Getting Healthy in 2015

Okay, so here’s how it went: I have always struggled with weight. In fact, it began in the 6th grade when I got a stress fracture in my foot after a fall. I went to a doctor (not my normal doctor), and he said the words I dreaded to hear. I can still remember that appointment way too vividly. That was the day that a doctor put me on a diet. I was 12 years old. Though it probably could have been done more sensitively, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. I was on a path that was not a healthy one. Over that summer, my mom took the challenge with me. We dieted together (1200 calories-are you kidding me?  How did we survive?! ), we rode bikes together (several miles a day) and we both lost LOTS of weight, and had a great time doing it. I lost about 30 pounds over that summer.

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Fast forward several years, and I’m married and having my first precious baby. It was a wonderful time. I didn’t have any morning sickness, ever…(isn’t that a wonderful thought?). Yes, it was great, but it meant that I started eating from day 1 and didn’t quit. I gained 60 pounds with my first baby. I worked it off fairly easily though. Then, four years later, my sweet Hannah came along. And guess what…another 60 pounds. Then, when Hannah was just a few months old, we found out that Lydia was on her way, along with another 25 pounds. If you’re keeping count, that’s a LOT of extra pounds. After Lydia, I did Weight Watchers, which I liked, but I never felt that I was eating the best way to fuel my body, and I just didn’t feel good. I also had a pesky 15 pounds left that refused to come off.  Weight seems to be easier to find and harder to lose as you get older.  Can I get an amen?

And THEN, I turned 30. And it’s like my body began to rebel against all that I’ve put it through the past few years. Can anyone relate? Has anyone else experienced this? I felt terrible, I started having migraines, which led to having to take medicine which caused an upset stomach & digestive system, I was constantly tired, and I was having cravings that I felt powerless to control. Enter Deborah. I became friends with Deborah on a pastor’s retreat, and I followed her on Facebook and kept seeing her posts about Shakeology. Just out of curiosity, I messaged her about it. She filled me in, asked if I’d like to join a challenge group, and I thought about it, for months! Because that’s what I do…I’m slow like that.

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I finally agreed to try it out and be part of a Challenge group. So she sent me a package of 6 Shakeology packs, and I started substituting one meal for Shakeology. I was doing it originally for weight loss, but the very next day, I noticed that my stomach was no longer upset like it had been for the past year and a half (since I’d started taking medication for migraines). At that point, I was hooked. I told Deborah to sign me up and I became a full-fledged Beachbody member. But that’s not where my sample week ended. In that week, I lost 5 pounds (and I have kept them off-even over Christmas).  But, I’m not there yet!  I still have a little bit to go. I still have 10 pounds to get off, but more than anything, I want to feel good and be healthy. After all, I need to do what I can do to be around as long as possible, right?  And you just can’t beat the accountability and encouragement that these challenge groups provide.

I’d say that the greatest testimonial in our family though is my husband’s.  About a month after I started drinking Shakeology, I had Tim try it. And if you know Tim’s history, he has had serious digestive problems since he got back from Iraq in December 2008. His doctor prescribed for him to take 8 Pepto Bismol per day and told him there really was no other option, and that Tim would probably have to do that the rest of his life. After the first week of Shakeology, Tim’s digestive system was 100% back on track, he no longer takes Pepto Bismol, and now he drinks Shakeology every morning for breakfast and is the biggest believer in it!  THIS is the reason I’m sharing this.  THIS is the reason I’m running my first challenge group.  NOT because I lost 5 pounds and continue to lose, but because two people in my family feel so much BETTER and healthier.

PiYo

If you decide you like Shakeology, Beachbody also offers a great deal on it that comes with your choice of fitness programs, and let me tell you, Beachbody has quite the range. If you like Intense workouts, they’ve got you covered with P90X or Insanity. If you are a low-key person like me, they offer one of the best workouts I’ve ever done, PiYo. It will get your heart going without a single jump, and it comes with a totally doable eating plan that I follow too. It’s awesome! So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately!

