I met with my writing mentor a just a few months after I began writing my book. She took a few minutes to go over my outline and her first comment was:
“I see more than one book here.”
She said I was trying to stuff everything I wanted to say in one book and it was just too much.
So I spent a few weeks restructuring my single existing book outline into four new outlines – and a few months moving content from my one existing word processing document into an appropriate location within four new documents. At that point, I had the beginnings of four books:
A book on Christian living,
a book on spiritual growth,
a book on Christian relationships
a book on Christian parenting.
(a few months ago, also I outlined a book on Christian conflict resolution)
Sounds so impressive, huh?
More like overwhelming. daunting.
So, I spent the next year or so (off and on – life gets intrusive) writing the book on Christian living. A few months into the process, I got bogged down in the content, took a giant step back and started a new document, making massive changes to the organization. I began copying the content from the old document into the new, with a totally new approach.
I felt like I was starting over.
I continued writing and worked on the Christian living book for months and at this point, I’m more than halfway finished with it.
But in December, I hit a wall.
(And it was early December, nearly a month before my mother’s death, so I didn’t see a connection – maybe God was preparing me, but at that time, I didn’t see it)
Everything I wrote, I either deleted or set aside in a supplemental document named “notes.” More often than not, I didn’t write anything at all, but instead, sat with my fingers hovering over the home keys, staring blankly at the computer screen. After a few frustrating weeks of unproductive effort, I stopped writing altogether.
No idea was good. I was paralyzed. stuck. the dreaded writer’s block.
Then, last week, saturated in the awareness of impending life changes on multiple fronts, I spent some time staring blankly out the window instead of at the computer screen. I prayed a little and listened a LOT, begging God to direct me.
Let me just say right now: “Be careful what you pray for.”
fer cyrin out loud. no wonder.
I’ve been writing the wrong book.
I need to be working on the spiritual growth book first. By writing the book on Christian living, I was putting the cart before the horse. Without a reason for Christian living, what’s the point? There was no foundation. No motivation.
“Christian living” is empty and meaningless on its own.
So I’ve put the Christian living book away. Haven’t opened it in weeks. Yesterday, I finished the draft of the introduction to the spiritual growth book.
I feel like I’m starting over.
fer cryin out loud.
Just pinned this on my pinterest.com board entitled “wrong” with the caption “There may very well be more than a million better ways to combat childhood obesity than these ads.” (this photo is embedded – I did not upload it to this page)
I became aware of the ads because Jillian Michaels shared one of the photos on her facebook page and asked for people to “weigh in.”
I showed this photo to 11 year old PinkGirl and asked her what she would think if she saw them on a billboard.
“Those kids probably feel horrible and honestly, I don’t see how these would change anything.”
I’ve stuck my nose in this one.
[BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER, PLEASE LET ME DISCOURAGE YOU FROM POSTING ANY COMMENTS ON THE FB PAGE OF THE ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS “CAMPAIGN.” IF YOU WANT TO POST ANY COMMENTS, PLEASE DO SO ON JILLIAN MICHAELS FACEBOOK PAGE INSTEAD. THEY ARE READING THE COMMENTS ON JILLIAN’S PAGE. THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS PROMOTE THIS ORGANIZATION. IF YOU “Like” OR COMMENT ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE, I WILL CONSIDER THIS POST A FAIL.]
That said, I did comment on their page – BUT I did NOT “Like” the page. Here’s my first comment:
It’s clear that [stopchildhoodobesity] has good intentions. However, in communication, intention is irrelevant. The true measure of success in communicating your message is how it is being encoded and decoded (sent and received) . Are you watching what’s happening on Jillian Michaels facebook page in response to this ad? Over 3100 comments before I started writing this one on your page. Up 100 more as I finish. If your intention is to be effective, don’t dismiss people who aren’t responding favorably to your approach by telling them to focus on solutions instead. [stopchildhoodobesity] is in a position to gain quite a bit of support here. Praying for a powerful turnaround to this.
They didn’t respond to my comment and it seems they were unaware of what was happening on Jillian’s page. About an hour later, they posted a status update thanking Jillian Michaels for “joining the conversation” and explained that it was “hard to judge the purpose of the ads if you are not in Atlanta seeing them first-hand.” They further justified the ads by saying “The intention was to start a conversation and it worked.”
really? They thanked her? Did they not read the (at that time, more than 3500) comments on her page?
