For the First Time In My Life

For the first time in my life, I find myself speechless.   I always have a come back of some sort for everything that happens in my life; I even have something to say about things others say.  Tonight as I sit in the living room by myself and reflect back over the summer I am totally speechless – which is a good thing!

I am struggling to actually put my thoughts into words tonight as I type this blog entry.   I know/believe God understands our tears; many believe He turns them into words/prayers (tears that is) and in this situation, I am believing God is turning my thoughts/wordlessness into words.

This summer started bitter sweet for me.  While I was at the end of the school year and preparing for vacation; I also had to prepare to no longer have my morning talks/prayers with Robert.  He had turned his resignation in with our school system in order to further his career – we hoped it would be within our district but we were not sure exactly where he would end up.

During the course of the summer, Robert was able to land a job but it wasn’t within our district.  I am still dealing with having to ride by myself every day and not have our morning talks/prayers. While I am struggling with the separation anxiety thoughts I know this is the best thing for our family.  This career move for Robert will open many doors for us and I seriously have not seen my husband this excited about a school year in several years now.  I actually find it cute and refreshing when he comes homes from his workshops he has had to attend the past little bit and “teaches” me what he has learned to which I have heard about or use the techniques already.  I am using these tidbits of information as a refresher for me but am excited to hear him absorbing this knowledge. Seriously, he really is cute as he tells me about these sessions and gets excited about what he has learned each day!

Many of you know Robert and I have been on a journey since January/February to get the custody and prayerfully adopt my cousin’s baby.  This summer we had to attend a dependency hearing to which I was out of town at a workshop during. Robert was our representative and he was blown away by the proceedings.  Needless to say, I struggled to pay attention in class that day!  But the love and support of my colleagues I was able to survive the morning, knowing so much could be on the line back at home.

When I finally received a phone call from Robert about what happened in court, I too was blown away.  I was actually brought to tears, the judge has called out our names and told a court room full of acquaintances and strangers about all the letters he had received from us taking custody of this baby.  He told everyone he received letters daily recommending us, The Sharpes, to take and raise this infant who was taken by the state for reasons I can’t get into tonight. When Robert told me about the letters I was totally dumbfounded.  I could not believe there were so many going to bat for us, especially since we had kept what we were doing quietly for so long.  To the individuals who wrote letters for us (we still don’t know to this day exactly who you are), we can never thank you enough for the love and support you have given us– we totally did not expect this! Robert told me the judge went on to commend us he even told Robert to keep up the good work.  By the end of the hearing, the judge had granted us a home study in efforts to place the baby with us.  When I hung up from talking to Robert that day tears filled my eyes – I am sure all the fellow conference attendees thought I was crazy but I  believe God understood the tears I shed that day and turned them into words.

All summer long I worked summer school, attended workshops or enjoyed my free time at the lake while we knew somewhere down the line we would be faced with a home study.  Today the home study happened to which the representative from Partnership for Families told us our home passed the home study.  He was a very optimistic individual.  When he left from the home study, Robert and I both felt it went well and are scared to be excited about it.  Then that is when out of now where I receive a phone call asking if they could ask their church to pray for us!  We were not expecting this phone call today, little less an expansion of our prayer circle.  God totally has left me speechless again today.

While I understand there is another family who would love to adopt the infant; Robert and I are working through the red tape to adopt, I believe God has a plan that no one can change.  I told Robert today after our home study that I know God has a plan for us and I seriously don’t know what He sees in us that makes us worthy of the blessings He has bestowed upon us.  I know deep down if God wants us to raise this baby then I believe with all of my heart we will be granted custody; if we are not meant to raise this sweet, precious girl then God would reveal it to us as well.

But for now, I am left speechless by the love God has shown us this summer and how He seems to keep putting the pieces of the puzzle we call our life together on a daily basis.  Please continue to pray for the baby and us as we go through the journey.  Okay so maybe I found my words!

 

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Secret Journey

Goodness, I am not sure where to start this blog.  I have so much on my mind I need to share with my friends and family.

