Archive for the ‘Not Food’ Category

Perception

This is a cardoon.

Cardoon    Cardoon

A scraggly-looking plant.
For more than 2 years now,
I’ve let this thing grow in my garden.
Unremarkable, really,
until mid-summer
when it shows off by shooting upward a spiky, purple flower.
Here’s the flower from last year.

Cardoon flower

Cool, isn’t it?
I call it a punk-rock flower.

Thing about this cardoon,
It looks scraggly most of the time.
Leaves,
some soft as lamb’s ear,
other’s prickly like a briar bush,
jut out here and there.
I’m always cutting leaves out of my mowing path.
And often,
the lower leaves look exhausted,
so I excuse them from life with my clippers.
Regardless of my disregard for it most days,
the cardoon is faithful
and provides the splendor of a purple tufted crown
for our viewing pleasure
a couple of weeks in June and July.
It’s almost time again.
A firm, artichoke-like bud has formed.
Standing at about 5 and a half feet tall,
it will probably reach a good 6 and a half feet before opening.
I am 5’2″
so I can’t see the top of the bud this year.
To remedy this problem,
I took a picture while holding my camera above my head.
What I saw
when looking at the camera’s instant capture
completely floored me.

Cardoon

It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
At eye-level,
this plant is unimpressive
and appears little more than a weed.
But from God’s view,
it is perfect
in it’s design.
The symmetry,
invisible to a level passerby,
is remarkable.
There is a purpose for every single “jut” of a leaf.
Things I saw as random and awkward,
are actually specifically engineered
by The Master’s Hand
to connect to the leaf above
in a grand design
that is a beauty
unlike any
I could have seen
with my limited perception.

Life is like that sometimes.
Things seem to happen
or go on around us
that make no sense.
Sometimes circumstances
or situations
we find ourselves in
or crawling out of
don’t seem to have a purpose.
And
let’s face it,
life is hard.
Chaotic seeming even.
There are highs and lows
and often it feels like they happen simultaneously.

But then I see this cardoon
as He sees this same cardoon
and I realize
that what I see as mess
and chaos
and disorganization,
in disregard,
Our Heavenly Father sees as
beauty
and perfection
and formulation
in satisfaction.
He sees His complete creation
in it’s complete imperfection.
And He is pleased.

I believe that He sees me in the same way.
Not the jutting leaves of my choices
or the exhaustion of my journey.
He doesn’t see me weary
or in the way
or unimpressive.
And He doesn’t save His love
only for the times
when I send Him a flower head.

He sees me whole
from beginning to end
and finds me quite remarkable.

The cardoon.

It’s my favorite plant in the garden!

Cardoon

 

What Prayers Smell Like

At too early o’clock, the alarm sounds.
The day is here.
Today we might have an answer to an unknown.
Is it cancer?
Is it fixable?
Whatever it is, we are ready.
Maybe.
“No surprises” has become our catch phrase.
Something mom and I share, but have never really even discussed.
We just know what it means to us, and what we face.
Together.
This day I wake with the mechanics of our schedule ordering my steps.
My Bible is on the round, “I think I look expensive but I’m not” desk in the corner of the room.
It remains unopened, as I am tied to the long hand of the clock.
Shouldn’t I feel guilty about that?
Because I don’t.
Shouldn’t I feel anxious about what the day holds?
About what the doctors will find?
Because I don’t.
I actually am feeling a little anxious over not feeling anxious.
Over not feeling bothered by leaving the Bible unopened this early morning.
I slip on my jacket, certain that Charleston’s early May weather will hand me a chill as I exit the hotel.
I leave momma in the room while I load her breath-giving silver tanks onto a luggage dolly and head downstairs.
The sun is bright.
Markedly so.
Almost as if it’s illuminated by all it touches, in reflection.
It casts interesting dancers across the hotel lobby floor, which is all shiny and newly polished.
As I step beyond the grand entrance into the world, it hits me.
And God says to my heart, “Child, do not be anxious. Your peace comes from Me. This is what it feels like to be enveloped in the loving arms of your Savior, and the prayers lifted on your momma’s behalf and for you? Breathe in the sweet aroma. This is the smell of prayers.”
The air is warm, and laden with a familiar, briny fragrance rolling in from the waters.
Momma’s always loved the coasts of the Carolinas.
There’s just something healing in the sands, the sounds, the smells of the shore.
I need no jacket this day, for I am wrapped in the warmth and comfort of Christ.
And a bunch of  wonderfully fragrant prayers.

