My Heart is Full

My heart is full right now.

Our youngest foster child has returned to our home. 

When she got here the kids had a welcome sign hanging up and there was much squealing and hugging and running around. In the midst of all the chaos, she turned to me and said, “Esther, I was waiting for you!” 

You know, I never pursued foster parenting. But it has pursued me. Over the years I have heard stories of the need and my heart would break, but I always felt helpless. What can I do? In order to be a foster parent through the state, you can only have six kids in your home. We have ten of our own. It’s going to be a long time before I can even qualify to become a foster parent. 

And then I would hear another story about the desperate need for foster homes. And my heart would break again. And finally, I told God, if you want me to be a foster parent, you’ll have to do something special to make it happen. 

And he did. 

And we walked a rocky road with these kids, full of extreme ups and downs. 

And then they left and I had no more power over the situation. And I felt bruised and battered, heartbroken. And I told God, I guess you don’t want us to do this anymore? Well, if you do, you will have to work some kind of miracle, because I can’t make it happen in my own power. 

So he did. 

Again.

And my heart is full. 

Fat Fridays: Week 18 Progress and Dieting With Large Families

Hello Fat Friday Friends. (Kind of has a ring to it!) Hope all is well in your world today. I am feeling pretty positive today. I weighed myself and I’ve lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks. Yay! Measurable progress! Another bit of progress is my depression really does seem to be leaving me alone right now. (For those of you just tuning in, I started this vegan, grain-free diet in an attempt to lessen my depression). I am a naturally melancholic person. I like to sit and think about life and I tend to be pensive. But, there’s a difference between being low-key and being depressed. Depressed has me sitting in a chair, feeling paralyzed. Unable to do anything but the very basic tasks. I feel like a weight has lifted off of me. Where before, I felt like all of my emotions just kind of stayed flat, I feel like I’m starting to be able to swing over to “Happy” and “Excited”. This past Sunday, on Easter, I was downright happy. To the point that my husband was asking, “What’s up with you?” ummm. I’m happy! I guess that was a bit weird for my family. I was actually feeling bubbly. So, these are all good things.

Challenges. I am having a hard time being creative with vegan food. You remember I was trying to go grain-free for three months, well I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to do it, and I have started adding grain back. Still trying to stay away from wheat as I have noticed in the past that my body doesn’t like wheat very much. I’ve added back brown rice and quinoa. Yum. It definitely helps me to not feel hungry all the time. This week I’ve been eating a packet of this stuff everyday (found it at Sam’s Club):

quinoi

Add a bag of frozen veggies cooked up and a can of beans, a bit of salt and salsa, and it’s very filling and tastes good.

riceandbeans

But, I’ve been eating it every day, because it’s fast and easy. I’m going to get tired of it really soon. I am in big need of sitting down and looking up interesting recipes. I just haven’t taken the time yet. I’m also still cooking meat for my family, and I’m finding it harder and harder to come up with any enthusiasm for cooking meat. It feels a bit gross and unappetizing. My kids are getting out of school in another month, and I am making long-term plans to shift the family more and more towards vegetables and fruit and minimal meat. I have found a surprising ally in this goal. My seventeen year old son just told me that he wanted to start eating like me. I patiently explained that I am actually mostly just eating vegetables. Yeah Mom, I know..Umm. You know that means that you would have to eat vegetables. Yeah Mom. Vegetables. Boy Mom, you’re not being very encouraging! I’m telling you that I want to eat vegetables and you’re just acting like it’s something I can’t do! Ok. Sorry. Yes son, you are welcome to eat what I eat. (I can be excused for being a bit skeptical as this is the child who serves himself about an eighth of a cup a veggies at supper and claims that’s enough vegetables for one day.)

Anyway, it’s time to tackle the family’s eating habits. Now that it’s feeling more natural for me, I feel like I can start focusing on them. I’m coming up with a plan, a strategy, and it involves going slow. One new thing at a time. This week I’m going to skip buying white bread and I’m going to load up on ranch dressing, hummus, and fresh veggies like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, and iceburg lettuce. For some reason, my kids really like those veggies, so I’m going to start trying to have a tray of veggies to munch on after school instead of toast or sandwiches. We already do fruit. My kids love apples and oranges. This is what feeding fruit to nine kids looks like (I have ten kids, but one lives at college):

fruitandveggies

Well, I’ll tell you how it goes. Having the family eat similar to me will make my life a lot easier.

Exercise update. I’ve been on the elliptical four days in a row this week! Yay me! Feeling a bit stiff and sore, but also feeling like it’s helping with increased energy.

Goals: Keep on keeping on. Start dragging my family down this path of health I’m on. Be happy.

See you next week!

 

Fat Fridays: Week 4 First Things First

This year January first came and went and I never started up on a new diet. You know that saying that goes something like, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results..” . Well, that’s how I feel about diets. Years of starting diets have done me very little good over the long term. I have decided this year that instead of jumping on the latest dietary fad wagon, I wanted to get to the root of why I am overweight. Why do I overeat? Why do I turn to food? Why do I constantly fail at adopting a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps if I can understand these things, I can change the base behavior that has brought me to this state. Writing the Fat Fridays blog has been a good step in this direction as far as starting to analyze why I do what I do, but I still have felt like I needed a plan, something to actively be working on.

This past Sunday in church we had several different people give words of encouragement, words of counsel, words of wisdom, and the theme I kept hearing over and over again was, you need to get off your devices (phone, internet, kindle) and give more time to God instead of submerging yourself in entertainment.

This has been nagging my conscience for a while. I have definitely developed a really bad phone addiction. I would see all these memes trying to show people just how bad their phone addiction is and I would cringe because I knew that was me. How did this addiction develop? Well, I would say that I had a real desire to not be “present” in my surroundings. It was a way I coped with depression…don’t think, just read books…don’t think, just get on Facebook…don’t think, just read some mindless articles on the internet.. It has become a full-blown addiction. Subconsciously I knew this, but I didn’t want to deal with it so I tried not to think about it.

