Category Archives: personal stories

Reflections from a brand new empty nester!

Our nest is empty. But my heart and mind are full.

Full of memories.

Full of laughter and tears.

Full of God’s goodness and grace.

Full of hopes and dreams.

Here are some reflections of a brand new empty nester.

For the last month Katie has been sorting through all her stuff. We’ve been making lists, shopping and packing. I loved being part of that process. It reminded me of the ‘nesting’ feeling I had when I was pregnant. I wanted Katie’s new nest to be well set up.

She packed the car and we made a couple of quick trips to her new place to clean and get organized.

Then she and her Dad packed the trailer.

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Our nest was looking pretty empty.

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On April 2 we moved her into a 3-bedroom main floor apartment in a house.

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I did the Mom things I wanted to do. I cleaned and organized cupboards and set up the kitchen. I ironed and hung curtains. A house looks lived in when there are curtains on the windows.

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Katie and her Dad moved furniture, fixed some things and hung pictures. She even set up a fun music room.

Now she can play those drums as loud as she wants!

There was a lovely welcome sign crafted by Katie’s 5-year-old neighbor and a basket of treats, all from the Camp Director and his family.

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After some kind words of thanks from Katie and two long lingering hugs – we were on our way.

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We’ve dropped Katie off at Galilean dozens of times but this one was different.

This was her new home.

We were leaving her.

The little chickie had a new nest!

 

It was a quiet ride home, each of us with our own reflective thoughts. We were emotionally fragile.

There were lots of long sighs.

Tears were very near the surface and some did break the surface.

Yet at the same time there was a sense of accomplishment!

For the last 28 years we had deferred to the needs, wants, and schedules of our two children.

We were done with day-to-day parenting.

By God’s grace we had raised two children who were making good choices in life.

What a blessing from God!

The first week of the empty nest we didn’t feel like celebrating.

There was a mix of emotions. We let the sad feelings come.

I guess we did some letting go of the old way of life. It’s too big of a change to not acknowledge it.

At the same time there were feelings of excitement too, Don and I are on our own again.

We feel like honeymooners, but with years of experience loving each other! That’s a very good thing!

This second week of the empty nest we feel more like celebrating. We’re planning a special dinner date.

We are anticipating lots of time at our cottage.

We are setting some new goals and dreaming about this new stage of life!

As I hugged Katie goodbye I said,

‘we are both at a new stage of life. We are ready for adventure and excited to see how our Great God uses us in His ministry.’

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TODAY’S little STEP: Embrace every stage of life. Everyday is a gift from God. Live with no regret!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A success story-weight loss strategies too!

Ready to give up on this healthy living idea?  Frustrated because it seems to be taking too long?  Read Cecile’s story and be encouraged!

My friend lost 141 pounds and went from a size 24 to 12-14! Cecile, was a faithful member of the support group I led. She also attended Weight Watchers in the summer months. Her health journey has taken over 7 years. Cecile is still on her journey to health and well being.

Cecile has had great success and I’m really excited to interview her.

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  1. When did you realize you needed to make some changes?  I realized I wasn’t taking good care of myself and I didn’t like how I felt about myself. I used to say to myself, “what’s the use? I’m doomed to be fat.”

  2. What do you think led to your weight gain? I never thought I would gain weight. It just happened over the years. Like a lot of women I ate for emotional reasons.

  3. What was your light bulb moment when you decided to lose weight? When I walked my back and hips really hurt. My Mom, (who was very loving and helpful during my life) had Alzheimer’s Disease and needed to be in a wheelchair and I didn’t ever want to be in a wheelchair. I wanted to be able to walk and take care of myself.

  4. Were you part of a support and accountability group? Yes, I had prayed and asked God for a Christian weight loss group. When Dixie invited me to join the group I was very happy. How did it help you? It was good because we exercised together and we studied the Bible, and other good books. We shared our needs and supported each other. When I left the meeting I felt good and ready to keep working.

  5. What were the most important changes you made to be healthier? I have a small plate that I use to help me with my portions.  I am getting better at saying, “no thank you” when dessert is served. I don’t feel bad about saying no.I exercise everyday.If I am hungry in the early evening I eat carrots and celery sticks.I don’t eat anything after 8 o’clock at night; I shut the kitchen light off!I had high cholesterol and so I changed the food I ate and lowered my cholesterol.I realize that God’s grace has brought me to the place I am at today!

  6. What would you say is the most important factor in your weight loss?Changed eating habits? Exercise? Changed thinking? All of them! I eat a lot less food. I like to eat 6 small meals a day. I take snacks with me in the car so I’m not tempted to eat fast food. When I choose food I think about whether it is good for me and my husband teases me because I’m always reading the labels. I exercise everyday. I also changed my thinking- now I have a positive outlook on life. I’m very thankful. There is lots to live for! God helps me everyday to appreciate my life.

  7. What keeps you motivated when you get discouraged or have a slip up? I pick myself up, talk to somebody and I often exercise. I also read my Bible and God encourages me. I have a friend that says, “keep looking up!” I read Dixie’s blog and it encourages me to keep taking little steps.

  8. Are there any foods you outright avoid and do not have in your house? I don’t have any hot chocolate, or ice cream and no chocolate bars!

  9. When it comes to eating well what are your top recommendations?  Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Eat mostly fish and chicken. Drink at least 5 glasses of water a day.

  10. What is your favourite form of exercise? I like to do exercise DVDs, I have a treadmill, and in the summer I like to walk outside. I like to try new things. This winter I went cross country skiing and skating. I signed up for a Zumba class and I loved it!

  11. Do you include weight training? Yes I use 3 and 5 pound weights and a resistance band. Why? I know that tones my body and helps me lose inches.

  12. What was the most challenging thing you had to deal with during your weight loss journey? Admitting that I needed to change and get healthy.

  13. How important has your family’s support been? My husband, son and daughter are proud of the healthy changes I have made.  I just attended a family reunion and every one commented on the changes I have made. They were happy for me. It encouraged them that they could make some changes to be healthy too.

  14. Do you have a favourite verse?  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Philippians 4:13

Thanks Cecile for sharing some of your health journey. If you were to give some last advice to anyone who is struggling to get healthy what would you say? You are at a very important place in your life. Keep taking little steps. God will never give up on you!

No matter how slow the weight loss is don’t give up! You are worth it. You are special in God’s eyes!

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I hope Cecile’s story encourages you my friend!

If you have found this helpful please share it with your friends!

 

 

 

 

How God gave me an attitude adjustment!

Do you need an attitude adjustment? I did! Three little girls from Uganda helped me realize that.

Our Church hosted the African Children’s Choir from Uganda. We had three beautiful little girls and their fun choir leader stay with us. I learned so much from our time together.

Especially when a 2-day visit turned into 6 days! I learned about Uganda and what life is like there. I learned some words in Luganda.

But the most important thing I learned was that I had a bad attitude and it needed to change.

I’m very task oriented and I always have a to-do list on the go. I had my own plans for that week but God changed all of them.

God wanted me to spend my precious time on His little ones.

I planned for a 2-night stay. I was excited as I cleaned my house, changed the beds and bought groceries. Then we got word that it would be 3 nights instead.

My heart attitude wasn’t good. I thought about all the tasks I wouldn’t get done.

Then our little guests arrived and thanked us for everything. They thanked us after every meal, every car ride and every task done for them. The thanks were often given with a hug.

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African Children’s Choir guests

It was a pleasure to serve them because they appreciated it so much!

Then God brought this verse to my mind. ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

This was my assignment from the God of the Universe.

He wanted me to care for these little ones.

I could do it begrudgingly or enter into it and give it my all.

Once I realized that this was my short-term mission trip I focused on the girls and their choir leader.

They were more important than anything on my to-do list!

It was pleasure to serve the girls and share our home. We had a picnic in the park and ate chicken nuggets and French fries from MacDonald’s, a rare treat for them.

We read books, made craft projects and played games and learned some good jokes. The choir leader cooked us all a delicious African supper.

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Bedtime stories!

I had so much fun reading the little girls a bedtime story and tucking them in each night!

We took them to our cottage. As we drove I tried to explain that we had another little house, which we lived in for part of year. I felt ridiculously blessed!

It was an evening of fun food, swimming, playing games and a campfire complete with marshmallows.

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Cold water!

I watched the girls run and play and get louder and louder throughout the evening. That was when I knew they were really comfortable and were being healthy noisy little girls!

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Everyone likes marshmallows!

By the end of the 6 days I had 3 little girls and their chaperone tucked into a special spot in my heart. I was blessed by serving them. I will reminisce about their thankfulness, their smiles and their lovely voices. They will be in my prayers.

I will always remember that week in September when God asked me to put aside my plans and brought me a special assignment. God sent 3 little girls to give me an attitude adjustment.

Just like the little girls I hope to be thankful to all the people who help and serve me.

I will remember that people are always more important than my to-do list!

TODAY’S little STEP: Be open to special assignments that God sends your way. When you accept the assignment you will be blessed!

If the African Children’s Choir comes to your city be sure to go see them!

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My secret strategy? A daily food budget.

I’m not on a diet!

But I spend my calories carefully.

I have a daily food budget!

It’s part of the lifestyle I have that really helps me eat healthy and keep the weight off.

One of the best things I learned from my time with Weight Watchers was the point system.

I was given 18 points that I could spend on food throughout my day.

I treated myself to a carrot muffin and medium coffee with double cream like I usually did.

Then I looked it up in my little book. It cost me 12 points! Not a good choice! I didn’t do that again!

I learned from Weight Watchers to make smart choices. I now have a food budget that I keep in mind. It’s something I have been working on for a few years.

When I stay within my budget I maintain my current weight.

Remember it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

We want to spend our food budget calories well! We want to make the best choices throughout our day.

We want to choose nutrient rich foods with a mix of low and high calories.

Here’s how my food budget gets spent throughout my day.

I’m really hungry at breakfast time so I spend more calories then. I have ½ cup each of blueberries and raspberries topped with ¼ cup of homemade granola, with milk or Greek yogurt. Then I also have ½ cup of Fibre 1 bran cereal that I like to eat dry. Weird I know. But it stays crunchy, and milk just turns it to mush. Blah.

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Doesn’t that look delicious?

Lunch is easy for me to have nutrient rich foods with lower calories. I have a full plate of fresh cut up veggies with hummus and crackers and cheese.

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The other thing I avoid that really helps…. I don’t drink high calorie beverages, like pop and sweetened coffee. It’s not worth it for me. I want to chew my calories.

I drink lots of water, which helps to fill me up and keeps me well hydrated.

I try to have fruit for my snacks.

Then I can eat a regular dinner with meat, veggies and potatoes or rice, but on the smaller luncheon plate. I usually have a small dessert after dinner with a cup of tea.

When I know I am going out for ice cream with the kids I cut back on my calorie-spending at dinner. I save some of my calories to spend on the ice cream.

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I will have a bigger salad and regular portion of protein and very little of the carbohydrate.

Every once in awhile I have a really high calorie-spending day, like when I go out to eat twice in one day. Or when we celebrate my birthday and my daughter’s, which are 2 days apart. Those days do happen. Remember it’s a lifestyle not a diet!

For the next 2 days I try to make lots of high nutrient and low calorie food choices, lots of vegetables, fruit and protein.

That’s how my food budget works.

So how can you create your own food budget?

For a few days write down everything you put in your mouth. Then check out the calories and the nutrients of the foods you regularly eat.

I suggest you check out some sites that list the calories and nutrients of the foods you may eat.

Some of these sites also give you an idea of how many calories you should eat based on your current weight.

I leave that up to you to decide. Use that number to help you understand how many calories you should spend but don’t get caught up in the diet mode again. It’s only to give you an idea of what your food budget should be.

Then look over your list and see which foods you should add or remove from your daily food budget. Trade some empty high calorie foods for nutrient rich low calorie foods. Like me, you will probably be surprised at how much some of your favorite treats cost.

TODAY’S little STEP: Give the food budget idea a try! It works for me.

If you have found this helpful please share it with your friends!

How to make nutrient rich choices everyday!

I want to reward myself with something to eat or drink. I know I told you not to reward yourself with food but it still tempting, isn’t it?

It’s a hot summer day and I’m hot and tired from my day of running errands. I want a rich cold sweet coffee drink from Starbucks!

I stand in line for a few minutes trying to make up my mind. I decide on an Iced White Chocolate Mocha, my mouth starts to water just thinking about it.

The line is really long so I have some time to think. I notice the price…3.75!!! Just for a drink!

 

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I leave the line. I’m not sure I want to spend that much money on a drink.

Maybe I should buy a snack instead. I like to chew my calories not drink them.

Then some words come to mind…”Today’s little step is to always make fruit part of your snack.” Hmm seems like good advice!

I notice a chopped fruit salad. It looks so colorful, sweet and juicy.

It’s also about the same price as the drink.

 

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I pay for the fruit salad and walk by the Starbucks line up.

This time I reward myself with nutrient rich food!

But I must confess that I don’t always make the best choice!

The Iced White Chocolate Mocha would have been empty calories. That drink contains little or no essential vitamins or minerals. It provides very little value to my body. The only nutrient worth noting is the 2 % milk; it’s 25 % of the daily amount of calcium.

It has 330 calories and 15 grams of fat!

Yikes!

Those extra calories would have gone straight into extra fat on my body!

 

The fruit salad on the other hand is nutrient rich. The fruit salad is high in nutrients but relatively low in calories.

Nutrient-dense foods contain vitamins, minerals and complex carbohydrates.

The fruit salad has only 109 calories and 0 grams of fat!

There is 5.2 grams of fibre so that will help me feel full longer and it also means a lot of chewing too!

The fruit salad has lots of Vitamin A and C .

Let’s do a quick review….

Nutrient rich foods provide more nutrients than calories.

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Fat-free milk

  • Whole-grain products

Empty calorie foods contain more calories than nutrients.

  • Chips

  • Cookies

  • Pastries

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages

    Not sure about you, but when I read that list of empty calorie foods…they all sound yummy.  Those are my temptations.