I remember when I was younger, it made all the difference having my mom on board with me, and that’s the great thing about the Challenge groups.  It’s accountability and encouragement.  Ready to jump in, or still want to know more?  Shoot me an e-mail on Facebook or at deanadwood@yahoo.com.

So, are you in for a challenge?

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2015 Yearly Goals

I love the New Year. In fact, I love Christmas, but I’m not ever sad when Christmas is over, because I look forward to the New Year just as much. It feels like such a fresh start. Things are new and easy to change at the beginning of a new year. I guess that’s the teacher in me? I don’t know…but as you all probably know by now, I’m a goal-oriented person. I love to set goals, and I feel great when I hit those goals. I thrive on goal-setting. In fact, I actually taught my 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class last Sunday how to set goals for their year. It went okay, but let’s just say that I realized that some are not as passionate as I am about goals! I may or may not have been a little too excited about setting goals.  I got a few glassy eyes. Ha! Last year, I set several goals. I won’t review them all here, but I will say that I hit some, like having a regular, daily Bible time and a steady morning routine and missed others-like my book list! It’s just too hard for me to decide what books I’m going to read at the beginning of the year…I like more flexibility. Anyway, so today, it’s time to lay out a new set of goals for the year. For this, I use the same guide as I use for my weekly goals. I just modify the goals to fit into a year. So here goes…2015 goals. This year, I’m also going to include my plan for hitting these goals. I feel that you can’t have a goal without a plan. Let’s take a look!

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Spiritual Goals:

  1.  Use the reading plan for my morning Bible Study timeRead Through the Bible in a Year ( For Christmas, I asked for a Read Through the Bible in a Year Bible, and my mom got me a Chronological version! I’m really excited. It’s something I’ve never done-read the Bible cover to cover-so I’m really looking forward to it!)
  1. Improve my Prayer Life (Keep a running Prayer List for the family on the white board on the fridge) & (Pray and journal during my morning quiet time.)

Family Life

  1. Spend More Time Having Fun as a Family (regular family Game Nights)
  2. *Hopefully* add a member to the family

Homeschool Goals:

  1. Include a Physical Education Time 3 days a week (Use book Home School Family Fitness)
  2. Include a Fine Motor Therapy Time Every Day (Use the OT Mom’s Handbook to Fine Motor Therapy) & (Do activities during read alouds)
  3. Use the positive responsibility system I created consistently

Home Life

  1. Keep House Clean & Tidy (Use Motivated Moms App)
  2. Keep Dates & Bills Organized (Keep a Family Calendar) & (Centralized Location for Calendar & Bill)

Physical Life

  1. Eat Healthy (Read Eat Right for Your Type) & (Follow the PiYo eating plan)
  2. Continue drinking Shakeology once a day & start kids on it as well
  3. Exercise 4 times a week (Use PiYo Workouts) & (In addition, homeschool fitness plan)

Financial Goals

  1. Finish paying off final debt (put 80% of all extra money to debt)
  2. Begin to save for car repairs or new-to-us vehicle (put 20% extra toward savings, after debt is paid off, put 100%)

Mental Goals:

  1. Read at least 1 book per month
  2. Plan the next week on the Friday before
  3. Blog at least once a week

Now, before I leave this blog post, let me say this:  In 2007, my goal list didn’t include “Send husband to Oklahoma for a 6 month traning” or  “Live in OK for 2 months” or “Prepare for husband’s deployment to Iraq”.  In 2009, my goals did not include “Move to Morrilton”, in 2011, my goals never mentioned, homeschooling and in 2014, no where on my goal list would you find the word “adoption”.  Here’s what I’m saying with that-while I love to set goals, I have also learned that God knows that about me, and because of my natural bent toward wanting to know, and wanting to plan, God tends to take me (and our family) on wild rides in the course of a year.  For a while, I hated this…He was messing with my perfectly laid out plans, but as the years have passed, I have learned what a beautiful gift it is to plan, but then to say, “But, Father, your will be done in my life.”  And see where He takes us.  It’s been a wonderful journey so far.  So, when you set your goals for the year, understand that a year is a long time, and God can really do a lot in your life in a year, so be willing to be flexible, be willing to bend on some of those plans and goals and dreams.  It will be worth it.  God’s plan has always been better than mine after all.