Several months ago Robert and I were met with an opportunity which would lead us on a new journey,  until now a secret journey.   If you have followed me on Facebook, you know this journey requires faith and trust in God’s timing.  Robert and I did not know, at the time, where this journey would lead us. We knew, however, that it was a journey we had to take for many reasons.

Looking back over the past few months, I regret not opening up to my family and friends sooner BUT we were trying to prevent hurting other people while we were on this journey.

You are probably asking me what in the world are you talking about, aren’t you? This new journey all began with a question.  The question came from the heart of a grandmother and the love she has for her first grandchild.  One afternoon while my aunt was at our house visiting with, us she asked us a question with 7 words, “Would you be willing to adopt her?”  The “her” she was referring to is an infant!   Robert and I were totally blown away that she would think that much of us she would want us to adopt this baby.

We knew we had a lot of praying and seeking God  to do about this situation.  How could we say no to opening our home and life up to a beautiful baby girl who needed a home where she would be loved and protected for the rest of her life?   We had so much seeking to do.  Where would God lead us?  What answers would He give us?   So our prayer life ended up in overdrive.

The past few months since we were asked about adoption we have had many words of wisdom from individuals.  Robert and I received the most valuable words of advice from Haynes when we discussed with him about this opportunity.   Haynes told us, “If you don’t adopt the baby then you are being irresponsible.  You need to adopt her.” When we heard these words we knew God was giving us an open door to start the process.  We only had to trust His timing.

Once we made the decision to put our names into the “hat” for adoption we opened up to a few friends and family members.   The response and help we have received has been amazing.  We realize just how blessed we are to have the friends we have — our friends are the best.

Today, we faced a new leg of this journey, one which may not have gone the way we wanted it too BUT it was not the end of this journey.   I know over the next few months we will continue on the journey and praise God for all of his blessings along the way.   We have realized we ARE in God’s will because of the opposition we are facing and He sees the end from the beginning.  God even showed me in the middle of what seemed like confusion to some that all would be fine!

Now that our new journey is not a secret anymore, we will keep you updated along the way!  So when you say your prayers tonight remember us, the baby, and this journey God has placed us on.

Thrive Skepticism

This is Chana’s husband Robert.

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While I went to the bathroom, Chana loaded her blog on our laptop. I’d told her that I was ready to blog again. After all, like so many things, she shares this blog with me. When I feel the urge to blog about our life together or our weight loss journey, she’ll willingly turn it over to me for a bit.

What I found upon returning was a surprise. It was a funny surprise, but a surprise none-the-less. It’s the picture up above. Yes it’s funny and even I laughed at it myself. She said, “let everyone get a look at the fun loving side of your personality” People who only know me from a distance or know me from school don’t often see that side of my personality.

People, however, also didn’t see the pain that followed this trip to Saint Augustine and nearly derailed my entire Summer. There were other pictures taken on historic Saint George during this fun trip to St. Augustine. It was supposed to be such a relaxing time, a fun time, and a time to reconnect with some of my siblings and my mama. It was indeed all of that and more! As a matter of fact, everything was terrific until we came back home.

The first picture I saw wasn’t the silly upper torso shot above. It was one of the pictures taken early on during the trip down Saint George Street. It was the picture below.

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I wasn’t TRYING to get in shape for this trip, in particular, but I had really busted my butt to get in great shape to avoid embarrassment at school and to be in great shape for the Summer.

At school, the first couple of kids patting my stomach wasn’t too bad. I knew I wasn’t doing anything to really lose and keep the weight off. Therefor, I couldn’t be too upset. After a while though, it really began to hurt with the little ones. They’re honest to a fault and mostly mean no harm. They’re just making an observation. They don’t realize that they’re going to hurt your feelings. However, I secretly wondered how many of the older kids and my fellow teachers thought the same thing, but didn’t say so due to their manners. Then the pats and the comments continued even as I worked extremely hard first walking, then interval training, doing situps, doing pushups, using heavy limbs in the yard to do bicep curls, mowing our grass and sometimes my in-laws grass with a push mower.

