TaDA! Another Year Down, One Closer to Christ’s Return!

Oh Friends,

What I precious time I’ve had getting to know you this year. And what generous readers you are to put up with my chatter, my learning, my sharing, and doubtless, my typos!

There’s one more day this year. Today, the 30th, Patrick and I are setting off for Oklahoma. We’ll spend a few days with his family and then travel to Kansas to spend sometime with my parents. The sad part is that my sisters were in KS for Christmas, and by the time I get there, they will have returned to TX and jobs and family life. I will arrive in the wake of some real excitement though…

JORDAN JUST PROPOSED TO RACHELLE!! My next planned trip to the midwest will hopefully their wedding! There is no way to express my joy that Jordan will now be my brother (I’ve accidentally been calling him that for quite a while now). And no one, I mean no one, is God more happy to bless than Rachelle. Her heart for Jesus and desire to love those He loves is unparalleled.

Obviously, Christmas will have passed. But Patrick and I will arrive in Oklahoma in time to take in OSU’s bowl game. We’re going to go to old stomping grounds, Eskimo Joe’s, (where we feel really old) to watch the game. Hopefully, some friends will join us.

So, on to business. January. If you had asked me 15 years ago if I expected to see 2012, I would have said no. I didn’t believe I would live that long. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live that long. Thank the Lord that He doesn’t ask us for our opinion on His sovereign plans. To this end, I have been asked to review Simple Steps. I can’t tell you much yet, except that it is a UK website aiming to help those suffering from eating disorders. We’ll discover this treasure together as I review it for a week in January.

Also, I have joined a book review program with Moody Publishers. I will be reading, reviewing and giving away a copy of one of their books each month (Lord willing) starting in January. That will take a week of our time together as well. As you know, I am a Moody disciple – devouring everything from their radio programs to their books, to their Bible studies, to their continuing education courses to…I’m sure I have yet to discover all they have to offer.

That only covers 2 weeks of January. I trust that God will continue to teach me about Himself- the very Truth Himself. I promise to share everything with you so that together we can combat the enemy of our souls. For one week, I will delve into the truth that God has been teaching me about men. Now that could get interesting! The truth about our differences, the joy in those differences and certainly the pain. I’ll include stories, juicy ones sometimes using my marriage as a case study. Finally, I will offer related resources.

And the fourth week… NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.  I don’t make them. Enough said??

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A Gift of Links

As promised, today I’m going to share awesome links that you will find especially helpful for the holidays. Enjoy!

Chantel Hobbs – manage your holiday weight

Bodyrock.tv – keep moving!

Crown financial – Christmas Credit Cards- don’t panic

Dave Ramsey  – Financial Peace, need I say more?

Don’t look all over Amazon- here’s exactly what you need for Christmas

Christmas marriage meltdown? 

I hope you enjoy some of these links. I love all of them, personally.

Merry Christmas!

 

Growing With Granola

I have contemplated staring a recipe blog, something like “Recipes for Recovery.” I am testing the idea here on Mondays, so I am very interested in the response. If you enjoy the healthy, adapted recipes you see here and would like to to see more foods and recipes that have encouraged me to eat again, please comment!

Briefly: I fought a loosing battle with anorexia for about 13 years. Then, I began to get the upper hand. There are still battles sometimes, but the war is won and I’m not ever going back. In the thick of my struggles, I outlawed many foods and categories of food. First it was fat, then carbs became evil and protein was innately scary to me.

The first time that I actually saw the cloud of fear around food roll back was in Washington state, near Percival Pier in Olympia. The Olympia Farmer’s Market is renowned. Geometric shapes of colorful fruits and vegetables spill over the tops of semi-permenant carts. The heady fragrance of cinnamon roasted pecans winds through the sea of shoppers in the fall months. Friendships ignite over heads of cauliflower and bundles of wildflowers. Artists mix with farmers mix with bakers and ranchers.