Then, someone commented on their update by saying:
“I’m in full support of what [sco] is doing & to have a woman as powerful as Jillian Michaels on board, it only re-affirms [sco]’s positive campaign…”
“positive” campaign? I usually ignore ignorance, but after that comment, I just couldn’t, in good conscience, just click away. Here’s my comment on that update:
[to commenter] Jillian Michaels is NOT “on board” with this and I hope [stopchildhoodobesity] doesn’t mislead people by allowing them to think she supports them when it isn’t true.
[stopchildhoodobesity] – Atlanta does not have a culture the rest of America doesn’t understand. If your intent was to start a conversation, your job is done. Once people have identified with an issue, they need direction and help to take ACTION. Jillian Michaels focuses on solutions, not conversation. And she does so with compassion and empathy.
Please consider consulting a professional PR person to protect your reputation. You are on the cusp of a big PR mistake.
They responded with this comment:
“This post was to thank Jillian Michaels for joining the conversation about childhood obesity and share the “Stop the Cycle” video to further the conversation.”
They still don’t get it.
This organization REALLY needs the help of a professional PR person. They are losing credibility by the minute. It’s only been a few hours and the photo on Jillian’s fb page has over 4000 comments – written by some of Jillian’s 1,165,161 facebook fans – NOT Jillian. She did NOT join the conversation.
Praying that [stopchildhoodobesity] will ABANDON this campaign and redirect their efforts and resources in a more positive direction. One which focuses on SOLUTIONS.
That’s what FavoriteSon is calling it.
I’m trying to consume more calories on a daily basis. Sounds crazy. I know.
But the truth is, left on my own, I forget to eat. (CLICK HERE to read why.)
Case in point? I downloaded the “myfitnesspal” app and have been tracking my calorie intake since Wednesday, February 8th. On that day, my net intake was 820 calories.
820 calories?! I know. NOT good. I had no idea.
I say “net” intake because myfitnesspal calculates the calories expended and factors them in. Since my knee is better, I’m back to exercising every day. (My treadmill readouts actually indicate I’m burning more calories than myfitnesspal says I am, but I’m sticking with myfitnesspal or these numbers would be even worse.)
How did I even discover this? I walked 30 miles in 6 days and didn’t lose an OUNCE. Not ONE ounce.
myfitnesspal described it like this:
“Based on your total calories consumed for today, you are eating too few calories. Not only is it difficult to receive adequate nutrition at these calories levels, but you could also be putting your body into starvation mode. Starvation mode lowers your metabolism and makes weight loss more difficult. We suggest increasing your calorie consumption to 1200 calories per day minimum.”
After I injured my knee on December 2nd, I had to cut back on my exercise and I gained a few pounds. By the end of January, my knee was feeling much better so I set a challenging fitness goal for myself. I wanted to walk an average of a mile a day for the month of January. Problem is, since I didn’t set the goal until January 26th, that meant I had to walk 30 miles in 6 days.
When I didn’t lose even an OUNCE, I knew what my problem was. My brother-in-law,
a fitness trainer had already explained it to me. I just hadn’t been motivated to do anything about it.
Until I had to dig out my fat pants. I couldn’t fit comfortably in my clothes anymore and I had to move up a size in order to breathe when I sat down.
I set that freakish 30 mile goal to jumpstart a little weight loss.
THIRTY MILES and NOTHING? That just ticked me off.
So I downloaded myfitnesspal . . . and a new reminder app. I set multiple alarms on my phone and android tablet to remind me to eat. I already had an app, but its capabilities were too limited.
Here’s how my week played out:
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1351
Exercise: -531 [Walked 3.5 (4.5% incline) miles]
Net Calories: 820
Thursday, I did better:
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1397
Exercise: -289 [Walked 2 (4.5% incline) miles]
Net Calories: 1108
And yes, I did notice that the reason I did better is because I exercised less. That’s not going to be my long term solution to this problem. I need to eat more.
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1588
Exercise: -651 [1 Hour Yoga, Walked 3 (4.5% incline) miles]
Net Calories: 937
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1085
Exercise: -437 [Walked 3 incline miles (2 @ 4.5% incline 1 @ 5% incline]
Net Calories: 648
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1152
Exercise: -367 [Walked 2.5 (4.5% incline) miles]
Net Calories: 785
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1439
Exercise: -123 [1 Hour Yoga]
Net Calories: 1316
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1784
Exercise: -286 [Walked 2 (4.5% incline) miles]
Net Calories: 1498
Goal Intake: 1200
Actual Intake: 1425
Exercise: -593 [1 Hour Yoga, Walked 3 (5% incline) miles]
Net Calories: 832
So how’s it working out? I started a week ago today and I’ve lost 3 pounds.
I realize my days have been pretty inconsistent, but I’m much more aware of my nutrition, so that’s progress! And although I HATE counting calories, myfitnesspal makes it pretty easy. FirstHusband joined too, so we’re tracking together. And the phone alarms are really helping. Hopefully, this new routine will develop into a habit and I won’t have to pay so much attention to all this.
I’m DETERMINED to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with!
10am alarm just went off. I’m supposed to eat a snack now. bleh. I’ll do it, but bleh.
Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Edition arrived in the mail today, which we always toss before FavoriteSon even sees it.
PinkGirl spotted it on the counter and opened it up:
“WHOA! WHERE’S HER BATHING SUIT?!!”
PinkGirl: “Hey, here’s one that’s not so bad.”
Me: “Is it the green M&M?”
no. It was just a Nautica ad.
Seriously. Why do they not mail this thing in a plain brown envelope?
(We’re not cancelling our subscription over it, we’ve chosen to throw that one issue away every year.)
My pastor asked a question yesterday morning:
“Are you standing at the boundary between what you can accomplish on your own naturally and what God can accomplish THROUGH you supernaturally?”
yes. yes, I am.
Logic says, avoid risk.
Fear says, avoid change.
Above the voices of logic and fear, I can still hear God’s small, still voice saying “Trust me.”
I don’t usually have the courage to give up something good, in order to make room in my life for something better. I don’t often have the courage to say no to the immediate good in order to make room for the long term better.
(cryptic, I know. but I’m not ready to talk about the details, so this is all you’re gonna get right now.)
Of course, when I can clearly see the “better” that God has for me, it’s SO much easier to take the big step away from the old and toward the new.
The problem comes when what’s next is nowhere in my line of sight when I should be giving up the “good” thing. I tend to ignore the subtle hints God supplies me with, only to see them in hindsight.
And then there’s trying to discern if the thing that is so logically and clearly “something better” only seems like better, but is really Satan trying to derail me because I’m on actually track with what God’s equipping me to do.
It’s possible there’s a hint the size of an elephant in the room. I’m ignoring it. (Who am I kidding? Elephants might be quiet, but they tend to stink up the place.) It’s possible Satan is waving a shiny thing in my peripheral vision.
In the past, God has had to take away the “good” thing. And, in the process, pry my white knuckled fingers off of whatever it is I’m clinging to.
This is especially difficult when there weren’t any hints, or when I’ve been ignoring them. I don’t like it when I’m blindsided with change.
And then there’s the waiting for “next.”
I really hate it when that happens.
Praying for discernment. And for the Lord to provide an answer to a question in a very specific, supernatural way.
I’m trying not to place my human limitations on God. Because He can do ANYthing. And I would rather play a small part in His story that the main character of my own.
Yesterday, I went back to yoga for the first time since tearing my MCL on December 2nd. My knee has been feeling pretty good, so I intentionally put on yoga shorts that morning. As the time to leave the house got closer, I debated. I was on a writing roll. If I stopped, I would lose momentum. and the coffee was so good. (Joffrey’s Jamaican Me Crazy)
LazyMe: “I don’t wanna go. I’m comfortable.”
AnnoyingMe: “Come on. After class is over, you’ll be glad you did it.”
AnnoyingMe: “What is it you always say? That you’re ‘striving to be a good steward of the body God has blessed you with?'”
LazyMe: ” It’s early. I’ve got all day. I can be a good steward later.”
AnnoyingMe: “Did you shave your legs for nothing?”
LazyMe: (sigh) “alright. I’m goin.”
Last night, I was really feeling the after-effects of this pose (below).
My whole body hurt – from holding it perfectly still for a total of just a few minutes.
Tonight, I’m feeling it even more.
There’s only one thing to do. Go back tomorrow.
When I published part of my testimony in my last blog post, “I never knew that what I was missing even existed.” I was concerned that some might take it to be a negative “review” of church. I feel like I need to clarify a little bit.
Although it may sound like my experiences in church were stumbling blocks in my spiritual growth, I believe everything I experienced in the churches I attended as I grew up were stepping stones which led me to the place and person I was when abandoned my fear and compartmentalized life in exchange for an intimate relationship with Christ that tends to evidence itself in my life in a transparent, and sometimes vulnerable way.
In 2007, when I read “The Taste of New Wine” by Keith Miller, I believe I was ready to receive the messages in that book. Around that time, I also read The Practice of the Presence of God (free on Amazon & B&N).
(If you’ve been around Compendium before, you know those weren’t the only two books I was reading at the time. When I’m learning something, I collect a stack of books on the subject and saturate myself with information from as many different perspectives as I can find. I take the information that resonates with me, that I can identify with, and it becomes part of me. I discard the rest, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently.)
When FirstHusband and I began attending a Methodist church 12 years ago, we already had a firm theological foundation and truth be told, we still say we are Baptist when asked, because our beliefs are more in line with Baptist doctrine. We were just trying to learn more about Methodist doctrine when we first began attending. We also believe the Methodist church has Biblical and theological foundation, it was just challenging to follow the bread crumbs. Now we know where to look (Book of Discipline).
When it comes right down to it, we wish the Methodist church were more evangelical. (see? there’s that Baptist showing again.)
But even if we had continued to attend Baptist churches, I think the active, prevalent faith I live out today is something I had to find on my own. I’m so thankful for Keith Miller’s book (and Brother Lawrence’s Practice the Presence) for opening my eyes, mind and heart to the idea that a relationship with Christ could be such an integral part of my life.
My goal now is to try and let others know how an intimate relationship with Christ can become an integral part of their lives, no matter what church they attend – or don’t.
When people asked me if I went to church, I said yes.
As a child, I believed all the Bible stories and I knew where to put every single felt Bible character on the flannel board. I knew all the words to “Now I lay me down to sleep” and “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our fud.” I even knew the sign language to the song “The B-I-B-L-E.” When I did go to Sunday School and we took turns reading aloud from the Bible, I knew to secretly skip ahead to “my” verse and rehearse it in my head so that when it was my turn I wouldn’t sound stupid. My family watched “The Ten Commandments” every Easter season and we never put the baby Jesus in our nativity set until Christmas Eve. I could recite the Lord’s Prayer by heart, could sing the doxology on cue and I even knew how to sing the first verse of Silent Night in German.
This is how I defined being a Christian.
When I was fifteen, I made a commitment to Christ. Looking back, I’m confident my decision was authentic, but I didn’t know how to disciple myself, so spiritual growth was inconsistent and confusing.
As a teenager and young adult trying to learn how to live out my new faith in my every day life, I found myself actively involved in fundamental Baptist churches, believing without question, everything I was told by well meaning teachers and volunteers. There was a lot of emphasis on rules. I began compiling an internal list of things “good” Christians should always do and an even longer list of things “good” Christians should never do.
Questioning religious authority was one of those “never do” things. Unacceptable. Expressed doubt equated to a lack of faith, or worse yet, evidence of sin. You might as well have sewn a big “H” on my forehead for “heretic.” I dared not ask too many questions for fear of landing on someone’s prayer list.
On the “What good Christians always do” list? All good Christians had quiet times and quiet time included Bible reading, note taking and prayer. Prayer was formulaic: the five finger method, the ACTS method. . . praying on our own was never encouraged – we might leave something out or our prayers might be too selfish. And quiet times were supposed to be first thing in the morning, preferably before sunrise.
I was consistently not a “good” Christian.
After over a decade of serving in and faithfully attending Baptist churches, my husband I walked away from the fundamental legalism – and ran from the unaccountable theocracy so prevalent in its leadership. After searching for a church for nearly 8 months, we found ourselves attending a Methodist church whose “Open minds, Open hearts, Open doors” motto meant that the answer to every theological question began with the precursor “It’s a matter of interpretation…” We found that for nearly every “set in stone” doctrinal stand the Baptist church had taken, there was a parallel “set in sand” interpretation by the Methodist church. The emphasis was on service. service. and more service. acceptance. tolerance. and more service.
Sure, I prayed. I read my Bible. I even had a prayer journal that I wrote in occasionally. I thanked God for His blessings nearly every day, asked Him for help when I needed something and engaged in the Christian “WHYne” when something bad happened in my life. I taught my kids a full CD of Bible songs, bought them Veggie Tale movies and prayed with them at the dinner table and every night as we tucked them in bed. We had family devotional books and we actually used them at bedtime and on the Sundays we skipped church. Sometimes. I was a moral person, a “good” person. When I didn’t get charged for an item at a store, I would go back inside to pay for it. Even in Christmas season when that meant waiting in line a second time. I was honest, I did good deeds, I sang solos in church and even had occasional stints attending Sunday School and Wednesday night services. I thanked God for good parking spaces and I laid fleeces for “big” decisions, not realizing that a fleece was really a big dice I was tossing in a desperate lack of faith.