So, this was the message I felt like God was telling me, the path he was leading me down…You want to lose weight? Ok, disconnect from your phone.. Deal with that addiction first and then you’ll be in a better place to deal with your weight loss issues.

On Tuesday I laid down the law. No more than one hour a day on the internet. Only get on my kindle when I’m exercising on my elliptical or when I have to wait in a doctor’s office or some such place as that.

It’s Thursday night and I can tell you that this has been extremely difficult. That one hour seems to disappear really quickly. I’ve done twice as much exercise because my book got really good and I didn’t want to stop reading. I went over my internet time a bit yesterday and felt guilty about that. Disconnected from the world-wide-web, I find myself just thinking, pondering things instead of automatically trying to find something to read or look at. I find myself talking to my children more, being a bit more present. I find myself getting more projects done as I have a restless energy to keep myself occupied. This has been difficult and necessary and exciting. Difficult because breaking any kind of addiction is hard. Necessary because it’s hard to assess your life and habits and make changes when you’re completely tuned out of your life. And exciting because I feel like I turned off the background noise and suddenly I’m hearing the birds singing again, and the wind blowing in the trees and I find myself thinking about the future and dreaming and imagining and feeling hopeful again.

I don’t know why, but getting space from my device is making me happy. And I find it a lot easier to tackle weight loss problems and challenges from a place of happiness than from a place of depression.

I don’t know what the next step is going to look like in this weight loss journey, but I’m feeling optimistic.

Joy and Purple Houses

I watched a TED Talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee the other day on Joy. What is it, how do things in the physical world create an emotional response… It was very interesting and I’ll put a link in for you if you want to watch it:

Where Joy Hides and How to Find It

In the talk she was emphasizing how color brings joy and it got me thinking about how I love bright colors so much. I recently bought myself a bowl from the Pioneer Woman Collection at Walmart. The bowl was less than $5. I was so excited when I bought it. I brought it home, filled it up with cut strawberries and had a moment of bliss. It was so beautiful! So colorful! I sat in a chair, nibbled on strawberries and felt decadent in my colorful splurge.

bowlofcolor

My husband and I often have differences of opinion  when it comes to color. About 7 or 8 years ago we were getting ready to paint our house and my husband asked me what color I wanted to paint it. My answer was Purple! He raised an eyebrow, laughed a second, and then said, really? You’re serious? YES! I want a purple house! Which purple?  I told him I didn’t care which shade of purple or how he wanted to go about it, he was the design/color expert, he could pick out whatever would look best. How could he argue? He would have preferred a more standard color but the color I wanted was tied into emotion..Why did I want a purple house? Because it made me happy, joyful!

So why on earth did purple houses make me happy? Ok. A tiny bit of backstory. I attended Biola University for 2 years, right after I graduated high school. My parents lived in Alaska and I would fly down to Southern California each semester by myself and live in a dorm. Though I made some good friends in college, it was still a bit lonely. My second year my dorm room was at the end of a very long hallway. Some kind soul had decided to try and cheer up the hallway and they had tacked up a bunch of prints of Thomas Kincaide’s paintings. You know what I’m talking about? Fuzzy, cozy houses, with beautiful light spilling from the windows. I would stop and look at these pictures as I headed for bed, late at night, after spending hours practicing piano at the music building. Looking at these pictures created a longing I had never had before. A longing for a home, somewhere stable, cozy, warm, inviting. Up to this point in time I had thoroughly embraced my parents’ nomadic lifestyle. My entire life I had never stayed in a home longer than 2 years. I assumed that I would continue this same pattern as an adult. I would move around, have lots of adventures, never settle too long in one place. When I saw these pictures I suddenly found myself wanting something completely different. I didn’t understand it, I just knew that one day I wanted a home that reminded me of these pictures.  

Later, when I had children, I read them a story called “Mr. Pine’s Purple House” by Leonard P. Kessler. It is a story about a man who wants his house to look different from his neighbors. He finally ends up painting his house purple. I loved this book. When I read it, I would think, Yes! I want a purple house too! But I would imagine a Thomas Kincaide -type purple house: fuzzy, lots of lights on the inside.

So, my husband asks me what color I want my house and I am ready, I’ve been saving up this answer for years…I want a purple house! My husband loves me. He is also a brave soul. He started looking at paint samples of all the millions of shades of purple that exist in the world. He finally came up with a plum purple on the top half of the house matched with a heavy cream on the bottom half. Looking at the paint samples, it looked great. We told the painters which colors we wanted.

We drove up to the house after the painters had finished one side. We both gulped, hard. Wow. That’s really purple. Really purple. We looked at each other, laughed nervously. My husband said, This was YOUR idea. I nodded. Yes, I would take full responsibility. Even though I was feeling nervous, seeing the purple still made me happy. I had an overwhelming urge to just laugh and dance. As the painters added the cream on the bottom of the house and finished everything up, it looked a lot more balanced, not quite as startling. I loved it. Every time I saw it I would start grinning. Why did I want a purple house? Because it makes me happy, joyful!

fuzzypurplehouse

Years down the road, the paint has faded, it needs to be redone soon. But I, the unobservant person that I am, still notice the color of my house and it still makes me happy. I am thankful for a Creator God who made all the colors around us and then also put a desire in us to be around those colors. I am also thankful for my husband whose color choices tend to favor tan and khaki and muted grays who nevertheless lets me indulge in my fits of color. You want to know how much he loves me? He just let me paint our bedroom an interesting shade of orange. Why? Because it makes me happy, joyful!