Considering I didn’t start exercising until early February, I didn’t expect to be in tip top shape by early  June. The thoughts of a Summer in Florida at the beach, at the lakes, at the springs really compelled me to bust my behind and even feel like a moron curling tree limbs in my backyard…… oh my gosh… WoW ! Men practically spend their entire Summer here without a shirt! I’d become a true Floridian at the beach, at the lakes, at the springs laughing at tourists and enjoying the water with my beautiful wife Chana.

This was indeed a new life for me here in Florida. During the previous 10 + years, I’d barely worn a pair of shorts much less swam. In fact, the only place I wore shorts was in private at home.

However, here’s the biggest reason for my disappointment. This wasn’t my first failed attempt to lose weight. I’d been a contestant two different times in a “Biggest Loser” contest back in Georgia. During the first attempt in 2011, I hadn’t lost any weight in 6 weeks, I dropped out of the program. During the second attempt in 2012, I was personally invited back by the program coordinator. She thought the 2nd time might be the charm for me. I went in believing in myself the 2nd time and taking it MUCH more seriously! The result: I  completed the 12 week program where I lost a whopping 10 pounds doing interval training, aerobics, running up hills, doing football like drills using railroad crossties, etc, etc.  This time I made some changes to my diet, as well. I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on the coordinator’s face when she compared my starting and ending weight. It’s amazing that I didn’t let that get me down. I kept at it even harder for an additional 8 weeks. I lost another 5 pounds. The final result was a total weight loss of 15 pounds in 20 weeks.

Keep in mind that I started at 250 pounds. At that weight, I could easily gain or lose 5 pounds in a day. In my mind, I’d lost. I’d failed a second time. I’d let down the program coordinator who had waived my fee and who had believed in me!…… During college, I’d worked out at a Gold’s Gym. The words of my trainer once again rang out in my head,  no matter how hard you work here, you’ll never reach your goals as long as you stop at the KFC down the street. Back then, I was still young and still able to get away with a little Popeyes, a little Taco Bell, a little Arbys, or Chinese food. I’d show him….. Although, in the end and he wouldn’t be too happy about this, I guess he showed me!

There I stood looking at that picture. Soon those other failed attempts came to mind. If you’re keeping score, that’s 3 failed attempts in 5 years.

Before we tried Thrive, we took a nutritional supplement that was supposed to help curb my diabetes, aid in pain tolerance, and help us LOSE weight. We were on it for 4 months and I changed my diet… we changed our diet…we walked….  , but I, nor Chana, lost the weight………. again

Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of our journey though Praise the Lord! In late August, Chana began talking to me about a product that a lot of people here locally were taking to send their energy level through the roof, aid in pain relief, offer mental clarity, and possibly help us lose weight. My first thoughts must have been, “oh no…. NOT another cure-all…not another snake oil!”

There were all of these locals on Facebook promoting different weight loss products. My thoughts were things like, “They have the genetics that allow them to lose weight. They have a race horse metabolism vs. my ( in Dana Carvey’s voice) turrrttlle turrrttlle metabolism. They were never really overweight to start with.. They don’t have diabetes like me. It’s just another way for them to supplement their income. ” Now granted, by and large, I never thought they were dislikeable, dishonest, or otherwise despicable, I just thought it “wasn’t for me”

Chana just said that I was finishing up week 14 on Thrive!

As an adult, I sold internet and cable t.v. one time to survive. That’s the ONLY thing I’ve sold as an adult. I’m a skeptical person and REFUSE to put my integrity on the line for something that doesn’t work.  FOLKS, I don’t need to sell this product to survive. We were making it just fine financially before Thrive. I’m trying to sell this product to you to revive your QUALITY of life folks! I want to help you, but you must trust what I’m telling you.

Excruciating sciatica —- >  gone

Energy level —- > improved

Stomach problems —– > greatly reduced

Mental Clarity  —> improved

Weight —->  started at 260 and now 230 lbs.

Are you ready to try a sample?

You’re running out of excuses. In June, at the beach, at the lake, at the springs, don’t look back and wish you’d taken that first step ! Don’t delay contact Chana today!

Food For Thought

The other night Robert and I were having a conversation before bed.  We found ourselves in a deep conversation about our relationship.  Don’t fret it wasn’t about our relationship with each other but our relationship with God.   We talked about where we felt we were and where we wanted to be. Then, Robert made a comment which has been thought provoking for me and has been an avenue for God to really speak and work with me.

As many of you know Robert and I promote Thrive by Le-Vel.  We love the product and want others around us to find the benefits from it that we have .  The past few months we have really been pushing Thrive with all of it’s benefits.   I am actually surprised  no one has de-friended me on Facebook over how much we promote Thrive. Yes, it has seriously been that bad but we have been able to get family and friends to try Thrive.  We feel like we are helping change their lives.

All of this being said, back to what Robert said during our conversation earlier this week.  Robert and I had talked about our desire to be closer to God in 2017 than what we were in 2016.  We talked about what we could do to grow closer:  read our Bible more, pray more, attend church, and even get involved in small groups.  These are all things we do anyway but we knew to grow closer and to draw others to God we needed to increase these activities.

Then Robert blurted out, “What if we promote God as much as we promote Thrive.  Think about how many people we could win for the Kingdom!”  This quote got me thinking.  Had I gotten so caught up in changing people’s lives I forgot to make sure they had God in their lives?  Don’t get me wrong I love Thrive and we will continue to promote it BUT at the same time we have to spend just as much energy on promoting God and growing our relationship with him.

Many people make resolutions for each New Years, my resolution for 2016 was to lose weight to which I have lost about 30 pounds!   It is now time to think about my resolution for 2017.  While  I will keep losing weight, taking and promoting Thrive  – these will not be my resolution.  My resolution, and I am sure my husband will join me with this one, is to promote God and grow closer to Him!

By the way I took my first step in this today by reconnecting with a close friend and starting a Facebook group where we will be able to connect with others who are Saved by Grace.   I will be sharing more about this group over the next few weeks and months.  I am looking forward to the roll Robert and I will play in this group with discussions, Bible studies and various other outreaches!

 

You want me to do what?!?

My morning routine is very simple and I am rather OCD about how I do even the smallest things. Since I am so OCD about my routine when someone, even my sweet and handsome husband, ask me to do something different it cause me to hesitate and panic just a little. This is what happened this morning, which has led me to the opportunity to blog tonight.

My morning routine every morning follows the same routine: after waking up, praying and taking my Thrive supplements I get dressed for the day, I promise not to give too much info so I will start after I am ready for the day.  I make our protein shakes, sit down at the table, pray again asking for God’s guidance through the day, bless our shakes and the scripture I will read. Then, I read my Bible (normally a chapter a day) while drinking my shake.  After reading my Bible and drinking my shake I get our lunch ready, my shoes on and am rushing out the door.

This routine happens every morning, no fail!  I even find time to tell Robert what time it is and we need to hurry, I hate being late.  This morning this was my routine almost step by step. Well this morning Robert had to throw a kink into my day. While he was driving to work, we always talk about our plans for the day and about up coming events. This morning instead of talking our normal talk Robert told me, “I think you need to pray for us this morning.”

Instantly, I froze and started thinking, ‘doesn’t he realize  I have already prayed for us not once BUT twice!’, to which I knew he did. The silence had to have been ackward, because I am rarely quiet.

Almost immediately, I realized why I had to pray… I was “tested” while trying to send a text message for a very OCD husband.  Goodness, did I need the patience I prayed God would give us for the day.  When we got to school I hit the ground running with one issue after the other, to which several were MAJOR issues, which I don’t think I have ever had to deal with before. Let me just say I have gained even more respect for our Administration for all their work on one certain situation today, they are truly the best!  I definitely needed God to shine His light through me to shine for the little ones to see, and this was just the beginning!

I realized by the end of the day, God had guided Robert in asking me to pray.  Robert could have easily said another prayer for us but God realized I needed to taste the words which would help me over come a crazy day. These words were a constant reminder to me during  the day. While there were more words to my prayer than for our day, God has shown me that He is on control and like the song goes, “If you believe it, if you receive it….. If you’ve got chains, He’s a chain breaker”.

Regrouping

Every once in a while, we, as humans, need to take a break from the craziness of our lives. We need to reflect on the events happening around us and simply regroup.  Regrouping is not always easy, just ask my 36 third graders who struggle with regrouping in math, it isn’t always as clear cut as you’d think.  There are so many strategies that have to be considered when we regroup. Sometimes it simply hurts.

I am currently going through a regrouping phase in my life right now and goodness, once again, it hurts. Ask Robert how many tears I have cried the past few weeks and especially the past few days.  My regrouping is out of necessity, just like regrouping in Math it is only completed out of necessity. I can hear your thoughts as I’m typing, ” What are you regrouping?  Why are you regrouping?”  Don’t worry, I’m getting to that, it all started with wanting to make a few changes. Then it came full circle today with a picture.

Over the summer, I began walking with a childhood friend.  I made a goal and set out on a mission to regain my health one step at a time.  The walking was wonderful and gave me a new lease on life. I was being pushed and winning thanks to the encouragement of my accountability partner. Then school started and my walking totally stropped. I believe we’ve only walked twice since school started. During this time, I began looking into a few options to help me regain my life and health.  I prayed, asked questions, and pursued what I was sure would help me regain my life.  All of this work was for nothing!  When I discovered my insurance WOULD NOT pay, insurance I pay a lot of money for a month, to say I was “upset’ would be an understatement.  I questioned why and began wondering the reasons I was hitting this brick wall. I even went as far as to ask how much the procedure would cost out of pocket, only to discover it was $15,000 which had to be paid up front at my first visit! This news sent me into a tailspin to say the least.

My tailspin continued for several weeks if not months, I felt as though I had no motivation and no direction. I started living inside, what I call my bubble.  I would to  work and simply go through the motions of the day, faking how I felt all the while.  I would come home and slip back  into my comfort zone and stay here. Then, I was introduced to Thrive by Le-Vel.  I was given a 4 day sample and goodness did I NOTICE a difference.  I once again had energy and felt alive again, I was living again not just going through the motions. I have  enjoyed my time taking Thrive, the energy and mental clarity I have received from it.  While I have not lost much weight I have felt better than I had for months!

This weekend, for the first time in months, I went out and about with Robert and Haynes.  This trip was not what I expected and is what has ultimately led to my regrouping, along with a certain picture. Our day out was supposed to be a fun, family shopping trip (I had to get makeup).  Well, after going into a popular consignment shop in Orange Park I knew deep down things were not going to be fun.  Shopping around, looking at shoes for the most part because within 5 seconds of being in the store I realized they didn’t not carry clothes in  my size, I had sales associated glare at me with the look of, “why is that fat lady shopping here?” So my time in the store  was  not fun at all… it is not fun having people watch you because of your size at all.  After we left, me upset from the treatment to which I would not tell Robert about, I thought the day surely had to get better.  We ventured to the makeup store so I could get what I needed.  Well, I should have used my experience from the first store as a big hint, once again I was treated with disrespect.  I guess no one liked my Gator shirt, because I had three sales associated look at me and turn away to help other customers who each came in after me!  This tipped the scale and led to a total melt down for me.  Here I venture out of my bubble I had been in for months just to be treated like this, I was totally devastated and have swore to stay in my bubble!

Today at school we celebrated anti- bullying day by wearing blue shirts.  All of the third grade female teachers wore matching shirts.  We decided to take a picture which was probably not the best thing for me since I have been struggling.

