April 21, 2016

Update and Plans

It is a blessed and very warm day here in Phoenix. To make matters worse, our home AC unit is on the fritz. Yes, the AC turned itself off last night, and today is going to hit triple digits. Let’s just say that the combination is not welcome. The good news is that the AC repair man is coming out this afternoon, and praise be to God, I am hoping he can get our unit working again.

It is Thursday, by the way, and that means that I am at home. I am glad to have this day off. I woke up after a very fitful night of rest. I tossed and turned all night, mostly due to my aching hip. I have arthritis in my right hip, and the walking/standing combination these past couple years has really taken its toll on me.

In truth, it was my stint at Macy’s that caused all of this inflammation. Since I worked retail in 2010-11, I have suffered whenever I have had to stand or walk for long periods of time. Now, it is pretty common to have my hip ache at night. I find it difficult to get into a comfortable position, so I roll over and over and over.  I am not sure what to do about it, other than just keep moving until I find a spot that works for me. I know the irritation is due to my scoliosis. My right leg is about 1/2 inch shorter than my left, and as a result, I have always had hip pain on this side. I probably should visit an orthopedist at some point because the pain is getting to be more uncomfortable as I get older. Lord willing, He will provide a job to me that allows me the freedom and flexibility to stay off my feet. Yes, Lord, please provide a job that will no longer require that I stand for long periods of time. Selah!

Week 3 Shred Update

Well, it has been three weeks now, and I have not been as consistent with my workouts as I had hoped. Life intervened on me, and as a result, I missed a couple days here and there. Overall, I am pleased with my progress. I have lost 1.5 pounds and about an inch from my waist and my hips. My thighs have stayed the same size, but they look better, more shapely and smooth (yay!) My endurance has definitely improved. I can hang with Jillian through Level 1 now, so I am ready to move to Level 2 this week. I really like this DVD. I bought Tracy Anderson’s Dance Cardio for Beginners the other day so that I would have an alternative workout, and while I like it, I realized that I am more of a strength and conditioning gal than a dance gal. Plus, I am so uncoordinated — I never could dance — and the routine, while not super difficult, is awkward for me to do. I tried it this week, and I did work off about 100 calories (LOL!) I will keep it in my fitness arsenal as a 15-minute workout that can be done when I need a little pick-me-up.

One of the things that I have learned these past couple weeks is that my fitness goals need to be revised to be more in line with reality. I had the epiphany this week when I came to terms with the fact that I am not going to lose 20 pounds in 30 days as promised by the cover of the Michael’s DVD. Yes, I think a lot of it has to do with my starting fitness level and my age. Frankly, at age 53, I have metabolism issues and menopause to contend with, and in combination, my body is slow to respond to the changes I have made. I am realizing that it is going to take me a lot longer to get into shape than it did when I was 40. It is just a fact now that my body responds at a slower rate than before so I have to deal with it, and I have to move on.

My Core Plan - Eating Healthy

I am sticking to my diet plan of 1200 calories, drinking more water, and choosing healthy food items. I am tracking my food consumption daily, and the APP is doing a great job of reminding me to eat, eat, eat. I can see this as a problem for me. I often skip meals because of my teaching schedule, and I am sure this is part of the problem. I am going to start eating every 3 hours instead of missing meals. Hopefully, this will reboot my metabolism and then I will start to see that scale budge. Until it does, however, I am going to focus on fitness rather than the scale. The scale lies — it is truth — because pounds are pounds. My goal now is to continue to track my food, but not force myself to eat certain combinations of foods. Nothing is off-limits. I am controlling my portions and choosing food that will build muscle and not add fat. Common sense dieting is the key. I still would like to switch to Paleo at some point, and I may do it this summer while I am off from work. I need to purchase a food processor so I can make my own flours. I would like to start making healthy treats with whole foods — but for now — that has to wait. I will continue to track my daily food totals and let the “diet” work.

My Core Plan - Getting in Shape

Now that I revised my plan based on what is reasonable for a 53-year old woman, I am convinced that building strength is my friend. I need cardio and strength-training as a combination, and the more muscle I add, the better I will feel. I’ve known this for a long time, but I was always unwilling to put in the work. I am loving weight-lifting so my new approach is to build muscle in order to burn calories more efficiently. I plan to stick with Jillian. I like her DVDs best, and I will rotate through them as originally planned. I am going to go a little slower, though. Today, I will start Level 2, and then stick with it for a minimum of 20 days. I have heard that Level 3 is not really that difficult compared to Level 2, so I will just stay with Level 2 until day 30 is up. Then I will go to “Killer Buns and Thighs” and work through that DVD for a whole month. I will then pick up “Ripped in 30” and because of the previous two months, I should be able to handle Level 1 or even Level 2. We will see.

My goal is to get fit. I want to look good. I want to reshape my body in a good way. I am not going to be a body builder or have a skinny body (yeah, the three-sided mirror in Target was not kind to me the other day). I have come to terms with the fact that I am a medium-sized woman. I have to be honest with myself. I am a size 10. I have large breasts and wide hips. I have stretch marks and veins on my legs. I have cellulite on my thighs. I have wrinkles and I have some sagging areas on my body. I have lived a good life, had a child, and spent most of my years not living as I should — not putting fitness or eating healthy — anywhere on the “high priority” scale.

Now, that I am moving into my mid-50’s I want to take control of my appearance, and my health and wellness, and that means to maintain a realistic picture of what I can become with handwork and consistent application of nutritional principles. I am simply not going to look like the models on the DVD. I am not going to be super skinny. I am not going to have perfectly packed abs or a button butt. No, I have to get all these pictures out of my head and start seeing what can become of the shape God gave to me. Thanks to my good genetics, I am blessed with what my Dad calls a “farm woman’s body.” By that he means that I have the type of body that is average size, medium, but built for hauling and digging and doing chores. I am sturdy. I have the capacity to do the work necessary for life on the farm. This means that I tend to build muscle easily. I am pretty compact — tightly constructed — so while I don’t have that thin dancer’s body, I do have a strong physique.

I cannot go against my genes, no matter how much I would like to wear those cute summer fashions. Yes, I have to be honest, realistic, and what is more, I have to be modest. You know, modesty is a challenge in today’s fashion market where it is very common to see women of all ages exposing themselves to the world. I don’t want to cover up, per se, but I also don’t want to flaunt what I’ve got. I need to wear clothing that covers me — especially my upper body — and that doesn’t fit me too tightly. This is a challenge because of my hour-glass figure. So my plan is to reshape my body for health, vitality and wellness, but also to make it possible for me to look good in clothing that flatters my shape without creating anything too revealing. It is a challenge, but I think I have a good plan in place to accomplish it. Lord willing, I mean.

Other News

Yesterday, as I walked from campus, I checked my email before heading home for the day. Lo, and behold, I received a request for video interview at Colorado Christian University. I was really surprised to receive this email because their auto-response message to me had been a bit off-putting to start. After I had applied, the email that thanked me for my interest said that their interview process would take 60 or more days — if selected. Moreover, the school normally receives 4000 applications a year (WOW!), so I knew that they were highly selective when it came to the interview process. I pretty much shrugged this one off as a bad fit. I mean, I figured it was such a long-shot to even be considered for an interview. Then, the email came, and well, I was stunned. I mean, Lord? What are you doing?

Yesterday, I prayed to release my work, the job, the whole process of looking for a job, to the Lord. I am so tired of it all. I am tired of trying to guess what the Lord intends to do with my life. Will He keep me in teaching? Will I work part-time only? For how long? Another year? Will He move me to corporate work? Will I stay in Phoenix or will I move to another state? ACK! All of this pondering has left me feeling winded, and what is more, I have lost my focus and been unable to move forward on my dissertation. So, I let it go. I gave up. I said, “Whatever, Lord.” I mean, whatever He wants me to do, He will open that door, and I will do it. I am no longer going to plan, to prepare or even to ponder other options. I am going to hunker down and finish what is on my plate. I am going to let Him take the reins and move me, do with me what He deems best. Yes, that is what I said to Him, and then BAM! I get this email.

I have until April 29th to record my interview. It is a cool process, so I need to plan ahead. I was thinking I may do it on Saturday. I am getting my hair cut, and the gal who is doing it, will style it for me. I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the day. I don’t know what they will ask me, so I am trusting the Lord for answers. He has me covered. I know this. I trust Him. He is good to me. Selah!

I guess I am a bit overwhelmed right now. I mean, I have teaching contracts at two local campuses now. I have almost confirmed two other online schools, and if I get hired at CCU, then I will have three online schools where I could teach English and/or communications. I also received a request to self-identify from United Healthcare, so that means my application met the minimum requirements for that position. If the Lord opens that door, then I could potentially be hired full-time (telecommuter role) as a content writer. I was thinking that perhaps I could do both, you know, work full-time as a writer and also teach part-time online. It would be time-consuming, but I could probably make really, really good money. I need to make really good money in order to pay off my loans, so perhaps this is His will. I just don’t know, I just don’t know. Until He opens the door, I must wait and be patient.

I had an interesting conversation with my good friend last night. We were discussing work opportunities, and I realized how frequently the Lord has opened doors for me. I mean, I can point to every single job opportunity since 2010 as a gift from the Lord. He has moved on my behalf, and as a result, I have been blessed. I have no doubts in my mind that He will continue to work this way in my life. I must be patient and wait, that is all. Moreover, as I started to consider these options, the jobs that are “in process” for me, I realized that the Lord may actually be setting me up to do multiple things. I had always wanted, asked for, I mean, one job. You know, Lord, please bring me a good practical job that will pay me a living wage. I have been open to doing more than one job for a long while. I don’t really have an issue with working like this — I just can’t overload myself. I need downtime, and I need rest, but I can multitask well. Now, I am thinking that this might work, it just might work. Furthermore, I am convinced that the Lord does intend to move me to another state — in time. I don’t think I will move until next year. Well, I am convinced of it now. I feel confident that the Lord will move me once I am graduated and my son is finished with his education. Yes, it is practical to wait another year. It is hard to do it, but it allows plenty of time for all of us to make plans for our next steps. My parents need to decide on their care, my son needs to decide on his career path, and I need to simply go where He wants to plant me for ministry.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that when He moves me, He is moving me for ministry and not for a job. I hate to say it that way, but I think this is truth. He has a plan for my life that involves ministry and that ministry is significant. I feel it, I know it, I believe it. He will open the door that will lead me to a place, a city, where He intends for me to live permanently. In this place, I will work from home (praise be to God), and I will engage in ministry. I realize now that I was trying to think too small, when God was telling me to think BIG. I know He intends to move me into a leadership role. He has always been clear on that matter. There is a reason why I studied organizational, crisis and leadership communication theory. He intends for me to use these skills and the training for His work, His ministry in the church. Thus, my life is not to be all about teaching or working at all. It is about the work I do for Him. I cannot really say it well, and I don’t want it to come across as foolish or as arrogant. But, the truth remains, I got my PhD to do His work. Teaching has always been a “job" to me, a practical way to work while I completed my education. I liked the idea of becoming a professor, really I did, but in the end, the Lord never promised me this type of position. He said that I would teach adjunct, and not full-time, and that is exactly what has come to pass. I wanted the full-time position. I wanted the title. I wanted to be like my peers, my colleagues, and to be full-time faculty. I wanted to have a career so I could say, “Look at me, I finally am SOMETHING!” I know that sounds awful, but it is how I have felt, like the work (jobs) I have done in the past were never that good, special, or even blessed. I wanted to finally arrive, to have a career, to be known as SOMETHING.

The Lord always was clear with me, right from the get-go. He said to me that I would do jobs to provide income, but my WORK was always going to be ministry. I was never to get comfortable in one position or job because then I would look to that job as my support rather than to Him. I was always to see Him as Jehovah-Jireh, my provider. Praise be to God — it is He who provides for me. Selah!

Over the past few years, I have learned this lesson time and time again. Whenever I focus on the job, and I make either getting the job or using the job as more than what He has made it, I become depressed, oppressed, and I lose my way. But, whenever I let it go and refuse to make the job anything more than an avenue for His provision, well, then things begin to change for me. I have done this same thing, yet again, and as a result, I have spiraled downward into the dirt and the dust. He has a job for me, for sure. He has multiple jobs for me. But, I cannot make any of them out to be “the one.” There is no other work for me but His work, and that is my ministry calling to help the church learn to communicate their faith more effectively to this postmodern world. Selah!

Getting My Head Straight

Another thing I must remember is that wherever the Lord intends to plant me for ministry, it will be because He has work for me to do in this special place. I know this now. I know that I have tried to make a way for me to get from here to there (to where I want to go), and the Lord has not relented. He has not moved me. I’ve striven. I’ve struggled. I so wanted to go, but the Lord has not permitted me to do so. I see now that what I want is not what He intends to provide. It is not that my heart is wrong on the matter, but rather, it is that the location is wrong. My heart is right. My mind understands. But, the place of the Lord’s choosing is for work and nothing else. I must go to do this work, and He will take care of the rest for me. I cannot force His hand. I cannot make Him do what I want Him to do. No, I must relent. I must let go, and I must say, “Yes, Lord. I will obey.”

Thus, I understand today that the Lord intends to do the following in my life:
  • Graduate me from Regent University (May 2017)
  • Move me to a place for ministry (May 2017)
  • Provide one or more jobs to provide income to me (May 2016)
  • Prepare me to move and provide all necessary resources between (June 2016)
Where will I end up? I don’t know for sure, but I do believe it will be in the Southeast USA. I have felt this way for 10 years now, so I don’t think He will change His mind on me. It may not be in the state where I would like to go, but it will be in the state of His provision. He will move me to a place where He wants me to engage in full-time ministry. I will work in whatever position He opens for me, but my job, my WORK, will be about Him and about His kingdom plan.

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