Streaks Habit 3 – Feed Your Soul

0302171439a

March 2017 – 260.6 pounds

It’s time for a regress…ahem…progress picture. If you have lost weight and regained it recently, you’re not alone! I’m at 260.6. That means I’m down a total of 15 pounds total. What a tiny number list compared to my lowest weight just last year (it was 40 pounds lost).

I “knew” when I started all of this in December 2014 that it would be a lasting change. I would “never” go back to my old ways. Well, as odd as it may seem looking at the numbers, I think I was right.

It’s tempting to see all of my efforts in the last 2+ years as pointless. Yes, I’m frustrated about the weight gain. Yes, I thought I’d be nearing the elusive, shiny goal weight. Or, at least leaving the 200’s…I mean, come on. But, I’m coming out the other side of this feeling more at ease about who I am and more likely to take care of myself.

 

 

One of the habits I’ve been tracking on the Streaks app I’ve titled “Feed Your Soul.” There is a profound reason why God compares food with His word and His Son.

No matter how hard I try to be self sufficient, I am an infinitely weak and needy creature. I need food to live (along with things like water, air, Netflix, etc.). There’s no way around it. Not only do I have to depend on God for food, but I desperately need God Himself to sustain my life and my soul. I need to see Him and know Him to keep going in this life and forever.

I didn’t included this in my habit tracking because my life will be perfect if I spend time in the Bible or I will instantly lose 100 pounds if I am in constant prayer. Crazy things will happen no matter what, but when I’m grounded in Jesus and my identity is found in Him, I make better decisions moment by moment.

Even though I’ve regained some weight, I’ve learned some powerful lessons over the past couple of years. I’ve learned that my weight and weight loss are not who I am. I’m not defined by my  interests. I’m (thankfully) not my ability, or lack thereof, to grow tomatoes, make homemade gnocchi, take care of my hair, or swing a kettlebell.

As I press into my struggles to improve my health, I find that my weakness is not necessarily negative. If I’m filling up on Jesus and the word of God, it points to my need for Him. If I can’t do it, He gets all the glory. And, that is the point.

 

Advertisements

It’s Not About the Flowers

1011160923

My beautiful flowers from my husband on my desk at work.

One of wonderful things I inherited from my mom is the ability to pick a great gift. She has always been a master at this. For my brother’s birthday one year, my parents bought him a Sega Genesis. My mom put Sonic 2 inside a box for Reader Rabbit 2, wrapped it up, and gave it to my brother. Imagine the look on his face when he unwrapped it…and then when he opened it! Epic.

With all of the effort that goes into picking out a gift when someone’s really invested in the process, I love how it symbolizes so much more than that. The best gift exchange says, “I care about you,” “I see you,” “I’m thinking about you.” It’s about the connection to the giver.

For instance, my husband brought me flowers at work today for my birthday. They are gorgeous and smelled amazing. But, I didn’t start sobbing because of the flowers (I know…I’m an emotional mess). It was because of how grateful I am to have a husband who loves me so much.

 

Not only that, but gifts like these point me to my Heavenly Father who is the reason I have a wonderful husband and so much more. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and the like are so good for me. I so easily take things for granted when I’m caught up in the day to day routine. I need to be reminded of the joy I have and the good gifts that surround me.

When I’m grateful, my heart is focused on my Creator instead of being distracted by His creation. Also, when I’m grateful for the body God has given me, I’m more likely to take care of it. Often, I think that healthy eating means doing my best to take all joy out of food. However, I’m free to enjoy things like my free Biggby coffee I have coming when I do so as I honor the Giver above the the gift. In the end, it’s not about the flowers or the coffee. It’s about a God who loves me more than I can imagine.

My Own Little White World – A Final Letter

letter-447577_640

Dear White American Christian friends,

Now that you know my story, I need to be honest with you. We have major work to do. Some of us are entering the conversation way too late in the game. Sure, we might have lived through the police brutality against Rodney King and the racial tension associated with the OJ trial. But, maybe we didn’t feel the weight of it. Maybe we didn’t understand the whole story or see the big picture. As a detail-focused gal, I get it.

