Monday, January 15, 2018

153.4

Not sure what to say about this week's weigh in.  I'm not excited that over the past few weeks there has been a slow increase.

But let me share a few positive thoughts:  

1) Since starting this weight loss journey about two months ago, I am now seeing the weight loss.  Not on the scale, but how different pairs of jeans fit, how the shape of my face is more slender than it was and feeling more comfortable in my own skin.  

2) I met this past week's goals.  After feeling sick two weeks back and taking it easy on the workout schedule, I did complete the goal of 30 mins of cardio for 6 days.  

So where does that leave me for this week?  Not too sure.  

Since this journey has been going for about two months, it may be time to shift gears.  We started South Beach in mid November.  While we have been following it since New Year's there have been some fun splurges from time to time.  Not that those splurges make or break this plan, but I need to be aware of them and not let them become regular habits.  

I'm looking at being out of my normal schedule for a few days this week which will impact both the eating and exercise, so I made it to the gym yesterday in anticipation of that.  I'll get a run in at the gym as soon as this is posted this morning.  

I'll keep moving as much as I can earlier in the week, I'll continue logging my food and we'll see how the week goes.  

Thanks for following along...the support means more than you know.  

Be well.  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Running and reflecting.

I have been enjoying my page-a-day calendar tremendously.  
I remember receiving them as Christmas gifts when I was younger.  The Far Side was a personal and family favorite.  The only house rule was that you could NOT look ahead.  
I have been following that rule with my A Happier 2018 Desk Calendar.  It sits perfectly in the kitchen, so I can read it before or alongside my first cup of coffee each day.   

Sunday was a good one.   


(It's a bit crinkled, because the back has already been used for a few to-do lists.) 

I love this and have been pondering it all week.  As I went for a run today (outside because the temps are in the 60s!) I was thinking about how I adjust my daily schedule so that time for fitness and exercise is first and foremost.  I guess you could say that I am selfish about carving out that time and honoring that time.  But this is what I've come to learn about myself.  After exercise, I feel good.  After a solid strength training, spin class or run, I feel even more ready to face the day.  My head has had time to focus on working my body.  My heart and lungs have been pushed and encouraged to work hard to nourish my body with oxygen.  My stomach is thankful for post workout meals and snacks that healthily refuel muscles and water that hydrates everything.  

I am better able to give of myself and be present with others when I have spent this time caring for my body.  On today's run I thought about selfish and selfless.  There was time for a selfie with an amazing young woman in my life, who was also out for a run.  (Why we have yet to run together is a mystery.  Although, with the depth and length of our coffee conversations, we would need a long run!) 


After a hug and a selfie, we wished each other well and went on our ways.  There we were getting our runs in on a rainy day, taking time to care for ourselves.  

As the run continued, I saw two women from church who were dodging raindrops as they went to the local salon for a hair appointment.  These women spend time together as one assist the other with errands and transportation.  While they are family, this time is selfless.  

This got me to thinking about the many women in my life who not only care for themselves, but for others, as well.  There is something about the role of caring for others and caring for self.  Sometimes it is a fine line, but I believe our lives are continually enhanced when we are able to care for others, be present for others and to serve others.  When we are able to see beyond our own selves, our own needs and be present in the lives and journeys of others, our relationships will deepen with one another and impact the world around us.  

Caring for others is not limited to women, but it just so happens that I am a woman, that my interactions today were with women and that women bring a presence into the world that needs to be seen and heard.  

I pray that women (and men) continue to model lives that show care of self, so they may care for others.  May we see what feeds our own minds, bodies and spirits, so that we are able to feed others in love, service, compassion and care.  

I should also say this, it took a while to hit the road to run today because I was overwhelmed with the news and the words spoken by the president about the countries of Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.  My thoughts and prayers have been swirling through the words of Psalm 139. The verses in italics are from our lectionary readings for this coming Sunday.  

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.
Lord, you have searched me and known me. 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from far away. 
You search out my path and my lying down,
   and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue,
   O Lord, you know it completely. 
You hem me in, behind and before,
   and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
   it is so high that I cannot attain it. 

Where can I go from your spirit?
   Or where can I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
   if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 
If I take the wings of the morning
   and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me,
   and your right hand shall hold me fast. 
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
   and the light around me become night’, 
even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is as bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light to you. 

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
   Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well. 
   My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
   intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
   all the days that were formed for me,
   when none of them as yet existed. 
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
   How vast is the sum of them! 
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
   I come to the end—I am still with you. 

