only help my unbelief


The tortoise and the hare
January 5, 2009, 9:34 pm
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Tonight while I was on the treadmill, I came up with my new running plan: Run a minute longer each time I get on the treadmill. Today I ran five minutes total. I could have run more, but I’m still recovering from a foot injury from the fall, so I want to take it easy.

I’ve always been more of a hare. When I was in high school, my hare-ness gave me stress fractures in both legs. It was so much easier to start the summer running 40 miles a week than to build up to it. Until, of course, my injuries meant I couldn’t run at all. Then I was more of a rock than a tortoise or a hare.

I was a hare last fall, too. After my summer internship ended, I started working out heavily. Running several times a week, attending group exercise at the gym, starting boot camp. And then all the extra stuff gave me plantar fasciitis, and once again, my exertion meant that for a long time, I didn’t do anything.

I guess you could say that to be a hare is to be all or nothing. I’d rather give up something cold turkey than to try and practice moderation. Legalism is, in a lot of ways, somewhat easier than liberty.

But this year, as I thought about changes I want to make, I decided I wasn’t going to tempt myself with legalism. I would make goals, I would commit them to the Lord, and I would walk in freedom this year.

I did give up caffeine and soft drinks cold turkey, but that was more because I think I’ve been suffering from dehydration. And while I enjoy a nice cold Coke every now and then, I prefer water, so it hasn’t been that hard to adjust.

I also said I wanted to avoid sweets. The only time I’ve had sweets in the last five days was on Friday night at a party. I had a few bites of Christian’s eclair cake and two small cookies. At first I felt guilty, but then I remembered that I was free to eat cookies, but I didn’t have to completely stuff myself with them. And by God’s grace, I didn’t.

Tonight I stepped on the scale after I got out of the shower to see where I stood. Before I got on, I prayed that God would make me content with whatever it was the numbers read. If I had gained weight, stayed the same or lost weight, God was still the same.

Last week I weighed 203.2 pounds. Tonight I weighed 199.2.

I remember last summer just wanting to weigh less than 200 pounds, just to see a 1 at the beginning of my weight. I counted calories, stuck to a rigorous workout regimen. And the weight didn’t come off.

So it appears, my friends, that liberty is much more effective in weight loss than legalism is. God is good.

And now I’m going to have a piece of my dad’s birthday cake. Delicious.

Remember, you can check out my Wedding Workouts to see how I’m doing. I weigh in on Monday nights.

*I didn’t forget about the third installment of Love and Limeade Slushes, but planning a wedding is actually more time consuming than I realized. Look for it tomorrow or Wednesday.

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Here we go, 2009
January 1, 2009, 8:00 am
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So I’m not a huge fan of pointless New Year’s resolutions, but I think that it’s always good to take stock of where you are and see areas in which God still needs to grow you. After all, even the Psalmist prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

In order to keep myself accountable like I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m gonna stick these resolutions over in a page on the right sidebar. I’ll check back in once a month and see where I’m at.

I haven’t included anything like “Read the Bible more” because 1) that’s something hard to measure and 2) I don’t want to treat my relationship with God like I treat my workout plan at the gym. He’s eternal and holy and precious, and if anything else, I want to pray more that I would be like Jesus. But that’s not going on this list, because I want that to be the cry of my heart.

Spiritual

  • Finish memorizing 1 John before our wedding
  • Start memorizing a longer book of the Bible (maybe one of Paul’s epistles; Philippians?) and finish it before the end of the year
  • Write Lisbet, the little girl I sponsor through Compassion, at least one letter a month
  • Work with the children in my Sunday School class to memorize the rest of the first 10 questions of the First Catechism (we can do it, Lee!)

Physical

  • Compete in a 5-10K race
  • Lose 10-15 pounds before our wedding
  • Lose 25 pounds by the end of the year
  • Avoid soft drinks and other sugary beverages / no soft drinks until after the wedding

Financial

  • Have less than $7,000 to pay off of Christian’s loan by the end of the year
  • Plan a budget for each month and stick to it
  • Save up enough money throughout the year for next year’s Christmas presents
  • Stay within our wedding budget

Miscellaneous

  • “Compete” with Christian to see who can read the most books (more about this another day)
  • Pursue more freelance editing opportunities and other forms of alternative incomes

I feel like all of these things are do-able, mostly because some of them I’m already in the process of doing; I just want to continue them in the new year. For example, Christian and I have both been sticking to a budget for the last three months. We’ve both stayed within a few dollars of our budget each month, which has been an awesome discipline. As far as Bible memorization, I’m about 1/3 of the way through 1 John, and it is a joy.

