Day 266: Blessed Birthday

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I guess I had hoped to have something really insightful for my birthday post (I’m 34 today), but it was just such an idyllic day that I’m not sure that there is anything really deep and spiritual to write about.

But maybe that in an of itself is a blessing.

I mean… it was a wonderful day… without birthday cake.

Yep. That’s right. No birthday cake. Oh, I mean, we had a little birthday cake for my sons (thanks to a friend-family who sent some mini bundt cakes for my fam and some sushi for me!) and so we got to celebrate by having them sing with me and blow out candles. My sweet hubby bought a bunch of fruit for my dessert, but we never made it to that point.

And it just… didn’t matter.

I had an awe.some. day.

A chai tea from Starbucks courtesy of my sweet hubby.

My hubs took our 5-year-old to preschool for me.

Lunch with a couple of my bestie friends.

Got to pick up my 5-year-old from preschool and come home to do some prep for my family birthday party.

My husband made grilled shrimp and grits and roasted veggies with a crab dip appetizer. (And he did all the work!)

And then I got some neat gifts and cards and birthday spending money (holla!).

A fun little candle blowing out with my precious sons.

And then to top it all off my husband did all. the. dishes.

I’m sorry… just allow me to repeat that.

My husband did all. the. dishes.

And, the perk of Facebook… I had something like 200+ “Happy Birthday” posts.

Seriously… who needs a birthday cake with all of that blessing?

Not this girl. Not this year.

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Day 140: Gray And Glorious

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Ya know… a while back a friend of mine and I were talking about getting gray hair. I’m 33, and most 33-year-old women are worried about getting in some gray hair, but not me. I’ve known since as long as I can remember that I would have a full head of gray hair when I hit my early thirties… happened to my dad and happened to his mom. Honestly, I’m a bit of a free spirit and so I’m actually totally cool with it! I mean… I have a big ol curly fro!?!?! What could look cooler than that? Oh, a big ol curly GRAY fro!!!! Anyway, her comment about her gray hair was that she would have to dye it because she was afraid of how people would perceive her.

And this is coming from the girl that never cared how people perceived her. But now she’s a counselor, and well… when you are at a point where you need to go see a counselor… you either want a friend-type counselor or you want a wise-sage-type counselor. So, I can see how if she is the friend-type counselor then having gray hair would be… well, it wouldn’t match up with her counseling style.

But it did make me a bit sad for the rest of humanity… because there is like this huge stigma about gray hair. Personally, I think gray hair is beautiful, and it also indicates wisdom and the blessing of having lived to be older than 13! Here is my favorite verse about gray hair, by the way… “Gray hair is a glorious crown worn by those who have lived right.” Proverbs 16:31 So, obviously, I am living right!!! Haha!

Okay, but this post isn’t even really about gray hair! But it brings up my topic about how the world perceives “us”…

A few days ago some kid that I used to teach posted a tacky photo on Facebook of a very, very overweight woman in a bikini. (Why I am still “friends” with him on Facebook and a ton of other people is a post for another day… and another blog.) And it just made my heart hurt… a) because of the burden that poor woman feels because of food, and b) because overweight people are just… mocked by the world. And being mocked… well, it hurts.

So much of my own insecurities are remnants of when I was mocked as a little girl in elementary school because I was “big”. Looking back at pictures, I wasn’t big… I just wasn’t tiny. But it didn’t matter… I had yet to learn that my identity was not in what a bunch of little kids would say to me, but that my identity was in Christ and what He thought of me. And He could absolutely care less about my exterior!

But as I grew up and stayed not-tiny, and then as I truly did start to gain weight and become “overweight”… I still struggled with who I was. Until I really started going to church in high school and I had the most uh.maz.ing. youth minister (shout out to Grant Byrd) in the universe that impressed upon us day, after day, after day that Jesus was all that mattered when it came to opinions. And, well, I fell in love with Jesus pretty darn quick. Of course, I was yet to realize that He could free me from this burden of food that I had been dragging along with me for years, but at least I allowed Him to start freeing a bunch of the burdens I was carrying in my soul.

Well, as I thought through this, it made me realize how many of “me” there are out there… overweight people, struggling with food, loving and adoring Jesus. And gosh… I just want to wear a big sign on my head that like glows that says to them, “YOU CAN BE FREE! PLEASE… ALLOW HIM TO FREE YOU!” And I don’t mean that so that they can get “skinny”… like I said, I would be totally cool with it if I hadn’t lost a pound because of the FREEDOM that I feel from food. Like, being able to fast the other day while shopping? And fasting by choice? Because I was happy? That was not the me from before! I want these people that love Jesus and are addicted to food to be free so that they can know Him more… so that, like I prayed for my friend Christy the other day, they too can say…

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5

Day 136: A Fast Shopping Trip

Today was a “me” day.

