Winner of Never Unfriended

It’s time to announce the winner of my Never Unfriended giveaway. Thanks to all of you who entered! I had 8 people enter, and I used the random number generator to select a winning number.

entries

winner

That means that CAPPYLOVE3 is the winner! Congratulations! Check your email for details about how to get your book.

For those of you who didn’t win, I highly recommend ordering a copy of the book for yourself.

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Hello, 2016

Happy New Year to all my readers! I haven’t made goals for the year in a while, but I decided it was time to work on being more disciplined and more focused on things I hope to achieve, so I’m making goals this year. I went back and looked at blog posts from past Januarys to see what kind of goals I made and how many I made each year. The year with the most goals was definitely 2009 with 18 (what was I thinking??). Most of my goals were either related to spiritual or physical pursuits, and I guess this year will be no different. Here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2016:

  1. Write for a minimum of 5 minutes every day. I want to establish a daily writing habit, and while 5 minutes doesn’t seem like much, chances are that once I sit down and do it, I will end up writing longer than that. I love writing and yet haven’t really created anything I’m proud of in a long time, so I hope to change that this year.
  2. Read through the Bible. The last time I did this was in 2012, so it’s time for another attempt. I found it really rewarding and love that following a reading plan will add much-needed structure to my Bible study time.
  3. Finish a 5k. Obviously this won’t happen until after both of my hips are fixed (please Lord, let that become a reality), but I want to take up running again as soon as the doctor clears me to do so. I can’t even tell you how much I miss it. I think running 3.1 miles by the end of the year is doable, even if I have to run that 3.1 on December 31!
  4. Read 25 books. This is still a really modest goal, but I have to be realistic. If my log for 2014 is accurate, I only read 16 books the whole year, so 25 will still be a stretch for me. If I read more than that, wonderful! I’m going to track all of my reads on GoodReads.
  5. Stop drinking soda. If there’s a goal I’m not sure I’ll achieve, it’s this one. I drink soda on an almost-daily basis, and even though it’s mostly Coke Zero, it’s still junk I don’t need in my body (and some would say diet sodas are worse than regular soda). I don’t need soda, and quitting it will be good for my body and my wallet, too. 🙂
  6. Memorize at least 3 Psalms. I fell deeply in love with the Psalms last year, and I want to hide more of them in my heart. I’m planning to start with Psalm 145, my favorite, and then I think I will do Psalms 42 and 103, but I reserve the right to change this at a later date.

I’m looking forward to working on these goals and maybe–hopefully–achieving them. I’d love to hear about your goals as well, so leave me a comment and tell me about them.

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Naturally my first picture of 2016 is of this cutie. 

Same Song, Different Verse

On June 2, Stephen and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I spent some time that week looking at pictures from our wedding and honeymoon and was reminded anew of how different I looked back then. One picture in particular stood out to me.

On our honeymoon in 2008

On our honeymoon in 2008

I filled up so much of the frame, looked so bloated. Happy, yes, but so very overweight. And while I told myself 2 weeks ago that at least I wasn’t 261 pounds anymore, that thought didn’t console me much because I have seen my weight creep up and know that as much as I tell myself I will never be 261 pounds again, it could happen if I’m not careful.

Gluttony has been my besetting sin, the sin I cannot seem to escape, for all of my life. Food is my drug, the way I self-medicate. Before I’ve finished one meal I’m thinking about what I’ll eat for the next. If I have a bad day, I want to eat. If I’m happy and feel like celebrating something, I want to eat. If I’m stressed, I want to eat. Eating is my response to virtually every emotion I feel. I hardly even know how to separate food from my feelings.

Thus, it’s no surprise that I find myself in the 200s again, wondering how I got here. And it’s not like this is new; I’ve hovered around 200 pounds since last year. I saw the 190s on the scale here and there, especially earlier this year when I was dealing with a mild UC flare (thanks, UC!), but for the most part my weight has consistently been between 200-203. I haven’t liked it there, but I’ve been struggling with so many other aspects of my health (like the aforementioned UC and hip pain that has become chronic in nature) that thinking about weight loss completely overwhelmed me. And to be honest, I didn’t want to give up anything else. I’ve been through a lot these past 2.5 years; don’t I deserve dessert? I had to stop running; can’t I enjoy a nice, fatty dinner? I know that kind of thinking is absurd, but welcome to my world!

