Experience Genuine Transformation in a Small Group Bible Study

I believe there is a supernatural power that flows in a small group Bible study.  I have experienced it as a small group leader and as a student.  Women meeting together to share how God has been working in their lives and to pray for one another is the foundation for truly transformational fellowship.  Small Groups

My friend, Kellan, has written a Bible study based on this premise called Genuine Transformation: a reality driven scripture study. As one of several who have taken part in editing and testing this study, I’m giving this a big thumbs up.

(Excerpt from the back cover)  This study takes what you are going through and who you are, and filters these through scripture in three ways: Discover and focus on who God is and what he does.  Discover and focus on yourself in a healthy way by knowing who you are to God and who you are in Jesus.  Find out God’s truth about your problems, feelings and questions by bringing them to God.

In this unique Bible study you won’t find fill-in-the-blank questions or lengthy chapters to read.  What you will find are prompts for bringing your real life concerns to God, and ways to find answers in the truth of his word.

Kellan has graciously made this Genuine Transformation Bible Study a free downloadable pdf.  You may also download the Leader’s Guide for this small group Bible study.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.   (2 Cor. 13:14)

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No Cooking Required — Summer Salad Bar

Where I live, we’ve been having one of the hottest, driest summers on record.  When the weather is hot like this, I turn to ‘no cooking required’ meals.  A salad bar works well for my family.  I just set out a variety of items in buffet style and let everyone create their own salad.  (And if I’m lucky, I can avoid a trip to the grocery store by using the items I have on hand.)

salad bar in neon

Start with vegetables.  Set out a large bowl of MIXED SALAD GREENS.   In small bowls include sliced or chopped vegetables such as CUCUMBERS, SWEET PEPPERS, TOMATOES or CARROTS.  Consider adding whole SUGAR SNAP PEAS or BABY CORN (canned).  These options are just a starting point.  What’s in your refrigerator crisper drawer or your pantry?

Next, add a protein option such as COTTAGE CHEESE, SHREDDED SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE or CANNED GARBANZO BEANS to your buffet.

Fresh or canned fruit is a nice addition.  Set out a bowl of SLICED PEACHES or PEARS.  Dried fruit on salads adds a concentrated sweetness and tartness I love.  Try DRIED CRANBERRIES or DRIED MONTMORENCY CHERRIES (my favorite! — find them at Trader Joe’s).

Nuts or seeds add texture and nutrients, such as essential fatty acids.  Try LIGHTLY SWEETENED PECANS or LIGHTLY SALTED PUMPKIN SEEDS.

Add a vinaigrette type item to your buffet such as PICKLED BEETS, MARINATED THREE BEAN SALAD (the canned is great — low in calories and zero fat) or a jar of ARTICHOKE HEARTS.   You may tend to use less salad dressing when you add these vinaigrette items.  I know I do.  And I really like salad dressing.

Speaking of SALAD DRESSING, we all know this is where the entire healthy salad can go south.  However, the combination of the above items creates a salad with so much flavor and interest, I think you’ll find a small amount of dressing will go a long way.  My  recommendation is not a specific brand name of dressing, but a dressing with ‘real food’ ingredients and few additives.  You sometimes pay a little more but it’s worth it.

Balance out your salad with baked CROUTONS or serve some small slices of WHOLE GRAIN ARTISAN-TYPE BREAD on the side.

Happy summer!  Healthy eating!flourish scroll~~~  Looking for more summer salad ideas?  Check out my GREEK SALAD.  ~~~

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Shrug It Off

Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light…put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh…  (Romans 13:12, 14)

Let’s say you’re wearing an old, dirty, stained and ragged coat.  You’re given a new, spotless, beautiful coat.  Do you leave the old coat on to put on the new coat?  No.  That would make so sense.  It would be uncomfortable and binding.  And, ridiculous.  You’d shrug that old thing off first.  Then, the new coat would fit right — comfortable, not binding.

To put on Christ you’d let go of the flesh, the sinful nature, the old nature first.  Every day, every hour, every moment is a new opportunity to put on the new nature, provided with love, by your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Every time that old nature, the flesh, begins to re-appear and to taint this new nature in Christ, shrug it off.  Accept what Jesus Himself gives you, a new nature, which is new life.  Christ’s Life in you.  That’s the Life that fits.

And stop arguing that the old coat is good enough.  Or that you’re really not worth that beautiful new coat.  Lies!  The enemy’s lies!  When God gives you something, by absolute faith, you are to drop that old ‘whatever it is’ and grab onto that new thing.  No looking back, no questions asked.  Take it whole-heartedly.  This is trust.  Believing the ‘new’ is perfect for you.  The gift is perfect.  The Giver is God Almighty.

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3)

Put on Christ

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First, Greatest, Everlasting: LOVE

God is love.  1 John 4:16black and red He first loved

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13

All of Scripture is full of expressions of God’s love.  Everything God has made, all He does, all He says — Genesis to Revelation — everything the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is, is underlined with love.  To miss it is like missing the forest for the trees.  And yet, there are days I do miss it.  Times when I need to revisit the love of God.

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.  Ephesians 3:19

The paradox of God’s love — to know something that is unknowable.  Yet, God says I can know love.  Jesus said, “That the love with which You loved Me, may be in them, and I in them.”  (John 17:26)   Jesus declares His love for His own.

This love is not (always) something I feel, but it is, always, something I can know.

This is a supernatural love.  This love is a miracle.  A gift to be received.  It is a work of the Holy Spirit.  Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Romans 5:5)

So, today, we can remember — God is love.  He first loved us.  He demonstrated His love through Jesus.  He poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

We can know, as Jeremiah did, that He loves us with an everlasting love.  (Jeremiah 31:3)

God has done it all.  When my heart struggles to believe Him, I will remember this — God is even greater than my heart.  (1 John 3:20)

Bible with heart pages

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A New Spin on Chicken Wraps

Fresh from my Newly Created Recipes file is a terrific Chicken Wrap with Pesto Vinaigrette dish.  I use the term ‘recipe’ very loosely.  I rarely actually cook from a recipe.  So, if you cook like I do, with an ingredients list and an educated guess on the amounts, you’ll love this.

Chicken Wraps with Pesto VinaigretteBon Appetite with Spoons

THE CHICKEN WRAP.  Buy a roasted chicken, de-bone and cut the chicken into bite-size strips.  Lay some chicken down the center of a flavored tortilla.  (Garlic Herb or Sun Dried Tomato tortillas are my favorites.)  Sprinkle a little crumbled feta cheese on the chicken.  Add a few strips of sun dried tomatoes.  If you have a jar of pimentos or roasted red or yellow peppers, add a few pieces.  Roll the tortilla, rather tightly, seam side down.  Slice in half.  Repeat with a few more tortillas.  I usually make about 4 wraps.

THE PESTO VINAIGRETTE.  Buy a jar of traditional Pesto sauce.  Spoon out a couple tablespoons into a small bowl.  Add a splash of Seasoned Rice Vinegar and a couple splashes of Balsamic Vinegar.  Add about one-half teaspoon of brown sugar (or more) to taste.  Stir well.

SERVE.  Warm the Chicken Wraps in the microwave.  Serve with Pesto Vinaigrette.  Garnish with a few pitted Kalamata olives.  

Ta Da!  Enjoy!

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A Good Some Thing

Peace Phil 4:7What hinders your peace? Is it physical pain, worry, regrets, anxiety, depression, stress?  (Confession: That is my personal list, but yours might be something like it.)

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.  Proverbs 12:25

What is a good word?

Word (or davar from Strong’s) is defined as: a word, a speech, a matter or thing.  Do you ever have so much bad that you just plain need some good — as in a good some thing?

Word is also defined as: a report, a message.  There are similarities between the Hebrew davar and the Greek logos.  Jesus is the davar of the Old Testament and the logos of the New Testament.  What that looks like to me is that He is the message of the entire book.

Not only does Jesus bring good words, He is the Good Word.

Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:4-8

Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24

How do these words from Scripture become real in my life?  How can I put them into action?

  1. Think on good things — things that bring peace.  Meditate on Truth.  (Philippians 4:8)
  2. Pray.  Ask.  Be thankful.  (Philippians 4:6)
  3. Believe the peace of God guards your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:7)
  4. Watch your words, both that which you speak and that which you listen to.  (Proverbs 16:24)
  5. Give your worries, burdens, cares and concerns to God.  (1 Peter 5:7)

The more I know who Jesus is and the more I know who He says I am in Him, the more I know that…

I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me.  (Romans 8:37)

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Heart Belief



When I decided to start a blog, I committed to one thing — that it be real.  Real stuff from the heart.  Not platitudes or empty words.  That said, in true blog form (I hope), I’m posting a page straight from my personal journal today.

centered heart scroll

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness… Romans 10:10

 What do I believe?  What is this faith?

A daily relationship.  Not religious robotics.  A conversation, talking out feelings, listening, waiting, confessing, cleansing, being as open to God’s presence as possible.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing His leading of thoughts; absorbing teachings, insight, knowledge, understanding.  Accepting what God has already declared me to be.  Claiming His promises as Truth whether I feel anything or not.  Asking for His will, His working through the day.  Asking for the Holy Spirit’s promptings in how to respond in all circumstances.  Heart belief, fresh faith, deeper relationship.  Narrowing of focus, letting go of distractions, a pure meditation on His Word, all things Spiritual, His direction — leading, guiding — my obedience in following His ways.  Emptying of self, being clay to the Potter, an empty vessel to be filled with all God desires for me.  A confidence in Christ — no confusion — a boldness to take Him at His Word and come before His throne, humbly, with requests.  Releasing and letting go of what binds, ties, shackles, and imprisons.  Taking hold of, clinging to that which frees.  Standing firm on His absolutes, discerning when to be strong, take action, fight and when to simply trust, rest and leave it at His feet.  Dwelling on His goodness, mercy, kindness, love.  Finding no good thing in me (self) and no good thing in man (fallen world/fallen humans), finding ALL good that there is to be found in God.

One thing.  My responsibility: BELIEVE!

Is He able?  Or is He not?  Either He is or He is not.  It’s definitive.  Do I believe Him?  For everything?  In everything?  It’s yes or no — not multiple choice!

Yes, and Amen.  Let it be so.

  •   Out with religion, in with relationship.

I am asking You, God, to fix the broken places in my brain.  Remove the poisoned parts, sweep away the charred bits that serve no good purpose, blow the dust away.  It’s gone.  Now, I’m asking Lord, that You build new neural pathways, brand new brain tissue and fill it only and always with Your Spirit.  Make it real.  Make it so.  Only You are able.  Amen.

  •   Out with the fuzzy, in with the clear.
  •   Out with the useless, in with the useful.
  •   Out with the old, in with the new.
  •   Out with the unclean, in with the clean.
  •   Out with wishy-washy, in with absolutes.


  •   Out with doubt, in with confidence.
  •   Out with chattering, in with listening.
  •   Out with the sorrow of self-loathing, in with the joy of the Lord!
  •   Out with deflecting good, in with absorbing good.
  •   Out with discontent, in with peace.
  •   Out with sleeplessness, in with sleep.
  •   Out with false guilt, in with Holy Spirit conviction.

The negativeness in me is like a cancer.  It’s black and cruddy and ugly and grows!  Take it away.  I give You all the negative (aka: ungodly thoughts, beliefs).  They are NOT me!  They are evil — of Satan and his demons.  That is NOT who I am in Christ.  Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.

  •   Out with Satan’s lies, in with God’s Truth.
  •   Out with believing lies, in with believing Truth.

God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  God is good in His love and in His wrath.  He is ALL GOOD!

He is for me.  Who can be against me?  I am not a victim.  I do not need pity from myself or anyone else.  I can STOP complaining and feeling sorry for myself.  It is a total waste of time, breath and brain cells!

It matters not what my past experiences were.  They do not define me TODAY!  I belong to God.  He defines me.  He created me in His image.  He alone knows who I am and who I am to Him.  He makes all things new.  He restores, revives, renews, regenerates, rejuvenates (and invigorates — oh, God, can I so boldly ask for that — to be invigorated!?!)  You are Almighty God.  There is nothing you cannot do.  Nothing — NO THING — is too hard for You.  You make all things new.  I am an ‘all thing’ — make me new, too.

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days —
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Let them flow in ceaseless praise. [1]

Take my life.  Take all of me.  All of my body, soul, and spirit.  Take it all.  I lay all of me — every last little particle of every cell — at Your feet.  Let me be, Lord, a living sacrifice.  I belong wholly to You.  I am not my own.  I ask that You take me.  I am yours.  All of me, I give to You.

In total, reckless abandon, I consider my life Yours.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Let it be so.  Amen.

In the name of Jesus, I bind the enemy.  God, that You would keep him at bay.  I am in You, Jesus, and You are in me.  I cannot be touched by Satan.  He has no power over me.  He has no authority to touch any part of my life.  Apart from direct permission from You, Lord God, Satan cannot oppress me!  I belong to You and You have overcome!  You are Lord over all Heaven and earth.  All Creation belongs to You.  All is under Your feet.

Jesus is the vine and I am the branch.  I abide in Him and Him in me.  United with Christ!  What a glorious place to be.  Loved, protected, safe, cared for.  No one, no thing (nothing!) can separate me from Your love.  Nothing can separate me from You at all.  No thing.  Accepted in the Beloved.  I am accepted in Christ.  You chose me God, accepted me in Him, and the Spirit lives within me.  Praise God!

This is Eternity.  Right here.  Right now.  On the continuum of time — from where God created time when there was none — when I was chosen from the very beginning, and have been united in Christ since believing Him, today is the first day of all my Eternity.  Eternity in Christ.  This time is a gift.  This life in this given time in Eternity is a gift from God.  I have today.  I have Life in Christ this day, this hour, this moment.  He determines the number of my days within this time He created.  He made me to be a part of this particular point on His diving timeline.  For this generation he has purposed my life.  I am still here, living in these days where He placed me.  He is not finished with me yet.  My life is within Christ, eternally, in all Eternity.  God, keep this perspective clearly before me — that I was made for this time.  Made for YOU!  Made and chosen to be in Christ.  Let Your will be done.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold —
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine —
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart — it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love — my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself — and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Ever, only, all for Thee. [1]
[1] Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)


Always, ever, only, all for You.  Amen.

          The End… and, the Beginning…

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Do You Know Who You Are In Christ?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God)  (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ  (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3 :20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God ( 2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:2 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph.  3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13 )
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ ( Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col 1:14) I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
Who you are?

May the Lord in all His glory bless you this Christmas.

Source: Grace Notebook – A Ministry of Caring and the Cross
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Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

moss-covered-rock-wild-ivy-and-a-spider-webThe health benefits of an attitude of gratitude have been a headliner in the field of positive psychology research for at least a decade.  Being grateful or thankful, however, has it’s roots back as far as time.  From Genesis right on through the Bible, thankfulness is intertwined with so much of our Christian life — an indispensable virtue to our well-being.

The field of science was just a little slower at getting on board with the concept.  But when they did, they pulled out some very encouraging research results.  In general, people who practiced gratitude were happier, more energetic, built more stable relationships, had stronger immune systems, slept better, experienced more positive emotions, dealt better with adversity, and were more kind and compassionate.  That’s a big return on a relatively small investment.  That investment being a concerted, consistent effort of just noticing and appreciating good things.

Here’s some more encouraging news.  If you’re not a particularly grateful person, it turns out that gratefulness is a fairly easy character trait to cultivate.  And this is my favorite part: when we practice being thankful and grateful we actually develop those areas of the brain that generate positive feelings.  Who couldn’t use some of that!

So, what’s a simple way to practice gratitude?  Writing in a gratitude journal is one way to take note of the pleasant, good, enjoyable, beautiful, positive things we experience each day.  All you need is something to write on (by hand or electronically) and a few moments to dig into your memory bank for some things you are grateful for.  And this is important — choose things that are truly meaningful to you.  When we take this brief time out to notice small acts of kindness, appreciate the beauty of nature, savor a special moment with someone  — and are thankful — we become more likely to seek out the positives in life.

Try it for yourself.  For me, I like to journal so I always have some kind of journal handy.  I date the page and number it 1-5.  I try to write 5 things I’m grateful for.  I don’t always come up with 5 but it gives me a goal.  Think: quality over quantity.  I keep each item brief, just a few words that capture something that causes me to be grateful.  Consistency is important but every day isn’t necessary.  Once or twice a week works, too.