And ohhhhhhh how nice those “me” days are! My parents watched the boys for me so that I could go get a hair cut and, well, just not be in constant “mom mode” all day. As much as I adore my boys, I also adore… me. And I like to spend time with just… me.

So I dropped them off at my parents house this morning, and went and got my hair cut. I was kind of craving a parfait but didn’t have time to snag one before hand (which I was glad about later).

After that I had decided already that I was going to try to find some shoes and a few shirts and tops down at the outlet shops near us.

I went into GAP cause it was near where I parked and I have a friend that wears GAP stuff and I always think she looks classy… and I grabbed a few things that I thought looked cute… both size 10 and 12 in shorts and a few medium tops.

Nervously, I went into the changing room and looked at my options. I was nervous for two reasons:

a. I had not been shopping anywhere but Ross in ages and each store has its own “protocols”… and for some reason not knowing how many outfits I can take in, if I have to wait for an attendant, should I knock on the door or not, etc. all makes me nervous.

b. I had a pair of size 10 shorts. I was about to find out if my size 10 “moment” the other day was just a one-dress deal or if I would be able to wear more size 10s.

Instead of trying on the 12s first to see if they were too big I just went for it with the 10s. And… they. fit. perfectly.

I grinned at myself in the mirror and said a quiet “Thank you Jesus”… and then like all good iPhone users, took a pic of myself!

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And then I tried on another pair of 10s and they fit (but looked hideous). But I got a couple of other shirts and totally thought to myself, GAP is gonna be a good place for me: good clearance rack, trendy but classy clothes options, good “cut” for my body type.

But I’ll admit that I was grinning as I walked out of the changing room.

And still grinning (and a bit giddy) as I checked out.

Still grinning as I walked around the outlet stores.

Annnnnnnd, yep, grinning… as I walked into American Eagle, J.Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, and Puma.

And everywhere I walked I thanked God for the restrictions that had brought me so much freedom. I thanked Him over and over again for that freedom.

On my way to Old Navy on the other side of the highway, I decided that I would stop by Paradise Bakery (which I love) after getting a few things. But as I walked out of Old Navy (with several more size 10s and some medium tops), I was just so overwhelmingly thankful to God. Like I wanted to show Him how thankful I was.

And for some reason, I thought, “I should fast for the rest of my ‘me’ day.”

We tend to fast out of obligation, or heartbreak, or concern. In fact in looking for a verse or a time that someone in the bible fasted because they were blessed, I kept coming up with people fasting because they had messed up and wanted God to forgive them or because they were in mourning for one thing or another. But I can never think of a time that I have thought- wow, having such a great time right now… I should fast. Fasting because I’m blessed instead of fasting in order to be blessed. It was just such a new thought for me. But it was great! I thought even more and more about His blessings every time my stomach growled. I was so glad that I had missed breakfast and then passed by Paradise Bakery, so that I could have those fasting moments with Him.

And it helped me keep my focus on the One that made that size 10 possible. I didn’t once look at myself and think, “Wow January. Good work.” Because I know that it was only by His strength that I was able to lose weight. And that’s why I was so pleased with doing that little “blessing-fast”… giving Him my thanks through a sacrifice… makes me think of the One that did the same.

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Psalm 50:14

Day 127: Props To My Peeps

Today I went over to my friend Amanda’s* house for lunch and a play date for our kids. She was just… an awesome hostess! Her momma definitely trained her up right!!!

Our kids are almost the same ages and she has an extremely kid-friendly house… it was truly relaxing and enjoyable to just sit and chat. And lucky for me, Amanda has been reading my blog lately so she knew my… “restrictions”. But double lucky for me… nah, I’m gonna call this a blessing… she made sure that all of the food met my “diet”. Even the newest no-bread and no-chips. It was just soooo considerate! And it made me feel refreshed. honored. special. worthy.

I don’t know why it made me feel all of those things, but it did. That is a good friend.

A lot of people, well at least at the beginning of my covenant before I had lost weight, were like “Girl, you crazy” or “I could never give up meat.” And I totally understood their sentiments… heck, days before I had been saying the exact same things. But all the same, it was kind of… I dunno… demoralizing. So when I have a friend treat my covenant as special, it just sort of builds me up!

