The New Regime

Or regimen.  I can’t remember which applies better here. 

So at lunch today, I went to 24-Hour Fitness for a little abuse, I mean, Kickboxing.  This was pretty interesting because it was humbling in the extreme.  I kickboxed back in Canada about, oh, ten years ago and I can safely say:

How far have I fallen?

Oh.  Pretty far.  I still had the ability to keep my block up, but everything else was very reminiscent of my first kickboxing class and wanting to pretty much die every minute of it.  Here’s a tip:  don’t constantly check the clock.  Time really does not go any faster.  I did learn a little something, though, at today’s class vs. a decade ago:

  • I’m older
  • I’m out of shape
  • I shouldn’t try to keep up with the 110 pound girl who bounces between kicks
  • It will eventually get better

But aside from that, I managed to not pass out, not throw up, and not walk out.  (Ask me how I do next Monday!)  I keep forgetting how hard this exercise thing is when you don’t do it in a long time, put on a ton of weight, and generally lose all sense of flexibility, style, and strength. 

But enough whining!  (No really, I could go on all day.)  I made it through and I’m proud of myself for that.  I have a more fun “dance” class on Wednesday which I am hoping will perk me up a little to this exercise thing.  We’ll see.

Still, it was pretty funny wandering out (hobbling, more like) of the class and having my work friend, Theresa, complaining as loudly as I was.  That made me feel better.

I’m very curious to see how my posts will change in, say, two months time when I’ve been exercising (hopefully regularly) for a little while.  If all things work as I think they will, it’ll just get easier.  With easier comes more fun.  God, please, let it be more fun.

Peace.

~Melissa

P.S.  I totally feel like having some ice cream right now, but I’m too tired and lazy to drive all the way down to Longs Drugs to get some.

Church In a Do-It-Yourself World

So I attended church this morning.  My family and I got up, we picked up my step-daughter’s friend, and drove to church. 

Religious Backlash

The Christian church has taken a few beatings lately, especially with the new Obama administration.  Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, Prop 8 – all of these things, biblically speaking, the church is against.   I’ve heard people describe church, Jesus, God, and church-goers as:

  • bigoted
  • hypocritical
  • narrow-minded
  • archaic
  • judgmental
  • useless
  • irrelevant
  • dangerous
  • bloated
  • money-grubbing (high-profile church leaders – usually associated with Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts, et al)
  • dominating
  • opinionated

The list goes on.  The church is too opinionated.  Why does the church get to tell me what to do.  Why is God even in the equation when it comes to affairs of the State.   The bible isn’t real anyway, and even if it were, look at all the brutality of the Old Testament – you call that a loving God??

I didn’t grow up a Christian.  I grew up in an alcoholic family of divorce.  I didn’t focus on God, I focused on being invisible and making sure everyone around me thought that my life was “just fine”.  I had no one to really rely on and I managed to eek out a pretty good existence with some issues here and there.  

From the outside looking in, God and the church and all those “believers” is incredibly daunting, as if they know something you don’t know.  They have “all the answers” and it’s irritating when they try to tell you what you’re doing wrong.  So it’s easy to be offended by that, as if they know what’s right for you.

I went to church today.  And this is what I got from a big group of “narrow-minded, antiquated, judgmental” people who believe in “something that probably doesn’t exist anyway”.

My pastor spoke about past hurts and how with Jesus’ sacrifice all those mistakes we’ve made, they’re gone.  Guilt?  That’s gone, too, because when you’re forgiven it’s not just for twenty minutes, it’s for life.  Judgment?    If you’re a believer, that’s not God whispering in your ear telling you didn’t earn it or deserve it, well, that comes from a whole different and much darker place. 

How can I possibly explain to someone who has never “let go” of their life and given it over to the Creator of the universe that trust is not a four-letter word?  How do I explain the kind of heart-shattering love that comes with knowing there is ONE person out there who loves you more than even you can imagine and has only the best plans for your life?  How can you put that into words to someone who thinks I’m weak because I believe in something that isn’t fully understandable, but is absolutely knowable? 

We did Communion today as a remembrance of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and although it’s a little disconcerting to think about the trauma that Jesus went through for us (if you’ve seen The Passion of the Christ you have a very good idea of what it was probably like) so that we could be free of these very real, though intangible, chains that bind us and crush us and strangle us. 

I looked around as the choir sang Amazing Grace and I saw the Prayer Team, just regular people who love God and want to use their gift to help others, praying with people they didn’t even know in one big group until every single one of them had been prayed for.  I don’t know what the issues were, anything and everything.  Just because we believe in God doesn’t mean we’re not human, with the infinite capacity for making mistakes – even really big ones. 

Through my pastor, I heard what God thinks about my finances, how I should be a good steward of my money and becoming a slave to another lender.  Hear that, those of us who are in debt to credit card lenders?   I learned about how everything in life is cyclical and when pastor asked us who had ever  been in rough financial times to raise our hands, nearly 90% of the entire congregation did.  Know what that means?  It means we have been there.  It means there is no shame in needing help and it means that for those people who thought they were alone, well, they were wrong. 

Then pastor directed people to information about programs the church offered from Finance Seminars to Celebrate Recovery (like biblical 12-Step), to Hannah’s Hope Chest (free shopping if you can’t afford clothes, food, etc.), to Premarital Counseling and Marriage Seminars.  Do you know how much all of this costs to the people taking part in these church-sponsored activities?  Usually – nothing.  Maybe the cost of a workbook. 

You know who pays for all of that?  The people of the church who give their time, talent, and money to the church so that God can use it in a way that will be a blessing and aid to others.  Many people don’t agree with the church or what God says about many topics today.  In fact, when it comes to many issues, a lot of people don’t want to hear what God has to say.

Unbelievers – Before

  • God shouldn’t tell me what to do with my body
  • Sleeping around is my business, not anybody else’s
  • I get high,  so what?  It’s not hurting anyone
  • I don’t know what the big deal is, I lost my virginity when I was 12
  • The only person I gotta worry about is me
  • We need tolerance, but I can’t take what those Christians are preachin’, they shouldn’t be so narrow-minded
  • There is no God
  • What I achieve and what I have shows everybody how important I am
  • Religion is for suckers and weak people who can’t handle life

Unbelievers – After

  • I wish I hadn’t done it, I never knew it would be this hard – I still think about it
  • I’m pregnant / I thought he loved me, but he left me / I have a commnunicable disease / I feel used / It wasn’t worth it
  • I got busted / I got in an accident / I owe money to this guy… / I don’t feel like… / Whatever, who cares?
  • I wish I had waited / He was such a jerk, he told everyone / I didn’t love him / He pressured me / It wasn’t worth it
  • I wish I had someone to talk to / I’m lonely / Why don’t people like me? / Would anyone even care if I wasn’t here?
  • People should be able to believe whatever they want – except the Nazis, and the Christians, and those Jihad Muslims, and…
  • There is nothing but me.  Nothing.  But me. 
  • I’m exhausted / What if I fail? / What’s the next big thing? / Are they impressed? / Oh no, I failed, I’m losing it all.  I’m nobody.
  • I wish I had someone to share this burden with / Why doesn’t anyone even care? / How do I handle this on my own?

Believers – Before

  • I’m afraid, I don’t know what to do
  • I messed up – big time
  • I feel alone
  • I need wisdom and guidance
  • I’m hurting right now
  • I’m lost
  • What is my purpose?
  • How can I make a difference?
  • How do I share my gifts?
  • How can I turn my awful past into something that will help others?
  • What does God expect from me?

Believers – After

  • I prayed and even though I didn’t get the answer right away, you wouldn’t believe how God communicated to me…
  • I went to church and Pastor said that God has already forgiven us, we need to let it go and accept it.  I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me.
  • I joined a ministry, so now I help in the kitchen and I met some really great people / I joined a singles group and met my husband / I attended a seminar and met some…
  • I looked up a great passage in the Bible and it was so weird how it answered my question perfectly, I just needed the moral reminder to make the hard decision
  • I got a call from the girl in my Small Group and she said she saw me looking out of sorts so she felt compelled to call me, it was weird, but the timing of her call was so perfect
  • I felt really far away from God, I was doing some stuff I knew I shouldn’t be, maybe hiding from God, but I went to service and sat in the back and prayed and now I felt better – it was so dumb to try and hide from God, He knows what I’m up to, but just talking to Him and getting it out like that made me feel so much better
  • I never thought I could feel so alive and useful delivery home-cooked meals to someone who is bed-ridden, but the way she lights up every time I come over, if I were in her shoes, I’d want the same thing.  I feel like I make a difference and even though I’m exhausted, inside my heart I feel so energized!
  • I didn’t think it was a big deal donating that crib, but when I heard the story about the family who lost their home during the hurricane, it really showed me that even the small things make a difference
  • I joined a Ministry at church and now I greet people at every service and it is so wonderful to see how they go from nervous and confused about what to do, to smiling back and thanking me for showing them around.  I may have just led someone to their seat who could become a believer today.
  • I never in a million years would believe I’m telling the story of my life to an auditorium of over 5,000 people.  So many came up to me after the talk and said how they were experiencing exactly what I had. 
  • I always skated by on life before, I was never really very moral before and it really burned me, but now, I hold myself to a higher standard – Jesus’ standard – and even though I can’t be perfect all the time like He was, I know that when I am honest and trustworthy and sincere, that people see I’m someone who is decent inside and out.  I am someone that they can rely on and someone that they look up to. 

