#Thankful #MyMichelle

I think it’s human nature to take things for granted; especially when we’re young. For me, my earliest recollection of being truly thankful was on Thanksgiving Day in 1981. I was 26 years old and at St Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Indiana, two days after the birth of our first daughter, Michelle. One of the attendants rolled in a large multi-tiered meal cart and handed me my Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, dressing, and all. Michelle, just two days old, lay asleep in the bassinet next to my bed.

It was just the two of us there in that little hospital room.  Harold was at mom’s having thanksgiving dinner with my family. Tears started welling up in my eyes. Not because I felt alone, actually I felt wonderful! Not because of hormones, well, maybe a little. But, because I was so happy and overwhelmed with thankfulness. I was amazed that God had entrusting me to be a mom. I was in love with my Michelle and knew that she was a precious gift on loan from God.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

I prayed, with tears in my eyes, thanking God with every tear.

Later, I wanted to sing something to her and the oh so spiritual (not 😂) lyrics to “ Michelle” by The Beatles came to mind. To me, it was the perfect song about how I felt about “my Michelle” so that’s what I sang:

Michelle, ma belle

These are words

that go together well

My Michelle

Michelle, ma belle

Sont les mots qui vont

Tres bien ensemble

Tres bien ensemble.

I love you, I love you, I love you

That’s all I want to say

Until I find a way

I will say the only words

I know that you’ll understand,

My Michelle.

This was my first Thanksgiving spent away from home and my first Thanksgiving in a hospital, but to me it was really special. It was just me and my Michelle, and it was the first Thanksgiving that I recall where I was so thankful.

Since that day, God blessed us with two more daughters, and many other blessings over the years. But as I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ, I also learned a simple truth: God, regardless of what gifts He gives or does not give, is good, no matter what. I’m thankful for His goodness. I’m thankful for His sovereignty. I’m thankful for His providence. I’m thankful for His protection. The list is endless, but most of all I’m thankful for my salvation through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. He took my place and paid the price for my sins.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

I remember watching Billy Graham on TV one night in my mid-twenties and a few nights later woke up in the middle of the night thinking about all the sin in my life. I asked for His forgiveness, started reading my bible again and going back to church. I had first come to faith in Christ when I was 12 but had drifted away during my teens and early 20’s. Interestingly enough, I don’t recall ever being thankful during those years. I may have been, but I just don’t recall it.

I think it’s easy to take things for granted when we’re young, but it’s really not just about being young. I know for me, it was only after I repented of my sin and got into a right relationship with God that changed the way I see almost everything, including being Thankful! 🙌🏻

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

 

 

 

#MyWeightLossJourney: The Rest of the Story

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Weight gain and loss is such a personal issue; many of us struggle with loosing weight; many of us give up. Loosing weight and exercising regularly is not easy; it takes determination, the right foods, portion control, and a practical plan that you can stick with.  I chose Nutrisystem because we travel a lot and I needed something convenient;  their grab-and-go prepared foods and just adding my own vegetables was the perfect plan for me.  I first penned this blog February 2017 but I decided it need to be revised and renamed; it needed to be more personal. So, as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s “the rest of the story.”

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Here I am in 2013 holding my youngest grandson, who I love dearly.  I have no idea how much I weighed then; I didn’t dare step on the scale nor would I normally post a photo like this. It was taken during a fairly stressful time in my life.  Not that this was the only stressful period in my life, as anyone with grown children can attest, but it was definitely one of them. A few months months earlier our youngest daughter became pregnant at age 15 and gave birth out-of-wedlock at age 16.  Like a lot of people, I tend to overeat during stressful times,  In fact, I can look back at other times in my life that I also gained weight due to specific stressful periods in my life.  Even though I’m a Christian and know that God is in control, I’m still human.  I also tend to keep to myself, especially when it comes to personal issues. It took me a long time before I could even talk about our daughters pregnancy, let alone stop crying about it.  I was so upset during this time, but, just as I’ve discovered with so many of life’s trials, somehow God takes that which we think are the very worst things in our lives and turns them into the very best things in our lives, when we look to Him for answers.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Roman’s 8:28

Now I can’t even imagine life without our youngest grandchild.  He, along with our other grandchildren are the icing on the cake of our lives. I know that no human being is ever conceived outside God’s will or ever conceived apart from His image. Unplanned pregnancies may surprise us, but God is never surprised.  Ironically, our youngest daughter was actually our surprise baby; she was born when I was 42.  I told her, “The God who allowed you to be born when I was 42, is the same God who’s allowed you to give birth at age 16.”  He is the author of life. God is good. He is for us, not against us.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,

Psalm 139:13-16

Here’s another photo that was also taken in 2013, on my 59th birthday.  I did my best to hide my weight behind that present. For the most part, I deleted a lot of photos during this time.  I didn’t like being overweight.
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Fast forward to February 2016, at age 61, I got the courage up to get back on the scales.  I weighed 173 pounds, was taking a high blood pressure medicine and an acid reflux medicine daily.  I knew I had to do something to change my weight and to improve my health. This is me on February 21, 2016, the day I started Nutrisystem.

