The Heart of the Matter

(This post began as a response to Anastasia-Jane’s comment on my “My Issue with the Issues” post but it was just too long to post…and too important, so I’ve posted it here!)

I have always been one to give in to peer pressure, whether good or bad and for the longest time, I have always wanted to just fit in to a group. I have never fit into a group before and I don’t make friends easily or keep them long when I do. I think all of that “baggage” is what is preventing me from seeing what is right in front of my face!

I don’t look good in long skirts, I am about 75 pounds overweight and skirts are just NOT flattering when you are heavy. Sure, dresses can hide little indiscretions here and there, but they only work to accentuate the extra weight I’m carrying around. However, despite the fact that I look poorly in them, I have felt called to wear them. I feel better when I wear long skirts and I like it when my daughter does too. Frankly, at my weight dresses and skirts are just more comfortable because there is less pulling and tugging going on. So, for now, I am settling on the comfortable, God-honoring, modest, but completely unfashionable and unattractive skirts and dresses. As I lose the weight (see my other blog!) I hope to be able to begin to look nice in dresses again. I know I will once the weight is gone, and I’ll probably look better than I would in pants!!!

I know I’ve said a lot already but when you said that “God would lay in on your heart to change,” it made me think of what God is teaching me. I am learning about all of these different “conservative” approaches and I have tried them all with varying degrees of “success” but the real lesson isn’t in putting on a particular garment (skirt or headcovering) it is in my ATTITUDE, my heart that reveals what I am truly wearing. Whether I am wearing pants or a skirt, when I confront my husband over an issue, I disrespect his authority over me and disgrace my Father in heaven. I am learning so much about my place in the world, in society, in the home and under God. These things have been HARD for me to learn because it isn’t as easy as putting on a dress! I wish it was…but God is working on changing my heart. I praise Him for this stressful time because I know He is changing me into the woman that he wants me to be! My husband has already noticed a difference in my attitude toward him when I am wearing pants and when I am wearing skirts.

As I try to take it one day at a time, I am realizing that wearing these unattractive outfits keeps the vanity off of myself. I don’t have to fret about my “butt looking big in these jeans” because I’m not wearing jeans, I am wearing a modest dress or skirt. Sure, I am looking wider than I actually am, but I can give that to God. He has created me just as I am and loves all my curves, even the ones I want to get rid of! See, it’s really a heart issue. I have been complaining about my hair lately because it isn’t long and beautiful like so many other women. I want it to be long and beautiful and either straight or curly. My hair can’t decide what to be and just ends up frizzy, I get frustrated with it in the morning and am tempted to whine and complain…this is my heart!!! I am now turning to thanks all my complaints. “I hate scrubbing toilets! Thank you Lord that I have indoor plumbing, that my son is still too young to make cleaning around the side an arduous task. Thank you Lord that you have given me hands to work that I might bless my family with them.” And so goes my day. This can only be the Lord changing me. Oh, how I want to be changed!!! “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 KJV

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Pumpkins!!!

We went to the pumpkin patch several weeks ago and though my husband carved the kids’ pumpkins, he didn’t touch ours so they were sitting out on our front doorstep. Yesterday, our kids were playing with the bocce ball set and decided to use one of them like a mallet and smash in the top of Daddy’s pumpkin. So, today I am faced with gutting the pumpkin before it rots….but, I decided to bake the pumpkin! Usually, I bake pumpkin bread but I have always used the canned variety. I saw a blog the other day on how to bake pumpkins and decided to give it a shot!

So, now I am looking for recipes to do something with all this pumpkin pulp I have on hand! I found a good website, Pumpkin Nook Cookbook, that seemed to have some good recipes. What I am really looking for is pumpkin pancakes. I have heard good things before, so now I have a recipe for them…my pumpkin seeds are done now, so I’m going to crunch away!

My Issue with the Issues

When I first started this conservative Christianity journey, like I have said before, I was really skeptical of the whole thing. I didn’t understand the claims or positions of the different groups. One thing I have found since discovering Conservatism that disturbs me is the number of ways to “classify” a person. Perhaps I am still looking in on a totally foreign concept, but I almost feel like I am changing religions, that I can now be in the ranks of “super-Christians” or some other such nonsense. I have noticed (at least) four groups of people who move in these conservative circles: one, the KJV only believers, two, the modesty and femininity are the hallmarks of the female species, women and girls wear exclusively long(ish) skirts or dresses, and three, women (and girls) shall keep their heads covered at all times and four, always home school. Along with these four main topics there seem to be at least a few other issues like diet and church preference that further divide us.

I look at all these topics, not because I disagree and find fault in these issues, but because I agree with these issues and find fault in their practice. I know (or at least I am very confident) that none of these women’s blogs would argue that any of those things are essential for salvation, which rules out “legalism” as a method for adding anything except grace through faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, but I wonder about legalism in the way we live our lives. Is it purely from the Bible or is it a way to unnaturally separate ourselves from the world and be proud of it?

