"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
January 4, 2011
I did something this morning that I NEVER thought I would do! I called my husband into the bathroom, then got onto the scales while he watched. "Are you crazy?!," you ask; and my answer would be, "Probably so!" Why would I do such a thing? Accountability! I told Jon that once a week, all year long, I was going to let him see the scales when I weigh myself.
As we begin each new year, many people mention making "New Year Resolutions". But more times than not, those resolutions aren't kept very long. Most people nowadays seem to be of the opinion that they shouldn't even bother to make a New Year's resolution because they will not follow through and do it. How many times have I said, "Next year I'm going to diet and lose weight!," only to last a few days, then get discouraged and go back to my old eating habits and consider myself a failure. We have all made resolutions to make a change in our life or be a better person or start exercising faithfully or whatever it may be, only to soon forget about it and shrug it off as another failed attempt to better ourselves. In fact, we seem to expect failure before we even begin, so aren't surprised when we give up and go back to old habits.
A resolution is "a firm decision to do or not to do something". This year I decided to do something different. I decided to set goals for myself. A goal is "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result". The difference is, I'm not resolving or making a firm decision to make changes, which results in a feeling of despair if I fail or mess up. But I'm setting goals for myself, aiming towards a desired result and striving to figure out a way to get there. If I fail in my first attempt, then I will get back up and figure out what went wrong and how to do it differently. Perhaps that route will result in progress and change, instead of feelings of failure and the absence of hope.
God has placed two things on my mind for the new year to work on for myself. I cannot say this is what you need to work on yourself, because we are all different and have different areas of weaknesses we battle and are at different stages in our lives. But by sharing what my goals are, perhaps it will encourage you to set goals for yourself and attempt to bring about changes in your own self.
First of all, I admit that I have battled weight most of my life. I have tried over and over again to lose weight and find a diet that will work well for me. And I have failed too many times to count. There have been times when I've felt hopeless and that it's a battle I'm tired of fighting and failing at. It's been easy to give up and admit defeat. But a few days ago, it was as if God gave me insight on what I needed to focus on this coming year. Always before I have focused on my diet. When I focus on diet, I am constantly focusing on food; what I should eat or not eat or can't eat or shouldn't eat...... My mind is consistently thinking of food. Even when I'm trying to eat right, food is my main focus and becomes an obsession. Obsess means: "Preoccupy; be uppermost in someone's mind; prey on someone's mind; consume; torment; control; have a hold on; rule." When I try to diet and eat healthy, I become obsessive about thinking about food; what I should or shouldn't eat, or desserts I should give up, what to cook for meals, etc. My epiphany for 2012 is that I need to concentrate not on food and my diet, but on getting into shape and becoming healthier. I need to focus on ways to incorporate exercise into my day. For example, I tend to not like to go upstairs during the day and if I need to take something to our bedroom or put away clean laundry, I will lay it at the bottom of the stairs to take later when I go up to bed or to change clothes. One easy change I can make is to go ahead and climb the stairs during the day for the exercise. When it's cold out, there's not much to do outside; for me anyway. But when I'm home all day, I've started turning music on and will walk from one end of our living room to the other, or make a loop into the kitchen for 5-10 minutes sometime during the day. We have one of those big exercise balls, and during the evening while we're watching TV I will often sit on it and do some exercises and stretches. It may not be big changes, but incorporating small changes into my day to become more active and include exercises, will make my body stronger and healthier.
Secondly, there is a specific area in my personal life that I know is lacking and needs a lot of improvement. I need to become more consistently disciplined. Meaning, I need to daily be disciplined to read my Bible and pray and not get distracted and put other activities first as my priority; such as emailing or Facebook or reading books or watching TV. I need to become more disciplined in my food intake and in exercising, and stop making excuses. I need to become more disciplined in practicing the fiddle. It's something I want to learn how to do and be good at, but it's easy to put it to the side and do other activities and not consistently practice. I want to be good at playing the fiddle, but want to do it now without having to take the time to practice and learn and work through the ugly beginner sounds I often make. I know that discipline in all these areas is lacking and I need to be consistent in doing them, and not so wishy-washy.
Many times we are hasty to make resolutions, set goals, make promises or vows without fully thinking them through. Perhaps we have good intentions at the time, but we forget or it's too hard and we give up or we decide we don't want to do it anymore. So we quit, mark it down as being a mistake or failure, and go on our merry way. We may feel guilty over our actions, or lack thereof, but we've learned to deal with the regret and push it to the back of our mind. Keeping our word, whether to God or to ourselves or to others, has become less and less important. Too often we give up too easily or shrug it off as, "Oh well, I tried!" But did we really try? Did we really put all our effort and invest time into keeping our resolution, meeting our goal, or keeping our promise? Or did we give up at the first obstacle that came our way and call it a failure because it required too much work, or that was the result we had expected anyway?
