Monday, July 16, 2018

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Friendships, Mentors, and Cans of Worms

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-2

My Bible titles this passage, "The Value of a Friend."

Recently, I attended a women's event where the theme was mentoring. It reawakened some things in me that had been dormant for too long. I made some commitments to God regarding using more of my time on other people and I came away feeling energized in my calling to women's ministry. 

Shortly after, God tested me in those commitments---as is often his way! I was in a room with many women chatting and laughing and getting to know one another. I had visited with a few friends and was wandering around looking at decorations. (These kinds of events always make me feel awkward. I struggle with small talk---always want to get to the nitty-gritty!) I was just hanging out when God told me to start looking at the people more closely. 

I noticed a woman standing off to the side a bit, not talking with anyone. I'd only chatted with her briefly in the past and didn't know her well, so I went up to say hello again and see if I could bumble my way awkwardly through my normal kind of 50/50 introvert/extrovert conversation. 

I took her hand and said, "Hey (Friend), how's it goin' tonight?" 

She smiled and said, "Oh fine!" 

I could have stopped right there. I mean, right? That's the ultimate Sunday morning Christianese phrase: "I'm fine!" 

Sometimes it means, "I've got a lot of stuff going on but don't have the time/desire/interest/strength to discuss it with you." 

More often it means, "I'm struggling and I really do actually want to tell you but you're just making small talk and I don't sense I can trust you with my heart."

For a split second I thought about giving her the pat Christian response, "Oh great! I'm glad. Well, have a good night!" But, thank God, he spoke stronger to me than he had in a long time. So, I pulled out my can opener, looked her straight in the eye, and opened up that can of worms. 

"No really, Friend, how are you?"


When I read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 this morning, I thought about all the lonely people out there. There's a lot of them, you know. I read, "For if they fall, one will lift up his companion," and thought, "Who will lift up the one without a friend?"

I've had a saying for a long time that I once thought was clever---maybe it was, for its time. I used to say, "I've only got enough emotional energy to spend on a couple of friends."  Wifing/mothering/homeschooling 10 people is tough, y'all, and there was a brief time there when it was absolutely all I could handle. God allowed my outside-the-home ministry to go dormant for awhile so I could put my focus in the right place. I think I allowed it to go on a little longer than he would have liked, though. I got comfortable in my solitude. I also got selfish.

However, now I think of that phrase and know that time is over. I feel so driven to speak God's truth and encouragement to all those lonely women---cans of worms popping open all over the place! (Gummy worms, please. Preferably stevia-sweetened.)

I want to be that friend that sticks close enough to lift someone up when they fall and point them to help and healing in Christ. I'm praying God will help me become more and more usable in this way, and that he will bring just the right relationships along. Who has time for small talk? Not this girl. But I've got lots of time---all the time God's given me---for cans of worms. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

From Fezzik to Buttercup: Making This Work with My Lifestyle

One difficulty I've encountered with dieting in the past is the time and money it takes to do something different than the rest of my family. We are a homeschooling family of 11---I don't really have the time to make a separate meal for myself that fits the stringent rules of many of the fad diets out there; and on one income, I can't really justify special ingredients or program fees. That's why I like doing Trim Healthy Mama. I can make many of the things I would normally make my family, with a little tweak for myself to make them "on plan". That's what I did with Thursday night's taco casserole and it allowed me to warm up leftovers for a frugal Friday lunch.

I'm also practicing anticipating pitfalls and finding ways to overcome them. For instance, Thursday night some friends invited me to a restaurant for dinner. Initially, I said no because we were already planning on a family night at home. However, once I thought about it awhile, I realized that I didn't feel ready to navigate a restaurant menu and find things that would fit with my plan. I mean, it's doable...I think it's more that I didn't trust myself not to give in to the "off plan" things. I ended up being proud of myself for waiting and staying within the safe boundaries I'd set for myself---having already planned on my taco casserole dinner. There will be more opportunities to go out with friends in the future and, hopefully, I'll be stronger and better able to stay on plan at that time. Tonight I wanted to make a treat to celebrate the girls coming home from summer camp so I made brownies. I served everyone but me and there were three left in the pan. I "assigned" them to the older guys and said, "these had better be gone in the next hour or so." Ha! I'll have my own on-plan chocolate treat later tonight.

One thing that's important on THM is to make sure you are happily satisfied after every meal. You need to wait 3-4 hours in between meals; so you'll want to get full each time so you don't find yourself snacking and messing up your weight loss. On the menu below, you'll see that my lunch was kind of weird. That's because there wasn't enough taco casserole left to fill me up so I warmed up some seasoned chicken and melted pepper jack cheese on top. It seems weird to have two "main dishes" at a meal, but you gotta do what you gotta do! Always shoot for high protein in every meal, but only what makes sense for your own eating style. I don't actually eat a whole lot of food in one sitting---but I try to eat something every 3-4 hours.

