Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday Worship: The Only God For Me

Saw this on BET's Lifted program, which I have on in the background while I bathe and dress my youngest for school. I hadn't heard of the artist before but as I listened, I fell in love the words of this song.

Tomorrow is a new year. 2008 had highs and lows, bumps and mountaintops. Let us prayerfully enter 2009, in a spirit of thanksgiving, peace, and expectation. God has great things in store for all of us.


Peace & Blessings,

Monday, December 29, 2008


It's the end of another year. I didn't have any personal goals written down anywhere that I can look back at so I'm thinking about the blessings that came our way.

  • We all celebrated another birthday. My mother celebrated her 87th birthday and one of my sisters celebrated 50.

  • My oldest receive nearly a full scholarship to attend a private prep school in the area. He's completed his first semester, with nearly all A's, including ones in high school Latin and Algebra.

  • My oldest is playing JV basketball, one of only two 8th graders to ever do so at his school. (The other is his best friend. They made history together.)

  • My middle son graduated from pre-kindergarten and began kindergarten. He is learning to read.

  • My youngest was given a three-year reprieve by his cardiologist at his last checkup. (He had surgery in 2006.)

  • We traveled to Atlanta to visit the in-laws. My oldest stayed for a month and attended a basketball camp.

  • I traveled to Destin, FL for the Faith & Fiction retreat, where I put faces to some names, met some of my favorite authors, made a few friends, and had a great time.

  • I never gave up on losing weight, even if I didn't accomplish much by way of the scale. But I learned just how hard I'm going to have to work to make any real dent in my weight loss goal. Knowledge is power.

  • I learned that I was severely anemic and vitamin B-12 deficient. I now take supplements for both and have lights years more energy than I used to. Again, nothing like a little knowledge.

  • My middle and youngest sons got involved in competitive sports, playing two seasons of Pony baseball.

  • We went to the beach.

  • We visited Christmas Lane, a holiday light and decorations extravaganza in our area done out of the goodness of a homeowner's heart.

  • We survived another hurricane season with very little rain in these parts.

  • My brother had two car accidents. He survived both.

  • We struggled financially but praised God as He made way after way, which He did EVERY time.

  • We linked up with a new church organization from which we are learning some organizational and operational things that will be implemented when we resume our own services.

  • I started this blog and continued my writing blog.

  • I began writing a novel that feels like it's all over the place right now and won't turn me loose until I finish it. Things to do in 2009...

  • I placed among the 12 finalists for a writing mentorship sponsored by a literary agency.

  • I volunteered for the Obama campaign and knocked on hundreds of doors, something I never thought I would do. (He won.)

  • I became an elected official myself when I ran unopposed for precinct committeeperson. (Whatever it took to help Obama. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I'm supposed to do.)

  • My husband had a short-lived but well-received Christian radio program locally. Listen for more from him in the year to come.
There's so much more I could say but this sums it up, I think. What do you have to be thankful for in 2008?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Midweek Worship: Peanuts' Christmas, O Holy Night

It's Christmas Eve.

Only 24 hours of last minute hustle and bustle, getting the kids off to bed and then negotiating with them to stay there, wrapping presents and putting them under the tree.

Tomorrow, we'll begin with an early morning family prayer. Then, unwrapping presents followed by a big homestyle breakfast. The boys will immerse themselves in their new gifts and playing together while I clean up and turn my attention toward dinner. We'll eat, relax, and reflect on the wonder of God's greatest gift to humanity, His son, Jesus.

So today I'll share songs I associate with this season. First, what would Christmas be without Charlie Brown and the Peanuts?

And then, my all time favorite Christmas song. Couldn't embed it here but you can follow the link to hear David Archuleta sing "O Holy Night".

M E R R Y     C H R I S T M A S

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Focus On What Matters

The cookies have all been baked--8 dozen--and eaten. 2 1/2 doz to one son's school. The rest? Hey, my family likes my cookies. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the fact that they enjoy my baking.

I had such a wonderful time in worship at yesterday morning's service. I'd been kind of down, more up and down, which might even be worse 'cuz folks around you don't know what they're going to get from day to day. In truth, this won't be a big Christmas for us. The finances are not there and may not be in time. We may not even have a Christmas tree, although I'm still holding out hope.

Oh, I know that these things shouldn't matter. And for me, they don't. Really. I've known "the reason for the season" for a very long time.

But for my boys, they matter a lot, and my boys matter a lot to me. Thus, my funk.

In worship, however, I put all of that foolish stuff out of my head and concentrated on the precious Lamb of God. And when I did, I felt such a release in my spirit.

So now, things still may not be exactly as I might want them for my children but they will have a merry Christmas, in ways that truly matter. We'll be together as a family, laughing and loving. We'll open the presents that required more thought than grabbing the latest, greatest toy off a store shelf. We'll gather together around the blessing of a wonderful meal cooked by me, with a little help from Oldest One, who's going to learn how to make peach cobbler. We'll remember that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, no matter what we perceive ourselves to be missing.

And we'll thank God for the greatest gift of all, His Son.

Now behold the Lamb,
The precious Lamb of God
Why You love me so,
I shall never know.
The precious Lamb of God.

Peace & Blessings,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Crunch Time

Ok, Christmas is officially seven days away.


If you're like me, you have yet to...

-- Make a shopping list
-- Buy any presents
-- Purchase gift wrappings, boxes, bows, tapes
-- Get a Christmas tree
-- Decorate said tree
-- Purchase groceries for Christmas dinner
-- Pull together a Christmas card list
-- Write out Christmas cards
-- Mail said Christmas cards

Why do I do this to myself?

Mostly because I hate all the obligations of Christmas.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no Scrooge. In fact, I really enjoy buying gifts for family and friends. I just hate shopping malls and strip centers that are bursting with people. I tend to do the online thing.

I usually catch the "last day to shop..." in order to get gifts before Christmas, all of which get wrapped on Christmas eve, but this year, I even missed that.

So off to those dreaded stores!

I'll get it together. I'm out of days off from work this year. Whenever that happens, I'm at my worst as far as getting into the spirit of things but everything always comes together in the end.

The things about the Christmas season that I love?

  • Baking cookies and other sweet treats (I'll try not to overindulge)
  • Putting up and decorating our Christmas tree
  • Driving around to look at the decorated houses
  • Visiting the Santa display in nearby Dover (it's a huge, highly decorated farm that people come from miles and miles around to see)
  • Listening to Christmas carols and songs
  • Watching Christmas specials on TV
  • Reading Christmas-themed stories with my sons
  • Teasing my sons with the countdown to Christmas
  • Looking at the lighted tree, especially after everyone has gone to bed
  • Seeing the happy smiles on the faces of my children on Christmas morn as they open their gifts
  • Receiving Christmas cards and year-in-review newletters
  • Reading and reflecting on the story of the birth of Christ in the Gospels
  • Attending Christmas services
  • Hunting down and attending a good Watchnight service on New Year's Eve to close out the sesason. (And it's a hunt down here in FL)
Perhaps we'll get started this weekend.

Are your Christmas activities all completed or planned out? What do you enjoy most about Christmas?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Midweek Worship: Praise Him Now

Kierra "KiKi" Sheard, daughter of Karen Clark Sheard, has come a long way since her little girl-big voice cameos on her mother's albums. These days she's an anointed gospel singer in her own right.

Kierra sings a lot of upbeat, hip-hop infused songs but this one really speaks to my soul.

Sometimes there's so much going on in life, especially my life, that it feels like one big season of busyness. As we move closer toward Christmas and the end of the year, it gets worse. I have to catch myself and remind myself to stop and enjoy the moment rather than to just move through it to get to the next one. And I definitely have to still myself and remember to "Praise Him Now".

UPDATE: The original video link I had was removed from YouTube. So I found another, earlier one of Kierra singing, "Praise Him Now".

