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Zumba

28 Feb

A heart at peace gives life to the body…
Proverbs 14:30

Sigh!  Hold on a minute – let me catch my breath!  Sigh!

Ok …Wow!!  An hour of non-stop, energy exerting, muscle moving, body bouncing, serious sweating activity!  Included in our membership at Gold’s Gym is the privilege of participating in any of the classes provided by the facility.  Tuesday night at 6:30 is Zumba, and tonight was my third week to join in the fun.  I say fun loosely, for this fun is a lot of work, but when that hour is up, although I am totally exhausted and spent, I really feel like I have accomplished something monumental.

Zumba is a Latin inspired fitness program involving dance and aerobic moves.  Dance has never been in my vocabulary, let alone in my repertoire of activity, so I rather feel like I have multiple feet and they all have lead in them.  But, in my defense, I at least keep moving in the general direction that all the others are going … attempting to shake, kick, pump, and stretch at all the right times.

According to Google, “Zumba exercises include music with fast and slow rhythms, as well as resistance training.  The choreography incorporates cumbia, hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, tango, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.  Squats and lunges are also included.”  With my only dance experience consisting of some form of a slow dance at our daughter’s wedding 6 years ago, those various names of dances and moves are quite overwhelming.  I have to admit, that once in the classroom and surrounded by all the other younger women, I smile and do my best to not trip over my own feet … or worse, theirs!!

Although I’m new to this fun craze of exercising, Zumba is no stranger to our family!   Our daughter, Kim, was persistent and tenacious as she trudged through the pounds of pregnancy and lost them all and more ~ due to her faithfulness to better eating habits, her routines at the gym, and Zumba.  With the upcoming birth of our granddaughter, she is looking forward to summer and returning to the gym to lose those extra pounds gained in preparation for Baby Lillieanne.  Since we both belong to Gold’s Gym, maybe we’ll be able to attend some Zumba classes together – leaving the two grandkids with their Daddy and Papaw.

With the onset of aging and aching joints, I find that having a healthy and active lifestyle with a routine of exercise is necessary for me to be able to function and not feel the maturing process so much.  I also have learned the secret to having Inner Strength that flows out into all areas of my life.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

My inner strength is Jesus.
My contentment.
His heart.
His Word.
His Strength.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and
nourishment to your bones.
Proverb 3:5-8

My trust.
My heart.
His Understanding.
My health.
My body.
My nourishment.
My bones.

Not only in Zumba do I need to pay attention to the instructions, to keep my eyes straight ahead,  follow the one who is leading, and to not swerve to the right or to the left, but in my every day world.

My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and
take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverb 4:20-27

I need to do my best to keep my body healthy ~ for I was bought with a price and am the Temple where God abides …

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

Whether you have a gym membership, participate in Zumba, or walk 3 miles a week to help stay fit … or none of these  ~   They do not even compare to the importance of staying fit spiritually.  Won’t you join me …

… in view of God’s mercy, to offer OUR bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God–this is OUR spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of OUR minds.
Then WE will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

 

Until next time,
Debbie

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

 

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Food in Philly

22 Feb

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8
 

Tucked away in the middle of February, close to Valentine’s Day, was a weekend available to go do something fun and unique.  The city of Philadelphia, Google maps on my iphone, delicious food, and pleasant weather all contributed in gifting us with a great time.  We were in no rush, no hurry, and the only real agenda we had was to eat. And we did.

One of our favorite TV shows is “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri on the Food Network Channel.   As he pulls up in his bright red convertible in front of another not-so-attractive place to eat, we enjoy watching as Guy visits the kitchen and finds out the secrets to the success of the establishment.  A combination of fresh spices, unexpected ingredients, and personalized culinary methods usually leave our mouths gaping open and our taste buds longing to sample a bite or two.  Realizing that there are several of these diners, drive-ins and dives within a few hours from our home, we began to dream of the various possibilities of actually getting to taste some of those menu items.  With the help of the internet, our itinerary evolved as we made our way toward the City of Brotherly Love.

