Monday, January 31, 2011

Think on These Things...

what is done is done
what is not done is not done
let it the wind.

Sonia Sanchez. Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998. 133 pp.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Detox Day Fourteen

detoxification |dēˌtäksəfiˈkā sh ən|nounthe process of removing toxic substances or qualities.
Today, there's no good, bad or ugly. There's no good, gooder, and goodest. I made it to day fourteen, and really it can't get any better. It is truly all good.

Today was a busy day—memorial service, hospital visit, and traffic—but I have managed to eat well. I started my day with a banana and oatmeal from McDonald's, which was surprisingly delicious and loaded with fruit. After the memorial, I ate with the bereaved family and our church family. I hated to waste food, but I left the "detox busters" on the plate. I even managed not to have one of Ms. Virginia's brownies (Ms. Virginia is the head of our culinary staff at the church...she burns in the kitchen.) Admittedly, with the busyness of the day, I did not eat for a long time after that first meal, but I was fine. I ate something to tide me over when I got home, and now I'm doing my thing in the kitchen. Spinach, tomatoes, onion, garlic...oh, my! (And oh yeah. a rack of bbq spareribs for hubby!)

So, like I said, it is all good. At the end of this fourteen day detox, I can honestly say that I feel so much better from the inside out. I have increased energy. My skin in much clearer. My belly bloat, surely a result of regular visits to Dunkin Donuts for bagels, is gone. I am 5lbs lighter than I was just two weeks ago. I am able to endure through my workouts, including two fun and intense Zumba classes. The sludge that was slowing me down is gone and I am keenly aware of it. (As much as I love, love, love cheese and a good does not love me, and it certainly not good to me.)

Now that the sludge is gone; Now that my consciousness is peaked; Now that I have finally decided to lose weight as part of a life of faithful stewardship; Now that I recognize obesity as a spiritual stronghold that I can only conquer through a life of prayer and fasting (in addition to diet and exercise); NOW, I am ready to embark on Praying Away the Pounds...

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Detox Day Thirteen

The good...
I had a wonderful strawberry, banana, peach smoothie with protein powder for breakfast! Did I mention it was wonderful! The magic bullet hasn't lost its magic after all these years...

The bad...
The day was busy, with a homegoing service for one of our dear members and catch-up work to do at the church. Needless to say, I did not eat my (healthy and detox friendly) lunch until after 3 p.m. while sitting in my car. Car eating, for me, is usually a sign that I am moving too fast and not taking enough time to eat.

The ugly...
Perhaps it was the haste of the day, or perhaps my emotions got the best of me, but my early dinner was nowhere near healthy and was certainly not on my list of approved detox foods. I had a salad in my bag, but instead of heating my field greens, I had a chicken patty and coco bread. The truth is, Ms. Jeanette's death had me feeling out of sorts. Her homegoing, while beautiful, was difficult. I have another memorial service in the morning. Ministering in congregational life has meant facing death more often than I imagined. In my head I knew it, but death isn't an intellectual thing. It's a heart thing...and my heavy heart needed some comfort that a salad could not provide. I could have said no to the patty and bread, but I didn't want to.

The better...
The day wasn't a wash. I'm in too deep for that to happen. I feel too good for that to happen. Getting on the scale this morning and seeing a 5lb loss was encouraging. Even with my slip-up, I stayed close to my calorie limit and I was quite active today (even though I did not exercise). even though I was offered Hawaiian Punch and Pepsi (two of my faves), I declined and drank water instead. I am looking forward to finishing tomorrow with a bang, getting a handle on my emotional eating, and taking off the remaining weight that I need to shed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Detox Day Twelve

The good...
I have two days left on my detox. I no longer feel out of sorts. In fact, I feel pretty darn good, if I must say so myself. I have more energy than I've had in a long while and I actually have been looking forward to exercise. Bless the Lord!

The gooder...
Since I only have two days remaining, today was about transitioning from detox mode into lifestyle mode. The detox has (with the exception of a few minor blips) weaned me off of my sugar addiction. I am also—like a can of Sprite or a cup of herbal tea—caffeine free! I have learned to love drinking water again. Moving forward doesn't seem daunting with these healthy habits under my belt. Bless the Lord!

The goodest...
John Gordon wrote, in his book Energy Addict, that we should "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card." What I understand this to mean is that our heaviest meal should be at breakfast, lunch should be pared down, and dinner should be the lightest meal of the day. Honestly, most of us, myself included, eat the other way around (little to no breakfast, light lunch, and heavy dinner). Today, as I went downstairs to prepare my lunch, I was suddenly conscious of this principle. (Thank you, Holy Spirit!) While my breakfast of Raisin Bran and soy milk wasn't necessarily fit for a queen, I ate a heavier lunch (bbq chicken with steamed broccoli drizzled with a bit of olive oil), with the intention of having a salad with sliced grilled lamb for dinner. Bless the Lord!

Can it get any better...
Cabin fever did not get the best of me and the orange I snacked on was indeed sufficient! (As it were, cabin fever did get the best of me...instead of a cookie, hubby and I went to the gym. I was in my element at ZUMBA this evening.) More than that, in the latter part of the day I worked on my presentation for the Pray Away the Pounds orientation that will be held at Bethesda on Sunday after morning worship. I am writing the vision and making it plain, not only for my own life, but also in service to those in my congregation. As I prepared, for the first time I recognized obesity not only as a nation epidemic that plagues American society, but as a spiritual stronghold that the body of Christ needs to be delivered from. The Scripture says that, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (Jon 8:36). With my spiritual eyes, I can see myself, my pastor, and my congregation free from the grips of obesity! Won't you bless the Lord with me! Hallelujah!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Detox Day Eleven

The good...
With lunch packed, and an unexpected snow storm keeping me in the house, I was ready for the day. Eating well is easy when everything is packaged. Not pre-packaged, like processed foods, but good healthy leftovers stored away in ziplock containers. Last night I made broccoli, brown rice, and a grilled tilapia with orange and yellow peppers, sweet onions, and garlic. Following a tip I saw on the Biggest Loser last week, I only used two tablespoons of olive oil to cook it all. It is amazing how far olive oil will go, if you let it.

