Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bouncy Castle Friends

Last night I did some thinking about the friends who have kept me rolling these last couple of years.
I have good friends. I have friends who have grocery shopped for me, brought me meals, done my laundry, and cleaned my house.
I've been so blessed to be surrounded, in all phases of my life, with good people.

Tonight I'd like to address a special variety of friendship that I am thankful for these days.
I call them Bouncy Castle Friends.  :O)
These are the people that I am certain would follow me even into the most insane scenarios "just because" we're friends.

I think of them as "Bouncy Castle Friends" because I'm certain the folks I'm thinking of tonight would happily toss their shoes and jump into a bouncy castle with me... you know who you are. I'd name a few, but y'all I have some crazy friends!

Some of my BCFs have demonstrated this kind of insanity. Some of them, well I'm just pretty sure we're going there some day. 

If you know me at all (and really... you should...), I like a good time.
I'm happiest when things are happy.  :O)
I can be serious, but who wants to do that all the time? Not. Me!

So here's to my bouncy castle friends and the many more years of insane joy that lie ahead.
I still plan on being a bcf well into my 80's... so stay healthy people.

Bounding and Bouncing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not There Yet

I think one of the things that I am still really struggling with overall is my perceptions of things versus reality.
I consider myself a pretty positive person.

But lately I am fighting a daily mental battle that is so strong I am having to daily remind myself that God is bigger.

I think a lot of it boils down to all the "down" time that I have had over this last year.
But I have noticed that it has gotten progressively worse in the last few months.
What do I attribute it to?


Now hang on... I did NOT say my husband.  I said marriage.  :O)

Hubs is super-duper. Didn't we cover that in an earlier post?

I think I shall call this syndrome the  "aren't things supposed to be perfect now?" syndrome.

When you've lived the first 36 years of your life as a singleton it is easy to build marriage (or just not being single) up into the perfect scenario.
Life will be all roses and candlelight if I can just find the man of my dreams.
I won't still struggle with self doubt when I have someone who has chosen to be with only me.
I won't still have self image issues when he finally gets here.

Ladies (and gents I suppose) that is a lie, lie, lie.
Issues you carry with you before you say "I do," you will carry with you after.

And some issues that you thought you had "fixed" will rear up their ugly little head again.
I remember reading somewhere that God didn't give us marriage to make us happy but to make us holy.
So lately I've been thinking a lot about that.
Remember in the Old Testament when something needed to be purified how they managed that task?
Water, blood or FIRE.

Numbers 31:2
everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water.

Living life in intimate, daily contact with someone can be like walking through fire. It is definitely like walking through a spotlight. Little things can be big issues quick when someone else is always there.

Tonight, despite this seemingly depressing post,  :O) I bring hope.

The one who called you to the life you now lead is preparing you for the life that is to come.

He. Is. With. You. 
He won't leave you alone to sit and soak in your "issue" of the day.
He is with you right where you are at this second even if it is a purifying fire or a drenching downpour of grief.

Isaiah 43:2
 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Be encouraged if/when you are walking through the fire of purification or water.

Singed but blessed. :O)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful for Much

As I sit here writing is is almost 9 pm on Saturday night.
It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
I've been doing my weekly Bible Study homework along with some other reading.
And I've also been thinking about the many things in my life this year that I can be thankful for.
We're coming into December very quickly.
In the past I have used my December prayer times to narrow in on the next year. That is where my almost 10 year habit of naming my upcoming year first came from.
Starting tonight I will start to focus in on what next year will bring.
Past year's have been "Joy," "Change," "Healing," and "Hope."
That's just to name a few.  :O)
I have no idea what 2013 will be. But I am really looking forward to finding out.
Tonight I am thinking about the new friends that 2012 has brought. Some of them I can already tell will be the friends that are more like family than "just friends."
I am so very blessed to have a both a biological family that is awesome and a friend family too.
I remember once hearing that most people could count their lifelong friendships on one hand.
I have a quiver full of friends who are not going anywhere... and I've pushed some of them to see. :)

This year has been one of great upheaval and change. There has been drama (and trauma... thank God for great hospitals and ER doctors). There has been new life. There have been new relationships formed.
There has been a new family created.

2012 was a year of untold joy and blessings with some emergency room visits thrown in.
And did I mention the many ER visits? I did. Oh good!

I have nothing else to add here really. But I did want to ask something of you. If I can pray for you, I would count it such a privilege. I've added so many of you to my little prayer binder and have loved it so much.  Please do e-mail me; use facebook/twitter, or comment here.

Finally I have to say that every single person who takes time to read what I rambling-ly write blesses me immensely.
Thanks for spending a little bit of time here.

