Monday, September 22, 2008

A Lousy Start--The Rollover Principle

UGH!! I have had a lousy start to my day and my week.

It started when someone needed to interrupt my morning schedule. This was the very first thing that happened today--as in, I was still in bed (though I had begun waking up)--and it turns out that this is a problem for me. I am not nearly as flexible...or as I ought to be. UGH!

Then I thought, "Just let it roll. Move on, and you'll be fine." But I'm not fine. Every time I interact with someone today, I find myself irritable and snappish. And you know, even if these things could be earned--and I don't see a record of Jesus being snappish so I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to be--these people didn't deserve my attitude. But out it came anyway. UGH!

I try to make my first thoughts of the day prayer. I find this usually gets me off to a pretty good start. But this morning, my first thoughts were of things I forgot to do at work on Friday. Things that were needed for the weekend or that should have been moved to someone else's plate in a timely manner. I really hate realizing that I am behind, that I have messed up in this way. And I don't like that the crunch I felt last Friday at work has now rolled over to my Monday, and thus my new week. And all of that put me in a foul mood from the get-go.

I am seeing what I'm calling The Rollover Principle: When something doesn't get done in timely way on one day, it rolls over to affect the next. Or when I go to bed late one day--for good or lazy reasons--I start the next day with a deficit, either of time (oversleeping, which is my body's inclination) or of sleep. One action affects the next, and if one tiny thing gets out of alignment, all kinds of chaos ensues.

And it sometimes [read: especially today] feels like I'm living in the middle of said chaos. I'm not sure how to stop the cycle. It's like I can't pull back far enough to plan well for all that needs to happen. Don't worry--I'm working on figuring it out, but today, I am its servant, not its master.

I do think this is part of why God ordained days/periods of rest--of cessation. I wonder if this wasn't partly intended to create that margin, that gap which provides some relief from the whirlwind grind of daily life. I don't believe that the Sabbath (and according to the entire Old Testament, that is Saturday, guys *wink*) is part of the commands for the church (feel free to disagree (-:). However, from the very beginning, God Himself, though never tired (nor in the midst of chaos!) set a pattern of break-taking. I do try to observe a day of rest each week, but the chaos simply seems to pick up again the following day. Somehow, I'm not getting something right...

MMMmmmmmmmm.... I'm ready to skip this week. It looks pretty intimidating from my Monday morning, and I can't seem to find an attitude that will lighten things up.

Feeling like my week's on my back & not liking who I am today,

(c) 2008

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love...He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities...for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
--Psalm 103:8, 10, 14, NIV

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On Lincoln and Wisdom

Abraham Lincoln. A man of reserve, courage, and wisdom. How did he gain such discernment, such skill in living and administering (for that is what wisdom is)? Perhaps this will help to clarify:

'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
--Abraham Lincoln

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.
--Proverbs 17:28, NIV



Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known. --Proverbs 14:33

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Journey: The Beginning

This is the beginning of the chronicling of The Journey.

The Journey is my personal code name for my weight-loss journey. And one year ago this week, I started The Journey.

I started working on weight loss on my own, and tried--for the first time in my life, I believe--a fad diet. Some friends of mine that I respect a lot had been doing the GM Diet off and on for months, and they said it worked for them, so... The GM Diet is one where you eat only certain foods on certain days for a week, and it generally has the effect of...making one cranky. Oh, and you do lose weight...'cause how many bananas can one eat in one day? And I don't even drink milk normally! Why would I drink so much in a day? And that cabbage soup?...ick!

So you can see that I wasn't thrilled with the menu, but I was pretty interested in losing some weight. My push at this point was an upcoming visit to a family member who tends to "notice" one's weight. And since I was up about 10 pounds from the last time I had made this visit, I was anxious to get it off, quickly. And after two weeks on the crazy GM diet, I had lost 9 pounds...and had become cranky. It was time to stop.

Over the next few weeks, I tried just reigning myself in. I lost a little, but what I learned was that I had no idea how to eat appropriately. Seriously. And I was personally shocked at this revelation. I knew how to make healthful meals, and had been doing so for years. What I didn't know what what kinds of portions would be appropriate for me. And I had no idea, I would come to realize shortly, how many calories & grams of fat were in the 'healthful' foods I was consuming.

