Friday, August 30, 2013

The Soon-To-Be Skinny Life

I am going to admit it...I am chubby. I haven't always been this way, but I am definitely living that life now. I love food! But it finally came to a point where I needed to do something.

I joined Weight Watchers at the end of July and am happy to say that I have lost almost 12 pounds so far. I am pretty proud of myself! It feels like a big accomplishment that I am worked for a little bit at a time. I like see a double digit total weight loss. But I still have a long way to go before I can concentrate on maintaining my weight.

I have done Weight Watchers in the past and never lost a significant amount of weight. My head is in it this time so I have a plan in place and am being good about my food decisions. I have not splurged one time since starting. However, this weekend may be the first. (I will explain in an upcoming post.)

It isn't fun controlling portion sizes and monitoring everything that goes in my mouth. But it is what I have to do right now so I can be healthy. That is really the ultimate goal and being a smaller person is a fringe benefit.

Besides posting this on my blog, my mom is the only other person that knows I am doing this. I want to surprise my brother when I see him at the end of September so he can be proud of me. He is healthy. He runs half marathons and eats right, but he also knows that it is okay to splurge once in a while. I was on the path that was more about splurging every time I ate.

My clothes are starting to feel a little more loose. While no one has commented that it looks like I am loosing weight, I can see a difference. I am not doing this to please other people. This was my choice and I am doing it for me.

The next phase to ramp up my weight loss has be exercise. I am not looking forward to that. I am going to start with walking. Since my family will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my place this year, I am going to see if my brother will do the Pittsburgh Turkey Trot with me. That will give me a little motivation to get my tail in motion.

But until I embark on the exercise phase, I am going to continue to track what I eat so I can continue to make this time successful!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome to the World, Brynley Cadence!

Are there dates in your life that all the sudden have a new meaning? Yesterday was one of those dates. I woke up like any other Thursday until I read the text message my brother had sent several hours earlier. "At the hospital. Baby is coming soon!!!" That message completely changed my perspective on the day. And then a few hours later, I received a picture of my beautiful, newly-born niece, Brynley Cadence.

To say I was beaming would probably be an understatement. This precious little girl had made her entrance into the world after months of anticipation. August 22 now has new meaning. As a family, we will celebrate her birth for, God-willing, years to come.

Her birth gave me a new title...aunt. I look at my aunts to see the special places they have in my heart. Of course, I am closer with some more than others, but they are women I love dearly.

Since my brother lives in Wisconsin and I am in Pennsylvania, I am not going to meet my new niece until the end of September. But I can't wait to shower her with love and spoil her. Since isn't that my job as an aunt? Spoil her rotten and then give her back to her parents.

I am so excited to be an aunt, but I am more excited to have a niece. I am at a point in my life where I don't know if I want my own children. However, that doesn't mean that I don't want to be around kids. So I figure that being an aunt is the best of both worlds.

It is hard to believe that my brother is a dad. Even before Brynley was born I could see how much my brother was enamored with her. She has him wrapped around her tiny little finger. My brother and I were fortunate to have a dad who loved us and wanted to spend time with us. Unfortunately, Brynley is not going to have the opportunity to meet him, but I know that my dad's influence will show through the way my brother loves his little girl.

Brynley, I am so happy to finally see your sweet face! I love you more than you can possibly know. But your Heavenly Father loves you even more. He knit you together for His purpose. I pray you seek Him with your whole heart. I love you, my dear girl! Auntie Colleen

Friday, August 16, 2013

The 5-Question Filter

As I have been thinking through the 5-Question Filter, I have also been thinking about specific areas where I need to listen for God's voice. Unfortunately, I have not been looking for it. Instead I have been validating decisions I made totally on my own because of this, that or the other thing.

I would like to move to Wisconsin next year to be closer to my brother. He and his wife are expecting their first baby in a little over 2 weeks. My brother and I grew up away from any extended family and I missed that experience. When I or my brother had kids, I didn't want them to miss out on the experience of being close to family. Since it is just me, I would have an easier time moving to another state.

