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May 28, 2014

Planting The Garden

Well it seemed like a long time in coming but spring is here!!! Lately we have been enjoying the warmer days, getting lots of yard work done, the busyness that comes with seeding, playing sports and long evening walks.

Even though the pace of life picks up a bit in spring...OK it picks up a lot..it's still such a refreshing time of year. My heart is happy as I see the green grass and leaves starting to form on the trees. I know I wouldn't appreciate spring near as much if it were not for our long cold winter. And this past winter was especially cold and long so that means I am especially happy!!

And what a better thing to do when your feeling happy than to plant a garden!!

Let me just brag on my husband here a bit :)
My man is a Godly, hard working man and I love him to bits.
After a break in seeding, he could have done many other things, (as his list is long) or even enjoyed a bit of down time. But instead he jumped off the seeder and set up the tiller and then proceeded to till our garden! 

Here is Jesse. 
He hasn't really helped much with the garden in previous years because he is always out in the field during this time. But this year he was home and was eager to help. 
Must be the farmer in him!

We started by planting peas. Peas take a little more time to plant because we double row them and put up a trellis for them to climb. It takes more time now but is so much more enjoyable and less back breaking once picking season comes around. Here is Kerri and I putting up the trellis.

And of course when you garden with lots of boys there is always lots of goofing around.
Yes Zach, we can still see you!

Josiah shares his love for dirt with his Daddy and farmer brothers. On a side note: you may think that all of our boys are farmers at heart but not so. Even though they do help around the farm when needed only three of the eight are die hard farmers. (By that I mean they are up at dawn and stay up until the days work is done (not always possible, but they try their best to convince us to let them :) and even when they are sleeping they are still farming in their dreams :) Our farm boys? Joshua (obviously!), Jesse and Josiah. We are pretty sure that Eli is headed in the same direction too, but time will tell!

A fresh tilled garden is so fun to play in! But the fun is usually short lived as momma thinks that a hard packed garden is not fun to plant in!

Our sweet Joey

Mikaya is a huge help to our family. She is often found entertaining the little ones and is usually asking throughout the day, "Is there anything I can help you with?"
Here's our sticks to mark the rows. Exciting...I know :)

Homesteader Lincoln peas. We decided to plant way more peas this year as we always seem to run out in the winter and you just can't buy them in the store as good as our own home grown. So, knowing that this is going to make pea picking season very, very busy, we figured it would be worth the effort. We will tell you if it this was a good idea after the season is done! We planted double the peas that we did last year.

We love to have little helpers in the garden but it's always a little hard for them to know how far apart to plant the seeds. So we give them something to mark with. This year I labeled a straw with inches so they could measure out their seeds. Here is Brooke trying it out.

Brooke is also a huge help to our family. She is learning how to bake and cook and keep a house neat and clean. Its always a hoot working along side her as she likes to laugh and keep things light hearted. She is a lot like her papa.

And of course only Jaden would come out perfectly dressed for the occasion. We have had such a cool spring that the poor child is thoroughly confused on the appropriate apparel!

Poor sad little Eli.
He doesn't even get out of being potty trained when we are gardening!!

Oh, and a gardening trick from Jesse....it always helps to stick your tongue out!

My little farmer always seems to have a dirty face.


This is Kerri. She likes gardening more than her mother.

Never a dull moment with them around!

I told you she likes gardening!

Happy little gardeners. (I am starting to think that all of our kiddos have dirty faces...hee hee!!!

A perfect mother/daughters bonding time.

Silly kiddos!

I would like to say that we got the garden all planted but the reality is
the garden tiller broke down.
Then we got lots of rain.
So we are waiting for a tiller and some dry ground.
But don't worry, we have lots of other projects to keep us busy.
And maybe you will even get to see a few of those projects because
 my dear daughter Jennifer got a new camera
and has been busy snapping pictures of our every day happenings.
(That's why you don't see her in any of these pictures :)
My girls have been telling me that my blog has been rather "quiet" (aka:boring)
 to which I give all kinds of excuses!
One of them being that Megan used to upload all my photos onto the blog
but now she's gone and gotten married!
So Jen decided to remedy that and has offered to upload pictures to the blog for me!!
I know....sweet girl.
So I hope to do a bunch more blogging and who knows,
you may get sick of me yet!!

