Wednesday, October 21, 2009

T-Minus 30 days.. and counting..

Is it just me or does it seem like time is going FASTER and FASTER lately? It seems like it was just yesterday when the temperature was HADES outside and no relief in sight and now it seems like we're into "fall" (which we all know really doesn't happen here in Texas) and it's been raining for A LOT of days this month! It also does not seem like Thanksgiving is 5 weeks away - which means Christmas is 10 weeks away! Where in the world has 2009 gone?!?

The Kenya Adventure comes to fruition in 30 days! I can't believe it is almost here. I feel like I have learned so much leading up to this point and can't visualize what else I am going to learn through actually traveling to and ministering to the children and families that are over there. What have I learned so far? Here are a few highlights:

1) Missions Support: To be honest, right after my fear of disease this topic was the next one on my list of fears when it comes to going to Africa. So many 'what if?' questions.. what if no one can help me? will I have to find some money of my own to contribute? what if i don't raise enough money? does anyone really care enough to pray the team through this time? etc. I am happy to report that God is bigger than all of my fears and He has given me peace beyond my understanding in this area. I sent out about 75-80 letters to let my friends and family know what I was undertaking and to ask for support both financially and through prayer. My human side mentally went through that list as I was addressing the envelopes and said "This person is a prayer supporter" vs. "This one is a financial supporter." As I started receiving letters and checks in the mail, I realized that this was NOT a good way to show total trust in God to provide. I received money from people that I had 'checked' as a prayer warrior and vice versa. What is amazing is that God has still provided past what I thought would happen. As of today, I have $1,600 in my account and another $1,000 that a few people have said is on the way. God is faithful and will continue to be faithful because when He commands us to do something, he also provides the way for us to do that thing ~ even if in our small human minds we have tried to make our own plan or say that it won't happen.

2) Travel Immunizations: Whoa! I learned really quickly that there is no formula for this and really everyone (the experts) all have their own opinions about which shots that you should get and which drugs you should take, etc. It's also pretty costly (some of them) too! I think that you have to have a "do it now so you don't suffer later" attitude about this. In the past month I have had 6 shots (Hepatitis A & B, Flu, Tetnus, Meningitis & Pneumonia) and still have 1 more (Yellow Fever) to go. Luckily, a lot of these last a long time so I won't have to get them again if (maybe I should just say when cuz that's what it's looking like right now.) I get an assignment to go into the mission field again in the near future. I learned that insurance does not cover the ones that are not routine and that there was one on my list that after doing the research on it, figured out that I could not afford it -- RABIES! You are probably thinking, rabies? really? but yes, that shot is $750 TOTAL and since I cannot afford it, I will just have to take the necessary precautions to see to it that I don't get bit by any monkeys or baboons. (apparently, monkeys are like house pets in Africa and it's possible that we will see some up close and personal! fun times!).

Anyhow, those are the 2 main things that I have learned thus far and I'm sure I'll have much more to share as the time comes for us to leave. I thank all of you again for reading this far and for continuing to support me in the ways that God has given you to support.

Keep reading, I'm sure this adventure is going to get A LOT more interesting!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kenya: A few details

Many of you have asked for details about my upcoming mission trip:

  • Dates: November 20th-November 29th ~ I will probably fly out late Thursday night (the 19th) or Friday morning. We will either be arriving back in the USA on Sunday evening (29th) or Monday (the 30th).

**Please begin praying for safe travel for the entire team. Also, begin praying for our strength and endurance as we travel & come back**
We will leave DFW & be on the plane for about 8 hours, stopping for a few hours in Amsterdam. From there, we will go to Nairobi, Kenya (towards the center of the country) and then switch planes to fly to Mombasa, Kenya (on the coast). THEN, we will take a bus approximately 2 hours to our actual location for the week. As you can imagine, there will be LONG periods of time on airplanes and we will be traveling across soo many time zones. When we get there, I probably won't even know what day it is (I think it'll be the next day.. but yeah..)!! LOL Luckily, when we come back, we will gain all of our "lost" time back but we will be exhausted.

  • What will be waiting for us when we get there? We are staying in some cabins (from what I understand) at a site where the children who we will be ministering to will be staying also. There is limited electricity (you have to bring adapters but even then, you might not have long periods of power) which means no air conditioning, no internet, no cell phones and no blow dryers (I've been struggling through the things that I will miss the most.) I have been told that our sleeping arrangements will be with mosquito nets to help protect us from anything that might be a threat. **Again, please pray that we will all make the adjustments and be able to be cheerful regardless of the circumstance or situations that we might find ourselves in.**

Our primary purpose in Kenya will be to put on a Vacation Bible School type camp for these children for the week. I have no idea what my role in this will be yet. We are just starting to meet together as a team and will eventually start going over the ciriculuum and figuring out everyone's strengths so that we will be put to the best use of our talents. **Please pray for the hearts of the children and families that we will be ministering to ~ I pray that their hearts will be prepared to receive what God wants to show them through our interactions with them. The ultimate goal is to glorify God in all we do.**

  • One last thing we are praying about (and I ask you to do the same) is the financial needs of the team. The total cost per person for the trip is $3,000. I am certain that God has willed this trip to happen and that He will provide these resources. I ask that you prayerfully consider being a part of this journey financially. If you are able to support financially, please make your check payable to DENTON BIBLE CHURCH and write MEGAN HOFFMAN KENYA TRIP in the memo line. You can mail the check directly to me at the address listed below. These donations are tax deductible.

I have been asked to start blogging about all of the trip preparations as they are happening so you will start seeing those over the next few weeks. I thank you all again for always giving me the encouragement I need!

My address:
Megan Hoffman
6000 Ohio Dr. #1413
Plano, Texas 75093

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Box... has disappeared!!!

Thank you all for accepting my challenge of being my blog readers & encouraging me on my journey of life! Each one of you means A LOT to me (I think I have already said this before but just making sure that you know it..) and I hope you're prepared to be totally blown away by what I'm about to tell you.

I have been really praying about what God might want me to be used for in terms of the mission field. Am I called to go across the world or across the street to bring the Gospel to the lost? Does He want me to work with children or with adults? Things like that have been at the forefront of my mind. A few weeks ago, I got my answer...

My best friend Erica & her family have felt a strong call to go to Africa for about 3-4 years now (since they became Christians). From some of the things that God has revealed to them, I wouldn't be surprised if they went into FULL TIME missions in another country. Since I came to grips with this reality about a year ago, I have sometimes had this weird feeling of sadness in my heart when I think about the fact that there might be a time when I don't get to see or talk to them on a regular basis. I also had a few nights where I was in tears because I thought about the children (especially, Sienna, who will be 4 in October.) and how I wouldn't be able to watch them grow up. I want more than anything to serve God in whatever capacity he sees fit to use me so we would joke about how since I really want to be a teacher anyway (I REALLY DO!) That maybe I would get to come overseas with them to do children's ministry or even to home school the American kids so that they didn't have to go to a boarding school. Erica was planning on going on a mission trip to Kenya in October but the plans fell through due to the fact that her husband's company needed him in a finance meeting (also out of the country) during the same week & they could not justify BOTH being out of the country at the same time. But then God started revealing his awesome, mighty and perfect plan (and timing).....

Our church bulletin had a note in it about a Short-Term Mission Trip to Kenya during Thanksgiving week. Well, Erica saw this as her back-up to go do the work that she has been called to do in Africa. The church was having an informational meeting a few Sunday afternoons ago and E asked me to go to the meeting with her -- for moral support. I agreed and even read the blurb in the bulletin about it
(hmm.. interesting..)