Memphis Taproom

Over the course of the next 30 hours, we visited 2 corner dives, 1 diner, and 1 pub, of which was our least favorite of the four places.  Fried kosher dill pickles and a delicious pulled pork sandwich, accessorized by garlic mayo, was our first shared meal (brunch) at the Memphis Taproom.  Then a scrumptious flatbread appetizer at Silk City Diner before dinner, to later return back to Memphis Taproom for a Smoked Coconut Club, which was featured on their evening menu, with a side of onion rings for our final entrée of the day.  We saw a plate of these amazingly yummy looking onion rings on a table nearby, so we spontaneously asked to substitute the usual fries with this favorite of mine.   After thanking the Lord for our food, I scooped up a big handful of thinly sliced, crunchy rings and stuffed them in my mouth – and in the next breath asked the Lord to please extinguish the fire inside.  When our waitress came by to refill our water glasses, I mentioned the extreme spiciness of the onions and she smiled as she explained that this is why they call them Suicide Rings.  Lesson learned – ALWAYS check the menu and read the fine print.

Honey Cristo

There’s something to be said for having to wait in line in order to be seated  – which we did for breakfast the following morning.  We were fascinated as we were offered a couple stools at the front counter of this bright and cheery corner dive called Honey’s Sit and Eat.   Bacon, coffee, the sweet scent of pancakes, french toast, and syrup,  — all those comfy aromas filled the air as we placed our orders to start off another day of adventure.  Once again, we were not at all disappointed in the recommendation of this local fare, apparently agreeing with the continuing arrival of guests, that the food was delicious.

Here’s an interesting twist to my story ~ Tim and I joined Gold’s Gym a couple weeks ago.  Since Tim’s hospitalization in November and the insertion of another stent, he decided that after the holidays he needed to begin a healthy routine of exercise and better diet.  Having lost over 10 pounds myself in the past year, due to a change in eating habits and consistent exercise, I was in full support and agreed to meet him most evenings on his way home from work so we could exercise together.  After 10 days of membership and a great start toward his goal, yes … we went to Philly to eat!  We shared most everything we ordered, drank only water (except morning coffee and juice) and we walked.  Between our late breakfast and our late lunch on Sunday, we walked through the historic district of the city, catching sites of old monuments, buildings, and streets that help document our country’s freedoms and history.  With the help of my cell phone’s mapping software, we were able to track our course of tourism as it also calculated the miles of exercise…a total of 5 miles to be exact.  Needless to say, the calories burned paved the way to our last stop on our ‘Triple D’ tour … Good Dog Bar.  The items ordered here were not anything to brag about, so we were glad we had the added bonus of redeeming a Restaurant.com gift certificate to offset the cost of the meal.

Work, gym, household chores, and eating at home have all resumed again.  That’s ok … it’s all called life.  Just as the chef will crush fresh spices and herbs to obtain the fullest and richest flavors available, and then mix with specific ingredients to create a delectable and unique tasting dish ~ this is all done in order to attract those who have such a wide array of choices of places to go eat, satisfying the pallet of those who visit their establishment. The great Culinary Expert of our lives does the same.  He takes the various facets of our existence, separating and crushing where necessary, sifting, stirring, and combining at just the right moments ~ all aspects of the process playing a huge role in the Purpose of God’s great plan for our lives.  Won’t you join me in allowing Him to prepare us from scratch, so we will be attractive and of good flavor … bringing glory and honor to Him with our lives?

Until next time,
Debbie

Prepare it with oil on a griddle;
bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering
broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
Leviticus 6:21

For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
   2 Corinthians 2:15

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

Diet Update

3 Jun

 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God
the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

I wish I could invite you all to come for a visit. We would sit out here on my back screened-in porch and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season while catching up on each other’s lives. I would make some fresh lemonade or peach iced tea and bring out some yummy snacks to munch on.  Healthy snacks, that is …

It has been nearly 50 days now since I began my Flat Belly Diet, and the results continue to make noticeable changes. The suggested length is a 32 day plan, but that day came and went without notice. This past holiday weekend allowed me some extra moments first thing in the morning, so I measured, weighed, and jotted down my findings. On day 41, the official stats revealed the loss of 7 pounds and 7 ½ inches!! Now unfortunately, all of those 7 ½ inches did not come from my belly … in fact, a very small percentage of them melted from my middle. But I’m happy with the results at this stage of my diet. My summer wardrobe fits better, I have more energy and motivation to match the length of daylight hours, and I know my body is healthier with the improved routine of eating.