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Giving and Getting Involved

Walking into Wal-mart with my youngest a few evenings ago, we heard the clanging of the Salvation Army bells. He asked, "Mommy, who's making that noise? What's he doing?" In my usual hustle and bustle fashion, I kept focused and kept him moving into the store, skirting behind the SA Santa Claus, so that we could quickly get what we came for. On the way out, however, I made sure that we passed in front of Santa and dropped something in the bucket. Youngest One, just three years old, said, "Mommy, what are you doing? Why you give Santa Claus that?" I explained that Santa was collecting money for people who need help. Then I said, "Hey, at times we all need help. So it's important to give." He nodded, satisfied with this answer.

In this Christmas season, we see a lot of people giving more and helping more than during the rest of the year. But help is needed all year long, not just at the end of the year.

As we head into 2009, keep in mind the charities which do so much in communities throughout the country, like The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Feed The Hungry, or any one of the host of agencies raising money for medical research, battered women shelters, homelessness, fighting poverty, etc. Give an extra special blessing to your church to help provide for needy members or neighbors. And, if you are not already, get personally involved beyond writing a check or dropping some cash in a bucket.

I just learned of a new organization that will help many to get involved: The Human Unity Project. Check it out, or any host of a number of local and national organizations, and get involved. the only time you don't have is the time you waste...doing nothing.

UPDATE: And just after posting this, I learned of the new America Serves initiative by the Obama-Biden Transition team. The intent is to get all of America back to a mindset and practice of serving, serving the nation, our regions, our cities, our neighborhoods. Sign up for America Serves.

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Camera of My Mind

Last week I had my son take a couple of photos of me in my workout gear. My before pictures.

I won't post them because I don't want to scare anyone away.

Not a pretty picture.

The interesting thing to me was how different I look in the picture from what I see in my mind's eye, even when I've stood before a mirror. I've long since given up on seeing myself as the svelte, twenty-something I was twenty years ago.

But I didn't see myself quite the way the camera captured me.

I really could be a contestant for NBC's The Biggest Loser.

The mind is an intriguing thing. God made us in such a way that we are able to protect ourselves from unpleasantries. It's why folks seem to be apathetic and uncaring sometimes. They're not, when faced dead-on, but if not hit smack in the nose, they're able to "see but not see".

That's what I've been doing.

I do a pretty good job of hiding what's beneath my clothing, and it's a good thing I do.

Eye-opening is the word that comes to mind.

When I get to my goal, I may actually post those pictures because I'll be really proud of how much I lost, and how hard I worked to lose it. As much as losing weight is about better health, I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about how I looked. I've completely lost my sense of what size I am, because I don't shop a lot, and what looks good on me. I'd like to get back to a point where I can want into any woman's store and try on something off the rack that doesn't have an L or X in the size.

Until then, those pictures are for my eyes only.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Midweek Worship: Wait

I wanted to feature Mary Alessi's Great Grace (if you haven't heard it, be on the look out for this one) but there's no video available at the moment.

While on my hunt, I came across Nia Allen, a new gospel artist being presented by CeCe Winans. Her song is entitled Wait and was just as appropo because I frequently have to remind myself to wait on the Lord, to be still and know that He is yet God, and to give Him space to work things out for my good in His timing.

Lord, help us to wait on You, especially in these difficult economic times, where good businesses are getting dragged down by failing ones. Where foreclosures and evictions are up, unemployment is soaring, and fear is rampant.

Help us to wait on You, Lord, even when things are good. For You know the plans You have for us. We don't and anything we design, no matter how good it may seem, is incomparable to what You have in store for us.

Then too, waiting is part of the Christmas season. Children wait eagerly and impatiently for the presents they expect to receive on Christmas morning.

In Biblical times, Mary and Joseph awaited the birth of Jesus. The shepherds in the fields awaited daybreak when their flocks would be safe from nighttime marauders. And the people of faith who knew the prophecies that had been put forth to Isaiah awaited a Messiah.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Lord, help us to wait.

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Day At A Time... how I have to view this weight loss battle.

I'm still upbeat and determined.

I exercised four out of five days last week.

I watched what I ate, even over the weekend when we were on the road to basketball games in Gainesville, complete with concession stands and victory pizza.

I mostly avoided the office junk food--baked goods, candy, chips, and other snacks--that seems to come in truckloads this time of the year.

I drank more water.

I closed my book at night and went to sleep, making it easier to get up, no matter how much I wanted to read one more chapter.

I stayed away from the pantry in the evenings (by going upstairs and leaving the kitchen cleanup to Hubby).

The result?

I'm down 2 lbs. from last week.

If you want to join me over at the 50 Million Pounds site, where I've been a member for over a year, in which time I've gained 16 lbs but I haven't given up, click here. I've created a group called Faithfully Fit. It's a group of one at the moment but I'm hopeful some family and friends will show up and together we can make our dent in that 50 million lb. weight loss.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Midweek Worship: I Trust You

I heard this song last Wednesday AM as I dressed my youngest son, and as I tried to tamp down the stress I was feeling over some financial situations. I was speaking the Word to myself and admonishing myself to give everything over to Jesus when this song came on the radio.

I Trust You.

If I'm completely honest, I trust God in many areas of my life. Yet, I'm continually striving toward a deeper level of trust in Him.

Do you trust God? Really trust Him? For everything? 100%?

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today Is A New Day

Seems like I'm always starting anew, whether it's with consistent Bible study, fiction writing, weight loss, exercise...

But that's okay because the fact that I'm always willing to start again means that I never give up.

From what I've learned, some of the greatest successes others have achieved came after many, many false starts.

So once again, I am starting on a new exercise regimen. Three days a week strength training minimum. Two days a week cardio. No less than 45 minutes per workout.

I bought a new set of hand weights to help boost my strength workouts.

I cut my hair really short, in part due to damage but in part so that I can exercise and not worry so much about perspiration.

I would have gotten up 45 min earlier this morning, as intended, but I forgot that I had disabled my early AM alarms over the holiday weekend. Nonetheless, I did get in 20 min.

Today is my new day. No sense in waiting until January. I gave up on making New Year's resolutions a while back because I believe it's a recipe for disaster, in my case.

I'm going for a loss of 10 lbs. this month. That's my focus.

What does December hold for you? What are you putting off that you can begin today?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Midweek Worship: The Feast of the Lord/At the Table

Come on here where the table is spread
And the feast of the Lord is going on...

I heard this one on the radio a couple of weeks ago and went looking for a video. Boy, was I surprised to find this live performance by Richard Smallwood and the Smallwood Singers (as they were called back then) where they sang the song twice, first the old way, then with that extra special Richard Smallwood spin on it.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and there will be a lot of feasting going on, even in these tough economic times.

Those who have will be extra thankful for the blessings of the Lord, I'm sure.

Many, more than we've seen in a long time, will not have. Charities across the country are reporting greater needs than they have resources to meet this year.

So let us be thankful for the blessings we have and let's take a moment to do two things.

First, let us pray for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Second, and sometimes as important, if not more, let us give out of our blessings to help someone else, whether it's a donation of food or money, time to serve others, an invitation to dine, or whatever God places on your heart.

Let me throw in one more thing. No matter what circumstances you find yourself in this holiday season, remember that everything we need is "at the table". The invitation has already been extended. All we have to do is sit down at the feast of the Lord and eat up!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Developing Discipline, Part I

Back in September, I waxed eloquently about the difference between will or willpower and discipline. I went back hunting for that post because I continue to think about and wrestle with will vs. discipline.

I wrote
"Bottomline, there is one thing takes us from desire to result. It's not education or knowledge. It's not the support of family and friends. It's not even the ideal environment, be that a paid-in-full gym membership, an in-home personal trainer, a personal chef, a spa retreat, or any other things that we dream about, wrongly believing "if I only had..."

That one thing is discipline.
I have tremendous will, which is why I'm always trying to lose weight.

I fall exceedingly short, however, when it comes to discipline.

Take this week for example. The first four days of this week, I got up, slightly later than usual but still early enough to exercise. I started the morning breakfast routine, put on my workout clothes, put the DVD in the player, and...

I did not exercise this week (or most of last week.)

Oh, I did get through about five minutes of a workout DVD on Wednesday. The warmup. I kept getting interrupted by my children, as they finished their preparations for school and headed out of the house.

By the time, I took a calming breath, there just wasn't enough time left to get in twenty minutes and still get myself and Youngest One out of the house.