We started to walk out of the church that Sunday morning towards the parking lot. As we were walking, I was carrying the 3.5 year old (who absolutely ADORES ME, btw) and I see E & her husband start to talk in front of us. The conversation went something like this:

Erica: Guess what honey? Megan is coming to that missions meeting with me this afternoon. Right Megan?
Husband: Oh really?
(they look at each other & start smiling some evil smiles and laughing)
Me: (in my most defensive & sarcastic tone of voice): *sigh* yes... I'm going to this meeting to learn about teaching children.. in Africa...and ........

I hadn't any more had those words out of my mouth before ~~~ I fell.. facedown FLAT on the ground.. the flat, no bumps, no nothing concrete that we had been walking on just moments before. My first thought as I was laying there was "Oh my goodness.. I have killed this child! We are going to have to rush her to the hospital because she's cracked her head open or something! I should hear her crying any second now..." I looked up.. and she was already on her feet! Pointing at her arm & asking "Can I have a band-aid?" AMAZING! Me on the other hand? I was not spared any injuries. My leg (I was wearing a skirt) was bleeding down the side of my leg from about my knee to halfway down to my ankle... and starting to bruise. My wrist was swelling out & a little scraped up. Everyone stood amazed over me. This little girl that I had been carrying had not been hurt at all & I was pretty banged up. Frank (Erica's husband) even said: "It was like you just laid her out on the ground before you & allowed yourself to take the fall." Something was up... I wasn't exactly sure what but I was pretty convinced that God had struck me down because I was mocking Him and his potential plans for me. The whole time I'm thinking "God's trying to tell me something.."

Fast forward to later that afternoon when we show up at the meeting. We walked in and had to sit at the back because we were a little late. I immediately saw 2 girls from the singles group & thought "Wow.. they're here? That's awesome that they want to go to Kenya." As we sat there & looked at the pictures of where the trip was going and the dates of the trip itself, it dawned on me. 1) Those children are precious and they need people to come love on them. and 2) Thanksgiving week? I already requested those days off! It's true. In the week leading up to this meeting (that I didn't even know I was going to), I had asked my co-workers & my boss if they minded me taking the entire Thanksgiving week off. No one objected and my time was approved. I have no excuse NOT to go -- and given everything that had already happened to me that day, I was a little afraid to say NO (not a good thing to say to God anyway.. but you know..)

Sooo.. this Thanksgiving, instead of staying around town and spending time with my family, eating wayy too much food and trash talking each other over card games.. I will be going to Kenya, Africa with a team of people to help teach a vacation bible school type program to about 100 children who live there. :) Am I nervous? Am I scared? Yes and YES. But God tells us in His word in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you..." I have no idea how or how much I will grow through this experience but it is obviously something that God wants me to do!! One of my biggest fears has already worked itself out -- telling my family. They were all totally cool about it. I think they see God's big picture too. My next fear (which is continuously being worked through and out of me) is disease. In Africa, mosquitoes are prevalent and they carry malaria. Mosquitoes like to bite me therefore, I could be subject to malaria. :( I know that God will continue to give me peace with that fear though and if it's for His glory that I contract some disease, I guess we deal with it when it comes.

There are a few things that I would like to ask of you guys as I move forward on this particular journey:
1) PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! Prayer for me and the team that is forming to go on this trip. Prayer that all of the resources and skills needed will fall into place both here in the US & over there. Prayer for the children in Kenya and all of the many people that we will minister to during our trip over there & during the week of the camp.

2) If you feel led to support me financially, there are opportunities to do that also. I will post an address where you can send funds in the near future. Any contribution is tax deductible.

I pray that each of you are doing well and that you will leave notes or comments to encourage me as I keep you updated on my progress.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The page is blank. The canvas has been wiped clean. The room has been cleared out. The proverbial walls have been put up mainly for protection; to keep the foolishness of this world out. Soon new wallpaper will be put up on those walls. It's already starting. A color and style that truly reflects the change that is... that HAS to go on inside of me. I want to be transparent. That starts with those closest to me though and keeps moving further and further out into the rest of the world.

I start out this way because I realized something over the past few weeks or so that is still sinking in. Nevertheless, it is there. This whole year (2009), I have talked about "My life outside of the box". Granted, I have done some new things this year that I haven't regularly done in the past but these are all OUTWARD appearances and signs. But has anything changed on the inside? I can honestly say that SOME things have changed on the inside but mainly just a growth of knowledge and information. I don't feel like I have let a lot of this stuff really sink in to where my heart, mind and attitude are truly changed because of it. I just got a sick feeling in my stomach when I typed that which tells me that what I'm saying is the truth - conviction. Luckily, if I will allow God to help - I CAN CHANGE! *Sigh* This is not going to be easy. In fact, there are some parts of it that will be downright rough and
treacherous. Remembering these 2 facts first and foremost will help me change (Taken from Beth Moore's Believing God): 1) God is who He says He is 2) God can do what He says He can do.

I will elaborate more on these points in the near future and then ponder the 3rd one: I am who God says I am.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cutting Out & Pruning

If you are reading this, you are part of a select few people that I am going to allow to read my thoughts on this blog and hopefully give words of encouragement or words of exhortation (when needed) from here on out. I value each of you as my friends & really you guys are closer than family so I hope that you will accept the challenge -- because I know it will help me in the long run.

For those of you that are new, this is my blog! I started writing off and on again about a year ago & hope to utilize more of the webspace that I have been given moving forward. My reasons for going private vary but primarily because I have noticed lately that I have some things that are weighing pretty heavy on my heart that I have wanted to write or talk to you all about... but didn't feel like sharing with the world!

So there you have it. If you would like to be removed from my list, please let me know. There will be no hard feelings and I totally understand since this is a responsibility that I have asked you to take on by reading and holding me accountable to a few things.

"A journey of a thousand miles, begins with the first step" -- Confucius

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vacation (A Much Needed Break)

Last week I took my first "real" week of vacation since I started working at my job almost 1 year ago. I say "real" week because yeah, we had a week off for Christmas break in December but EVERYONE else was off that week too! This was a week where my co-workers were still at the office & I was out and about in freedom doing whatever I wanted to do! I think I started to realize how long it had really been since I had had a significant amount of time off during the middle of June. I started getting really irritated with some people & some things that were going on & actually at one point broke down in front of my co-workers when I tried to explain how I'm feeling. It is something that I try to avoid at all costs but it was inevitable. I just don't like to be totally transparent with the people I work with (until I really get to know them) because I have been burned by this flaw in my personality too many times in the past. When people know too much about your personal life, sometimes they use it against you. NOT COOL but it's the world we live in so... it happens.

Anyhow, I started off my 12 days of freedom by going to the Rangers Game. The Rangers totally KILLED the Padres that night (love it when the Rangers win!) and the fireworks display afterwards was really good too. The next day was our Annual Community Band Performance in Red Oak. It was sooo much fun! I am a complete and total band nerd (for those of you who didn't know) and I have a blast when I get to sit around with my friends and play music that most of us are sightreading & trying to make it sound decent. Then came Monday: our Hurricane Harbor outing.

I think the last time I was at Hurricane Harbor it was 1999. I remember the basic set up of the park & most of the rides so of course, I wanted to ride it all! Needless to say, my 21 year old body back then fared a whole lot better than my 31 year old body did this time around. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was SOOOO sore from walking up the stairs and ramps to get to the rides & basically from just being out in the Texas sun all day that day. Also, I think I needed a whole day to recover from some of the things that I SAW at Hurricane Harbor. Imagine the things that we used to see on DART (Dallas) x 200! It amazes me at how many people have no concept of their appearance or how they look & act in public. If you have seen me, you know that I am not a bean pole by any means (maybe some day LOL) but there were girls that were MY SIZE in string bikinis!! No Joke! The worst suit we saw that day was a dude in some shorty shorts (2 words.. banana hammack, if you catch my drift). I have never seen so many tatoos on people in all my life either.

The weekend brought with it a trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for the Annual Hoffman Family Reunion. My aunt has a lake house on Beaver Lake and hosts this event every year. I think we had about 50 people this year. Some people drove from as far away as Florida! Basically, this is chill time. Hang out, talk, play games, catch up with the family, swim in the lake, go on the boat, jet ski, etc. Pretty much whatever you want to do.. you can do. Whenever I hang out with my extended family though, there is always a conflict that arises in me. Please don't get me wrong on what I'm about to say - I am by no means perfect or saying that I am "holier than thou" but most of you know that I live my life for Christ & Christ Alone. My family however, does not. A lot of these people spit in the face of God which makes it very hard for me to live my life out in front of them because there is always a little bit of fear that they are going to ridicule me or worse yet that I would be tempted & fall into their pit of destruction. In this environment, beer is put back like it's water, there is an unlimited supply of cigarettes (I think one might be able to get lung cancer from one sitting of all the second hand smoke) and the language factor is out of control! Luckily, through much prayer, I was able to share my testimony with a few people there and felt like I was at least able to let them know where I stand as far as the way I live my life. I will just keep praying on them that some of them will realize the error of their ways - that life is too short to be in a conflict with someone in your family and that there is more to life than beer, cigarettes and God knows what else some of them were smoking! :)

I went back to work today and surprisingly the time went by really fast. I think my co-workers learned to appreciate all of the things that I do so they don't have to and that maybe things will change a bit as far as how they treat me on down the line. I think they realized some of the stress and flat out foolishness that I have to deal with on a daily basis (yes, even Pastors give me foolishness sometimes).

That's really all I know at this point.. I am going to make a real effort to write more in this thing (if I can pull myself away from the Sorority Life & Restaurant City on Facebook..LOL)

Taking it one Adventure at a Time....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blog Relaunch

The blog is about to undergo some changes over the next few weeks -- starting with the title.

I need your help though. What should I call this thing? Out of the Box just doesn't apply that much anymore because I am already in the habit of doing things that are totally unlike me. So.. HELP!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Facebook Ministry

min⋅is⋅try [min-uh-stree] –noun, plural -tries.; def: an act or instance of ministering; ministration; service.

This topic has been on my mind quite a bit lately so I thought I'd share with you all & entertain your thoughts on the subject. I think that a lot of times we put this word into such a formal, organized and very methodical context when in reality, it doesn't have to be formal at all. Yes, pastors and church staff are on church payroll and their whole job role is centered around a particular service to individuals or to an entire church but we (you and I) can be "ministers" at our jobs, in our families, in our communities, etc. The possibilities are endless.

This really came into light for me last night at my women's bible study. I love these ladies dearly and have already made a few friends in just 3 weeks of going there. However, as I look around the room, I see that I am one of the youngest people there! That may be intimidating for some people - I know it kind of was for me at first because I'm thinking "What could these women POSSIBLY learn from me? They are more mature and wiser.. blah blah.. etc." One of our activities last night was to have a scavenger hunt among ourselves with this pre-printed list of likes, dislikes, activities.. whatever. We had to go around the room and find people who could sign next to each thing helping us find out a little more about them. Well, one item on the list said "enjoys Facebook" and let me tell you that once one person found out that I enjoy it.. they all wanted me to sign next to that and started asking me a TON of questions! Opening up avenues of things to talk about other than kids, husbands or whatever they have that I don't have - it really helped me find a common ground with these women that I can take with me further in the next few weeks to start strengthening the bonds of our friendships.

I guess the point of my story is this: I feel like a lot of older individuals tend to look at technology and social networking, etc. as something that is taking our society further and further down the path of destruction by opening our minds to all sorts of things that we never even had to think about or worry about before. While this may be partly true, I feel that social networking (Facebook/MySpace) can be very effective ministry tools if they are used the right way. What do I mean by "ministry tools"? Things that you can take advantage of to assist you in serving another person or a group of people. I have joked for a while about my "Facebook Ministry". I use this site as more than just a place to connect with people or play games or what have you. There are opportunities to help people and make huge impacts in this world through using the connections that Facebook provides.

A couple of personal examples that I have to close this out: First of all, a lot of you know that I was not a Christian as a teenager or even in college. I have reconnected with so many people who knew me in my past though and their first question is usually "When did you become religious/spiritual/Christian?" I feel like this opens up a huge door for me to share my story with them on where I was, where I've been, and what it all means to me now (if they will hear.. some are not open to it..) Secondly, I have a way to stay updated on people's lives and circumstances so that I know how to pray for them and I am able to "take prayer requests" sometimes too which helps ME know what to pray for but also can show others that might be reading my wall or status, what they can pray for also. Prayer changes lives.. that one is HUGE to me.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd share a little of what is going on in my world right now. I encourage you to pray & seek God's face in realizing where He might be asking you to step out and serve him - even if it is just smiling at that neighbor that you walk past every morning (another friend of mine was EXTREMELY blessed by just being able to do something that simple a while back).

Until next time (which hopefully won't be 2 months from now!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just not my thing..

Camping is in the air! I guess it's because it's getting to be spring (maybe, even though it already feels like summer out there) but last weekend my 2 singles groups that I am apart of went on camping trips. Since I can't be in 2 places at 1 time, I had to choose between them and ended up choosing the one through my church a) because I am really making an effort to get to know these people more than just on Sunday mornings and b) because there was no cost. I have never been a huge fan of being outdoors. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate nature and everything that goes along with it - birds, trees, grass, dirt, wind, bugs, snakes (well, maybe not snakes), other wild animals (well, maybe not those either..), etc. being outside is just not my PLHO (Preferred Location for Hanging Out). But.. since 2009 is all about getting out of the box, I sucked it up.. packed a few necessities in a bag, grabbed my pillow & some blankets (yeah, I don't have a sleeping bag) and set out for my adventure! It took us about 2 hours to get to the campsite from Plano (I met a girl at the DART station where I left my car I know.. but it was really easiest). Once we pulled up, the owner of the house where we all parked (a guy in our class' dad) piled all of our stuff into his truck & DROVE us about 1/4 a mile down the road to the campsite. Everything was set up really nicely - tents on the side (but not too close to the trees), picnic tables to eat or play cards, campfire was going with plenty of seats to sit around it & enjoy being outdoors. We just had a good time hanging out with each other and enjoying each other's company. Several potty break trips up to the house were made for us girls so that we didn't have to do our business all out in the woods (and there were boys around too so you get the picture). Everything was good and well... until it was bedtime. I guess I should say, until some people decided they wanted to go to sleep. My tent actually stayed up pretty late - 1:00am these girls were ready to hit the bed. I was fine with that - I thought I probably wouldn't do much sleeping anyway because the ground is hard and there are all sorts of noises outside that you just don't hear in the comfort of your own bed at home! I laid down and had just shut my eyes when I heard chaos breaking loose outside my tent. Folks had been talking about pulling pranks on other people all night long so I started praying "Please don't let them be doing something to me or my tent!". I was just laying there on this hard ground, looking up at the top of the tent and seeing shadows and hearing whispering and talk of "saran wrap" and "are you sure this is the right place?". My first thought was.. "They are saran wrapping me in this tent!" After I saw/heard the camera flashing and the cheering coming from outside the tent, I decided I'd better make sure that nothing had happened - AND at this point I was thinking "yeah.. guess I'm pulling an all-nighter tonight". One of my tent-mates beat me to it though.. she jumped up out of bed & unzipped the door & went outside & started going off on people for being loud and shining flashlights while people are trying to sleep, and so on.. I was actually glad she did that! Then I could see that WE WEREN'T LOCKED IN THERE!! Praise the LORD! I just might survive after all! LOL I did, however, have to go to the bathroom (again) though so I had to go find someone to walk through the cow pasture with me (dodging cow patties the whole time) or someone to drive me to the house. I found a volunteer & he drove me to the house. When we got back, I decided I needed to try to sleep a little - I think I managed maybe 1 hour of sleep, if that. Ate breakfast the next morning (or same day, however you look at it) & had a nice time of prayer by the campfire before we headed home.