May 10, 2014

My Weight Loss Journey

Recently our daughter Jennifer over at Breathe Deep posted sweet words about me reaching a weight goal that I had set for myself back in March. As she said, I probably would have never posted about it myself….because that's the way I am? Not sure if that's good or bad? But the questions from some of her readers that came about from her post made me realize that maybe I should share a little more of my journey. Not to boast or to "toot my own horn" but rather to encourage others who may be on the same road as me. So whether you're a mom who has children and have had trouble losing the extra weight after your pregnancies, whether you have been trying to live a healthier life, or if you just feel like you are stuck in a rut and don't know how to get out, this post is for you. I am not saying I have all the answers, and I am not saying that my journey will be the answer for everyone, but if this encourages one person, it will be worth saying.

Let me say first of all that weight does not define a person. You can have someone at their perfect weight and yet be the most dissatisfied person around. In the same way you can have someone who is overweight and yet be confident in themself. But I also believe that being overweight often has a connection to something deeper, often something that person doesn't even realize or consciously know about. This is who I was. And it wasn't something that I discovered overnight….it has been a journey of a few years.

I have struggled with my weight ever since we had our first child 24 years ago. After we were married I gained a few pounds (as often seems to happen with newlyweds :). When I look back I realize it was just a matter of living too close to a grocery store, being able to eat any treat I wanted, when I wanted to and not enough self control! But after our first baby was born I was quickly able to shed the baby weight plus any extra I had gained since our wedding day. For a couple of months anyway. Then the weight came back….and more.

1 1/2 yrs later we welcomed another baby into our family and I once again struggled with getting to my goal weight….the weight that I felt was healthy for me.

Baby #2, 3, 4, 5 and then my 6th pregnancy came and I yo-yo'ed in my weight and emotionally as I tried to figure out why I couldn't get to where I wanted to be….both physically and spiritually (in the area of self-control especially). It was at this time that a group of ladies I knew were going through a bible study called "The Weigh Down Workshop". I could see results in their lives and figured that this was something to pay attention too. Not only were these ladies shedding pounds physically, they were also able to deal with the underlying cause of their weight gain emotionally. So I read the book and was so excited about the change that God made in my heart. Not only at the way I looked at food, but also the way I looked at why I put what I did in my mouth every single day. The practical principle was eat until you are full, and don't eat if you are not hungry (sounds like a no brainer….but how many of us ignore that simple nudging!). This book also opened my eyes to the fact that there were things emotionally/spiritually that I needed to deal with. I was so happy to find that I was able to maintain a healthy weight during this pregnancy and then have the pounds quickly come off after I had our son. I was back to the weight I had been before we were married! I was so excited!

Then I became pregnant with our 7th child. Honestly I cannot even remember the weight coming back on. Being a mom with many small children….I felt most days I was just surviving! And in this survival mode I lost sight of the revelations that had been shown to me and started once again back into the dissatisfaction of being less than who I wanted to be both physically and emotionally. It wasn't that I was super unhappy or depressed during these times….quite the opposite…I was happy with my life….just not happy with everything about me. I would try to get back on track….try to get back to where I knew I could be….but honestly….I lacked the ambition and self-control. Chocolate and desserts were my constant comfort and close friend! And it began to stick to my waist like glue!!!!

8th, 9th, 10th, 11th pregnancy…all the same. Yo-yo. Have baby….be determined to get the weight off….only to fluctuate 5 or 10 pounds and then fall back into the same ways and put the weight back on. I think many days I just figured who cares? My weight is so far from where I want to be….it's impossible….why try! Again….I was happy….life was great…I loved being a busy mom. But I still had that constant nagging that things could be better. It was during these years that we started to rethink our way of eating and developed a more healthy lifestyle. More whole grains, less sugar and more natural foods. In doing this I noticed that I started to feel a bit better physically, but still my weight just wouldn't budge.

Inside I knew what the problem was. Food was my comfort. If I was stressed…I ate. If I was busy….I ate. If I was sitting…I ate!!! Well…you get the picture! I liked to eat…often….and mostly chocolate!!! Anyone who knows me knows how much I like chocolate!!!!

