Category Archives: Hard Work

Camp

Standard

When Micah was little bitty, he and I stayed home while John took Jordan and Jake with him to camp. Not being much of the outdoorsy, adventurous type, I preferred to stay in the relatively bug-free air-conditioned comfort of home. I never quite “got” why John and the big boys seemed to be so changed – on a higher plane, if you will – when they returned home.  But I get it now.

By the time Micah was about five years old, John and the big boys were begging us to come along and make it a family experience. My choices seemed to be (1) have another baby in order to stay home from camp, or (2) go to camp. Since the first option seemed a bit extreme, I decided to bite the bullet and spend a week at Camp Hensel.

Hensel, for those of you who haven’t experienced it, is not quite a five-star resort. It isn’t the Marriott. It’s not the Holiday Inn Express. It’s not even Motel 6. It’s more along the lines of the Bates Motel. Let’s just say Hensel has been around for a long time – so long, in fact, that I think some of the bugs stuck between the windows and rusty screens of Cabin 2 have been there since before I went as a child in the 70’s. The shower house for the boys is something straight out of the House of Torment: rusty nails, scary spiders and all. The Road House has a raccoon family in residence.  So I am firmly convinced, every year that our group returns relatively unscathed from a week at Hensel, that God has kept His protective hand over us.

Yes, there is heat. Oppressive, humid, sweaty heat. And bugs. And dirt – lots of dirt.  Shower shoes are a must. People tend to smell a little musty during their week at Hensel. We may occasionally get a teensy bit irritable. And maybe it’s because we only get about four hours of sleep each night.

BUT! There are the absolute best people in the world. A week spent away from the cares of the world and focusing on what is truly important. Lessons rich from the word of God, from men who have a gift for imparting His message. Meals eaten side by side with some of our best friends in the world. God’s beautiful creation evident all around us.

There are little boys (most likely wearing the same clothes for three days straight) whose ratty bed-head is absolutely adorable . Little girls who run around hand in hand, like these two:

2013-06-13 002 2013-06-13 003

There is time to bond with young men and women – away from their telephones and iPads and any other electronic device. I  find it fascinating that they often come into the cabin on Sunday afternoon with a reserved demeanor (and sometimes downright distrust,) but by the end of the week they run to you with open arms, because the powerful word of God has entered into their hearts, and because we have been given the opportunity to show them that we truly care about them. These were most of mine and Denise’s girls this week – how I love each of these young women!

2013-06-14 001 2013-06-14 002

There are times to pray, alone and together. Times to catch a glimpse into the sweet relationships between mothers and daughters; fathers and sons. Time to reflect on how blessed we are to be able to minister to others and for them to minister to us.

2013-06-11 001 2013-06-11 004

And the singing! Can you imagine nearly 250 (dirty, sweaty) people crowded into a medium sized (un-air-conditioned) dining hall, windows and doors closed (because the acoustics are better) and singing for an hour? Andy Baker always encourages and reminds us to concentrate on the words of the songs and remember to Whom we are singing. This must be what heaven sounds like.

2013-06-14 001 2013-06-14 005

The most beautiful sight was to see the compassion and care from so many when an individual had the courage to step forward and ask for prayers. They were immediately surrounded by so many – and not just their closest friends, but people they may not have known so well. What an amazing group of tender-hearted young people we spent the week with! I saw God in their compassionate, sympathetic tears.

2013-06-13 001 2013-06-13 006

If you haven’t been, it’s hard to explain, and I hope someday you’ll know. I know we aren’t alone with our experience at Hensel – other camps provide the same experiences as well. I only wish that everyone could spend a week away, digging deep into God’s truths and retreating from the world.

Some of my favorite quotes from the week:

“When God uses you as His instrument, it doesn’t matter if you’re outnumbered.” Todd Crayton

“The Bible never gives us something to subtract from our lives without giving us something to add in its place.” Andy Baker

“If you’re against God, who can be FOR you?…Going to heaven is not easy, y’all, but going to heaven is worth it.” Mike Bonner

After a young lady had responded, Wayne Jones said that “her tears are a reflection of her heart.” What a beautiful statement.

When we arrived at Hensel, a dead feral hog was discovered in a stand of trees near the creek. Each time we walked to the creek for a baptism, the odor was overpowering. But John pointed out, in yet another teachable moment, that it was the “smell of death – and we don’t bury living people. In baptism, we die to our sins, are buried, and raised to walk in newness of life.” 2013-06-12 002 2013-06-12 011

I overheard Michaela Bonner comforting a fellow camper (whose grandmother is near death,) saying “You’ll see her again someday, and you’ll be even happier than you are now!”

We laughed a lot, too. A LOT.  Gretchen said “If you tried to stop some girls from talking, their heads would explode!” There are too many funny things that our girls said this week for me to record – and anyway, they’re just between us girls. 🙂

Coming home from camp is so bittersweet. I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed. Not have to stand in the sun with 250 people before I eat. Not have to wait in a line of 100 people to eat lunch. Sit with my elbows on the table. Have the bathroom to myself.