This same routine worked very well for the first three months of the school year. What happened?

What happened is that, in lacking discipline, my wake-up times have gotten later and later. A couple of minutes here, followed by a couple of minutes there. I'm now waking up at least a half hour later than I was at the beginning of the school year.

What happened is that I've hemmed and hawed while serving up breakfast, all the while knowing that I was sabotaging my workouts.

What also happened is that, in breaking my workout routine, I've lost some of my passion for working out. I'm trying to hold on to the memory of that great feeling I had on the mornings when I actually did work out. How light I felt when I'd get on the scale and see even a half-pound change. How refreshed I felt after showering and even after I'd gotten to work. How motivated I was to make good food choices. How buoyed I felt when my husband noted positive changes in my physique. How proud I was when my sons noticed too.

I'm trying but the memories are waning.

Memories and feelings do not amount to discipline.

Discipline is "activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training". It is also defined as "controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control."

A regimen. Training. Controlled behavior. Self-control.


Whenever I think self and control in the same thought, decidedly a dangerous, slippery slope, I immediately think about God. So I go to my Bible, and turn to the chapter I think of specifically as the book of instruction, Proverbs.

It begins with
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;

3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;

4 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-

5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-

6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:1-7
Then, in the third chapter, I found
My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,

12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in
Proverbs 3:11-12
As the Lord disciplines or trains His children, so must I discipline (train) first my mind, then my body.

Mind first because the biggest thing I got from these passages, relative to discipline, is that it's all about attitude.

I don't like exercising so my mind and body resist it.

I resent that I need to exercise in order to lose the excess weight so my mind and my body resist it.

I don't love my body as it is so I resent what it requires from me.

I've got to work on my attitude in order to develop discipline.

Are you disciplined? What is your honest attitude toward doing things you don't care for but you know you should?

Peace & Blessings,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun Stuff About President-elect Barack Obama

Can you stand another post on President-elect Barack Obama?

Hope so because I'm sure there will be many more.

This one is fun though. And he looks like a guy who enjoys a good laugh. Doesn't he?

First, 50 Fun Facts about Barack Obama you might not know.

My boys will get a kick out of the Spiderman thing.

Then, how Barack Obama is changing the lexicon. We now have something called Barackisms.

I've seen some cool magazine covers, photos, and other ways that folks are immortalizing President-elect Obama's historic victory. I love this stuff so keep sharing!

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Midweek Worship: One More Chance

This is more praise than worship.

And it's really more old-time, foot-stompin' gospel than a lot of what you hear today.

I love this song!

Enjoy Ricky Dillard and New G's One More Chance.

Aren't you glad God is a god of many chances?

Dance with me...

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Midweek Worship: 'Tis So Sweet

We're living in uncertain times. Now more than ever, we must trust God for our lives, present and future.

I heard Melinda Watts's sing 'Tis So Sweet on the radio.

I had to look her up.

Melinda won The Gospel Channel's Gospel Dreams show, which I missed. During one episode, she sang one of my all-time favorite hymns (I love hymns, y'all!):

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise
And to know "Thus", saith the Lord...

Here's Melinda...

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Celebrating My Favorite Veteran, Daddy

Today is Veteran's Day. It is a day to honor all those who have served in the branches of our military, in war and in times of peace.

My oldest son is currently working on a family history project. What I've learned is that I don't know enough about my family's history. And much is lost to us forever because many our relatives were so much older than my siblings and I that we didn't get a chance to hear all the stories (or really absorb the ones we did hear) while we were young.

But I do know that my father, who was 50 years older than me, was a Navy veteran. He served in World War II on a Naval aircraft carrier. He also served in Korea.

My father was very proud of his military service and his adopted country. You see, my father emigrated to America from his birthplace, Panama. He became a naturalized citizen while serving.

I'm sure life on board that vessel wasn't easy for my father, a man of color during a time when race relations in America were more hostile than today. Add to that that he was a Spanish-speaking man, at a time when being bilingual wasn't as cool as it is today, who had achieved only an 8th grade education. Not a bed of roses for a proud man.

But Daddy was also a hard-working man and a man of integrity so I know he did his part, without a lot of grumbling. And he made the most of the opportunities that came his way.

Daddy went on to become a dental technician when he settled in the States. Flags flew high at our home on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Veteran's Day. Daddy taught us the proper care and handling of the American flag, and he used to let me dress up in his Naval uniforms.

We, influenced by the 1960's and 1970's of our youth, wanted nothing to do with the military, which I think disappointed Daddy greatly. Doors were opened to African-Americans in increasing numbers that had been closed before, allowing us to pursue higher education, a fact Daddy understood. What parent doesn't want more for their children? So Daddy cheered us on, even if he had little to contribute, having worked low-paying jobs to support his family and having retired from work on disability.

I still think just one of us seriously considering Annapolis would have made his day.

He and Mommy were married for over thirty years when he passed in 1986, a day shy of the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event he always remembered.

So on this day, as I will again in a few short weeks, on the anniversary of his death, I salute my father, Martin Luther Markham, along with all United States veterans.

Remembering still brings tears to my eyes. I miss him dearly.

Note: I've got a picture of Daddy that I'll add once I get it scanned.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekly Check-in: November 10, 2008

It's Monday and time to check in again.

No need for the usual statistics. I'm getting back on track.

I didn't gain any weight again. Hooray! What this really means is that after losing some weight and gaining it back, I'm holding steady.

And that I'm at the same weight I was in January so things are not as bad as they sometimes seem.

I got good news about my B-12 level over the weekend. It has skyrocketed since I began taking mega supplements. (I'll have to keep taking them though since the body doesn't really store this stuff long-term.)

My iron levels are up. Again, thanks to mega supplements.

Doctor was not crazy about my weight being up too but I convinced her I can at least hold steady, if not lose a few lbs, between now and the end of the year.

Hey, I can do this!

We entertained a guest this weekend, which meant eating out. It also meant a ridiculously hectic schedule, which included having dinner after 9:30 pm two nights in a row.

I still didn't gain weight.


I exercised this morning. I mean really exercised.

I'm changing my regimen. I'm going to try strength/resistance training for 30-40 min 3x per week, and cardio for 30-45 min twice a week.

Now if I can just get the evening snack attacks under control...

How'd you do?

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

America's First Family

Cuz I just can't get enough of this!

Aren't they beautiful?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Midweek Worship: Taste 'n See

First, congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama and our next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Congratulations to America for taking a giant leap forward in our collective history and psyche.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about music of today that reminded me of music "back in the day". Tye Tribbett and G.A. (Greater Anointing) is another group like that.

We didn't have quite as much energy nor were we allowed the stage antics that these folks perform (we'd have been on the front pew tarrying for months!) but I enjoy them anyway. In fact, I really don't have a problem with their supercharged performances. I do know how difficult it is to be real with the Lord in a group like this, how easy it is to act the part when you are living anything but saved. Only God knows their hearts and I choose to believe these are simply young folks on fire for the Lord! We were, even when we weren't 100% in line with God's way.

This is not one of those supercharged songs but it's one that I enjoy even if I couldn't find a live video. Taste 'n see!

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pray for America, and Vote!!!

Today is Election Day in America!

We will choose between two candidates for the presidency of the United States of America.

Before you vote, pray for America. Pray that we take our opportunity to choose seriously and that in that serious consideration, we choose wisely.

In my opinion, that means voting for Sen. Barack Obama.

You may feel otherwise.

We should agree to disagree.

What we should not do is stay home.

We have a responsibility to our country, to our children, and to ourselves to exercise our right to vote. If you are eligible to vote and you did not register, or you are registered but can't be bothered, you lose the right to complain about the final choice. Just my opinion.

This is serious business. America has experienced things this year alone--in Iraq, in our financial markets, in our economy, in this presidential campaign--that no one could have predicted.

So, if you do nothing else today, pray, then VOTE!

And in your prayers, pray for healing in our nation. This has been a long, ugly, and divisive presidential campaign season. In participating around the blogosphere, I'm sure I probably screwed up some publishing opportunities and lost some potential readers. Let's hope I invited some as well. Worst of all, it may be difficult for some to see or hear Christ in me because they've hardened their hearts. But let's pray that when all is said and done, we'll remember that we are ALL Americans, grateful for the opportunity to live in the greatest nation on the planet and desirous of helping our country to continue to be the leader of the free world.

