My wife turns 30 today! She’s no longer a 20-something. You’ll always be younger than me.
I’m so grateful for such an amazing wife. I’ve posted several posts over the last 2 weeks about what she means to me, and how important she is to me. I can’t seem to ever find the right words to properly define it. She’s just awesome.
Her compassion is tangible, and helps me keep my focus on what’s really important in life. I may laugh when she cries at commercials and movies, but that is usually to hold back my emotion. I’ve known her for 18 years, I guess her compassion has rubbed off a little. I’m grateful.
One day, when we were first married, I showed her photo to a customer of mine. He immediately said, “you married way out of your league”. To which I agreed immediately, and continue to to this day.
She is such an amazing person, never mind an awesome mom and wife, but she alone is awesome.
Happy birthday hunny! I look forward to growing real old with you!
One day, my 8-year-old son wrote two notes. Being the attentive parents that we are (more my wife than I), we confiscated the notes. One note was to one friend, Bob, and said basically that I’m not your friend anymore, and you’re not Mike’s friend either, and only Mike and I are best friends. The second note was to Mike, and said not to be Bob’s friend anymore. He even signed the one to Bob: Love (crossed out) Jeremiah.
Before heading to work, I talked to him about it. I asked what’s going on, and he said that Bob made fun of Mike’s shoes so he’s mean. I tried explaining that people will be mean to him for life, it happens all the time, and the best thing to do is to accept this fact, and don’t fight back, rather move on. He didn’t like that answer. Then I asked him what he thought Jesus would do. He wasn’t sure so I explained that Jesus said to love your enemy.
He slapped his forehead and didn’t believe me. He left the room and came back with his Bible, and said show me (I love his eagerness to know the truth, and not simply trust my word for it). So I turned to Matthew 5:44 and read a few lines. He then wanted to see it and read it himself. I said read all the way to verse 48. He was bewildered.
I then headed off to work, but told him to think about it, and what it means to him.
My wife texted me a little later and said she and him had a conversation about it as well, and he couldn’t understand why the Bible would say that. It doesn’t make any sense! And alas, that’s the truth, sometimes the Bible doesn’t make any sense, but regardless its the truth.
Explore 1 Corinthians 13, what is Love? It’s not an emotion, it is action. Love is something to do, and doesn’t care what your mood is or how bad the other person is. In its perfection, Love is unconditional.
This made me think long and hard that day and since. How am I loving my enemies? Well, I don’t think I have any, I’m an easy person to get along with, and I seriously can’t think of anyone who I’d call my enemy.
Then I got thinking some more.
It’s easy for me to love my wife, and my kids, and my friends.But…
What about that stranger I’m behind in the grocery store who has 20 items in the express 12 items or less lane. Am I acting in Love when I grumble under my breath loud enough so they hear me?
What about that person I just clash with, our personalities are oil and water, we just can’t seem to get along so I avoid them. Is that Love to avoid them? It makes my life easy, but is Love selfish?
What about that family member that drives me nuts with their conversations, and their attitude. Easy for me to blow them off and ignore them. Am I Loving?
What about that person who I think is trying to be my friend? Since I don’t need any more friends, or see value in becoming their friend, I act polite and walk away as fast as I can. Love?
This is a tough one. Sometimes I think it’s easy, or almost romantic to say “I love my enemy”, but what about those who aren’t our enemies? Are we still loving them?
“Put out as much as you can. It doesn’t do anything sitting on a shelf.” -Brian Eno
So, if you haven’t seen me since the winter, I’ve lost 60 pounds this year, most of it from January to March. I went from 315 to 255 pounds! I kick started my weight loss by doing one small thing: stop eating sugars.
I lost 40 pounds in one month by taking sweets and candies out of my diet. It was tough. I surprised my wife when she came home with my favorite piece of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and I said “No thank you, I’m not eating desserts anymore.” After that, she was incredibly supportive and I greatly appreciate her through all of this.