Here’s one of my days.   I’m grateful for:   1. Moss ivy growing on wet rocks   2. Clean sheets on my bed   3. God’s mercy   4. Ice water   5. My women’s Bible study group

As Robert Emmons, professor of psychology and a pioneer in gratitude research says, “It’s as if we need to give thanks…”  Yes, Dr. Emmons, that would be exactly how God planned it!



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The Fifty-Something Fifty

scale help!You remember the Freshman Fifteen, right?  The idea that the average college freshman gains about fifteen pounds during the first year away from home.  Some of us can attest to that.  But that’s nothing compared to the Fifty-Something Fifty.  If you’re somewhere in the vicinity of fifty years old, you may know what I’m talking about.  If you’re not yet in that vicinity, well, hold on to your big girl panties — it’s not called The Change for nothing.  It’s — The Change — because everything you knew about managing your weight changes!

Let’s go back a couple years.  I’m officially in my fifties, thinking, this isn’t so bad.  I’m cruising along, managing to maintain a reasonable weight.  And by ‘reasonable’ I mean crowding the borderline but not quite tumbling into that place on the Weight Chart right after Ideal Body Weight, called: Overweight.  Embracing my lot in life that ‘skinny’ never had been, nor ever would be, a description used of me.  I could live with that.

Then, bam!  About eight months ago, I began gaining weight at nearly a pound a week.  Much of it started to show up around my middle-section.  I’ve always had a fairly small waist and it was disappearing at an alarming rate.  Suddenly, out of the blue it seemed, I was hungry, really hungry, like, all the time.  I like desserts occasionally, but I was craving sweets constantly.  I ate healthy foods most of the time.  I just wanted more most of the time, too.  The exercise hadn’t changed.  I had even stepped it up a notch by adding more minutes when I walked.  But even as I climbed hills, the weight climbed up as well.  What had once worked to stop a gain was not working now.  My hourglass figure was gradually but unmistakably moving into a time zone of its own.  What in the world just happened!

There had to be a logical explanation.

So, I did the logical thing.  I panicked!  Do I have a tumor?  Am I pregnant?  Did I swallow a watermelon – whole?  No, wait, I don’t even like watermelon!

Here I was, dodging the bullet all this time only to find myself fitting (rather snuggly, I’m afraid) right square in the middle of the category I deplore: Overweight.  And I had even lost about fifteen pounds just a few years ago.  I mean, I posted about it.  Boy, do I feel sheepish.

As a wife and mother to two teenagers, I had too many urgent demands to take the time to figure this out early on.  I really believed it was just a temporary adjustment to being a fifty-something, pre-menopausal insomniac with major depressive disorder.  I honestly thought, after a couple of months of gaining that I would self-adjust and the gaining would just stop.

As it turns out, Denial is not my friend.  After eight months I’ve concluded this is not a temporary adjustment.  This is a real problem and it has reached a crisis point.  I’ve been evaluating and researching and thinking myself to death.  Something has most certainly changed.

I’m sure my ignorance is surfacing.  Somehow, I’ve been oblivious to see this phenomenon happen in other ‘older’ women.  Until now.  Sometimes, you just don’t put two and two together.  Unfortunately, in my case, by the time I put two and two together, it equalled thirty.  Thirty pounds!  In eight stinking months!

So, I did the most scientific thing I could think of.  I Googled it.  Were other women dealing with something similar?  Turns out there are lots and lots of women with stories like mine.  Some experiencing this at forty years of age.  Some with one hundred pounds gained in three months.  What I found was that many women are in the same boat.  And, this boat is big, and I mean ‘big’, as in lots and lots of us in it together.  Knowing I am in this with other women has brought some comfort, not much, but some.  Enough comfort to continue searching for insight and answers.

As I continue to gather more scientific information, here are my very non-scientific deductions:  1. I am not a freak of nature.  I am experiencing normal middle aged womanhood things. 2. I may not like some of the things aging does to my body but there’s only one alternative to getting older…and it’s much less desirable.  3. At this point in my life the amount of time and effort I put into something has got to be worth it.  Exercise, eating well and caring about my health are still priorities.  Fanatical, obsessiveness with weight, body size, and youthful appearances are not.

And, perhaps, one final overriding thought:  When I die and stand before the Lord, what’s going to matter is how I lived, not how I dieted.  That said, I’m not giving up or giving in.  I’m moving forward, searching for relevant, real-life advice and sensible solutions.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

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