During my 12th pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. So off I went to the dietician to evaluate my eating habits and see if we could get my sugars stabilized without the use of insulin. I am not a fan of putting foreign objects into my body so I was willing to try anything to make things right. So the dietician taught me how to eat "right" and gave me a chart to write down everything that I put in my mouth!!! Wow….that's an eye opener!!!! So I followed the plan….was able to get my sugars under control and stayed on the plan until our baby was born, all without having to take insulin!!! My wonderful husband did not want me to suffer alone so he joined me in my efforts :) I know, I am spoiled!  I was really surprised what amazing results changing our diet had! He also lost a lot of weight and noticed a change in his health. And I was determined to keep this way of eating in my life even after our baby was born!

So baby #12 was born but my new way of eating was quickly forgotten. My hubby stayed on plan…but I strayed….badly! And  of course it didn't take long before I gained back any weight that I had lost during my pregnancy and more, and I found myself fighting the same old battle.

Pregnancy #13 was typical. I gained no more than 25 pounds. But with the extra weight I had put on before I got pregnant I was the heaviest I had ever been by the end of the pregnancy. Baby was born (5 days after our daughter got married :) and it didn't take me long to realize that something needed to change. Because if it didn't I was quickly going to move into the category of a very unhealthy weight! But I really didn't know where to go or what to do. The 'Weigh Down' method had worked for me previously but I was having a super hard time having the self-control to quit when I knew I was full. And I was also having a hard time emotionally dealing with the things I was pushing down. I knew I needed some kind of restrictions on my food…but I still wanted to be able to enjoy eating! I was able to get together some motivation and started loosing weight by counting calories and walking/running on the treadmill. Some days I would do good, other days I would fail miserably. And when I failed I felt defeated...and sometimes gave up for a week or two, or month.....

In April I came across the book that I am sure many of you have heard of by now called "Trim Healthy Mama". At the time it was brand new. I am not really sure what caught my attention. I am not one to usually take a second look at diet/losing weight books, but I feel it was God that nudged me to pay attention. As I read the concepts of the book they really made sense to me. Then I made a rather hasty decision (which is also unlike me) to buy the ebook. It didn't take me long to dive into reading it. I think I felt the way I hear most people say they feel when I first read it....'That's a lot of info!' and 'Can I really do this?' But I made the choice at that point that this was something that I felt could change my approach to eating if I would give it a fair chance. I didn't want to just try....if I was going to do it, I was going to go all the way!

And so this present journey began. Since we grow a lot of our own food and make most everything from scratch, I was not looking to spend a lot of money to this new way of eating. So I was able to buy a few key ingredients and then just kind of tweek the meals that our family ate to 'fit the plan'. It didn't take me long to realize that this way of eating really did help me to shed the pounds! I was pretty excited as the weight started to come off. And the best part? I didn't feel hungry or cheated. Yes, I had cut out all processed food and refined sugar, but there were so many things I could replace it with and I really felt like I was well fed :) And during this time of changing my eating habits something also happened in my heart. I realized how much I was using food as a comfort rather than something to nourish my body.

But just like on any change in life...the temptations and struggles came. A lot of the struggles were in my head. Things like "I can't do this" "It's not worth it" "I have too much to lose" became frequent thoughts in my day. These were the times that I really dug deep into God's Word and focused on seeing myself as He sees me, 'an overcome' 'a conquerer' 'His beloved'. I found that if I focused on the actual losing weight I would become frustrated and want to quit. But when I focused on His strength through me I was able to keep on track. And eventually I would reach a goal, then set another. Reach a goal, set another.....and every goal I met I would rejoice and give thanks to God for the strength that He gave me.

I don't want to make it sound like all I had to do was pray and God made the pounds fall off. Instead I prayed and He transformed me. He transformed my way of thinking about myself and about food. But in being transformed I had to be pliable. And being pliable sometimes hurt lots....both physically and emotionally!

Every goal I accomplished I was really shocked. In fact if you would have told me a year ago that I would be the weight I am today....I would not have believed you! I never thought I could be this size again!

So I guess I write this post to those of you who may want to lose weight but think it is impossible. I am here as a living testimony to tell you..."IT IS POSSIBLE"! It is possible IF you are willing to change. Because let's face it, if you are dissatisfied at your weight, the way you are doing things now isn't cutting it! And remember Who your strength comes from. As soon as I would start to feel defeated....or prideful....I would lose focus and go off track. But It was in those times of weakness that I felt God's strength the most.