This was my meal plan for Friday:

Breakfast: Muffin in a Mug topped with 1/2 container Oikos Triple Zero yogurt, bacon, strawberries, blueberries

Lunch: small bit of taco casserole leftovers, seasoned chicken topped with melted pepper jack cheese

Dinner: shredded zucchini "noodles" with sauteed tomatoes, seasoned chicken, pesto, and Parmesan cheese

Today I had the same breakfast but lunch was my first big temptation. This morning something really really really really really REALLY stressed me out. The discussion went on for two hours and, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking how this stressful situation was the perfect excuse to go to Taco Bell and splurge on the stuff I love. I even started hinting to Jamie, hoping he'd suggest it and sort of give me his approval or enabling or whatever. He didn't. So I went to my room to sulk for a minute, then I went to the kitchen and made this nice plate of  THM "S" foods. Big victory today---I can't let my emotions control my health!

Friday, July 13, 2018

From Fezzik to Buttercup: First Day Success!

Good Morning! Just wanted to post a little note of appreciation to everyone who has commented and sent me private messages about Wednesday's post. I heard from many of you privately and, while I knew I wasn't alone in my fat girl frustrations, it was encouraging to hear your stories. It showed me that this openness about my struggles is needed, so I will continue to do my best to share with you all!

I'm feeling a lot better about it all this morning after a time of prayer and completing one whole day of the THM eating plan yesterday. I didn't go out for a walk yesterday but I was out doing errands from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm so I figured all that running around would count for my daily get-up-and-go!

Some of you are wondering about THM. It stands for Trim Healthy Mama and it's become more than another fad way of eating. The "program" (lack of a better word) was written by a team of Christian sisters, daughters of the founder of the Above Rubies ministry. Thousands of women (men and kids, too!) have been healed of weight problems, diabetes, fertility issues, inflammation issues, and more by following this plan. I encourage you to join their Facebook group and purchase their books (buy used ones on eBay or check your library. Bentonville has them, for you locals.) and get the scoop on this gentle way of healing your body. The basic gist, though, is to separate your fuel sources at every meal. We are fueled by carbs and fats but when we eat them together, that's just too much fuel (for most of us). Instead, we divide up our fuel sources to make one meal a fat/protein meal (THM "S" meal) and one meal a low carb/protein meal (THM "E" meal). A couple other "on plan" practices are to wait 3-4 hours in between meals and to stay away from white flour, sugar, and fake stuff. It's a very doable thing and isn't really any different, cost wise, if you know how to cook for yourself and don't get pulled in to buying fad stuff.

I'm often inspired by others' menus. Here's a look at what I did yesterday. My breakfast was a THM "S" meal. I found that the yogurt and bacon weren't enough to get me through the 3 hours. I could have added some eggs and/or sauteed vegetables---both cooked in butter. My lunch was a THM "E" meal, but the serving of rice was quite a lot for an appropriate E meal so I left about half of the rice and beans in the bowl. Next time I think I'll order a salad rather than a burrito bowl because I found that I wanted more lettuce and less of the rice and beans. Still, it was awesome! Dinner was an "S" meal and filled me up for almost the whole 3 hours. I made my family a regular taco casserole with tortilla chips included and just made my own little (Ok BIG) chipless one in a separate bowl. About two hours after dinner, I started to feel hungry again but waited the three hours and then made a chocolate mug cake. Every time I make these, they're so rich that I can only eat half. This time I ate it with some yogurt and berries and that was doable. I'll keep tweaking the recipe and post it here when I get it sweet enough.

Breakfast: Oikos Triple Zero strawberry yogurt with 1/2 c. blackberries mixed in, bacon, water

Lunch: Chipotle Grill burrito bowl with cilantro lime brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, steak, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. (I was out doing errands so I picked up Jamie from work and we had lunch together! Wednesday is our 20 year anniversary! Woo Hoo!)

Dinner: Taco Casserole without chips: seasoned ground beef, cheese, olives, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce

Snack: 1/2 chocolate mug cake with 1/2 container Oikos Triple Zero Mixed Berry Yogurt and a handful of fresh blueberries

Today is another busy day but I'm gonna take a few minutes now and make my eating plan for the day. I plan and schedule out stuff for my family all the time---now I gotta get in the habit of doing it for myself, rather than saying "I'll just figure it out when it's time."
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