Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review - Tithing: Test Me in This

I have just finished reading the book “Tithing: Test Me in This” by Douglas LeBlanc. The tome is one of eight in The Ancient Practices Series. The book was nothing like I expected, which was a biblically-based history lesson on tithing. Instead, the author interviews individuals and couples from diverse backgrounds and denominations and tells their stories of why they tithe and how their lives have been enriched by the discipline.

Because the book is broken down into eleven different narratives, it is an easy read. It isn’t full of heavy theological concepts; it is simply a snapshot of people’s experiences with giving their first fruits to God. Ironically, although the author briefly touches on his history with tithing, he does not go into detail of how the practice has affected his own life.

When I first started reading, I was disappointed by the lack of mention of the Scriptures, with the exception of Malachi 3:10. I felt better as I continued, and was particularly pleased with the chapter on Randy Alcorn, as several verses were referenced. In his defense, LeBlanc does state early on that the book “is not an exhaustive treatment of tithing or the theology related to it” and does a good job demonstrating that tithing is a widely universal practice.

In general, this book would be good for introducing the concept of tithing to those unfamiliar with it. Examining different accounts of the practice may provide insight as to why believers choose to give and may inspire the reader to “test God,” as His Word challenges. Those who already take part in the practice may discover some interesting new concepts, such as graduated tithing and the multilayered tithing approach.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Confession: I am dreading Monday

On Monday, I go back to work. It will be quite a while until I get another break - probably in the spring. Part of me is simply dreading it. I truly wish I didn't have to go back. I wish I could make a fresh start in a career that suits me better.

Last week, I received a letter granting me provisional acceptance into the Massage Therapy program at CCBC. As long as I earn a 'C' or better in Anatomy & Physiology, I'm in. I had to turn down the acceptance, though. Number 1, I was accepted for a spring start - which is solely a day-time program. Number 2, I never finished A&P. Number 3, I realized that my desire to have more children is bigger than my desire to attend school.

I thought I was at peace with the decision, so I was a bit surprised when I started crying watching a commercial for the Baltimore School of Massage. There was just a real longing in my soul as I felt the possibility of becoming a massage therapist gently slipping away.

If I had only one wish, I would quit my job and attend the BSOM massage program full time. I could be finished in as little as 7 months! Wouldn't that be amazing?!?

Sadly, we're not in a financial situation that would allow me to do that. With the choices we've made, we can't live on Harry's salary alone. But I feel in the pit of my stomach that something needs to change. I only wish I knew where to go from here.

All I can do is give my career over to the Lord. He knows the plans He has for me. Plans to prosper me and not harm me. I trust He has everything under control. I just wish He would show me where to go.

New Year's Eve

This day snuck up on me. I wasn't really ready for it yet, but here it is. Normally on this day, I spend the day in reflection - looking back on my accomplishments of the past year and making resolutions for the one to come. This year, I can't seem to embrace the tradition.

Number 1, I am so disappointed in 2010. This was supposed to be my year of Action - the kickoff to a huge Ephesians 3:20 decade. It was anything but. This year was largely filled with darkness, depression, inactivity, isolation, stress, anxiety, and feeling lost. The year was nothing like I imagined it would be at the end of 2009, celebrating at the Melting Pot with my two best friends.

Number 2, every time I make a resolution, I break it. Not intentionally. But for whatever reason, I never seem to stick to what I set out for myself. (Perhaps there is a self-sabotage issue that needs to be dealt with - but that would be a totally different post!)

All that said, I am determined to see big Breakthroughs in 2011. In my faith, in my family, in my health, in my career. Instead of making resolutions I know I won't keep, I simply promise this at the cusp of the New Year: to keep my focus on God and His will for my life. If I do that, everything else will work out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to the Grind

I came into work today. Our school is closed, so it's pretty much a ghost town here. I had to work because, although I am stationed at UMB, I am technically an HHMI employee, so I follow a different vacation schedule than my co-workers. Yesterday, I decided to work from home. After all, I didn't want to be the only person in my building. (Even the security guards and housekeeping staff are on vacation). That turned out to be a mistake. I didn't get a thing done. I used to work from home a lot when Bianca was younger, and I never had any problems. Now that she is running all over the place, it's not as easy.

Because I am under grant deadline, I had to bite the bullet and come into work today. Even though it's bothered me the past two years, today, it feels quite nice being the only one here. I have been super productive this morning. At this point, I have one slight budget issue to fix, and I need to have a meeting with one of the investigators on Monday to get some more of the technical details, but after that, it should be smooth sailing! Considering how awful my last grant was, this one feels like a walk in the park!

And since my supervisor is on maternity leave, this one is solely in my hands. I finally feel like I'm getting the chance to prove myself, and it feels good. Everything feels like it is under control. We should not only be able to submit our proposal on time, we should be able to submit early! Again, this is complete opposite of our last application. I am hardly stressing at all. Praise God!

I have a few more easy tasks to complete, and then I'm calling it a day. Bianca and I will be going to Harry's Christmas tournament tonight. His game isn't until 7:30 PM, though, so it's going to be a long night for our Little One. (Who am I kidding? It's going to be a long night for me, too!)

