Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Normal Does Not Work For Me...

It's been a bit since my last post. Sorry! I have been doing my workouts and being careful with my legs until I had the chance to get to the doctor to see what kind of exercises and things I could do to strengthen my weak knee and not injure it.

Ironically enough, a simple and quite normal step out of my house did my knee in. There was no weird stepping involved. Normal doesn't work for me, apparently. After about a week of grinning and baring it, I finally went to the doctor. One x-ray later, there seems to be nothing abnormal with my knee.

A brief bit of history here: Back in 1995, my senior year of high school, I tripped and feel down a driveway that was steep, so steep it was like this  / angle. I landed on my knees with my right knee dead center on a very sharp rock. The fall was about 5 feet, by my memory guess. "I believe[d] I could fly..." At least that's what my body decided. I made the mistake of not going to the doctor and put up such a stink whenever my parents would try to get me to go. (I was afraid there would be a needle involved.)

Looking back, I could say that it was one of the dumbest decisions I have ever made. To this day, I have issues with it whenever the weather changes, or the seasons change. Worst. Pain. Ever. I should have gone to get it looked at way back then. I regret that choice. I am paying for that mistake, quite literally. Every doctor's trip has the inevitable co-pay.

Right now it does not take much for my knee to ache. Unfortunately, this time, it is worse than it ever was. My doctor was concerned that there was a meniscus(?) tear so he ordered me to get an x-ray. It apparently is clear so I can go ahead with physical therapy. I am a bit nervous. I get varying degrees of nervous/scared with new situations.

I am unable to workout to lose weight since cardio is out of the question so I am working my upper body for toning so once the weight is (I'm determined here!) gone, the nicely tones muscles will show up. Like I have said in a previous post, I am not looking to get in model shape, but a healthy shape. My boys need me to be around for a long time and the way I was, there were too many health problems creeping in. Also, extra weight is not good for the joints. This does not help my knee any.
So, the weight must come off. No more 191 pounds for me. If my health wasn't being affected by the weight, I wouldn't worry about it so much.

They say that weight loss is 80% clean eating, 10% exercising and 10% genetics. So, since I can't get the exercise in the way I'd like, I can definitely still focus on the healthy eating part. Here's to yummy, yummy, tummy-rumbly, finger-lickin' good food!

God's blessings to you, my friends.
Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Healthy Living

Good morning, my friends! It is a gorgeous Spring morning today. The windows are open and there is such a nice cross-breeze. So comfortable in the house with the fan on. Yesterday I ended up turning the a/c on because the house was 90 degrees inside and it was cooler outside at about 80 degrees or so. The a/c works!! YAY! (I'm excited because it needed fixing during the summer last year.)

Daniel 1:8-15 tells us: (emphasis mine)
 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.  Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned you food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
  Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
   At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.

Healthy foods, healthy drinks = healthy people

Fresh veggies look so bright and shiny and colorful, don't they?
Who doesn't like fresh fruit?!

Right now I am drinking my breakfast. I know, I know. It is a protein fruit breakfast smoothie which fills you up! It has strawberries, blueberries, banana, peanut butter, honey, vanilla Greek yogurt, milk, and chocolate protein powder. So easy to make by putting the liquid/wet things in the blender first and then all the solids. Blend until it is as smooth or as chunky as you like it. Simple and filling and good for you!

God wants us to be healthy, physically and spiritually. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

What do you do with an actual temple building, or church building? You take care of it so it stays standing; it needs a strong foundation. Our bodies being the temple of God also need a strong foundation. We need to take care of ourselves. I'm not talking about spending hours putting makeup on and doing your hair. That's all fine and dandy. It's perfectly okay to want to look nice and for some people it helps them to feel good about themselves.

The care I am talking about is healthy living. This means eat clean, eat well. Whenever you can, eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Cook with fresh herbs, if at all possible. The flavor is AH-mazing! Yes, I mean "AH"-mazing. The kind of good things that make you say, AH. I love going to the Farmers' Markets like Roots in Manheim, PA and Green Dragon in Ephrata, PA. All those stands with fresh fruits and vegetables, herb plants, and other plants. Gorgeous infusion of color everywhere you look! Foods that are in season taste best... mmm, so fresh and delicious. Who better to help you pick the "cream of the crop" and how to prepare them than the farmers themselves? You have questions? They have the answers. They grow them, they know them.

For me, I am finding that the healthier I eat, the "cleaner" I eat - meaning, no processed foods, nothing that you can't pronounce is added - the better I feel. I'm much more energized and my mood is better. (My family is saying a prayer of thanks, I'm sure!) My view is this: If Jesus wouldn't recognize it as food, you don't want to eat it! Now, I'm not saying that I am perfect and only eat clean - I do like my snacks and easy to prepare dishes. But, I am conscious of what I put in my body. I try to eat things that are mostly good for you - or at least not bad for me. The more processed, the more additives and preservatives something has, the worse I feel. Whereas the cleaner I eat, the fresher I eat the better I feel. My skin is softer, less dry - less WRINKLED! Yup, I said it.

Along with the fresh foods, I do try very hard to drink at least 8 - 8oz cups of water a day. It helps maintain the balance of your body fluids, helps keep your skin healthy, it also helps with the digestion in terms of ... maintaining proper "output" if you get my drift. Did you know that sometimes when you feel hungry, you could actually be thirsty or hungry for socialization or rest or even hungry for some alone time to read or pray, etc?

Also along with healthy eating and choosing to drink your water, y'all - instead of all the sodas - you need to get some form of exercise. Just get up and get moving! If all you  can do is go for a walk once a day, get  up off that chair or sofa - or bed even - and grab your comfy walking shoes or sneakers and get out there. Seriously, the morning is gorgeous today so get out there and enjoy it! Some people take prayer walks, some go for jogs, runs. Some people sprint as fast as they can, as hard as they for as long as they can and then they walk for 3 minutes or until you can sprint all out again. I like to feel the burn, so to speak. This week, every day, I have been pushing myself to 25 minutes of working my core (abs and back) and 25minutes working the total body followed by 20 minutes or so of working my lower body. You feel it! You really feel it.

They say if you aren't feeling it as you do it, you aren't doing it right. Say you are doing bicep curls with or without weights - standing up, bending the arms at the elbow one at a time, lifting your forearm up in a controlled motion and lowering it again in a controlled motion. If you aren't controlling your motions, the motion is controlling you and you might as well be sitting on the sofa lifting a strawberry up to your mouth. You will not lose the jiggle, tone or if you going for it, you will not build any muscle that way.

No matter how you choose to exercise or workout, make sure that you are in control of the movements. If you cannot get up and walk, you can sit and work your upper body. Sit straight up with a straight back - not arched - and tighten your muscles in your arms as you lift the up, straight out in front of you and lower them again. This will help strengthen your shoulders and give it good stretches. If all you can do are some stretches, do it. It is good for you! You don't want to be walking around with tight, sore muscles all the time.

Stretching is good for you, especially before and after a workout. You need to warm up your muscles before doing any exercise to avoid injuries. Before going for a walk, stretch out your legs a little bit. Warm up your arms by doing arm circles, even if you aren't going to swing your arms like a crazy walker. The point is to warm those muscles up, walk as quick as you can to get your heart rate up a bit. Just as much as you can, don't push too hard and make yourself sick though!

Along with trying to have or maintain a healthy body, you also need to have a healthy spiritual life. One way to do this is by listening to the Bible on cds, Christian programs on the radio, on the tv. If you are working on a treadmill, outside going for a walk or a jog, pop on a set of headphones or pop in those ear buds and listen to praise and worship music, the Bible, or just pray or meditate on the Word as you move your body.

Reading your Bible is great for you as you take in what you read. Reading it in front of your kids (as well as eating right and exercising) is a great influence on those kiddos. They see mama or papa doing it and they get interested. We teach by example without even realizing it. Who knows, they may end up encouraging you to keep up the healthy living - spiritually and physically!

John 15:5 "I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

This tells us that we need God. If you don't already know it, you need God. Even if you do know it, same thing. Everyone needs God. Now, He never said that we would have an easy life, but it is worth it. Eternal life in heaven with Jesus is the goal. Life is the journey to get to that goal. Everyone has a starting line, some later than others and that's okay. Everyone has to start somewhere.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength."
Deuteronomy 6:5

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths." Psalm 25:4-5
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your path straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
Have a great, and blessed day, my friends.
God's blessing to you.


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Imaginings of Childhood

Spring is ... different right now. Yesterday felt more like winter while looking like spring. I am anxious for the warmer weather. It is deceiving right now as the sun has been out but that air does not match up. The up and down temperatures of changing seasons always bring a case of sick kids or in this case, one "sick" kid and one sick mama. Stupid viruses. In some ways I wish we could have something that requires antibiotics because we will be all better, faster!

On days like these, I always go by my motto: One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus. Only on these days, it does tend to be more like One Minute/Hour at a Time. I pray for strength and the ability to take care of the boys and then do what I can, as I can.

Right now, I am on our laptop computer on the sofa, staring up at the snowmen which are still gracing us with their presence on the hutch, on the corner shelves and the banister. If I crane my neck in just the right way, I can see the reflection of more snowmen in the kitchen. (We like snowmen, can you tell?)  We don't have a lot of springtime decorations but we do have a couple. I think if I am feeling better this weekend, that will be my project.

Speaking of this weekend, my mom's birthday is on Saturday. She is turning 67 years old this year. I am hoping to be healthy enough to go because everything goes straight to her lungs when she gets sick. I need to come up with a good gift for her... but, until then, "HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY, MOMMA!"

This week has been a testing of patience again. Spring-fever has definitely been getting the boys... nearly all winter, actually. Some weeks are more struggle than blessing. We are now doing the battle on days when it is still too cold or windy to really be outside. Regardless of how it looks outside, they want to be out. I say it is too cold, they say it isn't. I say that it is raining and they still say they are wanting to go outside. Followed quickly by a very loud, obnoxious NUTS!