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Even though I was not wanting a picture taken, I went through with it.  This picture has been shared on Facebook and with all the teachers in the third grade.  The picture really made me stop and realize what I had done to myself.  I have total self destructed, I had become my own worse enemy.  How could I do this to myself and my family? I knew right then I  had to have a serious talk with Robert – to help him see where I was coming from, I had to regroup and needed his help to regroup! After, many tears I believe I now have my plan in order and with help from God, Robert and the rest of my family I truly believe I will begin to see a new me soon!

I would love it if you followed my progress.  I will be posting every two weeks or so. PLEASE follow as I retake control of my life!

I am still here

Hi everyone!   I am so sorry it has been forever since I have written.   Things have been SO crazy since school has started, there have been days I simply came  home and crash.  I have several things up my sleeve and currently going on and  I can’t wait until I can tell you about them.

The next few days I will start typing about a journey I started this summer and give you an update.

I just wanted everyone to know I was still here and thinking about each of my readers.  Please keep looking for my next entry, “Where my journey is taking me”!

 

Appointments Made by God

There are times in life where you just don’t understand exactly what you are going through and why you have to go through certain struggles.  I have been very vocal on my blog about the struggle I had in school, growing up.  There were times I couldn’t make heads or tails of the events going on around me.  I didn’t understand treatment by certain individuals, teachers and fellow students alike (friends and non-friends).  As young child and even teenagers,humans tend to question why they were born into the family they were born into, why they live where they live, why they look the way they do, and the list goes on because I believe children and teens were designed to question!  So as we go through the struggles I mentioned in the beginning we start questioning what is going on.  I know it sounds as though I am rambling a bit BUT I promise I have a point to make tonight, I just need to get some background information for you.  Let me tell you a story that has been many years in the making – an appointment God made years ago and then again recently.

Growing up I never saw myself as poor or rich, I had Jesus, a mom, a dad and a brother – a small family but a happy family.   Both of my parents worked, we attended church together every time the doors were opened , we always seemed to get the things we needed and many of the things we wanted. I can remember taking the best vacations, we went to Disney World when I was in second grade, we went to the mountains when I was in third grade and Cape Kennedy when I was in fourth grade.  The years we didn’t take big trips we had the BEST vacations ever — we went to Kingsley Beach and camped out!  I even had  a handful of friends who I felt like I could share everything with and be myself around.   I simply had a wonderful life!

Like I said, I had a handful of friends.  Well, there was this one friend — we called ourselves cousins, I am sure we are related somehow down the road–she was that one friend that we seemed to always be at each others houses.  If she wasn’t at my house, I was at her house — most of the time she was at my house because I didn’t like staying away from home.   My friend did everything with me, she seemed as part of the family!   Our friendship started when we were in Kindergarten and simply grew through Elementary school.   I am sure everyone has that friend from childhood that they have many memories with.   The list of memories I have with this friend starts with dress up, Sunday School, church, school, and many many more.    My friend and I seemed to be close for many years but in middle school we began drifting apart.  I thought we drifted because I was in band she was into softball – these two activities seemed to pull us into two different directions.  Before long this friend I shared many memories with as a child was simply a memory and a person I would see in the halls at school from time to time since we didn’t have classes together it was rare to cross paths otherwise.   Middle school came and went, high school came and went so did our friendship.  We both took different paths and our paths did not cross.

