Yesterday, I joined several volunteers from our Totally Fit Community along with the Medical Alliance in Charleston to put on a program for Clyde- Sanders Elementary School. “Commit To Be Fit” is a one hour program designed by Lauren Sutton, from the Alliance, where children travel to eight stations to learn about nutrition. One station was about choosing fresh foods, another was about the amount of sugar in our beverages- unbelievable quantities! I chose to help at the “Cheeseburger Challenge”. At our station the children learned about the calories in food and how much exercise it takes to burn the fuel we put in our bodies. Calorie was a new word for most of them. A loaded cheeseburger has more than 500 of these energy producing thingamabobs that will turn to fat if we don’t spend an hour of doing high energy activity. To demonstrate, we had each student jumping rope for one minute to determine how many calories they can burn up having fun. I joined the first group in jumping enthusiastically and showing great agility. As I tuckered out, so did they. Thirty more seconds to go- you’re kidding! We kept jumping and slowing down, tripping up and fell on the floor when our timer said, “stop”. How many calories did we burn? Just one! One stinkin’ little pickle is all we burned. The whistle blew and the next group came. I haven’t had a cheeseburger in a couple years, but I jumped at the chance to burn a couple more calories with each spirited group of children. None of them looked like they ever gave a thought to weight gain or the calorie content of foods. They all looked fit and healthy. I never worried about those things in Elementary School either. High School was another matter because all my friends obsessed about their appearance hoping to be attractive to their dream boat du jour. I did not need to diet back then because I burned up the calories in cheerleading practice everyday. I spent my time in front of the mirror trying to figure out what I could stuff in my bra to get the right curves. It wasn’t until I turned forty that frumpy stared back at me in that mirror. You know all the factors and excuses: dessert, metabolism, sitting in the bleachers to watch the children in their activities. Now that I am in my fifties, I have decided to get serious about the best nutrition possible and controlling the weight, instead of accumulating calories. It gets harder as we like to dine out more and enjoy the creative cooking of young talented chefs. I will not forget the effort expended to burn the calories of one pickle, and in another fifteen years when these children have grown up to be my doctors and nurses, I hope to challenge them again to a jump rope marathon.
Our thoughts are central to our whole being. Happy thoughts create a healthy environment for our body. Negative thoughts produce chemicals that destroy our immune system, and cause us to gain weight, and to feel sluggish and depressed. I now know this through personal experience. When my grandmother and mother passed away within a year, I put on ten pounds, when my three daughters left for college, I put on five pounds for each, and then I retired from Teaching with no plan- that was another five pounds. It did not help that Ben and Jerry’s was my favorite comfort food, and it did not help that my favorite past time involved a couch, a blanket, and classic movies. My thoughts were: ” The women I love most are gone! Who will I take care of, what will I do? I am alone and unloved! My husband is wonderful but he woks all the time. I am old and wrinkly and not very interesting to him any more. My teacher friends will be too busy to spend time with me. I am useless! I can volunteer but I am old and tired and unattractive. Who will play with me? My closest friends are all too busy and have families to take care of. Oh woe is me, I am so woe.”
It was not until a class on Renewing the Mind with the Wholly Woman study, that I realized that I was completely responsible for my condition. We allow physical and emotional sickness with our self pitying thoughts. My strongholds allowed me to believe that being in my fifties meant physical decrepitude. I knew that God loved me, but I did not feel lovable any more. My outlook was becoming so negative that my children called me Debbie Downer when they heard me say things like, “That plan won’t work, I can’t do that anymore, everything aches, even my eyebrow”. I sincerely thought cancer was on my doorstep since my mother was diagnosed twice, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. Take me now Lord, I could never bear the suffering she went through.
Linda Howard, author and teacher of the class, asked us to write down our negative thoughts on index cards. I started with one from childhood when my father said, “If you don’t learn to cut your meat, you will never get married.” And then in my teens my mother said,” You look like death warmed over, you need to apply a little blush.” No wonder I became self conscious, my self doubts have been there since childhood. There have been so many positive and loving remarks since then, but oh how those insidious remarks stay with us. Linda then gave us pages of scripture so that we could identify one that spoke to us, one that would help us break the stronghold. They were all familiar words that I have read and heard many times, but on that night one spoke to me and reminded me to move past the negatives and be listening and ready to serve the Lord.
Proverbs 23:7 As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
When Linda said with all her Southern charm, “Stop the stinkin thinkin”, I could only giggle and knew it was time to let go of all the ridiculous notions that the enemy wanted me to believe. It was time to stop and switch directions. It is never to late to stop, turn around, and head in the right direction. Not only did I make a commitment to smile more and return to optimism, I also decided to eliminate the “foods” that had no nutritional value and started with the sugar I thought I needed to create happy thoughts. The words of The Lord have become my sweet fuel every morning. The songs of worship have taken a place in my mind all day. They replace the feelings of despair. Walking, dancing and biking are just a few of the activities that have drawn me away from the couch. I think I will keep my favorite blankie for those precious times of rest and prayer.
Yesterday, I was with fifteen hundred women at Seacoast Church for the Chosen Women’s Conference. There were powerful speakers giving testimony, there was worship music that was enthralling, and there were emotions welling up in everyone. This is what I experience at the weekly Sunday Services that are always instructive and uplifting for me. I was not expecting a mountain top experience or to feel a calling to a new job or place. While many people were brought to tears during the sessions and touched by the message, I was feeling a little distracted by the details of my personal responsibilities for the Totally Fit events. Then something remarkable happened at lunch. A small group gathered to join the women of Nicaragua to hear their story. I sat at a table with several women who had been on more than one mission trip. I held the baby of my friend Laura and I listened intently. I was moved by the stories of serving one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. The last to speak was a missionary from the church that Seacoast helps to support. I have not spoken much Spanish in a while, but I understood the words of the sweet young woman before the translator repeated them. How do you translate tears? The final words were penetrating. “Tu es necessita, tu es necessita”. It seemed that she looked right at me to say that MY help is necessary. My new friend, Jenna, raised her hand and said, “I am going on this trip”. As I talked to a few women after lunch I could not stop the tears. I don’t know what I have to offer, but I feel a calling to join this mission. April 8th is nine short weeks away, but I feel like I have been preparing for this moment for years, even before I even knew about the opportunity. My time as of teacher and a church leader have pointed me in this direction. Now, how do I convince my husband? I waited until this morning to ask my husband if I should go and he said without hesitation, “Absolutely”. The pastor of the church in Nicaragua asked to be friends on Facebook a year ago. Now I know why. It is what we call a God thing. Here is the twist; there are three major things happening that week that I was struggling to choose between. Suddenly a mission trip seems to trump them all. The other options were placing me in a role of observing and a mission trip is a call to action. I don’t know what I will do, but I know that I am necessary.#chosen15