Saturday, December 27, 2008

Going Well

I have managed to read at least one chapter in my Bible each morning since my Stinkin' Thinkin' post. I have also been eating breakfast, a good breakfast, daily. The exercise on the other hand has been a little more challenging. However, I did just workout a bit upstairs. My left shoulder always gives me trouble, and the pain motivated me to the workout machine. Maybe there really is something to that old expression, "No pain, no gain!"

I do have to say that the decision to refocus has made a tremendous difference in the quality of my day to day life. I have a better attitude and am kinder and more pleasant to those around me; a big plus for all of us! It's not that I was nasty or anything, but I knew my attitude needed a check. I knew that I was not focusing on what I should be, and my quality of life was suffering.

It is amazing to me how simple God's instructions are. I have found time and again that consequences are almost immediate when we do not follow God's will. I find the object lessons most obvious in starting my day with prayer and Bible reading and in tithing. Have you ever noticed this in your daily lives?

Whenever I slip away from my daily devotionals my quality of life suffers. Also, when I manage to mess up with my tithing my finances instantly become stressful. It doesn't matter how much of a sacrifice it may seem to be to get back on track it is always worth it. The presumed sacrifices give way to peace and prosperity almost immediately after making things right. What does God use to teach you how to live? I'd love to hear your experiences.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stinkin' Thinkin'

It has not been too long yet, and I am already thinking I need to read The Sexually Confident Wife again. The book did a good job of teaching you how to keep your thinking in check, and I could use a booster shot. Why is it so easy to get off on a destructive thinking path?

It seems hubby and I are clashing heads a lot lately. It's not anything big, really. We just seem to spend a lot of time misunderstanding each other and being defensive. Even though I don't think what we are having a confrontation over is worth the magnitude of our attitude I just cannot seem to keep myself from going there.

As I am typing this I am wondering if I have been neglecting my prayer life. Oh, I pray constantly, but I haven't had my morning Bible reading time and beginning of the day prayer in probably weeks. I didn't realize it until this very moment. I know the importance of starting out on the right foot, but honestly I haven't even been getting breakfast regularly. Skipping meals is another thing I have struggled with for years. I know the destruction it inflicts on my body, so I have changed my ways. However, when things get hectic or stressful I just seem to naturally gravitate to old, bad habits. Let's recap. So far I have listed two bad habits; morning prayer time and breakfast.

As a mother it is so natural for me to put my needs first. It has been years that I have been thinking on a daily basis that I need to implement a regular exercise regimen. Yet, here I sit still needing to lose a full 60 pounds. If only mentally exercising your body would prove fruitful! I'd have been my ideal weight a year ago. Bad habit recap: no morning prayer, no breakfast, and no exercise.

Hmmm...I'm starting to see a pattern here. Maybe if I pledged to take care of myself first everything else would be easier to maintain. What do you think? Even though my schedule is insane I think now is the time to try something new. For the next seven days I am going to slow down. I am going to do some low-impact exercise, spend time in the Bible and prayer, and eat breakfast each and every day before I do anything else. Do you think it is possible?

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Keeping on Track

I have been moving at a steady pace. Christmas preparations have been relaxed and uneventful. That is a good thing. I don't get too many things in my life that are relaxed and uneventful!

I had one round of baking last week. My best friend of 27 years came over with her six children. We baked dozens of cookies. It was a blast. This Sabbath will be my second round of baking. My mom, daughter and two oldest grandkids will be coming over to bake more holiday goodies. This time I will be baking treats that I plan to give as gifts.

The gift making is going well, by the way. I am certain I will spend hundreds less than I ever have when going the commercial route was all I knew. It is such a wonderful feeling to plan, shop and create a special gift for each friend and family member that is near and dear. The boys have been helping me.

