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.

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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!

 

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.

 

Persistence

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On my last post I commented I started exercising again, or at least attempted to exercise.  Well since I had my pout session about how hard it was and how far I had digressed from my original goal,  I decided not to give up! As heart breaking as it was to me to see how far backwards I had gone, I knew that I could only move forward and get better than where I was on  my first attempt at exercising again.

I am proud to say I didn’t give up; I went back to the drawing board.  I searched for YouTube videos which would work for me and start at the beginning.  I found a beginner’s video and decided to give it a try.  Well, I went from my first day being able to exercise for just a few minutes to completing a workout on Sunday!

To top this exercise off today Robert and I set out on something I haven’t been able to do in such a long time.  We set out on a walk!  We walked close to a 1/2 mile today — which we actually power walked for about 5 minutes of the walk!  Can you tell how excited I am about this gigantic step?!?

It feels so good to be returning to myself again, now that my foot is healing!   Stay tuned to more of our journey — I can’t wait until I am able to join my friends for Zumba and increase my walking to the 2+ miles a day.

**My Feature Image is a  picture my of starting point — it is what made me realize how far I had strayed! It is my point of motivation, I look forward to retaking this picture before too long.**

 

Who Knows My Name?

A few weeks back Robert and I were honored to attend the baptism of our niece, Cecilia.  That Sunday, the church my brother and his family attends had a quest speaker.  The speaker made a comment which has stuck with me and has really made me think.  He said, “People like to know that others know their name.” He then proceeded to give an example where a group of little children got all excited because he knew their names.

At the time this statement didn’t stick out to me.  I knew the minister was ultimately talking about God knowing our name — which I know without a doubt He knows my name, so I didn’t put much weight into that statement until a little while later.   Having someone know my name is important, I know many of my followers know who I am, my friends and my co-workers know who I am but is that all?

I have spent much of my life being shy, introverted and at times very recluse.  Heck for the first  _____ year of my life, help me here Stasi with the exact number, I didn’t speak for myself. I would have someone else talk for me.  I wonder how much being this way has hurt and hindered me in my life and in my faith.  How many people out there don’t know who I am because I stayed in the shadows and very rarely stepped out in the spotlight?  Who really knows my name after all these years?  Am I still known just as Bobby and Geraldine’s grand-daughter? Willie and Ella Mae’s grand-daughter? Wayne and Margaret Ann’s daughter? Roberts’ wife? Who out there really knows my name?

*Sorry if my post are deep here lately — I have been doing a lot of reflecting the past little bit to help me in my weight-loss journey.*

Up next:  All About Me

 

 

The Struggle Is Real!

I have to be honest my journey to the new me has been a real struggle!  For the first time in my life I feel as though I am a failure.  It seems no matter how hard I work, how little I eat or how healthy I eat, there isn’t any signs of weight loss for me.  I struggle to put into words how I am feeling through this journey, which is definitely not like me.   I know where I want to be and I see where I am.  The place I am at is not any closer to my goal than I was in January.

So what is my hang up?  Why can’t I lose weight?  Why do I feel like a failure?  These are questions I MUST find the answers to!!

To my readers, friends and family please be patient with me as I go on this journey.   Sorry I haven’t written in a while – I know I have hidden myself from my readers the past month and I apologize.  I realized today how much I have been hiding and not getting out and about anymore which is totally due to the way I feel about myself these days!  Please hang with me and help me on my journey!

Up next: Who knows my name?

 

Share Time

Goodness, where has time gone?  It seems just like yesterday Robert and I began to seek  God about our housing situation.  Here we are two years later living in our dream house, made possible only by the grace of GOD!  The past few months I have been working on putting together a video to share with you.  The video documents, through pictures, our house from the very beginning to where we are today!  I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed putting it together.  I have to admit, I was brought to tears as I put together our video!

Also, one confession about our weight loss journey!   Robert is down several pounds where me on the other hand —- I am scared to get on the scales, scared what the scales will show.  I know from the shopping I did today, the scales will show me something I don’t want to see and don’t know if I am ready to see!

I was asked the other day a few questions and a few  of these questions happened to be, “What habits do you need to say goodbye to the most? Make a list. What do you need to do more?”  It was followed up by “When you know what your temptations/weaknesses are, then we will work towards how to make the choices to avoid or say no to them.”

Since being asked those questions I have thought really hard about it.   Over the next few days I will be documenting a list of habits I need to say goodbye to.  I hope you will following along as I pour my heart out to my readers and document my struggles and successes over the next little, let’s be real here — the next long, while!

 

I Survived

Last night was the season premiere of Biggest Loser, Temptation Nation.  I was eager to watch primarily  (here is a confession coming) to see what I missed out on. Deep down I felt this pain and desire to be there.  I really was surprised by my emotions as I began to watch.

