9/27-10/3 results

I am somewhat encouraged by my results from last week, even if they have not necessarily shown up on the scale yet.  I started at 297 lbs.  and ended the week at 296 lbs., so a meager one pound net loss.  I do feel, however, that I met most of my other goals for the week:  I drank at least 100 oz. of water each day (and almost nothing else…I think I had one diet soda and one cup of coffee in addition to the water for the whole week).  I don’t think I went over the 200 calories after 7pm.  I am not quite sure if I stayed under 2000 calories every day and I should probably do better in tracking what I eat, but for the most part, I think I was pretty close.

I can say that with confidence because most of the week, I was at around 800-1000 calories between breakfast and lunch.  Having a normal dinner, maybe with something sweet for dessert and a small snack after 7pm should have me right around 2000 for the day.

I believe I did very well with the treadmill work this past week.  I was on the treadmill six days for a total of 180 minutes, walking just shy of 9.1 miles.  My walk today was a pretty good rate I could stick with.  I did 36 total minutes; the first and last 6 mins were at 3.0mph, the middle 12 mins were at 3.2 mph, and the other 12 mins were at 3.1 mph.  I counted how many steps I took during one of the 3.0 minutes and was at 108 steps.  With a little help from a calculator, I was also able to figure out how many steps I took during a minute of 3.1 and 3.2, multiplied them all together and figured out that this particular workout would have me doing 4016 steps.

I know that if I stay faithful to my plan, the pounds will come off.  I might have to be more patient than I want to be, but from all of my experience with weight loss (and gain), I have learned fairly well how my body works and like most other bodies, when I treat it well, it responds well.  If nothing else, if the results don’t come on the scale, it is motivation to push a little harder and put a little more work in to get things jump started.  Results will then lead to further motivation and all of a sudden, things are running on all cylinders.

Baby steps…

To Be a Paramedic – Matthew 9 Continued

I wrote quite a bit recently about Matthew 9 and Jesus healing the paralytic man and promised to write more about it because there is so much great stuff in this passage that I could not fit it into one post.

I don’t necessarily do devotions as many of you might, going from passage to passage each day.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with jumping around each day, but for me, I tend to let God work through a certain passage with me for as long as He needs to.  I’ll read the same passage over and over and let God really penetrate me with it as I think, pray, and meditate on it.  Sometimes, He keeps me in one passage, even one verse, for weeks, maybe months at a time.  I have been chewing and feasting on Matthew 9 for a few weeks now, not only bringing back the theme to me that He is all I need, but really looking at all the people involved in this passage and how it applies to my walk with Jesus.  I said in my last Matthew 9 post that I could relate to the paralytic man because I am helpless, having the ability to do nothing on my own.  As a helpless human, Jesus knows the best thing to say to me is, “Cheer up, son!  Your sins are forgiven.”

When Jesus said this to the man who was paralyzed, though, it was only the beginning.  The teachers of the law whispered amongst themselves that Jesus was blaspheming.  The passage says that Jesus knew what they were thinking and He calls them out on their thoughts, “Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[b] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” With that, Jesus turns to the paralyzed man and tells him to stand up, pick up his mat, and go home.  Verse 7 says the man JUMPED up and went home! There was a reverent fear through the whole crowd when they saw this, according to verse 8, and they praised God for sending a man with such great authority.  Notice we do not hear anything else from the teachers of the law here. Don’t worry, they’ll be back…

But let’s take a look at what happened here with these teachers. We know that they’re a little leery of this Jesus fellow. How awkward must it have been when Jesus calls them out for their thoughts? Then, He immediately follows that up by physically healing the paralyzed man and sending him home.  Luke says in his version of this passage that the man went home praising God.  We do not know anything else about this man; his name, whether he had a family, etc., but I can only imagine that as he went home (I would almost assume he was running), every person he passed on the way was told of this miracle.  And what if this man had a family waiting for him at home? He opens the door and walks through to the delight of his confused family.  This blessing could not be hidden from anyone who had known this man before he met up with Jesus.  I mean, with all that Jesus did there, it’s no wonder we hear nothing else from the teachers.  He may not have convinced them, but He did silence them, leaving them speechless, even if only for a short time.