For about a month now, Bianca has been having trouble sleeping. Of course, that means Mommy has also had trouble sleeping. Last night, though, was wonderful. I had a terrible headache, so Harry told me to go to bed early. At 8:00 PM, both Bianca and I went to bed. She cried for about 5 minutes, then she fell asleep. I was out not much longer. She didn't make any noise again until 4:40 this morning! I was so happy! My headache went away, and I was able to get over 8 hours of constant sleep! Such a HUGE blessing!

Today, my sticky note from God says, "Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness. Psalm 112:4." It's making me quite giddy because it's reiterating the message my pastor gave on Christmas. Yes, 2011 is going to be my Breakthrough year, but it's only because Jesus is lighting the way. It is simply wonderful having something so tangible to hold onto!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

cookies and ice cream and cake...Oh My!

The past few weeks (aka - the Holiday Season), I have been eating terribly. No treat has been too good for my belly! I have also been drinking lots of soda. My body is definitely paying the price: my pants are too tight, and my face is broken out. I definitely need to clean up my diet and start exercising. Every year I make a New Year's Resolution to do just that - and lose 30 pounds in the process - but I end up making poor choices pretty much right off the bat.

I'm hoping that 2011 - my Breakthrough year - will be different. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It's clear that if I want to see real change, I have to approach my weight loss in a different way than I have been all these years. I only wish I knew exactly what it would take to make a lasting impact. If I had the answer, I would already be much healthier right now.

My Answer is Yes

I'm sitting in front of the fire, enjoying it's beauty and warmth, as Harry and Bianca are napping upstairs. Snow is coming down outside, covering the ground with a powdery white blanket. I just feel incredibly serene right now.

We had a wonderful Christmas. I loved the message our pastor gave during the Christmas service. He focused on Jesus being the light in the darkness and a fount of water in the desert. I won't try to repeat it, but it was simply beautiful. We turned off all the lights in the church, lit a single candle from the Advent wreath, and then passed the flame from neighbor to neighbor. By the end, the entire church was brightly lit. We then sang, "Jesus, Light of the World" as we held our candles high. Tears were pouring out of my eyes. We then had communion to remember Jesus' biggest sacrifice and the true reason He came to earth. Finally, our pastor challenged us. Jesus says "Follow Me." He wants either a yes or a no, not a maybe. What is your answer going to be?

I asked Jesus into my heart in 1999. And even though I was on fire for a few months in the beginning, I never truly committed to living my life for God. For too many reasons, I was living life as a lukewarm Christian - saying all the right things, but not truly surrendering my life. My feet were planted on two sides of the fence. I wanted to trust that Jesus could provide everything for me, yet refused to let go of the world.

But 2011 is my Breakthrough year. It's the year when I am going to make great strides in my life - all because I finally let go. I have surrendered my life to Christ. I give him a resounding "YES" this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Beginnings

Today, something amazing happened: I had new visitors to my blog thanks to a post on a new friend's blog. And while I was excited to receive comments by some lovely ladies, I was also a bit embarrassed. A blog should be an expression of oneself, and frankly, I don't like what I have been presenting to the world. I am truly ashamed of my self-centeredness and negativity. Just as Jesus came into the world to shine light on our sins, these strong Christian women shone a light on mine.

The good news is that new beginnings are possible. From this point forward, I hope to write with intention, taking the focus off of myself and putting it back on the One who deserves so much more glory than my little life will be able to show.

So, welcome to "Whole in Him." I still have the same goal to become healthy in mind, body, and spirit.....only now I will continue my journey with my eyes focused upward. I look forward to the changes that God will bring to me in my breakthrough year. And all glory will be His!! "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14 NIV

#reverb10: Future Self

December 21 Prompt: Future self
Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

2011 is going to be a pretty amazing year for you. You’ve been wishing for a breakthrough, and it will definitely come. The difference between this year and every other year is you finally have your priorities in order. You cling to God in a way that you never have before. You are hungry for His Word. You have the love and support of friends who share your beliefs. You read blogs that help you along your journey. You aren’t afraid to live your Christian life out loud. You will find a joy and a hope that eluded you in 2010. You will grow by leaps and bounds. Not just in your faith, but in all areas of your life.

Remember that life is a series of peaks and valleys. You’ve just gone through a pretty low year, but you will start climbing again. As Third Day says, “I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God.” It won’t happen overnight, but your breakthrough will come. You will receive blessings you haven’t even dreamed of yet. You just need to stay focused on your Creator and your Redeemer.

May this Christmas season bring you peace and kindliness of heart. May your celebrations be full of joy, laughter, and rediscovery of the beauty of a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes. Remember that Jesus is the gift of a lifetime. A gift that can forever light your way.

Wrapping Party

Last night at church we had a wrapping party. Over 100 needy children in our community were given presents by CCC. Under lit trees and Christmas carols being played by an accordian, several members of the church wrapped hundreds of presents. I had a lot of fun getting to know two ladies over the organized mayhem. I also thoroughly enjoyed the cookies and punch served to sustain us!

My only hope is that through this Community Christmas Project many families will come to know Christ. That would be the greatest gift of all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thank You, Chelle

Sorry I haven't acknowledged it sooner, but I really appreciate you stopping by my blog. I also appreciate your suggestion of AdvoCare as a way to make some extra money. I will definitely keep the opportunity in mind, but I recently gave up on a Direct Sales business I was trying to manage. I don't think I have the time or the energy to start another one at this point. But you never know where the future will lead us!

