August 27, 2010

Having fun with backgrounds

I am using Google Blogger and was getting bored with the plain, rather stark purple background, though royal purple is my favorite color. My love of purple started when I saw Donny Osmond, the cutest teenager in the whole world, reveal in "The Donny and Marie Show" that he wore sparkly purple socks. Even though I am no longer smitten by Donny, I still love the color because it is muted without being dull with a hint of sparkle to it. However, just like a little fresh paint makes a room look new, I thought I would play with the background for my blog.

I chose the book theme because I do love reading books. It is common for me to read three or four a time, usually out of necessity. Right now, I am reading John Adams by David McCullough and Voices of the French Revolution, which is a compilation of letters of people at the time and scholarly commentary. I am reading both as homeschool assignments, but I am enjoying getting to know John Adams in more detail. David McCullough does a great job of including the letters of John and Abigail Adams. There is something that I really like about John's stubborness and frankness, though, like all the Founding Fathers, he was a mixure of mud and glory. The book does not paint a complimentary picture of Benjamin Franklin. Apparently, he and King Soloman had shared the same weaknesses.

In the library queue is Inkheart by Cornelia Caroline Funke, which my 11 year old daughter is encouraging me to read, A History of Germany from the Medieval Empire to the Present by Deither Raff , and Spain, 1469-1714: A Society in Conflict by Henry Kamen. I will be reading these after I finish the other two. Ever since I started homeschooling, I have become very interested in history. The new curriculum I am using for history and literature is called "Tapestry of Grace" and the theme is how history is like a tapestry with interconnecting threads. I like that visual.

Now that I have exhausted that stream of consiousness, I will be spending some time over the next few days deciding if I like the new layout or if it is too busy. Please let me know what you think.

August 12, 2010

Like being involved in a rear end accident

Last week, after traveling 4,900 miles halfway across the United States and back without incident, a lady crashed into the back of my car as I sat at a light two miles from my home. There is minimal damage to the car and I have just a little pain in my neck, shoulders and back which will go away soon with a little bit of pampering. However, being struck from behind is the last thing anyone ever expects and part of the pain is the unexpectedness of the blow. One of the many ironies is that I was thinking about a couple who had just lost their child a day after she was born and thinking that losing a baby is a little bit like being involved in a rear end accident.

The fact that the woman was pregnant was somewhat of a miracle. Or maybe I should say, more miraculous than the usual conception under the circumstances. Why would God go to the trouble of miraculously creating life and preparing the couple for being parents and then give them so little time? I don't really expect an answer to that question because the One who has the power to create everything out of nothing isn't really answerable to me and, furthermore, it is not my story. For more of their story, go here.

I must confess that babies dying is a little blow to my faith, like a car accident is a little blow to one's confidence. I am tempted to cry out at the unfairness of it all. And yet, when I really think about it, if God is unfair, it is totally in our favor. We are faithless, greedy, self-centered, rebellious people and He has every right to give us the death we deserve. And yet, instead, he asked His Son to pay the penalty and offers those who follow Him an eternity with Him in a place where there is no more sorrow, no more pain and no more suffering. That is a totally unfair deal which I have gratefully accepted and I wish more people would join me in accepting.

To further buttress my faith in times like these, I remember that God is not just good, He is holy and righteous and love. If you think I should have said "loving", you might be right grammatically but in terms of God's character and makeup, my grammatically incorrect statement might be more better :-). Furthermore, Romans 8:28 says that "God works for the good of those who love him..." (I am required as a Christian to quote this under the circumstances). So this appalling situation is somehow, in some currently unfathomable way, meant for good of my friends, their friends and family, who do love God and seek His will.

These rocks of faith, while they take the edge off the pain, I am sure will not prevent the blackness of grief from overwhelming them at times, just as it hasn't always helped me from going over the edge in overwhelming circumstances. But it has in the past prevented me from completely falling into the abyss. About the time I figuratively feel my hands loosen from the end of the rope I am desperately clutching, I find that God has added a ledge just below my feet that allows me to rest before He pulls me back to safety. Therefore, I am certain that He will do the same thing for them because He is the Father of compassion and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

And their faith in overwhelming grief is the stuff of true heros. Read Hebrews 11, sometimes referred to as the annals of God's heros, and then go back and read the actual stories of these list of heros. Most of them were pretty ordinary and had more than one belief/obedience issues with God. And yet, they persevered in their faith in spite of overwhelming circumstances, momentary doubts and backsliding.

"One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. . . Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." Ps. 62:11 & Ps. 143:8 (Thanks to my AZ friend Lydia for posting this verse on Facebook when everything was happening.)

August 11, 2010

Weight Loss update--weeks 11-15

Contrary to the lack of postings about my weight, I have not given up my quest to lose 40 pounds, though it won't happen in 40 weeks as I originally desired. However, in the last four weeks, I spent a week getting ready for a 3+ week vacation visiting family and friends in the Midwest, which was NOT a good eating week and the rest of the time was spent on the vacation. While I was away, I didn't want to use another scale to measure my weight. My primary source of information were a pair of brown camping shorts that were just a titch snug starting out on the trip. If they loosened up, then I knew I was losing some weight and if they started getting snug again, then I knew I had been eating too much and needed to reduce my amount. That was my vacation eating plan. I exercised about two or three times a week during my vacation, either walking or running for 15 minutes followed by a 15 minute walk. Sometimes, I swam in a hotel pool for ten minutes. Most of the time, we were staying in someone's house, which meant that I didn't have to over-eat in order to clean my plate. In the past 24 days, we spent slightly more than six days in the car driving from Arizona to Memphis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and, finally, home. During the first of my driving days, I ate less, though some of my calories did come from caffeinated products, like Starbucks Double Shot and Rockstar, which was needed to keep me alert on the long driving days with little sleep. I found the McDonalds fruit and yogurt parfait breakfast to be a healthlier alternative to the bread/egg/breakfast meat alternatives. Sometimes, especially if I had a big dinner, I would skip breakfast or have a smoothy type alternative. I had good eating days and I had bad eating days. The worst time I had was at my mother-in-laws house. She had a bowl of chocolate candy that I hid on the second day in a cupboard. She also had cookies stashed in a couple of different places that were fairly easily accessible. Apparently, my "won't power" is not yet up and running when chocolate or sweets are involved. Then there were different beers available, which, of course, are high in calories. BTW, I am a beer snob, and the companies like Bush, Coors and Budweiser that sell beverages that they call "beer" is not real beer, in my not so humble opinion. I tend to like the darker beers, beers that you can almost chew. In spite of that, the brown camping pants, after becoming more snuggy after a particularly bad day, loosened up again. I weighed myself today, since it had been so long and the result is...

Total weight change: 2 pounds lost, 32 pounds to go.

Praise God to whom all blessings flow! Praise God all creatures here below. Praise God above you heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.