Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Little Bit of This...A Little Bit of That

Disclaimer: This blog post includes many different subjects. It is long and random because I had a lot on my mind and didn't want to write a million posts. You have been warned.

Our son has been 2 for a week now. T-W-O! I can't even believe it. I thought we just brought him home from the hospital last week but no, he is 2 years old. Tomorrow will mark 2 years since he's been home with us. Considering he spent the 1st week of his life in NICU, he has been one of the healthiest children. We've been fortunate to have only had 2 times where he was really sick. Other than that, he's been happy, healthy, and such a joy. I feel like he surprises me daily with everything that he learns and how fast he is picking up on everything. He has a wonderful daddy that spends his days hanging outside with him in the dirt, building forts inside when it's too cold, reading books, teaching him his flash cards, etc. I could not have married a more devoted man. We thought when I started working at my new school that we might lay aside the homeschooling idea but it's come back up and we are planning away. Ultimately, we'd like to turn the Florida room into a homeschool classroom/extension of LR. I'm frequently pinteresting ideas I want to remember and brainstorming ways that I can work, plan his lessons, and let daddy do the rest. It's nice to have a husband not only open to homeschooling, but actually open and excited to be the one to do it. Who a few years, I may add another blog about the juxtaposition of a teacher job and being involved in the homeschooling of our child. For now, we're enjoying every moment of his innocence, his fascination with the world, and his quick discovery of all things new and exciting.

My healthy lifestyle change is going swimmingly. It's becoming easier and easier to eat healthy. I occassionally allow myself a "treat" only to be reminded why I shouldn't eat those types of things. I ate two small slices of pizza yesterday at lunch and felt like garbage afterward. I have lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year and am now the lowest I have been in over a year...all by changing the way I eat. I haven't really started an exercise routine (only fit it in twice last week) so I don't even feel like I've worked for those 10 pounds...ha! I know I am going to succeed this time around because it truly has become a lifestyle change. I have no desire for most of the things I used to find so mouthwatering. I just want stuff that's good for me. My taste buds have done a 180. I haven't had a drop of soda since the New Year. I've had veggies every day in some fashion. My clothes are fitting differently. My skin has a healthier look to it. I just FEEL better. It's not a burden to eat right. I'm truly trying to treat my body like the temple that it is. I think I'm on the right track...

In conjunction with our healthy lifestyles, we are making plans for a vegetable garden. We've wanted to do one for quite some time but we're now slowly putting those thoughts into action. Hubby started a compost pile in our back yard with the help of our dirt lovin' son and we are looking at different garden formats. How awesome would it be to just go out to my back yard and pick the veggies I want out of my own garden. So, if you have a green thumb, your advice is appreciated. Although my husband is pretty much awesome at anything he puts his hands to so it won't surprise me if we reap a bountiful harvest the first try.

We are also in the process of trying to sell things to not only down size, but also to help pay off debt & save for our emergency fund a little faster. We received an extremely unexpected amount in our escrow refund this year and I will confess I splurged on a new blender. I'm really into healthy smoothies and I wanted something that was going to get the job done (plus, you get what you pay for) so I called that my 10 pound reward. But the rest will go into savings and paying off some debt. We sold the Ford today too so the same will be done there after hubby gets to spend his little bit so we're even ;) We were talking today about how getting rid of stuff is like therapy. It feels good. Less is more. The less we have, the less we have to worry about.

Next Sunday, I begin my fast from facebook and phone games and really pour into all that God has for me. I'm excited and believing for some revelation. He's already been teaching me and showing me things through His Word, but I just know I'm in for something special with this fast. I think it will also prepare my heart for more serving at church. We found out at our partnership meeting tonight that we'll be going to 3 services to accomodate the rapid growth our church is experiencing and the 3rd service will be held in the evenings. I've signed up to be involved with the praise team and am praying that God will use me in that area however He sees fit to bring Him glory.

I have to say I'm excited about this year and all that God is going to do. I want to serve Him more, love Him more, and become more of Him and less of me. I want to do the things He has called me to do without hesitation. I want to make HIM known!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Take Out the Pruning Shears

Sunday morning, our pastor shared a very convicting message. He used the scripture from John 15:1-11 where Jesus is telling His disciples that He is the true Vine and we are the branches and any branch that does not produce fruit shall be cut off but those that do produce fruit will be pruned to produce even more fruit. I love how visual our pastor is because out he comes with an actual vine and a pair of small pruning shears. He showed us that while most of the vine was green, there was one branch that was dead (not producing fruit) and therefore was actually stealing the nutrients from the rest of the vine and that God, in His lovingkindness, would prune that dead branch out of the way so that the fruit-producing branches could therefore produce more fruit. I am the type that likes to find ways to apply messages like that to things in my own life and I asked God, What's in my life that is taking time away from You? What are my "nutrient zappers?" What do I need to allow You to prune out of my life? The answer, as it may be for many people, is media.