I think you're a pretty amazing person:
~ You're a Christian!
~ You're a wife!
~ You're a mom to a beautiful daugther!
~ You're a personal trainer!
~ You're a runner!
~ You made a bold move in your career!
~ You were raised Catholic (so was I!)
~ You love to read!
~ You love to write!
~ You are part of a small group!
~ Your blog is so inspiring to me!

It's a shame we live so far away from each other. I think you'd make a wonderful friend!!

#reverb10: Beyond Avoidance

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing?

I should have read my Bible, I should have joined a cell group, I should have started volunteering in the nursery, I should have completed a devotional with Harry. In short, I should have made God more of a priority.

#reverb10: Healing

December 19 Prompt: Healing
What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

I think writing healed me this year. Specifically, Reverb 10 healed me. Having a daily prompt gives me a reason to write on a regular basis. Up until a few weeks ago, I was still in a very dark place in my life. But I now feel much more joyful and hopeful. I started feeling good again when I started writing on a regular basis. When I write, I feel alive.

In 2011, I would like to be healed in a dramatic way. My depression is, of course, a spiritual battle. And I know that God is victorious. But I have to open my heart completely to Him. I have to make Him number 1 in my life. I have to make Him my focus. If I do, I know I will see some pretty amazing fruit start to bloom.

#reverb10: Try

December 18 Prompt: Try
What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

It may be difficult, but I want to try and narrow down exactly what I want my career to be. Then I want to try to incorporate pieces of it into my life as it is now. Even if I can't fully transition into a holistic health career in 2011, I want to see evidence in my life that I am working towards the goal. I don't want to feel stuck in my career anymore.

I wanted to try Massage School in 2010. I went for it. I loved pieces of it, but honestly not all of it. The experience helped me to broaden my thinking, though. The more holistic health experiences I try, the more I will be able to narrow down my ultimate career goal.

#reverb10: Lesson Learned

December 17 Prompt: Lesson Learned
What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I don't think this is the "best" thing I've learned about myself, but I think it's the most important one to remember going forward. I am too negative. I have a tendency to focus on everything that’s wrong instead of celebrating what’s right in my life. I have depressive tendencies. I am generally too self-centered. These are parts of myself that I don't really like, but regardless, they are part of who I am. Going forward, I have to be more forgiving of myself. I also have to be joyful and grateful despite of myself.

#reverb10: Friendship

December 16 Prompt: Friendship
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

The one constant friend in my life this year has been Stephanie. She was with me when I set my intention for a year of action. She celebrated with me as I enrolled in my first massage class. We were together in a hotel room with a tiny balcony overlooking rough water when we realized how much we both valued quality Girls' Days. She reassured me when I questioned the decisions I made in life. She prayed for me when I was having personal issues. She challenged me to be a better version of myself. And when I failed miserably, she kept on cheering. I survived this crazy, dark year mainly because of her. I love her.

#reverb10: 5 Minutes

December 15 Prompt - 5 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Sadly, I don't remember much about 2010. But I want to remember Bianca. Her smile, her laugh, her sloppy kisses. The feeling of her head pressing against my shoulder. Embracing her in tender hugs that I wish could linger forever.

I want to remember Harry. Feeling so safe as I lay in his arms. His soft kisses on the top of my head. Holding hands on the couch in front of the fire.

I want to remember Stephanie. Her words, her inspiration, her creativity. The fact that she came to Maryland when I was at my lowest point. Her true friendship that withstands time and distance.

I want to remember my family. My mom, my sister, Damian. My aunts and uncles. My grandma. My cousins and their families. My dad, my stepmom, and my brother. Throughout the craziness of life, my family has always been my constant support.

Most of all, I want to remember God's Grace. The gift of Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit. I want to remember that everything else is in vain. Without God, I am nothing.

#reverb10: Appreciate

December 14 Prompt: Appreciate
What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

The one thing I have come to appreciate most this past year is downtime. True downtime. Involving no work. No extended family obligations. No real agendas. Simply freedom to just be. I express gratitude for my downtime in many different ways. I write. I read. I play with my daughter. I cuddle with my husband. I take naps in the middle of the afternoon. I linger in a hot bath. I get sung underneath a warm blanket while the fire blazes in front of me. I breathe. I remember that inside the stillness, life is oh so good.

Lots of Fun

One thing is for sure: Bianca has an enormous personality. It is so much fun watching her grow into her own person!

Here is just a glimpse of our Little One:

~ She likes to sit in the refrigerator. Any time we open the door, she runs right over and tries to climb in. She loves to press the button that makes the light turn on and off. She also likes to try and close the door on herself. Luckily, she hasn't been successful with that one yet!

~ She loves to help. If I'm cooking dinner, she wants to help stir. If I'm doing laundry, she wants to help transfer the clothes. If I'm putting dishes in the dishwasher, she wants to help load them. This may come in handy when she's older!

~ Her two favorite hobbies are dancing and reading. Any time a song comes on that she likes (it could even be a commercial), she can't help but groove to it. She also loves her books. She has no problem listening to the same book over and over. And if you happen to be reading too slow for her taste, she will turn the page for you to help move you along!

