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Thursday, April 17, 2014

He's Writing Your Story

A young friend of mine, in her early twenties, was lamenting that "all" of her friends were having kids and putting pressure on her to find a husband and have kids ASAP.

It made me feel sad for her. I remember the pressure of that age; although, I can concede that much of it was implied pressure I put on myself. I saw my friends in relationships, getting married, beginning their families, and I felt the expectation that I needed to join in as if the twenties are the golden time to make all of that happen. Then there was the spoken pressure from family and friends...
"How come you aren't seeing anyone?" 
"You need to get out there - get yourself a boyfriend!" 
"You should be having your first child by now!"
"You're not married yet? With all of your skills?" 

All of it made me question myself...
"Am I really that ugly?" 
"Is it because I'm not skinny enough?" 
"Does my personality stink that badly?" 
"Am I too Type A for someone?" 
"What's wrong with me?"

It made me question God...
"Why isn't this happening?" 
"Why are you letting me hurt so badly?"  
"Why aren't you giving me what I want?"  
"What have I done wrong?"  
"What's wrong with me?"

I kept coming back to the question, "What's wrong with me that I'm not like them?" One day, I finally started hearing and believing God when He would say, "There's nothing wrong with you. I didn't create you to be like them. I created you to be you. I've written a story that's just for you, just like I've written a story for each of them that's just for them. Your story looks different from their story, just like their story looks different from yours. Do you trust Me with your story? Will you put down their book and pick up the one I'm writing for you?"

I left my book sitting in a corner for quite a long time, until I got tired of feeling hurt. I figured it couldn't make me feel any worse to pick up my own book. I discovered some amazing chapters and am embracing the stories within. I read them with anticipation.

Family and friends mean well. When they begin to question the marital relationship chapters of my book and wonder why the pages are blank, it's just because they treasure the filled pages of their own book so much. You know how it is: When you have something you love so much, you want to share it so someone else can share in the experience.

So, what would I tell my young friend to say to her friends who are pressuring to "find" someone? I would tell her to smile and gently share that "the story God is writing for me looks different than the story He's writing for you. My story of love and joy is being written differently than your story of love and joy. It's still a story of love, joy, and hope, but God's writing mine with me in mind."

If you're asking, "What's wrong with me?" I'm here to tell you there is nothing wrong with you. God's writing a story about you and for you. All you need to do is dust off the cover of your book and open to the first page to see it.

-- Erin

PS - Give Francesca Battistelli's song, "Write Your Story" a listen here

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Practical Success Takes Preparation

What do I want or need to be successful in this week?
What do I need to do today to help make that success happen?

I want to be successful at losing weight this week, and in order for me to do so, I need to make my meals today, get them portioned and ready so all I have to do is grab and go. It doesn't guarantee a weight loss success, but it puts me on the path to achieving success in that area because I'm prepared.

I don't want to have to dig through my closet to find clothes to wear, so that means I need to do laundry today, get it folded, and put away so I have options. It doesn't guarantee that I won't stand in front of the closet deciding what to wear, but at least the pieces I'm more likely to wear will be there because I prepared them to be there.

I want to be able to help someone who is standing on the street corner asking for money. I choose not to give money; I like to give a bag of toiletries, food, water, etc. If I want to help someone this week, I need to take the time today to put a little kit together and put it in my car so when the opportunity arises, I can help someone in need instead of thinking, "I wish I had done that."

Preparation takes it from "I'd like this to happen" to "I'm going to make it happen." So, in order for me to be successful in those areas this week, I need to get busy today to prepare for tomorrow.

What's the area you need to successful in and what do you need to do today so that you can make it happen...and be happy with yourself because you did?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

Lately, I've had a craving for a creamy soup. Rather than going out and "splurging" I decided to create my own, and I know exactly what's in it.

This creamy broccoli cheese soup is reminiscent of the soup served at Panera Bread. The soup they serve is 6 PointsPlus for 1-cup; 9 PointsPlus for the 1 1/2 cup serving size bowl. This soup makes me just as happy, and it's only 3 PointsPlus for 1-cup; 5 PointsPlus for 2-cups.

I'm not a fan of fat free cheeses, but if you decide to swap the reduced fat shredded cheddar for fat free, your bowl of delicious soup is only 2 PointsPlus. If you're doing Simply Filling or Simple Start, you'll still only need to account for 1 Indulgence PointsPlus.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth (I used Trader Joe's)
1 cup fat free half and half
16oz frozen organic broccoli
2 carrots, grated (or 1 cup carrot shreds)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 Tbls corn starch
2 Tbls water
1 cup shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese

1. In a large microwave safe bowl, place the grated carrots and top with the frozen broccoli. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, until broccoli is thawed and carrots are soft.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, addd the broccoli and carrots and pulse until finely chopped.

3. Transfer chopped broccoli and carrots to a large saucepan. Stir in the vegetable broth, half and half, minced garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.

4. While waiting for the soup to boil, mix cornstarch with water to make a slurry. Once soup comes to a boil, stir in slurry, and cook over high heat until thick.

5. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese.

6. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6 servings | 3 Weight Watchers PointsPlus

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Biggest Loser and Being Healthy

They say the camera adds 10lbs.

If that's true, then I'm really concerned for the Biggest Loser winner, Rachel Frederickson.

The look on Bob and Jillian's faces said all that needed to be said.

It pretty much mirrored the look on my face.

It was the first time I've watched The Biggest Loser and didn't feel inspired. I felt downright concerned.

Rachel's final weight was 105lbs, twelve pounds below the minimum weight recommendation for a woman of Rachel's height - 5'4". According to my Weight Watchers Healthy weight ranges guide, a healthy weight for a 5'4" woman is between 117lbs - 146lbs.