The gooder...
When we woke up this morning it was not snowing. Somewhere in between deciding whether or not my body could handle a workout or whether I should crawl back under the covers, it started to snow. Hard. The gym was no longer an option; I just wasn't up to the hassle that is the traffic in our neighborhood when it snows. So, I crawled back into bed. But I couldn't stay there. My body was itching for a workout. Instinctively it knew that being pushed some more was just what it needed to get over my Zumba soreness. I put on the television, flipped the channel to VH1 Soul, and worked out for 30 minutes on my elliptical machine to reggae music. It felt really good! Months ago, I couldn't peel myself out of bed to get to the gym. Today, I couldn't stay in bed because my body wanted to move. In the words of Tramaine Hawkins, "A wonderful change has come over me..."

The goodest...
I lounged all day today. Don't get me wrong, I worked...but I did so from the comfort of my bed in my pajamas. I worked on the programs for a Homegoing celebration on Friday and a memorial service on Saturday. I planned for the When the Praises Go Up Youth Event on February 12th and for the kick-off of Praying Away the Pounds on Sunday. I must admit, I missed being with the good people in Bible Study, however I thoroughly enjoyed this day of rest that the snow day afforded me.

Can it get any better...
When cabin fever got the best of me, I gave in. Although I had my good eats ready for me in ziplock containers, I also had a tub of cookie dough in the refrigerator that kept calling my name. Donna. Donna. At around 3:00 p.m., I finally answered its call and put some cookies in the oven. The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking warmed my heart on this cold, snowy day. The taste of the cookies brought a smile to my face. Instead of hanging my head in shame, I adjusted my calories for the day and kept it moving. My cookies were not exactly detox food, I know, but there is something about warm chocolate chip cookies that makes being cooped up not so bad. For some reason, I don't find comfort in oranges and blueberries in these kind of moments. (Believe me, I tried.) Why is this the best part of the day? For one, I am aware of an emotional thing that happened here. The cold and gray outside cause me to seek out warm and sweet on the inside. Now that I am aware, I can work on it. One day the orange will be sufficient on a cold, snowy day. Also, I didn't call the day a wash. I counted the cost and adjusted accordingly. The old me would have eaten the cookies and declared the remainder of the day a cheat day. I'm so glad He changed me...

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Detox Day Ten

The good...
The doorbell rang at 7:42 this morning. Hubby looked surprised. I, on the other hand, knew exactly who it was. Who was it, you ask? It was the Peapod guy delivering wonderful goodies from Stop-n-Shop! (Ordered on my iPad, by the way...) I must admit, ordering groceries online really makes you think about food choices. As I added items to my cart, I asked the questions, "Do we really need this?" and "Is this detox approved food?" For me, shopping for groceries online ensures that a container of cookies or a bag of Fritos doesn't make its way into my cart. Seeing snack foods makes me want snack foods. But, when clicking online, I sought out only that which we needed. Besides, how cool is it to have someone bring you blueberries, strawberries, and baby carrots in the morning? This, my friends, was better than coffee...

The gooder...
Part of the reason why the delivery was better than coffee is because it was right on time. I was making moves in the kitchen already, but the Peapod guy brought just what I needed to switch up my breakfast routine. Instead of oatmeal or Raisin Bran, I had a delicious smoothie made with fresh strawberries, peanut butter, and soy milk. I would have added banana, but the bananas that came were a little green for my taste.

The goodest...
Peapod delivery. Check. Delicious Smoothie. Check. And to think, all of this happened before 8 a.m. thus making it possible for me to make it to the 8:30 a.m. Zumba class. I had never been to Zumba before and I know that I am supposed to take it easy with my workouts during the detox, but this class was calling my name. And I had no excuses...I had plenty of time to get into my clothes and make it to the gym. So, off I went. The instructor was a feisty Chinese woman. The music was a blend of latin and caribbean riddems. I worked areas of my body that had not been worked out since my partying days in the mid-nineties. Seriously. It was sooooooo much fun and I was dripping with sweat. Without the morning hangover, this one hour workout was equivalent to clubbing all night. At one point, my legs didn't want to go anymore, but I was having so much fun that I did not stop them. I cannot remember the last time I actually smiled through most of a workout. I am definitely a fan of Zumba!

Can it get any better...
In preparation for, "It's Wednesday, so it must be church day" I am ironing our clothes and packing my lunch tonight. With these chores out of the way, unless the sleepy monster strikes, I will be able to make it to the gym in the morning before getting on the road to NY. I am considering going to the 8:30 a.m. Body Works Plus Abs class. I'd love to make it to spinning, but I'm not yet committed enough to rise and be at the gym for a 5:45 a.m. class.