~ She loves electronics. She is fascinated by remotes, cell phones, and laptops.

~ She likes attention. If we are at the store, she will smile and wave at strangers. If they aren't paying attention to her, she will call to them in her baby language. She is probably saying something like, "Hey you! Look at how cute I am!"

~ She has the best facial expressions. One of my favorites is her smile when she poses for pictures. She lets her whole mouth of teeth show.

~ She gets really upset when she doesn't get her way. It is usually followed by screaming, crying, or both.

~ She has been biting. She bites my knees, my shoulders, my fingers - pretty much anything within her reach. Yesterday I was lying on the couch, and I closed my eyes for a minute. I was quickly woken up by teeth being pressed into my forehead. I really hope this is just a phase that will quickly pass. (Along with her incessant need to pull my hair!)

She is just an amazing little person (the good and the bad!) I feel so blessed to have her in my life!!

15 Month Check-Up

I took Bianca to the pediatrician last Thursday. This was the worst appointment we've ever had.

First, she was tired (aka - grumpy). Second, I think she realized where she was. Before Dr. Fireman ever came into the room, she was wailing. I held her, rocked her, sang to her...but I couldn't comfort her. I was honestly worried that someone might think I was abusing her.

Third, we had a wake-up call concerning her weight. BiBi has become quite the picky eater lately, and I was honestly wondering if she was getting enough nutrition. But I decided not to worry too much about it, because Kristen said that Damian went through the same non-eating phase. Kris told me that if I got too concerned that I should just give her PediaSure.

I had planned to bring up my concern with Dr. Fireman just to be on the safe side, but he brought the topic up first when he looked at her growth chart. He was a bit concerned because she has only gained 1 pound in 3 months. (She now weighs 19 lbs) The fact that she is below the 5th percentile in weight wasn’t the disturbing part. It’s the fact that the curve of her rate of growth is starting to decline. Dr. Fireman gave me some suggestions on how to get her to eat better. If in four weeks she hasn’t gained any weight, he would like for us to meet with a pediatric nutritionist.

Dr. Fireman had a difficult time examining her. She just cried and screamed as he listened to her heart and looked in her ears. He ended up cutting the visit short because she was so upset.

Once Dr. Fireman left, the M.A. took blood from her arm and then gave her two vaccinations. Of course, she screamed and cried even harder than she already was. Her face turned shades of red and blue, and I just felt so, so awful for her. When it was time to leave, I was never so glad to be done with a doctor's appointment. I know BiBi shared my sentiment.

As of this morning, our Little One still isn’t eating like she should be, but she seems to be doing well with the PediaSure. At least I feel better knowing she is getting vitamins and minerals.

Here's a confession: Harry and I are both overweight. I can’t help but wonder: Did I subconsciously stop feeding her because I don’t want her to be fat like us? I honestly feel like I'm failing as a mother.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Born Again

I like to choose a theme song to start out every new year. I like to play it in my head or sing it out loud if I ever need extra help staying on track. Some of my past theme songs have been Wunderkind, Defying Gravity, and Limbo No More. I realized last night that I never chose a theme song for 2010. Could that be partly why my year was pretty much a dud?

I definitely want to start 2011 off on the right foot, so my theme song has already been chosen: "Born Again" by Third Day.

Today I found myself
After searching all these years
And the man that I saw, he wasn’t at all who I thought he’d be
I was lost when you found me here
And I was broken beyond repair
Then you came along and you sang your song over me

It feels like I’m born again
It feels like I’m living
For the very first time
For the very first time
In my life

Make a promise to me now
Reassure my heart somehow
That the love that I feel is so much more real than anything
I’ve a feeling in my soul
And I pray that I’m not wrong
That the life I have now, it is only the beginning

It feels like I’m born again
It feels like I’m living
For the very first time
For the very first time
It feels like I’m breathing
It feels like I’m moving
For the very first time
For the very first time

I wasn’t looking for something that was more
Than what I had yesterday
Then you came to me and you gave to me
Life and a love that I’ve never known
That I’ve never felt before

It feels like I’m born again
It feels like I’m living
For the very first time
I’m living for the first time
It feels like I’m breathing
It feels like I’m moving
For the very first time
I’m living for the first time
In my life

#reverb10: Action

December 13 Prompt: Action
When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

My word for 2010 was supposed to be ACTION, and I love that it showed up at the end of the year. Perhaps it is a little nudge to remind me that it’s never too late to take action and make my dreams become reality. This prompt is also very apropos with Steph’s question, “What are you going to do?”

So what’s my next step? I am going to focus my attention on God and his amazing Grace. I am going to join a small group. I am going to volunteer at church. I am going to deliberately find things to be grateful for each day. In 2011, I am going to focus on developing a close and personal relationship with God. And everything else will take care of itself. I have no doubt that a true breakthrough will find me once my priorities are back in order.


I have read three books in a row that suggest eliminating cow dairy from your diet, mainly because it is very difficult to digest and it turns acidic once it is in the body. Ideally, I would like to transition to a more clean diet; however, even though the idea of veganism is appealing in theory, I think I would have a difficult time putting it into practice. You're looking at a woman who eats cold cereal pretty much every day and who absolutely adores melted cheese.