Today we made 11 jar mixes for the younger kids to cook with their moms. I know they'll love it. We've also made suet feeders on string for hanging in trees or near windows to attract and feed birds throughout the winter. They are sure to bring a smile or two to the faces of those that receive them as they watch the birds from the warmth of their homes. There are other things on my list that still need to be made. I'll be sure to post pictures and descriptions after Christmas so as to not spoil the surprise should a gift recipient stumble by.

Tomorrow the boys and I will be getting a tree. We changed around the living room to accommodate the chosen evergreen. Personally, I do not like real trees. I would love it if it were potted, but we always have to have a real one that goes in a stand. I am the one that has to care for it, and it's such a pain. Until my husband and I got together I always had a four-foot artificial that I put on an end table covered with a white sheet. It looked so pretty, and it wasn't difficult to deal with. I cannot convince him on the artificial. For him, it's just not Christmas without a real tree. Not to mention, I did some reading. Apparently it is more eco-friendly to get a real one than it is to have an artificial tree. Again, I am defeated!

I am looking forward to finishing the decorating tomorrow. I'll go through my decorations again and donate what I no longer want. I do this every year thinking I finally simplified, and every year I am amazed at how many decorations come in from the garage. I like to donate using Freecycle and Purple Heart. They are both great since all you have to do is put the items on your front porch, and someone will come pick them up. You can't beat the simplicity!

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Ribbon

I am not a supporter of cancer research. I believe we already have a cure. I am not a supporter of breast cancer research. I know that it not only effects women, but men get it too. Last Thursday I was reminded of what I believe. At the age of 37 I had my first mammogram.

It was for good reason that I sought out the mammogram. Cancer really seems to be comfortable in my family. My paternal grandmother passed away when I was 11 years old after a heroic battle with pancreatic cancer. My paternal grandfather beat three types of cancer before he passed away in his sleep at the age of 94. My oldest paternal aunt survived ovarian cancer, the next oldest passed away several years ago of lung cancer, and the youngest aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Here's the clincher. On April 1, 2005, my father passed away from male breast cancer. So, you see? My ribbon would be pink AND blue. There's no real information out there for daughters of fathers that had breast cancer. Maybe if there were more awareness there would be.

It seems that they have now learned that cancer can be hereditary, and there is genetic testing available for those that have cancer so prevalent in their family trees. Based on the recommendation of the nurse practitioner I saw this past week I will be advocating for genetic testing for our family. Should my aunt agree to the blood test the information could prove life saving for the rest of my family. It is best to start with a family member that has cancer, and she is a breast cancer survivor.

Breast pain that started several months ago encouraged me to seek out any free or affordable resources that may be available for me to get a mammogram. With my husband working in the automotive repair industry our family has not had health insurance for years. I just paid cash for an MRI in relation to the Meniere's Disease, and mammograms are expensive. I had heard of free screenings, but I did not know of them personally.

Well, the pain went away, but I did find a lump. The lump kept me moving forward in my pursuit. Since I was born with a tumor and cyst under my right arm, and I had fibroids in my right breast at the age of 14, and the history of my family, I knew to not ignore the lump.

While my husband was having breakfast at his favorite local restaurant, Acropole, being the morning person, breakfast guy, social butterfly that he is his waitress knows him well. He was talking to her about my situation, and she told him about a program at Karmanos. It seems there are funds available through the Race for the Cure annual fund raiser for women just like me. (I wonder what would be available for men. My dad received his treatment through Karmanos, but he had insurance. I'll have to look into that later.) This is a program related to cancer that I will support in my charitable giving from here on out. I have no problem helping to make cancer screening services available for those that cannot afford such services.

Anyway, I almost didn't go to the appointment, but I am so glad that I did. It seems I have another tumor in my right breast. It's exactly where I thought it was, so do not forgo those self breast exams you ladies are supposed to be doing once a month! Who knows how long that lump was there since I hadn't done an exam in ages. If you are a guy, it wouldn't hurt you to keep an eye on your chest as well. The thing that alerted my dad that there was something to be concerned about was when my son asked why his nipple was sunken in. As my dad always said, "Any body part that men and women have in common can be afflicted by cancer."