I stopped desserts, candies, CoffeeMate creamer in my coffee, mixed coffees from Starbucks, candy drinks, sodas, and whatever else I could determine had sugar in it. Once I was committed and had my wife supporting me, it became easier and easier. I’m now 9 months in and have yet to have candy or a brownie. I enjoy my coffee black with Splenda. I’ve had birthdays, parties and other festivities where the cakes and sweets looked delicious, but I refrained.
After the first 40 fell off, the next 20 were a little more stubborn. I walked once a week with a close friend of mine. I started trying to eat frequently, like small snacks every 2 to 3 hours during the day. I minimized my meal sizes, pulled back from going for 3rds. This seemed to help and it took a good two months to lose the other 20.
So now I’m at March and lost 60 pounds, and then my weight loss would plateau for the next 5 months, which brings me to September, weighing in at 255 pounds.
I want to lose at least another 20 pounds, and I’ve decided to use the gym to do so. I could cut additional foods out of my diet (like yummy sausages, hot dogs, cheese, breads, bbq chips, pizza, etc.) but I don’t want to. I love an Italian sausage from a street cart in Boston, and my Baby Bell cheese snacks and pizza from AJ’s Kitchen, YUM! If I really wanted to I could cut these and probably shave some more weight off, but again, I don’t want to.
So now to the gym I go, at least twice a week, focusing on running, with some weight lifting. High heart rate to help burn the fat, and low reps high weight for muscle growth. At meal time I eat healthier foods first (like salad, fruit, Larabar) before the main course, which fills me up faster and minimized the amount of other foods I take on. I’ve decided that if I can lose the next 20 pounds by staying in a routine with the gym, then I’d consider enjoying some small desserts once in a while. I want to make sure I’ve set myself up to win, and once in a routine, it should be easy to keep the weight off.
What changed? Why did I lose the weight? My quick answer is “I just felt like it, so I did it”. I wish it were that simple. A few things in my life finally pushed me to do it.
Leading up to the decision and the change to lose the weight, I was battling with how. How can I lose weight? What’s the best method? I researched some options, and looked hard at options that lowered my responsibility in the entire process. Things like health supplements, like hoodia, which helps curb my appetite intrigued me. Also the idea of taking a pill which would fill my stomach so I feel full longer was cool.
I also checked out a more hands on approach, a surgical process like lap-band, to help shrink my stomach. I quickly dismissed this for a couple reasons: one I don’t like needles, so surgery isn’t on my top ten list of things to do, and I was afraid of the embarrassment of telling people about it later on. Being out of work for a few days and then suddenly losing weight would be hard to hide.
I was able to agree that controlling my appetite would definitely cause me to lose weight, but did I want to use something else to do it for me? Couldn’t I just do it myself? If I used something else, would I be dependent on that forever? Could I ever say I lost the weight, or was it just hiding, waiting for me to forget to take the pill again?
The reasonable side of me thought if pills will help curb my appetite, and surgery would basically do the same, I narrowed down the solution: I need to cut back on how much food I eat. Simple.
So I figured out the how, and I began to try it, without telling anyone. That was a big mistake. Not telling anyone set me up for failure. But I didn’t want to tell anyone, that would admit I was fat and that’s embarrassing, or so I thought. So instead, friends and family would simply assume I’d eat the last piece of pizza, or cake, and so I would. They didn’t know I was trying to lose weight so we all continued down the already paved road.
I finally committed and stuck to it because of others.
A friend at church lost a lot of weight, I didn’t know how, but he looked good and I wanted to too.
A customer of mine that I highly respected was in the process of losing weight, and he talked about it. That was inspiring and loosened up my fears.
My good friend who I previously mentioned lost a lot of weight right before I started. He was then diagnosed with diabetes. That was scary. He’s come a long way and has it under control, but it was a little bit of a wake up call for me.
And probably most important, my kids. Funny thing about kids, they aren’t up on the whole “politically correct” thing, so they would say daddy’s fat, or I don’t want to be fat like you. What a great wake up call. I didn’t lose the weight only because of what they’ve said, I want to be healthy to have fun with them, to play and chase them around (or be able to carry both of them up 2 flights of stairs when it’s bed time, what a workout!)