But there is another reason why I want to be there. My brother's life today does not model his upbringing. It breaks my heart of see him living his life so far away from the Lord. His wife was not raised in a Christian home and they will be bringing their sweet baby girl into a home where Jesus is not served. That is a scary reality to me.

Yesterday, Proverbs 31 Ministries posted this prayer on their Facebook page.

Dear Lord, today we pray on behalf of our loved ones and stand strong in You and in Your mighty power against the powers of darkness.

Please block the tricky lies of the enemy and fill them with Your truth. Where they have turned their backs on You, we ask for them to return with repentant hearts, knowing they are accepted. In Jesus' name, amen.

This is not a prayer I pray everyday for my brother and his family, but it needs to be.

I know I have strayed a little off topic. All of this is to say that I want to make sure I know I am hearing God's voice in the big decisions and the little ones. Moving several hundred miles is a big decision. But is that where God wants me to be, even though I want to be a light in my brother's every day life? I need to first be following God with all of my heart. I can't allow myself or things around me to be louder than God. If He isn't first, then I won't be able to hear Him.

...And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
I Kings 19: 11-12 (ESV)

Sometimes I need God to yell, but I can't always expect that.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the national, I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

God is not a God of coincidences. He is a God of purpose. He has a plan. He has a plan for me. The 5-Question Filter - 

  • Does what I'm hearing line up with Scripture?
  • Is it consistent with God's character?
  • Is it being confirmed through messages I'm hearing at church or studying in my quiet times?
  • Is it beyond me?
  • Would it please God?

- will allow me to better discern what God is saying to me. But I can't forget to listen.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Consistency and a Little Puppy Love

One year ago, I took home a little 6-pound black puppy. And the night before, I didn't think it was going to happen. Let me explain....

The brother of a friend of my mom's had a dog that had a litter of puppies. These puppies had the most adorable little faces. I wanted a dog, but figured I would rescue one. I really wasn't interested in getting a puppy. But these faces...I couldn't resist. There was one girl dog and I wanted her to be mine.

My mom lives in Ohio and I live in Pennslyvania. I was attending a wedding the next weekend, so I would have to wait until the following weekend to pick up the puppy. This was fine with the seller. So the next weekend, I made the 4-hour trip to Ohio. After I arrived, my mom had to tell me that the seller didn't want to give the puppy up. They had grown attached to her. My mom's friend was trying to help out by texting and calling her brother, letting him know that this wasn't right. But he wasn't budging. I was devastated, sobbing because I wasn't going to get this dog. Because I had grown attached, too.

Thankfully the next morning, my mom's friend called and said she had the dog and we could come and pick her up. Oh, happiness!! That morning, we picked up my new precious little puppy who I named Luna. Her full name is Luna Starr (2 r's) Jones.

I actually can't believe that a year has passed already. She is my little buddy. We have definitely had our ups and downs. Potty training was not fun. But she is a smart dog and LOVES people. Currently, we are in the middle of a beginner training class. It has been a challenge for both of us, but we are learning a lot.

Just like in anything, it takes consistency. And that is a struggle for me. I have to be consistent so Luna recognizes the commands I give her. I have to work with her at home. She isn't going to master the commands in an hour-long class once a week. It is going to take time and lots of treats, but eventually she will understand what I expect her to do. It takes practice so she learns the behavior.

That is one area I am working on as I participate in an online Bible study through Proverbs 31 ministries. It would be so easy for me to slip off the track and no one would notice. Over 24,000 thousand woman from all over the world are participating. So if I drop off the map, it wouldn't make a difference, right? Wrong! It would make a difference for me. I would miss out on all the blessings of being a part of this community of woman who want to say yes to God.

I am struggle with doing daily devotions and spending time with God. But I can easily fill my time with things that I don't need to do. I have really enjoyed working on this study and it has only been one week. Hopefully, this excitement will keep me going, so that I will learn the behavior God expects from.

So I will keeping working with Luna on her behavior and keeping working on mine as well.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Palms Up

Yesterday evening after working on my online Bible study through Proverbs 31 Ministries, I wrote a post based on one of the topics given for the Blog Hop for What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. The post was okay, but I felt like there was something missing. I wasn't hitting something.