I have facebook on my phone which means I actually don't get on the computer that often at home, except to blog or work on something for work or pay bills. But boy, can I spend some time just scrolling through statuses and looking at pictures on facebook or playing games or pinteresting till my heart's content. While none of these things are inherently bad or "evil," they are non-fruit producing branches that are taking the "nutrients" or time away from my Creator. Last year, right around this same time, I went on a 10 day media fast. I didn't get on facebook, pinterest, or watch anything on Netflix (except for Gabey's shows). Instead, I spent that extra time I had reading the Word, reading other "Christian Living" style books, and spending time with my husband and son. I felt more fulfilled in those 10 days than I did the rest of the year. Why didn't I do another fast, you ask. Well, the simple answer is because distraction is an incredibly strong force that one must be diligent to counteract. I was not. I wrote in a blog afterwards that if I felt myself spending too much time doing those things again, that I would do another fast. But I never followed through.

Now I am armed with the realization that not only are these things eating up my time, they are actually taking me AWAY from my Savior. So, starting February 4th, I will be going on a 21 day fast from Facebook and games on my phone. I wanted to do it sooner but I am planning my son's 2nd birthday party and want people to be able to get a hold of me through facebook if they need to. And actually now that I'm looking at that date, I think I'll just go ahead and make it a 24 day fast so that it will carry me through the end of the month.

That also gives me time to pray and prepare my heart for whatever God is going to show me through this time. I will not delete my account, but I will not be getting on during that time. I will fix my phone to make sure I don't get messages every time someone comments on my facebook. I will be deleting all games from my phone for that time period and will also not watch anything on netflix, aside from the shows that I might watch with Gabey (Mickey Mouse, Elmo, etc.) unless the hubs and I are doing an at home date night with a netflix movie. I will still pinterest for the simple fact that I am always looking for new healthy recipes and organization tips (both parts of my long-term goals) but I will set myself a limit each day...and maybe even an alarm on my phone that lets me know when my time is up.

I want to really dig into the Word and who knows, after my time is up, I may just keep going. I will still continue to blog, most definitely about what the Lord is revealing to me and may do a quick posting of it on facebook for those of you that wish to read and only access it from facebook.

I might also still post videos or photos that I take with my phone for family that loves to see/watch Gabe but I don't actually have to get on facebook for that. You might even see a YouVersion bible verse shared on facebook from time to time but that also does not require me to actually get on facebook. So, while you may see "activity" on my account, please know that I will not be mindlessly scrolling through statuses or posting statuses myself.

I'm looking forward to this time. I thoroughly enjoyed it last year and expect I will this year too. Be in prayer with me please that God would reveal Himself to me in a new way and that I will learn all that He has for me to learn during this time.

Here I am Lord...prune me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Journey to Health

If you know me well at all, you know that I am not a vegetable eater. Honestly, I am not a "anything good for me" eater.

I have spent the better part of a year not really paying attention to what I put into my mouth. I've tried a number of times to eat better and lose this excess weight and I always seem to fail. I'd have spurts of absolute willpower that would eventually wain and I'd fall off the health wagon. Instead of running after it and hopping back on, I'd sit in the road and watch it pull farther away while I wallowed in self pity eating my emotions.

First - I am a coffee drinker. Since I've been married, I've pretty much had a cup of coffee every morning (except during my pregnancy). Coffee in and of itself is not so bad, but pair it with flavored creamer and added sweetener (i.e. the only way I even like it) and its probably not the best option.

Second - I like soda...a lot. Since school started, if I had $.75 to spare, I would get a coke from the vending machine. I am well aware of these empty calories but always told myself I "needed" one to get me through the rest of the day.

Third - I love bacon, eggs, pork chops, mac-n-cheese, etc. Once in a while these things may not be too bad, but too much....not good. And I ate TOO much.

Before the new year, I really had resolved that I wasn't making any "health" goals this year. I wasn't going to be cliche. That was until I watched "Vegucated," another food documentary about the conditions that these animals live in (seriously, Netflixers, watch will open your eyes). At that time, on an almost daily basis, hubby would make delicious egg, bacon, and cheese breakfast burritos in the mornings. Delicious. But soooo not good for you. He'd fry up the bacon, cook the eggs in the bacon grease, slap it on a flour tortilla with some cheddar cheese and viola! We couldn't bear the thought of eating bacon after that documentary.

Since the new year, I am proud to announce that I have not consumed one ounce of soda and this week, I cut out coffee. I actually cut out coffee over the summer for a bit and I have found that juicing fresh oranges in the morning while going off coffee helps to cut down on my caffeine withdrawals tremendously. We have slowly been eating up the food we have in the house, including meat, because we do not want to waste it, but I am in the process of creating a month's worth of meal ideas that are more vegetarian. I wanted to go strictly vegan and tried that once before only to fail miserably. But I think I bit off more than I could chew. This time, I'm taking it slow, cutting out things here and there. But, my new mantra has been to get veggies in anywhere I can. I am on the hunt for decent "vegan" recipes so that if I find a vegan dish I like, I know that I can do this thing. Ultimately, I'd like to try and cut out as much meat and dairy from my diet as possible but if I do have to splurge on a dish with meat, I want to KNOW that it is truly organic (I simply don't trust store labels anymore). I have cut out my turkey and swiss sandwiches for lunch and have opted instead for peanut butter (natural kind) and jelly paired with carrots or an apple, etc.