So I went to church today.  I saw people joyful loving and praising all the great things God has done for them.  I saw people in earnest prayer seeking God’s guidance and forgiveness for mistakes they’d made, mistakes they wanted to turn away from.  I saw people give and receive love from perfect strangers.  I saw tears of joy, heartache, relief, and sorrow.  I saw a community of people who collectively believe that they are not all they will ever have, that there is something/someone far bigger and more capable of handling the problems of their lives – and more than willing to do so, if they will let Him.

I saw a community of people who trust in God, as crazy and strange as it sounds, and I have seen miracles and wonders that He’s performed even in my life.   His way is not easy, it requires sacrifice, changes, moral inventory, walking away from things that – even though they feel “good” at the time – eventually sink their hooks and suck the life right out of us.  It’s a scary thing walking away from being free of moral responsiblity, believing in God, believing in Jesus and that He existed, and that the bible is true.  

But ultimately we have two choices:

  • live up to God’s word and standard and create a life of purpose and have guidance along the days of our lives
  • live down to the world’s standard, where everything is about you, you’re the only one that matters, and you are your own god

I went to church today and I learned just another wonderful lesson about life.  And my family did, too.

~Melissa

Grammar Police

I grew up reading and writing along with all my elementary school friends and, though I make mistakes, for the most part, I can string along a pretty good sentence.  I know roughly what the rules are and what looks good in a sentence.  What surprises me, though, is when I see really basic grammatical errors from very very smart people.

So even though I’m pot and I’m calling that kettle over there black, I’m going to list for you some of the mistakes that drive me nuts.  Some of them I’ve heard and some I’ve seen.  And some I just made up because I see the mistake happen a lot.

Anyway, enjoy.

“I like scrambled eggs better then fried eggs.”

“I told her you where busy.”

“The funny thing is, it’s to late for apologies now.”

Irregardless of his position, the policy remains in place.”

“You new he’d be there, so why were you late?”

“I told her when she brung the wine the wine last night that she looked pretty.”

“I like the way your shirt compliments your slacks.”

“I don’t want to do no more math.”

“I jumped acrossed / acrosst the puddle.”  (pronounced)

~Melissa

P.S.  Got any that drive you nuts, too?  Let me know!  Leave a comment.

Electrifying Anthem

I can’t even remember now how I came across this video, but it’s neat!

If you like the Star Wars anthem and you like music made from electricity, you might like this.  My older kid didn’t believe it was real, but make no mistake – Do Not Try This At Home!   (Besides, I doubt you’d be able to find the suit.)

By the way, it starts to get good around the  :40 mark. 

 

 

~Melissa

Fat Secret

I know, it’s a horrid name isn’t it?  *shudder*

I paid for the Weight Watchers online access, which was roughly $50/month.  Pretty pricey, considering by the end I was just using the website to log my food and not attending the meetings except to get weighed in.

So, what to do when you have no cash, but want to record your meals and exercise online?  Maybe get a few tips?  Read a forum?  Find a recipe?

Fat Secret

It’s a free website that you can register on and it keeps track of everything for you.  Here’s the list:

  • Join Challenges (i.e. 30 lbs. in 30 days)
  • Join Groups (i.e. 30 – 40 years, 20+ lbs. to lose)
  • Record Recipes
  • Add tips
  • Journal
  • Food Diary / Exercise Diary
  • Weight Diary and tracker
  • Food Search functionality (adding food, too!)

The front page feels a little like Facebook with all of the “updates” to members’ journals, weigh ins, recipe additions etc.  If you make your profile public, you can add “buddies” and they can read your journal and comment on it.  The website layout is clean and (this scores massive points with me) Advertisement Free.  I don’t know how long that will last because, quite frankly, I can’t imagine how they’re making any money, but can I just say I hope it stays that way.

It’s what Facebook used to be before all the flashy ads on the sidebar. 

There are five “tabs” you can focus on:

  1. Home – main page, as discussed
  2. My Fat Secret – your personal space to record, journal, update, etc.
  3. Diets – discusses which diets are most popular and how they rate in weight loss
  4. Kitchen – for all your recipe searching needs, with reviews and stars
  5. Community – groups, challenges, forums, journals, etc.