While I was in the grocery store yesterday, I saw a yogurt that caught my eye: SO Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk. I decided to give it a try.
Today, I tried Raspberry. It was surprisingly good. In fact, I think I like it better than regular yogurt. If all coconut milk tastes this good, it may not be as difficult to wean cow's milk as I orginally thought. The major downside is the price. It cost me $2.00 for a 6 oz container. There's no way I can justify spending that much on a regular basis. I need to learn the basics of eating organic on a budget (if there is such a thing!)


We had a rough night last night. Bianca vomited pretty much all night long. The first time was around 11:30 PM. The poor baby had it all over her. I put her in the bathtub, held her, changed her sheets, and put her back to bed. Ten minutes later she was sick again. Instead of putting her back in the tub, I wiped her down and then took her into our bedroom, where she got sick a third time. We went downstairs and had her drink some water. She continued to get sick several times after that. I thought we were in the clearing at 3:30 AM when she finally was able to go to sleep, until she got sick again at 5:15 AM. I gave her a bath at 6:30 AM, and Harry whisked her away to Aunt Dot's at 7:00 AM.

Despite feeling terrible that I couldn't just stay home and comfort her today, I'm feeling grateful this morning.
~ This is the first time in 15 months that Bianca got really sick.
~ It most likley isn't anything too serious.
~ I was able to stay up with her and comfort her all night long.
~ I started my day with a hot shower and a fresh start.
~ Even though I don't really like snow, there is something magical about the flurries coming down.
~ I will be able to celebrate Christmas with new friends tonight at MOPS.
~ I can feel myself coming back to life again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Great Service

~ Bianca was excited to go into the toddler room.
~ I was moved to tears during worship.
~ I looked over at my husband in prayer during communion and I was overwhelmed with love.
~ A baby boy smiled at me.
~ Watching three women in the same small group interact with each other touched my heart.
~ I was humbled listening about God's generous nature and his amazing Grace.
~ I shared a hug and brief conversation after the service with my new friend Lisa.
~ I signed up to help out at the wrapping party next Monday.
~ I picked up information on a mission's trip.
~ I made preparations for tomorrow night's MOPS meeting.
~ I fell in love with CCC all over again.

#reverb10: Body Integration

December 12 Prompt: Body Integration
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

The main thing I am realizing from these prompts is I really wasted this year. Most of the time, I was withdrawn inside of myself. I was rarely present in the moment. I was completely self-centered. I was depressed. I often complained. I wasn't grateful. I wasn't joyful. I was barely living. Body integration wasn't even on my radar. Without a doubt, I need to make some major changes in 2011. I need to start LIVING again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#reverb10: 11 Things

December 11 Prompt: 11 Things
What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1. 30 extra pounds
2. Excessive stress
3. Processed foods
4. Refined Sugar
5. White Flour
6. Caffeine
7. Red Meat
8. Self-sabotage
9. Selfishness
10. Lethargy
11. Depression

Getting rid of these things would greatly impact my life for the better. I would be healthier, more energetic, more attractive, more confident, more joyful, and more successful. Eliminating them will not be easy. In fact, I’ve wanted to let go of them for a few years now. I will just have to make a firm decision and stick with it. Willpower and the desire to make a lasting change are the keys. I can’t let fear get in the way.

#reverb10: Wisdom

December 10 Prompt: Wisdom
What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made this year was starting to take classes towards my massage therapy degree. The moment I walked into my first class I knew that I was exactly where I was meant to be. Even though I didn’t finish the program, the whole experience reaffirmed my love for holistic health. I don’t know what it will ultimately look like in the end, but I know for sure that I am meant to be a holistic health practitioner. I was very proud of myself for following a dream that had been tucked in my heart for so long. I just hope I continue to be brave in this area.

#reverb10: Beautifully Different

December 8 Prompt: Beautifully Different
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I am a Christian.
I love passionately.
I served a year in AmeriCorps, but I haven’t done any community service since.
I want another biological child and two adopted children.
My favorite movies are PS I Love You and the Notebook.
I love learning about holistic health.
I bake a sweet treat for all of my coworkers’ birthdays.
I have two Master’s degrees, but don’t use them.
I really dislike my toenails.
My husband and I have little in common, but I’m simply crazy about him.
I hate being cold.
I own 12 cookbooks, but I’ve never tried one recipe from any of them.
I sang at church for over 15 years.
I could eat chocolate, cereal, or pizza any time of day.
I love Bianca more than words could ever describe, but Damian will always be my first baby.
I love the beach.
I played clarinet, bass clarinet, and piano, but I gave them up in order to sing.
I have big ideas, but don’t always take action to make them reality.
I have a difficult time finishing what I start.
I wear my wedding ring and engagement ring on two different hands. (They are two different metals, and wearing them both together breaks out my hands.)
I love to write.
I have a terrible sense of direction.
I dream of owning a purple convertible and a beach cottage.
I have really pretty eyes.
I am pretty shy in crowds, but I love being in the spotlight on stage.
I was in a beauty pageant in 6th grade.
I suffer from migraines.
It doesn’t take much to make me cry.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hello Again!

As I reflect on 2010 and set my intentions for 2011, I realize that I want to do a better job of keeping this blog up-to-date. Especially because I'm sure Bianca will be doing lots of fun things this year that need to be recorded for prosperity's sake. And I know that our out-of-town relatives would love an update on BiBi more than once a quarter!