O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
   and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me— 
those who speak of you maliciously,
   and lift themselves up against you for evil! 
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
   And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 
I hate them with perfect hatred;
   I count them my enemies. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my thoughts. 
See if there is any wicked way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.

I'll share more on this Psalm, my reflections and additional thoughts after sharing my sermon this weekend.  

I'll leave you with these prayers from the ELW (Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

Almighty God, in penitence we come before you, acknowledging the sin that is within us. We share the guilt of all those who, bearing the name of Christian, slay their fellow human beings because of race or faith or nation. Forgive us and change us by your love, that your word of hope may be heard clearly throughout the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
O God of all, with wonderful diversity of languages and cultures you created all people in your image. Free us from prejudice and fear, that we may see your face in the faces of people around the world; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Until the next post, dear friends, take care, be kind to yourself and others, speak up, speak truth, do justice, love mercy and be humble.  

Monday, January 8, 2018

153

And we're up...but I kind of felt this coming.  

This past week has been a tough one.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it started off quite well.  A super low weigh-in last week was a wonderful way to begin the year.  I enjoyed a 5K on the warmest day of the week (at least the sun was out with double digit temps) and took 2nd place in my age bracket.  And the post race eats included some tasty pizza and beers. 


But then a cold set in.  I felt the beginning of it on Sunday...and a little on Monday, but Tuesday morning it began to take hold.  I began the 12 days of fitness on January 1, so I continued those exercises through the week, but cardio was on hiatus.  I completed an easy 3 mile run on the treadmill on Friday and rested the rest of the day.  Saturday morning, spin class kicked my butt, or kicked my cardio, because I had been out all week.  And truth be told, my eating was a bit off, too.  

So a few take aways.  One:  I'm okay with a week of recovery.  Exercise-wise, I had been working hard for the last 7 weeks.  My body was ready for a week of rest.  I'm not back to 100% this morning, but will get to the gym shortly for an easy run and the 8th day of fitness.  I'm thankful on these super cold days for an indoor place to workout.  

Two:  I did miss the regular exercise.  After 7 weeks, my mind and body were used to the routine.  I was enjoying the endorphins, the camaraderie and the routine of it all.  I also missed that time to myself in the morning.  Don't worry, I filled it with extra sleep, coffee and reading, but there was something amiss with it gone last week.  

Three:  Yes, this will be a yearlong journey.  Not that weight loss and exercise are my focus for this year, they will take a prominent role in living a wholehearted life. The way I feel with regular exercise in my life is key to a balanced day for me.  I also generally feel better when I'm eating healthier.  This past week, while I did log into My Fitness Pal everyday, I didn't fully log everything each day.  I will get back to that this week.  

and Four:  It may be time for a new goal.  After completing the 7 weeks of maintain, not gain, I think my mind and body thought, "Oh, it's over. Relax.  Take a breather.  Have a snack and a tasty beverage."  Not a bad thing, for a bit, but this is where I need to shift and not let this behavior become the norm.  

So, looking ahead....I'm back to the gym this morning with the goal of 6 days a week with at least 30 mins of cardio each day (aka - return to routine).  
I'll be regularly logging food and exercise this week through My Fitness Pal.  
Oh, and until this cold is totally gone, a nod to keeping track of my sleep, as well.  I'm ready for several nights of 8+ hours of snoozing :)

I have received so much support over the past several months when it comes to eating, diet and exercise.  Many people have said that I do not need to loose weight because I am fine the way I am.  I am grateful for these words and the continues support.  I do respond to that with the fact that I have been a few pounds lighter and know that my body responds better to exercise, stress and life a bit better when I'm in better shape.  That's where I'm headed.  

I saw this post on Instagram yesterday:


I know my body is capable of great things.  I know that my body is a gift from God and that treating it well is a way to thank and honor God each day.  

I am continually working on loving my body as it is, as it changes shape, and as it continues to grow stronger.  It is one more step along my wholehearted journey. 

Blessings and joy to you each this day.  

Until the next post...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Frist (First) Sunday of Christmas

December 31, 2017
Frist Sunday of Christmas (After printing my sermon, I noticed the typo.  It seemed fitting with the busyness that happened between Christmas Eve worship and the weekend after Christmas and made me laugh out loud when I read it.) 