Along with counting calories, I make sure that I eat a serving of a MUFA (monounsaturated fat) with each meal, and I exercise faithfully. Since moving to PA and becoming a Direct TV customer, we get Fit TV, where I have found my all-time favorite work-out guru, Gilad Janklowicz. 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week with Gilad in Hawaii has complimented my diet and has helped reduce weight and inches. I drink a lot of water, order very carefully when eating out, and for the most part, have not cheated extensively by sneaking potato chips, ice cream, or french fries.

Wouldn’t it be fun if you could come and visit?   I would prepare and serve you food that would be tasty, enjoyable to eat, and most satisfying. We would need to stop at a road side stand in Lancaster Amish country and pick up some fresh veggies and fruit … and then buy some antioxidant laden dark chocolate following our Hershey Chocolate World tour. On another day and in the other direction, we would head an hour south to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where we would enjoy a heart healthy meal of seafood. We would still keep it healthy in the midst of our fun time together!

So, when are you coming?

Until next time,
Debbie

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink.
Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face,
so that our joy may be complete.

II John 1:12

Snow

19 Jan

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude
in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17

 

The white fluffy stuff has quite the romantic and cozy deceptive charm about it. A bowl of popcorn, mugs of hot chocolate, a favorite person, and a roaring fire in the fireplace…all the while the landscape outside is being transformed from a dreary and bleak site into a white winter wonderland. Along with the glistening beauty and the snowy glow comes the hush…the hush of freshly fallen snow.

The above description is what I call the billboard version of snow or the glossy magazine cover version that truly doesn’t depict reality. Oh, not to be mislead … to a degree it is all true ~ insert the scenario of your choice and add in the bright white hush. But there’s far more to the story of snow than the Hallmark movies would like for us to believe.

South central PA, where we now call home, has been on the outside edge of some of the largest snowstorms of the season for the east coast. Some of our neighbors just an hour or so away have had to dig themselves out of deep accumulations and deal with extreme conditions due to the blizzards that have come their way. Our families and friends we have most recently left behind in Indiana continue to be harassed nearly every 4 or 5 days with a new batch of precipitation, whether it be snow, ice, or rain. Tim is certainly counting his blessings this winter since someone else has the privilege and challenge of constantly plowing the roads and keeping the sidewalks clear of snow at Higher Ground. And once again, the immediate weather forecast is for another bout of snow to soon hit those we love … and it is still January.

Cole sledding in the snow

Our first round of snow at our house in PA took place while we were in Indiana for Christmas. Upon our return, the roads were dry, our driveway was mostly all clear, and the grass was already poking through the melting mess. Then last week, we were gifted with an overnight blanket of the fluff that measured right at 4” on our back deck. The highlight was a few days later when our 22 month-old grandson and his dog brought their parents up for an evening of playing in the snow. Since our house is built into the side of a hill, the side yard was a perfect spot for a little boy to enjoy his first and many more fun times in his sled. What fun we all had in the snow as we looked at it not only through the eyes of a toddler, but through the protective and loving eyes of his parents and the heart-warming eyes of his grandparents.

Two nights ago, more snow fell, along with a crunchy coating of ice. Tim was prepared and parked his work truck at the top of our driveway/hill, making for a guaranteed exit the following morning for work. For me, I was quite proud of myself for getting out our beast of a snow blower and actually getting it to start on the first try. As it crawled along the driveway, it quickly became bogged down with the heaviness of the ice and refused to cooperate with me to clear the way. Reluctantly, I took it back to the garage and instead grabbed the shovel. Grrr! As the morning wore off into early afternoon, I slowly made progress, one shovel of heavy snow/ice at a time. I was reminded of the hours I use to spend at Higher Ground behind a vacuum cleaner or cleaning the many windows of the dining hall … and how I passed the drudgery of that time away by praying. I immediately began to bombard Heaven for the many people in my life who I love … who need Jesus in one way or another. Before I knew it, the driveway was cleared, I had my exercise, and my heart had reached out and touched the portals of Heaven on behalf of many of you.

