are his only mamma. Loverboy can wait to meet your kids for at least 6 months. YES, a minimum of 6 months. Yeah, I know how smart you are and you are intuitive and you know everything about him. Trust me, wait 6 months. If he can’t wait that long kick him to the curb OR draw him a map to wal-mart and point him to his car.

For Andrew and I ~ we only chatted a couple maybe 3 times. We were never on at the same time so this took about a 2 month span of time. I made him GUESS my name and he wanted a clue so I told him the first letter and he said “Dana”… 🙂 By this point of trying to find me on there so much he was impatient and very upfront and wanted my #. These weren’t long chats, he is very private and introverted, I picked up on this. I didn’t give it to him right away but at the end of the chat I did and made him promise not to call me, to only text until I was ready to talk. We only texted a little bit and he was saying he wanted to see me. I said Andrew you don’t even know me yet. He said “yeah, I know I like you, I want to learn more, in person.” I really liked his forwardness and confidence. He told me later he knew I was talking to other guys and he wanted to snatch me up before someone else did 🙂 So we talked on the phone the next day and he waited maybe 5 minutes of talking before he said “I want to meet you for lunch” I said “when” he said “right now, yesterday?” I giggled and we found a way to meet that day. It was very easy to be the princess with him because he was the ultimate gentleman and he always respected me and whatever I said. It was almost always about me and what I wanted. He gave me a whole lot of space physically too which made me trust him and feel safe. He did make a move to hug me though on our 2nd date. And I let him. We still always hug upon seeing each other and before we say BYE. The first time we held hands or had any kind of closeness was date 6 and we had our first kiss at the end 🙂 Slow is best. I am not only in love with my prince but I really like who he is and I love his heart. It has been over a year now and we have been engaged a couple of months and I still learn something new about him almost every day and that is so exciting, I wouldn’t trade out one single thing about our journey. It is all part of the tapestry of our love story God is still writing for us.