Blessed  Much

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful for much - aka my husband rocks

Sometimes I have absolutely nothing to say.
This has almost been one of those days.
Then I realized that I am hitting some interesting days with the holidays coming up. There are a lot of firsts in my immediate future.
And I wanted to be all introspective and wise about it.
But I'm not feeling anything all that wise... mostly just introspective.  :)
These are some weird days for me.
I've been jobless since January. I've been out of school since August of the year before that (2011).
I've done just about everything I can think of to try and find a new job for the last two months or so.
Nothing is happening.
Well, lots of things are happening, just none that I can see and nothing job related for sure that I can see.

Like with most things in life I am getting to wait it out.
Hopefully, unlike most things I have waited for, this wait will be quick.

Anyhoo... I started this out to say this:
I have a husband that I love so much that love isn't a strong enough verb.
He was, without a doubt, completely worth the years of singleness that led up to him.

He is super.
Sunday at church I got to brag about how awesome he is. And I got to hear some other people brag on him.

Seriously - if you don't know him, I am sad for you! That's how rad he is.  :O)
So there's that.

I love that he takes the trash out. I hate taking the trash out. But I never even have to think about it these days. He rocks.
I love that he works hard and long at his job to provide for us. I am a well taken care of woman!
I love that he prays for people first. It's his default setting. I'm not sure I've known someone so quick to say "let's pray about it," or "let me pray for you."
I love that he is honest about his failings... they are few... but none of us is perfect. :)
I love that he looks for ways to serve other people. He actually does so much behind the scenes that no one ever sees. He has one of the truest servant's hearts I've ever seen.
I love that impish twinkle that comes into his eyes when he is teasing or pestering.
I love that he can make me laugh even on a cruddy day.
I love that he tolerates (and I daresay is learning to love) my obsession with a certain football team who are torturing me this year.
I love that he loves me.

Finally, and most importantly, I love that he loves God with a passion I never have to doubt or question.

I am thankful for much.
But this year, and hopefully many more years to come, I am especially aware of and thankful for my wonderful, handsome, Godly husband. I pray that I never take a second with him for granted.

And in my prayers for many of you (my single girls... you know who you are) I am praying for your "Biff the Biblical Stud" to come soon.

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Eating normal food is scary

Eating normal food is scary.
I first realized this a little while back. But I was struck more by it on Sunday.
It was the first Thanksgiving meal that I've come up against.  :O)
I'm 5 months out from surgery. So I'm eating a bit more normally.
My biggest concern has always been returning back to bad habits.
These kind of "eating holidays" were part of that concern.
So far, so good.
But it's weird to just get a tablespoon of the yummy treats instead of a cup. 
Ah well.
Life is good.
Food is actually more enjoyable in a lot of ways for me now.
I'm learning what I actually like.
I'm learning to savor and enjoy it.
And I am finding that some things I thought I liked, I really did not.
It's easy to like things when you're swigging them down with 32 oz of sweet tea.

That's my update for here and now.
I'm at 86 pounds now and pretty much holding steady there.
I figure once my body gets over losing that much, that fast, that I will start losing again.
Until then, I learn to like exercise and trying new things.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Right Where I Belong

I've been thinking a lot this week about purpose.
I found entries in an old prayer journal where I asked God repeatedly to show me: where I belonged; where I was called; what my purpose was. Yes, I know that's a terrible sentence. I just didn't know what else to do with it. :O)

I think many of us who earnestly seek after God's will for our lives have wrestled with those same thoughts.

Am I at the right job/ministry?
Am I pursuing the right degree?
Am I dating the right person?
Should I move?
Should I write?
Should I go back to school?

My pastor this morning preached a great sermon that managed to hit me right where I am living as I work toward the "next thing" in my life.
He talked about the qualifications for leadership.
But it was a specific example and verse that really hit home for me.
He said that a lot of people want a ministry of their own when they are not willing to be faithful while working within someone else's ministry/mission.

Luke 16:10 
Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.

Am I being faithful to what God has called me to do in this second? If I am not, how can I expect that He would intrust me with more?

Um, ouch.

So yes, I am still working towards and praying towards what comes next.
But I am also going to focus on not overlooking where I am right now and being faithful right where He places me.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Not a Call to Action.

In my quest to be more "here" I think that sometimes I try to be clever or profound when I should just start typing.
Tonight is one of those nights.
I don't feel clever or profound.
As usual, I have about a dozen things rattling in my brain for attention.
I bounce from concern to concern; thought to thought; never staying too long in one place.
I do a lot of solving.
But in most of these cases God has not called me into the solving business.
I'm a fixer.
So hearing a problem, or living a problem, that I cannot fix is just short of torture.
Often we are called upon to "do."
Many times God's clear direction is to step into a situation and bring healing, hope or redemption.