I know that snow is far more than a picture on a Christmas card, but I can’t help but live my life in such a way that in all things, I give thanks.

Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Remember when we were little kids and how exciting it was to sit beside the radio to listen in hopes to hear our school named on that long list of those that were cancelled for the day? How fun was it to bundle up in multi-layers of clothing and snow suits to the point where we could barely move … and head for ‘dead man’s hill’ (that’s what it was called in the woods near our house) and to spend hours sledding, making snow people, and having snowball fights?

Won’t you join me today and throughout the remainder of this winter, to give thanks in all circumstances ~ for the memories, for the fun times with today’s little people, and for unexpected opportunities to spend time in prayer for others. Spring is coming … but let’s make the most of what is before us today.

Until next time,
Debbie

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
Isaiah 1:18

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11

How old IS Denise Austin?

26 Feb

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength. 
Mark 12:31

 

I always know when it’s time.  When I have to suck my belly in a little harder and wiggle a bit more than usual to get my jeans buttoned … it’s time.   But hey!  It IS February.  There was the end of the year feasting that took place … from Thanksgiving, through Christmas and into the New Year.  Not to mention the giant snack day soon after … Super Bowl Sunday!  Yes it’s time.

I invited a friend to go along … someone to laugh with while I was perusing the shelf of work-out videos at the local library.  Yes, she laughed when she meandered through the library looking for me and found me on the floor.  Can you believe that they actually have the work-out videos on the bottom shelf?  After I browsed through the titles and was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t find Minna, I settled for Denise Austin.  With two DVDs in hand, my young friend and I picked out some movies for her family, and we headed home. 

After donning the proper attire, I slipped the DVD into the player.  There she is!  Denise and I go way back.  I have traveled the world with her ~ Japan, Paris, Hawaii, Bahamas, Disney, … all in the comfort of my living room as she surrounded herself with the beauty of her current vacation spot and film crew.  Now, several years later, we are together again.  She’s in a studio with some friends and I’m in my living room with the coffee table pushed out of the way.  I chose the 12 minute session that promised a cardiovascular workout by kickboxing.  At the end of those long enduring minutes, I would have to say that something indeed got kicked.  My arms and legs were flailing about and I seriously could hardly breathe.  She’s over there talking a mile a minute, like always, the entire time we exercise … when does she take a breath?  I kept thinking that she has NO idea that her work-out partner that day was nearly 50 years old and was having a difficult time keeping up.  There she is all trim and energetic!  She was probably 35 years old when she made this DVD, and here I am heading for the half century mark in October!!   Huffing and puffing, and still bouncing in order to keep my rhythm, I went over to the DVD case to check out the details.  Made in 2008.  Oh my!!  Well how old IS Denise Austin, anyway?   As soon as I could catch my breath and stretch my burning muscles, I Googled my curious question.  Sigh!  She just celebrated her 53rd birthday on Feb 13th.  So, in ’08, Denise was 51 when she made this DVD.  Sheepishly, I hit the play button again and I actually noticed that there was a little sweat beaded up on her face and a bit of some pudge around her middle  … somehow that made me feel better!!

It is very important that we take care of our bodies and stay fit.  I can’t say that I am real consistent with doing so, but the thought is always nagging at me and I do eventually come around to working out, eating better, and drinking more water.  More important yet, is to stay spiritually fit.  It should be more than a habit, routine, or a nagging thought.  It should be our lifestyle. 

1 Timothy 4:7   Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be Godly. For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 

 Proverbs 3:1-7  My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.   Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones

 
Proverbs 4:20 – 27  My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.  Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Put away perversity from your mouth;  keep corrupt talk far from your lips.  Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

 
Philippians 3:13-14   Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I trust that you are getting the right amounts of exercise, rest, water, and food.  These are all important aspects to being healthy.  But please join me in the challenge to  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  (Mark 12:31)  We must run the ultimate race of all times … the one that takes us to the feet of Jesus.

Till next time…
Debbie