Make nutrient rich choices most of the time and your body will benefit!

Let’s make sure we have nutrient foods readily available in our homes.

When we buy a snack let’s make it a good one!

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Remember our core verse, “And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up”. Galatians 6:9 New Living Translation

TODAY’S little STEP: Choose nutrient rich foods most often and limit empty calories.

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Happy Spring

I love spring!  It’s my favourite time of the year!

Our snow finally disappears and everything comes to life.

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spring beauty

I took some pictures when we were at the cottage this weekend.

I am always excited when I see tiny shoots breaking through.

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Tiny shoots breaking through

I am reminded of a verse my Mom quotes this time of year.

“When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground”. Psalm 104:30

English Standard Version

We have a little brook right beside us.

 It’s so relaxing to hear the water trickling over the rocks.

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little brook

We enjoyed a long weekend at the cottage.

We spent time with family and friends enjoying God’s wonderful creation.

I love to look at the lake.

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cottage view

TODAY’S little STEP:  Enjoy this  delightful spring weather and stop for a minute to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation! It’s a wonderful gift!

4 SUPRISINGLY SIMPLE STEPS TO BE DIET FREE FOR LIFE!

Diets don’t work for long. No one wants to live a life of deprivation. Little lifestyle changes made the difference for me!

I’ve lost 20% of my body weight and have kept it off for 7 years!

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BEFORE

 

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AFTER

I know your battles my friend because they’re mine too.

I’m five feet tall with a petite frame and I gain weight easily.

I love to cook and bake and eat good tasting food.

I eat when I’m stressed and sad,

to reward myself and to celebrate with others.

I’ve tried lots of diets and programs.

I want to give you hope that you can make little changes just like I did! These lifestyle changes are now a part of my daily habits, which I can keep doing for the rest of my life.

Here’s an outline of the first 4 camps up the Mountain of Health and Well-being.

For those of you who have been part of our climbing team from the start take a look back and see how far you have come!

You’ve done a good job of climbing.

If you’ve had a few falls that’s O.K. There is no condemnation here.

Just pick the camp that is right for you and get climbing again.

If you are new to this blog…yahoo, so glad you are here! Start out at Base Camp today!

 Click on the link and you’ll get the information for that little step!

BASE CAMP

Nutrition: Switch to a smaller plate or bowl at each meal or snack.

Exercise: 10 minutes of exercise a day. You can break it up into two 5 minute sessions.

Mental: Repeat this healthy self-talk statement-‘I am a beautiful beloved daughter of the King. I am making small changes to be healthy. Taking care of me is important’.

Spiritual: Learn a Bible verse like this one, “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you”.” Isaiah 41:13

Stay at Base Camp for 4 weeks. Once these steps are habits then climb to Camp #2.

CAMP #2

Nutrition: Drink water in place of other beverages. Continue with the smaller plate or bowl.

Exercise: 15 minutes of exercise per day, break it into 5 minute periods if you need to

Mental: Become aware of your inner critic and negative self-talk. Repeat this healthy self-talk statement daily.  ‘I am a beautiful beloved daughter of the King!  I am making small changes to be healthy.  Taking care of me is important’.

Spiritual: Pray and share your concerns with Jesus.  Memorize a verse.  Here’s a good one.  “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths.  My hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4,5b

Stay for 4 weeks. Move back to Base Camp whenever you feel it is necessary.

Once these steps become habits move to Camp #3. 

CAMP # 3

Nutrition: Add 1 serving of vegetables (½ cup cooked or 1 cup of leafy) to 1 meal. Continue using a smaller plate at each meal or snack. Drink water as your main beverage.

Exercise: Add 5 minutes of exercise for a total of 20 minutes per day. You can divide it into 2-10 minute sessions or even 4-5 minute sessions on a crazy day.

Mental: Recognize that you have an inner critic. Identify a lie and replace it with a truth statement.

Spiritual: Pray and access Jesus’ power. Choose a verse to memorize. Here is a good one. “Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power”. Ephesians 6:10

CAMP # 4

Nutrition: Add 1 serving of fruit – 1 small piece of fruit or ½ cup of cut fruit to 1 meal. Continue using a smaller plate. Drink water as your main beverage.

Exercise: Continue with 20 minutes of exercise daily. Add incidental exercise to your day. Examples are: take the stairs, park at the far end of the parking lot, walk during commercials.

Mental: Identify 2 lies you say to yourself. Replace those lies with truth statements.

Spiritual: Pray and access Jesus’ power. Choose a verse to memorize. Here’s a good one.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13”

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TODAY’S little STEP: Pick the camp that is right for you and join us in the climb up the Mountain of Health and Well-being! Start today!

Every mountain is climbed one step at a time!

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