Sunday, October 1, 2017

Divine Delay


In our Sunday school class, we have begun studying the book of Luke. I’ll share with you some of what we discussed in Sunday school today. How many of you have received a promise of a gift that you never received? When I graduated from high school, a lady who was a friend of our family told my sister and I that she had a present for each of us. Here we are, more than 15 years later, and I still haven’t gotten that gift. I don’t think that was her intention; I think she just forgot to ever give them to us. At this point, I think it is safe to say that we won’t ever receive the gifts she had for us. I’m not holding my breath anyway.
Has anything like that ever happened to any of you? Has anyone ever made a promise to you and didn’t keep it? It is safe to say that we can all think of at least one unkept promise. In most instances, our friends and family members have the best of intentions. Then, life happens; they make mistakes or forget what they said. Then, we find ourselves expectant but disappointed.
How many of you have felt that same way about an unanswered prayer or a promise that you were sure God made you? Sometimes his promises take a long time to come to pass too. It isn’t that he has forgotten about the promise he made you. You can rest assured that he has a purpose for the delay.
This past week, I studied the first two chapters in the book of Luke. By the way, if you are looking for a Bible study to do, the First 5 is a free app, and it is great! Special thanks to my friend, Lauren, for telling me about it. It is exactly what I’d been looking for.
Back to Luke: I’ll summarize the first chapter. Zechariah was a Jewish priest who served in the Holy Place. While serving, he had the honor of being the priest who would burn the incense at the altar. While there, the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that God had heard his prayer. Now, since Gabriel was a priest, he had likely prayed many corporate prayers for the people of Israel who were anxious for the Messiah to come. But, he had prayed personal prayers too, specifically one for a child. The angel Gabriel told him that his wife would become pregnant and bear a son for him. Zechariah had no idea who interwoven his two prayers were. His son, John the Baptist, would fulfill a the prophecy of being the one who would prepare the people’s hearts for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. But, since Zechariah's prayers for a child and the Messiah were so intertwined, the answer to his prayer likely took much longer than he had expected. He even tells the angel that he and his wife are both old now. But, unlike the lady who forgot to ever give me my graduation gift, God did not forget about answering Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers. The time would come; they just had to wait for it and continue working and serving while they waited.
If God has spoken a promise to you, don’t get discouraged when a week passes and nothing has changed. Maybe a month or six months – maybe even years will go by, and it will be hard to see the progress. It is so important that we recognize that there are divine delays that happen for a reason. Maybe the reason is to stretch you and to grow who you are in your faith. Maybe it’s because there are things in motion that have specific timeframes and you need to increase your patience. Or, maybe you’ll never know the exact reason for the delay. But remember, God was working and waiting for the perfect time to answer the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and he is doing the same for us.
Over the next few studies of Luke in our Sunday school class, we are going to look at Zechariah’s question to the angel and Mary’s question to the angel and explore why they got much different reactions (Zechariah was turned into a mute, but the angel answered Mary’s question without reprimand). We will also dig into why Elizabeth hid herself for the first five months of her pregnancy. Join us for Sunday school as we dig into this Gospel. There’s so much to learn!  


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wagon, Wait for Me!


Over the past couple of weeks, you could say that I fell off of the healthy-eating wagon, or I at least fell over the side. Some things came up, and my schedule completely changed. I didn't plan meals, I didn't make a focused grocery store list, and we ate out a lot more than usual. So, unsurprisingly, I gained about four pounds. During all of this, I did keep my workout regimen, and I continued to log my food in my food journal on My Fitness Pal and mostly stayed under my calorie goal. Doing these things helped me not to stray too far. 

Did ya catch that? I stayed under my caloric goal and exercised, but still gained weight. Before making changes in my diet, I wanted to eat junk, stay under calories, and lose weight. But, that doesn't happen for me. I have to be diligent with restricting the amount of highly processed foods I eat and make sure that most of the carbs that I eat are good carbs. It makes all the difference for me. 

This week, I got back on track. I did have a couple of cheat meals, but I made more good food choices than bad. When I weighed this morning, I was down the four pounds I had gained plus a little extra. Whew, what a relief!

It has been about eleven weeks since I began making significant changes in my eating habits and workout regimen. Since then, I've lost about fifteen pounds. From my highest weight, I'm down 23.8 pounds. Here's a picture of my progress so far:

 Also, in the past month, I've begun focusing on weight training. I still do cardio and calisthenics, but I am learning proper form and technique for heavier lifting. Today, I got a new PR (personal record) for deadlifting. I did 170# for a set of four. It was my fifth set, starting lighter and ending with this heavy set. It really is motivating to lose weight and build strength at the same time.


I have no idea what my goal is for deadlifts. Right now, the hardest part is getting it off of the ground. 😀 So, the goal is to stay uninjured while continuing to challenging myself. Thankfully, I have personal trainers who know that I want to lift and are very encouraging (and make sure that I have proper form to avoid injuries).

I recently read a quote by George Eliot: "It's never too late to become what you might have been." I changed it a little, but it was the inspiration for my current Facebook cover photo quote:


I often wish I had begun this fitness journey a long time ago and was at a more advanced level now. But, I know that a year from now, I'll be so happy that I chose to begin this in March 2017. 

Where are you on your fitness journey? Have you found what works best for your diet? I'd love to hear the things you've tried that work well for you, fitness or food.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Blazing a Mountain Trail


When I was a child, my school took field trips to Stone Mountain. We younger children were only allowed to go to the pavilion at the halfway point; the older ones got to climb the whole thing. So, before today, I don't think I had climbed Stone Mountain all the way to the top. If I had, I had definitely forgotten just how steep it gets. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a hike - partly cloudy and around 80°. Once we climbed the 660' elevation gain in about one mile, the views were spectacular - you can see cityscapes of Atlanta and Buckhead as well as lush greenery and calm lakes.
After we climbed back down the mountain, I was ready for lunch! So, I picked up my hubby, and we headed to a local restaurant called Milo's. There, I used to get the chicken philly and fries because yum. That was what Calvin ordered today. But, in an attempt to stay on-plan today, I ordered their Chicken Salad Lettuce Wrap. It came with a large serving of homemade chicken salad and was served with grapes and crackers (and plenty of lettuce to make several wraps). It could not have been a better choice.


After we ordered and while we were waiting for our food to be served, I told Calvin what I thought we would have for dinner this coming week. I made sure it all sounded good to him. He is on board. So, here is our meal plan:


I'm hoping to make my chicken salad similar to what I had at Milo's today. It looked pretty simple - maybe just chicken, mayo, a little mustard, celery, salt, and pepper. If I succeed at copying them, I'll really enjoy those lunches next week.

For the roast beef, I'll cook it in the Crock Pot and season it with Season Salt and butter. I'll add the onion, carrots (and red potatoes for the hubster) to the Crock Pot to roast along with the beef.

For the penne lasagna bake, I'll use either Dreamfields or Barilla Protein Plus noodles. I'll brown ground beef with onions and peppers and season it with garlic salt. I'll use Newman's Own Marinara and add garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes to season it up a little. I stir about one cup of Italian-blend shredded cheese into the seasoned marinara. Then, I'll add the cooked meat, peppers, and onions and cooked pasta. I'll stir all of that together and pour it into a casserole dish. Then, I'll top it with another cup of Italian-blend shredded cheese and bake it until it's nice and bubbly.

Have you decided what's for dinner this coming week? I'd love to hear about your low (or lower) carb recipes.

Oh, by the way, I've been eating this low-carb way for about five weeks now. I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Can Eat Parmesan-Crusted Chicken?!

Well, hallelujah! I used to love getting parmesan-crusted chicken at Longhorn. I think they recently (in the past six months or so) changed their recipe; I don't like it as much. However, I do love my homemade version of it. Check out that golden brown crust...yum!!!




I'll share the recipe with you. But first, here is my Meal Plan for this week:



You can see that the word "variety" isn't how you would describe my breakfasts. I know that I like it; and, it is quick and easy. I do change it up from week to week. But, I often stick to the same breakfast each week, for a couple of weeks. On that note, you will see that we eat leftovers a few times. I would much rather cook three times each week than seven. So, I usually make enough for us to have leftovers as least once for dinner and enough that I can take it for lunch at least once (usually twice). Although I do not mind a good salad, I much prefer leftovers to having a salad every day for lunch.

Now, for the recipe of the deliciousness that brought you here:


Ingredients:


1 – 1.5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
Garlic salt
Red Pepper flakes

¼ cup Ranch dressing
¼ cup grated parmesan
  
2 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
¼ tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup grated parmesan



Directions:


Coat a baking or casserole dish with the vegetable oil and place chicken in the dish.
Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt and red pepper flakes.
Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes (flip chicken at 10 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.
Ranch spread: mix ¼ cup of parmesan and ¼ cup Ranch dressing. Spread about 1 tbsp onto each piece of baked chicken.
Mix bread crumbs, garlic powder, parmesan, and melted butter. The crumbs should be evenly moistened. Sprinkle over chicken spread.

Position oven rack 6-8” from broiler. Preheat broiler. Place chicken under broiler and cook until cheese melts and crumb topping turns light, golden brown. 

For leftovers: heat oven to 350°. Place chicken on aluminum foil and bake 12-15 minutes.

In case you are wondering about the nutritional information for the deliciousness, I have that for you also. It is more carbs than I normally eat for one meal, but with 32 grams of protein, I'll take it!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This Life That I Lose


Last week, I was thinking about updating my blog to be a better representation of where I am today. So, updated the name and theme of the blog to “This Life that I Lose.” 