But sometimes we are left in waiting mode.

Sometimes God's clear direction is to listen, hug, be present or simply pray.
As I type "simply pray," I realize that somehow it seems deficient.
It is not.

Prayer is powerful.

Lately I have wondered a lot about how many of these situations would change if God's people would STOP just reacting to the situations of our world and our lives and start diligently praying.

Life without prayer for a Christian should be like like without air - impossible.
But I think we suffer a great lack of prayer in our Christian lives.

We take life too lightly. We value the power of prayer to slightly.

So here I sit tonight realizing that out of my dozen situations there is not one call to "do" but many calls to pray.

So I will.

How can I pray for you?


Oh - but something that totally IS a call to both action and prayer!  :O)  Check out the Compassion Peru trip that is happening right now.  This post by Angie wrecked me in a good way!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Things Normal People Wouldn't Tell You - I'm a Mouse Magnet

So it's time for some idiotic banter here on the blog.
Brought to you by my oddball past: :O)
There are basically three mice stories that my family love to tell tales about.

Mice # 1 and Mice # 2 stories are indistinguishable timewise so we'll pretend they happened in this order.

The houses that I grew up in are basically in the middle of the sticks - surrounded by fields and such you know.

If there is one thing mice seem to like it's fields. Well, that and my grandma's house. :O)

They just like to sneak their little sneaky selves up the basement stairs and invade the house. Most particularly they liked to do it when I was around.
Grandma used Decon (poison) to take care of the little guys. But what they don't tell you is that Decon is like catnip for mice. They go freaking NUTS!!!

So Gina is sitting in the tub relaxing and I start hearing this little squeaking noise following by something hitting the tub. Yep M#1 is trying to vault his way into the tub with me.
I start screaming... but the door is locked and I was too freaked out to move to open it.
Actually my mind has blocked out the ending to that story. Mouse trauma!

Mouse # 2 I stepped on - barefooted... in the DARK. Darkness... fuzzy squeaking... yes I still have nightmares about it.
Cept this time when I started screaming, Grandma and Gem (oldest brother) came running. Grandma had a broom. Gem, well he just stood there laughing at what came next.
For some reason Grandma didn't take the handle end of the broom to the mouse. She decided instead to flog it to death.
FYI - hitting a mouse with the broom end of the broom doesn't really work. mind has blocked out the demise of that particular little vermin as well.
I sense a pattern. :P

Mouse # 3 - I name thee stealthy.
Jeff, Amelia, Jonathan and I all lived together for almost 2 years when Jonathan was a little tyke.
We had some good times.
The most infamous of which involves M#3.
He really only liked to show himself when no one but me was around.
The little dude would hide in the laundry room until he knew I was alone and then scamper out.
No... REALLY. Once I swear he peeked out, saw them sitting with me in the living room and went right back into his hole!
So one night I headed into the kitchen to grab some grub and out he scampered.
Now I did what anyone in their right mind would do if a mouse scampered into their path.
I jumped.
I jumped right the heck up on the kitchen counter.
So when Amelia hears the commotion she comes out to find me on TOP of the counter.
Pretty much all I remember is her laughing.  :O)
Stealthy, the mouse, was no where to be found.
I swear - totally justified reaction people!

-Gina  the Mouse Whisperer. :P

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finding a Way to Love the Old Me

So we got a link to our wedding pictures just a few days ago.
Since my first glance I've had one thought rolling around in my brain.
I need to find a way to love myself no matter what I look like.
I think this is going to be one of those posts that I hate posting.
But it falls under the realm of transparency.
I also think it's a disservice to someone who is considering weight loss surgery to pretend that all problems are instantly solved.
If you have issues with food (and if you're morbidly obese you most likely do), then you will still have to work through those.

Having the surgery is a tool that will allow me to work through my issues while I lose the weight.
But if I don't work through the issues I am 100% sure I can and will gain weight back.

Now, with that being said, back to the topic at hand.

I do not like 90% of the pictures of myself at my own wedding.
I had a great photographer. He took great, fun pictures.
But I hate seeing how heavy I was even that recently. I had surgery in June of this year. I got married a little less than three months later on September 1st. By that time, I had already lost around 50-60 pounds.

When I look at my beautiful wedding all I see are the flaws in myself.
It's where my eyes and thoughts automatically go.
It really hit every bit of self image issues that I could imagine.

And it blind-sided me.

I felt beautiful on the day. But looking now it's a different view.