OH, and in case you were wondering about the saran wrap - they wrapped a guy in his car because he was the first one to go to sleep! LOL

The conclusion that I have come to is that CAMPING is... just not my thing! To each their own in this - if you invite me camping with you, please know that I will always consider your request but don't be offended if I say no. Just like if I ask you to watch High School Musical I, II & III marathon all in one day - I know it's just not your thing so I won't be offended WHEN you say no! =)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April Musings

I apologize for slacking on the updates this month. I honestly don't know how the time has gotten away from me. It doesn't seem like it should be almost the end of April. It doesn't seem like I have been at my "new" job for going on 9 months. It doesn't seem like... I could go on but you get the picture. time is FLYING by!!

I have a small problem right now. Clothes. My clothes are too big. Before you say "That's a good problem to have" like everyone else that I have talked to, let me fill you in on why this is not totally a great thing for me right now.

New clothes require money to purchase them. I don't have a whole lot of extra funds right now to replenish my wardrobe. I had a lot of really cute stuff the last time I got down to this size (I am actually smaller now than even then..) but after I gained it all back, I donated a lot of my clothes to charity or gave them away to other people because I just didn't have room in my closet for them. I kept a few things around but styles DO change! So my dilemma at the moment is that some stuff is wayy too big and some stuff either smaller than I can wear right now or just simply out of style!

The other problem - let me disclaimer this first of all by saying that it may be too much information for some of you to handle but never the less, an issue - is that my waist seems to be the only thing that is getting smaller. When I was a certified bra fit specialist, one of the first questions that we were trained to ask to help someone figure out why their size might have changed was "gained or lost weight". My girls just don't fit the mold. Gain weight = (insert size here) -- Lose Weight = (insert the SAME size here). I don't understand it at all. Buying new pants is not an issue but buying shirts - especially when I like to wear button down shirts for work and stuff - I run into the problem of having to buy bigger so that I'm not busting out the top of the shirt (while that serves a purpose in some social settings.. work, at least my current job, is not one of them!) BUT buying a bigger size means that the bottom of the shirt is baggy defeating the purpose of being able to be proud of this accomplishment of the smaller waist that I have worked so hard towards. Dresses are just simply out of the question. I honestly am at a loss here and don't know what to do!! I thought I had it figured out back in the day by wearing minimizers but the ONLY minimizer that I have ever been able to find that I like wearing doesn't work with every shirt...among other things.

I understand that there is a time and a place for everything but putting the girls on the 90% off rack on a daily basis, in a business atmosphere, around older married men, is not something that I want to make a habit of (or ever do at all!). :) There has to be some other remedy for this problem and I KNOW I have some readers who have dealt or are currently dealing with this issue. As always, all feedback is appreciated -- and be sure to include your name (so I can either throw a flip flop at your head or thank you later!) :)

Keepin' it real...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blessed and Highly Favored: Part II

Time for Part 2: This event has really been instrumental in shaping me and has influenced the person that I am today. Don't get me wrong, I have NOT arrived.. but this is just another step on the pathway.

Anyhow, about a year ago, the church that I was attending at the time stopped regularly doing something that I felt was EXTREMELY important in bringing followers of Christ together in worship and more importantly in bringing us into a deeper fellowship with Christ himself. It was not one of those ritualistic things where we needed to do it this certain specific way but a regular and consistent practice was really all that I was looking for. To completely eliminate and have no explanation as to why was a concern of mine. I talked with the person in charge in passing at first, and then waited a few months to see what would come of it. NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. I knew that I would have to go back and address the issue again with this person in a more specific way and honestly that in itself scared me to death. During these few months, I had seen several others who were really good friends of mine leave the church because they challenged something and it was not well received. I didn't know WHAT was going to happen. So I shared my concern with said person after much prayer and consideration. He seemed open to my thoughts and concerns and I really thought that a change was going to happen. I kept praying over the situation and located some scripture to make sure that I was dealing with everything in a biblical way. (Matthew 18: 15-17). I had decided to give it 30 days and see what my next step would be. Day 28 - and still NOTHING had changed and no mention of change either. Hmmm.. interesting, I thought.. I'm going to have to go back -- and this time take someone else with me! So I prayed on it and located the person who would go with me & asked them if they would pray about going with me to talk to this person. So the next day we get to church, and come to find out we didn't have to address the issue -- everything was set up and ready to go for what I had been asking for.. GREAT! But then I started to question -- was this because of God changing this person's heart OR was this just being done to appease me and lead me to think that things had changed?? To this day I honestly can't answer that question for you.. but it really doesn't matter anymore at this point.

I kept on about my business for the rest of the summer. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that I had started going to several bible studies at other churches during this time to gain different perspectives and really to see what other churches were doing and to learn more outside of the 4 walls of the church where I was on Sunday mornings. There was tons of opposition because of that... I was learning and growing at these other places though and my only explanation for it was GOD. At this point, insert the last blog I wrote here in my time line, read about how I was on cloud 9 after the struggles that I had been through in THAT situation! :)

Anyhow, the fall came and a few things in my schedule came up that shouldn't be major issues!! First of all, my final class for my MBA fell on Wednesday nights which meant that I had to sacrifice going to a weekly home fellowship/small group meeting for 16 weeks to finish my Master's Degree. I also was asked to start leading worship for a hospital ministry on Sunday afternoons which kept me from being able to go to bible study at my home church due to scheduling. As a result, I decided to sign up for another bible study at another church that met on a different night of the week - to make sure that my cup stayed filled and that I was still immersed in God's Word other than just on Sunday mornings! All 3 of these things brought up looks, comments and outright verbal opposition towards me which, in my opinion, is uncalled for.

Before you think that everything was all roses for me on my end outside of these other people and their junk -- let me just tell you that God and I had it out many, many, many, many times over these issues. I didn't like having my whole Sunday being taken from me to serve in what seemed like total rejection sometimes when we would go to that hospital... But God said, keep going.. I didn't like driving 45 minutes to an hour (in traffic) to bible study on Tuesday evenings to study the bible with women that I didn't know AT ALL.. But God said, keep going and showed me at least one reason for me to be there EVERY SINGLE WEEK THAT I WENT! The more that I went and studied and learned and formed these relationships, it was obvious that I was missing A LOT in my spiritual life. Finally, God said "Leave and Go to the place that I have shown you".. and I was fearful of what this meant for me. It meant starting over, meeting new people, making new friends, unplugging from one place and plugging in at another. It meant stepping completely outside of a box and into territory that I had faced before -- but this time I was facing it as a Christian..(huge difference).

So I left. I contacted everyone that needed to know that I was leaving due to my service obligations and commitments. I said goodbye to a lot of friends and a lot of people who had grown to be my family... and moved on. I won't use the internet to air a bunch of dirty laundry about certain people and their opinions of all of this (specifically) but I will say that this decision -- one between me and GOD -- was NOT well received by most. It is one that is still being questioned today (either behind my back or in some peoples' minds.. guaranteed!).

