Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Couple of Things Part One

I'm a learner by nature. I love to be in charge of what I learn but God usually pulls the rug from under me and allows (and by allows I mean makes) me learn what he wants me to learn.

I just wanted to document some of the things I have been learning. Some have been of my choosing and some of God's. I intended this to be a shorter post but like Mark Twain said, "I intended to write you a short letter but I didn't have time." (I've actually seen that linked to Twain, Voltaire, and Pascal. So let's just say those quotation marks are used lightly. Thanks.)

Missional Living.

Martin and I have had a desire to reach our community for years. We have wrestled with how that looks and what we should do. The easy choice for me was to move somewhere else and start over. But God, who is ever so patient, has slowly shown us how to live missionally right where we are.

One of the major steps we made in this missional living is leaving our church.


Yes, we left our church. We have been struggling with a discontentment for almost a year and half. We loved our church but couldn't put a finger on what was wrong. We decided to get more involved with not just one small group, but two. We also stayed on the missions committee. But the restlessness was still there. We visited some churches in downtown Philly and God showed us that going even further away wasn't what he wanted.

A few months ago, my coworker told me about her church. She said it was small and simple, meaning no programs. Then she said something that got my attention, she told us it was in our town. She encouraged us to visit with no strings attached.

I had nursery one Sunday so Martin decided to go and visit by himself. He text me and said they were having a baby dedication. To be honest, we aren't big fans of baby dedications. Most of them feel like christenings and well, we're just not into that. But he then text again saying it was for adopted biracial twins and the whole dedication was really simple and cool. That got our attention. We desired to be at a place that had diversity (which our town has) and having adopting parents in the church, well that was a BONUS (there just aren't that many of us around, people).

I was counseled to be cautious and take our time as we're looking for a new church. One day, as I was telling a friend about the church, I was explaining that we were taking things slow and something struck me that I had not thought of. Could it be that God simply brought us right to the place he wanted us to be? Can't he be merciful and gracious?

We made an immediate connection with the pastor and his wife and it just so happened he lived in our neighborhood. He shared with us his vision of missional living and how he has been praying for people from our neighborhood to start coming to New Life.

God has brought us to a church in our own town that speaks the language our soul has been crying for. It's not because it's better or cooler. It's because it's where God wants us to be and we're sure of that today.

We are praying and thinking about how our life is not about us 6 and a half days a week. It's about Christ and what he did for us and for the world. It's about us talking and getting to know our neighbors. It's about getting messy. And it's about not simply talking about it but actually putting feet to our faith.

That couple that was dedicating their babies, well they live in our neighborhood too. And we adore them. They have the same heart we have and we're working on starting a gospel community group. Not a small group or a Bible study. But a group where we can invite those around us and getting together may mean doing things outside of our houses. It's walking through crap with them and they with us. It's about hanging out. It's about opening God's Word and walking through it. It's about praying for our neighborhood and each other. It's about eating together. It's about laughing, a lot of laughing. It's not about us huddling in our houses all week (although we're doing that way too much right now). It's not about talking about getting together, then not. It's not about saying with our words we want to change, but then doing nothing.

The hard part is waiting on the change. I want everything now. But I have seen God transforming me in small ways. Honestly the ways are probably small because I don't truly want change, but he's so good and patient with my ever wandering heart.

Our pastor showed us a video. It was about a pastor who did a church plant in Washington state. His vision for the church is missional living. And he said this:

A lot of churches have just become orphanages. They know how to have babies and they have a couple of dads and moms for the babies but not nearly enough to care for them well. And they don't send them off to start new families. So its a perpetual orphanage that they created. I think a church committed to multiplication will have great leaders because they have to train them up to raise their own family some day.

I have chewed on that for weeks. In my laziness, I am drawn towards someone else doing the work of Christ. But thanks be to God that I am not a girl who has to continually live a Romans 7 life. I am a girl that gets to have the victory of Romans 8.

More later.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

14 Week Challenge :: Week 3

Week 3 in our 14 Week Challenge is coming to an end. One more week and I'll weigh in. I hate having a number in my head of where I want to be but the thought of not losing more than 4 pounds kills me. And yes, I know that I need to think positive but let's just say, you'll know how I feel about what I've lost when I post it. If there are exclamation points then you will be able to easily guess my mood.