It hits the heart of something that I think I have largely ignored in my journey so far.

At any weight I need to see myself as the same me.
I didn't lose weight to look good. I lost weight, had the surgery to lose weight, because my health was going quickly down hill. I staged an intervention to save my life. It was drastic. But it was necessary.
I think that if I had not had the additional issues, I would most likely have stayed right where I was - hiding.

Who I am has not changed one single bit. I'm still me - a goofy, optimistic, sarcastic, funny and nerdy girl.
But new me struggles with hating old me (and sometimes even the new melting me) very, very much.
Somehow, with the rapid shrinking, I've developed a weird-er relationship with myself.

Tonight I'm acknowledging that. I'm pretty sure that is a good deal of the battle fought in itself. I've got to come to grips with who I've been and be "ok" with her. I've got to recognize and admire that person and find a way to make old me and new me friends.

Going forward I need to begin to see myself much less critically and with much more kindness. I'd never in a million years let someone talk to my friends the way I talk to myself!!!!

This post may make absolutely no sense to anyone but me. But it's my reality right now.
Who knows, it may be a part of your reality to. I think many of us are way more self critical than we ever admit.

Someday I'm going to be able to look back at all the "'me's" and not flinch.

Someday will be soon; because I'm not stopping until then!


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Time Change is Eating My Brain

Okay seriously, I hate spring forward and fall back.
I. Hate. Them.
I hate both of them.
Because they mess with my internal clock until it looks like this.
It takes me much longer to adjust than it should.
Take tonight.
It's 7:30 and I am wiped flat out.
I could just curl up here on the couch and sleep.
Course I would only sleep for about 2 hours and then be up for the next 24 but still.
I'm just tired.
I'm trying to work some more energy into my life.
I take all  the vitamins I'm supposed to. I am getting my daily protein intake.
I think I may be missing the generous boosting effect of the caffeine I used to enjoy.
Sometimes I miss it badly.
Also sweet tea... I miss sweet tea very badly.
I know I'm rambling but did I mention that I am tired?

Anyhoo. I honestly cannot think of a single interesting thing to report to you except to complain bitterly about the offset hour that is messing with me. :O)
I know I'm not alone in this.
Until tomorrow, when maybe I'll be awake and interesting again.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Secret to Contentment

I'm 36.
I think I may just be starting to figure some things out that have eluded me my entire lifetime.
It's actually a little scary to "say" that out loud because it feels like I'm inviting a testing.
It's not that I have this deal totally licked. I'm not an expert (just like I'm not an expert in waiting).
I was thinking about this tonight because I realize that I am finally starting to be content with my life.
Things are not perfect. Are they ever really?
Things are overall good but there are many, many things that I want/need to change.
There are a couple of huge things on my heart that I have zero actual control over.
If you know me at all, lack of control is usually my gateway to discontent!
Still, I am learning to be content.

The verses I keep going to in my head are in Philippians 4:11-13
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The picture I posted at the beginning of this post is a significant moment for me spiritually. It was taken at a location that is also significant. Actually I need to write about that moment, place, and time. But this picture in time was at the ending of a really deep depression. I had been sinking for months and months before my sweet friend Angela cared enough to say  "if you ever need to talk, I'm here." God used those words and my Godly friend Angela to begin to bring me out.

This picture was taken in November of that year. At that moment I was the heaviest I had ever been. The depression was finally starting to lift. I was beginning to see light.

I asked my brother to drive me out to this lake (a place where a prayer, in faith, had been miraculously answered when I was 16). I needed to go back to a place where I had seen God move powerfully.
Thankfully, that day He chose to move powerfully again.
So thankful that my brother took the pictures that I have to mark that time.

Tonight I am sharing with you my reminder for myself. It really is a lesson for me, but I pray that it's for one of you too.

The secret to contentment does not lie with me. It's not my attitude really. It's my choice to trust that God's sovereign plan is always at work.

In plenty or abundance; in hunger or need that plan remains.
He is working.
Even when I think I am in control, I am not. There is great freedom in that realization.
There is a release in contentment.
There is a freedom.

It is glorious.

- Gina

Monday, November 05, 2012

Waiting - Again

I distinctly remember my sweet friend Becky counseling me during one of my "singleness stinks" pity parties. She told me that we are always waiting on something. When you move from one phase in life to another you just shift your "wait" to something different.
I remember thinking at that time "but if I just had a boyfriend...." I didn't really get it!
Becky was, as she is so often, dead-right.
Each phase in life sees us looking to a different phase.

I wrote about that in my journal the other night.
Waiting - Guess we're never really done with it.