Fast forward to 21 years after high school (21 years OH MY GOSH, NO WAY!!!) my old friend moved back home – in the age and time of Facebook and Twitter, she and I had reconnected and communicated several times prior to her moving back home.   All of these years had passed and our lives went in different directions but one thing seemed to connect us after all this time an appointment God had made for us.   Today 21 years after high school my friend and I were able to start exercising together, by exercise I mean walk.  God had allowed for us to make a connection again after all of this time.   Little did I know there was a reason for this appointment, one that I had no clue about.  I will let my friend’s comments finish this story: “This morning I woke up a little nervous. You see I was saved in my mid 20s and my first desire was for God to place a few people back into my life so that I would be able to apologize for the things that I had done to them growing up. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that the hurt that was done to me I was doing to others (just in a different form). I remember growing up and going home with a friend. At this friends house she had a mom, a dad, and a brother in the home (unlike me). Her parents loved each other and showed it in every way possible. (unlike me). I remember she had a water bed and a record player. We would lay awake at night and listen to this one particular song. “Dear Mister Jesus”. It was a song told by a little girl about all the abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) children were going through and in the end she talks about how she is being abuse. Man how I wanted to tell my story. But instead of telling my story, I started resenting this friend and starting being really mean to her. I wanted what she had and didn’t understand what made her so special and not me. I was really mean to this friend and after a while I never spoke to her. fast forward MANY years. After being saved I prayed for God to put this particular person back into my life so that I could apologize to her face to face. Her and I kept making plans to meet up and walk but something just kept coming up BUT God gave me that opportunity today. When I woke up this morning I did some chores and then I got on my knees and started praying. I prayed God would provided the opportunity, the words, the wisdom, the peace, for me to be able to go through with it. AND HE DID. It took over 20 years but I apologized and a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. It was an amazing feeling. If you ever have the opportunity to right your wrongs….pray about it and do it.”

Now, for the rest of the story, I didn’t remember any of the treatment she had to apologize for.   I had forgiven and forgotten about it a long time ago.  It has been erased from my memory to the point I can’t tell you a single thing she did to me which was mean (that is why it isn’t in my blog).   God is wonderful and truly does put people in your path for a reason!   Little did I back when I was a third, fourth and fifth grader my family and I were planting seeds which would manifest years later.   God is so awesome and I am so thankful I am being used by Him daily.  I am thankful my childhood friend has a close relationship with God now and is a great example for those around her.  The appointment God made for me today is one I could not have made myself — He has restored and healed!

 

 

Robert’s Struggle

( This is Robert, Chana’s husband, covering something really personal that I’m going through today. I guess you’d call it my weight loss journey, but it feels like the journey hasn’t officially begun…. )

There they were laid out before me, my pictures with my shirt off, where they could no longer be ignored. We’d taken a short vacation this week with my mama and my siblings for her 80th birthday. Chana wanted me to thumb through the photos to relive some of the good memories. Unfortunately, the pictures taken just before the vacation pictures were the shirtless photos of me that Chana had taken on June 3rd, 2016.

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I hadn’t planned on looking at those pictures until teachers report back for duty on August 3rd, 2016. I’d be able to see the progress that I’d made during this final touch-up before the 2016-2017 school year.

This realization has gone beyond disbelief and entered the arena of totally disheartening to me. This surely couldn’t be me….not after I’d walked for a month, began a walk sprint a month later, used make shift limbs in the yard as barbells, did pushups (albeit what the guys used to call “girl pushups”), cut grass for 45 minutes, cut grass for an hour and a half, joined the gym and leg pressed 350 lbs after a 10 year absence from the gym

These pictures surely couldn’t be me after I’d cut down from 4 to 6 servings of soft drinks a day down to 1 or 2 servings. These pictures couldn’t be me after cutting down to 1 portion apiece at supper with no seconds…. eating baked or broiled instead of fried…. cutting down ‘white carbs’ drastically… rice — 1 time in 3 months…. virtually no french fries compared to normal…. cutting down on bread….with so much money spent on fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, frozen fruits, and frozen vegetables….

I’ve been taking supplements that are supposed to build testosterone…. supplements that are supposed to build dht….. other supplements that are supposed to cut fat….. supplements that are supposed to cure stomach ailments……a supplement that is supposed to be a cure all and costs $80 per month, but is very difficult to cancel and hasn’t done jack squat over the past 6 months.

The bottom line is that –> nutrition and supplementation, or so I read, are SUPPOSED to account for 80% of weight loss

Now granted that, at this point in time , I’d not worked out in 15 days and my diet hadn’t been quite as clean during that time, but where was the muscle tone in my chest? Where were the burgeoning biceps that I thought I was building up? Where were the big calves that I saw in field day photos at school? While my legs looked like bird legs , at least I could see some muscle tone. That’s not the case at all with my upper body.

Except for my weak and spindly looking arms, everything above the waist is pretty much covered with fat. My chest area was covered by a small amount of it. However, it was the area between my chest and waist that’s very disheartening to me. My belly was enormous!

The most confusing part is that I’ve dropped from size 40 pants to size 36 jeans and shorts in 4 months, but I still look this bad. How is that possible? Even if I hadn’t worked sooooooo hard and cut out so many favorite foods from my diet, this would still be hard. It just wouldn’t evoke the emotionally wiped out feeling that I’ve felt for the last few hours.

Before typing this out, I was so hurt by the emotional part of what seems like failure that I hadn’t accounted for what had happened physiologically to my body. My changes in body composition have mostly been muscle loss and not the desired fat loss.

Balance can’t possibly be starving myself to death. Balance cant possibly be spending 3 or 4 hours a day in the gym. Balance can’t possibly be drinking nasty protein shakes that have only been available over the past 20 years. Balance can’t possibly consist of the aforementioned expensive supplements that haven’t worked for us.

I want a real food + real exercise no nonsense answer that increases energy, lowers blood sugar levels, trims fat, and builds muscle.

It’s too late for it to happen by next school year, but I just want it to happen at some point during my 40’s.

Chana and I will somehow do this together though. Neither of us will quit! We’re continually learning things that work and things that don’t work for us.

 

Belong

Have you ever wanted to simply belong?  Belong in a group? Belong to a specific family? Have you had that longing to simply feel like you were a part of something special?  Is there that longing or a nagging that won’t go away?

I see it everyday in my classroom.  I have little girls and boys that want to be friends with other girls and boys, they want to “belong” to a special group of kids BUT they feel as though they are left out.   These little ones will do everything possible to belong but I always find myself having to talk with them about the type of friend they want and do they want a friend that treats them good only when they feel like it or do they want a friend who wants to be around them all the time and like them for who they are.

Well, it not only happens to little ones but it happens to adults too.  We want to feel as though we belong.  Tonight, as I write and open up to you, I find myself wanting to belong.  I want to feel as I belong in a place where I have always felt I belonged, I have a longing and desire which is hard to put into words but I know that many of my readers will understand.

My entire life, or from the time I was about 5 years old, I had a certain routine every Sunday morning.  There was a certain path I took once a week and many times up to three times a week.   I am sure by the time I was grown I could take this path blindfolded.  Not only did I have a path but I had a special schedule I followed each of these Sunday’s for over 30 years of my life!  I had a specific place to sit, stand and even a job(s) I did for the most part.  I belonged!   I am sure you probably know where I belonged, don’t you???  I belonged to a church family.  I knew without a doubt when I woke up on Sunday mornings I would be attending a specific church where I would see specific brothers and sisters in Christ.  I, also knew when I missed church there was a piece of the church missing.  I was part of a family bigger than me.

Two years ago I lost this feeling of belonging.  When we left Cedar Creek Church, I for the first time in my life did not have a church home.  I  embraced the opportunity to seek God, listen to where He wanted me and actually take a back seat and enjoy simply being a “seat warmer” for a while. I took this as my season to be fed and not to help feed others.  Well, here I am two years later and on my second church since Cedar Creek, finding myself wanting to belong!  Since leaving the place I called home for so many years, I have not found another place to call home and here I am now desiring that place to belong.

Tonight when Robert and I were running an errand around town, we had a conversation about things we needed to do tomorrow.  I had for the past month felt like I didn’t belong where we are currently attending but did not know how to address it to my husband…. Well tonight, I couldn’t hold it in any longer… I blurted it out, “I am ready to find a church where I feel like I belong!” I think I totally surprised him by my words.  My own husband didn’t expect to hear me say, “I want to belong”.  So if he was surprised I wonder how surprised God is by me longing to belong?

Here I am at almost 40 years old, taking the advise I give my students on a daily basis. I am asking the same questions I ask those third graders but instead of the word “friend” I am using the word “church” because I am ready to feel like I BELONG!