Also of note is the fact that I have been getting up in the morning and staying up until bedtime. I haven't napped in about a week! This is huge for me. As the gunk and junk are being cleansed from my system, I have increased energy to get up, stay up, and be active. I know I still have four days remaining, but this detox can be likened to a tune-up for the body! I am running way more efficiently now than I was in the weeks and months leading up to this.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Detox Day Nine

The good...
This morning, when it was time to head to the gym, the temperature was 1º farenheit...yes, only one, and sunny. For some reason, 1º and sunny doesn't seem to go together. It was beyond cold, though I imagine that without the presence of the sun that it would have been much colder. One degree. According to the songwriter, one is the loneliest number. Seriously, what is the 1º for? Why not just go for a nice round figure like zero? Zero is much cooler, literally and figuratively. Whether it was one or zero, I wasn't ready to brave the cold. I have clothes for 20º, but I don't know if I own any 1º clothing. Nevertheless, I knew that I needed to get my workout in. Thank God for old-faithful...the long ignored, comeback kid elliptical machine in our bedroom. I got my 30 minutes in without having to leave the house. Hallelujah!

The gooder...
Remember, friends, the keyword for the week is planning. So, prior to heading out for a playdate with my friend Yvette, I scoped out the place we would be eating and the calorie content on the foods. Although we had a host of chains around us: Red Lobster, Olive Garden, TGI Friday's, and more, we decided to eat at Saladworks. I had a cup of tomato bisque with a yummy mandarin chicken salad with carrots, cucumber, and walnuts. It was colorful, delicious, and nutritious. Not only did I hang out with a friend eating good detox foods that didn't break the calorie bank, but I also was fully satisfied. It is amazing how filling food is when you take the time to savor every bite.

The goodest...
Today I did something I'd never done before. After our soup and salads, Yvette and I ran some errands before going to the movies to see Black Swan. When the clerk swiped my Regal Card, a coupon popped out of the machine for two dollars off some raisinets, goobers, or some other chocolate fare that neither of us had need of. Instead of falling for the okie-doke (remember that FREE cookie at Panera last week), I gave the coupon the the clerk for another patron to use and Yvette and I settled on one small popcorn, sans butter,to share. Instead of my usual munching on a medium or large popcorn until my jaws hurt or it gets too cold to enjoy, I ate half of a small bag of popcorn. And guess what? Yep, I was satisfied.

Can it get any better...
A few things to note...the waist on my favorite pair of jeans is not as tight as it was on Christmas day...I am not winded going up and down the stairs in my time on the elliptical, while not a piece of cake, was certainly more pleasant than it was last week...even as I type, I am whipping up a spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight and lunch for the days to come. Satisfaction, indeed!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Detox Day Eight

The good...
Since the seventh day is Sabbath, or a day of rest, it is inferred that the eighth day (or the first day, depending on how you look at it) is a work day...when it all begins, or starts over. Well, this was the first day of my second, and final, week of detoxing and it was indeed a fresh start. The word for today and the rest of this detox is planning!

The gooder...
With God on my side, and a plan in place, I know my efforts are bound to go well. I may have loved like a fifth grader, but Rev. O had her polka-dot lunch box packed with oatmeal and an orange for breakfast. Instead of the usual church breakfast of eggs, sausage, and a biscuit, I enjoyed my maple and brown sugar Quaker oats. I saved my orange and had some pineapple as my fruit. I thought I was going to be hungry, but to my surprise, I was indeed blessed...which can be translated in the Greek (makarioi) to mean fully satisfied.

The goodest...
After leaving church, as we made our way to my alma mater, RCDS, for a concert, I whipped out my Ziploc bag with one serving of cashews. It wasn't much, but with my banana, it was all I needed. Ziploc bags are a detoxer's best friend.

Can it get any better...
For the absolute best moment of the day, I have to rewind to the moment just before breakfast. I was on my way up to the church kitchen--you know, the place where the sausage and biscuits are made--and I was stopped by one of our deacons, Helena, who saw my oatmeal and said, "What is this, day seven?" She had been following my blog, via Facebook updates, and in that moment, her support and the accountability that goes with it, reminded me that I could and should, indeed, decline the plate that would be offered to me, get my hot water, and keep it moving. And I did! Shout out to Deacon Helena and all those in the household of faith who look out for their brothers and sisters! Speaking of which, we are kicking off Partnering with the Pastor to Pray Away the Pounds next week. I will keep you posted, but I know I am so glad that God has covered me on all side with like-minded people who are on this journey with me--from hubby, to mom, girlfriends, blog friends, my pastor, and my church family. I cannot wait to see how God moves, delivers, and sets free in this fight against the stronghold of obesity...because it is a stronghold. Wait, I'm about to preach. Let me stop is rest time.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Detox Day Seven

As you know from previous posts, I do, in fact, know the comparative form and superlative form of the word "good." The headings on today's blog are written in honor of one of hubby's grade school colleagues. Besides, when you read the posting, you'll see that todays headings are clearly more appropriate than the proper grammatical forms. Hopefully, as I continue this detox, these headings will prevail...

The good...
I woke up at 6:15 to get ready for my 8:00 a.m. meeting in NY. I didn't grumble or groan, I didn't hit the snooze button on my alarm clock, I rolled out of bed, declared in my heart, This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it and kept it moving! In the prophetic words of Soul II Soul, "Keep on moving, don't stop..."

The gooder...
I cannot tell you the last time, or any time, that I have gone to the diner, any diner, and NOT had a hot chocolate with whipped cream. I love me some hot chocolate. But this morning, I sat around the table with ministers who I have never, ever, ever, ever seen drinking hot chocolate each order a hot chocolate. Hmph. Imagine the strength it took to order a mint tea AND not add sugar. Help me, Holy Ghost. I did it, and I enjoyed my tea. It is amazing all of the good things that you love that you forget about when you are pumping sugar into your system.