Mother’s Day Tide Table

The winds are shifting.
The current is trying to decide,
“Should I come in, or should I go out?”
Though the sun is shining,
eve promises to cut short it’s brightness.
Waves lap, without tiring, in a rhythmic  march.
Rolling.
Rolling.
Rolling.

Change is a given in this world.

Tomorrow, the winds will be blowing differently.
The current will still be questioning.
The sun will come up, and the sun will go down.
And the waves, they will continue to move things into position.

But today.
Today, I find comfort in the constant that is change,
knowing that by His great design and promises,
every single thing in this life…
– HEAR ME ON THIS –
every.single.thing.in.this.life.
WORKS TOGETHER
for the good of those who love God;
those who are called according to His purpose.

Knowing this fact makes

watching the winds shift,
and seeing the current struggle,
and finding the sun falling and the darkness rising,
and feeling the onward, unwavering march of the waves

a beautiful, comfortable thing.

This mother’s day, I am thankful for understanding the depths of His love a little bit better.
The forecast is exactly as He would have it.
And I am trusting Him completely.

O is for…

Sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let the girl have an Oreo.
Or five.
Don’t judge me by the cookie bag hidden under the seat in my car.
Absolutely necessary is the need for a cookie every now and then.
Like oxygen.
Oreos.
And oxygen.
The need is real.

Our Bodies Want To Be Healthy

They just do.
They’re built that way.
Temples.

To be healthier – it comes down to mind over matter.
I really don’t like that phrase.
But it does!
It amazes me to look back on the days when I was sure I was “so in control”.
I was so not in control.

One of the first freedoms I remember experiencing was food.
It was in college.
I had a part time job.
And I had freedom, baby.  Yeah!
A good day’s lunch usually consisted of a 6oz bag of Salt and Vinegar Lay’s Potato Chips, purchased from the Food Chief across the highway from campus.
For just $0.99, I could enjoy every last crumb all by myself, and I could do so daily.  Not bad for a college student’s budget.  Usually I could finish the whole 6 ounces in a sitting.  Cramming the empty bag of evidence under the driver’s seat of my Honda.
Freedom!
Whose mother ever offered that for lunch?
I can even remember thinking to myself that I hoped I was never in a car wreck, where the remains of my chip runs and snack food fetish would be discovered beneath me.

It was freedom in the sense that I didn’t have anyone telling me what I could and could not eat.
Freedom in that I was paying for my food choice with my own money.  Money I earned working as a pharmacy technician.  How funny is that?  I even catered to my chip craving at work.  Loved me some Chipotle BBQ Ruffles Potato Chips, dipped in Chesapeake Bay Clam dip.  It was fortunate the pharmacy I worked at was located inside of a grocery store.

I thought I was in control.  In the driver’s seat.  “I will feed my body what I want to feed my body, when I want to feed my body.”

Here’s what I know now, and it’s taken me 30+ years to come to this conclusion –

Being in control means that the mind takes a back seat to the matter, in the whole mind over matter thing.

The matter is our bodies are designed to need nutrition.  We were fearfully and wonderfully made that way.

The mind is our free will to do what we want to do.

So what is actually in control when I choose to eat a 6 oz bag of Lay’s Potato Chips?

The mind, or the matter?

When I choose to tend to the matter, instead, I’m choosing to feed my body what it needs.

Today marks 64 days of my trying to feed my body what it needs.
Eating cleaner.
Eating responsibly.
Eating purposefully.

A trip to the doctor’s office today revealed
weight loss
the lowest blood pressure reading in years
and
a better overall healthy appearance.