Have I questioned my decision? ABSOLUTELY. Have I looked back? OF COURSE. BUT GOD had a plan for me and my life and when He speaks -- our only choice is to obey Him. I guess my reason for writing all this out is to say that becoming immersed in this new church and culture has really been the thing that has given me closure on the situation. Now it's official: I'M NOT LOOKING BACK AND I'M NOT GOING BACK! I dont' have any reason to!! When you eat steak for many meals in a row there's NO WAY that you would want to go back to eating sardines! That's how I feel about this... I have come into my own -- I found a ministry that I absolutely LOVE (choir) and am ready to give my all to that ministry however God allows me to do. I also feel like I am making friends -- SINGLE FRIENDS -- to help me learn how healthy friendships between men & women are supposed to look and to be connected with people who are in the same boat as me -- SINGLEHOOD.

to my faithful readers: THANK YOU for sticking it out to the end of this blog! I truly appreciate you! I hope you are able to see after reading these 2 posts that the God I serve is REAL and AWESOME! I can't wait to tell you more as He continues to show Himself to me! :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blessed and Highly Favored! Part I

With the end of March just around the corner, I just realized that 2009 is 25% of the way over. Time is going by so fast and I am really making an effort to keep up with everything and everyone so that I don't miss anything. That being said, I think is really important from time to time to take a step back and really evaluate where it is that you are in your journey and to reflect on some of the events that helped shape that reality. If you have read or heard me tell the stories that I'm about to tell - great - but if not, please take a moment to reflect on my path with me - be prepared though.. this ride gets kinda bumpy at times. :)

I joined my church choir (more on this later) last week and we are singing this song this week that I thought I would share:

He brought me through hard trials
He brought me through tribulations
Never let a day go by and not realize
Had not been for the Lord who was on my side

Back was against the wall
He looked out for me
He heard my cry and rescued me
Never let a day go by and not realize we are blessed

Don't take it for granted that we are here today
Just know that we're blessed and highly favored
Just know that we're blessed and highly favored

As I look back through the years,
It's amazing how He kept me.

What the devil meant for evil,
God turned it around,
Turned it around just for my good.

I know that I am blessed and highly favored.
Just know that we're blessed and highly favored.

To prepare to sing this Sunday, our director asked us to take some time over the next few days to think about time(s) when God has come through for us and shown Himself and his power to us. Below is my first example:

I will start with my career right now. I am BLESSED beyond belief by this company and the people that I work with and am CONSTANTLY reminded of how BLESSED I am on a daily basis. I start this part of my story back in February 2007. The economy was just starting to take its nose dive and the first thing my company did in preparation for that was to lay people off. I was spared though and even promoted to another position in the company. The new position carried with it TONS of job flexibility, the opportunity to truly help people who were struggling and the potential to advance up the corporate ladder into positions of leadership --- OR SO I THOUGHT... After about a month or 2 of being in this position, the corporate culture at the company started to take a complete 180 degree turn. The position went right back to being exactly like the position that I had been promoted FROM and the consensus at that time between all of us there was "Look for a new job.. and fast!". So I started doing that. I went on interview after interview for several weeks and received nothing but rejection. I thought.."this is the end all be all.... I will be here forever!" After a while I just gave up on the search and went back to dealing with where I was and what I was doing at that time. the cycle went something like this: 1) *sigh* I still have a job 2) weeks of job interviews 3) no results 4) repeat.. this continued on over and over again for the next 18 months!

At the beginning of July 2008, it had been 6 months since I had made any of the "goals" that the company had set forth for us. Mind you, the goals changed sometimes on a daily basis AND I was still being asked to make the goal the world's way so that management and the company would look good on paper regardless of whether or not the customer was actually helped. In the back of my mind, I always knew that termination was a possibility but I think that reality became evident on July 9, 2008 when I got a text from my friend Miss Dallas to tell me that one of our boys had become a casualty of war -- Duane. I could not believe it! I was on vacation at the time and the only thing I could think about until I went back to work the next Monday was.. "surely if he was let go, my time is a-comin'". Upon returning to work, I noticed that the whole atmosphere in our little corner of the office had changed. None of us understood the "why" of the situation -- just that it had happened and that we could be next. The very next day - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 was the turning point for my part of the story. I worked for that whole day and about 4:30pm I get called into a meeting with one of the supervisors (not my own, he was out on paternity leave by this time) and the head of the department. You can already guess what this meeting was about -- yep, my failure to make the goals for the past 6 months. I was given a write up & an action plan and it didn't sit well with me AT ALL. You have to understand something about me: I don't get in trouble and I don't get written up. All my life, since I was a kid, I was the model child. All the teachers wanted 20 more just like me. All of my employers wanted people who would be reliable, hard-working... well, you get the picture. There was now a write-up in my file and I didn't like it!! My fate was sure - if the goal was not met in 30 days there was a very real possibility that I would be terminated. Bottom Line. I went home that day (on the train) on the verge of tears with the write-up still in my hand. I actually didn't break down until I got to my best friend's house to go to bible study that night and even then I was going to hide it from her until she asked "What's wrong with you? You look like you're about to cry.." (gotta love BFF's -- I sure do love mine!) Our lesson at the study that night was over Psalm 128. The first verse says: Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. There it was - God's promise that He would take care of me.. why? Because I feared the LORD and walked in His ways. I walked in to work the next morning with a peace about me that I hadn't felt in the longest time. I cleaned my cubicle up that day, threw away all of the old training books and notes and materials that I knew I wouldn't need anymore. Packed all of my personal belongings on that desk in a box (well, condensed it to one box) and put that box under my desk. If I was going to be walked out of there for doing things GOD'S WAY; I wanted to be prepared!! It didn't take people long to notice that I had done this. Many of them asked me what I was doing. I didn't really have an answer for them - just that something big was about to happen and that I needed to be ready for it.

During lunch that same day, I decided to work on Project GTFO a little and applied for two positions during that hour. Both of them were non profit, ministry positions. The next morning I got calls to schedule interviews with both of them .. I went to both interviews but one position stood out above the other one. The CEO of this company had agreed to meet with me at 7am for my interview because he saw the importance of me getting to work at my job by 8am when I was supposed to be there. The interview?? Not your typical interview. I think the only question that he asked me was to "Tell him about myself.." - the Holy Spirit took it from there. He said he would call me within the week. The Vice President of the company called me the next day to do a phone interview and I had a job offer by Friday. It gives me chills to type this but the verse on my Bible Verse Calendar on the day that I got the job read:

From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
(Psalm 3:8)


God didn't stop there in revealing to me what His good and perfect plan had looked like from the beginning of all of this. Would you believe that THE WHOLE time that I was struggling through this thing -- 4 people in an office of 6 were preparing to retire?? The reason for me to go through the fire was to learn what I needed to learn about the industry, to become more spiritually mature, to witness to countless others about Jesus AND (last but not least) to wait until these other people were out the door and retired so that where I needed to be was ready and available for me!! :)

I have started to apply this principle to other areas of my life especially the singleness and my finances. I constantly have to think back on this when I start to get frustrated or discouraged in all of that.

Part II of this post will be coming soon -- a little harder to write but you'll read it when it's done.
Leave comments and encouragement if you like. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Date? Me?

You all know that my motto for 2009 is "Get Out of The Box" and I hope that you are already seeing the changes in me through this blog. It seems like I am deciding to do something different every month but since there is already SO MUCH that I am not doing -- I think there is LOTS of room for branching out. Today, I want to talk about an area that is COMPLETELY uncharted territory. I mean, this is like the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock & having to make nice with these people (Indians) that seemed like a whole other species to them. Dating & relationships that could lead up to marriage are something that are actually pretty foreign to me.