I am not going to give you a lot of details of how/what I ate because I think that everyone has their own journey to figure out. I am also not going to say that this one program was the thing that did it. I think it was rather the transformation that God did in my heart. And He used these things I mentioned as a tool to help me along. And I realize that what worked for me may not work for you. So it is with caution that I tell you some things that really helped me along the way. Not to boast or say this is the only way, but hopefully to help you along your journey and to give you hope.

1. I had to make a decision to jump into this with both feet. This may be because of my personality, but I knew if I did it half way....I would not stay on track. So I decided that I was going to eat only on plan and all other food would be off limits. Now after I reached a few of my goals I decided I could give myself a little more flexibilty. But every time I would "cheat" I would really weigh in my mind "is this worth it?" Was a cheeseburger worth not seeing the scale budge tomorrow? Was that brownie worth delaying meeting my next goal? You know your limits, you know what you can handle, and if you don't...figure it out!

2. I made lots of little goals mostly because the big goal seemed so out of reach and overwhelming. Every time I reached a little goal I would celebrate....and set another one! This way I felt like I was making progress....but still working towards a bigger goal. I had a pair of pants that were my ultimate goal pants. Every once in awhile I would take them out, try them on and see the progress that I had made. It helped me to really visualize where I wanted to be.

3. Being active really helps the weight come off faster. So if you want to shed pounds faster, add some exercise. I walked/ran on the treadmill when it was too cold outside, worked out to fitness dvds, or my favorite, walked outdoors.

4. I had to make sure that I was doing this for the right reason. If my reasons were superficial or vain, I was sure to fail. For me, my #1 goal was to be at the healthy weight that I believe God wanted me to be.

5. I didn't beat myself up when I would make a mistake or go off plan. And I wouldn't wait until Monday :) to get back on track. I would get back on track immediately.

6. I became aware of the triggers that led me to eat. Often it was in times of stress or busyness that I would turn to food to make me feel better. So instead I would pray or simply chew on a piece of gum.

7. I had a plan of what I was going to eat for the day and always had a snack ready on hand. If I didn't I was very quick to grab just "whatever" to satisfy my hungry tummy! Smoothies were always a great "go to" food for me if I was in a pinch.

8. Even though the sweet stuff was healthy and made with all natural sweeteners, I still had to be very careful on how much of this I consumed. The concept of "stopping when you are full" was a real help to me. God gave us that full feeling for a reason! So even though it was a healthy sweet snack I still had to exercise self control. And if I would feel hungry I would drink some tea or chew some gum. If the feeling stayed then I knew I was truly hungry and my head wasn't just playing games tricks on me....then I would have something to eat. 

9. My ultimate goal was/is to be beautiful on the inside. If I had to push my family aside or ignore my calling as I wife and mother...then I needed to reevaluate.  For me this was mostly in the area of getting some exercise in. I had to be careful that I didn't push/everything or everyone out of my way to get my workout in for that day. I had to remember that being at the perfect weight was not worth it if I had to compromise my calling. There is so much talk out there these days about looking after you and that you have to put yourself first. I don't believe this is a beneficial or healthy way of thinking....not to mention that I don't see this anywhere in the Bible. We are to do what God has called us to do FIRST. And if our perspective is right the other things will fall into place. 

10. I need a #10 right!?! Well I don't have a #10 but maybe you can fill in the blanks by leaving a comment!!!

So this is some of the practical side of my journey. I hope that if you are struggling in this area that you will have hope and know that "with God all things are possible!"

Where am I today? After I reached my big goal I felt that i could still loose a few more pounds to get to the right weight for me. I till have a few pounds to shed before I reach my readjusted goal weight. And I would be lying if I would say I haven't been struggling as I have been trying to add certain foods back into my diet. Maintaining is something that I am learning to do right now, and during this learning curve I will be happy if I can stay at my current weight. Every day I evaluate what I am eating, what I am doing for exercise and most importantly what my motives are. Because if they are not to bring my heart closer to Jesus than it is all in vain!

***As a side note, there has been some controversy about the sweeteners used in the Trim Healthy Mama plan. So please make sure you research these before using them. I have heard testimonies of people saying they substituted honey as a sweetener and the weight still came off. So if you aren't sure...that is always a good option.

May 6, 2014


Hey! Just wanted to let you all know that our daughter Jennifer is hosting a giveaway over at her blog. So go ahead and check it out, it will be worth your while!