I think the hardest part will be the physical things. I purposefully didn’t say anything like “work out four times a week,” because that’s destined to fail in the face of busy schedules and unexpected engagements. Losing weight isn’t all about working out; it’s also about eating healthfully, so I think that it’s definitely attainable – it will just require a lot of sacrifice.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? I promise not to make fun. 😉



Five things about New Year’s resolutions
December 31, 2008, 8:00 am
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I promised I’d tell you what I think about New Year’s resolutions. Here ya go…

1. New Year’s resolutions are more for December than January.
Christmas is coming up, you’ve been spending more money than you wanted to, you’ve been eating more food than you wanted to, and gosh, there just isn’t time to go to the gym. Instead of cutting spending, counting calories and highailing it to the local YMCA, it’s much easier to sit down and make a list of all the things you’re going to do after January 1. Thus in addition to the general abundance of The Christmas Spirit that everyone is always talking about, you’re also experiencing a happy dose of denial about how much is exactly going to change in the new year. And when January comes and you don’t meet any of your goals, no big deal, because who keeps their resolutions, anyway?

2. There’s no accountability with New Year’s resolutions.
I’m speaking broadly here; maybe some of you do share your resolutions with other people. But I’d venture that most people (bloggers excluded) jot down a few things privately, trying to will themselves to change. It just doesn’t work. We’re quite skilled at lying to ourselves and justifying things into legitimacy. Without accountability, there isn’t anyone to tell you that you’re actually not doing all that well at keeping your resolutions.

3. Most people make resolutions that are virtually impossible to attain.
One year, I made a resolution that I wasn’t going to eat chocolate. Those of you who know me are probably wondering why in the world I would do this. I don’t know. Guess how long I lasted? Less than a day. Another year I gave up soft drinks, and it was hard, yes, but I managed it until my birthday in March, at which time all I wanted was a Coke. So I drank it. And never got back off (or is it on?) the wagon.

4. Most resolutions are made for the sheer purpose of making resolutions or to assuage guilt.
You really can’t expect to succeed if you’re completely void of internal and external motivators. The year I gave up chocolate, I just gave it up because I wanted to see if I could do it. That wasn’t enough. If I had discovered in December of the previous year that I had diabetes and needed to give up sweets, I bet it would have been a lot easier. So if you’re thinking about making some resolutions, make sure they’re things that matter to you. If you want to exercise more, then do it because you desire to be healthy. If you want to read the Bible more, do it because you want to know God – not so you can say you read the Bible in a year.

5. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
If you don’t read anything else I’ve written, read this. If you don’t put God at the center of your goals, your resolutions, your plans, then it’s all a waste of time. Willing yourself to read your Bible every day won’t work. You have to get on your knees before the Lord, ask Him to give you a desire for His Word, and then you have to open your Bible every day. But the thing is, God’s not up there keeping a tally mark system like you are. If you miss a day, you may feel like a failure, but God doesn’t. He’s more concerned with you continuing to press on to know Him than He is with you reading four chapters of the Bible each night. The same is true of any other resolution. If your goals are more financial, ask God to make you a wise steward of what He gives you. If they are heath-related resolutions, then pray for God to let you glorify Him with your body. And then wake up tomorrow morning awash in the grace He so freely offers, grace that is greater than all our sin and failed resolutions.



101 things in 1001 days
August 11, 2008, 5:00 am
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[Update (12-22-2008] I’ve removed a few things that after several months don’t seem to be that important to me, so that’s why some numbers are missing. I’ve also crossed out the ones I’ve already accomplished and adjusted some that were too vague.

I’ve read all over the Internet about this meme called 101 things in 1001 days. It originated here, where they stipulate the following guidelines:

The mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

From today’s date, I’ll hit 1001 days on May 8, 2011. I spent a lot of time last week coming up with my 101 things. Some of them came to mind quickly. When I got stumped, I looked up others’ lists online (type in ‘101 in 1001’ to Google; you’ll get thousands of sites). My final list is a compilation of the 101 best goals I could think of, and I’m so motivated by this list I can hardly talk.

seeking the one thing
1. Memorize the book of 1 John. In progress.
2. Read one book of the New Testament in the original language (ancient Greek).
3. Read through the whole Bible at least once.
7. Memorize 20 hymns.
8. Memorize the  Heidelberg Catechism.
9. Memorize Psalm 34, my ‘life’ psalm. In progress.
10. Keep a prayer journal, where I write down specific requests and record how the Lord answers them.