I will dust off this blog and try to tidy up a bit. In the meantime, I will post some long overdue pictures for you! Can you believe how big our Little Miracle is getting?!?

December 7th

It's 10 AM. I should be at work. But I simply didn't want to go in today. I woke up with a bit of a lingering headache, so I used that as my excuse to go in late. But here I sit - unwilling to go. I need to go in, especially because I took off tomorrow to attend several appointments - and I eventually will. But I just can't bring myself to move at the moment.

I'm sitting in silence, listening to the hum of the heat and a single cricket outside that sounds like it's freezing to death. My stomach just gargled, and ice dropped from the ice maker. My fingers are playing a tapping melody on the keyboard, and the laptop is droning quietly. This silence is completely golden and exactly what my head needs at the moment. I'm not quite ready to go into the cold, into the traffic, into the mess that is my office. I want to stay here - in the quiet, warm comfort of my home. Writing, reflecting, giving my soul the respite it so desperately needs.

Today's Reverb word is Community. In that spirit, I went surfing the internet for the beginning of my new holistic health community. And I landed upon the most wonderful resource: breathe books. Not only is it a holistic bookstore, but classes are offered there. In addition, the owner is a certified instructor in ayurveda and offers workshops. I have done some research on the topic before, and it reappeared again in my Stress Management class. I don't think it is a coincidence that it is appearing again. Especially because my spirit is reacting so positively towards it. The next intensive workshop being offered is January 15 and January 22. The problem is it costs $425 before December 18 and $495 after. I really, really want to attend this workshop. I feel like it is exactly what I need to do. But I have a feeling my husband will balk at the idea when he hears of the price. He got upset at me for spending $63 at Target. There's no way he will approve of spending nearly $500 on a two-day workshop, especially when he just views me as someone who can't make up her mind about her career. Anyone have any suggestions on how to (morally!) make a quick $500?

#reverb10: Community

December 7 Prompt: Community
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

In 2010, I have dwelt in a land of solidarity, as opposed to community. I realize I don’t have a lot of friends. Ok…I take that back. I have plenty of friends. Just not ones I would feel comfortable calling at 3:00 in the morning if I was in trouble. Last night was the perfect example. I had a terrible migraine. I threw up three times in the car and twice at home. I couldn’t even keep down a small sip of tea. I was in so much pain, and I felt terribly weak. I kept apologizing to Bianca as she stood in the bathroom next to me lying on the floor, looking horribly confused. Had I had a close friend, I could have called her and asked her to take care of Bianca for me until Harry got home.

I did, however, discover a lot more bloggers that I love in 2010. Reading blogs led me to other blogs. There are so many interesting and inspiring people in the world. Everyone has a story and it’s fascinating to read about their mundane adventures. It’s amazing how much I see myself in other people. The world is really small, and we are all connected. Like I told Steph, I found my ideal life coach in Florida and my ideal personal trainer in Texas! That being said, I do seem to take up a lot more time at work reading blogs. Perhaps I wouldn’t be as stressed and behind on my task list if I limited my online reading. Then again, my favorite blogs tend to keep me sane at work. Guess I have to find that ever-elusive balance!

In 2011, I would like to be surrounded with nutritious people. I would like to join a small group, growing closer to other Christians and to God. I would like to volunteer at church, gaining a sense of ownership and belonging at CCC. I would like to be surrounded by like-minded people at work, having transitioned to a holistic health field. I would like to have an inspiring mentor, an empowering life coach, a transformational personal trainer, and a miracle worker of an esthetician. I would like to have close friendships with bright, witty, compassionate people. Friends who feel just as comfortable calling me in their time of need as I do calling them in mine.

#reverb10: Make

December 6 prompt: Make
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Honestly I can’t remember the last thing I made. I love the idea of creation, but I haven’t tapped into that side of myself in a really long time. I’ve made some collages on my computer – but I'm not sure that counts. It’s certainly not the same as playing with magazines, scissors, glue and paint (which I haven’t done in such a long time!)

I can think of a few things I’d like to make if I would only clear the time for it:

1) A new “good girl” chart. It was my spin-off on Damian’s “good boy” chart. If he was good so many days in a row, he was given a reward. The last “good girl” chart I made was an exercise chart before my wedding. I decorated it with motivating words and images, as well as pictures of beach-themed weddings. Each time I exercised, I earned a smiley face sticker. I got a bonus sticker if I drank 64 oz of water or ate under my calories. It was fun to fill up my chart, but I never actually rewarded myself. If I ever make a new one, I will definitely stick to that element. Not only to motivate myself, but to pat myself on the back for a job well done.

2) A book of love letters for Harry. I would make a collage on the cover composed of images and words of love. Then I would just pour my heart out to him. He really is a wonderful husband, and I don’t show my appreciation for him enough.

3) Another journal for Bianca. This time I would decorate the cover, focus on telling her story (as opposed to my own), and add pictures of her to go along with the chronicles. I might even add some colorful doodles or inspiring poems for her.

4) A new vision board. This one would focus solely on my career. A change in that area definitely needs to occur. Capturing exactly what I need and want in a tangible way would be a great place to start.