But I’m going to miss my brothers and sisters. Back to living in the world – a world that needs Christian light. And hopefully we have all better prepared ourselves, and those with whom we spent the week, to reflect the light of Jesus to a lost and dying world. I’m praying for those young people who have to face reality again. I’m praying that they’ll remember the strength and encouragement they received at camp when they’re faced with inevitable temptation.

I’m glad my boys all encouraged me to experience camp with them. It’s been life changing. I hope you’ll someday have your life changed, as well.

Advertisements

A Fire Pit Would Have Been A Whole Lot Easier!

Standard

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!)

2012-06-02 038

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?

scream

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!

2012-12-29 001 2012-12-29 001

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! 😉

2012-12-28 002 2012-12-28 003

2012-12-28 002 2012-12-28 002

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 021

2012-12-28 002 2012-12-28 001

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

2012-12-28 002 2012-12-28 005

SICK!!!

new-adult-scream-mask-zoom

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

2012-12-28 002 2012-12-28 006

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. 🙂

2012-12-28 002 2012-12-28 007

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. 😉

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 001

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 002

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 004

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


2012-12-28 001 2012-12-28 002

2012-12-28 001 2012-12-28 001

No yuppie women here! 🙂

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 003

Hanes, anyone?

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 005

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 006

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 011

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.

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 007

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 001

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.

2012-12-29 002 2012-12-29 008

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

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 006

Awww.
2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 009

Lots of cutting and figuring:

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 004

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

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 005Of course it had to be nasty, cold and rainy while this project was going on…

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!

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 005

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 007

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 011

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.)

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 003

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 014

This is my favorite part!

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 015

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

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 0122013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 016

Had to crawl through a few windows…

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 009

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 008

And make a few tricky moves:

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 017

We made a *few* Home Depot runs…

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 001

And the grouting started. Isn’t she pretty?

2013-01-01 001 2013-01-01 010

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!”

2013-01-02 001 2013-01-02 001

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. 😉

2013-01-03 001 2013-01-03 006

Grouting the kitchen/dining:

2013-01-03 001 2013-01-03 001

MESSY.

2013-01-04 002 2013-01-04 001

And the (almost) finished result!

2013-01-04 001 2013-01-04 006

2013-01-04 001 2013-01-04 007

2013-01-04 001 2013-01-04 005

I sure do love these people!

2012-12-31 001 2012-12-31 004

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!

Hobbits Shouldn’t Take Shortcuts, and Neither Should I

Standard

the-hobbit-poster (1)

“There were many paths that led up into those mountains, and many passes over them. But most of the paths were cheats and deceptions and led nowhere or to bad ends; and most of the passes were infested by evil things and dreadful dangers. The dwarves and the hobbit, helped by the wise advice of Elrond and the knowledge and memory of Gandalf, took the right road to the right pass.” J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve been reading The Hobbit while puffing away on the elliptical machine, making it a much more enjoyable experience. Confession: I’ve never read any of the Lord of the Rings books (Gasp! And for that matter, I’ve ALSO never read any Jane Austen!)

Now that I’ve lost all of your respect, let me move on.

Those few sentences made me stop (not really, I kept puffing away…) and think. There are so many life applications! Here is one: there are a lot of ways to lose a few pounds. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, HCG,  and Gastric Bypass to name just a few.

(Remember Richard Simmons’s Deal-A-Meal? and Susan Powter?)

I don’t want to be a snob, but I really do believe that there is no shortcut: no easy, quick, painless way to lose weight and keep it off.  Some of the methods you hear about really are just cheats and deceptions. Some are even dangerous. I think it’s smart to have wise advice and knowledge from people who know what they’re talking about.

And a much more important application. There are many man-made “paths” and “passes” in the religious world. They are cheats, deceptive, evil and dreadful.  Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) He also said “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9) And, He said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

No shortcuts for me. I want to take the right road to the right pass – I want to follow the One who knows what He’s talking about.

Food log today: 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 10 almonds for breakfast. I ran out of ham AND Pam, so my egg stuck to the pan. 😦 We had lunch at Mama Fu’s – I had about 1/4 cup of egg drop soup, 2 steamed potstickers, and 1/2 of my chicken broccoli plate. Supper was a big spinach salad with 2 tsp sunflower seeds and 2 tsp Olive Garden dressing, 2 ounces of yesterday’s leftover meatloaf, and some pita chips and hummus. And I had a teaspoon of peanut butter when we got home from the gym. 🙂

Pray.

Standard

John prayed for me to lose weight. I guess some women might find that offensive…and I guess if I thought he was asking God to turn me into Angelina Jolie, I might have been offended. (And because he knows what’s good for him, he was careful how he told me.)

I knew he was asking God to help me be healthier. But it caught me a little by surprise, because I tend to think that God has much bigger things to pay attention to than “Carla’s struggle with fat.” The more I thought about it, though, the more comfort I felt. There is no anxiety too small or too large that can’t be given over to Him, because He cares for me and you. I read that in 1 Peter 5, and tell other people about it, and I need to remember that it applies to me, too.