buffet my body and make it my slave
11. Run a half-marathon.
13. Do 100 push-ups without taking a break.
14. Run 20 miles in one run.
15. Compete in two 5Ks.
16. Compete in two 10Ks.
17. Go one month drinking nothing but water.
18. Compete in a mini-triathlon.
19. Swim one mile without stopping. Completed October 2008.
21. Lose 30 pounds.

it’s personal, ok?
22. Get married. In progress.
23. Have a baby (this will depend on when #4 happens).
24. Try 5 foods that I’ve never tried before and am sure I won’t like.
25. Never buy an article of clothing without getting rid of a piece of clothing I already have.
26. Get my own dog for a pet.
27. Begin planning something special for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary (in 2011).
28. Post a video on YouTube and disseminate it to friends and family. See how many views I can get.
29. Spend 5 days (not necessarily consecutive) where I don’t use a computer at all, even though circumstances would allow me to (i.e. I’m not camping).
30. Make an inspiration board.

do everything for the glory of God
32. Relearn all the Russian I’ve forgotten (intermediate level).
34. Read 50 books.
35. Try 50 recipes I’ve never made before.
36. Make 10 semi-homemade or homemade gifts for people for birthdays or holidays.
37. Be published once in some sort of publication.
38. Take a cooking class.
39. Make pasta from scratch.
40. Can something.
41. Buy food for me or my family at a farmers market.
42. Make a red velvet cake from scratch.
44. Buy a ‘real’ camera.
47. Bless three needy people (pregnant, sick, etc.) with a home-cooked meal.
48. Learn CSS.

consider others as more important
49. Maintain relationships with at least three people who I don’t see often, but who I really love.
50. Go on a ‘sister date’ with my 18-year-old sister, where we do anything she wants to do and I pay for all of it.
51. Go on a ‘sister date’ with my 14-year-old sister, where we do anything she wants to do and I pay for all of it.
52. Read through 10 books of the Bible with Christian.
53. Get to know 5 families/couples/women at my church well. In progress.
54. Go on 5 hikes with Christian or other friends.
55. Write a handwritten note to someone once a month, encouraging them in their walk with the Lord.
56. Send an email or Facebook message to someone once a week, asking them about their life and how I can pray for them.
57. Read through books with Katie for as long as we live in the same town.
58. Encourage Christian through writing once a week.
59. Succeed in surprising Christian one time.
60. Find an accountability/prayer partner.
62. Become a spiritual mentor to one person.

the poor will always be with me
64. Encourage 5 people to adopt a child through Compassion. In progress (2 people).
65. Become a Compassion child advocate. Completed August 2008.
66. Adopt another child through Compassion.
69. Give Lisbet’s family a $300 family gift (the maximum allowed). (Lisbet is the little girl I sponsor through Compassion).

mo money, mo problems
74. Pay off the credit card every month. In progress.
75. Maintain a $3,000 emergency fund. In progress.
76. Plan a wedding for under $5,000 dollars. In progress.
77. Keep track of every penny I spend for six consecutive months. In progress (2 months down, 4 to go).

i write, therefore i am
82. Write a book.
83. Reach 5,000 page views on my blog in one month (will update if this happens before).
84. Write five guest posts for blogs that have a larger readership than mine. In progress (I’ve written 2).
85. Buy my own domain and move my blog there. Completed September 2008.
86. Write a short story / nonfiction piece about my Nana.

keeping things simple
88. Organize my computer’s hard drive. Completed December 2008 indirectly when HP wiped my hard drive.
89. Upload all photos on my computer (and all photos I take from now on) to Flickr.
90. Make a scrapbook about my relationship with Christian using all the mementos I’ve saved over the years.
91. Go through all the songs on my iPod and only keep the ones that I actually like. Completed November 2008.
92. Name and organize all pictures on my hard drive.
93. Get rid of all books I don’t want by selling them, swapping them or giving them away. In progress.
94. Create a poster using old birthday/graduation cards; throw the rest away. Completed November 2008. I didn’t make a poster; I just threw all the cards away.
95. Go without reading any blogs for a week.

all around the world
96. Visit Bamberg, Germany, with Christian.
97. Visit Gimmelwald, Switzerland.
98. Go to all my favorite Sound of Music places in Austria.
99. Visit a concentration camp.
100. Go somewhere west of the Mississippi River.
101. Eat at a famous restaurant.

I know you want to make your own list. Spend some quality time thinking up specific goals that are important to you and glorifying to God, spend some time in prayer lifting up your goals, and get to it! You don’t have to think of 101, either. Maybe do a list like ’22 things by the time I turn 22′ or ’52 things in 52 weeks.’