two steps ahead and staying on guard

Nothing comes easy these days - especially not words. There are only so many ways I can explain how hard it is to lose weight and how close I feel to giving up. There are only so many times I feel I can explain my newest plan of attack - especially when it feels like I can fail every single time.

It's not that things are bad. They aren't. So many things are full of good right now. But weight loss and exercise are not a pat of the good right now. They are there - in the back of my mind - but I haven't figured out how to fit everything into my new jobs, my new life. I want to - I just don't know how.

So many people use the excuse of "I don't have time to exercise and/or eat right." And lately I have become one of those many people. Because I don't have nearly as much time as I used to. But I know I do still have time - I just choose not to use my time for eating right and exercising.

I wish I could say that, by this time tomorrow, I will be back at it. I wish I could say that I have it all figured out. But I don't. I just know that one day I will be a little bit closer to having it all figured out. One day I'll be better at managing my time.

Until then, I'll be here - waiting for the words to come, spending as much time with my husband as I can, trusting that God has this all figured out (because I sure don't), and truly enjoying the work I am doing.

Life is beautiful. It's messy and not easy. But it is beautiful. And right now, even though I'm not steadily losing weight (or gaining any weight so that's good, right?), I am enjoying the beauty it has to offer.

(title from "eyes open" by taylor swift)


just one pulse of your heart

I made it to the gym on Monday morning. It was just a 30-minute circuit work-out, but still. After two weeks of no work-outs, I felt on top of the world and ready to first tackle the day and then the week.

It's now Wednesday, and I had every intention of rolling out of bed at 5:45am and walking into the gym by 6:15am. But with a headache leftover from last night and a sore throat from not drinking enough water,  I am spending the little time I have this morning and simply resting.

I don't rest very much now. I'm moving from one job or one activity to the next. I'm helping this person and then that person. I'm spending time with my husband and with my friends. I'm finally folding and putting away laundry or taking time out from the day to scratch my dogs' ears and give them their (and mine) needed hugs.

I still don't know where or how to fit the gym in. Which is more important - the extra sleep or the work-out? Maybe it's equal and then depending on the day determines my choice. Or maybe it's just that they are both equally important and I need to make both more of a priority.

It's something I am figuring out along with the rest of this thing called life and change. At least there are some things I have already figured out - some things I know I can't live without.

One of those things is quiet time.

I've tried to live without it. Chosen watching thirty minutes of The Bachelor over it. And I've come to the full realization that I am an absolute mess without it. I've realized that everything stems off whether or not I take the time to sit down, open my Bible, and spend the time reading.

Quiet time centers me. When I'm frustrated, anxious and unsure, I'm reminded that I'm not in control - which really, even for a control freak like me, is the some of the best news imaginable. And quiet time reminds me of why I do what I do for work, reminds me of how important my marriage is (and why it's important) and also helps me to see things I didn't before.

I'm gathering Bible Studies and using them to pour over the words written on the tattered smooth pages. I'm doing my best to journal - writing down my frustrations, my fears, and my prayer requests. And as I do these things, I feel myself changing in ways I didn't think were really possible.

I'm more content. There are still questions about what we are to do with jobs and serving others. Questions about where we are called to live. How we are called to spend our money. But there are even more questions I no longer feel I have to answer right away. Questions that used to keep me up at night that no longer bother me.

A few weeks ago, during my first week at my new full-time job, I was driving down the interstate. Traffic was backed up, and I was stopped, looking ahead and waiting to see when it would be time to go. I got rear-ended, and I spent the next few hours scared, anxious, crying, angry, but also at peace. Because I knew that somehow everything would work itself out.

And it did. The damage to my car was minimal. I was sore for a few days but the soreness eventually disappeared as well.

The situation wasn't ideal, but it was another reminder that God is in control of my life. Another reminder that I'm so much better equipped to handle life and it's situations when I spend time praying, reading the Bible and ministering to my own heart.

My early time spent blogging often touched on my faith and what I felt like God was teaching me. Then it turned to weight loss and the journey I am still on. Now I'm just doing my best to be faithful with what I am leaning in every aspect of my life and use that knowledge in any way possible.