People I love

I put that picture in the middle there to distract you from my food log for the day, because my determination was low, and my struggle was high. For breakfast I had a few cocoa roasted almonds, 2 ounces of Boar’s Head ham, and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. That’s pretty much the end of the determination. Lunch and supper consisted of two Mexican food places: Garcias and Trudy’s.  Garcia’s = chips. I had two cheese enchiladas and about 1/4 cup each of rice and beans. And chips. At Trudy’s I had two smoked chicken tacos. (Man, I wish I could re-create those smoked chicken tacos at home!) And chips.

I bet even Angelina Jolie wouldn’t be able to resist Garcia’s chips.

Hefty.

Standard

Hefty. According to Webster: “quite heavy. Marked by bigness, bulk, and unusual strength. Impressively large.” Not particularly the way I wished to be seen. As tempting as it sounds, I never had the desire to be impressively large. But two years ago, a dear old man, in a passing comment, referred to me as HEFTY. 

It wasn’t one of those “a-HA!” moments, where I jumped out of my chair and yelled “That’s IT! I’ve had it with being fat!” Instead, I let it roll off, knowing he didn’t mean to be unkind, knowing that it was what it was: truth.

I wasted nearly 25 years being hefty. My size never really went up and down, I just went up and stayed up. I love to cook, love to bake, love to create, love to feed my family, love to make them happy with food, love to eat with them. So after John and I married, I began fixing all of our favorite things: mainly pasta, bread, potatoes – all that good stuff! The first thirty pounds piled on during our first year, and the next 60 happily jumped on the bandwagon.

Let me just say here that I did not dislike myself. John never made me feel unattractive or unworthy or unloved. I knew and trusted in the fact that my Heavenly Father saw my heart. But I just did not have any self-respect. And I don’t think that was all tied up in how much I weighed, but the lack of self-respect came from knowing what I needed to do, but refusing to do it.

I couldn’t cross my legs. I couldn’t get clothes out of the dryer without losing my breath. My footsteps sounded like an elephant’s on our wooden deck. Airplane seat belts barely fit. I had to get a rolling start to get out of bed. Standing at the sink hurt my back. I was afraid to sit in folding chairs. I hated pictures of myself. I never felt dainty.  I skipped the magazine articles talking about diabetes and heart disease. Walking past a glass storefront, I was horrified to realize that the “hefty” person walking past was ME.  I weighed 231 pounds. On a 5’3″ frame. TWO. HUNDRED. THIRTY. ONE. POUNDS. It still hurts for me to admit that.

Almost two years ago I purchased a 90 day trial app on my phone for Weight Watchers. As I sat at the kitchen table learning to use the app, Micah walked in the door with a Double Dave’s pizza roll. I ate it, savoring each bite, and then the following day, January 16, 2011, I began keeping track of what I ate. The first few weeks I lost four, five, or even six pounds at a time. By June I had lost 40 pounds. The next 35 came off over the next 9 months. Each week that I lost was motivating to me. But I have slammed into the wall of reality: my fat is not really gone, it’s just hovering nearby, waiting to come home.

Have you played the Angry Birds Star Wars game yet? There is a force field in space, and Darth Pig is holding the little piggies floating paralyzed in his death grip. If you break the force field, gravity returns and the piggies come rushing back to the planet. And that’s how I feel about me and my fat – every day finds me struggling to maintain the force field and keep the fat away.

Which brings me to today. My initial goal was to weigh 150 pounds. I thought I’d just get that far, and see if I still wanted to continue. Supposedly, my ideal weight is somewhere between 107 and 135. I weighed more than 107 pounds in MIDDLE school, for crying out loud. I’m not aiming to be skeletal, just healthy. So….I haven’t made it to my original goal yet. I’ve danced around it, hovered above it, flirted with it, but that 1-5-0 remains elusive. Depending on which scale I use, I seesaw between 153 and 157 pounds. Hey, let’s just be honest. The scale at the gym says I weigh 159. But that’s with my tennis shoes on, so I get to subtract four pounds for those, right?

I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging about my determination (or lack thereof) and struggle. Maybe if I commit to publicly confessing what I eat, I’ll be more diligent about making better choices. Which is why I didn’t start this blog a couple of days ago: I would’ve had to confess to eating one of Jordan & Erin’s fried cheese sticks, and a nice, hot, buttery roll from Logan’s Roadhouse (among a few other things.)

I know the majority of you out there may be groaning – even those of you who have made it this far through my ramblings – don’t really CARE that much. Feel free to laugh at me and never read another word. I’m really writing this for me. And the truth is, there are other things in life that are so much more important than numbers on a scale. Our souls may have no earthly weight, but they are eternally weighty, and THAT is my main focus in life.

So, while I may still be considered pleasingly plump or a little bit tubby, that’s okay. I’m just aiming for a little bit less, and no “moore” of me, please.