Martin has lost around 8 pounds already. But he's a boy so he doesn't count. (But I am SO proud of him.)

Let's talk exercise.

With all the shows on like Biggest Loser and well, that's all I can think of, I seem to think I need to spend hours at the gym. My doctor told me a few months ago that I only need to do 30 minutes a day of cardio then if I want to tone, do light weights every other day. She said that in order to be healthy you need to workout your heart muscle. To workout your heart muscle you need to keep it at an elevated rate for 20 to 30 minutes a day. The way you lose weight and keep it off and BE HEALTHY is in what you eat. (Yes, Aaron you've told me this before too. I just don't like to think it's that simple!) (Aaron's my brother, he's a doctor.)

I've been going to the gym and doing 30 minutes on the elliptical. It's easy and I LOVE the personal trainer button they have. It breaks up the time by telling me to do specific stuff like go at least 6 mph for one minute or pedal backwards for two minutes. I go up on the resistance about every two weeks to keep my heart rate up.

I'm in my brother-in-law's wedding in April and I have to wear a short strapless dress. That means I need some attention on the ol' arms. That's where the kettlebell comes in. That's right, the kettlebell. All one word. Not Kettle Ball like I have been calling it for longer than I would like to admit. I bought the 7 pound one at Target the other day (which people seem disappointed when I tell them it's 7 pounds, like they expect me to say 55 pounds or something?) and it came with a free 30 minute Bob Harper workout DVD. I thought that was special. OH MY WORD. I did the video last night and let's just say, it was not about being special.

That thing ripped my body all to shreds. I did more squats than anyone should do in a lifetime. Bob was making me (yes, making me) squat down and pick the kettlebell up off the ground, swing it out in front of me and then PUT IT BACK. Over and over and over. Then I had to do this balancing thing on one foot while lifting the kettlebell with one hand. Over and over and over. Then I had to do the windmill. Just trust me it was torture.

I think this goes without saying but, I can hardly walk today. I hurt. But do my arms hurt? No. It's my booty. And my legs. And my knees. And my back. And my toes. But my toes hurt because it's gorgeous outside and I felt need to wear my five inch high, open toe heels today to celebrate the sixty-something degree weather. Dumb.

But they look great. See?

So I guess no pain no gain applies to shoes too, right?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

14 Week Challenge :: Week 1

As most of you know, I started this blog with the intention of writing my struggles in all parts of life. I want to be honest and real. But as I've told more people I write a blog, the more I've wanted to appear all together. When you put something "out there" it gives people a sense of ownership in your life. Whether that ownership is used for good, is another story.

Saying all of that, I haven't wanted to write about my struggle with overeating. I've struggled with blogging about what is being done about it. But I know God has used me and my struggles to help others. And it's only pride that keeps me from being transparent.

Two years ago, I said that we all have our vices. One of my biggest vices is overeating. But those who have a handle on their weight could have the same struggles I have which is eating poorly and not planning. That person may simply choose not to eat instead of grabbing whatever. Maybe your vice is gossip. Maybe it's your temper. Maybe it's a weakness with men. Whatever it is, we're all the same. We like to think we're different but when it comes to struggles we're in the same boat. And I'm not going to be able to help you fix it. If you are looking for a how-to, 10 steps to a better life, then I will (and so will any one else) fail you. Only Christ can satisfy that hole we have. I am thankful that Jesus called me to him. I'm thankful that he has died for all my crap. I didn't and can do nothing to deserve his sacrifice. It's because of him that I have hope. It's because of him that I can love. It's all because of him.

I do, however, think you should fight against your weaknesses. We all need to struggle. It's when we stop struggling that we fail.

Martin and I have some big things coming up. His brother is getting married and we're both in the wedding. We're going to Scotland for our 10 year wedding anniversary. He's running his second half marathon. We have fluctuated in our weight quite a bit in the past few months. I knew we needed to do something that worked for us. We went on the Flat Belly Diet over a year ago and loved it. The only problem was once we did the 30 day diet that was written for us, we never did anything beyond that. So, I decided to make our own menu for the week. I take principles from the Flat Belly Diet and I am writing two week menus at a time. Here's what I've done:

  1. Chose four meals (3 meals and a snack) that are around 400 calories each.
  2. I write out three days of meals. Then Sunday/Friday, Monday/Wednesday, and Tuesday/Thursday we eat the same food. Saturday is our free day. If we go off the plan for a meal during the week, we make up that meal on Saturday. Almost redeeming the meal.
  3. I write out two weeks of meals then write out a Trader Joes list (which I am trying to go every two weeks since it's 45 minutes away). I also write a monthly Sam's list (I buy most of my meats there). I then write out a weekly ShopRite list for week one and two. That list usually consist of fresh foods.
  4. I post the menu for the week on the magnetic wall in the kitchen so it's visible for Martin.
  5. I also keep another copy of the menu on the kitchen table so we can have easy access while we're making our meals.
  6. On Saturday or Sunday I am trying to thaw the meats that we'll be using that week. I then grill them, cut them and separate them into what we need for the week.
We've completed week one and it's nice have a weekend off from planning meals. I think every two weeks is best for me.

I've called this our "14 week challenge." I'm sure I'll start repeating my weekly menus around week five or six.

So what does our weekly menu look like you ask? Here is a breakdown of week one (remember most of these are from the Flat Belly Diet):

Sunday and Friday:
breakfast - PUMPKIN CRUNCH CEREAL (combine 1c kashi puffs, 1c skim milk, 1 banana, 2tbsp pumpkin seeds)
lunch - CHICKEN APPLE SALAD (combine 3c salad, grannie smith apple chopped, 3 oz chicken, tomato, 1tsp evoo, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 2 whole wheat crackers crumbled)
snack - APPLES AND CRACKERS (6 whole wheat crackers, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1 gala apple)
dinner - GRILLED PORK WITH SALAD (grill 4 oz of boneless pork marinated in evoo, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. 2c salad, light dressing)

Monday and Wednesday:
breakfast - MANGO STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE (combine 1c skim milk, 2tbsp almond butter, 1/2c frozen strawberries, 1/2c frozen mango in blender - this fills a Solo cup which is great for the go)
lunch - PEANUTTY CRANBERRY WRAP (on 1 whole wheat wrap, spread 2tbsp crunchy peanut butter and sprinkle 2tbsp cranberries then roll up. on the side - 1c carrots)
snack - LUNA BAR (1 luna bar and 1/4c semi-sweet chocolate chips)
dinner - GRILLED LIME CHICKEN SALAD (salad, 3oz grilled chicken that has been marinated in evoo, sea salt, and lime juice. sprinkle sunflower seeds and 2 tbsp light dressing over top)

Tuesday and Thursday:
breakfast - GRANOLA PARFAIT (1 banana, 1 c fresh raspberries, 6oz nonfat greek yogurt, 3/4c granola)
lunch - GRILLED CHICKEN WRAP (In a whole wheat wrap add 3 oz grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, light dressing. on the side - string cheese, 2 tbsp peanuts)
snack - CELERY AND PEANUT BUTTER (1c celery, 2tbsp peanut butter)
dinner - TILAPIA AND RICE (4oz tilapia coated in evoo and season salt baked at 425 degrees for 18 minutes, 3/4c brown rice, 1c green beans marinated in evoo and season salt)

I modify some of this for my own taste. Martin works best with what is written and I am more flexible. For instance, I don't like yogurt (even though I've tried!) and I'm tired of raspberries so I eat 3/4c of granola and add a splash of skim milk and hot water to make it nice and warm. Then I eat a banana later in the morning. I add 1 tsp of canola mayo to my chicken wrap instead of dressing. Sometimes I add a little hummus cup for our carrots at lunch. That's about 150 extra calories. If we work out that day, then that won't hurt us.

The reason we eat Luna bars instead of Clif bars is because there is slightly less sugar in the Luna bar. Martin was freaked out because it says protein bars for women. But I assured him it only has natural things in it that woman need more of than men. I'm pretty sure it hasn't affected his masculinity! We buy our Luna bars in bulk with Amazon. They seem to have the best price and also have a great variety.

Coffee. We both still have our coffee in the morning. Martin drinks his black but I add flavored cream. I was adding 3tbsp to my 10 oz of coffee but I'm down to 2tbsp and I hope to be down to 1tbsp soon.

Working out. We both have been doing okay working out. We'll do bad one week and good another. I had developed the attitude that if I don't go in the morning, I won't go at all. I've found that if we're doing four meals, I can go after work and we're not ravenous when we get home. Plus prepping my meals on the weekend helps too. My goal is to workout five to six days a week. But I'm thrilled with three days. I worked out four days this week.

Results? We both lost more than 20 pounds with the Flat Belly Diet before. We know it works. The principles are great. Martin is weighing in every week and this week he lost four pounds. He was sick with cold and only worked out once. I am weighing in every four weeks. I'll let you know how I do.

The goal is discipline. We need to be disciplined in our lives in all aspects. We both thrive on planning and fall hard when we're lazy.

I'm excited to blog about this (hopefully I'll write about the progress every week or so). It's great accountability and for me, it's good therapy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Quitting Adoption

Last month and what seems like every other day as of late, I've wanted to throw in the towel and quit our adoption process. The waiting is frustrating and long. The longing for what's to come, fades. Life keeps going while this calling we seem to have doesn't move.

I've told some that I expected to wait while our paperwork went to Ethiopia but I wasn't anticipating the wait for our homestudy. I guarded my heart towards bureaucracy in another land but not towards the happenings in America. It's no one's fault. Honestly, we haven't waited that long (4 months) but God has exposed much during this waiting time.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, our life is very full. I pity the fool who feels sorry for Martin and I for not having children. We know our life will change for the greater (or the different?) with them. Those who have known me for more than 10 years know children were my passion in my teens and twenties. Now of course, I sit at in an office every day with two giant computer screens in front of me. I've always wanted to be a wife and mom. But God has given us a very full life without children. So then why on earth are we adopting?

Adoption is so very messy. It's bringing tiny people into your world who know nothing of you or how you live and you knowing nothing of them. Those little ones do not know their life was lacking a mother and daddy just as we do not know what we're lacking not having them in our lives. They come with junk that you have to sift through, emotional and physical. Adoption is expensive. It's writing the same things over and over again on pieces of paper or online to strangers for grants. It exposes your financial history and current financial state. It allows people into your life that you never asked to in.


Adoption to God is different. He adopted us as sons and daughters. He chose us. He sees us as beautiful. It's all because of what he sent his son down here to do. Nothing that I did ever could or would merit that love. He owes me nothing. He owes us nothing. And when God speaks of orphans he speaks of them as his. And if we're his hands and feet down here, then how can I look at adoption as anything else but doing the work of God? How can I get upset that things are taking longer than I think they should? How can I ever simply throw in the towel?

I hope you know I don't have a savior complex. I know I'm not this superhuman doing something extraordinary while others can marvel at my inner strength. I'm just a girl who willingly serves a King that demands everything of me.

We'll be asking many to walk side by side with us soon, as we send our papers over to Ethiopia. We'll be asking for money, cold. hard. cash. It's not because we need it, it's because we're all called to the cause of the orphan. And I'm not going to allow my friends and family to sit by and cheer us on. I'm going to ask that you guys come and get dirty with us. And also it's because I need people to pull me up when I fall down. And turn me around when I start walking the other way. And scream in my face when I simply quit trying.

Yes, adoption is super messy. But I'm willing to get a little dirty. Christ did it for me. He did it for us.

Here is a sermon a friend sent me. She knew just what I needed. And it wasn't a pat on the back. The sermon is an hour long. It's wonderful and worth every minute. Below the sermon is a video he shows in the middle of the sermon. That video is only 8 minutes long. Watch that if you don't have an hour on your hands (but find an hour at some point).

Eric Ludy - The Band of Rescuers from Ellerslie Mission Society on Vimeo.

Depraved Indifference – Eric Ludy from Heart Chronicles on Vimeo.

He says at the end:

I'm willing God, to fight for what is yours.

For our King and his glory, we will rescue these little ones.