Why did I humble myself and push down my pride to allow my husband to see the scales as I weighed? Because I know that I need that accountability to someone. My sister and I were talking recently that we are not good partners to be accountable to regarding our weight, because we are too sympathetic to one another. We empathize too readily and accept any excuses the other sister makes. I could more readily share my weight with a stranger at an online support group or to my sister than I could Jon; although that hasn't happened either. When you struggle with your weight, like I do, sharing that information with another person is totally humiliating and one of the hardest things to do. For many years, the only people who have had access to my weight are at my doctor's office. And to be honest, my drivers license does not have the correct weight on it. I kept the same weight on it since the age of 16 (which wasn't correct even then), until I moved to Oklahoma a few years ago. The man taking the information at the DMV in Oklahoma asked if any of the information had changed and I admitted my weight had, and he said, "Oh okay, I'll add 5 pounds!" Good enough for me! Jon was probably one of the most difficult people to share that tidbit of information with. And that's why I chose him. There's something very vulnerable when being so totally transparent about sharing that tidbit of information with Jon. Yes, he knows my size and shape, but it's just very different having him stand beside me while those bright red numbers flash on top of the scales. I'm not saying that's something every wife should do, but I knew that was something I had to do to work beyond past failures and strive to meet my goal of becoming a healthier woman. I'm counting on Jon to keep me accountable and to remind me each week, when I may be tempted to "conveniently forget", to weigh in front of him. I have to have that to succeed.
I made up a weekly chart, and hung it on the refrigerator, where I mark off if I had my daily devotionals, practiced the fiddle, and exercised and what I ate for each meal. That's something I'm going to try to see if it will keep me on track for becoming more disciplined in those areas. If not, then I'll try something else to help me achieve my goal for this year.
We are never too far gone, too big of a failure, too old or too young to make needed changes in our life. But it does take courage to sometimes admit the areas in our life that needs changing and to take the needed steps to do something about it. It's not enough to gripe and complain and say something needs to be done, yet spend year after year dealing with the same issues and problems. At times it's easy to take comfort in our problems and wear them like a badge of defeat and failure, instead of taking the proper steps to do something about them and make the necessary changes.
Jon and I talked last year that if I lose a specific number of pounds (set by me, not Jon) then he will reward me by taking me on vacation to Hawaii. Will it be hard and take a whole lot of work? Absolutely! Is it doable? Yes, indeed! But it will take a lot of patience and perseverance and time. Have I done well so far? Nope! Does that mean I'm a failure and can't meet my goal; that I'm too far gone? No way!! But it does mean that I'm going to have to make some changes and not give up every time I mess up. If I want to reach my goal and reap the reward, then I will have to persevere and not quit.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, 8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Paul endured much during his ministry. He was beaten and imprisoned for preaching several times. In fact, he wrote most of his epistles from prison. Yet he continued preaching and writing letters of encouragement and instruction to various churches and individuals. He speaks one time of having a thorn in the flesh that he had prayed and asked God to take away, but He chose not to. I'm not sure what that was, but it was something that Paul wanted to be rid of, whether it be an affliction or disease or a person or hardship. Yet God didn't answer Paul's prayers to remove it, and he had to live with it day after day.
We all face difficulties and life situations we wish we could get rid of, and often pray to that end. Sometimes God gives us our desires, and other times not. There are days, months and years we go through that can be difficult and filled with hardship. Other times we may be blessed beyond measure and seemingly have all our prayers answered. But just as I have to choose whether or not to continue working toward my goals for this year and persevere in order to someday reap the benefit of a Hawaii vacation, we have to make choices in our life. How petty would I be if I were to blame Jon and become angry and disgruntled at him, if I fail to meet my goal and give up; and never achieve the reward of the two of us going to Hawaii? He can encourage and try to help me every day, but I have to do the work and make the necessary changes, and it's not his fault if I give up and quit before reaching my goal. We can give up on life and have pity parties and feel like failures and never do anything with our lives, except simply exist for how many years God places us on this earth, and complain and gripe every step of the way. We can blame God and become angry at Him for every bad thing that happens in our life, and give up on Him, and therefore will never reach our heavenly goal. Or we can fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith, knowing that a crown of righteousness, which God will give us when we get to heaven, is awaiting us at the end of life's journey on earth.
I pray that we will each be resolved to persevere and hold fast to our faith in God; not quitting or giving up when life is hard or we mess up. Let us keep our vows and promises to serve God diligently with our whole heart, knowing that a glorious eternity awaits for those who love God.
Committing to God can be a lot like committing to a New Year's Resolution. After we've once said, "Okay, Jesus, You're Lord, and I'll do whatever you ask of me." but do something wrong, or fail to do what we know Jesus wants of us, it can be hard to commit again.
If you can at least commit to "do my best", be patient, and open. He will surely soften your heart and prepare you for a more full commitment in time.
Puppy Chow Candy (or as more dignified people say "People Chow")
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter
9 cups Crispix cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute; stir. Add vanilla and stir again until well blended. Put cereal in a very large bowl. Pour mixture over cereal and mix gently to coat. Next coat with powdered sugar. To coat: put the cereal mixture in a large paper bag. Add the powdered sugar; fold down the top of the bag and shake to evenly coat. Store in a tightly covered canister or bowl.
A while back my niece's husband was talking to her and said, "Oh honey, we forgot to do ........" A few minutes later this little 2-year old voice piped up and their son, Jax, looked at his mommy and said, "Oh honey, you can come play trains with me." You have to watch what you say around little ones because they will pick it up and repeat it!
The Son can warm your winter days.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon