Monday, April 9, 2012

An Encounter With Hope!

It was almost a year ago when I posted about My Little Man With a Big Heart. I realized that he may potentially have a calling on his life and it was important for me to foster that. So we ended up seeking a way that we can be a light in our community. For just about a year now we've been helping, along with others, serve food to the hungry once a month - see this post. We have developed amazing relationships and deep love for these people. Then several months ago our children's director at our church asked us to help pilot this missions minded project called Mission Possible. Of course then I Left My Heart In Eustis...yes...I pray for those children every single day. All of this, coupled with the fact that I'm working on memorizing the book of James and doing Beth Moore's Study Mercy Triumphs and a large part of James regards our heart for the lost, the poor, the widows, the orphans. Well, the only surprise today was that it was Monday as we normal try to devote Wednesdays to really focus on what God would have us do, how He would have us pray for the lost in our community and in our world. Actually, I love when God interrupts our plans, because His are always better.

So on with it Lisa! Today we had to go to the library to begin our research papers. Since I'm working on getting fit..and possibly thinking of a Triathlon (shhhh..I haven't announced that officially -- you know that means on Facebook right?) I figured I'm gonna ride my bike whenever I can..since I'm already running and then we just have to work on swimming. I digress. We ride our bikes (we meaning my superheros and I). Get to the library and get our books only to find that my one son's back tire is flatter than flat. There is no way he is going to make it another 2.2 miles home..just walking. So I pull out my phone and begin to make the phone calls. Two of my friends have no car, one was apparently mowing his lawn and numerous people didn't answer the phone. Hmmm?

There she was....having a bad day. So Kyle decides that maybe if he gave her a magazine it would make her smile. She smiled as she sat on the bench next to mine. She had grabbed some guy to come and tie her shoes..I'm thinking because she was too strung out on drugs to do it. She talks to Kyle and says nice and loud, "Do you think we could ask your Mom if I could borrow her phone?" So I reply, "sure can I call someone for you." I am pretty sure that my children were watching this all go down...very carefully. "Well, I need to call it, I'm really a nice person, can I just use your phone..if anyone calls you back about your tire, I will give it back!" I hand her my phone. My one son says, so astutely, "Are you worried she might steal it?"

Well, yes, that thought crossed my mind for a moment. Then I remembered, everything is His anyway. She made a few phone calls and as I listened to bits of her conversations I realized her life is hard - possibly by her own bad decisions, possibly some challenges that have come her way for whatever reason...possibly both. It was my moment. I asked if everything was ok...she replied..."Oh you don't want to hear my sob story!" Well, actually, I'm pretty sure that I'm stranded here for that very reason...with all 3 of my superheros right next to me. "YES, I do...please tell me your story. Oh and I'm Lisa by the way!"

For the next hour we sat and talked. She confessed that she was living on the streets, poverty stricken, addicted to pain medication, stemming from an accident she had a few years back, had stolen from the dollar store, was 20 years old, had a 3 year old son and hated her life...all she wanted was a good night sleep. She had a fight with her Mom the night before and slept on her front porch. She was at her end and really didn't have hope.

Well, you could have blown me down with a feather! I'm teaching on Hope at Bagels & Blessings (I have been for the past final B&B for this season is...Saturday). He is our Hope! We talked about the local shelters, food pantries...etc. I was about to ask her if I could pray for I said..."I wish I could do more, but can I...(and before I could get the rest of the words out she cried..."can you pray for me?" I was just about to say that. I asked if she had a relationship with Jesus. We went through the ABCs of salvation. She prayed that prayer with me. Then I began to hold her and pray over her as she wept in my arms right there on the curb of the library.

She couldn't stop crying. I just sat and held her hand, and put my arm around her. Sometimes you just need someone to put your arm around you. Finally someone came to pump Kyle's tire and she knew I didn't have much time to get home before it would go flat again. She asked me why my children were not in school and I told her I  homeschooled. She asked if I might teacher her math so she could pass her GED. "If I could get my GED maybe my life would be different!" I gave her my number and told her I would do it. I would teach her what she needed to pass the GED. We embraced. She told my kids to "Stay away from drugs!" ;) and off we went.

Kyle: "Mom, you gave her Jesus today!" WOW - I'm often shocked at his abilities (being my boy on the spectrum)!

When we got home my Shane had lots of questions about what she talked about. Abuse, drugs, homelessness..."Mom, what if she has to sleep on the streets tonight can we bring her some food?" YES!

I made lunches for everyone including our new friend. We drove it to the library. Peanut butter and jelly, an apple, banana, and orange, some peeps and other candy and a bottle of water. It really was all I was what my children ate too. She saw me, my boy hands her the bag and I tell her..."Lunch. Because we love you and want you to remember how much you are loved by the Hope of this world...Jesus!" She was so thankful. Her friend was there now too. She asked if I could pray for her too. Of course! They both cried. She looked up at her friend and she said..."I want to go to Lisa's church...I want to turn my life around!" She hugged me and told me I was an angel. I reminded her that no...I was a girl..just like her...saved by Grace. I asked her to just think about what we had prayed about...and consider this a gift of love from Jesus, the One who Loves you just as you are..and longs to rescue you..if you allow Him to.