The scriptural basis for it is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 where we are told that this life is not our own – we were bought with a price. To that, I will continue to post devotion-type blogs as I have over the past few years; and, we will continue to grow together in our spiritual walks.

This Life that I Lose physically is the sedentary, sugar and carb-addicted one. So, I will post about my journey of losing weight and getting healthy. I’ll share meal plans and recipes that my husband and I enjoy as well as the exercises that I do to help me stay active.

In case you are wondering how I got here, almost four years ago, I went from an active job to a very sedentary job. I love my job with regular work hours and no uniform requirement. But, I did not love the pounds that I had put on sitting at a desk for 40 hours each week. About a month ago, I decided that I was tired of always trying to lose weight and being stuck at a plateau of about eight pounds lost in two years. I knew that I needed a push to get me on the right track. I joined a 16 Week Challenge at the local gym. They provided meal plans, boot camp workout classes, and monthly weigh-ins/body measurements.

The meal plans that were provided were low-carb and low-fat with no dairy and no processed food. No doubt, that would catapult me into weight loss, but I also wanted to do something that would be sustainable long-term. So, for me, I’ve found that low-carb high fat (LCHF as you’ll see if you do an internet search) with no added sugar and no white carbs like potatoes or pasta works well. To give me something to look forward to, I do have a couple of cheat meals each week. In about one month, I've lost nine pounds; I've lost seventeen pounds from my highest weight three years ago. Last week, I told a friend that if I had realized that I could eat like this and lose weight, I would have started it a long time ago. But, my time is now; so, here I go!

Join me on this spiritual and physical journey of This Life that I Lose. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Purpose Over Preference by Steven Furtick


Today, I want to share this devotion by Steven Furtick:

Purpose Over Preference

"When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, 'If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.' So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea." (Exodus 13:17-18)

As Moses led the people of Israel out of captivity and towards the promise land, the path they took was not the shortest or the easiest. In fact, God deliberately led them the long way around (Exodus 13:17).

After living under abusive oppression for 430 years, I'm sure taking the long way wasn't their preference. Remember, the Egyptian regime they were fleeing was the same one that once decreed that their firstborn sons be murdered — not to mention the forced labor and regular physical beatings they were subjected to.

But God had their purpose in mind, not just their preference. The extra miles weren't God's punishment. They were His provision. They were multi-generational slaves, not warriors. Had they gone the way I'm sure they wanted to go, they probably wouldn't have had the courage to continue. They weren't yet prepared to face the enemy by going through.

God's way doesn't always seem like the best way — that is, if you define the best way as the shortest, most comfortable, most convenient way. Many times, God's way is none of those things.

Instead of leading you the short way to what you want, God will often lead you the long way to what you need. It may not be the easiest, but it will be the most purposeful.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Who's in Control?




When we consider that God created everything – the entire universe: planets, stars, mountains, oceans – it really is amazing and maybe a little intimidating. With all of that in mind, what do you think is God’s greatest creation? Don’t be shy; it is us! The Bible tells us that we were created in His image, which is a pretty high compliment. Human beings are incredible creatures. There are so many things that happen in our bodies that keep us alive without us having to think about any of it. Some of our involuntary functions include breathing, blinking, and swallowing. These things we do have some control over (when we want to or try). Other things, like our circulatory system, we don’t have direct control over. Did you know that if you were able to line up, end to end, the arteries, capillaries, and veins of one adult, it would stretch 60,000 miles! I found that online, so it must be true J. As a reference the circumference of the earth is 25,000 miles. So, each of our veins and stuff would go around the earth 2.5 times.


Other things, like our muscular system and nervous system, also are very complex and perform without much active thought from us. Many of us have, at one point or another, worn pedometers. Most of the time, our goal is to reach 10,000 steps per day. But, we don’t have to consciously think about every step that we take. Do you know how many muscles it takes to take one step? 200.

I posted a quote on Facebook a few nights ago that said, “How cool is it that the same God who created mountains, oceans, and galaxies thought the world needed one of you too.” The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Bible also tells us that God knew us before we were even formed in our mother’s womb. So, God didn’t just think, “I need another human on Earth.” No, he thought specifically of you; he knew you, and decided that the world needed you for this specific time. You have a purpose. If you think too much about it, it can seem daunting to try to figure everything out. It can make us feel inferior.

But, is important that we always understand that this life that we live is not our own; we belong to God. When he is in complete control, there is nothing for us to fear. Remember with the different systems in our bodies (the nervous system, circulatory system, muscular system, etc.), we can control portions of what happens. But, if we don’t try to take control of the involuntary actions, our bodies know exactly what to do and when to do it. We can mess up the rhythm when we try to take the control. The same is applicable in our lives. We need to remember that when we give our lives to God, we should also give him control. He doesn’t need us to intervene and mess up the rhythm. When we allow God to order our steps, we are still able to work in faith but know that we are walking in his will.