One of the most compelling features of this website is that when you first create your profile, it asks you what Diet you’re on (if any).  You always have the option of entering your very own personal diet.  I entered Weight Watchers because I’ve done it in the past.  I’ve also set my Food Journal options to include Weight Watchers Points, so when I enter food – you guessed it – it automatically logs the Points for me.

If you’re trying to pay attention to a particular area, such as salt intake, fiber, etc., it can add (or subtract) any details you care about.  How convenient is that?

The only quibble I have, so far, is the Buddy System.   I’ve added a few friends, but it’s a little tricky trying to figure out if they’ve accepted, if they’re adding me, or when they make comments on my journal entries.  Maybe I’m just a Luddite. 

One feature it doesn’t have, but I would love to see, is an email alert (if you request it) when someone comments on your profile.  This would be an exceptionally handy feature for those of us who don’t want to be rude and ignore people who take the time to comment on our public entries.

So there you have it.  If you want an easy way to meet other people who are trying to lose weight, get fit, join a group, or just have a recipe to share, Fat Secret is an excellent option. 

http://www.fatsecret.com

~Melissa

Disclaimer:  And no, I didn’t make a dime off of pitching these guys.  I just love the website and want to share it with everyone I know because it is that useful.  So enjoy – or not.  Up to you.

Love and Respect

 If I combine the years of marriage from my first and second marriage, the number is roughly 16.  And before that, I was dating from the time I was 15.  So, let’s do the math and tack on another 7.  Okay, so I’ve been in one “relationship” or another for approximately 23 years of my life.  That’s over half, people.

Now for the sad part. 

I never truly understood what it meant to be in a positive relationship.  Truth be told, I was carrying around some pretty serious baggage.  Let’s see if I can recount some of the previous ideas I had on dating / marriage:

  • If it feels good, do it
  • It’s fine as long as no people or animals get hurt
  • Only stay as long as it’s fun and easy
  • If the passion fades, it’s time to move on
  • If he truly knew or loved me, he’d know what I’m thinking
  • If I don’t show how much he’s hurt me, I win  (Ice Queen Syndrome)
  • Never lose your cool  (Ice Queen Syndrome, Part II)
  • Win the argument even if wrong, don’t accept responsibility for mistakes
  • My position is the one that matters
  • If he’s willing to be intimate with me that means he cares about me
  • If I can’t talk to him then I shouldn’t be with him
  • It’s not my fault I can’t say what’s bothering me, it’s from my past
  • My past is why I can’t …
  • My past is why I don’t …
  • My past is why he should …
  • Men will let me down
  • Men can’t be trusted
  • I will just keep this inside so his feelings don’t get hurt
  • My relationship should work, even if I don’t put any real energy into it
  • Love fades
  • If I’m not “in love” with him, I shouldn’t be with him
  • Love is an emotion not a verb
  • Can’t he see what I’ve done for him?
  • If a guy likes that kind of person, I’ll be that kind of person (even though it’s not who I am)  because I want him to like me

Admittedly, none of these philosophies has ever served me very well and I’ll tell you why.  My entire focal point was one of two things: 

  1. Everything is about me (or)
  2. Everything is about him.  

You can’t have a decent relationship with someone when they’re choking the life out of you, or you’re choking the life out of them.   There’s no room for growth and there’s definitely no room for effective communication.

Ah, that dreaded word:  communication.

It really is something you have to work at and, I’ll be brutally honest here,  I hate that.  I have always believed that if you’re meant to be with someone then communication should be easy.  Well, it’s not.  Really and truly it isn’t.  And there is a reason for it. 

Here’s the reason:

Men and women think, feel, and see the world very differently!

The Love and Respect Class I took at my church, combined with attending church on a regular basis, has really helped me pinpoint all the ridiculous notions I had about life, love and relationships and to learn some incredibly valuable (yet obvious!!!) lessons on making a marriage work.  Actually, this information isn’t just helpful for a spouse, it’s helpful for a male cousin, nephew, uncle, grandfather, etc.   Men need certain things from women when it comes to communication so this is helpful all over the place.

Before you sniff your nose up at the whole “church” and “God” aspect of things, hear me out.    There is a DVD set out there that you can watch in the privacy of your own home that will teach you about how to talk to your spouse, how to understand why your spouse does what he/she does, and how you can better communicate with them.  AND…it’ll give you the very real realization that your marriage isn’t doomed or lame when everyone else’s is great.  We all struggle with our mates, we were built to have conflict.  It is what it is.  But conflict is an opportunity to grow and to grow closer (believe it or not).

So, take a look at the video below for a real quick introduction to Dr. Eggerichs.

 

 

By the way, I didn’t even go looking for this class, this website, or this video.  My husband discovered it.  Women are usually the communicators, the talkers, the fixers and I managed to drop even that ball.  This series utterly changed the way I look at relationships and showed me just how far I had fallen as a mate because my ideals and expectations were completely unattainable and unrealistic.

If you want to see more, go to the Love and Respect website.  In particular, check out the Media section because that’s where Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs is videotaped live at his conference.  He doesn’t preach at you, he tells stories about his own life, he makes you laugh, and – above all – he makes you go, “Ohhhh!  I get it!”

If I could buy a copy of the DVD series for every single married friend (male or female) that I have and send it to them, I would.  I don’t normally jump up and down and scream, “You have to see this!”.   Hey, I don’t even like chain emails, but this is one series, I strongly recommend.  Did I mention strongly? 

Definitely, check it out.

http://www.loveandrespect.com

~Melissa

Disclaimer:  The commentary above is free insight into my strange and humbling past relationship-world.  I don’t get a single red cent for the purchase of Love and Respect DVDs, the classes, or the conferences.   It just so happens that I am so passionate about this information that I’m willing to talk about it with unashamed excitement so that everyone who reads will learn some very valuable lessons, just like I have.

Be Zazzled!

I sure have been.

I have been playing around with Zazzle and doing something I’ve been telling myself I should be doing for years.  (How’s THAT for a confusing sentence?)

Writing greeting cards!

I love quippy cards with a bit of humour, I love writing chick lit, I’m a Jesus Freak, and I love stationery so what better way to showcase my crazy impulses for all of the above but creating my own cards?

So there you have it.  Me in a nutshell on Zazzle.

Here’s my gallery:

http://www.zazzle.com/miskela

~Melissa

Beautiful Advice

I received this as an email chain.  I often like these kinds of messages, just not the “chain” aspect to them so I’ve edited.

~Melissa

An Angel says:

“Never borrow from the future.  If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.”

A great list of things to try and do every day:

  1. Pray
  2. Go to bed on time.
  3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
  4. Say “No” to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
  5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
  6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
  7. Less is more.  (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
  8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
  9. Pace yourself.  Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things all together.
  10. Take one day at a time.
  11. Separate worries from concerns.  If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety.  If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it.
  12. Live within your budget.  Don’t use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
  13. Have backups: an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
  14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut) This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
  15. Do something for the “Kid in You” everyday.
  16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.
  17. Get enough rest.
  18. Eat right.
  19. Get organized so everything has its place.
  20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
  21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
  22. Every day, find time to be alone.
  23. Having problems?  Talk to God on the spot.  Try to nip small problems in the bud.  Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to try and pray.
  24. Make friends with Godly people.
  25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
  26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good, “Thank you, Jesus .”
  27. Laugh.
  28. Laugh some more!
  29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
  30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
  31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
  32. Sit on your ego.
  33. Talk less; listen more.
  34. Slow down.
  35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
  36. Every night before bed, think of one thing you’re grateful for that you’ve never been grateful for before.   God has a way of turning things around for you.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” 
(Romans 8:31)

The Herb Garden

So I’m in the middle of planting an herb garden.  We have two great planters and we didn’t do a full-attempt last year so I decided it was time.  Last time we planted, we did tomatoes, more tomatoes, peas, and the freaking hottest habanero peppers that ever dug roots.  Oh and zucchini that totally took over the garden (something about not picking them when you’re supposed to).  So we sort of got tired of the gardening thing, but I got some wild hair and decided I wanted one again this year.

I picked up a electric soil tiller and a bunch of baby herbs and tons of seeds.  (See below for the list.)  I had the herb seedlings sitting on my window sill, but my cat took an inordinate liking to them, even chewing on some of them, so we had to move them out to the cottage.  (Notice in one of the pictures, he’s got his eye on the garden.)

Here’s the planters when we started (March 13, 2009):

Before Tilling
Before Tilling
After two days of tilling, planting, forcing the boys to help, and whatnot. 
This is the after  (March 14, 2009):
After Planting
After Planting
So far we have:
  • 8-Ball Squash (or something crazy like that)
  • Basil
  • Sweet Basil
  • Aromatic Basil
  • Pesto Basil (who knew there were so many types?)
  • Carrots (some weird round ball-looking baby variety)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Marjoram
  • Greek Oregano
  • Italian Oregano
  • Onions (Green)
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sugar Snap Peas (ok not herbs, but we wanted some veggies, too)
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

We’ll see if they survive my black thumb!

I’ll update the pics in a week or two so you get a nice timeline of growth (or death, whichever).

~Melissa