Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What are you doing for Lent?

Lent is not something that was familiar to me before high school. One of my friends started showing up on Fridays at the bus stop with egg sandwiches instead of sausage biscuits or whatever and the conversation went from there to her describing it to me. I wasn't Catholic (and coincidentally neither was she) so I didn't think it applied to me.

Ever since then, I've tried to "give up" something as a cultural observer if not for spiritual reasons. In the past few years though, God has given me pretty specific instructions about what to do for the Lenten season. I always get annoyed when He tells me what to do. I'm always aggravated and grumble. But I do it. And He reveals Himself to me. And I appreciate Him even more.

This year I waited and waited and waited and... I just wasn't hearing from Him. We did a 21 day fast at church and He was pretty adamant that I was to give up my bed for three weeks. I did and it wasn't comfortable, but I prayed a LOT more and He showed me some really cool stuff in my dreams. But nothing about Lent. I was starting to think I was going to get a pass!

Alas...this morning when I woke up I got hit over the head with "No more FB games. STUDY!!" Yes, sir. I will. And at least it wasn't food!! So no meat today or on any Fridays til after Easter, but I can keep my red meat and my bread and my caffeine this year!

I'm looking forward to this journey with you guys! You can join us on for a 40 Days of Lent Bible reading. We also have a group over there and you can message me for details if you'd like to join us!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Me and Herman

So I'm sitting here next to my daddy at his apartment. My friend Tammy is on my right. My son Justin is asleep in the recliner. The CNA from hospice is at the table patiently thumbing through a catalog...which is exactly what I need for her to be doing. See here's the thing. Daddy and I started this thing together and we're going to finish it the same way.

I was born to parents who had pretty much decided that after 9 years of marriage, adoption was starting to look like the only option. My daddy was active as a little league coach for my cousin's team with my uncle. He was former Navy and current civil service. He was a manly man. (For a fairly short guy. LOL)

Here comes this bouncing baby...girl. Seriously? A girl? I think he was okay with it. I like to pretend he was anyway. I didn't grow up in too many frilly dresses but I did my time in tap and ballet class. I wanted to play ball more than ANYTHING because my daddy loved it so much. I could hit and throw and catch as good as the boys...I just wasn't one.

And cars? Oh man... Daddy bought me a go-cart when I was seven. I was a speed demon with a Briggs and Stratton. Did I mention it was bright red? Then when I was 14, we went out and plopped down $1550 on a 66' Mustang. Did I mention IT was bright red? We spent a lot of time working on that car together. I learned about bondo and carburetors and transmissions. I loved that we worked together to make that car awesome.

When I was 18 and pregnant with my first child, I was SO afraid that I was going to break my daddy's heart. I think more than anything he was afraid of losing me. When he saw her in the hospital he was instantly in love with her...just like he had been with me. The other three...I think I terrified him by having them at home. But he was a good sport. He even brought donuts to the first homebirth! LOL

Before I turned 29, my mama got sick. Daddy and I took care of her...along with the hospice staff. Things that might have ordinarily been left to others, became our daily routine. Coordinating meds, cleaning the g-tube, suctioning out her lungs, changing her bed linens. They were things that we did because we loved her and we honored her by keeping her dignity intact as much as possible. We were with her when she passed and I knew for sure how much my daddy loved her when I saw him hold onto her body as he listened to her chest for a heartbeat.

And now it's my turn. I've done everything he's asked of me in the last few weeks. He has learned to rely on me in a way that I think has surprised even him. It surely has surprised me. I jokingly told him recently that all those times he wondered what it is that I actually do as a doula...well this is it. I'm here to offer him physical, emotional, and educational support. I'm here to advocate for him, as well.

It's almost over. It is 2:03AM on Friday morning. He's ready to go heaven. (Another story...another time.) I pray that the Lord takes him soon and that he goes somewhat peacefully. He has struggled for a long time but never once have I heard him question God's will in any of this. From him I have learned what it means to be faithful in the face of adversity. From me he has learned what it means to be faithful in following a calling.