But, if you haven’t started looking deeper into the state of racial division and injustice in our country and church, do it now. You can’t ignore it. It’s all over your Facebook feed and all over the news (if you know me personally and haven’t unfollowed me on Facebook, you’ve seen plenty about this from me).

This is not a left-wing or right-wing issue. This is a kingdom issue. This is a family issue. Our brothers and sisters in Christ who are people of color are hurting because of racism, both from individuals and from our broken system. It’s time to start listening.

Here is a great place to go for resources.

Start listening to our Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American brothers and sisters. White voices are important too, but, as a whole, we have been heard. We can’t get our entire education on race from Freedom Writers and The Help.

Spend time getting to know our nation’s history from a perspective other than those of White males. Don’t worry if you slept through history class. A lot of us are on an even playing field because this history hasn’t been taught well. We need historical context to truly understand what’s happening.

While you’re at it, learn about our God under the teaching of people who look different from you. Just to start you off, look into Soong-Chan Rah and Thabiti Anyabwile. Please don’t make the mistake of just learning about race and culture from them. Dig deeper and listen longer, and you will see the glory of God from a new perspective.

The racial divisions in the church go deep, but there are pockets of believers who are fighting hard for awareness, for justice, and for unity. As much as we need to listen, it’s also time for us to speak. Stand up for our fellow Christians and fellow humans who were made in God’s image.

Speaking up against racism can be exhausting, and we need to do whatever we can to help bear these burdens. I’ve seen God working in some of you on this issue. As you learn and listen with compassion and empathy, I pray God will use you to start softening hearts.

Sadly, there are some white Christians who may listen to you, but not listen to our brothers and sisters of other races. Please use your voice.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Becky

 

 

My Own Little White World – Part 3

KayK2

My dear friends Lindsey and Kay-K.

Even though people are divided on a lot these days, I think most will agree that there is something very wrong with our world. I went to a teach-in recently at Calvin College, and one of the speakers put it well by saying that sin is a great equalizer. To be honest, I need a break from it all. Today, I want to talk about what’s right in our world.

To start, let’s go back to around 2006/2007 (I’m so bad at timelines). Around this time, I started volunteering for the new youth group at church. A family needed a ride to youth group and the kid’s program on Wednesday nights, and I volunteered. As I got to know the kids, I found out that their family was originally from Sierra Leone and that they came to the United States as refugees. Spending time in their home – mostly because they were never ready to go when I got there 🙂 – gave me a glimpse into their family. I learned that their mom, my friend Watta, spoke Mende as her first language. I learned that a lot of their family was Muslim or had a Muslim influence on their beliefs. I learned I could often expect to find the rice cooker going and greens cooking on the stove. I learned about the tragic conflict in Sierra Leone that started in 1991. And, it was in this home that God taught me to listen carefully and love deeply.

Gradually, the Kellahs welcomed me into their family. I started hanging out at their house outside of youth group, taking the kids to the school playground to play basketball and volleyball, and helping them with their homework.

Graduation

The Kellah family at the college graduation for me and my friends Don and Melissa…not sure why I was looking away from the camera. Lol!

I have so many stories to tell. Like when Watta brought me to a bridal shower for someone I’d never met and had me navigate and wrap the gift in the car on the way (I’m terrible at both directions and gift wrapping). Or, Salia’s graduation party where I first saw a Sierra Leonean dance, ate fish heads, was called an African queen, and danced the night away. Keep in mind that I’m not the most coordinated person, so dancing the night away mostly meant tripping over my feet. 🙂 Kadiatu (Kay-K) and her cousin Mamie trying to teach me how to double dutch and the boys trying to no avail to teach me Soulja Boy. Weima taking the scarf off her neck and putting it around mine when I told her it was pretty.

Essa

Essa and I at a youth group camping trip.

Along with the laughs, there were some serious moments mixed in. There were conversations about our eternal hope when a man was shot just down the road. There was deep mourning when a friend of Essa’s passed away. There were complications and long waits when family members were trying to move to the area from Sierra Leone. There were the texts from Kay-K about her faith when she was at college. Then, there were the baptisms. I sobbed tears of joy for each one.