My biggest victory moments so far have been: turning down Dunkin Donuts treats, leaving the red velvet cupcakes sitting on the table, not getting a soda when I had money for one in my pocket and really wanted one, going this entire week drinking a smoothie for breakfast (strawberries, banana, spinach, flaxseed, and almond milk) and my favorite: ordering a mediterranean veggie sandwich from Panera that was topped with tomatos, onions, peppers, cucumbers, feta cheese, and hummus...a combo I would have NEVER dared try. But I ordered it, tried it, and actually LIKED it! I really believe that God has done a transformation of my taste buds. I look at some of my favorite foods now and the thought of putting it into my mouth churns my stomach. So I'd say I'm closer than I think.

What's helping me most is not being consumed with the number on the scale. It's just a number and it does not define who I am. I am more concerned with how I feel on a whole. I think I can honestly say I'm enjoying actually eating healthy and I am not seeing it as a burden or inconvenience anymore. A heart attack or diabetes would be inconvenient...but eating healthy is just something I need to do. It needs to be life change.

So I guess I didn't make a goal for 2013. I made a goal for my life. I want to look, feel, and BE healthy. Even after I get to my goal, whenever that may be, I want to continue on this health journey. Perhaps it will enable me to help others and encourage others. That's what it's about anyway right? Paying it forward?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Anniversary, Ambition, Action

Tomorrow will mark our FIVE year wedding anniversary. I cannot believe it's already been five years.

Five years of honesty, laughter, growth, change, and more love than I ever thought possible. Sometimes I just sit back and think about where my life used to be and where it is now and I cannot believe how blessed I am. What did I do to deserve such a wonderful man? Even in these trying times we've had financially, we have remained a team. We always have one another's best interests in mind. I can wholeheartedly say that our relationship is built on the principles of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. One of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from that passage is that "Love keeps no record of wrongs." Jason and I don't fight. Sure, we've had our little squabbles here and there and sometimes my over-analyzing self can blow things out of proportion but I firmly believe that one of the reasons we have never been an arguing couple is because once it's done - it's done. We don't bring up the past mistakes of the other person and throw it in each other's faces. We deal with it, let it go, and move on. I have always loved that about our relationship.

So, since we don't really buy each other anything (mostly due to the money issue), my gift to him will be these top 5 qualities that I love about for every year of marriage. So Bunches, if you're reading this, Happy Anniversary.

1. He is kind hearted and compassionate.
2. He is easy to talk to - I love our deep conversations.
3. He is creative: wood, art, photography, cooking, etc. (I tease him about it being disgusting how talented he is but really, I LOVE it).
4. He is an excellent father - watching him become a daddy has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
5. He loves me for exactly who I am - flaws and all - and never goes a day without reminding me of that love.

I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass him (he actually does read my blog, make that #6, ha!)
Love you, babe!

I posted earlier about this new year and probably mentioned I wasn't making resolutions. Well, I didn't. Not for 2013 anyway. These are my life goals. These are my ambitions. There are 4 of them:

1) Strengthen my relationship with Christ through daily bible study and prayer.
2) Get out of debt and ultimately become financially free through being frugal and budgeting wisely.
3) Get healthy through daily activity and making wise food choices.
4) Get organized through prioritizing time, consistent cleaning, and weekly low cost organizing projects.

Now, these four things cannot just stay in a list. In order to come to fruition, they require a great deal of action. And so, here's how I've already acted:
1) I've downloaded a Bible reading plan on my phone that tells me what to study each day. Sometimes that's our problem. We don't know where to begin.
2) Each paycheck, I sit down and budget everything out. I've started keeping food and gas envelopes. I pay for these items with cash only and once the cash in the envelope is gone, it's gone until the next paycheck. Cash hurts more than plastic. We've also made a list of items we intend to sell on craigslist to further aid our debt payoff efforts. We're following Dave Ramsey's baby steps to financial peace.
3) We have started eating much healthier. We are slowly cutting meat and dairy from our daily diets, as well as refined sugar and processed foods. We are being intentional about what we eat and the activity we do each day. I am eating healthy foods I don't like by cooking them in ways I will eat them.
4)Finally, I am keeping lists. I have kept up with the straightening up of the house, the dishes, keeping our bathroom clean. I am finding tangible and cost effective ways to become more organized (thank you, Pinterest).

I know it's only the 3rd day of 2013 but I'm already feeling good about this year. There's something refreshing about a new year - a new start. It's cliche, I know. But you know it's true.

So, here's to 2013 and more importantly, to 5 glorious years of marriage with an amazing man. Thank you for being everything I'm not. I love you...more.