Happy New Year to you and your family.  Praying for a wonderful year for all of you!

A Wood Family Christmas

It’s over. The packages have been torn open, the smiles have been smiled many times over, and mama and daddy are wore smooth out. But it’s been a wonderful Christmas season. Truly…wonderful. I feel so full today as I reflect on this season. So here is a peek into our Wood Family Christmas and a few of the things we did this year.

One of my most treasured memories from this year will be the Advent study that we went through with the kids.  Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift was a gift for our family!  I would highly recommend this book to any family wanting to center their thoughts on Jesus during this season.

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Here is our finished Jesse Tree that went along with our book:

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Other treasured memories: 

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Our very first Wood Farm Christmas…story telling, chili, ornament making, and hayriding…and yes to the Otis Christmas book, and any other Otis book.

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A sweet, visit to our local nursing home to visit with some precious residents and meet a lovely pen pal…

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Failed homemade ornaments….

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Successful homemade oranaments!

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Favorite books…

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Oatmeal cookies…

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Matching Christmas Eve jammies…

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Perfect gifts…

And lots and lots of thanksgiving.

And just for fun, here are a few pictures of Christmas at our house through a child’s eyes….because Ms. Lydia loves to grab my phone when I’m not looking and have a little photo shoot.  🙂

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Finally, here is what Christmas morning looks like around here…the glorious mess!  We woke up, opened presents, and had a late breakfast with my parents…couldn’t ask for a better Christmas day!

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I sincerely hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas as well. I remember for many years feeling a little let down when all the packages were torn open and Christmas was over.  But, that is no longer the case.  While Christmas may be over for this year, we are continually in a state of Advent.  Remember the meaning of Advent?  Waiting for something important?  Well, just like we wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus the whole month of December, we are also eagerly waiting the second coming of Jesus.  And that’s an Advent worth anticipating too!  So, instead of feeling that inevitable let down this year, remember that we are always waiting for something important. Don’t let the anticipation and excitement of Christmas die with the opening of packages…it is always there.

 In the next few days, I’ll be taking down our Christmas decorations, organizing for the new year (and the new homeschool semester), and evaluating last year’s goals, and setting this year’s goals, and I plan to blog about every bit of it.  This is another one of my favorite times of the year!  When things are nice and fresh.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Adoption Update

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So yesterday afternoon at about 1:00, I got a call saying that we would be having our final walk through at about 3:30.  Now, I find this ironic for a few reasons.  First of all, I kind of suspected that we would have pretty short notice of this final walk through, and I kind of knew that it could be any day now, so I’ve been really making the effort to keep the house clean.  But, along with everyone else in the whole wide world, we’ve been super busy, and the kids were absolutely worn out from the late nights and intense fun that we’ve been having lately.  And when I say worn out, I mean crying-for-absolutely-no-reason-worn-out (example: Lydia had a meltdown at church the other night for not having a Jesus face for her manger craft-she cried the rest of the night about it…the crazy part? She DID have a Jesus face!).  This is the level of tired that my young family hits.  And believe it or not, I was right there with them-I have never handled exhaustion very well.  So, anyway, I had oddly enough planned, planned, to NOT make beds, NOT get dressed, NOT take a shower, NOT do my daily to-do list. Yes, these days must be planned around my house. So, the kids had pretty much been watching PBS in their jammies all day with the exception of an extra-long outdoor play session outside, yes-in their jammies. So, needless to say, when I got that phone call at 1:00 in the afternoon, it was a bit of a shock. I thought…Of all the days…this had to be the one. And then I realized that of course it did, because that’s just how God works with me. So I called Tim, expressed my concerns in one, short, simple phone conversation that went something like this:

Tim: “Hello?”

Me: “OH. MY. GOSH! I’m in full blown panic mode! I made the conscious decision NOT to clean today! Ahhh!!!”

Tim: Laughter….. (Because why wouldn’t you laugh at a time LIKE THIS???)

Me: “Ok…gotta go clean. Love you.   Bye.”

Yes, when you’ve been married for 11 years, you don’t need many words to convey the situation. Anyway, within that short 2 ½ hours, we were surprisingly able to get everyone dressed, a shower for me, the house picked up and a quick surface clean, a few last minute details, and we even had a few minutes to spare to get my blood pressure back down to normal. Of course, as usual, the actual walk through was far less scary than I had imagined.

So, here’s where we are. By tomorrow, we should officially be “open”. This means that we will be entered into the state computer system and that system will begin to “match” us with a waiting child. We had a child we were praying about, but as it turns out, it looks like our prayers for him have already been answered, as they have already found an adoptive home for him. So that is truly wonderful. We are so thankful. So now we are back in this stage of not knowing…which is right where God wants us, I’m sure. In that place of absolute trust and surrender.

Throughout this entire process, I’ve been just a little scared (maybe more than a little at times?). At first, I was scared about actually doing this. I knew that we were following God’s will for us, but at the same time, I knew it was crazy. It makes no sense. Why, why? Then, as time went on, my fear progressed out of a “why are You asking us to do this?” to “But what if we do all this, and go through all this and they can’t find us a match?” I must say that was scarier than the first question to me. But, I think that I’ve finally come full circle in this process. Because when I pray, what keeps coming to mind is that God has us in this season “for such a time as this”. There is a reason that this is the right time. There is a child. There is a purpose.

So here we are, on a path that began over 11 years ago, but really got in full swing back in February, with the simple words that were spoken off-the-cuff by our pastor. At the end of a sermon, he said something to the effect of, “Adoption…if you have a heart for that, nurture it, feed that. Don’t let the fire die out.” And then he said, “I don’t really even know why I just said that.” It didn’t have anything to do with his sermon, but those were the words that we needed to hear. And God knew that. That day, we got in the car, looked at each other, and said, “I think it’s time.” That was the beginning. A couple of weeks later, there “happened to be” an informational meeting that we attended. And here we are, at the final step. We have done EVERYTHING we can possibly do to prepare for this. Now, we are literally leaving it in God’s hands. And it feels really good to say,

“Father, we have been obedient,

and now we trust you with our lives and with our family.

Do with us whatever will bring you the most glory.”

Adoption Book 2

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planned

Advent: A Time to Cherish

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Advent:  the anticipation of the coming of something important

Something important?  How about something miraculous?  I think that so often we treat Christmastime as just another season.  There was a time when I even looked at Christmas as a burden!  Oh my, how that hurts my heart to think about my attitude those years.  I am so thankful that God showed me a better way.  So today, I want to share it with you!

I think that there is a common misconception that Advent is specific to certain denominations, but that’s just not accurate.  Unless of course, the Bible is specific to certain denominations!  Ha!  Advent is for everyone who wants to find a deeper meaning in the Christmas hustle and bustle, it’s for everyone who wants to grow in their relationship with God amidst the tinsel and lights, it’s for everyone who wants to find Jesus in Christmas again.  Advent is a special time that we set aside to eagerly anticipate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was nothing short of a miracle to this sad, broken world.  It’s absolutely worth the celebration.

At our house, Advent includes a daily Advent study (I’ll share some resources below).  It also includes family traditions, making a “Jesse tree”, special prayer, sweet times of bonding as a family, fasting, giving to others, and making a concentrated effort to show the love of God to as many people as we possibly can.

When we make that intentional effort to focus in on Jesus, the materialism, the commercialism, the busyness of the season tends to melt away.  Our kids might just think less about what they want themselves and more about what they can do for others.  Maybe we will then be free to stop thinking about everyone’s Christmas lists and start thinking about what God is asking us to do this season.