 

It was right, good, and beautiful for the Kellahs and their extended family to welcome me so fully. They have been there for me ever since. I’m sure I messed up sometimes, but I praise God for this family and their love and patience.

This is just one example of something that’s right in the world. God is at work and has been at work. Here are some other things I’ve seen that are right:

  • White Christians searching all over town and the internet to get Bibles in their friends’ first language.
  • A Filipino bishop inspiring Filipino youth (and me) to share Jesus in other cultural contexts.
  • A white grandpa holding his black grandson without claiming he doesn’t see his skin color, but instead seeing God’s beauty in it.
  • Ate Honey and my dear friends from Dagupan sending me words of encouragement from the other side of the world years after we’ve seen each other.
  • A Christian sister from Malaysia buying me a real dinner at a conference because she’d only seen me eat snacks in the volunteer lounge all week.
AteHoney

Me, Ate Honey (we stayed with her family when we visited churches in the Philippines), and Beth

ThePI

The youth group from Hope Dagupan in the Philippines.

ESL

A class picture from ESL at our church.

I could go on, and I praise God for that. While unity might be rare, it exists by the power of the Holy Spirit and the precious blood of Jesus. To Him alone be the glory.

My Own Little White World – Part 2

As I sift through my next set of memories, I am surprised that the ones that stand out the most involved TV and toys. We shopped at stores with a diverse clientele and occasionally ran into a black home school family, but most of the people I interacted with regularly other than my sister were white. Even though my mom worked hard to teach us a balanced view of history, most of my early education on race that I remember came from shows like Family Matters (sorry, Mom…).

Family Matters

While I spent my youngest years blissfully unaware of racial tension, this came to a crashing halt around age 5. That was the year they aired an episode of Family Matters called Fight the Good Fight written by Sara V. Finney and Vida Spears. It featured Laura leading a campaign to celebrate Black History Month at her school. When all seemed to be going well, she found a horrible note and the N-word spray painted on her locker. I know it made an impact, because I had to take a break after re-watching this scene and explain to our 6 year old why I was crying.

Ewing

This word came up again not too much later on a more personal level. I was crazy about sports, specifically the Indiana Pacers. By default, this meant that the New York Knicks were my arch enemy. When I was at my grandparents’ house once day, we were watching a Knicks game when my grandfather used the N-word when referring to Patrick Ewing. I remember feeling sick and confused. I didn’t understand how someone I loved and looked up to could be filled with so much hate.

AddyAnother important year of my life was 1993 when American Girl release the Addy doll. I devoured all of her books and was elated when I got the doll as a birthday gift. Her story was brought home even more when my history club spent a year studying the underground railroad. When I was sharing how much I loved Addy with one of my friends, she said something like, “I wouldn’t want an Addy doll. I like to think of my American Girl dolls as my children, and I can’t imagine having kids who don’t look like me.” I don’t remember if I responded, but in that moment I felt confused and deflated. My little 9 year old brain couldn’t comprehend why my friend couldn’t wrap her mind around owning an Addy doll.

 

I was only beginning to see the realities of the world, but I didn’t like them. Around the same time, Reggie Miller had a local talk show on TV. During every show, he recognized people who were making a difference in their community with an award. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with anyone, but at the time I daydreamed about winning that award for racial reconciliation. I didn’t know how to make a difference, and I still often don’t. I was not, am not, and never will be the answer. I just pray that the dream of that little girl would come true starting in the church so that the rest of the world will see Who is the answer.

My Own Little White World – Part 1

My Story

Hanging with the cousins – I’m the one in the blue dress, my sister is behind me, and my brother is in the bottom left corner.

As I read my Facebook and Twitter, I see many different perspectives on race and how it fits into our lives. In my heart, I know I have a lot to say about this topic, but I wonder what can I add to the conversation. All I can do is share my story. For those expecting to see a weight loss blog entry, please bear with me (my weigh-in this morning was 236.2 pounds in case you’re interested). As a blog writer, I’m convinced it would be a tragedy to say nothing. I have a small platform, but it’s time for me to step up to it.

As a Christian, I believe that every part of me and every part of you was intricately designed by God. Much of a Christian’s life seems to be spent figuring out what it means to live faithfully where He’s placed us, whether it is race, gender, culture, socioeconomic status, country of origin, time in history, family, skills, or personality. We serve a creative, intentional God who shows His glory in His creation. If you love God, please take the time to notice the beauty in the diversity of the people He created in His image. I beg you to spend time getting to know people who are different from you and try to see the world from their perspective. If not, you are missing out on seeing the goodness of God from so many different angles.

This is where I’m coming from, but how did I get here? It’s a long story, so I will only share part of it today. Everyone has an entry point to their development of racial identity. Mine was to working class white parents in a suburb of Indianapolis. They attended a fiercely independent Baptist church,  and they home schooled. In some ways, this set me up to be…let’s say quirky. It also set me up to be okay with standing against widespread beliefs and questioning how society and the church in America works.

My mom grew up in the southwest and had a daughter from a previous marriage to a Navajo man. My dad’s family moved from France to the hill country of Missouri and sang blue grass and Southern gospel together at their family gatherings. My dad adopted my sister when he married my mom, so I was born with an 11 year old sister who was half Navajo and half white and a 2 and a half year old brother who was white.

From birth, I had a role model who had darker skin, hair, and eyes than I did. I am aware that not everyone has this opportunity. When I was old enough to be mobile, I was the annoying little sister who sat outside her big sister’s locked door crying because I wanted to spend every second with her. When I started getting dolls, I wanted the white dolls with blonde hair, but I also wanted the black dolls (I don’t remember seeing any Latina, Asian or Native American dolls at the stores then).

Just having a biracial sister did not mean I was an instant expert on race, but it did mean that my impressions of people of other races started early in my life. Other than the usual sibling drama, these daily impressions were positive. It was through these lenses that I interpreted the things that I saw and heard people say. We’ll get to that next time.

 

Trading Good for Best

In two days, I will have my one year WordPress anniversary. This is my 77th post (which doesn’t include the handful in my drafts folder…contrary to popular belief, sometimes thoughts aren’t really worth sharing). On big days like this, it makes sense to take a step back and see the big picture. Big pictures are not always my strength. I tend to focus so much on the details that I forget why I was focused on them in the first place. They become ends in themselves instead of means to something greater.

During the past year, I’ve gotten this tunnel vision on a lot of things: weight loss podcasts, cleaning, hair care, gardening, Monster Legends (lol!), making food from scratch, and even writing a blog post every day for a month. All of these things can be good things when enjoyed from the security of finding my identity, sustenance, and foundation in Jesus. This was true for me some of the time. When I find that I’m investing too much time chasing after something else, I typically toss it out of my life (an appropriate choice for things like Monster Legends). It becomes tricky when those things are needed in every day life, like cleaning and hair care.

So, how do I as a Christian measure whether these things are taking a healthy place in my life? There are a couple of things that I’ve picked up from different places (like sermons, books, and workshops) that have been helpful for me to gauge whether something good or neutral is starting to take the place of what’s best.

  • What is driving my decisions in life? I’m a part of a Facebook community for people with wavy hair. It’s been a great resource for me to figure out the information that I ignored when I was an adolescent. However, there are some people who take pictures of their hair every day and post them on the group, fret about their decisions about what hair product will give their hair more or less ______ (fill in the blank), and schedule their lives around their hair. If my hair is driving my decisions, it is distracting me from what should be.
  • When I’m not thinking about anything, what do I think about? This just means, “What does my thinking naturally gravitate toward?” In Psalm 1:2 (and many other places in the Bible), it says that a person is blessed when “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” I want my thoughts to drift toward God all day long, not what I ate for breakfast or what steps I need to take to get my plants to survive.
  • I become what I behold. What am I beholding? I spent over a year listening to weight loss podcasts every chance I got. There were times when I stepped back and took a break from them, but in the grand scheme of things, I spent a lot of time beholding a certain weight loss philosophy perspective. It’s one that I happen to support and tend to agree with most of the time. When I spend that much time putting myself in front of one thing, it begins to shape how I think and act. While it’s not bad for someone who is trying to lose weight to study the habits of someone who has already lost the weight, it’s not the best thing for me as a Jesus follower to invest so much of my time in.

I’m not saying that I’ve wasted a year of my life. I’ve learned very necessary skills that I should have probably learned much earlier in life. I’ve developed a better mindset and perspective on weight loss and health. What I’m saying is that it’s time for me to focus on something greater. I’m tired of spending so much time looking in the mirror and at other people. I want to look into the face of Jesus, and, as I behold Him, I pray that I will become more like Him.

 

A Redeemed Body Image

0616160948

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Indianapolis. This was an interesting nutritional experience, since I mostly ate whatever I could find at my parents’ house and in the volunteer lounge (trail mix, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, chips, M & M’s, apples, etc.). Don’t worry, everyone, I’m on the road to recovery now.

Among other exciting things during my visit, I was pulled over by the police for a broken, but still working headlight.”What coalition?” was his question when he asked where I had been coming from. Apparently, coalitions are cause for suspicion. 🙂

While I was there, I heard a powerful speaker named K.A. Ellis. I didn’t get a chance to attend her workshop, so I listened to it at home. With a title like Living Our Theology as We Disciple Others, I didn’t expect to hear such a deep message about identity and body image in light of a creative, all-powerful God. Please listen to it if you get the chance.

Limits

life-863007_1280.jpgDuring my previous weight loss attempts, I loved to make absolute rules for myself. No desserts, no snacks, no beef or pork, no pizza. Any time a rule starts with “no,” I’m bound to break it soon. It’s like the ten commandments all over again.

Setting limits tends to work better for me. Instead of cutting out a food completely, I sometimes give myself boundaries that set me up for success with that food or an a certain event. For instance, when I go to parties or holidays, I might fill half my plate with veggies and fruit (I often bring veggies now to make sure this works) and then fill the other half with whatever I want. At Thanksgiving, I knew I wanted dessert, so I allowed myself a small plate that I filled with various sweet treats. I could enjoy the meal without felling crummy later.

I heard of other people limiting when, where, or how they can eat something. It might be no sweets until after dinner, only eating dessert with other people around, or sitting down when eating anything. All of these can be helpful.

In a lot of other places, times, or financial situations, people have a limit to what they can eat based on things they often can’t control. On the other hand, having all the options in the world can often be a health or spiritual hazard. Self control is difficult, and self control for the right reasons is even harder.

Am I Enough?

0406160759a

Found this on my way to punch in at work today. Convenient.

Okay, ladies. Let’s have a heart to heart here. Based on the reaction to a similar post about comparison, I want to go a little deeper.

I have heard a lot of questions swirling around about if we’re doing enough to lose weight and be healthy. Am I eating enough protein? Am I exercising enough? Am I lifting enough? Am I cutting back on my calories enough?

 

There are certain expectations that we hold ourselves to. When we don’t measure up to these, we start questioning our worth, value, and identity. This is true in all aspects of life for a lot of us. Am I pretty enough? Am I organized enough? Do I spend enough time with my kids? Am I cleaning my house enough?

Am I enough?

 

There are a lot of ways to answer this. A simple yes would be the most feel-good, self-help, greeting card kind of answer. The truth is we feel stretched in so many directions that it’s impossible to keep up. There are days that my house is a disaster, I cost us $50 in late fees because I forgot to pay a bill on time, I didn’t get in my workout, and I just want to lock myself in my room with a gallon of ice cream and sob.

We are all flawed. We are all human. In a way, none of us are enough.

That’s not the end of it, though. Our lives are not a performance or an audition. We don’t have to be good enough. I have to force myself to stop and remind myself who is in charge. Whatever life God has given me to live, I don’t have to do it alone. He has put me where I am for a reason, and He will get me through it.

I’m not usually a big fan of Christian movies (like Fireproof and Facing the Giants), but I love watching Moms’ Night Out whenever I need a good cry. Even if you never watch the movie, check out this clip.