My commitment to weight loss and eating healthy isn’t just a “diet”, it’s a change of life. Saying it’s a diet implies it’ll end, that it’s a temporary phase. So many people, including my self, have tried different diets for a period of time. Instead, I’ve changed my diet (what I eat day to day) and my choices. I’m not looking at this like once I lose 80 pounds I’ll go back to what I use to do. Instead I will always be mindful of what I eat, pay attention to amounts, keep exercising, and maybe sneak in a sweet here or there.
Where do I go from here?
Regardless of the next 20 pounds, I’m going out and up! My life has changed so significantly that I love spending time outdoors, hiking, playing with the kids, walking, going to the beach and more. I get antsy if I sit around too long on a Saturday or Sunday (no fear of that anymore with a new house ;), I need to be doing something, and I love to with my family. This weekend I’m going up Mt Washington via Tuckerman’s Ravine, I can’t wait (not with the family, a few friends). Expect a post on that one!
I hope this helps if you’re looking to lose weight. I hope I am some sort of motivation to someone, like I’ve had motivators in my own life. I’m sorry if I down play pills or surgery. They may work for you and that is great, I know someone who has a lap-band, and I never think less of him/her. These options just wouldn’t work for me, and I hope they do for you.
“God where are you? Why have you left me? I can’t do this alone and you’re not helping me.”
Noah, with his limited faith (in comparison to what we now know and the salvation of Christ, I think he had it rough), believed that God would take care of him. He built a giant ark and loaded it with animals and sat in there for about a week before it even started raining. God gave him a heads up and said it would rain for 40 days and nights. So at the end of the rain, what did Noah think?
“God, the rain stopped a few days ago, thank you! But theres no sign of land anywhere…”
The NLT translates that it took about 12 and a half months from the beginning of the flood for it to all dry up and they exited the ark. A year! Much longer than the 40 days God originally said. What do you think Noah thought?
“God, me here again. I guess you know that since I’m one of eight people still alive. It’s been three months, and nothing yet. I’m still here, waiting for you to let me out. You originally said it would be forty days. Don’t forget about me down here, I still need you.”
Noah could’ve thought that he missed the mark on this one, that maybe God forgot about him. Maybe one of his sons thought it was up to him to try to steer the boat or possibly go on a raft to find land. Noah’s wife may have panicked after the third month saying that the food was running low. How do you plan for enough food for a flood of this size anyway? I can’t imagine living in a large boat with stinky stanky animals for a year was stress free.
Did Noah doubt God? Did he have a choice? He couldn’t have gone anywhere but he could’ve gave up on God in his heart and simply waited for his life to improve on it’s own.
We know how the story goes, they were finally are able to leave the ark, Noah does some sacrifices, God is pleased and makes a covenant via a rainbow. All is well and the year locked in a large wooden fecal producer would soon become a distant memory as Noah played with his grand children and his great grand children.
Imagine being stuck in that boat for so long, much longer than the 40 days God had said. I would’ve been a little frustrated, “God, you said 40 days, now we’re going onto 150.” Does this make God a liar? The rain did stop didn’t it?
Our human (faith lacking) instinct is to explain what we see, try to define it, and then hold to whatever truths we make up and get it done ourselves.
“Here’s the deal God, you said forty, it’s been five hundred. The only option I see is to find land on my own…”
Faith says that if God sent me, and asked me to, and said he’d provide, then I will wait on him no matter what comes my way. Even if I forget, God never changes.
“Hi God, just me again, thank you for sparing my life, and thank you for letting my family live with me. You are an amazing and wise God…”
Are you waiting on a flood to dry up? Do you feel like God may have promised something, but now you’re doubting it because it hasn’t come through, yet? I want encourage you, press on, God knows what he’s doing. He created you, and loves you so much. Rely on him and his word, trust him. I know it’s hard, I’m in the middle of it right now. Daily I reach out and let him know that I am still counting on him, that he’s still my God and thank him for the promises he made.
I just finished reading The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. It is a great read for new and old Christians. The sub title is “Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist”. Come to find out, it’s really easy to be a Christian Atheist and not even realize it. The book starts off with some of Craig’s life stories. But then covers a broad stroke of what we as Christians deal with daily: When you believe in God but not in prayer… but won’t forgive… but still worry all the time… but don’t share your faith…
This book convicted me in a few places, and I want to share one of them: I believe in God but pursue happiness at any cost. I tend to lean more on the side that God wants to bless me and wants me to be happy. The Bible says so, doesn’t it? In the past I’ve justified it and my thousands of dollars of debt agree. During my college and early marriage years, I have purchased more stuff than I can remember. Stuff that made me happy, legitimately made me happy. Why else would I buy it? I found happiness in having the cool toys and gadgets and also found happiness in impressing my friends and family.
I recently finished paying down a hunk of debt, about $15K through a debt consolidation program. This is a very sobering event. This money bought be stuff to make me happy, and yet I don’t know where any of it is. I didn’t trust God to make me happy, instead I took it upon myself to make me happy. And I paid dearly for it (literally and metaphorically). If you’re in debt you know the stress that debt comes with. The pressure knowing I have to pay $800+ a month just to make creditors stop calling me. Nevermind buying groceries, paying rent, gas, etc. It sucks!
My good friend Dan is my financial conscience. He and another friend helped me through a budget and focused me on paying down my debt. If I’m positioning myself for a larger purchase I run it by him, he usually talks sense into me. He let me get a digital camera but not surround sound. Funny, sometimes I don’t even need to talk to him, I just need to imagine the conversation.
All this for a feeling of happiness?! I’m crazy…
Jesus has, over the years, shown me what is important. It’s not the immediate pleasure a thing gives me that’s important. That pleasure is almost addicting and has caused me some significant debt. I have been on numerous mission trips to third world countries and even some rough parts of the US. I have seen people happy with a fraction of what I have. Happiness that is found in Jesus Christ is better defined as JOY. I describe happiness as a fleeting emotion that comes and goes with the weather, and in New England that can happen more than once in a day! Years ago, if I lived like I experienced others living I would be miserable, I couldn’t be happy because I didn’t have my stuff.
Being happy is great but to make any decisions because you want to be happy isn’t a good idea. Buying a new TV may make me happy, but only until a new TV model comes out. What Jesus has drilled into my head is to find joy and satisfaction in what I have. My TV is a few years old, it’s a plasma, so it’s a few tech-iterations old as well. Now that LED is out, I don’t think they’re making plasmas anymore. So my gut says I can swing a grand to get a nice LCD or even an LED TV, and I could too! Instead, I ask Jesus to take this desire for the latest and greatest and I study my TV closer and appreciate it for what it is. It is HD, and has a brilliant color. I can’t complain. It’s not the newest but it still works like it’s new.
My relationship with Jesus Christ is the happiest thing, most joyful experience I have, daily. Second, my amazing wife and kids. Third, friends. After that, nothing else matters. I am constantly reminded of how important my life is over my stuff, and how important it is to be joyful in life and not happy in stuff.
If you follow me on Twitter, @happyrealist, you may have recently seen me post pros and cons for getting an iPad. I want one and I slipped back into my routine of wanting it because it’s cool, and my friends would be impressed. Dan doesn’t approve but if I can convince myself enough I’ll get it. Reading through this book, it clicked. Forget it making me happy for a moment and turning to a flawed human (sorry Dan) to make decisions like this is a little backwards as well. It clicked, I asked Jesus “can I get an iPad? I really want one, it’ll be fun with the kids and I can use it for work as well.” He didn’t respond audibly, but I knew I shouldn’t. I’m okay with that. I need to be a better steward of my money (another blog post for another day) and if I bought an iPad now, that would cut out of my saving for a house, a vacation this summer and possibly take away from future opportunies God may have for us to help someone financially. Am I perfect? Nope, but I’m working on it.
There are other methods of finding happiness. Some use sex, drugs, work, social life, etc. My biggest method of finding happiness has been buying stuff. I choose to be happy daily, I choose to find happiness in what I have that’s more important than stuff. I’m not always happy, I have bad days, but I hold onto the joy of my Saviour. I highly recommend reading The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. It will touch you in at least one chapter, and may open your eyese to other areas you can improve. I know it did for me.
Knowing happiness, true happiness, is found in Christ and his love, I will pursue at any cost!