The goodest...
We went to a baby shower for a good friend of mine today. They had lots of goodies, but I stuck with the crudités and a salad. I was quite proud of myself for resisting, especially as hubby ranted and raved about the meatballs.

Can it get any better...
In terms of food, I fell of the wagon, but for good reason. I stayed close to my recommended calorie intake and I did not overstuff myself, however I did have some foods with a few ingredients that are off limits...cod fish spring rolls, jerk chicken quesedilla, and carrot cake. It was all with good reason...hubby and I went on a double date with my parents to a hole in the wall Jamaican spot in Mount Vernon--Ripe--that has delectable foods. Double date...Cute, right? In thought so and I didn't want to be the sour puss who made a fuss over food. On a good detox note, I did have the jerk chicken salad with vinaigrette dressing as my main course.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Detox Day Six

The good...
I walked into Aiken's massage studio with knots in my back, tension above my right hip, and, unbeknownst to me, a rotated right hip. I walked out standing straight, muscles relaxed, and tension gone. Praise God for Aiken! He has healing hands, for real...

The bad...
Honestly, I don't have anything bad to report. I'm doing this, and today—from making the gym my first stop this morning, to making good choices while out (see below)—everything came naturally to me.

The ugly...

The better...
I had lunch with friends today. When we entered the restaurant, I looked at the menu and smiled. One asked, what are you thinking about having? I replied, "Well, I am detoxing, so I'll probably have a salad with a side of dressing and chicken, but any other time I would have had the the (fried) shrimp and (cheese) grits." He agreed that the shrimp and grits seemed like a good choice. I thought for sure that was going to be his meal. Courtney was strongly considering the baby back ribs. When the waitress came to take our order, three salads were ordered. What an unexpected blessing, to have friends who will ride or die with you, even when they don't have to. And seriously, salad tastes so much better when everyone around you is eating it! Plus, it was topped off with a Mango Viniagrette Salad dressing...yummy, yummy!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Detox Day Five

The good...
I have increased energy. I can feel it and my friend, Kimberly, said that she can hear it in my voice. I had a great 30 minute workout at the gym. I didn't push myself too hard, but I did break a nice sweat. In the words of James Brown, I feel good. I knew that I would!

The bad...
Instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, this morning I had visions of the greasiest sausage, egg, and cheese dancing in my head. Not only was it dancing in my head, but it was like I could taste it...and it was good! But it had no power over me because I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me (Romans 8:37). So, for breakfast I enjoyed a hard boiled egg with my new favorite food, Costco's Kirkland Signature Raisin Bread, which is loaded with fiber.

The ugly...
The "ugliest" part of the day only lasted for a few moments. I had a headache like you wouldn't believe. In many ways I am grateful for the headache. It signals to me that I have reached the apex of my caffeine will be smooth sailing from here on out! Also ugly...the six thousand,three hundred,and fifty-four times I've gone to the restroom since waking up. With all of this water drinking, I should take up permanent residence in the bathroom. Nine more days. Nine more days...

The better...
I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. I figured since I'm cleansing my liver, kidneys, and colon that I might as well get the kinks and tension worked out of my back. Just the thought of a massage makes me relax.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Detox Day Four

The good...
I woke early, got moving early, and had the strength to drive past several Dunkin Donuts on my way to church. Thank you, Jesus! Plus, our Wednesday's with Jesus noonday Bible Study group was excellent! When detoxing, it helps to have a great group of folks around to hold you up, even if they don't know they are holding you up...

The bad...
While I had the strength to drive past DD, I can feel my body craving the caffeine. My eyes are heavy and I am lethargic. I just want to crawl under something—some covers, a rock, a mack truck, something—and go to sleep. But, it is early and my day is not even close to being done.

The ugly...
It is 3:45 p.m. and I am just about ready to blow a gasket. Between caffeine withdrawal and PMS, I am not feeling like such a nice person. And it seems that folks are trying to pluck my last nerve. They aren't trying to pluck my nerves, I know it. I'm just in a bad way today. Jesus, be a fence. Did you know that the English word religion comes from the Latin word 'religare' which means to bind? When I say, Jesus be a fence, I do not say it lightly. I am asking God to bind me in, or bind others out, so I do not lose my religion.

The better...
Thanks be to God that, like trouble, caffeine withdrawals don't last always. I have been here before. This, too, shall pass. And the grace is that because I have been here before, I know to keep my mouth shut and a smile on my face even when I feel like blowing a gasket. Because I have been here before, I will put on my coat in a few minutes and take a walk around the block so the fresh, cold air can wake me up. Jesus is a fence!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Detox Day Three

Here is a brief account of the third day of my detox: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the better (because I must recognize the grace in the day)...

(This entry was longer, but when I went to post it, it erased. It was poetic and wonderfully beautiful...but now you get the bulleted version, which lacks flair.)

The good...
~increased energy
~working out on the dusty elliptical in the bedroom...

The bad...
~caffeine cravings...
(pray for me, tomorrow is my usual Dunkin Donuts run before heading to church)

The ugly...
~free chocolate chip cookie during lunch at Panera sabotaged the day and left me with only 188 calories left for dinner...

The better...
~increased awareness of what I eat and it's impact...
(I want to be healthy more than I want the chocolate chip cookie)

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hello, My Name is Donna and I am a Tracker...

(it's funny how writing begets more writing...)

Hello, My Name is Donna and I am a Tracker...

I think I've written this before, but after writing my last blog I recognized the depth of my propensity to track, especially when it comes to my history with successfully losing weight.