The first time I wandered through the market, I was alone. Tears sprang to my eyes as I observed crowds of people expressing nothing but appreciation for the indulgent art of eating. Food was about color and nutrition and pleasure and friendship and spontaneity. Food was fresh and new and lively and shared and personal and creative. I desperately wanted to experience food in that way.

So that was the beginning of NEW. Later, I volunteered at the Co-op in Olympia. The Co-op was crowded with hippies and hemp. It was open air and very chilly in the winter time. My section was the dry goods, so I restocked oatmeal and granola, cereal, flower, nuts, seeds and fruits. I wondered how people enjoyed nuts? granola? Oh how delicious they looked, but I knew they harbored hundred of calories in a child-sized handful.

I began to find joy in food by making it. I applied the same principles that farmers and bakers do. Perhaps, I thought, their love for food comes from the investment of their time and creativity. So I took it upon myself to make granola. I’ve since made tons and tons of varieties and experimented with recipes from friends and websites. I realized, much to my delight, that granola is easily manipulated successfully. So don’t stick with what I post here. I’m purposefully giving vague ingredients and amounts, because if you vary the baking time, you really can’t go wrong.

Enjoy! Appreciate the joy of creating and eating!

P.S. My greatest love to Dana, who gave me my first granola recipe. Dana, there is no one like you and never will be. You inspired so much of the healing God has brought me through. Not only inspired it but helped me to survive it. I love you!!

GRANOLA

2 C puffed rice

2 C  old fashioned oatmeal, or other dry flake cereal such as rye flakes, barley flakes, etc.

1/4 C shelled and salted sunflower seeds

1/4 C dry roasted and salted soybeans

1/2 C mixed, chopped, salted nuts

1/4 Splenda

1 T spice of your choice – cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, if you’re really bold try the SMALLEST dash of cayenne

1/4 honey or flavored syrup (can use sugar free) like maple, carmel, vanilla, coconut

add dashes of water, probably up to about 1/2 C

Stir to determine if it’s the consistency you want. The entire mixture should be damp but not soggy.

Here you can add lots of things: wheat germ, flax seeds, more nuts, stevia if you want it extra sweet, switch out some of the water for olive oil or melted butter

Spread your granola on two greased baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees for about 20-30 minutes stirring regularly. Feel free to take it out at any time you think it is done. Make sure it cools completely before storing it. At this point, I like to mix my granola with another boxed cereal to make it last a little longer and alter the flavor. Try Cascadia Farms version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Cinnamon Chex or Honey Nut Cheerios or Kashi Honey Sunshine or Peanut Butter Puffs by Puffin Cereal.

Let me know if you try this recipe and make it your own!

Finally!

ABOUT AMBER

Its important to me that you know who I am internally, aside from the glitz and glamour of my modeling portfolio.I was raised by a missionary family in the Congo, Africa. I came to the United States and found my home in sports and my indentity in being a tom-boy. Truth is, I lost that girl amidst the crazy world of being a young adult, trying to prove myself and impress those around me. Modeling initially was a way for me to “prove” that I could take on this industry and be succesful, as if in some way it would validate who I was.

THE TRANSFORMATION

The transformation that happend, I believe saved my life. I began seeing a world driven by materialism and facades..and I developed as passion for representing truth. I want to represent a beauty that allures people in a pure way. I want to represent the truth in fitness by not buying into fads or unhealthy means to look good. And through those representation, my deepest desire is that somehow, even if its in a tiny way, I’ll be able to encourage others to be exactly who they are.Allowing them to go back to their roots, and forget the expectations and approvals of everyone except their creator, no magazine spread or cover, no amount of recognition, or any monetary value could outweigh the importance of “people“ in my life and career….please, live YOUR life “for such a time as this” be who you are, and achieve the things that only you are given the talent, and opportunities to achieve.

~Amber Elizabeth (from her site, click image above)

 

 

We’re So Vain!