As little as we know about the formerly paralyzed man, we know even less about the people who brought him to Jesus.  Some versions say that the people were all men, some versions simply describe them as people.  We do not know how many, whether they were family, friends, people who pitied the man…nothing really.  Through the passage, we don’t learn all that much either, but Luke’s version of this event adds a little more fun to the equation:

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

In both gospels, it is said that Jesus saw the faith of these people who brought this man to him and that is when He utters those beautiful words that his sins are forgiven. We don’t get any insight into whether anyone said anything to Jesus once they reached Him, but these people must have really wanted this man, whether their friend, father, husband, uncle, or whoever he was to them, to be healed if they went through all that trouble just to get him noticed by Jesus in hopes of having him healed. I do not believe that one can be saved through the faith of others and I don’t think that this is what this passage implies, however, I do believe people can be healed of their pain and helplessness when there are people willing to deliver them to the feet of Jesus Christ.

A name that we often give Jesus is “The Great Physician”.  It’s a pretty fitting name and an interesting analogy, one that Jesus appears to use in describing Himself later on in this same chapter.  Of course, as with all analogies when we try to compare human things to divine things (which is all we know how to do, right?) because God is so much bigger than any analogy we can use to describe Him, it breaks down.  It breaks down because He is more than just a doctor, but the cure itself.  He is not administering the antidote, He himself is antidote that we need to be healed.

I have been pretty fortunate that I have only had to take one ambulance ride in my life.  I had hurt my back a few days prior (picking up a shirt off the floor, no less) and one morning as I walked into the bathroom and turned around, I almost passed out from the pain. I could not get my bearings back…I sat on the bathroom floor as my wife called for an ambulance. After a short time, the paramedics delivered me to the hospital so I could see the doctor.  By that time, I was a little more lucid.  The doctor ended up giving me a prescription to help ease the pain and lo and behold, within a few days, the pain had pretty much disappeared.

The people who brought the paralytic man to Jesus were paramedics. He was in need of healing and these people knew where they had to take him in order to get it. They delivered him to the cure.  Think about what paramedics do:

They respond when someone is in trouble. They check vital signs. When something is broken, they try to hold it together. Where there is no heartbeat, they try to revive it. When there is trouble breathing, they try to stabilize it.  When there is blood and bruising, they will try to clean it up the best they can.  They deliver the sick and the helpless to the doctor, who can make them well.

It is often said that the church is a hospital. I think ultimately, though, the hospital is really the feet of Jesus Christ and we as the church are the paramedics, delivering the sick, those in pain, and those dying, to Him for healing.

The church can be the ambulance that takes the sick and dying to the feet of the Great Physician and its people can be the paramedics who care for them on the ride, but we need to be careful. The way we often treat those who are sick and in pain is similar to a paramedic showing up to your house because you broke your leg tripping over something and having the paramedic telling you to clean up the clutter in your house and driving away.

Sin is a disease; a cancer. People are in pain for so many different reasons, yet we too often treat people like lepers and outcast them when we should be opening up the ambulance door, guiding them in, whether we’re holding their hand or lifting a stretcher, and help deliver them to the feet of Jesus Christ, where the ultimate healing can really happen.

Getting Back Down to Business

So over the last two weeks, I’ve netted a loss of 1 lb. (298-297).  During both weeks, I was on the treadmill 3 times (90 mins. total).  I’ve been drinking plenty of water, but have still had too many days where I am not being disciplined with what I eat.  I mentioned in a post two weeks ago that my goal was to be in the best physical and spiritual shape of my life by my 35th birthday.  Tomorrow, 9/28, is my 34th birthday, so I have 1 year…52 weeks, to get to where I want to be.  The question is, how do I get there?  I mean, I know how to do it.  I’ve lost over 100 lbs. in a year twice.  I am not even necessarily looking to lose 100 lbs. again.  I mean, at 297 lbs, I am a mere 98 lbs. away from 199 lbs., the number I would ultimately like to see on a scale eventually.

The way I want to approach it is this:  2 lbs. per week, every week.  I know how to do it and it’s time to get back down to business.

At this point, here’s my plan:

  1. Walk at least 8 miles on the treadmill each week.
  2. Drink at least 100 oz. of water each day.
  3. Calorie intake of 200 calories or less after 7pm.
  4. 1800-2000 calorie total intake each day.

