Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

…It’s the April rose
That only grows in the early spring
Love is nature’s way of giving
A reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king…

Those who have known me for a while may be surprised by this kind of blog entry as I am usually not who one to wax poetic about a thing like love, but…

“Remember, beneath every cynic there lies a romantic and probably an injured one”
-Glenn Beck

and I have spent the last several months on a journey that has taught me things like…

“Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.”
-Peggy Noonan

and

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.”
-Jane Austen

also

“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.”
-Thomas Carlyle

but most of all, I have learned that

“Love is patient, love is kind…love is patient, love is kind…love is patient, love is kind”

I know that’s not the quote, but I repeat it three times because of all of the love lessons, I am learning that it is the most important.  We all throw the word love around about everything, I do it every day.  “love those shoes, love that sushi, love your hair, etc.” however when it comes to truly loving others and loving ourselves, we all too often miss the mark.  This too, is something I have been guilty of.  I’m ready for a little confession time because I feel fairly certain that I am not the only one who is in this boat.

I fell in love in my early twenties and I fell hard.  When the relationship ended, I hardened my heart thinking that I could somehow protect myself that way.  I pulled away from God, mistrustful and bruised, but all of those walls only ended up hurting me more.  I spent a lot of years creating scars and at the beginning of 2013, I made a decision unlike any I’d ever made before, but it involved me submitting wholly to God.  It took a few weeks to work through some of the kinks that were my habits, however by the end of March, I’d gone all in.  I know that I have so much more to learn, but what I have learned so far has truly traded my heart of stone for a heart of flesh.  I have become more sensitive to friends, family, and most of all my children.   I am learning that patience is not simply waiting, but the attitude that you choose to have WHILE you wait.  I have learned to be dependent, truly dependent on love with the understanding that Love never fails.

I don’t mean that the humans who I love will not disappoint me or fail to meet my expectations, simply that love, true love, starts from a place that cannot fail.  It requires submission, trust, and most of all faith in the process, in the reality and in the Creator.  For the first time in years, I am looking forward to Valentine’s Day, not because I have a special valentine, but rather I have an opportunity to show those around me that being single on a day like that is not an indictment of whether or not I am (or they are) worthy of love.  I pray that I can show my children that every day is a day to demonstrate love to those around you, even when you don’t feel like it.  Valentine’s day may be a day when the world asks you to show it outwardly, but our job, especially those of us who claim to be Jesus followers, is to demonstrate love to everyone around us everyday.

This former cynic is now a romantic in the worst way.  I have become an idealist who hopes to have the kind of passionate, romantic love that I experienced in my early 20s, the trust in God that he will bring every good thing into my life if I remain surrendered to His will, and the more than a mustard seed sized faith to know that mountains can be moved, even the mountain of me.  Love is worth the wait.

Image courtesy of AdvancedPhotoshop.co.uk created by Casey Diggs

Image courtesy of AdvancedPhotoshop.co.uk created by Casey Diggs

…Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing.

-The Four Aces

“Don’t Tread on Me”, even when we disagree

This article is difficult to write because, quite frankly, I know it is going to anger a lot of people who I care about, but I feel the need to jump into the fray to express an opinion about TRUE freedom.  This “stand4life” and “fight for life” movement is going too far.

Thomas Jefferson Quote Tea Party Poster

Image courtesy of iMaksim.com

The life of a child is not a choice…it is a blessing.  Children are precious and helpless and need love and nurturing.  With that being said, I CANNOT advocate the state legislating away the privacy of the individual under the guise of protecting the unborn.  I am proud of my state and I love that i am from the Lone Star State.  One of the proud legacies of this state is that individuals are able to have more freedom than other states.  We build great businesses and we thrive when other states are struggling in bankruptcy and being forced to buy sodas less than 24oz.  We protect our fellow Texans property rights, their right to own a gun, their right to put a manger in their front yard at Christmas, but now we’re saying that Texas women don’t have the right to make a medical decision without the permission of the state?

Yes, I know, I know what your response may be, something like…”It’s a child, not a medical decision!” or “It’s up to us to protect those who cannot speak for themselves!” or “Every person should have the chance to live, your mother gave you the opportunity!” or some variation of those statements.

In a pregnancy of less than 20 weeks, regardless of how conception occurred, the child’s life is not viable outside of the mother’s body and therefore attempting to force her to remain pregnant is an absolute violation of her right to privacy as she dictates her own medical care.

I understand that those of you fighting for the bill want to help innocent babies and I want that as well, however I am NOT willing to advocate for stepping on the rights or violating the privacy of the ALREADY BORN women simply to make you feel better.  If we begin to say that the state can regulate what happens between a woman and the physician that she chooses, why can’t the state regulate how many guns we own?  If we violate an adult woman’s right to privacy, why can’t the state tell you what to put in your front lawn on any given holiday?  Consider that your attempts to protect the innocent are doing more to violate what you claim to protect—freedom.

Freedom is not pretty.  Freedom is not easy.  Freedom is choice and means allowing people to make choices that we don’t agree with.

To my fellow Christians, consider this…

God believes in choice and freedom.  God loves us so much that He gives us the freedom to choose Him.  He does not force us into a relationship with Him and He loves ALL without regard for their choices.  Making or supporting the state regulating an individual’s choice is not a holy thing.

Any state that regulates choice of ANY kind, that does not infringe on the rights of another, especially to this degree is no different from the state forcing us all to practice a religion that we did not choose.

Before you begin the argument that abortion infringes on the right to life of another human being, consider that if a mother who is 14 weeks pregnant dies in a car accident, the child dies as well or if she is murdered and the child’s life was not viable outside of the womb, we do not charge the suspect with the murder of that child.  If we begin to give rights to a person who is not yet born, especially one whose life is not viable outside of another’s body, we begin to tread down a slippery slope in a self righteous effort to control the lives and decisions of others.

To my legislators, if you are TRULY interested in helping the unborn rather than creating more laws, consider bolstering reproductive education.  Consider offering counseling, subsidized by the state, to women who are considering or have had abortions.  Consider that investing more time educating women on the effects of abortion, both physical and mental, does more to support your citizens than over regulating them.  Consider that as you create more laws, you are not encouraging life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you are finding ways to turn citizens into subjects.

Don't tread on me

Skinny People Problems

I will try to avoid doing that girl thing of never being satisfied with my weight, however I will continue to set new goals for myself as I accomplish them because I now see that complacency will make you and keep you fat.  Based on my bathroom scale this morning, I have lost a total of 93lbs since January 2011.  This picture was taken on May 24, 2013 and I was happy that Santa agreed to take a picture with me on his day off. 😉

Two and a half years of changeI will admit that I’m proud of this accomplishment and although it has become cliche, especially for athletes, I absolutely acknowledge that I could not have done this without God.  Specifically, I know that I am not only an emotional eater, for too long I turned to food for comfort.  That resulted in me weighing more than 250 lbs nearly one year after having twins (I weighed less DURING the pregnancy).  I ate, and ate, and ate because I was miserable and food gave me a temporary fix.  I have learned that God is my permanent fix and while I will continue this new, healthy lifestyle, it comes with problems.

I call these problems “Skinny People Problems”

Like any good list, I will number these in order of their problematic nature and of course we will countdown because who doesn’t like a little delayed gratification

My top 10 Skinny People Problems

10. It used to happen that when I went to parties or concerts, I could have conversations with friends or remain somewhat anonymous and enjoy the music.  Now when I go parties or concerts, people who I have never met want to take pictures of you or with you or dance with you and cause others to watch you laugh and have a good time.

9. When I was heavy, electronic sliding doors would open within 10 feet of my approach.  Now that I’m “skinny” I have to wave my arms in order for the motion sensor to detect me with many of those doors…also, doors seem to be harder to open, despite my increased muscle mass.

8. Eating out was always fun for me.  I could order savory meals, and ate every single bite of food that I or my date paid for.  These days, when I go out to eat, I hardly get through half of the meal before I feel full and because I lost by eating clean, I can taste the sugar and grease and it’s unappetizing.

7. If I was coming down an aisle or trying to pass behind someone, they would stand up and move or slide their chair up as far as it could go for me to pass.  Now, they hardly move their legs at all for me to pass and certainly don’t think twice about moving their chair when I need to get behind it.

6. People wouldn’t offer me food unless everyone was eating.  Now, people will offer me food if there is anything edible in the vicinity because they seem to think that I am hungry all the time or maybe I just look hungry.

5. You expect your clothes to get bigger as your body shrinks and it is exciting to buy smaller sizes, but do you expect your shoes to get bigger because your feet shrink too? Some of my favorite shoes are now too big and I have to get special inserts to wear them.

4. When you are a corpulent girl, friends don’t try to pick you up and no one asks you how much you weigh.  These days, guy friends want to pick me up when they hug me or even carry me and I have to remember how much I weigh or I guess I could just learn to lie about it like a normal woman.

3. I used to have a lap that was versatile and useful.  If I wanted to count coins or basically anything smaller than a half dollar, my thighs would keep the objects from the floor.  These days, when I sit with my knees together, my thighs don’t touch.  I can’t use my lap to hold things and I have to cross my legs to achieve the same goal.

2. I’ve always known that I have a tailbone, I’ve actually seen the x-rays.  I can now FEEL my tailbone when I sit down. I still have plenty of “junk in my trunk” and what I thought was enough booty but when I sit, especially on a semi-hard surface, I can feel my own tailbone…crazy.

Before I get to the number one problem that skinny people have that I didn’t expect, here’s another before and after picture.

Transforming 1

1. The number one problem that skinny people have that I didn’t expect is…

Being Cold All The Time!

You can see in the pictures above that I had plenty of layers on my body to keep me warm.  These days, I have to keep at least one sweater, often two with me even in the middle of summer.  People in Houston LOVE their AC and most buildings are no warmer than 75 degrees.  I feel cold at just about any setting under 78.  I now understand why skinny people look forward to summer and spend so much time being active…they need to stay warm.

Obviously, these problems are not actual problems and I’m being cheeky but they are certainly things that have happened that I didn’t expect.  I am grateful to those who have supported me in their various ways and because of them, I pay it forward and support others.  One of my more well known supporters is Michael Berry who has encouraged many of his listeners by imploring them to get off their collective butts and do something about it.  The favorite phrase that he uses that I have adopted is, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”  And while that statement applies to most everything in your life, I have another that it similar that I now prefer…  MamaInTheMiddle and Michael Berry

“While it’s true that through God all things are possible, if we do not first seek Him and ask for His help, we cannot expect it and if we do not follow tried and true principles like burning more calories than you eat and moving more frequently and regularly, any amount of begging for divine intervention does not work.”

Be blessed 🙂

When My Peace Is Chased To The Corners Of My Mind

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

One of the things that my mother taught me very early in my life is how to have a personal relationship with God.  She did not explain it to me in words, rather she showed me as she would sing and hum to comfort herself in obviously stressful times.  When she would become frustrated and before screaming at us, take a deep breath, close her eyes and after whispering, “Lord help me”, would continue to correct us.  I have learned that this life is not fair, but God is always good.

Image Courtesy of Brian Andreas

However, I am learning to listen to His voice in me and often, in the midst of four laughing, screaming little angels, it is difficult.

In the midst of getting up early to workout and in the rush out the door to work, I miss Him.

As I move through my day and help people accomplish various tasks, I have trouble hearing Him.

And then, in the quiet of the evening, before I lay down my head, I hear Him.

I see Him.

I am reminded of who He is and of who I am.

Image courtesy of ronbigelow.com

While He may be in the church service with the flashing lights and wonderful music, He is with me when my eyes flutter open and I only want 30 more minutes to sleep.  He may be in the loudly prayed prayers of various people, but He is with me when I am making my morning coffee and waiting on the turkey bacon to finish cooking.  Many feel that He is in the miracle service and He is, but He is also with me when I am helping a co-worker or soothing my child as she fights sleep.

I am choosing to write this because He is with you too.  His voice is within you and speaking to you.  So, as I lay me down to sleep and think on the day that has passed, I remember that I don’t have to know all of the answers.  I certainly don’t have to answer to another human being about what God has put within me, I only have to know what I learned as a very small child.

Image courtesy of allabouttheheart.wordpress.com

“I had a talk with God last night.  I cried oh Lord, please make things alright.  He said, “I’m God, all by myself.  If you have Me, you’ll need no one else.” I said, “Thank God, for now I see.  Thank you for giving me victory.” Whenever I need Him, He’s so good to me.  I had a talk with God last night.”  —Pastor Mitty Collier