During the exam I was just blown away by the kindness of the staff. The mammogram really wasn't bad, and I had to get an ultrasound as well. I was initially given a choice to have a biopsy right then, or keep an eye on the tumor and come back in six months to see if it had changed. That would be the normal protocol for someone that didn't have the history that I have in my family and my body. So, the nurse practitioner wants me back in three months for a biopsy. She does not think it looks like cancer, but she wants to be certain. Had they suspected cancer they would have done a biopsy right then. Honestly, I wish I would have just done it last Thursday. Now I have to go three months dreading another needle!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sexual Confidence

Yes, this is a Christian blog. And, yes, healthy christian couples have sex. (How do you think you got here?) However, none of us really talk about it. Honestly, lack of discussion and openness is a bad thing. Sex is a gift from God. It unites us as a couple, "And they shall become one." It also draws us closer to God.

Unfortunately, there are many of us out there that have an unhealthy relationship with sex. We have issues from the past that stay with us and interfere with our marriage relationship. Maybe we had parents that were unaware of how to speak to us in regard to sex and marriage. It could be that our parents did not set a healthy example of the sexual aspect of marriage for us. Maybe sex has been taboo your whole life.

Our inability to deal with our own issues and move into a higher intimacy with our spouse and with God will create more adults, currently our children, that have the same issues, or more. Learning to embrace our sexuality as a gift from God, dealing with our issues, and setting an example for our children is essential to their success as confident, married adults. Our willingness to introduce sexuality to our children as a healthy, blessing from God could potentially change their lives.

I recently read The Sexually Confident Wife by Shannon Etheridge. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I was a little embarrassed when I checked it out from the library, but I am SO glad that I did. It is an amazing book. Shannon is blatantly honest and forthright in the information she shares. The Sexually Confident Wife gives straight forward information on issues like healing past scars, body image, techniques, boundaries, overcoming the "church lady" syndrome, and talking to our children.

The Sexually Confident Wife is a tastefully written, informative guide to the mind, body, heart, and spirit. This is a must read for any woman that is, or plans to be, a wife. It wouldn't hurt matters if her husband read it too! If for no other reason, read this book for the future of your daughters.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Praise God!

For those of you that frequent The Zoo Crew you may remember, I lost 100% of my hearing in my right ear back in September and was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. Something pretty cool happened today. While I was grocery shopping I noticed something peculiar. I'm not sure how it happened, but when I moved the grocery list by my ear I could hear the paper crinkle. I'm sure I was a sight walking through Costco crinkling my grocery list over and over by my ear! I just couldn't be sure if I was hearing it or not.

When I left the store I still wasn't certain if I was hearing, so I did other things to test it out. I called a number on my cell phone that I knew for sure was a recording and turned the volume up on the earpiece all the way. I turned the music up loud in the truck, and covered my left ear. It's for certain. I have regained some of my hearing, not all. It is muffled, but I CAN hear a little bit in my right ear.

I know many have prayed for my healing. I am grateful to everyone. Praise God, and thank you for your love and prayers! I'll be sure to let you know of any new developments.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Processed People

There is a new documentary slated to hit the streets in mid-December. It covers a topic close to my heart. For years now, given my struggle with my weight and everything American related to diet and food, I have searched out information on the reality of our food and medical systems. In my journey I have discovered people like John Robbins and Michael Pollen. They have become mainstays in this food revolution of sorts. I have learned and grown through the information they have shared, and their insight has driven me further in my quest for real nutrition and health.

In the upcoming documentary, Processed People, we will learn further about the highly processed nature of our food and it's consequences. Does the health care system really have our optimum health as their number one priority, or could something else be driving their efforts? Have you ever paid attention to exactly what "authority" it is that is providing your health and nutrition advice? There is sure to be something for everyone to learn.

Click here to view the promo video.


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