It was with giddy excitement that I propped up in the adult-sized highchair in the laboratory and awaited the technician who would harvest a sample of my blood.  Giddy!  Yeah, I’m not right that way.  But what a different visit this was to the doctor for me.  I’ve never before been excited to see “where I am” on the richter scale of healthiness.  And I anxiously await the lab results in a few days, in anticipation of celebrating lower cholesterol levels than were reported a year ago.

Control.

That’s what I am experiencing these days, as I trek forward in this previously (to me) unchartered territory called Positive Lifestyle Change.

And know what’s really cool?  It doesn’t take long at all to start seeing improvements in your body once you begin making changes.  Within ten days of eating cleaner, I had more energy and was sleeping better.  Within one month of adding exercise to the healthier eating, I noticed improved stamina and strength.  Our bodies WANT to be healthy.  They do!  All you have to do is decide that you’re taking control – real control – and treating your body to the good things it deserves.

Bye-bye, Lay’s Potato Chips.  It’s been fun, but I’m moving on…

Almost Didn’t Loathe Working Out Today

It’s no lie.
I don’t like the gym.
I don’t like to exercise.
I don’t look forward to the daily workout.

BUT

Today, on this 44th day of eating cleaner and implementing intentional, repetitive body movements with the desire to feel better…….

I almost enjoyed the gym.
I was close to thinking I wouldn’t die whilst on the recumbent bicycle.
I even almost did 17 stomach crunch things on this weird machine.
Almost.

I’ve been asking God to help me hate exercise less.
Not joking, though it looks funny to type it out.
I’ve also asked him to help me not like potato chips.
And to keep my hands out of the Keebler cookie bags that sometimes find themselves hiding under my car seat.

And what I know today is…

I can ride the cycle for 35 minutes without feeling as though I’m stroking out.  I even once rode 11 seconds more than I intended to in my workout, before I noticed I could quit.

I haven’t had a potato chip in more than 44 days.  I’m sure Lay’s can feel the drop in sales in my town.

And I can count on one hand how many times I’ve accidentally adopted a lonely bag of chunky chocolate chip cookies (and it’s closer to 2 than to 3).

Making my way, three steps forward and two steps backward sometimes, but know that I’m headed in the right direction.  Thank you, Jesus, for helping me on this journey!

34 Days of Eating Clean(er)

Not talking about Windex or Mr. Clean.  🙂

My husband and I have been eating differently for a little more than a month now.  And we’ve started exercising.  But the big deal is what we’re doing differently at the grocery stores and in our kitchen.

For 34 days, we’ve eaten

NO white rice
NO white bread
NO added sugar
NO sugar substitues (‘cept for some gum, but working on quitting that!)
NO high fructose corn syrup
NO msg (‘cept for by accident once)
MOSTLY gluten-free
SOME potatoes of color (no white!  those are bad!)
FEW GMO products
LOTS of fresh veggies & fruits
HANDFULLS of cashews & other nuts
ONLY grass-fed beef (2 times per week or less)
ONLY free-roaming chickens

See what we’ve been eating?

Chicken, Veggies, Salad    Pork Chop, Cabbage, Collards, Sweet Potatoes

Happy Skillet! (Red Potatoes, Peppers, Kale)     VEGGIES & FRUITS

And we’ve only drank WATER and an occasional coffee or hot tea with honey.  NO soda or sweet tea.

We have “splurged” just a couple of times, but not enough to knock us off the positive track to imprived health.  The vegetable pizza was good, and the donut was okay.  Not nearly as impressive as these two things tasted before when we were hopped up on sugar 24/7.

“Results so far”, you’re wondering?  Aside from more energy, better sleep and less pain in our knees and ankles, we have both lost weight.  What a great side effect of eating healthier!  Because I’m telling you, friend, we eat A LOT, and I feel like we are “feeding” all the time!  Kevin has had an amazing start, with more than 30 pounds lost in this first month!  He was just over 300 pounds on Dec. 28th, and now weighs in around 271.  Seriously!  The speed at which he is losing weight has slowed, of course, but getting all of the processed, inflamatory-causing foods and chemicals out of our bodies gave each of us immediate weight loss results pretty quickly in the first 2 weeks.  My weight loss is not nearly as impressive, but I have gone from 204 pounds to 192 pounds. That’s still a dozen pounds less than I’ve been carrying for too many years.  And more than the number tells, the exercise is already starting to define and tone muscles that I haven’t seen in more than a decade!