Once I get down to 275 lbs., the plan will evolve:

  1. Walk at least 10 miles on the treadmill each week.
  2. Drink at least 125 oz. of water each day.
  3. Calorie intake of 200 calories or less after 7pm.
  4. 1800-2000 calorie total intake each day.
  5. Re-introduce 15 lb. dumbbells @ 100 reps 3 times per week.

It would then change again once I reach 250 lbs.

It’s going to be a fun year!  Let’s go!  #nostopping

Hiding in Plain Sight

In her prayer journal, author Flannery O’Connor writes:

“I want very much to succeed in the world with what I want to do.  I have prayed to You about this with my mind and my nerves on it and strung my nerves into a tension over it and said, “oh God please,” and “I must,” and “please, please.” I have not asked you, I feel, in the right way.  Let me henceforth ask you with resignation-that not being or meant to be a slacking up in prayer but a less frenzied kind-realizing that the frenzy is caused by an eagerness for what I want and not a spiritual trust.  I do not wish to presume.  I want to love.  Oh God please make my mind clear.  Please make it clean…Please help me to get down under things and find where You are.”

Now, even though I did go ahead and bold two parts of this, I have to say that this whole passage is so beautifully honest and if I can be honest myself, completely sounds like me; at least the first part where she talks about not asking God for things the right way.  I do find myself feeling this same way, frenzied, while praying because of an eagerness for what I want (or think I need or deserve) and wanting it now, rather than in spiritual trust to the One I impatiently ask.

I assume that O’Connor is stating that she does not want to presume that she will simply be handed what she has asked for.  We often do just presume that God will answer our prayers with a “yes” and be done with it.  She is saying that she doesn’t want to do that anymore and just wants to love…love God?  love His people?  love everything?  I’m not sure, but just the fact that this little sentence is the overflow of her heart makes me also want to love and be the overflow of my heart, rather than just sitting around waiting for God to bless me with what I want (especially when what He ends up giving me is so much more than what we had asked for).

The second bolded statement jumped out at me because it reminds me of when my older son is looking for his shoes in the morning before school.  We have a basket in our dining room that we call “the shoe bin”.  It is simply a place where all of our shoes are kept so that they are all in one place.  Now sometimes, a shoe will sometimes make its way somewhere else on our first floor (my younger son has a huge thing for shoes and puts them on his feet ALL the time), but most of the time, the shoes are pretty much contained to the bin. My son will go over, usually even turn the light on to see, look at the top of the shoe pile and quickly exclaim, “Where are my shoes?”  This question is usually answered by either my wife or I going over and moving a shoe (if that) or two, exposing his “missing” shoe.  His response is usually something like, “Oh, there it is,” said with a slightly embarrassed chuckle.  We then respond by telling him that if he just would have looked a little harder, he could have found it on his own.

O’Connor hits the nail on the head here when she prays for help to get down under things and find where God is.  We are so often like my son, only looking to what is on the top; what can be easily seen.  When we don’t see God there, we get frustrated and don’t take the extra time to keep searching.  Sometimes, God can’t be seen right in front of us or at the top of the pile.  We have to keep going in order to find Him.

13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 29:13-14 MSG)

If you are having trouble finding God today, whether it’s because you are frustrated by your frenzied prayers based on an eagerness or presumption of receiving the blessing you want or you just aren’t looking deep enough for Him, just keep looking for Him because once you find Him, you’ll realize He was simply hiding in plain sight.

All I Need

Recently, I was reading through Matthew 9 and I was particularly struck by the story of Jesus and the paralytic man.

9 Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. 2 Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

3 But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?” 4 Jesus knew[a] what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[b] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

7 And the man jumped up and went home! 8 Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority

First, these people brought a helpless man who could not walk to Jesus for healing, even when he was too weak or unable to do it himself.  That hit me because of our need for fellowship.  Many times, it is through the help and efforts of other people that we are lead to Jesus. I was also especially struck by the first words that Jesus says to the paralyzed man…”be encouraged, my child!  Your sins are forgiven.”  In The Message, it says, “Cheer up, son.  I forgive your sins.” I love it!  From the very first words that Jesus says to him, He is telling the man, “I am all you need.”