To everyone else he might be James, or brother, or Mr. B, or Herman. But to me he will always be my daddy.

Love you man...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Giving Up To Get

Lent is just around the corner! This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 22. Every year, I try to do what I feel like God is leading me to do and every year I have one of those "Are you KIDDING me?" moments when I get that message from Him. This year was no different. I was sitting in church and I heard Him say... "Bread." Are you kidding me??? Bread? You know I don't eat vegetables, right? He said it again. "Bread"

Sigh... I can do this. Last year it was red meat. I managed to get through Lent without slipping up and that included at least three cookouts at the church AND St. Patrick's Day when Allen made me my own Reuben with no meat on it while the rest of our group was feasting on his yummy cooking. LOL

The year before it was fried foods. Again... I never thought I'd make it. Mainly because Fridays for me are all about the Fillet O'Fish and I had to eat grilled or baked tilapia. But I made it through. The year before that? Facebook and MySpace. Yes you read that right. I was okay. I thought my friends were going to lose their minds though.

I also give up caffeine every year but that's just kind of a no-brainer for me since I don't really drink it that much anyway. Last year it was everything besides water to drink. Might do that again but I'm okay with the water.

And of course I add something. Last year it was general. This year I have a feeling it's going to be sit ups. That's the flash I got yesterday. I was not expecting that and I'm NOT good at them. But it makes sense.

Also... I'm going to blog my way through the Purpose Driven Life book. Haven't decided whether or not that is going to be a public or private thing. Anyone interested in doing it with me? Maybe a Facebook group?

For now though... let's talk about all the things I can eat while I'm not eating bread! I'm not being a legalistic stickler. I think it's just going to be leavened bread for me. Might cut back on the flour but this is more about obedience than about carbs. He doesn't want me to be miserable, but He does want to get my attention and this definitely has it.

I'm starting a list. I can have:

Salads (yummy!)
Chicken with lots of different Tastefully Simple seasonings
Rice (and maybe some rice cakes?)
Corn tortillas
Ice Cream!!!
All kinds of fruit
Fish and shrimp and CRAB CAKES!!
Macaroni and cheese

See? I'm not going to starve. I prefer to think about the things I can have rather than dwell on what I'm giving up. Shouldn't life be like that all the time?

Leave me some comments and tell me what you're doing to observe Lent this year! And send me some recipes!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Unexpected Blessings

Yesterday Christy Murphy talked about seeking God's face. This morning I got a glimpse of the hem of Jesus' garment through these flashes of images that put this story together. And MAN it makes me want to see more of HIM!!!!

God has a plan. You've heard it a million times. You've said it to people when you couldn't think of anything else to say. You may have muttered it to yourself when you were at the end of your rope. You have probably questioned the veracity of the statement on more than one occasion. You've had your doubts.

Boys and girls I'm here to tell you that my life has been flashing before my eyes this morning and God has been giving me glimpses of my life...and not all of them have been pretty...and He has been showing me how it all fits with the timeline of one special event. My mind is pretty much BLOWN by this realization and I'm a little bit giddy with the joy of seeing His plan and all it's intricacies in action!!

On New Year's Day 2012, a sweet, precious, amazing baby was born into the world. God is pretty good at arranging amazing births but some of them are the stuff of legends. See here's the thing... His mama didn't realize that she was going to have a baby. I know. I know. There's a tv show for that. I know you watch it and scoff at it and think they're all lying. I know you think that it takes a special kind of stupid to grow a child inside your body and not realize that it's there for the bigger part of a year.

Well I'm here to tell you that you're mistaken. And God has been prepping me for this task since at LEAST 1976. That's about as far back as I've been shown for this one but predates the birth of the mom in this story. So what I'm telling you is, this plan is infinite and it is AWESOME!!!

In 1976 a couple of things happened. I met my best friend in the whole world, Valerie Cloud. We were in third grade at Edgewood Elementary School. Her sister had a baby that year. Sandy was in the military and the doctors missed a pregnancy that resulted in the birth of her son Marcus...or Patches as he still is in my memories. I've known since I was eight years old that a person could have a baby and not know about it before they gave birth. God gave me 35 years to get comfortable with that idea.