And while I’m at it I really need to thank my family as well… my mom always makes sure that there are plenty of yummy options for me… and again, it feels like support and… blessing… when someone does that. My husband brought home that Olive Garden meal for me and made sure to get me shrimp so that I could eat all of it. Just a… blessing.

So, I wanted to take a moment and thank my friends and family for being… a blessing to me.

And I’m going to cite this version (The Message) of this verse because I love how the ending of it describes exactly how I feel about my sweet friendships and my sweet family (although the beginning of the verse is kinda oogie sounding, I’ll admit)…

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs 27:9

*Nope… not her real name either. It’s kind of fun to change names… like writing “secret” notes in junior high!

Day Forty-Seven: Parting Is Such Sweet… Awesomeness!

I haven’t mentioned chocolate in a while. At the beginning it was all the time, but I can tell that my mentionings are diminishing.

Which is so awesome and so disconcerting at the same time. It’s awesome how something so “worldly”, so temporary, so unimportant… can so quickly fade away. It shows me where chocolate stood in order of importance, really.

But it’s disconcerting to know that for all those years I allowed chocolate to hold me. to defeat me. to comfort me. to empower me. to do so many things for me.

And wow… that little description up there sounds a lot like the description of an idol. Sure, I never had a big gold-plated Hershey bar up on the mantel with incense burning next to it, but… well, I gave it that position in my heart. And I may not be a fancy theologian but I know that God sure doesn’t want us to go through the actions of worshipping or relying on someone/thing else as our god, but he reallllly doesn’t want us to feel that way in our hearts.

I’m not even sure why I have received so many blessings despite carrying around that stronghold. But then again, maybe my real blessings are only yet to come.

I know what freedom I have encountered just from that one piece of addiction being released from me, so surely the future holds more. And I can already start to see other areas that I want to attack next year, and the next, and the next! I’m probably gonna go from a covenant diet from food into breaking all of my misplaced addictions until all I have left is Christ.

Of course, I’m pretty sure that’s called Heaven. Haha!

Day Forty-Two: Skinny Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday since tomorrow starts the Lent season with Ash Wednesday. But since I am not really in a mindset to “gorge” then today is to be my “Skinny Tuesday”.

But having a Skinny Tuesday is not such a bad thing… I mean, we are having Crockpot Potatoes and Carrots with an onion sauce, an Apple Crumble of sorts, and my husband will have a chicken breast while I have a salad. Honestly, I think that I would rather have that than a cake… with a baby… baked inside.

Ewwwwwww.

Haha! I’m just teasing… cause, for real, them Mardi Gras peeps sure know how to make some good food for their Fat Tuesdays (as well as pretty much the rest of the year as well)!

Anyway, I’m rambling. I guess though that the more that I think about Fat Tuesday I sorta get a little insight into my “issues” of overeating. Fat Tuesday is pretty much all about getting to overindulge simply because lenting requires sacrifice. It’s almost as if we fatten up on this day because we feel like we deserve it since we will have to self-sacrifice the rest of the time. And that is kind of the mentality that I’m afraid of having.

For example, I have already been thinking and planning about what I’m going to do when my covenant diet is over. Last night I was thinking about what I would have on January 1, 2013… a ribeye steak from Roadhouse… my mom’s chocolate cake (you know, the one that I’m going to miss on my birthday)… a liberal glass of red Merlot…

But now that I get to thinking about this whole Fat Tuesday mentality, I’m kinda of wondering if maybe that’s not what would please God. I mean, my whole thing has been about Him changing my mind, my heart, my soul. Wouldn’t that be just like me turning my back on Him pretty much as soon as He has delivered me into the promised land? Which is so much of what the Israelites did when He dropped them off. After the generation that had been wandering in the desert died off, the people started worshiping other idols in no time. And God was NOT pleased with that scenario. I’m reading through Judges right now and it seems like any time one of the judges gets the people back in order, everything is good, then he or she dies, and everyone gets right back into their mess of looking somewhere other than God. And then He punishes them.

Yeah… I don’t want that.

I want for God to see my actions on January 1st and be pleased. I want for Him to look at me and think… Wow, she really did want to change. She really does want to please me. I really want to give her my blessing.

So maybe I won’t go all out on January 1st after all. Maybe I’ll even follow the same diet for that day. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Yep. That would be a pretty neat New Year’s gift to offer to God.

I’m not sure entirely if this verse means what it reads like, but oh well… it puts my heart in the right spirit!

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good. Psalm 54:6