I was a chunky girl. For the most part, I was fine with it. Well, not really, but it wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I did anything about it. You know how every crew has a funny girl? Every crew also has a fat girl, and I was her.

It all started with a little black book. In fact, I still have the book in my collection of journals. Anyway, it was a lined notebook from the Gap, back when the Gap ventured into the world of stationary. I bought that book when I was working at the Gap part-time while completing my studies at NYU. At that time, the moment when I got fed up, I could no longer fit jeans from the women's section. I remember it like it was yesterday...using my employee discount to purchase men's relaxed fit jeans in a size 38x30.

On May 29, 1997, I started writing. According to my entry, I had been engaged in some kind of weight loss efforts. On this particular day I was a few pounds away from 200lbs for the first time in six years. The next day I wrote in big, bold letters, "I did the Stairmaster for 10 minutes!! Go me!!"

I want that enthusiasm and joy back. I want the grace and kindness to myself that celebrates my small victories. Where did that go? When did I become so mean and unforgiving? Just days ago I called myself fat in front of someone who wasn't having it...she put me in my place. I think the girl who wrote that entry on May 30, 1997, my almost twenty-one year old self, would have called me out on it, too.

When I flipped through the journal, I found that I was 181lbs on August 14, 1997; I allowed myself cheat days; I relapsed, but got back on the horse within a week or two; and on June 11, 1998 I weighed 167lbs.

That was my first experience with tracking...

Since then I have kept numerous journals, counted calories on websites, penned my pedometer results, logged my runs/walks on, and been hassled and encouraged by my Wii Fit...all with successful results. I am the perfect candidate for Weight Watchers, except I am not for paying a monthly fee (especially since we already pay a gym membership).

So, what's a tracker to do?

Armed with my iPad, I am ready to do this. I did some research and settled on the app from It allows me enter my information, set a plan, and keep a daily log of food intake and energy expended (exercise). It is something that allows me to monitor my results and my habits, which I think will be helpful when it comes time to keep the weight off (the area where I struggle most).

Let the tracking begin...

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

A Blogging Mash Up...(& Detox Day One & Two)

Ghanian painter Samuel Akainyah (who create the beautiful murals housed at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago) is noted to have said, "when inspiration comes, get up. Only the arrogant artist doesn't get up when inspiration comes." Here, he was talking about the inspiration that comes by night when one is tired beyond belief. I know something about that...most preachers do. I can recall times, recently, when hubby has woken up at some strange hour to find me feverishly typing away on my Blackberry or writing in a notebook. The first few times he asked, What are you doing?" Now he knows that I am working on a sermon because one cannot predict when the Spirit will speak, but one can be obedient to and honor the Spirit when the word comes.

These days, whenever I am inspired to write, whether a sermon or a blog entry, I pull out my handy dandy iPad. Last week I started three blog entries that I intended to finish at a later time, but finding the time to write has been like trying to lock down an ever elusive lover.

What has been on my mind?

Well, one entry was an open letter to Jennifer Hudson. She has been my inspiration lately and I felt I owed her an apology. When the Weight Watchers commercials first debuted some time ago, I was hating, to say the least. I didn't understand why such a beautiful woman, regardless of her size, would drop so much weight. I felt as if she had sold out to the hollywood mandates of beauty as it relates to the size of a woman's body. I felt betrayed, like she had left me alone. Having beautiful curvy black women in the public eye has a way of making a husky girl (remember that line of clothes at Sears back in the day) like me feel good. As I unpacked my thoughts (this took some time, reaching its climax when the newest WW commercials came out), I realized that my hate was coming from a place of personal insecurity and fear. The truth is, regardless of what I wrote some months ago after my visit to the trainer, that I need to get a handle on my weight. In recent months I have picked up (again) all of the weight I had lost. Sure, I have been in transition (graduation, wedding, move, ordination, ministry) but at this rate, my health is at risk. I have been exhausted lately with no good reason except my body is not in its optimal state and doesn't have the energy to run efficiently. I have had a few health challenges which I know (and my doctor told me) could be warded off with diet and exercise. When I was 20, I went from 220lbs to 168lbs. I was serious!!! But since then, over the past 13 years (dang, I feel old) I have gone up and down in weight, rivaling Oprah, but never have I lost as much as I did that first go round. When I see the charts that say what healthy is, I buck, not because I don't want to be healthy, but mostly because I am afraid that I do not have the strength, will, courage to take off the necessary weight to be at optimal health, and if I do, as time has shown, I don't have the smarts and/or resolve to keep it off. But the devil is a liar, and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! So here we go again...and prayerfully this is the last time! Jennifer, I see you looking and feeling I come!

That revelation/truth telling has led me to a 14-day detox, which I started yesterday. This was the subject of another entry. In my wakened state, I am ready to move forward. I am, in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, sick and tired of being sick and tired. So last week I went to the health food store near our house and purchased a 14-day complete cleanse. Whenever I seriously begin a weight loss/exercise regimen, I detox my body of all the gunk that has built up. It's like and oil change for the body. Yesterday did not go as well as I had planned, mostly because I had not planned well. When undertaking a detox and or weight loss regimen, planning is of paramount importance. The day wasn't a total bust, but between three church services and starting the day with a not-so great breakfast, I did not get to drink as much water as I would have liked (and needed), nor were my food choices the greatest. As it were, I did not eat enough in fear of eating the wrong foods. But, today is a new day. And for the sake of accountability, I plan to blog my detox.

So, here goes...Besides being exhausted (see below), I feel pretty good today. I started the day with Kellog's Raisin Bran and soy milk, which has over 29% of my daily fiber requirements. Lunch will be a broth based soup. After going to the grocery store (to get good stuff for the fridge and pantry so I do not have a repeat of yesterday), I plan to hit the gym for a light workout. When detoxing it is important not to put too much strain on the body, but I do want to get into the habit of working out four to five times each week.

Back to my exhaustion. I am getting used to the rhythms of ministry. Ministry is not a nine to five gig and it takes some getting used to. (Really its not a gig, but a calling and vocation...) And to think, I am only doing this part-time. It seems that when it rains, it pours...On Friday I started my day officiating and preaching a funeral and ended the day with a two and a half hour worship experience at Temple Beth El in City Island. I thought Black folk stay in church all day...time was of no concern to our Jewish brothers and sisters on Friday night! Although the service was long, it was a beautiful and enlightening experience with song and dance! My favorite aspect was the reciting/chanting of prayers found in Adon Olam, the prayer book they use for Shabbat. One prayer that we did not say aloud, but were asked to meditate on spoke of the Was-ness, Is-ness, and Will-be-ness of God in His Splendor! What beautiful and poetic language to describe the Immutability, or unchanging nature, of God. What a great reminder in the midst of this erratic and changing world, that God does not change. As the Bible says in the book of Hebrews, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Saturday was a full day at church with our early morning ministers meetings followed by our BASIC 201 course. BASIC 201 is a four-hour course on the developing the habits and practices necessary for spiritual maturity. It was my second time teaching the course, and we had a great time! Sunday was a marathon day, with our two services, followed by an installation of officers service at the St. John's Baptist Church in Harlem. I'm exhausted, and I didn't even preach yesterday! I can only imagine how much rest Pastor Weaver needs after such a long weekend of preaching and teaching...

(I am sure that when I get my body in check, that exhaustion will not be an issue. While we should not focus on temporal things, but on things above, I know that I know that I know that I cannot do my best work for the Kingdom when I am tired and cranky. To be a good witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and a to demonstrate my faithful stewardship of His possessions [even this old body], I must be mindful of and proactive about my health. While I am yet on this side of glory, I believe that God needs me to be my best. For me, choosing good foods and running on the treadmill are acts of devotion to Almighty God. A changed dress size is a bonus...the real reward is being able to do what God has called me to do.)

I mentioned that I preached my first funeral sermon on Friday morning. That was the subject of another blog entry that never was. I'll spare the full details that I write in Making the Sermon, but I will say that this was a tough one. I took two preaching classes while at Drew, one focused specifically on issues of death and life. We preached funeral sermons for people we did not know, taking obituaries straight from the local news. But nothing, I repeat nothing, can prepare you for the awesome task of declaring the Word of the Lord when one dies. Thomas G. Long, preacher and homiletician wrote, "The main purpose of a funeral sermon is not to soothe the brokenhearted or to provide explanations but instead to confront head-on the lies proclaimed by the other preacher at the funeral: Death." Death had said its word, and now it was my turn to speak a word from God. At one point during my preparation, I was pacing the floor, as if a Word from the Lord was under the carpet and if I wore it down enough, I would see/hear it emerge. This task was especially difficult because the service was in a funeral home for a gentleman who was not particularly religious. How do you preach the Gospel in the time of death in a way that comforts, confronts, convicts, but does not condemn? Condemnation is easy, but harmful. Comfort, when hearts are heavy and tears are streaming, is the more difficult but life giving word. Was it my best sermon? No, but thanks be to God that there is grace for this, and all, preachers, as we grow into this vocation.

As I wrap this entry up, I realize just how all of these issues are linked together. Just as we cannot compartmentalize God to a Sunday morning experience, so the details of our lives cannot be compartmentalized. Join me on my detox journey, my weight loss journey, and my journey to grow into the preacher/teacher/prophet/priest that God has created and called me to be...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Money Earnin' Mount Vernon...

Too bad my mother wouldn't let me skip a day at Nichols Middle School to be a part of the park scene at the end of Heavy D and the Boyz's video for Money Earnin; Mount Vernon. Too bad I was chicken enough not to cut school to be a part of said park scene. Too bad Mount Vernon is not the same as it was and the thought a park scene in a hip-hop music video now conjures up images of police, sounds of sirens, and smells of fresh gun powder. Nonetheless, in honor of where I am from, and in recognition of the forty-something year old white dude working in the health food store in Piscataway who shouted out "Money-Earnin' Mount Vernon" when I told him where I was from, I present to some, and introduce to others, Money Earnin' Mount Vernon...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Riding in Tow Trucks with Drivers pt. 2

If I had it to do all over again, I would rename my last post, "Riding in Tow Trucks with Drivers." That said, you can consider this part two...

To make a long story short, and to get to the point of this story, the work that had been done on my car did not adequately fix the issue. So, on my way to NY early Saturday morning for a meeting that doesn't start until next week (note to self, the iCal only works when you actually look at it), my car started to give me problems. After troubleshooting with hubby and dad, I decided to stay in NY for church and have the car towed back to Jersey on Monday morning (today).

The Bible says that God will turn our mourning into dancing and give us beauty for ashes. Apparently, as He did today, God will also turn a bad experience with a truck driver into a pleasant one.

I called AAA to arrange for a tow. Since it was an out of state tow, the wait time was three hours. I wanted to be upset, but I was too tired, so I sat on the couch and waited it out. About thirty minutes before schedule, I received a call from the dispatch telling me that the truck was outside. I hurried, so not to be left. When I made it downstairs the driver greeted me and asked if the car would start. I responded and then followed his instructions to back it up so he could put it on the flat. After doing my part he encouraged me to get in the truck where it was warm. This was different already...

As we took off, he apologetically told me that we needed to stop for gas because he was on his way to fuel up when he got the call. "No problem," I said. When we stopped, he pointed out the convenience store and said I could go in because it would take a while to fill up the tank. I stayed in the car, but as I waited I noticed various groups of Hispanic men standing outside. It was a little late for day laborers to be outside , so I thought, so I asked the driver when he got back in the truck. He explained to me that they were indeed day laborers and that they stay out waiting for work until about three in the afternoon.

At this point I was nervous. I thought back to the last truck driver and the issues that he had with Indians. Plus immigration is a touchy subject these days. But this driver, Dave, empathetically spoke of their desire to work and the way in which an old boss of his used day laborers but mistreated them.

We moved from immigration to a conversation about President Obama which, because I had just watched/participated in the moment of silence, flowed to the Arizona shooting. We talked about fear, racial profiling, and the ease of legally obtaining weapons for some. We talked about young people and privilege and wondered how a young man could or would want to commit such a heinous act. I then shared with him the lack of ease I sometimes felt when I was teaching high school, especially after stories of crazy things happening on high school and college campuses. He asked if I was still teaching and I responded.

So what are you doing now?

I am the assistant to the Pastor at the Bethesda Baptist Church in New Rochelle.

Oh, so you want to be a minister.

You could say that. I am a minister.

He then talked about his faith in God, but his lack of connection (on purpose) with a church. He doesn't knock those who are connected with a church, but didn't feel like church was for him. I talked about my understanding of church and beauty of connection with other believers in worship and fellowship. When we got to the nitty gritty of the conversation, it was being forced to go to church as a boy and being chastised for asking questions during his confirmation class that turned him off. He recounted the story of asking the pastor a question about heaven and he'll, not being given an answer that made sense to him and then being scolded when he got home by his aunt. She told him that he, "had the devil in him." Dave told the story like it had happened yesterday, but it was almost forty years ago. He was scarred and scared of even walking into a church again. He humbly mentioned that he never took his son to church but, now that he is a grandfather, that he wants his grandson to know God. So, I invited him to come to worship with us.

At this point we weren't even on the George Washington Bridge. Our conversation from there was mostly centered around family. He is a father or three, grandfather of one very spoiled boy, and separated from his wife. Although the relationship with his wife did not work out, he lifted up marriage as a beautiful institution that takes work in order for it to work. Different, indeed.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Bible Says...

The ways in which people wield the sacred text of the Holy Bible often frightens me. It also makes me extra careful and prayerful when I am writing a message, preparing for Bible study, and offering counsel. I shudder at the thought of launching gospel grenades, using the Bible to espouse my own stuff, or simply misrepresenting Almighty God. When I stand to declare, "What thus saith the Lord" I want to be speaking just that.

Where is this coming from, you ask. Well, this morning I had the privilege of having my car towed by the most bigoted, misogynistic, all around gross truck driver in the whole wide world. Before I even stepped outside good he starting ranting about the fact that he was just about to leave me and call off the truck because he thought I was "one of those Indians who come to this country and think that they can do whatever they want." At this point, please note that he was a very dark skinned man, who I later found out is from Dominica, who I am sure has encountered racism while in this country. After hitching my car, he makes a comment about the snow and the crazy way that people drive. Somehow, I still cannot figure out how he did it, he made a seamless transition in the conversation from crazy drivers to women who expect their men not to cheat on them. Huh? In my mind I was thinking, God help me...we are less than two miles from my house and I have at least another 20 minutes in the car with this guy.

As the pop psychologist/entrepreneur/marriage counselor/financial advisor/truck driver continued on, he came back to subject of men cheating on women and how in this country (here we go again) there are too many law protecting women. He said, and I quote, "There are too many human rights." Too many human rights. Is that possible?

I remained silent. It was hard, but I nodded and grunted and kept my words to a minimum. Even without words, my face must have clearly expressed my disgust. But he went on. Next up: domestic violence. He compared the response of police in the Caribbean to those in the US to domestic violence disputes. Steam must have been coming from my ears at this point because he said, "I don't believe in hitting a woman. I've never done it and I didn't see my parents fight, but sometimes a woman needs some sense knocked into her."

That was it.

"Are you saying that some women deserve to be hit?"

"I'm not saying they deserve it, but some women need a wake up call."

"...and knocking her around is the solution?"

"The issue is that women in this country think that they are equal. Women aren't equal to the man. The Bible says that women are to be submissive."

The Bible says...

The Bible says...

Dude, you have no idea who you are in the car with...

After xenophobic comments about Indians and defending adultery, he pulls out the Bible....Jesus, be a fence.

"Yes, the Bible does say that. Do you know what it says immediately before that? It says that men should love their wives as Christ loved the church. That means laying down ones life...not knocking them around or cheating on them. By the way, I'm a minister. You may want to be careful with your selective use of the Bible."

He was on his best behavior after that...still defending adultery, calling his son's mother crazy, and ragging on so-called independent women, but he never went back to using the Bible to defend his foolishness.

When I finally sat down to reflect, first I thanked God for blessing me with a wonderful husband who loves me, believes in monogamy, is welcoming to all people, and who is as gentle as they come.

Secondly, and perhaps at the crux of my reflection, I thought about how this kind of behavior, this kind of talk, this kind of flippant use of the Bible is more common than not. And how dangerous it is. It doesn't only happen in tow trucks on the way to Strauss Auto out of the mouths of men with grease laden fingernails, but often times it happens in sanctuaries, from lecterns, and lofty pulpits from men and women robed in ecclesiastical authority. Maybe I'm being too sensitive. Maybe i'm being too serious. I'll just have to be that. Without moving into the world of Bible idolatry, I believe it is important to have a reverence of and love for the Word of God. If anything speaks to the kind of relationship that we, as believers, ought to have with the Word, it is Psalm 119. This Psalm reads like a song in praise of the Word, recognizing that the Word is the way in which God reveals Himself to humanity. With that, I leave you with a meditation from the Psalmist...

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16 NKJV)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This is a Test...

This is a test.
Not a test of the emergency broadcasting system.
This is a test of BlogPress...the iPad app for blogging.

And this, too, was a test.
It was a test of a new look. Not really a new look, but an old look in a new time.

Just as my "do something with my hair after I get in some time at the gym" look worked, I pray this app works, too.

This is a test.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some Women Have a Thing for Shoes pt. 3

Really, I could go on forever about my iPad. Really. But I won't. I promise. What I will do is tell you why I absolutely, positively love, love, love it. Did I tell you that I love it?

I know what I said about books back in early March. Funny how the digitally archived written word can come back to bite you on the butt (or, at the very least, remind you of what you said you were about). I haven't turned my back on books. Our relationship is evolving. It's not them, It's me.

On Christmas morning, hubby surprised me with an iPad. He even gift wrapped the case! I was completely taken aback. (He's good...even though his hiding place was terrible.) I'll spare you the rest of the details which involve a wide smile, near tears, and lots of kisses, but I will share the top ten reasons I love my iPad:

10. It fits beautifully in my pocketbook....all of my pocketbooks!

9. Streaming Netflix. Need I say more?

8. The Scrabble game is bananas!!! It keeps me occupied as I peddle away on the stationary bike at the gym. I consider it part of my preparation for the GRE exam.

7. I always wanted to be a woman who reads the newspaper everyday, but it never quite happened...until NOW. I have been reading the NY Times, USA Today and every morning. I eve read The Root to see what's going on with my people.

6. My free Bible app by YouVersion gives me access to countless translations while online AND let's me download several translations for offline use. I can highlight, bookmark, copy, paste, and take notes! On New Year's Eve I even read the Scripture from my iPad. German theologian Karl Barth once said that the preacher should do their work with the Bible and one hand and the newspaper in the other. Well, with my iPad, I still have one hand free!

5. Reading on the Amazon Kindle app is AMAZING!!! Currently I am reading "40 Day Journey with Howard Thurman" and "God Chasers" (which I am adapting for a ten week Bible study that begins tomorrow).

4. While I don't feel like I am cheating on my books, I am surely stepping out on my planner. This self-proclaimed "paper girl" is a believer in the iCal app. I've got my devotional time, meetings, appointments and events in my calendar and I can even accept invitations for events from others. (It was so cool when Pastor Weaver sent the invite to our weekly minister's meetings via email and when clicked on it it wondrously appeared on my calendar for every Saturday ay eight!)

3. I am cooking a roasted chicken--right now--using a recipe from the free All Recipes app. (yes, RIGHT NOW!!!) This app also let's you make a shopping list for the grocery store. Bonus round!!!

2. Pages+iBooks+Holy Spirit=Revolutionized Preaching! I couldn't wait to put it to use, so I spent time on Christmas downloading necessary apps (Pages and YouVersion Bible), transferring my sermons from my laptop, and editing my manuscript. On the Sunday after Christmas, when I mounted the pulpit to declare, "what thus saith the Lord," I did it from my iPad. I used it to preach both the 7:30 and 10:30 services. It was so comfortable and less awkward than flipping pages. My next project is cataloging my sermons on my computer and transferring them to my iPad. The old preachers tell you to have a sermon in your back pocket. I'll do them one better!

Lastly, I typed this entire entry, and the last one, on my iPad. No more writing ideas on napkins or taking notes on my Blackberry and hoping the ideas make sense when I get to my computer. The downside is that blogger doesn't have an app yet, so I used the same web interface that I use from my MacBook. Blogger, get it together!!!

There is more, but I'll save it for another day. I would't want to give hubby any more reason to think that I'm a total Apple groupie. He already thinks I am going to name our first daughter Apple!!!

Breaking News:Sporadic Writing Explained

Happy New Year to all!
(hey mom...I know you've been waiting)

First, let me explain, as best I can, my sporadic writing. Here is the back story: Some time ago I was in the presence of a fairly new bride (less than a year in the game) who had just had an argument with her husband. Her husband was no where around, but she was speaking with several others about the beef that they had. I remained silent, but in that moment I remember thinking, "Why isn't she talking with her man about this?" I vowed that once I was married, that the exchanges between my husband and I, for better or for worse, would remain between us. Let's say hubby and I have an argument about (fill in the blank) and we both get angry. Once my anger has faded and I have forgiven him for (fill in the blank), I would hate for my family/friends/blog readers/random lady at grocery store to look at him sideways. It is my responsibility to protect his credibility, and him mine. In fact, after he caught up on my blog yesterday we had this very conversation. We even chuckled about something I would NOT write on the blog.

I'm not saying it is going to be like this forever, but as a new bride who's vocation requires a good measure of confidentiality, I'm not quite sure what to write about. I could write about my new neighborhood, but there isn't much happening here. I could write about my new (beautiful) chocolate brown and seafoam curtains, but that's about all I could say about them. I could write about my "wedding fifteen" that I gained, but since I'm down three and this weight will soon be history, there's no story here. Oh, oh, oh, I know...I'll write about my new iPad!