I think I went on 2 dates in High School. One was to Homecoming my sophomore year: this guy asked me if he could get me a mum because his long time girlfriend had broken up with him (and honestly, I think his mom had told him to find someone to give the mum to so she wouldn't have wasted her money!). I was in band so we didn't really get to do the whole 'Homecoming' experience. We still had to sit with our instruments in a formation & got to go out & have fun after the football game. I remember my mom drove us to Bennigan's for dinner (with some other people) and this guy proceeded to drink umpteen Dr. Pepper's just because -- he could?!? I didn't quite understand what THAT was all about but I think at that point I realized that I was not going to go out with him another time so it was settled. :D The rest of high school was pretty blah in the boy department. ALL... and I mean ALL of my guy friends were either gay or taken. I had fun with them though ~ I think I was totally convinced that their happiness was much more important than mine so I was always helping them find someone whether we were on a trip out of town or at the club (gay clubs). If you've ever watched Will & Grace, I am totally Grace (except for the Jewish and promiscuous part). SHE even likes CAKE too! :)

Anyhow, my other "date" was prom & I paid for EVERYTHING including his tuxedo (since I had asked him) AND since he was 2 yrs younger than me. But we were such good friends -- he was still really young.. and had a curfew.. and didnt' get to go to the after party with my friends and I. I wish I had a scanner so I could show you all our prom photo because one look at it will give you a clue about what I'm about to tell you... After high school (about a year) I was walking in the Cedar Springs/Oaklawn area here in Dallas when I hear my name being shouted down the sidewalk at me. No!! It can't be!!! Sure enough, my date was GAY and to look at his pictures now, I honestly dont' know how I didn't see it! (he majored in DANCE and is now on tour with someone famous, I'm sure.. still hot as all get out though!)

Fast forward from 1997 (then) to 2009 (now). I have been to college (twice). I have held 4 jobs in 8 years. I have been to and a part of more wedding showers and weddings than I care to mention (oh wait, there was cake there.. that makes it worth it!). I have become a believer in Jesus & stepped out in faith in soo many other areas that He has asked me to trust Him in. I'm having a really hard time with getting comfortable with building relationships with the male species. I can carry on conversations with any one of my friends' husband's for considerable lengths of time but feel like I would be speechless if I was one-on-one with someone that I really didnt' know all that well.

I guess the reason why I'm bringing this up is because I have been thinking about taking a step that is SO UNLIKE ME. MORE SO than the other ones!! I keep hearing these ads for these dating services (some of them Christian -- I wouldn't do it any other way!) and my interest has been peaked. There is a huge cost for some of them though and I am not one to just drop money on something at the drop of a hat without doing extensive research (up to and including LOL). I have been hearing about one on the radio for several weeks now & today decided to go check out their site. I watched the video tour that they have up there and it seems legit. The cost for a profile listing is reasonable AND they say they donate some of the money that you pay to Christian charitable organizations. I am waiting to get a response back from them because I emailed the 'contact us' link on the site to ask probably the most important question that I could not locate on their site. 'What is a Christian?' (yeah, that's probably pretty important to understand before signing up on a Christian dating site). Mind you, I KNOW what a Christian is however the world has strayed away from giving a true definition of Christianity so I want to see what their statement of faith says.

UPDATE: I received this response back from the "support team" at said dating service. Most of you who know me will be able to pick up RIGHT AWAY on the fact that this email made me cringe and want to run to my home office and grab my red pen & get to work!!!!!! This email alone may have made my decision.

Dear Magan
On behalf of (insert website here)
I apologize for the inconvenience you may be experiencing because of work of some links since the launching our site days ago. We thank you for your courtesy and patience while our technicians are working to overcome these delays.
Please, make Search, read user's profiles and you'll see that many of our users are real Christians :)))
Administration of (insert website here)

With that said, I'm just not sure. Would LOVE feedback from anyone who would like to comment. At times I have felt that sites such as these help people to "step outside" of the will of God & attempt to make things happen on their own. On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with using various outlets to help yourself be in the right place at the right time so that you can, as Tony Evans says, "be locatable". Thoughts?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting Out of the Box

I can't say that my 2 week silence and not writing on my blog is due to lack of things to talk about. There is PLENTY going on, it's just a matter of taking the time out to put it all into words and not feeling like I am just rambling on and on. The photo to the left is a great example of some of the changes that I've been putting into place over the last few weeks. I have never, EVER colored or highlighted my hair (well, at least where anyone else could see it). One summer, I thought it might be fun to experiment with SunIn and make it lighter. But I only did that on the underside of my head so that just in case I messed up, it would grow out & no one would know the difference. While this project was something that most of my friends had been encouraging me to do, I can't say that they were the sole influence for me deciding to have the courage to make the change. I had a blast picking out hairstyles online and emailing back and forth with my girls (you know who you are) in the days leading up to the "big day". I have to say that going to the salon was a lot of fun! I enjoyed that uneasy feeling of anticipation and thinking "I wonder what it's going to look like when she's finished". I LOVE the way that it turned out! I also LOVE that the way it is styled in the photo is not the end all be all. I have experimented over the past few weeks and I guess I never really realized how versatile my hair is! I don't think it looks the same from one day to the next -- that's not a bad thing -- it keeps things interesting and is helping me break the mold of the mudane day to day boringness that I had been feeling that I was falling in to.

Another change that I made just this past weekend was redecorating my bedroom. When I first moved out on my own, in 2001, my thought was that, for me, apartment life was a temporary home for me so why in the world would I take the time to decorate or buy nice things or make it "mine". I was under the impression that things like that would come along when I moved on to the next stage of living called "buying a house". After being on my own & out of my parents' house for 8 years, I see that I was sadly mistaken on that line of thinking too. The apartment that I live in now is the first one where I have really felt at home. I have lived there for almost 2 years and have actually tried to take the time to make things nice and presentable not just for me (even though, I'm usually the only one who sees it) but for anyone who might happen to come by and visit by invite or not. This past weekend, I bought a really nice comforter/bedding set and a decorative lamp to go along with it. My room is completely clean and I am working really hard to keep it that way! :) In light of that, the past 2 nights of sleep may be some of the best that I have had in a very long time. I am starting to see that the way you feel about your surroundings influences how you feel IN those surroundings.

These 2 examples are just a glimpse of some of the changes that I feel like I am starting to make in my life right now. There are a few more and while I have the space to write about them, time is not going to allow me to cover everything in detail today. Also, when I have more time, I really want to write about the things in my life that are still really difficult for me to change and branch out in.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog faithfully. You are such an encouragement to me! I look forward to seeing some of your comments on this post AND look forward to reading your next posts (*hint, hint.. some of you haven't been writing at ALL! -- you know who you are!**).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I truly do apologize for leaving everyone in suspense about the rest of my weekend. This is going to sound weird but I was so tired at one point that I couldn't sleep. And my mind was not forming complete thoughts very well -- I guess you could call me a zombie so I had to take a break from the blog.

You all will be glad to know that I made it to the end of the weekend! Saturday was a pretty good day with the kids. We took them to Chick Fila for lunch & then to a $1 movie. A cartoon that I had barely heard of. It was a pretty cute little story but I think that the adults laughed more than the kids did. Seeing as how it was the only movie rated G at that theater, we had to go with it.
Sunday morning was a little rough at the beginning because the kids were fighting and we were tired (the adults). Once we got to church and got the kids in child care (free, I'll add) - things started to look up. As I sat down in church and the music started to come on, me & God started to have a pretty serious conversation. The moral of the story was that if I was going to get through the rest of this day with these kids... I needed HIM so I'd better recognize that pretty quick, change my heart & move on with the day. After I did this & called in the prayer warriors to cover us all day long - it was a good day. My teammate (Aunt Lindsey) had to go catch her flight at noon so from then on it was me & 3 kids! Only by the grace of God did I survive. My first course of action was to take them to McDonalds for lunch & LOTS of playing! We were there for almost 2 hours... they actually came and started asking me if it was time to go yet... LOL.. never seen that happen before. Bribery was my strategy for naptime and getting everyone to sleep. It ACTUALLY worked!! I told the kids that I would have a surprise for them if they all went to sleep -- they did so I got to sit in the quiet for 2 hours and watch... hearing the laughter now... HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2!!!! :) Don't worry, I followed up with my end of the bargain - they each got 2 cookies when they woke up! It's the little things, right? Mom & Dad arrived home around 9:30pm so while I still didn't get to finish watching the Grammy's, it was really, really, really good to have them home! I even got souveniors & presents from their trip! A Hard Rock Cafe Hurricane Glass to add to my collection AND a love offering ($$$). :)