Before too long, the sun will shine, the air will be warm, the plants that are beginning to grow will bloom, some continue to bloom - like the single, small, purple flower that grows each year in our front yard at the base of the tree. Each year when it blooms we go back and forth with the boys about whether or not they can pick it. Sometimes they can, other times, that single flower is the lone sign of spring so mama will be very displeased if it is no longer there.

The lone purple flower in the front yard that no one currently living here has planted. Perhaps the previous owners, or it was left there by a passing bird or the wind. This flower represents the promise of new life that comes with spring.

We have daffodils that are green still. Each day they are growing taller and it is just a matter of time until we have the bright yellow flowers gracing us with their presence. This always means that I will be out there taking pictures of them. I love nature pictures, if you couldn't tell. The above picture is one of those daffodils.

It is so easy to look around you and see the wonders and evidence of God in the new plants and tree life. The birds have eggs that hatch in their cozy nests. The rabbits... multiply. All around you there is wildlife of varying sorts, depending on where you live, caring for their new babies. Spring is the rebirth of the earth after a long, cold, "dead" winter. It is as if the entire place is newly coming to life. Everywhere are signs of God's handiwork. Even the clouds are His work.

One of my favorite things to do as a child, was to lay in the grass and watch the passing clouds overhead. My friends and I would look for shapes in the clouds. My favorite cloud of all time is a cloud that resembled the portraits of Jesus' face. Awesome, but no camera at the time, sorry!Those bright sunny days with the puffy white clouds were filled with the outdoors. Who wanted to stay inside when it was so beautiful outside?

Growing up, we would do somersaults down the hill in the backyard until we got dizzy, then just lay here and laugh. Everyday until dusk, us kids would be outside playing, and playing hard! We didn't waste a single second of sunlight if we could help it. We would walk along the creek, throwing rocks and sticks into the water. Climb or walk down the falling tree to the little "island" in the middle of the creek. Honestly, the water was shallow enough to wade across to it, but it was more fun to cross the tree. That little island became out pirate ship, cruise ship, an adventure's dream, an explorer's nightmare being so small, and many, many other things, including a Space Station. Our bicycles would be horses or lifeboats or fast cars. Trees would be anything from buildings to castles.

Somewhere along the way, I believe we adults have lost our imaginations, at least to some extent. In the day to day norms, we go about doing what needs doing, get this done, don't forget that... until we completely forget to have fun. I'm sure weekends are spent doing something fun, but that isn't what I am getting at. When was the last time you tapped into your inner child and just went with it? I'm sure as a child you were very creative in what you would play and how that play happened.

The next warm and sunny day comes along where you can enjoy the outdoors, go out there. Pretend you are 10 years old again and just go with it. What would you do? Where would you go if you were that 10 year old, at the place you live now? For me, this would mean tapping into my tomboy self and climbing trees, falling into creeks, running around like a chicken with its head cut off - anywhere and everywhere - rolling in the grass, pretending that I actually knew how to do cartwheels but really too scared to do one completely upright.

I miss those long-gone days of kickball at the Lindsey's house with "Uncle" Alex rolling the ball to us and gamma Helen being the outfielder. She was a spry gal with so much energy and fun at heart. Those were some well-spent days. Picking raspberries - or having "Uncle" Alex get them for us - and eating them fresh off the plants. Sneaking down to the neighbor's garden and picking a couple ripe carrots and eating those as well. Lemonade stands. Standing in the front yard holding signs that read "Honk" for  the truckers to give a honk at us then running away laughing hysterically. So many things we used to do.

Once I am feeling better and the weather permits, I think I'll have to go outside and be a kid again....
Go, surprise your kids - and yourself - and be a kid again. God's blessings to you, my friends.


Monday, April 1, 2013

A New Month ... Welcome to April

Greetings, my friends!

I am so happy to say that we have our stove fixed! This past Friday the man came and fixed it so we can now cook again! I was absolutely thrilled about this! Then Sunday came along.

Our stove is still doing great but Sunday, Easter Sunday was just an all-around better day. We had a great service at our church and afterwards, J-man told me that while he was in his class - the Warehouse - he asked Jesus into his heart! Thrilling does not begin to describe this for us.

This is something that J-man was really thinking about for quite some time. In his class, his teacher, Miss Melissa was leading the class in a prayer for those that wanted to accept Jesus and a total of 5 kids did! J-man now wants to teach his little brother everything he knows about God and Jesus. He sits and reads his bible throughout the week, a page here and a page there. J-man will find something that catches his interest and we read that whole story. He loves it and so does T-man.

The best thing about this - for J-man - is that he can now carry Jesus with him wherever he goes. He was beaming for most of the day yesterday. So were we, his parents. ;-)

Welcome to the world's best and biggest family, buddy! (He thinks is pretty cool - B.I.G. family!)

God's blessings