God Bless America (and all the other nations too)!

Finally, please say a word of prayer for Sen. Obama and his family on the loss of the senator's grandmother on the eve of this election.

Here's the Clark Sisters reminding us to pray...

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Weekly Check-in: November 3, 2008

Week of October 27, 2008:

Weight Loss: None.
This is a good thing. October was a bad month. A sure sign is that I didn't even post my status last Monday. After indulging myself with a lot of chocolate bars and very little exercise, I am happy to say I did not gain any weight. The prior couple of months did me well.

My upper tummy, as I call the bulge beneath my breasts, has inflated again, and my youngest has again taken to poking Mommy in her "fat stomach". Don't you love, kids?! Although I tell the 3yo that's not nice, I really don't make a big deal out of it. I'd much rather lose the stomach so he could tell Mommy her stomach isn't fat.

Average water per day: 3 cups.
Did a little better than I'd been doing, and continued to improve through the weekned. Today, I've already drank 3 cups so I'm on a roll.

Number of exercise days: Uh, exercise? Oh yeah...
No AM exercise last week. Not one day. I did walk at lunch time with a co-worker on Monday, and I did go canvassing on Saturday.

Total min exercised: 40 min
I don't include my canvassing hrs here although I probably should.

I feel so much better this week and I'm off to a good start. To some degree, I was burned out from all the time I've put into the presidential campaign. My work is done, except for one last day of poll watching, so it feels like I can regroup and get back to doing what I was doing. My combo living room/dining room and kitchen floors will be thankful.

Now don't get me wrong. I will never lose weight, nor achieve any other goals, if I go simply off my feelings.

No, I feel better because I shook myself off, ended the pity party, and re-purposed to doing the things I know I need to do. Like stopping the candy binge. Like getting to sleep earlier. Like exercising before work.

While waiting in the doctor's office for Hubby over the weekend, I saw one line in an article about weight loss that struck me. It said, "Keep your body guessing." As in keep varying the intensity and type of exercise. As in keep varying the foods I eat. When the body doesn't know what to expect, it keeps the engine (metabolism) revving and reacts with force. If it knows that you're going to do the same thing every day and eat the same foods in the same pattern every week, it makes the necessary adjustments in metabolism to accomodate the established habits.

Isn't that wild?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalms 139:13-14

How was your week?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Midweek Worship: Victory

This week I need to think victoriously. I'm struggling, really struggling with this whole weight thing, and it's bringing me down mentally.

When I get like that, I reach for the songs that lift my spirits, speak a Word to my heart, and get my feet to dancing!

Kim Burrell's Victory is one of those songs. The only thing that drives me crazy about Kim is that she rarely sings a song the exact same way twice. So if you really enjoy a recorded rendition, don't look for anything close to that when she's live in concert. But her energy and unique vocal stylings more than compensate.

This is an abridged version of the song. Nevertheless, enjoy!

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

God and Politics

I'm a Christian. I believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ, in redemption based on His death and resurrection, and the grace of God available to all.

I don't agree with many of the people who are quoted as representing the voice of Christians in our political discourse. I find a lot of the dialogue lacking in humility, mercy, and compassion, although they often characterize themselves as humble, merciful, and compassionate.

Over the weekend, I read an article that so eloquently articulated how I feel about the subject. Read it here.

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It Takes How Long to Form a Habit?

Oprah has a feature in O Magazine where she expounds on things she knows for sure.

One thing I know for sure is the conventional wisdom on habit formation is crap.

Many years ago, I learned that it takes 21 days of consistent activity to form a habit.

More recently, I've heard that it's 14 days.

I'm here to tell you that it's neither. I really don't know how long it takes to form a habit but I do know it takes a lifetime to keep one.

In my case, I've been working out pretty faithfully since June. I was up to a solid 5 or 6 times a week by August and feeling pretty good about myself. So why am I struggling now to work out at all?

A few missed days, a few days of less than eager workouts, a few days of abbreviated workouts and it feels like I'm back where I started. Talking myself out of bed every morning. Talking myself into my workout gear. Talking myself into turning on the DVD. Talking myself into actually moving as opposed to laying across the bed and reading a few pages from a book.

Worst of all is that, even with my struggles, I'm still working out at least three times a week, not including the 4-7 hours of walking I'm doing every weekend to knock on doors in support of Sen. Obama's campaign. I feel as sluggish and almost as out of shape as I did nearly six months ago. (I can still lift my legs pretty high, though.)

I'm in an exercise rut.

My good friend Chicki suggested I needed to up my intensity. Yup, I do, and I realized it weeks ago. Except the last thing I want first thing in the AM is a super intense workout. Honestly. Even if that is exactly what I need.

I don't want to exercise that hard in part because it means a daily hair disaster. Not being vain. Just being honest.

But as I watch The Biggest Loser, a show which completely captivates me--I'm rooting for Heba--I realize that the reason these folks lose so much weight is exactly that. They work out intensely. Every day. Imagine the heartbreak of having exercise as your full-time job and still only losing two lbs for the week? Or none?

I figure if I want to lose five lbs for the month, I need to work out at least half as hard at the show participants (and waaaay harder than I've been doing).

Still, the habit of exercise is very difficult to form and very easy to lose.

So, I don't know much about the science or psychology of habit formation but I do know I've just got to keep giving this exercise and weight loss thing my best shot.

I hope you stick with whatever your personal challenge might be too.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Midweek Worship: Jesus Is My Help

Here's a song that takes me back, not just to the time but to a choir sound you don't hear too much anymore. At least I don't.

There is nothing like sound of a gospel choir from the 1980's or 1990's, before hip-hop got a stronghold gospel. Don't get me wrong. I love a lot of new music too, and this song really isn't that old. It's just that Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir have a sound that reminds me of many a Friday night/Saturday night musical or church anniversary or Sunday night service from years ago.

A part of me misses that. Another part of me is waaaay too old to be at church until the wee hours of the morning listening to choir after choir, especially if I have to go to Sunday AM service or work the next day.

Oh well...

Enjoy Jesus Is My Help with me.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekly Check-in: October 20, 2008

Week of October 13, 2008:

Weight Loss: None.
Not sure. Didn't weigh myself this AM. Didn't want to know.

Average water per day: 2 cups. Notice
I'm trending down. Not good.

Number of exercise days: 3

Total min exercised: 90 min (avg of 30 min per day)


Still struggling with the October blues. I haven't exercised since the middle of last week. I did walk for about 5 hours this weekend, canvassing for Sen. Obama.

Thank God it's election season or I'd be a big blob on the couch!

I also just finished walking a couple of times around the perimeter of the parking lot with one of my co-workers. Now that the temps have dropped to a comfortable low 80s, we are resuming our daily walks.

If only exercise were the only problem...

Eating. As in, eating every thing in sight. That's my other problem.

So far, so good today. If I get through this evening without pigging out and I exercise tomorrow AM, those will be good first steps to getting back on track. Before the holidays kick in.

The real problem is that I just have not turned this whole weight loss thing over to God. I know I haven't or I wouldn't be still struggling with it, up and down, over and over, as I have been for the past 20 years.

Clearly I have some Israelite in me.

Perhaps I should start there...

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

(Belated) Blog Action Day 2008 -- Poverty

As much as I read blogs, why is it that I always seem to find out about these things late?

Mid-afternoon yesterday (while reading a blog, of course), I discovered that yesterday was Blog Action Day 2008. That's a day chosen when all bloggers are asked to blog on a singular topic for the purpose of bringing worldwide attention to the issue and making a difference.

This year's topic is poverty.

Interestingly enough, on the way into work yesterday, I heard that America's working poor had increased by some 300,000+ families to approximately 29,000,000 families.

Those are families. Even with declining family size, that's a lot of people.

Of course, I hate that label "working poor", because to me, "poor" is a spiritual condition, a state of mind. Failing to have money is simply broke. Lots of folks grow up broke, live broke, and die broke. But I'd argue--and I'm sure I'd get a lot of flack for this--their broke condition doesn't change, in part, because they are poor in spirit.