1987 brought the birth of my first daughter. I was a single mom at 19 and I went through all the crap that comes along with it. People whispering. Folks showing up to see who the baby looked like while feigning interest in my well being. Artificial friends who just wanted a piece of the gossip. I didn't care though. I loved that kid (and still do) more than life itself. She has saved me from myself on more than one occasion and I don't even think she knows how much I cherish her. Her birth though...was enough of an experience to get me ready for the next one.

In 1993 God put my ex husband in my life. Make no mistake about it, we are ex'ed for a reason. A ton of them actually. But there's a reason that I'll always be thankful to God for sending him to me. One thing my ex was NOT good at was managing his money. When I married him he had a business that someone else might have turned into a very lucrative career. For us was check to check. And because we didn't have extra money, we also didn't have any insurance. When our first child was born in 1994 I sought out a home birth because a person that I knew through my job had done it a few times.  (Side note... I think temp agencies are a BIG part of God's plan! LOL)

After my daughter was born that night in May 1994, I told my midwife, "Why don't more people do this? I'm going to tell EVERYONE about it!!" That pretty much laid the groundwork for my becoming a doula and for my obsession with blogging and message board debating...possibly one of the earliest forms of electronic social media.

Two more home births of my own, and a bunch of client births under my belt, and I started drifting away from the plan...or so it has always seemed to me. He has a way of leveraging EVERYTHING we do, though!! I fell in with the "wrong crowd" and spent some time in the muck and the mire, struggling to keep my head above water. No drugs or anything...just bad influences. I know God's protective hand was on me the whole time though because I came through it unscathed physically.

Because of that time in my life, finding MyChurch on the internet (and on the news...and on a door hanger at my house...) was like a breath of fresh air. It came along at exactly EXACTLY the right time in my life. Like to the DAY that I needed to hear from God. (I wonder if Jeff and Christy realize how much a part of this story they hold!!)

Soon after, I heard Kathryn sing for the first time and I knew we would be friends. I can always find her voice and I appreciate her ability to harmonize so sweetly. When she started her first growth group, I signed up right away. That growth group led to some pretty astounding things we had in common that didn't have anything to do with music or food or anything that we would discuss with too many other people. But standing in the driveway of that house and talking to her one night, I knew I had a friend for life.

As our friendship grew I started helping out at the church whenever I could. I also became a growth group leader. My first group had a grand total of TWO members. Still one of the most monumental experiences of my life because it brought Kelsey and I together and allowed me the privilege of attending her daughter's birth. Second try at that same group wasn't even as successful as the first one. What it taught me though, was that God wanted me to have a group but that He needed to push me in a different direction.

I took a semester off from leading a group and actually participated in a different kind of group in the fall of 2010. I joined a weight loss group and met Rebecca. I don't know why I hadn't really connected her and Kathryn in my head but they are sisters and I latched on to Rebecca pretty much instantly. She and I weighed the EXACT same thing that day. Coincidence? I think not.... LOL She was an amazing partner and made sure that I got to meetings and went to work out or walk. I know that God put us together for a reason!!

In the Spring of 2011 I felt like it was time to start a singles group at church for the "mature" singles. Nice way of saying...old. Ironically, most of the people who came weren't all that old. LOL We were a rag-tag bunch but we fit together nicely. We had a great semester of fellowship and fun, and we learned a lot about ourselves. We all worked on our relationships with God and I feel pretty comfortable in speaking for the group when I tell you that we're all in much different places than we were this time last year. Much. Different.

Rebecca and I kept losing weight. I was amazed at how she was transforming and one day she brought me a bunch of clothes that she could no longer wear. I tried them on and realized that I was losing, too! It was a COOL realization and one that bonded us even further! We spent a lot of time talking about life and boys and just, you know, stuff! She became a sweet girlfriend that I could always find on Facebook to chat with and just be myself.

Because she was there at the beginning and all during my relationship, she knew more about a lot of the nuances of the situation than a lot of people. She has a perspective that probably no one else has. She sat on the couch with me in the beginning when I was questioning if it was starting for real or if I was imagining it. She could see his face when I wasn't looking and could tell me if the whole thing was in my head or just my heart getting away from me. She was there to dry my tears when he was gone and I was missing him. We commiserated over long distance relationships and the desire to feel like a priority to someone.

So when the time came for me to get ready to go out with him on New Year's Eve ... just as a friend ... there was no one else on earth that I'd rather have spent the time getting ready with than Rebecca. We chatted on Facebook for seriously about 3 hours. We talked about relationships. We talked about makeup. We talked about teeth whitening. We talked about a LOT of stuff! She even asked me if I had any births coming up. I told her I was waiting on a client to go into labor who was due that very night.

What never came the last year...was that she thought she might be pregnant. Her exact words on that night were "Im good, fighting a cold, but other than that, Im good" So when I tell you that she had no idea, I'm telling you that NOBODY had a clue. See here's the thing... Rebecca is a tall drink of water. She has a long torso. A baby can hide out in a body that long without having to curl up into too much of a ball. Put a placenta in front of that baby and you'd never feel the first kick. If you'd spent a couple of semesters leading a Zumba group, your abdomen would be tighter, too. And if you had lost as much weight as we had dropped, you'd be expecting a plateau for a while.

Rebecca wasn't an isolated teenager. She wasn't hiding out in her bedroom wearing baggy clothes. She went on a mission trip, led a growth group, greeted people cheerfully on Sunday mornings at the name tag table, worked full time, and managed to find the time to graduate from nursing school. Which means that not only was she out and about and completely surrounded by people...she was surrounded by MEDICAL people.

When she went to the hospital a few hours after our conversation feeling like she was about to pass a kidney stone, she really did think she had another kidney stone. When she chose to go to the hospital in town where they don't deliver babies, she did that because she didn't know she was about to have her own. No one was more shocked about the baby than Rebecca. And that is the HONEST truth.

So here's what I know. Noah is here for a reason. God has something AMAZING planned for this kid's life! Can you even begin to fathom how intricate the web of God's plan is? What He must have been weaving all these years to get that baby here? The generations of that family that have come before, making them tall and giving them bodies MADE for having a baby in such a way!!?? I mean just look at all the things that He did in MY life to get ready for him to be born. And all I get to do is be the storyteller!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cool Change

The Little River Band said it... It's time for a cool change. I'm sitting here listening to the words and working on some inspiration. I WAS born in the sign of water. I SHOULD embrace that. Right? LOL I mean... No one who knows me would argue that I'm a fan of long hot soaks in the tub. I love the pool. I dig the river. Now I just have to get on board with the ocean.

New year. New me. Going to make some progress this year. I've come too far to go back now. So here are the positive steps I'm going to take and I need you to hold me accountable:

  1. Get more sleep. The body needs time to regenerate. I'm pretty good about taking naps when the need arises but I really don't need to stay up all hours of the night. Okay...when there's a baby coming I do. But otherwise...send me to bed.
  2. Stay hydrated. I'm a fan of water to drink. I just have to remember to DO it. I get distracted easily. LOL
  3. Make healthy food choices. The temptation is SO great when I'm somewhere NEW to eat something unhealthy. The options are (1) don't go anywhere or (2) embrace the better choice! These are both viable options and both are attractive to me on some level. Just have to remember that even McDonald's has healthy options!!
  4. Get moving. I have my VHS tapes (hush) that I got for a buck from Vapor. I can do my Tae Bo and my Pilates (which I've come to kind of dig!) but I can also just turn on my YouTube playlists and dance around while I'm in the house making my HEALTHY food choices. LOL (Note to self: Make a higher energy playlist... LOL)
  5. Read my Bible. Somehow last year I made it through 75% of the way of the One Year Bible Challenge and then I just lost it. I have to get back on that and finish. And then start doing a good study or two. I feel better when I'm walking with the Lord and it sure is easier to HEAR Him when I'm in the word!!
  6. Laugh more. It's good for the soul AND for the abs. 
  7. Let go of the past. Can't do anything to change it...gotta let it go. It's an albatross and it's not doing anyone any good. Be thankful for lessons learned but for heaven's sake move ON!!!
So that's my list for this year. Not resolutions...just things you know we all need to be doing. Who's with me? Leave me some comment love!!

Oh and enjoy this musical interlude!! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tell them about Me

When I met Stephen Brasington for the very first time, he asked me if I knew what God had told him when he was called to be a pastor. I told him that I did not know, but that I wanted to hear. He told me that God told him, "Tell them about Me." Simple. Concise. And I can hear it in my head when God wakes me up at 4:00AM and tells me to write about Him. So here goes...

In week 3 of Growth Track at MyChurch, we played some games and took a couple of assessments to learn more about our personality types and what our spiritual gifts are. If you've never done either of these, I highly recommend them both. I have done the DISC thing over the years for one organization or school or another so that one was no shock to me. I think most people can look at me after five minutes and guess that I'm somewhere between an "I" and a "D". I have gone back and forth over the years as my life has evolved and my personality has grown, but my spiritual gifts...looking back...have always been a part of me.

One of the things that Christy Murphy told us before we started the assessment was that your spiritual gifts don't "change" you because God knew what He was going to give you before you were formed in the womb. But when you accept Christ into your life, He "unlocks" those gifts and finds ways to allow you to use them for His glory. That's what this story is about.

When I was living life without Christ I got accused of always trying to "one-up" people all the time. People would tell me a story or about something that was going on in their life and I would offer up a similar story about something that had happened to me. When someone pointed out to me that I was doing that, I recognized the truth in the accusation and I tried to stop doing it. (Sometimes the devil works by using that kernel of truth doesn't he??!)

I was saved when I was 16 years old. Baptized at Fairview Baptist Church in the fall of my junior year in high school in the same water as my mama. I have highlighted in my Bible in bright green, passages about spiritual gifts. They're highlighted so I know that at some point Brother Dallas Latham talked about them and I paid enough attention to color them in. I even memorized what the interesting ones were so the concept was not foreign to me.

Imagine my surprise though when the assessment revealed that my spiritual gifts are "Showing Mercy" and "Pastoring/Shepherding"! Showing mercy I can live with but Woah... PASTORING??? Well we'll get to that in a minute.

My life has been shall we say...flexible. I have moved so many times my kids think we are part gypsy. I have worked in so many places that I joke all the time about being that guy from the TV show "The Pretender" because you can put me into any work environment and I'll just do the job. I am the ultimate temp. And I gotta tell you, that is HARD for a girl with OCD!!!

Another thing that I realized after talking to Christy tonight though, is that God is leveraging my life in some really cool ways in order to make the best use of my spiritual gifts!! I mean really REALLY cool ways. Why else would He call me to be a doula (and eventually a midwife) which is like the end all be all of being an empathetic person who guides, instructs, and assumes responsibility for the spiritual instruction in a person's life. (In other danger of me becoming a preacher. Whew!!)

Seriously though, God has used some wacky moves to put me where I need to be when I need to be there. He took me out of a relatively stable place at one job and sent me to another job that looked like it was going to be right up my alley...for THREE DAYS. In hindsight, I would have hated the job (and of course HE knew that) but He needed me to be there to make friends with a lady who worked there so that a few weeks later when she walked through the doors at MyChurch (for the first time!) on the heels of some devastating news, that I would be the first person she saw and I would be able to hug her through hearing the message that she needed to hear that day.

At my birthday dinner, my dear friends were discussing these exotic locations they had visited and these cool experiences they had had and I just kept saying, "I've never done that." The awesome thing is, even though my existence has pretty much been localized to this area, I've been right where I was supposed to be. God hasn't called me to go to foreign lands (for which I am eternally grateful!) but He has allowed me to work with two amazing ministries that help orphans in India and Africa.

God doesn't give us anything harder than we can handle if we rely on Him. The trick is to stop asking "WHY" and just get ourselves out of the way and let Him do His work. If a girl with very little life experience outside of Columbus, GA and a nasty case of OCD can do it, so can you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Losing Big

So last week something big happened. My first number changed. For those of you who haven't ever had a struggle with weight issues, that's what happens when you cross over a huge moving from the 200s to the 100s. And believe me when I tell you that it is a MONUMENTAL deal for me!!

I wasn't always heavy. People who know me now sometimes have a hard time understanding that. Heck even my KIDS don't understand that! When I had my first three kids I was practically thin. After my third kid was born, I weighed maybe 130.

Then I got a depo provera injection. That stuff is evil mean and nasty. Seriously. I'm convinced that the reason it works as birth control is that no one wants to come within 10 feet of you for fear of you stabbing them with a shiv. Plus, it makes some of us gain weight like CRAZY fast. In the first three months I put on an extra 50lbs. The second three months...maybe another 25. But if you're doing the math you can see that it was enough to push me over into the 200s.

I tried WW and lost about 20lbs but I just wasn't motivated happy enough to keep going. So the weight kept creeping on. Then I had the baby and positioned myself solidly at the 250 mark. BTW...He is 11 now so there is no excuse for "baby weight" anymore. I think I topped out at 277 but to be honest...I really stopped weighing myself. Just didn't want to know.

Then something changed. I moved on from the unhealthy relationship that I had with my former spouse. We had been divorced for this entire century (you can stop doing the math now) but had remained an integral part of one anothers' lives for various reasons. Our co-dependency was bad and it hindered our relationships with other people. Once I moved out of his house (even though it was to a friend's couch) I was able to start the healing process which allowed me (and him!) to start forming normal bonds with others.

I met a guy...not the right guy...who showed me what I wanted from a relationship. To start with he was funny and sweet and cute and said and did all the right things. I would say that he was a class A jerk but that's not fair to him. He had his own issues and I hope that I did some things to help him trust the next woman he gets involved with. I wish him no ill will. Plus...he helped me to get past some of my own demons.

Then I moved back home and started trying to eat healthier for my dad's sake. I was trying to get him to eat more because of his cancer, and because I was cooking on a regular basis I started eating more (ironic isn't it?) and started noticing that my clothes fit better. Apparently I had been wrecking my metabolism for years by NOT eating when I should and NOT eating enough calories in a day. See what stress will do for you??

Skip forward a couple of months to last fall and I joined a Growth Group and met Rebecca Means. Let me tell you...asking her to be my weight loss buddy was the smartest thing I ever ever EVER did!! She is SO motivated and on it and inspirational and...I just did my best to keep up. When most people would have dumped me off for not being as motivated, she stayed on me. In a nice way of course! She encouraged me and prayed for me and picked me up when I needed a ride. No way was she going to let the price of gas get in the way of me accomplishing my goals.

Also, and this is another one of those crazy ironic things, I started selling Tastefully Simple. You would THINK that being surrounded by food and talking about food and sharing food with others all the time, would make a person gain weight and not lose! But I'm here to tell you that has not been the case! First of all...the stuff tastes so so SOOO good that you don't feel the need to gorge yourself on it to feel satisfied. Second, I get so excited about trying out new seasonings that I am eating better/more/healthier recipes and that is helping a lot. If you need further proof...Rebecca is my BEST customer and has lost more weight than I have this year. LOL

SO here's the breakdown: I haven't weighed under 200lbs since 1996...before my mom died. If you met me in the last 15 years (and the vast majority of you reading this did) then you've never seen me this size before. If you knew me in the beforetime...say high school or're probably glad I'm getting back to my old self.

I can promise you that this is not over. It is a slow going process. There are no quick fixes. And I have to keep this up for the rest of my life. But here's the thing...I can do it with your support. And if you are trying to do it, then you have MY support. Just keep me in the loop. Keep praying for me and I'll keep praying for you and together we can make this thing happen.

Keep it healthy...