I don't know if I will ever see her again. Possibly, this could be her story...ten years from now. I know one thing for sure. She had an encounter with Jesus today...and so did we.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I've Stopped Calling It A Battle

About 4 years ago, my doctor told me I probably would not be able see my children graduate high school if I continue down the road I was on. Truth! I was a walking stroke just waiting to happen. My cholesterol was 383, my triglyceride levels were 830 (I am not kidding..I have the blood work paper still here). My blood pressure never knew numbers below 140/90 and at times it was much higher. I was well over 80 lbs overweight and I couldn't hardly walk a mile. It is so hard to see me like this, but just to give you a peek into my past...this was me about 5 years ago.
Unfortunately, when you have a real weight problem, you have a tendency to see yourself like matter what the mirror shows. I talked about that in last week's post. I've struggled with my weight my whole life. In 2009 I joined Weight Watchers. (I hate admitting this..but this is why I'm writing this). I decided that I really really needed to live, for my children, I needed to honor God with my health, I wanted to teach my children to ride their bikes. 
This was me 9 months after joining Weight Watchers. (I should mention I got off all 8 of my medications...NO diabetes, NO high blood pressure, NO high cholesterol, NO high triglycerides and I ran my first 5K during this year too...yes..that would be 3.1 miles) This was my lowest weight in years. I am not at my goal here. I was only 27 pounds away from my goal. So close. I started to feel confident, a little relaxed because..."I WAS GOING TO DO THIS!!" It was so close, I could...taste it. (poor choice of words, but it works). Oh I haven't gained all the weight back, but I did gain 18 lbs since 2009 to 2012. I am now 36 lbs. away from my goal today. How did this happen to me?

I am serious about personal reflection and I ask the Lord to search me too. Psalm 139 is powerful, the whole chapter. Sometimes I sit and read it back to God during my time with Him.  "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Here is what I've learned. I have said all along that "I have battled this weight loss thing for years.", "This is an ongoing battle!" "I'll probably have to battle this forever." "Every day is a new battle..faced with" 

Even typing the word battle makes me feel worn out. It's true. Just say it. Oh come one is listening. The term battle comes with a sense of heaviness. (and quite frankly who needs more heaviness..especially with a weight loss issue!!) Think about a battle. Do we look forward to the battle? Probably not. You might feel strong at the beginning of the "battle" like "I AM GOING TO DO THIS!", but then you get weary because a battle wears you out - sometimes it feels like it is taking FOREVER! Eventually you may not even look forward to doing battle. You get out of bed and think...where is that white flag!?!

Well, I've stopped calling it a battle! It's not about winning anymore for me. It's not about defeating the old enemy called food or fat! 

I'm calling it a journey. This is my weight loss journey. Now say it with me...journey. Doesn't it kind of sound a little exciting? Like anticipating an...dare I say...adventure! Yes, it makes me feel invigorated, excited and hopeful. It's a journey. A journey, as my blog defines (go and peek over at the margin to your right) is a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time. This makes me smile. For me losing weight is a journey. I now look forward to getting up and starting each day. Guess what, its no surprise that it is taking a "rather long time." Oh but my perspective and attitude have changed. I'm excited. It's an adventure. Where once I dreaded going and meeting with my Weight Watchers friends (and it wasn't always like that by the way) and even the scale, now I see it as...hmmm...exciting.

Oddly enough since I've begun training for my 10K, (I only have two more weeks left) I haven't lost more than 1 pound a week and many weeks I've lost less than that. In fact two weeks ago, I gained a pound. (Jaw dropping to the ground!) I've been working my muscles hard...and they are getting stronger and harder and working to help my body burn even better. I'm writing this because I started to get discouraged, until last week in my reflection time I realized, I'm not in a battle, I'm on a journey...and then I found it exciting and positive again!

So this is me last month. Ten pounds from reaching my lowest weight on this particular journey. I am still off all medications (except thyroid..I don't have a I need one little pill a day forever.) Not only can I run a 5K and shave 5 minutes off my best time (I have one coming up in 3 weeks), but I can now run for 45 minutes....without stopping! Eight weeks ago I could only run 8 minutes and had to catch my breath. I'm still 37 pounds overweight, but I'm healthier now than ever and...I'm on a journey!

Finally, will my journey ever end? Will I get to that place where I am free to be me? The answers are NO and YES. This particular journey will never end. However, there will be challenges and rewards and different will always be exciting! I will always have to be conscious of what I eat, and always do my best to make good choices. That is, if I want to enjoy a life of good health. So no, I will not be rewarding myself with a big old chocolate cake when I reach my goal weight! I can never do the things I use to do, or I will end up in the same place I use to be.  However, I will arrive at that place where I'm free to be me. The new me. The me I've been conditioning and training myself to be. The me that really enjoys a strawberry banana smoothie! I'm expecting by the time I've reached my goal weight, I will have changed in some other areas besides my size. My lifestyle will have changed...there is freedom in that. I'm not saying that I will NEVER SLIP UP...I'm saying I am going to do everything to remind myself that this is not a battle & I don't have to GIVE UP (find the white flag or throw in the towel)...because after all...its a journey!