Folks who have richer, more whole spirits, make things happen. They find some way to break the poverty cycle and get to a better place financially, even if it takes years.

Sometimes they need a little help. To me, that's what the fight against global poverty is about.

Worldwide poverty is incredible to me. At this time in history, forgetting the current global financial crisis--or maybe even in spite of it--I believe there is more wealth in the world than there has ever been.

It is unseemingly that some folks live with such largesse on this planet while others, even whole nations, languish in totally abject conditions--residential squalor, excessive unemployment, low wages, little, no, or spoiled food, contaminated water, rampant disease, etc.

The resources on this planet--people, ideas, natural substances, and yes, money--are too great for this to be the case.

A quick Google search turned up a host of organizations devoted to fighting global poverty, like End Poverty, The One Campaign, NetAid, PovertyFighters, and Care.

Take some time to learn more about the issue of global poverty and its impact on your life, because this issue affects every citizen of the Earth. Then, commit to do something to help eradicate poverty, no matter how small. One idea I saw had to do with making microloans as small as $20 to business entrepreneurs in Third World countries. $20 goes a long way in some places.

God said the poor would be with us always. I believe He meant those who are spiritually bereft and to some extent, that's by choice. But I don't believe He ever said His children would or should starve.

Let's wipe out global poverty.

It starts with us.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Midweek Worship: Lord, I Believe in You

Lord, I believe...

In Your Promises
In Your Grace
In Your Mercy
In Your Love
In Your Sacrifice
In You.

I love the sound of Crystal Lewis' voice. Close your eyes, focus on Him, and you'll be ushered straight into His presence.

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The People You Meet (When You Get Involved)

Since August, I've been canvassing neighborhoods for Sen. Obama's campaign. Knocking on doors and getting people registered to vote, or now, trying to persuade undecided voters and encourage all voters (even McCain supporters) to vote early or vote by mail to avoid/minimize long lines.

You meet some really interesting people on the campaign trail.

The young woman who told me she heard Obama was a terrorist and everybody had just found out.

The McCain supporter who told me I was soooo nice. Not sure what she expected...

The young woman who won't get to vote this year because she was asleep in the back room when somebody else stopped by a few days before the deadline. Her friends/roommates answered the door and registered themselves but didn't think to wake her up. Lesson: Choose better friends.

The gung-ho convicted felons and non-citizens who tell me they are definitely supporting Obama. Except they can't vote and they know they can't. Don't think we have any kind of honorary tally for those who would vote for him if they could but at least I was able to get information to a couple of them about how they can get their voting rights restored for Sen. Obama's re-election in 2012. :)

The door slammers. One look at my Obama button on my tee shirt, one with his face on it, and they shudder, gasp, twist their faces, and shut the door faster than I can say, "Hello."

The older voters who wanted to talk...and talk and talk and... Because they remember the 2000 election and "It's a shame what happened" and "You're doing a good thing." and... I was always taught to be respectful of my elders but I have 100 more doors to knock on!

The older couple who applauded me for knocking on doors for "your guy" but told me that they were voting for the only candidate who's ever been 100% honest with the American public. Ralph Nader.

The two drunken fellows who were sitting on their porch in a somewhat seedy area and cheering me as I walked down the street. My son didn't want me to leave the car with them but I knew it would be just fine parked across from their house. I told him, "They'll sit right there and watch the car until we get back and we won't have to worry about it one iota." Sure enough, they did. Then, they asked me to "Sign us up!" I just hope they weren't so sloshed that they don't remember registering. And we'll ignore the part of them inviting my 13yo to a strip club when he turns 18.

I didn't think I would like canvassing. The few times I did this in the past, either for my husband's school board campaign in NY or for church witnessing, I absolutely hated it. My stomach would be queasy and I couldn't wait for it to end.

But I'm having a ball. It's nice to get out and learn some areas of town that I'm not familiar with and to meet new people. I've made a friend, my canvassing buddy, who invited my sons to her son's birthday party. And I feel like I'm making a difference, especially when I registered voters or give them any tidbit of information they didn't have before.

Not sure if I'll remain involved politically after this election. I'm not for monthly meetings and things like that. I guess I like doing something rather than talking about doing something. Yet, I believe in our process, however corrupted it might seem at times, and like doing my civic duty.

Are you involved in the presidential campaign at all? Emailing friends with reminders to register or to vote? Sharing valid political information (and not just unsubstantiated rumors)? Canvassing? Taking people to the polls? Volunteering to be a poll watcher?

Consider getting involved. Three weeks to go and it's not too late!

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekly Check-in: October 13, 2008

Week of October 6, 2008:

Weight Loss: 0 lbs.

Average water per day: 3 cups

Number of exercise days: 4

Total min exercised: 120 min (avg of 30 min per day)

I'm in the battle of my life...for my life.

October is a rough month for me. I'm not sure why. Last year, around this same time, after fighting to get off 17 lbs., I got sluggish. I stopped exercising. I drank less water. I began snacking and eating stuff I knew I shouldn't eat. By the time I realized what was happening, around Jan 15th, I had gained back every pound plus three.

I promised myself I wouldn't let it happen this year. This year because I'm more aware, more enlightened, I would guard against this happening.

It's happening again.

I don't know why. I think it has something to do with being born and raised up North. The climate is changing up there as Fall sets in. From October to mid-January, there was always a sense of things slowing down as winter and the holidays approached. People will begin wearing heavier clothing to keep warm and conserving personal energy whenever possible.

I don't need to do that down here in Florida.

So I'm going to fight my natural instincts. Didn't exercise this morning but I did walk for about four hours yesterday in addition to my regular exercise. I'll be sure to exercise for the remainder of the week.

And I'm going to be a bit stricter about the snacking.

My short-term goal is to make it to Jan 1st without gaining any weight. I'd love to lose but I'll be happy not to gain, as I typically do this time of year. I'll consider that a major accomplishment.

Should I lose weight, I'll be doing a happy dance!

How'd you do last week?

Peace & Blessings,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What a Week! What a God!

What a week!

By now everyone knows this was an interesting week in American history. The US financial market is in a freefall. The Dow is down more than 5,000 points since a year ago and lost 20% of its value in the last seven days. Markets in countries around the world have been affected too, signaling a global problem. I mean, hey, Iceland declared bankruptcy and some prankster offered it for sale on eBay.

Lots of finger pointing. By presidential candidates. By congressman. By media. By the man on the street.

Is it the greed and excess of Wall Street? Was it the subprime lenders or the people who accepted subprime mortgages? Was it the deregulation encouraged, or at least, not opposed in Washington over the last eight years?

Who knows?

Greed and excess on Wall Street? Certainly. Wall Street, the aggregate of the brokerage houses, venture capitalists, and hedge funds, is all about making money. Seems obvious to me that those who can skirt the regulations and even break the law to maximize their profits without harming their sense of ethics will do so. They did.

Predatory lending by subprime mortage brokers? You betcha. Because they could do less work in terms of due diligence and earn as much money. So again, why not pile on if you can get away with it?

Greedy home buyers wanting more home than they could afford? A few. I believe the majority of subprime mortgage holders didn't get subprime rates because they were trying to be greedy and buy into a lifestyle beyond their means. A lot of subprime mortgage holders were working class people who got into subprime mortgages because that's what was available to them. Unfortunately in the last decade, the mortgage industry began sweetening the pot, not with subprime fixed rate loans but with adjustable rate loans that allowed as little as 0% down and had low interest rates for anywhere from the first six to 24 months. (I know because in the 13 years that we had a home in NY, we had both. Thankfully, we sold before the current foreclosure crisis.)

Under these easy money conditions, more people qualified for loans and walked through the gateway to the American dream, their own home. Some took advantage of the lax terms to invest in a number of properties for the purpose of "flipping" them and earning big profits. But neither group paid much attention to what would happen if interest rates suddenly began to climb. Mortgage brokers told them, "That's NEVER gonna happen." It happened.

Lack of deregulation? Yes and no. Because regulations have a purpose, to safeguard the financial system and the American public from some of what we're going through now. But at the same time, there are always creative new financial instruments that allow for the opportunity to achieve great wealth while also allowing for great abuse. The first is a good thing; the latter stinks.

Throw all of this stuff in a pot, boil in a steadily worsening economy, and you get what we've got now. The US government, the same government that's spending in excess of its revenues and that's borrowing money daily from the Chinese and others to pay for the war in Iraq, among other things, is going to save the financial markets.

I don't know about you and I'm not saying there are a lot of other options but I'm wondering how much they really know about the subject matter, what possible solutions are worthy of consideration, and who should be in charge of minding the store.

People are afraid. They're allowing themselves to become frantic or depressed, either of which leads to erratic behavior. Just this week, a man in California killed himself and his entire family because he didn't see a way out of their financial woes.

The future seems uncertain. Very uncertain.

There is one thing I do know. God is God.

We must take comfort in the knowledge that God is still who He has always been. Our Sustainer. Our Provider. Our Peace. Our Refuge. Our Comfort. The Lifter of Our Heads.

It may be tempting to worry, to fret, to be anxious about what's happening all around us. Let's be clear. Things are bad and they could get much worse before they get better.

But God will take care of His own.

That doesn't mean we won't experience hardship or difficulties, that we won't have to endure some stuff.

But we know that He will watch over and care for us, if we keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:5-7, NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8, NIV)

What a God!

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Midweek Worship: What is This?

I usually have these up way in advance but I realized, as I showered this morning, that I hadn't scheduled a worship song.

Whenever I need some quick, get deep yet pick me up kind of gospel, I'm going to my all-time favorites, The Love Center Choir.

This is Bishop Walter Hawkins and The Love Center Choir performing "What is This?"

Gives me goosebumps.

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pay Now or Pay Later

Since I really struggled with working out last week, Greg on Faith First Fitness had just the reminder that I needed:

Pay Now
o The struggle with schedule that makes time to workout consistently.
o Planning ahead in order to eat healthy.
o Muscle soreness from a challenging fitness plan.
o Resisting the temptation to derail a good nutrition plan.
o Working out when you don’t feel like it.
o Discomfort during a challenging workout.
o Swallowing pride in order to try something new.
o Get outside help, training, accountability.
o Changing a whole lifestyle that promotes health and fitness.

The Pay Off
o Increased self-esteem
o Increased self-confidence
o Increased mental focus
o Increased strength and stamina
o Increased energy level
o Decreased stress level
o Weight loss
o More restful sleep
o Measurable results that move towards life goals.
o The overall GREAT feeling of health and fitness.

Pay Later
o High blood pressure.
o Type II Diabetes
o Heart Disease
o High Blood Pressure
o Sleep Apnea
o Osteoarthritis
o Gall Bladder Disease
o Fatty Liver Disease
o Chronic headaches
o Varicose veins
o Breathing problems
o Coronary artery disease
o Increased risk of stroke

We will all pay. Either “pay now” or “pay later.”

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekly Check-in: October 6, 2008

Didn't forget to post my update this week but kind of wish I had.

Week of September 29, 2008:
Weight Loss: 0 lbs.

Average water per day: 3 cups

Number of exercise days: 3

Total min exercised: 90 min (avg of 30 min per day)

Thank God for those B-12 metabolism kickers! I only exercised 3 days last week, not counting the 5 hours of walking for voter registration that I did. Waaaay off my goal of min 5 days per week.

I was sluggish. I overslept one day.

At least I didn't gain weight. My eating, although not great, wasn't too bad.

Not off to a good start this week since this morning, I overslept again. I'm stretching myself a bit thin these days, what with campaigning and managing the Littlest One's baseball team, in addition to all my normal duties. I'm aware of it but these things are important.

The election, thankfully is less than 30 days away and I'm only canvassing on weekends.

The baseball season ends right before Thanksgiving. It requires one practice per week and one game, typically on Saturday mornings. I would be there anyway, so when the original manager bowed out, I volunteered. (I'm proud of Most Honorable Son Number One who is coaching the team for me.)

It will get better. I know it will.

Hope you had a better week than I did? Tell me about it.

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The (Wo)Man In the Mirror

I'm not a big fan of Michael Jackson's right now. But his music remains transcendent. (Isn't it sad that some of the greatest blessings go to the most tortured souls?)

One of his songs that I loved and still do is The Man In The Mirror.

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

That's Why I'm Starting With Me....

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Make A Change
Boy, making a life change is way harder than it sounds!

The song, of course, is talking about making a change in the world around us, about not ignoring the challenges in our social environment but doing something to affect them.

I wholeheartedly believe in this, which is why I'm working hard to elect Sen. Barack Obama the next president of the United States of America.

I also think we have to act in small ways, every day, beginning with being better persons ourselves.

For me, part of being a better person is being a healthier person.

I think this is the hardest thing I've ever done.

Because there can't be any let up. If I go more than two days without exercise, I feel as though I haven't exercised in weeks. If I eat even a small cookie or slice of cake, I find myself grabbing for more, as though I've unleashed some sugar demon within.

But I'm more on track than off these days so I take comfort in that.

And I find that the more on track I am, the more energized I am, not just in terms of physical energy but deep within my soul. My outlook is brighter. I'm happier. Not just happier but joyous. I'm more inclined to give of myself and to look for opportunities to be a blessing to others. I feel as though I'm living in a way that is more pleasing to God.

So it really does all start with me. I choose to make a change.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Midweek Worship: You Brought The Sunshine

Where do I begin to talk about the incomparable Clark Sisters? They been my favorites since I was a teenager, and they were but teens themselves.

And I'm pleased to say that these sisters have gotten serious about their health, losing weight and being much healthier today than they were then. Don't they look beautiful on their most recent album cover?

You Brought The Sunshine is one of their earliest hits. It's a tribute to God, who made the sun, the moon, the stars...all of it.

Here's a 1988 recording of the song. See how well it stands up after all these years?

You, God, make my day!

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weekly Check-in: September 30, 2008

Ooops! I completely forgot to check in yesterday!

I'd love to say it was innocent but I know better. Trust me, if I'd had something to crow about, I'd have checked in!

Week of September 22, 2008:
Weight Loss: +1.5 lbs.

Average water per day: 4 cups

Number of exercise days: 5

Total min exercised: 150 min (avg of 30 min per day)

Still running high in body temp, thanks to the B12 tablets, but my eating was off. First there was my Middle Son's birthday cake. Then, I found myself snacking. Not unusual for the beginning of a monthly cycle. It always sneaks up on me and then I realize I've been snacking a bit more for the last day or two than I had been.

I'm curious as to whether anyone has studied women's weight loss efforts and how they are impacted by menstruation. I'm sure someone has. Not only do I snack more, I also have to fight more to exercise. I'm just not into anything but curling up in bed, which I don't get to do, so I do what I minimally have to do, at least the first couple of days.

But now that that's over, I don't have any more excuses. I need to stop eating the cookies I baked in a moment of weakness.

And I need to rev up my exercise. I didn't do anything this morning!

But, in addition to working out Mon-Fri last week, I did walk for almost four hours on Saturday, canvassing for my favorite presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama.

Talk about tired? I could barely move on Sunday and I was still aching on Monday.

The middle-aged body just doesn't bounce back quite as quickly.

I'm claiming a good week for the remainder of this one, getting back down to last week's weight.

What about you?

Peace & Blessings,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Reason I Like Sen. Obama For President

The President of the United States of America is on display, for all the world to see.

He (or she) is dissected, analyzed, and served up daily by the media, both personally and professionally, as is the first family.

If we're going to continue this trend, in our increasingly insatiable appetite for more, more, more about the lives of our politicians, leaders, celebrities, etc., then I'd like to have more of this:

Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks of The Huffington Post elaborate on why the relationship between Sen. Barack and Michell Obama is good for America here.

I agree. In addition to being qualified, thoughtful, and learned, he and his wife are good role models. We can't get enough of those.

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Beyond Gray Skies

I'm studying about the will, that is God's will vs. man's will, to continue the discussion on will or willpower vs. discipline. Be back at you soon!


