Friday, July 31, 2015

What the Doctor Said

I got a phone call from the lab tech at the doctor's office yesterday. It terrified me. I could let you guess why, but you probably wouldn't guess the what he said.

Photo caption: Eva Blue

My cholesterol is too high.

A part of me says, "Yeah, whose isn't?" I mean this a common thing that people deal with, so why did it terrify me? I'm not too sure. There is a history of heart disease in my family, so it is always something on my radar. I know I need to watch myself. However, that wasn't the entire issue. The lab tech also said something about a low fat diet. Diet? I can't do a diet. The second someone says you can't eat this, it is the only thing I want to eat. I refuse to go through life hating what I have to eat. Food should be enjoyed and I want to enjoy food as it should be. I don't want artificially enhanced or in some other way changed, like low fat chocolate or something else ridiculous. And maybe there was a little bit of self reflection that I wasn't ready for. Maybe I'm the unusual one or maybe there are others out there like me, but my emotional state has a drastic effect on my eating even when I don't realize it.

So I did what any self respecting person who needs information does, I googled it. I read a few articles about food that is good for cholesterol and I was encouraged. There are some easy fixes, like oats. I can have oatmeal for breakfast. It would be filling, good for cholesterol and something I don't have to think much about. Avocados, albacore tuna, olive oil, spinach, garlic, and black beans. I like those things too. I was encouraged. I can incorporate a few new recipes and they could make a difference. My husband has been thinking on some new dinner recipes as well. So it isn't just me trying to do this, we can do it.

Those recipes could also help me lose the weight I've been wanting to use. Of course that is a difficult proposition having hypothyroidism. Mine has been relatively well controlled for the last 5 years or so. I would like to think my consistently taking the medicine as it should be taken is a part of that. Even through my pregnancy with my daughter, it was fairly well controlled. I took it before bed because I was throwing up in the morning and my dosage had to be upped, but my numbers still stayed good. However after she was born, it was a different story. Those bleary eyed mornings meant lots of times that I forgot to take my medicine first thing. Like I've forgotten to take it probably once a week for the last 16 months. That's not really great. So I've moved the medicine bottle to my bedside table. So far (2 days), so good. Hopefully taking my medicine regularly will make the changes in diet useful. There is a small part of me that is afraid of a certain number on the scale. I have hit that number twice and had two kids. So it's kind of like a magic baby number, but I'm pretty happy with two babies. There is a much larger part that dreams of a number on the scale that makes me smile instead of shrugging and saying not bad. And maybe just maybe that number on the scale could be paired with food I really love on a regular basis.

I'm sure it doesn't seem like such a hard prospect for several of you out there who have taken your health seriously. But for me, I'm just not sure where to fit this new food into my schedule. Being a teacher is not your regular 9 to 5 job. Not to mention being a mother and wife. Making sure the homework gets done, and making sure each kid gets some mommy time after work, getting the dishes and laundry done, and making sure we get time with the larger family. Those are time consuming. Then you throw in church service, choir, youth leadership,etc. Blogging and reading are just for fun, but also terribly important for my own well being. My time is spoken for in many areas. The thought of adding in prep time for this new 'healthy' diet is overwhelming. I know there will be busy weeks and on those weeks, I wonder if I can find the time to make this new food. I doubt my ability to follow through and then there will be guilt to follow. To follow? I'm already feeling guilty about failing this new diet and I've hardly started. This isn't something I can fail at.

Of course I feel that everything I do is something that I can't fail at. Which leads me to the emotional issues tied to my eating and that will be another post.

Yesterday, I made a quinoa and black bean salad. It took me much longer than I expected because I used dried beans. However, I did and I learned a few things. I know how I can do it better next time. At the very least, I know I can have oatmeal,some black bean recipes, and salad. I am confident that I can get two of those things accomplished on a daily basis. Next week I have another appointment with the doctor. I'm assuming he will talk to me more about the specifics. I hope I'm prepared for that meeting. I will let you know next week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker: Book Review

The Day The Angels FellThe Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be an easy review to write, but I am wrong. I normally don't think twice about the number of stars to give. I have changed my mind several times so far. This book seems to be evading my summation.

Sam and Abra are rather adorable. Shawn's writing is fabulous as usual. There is a note of magical realism about the book. The religious references are sufficient without being heavy handed.