Luckily the waiting game has occupied much of my devotional life over the last ten years or so.
I'd often laugh about it - like I was some kind of expert.
I'm SO not an expert.

I'm just a really, really impatient person who has learned some valuable lessons in her lifetime.
Since I needed a reminder tonight I thought I would share some of them condensed. I wrote a daily devotional for 7 years... so I have a few to chose from.  :O)

1 - 1 Samuel - Hannah faithfully waited on God. God answered.

I almost always think of Hannah when I think of waiting because of her faithfulness during some painful waiting times (1 Samuel 1:7-8, 10). Hannah waited on God for YEARS to see the fulfillment of God's promise to her.  She wept and prayed. God answered.

2 - Psalm 27:13-14 - You can trust Him
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD ; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

3 -Psalm 33:20-22- Hope is worth it.
Pray as you may, some things won't work out as you hoped. But hope anyways.

4 -Psalm 38:15 - Not waiting on God always ends badly

I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.

More often than I'd like God's answer to my questioning has been wait. Everyone can think of a story in the bible where someone pushed ahead of God. None of them went well. Know that God hears you and always answers. It may not be what I want to hear, but it will be an answer.

5 -2 Peter 3:9 - God is not slow in keeping his promises.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

This is key for me to keep in mind when I am praying for something specifically. My timing and God's couldn't be any more different. I want it yesterday. Remember, while we look at where we are now, God is looking at everything at once. He isn't slow or withholding anything from us. He is working it all out.
Trust him. He's had more experience at this then we have. : )

Ok. I'm thouroughly convicted for the evening.
Night friends.

Waiting in hope,

Sunday, November 04, 2012

It's Just a Number, Until it isn't

So, up until this very moment I am 99% sure I have never, ever, ever mentioned an actual number on my scale.  (I could search my blog and verify this... but I'm not in the mood!) :O)
Tonight that is changing for a very cool reason.
I debated about sharing this milestone when it came up. Even my hubs has no idea to this moment what that # is... till now. :P
It's a huge victory for me to see this particular number on the scale, because the last time I saw it I was 18!
Golly... that's a while back.
I hate scales still - even when the number keeps slowly shrinking.
But I think it may help someone else on this journey. It may help someone who is trying to decide where they are on their journey. It may help someone who is considering weight loss surgery.
I want to be transparent.
As ugly as the scale is, it has no power to hurt me.
So here goes.
I started this journey at 285 pounds.
Today, for the first time in almost 20 years, I hit 199.
I'm 5'8. So my goal weight is 150-160 as set by my doctor. I'm over 2/3 of the way there.
And I am feeling so much closer to it tonight.
I don't know what it is about finally getting below 200 that was my big hurdle. But it definitely WAS my big hurdle.
86 pounds gone. Hopefully, gone to never be seen again.

Now if I can just send this horrid cold packing I'm sure I will be doing cartwheels again soon.  :O)

-Officially in ONEderland

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Who The Heck Am I?

I keep starting and stopping different topics here.
In fact, the title remains empty.
I have no idea where I am going with this yet.
But as I was sitting down to journal, I felt the need to blog.
So here I sit. Here on the couch I sit, with no ideas.

I think I'm in a bit of an identity crisis.
When you move from one phase of life into another I guess that is normal.
Me - I've had a whole lotta change in a short amount of time.
So I suppose that crisis is normal.
I've had two major identifiers for the last several years that are either starting to not apply or are just gone.

1 - The single girl
So I'm clearly not single anymore. But the other night, when the pastor was talking about married stuff, I caught myself in the single-girl mindset. I can't figure out a way to explain that mindset. But if you're single, and you have ever sat through a sermon about marriage, you "get" me. I've been married 2 months. But I was single for 36 years. So I guess I can cut myself some slack there. It was a startling "wake up" kinda deal for me to find my single girl brain still so engaged. Oh I wish I could come up with better words here. Any of my "single for a long time" newlyweds feeling me here? Maybe I'll process through it and come back to explain.

2 - The fat girl
Even after the drastic weight drop I am still chunky. That's changing. But it's still there. I'm not the clearly obese girl anymore and that's a mental transition. I can fit places now that I didn't before. I'm different but haven't made some of the critical thought adjustments that I need to yet. This mindset hits me in some strange places - recently at the grocery store and a restaurant.
I've been overweight since my teens. Honestly, the thought of my life without that identifier is something I cannot seem to completely grasp.
The weight I'm at now is a 16 year low - 16 YEARS.
I'm not only not sure how to make that adjustment, I'm not sure who I'll be in the coming months.
In my entire adult life I have never been a normal weight. I have always felt like the "big" girl.

Who do I become when that label no longer defines me to myself?