5) A homemade, healthy, delicious meal. One that doesn’t come out of a box or the freezer.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"What Are You Going To Do?"

I wanted to scream or punch something when she kept asking that question. "She" being my best friend and co-pilot who was desperately trying to keep me on my flight path. My thoughts swarmed: "Can't you see I don't have any answers? Why are you bugging me about this? Why don't you stop talking? Can't you see you're not helping anything?" Little did I know, she was helping far more than either one of us realized.

Yesterday, Bianca and I took a bus tip to NYC with my mom, my sister, Damian, and Tony. I was against this trip from the very beginning. Number 1, I didn't think Bianca would do well on the bus. Number 2, the city was going to be crowded, and I am not a fan of crowds lately. Number 3, it was going to be freezing. The trip ended up being worse than I imagined. "At least I can enjoy the Christmas vendors and a nice lunch" was my original thought. Too bad neither one of those things occurred. We didn't visit one vendor, and lunch was at a dirty pizza place. I was so happy to get back on the bus and head towards home.

This morning I woke up feeling extra grumpy. For whatever reason, I am having my second period in two weeks, so my hormones are out of whack. On top of that, Bianca didn't sleep well at all last night, so in turn, neither did I. Apparently I have been in a perpetual bad mood lately, but I haven't really noticed it. This morning, I did. And Stephanie's question burned inside my ears. "What are you going to do?"

I didn't go to church. I didn't sign up for counseling. I didn't research personal trainers or life coaches. I didn't make a plan for my breakthrough year. I simply decided to clean our master bathroom. Because it was filthy. Because it was long overdue. Because whenever company comes over, every room BUT that one gets cleaned. Because I always seem to put off the most difficult tasks.

"What are you going to do?" I am going to scrub the shower floor. I am going to polish the counters. I am going to wipe down the mirror. I am going to scrub the toilet. And then scrub the shower floor again because it still looks dirty. I am going to remove the soap scum from the shower door. I am going to throw out expired medicine. I am going to rearrange the cabinet. I am going to clean my bathroom. One surface at a time.

I still don't have an answer to that looming question just yet, but like Harry said, "The bathroom looks brand new." And somehow that is exactly what I needed.

#reverb10: Let Go

December 5 prompt: Let Go
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of a few material possessions this year – clothes, shoes, shot glasses, Liz Taylor dolls, books – that didn’t feel like me anymore. Stephanie told me that I should start shedding things that no longer fit the person who I am and the person I hope to grow into. For whatever reason, the concept made complete sense to me. I still feel like there is so much more clutter in our house that eventually needs to go, but I will get to it in due time.

I let go of Anatomy & Physiology. The timing and the circumstances were way off in my life, and it was best to withdraw from the class. It was exactly what I needed to do at the time.

I let go of a job opportunity. The new position would have brought with it a better title, a raise, and room for growth. Again, the timing and circumstances in my job were a bit off, and I knew it was the best thing for me to stay exactly where I was.

I let go of Pink Papaya. When all is said in done, I spent way more money than I ever made, and I just don’t have the passion for it like I did in the beginning. I think a lot of that has to due with the fact that although the products are infused with botanicals, they are a far cry from being organic. If I am ever to embrace a truly holistically healthy lifestyle, the products don’t quite fit in.

I let go of singing at church. I sang at my church for over 15 years. Singing was a huge part of who I was. Now that I am attending a new church, I no longer sing as a ministry. I thought I was ok with that, but I’m realizing lately that I really, really miss it. I am craving being a worship leader.

I let go of friendships that weren’t nurturing my spirit. As I was gaining a clearer picture of the kind of life I want to live and the person I want to be, I realized I didn’t have the energy to maintain friendships that were basically shallow in nature. I need my inner circle of friends to be composed of deep, positive, spiritual people. I also need there to be an equal exchange of energy.
Side note: That being said, I realize that I have been a draining friend lately. Steph, I’m so sorry our past two encounters in particular have been so depressing! You will be happy to know that I am coming back to life starting today. I owe you a fabulous girls day!!

#reverb10: Wonder

December 4th prompt: Wonder
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Without a doubt, the wonder and joy in my life this year came from experiencing life with my daughter. She showed me that it’s totally appropriate to rock out to “The 12 Days of Christmas” while on a tram during Winterfest. She reminded me that you can see the sights so much better on a bus if your hands and face are smashed up against the window. She taught me that music can be found anywhere – plastic blocks, wooden spoons, metal pots, bottles of aspiration.

I love how much she loves people. She smiles at most strangers, and they smile and say hi right back to her. She blows kisses. She gives tight hugs. She says “muah” when she kisses you. She waves. She loves to cuddle. She makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world when she beams at you.

She is so content with the simplest things. She can read the same book over and over and still be as engrossed in it the fourth time as she was the first time. She thinks coasters and cake beaters are the best toys. She is filled with excitement each time the refrigerator or dish washer is opened. She loves blowing on Harry’s coach’s whistle.

She makes the silliest faces. She says “cheese” when she is posing for a picture. She can’t help but groove when catchy music plays. Even though she can’t quite talk, she still sings along to the ABC song and Old MacDonald. She melts my heart whenever she says “Daddy” or “Mom.”