I continue to be excited about life and the opportunities presenting themselves. So much time passed when I felt stuck and unsure and like I just wasn't moving forward. Now that I can see things happening and feel other things happening, I have to share that excitement, and I know I only have that excitement because I've spent time meditating, praying, seeking clarity, and reading.

(title from "see the way" by misty edwards)


looking for the reason why

Several weeks ago, I received an email from Lydia Hirt offering me an advanced copy of the book Shades of Hope. The book is written by Tennie McCarty, who runs a treatment center for addiction in Texas and specializes in food addiction in its various forms. I almost turned down the offer - thinking the book wouldn't be of any use to me, but a little voice inside my head told me to accept the offer and crack open the pages of the book once it arrived. Maybe it would resonate with me, and then again maybe it wouldn't.

I am so glad I listened to the little voice. I've had the book for almost a month now, and while I haven't finished it yet, I am growing more and more as I read the words.

My life has been all over the place, and the free time I've had has been spent doing things like shopping and game nights with friends. But my mind often wanders to the book and all the lines I have highlighted.

There are so many things that make this weight loss journey difficult. Some of those things right now include my busyness. But most of those things are the choices I am making - choices that are not beneficial to my losing 100 pounds. Because even if I am busy, there is still time for me to make good choices. There is still time for a quick work out. I just don't make the choice to squeeze in a work out or the choice to eat a salad instead of a hamburger.

The question then becomes why. Why, when I know what I should do, do I choose to do the things I shouldn't do? Why, when I have come so far already, do I find it difficult to move forward and allow myself to slide backwards? I hope to one day, preferably soon, have the answers to those questions.

I don't want to fail. I don't want to go weeks without seeing the inside of a gym or weeks without drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. I don't want to let all my hard work, and the work of those who have taught me, inspired me, and believed in me, to go to waste. I want to stand on the scale and see a 100 pounds lost and know that I am the winner of my own life.

Shades of Hope speaks to some of this. When I read the pages, I find pieces of myself in the book and am reminded of the fact that even though I feel alone in this weight loss journey I am not. There are many people who have gone before me and mastered so many of the same questions and struggles as I am trying to master right now. There will also be people who come after me and need to be reminded that they also are not alone.

There's a quote near the beginning of the book that says "The one thing I do see - from the woman looking to lose forty pounds to the man who needs to lose four hundred - is that our addiction is not defined by how much or little we eat, but rather by how we feel about ourselves."

I underlined those words, and went back to them just now. Because I feel like I've lost - like I can't do this.

I know I shouldn't feel that way, and while the feeling has diminished some, it is still there. Sunday morning found me feeling heavy, ugly, and frustrated with myself. I wanted to simply stay in bed and hide from the world, but I got up instead, showered, fixed my hair, put on make-up and walked out of the door still feeling heavy, ugly, and frustrated with myself.

Our church started a new series on Sunday based on the book Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll. At the end of the service, we had the opportunity to stand in line and take pictures in a photo booth - married couples, dating couples, singles and families. While we each took a copy of the photos, the church would also get a copy and hang them up in the prayer room so that during the series they could pray for all of us.

I grabbed a few accessories for both my husband and I, after making him stand in line, and we ducked into the photo booth and went about taking four pictures. Minutes later, we held them in hand, and he turned to me and said "See? I told you that you looked beautiful."

When I looked at the pictures, I felt beautiful too. Not quite where I want to be but beautiful still. The girl I saw in the pictures wasn't the girl I had seen in the mirror earlier that day.

And suddenly those words from Shades of Hope resonated even more. Because I realized that busyness has not been the reason at all that I've made poor choices. It's been what I placed blame on as I took my eyes off of myself and stopped feeling that I was strong and capable as I had weeks before.

I always say that I am in a season of life. And usually when I say this, I say it as a way of prefacing something. It's a way to explain why I did this and not that. But being in a season of life is not a reason to do or not do. It's not an excuse to hold onto when I make the wrong choices. Being in a season of life is simply part of life, and I need to welcome it with open arms instead of considering how to get out of it.

I'm really not sure where I go from where or what I'll do next. I just know that I have to feel positively about myself. I know that, as our church unpacks marriage, I need to turn to my husband more and let him in even more because he is there to help me. And honestly, as independent as I am, I can't (nor do I want to) do this - any of this - without his support. Because he is my biggest supporter and cheerleader and accountability partner.

What I do know is that I am excited. I am excited for this season and the opportunities it is providing. I am excited for the lessons I am learning - lessons I hope to be able write down and somehow share. I'm excited for the future and for the constant reminders of how lucky I am to be living this life God has blessed me with.

And I'm excited to look in the mirror and start seeing the girl from the photo booth.

(title from "blinding light" by switchfoot)

there's a meaning to it all

Two weeks ago, I dressed in grey pants and a white cardigan. I merged onto I-235N and then made my way to Tulsa, OK for a day of training. The sky was a dark grey when I left Oklahoma City, and the sun broke through the darkened clouds as I drove the Turner Turnpike. And thus started a new season of my life with a new job.

I thought it would be easy. The transition from one full-time job to a new full-time job. But it hasn't been. I knew not to expect the job to be easy. And it hasn't been. It's been challenging and different and exciting and overwhelming and any other words that mean the opposite of easy.

But the transition? That was something I expected to be easy. After two years of a nearly forty minute commute, I thought I would find it easy to wake up just a bit earlier and head to the gym before going into the office. But I haven't done that once in two weeks. After several months of watching what I ate at lunch (on most days), I expected to continue to eat healthy. But I haven't eaten healthy in two weeks.

It's no one's fault but mine. I've wanted the transition to happen as quickly as possible, but it's taking time. I spent the first week soaking everything in and then the second week running after the job and responsibilities. I'm hoping to make my third week a mixture of soaking everything in and also pushing myself to take on responsibilities.

Starting the third week, I'm frustrated with myself and how I've let so much slide. It's been two weeks of transition and also two weeks without stepping foot in the gym. It's also been two weeks of drinking soda instead of water, of eating hamburgers instead of chicken, and of ordering at the drive-through more than anyone else.

I'm busy now. But I'm not so busy that I can't take care of myself. And I'm exhausted all of the time. But I'm exhausted because I haven't take the best care of myself. I recognize this and claim it as truth - knowing that as I enter the third week of my new life I will need to do so with the understanding that now is the time for me to put myself first and not cast off my needs for the sake of ease.

There are some things I've fallen into more easily than others. Some things that have been a much needed and welcome change like spending the time to straighten my hair and put on make-up in the morning. Other things include selecting my outfits for comfort and fashion. The combination of it all provides me with the opportunity to seek out beauty and care for myself in a way I haven't for over a year.

A part of me wonders if I should put the time and effort into straightening my hair and lining my eyes with shadow and eyeliner. But there is also a part of me that feels so much more like myself now that I'm taking the time to care about how I look as well as the time to present myself in the best way possible.

[from left to right: grey pants, white and black striped shirt, and white cardigan (JC Penney) & blue bead necklace (vintage from my grandmother) - Monday 2/20; black cardigan and grey lace shirt (Kohl's), jeggings (Lane Bryant), coral jewelry (Kohl's) and Fossil watch - Monday 2/27; grey cardigan and jean trousers (Lane Bryant), tan and nave striped shirt (JC Penney), and grey beaded bracelets (Target)]

Our Community Group (the women at least) recently started a Beth Moore study on the book of Esther, and the words have done a wonder on my soul. There's a constant reminder that it's fine to spend time on yourself so long as beauty does not become what you idolize.

At one point in time, I did idolize it. There are times now I think when I idolize it. Times when the most important thing is how I look. Times when I worry about every little thing. And also times when I feel as far from beautiful as possible.

I'm doing my best to hold onto the feeling of beauty. I'm doing my best to use how I feel to my advantage and then serving others because of the strength I find in beauty. It may make absolutely no sense to anyone else, but for me, I recognize the importance of taking the extra time to style my hair and  dust blush on my cheek bones.

There's still such a long ways to go. More pounds to lose. Hair to grow out longer. Outfits to plan. Days to live and work. People to meet and touch. Sometimes it is overwhelming and terrifying to think of how much farther I have to go and just how many more changes there will be in the future. But life is meant to be lived - not hidden from. And giving into that fear would make me hide from life instead of live it out in the best way I know.

I am going into my third week of work with the understanding of how difficult the transition is but also with the understanding of how worthwhile the difficulty is and will continue to be.

(title from "vice verses" by switchfoot)


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