As if gambling were not already enough of a social ill. As if it weren’t enough to encourage a society that can scarcely employ its population, to risk, barter and fritter its income on cards and electronic games. As if 90,000 teens getting plastic surgery in 2007 wasn’t a clear enough sign that America is beauty-obsessed. As if!

The Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City is offering $25,000 worth of plastic surgery to one lucky winner. Gamblers can earn points throughout the month of October. On October 29, someone will be awarded the opportunity to look in the mirror, dissect and despise their body and then submit themselves to a surgeon’s knife for liposuction, breast implants, a nose job, ear tucks or any one of a number of procedures.

I heard this on the radio a couple days ago, and I had to Google it – surely it couldn’t be. And of course, if it sounds unconscionable, ridiculous and absurd – it’s probably real. One only has to watch the progression of reality TV shows to notice that American entertainers are in a vicious competition to be the most deviant and aberrant.

I am the first one to admit that I don’t often admire a picture of myself. Even if I appreciate what I see in the mirror at 9 in the morning, I’m likely to feel frumpy and disheveled by 10:30 a.m. I work at a gym, and daily I watch people struggle to thin their thighs, tone their triceps and trim their tummies. At least they’re trying.

I don’t advocate body disparity. The Bible says that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139). Instead of squandering our children’s college tuition on chance in the casino, what about investing in their healthy bodies, thirsty minds and malleable spirits? If we don’t we’re likely to find our teens spending their high school years sullen, self-absorbed and at odds with us. Rethink your priorities!!

As I read several articles about the Taj Mahal’s unique prize, a couple things struck me in addition to promoting discontent with our bodies.

It’s interesting: gambling is a get rich quick effort. (for some interesting statistics see http://www.overcominggambling.com) Plastic surgery is a discouraged individual’s attempt to perfect her body overnight. Americans want everything yesterday. Hard work and waiting are disappearing values.

Gamblers are more likely to be male than female. Is this an all-out effort to attract women to the “sport?” I guess luring women into surgeon’s chairs through unrealistic magazine spreads, billboards, runway models and TV ads wasn’t working fast enough.

It seems almost crazy that someone could be addicted to plastic surgery, but we’ve seen it happen. We already know gambling is addictive. Imagine combining the two!

According to an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. Eda Gorbis — an assistant professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and founder of the Westwood Institute for Anxiety Disorders in Los Angeles — said she’s already seen cases of people struggling with excessive plastic surgery and excessive gambling, and has grown concerned about the connections.
“Definitely one thing reinforces the other one,” she said. “Both are addictions, and they’re bad addictions.”

First we’ll boost the casino’s business and keep the plastic surgeons busy. In a few more years we’ll be overwhelming Gamblers Anonymous and other 12 step programs.

 

 

Sunny Sea Gold’s Story

Most of you know my story by now. If you don’t, please read these 2 posts and it will help to fill in the gaps. God Is Going to Give Up On Me and Guest Post on Carole’s Blog. 

Then, enjoy this story. It is a compelling story published in Redbook magazine. Sunny tells how even loving family members can introduce us to terrible fears and longterm bad habits and contagious pain. Sunny’s story has a bright ending, though. She has chose to ignore cultural norms and to raise her daughters with a fearless view toward their bodies.

Sunny Sea Gold: I Was Fat In A Thin Family

 

 

It’s All In the Numbers

Collectively, Capital Bikeshare participants have burned roughly 382,499,362 calories since September 2010. How do I know that? Recently, the D.C. based effort to reduce its carbon footprint and shrink America’s waistline, introduced the technology to calculate the calories burned each time someone mounts a Bikeshare bike. The bike uses 180 lbs. as the average size adult to make its calculations, although you can change the data to your specifications. Using information beyond my reach, the bikes also indicate how much CO2 each rider spares the atmosphere.

I love working out. Honestly, I am more committed to tomorrow morning’s workout than I am to things I should probably esteem more highly than jumping jacks. But, I am also hyper aware of the numbers plague. This is an insidious disease that attacks indiscriminately, but prefers young women.