I am really fighting this: am I wearing modest (long) skirts and dresses out of submission to my husband (who doesn’t care if I wear pants) and God who declares that I should be MODEST/CHASTE and FEMININE? Is a long skirt the only way to accomplish both of those things? Can I wear a well-cut, not skin-tight, pair of pants and a nice blouse and still be feminine? Am I wearing those clothes merely to be different and to be accepted by a particular group in society? I want to throw out my pants; I only wear them because they are easy and “modern” so I won’t make other people uncomfortable by my appearance (like my mom, for example). I want to dress my daughter in pretty feminine clothes, but she wears mostly pants. How does all this dress-wearing work in winter? We are moving from Washington state (semi-mild winter) to Colorado (not so mild winter) and we are moving in JANUARY!!!

Then I look at the King James Only debate and while I was completely convinced not too long ago, I have since begun to think differently. I DO find the KJV harder to understand. Yes, the words themselves are simpler, but the order of the words makes it difficult to understand the sentence. I read the NKJV, as does the pastor at my church and I enjoy it. My version pulls from both the “oldest” text that the NIV uses and the more historical version that the KJV uses, in the notes whenever the texts disagree, the NKJV translators included an asterisk and then writes out what the other version said. If I am unsure about something, I will usually take it to the KJV because I do believe in the historicity of the text forming the KJV. However, I did ask my sister who took the Christian Apologetics Master program at Biola University and her belief is that the only infallible Word of God is the original language and that the translations that we use are still useful for doctrine and correction but as they are translations cannot be considered in the same class as the inspired word of God. We know there are mistakes in the KJV, sure many of them were typos, but how many misprints are in the original text? None. I don’t mind using the KJV and I don’t care for the NIV or any of the ultra modern New Living Translation because I think they inhibit a person from truly understanding. When you don’t have to think when you read, you can easily pass over a passage, but when you have to work at understanding it, your brain recalls better. See? I’m up in the air here as well. This one feels a little less “important” because it is a pretty private issue, I think. It is easier to keep this decision between God and me.

Then we have head covering. I used to think that women should cover, but I kept going back and forth and while I think that it can be beneficial, I don’t think that at this time, God is calling either me or my daughter to cover our hair, our bodies, yes.

Finally, home schooling. Honestly, this is my plan, but I am having my doubts about whether I can do it. This is supposed to be my “test” year because Jordyn is in preschool right now. I am doing NOTHING. It seems like she is learning NOTHING!!! Perhaps, if we are in a good school district, we will try Kindergarten for her. She is really excited about “going to school” and I think she would like it. My daughter has a tendency to be shy and she doesn’t really have other kids to talk to, so school might be good for her. I know what I want. I want to use The Well-Trained Mind and give my kids a great academic life. What I am doing is letting them watch countless hours of Dora and all her Nick Jr. buddies. How do I get there?

One trend I am noticing is that I need to “fix myself” first. I think God is working hard on me now because so many aspects of my life have been either put under a microscope or thrown into the flames. I can only come out better since God has begun a good work in me and will be faithful to finish it! Praise the Lord for that or all these musings would be depressing indeed!!!

Gym!

I finally got to the gym last night and I think I will go again! I worked hard and was exceedingly proud of myself for going in the first place, since I didn’t go until 9:40pm! I know that morning workouts are better for you because you end up burning more calories through the course of the day, instead of sleeping like I did, but working out at all will vastly improve my condition and ability to burn calories in general, so nights are good for now. I am also considering working out in the early morning before Eric goes to work but I am NOT a morning person and the thought of working out at 5:00 in the morning makes me laugh that I am even considering it!

The other reason that I am proud of myself is that when I got home from the gym, I ate a huge salad with lots of veggies and tuna on the side for protein. I sprinkled on a bit of cheese and ranch dressing. I know that’s not that good for you, but I don’t use that much (really) and its better than not eating the salad. Fat is not the enemy, excessive sugar is.
I have been shaky all morning today though and I don’t know why. It’s weird; it is the way I feel when I’ve had too much caffeine and not enough food, but I’ve had no caffeine and I just finished a large bowl of yummy chili. Who knows…I hope to work out again tonight, but I think Eric might be home too late. I am glad to be starting this routine because it is one of the harder ones to keep up.
I’m off for a little rest while the kiddos nap.

Tomorrow’s Plans

I have a lot to do tomorrow. Now that I have all but dropped out of school, I am feeling so much less burden and so much more peace. I really want to finish my degree, but not at the price I was paying. Anyway, the state I have been in has allowed me to become more lax with my housework, so tomorrow is going to be a push-start day for me.

I hope to:
-do all my dirty dishes (there are A LOT!!!)
-go to the gym, working out needs to come higher up for me at this time in my life
-straighten living room and vacuum, process the paperwork that’s piling up
-scrub bathroom
-complete load of laundry and fold and hang my “leftovers”
I don’t plan on wearing myself out, just my normal morning and afternoon cleaning, plus the dishes and laundry, which “don’t count.” In addition to the things I purpose to do, I would like to do some sewing. I haven’t found any decent dresses or skirts in my price range for my size, so I have purchased a significant amount of material (it’s enough for my wardrobe) and its not doing me any good folded in my basket(s). I also bought some crushed velvet for our Christmas outfits. I am looking forward to taking a really nice Christmas picture as a family since it has been a long time since we have taken one. Hopefully, I can get the outfits sewn and the pictures taken and developed in time to put in our Christmas cards! In addition to tackling my sewing pile, I am working on a new two-week meal plan following this new diet I am trying based on the book Perfect Weight America by Jordan Rubin. His book is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone. He uses many of Sally Fallon’s recipes from her book Nourishing Traditions and I love his plan, but always find it hard to shift to that lifestyle, even though I know it is better for me. (Check out my other site, F.I.S.H, to watch my journey!)
I was hoping to do the dishes tonight, but I might just read my Bible and then head to bed!

Weekend Food Log/Change of Plans

Well over this weekend, I finished off the pizza (ugh!) ate some boneless buffalo chicken wings on a special date with my husband (I had french fries too), the last bowl of ice cream and surely NOTHING healthy.

I am a little frustrated because I know that my eating has been just plain awful so far, and yet we just do not have the money for me to do this diet! Meat is expensive, organic is expensive, fruit is expensive…and if you don’t use it fast enough, it goes bad!!! My husband and I have lately been debating the “good vs cheap” debate and for my husband, cheap is the primary factor. I know that I can’t live that way for long but I don’t really feel like I have a choice in the matter. I still want to try to start Perfect Weight America but before I do, I am going to make out a complete two week menu (from the samples in the book) and then I can budget out exactly what it will cost me. Plain and simple is that I am on the verge of all sorts of dietary problems: I am on the verge of having high blood pressure (I am thinking of going to Wal-Mart to use their machine!), I am confident, though not tested, for high-cholesterol and I will probably have Type 2 diabetes within a year or two if something doesn’t change. The bottom line is that it is too expensive to eat junk!

The first two weeks of Perfect Weight America are pretty restrictive, especially on carbs, so perhaps I can wing it with our regular food minus the carbs. I might have to add a few ingredients to our shopping list, but they are probably few. The first month of PWA is a “detox” stage anyway, though not a cleanse, it is a method for resetting your system to begin to accept new things. I’ll post my weekly menus once I have them established. I like to go grocery shopping with my husband (preferably without the kids) because it helps me hold to my budget better therefore, I plan grocery shopping for the end of the week. That is also the end of the week-long food diary, which is really making me feel piggish, I must say! The other problem that I am going to have is finding a good source for organic produce. I think that I will grab that list (from this site) of the 12 best foods to buy organic, but the list recommends practically every kind of food, so I might just use the list about the foods that don’t need to be organic, here. These lists conflict a little, so we just might need to start to consider other ways to save money. Regardless, I know that organic is better, but just the foods are good for now. I will work on a cleanse once I get the hang of the actual diet that will hopefully get rid of the pesticides. I have also read that foods treated with chemicals are less healthy for you in nutritional value, but anything beats pizza!

In other news, I found out that I still have a gym membership, so I can start going there. I know full well that losing weight long-term is a two-fold change: diet and exercise. 30 minutes of medium to intense aerobics plus some weight training should work well. Everyone has a different theory on exercise, whether its lots of aerobics, lots of anaerobic exercise or a combination, they always agree that you should JUST DO IT!!! I am hoping to make it to the gym 5 days a week, another thing that I am going to write out in my plan. I think I will make a little booklet for my first two weeks, just looking at what I need for each day.

By the way, you can get more information on Perfect Weight America, here, but I also recommend reading one of Jordan Rubin’s other books, The Maker’s Diet because it goes into more depth on his health journey as well as some of the Biblical reasons behind his diet. The diets are pretty close, but I think that PWA is a little easier, more modern, so it is the one that I will be following. I also have a book on children’s health by him because that is especially important to me right now. I will also be using Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for recipes. You can find that book in the cookbook section of your local bookseller and it has a lot of really good information in it about traditional diets and the myth of “bad fats” along with a ton of recipes to cook everything imaginable!

Well, I’m off to do my planning!

Today’s Food Log

I started my day with

1 small Jolly Rancher to dull the taste in my mouth (why didn’t I brush my teeth?)
A double portion of Cream of Wheat (made with water), and 4 heaping tsps of brown sugar (it was too much sugar)
As a snack, I had a large bowl of lite ice cream, about 3 1/2 scoops.
I had a large bowl of homemade chili for lunch, it was made with less meat than the recipe calls for and more beans. I think it is pretty healthy (it uses ground beef though)
We were feeling pretty hungry for dinner, and we ended up ordering pizza.
I ate 2 slices of a medium pan pizza with pepperoni, 2 glasses of Mountain Dew, and 3 Chocolate Dunkers…not the high point, but it needs to be documented anyway.
I had planned on drinking coffee and even brewed it, but never drank it…that is good. I had a monster migraine by the afternoon and took 2 OTC Migraine pills, they have aspirin, tylenol and caffeine in them, so they are a veritable health hazard concoction. My goal for tomorrow is to drink more water, any water will be better than today!