This is a fun and exciting journey we’re on to better health!   Thanks for sharing in it with us and encouraging us along the way!

Exer-what?!

Exer-cise.

We introduced the E word into our world this week.  Don’t I sound happy?  Wait for the endorphins to catch up with me…

“We started exercisin’, y’all!”

Better?

Okay.

A friend of ours, David, who has had his own lifestyle transformation over the last year (and that equals body transformation, too) challeneged us to get off our butts and make some changes this year.  When I say “us”, I don’t mean me and Kevin singled out.  He issued a blanket challenege to anyone who wanted to know how he has such impressive success in adopting a healthier eating/exercising lifestyle.  And when I say “get off our butts”, I might be using words he didn’t specifically say, but I think he’d agree to the general idea.   He shared with Kev and I what has worked for him, and that includes embracing body movement.  We were made to move, you know.  And because 1) I don’t like to not accept a challenge and 2) I don’t like to not succeed and 3) this challenge comes with a free 2-week membership to a gym…..why not!?

It’s been only 3 days of our bodies on exercise.  I wish I could use inspiring, happy words to describe the experience so far.   I’m glad we’re doing it.  And we are committed to sticking with exercise as a part of our new living lifestyle.  But it’s hard, guys. I mean, I’m only in the baby steps of exercise.  Teeny-tiny.  Like today, I rode the recumbent cycle for 38 minutes, but that wasn’t all at one time.  I did 18 minutes.  And took a break.  Then I did 13 minutes.  And took a break.  And I ended with 7 minutes.  My face was so red and hot and – me being transparent here – I was sweating.  Gasp!  My heartrate hit 150 as I was struggling to hold at 11.4 miles per hour, and I was certain people on the other side of the gym could hear my heartbeat.  I also did 30 tummy crunches on some machine that I’m not afraid of.  Five at a time.  In-between riding that low-rider bike.  This is not easy.

Yesterday, after I’d been cycling for about 12 minutes, I began having a quite interesting debate in my head.  Old Sherry was saying, “you know, you can just get off this thing, hop in your car and go read a book for 1/2 an hour while you wait for your son to get out of school”.  New Sherry was saying, “that sounds good!”.  She was being weak, which is quite uncharacteristic for New Sherry. About that time, my friend David walked into the gym.  You know what Old Sherry said?  Nothing.  Zip.  She shut her mouth and I didn’t hear from her again the whole day.  What an encouragement it was when David walked in.  He was just there to do his thing, and had no idea he’d just silenced negotiations in my head.  So I didn’t quit and made it through the entire planned work out yesterday.  Now today was a different story.  David was already there when I walked in, so Old Sherry had to keep quiet the entire time while New Sherry peddled it out for 38 minutes.  It was a long, long, 38 minutes.  Conversation sure does make the time go by faster.  I definitely need to get some headphone things to plug into the on-cycle t.v.

Here’s what I rest on today –

Exercise is tough.  I hope to have more to add to that in a week or so, but right now, as I feel my…my…crap.  What are those things?  They must be muscles.  Put your thumbs under your armpits, as if you’re going to do The Chicken Dance.  Hold it right there.  Move your thumbs slightly forward, like an inch and a half.  THOSE!  What are those things?  Well, mine hurt.  I’m sure as a result of using the stomach crunching machine thing improperly, but none-the-less, they are yelling at me!  Anyhow, I hope that I can bring the E word some positive reviews in a week or so.  Will you pray for me?  Join me in asking God to motivate me to continue in this journey toward a healthier lifestyle.