I relate well to the paralyzed man. I am helpless.  Too often when I am helpless, though, I want to pick myself up and try to figure everything out on my own and keep going.  When we’re helpless, though, we can’t do that.  Sometimes we just have to let other people carry us to Jesus so He can utter those same words to us that He said to the paralytic man;  “Cheer up, son.  I forgive your sins.”  If I have nothing else, I at least have what I need.

More on this passage soon!  Be Blessed, friends…

Woah! Hello again, everybody!

Wow, it has been way too long since I have even visited my own blog, let alone posted something on here.  I hope and pray you are all well!  Ya know, it’s been about a year that I had an encouraging weight loss report to share.  As a matter of fact, without looking back at my old posts, it was probably close to a year to the day that I posted that I had reached 213 lbs., only 14 lbs. from my goal weight of 199 lbs.

Since that point, I had a surprising job loss and was completely out of work for about 2 months.  By the time I returned to work right before Thanksgiving, I had already fallen back into those bad habits that helped me reach 400 lbs. in the first place.  I have said it plenty of times in previous posts, but the best way to lose weight is to not change what you do, but change how you think.  Once you change how you think, you will change what you do…it was all too easy to turn the switch off on 21 months of hard work that lead me to lose 188 lbs.  Granted, it took a life-changing, stressful event to do it, but needless to say, it has been much harder to turn the switch back on.

All of the emotions that come with job loss and a subsequent job search fed (pun somewhat intended) into these bad habits.  It has been extremely hard to get my head right and back into a routine that would help me be successful in taking weight off again; and I can’t say I am there yet.

So you might be wondering where things stand right now.  Luckily, I have at least been consciously thinking about getting back on track for quite some time.  I had been down to 213 lbs., Size Large shirts, 38 pants.  As it stands today?  298 lbs. (but I can at least be proud of the fact that even over the last month as I have been hovering around and expecting to hit 300 lbs., I didn’t…), 3X shirts, 44-46 (though I might have a generous pair of 42’s that I can still wear) pants.

So other than the fact that I DIDN’T hit 300 lbs. again, what is the encouraging news?  My wife and I bought a treadmill and I took my first half hour walk tonight and IT FELT AWESOME!  I will probably feel it tomorrow, but I am so encouraged that I made it through 30 minutes.  It felt good to sweat because I was actually exerting energy as opposed to it just being hot outside.

While I would still love to get outside and walk, especially as we get into the beautiful, cooler autumn weather, it has been hard to figure out when to fit this time in, especially since I have a 45-50 minute commute to and from work each day.

It has only been over the last several weeks that I realized that the last year and the “results” I have seen are not the end of my journey, but simply a part of my journey.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again – this journey has a happy ending and honestly, that ending has nothing to do with a number on a scale or the size printed on a little tag…

The journey has always been so much more than losing weight…it’s about growing in my faith in Jesus Christ and allowing Him to work in this journey so that He receives all the glory He deserves.  Even over the last year, God has still been faithful in helping me to grow – to trust in Him more, to remember that He is always faithful, and so much more.

There have been plenty of days over the last year that all I had to lean on was God’s Word and the promises God has made to us, His people.  They were what kept me going and what give me strength as I can confidently say, “I’m baaaacckkkk!”

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

Paul writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

So where do I go from here?  I have always been about setting challenging, but realistic goals…so here it is:  I will turn 35 years old on September 28, 2016.  By that time, my goal is to be in the best physical and spiritual shape of my life.  I want to take the necessary steps each and every day to achieve that goal…BOOM!  Let’s go!

Happy New Year!

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. – Isaiah 43:16-19 (MSG)

If it felt like you were wandering the desert in 2014, there is hope! May 2015 be when the waves of the river carry you out of that desert!

2014 was a year of transition for me. Some great, some not so great. This year, more than most other years before it, I faced many challenges. There were many days that had me feeling as if I was wandering the desert aimlessly. As we enter 2015, my only resolution is to continue to seek the road that leads out of the desert because that road leads to where God wants me to be. While I end 2014 with a lot of questions, with the utmost confidence, I believe I will see what God wants me to see burst out! What is God going to burst out for you this year? Enjoy the ride!