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians4:4-7
Luke 2:22-40

Please pray with me,
O God, you have been our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.  As we welcome this new year, bless us with peace.  Fill our days with the light of Christ and lead us on the path of life until we see you in our heavenly home.  You live and reign forever and ever.  Amen. 

It is good for us to gather together this week in this space, in the season of Christmas and on the cusp of a new year. 

It is good for us to be together as one year ends and another begins. 

It is often a time to reflect upon the last 12 months…both highs and lows and to think about the year to come. 

This time of year is when many people are coming up with New Year’s Resolutions.  Sestimates say more than 40% of Americans—make New Year's resolutions. (For comparison, about one-third of Americans watch the Super Bowl.)

But for all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions; University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals.


Last year I read the book, One Word that will Change your Life.  


The authors talk about how it is often the case that New Year’s resolutions are broken or left unmet, often by the first week in February.  Yet, if you focus on one word for the year, you are more apt to see positive changes as the year progresses.  As I have shared in the newsletter and on my blog, my word for last year was focus.  I took time throughout the course of the year to focus on different things in my life, which helped me take more time for reading, exercising, family and friends. 

Guided and shaped by one word, instead of focusing on one or more specific resolutions, I could follow a different path.  If I missed an opportunity to focus one day, I just shifted my focus for the next day.  I found that this word was part of my day to day life throughout the whole year….which I cannot say was true for past resolutions. 

My friend, Mindy chose the word strength.  Here is a jar that she kept on her dining room table throughout the year. 


Every time she did something that showed strength, she jotted it down and put it in the jar.  Some of her strength moments included, Marched in my first protest.  Ran on treadmill.  Brain MRI. Brave text.  Hiked Mt. Washington. 

Just as focus took on its own meaning for me, strength was defined by Mindy. 

As you look towards the beginning of a new year, what ideas or dreams or plans do you have in mind?  What goals do you hope accomplish? 

What do you plan on happening in 2018?  In addition to the tradition of a new years resolution…and preparations for a new year, are there other traditions or rituals that will happen in the next few days?  Pork and sauerkraut, perhaps? 

We see an example of a different tradition or ritual in our gospel lesson today. 


We are 8 days after the birth of Jesus which was the customary time for the presentation of a child.  So, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple.  This is just one example of Mary and Joseph observing the law.  Just prior to our reading today, the Luke shares that Jesus has been circumcised, another example of the parents of the Son of God following the law.  They are holding to these rituals and as they do, we see that Jesus’ life begins with fulfilling the law and coming into the temple in Jerusalem 

Essential to Judaism is the praise of God in all of life.  The Jewish law taught that God was to be honored in one’s rising up and lying down, in going out and coming in, in how one dressed and what one ate… (Culpepper) 

If we think about our daily rituals, not just the ones that come up at the beginning of a new year, but even just day to day, how do we or how are we seeing God in the ordinariness of all that we do?  Where do we practice praise and honor of God each day? 

We have the opportunity to give thanks to God from the moment we awake each morning. 

We have the opportunity to pray alone or together before meals to give thanks to God for family, food and the time and space to share a meal.

Sadly, it is too true that with the busyness, the pressures of secularism and modern life have reduced the significance of ritual observances in the lives of most Christians. 

A handful of activities and jobs mean that families are eating fewer meals together.  Prayer before meals and family Bible study are observed in fewer homes today than just a generation ago.  For many, religious rituals are reduced to church attendance at Christmas and Easter and to weddings and funerals.   (Culpepper)

Alan Culpepper talks about how ‘marking both daily and special events with rituals that recognize the sacredness of life and the presence of God in the everyday is practically extinct…The result has been that god has receded from the awareness and experience of everyday life.  Many assume that God is found only in certain places, in sacred buildings, in holy books, or in observances led by holy peoples.’ 

As we as a society shift away from these rituals and practices,…what have we lost from our daily experience?  How can we make that shift back? 

I had a conversation with someone this week who wondered if this was a generational shift.  She and her friends talked about how they saw Jesus in the presence of others, where her daughter just saw a friendly or helpful person. 

While it may be a generational shift, how can we as active members of the body of Christ bring back how we see and name Jesus in our midst? 

As we begin a new calendar year together, how will our lives and world be shaped by Christ?   How will we seek out God in the ordinary everydayness of our lives?  How will we name Christ when we see him? 


Not only are we given a fresh start each year to do this, but we are given a fresh start each day, because we have been washed in the waters of baptism.  We have been made new in Christ.  We are a new creation.  Washed in the (ritual) waters of baptism, we are freed from sin and death to proclaim Christ in our midst this day and all days. 