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I was tired of deleting photos and tired of being overweight. Up until that time I’d been telling myself that I looked OK for my age, and that gaining weight and taking medicine was all part of getting older.  But I decided that I didn’t want to just look “OK for my age.” I decided I wanted to be the best I can be, both inside and out. So, in addition to my new diet I started drinking water instead of soda, walking 2 or 3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each time and listening to my favorite biblical teachers on my earphones: Alistair Begg, Greg Laurie, or John MacArthur. It felt great getting fresh air, exercising and listening to biblical messages all at the same time; multi-tasking at its best! It became my favorite time of the day.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2  

By end of the first week I’d lost 7 pounds and just 2 months later in April I’d lost 21 lbs.  I entered Nutrisystem’s Success Story contest for a chance to win $10K and a chance to be in one of their commercials. In August 2016 I was asked to be a call-in guest for two QVC/Nutrisystem TV shows that month and to come to Tampa, FL the following month for a photo shoot.

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By September of 2016 I turned 62 and had lost 40 lbs!  I celebrated my birthday with my family and a Nutrisystem Carrot Cake.

A few days after my birthday I flew to Tampa for a 5-day photo shoot for Nutrisystem along with 14 others who had also lost weight. My oldest daughter got off work and came down the next day to keep me company.  I met a lot of fantastic people and loved being a part of something so fun and interesting.  When I was young I wanted to be a model, and even though I did do some modeling in my teens and twenties, I wasn’t tall enough so I never really pursued it.  But in Tampa, I was pampered and treated just like a real model, with wardrobe, make-up and hair stylists.  I was photographed against a white screen and did some short promotional video monologues on a green screen. I didn’t win the contest nor have they used me in any of their commercials but it was still a great experience.

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Me and my oldest daughter in Tampa after the photo shoot:

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After I returned home from the photo shoot,  I found the same dress that the wardrobe person had picked out for me to wear, except in a smaller size.  The dress that I wore in their photo shoot was a little big on me and had to be pinned in the back, but this one fits perfect:

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Since losing 40 pounds my doctor gave me the OK to stop taking both my blood pressure medicine and acid reflux medicine.  My blood pressure has continued to be normal everyday since, without meds. I’m thankful for my good health and don’t take it for granted. I work on maintaining my weight by drinking lots of water, exercising and eating a healthy, portion controlled diet, including some of my Nutrisystem favorites.  I enjoy working out with a dance DVD and/or walking at least 30 minutes everyday and yes, I still listen to my favorite biblical teachers.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Life (on earth) is short; I believe we should strive to be as healthy as we can be, both physically and spiritually.  My heart goes out to any who are born with physical disabilities (including our second daughter who was born with Spina Bifida) or people who have physical injuries, and people who have medical conditions that prevent them from exercising or medical problems such as thyroid disease. But for the most part, the great majority of us are born with perfectly healthy bodies, and as we grow older, we’re guilty of not taking care of them.  We overeat and/or eat the wrong foods, drink too much soda and/or liquor and don’t get enough exercise.  God tells in His Word that we (Christians) are to honor Him with our bodies, which includes taking care of them.

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.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is more than just good advise to take care of our bodies, more importantly it also begs the question, have you received the Holy Spirit from God? Are you a Christian? Being physically fit is a good thing but it’s not near as important as knowing Christ as your Lord and Savior.  You can be physically fit and not be a Christian. You can be a Christian and not be physically fit.  They are not mutually exclusive of each other, but I do believe they can be mutually beneficial to each other.  The more dedicated we are to physical fitness the more physically able, we as Christians, may be to be used of God and to be there for our families.

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Next to my relationship with God, my family is the most important thing in the world to me.  Here’s a few recent pics of our family:

Mother’s Day 2017:

Memorial Day 2017:

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Father’s Day 2017:

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“Don’t shine so others can see you.

Shine so that that through you, others can see Him.”

C.S. Lewis

Stress and problems are facts of life, but with God, nothing is impossible.  I believe God has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens in life; be it our plans or our surprises, or our successes or our failures. The point is to keep your focus on Him through it all. He is for us, not against us.