Driving into work the day after a major downpour--one that delayed us picking up all the kids and getting home by almost an hour, upsetting our daycare provider and forcing me to attend a parent's meeting looking like a drowned rat--I thought about gray skies and their ability to affect people's mindsets.

It's easy to see gray skies and take on a less than sunny disposition. Not angry or evil. Just not happy. The skies are gray, the mood is depressed. It makes it very easy to see gray all around and not to see what's beyond the clouds.

But I believe we're called to see beyond the clouds, to look beyond the gray skies in our lives, be they physical or spiritual.

For one thing, we must know what we know. Too many Christians fall apart at the first sign of trouble, as though the God that was sovereign the day before suddenly no longer is, as though He who sits on the throne has somehow fallen off.

Not so!

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
1 John 4:13-16
When difficult times rear their heads in our lives, we must know that God is still God. He's God despite the "gray skies" that loom above our heads and seem to surround us. We must know this just as we know that the sun hangs in the sky on a cloudy day.

Oh, we may not see the sun or feel the warming rays of sunshine, but we know that it is still there, just waiting for the clouds to part even a sliver and let its light shine through.

So it must be with us. We must see the Son no matter what gray clouds hang over us.

Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers have a song called "Encourage Yourself". It's one of my favorites because it speaks to this very issue:
Some-times you have to encourage your-self.
Some-times you have to speak victory during the test.
No matter how you feel, speak the Word and you may be healed.
Speak over yourself, encourage yourself,
In the Lord.
In addition to knowing God is still on His thone and still in control, we must take every sliver of opportunity to let His love and grace shine through, even in our most difficult times. It's not easy to smile or present a sunny disposition when you're going through. But someone, somewhere is experiencing an even more difficult time than you--especially if they don't know Jesus personally--and they need that ray of hope.

So the next time you see clouds in the sky, remind yourself that the sun (and the Son) still shine. See beyond the gray skies!

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mid-week Worship: Imagine Me

Imagine me, Lord! Being free, trusting you, totally. Finally, I can imagine me!

Do you see yourself the way God sees you? Completely?

I can't say I've always been good at that, and if I'm honest, I'll say I probably still am not 100% there.

But imagine how God would feel if we ever finally saw what He sees and acted according...

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help with Healthy Living

I've found two faith-oriented blogs that center around healthy living. I read them regularly now and thought I would share them:
Faith First Fitness
Faith and Health Connection

Also, this month, one of the writing blogs I frequent, is focusing on healthy living. When you can combine a couple of your passions--writing and for me, getting in shape--life just starts to sizzle! Even if you're not a writer, find some helpful tips over at The Wet Noodle Posse.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekly Check-in: September 22, 2008

Week of September 15, 2008:
Weight Loss: -2 lbs. (Woo-hoo!)

Average water per day: 4 cups

Number of exercise days: 4

Total min exercised: 165 min (avg of 41 min per day)

Last week was a good week! I'm down 2 lbs. It was actually 3 lbs in the middle of the week but I ate a little more on the weekend that I probably should have.

I'll take the 2 lbs!

I was soooo hot last week. Not because the temps in FL still run in the mid-90s this time of year or because I've found a way to be fresh, chic, hip or anything faintly resembling that.

Noooo...I was a walking furnace!

Chalk it up to the B12 supplements I'm taking. 41,000% of the daily recommended dosage. Doc said it would rev up my metabolism. I think she was right. The only times I ever felt this warm internally were during pregnancy. (And I am very much not pregnant now or ever again!)

I attribute the weight loss to this and to swapping my lunch and dinner meals. By eating a bigger meal mid-day, I'm less ravenous at dinner time. By eating salad for dinner, I'm comfortable rather than stuffed at bedtime. I like the feeling and will continue eating this way.

I was soooo tired and out of sorts last Monday that I didn't start the week off with exercise. I had hoped to make it up over the weekend but that didn't happen. No big deal. I got off to a good start today.

Let's see whether I can drop another lb this week by simply continuing what I'm doing. No other major changes.

That would be really nice.

How'd you do? What are your goals for the week?

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Really Is An Evangelical Christian?

It's tempting to get into mini-debates with people right now, especially given our overly charged political atmosphere.

In fact, that tends to be the source of the controversy, what with possibly the first ever African-American president, a unknown and arguably untested Alaskan governor as possibly the first female vice president (should the AA candidate lose), possibly the oldest ever man to be sworn in as president (should the AA candidate lose), and a highly charged media and electorate which will only get worse, in my opinion, should the AA candidate lose.

Yes, I'm voting for Sen. Barack Obama.

And I don't mind saying so.

What I do mind, which is occuring with greater frequency, is being challenged in my support of him because I'm a Christian.

Why not challenge me because I'm a woman? Should I have supported Hillary or should I now flip over to the McCain-Palin ticket?

Who says that all Christians are or should be Republicans? I'm sick to death of hearing about the religious right, the evangelical right, or whatever they're being called these days.

Don't get me started on Dr. James Dobson or a host of others who have offered so much invaluable information and comfort to long as they stay within their callings and out of the political arena. Again, just my humble opinion.

But wait! In many ways, I could be categorized as an evangelical Christian, although I am decidedly more center than most of the representatives of evangelical Christianity seen or heard regularly on the airwaves or Internet today.

Is that possible?

Well, yes it is. In my heart of hearts, I believe there are more Christians like me than like them, the people who I would call not "evangelical" but "fundamentalist". We're just less vocal and we need to start speaking up!

See evangelical Christianity has to do with having a personal relationship with Christ that begins with being "born again". I believe in that. It also has to do with "going out into the highways and by-ways" to tell of the goodness of Jesus. I believe in that too. It has to do with believing the Bible is the infallible, inspired Word of God. I believe that. And finally, it has to do with believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and that He will come again. I believe that.

These are the things that make someone an evangelical Christian. After that, trust me, the waters get pretty muddy. Visit a Southern Baptist church vs. a Pentecostal one vs. a Lutheran vs. a non-denominational. The rest is either man-made church doctrine, which may or may not be Biblically-based, or personal interpretation of the Scriptures.

I think my pastor's wives card is about to be revoked.

Christianity has never been a religion about exclusion. Christ's grace is available to all who believe on Him as the Savior of the world, who confess that belief with their mouths, and who repent of their sins. Don't believe me? Start with the popular John 3:16,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Then read Romans 10:5-12 Here's a portion:
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
I'm saddened by just how much foolishness is attributed to Christians and just how much some Christians try to hold their chosen brand of Christianity up as the Christian faith. The rest of us are supposedly non-believers or delusional, at best.

The Bible, that infallible source, warns us about judging others. This would include judging the faith of others.

It also says, in Romans 12:3,
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
This admonishment causes me to pray for others who seem to feel they are the arbiters of the Christian faith.

I won't win any awards for this post and I may very alienate a lot of people who I would hope one day might purchase and read my Christian fiction novels, some of whom I've gotten to know and I on the many writing-related blogs I frequent.

Now I know why my mother used to admonish us to never talk about religion, politics, or money in "polite" company. Chances are the conversation will be anything but polite.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mid-week Worship: Shout Joyfully

Hubby stumbled upon an artist that we'd not heard of before over the weekend. I love his sound! So this week, my featured artist is BJ Putnam.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekly Check-in: September 15, 2008

Week of September 1, 2008:
Weight Loss: 0 lbs.

Average water per day: 2-3 cups

Number of exercise days: 5

Total min exercised: 150 min (avg of 30 min per day)

Sorry I'm so late posting today but it took me this long to wake up! Never mind that I've been at work since 9.

I have a 3 yo who would not sleep thru the night this past weekend. "I'm hungry." "My stomach hurts." "I'm thirsty." Things that required actually opening my eyes and putting my feet on the floor.

Perhaps tonight I could tie him down or bribe him with an extra cookie after dinner?

Pray for us.

My third straight zero-lb-weight-loss week. But still not getting down on myself.

I think my body is adjusting. To what, I'm not sure. LOL!

Could be those B12 tablets that are (no exaggeration here) like 40,000% of the daily recommended dosage. Guess my doctor was really serious about getting a major change within a month. Good news is that the body doesn't store B12. Whatever isn't utilized is flushed out of the body.

Could be switching my lunch and dinner meals. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice? Easier said than done. Because although I kind of like finishing off the day with a salad and I'm definitely not as ravenous when I get home as I used to be, I think that overall I'm consuming more starch than I used to. For me that translates into gaining, not losing, pounds. But since I'm working out consistently, there's been no change.

Then again, could be a response to the antibiotic I'm taking for a minor sinus infection.

Who knows?

Medicine is definitely a mystery to me.

Really gotta get away from the snacks. Did very well during the week. Not so good on Saturday. Lousy on Sunday. But I'm very cognizant, even in the midst of my snack attacks, so there's hope.

How'd you do this week?

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is Your Will Keeping You From Losing Weight?

One of the topics that's been turning over and over in my head is the notion of will or willpower vs. discipline.

All dieters at some point talk about an increased need for willpower or discipline to help them in their weight loss quest.

But I had a revelation about this recently. I've come to realize that not understanding the difference between willpower and discipline is preceisely what hems up a lot of people who sincerely want to make a change in their weight/health/fitness.

In fact, not having clarity on this difference impacts the ability of people to accomplish just about any goal in life. (Boy, I wish I'd gotten this revelation about 20 years ago!)

Roget's Thesaurus classifies "willpower" under the main topic of "decision". It defines willpower as "unwavering firmness of character, action, or will". Synonyms include determination, discipline, drive, grit, self-control, decidedness, resoluteness, resolve, toughness, will.

I love Roget's Thesaurus but on this one, they've got it only partially right.

Unfortunately, just as many of us do, Roget's is intermingling two completely different terms.

Will and willpower are not the same as discipline.

When I look up "discipline", there are all kinds of references to punishment. We'll ignore those because there's nothing healthy about perceiving activities to increase one's health and fitness as "punishment".

But other definitions include:
  • training to act in accordance with rules
  • the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.
  • behavior and order maintained by training and control
  • to train by instruction and exercise
  • to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control
What it all boils down to is this: having the will or willpower to do something simple deals with your desire. What do I want? What would I like to have? What do I envision for myself?

The truth is most dieters have willpower, or the desire to lose weight, in leaps and bounds. We overdose on willpower. We never stop wanting to lose weight, not even when we're plunging our hands into a bag of extra large potato chips sure to add a few lbs to our hips or when we're salivating over the buffet table for our second or third plate of food despite having a full stomach or when we're laying on our butts watching exercise shows on TV and thinking about all the exercise we should be doing.

We've got will. For some folks, the will is weak and they never do more than think about what they desire. For others of us, it's strong enough to push us into action.

So we start a new diet or a new exercise program or some other activity designed to help us lose weight.

But is our willpower, our desire, strong enough to keep us doing what we know we need to do to get the job done and the pounds to come off?

Nope. It's only strong enough to keep us adding to our personal lists of "new starts". We try something for a little while. When we start out, we're excited. This time will be different! We're going to finally achieve our goal!

But then, a little while later, we take stock of ourselves and realize we've slacked off or given up all together. We still desire to lose weight but something happened to knock us off course.

Remember all those New Year's resolutions?

Because we still have a strong desire, we then decide it must have been the program or regimen we tried. Yes, it worked for others but since it didn't work for us, something must be wrong with it. It's just not the right thing for us.

So we find another program and the cycle starts all over again.

Don't get me wrong. All diet and exercise regimens are not created equal. Some are in fact dangerous while others seem to provide minimal results at best.

Bottomline, there is one thing takes us from desire to result. It's not education or knowledge. It's not the support of family and friends. It's not even the ideal environment, be that a paid-in-full gym membership, an in-home personal trainer, a personal chef, a spa retreat, or any other things that we dream about, wrongly believing "if I only had..."

That one thing is discipline.

In the next couple of days, we'll examine the concept of discipline and how to develop it in order to push our health and fitness routines over the top.


Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mid-week Worship: Lord, You Are Good

Lord, you are good and your mercy endureth forever!

I admonish my son to consider how blessed he is when I think he's behaving in a selfish, self-centered manner. At times, I have to admonish myself too. We've been through a lot as a family and it would be so easy to dwell on the negative, to focus on the things we've lost, to remember that which is no more.

But God is toooo good for that.

Israel Houghton and New Breed brought something new and fresh to the worship scene in recent years. A mix of Latin, soul, and contemporary Christian music with loads of energy and wonderful instrumentals.

If I can't get near a large body of water, the other thing that never fails to center me and refocus me on God, then an Israel song will serve me well.

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Go To the Doctor

Yesterday I mentioned that I had a doctor's appointment over the weekend. No major issues but I've got some things I need to address, like my weight, that are affected by things I'd never have known about with a doctor's help. Here's some of what I've learned from regular doctor visits:


After two bouts of gestational diabetes, I knew I would be at pretty high risk for developing Type II diabetes in my lifetime. After injecting myself within insulin five times a day during one of those bouts, I swore to do everything in my power to avoid or delay the onset of this disease.

I honestly can't say I've done everything in my power. That's turned out to be a lot harder than I imagined. Managing diabetes requires constant vigilance to food intake (what I eat and how much) as well as regular exercise.

I've done okay on the what I eat, not so great on the how much, and terribly on the exercise until recently. I'm definitely making strides now on all three fronts.

My doctor has me do blood tests every three months to measure my A1c level. The best description I've heard of this test is that it's like a batting average for blood sugar. It reflects the average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months. So one good day or one really bad day doesn't affect the result.

From this, I know that I'm in the prediabetic range. Not quite there but I need to be alert and take dietary precautions. I also know, from those earlier bouts, that I have to eat protein the morning and have a small protein snack before bedtime.

But on Saturday, the doctor also told me to switch my lunch and dinner. For lunch, I typically eat a salad and some type of protein. If I have any carbs, it's usually with dinner. She told me I should get my carbs earlier in the day, which will help with controlling the blood sugar as well as weight loss.


Back in January, I was tired and sluggish all the time, no matter how much sleep I got. I tried to donate blood at work and they refused me, telling me that my iron count was so low, it didn't register on the meter.

A doctor visit and another blood test confirmed this. I now take daily iron supplements. In the first three months, I was less than consistent and there was no change. The doctor threatened me with iron injections.

Say "needles" and you get my attention!

As soon as I got consistent, I felt a change in my energy levels, even before I started exercising in earnest. In the last three months, my iron levels have doubled and my energy level has skyrocketed. With that, I'm less cranky, more patient, and I hope, more fun. I'm more inclined to go outside with my family and do something active than lounge around because I'm too tired to imagine moving.


My newest discovery, this past Saturday, is that I'm also deficient in vitamin B-12. This was masked in part by my iron deficiency but now that the iron levels are up, the B-12 levels are glaring. My count is less than half of what it should be for an adult woman. To make matters worse, B-12 regulates the...metabolism! So I'm trying to lose weight and getting no where in part due to my extremely low B-12 level.

Got a booster injection and now will take daily supplements of this nutrient as well. If my levels aren't up significantly in a month, I'll have to start regular injections. The doctor says she suspects that once my B-12 level starts to rise, as I continue exercising and working on my diet, I should start to see the weight come off a bit faster.


Of course, once the B-12 level is up, she might find something else. But hey, I'd rather find these things one by one and address them, than not know and beat myself up for working hard and getting nowhere.

Every adult man and woman should get an annual checkup. However, II can tell you that I've had doctors in the past that were not quite as thorough as this lady. So my annual checkups told me nothing. If you're less than satisfied with your doctor, don't forego your exams. Get another doctor!

In addition to getting annual checkups, ask questions. Find out if there is anything detected in your blood work--high cholesterol, low or high blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, low thyroid, etc.--that you need to be concerned about. Even if you're not in the danger zone now, are you borderline for anything?

The Lesson: Be diligent about your health.

Regular doctor visits, with the right doctor, can make a world of difference to your day to day existence. It has for me.

And anyone trying to lose weight should definitely see a doctor and ask for extensive blood work. In addition to helping you lose weight, it might also help you to live a longer, healthier life.

Peace & Blessings,