But as a young married woman,
trying to learn how to relate to this guy I promised to love and live with for the rest of my life,
trying to raise responsible, happy kids who knew and loved God
trying to build a business while waiting for that moment when everyone figured out I had no idea what I was doing,
trying to fit in at church by appearing to be the person other people expected me to be,
I had compartmentalized my life, my time and even my thoughts. It was almost as if I were different people: a wife, a mother, a home manager, an entrepreneur, and church member. Not that each of those personas in my life were so vastly different from each other, it’s just that they didn’t overlap. I take that back. My home and work life overlapped. My home and church life overlapped. But my work and church life? NEVER. Church was religion and religion had no place in my work life. At least no comfortable place.
And notice I didn’t include “Christian” in that list. I said “church member.”
To make a 25 year story short, in October of 2007, I ended up with a worn copy of a book written in 1965 entitled “The Taste of New Wine” by Keith Miller and I discovered what I had been missing since the moment I accepted Christ.
I never knew that what I was missing even existed.
I realized it was possible to have an intimate, personal relationship with a living God. The kind of relationship that saturates my life, my days and my moments, regardless of where I am or who I’m with. A presence of God I’m so acutely aware of that I feel like I’m never alone. The kind of faith I can live out every day and not compromise in some cowardly attempt to make other people more comfortable. The kind of faith that leads me to intuitively consider people and situations from a bigger perspective than from my own skewed and limited vantage point. The kind of faith that has planted in me a desire to do everything I do “as unto the Lord” even when it’s as boring as loading the dishwasher or as unpleasant as interacting with a passive aggressive person. This authentic relationship doesn’t have much to do with church or religion. It’s much more intimate.
I was surprised to discover that when I began living out my faith, without condemnation of others who think and believe differently, they weren’t offended by my honesty. When they realized our differences didn’t freak me out or compel me to immediately and aggressively try and change their mind, it opened dialogs I never thought possible. I’ve been honored by the trust people have placed in me as they talk about their lives, their struggles and their faith – or lack of it. I don’t betray that trust. More and more, I find myself risking being rejected or ostracized by just being myself. I’m tearing down the walls of my compartmentalized personas and rebuilding on a foundational commitment to God that remains constant and crosses over into all areas of my life.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Keith Miller’s book, The Taste of New Wine, was the impetus for this life changing shift in my thoughts and actions. Through his authentic and vulnerable account of how God worked in his life to bring him to an authentic and bold faith, Keith taught me what living out my faith could look like in my own life. I learned it was possible to extend unconditional grace and never compromise my beliefs to make myself or others more comfortable. I learned that I could serve God every day as a missionary in my vocation and in the secular world, not just in the safety and comfort of my home and in the church where talk of God is accepted and expected.
The Taste of New Wine was one of those books that I couldn’t put down until I was finished. It’s one of those books that I can’t stop living until I’m finished.
Finished living, that is.
Keith Miller died of cancer on January 22, 2012 at the age of 84.
I got my miles in yesterday.
Treadmill readout showed:
1023 calories burned in
115 minutes and 34 seconds.
In case you are new or catching up and are wondering why anyone in their right mind would do that when they’re not training for a marathon or running from a bear, I’ve decided it’s because I’m tenacious.
Six days before the month was over, I decided I wanted to average walking 1 mile for each day of the month. Just because I can’t set reasonable goals doesn’t mean I can’t do math. That meant walking 30 miles in 6 days.
You’d think that I would walk 5 miles a day. You’d think that I would realize what taking Saturday off would to do my brilliant plan.
I walked 5 miles the first day, 5 miles the second day and ZERO miles the third day. That left 20 miles for the last three days of the month.
Here’s how it went:
Sunday: 7 Miles., 4% incline (didn’t keep track of the rest)
Monday: 7.02 miles, 4% incline, 1213 calories burned in a total of 131 minutes and 28 seconds.
Tuesday: 6.01 miles, 4% incline, 1023 calories burned in 115 minutes and 34 seconds.
I won’t lie. It was hard. I didn’t want to do it. I put it off all day. All three days.
I intentionally put my goal out on the internet – on my blog and on my facebook page, because accountability makes me stronger. Not because my prideful nature wouldn’t let me fail in front of everybody who thought my goals were crazy unreasonable. I’m tenacious, not stubborn, remember?
And for those of you who know I tore my MCL and strained my ACL on December 2nd, the knee is feeling good. I walked over 20 miles in December, now over 30 in January.
February is a new month. I need a new goal.
How about 2 miles a day? 58 miles it is. That should take me less than 40 minutes a day. Reasonable. Sustainable. Easier to make up if I want to take a Sunday off.
I’m also going to continue increasing the time on my forearm plank. I’m up to 2 minutes, 10 seconds. And I need to add some Supermans. because my back hurts. That means it’s not strong enough.
I’m DETERMINED to be a good steward of the body God has blessed me with!