Three Things This Week

1 – Knee injections are good.  No doubt the knowledge that brought these things into our medical forefront has to be directly from God.  I had disabling pain in my most osteoarthritic knee on Monday.  Today, I could dance a jig.  Not worrying about how long it will last, but instead, revelling in the wonder of being pain-free.  It has been a long time.

2 – Celebration-of-Life funerals are the bomb.  I can hear my friend, Jeddie, saying that.  She died earlier this week, after a short, courageous meeting with cancer.  I rarely attend visitations.  Or funerals.  Or graveside burials.  And if there’s an open casket, I tend to not want to look in those.  But because of who my friend Jeddie was to me and so many – a continual wealth of wisdom and spunk – and a perpetual educator – I coudn’t not go to the visitation, funeral, graveside.  As crazy as it might sound, I could hear Jeddie’s voice, with that “you are kidding me” inflection, saying, “Oh, darlin’ – you oughta go to mine and then decide what you think”.  So I did.  And when I saw from a distance that there was an open casket at visitation, I couldn’t not peek in to see my friend.  Of course, she wasn’t there, only her earth’s case.  The thing that held her whilst here.  The thing that allowed us to embrace each other, share smiles, exchange comforting nods.  I couldn’t cry.  And I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful her body was at rest, and how good blue looked on her.  Why didn’t I notice that before, when she was in her case?  I guess I was probably distracted by the sparkle in her eye, as any encounter was always filled with the love of the Holy Spirit.  She was so captivating, with her passion for Jesus and love for His people.  Jeddie’s funeral was simple, poignant, and filled more with laughter than tears.  Her family was strong.  Loving.  Welcoming to all of us who came to celebrate her life.  Mrs. Jeddie always inspired me to dig deeper into His word and to value every moment of life as the gift that it is.  She always was teaching me about the tireless, unconditional love Jesus has for me.  For his people.  And even in her death, Mrs. Jeddie has taught me, still, how to celebrate life, through the recollection of hers, as shared by her family and friends.  I’m so thankful for Mrs. Jeddie.  And it tickles me to no end to know that I will see her again!

3 – God’s Grace is a gift to be shared.  In scripture, His word says, “but to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Eph 4:7).  As sinful people, we don’t deserve God’s grace, but He lavishly gives this to us anyhow.  Grace.  Pardon.  Forgiveness.  I remember hearing of a young man who was killed.  Murdered.  And a while later, the news people shared with the world how the mother of the young man who was killed had befriended the murderer.  She had met with him and become friends with him.  She prayed for him.  Showed him nothing short of kindness.  And because of her willingness to show this man grace and mercy, his life was forever changed.  The murderer came to know Jesus Christ through the friendship of the murdered man’s mother.  Grace.  Grace.  It’s enough.  Grace says, “I don’t care what you did to me.  Jesus loves you, and so, I love you, too.”  Grace overlooks what is ill-intentioned, and instead, loves.  In spite of, loves.  I know God’s grace.  And I, the undeserving, am charged to share His grace.  This week, I’ve experienced His blessings of being able to offer grace.  And I’ve experienced His blessings of being offered grace.  My friend, Renea, is a daily reminder of the beauty of His grace.  I have offered grace to her, and she to me, and our lives are both forever changed.  If  there is anyone in your life who has wronged you or hurt you somehow, please forgive them.  And if there is anyone in your life who you have wronged or hurt somehow, please ask for their forgiveness.  I cannot put into words how incredibly blessed you’ll be for this obedience — God calls us to offer the very gift of grace we’ve been given to others.  Won’t you put aside your pride, fears, guilt and doubt and do that today?

In summary, stop being a whimp, and get that shot of steroid in your knee – it’s so worth it!  Know where you’re headed after this life ends.  Have a Celebration Of Life, not a funeral.  Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Invite Him into your heart and be certain those left behind will be celebrating your ‘home going’ when you die.  And finally, forgive.  Isn’t it time?  Christ carried the weight of the world on that cross.  Won’t you put down your stones and ask for forgiveness, too?

Feeding Time

Fuel the body, don’t entertain it.

That’s what I’m learning.
In a nutshell.
Literally.
🙂