Lessons Learned (just because on Project MBA we ALWAYS had to wrap things up like this): After this experience, I still like kids (surprised?). However, I do not like babysitting especially for a long period of time like a whole weekend. A few hours might still be okay but extended vacations are not something that I think I specialize in. I think that if (big IF) I ever get married and have kids, I see myself as overweight and broke because I'll spend A LOT of time at McDonald's eating those yummy french fries and spending all kinds of money on myself & the kids. Just an observation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Project Daycare: Day I

Now, as most of ya'll know -- I always call the major undertakings that I start up "PROJECTS" -- today's (and the next 2 days') adventures are no different. What exactly is: Project Daycare? Well, my best friend decided to surprise her husband with a weekend getaway to Georgia to go eat at Paula Deen's restaurant. He ended up finding out but nevertheless, what was he going to say? - "no, absolutely not, I won't go on this awesome trip that you've gone to so much trouble to plan for us?" SERIOUSLY.. what guy would do that?!? I mean, she even went so far as to call his boss to make sure that he wouldn't try any funny business like planning his OWN little trip for them by taking the day off and basically got his entire calendar cleared for the weekend so they could do this. As far as I know at this point, the trip is going marvelously despite the fact that their itinerary for the entire trip is sitting on the coffee table in their living room....

So where do I fit in to all of this? Well, my friend has 3 kids - 10 yr old boy, 5 yr old girl, 3 yr old girl -- there are times when they are little angels & you think "aww, they're so cute and so well-behaved" and other times when you start praying for the Super Nanny to walk through the door and start giving folks the business :) These 3 kids are my "weekend project" this weekend while their parents are out of town. Luckily, my friend's husband has a sister who is just a little younger than me and single and she flew up from Corpus Christi so we could do this as a team effort. After day 1, I have a new respect for single mothers. There is NO WAY that I think I would or could find the strength to raise children on my own. There is a reason why God created man AND woman to be helpmates for each other. I couldn't do it on my own. It really wasn't that bad when just one kid was there but as the others started coming home from school - the time slowed wayyy down and the drama level intensified. One kid had to be put in time out twice for talking back to us and.. well, that might be about the worst of it. Tomorrow, we have our day pretty much planned out which I think is important because the more that we are doing with these kids, the faster the time will seem to go by and we won't feel like we are sitting and doing nothing, ya know? I will keep the blog as updated as possible but lesson learned for today -- if I am going to raise kids, Imma need a husband.

One last note (just for a good laugh) - I am reading this book right now called Marriable: Taking the desperate out of dating. I just read a quote in here that I laughed out loud at and thought I'd share. The chapter is called Men Lie to Get What they Want: the author says:

Sex is the biggest bargaining tool a woman has in getting a man to commit. Just remember you can play him the way he was meant to be played by not rewarding the big fat horny liar until you get a ring, a cake, and a binding legal document!

LOL.. and this book was at Mardel's - the Christian bookstore. too funny..

Friday, January 30, 2009

Complacently Content?

I have become really lazy about a lot of things...In the past, I have always looked for something to do when what I'm doing is finished. This applies at work, home, church, school -- where ever -- it was extremely rare to find me sitting idle twiddling my thumbs or being unproductive. Fast forward to where I see that I am right now. My job itself is not the most challenging thing that I have ever done before. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job -- I work with 5 other God-fearing Christians who are more concerned with glorifying God through our work & ministry than making money. There is NO PRESSURE to skate by or even have the thought of sliding something through that might not totally 100% follow the rules. This job has challenges outside of the actual work tasks -- people skills, personalities, etc. While I am content with what I'm doing right now - I have asked myself, is there such a thing as being TOO CONTENT? Does there come a point where you are so cool with what's going on around you & what you're doing that you become indifferent or complacent or even borderline lazy? I am so not used to having a drama and stress free workplace. EVERY other job that I have ever worked at has had some element of discord. I guess I have spent most of my life after college looking for the "next best thing" as far as my career goes and this season where I am just seems way too good to be true. I'm not looking further than this careerwise which is a question that I get quite a bit. "You have an MBA, so what now?" -- Now is the time for me to sit back and relax and soak up all this positiveness! I have always said there is a huge difference between having a life & making a living. So I guess it is completely natural for me to wonder if I have "settled" (careerwise) or if this is the end all be all that God has had for me all along? I don't have the answers to these questions and I know I'm rambling - but that's what's been on my mind for the past few weeks or so. Feedback & comments are greatly appreciated!

I have been a total slacker on Project Health & Fitness for the past week also. I have not worked out this week AT ALL. I had a plan to work out on Tuesday & Wednesday but my excuse is that it was too cold. Well, and Wednesday there was ice all up to my doorway on the sidewalk & stepping outside would've probably resulted in me falling down & getting hurt. :( Sooo... next week is a new week & I will try to do better -- ugh, as I write this I can feel the burn ESPECIALLY since me and that treadmill haven't seen each other in over a week. I have kept up with the food part of my project though. Just now I ate a Lean Cuisine (Baked Chicken) and just made the comment to my co-workers that it was way to LEAN. I am still hungry but hopefully I can fight the urge to snack by drinking lots of tea & water & then eat when I get home.

I was going to post some photos from last week's trip to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra but photobucket just doesnt' seem to want to work for me today. Maybe next time... :(

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration & other ramblings

I never really remember being interested in watching the inauguration as a child. I'm not sure why - I mean, I'm sure that we watched it but I honestly don't remember much of it. I think the earliest "political thing" that I remember was the election back in... I guess it was 1984.. and we had a mock election in my 1st grade class. I didn't know A THING about the candidates or the issues so I think I voted based on hearing my parents say one good thing about someone who was running. Then when I got home, he was NOT the person my parents had voted for (or so they told me) and we never really had any other political discussions after that. Now that I'm older, things are wayy different. The elections that have happened in this decade (2000, 2004 & 2008) have been filled to the max with DRAMA and ISSUES! I think during these times, it's really important to prioritize the qualities that you might want our next leader to have and then find a candidate who matches all or most of those. For me, first and foremost WHOEVER is going to run our nation, city, county, etc. MUST be a Christian. I think all too often we set that aspect of our lives aside because it doesnt' go with what's going on around us and honestly, that kind of thinking gets us into a heap of trouble. Also, my hope in trusting and supporting someone who is Christian is that their platform, policies, programs, etc. align with the principles that Jesus taught. There is no gray area on this -- it's a black or white issue -- an ABSOLUTE. I have written here before my thoughts on President Obama and the election (see November 5, 2008) - my position has not changed. God is in total control of this nation and this world and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it!

Even though the events leading up to the election and afterwards have not played out how I would have hoped, I was still eager to catch as much of the inauguration coverage as possible yesterday!! I think that anyone who lives in this country therefore calling themselves an American should have wanted to watch at least some of it. To me, it's kind of like the Olympics - it only happens every 4 years and I LOVE to see how all of the countless hours of planning and preparation all come together on the steps of the Capitol. I am also thankful that I work for a company who went out of their way to make sure that we had every opportunity to watch this historic moment. Granted, I had to educate some of my co-workers on the music part of things (they didnt' know who John Williams or Yo-Yo Ma was) but overall it was a great time to be able to bond with my co-workers who I am beginning to look at more as friends as I continue working with them. I would not have changed anything about the ceremony itself (except the weather, if I could) -- the mistakes that were made in the oath taking simply show that the people on those steps are human and that things like that are going to happen. I know I'd probably mess up something like that in front of 2 million plus people too! :) It was really fun to watch the parade throughout the afternoon also and talk to various people about the fashion choices of those involved. :) As I have said before, this nation has been and will continue to be in my prayers that our leaders will do what's right before God and that we would be a nation united and focused on GOD as our source for everything!

Other than that, things here are pretty drab. the only excitement has been weigh in day and seeing that I lost another 3 pounds :) I went to try to buy some new workout clothes today (I only have 2 pairs of pants & am tired of washing them all the time) but I haven't found exactly what I want yet. My task this week is trying to get my co-workers to eat healthy with me and to save money by bringing their lunch instead of going out everyday. Please pray for me in this because it is a struggle for both me (not to be judgy) & them (to follow through).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Walking vs. Running

As I sit here eating my "rabbit food" (GRASS, as our boy Duane would call it..), I have done some research on the internet about the treadmill at my apartments. I know, there are way more exciting things to read about on the web -- or even games to play (trust me, I had to stop playing Cake Mania 3 because I was thinking about... you guessed it.. CAKE!) but I thought I'd better know how the equipment works since I have been spending so much time with it.. there is a whole write up in the owner's manual for the treadmill. Here's what it says:

Q: Should I walk or run?
This depends on several things such as body weight, fitness goals, and what you like to do.Walking is the safest, most
compatible form of exercise for most people. If you’re just starting out, are new to exercise, or participate in aerobic activities
less than three times per week, we recommend that you walk. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced runner, stick with
your program — use your treadmill the way you want.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

[1] If you’re interested in weight control, walking can burn as many calories as a moderate running pace. To get a very small
increase in caloric expenditure, you have to run fast and, for most people, the extra effort isn’t worth it.
[2] Your chance of losing weight successfully is far greater with walking.Walking increases your daily caloric expenditure,
raises your metabolism, and is easier to stick with than running.
[3] Heavy users should always walk until they’ve shed some extra pounds and are closer to their desired body weight. Extra
weight means extra stress on joints and muscles, which in turn means residual muscle soreness.
[4] If you’re concerned about getting a “tough” workout and don’t think walking is adequate, try walking up a hill! You can
get just as much cardiovascular intensity (heart rate and breathing response) from walking as you can from running.

Don’t fool yourself with preconceived notions about walking -- you can sweat just as much by walking as by running.
Take it easy! Walk. Lose weight in comfort. Avoid being sore and discouraged. After you’ve reached your target weight,
reevaluate. If you like walking and want to stick with it, terrific. On the other hand, if some running is appealing, try it out
and see what it’s like. Just remember that walking will get you fit and keep you fit.

On another topic (besides Project LoFat Cupcake), there is something coming up in my life that I really want to write about on here...

but I can't..

I'm sorry but I know that you all understand that there are people who might read this who aren't supposed to know about this "thing" just quite yet. So you will have to wait.. just thought I'd put a teaser out there.. and I'm sure that I will have some people trying to guess what it is.. :) All I will say right now is that I am growing and learning A LOT where I am in my life right now and eventually I want to share some of that with you through this blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Progress Report: Week 1

A couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday... First of all, I didn't say that even though this project has proved to be a mental exercise for me - I did overcome one weakness over the weekend.. movie theater popcorn....I went to the $1 movies on Saturday morning & thought "I'd really like some of that popcorn.. oh well, I'm planning on coming back for another movie this afternoon, I'll get it then.." I ordered my Coke Zero (only) and went to my seat. When I arrived for the second movie (High School Musical 3, in case you were wondering..) the concession stand line was so long so I just kept walking through the turnstile to the movie... I think that popcorn is okay, in moderation.. and not with all that butter and fat piled up on it... :/

Anyway, enough of that rabbit trail, the real purpose of today's blog is to fill you in on my progress. As some of you know, I went to the doctor last week & that is what I'm using as my "starting weight". As of today at 12pm CST, I have lost 4 pounds.

Like Dallas says.. 1 pound at a time.. :)
I have 33 more pounds to go to hit the goal that the doctor gave me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Trudging Along

trudge [truhj]: to walk, esp. laboriously or wearily: to trudge up a long flight of steps.

Yes... it is DEFINITELY trudging..
Day 5 of my journey is complete and let me just say that I have learned A LOT so far...

1) In order for this to work, you HAVE to eat SOMETHING!!! (at least I do..) -- trying to get by on water & protien meal bars during the day and then eating a normal dinner is just not going to cut it. Don't get me wrong, I think one thing that is really working for me right now is these bars at certain times of the day -- but not as the primary form of sustenance. LESSON LEARNED

2) Peer pressure: It seems like there is always SOMEONE telling me what they are or aren't eating right now OR the ever present temptation to scrap the whole thing & either start all over or just not do it at all! I was thinking about this one today & then I realized that Project Fitness is about more than just physical health & training. It also includes the battlefield of the mind. :/
For example, every time I think about having to get on that treadmill & start sweating and hurting and all that jazz, there is this voice in my mind that says "well, yeah, you could do that... but... you'll feel MUCH better after you go workout" - I know, it's a hard concept even for me to grasp at first but I have found this to be true. My walk home from the workout room to my apartment always FEELS alot shorter than my walk there. Same speed, same amount of time, same everything but getting there is always harder than coming home.

Then there is the temptation to eat whatever I want.. "just because I worked out".. like yesterday, when my friends & I went to lunch after church. They chose the location - because they thought it had a playground for the kids (which I TOTALLY understand) - but my 2 biggest weaknesses are a) McDonalds French Fries & b) ARBY'S CURLY FRIES!!!! So as I stood in line to order, I thought "I could totally devour one of those beef & cheddar sandwiches right now and... c u r l y f r i e s!!!!!!!!!" But the more I stood there, the more I thought about how much harder it would be for me to get back on the treadmill today with all of that grease running through my veins! :) I was good... I got a salad.. those are the kinds of conscious decisions that I am having to make though on a day by day, hour by hour basis...

I think tomorrow will be weigh-in day so I can see how much progress I have made over this week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Project Health & Fitness: The Journey Begins

One of my resolutions for 2009 is to take better care of myself - physically and mentally. I normally don't make resolutions of any kind because I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT keep them - plus I don't really see the point in "resolving" to do something that you should already be doing anyway. But, I went ahead this year and decided to force myself into a... er.. goal (that's what I'd rather call them). I have written on here before about my previous attempt at losing weight - walking 5 days a week, my McDonald's fast, cutting back on soda & drinking mostly water and tea... I think the Christmas holidays got the best of me. I stopped watching what I was doing and honestly I actually stopped caring!! So now, here we are, January 7, 2009 and I am ready to make the commitment!
Yesterday my doctor gave me a goal of losing 40 pounds. I think that's a reasonable challenge as long as I stick to what I need to do. Between August & end of November I lost 14 pounds - more than I've ever been able to lose before just by doing simple things like not eating at McDonald's (my biggest weakness) and upping my metabolism with a little exercise. I was talking to my friend Dallas last night and we were both picking each other's brains on stuff that we have done or are going to try to make Project Health & Fitness a successful one. After the support that we both gave each other during project GTFO (ask me if you didn't know about that one - I'll be happy to fill you in), TOGETHER we can accomplish all of our goals (whatever they may be). You are all invited alongside me on this journey. I will do my best to update my progress here on the blog and please, please, PLEASE feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, encouragements or discouragements for me along the way. I welcome any and ALL feedback!

So as I am finishing up bottle #4 of water for today and my South Beach Living Crispy Meal Bar lunch I have to ask the question: It can't be THAT hard right?? I mean, I see other people do it all the time. What do they do? What keeps them motivated?

Until next time...