So, after considering the options out there, I narrowed down my list of requirements for a program:
1. It had to have real food. None of this, "Buy our $1000-a-week" food!" stuff. Just regular, grocery store items.
2. It had to be flexible. My life and schedule are too nuts to only be able to eat their frozen fake eggs. (I prefer to make frozen fake eggs on my own, thank you. Or, not really.)
3. It had to be real portions intended for real [read: permanent] weight-loss. I was not going on a 600-calorie diet. A lack of food makes me seriously cranky (and nauseous; I'm pretty sure I have blood-sugar issues here).

I was not really thrilled at the idea of going on a program of any kind. I was kind of a snob about this. I really thought it was for weak people who couldn't do it on their own. I didn't see myself that way; I just figured I hadn't tried hard enough. I have since had two realizations:
1. Programs are simply systems. You still have to do the (sometimes hard) work yourself.
2. I am a weak (and uninformed) person who couldn't do it without somebody teaching me how.

I decided to check out Weight Watchers: real food, a real system, and for many, real weight-loss. I was very unnerved by doing this. I was so nervous and embarrassed that I was almost in tears as I entered the building. And I almost certainly would not have gone at all if my (normal-weight) best friend had not agreed to go with me. Of course, I chose one of the largest meetings in the city... But by God's grace, that first week there was no one there that I knew or who knew me. That was very important, as I didn't want anyone to know what I was trying to do.

There were a thousand tiny reasons I started on my journey that day. I didn't have a straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back moment, as many do. I'll share more of those thousand reasons another day, but the one that came to forefront of my mind that Tuesday evening, the one that made me sign the contract, girls.

I use the term "my girls" to refer to the five young women God brought into my life who opened their lives to me as mentor and discipler. I had just started formally meeting with the girls the month before, and here is what I wanted to accomplish: "Follow me, as I follow Christ (a la, Paul)". And in this one area, I knew I didn't want them to follow me. I knew that if I wanted to be a whole-life example to them, I needed to get this area of my life in order. Thinking these thoughts, and with trembling hand, I paid for a six-week membership.

So, that's the beginning. There is more, so much more, but I'll save that for another day. I leave you with this: Two days after I started Weight Watchers, I wrote this as I considered what I would soon term The Journey.

Isn't God good?


(c) 2008

How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? --Psalm 116:12, NIV

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crazy Things: A Sampling From My Life

I thought I would share with you some random, crazy things from my life over the past few weeks:

1. This one kinda was a bee in my bonnet: The dinner theater I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? We ran out of portions of our catered meal every night. night. I was really, really not happy. After some negotiations, however, we did resolve the conflict...I thought you'd be happy to know. :-)

2. Around midnight or one a.m. about ten days ago, I was chased down in my bathroom by a...are you ready for this?...a SCORPION! Seeing how I'd never seen a scorpion in my life until earlier that day, I was SHOCKED! I was standing there in those lovely new white sandals I showed you last week, and *trot* *trot* *trot* he owns the place, in comes a scorpion. He was probably only three inches long, but he was definitely a scorpion. Aahhhhhh!!! Impressively, I think, I did not scream, though the gasping intake of air I grabbed probably shorted some other soul of their oxygen. And then, responding quickly and in an unexpected way...I killed that sucker, yes I did. And I'm proud of me for doing so. Dissenters will not dissuade me.

3. I nearly killed someone, and possibly myself too, last week. I am not being hyperbolic here. I distinctly remember being alert and having both hands on the wheel as I was driving home around 10:30-11:00 p.m. after one of our dinner theaters. I exited the interstate onto a road that quickly merges left from three roads to one. You must quickly look in front of you, quickly look behind you, and get thee over! It is not particularly well lit in this spot, but it's not dark either. However, it was dark enough for me to miss the dark-skinned man wearing dark clothes, talking on his cell phone, while walking in the middle of the road at 11 p.m.! It was also just beginning to mist, so when I slammed on my brakes, my car careened from side to side, narrowly missing the very surprised man and just missing hitting the right curb (had I hit this, going 45 miles per hour, I really think I would have flipped my car and rolled down the embankment). By God's grace--and I suspect some angelic involvement--I and the man survived the incident, and I drove on away. There was no point in stopping. He was alive, and if I had regained the use of my tongue at that moment, I might have beaten him to death with it. Crazy!

4. I gave myself a third-degree burn during our dinner theater. I thought I had put out all the Sterno cans, but there was one where the lid was just a tiny bit tilted. So for two hours, this little piece of metal heated and waited, and heated and waited...for my middle finger to find it's nemesis. And find it it did! Let's just say, I expect to lose a portion of that finger, along with the feeling I've already lost. Uh...oops?!?

Well, that's just a sampling. Check back soon. Who knows what kinda trouble I might get into around here! ;-)


(c) 2008

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

--Mark 12:28-34, NIV

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Best/Worst Travel Experience

I just finished entering a contest where the subject matter was your best &/or worst travel experience. Well, since my best happened on the same trip as my worst, it was pretty easy to pick which story to tell. Here, in all it's absence of glory, is my recounting:

Having lived overseas, I've flown quite a bit, and my best & worst travel experience occurred all in one instance while living in South Korea.

Or perhaps I should say, the trip was fabulous, but the before & after were horrendous.

While teaching ESL in S. Korea, one of my roommates and I decided to take a four-day weekend and hop over to Hong Kong, shortly before the handover from Britain to China. Since payday was going to happen during that very weekend, we asked our director if he would pay us a couple of days early. "No problem," he said. However, when the day arrived, he was no where to be found. We spent hours hunting him down and finally cornered him into going to the bank with us and getting our pay. Whew! Problem #1 overcome.

We then went home to pack, when roommate #3 decided to return from a drinking binge (looking back, RM#3 probably had alcohol poisoning, but we didn't know that then). RM#3 also brought two easily-irritated, drunk nationals into our home. When RM#3 holed up in the restroom, "ill," these two guys refused to leave, and were bordering on becoming violent. We demanded that RM#3 come out and boot them out, no matter how ill. These two guys finally left, and we locked the door. Problem #2 overcome.

However, RM#3 continued to stay in the restroom long into the night, until we finally began to bang on the door and demand an exit. When RM#3 did finally leave, what was left behind was disgusting. Every hole in the bathroom was clogged with, uh, "illness." It was one of the worst things I've ever seen. It was all over the walls, the sink, the washer, the toilet...I could have strangled RM#3.

With only a few hours left now until our early morning departure, and utterly exhausted, we spent the next 1-1/2 hours using up every paper towel and plastic bag in the house to clean out the room. I would gulp air, hold my breath, and clean as long as I could, then stick my head out of the door, gasping in fresh air. It was truly horrific...but we finally got it cleaned up. Problem #3 over with.

We made our flight from the south up to Seoul, but made our flight out of Seoul only by the grace of fellow travelers who let us cut when a slow-moving, 1/8-mile security line that didn't exist 10 minutes earlier threatened to keep us from our gate. Problem #4 averted.

However, once we landed in Hong Kong, we could not have had a nicer time. Adventure after adventure, wonderful people, food, shopping, and landscapes captivated us, and we were able to squeeze in every item we had placed on our itinerary.

Our flight home, however, was turbulent enough that I genuinely--despite much experience traveling--questioned whether we would arrive at our destination. My stomach began to get a little queasy, but we did finally arrive in Seoul. Return Problem #1 overcome.

However, our return flight landed late, and we missed our connecting flight--the final one of the day. So we headed outside to queue for a taxi, which would take us to the bus station across town. It was so late at this point that the lines were long waiting for the few remaining taxis. Disreputable taxi drivers kept trying to 'book' us to take their taxis--for triple or quadruple the price. Finally we got a 'real' taxi and arrived at the bus station just in time to catch the final bus south for the night. We had a five hour ride ahead of us (instead of the planned 45 minute flight). It was nearly midnight, but at least we had a ride home. Return Problem #2 overcome.

The queasy feeling that had started on the plane turned into a full-blown stomach virus by the time our bus ride was over. It didn't matter, however, as I still had to head to my class at 6:30 a.m. I'd had no sleep and was very ill, but there was no way my director would have believed I was sick the day after vacation if he hadn't seen me. So I suffered through three hours of teaching (doubled over) and then collapsed. Return Problem #3 endured.

The befores and afters of this trip were really, really awful. The only consolation is that my visit to Hong Kong was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As bad as before/after were, this was still the best vacation I've ever had.


(c) 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rising To The Challenge

Sunday, I really moved out of my comfort zone.

The week before, two of the girls in my Sunday School class approached me after church with a challenge: "Miss J, we challenge you to wear something that's not black. Or white or gray. Or navy or tan. Something bright!" Okay! Can do!

Or not.'s harder than it looks. My entire wardrobe is black. Or white or gray. Or navy or tan. That's it. All I own are neutrals.

See, I'm in my in-between wardrobe right now--out of my big clothes but not yet to my final destination. I just need some things that will tide me over for now, and that will work with each other and in most environments. And that are on clearance. Ergo, all my clothes are cheap, mid-dressy neutrals. (Okay, it's also possible that I really like neutral colors. That may have played a part in wardrobe selection. But the cheap, available, flexible-ness-es definitely contributed.)

So....I had to go shopping. It had to be really cheap. As in, really, really cheap. As it so happened, I stopped by Sam's Club after church for some apples, and lo and behold, there was a really cute sheath dress--only one--and it was in my [new] size! AND, it was only eight bucks and some change!

Presto, chango! I own a sleeveless dress with a white base that is smothered in bright turquoise daisies. I love daisies.

Now, this is a substantial branching out for me, not just because of the color, but for several other reasons as well:
1. I haven't worn a sleeveless shirt since I was in middle school. Let's just say my arms aren't my favorite body part. But you know what? I'm thirty-{muffle, swish, rumple} and I just don't have enough time left on earth to worry about what you think about my upper arms, k? Plus, they look a heck of a lot better than they did a year ago, so! {wink}
2. I only just started wearing dresses again because, well, my legs weren't my favorite part of my body either. (You'll understand more if you read this, too.) With few exceptions, I stopped wearing dresses some many years ago.
3. I have--for the first time since I was a little girl--started going bare-legged [read: without hosiery]. I am surprised at how freeing it is! :-)

Milestones, all. However, with dress in hand, I have a new dilemma. I have nothing to wear on my feet. All the shoes I own are...neutrals. Black, mostly, with a few brown thrown in for good measure.

So my busy week takes over, and on Saturday night at 8:45 p.m. I find myself heading out the door to (hopefully) find shoes to go with my white-but-mostly-turquoise dress. I'm gonna have to take whatever I can find.

And what I find is clearance [yea!]. And it's also out of my comfort zone. See, until last summer, I didn't wear shoes that displayed my feet. Nope, didn't wear sandals at all. 'Cause my feet weren't my favorite part... Oh, you know? Well, I was also scarred by a stint selling specialty shoes in college. We won't go there now; you might be eating...

So my clearance shoes leave my feet nearly naked, but here is what I came up with:

So...the outfit is compiled. And when Sunday morning dawns (or a few hours later), I don my out-of-my-comfort-zone outfit and whisk off to meet my challengers.

And they don't show.

Nope. Didn't even bother to make to Sunday School that week. [Narrowing of the eyes here] I.will.find.them. In fact, I planned to go to their houses on Sunday afternoon. No kidding.

However, they were saved the horror by showing up for worship and seeing my glorious outfit there. [They were not, however, sufficiently impressed, IMHO.]

Wanna know the best part of the day? About five of the youth I work with found me after church to make sure I knew...that someone else was wearing the EXACT same dress that morning.

Lovely. Just lovely.

Secretly, I do think it looked better on me, though. After all, my outfit wasn't just a dress and some shoes. It was a trophy to how far I've come.

Reveling in the little things,

(c) 2008

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
--2 Corinthians 5:1-9

Monday, September 8, 2008

A No-Good Day

It's been a no-good, terrible, awful day. And I really mean that. Stuff that you think would never happen...happened. And my heart is full and hurting and mournful... The day has been filled with the type of topics that I cannot blog, really, and it is the type of heaviness that makes it too hard to do so.

BUT...God has not changed. His Truth has not shifted. His goodness stands. His mercy is certain. And His grace...oh His grace is mine, so undeservedly mine.

I was struggling before today even began--you shoulda heard my prayer conversation last night (!)--and the dawn didn't make things any better. But I have hung my everything on the hook of God Himself, and His nature flows over me, blessing me even when I am hurt, lost, deceived, selfish, or grieved. I do not understand such kindnesses, but even in the midst of a no-good, terrible, awful day, I am thankful.


I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD."
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
--Lamentations 3:17-32

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ten Things for Tuesday: More Randomness

Okay, I'm still all over the board here, so that's what you get, too.

1. I do not like computers today. Not on their own; not with green eggs and ham. I have spent the entire day until now (4 p.m.) dealing with computer problems at work. The good news is that I did not throw one thing out of the window today--which was a distinct possibility circa noon. Fortunately, the cavalry arrived, and things are much better now.

2. I do still like Diet Dr. Pepper today. I share this just in case you thought that the computer thing threw off my whole world.

3. Yesterday, I did yard work. I share this to let you know that that the world will be coming to an end shortly. Iffin' you don't know me personally, you may not be away that I don't do yard work--it is why I rent. Okay, that and I don't want the responsibility/bills of owning a house. And that it might be sketchy whether I am loan-worthy...but anyway, back to the world ending.

Yesterday, I spent two hours sweating and getting FILTHY while trimming our arbor, hauling fill dirt, and digging a channel for drainage. And--and this is where things get really scary--I kinda enjoyed it. And--better yet--I'm not sore today! All those workouts at the gym have apparently paid off! :-) Whee! (Uh, please don't share the 'enjoying' part with my landlord, k? *wink*)

4. I'm freezing again. This place is nuts!

5. I got tangerine pop-up post-it notes today, and I'm lovin' them! It's the small things, really...

6. Ugh. I've already got a headache, and they just started vacuuming outside of my office. The sound of a vacuum always gives me a headache anyway. Excedrin, anyone? (Oooo... I took Excedrin on an empty stomach Sunday morning, and by the time I got to the Sunday School class I teach, I had the shakes like a drug addict on withdrawal. That caffeine is powerful stuff, man!)

7. Speaking of Sunday, I learned a very important lesson that day. No, not from the sermon (what was that thing on...? Better look at my notes...), but from an experiment. And just so you know, those little "Just add milk" muffin mixes DO go bad 13 months after their expiration date. I mean, not that I would let something like that lie around my house that long. Or that I would try to make outdated muffins for my neighbors. Who would do something like that? But if you did do something like that, you might find yourself making fresh muffins from scratch at 11:00 p.m. I mean, if anyone would do anything so crazy...

8. I am still freezing. Must. go. outside...

9. I'm really excited about my Sunday School class again. We promoted a great group of kids two weeks ago, and think they will let me lead them 'deep'--and I love going 'deep' in the Word of God! This is year two of a two-year study on the book of Acts. We are picking up at the beginning of the missionary journeys, and will pause at any point where a book was written and do a quick survey of that book. This way, we get a nice sense of the flow and development of the New Testament/early church. I am very excited! Our theme last year was: God has a plan--you can trust Him! This year, we are adding to that the message they were carrying: God as a man--you can know Him! So much fun!

10. We have already sold more tickets to this year's dinner theater than we had at this point last year, and we still have a week to go. Friday night has only one ticket left; Thursday has about 20. So if you're thinking about coming, Saturday would be a good pick... :-)

11. BONUS! I am printing 'before' pictures for my Weight Watcher's meting tonight. They asked me for them last week when I passed the 60-lb. mark on WW. Total, I've lost more than 75-lbs. That is very surreal to me. I have several posts in my mind on this topic, so I'll share more soon.

Hope your day is filled with His blessings (and that you can get warm...),

(c) 2008