In a recent interview, Rachel admitted to struggling with binging/gaining/losing,
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve gained weight coming home,” she said. “I’ve lost weight. I’ve binged. I had a hard time over Thanksgiving. Those are all natural adversities I faced, but to overcome those is what’s made me strong and what I’ve learned so much from.”
I imagine the pressure she's been feeling to look her very best and be her very best for the finale has been intense. Then there are the feelings of being excited for the weight loss, the change in one's self, feeling stronger and more confident. There's the excitement of being thinner than you've ever been before. But then there's the drive to maintain it to make sure it doesn't come back because if you do put 5lbs back on, people will comment. People think they're helping you - they recognize all the hard work you've put in and they don't want you to be the person you were - but they don't realize that it's harming you and the game that's already happening in your head.

I totally get it - I've been there.

When I was 16, I lost close to 70lbs and was two pounds under the recommended weight for my height. I was thin. I'd never been that thin. It was GLORIOUS. I felt pretty; I felt good about me. Trying to maintain that was difficult. Some days I'd just grab an apple for lunch, or I'd eat a baked potato with steamed broccoli and fat free sour cream. I did not feel like I was becoming anorexic, but my mother started to notice that I wasn't eating enough. I remember grabbing an apple, saying that would be my lunch, and her saying, "No, it's not. You're going to eat a sandwich." And I ate the sandwich, not happily. I was driven to maintain my weight loss, but I didn't realize that I was taking a dangerous path to maintain it. I didn't know then what I know now: eat whole, healthy foods in moderation is the best way to lose weight and maintain it.

The point is, Rachel may not see or feel what we're seeing and feeling because she's stuck in the drive to lose weight and maintain the incredible loss. I'm hoping there are respected people in her life who can sit her down and tell her to "eat a sandwich" the way my mom made me. Rachel was an incredible athlete and competitor throughout the season and I have no doubt she can do what's healthy when guided to it.

I also hope that NBC will respond to the outcry to soothe fears for Rachel. It's clear they didn't have a plan on how to handle this, and their lack of response is disappointing. Since it is a health competition, maybe the rules need to state that in order to win you have to have the lowest percentage of weight loss / body fat WITHOUT going below the recommended height/weight ranges. Either way, for a show that is encouraging health, it would have meant more for them to take a stand for health, and that doesn't always mean losing weight. Sometimes it means gaining it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Find It In Everything

If we're friends on Facebook, then you know about my sweet love notes from God. Whenever my heart needs a little extra love, God always fashions a heart out of nature and drops it in my path, typically on my morning walk.

When I see that little heart, I think of the incredible effort God put into making it for me.

Growing a tree, making one of the little leaves unlike the rest (or a potato, in the case of the potato chip), and then dropping it on the ground so it's waiting for me at the exact moment I walk by.

It's kind of mind-boggling, yet that's God.

This one was different.

I didn't even see it until after I got home from this concert I was working/photographing. I remember feeling stressed and alone that day, and it was compounded by thousands of people who came as friends. Surprise - I wasn't alone!

In the wintertime, He gets really creative since I'm not outside walking.

The potato chip was discovered during winter.

Most recently, I discovered this one on the ground on my way into the gym after I had told God that I missed finding little heart treasures on my outside walks with Him.

Today, I took a little trip to Barnes & Noble, and as I was waiting in line, a simple, white book caught my eye, "Find It in Everything." When I saw it was by Drew Barrymore, I actually got out of line to pick it up. She's been one of my favorite actresses, and we're also distantly related. Supposedly, my great-great grandmother was first cousins with Lionel, Ethel, and John (Drew's grandfather) Barrymore. Family legend has it that no one talked about them or wanted anything to do with them because they were "actors" and it wasn't an honorable profession. {insert chuckles here}

As I flipped through the book, I noticed a theme... hearts.

"Find It in Everything" is a collection of Drew's personal photographs. Hearts have been a theme in her life and every time she sees one, she takes a picture of it. Sounds familiar!

I enjoyed the personal anecdotes that went with the photos. One of my favorites was the bread clip:
"I have seen these for so many years.  
I have handled them - twisted things and clamped these on.  
It was waiting for me to find it. 
One day the heart appeared. 
It has been there all along."
I bought the book on the spot. An entire book about found hearts is like water to a thirsty heart finder, and this was my heart find. I wonder if Drew had any idea when she put this together that someone else would consider her book of found hearts to be a found heart itself.

How about you? Do you have a reoccurring theme that pops up when you need it most?

This was not a paid book review - just my own thoughts and opinions!

Get a copy anywhere books are sold or here.

Connect with Drew on Twitter here.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Decision Was Made

I saw this at the grocery store today. Clearly, someone had to make a decision and the super bag of Sour Patch Kids won. Can't you just just hear the conversation in this person's head?

"Sour Patch Kids... they've got citrus in them. Citrus is fruit. I need more fruit in my life. Decision made."

"First they're sour...then they're sweet... brussels sprouts don't have a personality... Sour Patch Kids for the win!"

"Yesterday was Day 21 of the Daniel Fast... FREEDOM!!!"

"New Year's resolution...what 'New Year's Resolution'??"

I mean, really. The choice between organic brussels sprouts and Sour Patch Kids doesn't even seem fair. 

And to set the record straight: It was not I who made the above decision. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Word: GROSS

Apparently, if you decide to cook an egg in the microwave, you should either scramble it first or put a paper towel over the bowl if you're cooking it straight up. I learned that lesson the hard way this morning. Yup.

I'd also just like to state that food blowing up in the microwave 5 minutes before having to leave for work is the single person's equivalent of a toddler in need of an emergency poopy diaper change.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

For the record, I'd rather clean the microwave than the poopy diaper.


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