I encourage you as the year begins, to remember your baptism.  Just as we welcome Cole into the body of Christ, remember that you are part of this family of God, washed in these waters. 

Remember that you are gifted and able to see Christ in your midst and point him out. 
You are equipped to bring Christ into the ordinary and honor and praise him each day. 

May we learn (or re-learn) to greet the morning with gratitude, to celebrate the goodness of food, family, and friendship at meals, to recognize mystery in beauty and to mark the rites of passage – like a 16th birthday or a school graduation or a retirement . . .you name it. 

May we see these daily rituals not as restrictive…as something we have to do, but in ways that celebrate the goodness and mystery of life. 

Go forth, celebrate, give thanks and honor God each day. 

And now my the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.  



Monday, January 1, 2018

151.8

Happy New Year!  

I'm super thankful to report that my goal of maintaining and not gaining between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day was not only met, but I'd say it was crushed!  

I weighed in the Monday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 20) at 156.8.
I weighed in this morning at 151.8.  

I dropped 5 pounds!  Woo hoo!  

It has been a tough season, but with a serious commitment to daily exercise and not splurging on sweets, carbs or alcohol it's been a good season.  There have been some 'cheat' days if you want to call them that.  There was no way I was going to pass on bacon cinnamon rolls and a mimosa...


The extravagant days were not a regular occurrence and they were balanced out with days I had more control over my food intake.  

At this point, it has become habit.  While I used to be a cereal and oatmeal breakfast person, I now reach for the protein in eggs either hardboiled or in an omelette to get me going.  More carbs are coming back into our diet, but they are in the form of whole grains and definitely in moderation.  

The thing I have missed the most, is pizza.  So, truth be told, after today's 5K, there will be pizza and a beer.  

The weight loss journey will continue.  The overall goal is to get down to around 145 and then to maintain.  I'll continue blogging my weight on a weekly basis until I get there.  It is a helpful way to keep myself accountable.  

I will continue to stick to a good and regular workout routine.  I will say that the 12 days of fitness were super helpful, and I'll do those there first 12 days of each month this year, just to keep my body guessing.  I guess that means a 1 minute plank is on for today.  :)  Good times.  

In other news, my word for 2018 is wholehearted.  There will be a post later this week with more reflection about that.  I know that my continued weight loss journey will fit in with that word.  

Thanks for all the support through 2017.  Blessings, joy, adventure and peace be with you in 2018. 

Until the next post...


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sermon from the 4th Sunday of Advent

December 24, 2017
Advent 4B

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Here we are the 4th week in Advent…which is also Christmas Eve, or Christmas Eve Eve….but you get the idea.   Our gospel lesson today is from Luke and the story we just heard would have technically taken place 9 months before the celebration of Christ’s birth.  This is the annunciation…when Mary learned from the Angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of the Son of God. 

The angel doesn’t come to Mary and say, how would you feel about being the mother to God’s son?  Would you be up for it?  Say Mary, here’s God’s amazing plan for saving the world, are you okay with playing a key role in it? 

Nope, the angel doesn’t really give her the option to answer….because God has called her.
God has chosen Mary.  There’s no opportunity to say no, because she’s the one. 

Mary does, however, ask, “How can this be?” 
She is human, of course and probably was wondering about the details…who wouldn’t? 

But this doesn’t deter her from saying yes. 
She is an amazing woman.  She hears God’s call in her life and she responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” 

In the midst of the season where we are preparing for God with us, Emmanuel, to be in our presence, in our hearts and in our world…sometimes this story seems like an amazing, one in a million occurrence of God calling one of God’s chosen to join in on the mission of saving the world.  And what makes this story amazing….is that Mary says yes.  She hears God’s call for her and she responds, positively. 

So, how does this story speak to us this day? 
God is breaking into our hearts every single day.  God is calling each and every one of us to be a part of this mission to love and save the world. 

We may not be called upon to physically give birth to the Son of God. 
But that does not belittle the fact that through our baptism, we have been called, by God, to live out lives of love and service to others, to bring Christ into the world. 

Mary was called to do a very tangible thing, to birth God’s love into the world, to proclaim that God’s promises are fulfilled.  Aren’t we asked to do the same? 

Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic and theologian wrote, “We are all meant to be mothers of God.  What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself?  And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace and if I am not also full of grace?  What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to the Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and in my culture?  This, then is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.” 

God comes to each and every one of us, proclaiming good news of great joy to all people. 
We are each called and claimed and sent into this world to bear Christ to those around us. 

How will you bear Christ to the world this day? 
How are we to be mothers of God this day? 

A good friend of mine has been going through some struggles lately.  We’ll call her Jane. 
As a woman in her 40s, happily married and mother of 2 children and a member of just two churches her whole life, Jane found herself and family church shopping for Christmas Eve. 

This is what happened, after worship one Sunday, a woman approached her, in a large group and said that she was a terrible mother and her kids were horrible and everyone knew it and it needed to be said.    Jane was of course, upset and fired back at these women. 
Later, she spoke with the pastor who decided not to step in and address the conflict.  Hence, Jane does not feel that this is a place where she can bring her children or worship with a full heart. 

Last week, she and her husband received a gift subscription to Parents’ Magazine.  Weird, right?  How can this be? 

The reason I share this story is because my friend Jane is called to be the best mother she can be to her children and she is doing an amazing job. 

Just as Mary was called to be the best mother she would be to the Son of God. 

Mary responded with how can this be? 

My thought is that my friend Jane may ask herself this question from time to time….and my guess is that she is not the only mother, parent, teacher, mentor, pastor, youth worker to ask this question. 

Just as Mary wrestled with her call and responsibility, so do we.  When God calls us to task, calls upon us to be part of God’s mission in the world around us, we wrestle with this response and just may respond with, “How can this be?” 

As Meister Eckhart reminds us, we are all called to be mothers to God and as such, we are called to live into that role in our everyday lives. 

Katie Munnik reflects on the role of mothers in this way,

“Mothers teach their children how to live, and in turn are taught.  We become the mothers we are because of our kids’ personalities.  Christ’s own questions would shape Mary’s thinking heart.  Christ’s own love would give form to her loving.  Mary finds identity as mother in the identity of her son.  Questioning and offering obedient answers.
Constant to the end. 
Brave. 
Vulnerable.” 

As we continue to birth Christ into the world around us, we too, are changed in how we live and love.  Our questions and answers change as we grow in relationship with God and with one another. 

Our love of God and care of Christ in the world around us continues to change as we see and respond to Christ in our midst. 

We are called to be present as we bear Christ to the world. 
It means we will be both brave and vulnerable. 

Brave to share the light and love of Christ. 
And vulnerable to how the reflection of the light and love of Christ is received. 

As we prepare for the birth of the Christ child, I pray that we live with eyes open to see the presence of Christ in our lives today.  
Look for ways to care for others who bear Christ into the world.
Look for ways to nurture relationships with God and with one another. 

Seek ways to be bravely vulnerable while revealing the light and love of Christ in a world deeply in need of forgiveness, love and peace. 


May the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.   

Monday, December 25, 2017

153.4

Twas the morning of Christmas and all through the house,
a few creatures were stirring, but thankfully not one of them a mouse.  
The living room was strung with open boxes and paper, 
thinking the clean up would come sometime later.  
The opening of gifts happened very early this morning,
after much celebration in worship that began on Advent 4 morning.*

Yet before seeing the downstairs, something first had to be done.  
There was a trip to the scale, which always makes me worrisome.  
By a Festivus miracle, the numbers have gone down yet again, 
Which means today, there is room for celebration.  

Another week of solid workouts, eating well, and tracking it all,
Has made the scale numbers yet again fall.  
Now part of this decline, is due to some low hydration this Christmas Day.
Last night between multiple worship services, there needed to be more water breaks and less visits to the calf in the hay.**



In preparation for the celebration of Christmas,
I took time each day to complete the 12 Days of Fitness.  
From planks to wall squats, pushups and lunges,
My muscles have been transformed taking on shapes not found in sponges.  




I am continually thankful for the opportunities to try new things and to step outside my comfort zone.
But more thankful for the people who support me in all that I do, either in person, or through texts on my phone.  

And now with coffee in hand, I'll share my latest numbers from the scale,  


Hoping that with this post, others feel okay to share their tale.  

Be well, dear friends on this Christmas Day.
Take time to share love and light with family and friends, even if this isn't your holiday.  
Be yourself. Be brave. Be vulnerable. Be true.  
The world is much better, because of the presence of you.  



*I know it's weak, rhyming morning with morning...but hey, I have yet to finish the first cup of coffee.
**It's actually straw.