This past year has gone by so quickly. In the blink of an eye, my tiny baby has grown into a little girl. I’m only sad that I missed so much of it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#reverb 10: Moment

December 3 prompt: Moment
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

It’s sad to say that I had to think long and hard about this one. Much of this year has been a complete blur. I’d like to say the time was filled with many adventures and moments of sweet bliss, but I don’t think that was the case. Especially since August, I have been pretty much sleep-walking through life. I have been completely preoccupied by work or thoughts of work. And I don’t even like my job! This definitely has to change next year.
(Ugh! I can’t even complete a beautiful prompt without bringing up work. What is wrong with me?!?)

Moment. The time I felt most alive this year is a compilation of many precious moments split over a period of four days: Bianca’s first trip to Ocean City. Those four days at the end of March were absolute bliss for me.

~ Reading and journaling by the bay
~ Quietly soaking up the sun while listening to the lapping water
~ Long walks on the boardwalk with the two people I love the most
~ Cuddling with Bianca
~ Putting BiBi’s toes in the sand for the first time
~ Having beautiful long hair that flowed in the breeze
~ Harry insisting that Bianca not be shaded by her stroller so she could enjoy the sights
~ Feeling guilty over her first sunburn that resulted
~ Having no worries and no stress
~ Making sweet love with my husband while our baby slept
~ Totally relating to a wooden sign proclaiming, “When I’m weary, I go to the sea”
~ Taking healing naps in the middle of the day
~ Devouring Dumser’s Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream (my favorite!!)
~ Being recognized by the sandwich maker at Subway having eaten there every afternoon
~ Taking pictures of my gorgeous daughter and my handsome husband
~ Seeing BiBi in an adorable sunhat
~ Reaffirming that when I go the beach, I go home

Grainy sand between my toes; the smell of salt in the air; the music of waves crashing, seagulls calling, and children laughing; rainbow kites whipping in the breeze; bikes quickly whizzing by; muted colors of beige, brown, blue, white, and green; the perfect combination of warm sun and cool breeze; sharing it all with the loves of my life.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

#reverb10: Writing

December 2 Prompt: Writing
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

There are three main things I do each day that do not contribute to my writing (or my health): commute to work, watch TV, and work.

1) It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get to work each day. If I didn’t have to spend that time fighting traffic five days a week, I would like to think I would spend that time doing something I love, one of which is writing. I could eliminate this necessary evil if I had a job working closer to home (or working from home!)

2) Even if I’m not “watching” it, the TV is always on. Nick Jr. for Bianca, ESPN for Harry, and Glee, Biggest Loser, and Desperate Housewives for me. This is one distraction that could definitely be eliminated.

3) I spend 8 to 9 hours each day at a desk doing work that doesn’t fulfill me in the least. And when I’m not working, I’m stressing about my to-do list or daydreaming about what my life would be like if I had a different career. I certainly don’t have the opportunity to write as part of my job – unless you count the times I sneak onto my blog. It would be lovely if I could have a job that allowed me to nurture and cultivate my writing.

This prompt reminds me of when Steph told me that I need to shed things that don’t feel like me or the person I want to be anymore. If 2011 is going to be the kind of year I hope it will, there will be lots of shedding taking place!

#reverb10: One Word

December 1 Prompt: One Word
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

My word for 2010 was supposed to be “action.” While I did take some baby steps in a few areas, I didn’t really get anywhere. I may have moved a few feet, but generally, I’m still in the same place in my life here in December that I was back in January. With that in mind, I think the word that encapsulates 2010 for me is “stuck.”

I wanted to take action to find a new church home, join a small group, become involved in a ministry there, and read the Word daily. Gratefully, I found a new church home - one that my husband seems to enjoy and has a wonderful children’s ministry. I haven’t quite become invested in CCC yet, though, and my Scripture reading has been sporadic at best.

I wanted to take action when it came to my health. I wanted to exercise regularly, make better food choices, lose weight, and feel more energetic. I ended up losing 4 pounds this year, but I think some of that was baby weight. I’m still not exercising. I still eat the same foods. I don’t drink enough water. I’m tired all the time.

I wanted to take action in order to be a better wife and mother. The biggest step I took in this area was promising myself that I wouldn’t bring work home. I haven’t always kept good on that promise, but in general, it’s helped out our family time. That being said, I had quite an eye-opener recently that shows me I still have a long way to go in this area.

I wanted to take action towards transitioning to a more fulfilling career. I started taking classes towards a massage therapy degree, but that quickly fizzled. I was offered another position in my department, but I turned it down. I have no regrets about that, though, because let’s face it – I’d still be in the same exact department, just with a different boss. In the meantime, I’m stressed, I’m unhappy, and I’m still in this job that does nothing but drain me.

Side story: Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. We had lunch together, as we work across the street from each other. By the time lunch rolled around, I was really cranky. I apologized to her for my bad mood. She said, “It’s ok. You’re always grumpy lately. I can tell you’re stressed and not happy.” I don’t know why, but her comment cut me pretty deeply. I had no idea that I have been so difficult to deal with lately. It just reminded me that I need a change.

Keeping all that in mind, my word for 2011 is “breakthrough!” Baby steps aren’t enough. I need a BREAKTHROUGH to see lasting change in my life. By December 2011, I won’t even recognize this shell of a person I am right now.