Last Wednesday, I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app on my phone and started tracking my calories again. There are a lot of different paths I could take to lose weight, probably one for every pound currently on my body. I chose this one because it’s worked for me in the past and because it’s structured but also gives me a measure of freedom in that I can eat what I want as long as I stay within my calorie range. I’m tracking everything I eat, measuring, and eating appropriate portion sizes. If there’s room in my calorie “budget” at the end of the day, I can choose to have a sweet treat or I can eat something healthier, like an apple or protein shake. It’s not a perfect arrangement, but it’s better than what I was doing, which was eating with little thought given to my choices as long as it tasted good.

In just a few short hours, I’m going to wake up and get on the scale. I don’t know if I’ll see a loss or not. Last Wednesday I saw a number that truly saddened me: 206.4. I hadn’t seen a number that high since early 2009, so I hope that at least the number will be lower than that. But even if it’s not, I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to track my food, try to make good choices, and plead with the Lord to give me self-control at each meal, each day.

A Matter of Time

The other night at church, a friend asked me if I’d read any good books lately. Much to my chagrin, I had to tell her no, I hadn’t. My response was not because I have read books that just weren’t good but because I haven’t read any books at all, for a few months now (I know, I’m an embarrassment to English majors everywhere). As I was thinking about my lack of reading, I realized that I’ve fallen into an unhealthy habit of escapism. Every night, almost without fail, I watch Netflix. Most of the time I watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, an episode I have probably seen 5 or 6 times previously, and then I’ll watch one or two more. While watching I’ll scroll through my Facebook feed or text a few people, but mostly I am just completely checked out, lost in the world of Stars Hollow. Then I look at the clock, discover that it’s 10:00 p.m., and I wonder where the evening went.

My church recently finished a Wednesday night series on spiritual disciplines, and the discipline I’ve been thinking the most about is stewardship, specifically stewardship of time. I’m a terrible time waster. I’m always complaining to myself that I never have enough time, and yet I always find time for the things I truly want to do. I “don’t have time” to properly clean my house, but the truth a lot of the times is that there are approximately 2,345 things I’d rather do than clean my house, so I do all of those things instead. I “don’t have time” to read good books, and yet I find time to watch 1.5-2 hours of TV at night. I “don’t have time” to pray a lot or memorize Scripture, and yet I find time to stay caught up on all my social media feeds.

My priorities are terribly skewed, and it’s no wonder I have felt so discontented and out of sorts. It’s no wonder I feel as though everyone’s life is better than mine, when all I’m doing is comparing my life to the snapshots of other people’s lives I see on the internet instead of working to improve my own. It’s no wonder I spend time wondering why I haven’t managed to do anything terribly significant with my life, when all I’m doing is wasting time feeling sorry for myself.

God has given me this life as a gift, and this day is precious, for this day is all I’m guaranteed. When I die, am I going to wish I had watched more episodes of Gilmore Girls? When I die, am I going to wish I had more “friends” on Facebook? Or am I going to wish I had spent more time coloring with my daughter or reading God’s Word or ministering to those around me? Am I making time for the eternal things, for the things that will outlast Netflix and Instagram and even my piles of dirty laundry, or am I burying my head in the mire of a mediocre life when there is abundant life waiting for me?

What am I going to do about all of this? I don’t think it’s bad to watch TV, but I do think it’s bad if watching TV is how I spend the majority of my nights when I could have been using the time to pursue godliness. So instead, I’m going to focus on being more intentional with my evenings. Charlotte is in bed by 8:00 p.m., Lord willing, so I have a solid 2 hours to spend writing or reading or cultivating relationships. I’m not going to change the world in those 2 hours, but I can certainly work on my little slice of it.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12