So how can you focus in on Jesus this year?  Here are a few ideas:

1.  Do an Advent study with your family or on your own.  Or do both!  A quick Google search of “Advent Reading Schedule” will bring up more than enough options-believe me.  For a family study, try to look for one that has short passages and starts with creation and goes through lots of the familiar Bible stories, showing how each story is connected to Jesus.  It’s also great if the reading plan includes cute coloring pages.  That’s a fantastic way to get the kids involved!  Here are some options:

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Truth in the Tinsel  This is an excellent study for families with young children.  We did this three years with our kids. It includes an ornament that you make for each day of Advent.

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Thriving Family FREE Advent Study & Downloadable Calendar   This is a  FREE resource for families from a trusted source.  Each day there is a reading guide with activities and you can print off a very cool Advent calendar.

For an Advent study for youself, look for something that focuses on the prophecies (very cool to study).  This is one that I’m currently using and really enjoying.

2.  Make a Jesse Tree.  This is simply an extension of your Advent study.  We are making a Jesse tree this year.  And, no worries!  This is FAR from fancy.  Our “Jesse tree” consists of a ceramic pot with sticks that we found in our yard stuffed inside it.  We hang the ornaments on the branches.  Of course, you can use your Christmas tree or even a piece of construction paper!  The idea of a Jesse tree is to trace the lineage of Jesus and see that salvation through Jesus Christ alone was God’s plan from the very beginning.  Here are some resources for Jesse trees:

Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Visit her website to print Advent Ornaments here

(Quick note:  I am not quite prepared to endorse any of her other works, as I have not personally read them or reviewed them, but this one is an excellent resource for families)

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And here is a free version of a Jesse tree.

Here are some examples of how simple or elaborate you can make your tree.

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3.  Advent Wreath.  This is another way to “anticipate” the coming of something important!  Each week, light another candle in the wreath until you get to the beautiful candle in the middle.  That means that it’s Christmas-the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth!

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4.  Make a “Gifts We Already Have” List.  To take the focus off of “I want”, keep a running list with your family of all the gifts that God has already given you.  You might just be surprised at the length of this list, and you’ll certainly want to check it twice!

5.  Fasting.  Traditionally, fasting is considered an Easter thing…don’t worry I didn’t make a mistake.  🙂  But, Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for a special event, and fasting is a perfect way to do that.  Fasting can come in lots of different ways.  You can fast from television, from certain kinds of food, from technology (yikes!).  Anything that you think might compete for the throne of your heart is an excellent thing to fast from during Advent season.  It’s also a way to involve your whole family.  Tell your whole family that you’ll be fasting from technology every Sunday this month.  Maybe you’ll be fasting from that daily Sonic soda stop (donate the money you would spend to an organization that spreads the Gospel all over the world!).

6.  Family Fun.  Schedule some family fun time this month.  More than presents, our kids want US…fully present.  So, this month put a day on the calendar to go to a movie as a family, play a board game together, go caroling…do something fun!

7.  Brainstorm ways to give to others.  The holidays are a treasured time for many people, but those who are hurting for one reason or another find the holidays to be incredibly difficult.  Sit down with your family and think of ways to reach out to these-to even the least of these-and show them Jesus this Christmas.  Visit the nursing home (and keep going even after Christmas!), send a card to someone, give a gift card to someone on the side of the road, open your home to your neighbors.  It may seem little to you…and maybe it is, but even little acts of love can mean a world of difference to someone.

Now, let me caution you…even Advent can become a burden if you’re not careful.  That’s not the purpose.  Always remember the purpose of Advent is to set your heart on eagerly anticipating the coming of a miracle-the birth of Jesus.  If you’d like to participate in Advent this year, pray about what God would have you to do this year.  A good place to start is teaching your kids the meaning of Advent, and remind yourself often.  When you say this definition to yourself, it’s like a cool, refreshing waterfall to your soul.  From there, try to do a family time (maybe you can only get together once a week-there are Advent schedules for that too!  Just Google it.)  If you can only do one thing this year-great!  One thing is an awesome start!  Go for it!  Next year, if you want, add something else.  Above all else, remember that the Christmas season is a time to quiet our hearts and really take in the miracle that God sent us the day that Jesus was born.  I pray blessings on you and your family this Christmas season.

From us to you, Merry Christmas!

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