As I was getting ready for work this morning, something popped into my head. I am an angry person. One of the topics for the Blog Hop asked a question. "What is holding me back from going deeper in my relationship with God?" At this moment, in this time in my life, it is anger. But it isn't anger at God. It isn't even anger at unfortunate events in my life like the death of my dad or the fact that I am an unmarried 30-something with no prospects on the horizon.

It is the little things that get me so riled up. Drivers who cuts me off in traffic. People standing in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store. Work situations that I have no control over. These little things that may be annoyances to anyone seem to push me over the edge and I internalize it, making them bigger than what they really are.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19, 20 (ESV)

This attitude is doing nothing for me. And it is doing nothing for God. My anger is getting the better of me and allowing wrong thoughts to run through my head and incorrect actions that dishonor God. My anger is keeping me from saying yes to God.

Even in acknowledging my issue with anger, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest. There may be something much bigger lurking underneath the surface that I will still need to completely surrender to God, but my anger needs to be controlled.

I surrender my anger to a Holy Father who loves me.

Palms up!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happiness in the Little Things

I had a pretty crummy day at work yesterday. I was frustrated with people who thought they should do my job, which I then had to fix what had been done. One of the programs I use to create a newsletter was not cooperating with me. And then traffic was TERRIBLE on the drive home. People were not always courteous when trying to get where they needed to be. Unfortunately, I was also not very courteous to other drivers on the road. I just wanted to get home and stay home. However, that isn't an excuse to be a mean driver.

My mood significantly changed when I pulled into my driveway. On my porch was an Amazon box. I had been tracking the package and thought it was going to come today, so it was a pleasant surprise. Inside this box was my order of plastic containers! I know that does sound too exciting, but I was a happy girl.

Let me explain a little bit. I am an avid Food Network fan. A couple of my favorites are The Pioneer Woman and Barefoot Contessa. Specifically on Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten uses similar plastic containers. I liked the size of them because they aren't bulky. And the best part is that they all use the same lid, which will hopefully be a blessing in my very storage-limited kitchen.

So now that I have all these storage containers, I need to fill them with stuff. I have grand visions of making my own chicken stock and taking advantage of summer's bounty by making my own pesto. These will also be great for soup and chili, which I like to make in the colder months, which are quickly approaching.

Once I wash them, they will be ready to use. I am excited to start making things to put in them. I am hoping to have a stocked freezer with all kinds of yummy things.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Here I Go Again

I have tried this blogging thing more than once. I tried to write about baking, but only had one post because I realized that I don’t bake enough. I started a blog after my dad died to help me cope with grief and get my thoughts out, but I didn’t followed through on that either. I was a part of a blog with a group of girls from work, but after about a year it fell off our plates.

I have wanted to blog for a while, but I felt like I needed a specific topic – baking, grief – that I had a hard time getting started and keeping it going. So I thought I would blog about the one thing I do know about…my life.
Although I do not lead a fabulous, jet-setting life, I do have thoughts to share and get off my chest. I am a single woman attempting to live a Proverbs 31 lifestyle in a broken world. Not an easy thing to do.
So I thought I would write about it. Write about my life and what I am doing even if it is about baking or how I am still dealing with grief.
The Proverbs 31 woman talks about providing for and taking care of her family. I don’t have a husband or children (if you don’t count my dog, Luna), so how does this manifest itself in the life of an unmarried woman? I still have to work to provide for myself and take care of apartment. I may not be married now, but I may be some day.
One thing about the single life that I do enjoy is the freedom that I have. I don’t have to cook for anyone. I can sleep in on Saturdays. If I don’t feel like doing my dishes at night, then I don’t have to. But is that the right response, the godly response?
But even taking a step back from the Proverbs 31 woman, are the fruits of the Spirit evident in my life. Am I taking care of the things God has blessed me with to the absolute best of my ability. Am I taking care of myself so I am healthy and able-bodied?  I can honestly answer no.
I want to fix that, so why not blog about it. I will take this step again to try and track my progress through blogging.