It begins with the fine print on the side of a box of Cheerios. Then, suddenly it can be seen glaring from a menu board at McDonald’s, peering up from watch bands, blaring from billboards and murmured by fearful friends. “How many calories are in that pretzel?”

“Seriously, I have to go running (bike riding) so I can burn off my 400 calorie lunch!”

Do you think it’s a good thing that public transportation now measures the success of your commute by how many calories you burn?

But wait! You don’t have to count calories anymore – you can count your bites!  I have serious doubts about the accuracy, but this new little gizmo will tally how many times you use that special wrist movement called “fork to mouth.” Apparently, we humans are so finely tuned that we use the same special movement whether we are eating with a spoon, a fork or our hands. Even eating a whole apple involves this wrist twist. Just don’t stoop to mimicking your dog when you eat – you’ll confuse the bite-o’meter (maybe that’s the point).

Using technology designed to help the military track repetitive body movements involved in clearing buildings in Iraq, (a much more noble pursuit) your new watch can record each 25 calorie bite. There’s the subjectivity – the counter assumes that each bite you take is an average of 25 calories.

In and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with these clever new inventions. I do wonder though, given the state of our floundering economy: How much in government grants went toward research and development?

The only lie I am uncovering here is the repetitive insinuation that we must count our output, tally our intake and monitor our measurements. Are we ever just OK? Is it possible to simply enjoy deeply breathing fresh air while biking to work? (Probably not in D.C.) What if you chew too much? Will your new gadget condemn you for excessive mastication?

Ten Things Jesus Never Said

You’ve gone too far.  There’s just no saving the likes of you.

According to Will Davis Jr., author of “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” this is one of the most common sentences that we put in Jesus’ mouth.  If I remember correctly, adding to or taking from God’s words is a punishable offense.  But at this point, let’s not add to the list of things we are afraid might never be forgiven.

I was tempted to skip this chapter as I began reading Davis’ book.  After all, I’ve been a Christian for nearly 25 years.  I’ve been living forgiven that whole time, right?  I don’t doubt my salvation.  I know, that I know, that I KNOW where I am going to spend eternity and I’m super excited about it.  However, I forced myself through the pages.  My dad used to say that you had to read the preface, table of contents and prologue to really read a book.

Suddenly, a subtitle caught my eye.  “God Treats the Disease of Sin, Not Its Symptoms.”  Thinking of sickness and disease, tossed my mind back to years, many years, of repeatedly falling back into the sin of an eating disorder.  (I know that the definition of an eating disorder is often debated, whether it is a sin or a sickness.  I can see it both ways, but in retrospect I must confess that my behaviors toward food and exercise were often idolatrous – an obvious sin.)

I began worshipping the idol of thinness, health and perfection when I was 14.  I enslaved my body to my pride wanting to build myself into an enviable shrine of perfection.  When I recognized my behavior as sin, I sought help.  Then, for the next 13-14 years I repented and fell backwards, honored God with my body one day and then put myself on a pedestal the next day.  I lied to my therapists and parents about eating and exercise in the morning and then confessed it to the Lord at night.  After several years of this cycle, I started to hate myself.  I clearly remember thinking that God would sooner or later give up on me.   It’s hard to believe that God could continue to forgive a pathetic, stubborn woman.

“You haven’t gone too far. You may indeed be dirty, covered with sin – in reality we all are – but you’re not too dirty.  No one is.  God knew what he was getting into when he sent Jesus to redeem sinners…He didn’t set a limit on the size or scope [or number] of the iniquities that he was willing to pardon.” (pg. 45)

For the moment, I am living in freedom and honesty before the Lord, humbly submitted having destroyed the idol of fitness.  I know I’m not done sinning, but simply the knowledge that I can NEVER go too far, inspires such joy, confidence in Jesus and gratitude.  I can relax, focus on Jesus, forget myself.

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF THE BOOK, “TEN THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID: And why you should STOP believing them.”

MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT SO THAT YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING!