PICTURES

Growing up in the 1950’s I discovered a book. It was red and at least 3”s thick. It was one if not my favorite of my childhood. They were black and white sketches on every page most being in the margins that related to what was written, and about every 30 or so pages was a full page color work of art depicting a story that was found in the book. I loved that book, I didn’t have to read the stories, I could just look at the pictures and figure out what the stories were about. I could use my imagination. What could be better? It was a Bible story book.
I acknowledge that as a child I hated to read, but oh how I loved to thumb through books and look at pictures. Like the Bible story book my imagination allowed me to view ancient history and more modern photographs allowed me to walk foreign lands to see sights that looked unreal, often unbelievable for a mill village kid. But reading was hard work-deciphering those marks on the page and converting them to sounds in my mind, and then putting into a coherent thought. Too hard. No time to waste. Too busy with living. My immature mind wasn’t ready to see the best pictures that the written word can offer.
It was the summer between the seventh and eighth grade that I picked up a novel without any outside prodding and began to read. The words came easy and pictures started to form in my mind from those markings leaping from the pages. A friend wanted me to come out and play, but I had become engrossed in word pictures to the point I just wanted to stay in my room and read. READ? Me choosing to read? WOW! And enjoying it…no the book had no sketches or photographs, only words. Words that painted action, mystery, suspense, that revealed what another person was thinking. Words that formed a picture. That year I probably read two more children’s novels, but when I entered my freshman year of high school I started to really read. I read an average of three to four books every week. My sister and I would walk to the town library every two weeks and stock up on reading material.
My mother use to laugh about a conversation that my sister and I had about those trips. She had finished her current set of reading material and wanted me to hurry up and finish mine so we could go back to the library. I told her I liked taking my time so that I could enjoy the pictures the words were showing. I wish everyone could learn to enjoy the best picture of words.

HONESTY

Today marks three year since my mom’s diagnosis and the beginning of her final month with us.  I may be projecting too much, but I think she would be proud of the way the family has moved forward, while still retaining our love for her in our hearts.

The following is the note of  my personal feelings of three years ago.  It still aches at times, but life is good.DSC_0137

 

They’re those few moments in one’s life that honesty demands an audience and your heart will speak with a befuddled clarity that you can’t deny.  This morning I awoke with tears in my eyes and heavy heart.  My beloved mother is facing a terminal illness and the frightening decision of acceptance or battling with medical intervention to the bitter end.
The family has previously faced this particular illness before and is well aware of its devastating affects in ending a life.  The reality is my mother is dying.  The reality is there is no way I can stop this.  The reality is that I want to be selfish and hold to my loss.  The reality is that this loss isn’t mine alone.  The reality is death is a part of living, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Honesty ask, “what now?”  “I have spoken with clarity of the facts, how are you going to react?”  My answer, “ for a few moments I shall embrace my selfishness and cry over my loss. I shall give my family and friends the opportunity to forgive me that self same selfishness.”  “I shall do everything in my power to make her days as pleasant and meaningful as possible.”  “I will remember and cherish her love, her life, her gifts throughout my remaining days.”   “ I shall accept that I don’t have all the answers, that doubts and fears are a part of living, that her life will live on in me and in others, that life is good and mine has been better because of her.”

PRAYER FOR OUR NATION

PRAYER FOR OUR NATION

Father we come before you as a people who have been and are truly blessed. A nation of peoples that are as diverse as the entire world, and yet we enjoy the privilege of worshipping you in any manner of our individual conscience.
Thank you for this gift.

Yet Father we wish to pray for our nation and our nation’s leaders. There has been so much pain and fear evident in our nation of late. It would seem that we as a people dwell more on the things that divide us to the detriment of those things that unite us. We pray that the Spirit of your unity would rest in our hearts and become a guiding force in our lives. That your Spirit would grant the conviction of righteousness and moral courage to our nation’s leaders.

May we your people never lose sight of the fact that you are the great “I Am” and that the final act of nations has already been written. Help us to lean upon your promises without fear, that all of our actions will reflect the love you have for your creation.

Give us the strength to embrace your will and to surrender our own. And may the words of OUR Lord come to fruition…“Surely I come quickly.”, and until He does may his grace abide with us all.

PRUNE’S JOURNEY WEEK TWENTY-EIGHT

lunch 9-27-19

Well we’ve gone through twenty-eight weeks of our Prune Journey with only twenty-two weeks remaining.  This morning we got on the scales and read the numbers 232.4, it’s not the first time we’ve read those numbers, but it was nice to see them.  We’d love to see 230, the original goal.  It seems strange, but those last couple of pounds have stubbornly refused to come off.  Ah well there’s still those twenty-two weeks left to make that happen.

The good news for this week’s portion of the journey is the trip to the doctor’s office for our yearly wellness exam.  The doctor seemed tickled that we’d made the life changing decisions we have made and the consistent manner of following through in those decisions (little does he know where we’ve bent the rules).  He was genuinely excited and said he was looking forward to seeing the lab results.  We weren’t so excited, thought our cholesterol count was going to be horrible because of all the eggs we’ve been eating.  We shouldn’t have doubted him, our LDL was down fourteen points and HDL gained two from last year’s exam, and our triglycerides were down forty-eight points.  Without using any medications, in fact, all the test results were better, except calcium.  It was in the high normal range and having had hyperparathyroidism in the past it raises a flag for us.  Elevated levels of calcium usually indicates that disease and the only cure is surgery, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  We plan on going back in three months and have our levels checked again.  What we’ve been doing on this journey wouldn’t have affected this particular issue in any way.

The plate of food at the beginning of this post is today’s lunch.  It is half of a 10 oz. ribeye steak, boiled cabbage, half a roasted sweet potato, half a steamed squash, and a cucumber salad.  Before starting this journey we would have eaten the whole steak (573 calories) as well as the whole potato (103 calories), and you guessed it, we’d ate at least the whole squash (20 calories, not bad), and a big ole bowl of cucumber salad (77 calories/serving) totaling at least 773 calories.  We forgot the cabbage (17 calories) making it an 800 calorie meal…not counting seconds.  Instead through lessons learned on this journey we had a delicious satisfying meal of 437 calories and even with the second helping of cabbage it only topped 450 calories.

The Prune Journey hasn’t been too difficult, nor too easy, and we’ve definitely  made adjustments along the way that have slowed us in our weight loss, but over-all we are pleased with how much has been accomplished in the past six months.  It is still our intent to continue this journey to it’s completion and hopefully remain faithful to the new healthier lifestyle we’ve adopted.

 

Prune Journey the half way point

IMG_20190317_090242801

Week twenty-five is in the history books.  Doesn’t seem possible that we’ve eked-out twenty-five weeks of the journey to lose weight and gain a healthier life style, but here we are.  The journey started off really well with double digit weight loss for the first two weeks and then solid pounds coming off for the next two.  The following weeks were steady with about a pound coming off each week…until we hit a real plateau.

For about ten weeks we were stuck and didn’t lose a pound.  That may not be entirely accurate.  We gained, then lost, then gained, then lost, you get the picture.  We stayed around the 235 pound range (to be honest, more like the 238).  Neither number should be sneezed at, forty-two to forty-five pound weight loss is a rather large sift in body mass to have accomplished in so short a time.  But it became a tremendous discouragement going through those two months with no obvious gains in the journey.  We may still be stuck on the plateau, but this week we have a couple of signs that the journey is allowing us to move a little further up the mountain of weight-loss.  With Thursdays being our official weigh-in day, the scales read 232.6 this morning.  Euphoria!!  Finally!  The needle moved.  Perhaps we shouldn’t become too excited, but how we’ve longed to move that needle below 235.  This is a sweet moment in the journey.

In reflection we do need to remember this journey isn’t just about weight-loss, but becoming healthier with an improved life-style.  Halfway through our fifty week journey we have lost seventeen percent (17%) of our body’s weight, that’s close to 1/5th of our weight of March 2019.  We have increased our physical activity, even though our mind and body begs us to stay on the couch.  It would be and is easy to talk ourselves into listening.  A body at rest tends to remain at rest…isn’t that some type of natural law?  Currently we are attempting to do five hours a week at the gym, focusing mainly on cardio, with some strength training.  Is it enjoyable?  NO! But we are truly thankful that we have been given the opportunity and still have the ability to do the exercises.  And isn’t “a body in motion tends to stay in motion” a natural law too?

At the beginning of this journey we set goals to lose weight by controlling the amounts we ate.  Our goal of 2,000 calories or less per day was what we believed to be the foundation of our journey…the map to get us to the goal of 230 pounds in fifty weeks, and that helped us to see the difference in portion size.  This journey has caused us to sift priorities in the way we eat, not what we eat (although, that has sifted a little too).  Remember one of the pillars of our weight-loss plan is “all foods are fair game” no food is off-limits.  To be honest, we’ve not been as strict on our calorie counts the past two months as we should have been, but the fact we didn’t balloon massively in our weight-gain showed that portion control was still a factor in controlling our weight.  We are only halfway through the Prune Journey and we have made some adjustments along the way and we’re sure that further adjustments will take place as we continue our march.

PRUNE JOURNEY: WEEK 23

68528199_10216285678827255_1874076544016580608_nWell since week 21 we’ve been able to drop three pounds and our total loss stands at forty-five and six tenths.  That’s not too shabby, but I’ve now loss that three pounds twice, and that sucks.  My medicare advantage provider offers the Silver Sneakers program at no additional cost to me, so I’ve taken them up on it.  For the past two weeks I’ve been going to the gym five times for an hour each time.  A couple of days I stayed an extra 30 minutes.

My workouts normally consist of cardio and on two days strength training as well as the cardio.  I’m trying to kick-start my weight loss.  I’m now back to where I was at the end of June.  I went back to weight-loss calculator and keyed in my information and the desire to lose fifteen pounds in the next two months.  The calculator states that if I consume no more than 2073 calories per day and/or increase the number of  extra calories I burn each day by 873 I should be able to make my goal.  I realize that my original goal was fifty pounds in fifty weeks, but when I got close to reaching the magic number of fifty pounds lost I stopped closely following my plan and stopped losing weight.  Thus, I’ve decided to try for sixty pounds  in those fifty weeks.  Yeah, I know I’m playing mind games, but if it works I’ll reach my original goal.

I have also returned to looking up calorie counts on the foods I consume, and for the most part I’m plating my food before sitting at the table to avoid seconds.  It works 90% of the time.  Like I said before the biggest factor in my losing weight has been portion control.  Hey in the past two weeks I’ve even had some vanilla caramel gelato (it was excellent)!

As I’ve stated before I love to eat and tomorrow I’m hosting our church’s international meal group.  I’m guessing I’ll be consuming more than my normal count of calories.  I’m kind of scared to look up the calorie counts on what’s on the menu.

Menu de esta noche

para el grupo

internacional de comidas

tonight’s meal is mainly influenced by South and Central America with just a hint of Asian influence. Bon Appetit!

Sopa de calabaza, a soup made of pumpkin served chilled. A mild to moderately spicy soup for a hot August evening.

Ceviche vegetariano, a vegetable salad made with cauliflower, peppers, onion, tomato, cucumber, orange, and marinated in lime and lemon juice. A bright and spicy appetizer.

Ceviche de pez roca, a blend of chopped raw rockfish fillet, peppers, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, oranges, marinated in lime and lemon juice. A bright and spicy appetizer for those who wish to stretch their palates.

Arroz con jengibre y cerdo de ajo. This our main entree is a ginger-garlic pork served with white rice, a helping of Frijoles refritos (refried beans) and an Ensalada jicama (a salad made with Jicama or Mexican turnip.

We will be serving a Peruvian bread, Pan Chuta, a bread made of sweet anise.

We also have for you to taste two Peruvian beverages, Jugo de Pina, made with fresh pineapple and Chicha Morada, a traditional drink made with purple corn.

________________________________________________________________

 

The appetizers shouldn’t be too bad, the drinks do run around 110 calories per serving, the ceviche is about 132 calories and the vegetarian style will be around 110.  The Pan Chuta bread is about 68 per slice, and the soup will be about 120 calories.  The main entree is where the major calories are going to show up.  The pork will be 200, the Spanish rice 211, the re-fried beans 238, and the ensalada 46.  So if I have one serving of each item I’m looking to take on 1225 calories and that doesn’t include dessert.  One of the other participants is bringing a Tres Leche Cake and that’s another 326 calories.  I’m going to be a real oinker tomorrow.

PRUNE JOURNEY WEEK 20

67960159_10216166268562073_6446395334590464000_nWell we are finished with week 20 of our “Prune Journey” and this has been the week of deciding to get back on track, my track.  Back in March we began this journey because we realized that we couldn’t continue the way we were going in the weight and health department.  The stepping on our scales and seeing a number pop out over 280 pounds was (dare I say it?) disgusting to me.  My ability to bend and tie my own shoes was compromised, simply sitting and breathing was becoming a chore, and sleeping was becoming a battle.

The first sixteen weeks of the journey that has become known as the “Prune Journey” went fairly well.  The regiment that I had set-up to follow in my attempt to lose fifty pounds in fifty weeks was going great.  I had lost forty-six pounds and was way ahead of my self-imposed schedule, but then fatigue entered in and summer heat.  The dieting, discipline, counting fatigue was the worst.  I blinked.  I stopped religiously following the regiment that had allowed me to lose those forty-six pounds.  I didn’t go completely crazy, I just didn’t move as much and I allowed myself to consume more calories.  I began to loosing up on my snacking.  The result has been the stopping of my weight loss and a slight re-gaining of some of what had already been lost.  At the close of week 20 my total accumulative loss is forty-two pounds, and while that is still a great number it shows an average of one pound per week weight gain for the past four weeks.

I had to get back on track.  So I joined a gym to burn the 500 to a 1000 calories per day that I had been burning from my walking.  Walking outside in the extreme heat of a North Carolina summer just isn’t appealing, and while going to the gym isn’t the most alluring idea of a great summer activity, it does burn those extra calories.67544942_10216166279762353_6347360668714270720_n

I have also re-started looking up the calorie counts on what I’m consuming and not just eye-balling and trusting my memory.  I have recommitted to the journey and will see it to its completion, with the Lord’s help.67556701_742111556223744_1303944168325775360_n