I had been told several times over the past months Robert and I were simply not overweight enough for the show.  As it would turn out, as I watched the show, there were several contestants smaller than us and stories that did not match ours.  I also noticed, yes I was very observant last night,  many of the contestants were from Georgia and a handful from Florida.  I think that realization hurt bad.  I began wondering/questioning again why we weren’t good enought for this show.  What about our story didn’t make us good enough?!?

Yes, as I watched the show, I cried along with the contestants — I couldn’t help it!  Here comes another confession ladies and gentlemen. … I also cried a few tears and wanted to cry even more out of self pity.  I really suffered from the want and desire to change our lives and the lives of those around us, what is wrong with wanting to give my community something to be proud of?!?

After all being said, I survived the season premiere last night.  I enjoyed watching the changes the show made, how cool would it have been to be part of those changes!

 

Sanctuary

I remember back my freshman year of college, 20 years ago now — where has time gone, I was given a writing assignment which I had to write about my sanctuary. The professor told us our sanctuary could be a favorite spot, our safe spot or any location which brought us serenity. I can remember so vividly writing about my sanctuary, I remember identifing, describing it and longing to be back at that spot. The spot I identified 20 years ago as my sanctuary was a childhood location which was filled with memories.  It was a spot where I would spend time with my parents and grandparents, fishing and enjoying each others company.  Thinking back to this assignment I wish I would have identified another location as my sanctuary, a location which holds just as many memories (if not more), I spent most of my free time growing up there with family and friends. I guess 20 years ago I just didn’t realize how precious this location was to me and how much of a sanctuary it really was or would become to me.

The past few days I have not been able to clear my mind of this place, I have even dreamt of it. So, I figure writing and sharing about this place will help me stop thinking about it so much, even though I wonder why it is in my thoughts these days.

My sanctuary is a small white building in the country. It is not just any white building, it is a building my family (my uncle, grandpa and dad) came apon, rehabbed it back to life and spent many hours at for over thirty years.  I can still remember watching members of my family hammering away, rebuilding the wooden stage area and picture so vividly the old piano, which was falling apart due to termites and other insect infestation, being removed to make room for a new one. This building would see many people come and go thru the thirty years, it heard many heartfelt cries, shared laughter and along the way saw many lives changed. The building isn’t as small anymore, it was renovated throughout the years, it even now has indoor bathrooms (I could tell you a few stories about having to use it’s outhouse – but will save that for later) and a kitchen ready to be used. The little white building was a place I could fully be me. I felt welcome to express myself to the fullest. This white building even saw me overcome my fear of people and overcome by shyness.

I know deep down the lessons on life I learned while sitting on the wooden benches and later the soft cushioned benches came from a source much greater than this little white building.  A building is simply a building and is only as great as those who occupy it, in this case the building I am talking about is a house of God. My sanctuary in life is truly a living, breathing sanctuary. It is where I became a Christian, developed and grew as a Christian. My sanctuary is even where I met my husband!  It is this small church next to a cemetery in Sanderson, Florida. I, to this day can still smell the inside of the sanctuary, I can feel the pews, the floor and the wood of the custom made pulpit,  see the people and items which made up this church. This little church holds so many happy memories also holds bitter sweet and sad memories for me.

It has been a year and a half since I last stepped foot into my sanctuary, I have visited many other churches since my last song in that little church and yet I still struggle to find a place which allows me to feel free and welcomes me the way the little white church did.  I know our time in this building is over and God is wanting us to move on to bigger and better things (maybe this is why this place hangs so strong on my mind the past few days) to serve Him in a different capacity and find new friends along the way!

While I sit here reminiscening (and crying)  on my life and that small white church from my childhood and adulthood, I can’t help but realize how much I took this place and it’s people for granted all of my life. While it was always important to me and helped me become who I am today, I sure wish I would have not taken it for granted and would have embraced and loved it a little bit more.

My sanctuary is now occupied by new tenants. There is a new pastor and even new parishioners attending there now but I still dream of the time I was one of the members who sat on the third row on the right side of the church. I was the little girl learning the books of the Bible, memorizing Psalms 23, Psalms 100, John 3:16-17 (just for starters) and learning to sing the old hymns from the red Church Hymnal.  I was the adult who worked with the youth, helped organize Women Conferences, sang praises to God and most importantly worshiped God. Now all I have left are memories which I hang on to tightly and am saddened that I won’t be able to raise my children in the little white church.

As I think back to my assignment I was given 20 years ago, I wonder why I didn’t say my sanctuary was, Cedar Creek Church. …….