Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rooted in Forgiveness

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“Let me tell you something: I am a man. A sob hit me somewhere around my ankles; it came surging upward…I was just bawling, as I hadn’t since I was a baby. ‘Meester Kinte!’ I just felt like I was weeping for all of history’s incredible atrocities against fellowmen, which seems to be mankind’s greatest flaw…” (Alex Haley, describing his journey back to his ancestor’s African village in Roots: The Saga of An American Family200px-Haley_roots

“Abolishing slavery settles the fate for all coming time, not only of the millions in bondage but of unborn millions to come. Shall we stop this bleeding? We must cure ourselves of slavery. This amendment is that cure. Here stepped out upon the world’s stage now with the fate of human dignity upon our hands. Blood’s been spilled to afford us this moment.” (Abraham Lincoln, from the movie “Lincoln”)

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“A confession, which…comes too late…It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.” (John Newton, former slave trader turned abolitionist) john newton

Last week I finished reading Alex Haley’s saga Roots. Then in Sunday’s sermon, John mentioned the slave-trading captain John Newton, who late in his life penned the words to what we now know as the song “Amazing Grace”. And yesterday, John and I went to see the movie “Lincoln”. Not surprisingly, my mind has been a muddle of questions about how mankind is capable of participating in — and tolerating — the wrongs committed against one another. How could they live with the guilty bloodstains on their souls?

The description of the conditions aboard slave ships is horrific. The separation from home and loved ones; the lack of warmth and nourishment, the rampant disease and widespread filth are conditions that are nearly unimaginable to someone like me who has never experienced true want or mistreatment.

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If my son / husband / father (or any of my loved ones) had been stolen, beaten, shackled, chained, starved, tortured, sold, forced into slavery, and humiliated, I don’t know that I could ever forgive the ones responsible.  Can God forgive them of such?

Could God forgive David of reckless adultery, or of plotting the violent murder of an innocent man? Could God forgive Saul/Paul of his participation in the violence against early Christians? Could God forgive the ones responsible for crucifying His Son, as Jesus asked Him to do? Can God forgive ME?

In the face of his shame David said “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” and “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit,” (Psalm 51). Despite the guilt he must have felt (and the temptation we often feel to deny ourselves forgiveness,) Paul said “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…” (Phil. 3:13-14). John said “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

I’m so thankful that anyone – ANYONE – can make the choice to turn from their past, be obedient to God and receive His forgiveness – even the worst slave-trader and murderer. And I’m so thankful that God is not like me, with my unforgiving, stubborn, prideful, grudge-holding tendencies. HIS grace and forgiveness are full and complete:

“The Lord is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:8-12

Amazing grace – how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see!

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Farewell to a Whirlpool

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After 26 ½ years of drying crisp new wedding gift bed sheets (no longer crisp OR new,) 80’s floral shoulder-padded dresses, big-collared empire-waisted maternity smocks, burp rags, onesies, rompers, little boy t-shirts and footie pajamas, 7800 pairs of jeans, 26000 pairs of socks and 6500 towels…our 26 ½ year old Whirlpool has dried its last load and gone on to that appliance graveyard in the pasture.

I’m trying to figure out how to invent a human dryer where we can tumble ourselves for 20 minutes on high and shrink three sizes. Wish me luck.

And if my new dryer lasts as long as my old one did, I’ll be 71 years old and John will be 74 when it kicks the bucket. WOW!

Conversations With Yourself

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At 5’3″ and 231 pounds, I was classified as “morbidly obese”. Whether or not I agree with that label is another story. But according to all the professionals, there it was in black and white, a body mass index of 40.9%.

Over the 25 years I spent being overweight (which I still am, by the way – according to the professionals) I often wished I could *see myself* at a healthier weight. Every new year I’d think “well, if I start in January and lose 8 pounds per month, I could be thin by Thanksgiving!” And then I’d fail to follow through, and Thanksgiving would roll around, and I’d still be hefty because all I did was THINK about it, and again I’d be ashamed of my lack of self-discipline.

There’s something about this commercial that really speaks to my heart.

I don’t know anything about Medifast. But personally, I think it’s good motivation to “visualize yourself” where you’d like to be. And in this commercial, in the two tearfully spoken words: “Good job!” – I sense her embarrassment over her current shape, her desire to accomplish her goal, her doubt over her ability to gain control, her hope that this time she’ll follow through, and the pride she knows she’ll feel when she does. Maybe I’m reading more into it than is really there, but I see me in her.

Back On the Wagon

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It’s cold. (Texas cold, anyway.) And John built a great fire, and we’ve been gone all day, and this morning I woke up with one of those headaches that just won’t go away, and it’s dark outside and The Biggest Loser is on and I have both Downton Abbeys on the DVR that I haven’t seen yet and REALLY want to watch and I need to finish some things to mail.

But we went to the gym anyway, and when we came back out the cold felt nice, and my headache was gone, and Downton will still be on my DVR and now I’m finishing the mail and the fire is still going AND I got four activity points and for the first time in a long time I actually tracked everything I ate today. Being back on the wagon feels good.

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A Fire Pit Would Have Been A Whole Lot Easier!

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Several weeks ago, Jake asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I’d been wishing for a really nice fire pit like Alice has in her back yard. (Of course, her back yard also has 100-foot pine trees – with bears occasionally in them, summertime highs of 60 degrees, a salty ocean scent, and views of snow-capped mountains to go with her crushed rock fire pit surrounded by really cool log stools to sit on. And her back yard has Alice, too, but I can’t have EVERYTHING!)

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So, I told Jake I wanted a back yard fire pit surrounded by crushed rock with really cool log stools (except I don’t think our scrawny cedar tree stumps would have quite the same effect) and twinkly lights in the trees like Bonnie’s.

Off we went to Lowe’s, where John was in hog heaven dreaming of all of the projects he could accomplish with unlimited time, patience, and money. He and Jake started pulling out bricks and stacking them in a circle, calculating how many they’d need and how high the pit should be and what color would look best and all of those boring details. It started looking like some serious money was going to go into a project I thought would cost MAYBE $75.

While we were there, I got to looking at tile and thinking “if we’re gonna spend THAT much money, we might as well spend a little more and get something that I REALLY need and want.” Our house was built in 1994. Vinyl flooring was standard in most kitchens, and I also made the most unfortunate choice of carpet in the dining room.

Carpet. In the dining room. With three boys. And their friends. And Joshua. And Grant Garrett spilling an entire plate of spaghetti sauce. And who knows how many football boys who didn’t ‘fess up to dripped pizza roll sauce. And several dog accidents. Need I say more?

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So, we decided to bite the bullet and pull the trigger and take the bull by the horns. Some expressed doubt (*cough*Doug*cough*) and others said things like “man, that killed me!” (*cough*Jonas*cough*) but those same people loaned tools and advice and space in a dumpster and a “YOU CAN DO IT” pat on the back (thanks Jonas! And Tim! And Darrell! And Bill! And Doug!)

And our kids. They were amazing. I can’t even say how much work they did – and did with a smile (except for the times that John and Jake butted heads because they are too much alike…) Jordan was a whiz with the tile saw and all of the angles that had to be figured. Jake muscled through that stubborn vinyl down to the bitter end, and Alyssa did a lot of dirty work with an iron, boiling water and a scraper. Erin was a grout master and always has vision for projects like this. Micah willingly helped with everything. I can’t say that the project itself was FUN, but it was FUN to be with all of our kids and laugh and make memories with them. John is a fabulous handyman – I’ve always admired the way he tackles a project, and he does things right the first time.

Yet…the project isn’t completely finished. I still have to seal the grout. John has to put new baseboards down. The carpet seam has to be re-stretched and tacked down. Our stove is still on the deck and fridge is still in the living room. There are still about 6 tiles that need to be laid in the pantry. And if this project is like some others in our history, it might be 2016 before some of these things get done. 😉

For those of you who have read this far and are wondering – what does this have to do with weight loss? Well, for one: laying tile for 8 hours earns you 35 points plus!

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And for another: my blog is about struggle, determination, and balance and I guarantee that those were all involved in this project.

But I have to laugh when I think of what Jake said a couple of days into the endeavor: “A fire pit would have been a WHOLE lot easier.”

Here are some “before” photos. Pardon the mess and don’t judge! 😉

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If you’ve ever wondered what’s underneath your carpet…here it is:

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SICK!!!

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And in case you wonder what you might find under your stove that hasn’t been moved in 17 years…here ya go:

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We had to cut the carpet to divide the living room from dining room. I was at work during this “no-turning-back” moment, so the guys handed off the scary job to Alyssa. 🙂

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Then, the really dirty work started. John thought the vinyl would come up easily. NOT. We hacked away at it, scraped, beat it, screamed at it, and seriously thought about TORCHING it. In the end, we had to sit a hot, steamy iron directly on every square inch of vinyl until it heated enough to be pulled away from the paper backing and adhesive below it. Then we had to pour boiling water on top of THAT mess and wait for it to soak in, then scrape it away with scrapers and chisels and any other sharp-edged tool we could find. This was HARD, and SWEATY, and SLOW, and AWFUL. Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach hurt. 😉

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My glamour shot: I was tired. It was late. 🙂


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No yuppie women here! 🙂

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Hanes, anyone?

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HINT: If you have to ruin some irons, get them from Goodwill for $3.99.

Well, we finally got the floor uncovered, but found that the builders had spray painted the trim on the concrete floor so we worried that the paint would have to come up before the thinset would adhere. Thankfully – Bill said it would be fine as it was.

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Next John “popped a line” of chalk to get a straight line to start thinking about laying the tile. We had originally thought we’d lay it in straight vertical (or horizontal?) rows but John’s friend Darrell (who does a lot of tile work) said that while laying it diagonally would mean more cuts and more work, we would like the results better.

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The first bit of mortar (or whatever it’s called…) in the kitchen/dining room is laid…

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Awww.
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Lots of cutting and figuring:

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2013-01-03 001 2013-01-03 002(Kim would be proud that John knows how to use a quilting tool.) 😉

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And THIS picture was taken after we got home from the New Year’s Eve party, about 1 a.m.:

2012-12-31 001 2012-12-31 006It started to take off!

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John didn’t want to lay the tile diagonally in the laundry room because there would’ve been too many cuts and wasted tile. So we decided to put a fun transition piece between the kitchen and laundry (and also between the game room and dining room.)

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This is my favorite part!

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No BUTTS about it…this was a tough project! 😉

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Had to crawl through a few windows…

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And make a few tricky moves:

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We made a *few* Home Depot runs…

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And the grouting started. Isn’t she pretty?

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John did a lot of “figgerin'” in his head. Which is funny to look at but is really smart, because as your momma and daddy always told you… “If you do it right the first time, you don’t have to do it again!”

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The LAST TILE! (Well, except for those few little ones in the laundry room.) Hint: save the last pieces for the ones that won’t show (under the stove, etc.) because by then you almost won’t CARE what it looks like. 😉

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Grouting the kitchen/dining:

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MESSY.

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And the (almost) finished result!

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I sure do love these people!

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Thanks for letting me share! I know it’s certainly not the biggest or most amazing or fantastic project, but we are pretty excited about it! A fire pit may have been easier, but this is A WHOLE LOT BETTER!