The story is straightforward and yet I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.
Often when I see the main character going through a significant amount of pain and suffering, I have to take a break from the book. I was worried that this one would be that way, so I wasn't in a hurry to finish it. However that didn't happen. Maybe that is why I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.

I will say the very end was a bit of a surprise and I'm glad it went in that direction.

I have heard someone refer to it as a coming of age story. I can see that and they aren't my favorite type to read. However, the magic within it kept me reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book even though it wasn't what I was expecting. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

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This one was so hard to write a review for. A few weeks after finishing it and I still can't really put my thoughts into sufficient words. There were a few things that I was hoping to have more explaination for, but they might be answered in the sequel or I might have missed something or it wasn't that big of a deal to begin with. The story is memorable. The characters are lovely. The pain isn't overwhelming.  And the magic is superb.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Gray Picture of Dorian by Nick Thacker: Book Review

The Gray Picture of Dorian: An Artificial Intelligence Techno Thriller Sci-Fi Short Story by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short piece of fiction is disturbing in all the ways that science fiction should be.  I could see what was coming before Dorian could and I wanted to warn him. Then there was another part of me that thought he deserves it.

The title immediately reminded me of Oscar Wilde's classic and as I read this modern Dorian reminded me of the classic as well. He is vain and concieted and totally fine with using the people around him. I don't want to give away the ending, but this modern Dorian find himself shut out of his own life. As much as I didn't like him, I didn't want that ending for him either. However he made his bed, so now he must lie in it.

This is definitely worth the $2.99 because of its entertainment value and its re-readability. I only take away half a star because it is a smidge depressing.

I recieved an advance copy for an honest review. The above is my honest review of the work of a fabulous author.

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I would really give it 4.5 stars.

I am normally skeptical of a modern take on a classic novel. This one is well done and there is no need for my hesitation. This one left me wondering about humanity and technology. It left me with a sadness for Dorian as well as a feeling that I just read a very well put together story.

You can get it here, which is an affiliate link.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What Are Christians Supposed To Do? (Part 2)

Last week I talked about my response to all of these 'issues' 'attacking' the Christian faith. And I have a few more ideas.

Primarily, I have had a revelation about relationships with Jesus. We claim that we want people to have a personal relationship with Jesus. However I think that is a misnomer. We don't want people to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We want them to have our relationship with Jesus. We want their faith to look like ours. We don't want them to have a personal relationship because their personal relationship doesn't include us. That makes us uncomfortable. We are so terribly worried that someone else might make a mistake that we attempt to insert ourselves into their faith. But that doesn't work. It really is a personal relationship. It is how they relate to Jesus and how He relates to them. It is a life long faith process that they walk through with Jesus beside them. I can't tell then how to be out how not to be. That is what Jesus does. I can't expect my experiences, opinions, and life to bring me to the same places that they are and vice versa. I have to let them live out their relationship with Jesus.

A related idea is that I often look at the temporal. I look at what is here and now. I look at what is right in front of me. However the God I serve is not temporal. He doesn't just look at what is right in front of me. He is eternal.  He is outside of time. He was, he is, and he will be. So I need look at the eternal as well. I need to understand there is a big picture. It doesn't all have to be fixed right now. God has a plan and the plan is longer than my attention span.

Trust his plan and his timing and his relationship with those other people. And focus on my relationship with Him, my reaction to His timing, and my involvement in His plan. Less me, more Jesus.

The Precious Jewels Trilogy by Kerstin Geir: A Book Review

It has been many years since I have fallen so in love with characters, since I felt their loss so keenly when the book was done. The one that comes to mind is Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery. I remember being heartbroken for days after I finished that book. This one didn't cause me so much heartache, but I did miss Gwenyth and Gideon for days after I finished the books. I considered starting them again!

For all of my love, I am not without compliant. I am not happy with the resolution. It was clever, but somehow unfulfilling. I could go on, but I don't want to give away the ending. I think one reason I was so unhappy with the ending is that it seemed unrealistic. Yes even in the setting of time traveling genes, it was unrealistic. One of the things I loved so much about this series was how realistic the characters actions are. The way they act, react, and think definitely seem characteristic of teens that have some anomoly about them and need to plan ahead. The ending seems less planned and had a longer lasting impact. I worry that they will regret their decision later. And I think that tells you just how obsessed I became with them.

Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy, #1)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness! I loved this book. There are several classic themes, girl who doesn't know how great she is discovering hidden powers and falling in love with someone she feels is far above her, secret societies keeping secrets. But there are some new ones, time travel and family members from the past trying to influence the future. Gwen is fabulous. Lesley is amazing. Gideon is wonderful. They are all as you would expect them to be based on their roles in the story, but their voices are so authentic and believable. I will be going to the library tomororw to get book #2; Can't wait!!

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Sapphire Blue (Precious Stone Trilogy, #2)Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in 6 hours! I literally couldn't put it down. I normally don't like series books. I think generally there is too much introduction and not enough of the bad guy to want to keep reading.

This is not that book!

Ruby Red gives us an introduction to the characters and the problem with some meat on it. It isn't all introduction. Sapphire Blue gives us a few answers and a few more questions. There were multiple parts that made me react out loud to what was going on. There are funny parts. There are inspiring parts. And there are heart breaking parts. The count seems even more dangerous at the end of book 2 than he did at the end of book 1. I can't wait to see how this ends.

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Emerald Green (Precious Stone Trilogy, #3)Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few points at the end were too convenient. I love that she didn't spell out each piece piece of the ending for us. She left us thinking at the end and putting some things together ourselves. The point of view, 1st person, stayed true throughout the whole series. I love that! It really adds another dimension to the story.
Fabulous series. I read the whole thing in less than a week. Books 2 and 3 I read in one sitting. Loved it!!

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The box set is available for less than $30 through Amazon, when they come back in stock. But I read the whole series through the library. I love it so much that I do plan on buying the trilogy.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Girl and Her Body

Photo Credit: RafalZych

With summer upon us, swim wear distress has begun. As Ben gets older, he has more friends, we are invited to more summer events, including swim events. This brings my old nemesis back to the forefront, swim wear. Can I get an amen?

Growing up, we went on vacation where swimming was available. So swim wear was a necessity. Every year I struggled to find something to fit me right. I had bikinis, tankinis, and one pieces over the years. I didn't like any of them. I picked the one that made me feel the least crappy about myself. Feeling good about myself in swim wear wasn't even going to happen. Bikinis showed my stomach which wasn't flat enough. One pieces showed my thighs which were too big. Tankinis could be paired with shorts and cover all the ugly flabby parts. However, the patterns weren't very pretty which left me feeling like a big geek who couldn't possibly fit in with any group. In all these struggles, I was so very blessed that no adult in my life put any pressure on me about the swim wear decisions I had to make.

I wish I could say that some piece of sage advice along the way eased every fear and negative thing I would tell myself. But I never even asked for advice because I didn't want confirmation of how wrongly shaped my body was. I didn't want to have to say my flaws out loud. I have said many of these things to my husband over the years as I have become frustrated with shorts, swim wear and any other number of clothing items.  He has assured me of my beauty and sympathized with me about the mean old clothing manufactures. And yet it was a comment only a couple weeks ago from a few parents at church that helped me more than anything else ever has. We were discussing the difficulties of finding swim wear for a tall daughter and another daughter that wanted shorts. Another woman even mentioned a place that was selling long torso swim suits. It is the swim suit that doesn't fit me. It isn't me that doesn't fit the suit! It isn't that my proportions are all wrong. It is the suit that isn't long enough and pulls down in the wrong places and up in wrong places.

No matter swim wear I choose it does not define the correctness of my body.

My body has been fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe. I no longer need to feel ashamed by the shape of this or the size of that. I don't need to fear if I look acceptable to others. I don't need to fear if they notice this flaw or that flaw. We all have flaws, but we also all have our beauty as well.

And more important than our physical attributes, we are all interesting and lovely people on the inside. And the more lovely we are on the inside, three more lovely we are on the outside.

I will no longer allow myself to be defined by the way I look in a swim suit or the size of that swim suit or the shape of that suit. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed by the media, stupid people (smart people don't shame anyone), or my own negative self talk. I will not only accept my body, but I will love it. I am going to celebrate who I am inside and out.

I don't think this post would be complete without discussing me as a mother. What will I do to help Lily not deal with this for 35 years? I am not going to talk to her about her body. I will talk to her about what her body can do. I will talk to her about how the clothes fit her or compliment her. The subject will be her ability or the clothes. The subject will not be her body. I will also do encourage her to ask questions and talk about her feelings. And I will pray a lot.

These human bodies that we have been stuck with are difficult and the world we live in is broken. Lord help us love more.