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Jesus Loves the Gays, This I Know

Last week, I took some time away from Facebook and Twitter. I needed to clear my head and work on some things inside. But then this happened.

So much for Internet fasting and soul-searching during Holy Week. The emails and private messages began pouring in almost immediately. I didn’t expect my one little link and profile picture to capture so much attention in the flood of angry posts that day. I was wrong.

Once again, I didn’t know what to say. I don’t want to argue these things. At several points I asked myself what compels me to make such public statements. Why do I do this to myself?

All day, my phone buzzed and my heart ached as I watched the people of God debating laws and creating slippery slopes and toppling straw men and prophesying dire consequences for this thing or that thing. I also ached as I received private messages from my gay friends. I wanted to cry and rage at how the church can be so unsafe. Jesus-followers should be the safest people on earth, yet they are the ones I hide from the most. They are ones with whom I’m most afraid to be me.

Read the rest at A Deeper Story.

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Stress Weight Gain and Loss and Finally Getting Healthy ~ Life:Unmasked

Joy and little girl on mother's day

It’s tough for me to look at this photo.

I’m telling a very personal story today for this month’s Life:Unmasked link-up: about my weight. (If you are like me and forgot, I decided to change things up and only host this link-up once a month on a Saturday. I forgot to do it last month and realized today that this is the last Saturday in February! So, here it is.)

Four years ago, my youngest was a year old, my oldest had passed away, and I was working part time at a place full of memories of Elli. I only took a month off after Elli died, because my job was the one thing in my life that hadn’t turned upside down after she was gone. Plus we really needed the extra money I was making at the time. For many reasons, my baby weight never came off. I was at my heaviest and most unhealthy.

us on a rare date nightFast forward two years. In 2011, something happened that flipped the way my body handled stress on its head. The church we had been at closed its doors, but the church we were attending didn’t take kindly to my blog. My grief had deteriorated into full-on depression which I was just beginning to treat with medication. Our remaining kids were getting older and more complicated, as was my job (which was a good thing – it meant we were successful). Everything needed more time and mind space than I had, and I was stretched paper thin. I became so stressed out by my inability to meet expectations that I developed chronic stomach aches and digestive issues. Over the course of about six months I lost 20 pounds. It was nice to lose the weight and buy skinny jeans, don’t get me wrong, but that’s the wrong way to do it. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically sick, and I needed to take action before I made myself even more ill.

In April of 2011, I resigned from my job to become a freelance writer. This freed my mind and my schedule, allowing me to exercise regularly, read for fun, go to my kids’ events at school, write and blog more, and of course, take on freelance projects. I learned about a company that met my skepticism with research and began using their supplements to strengthen my immune system and heal my digestive tract. Steadily, my body and my mind grew healthier. I was so impressed with how these products helped all of us (especially my youngest, who has medication allergies), that I joined the company part-time (more about this here).

Shaklee has been working in the health and wellness arena for over 50 years, and they are highly respected by scientists and medical professionals for the quality and efficacy of their products. NASA recruited them to develop a product to keep astronauts hydrated and fueled in space, MIT recruited them to develop products for their human-powered-flight project, and many Olympic and professional-level athletes swear by their sports drinks. They are one of the only supplement companies to submit their products to independent third-party testing, and have over 100 clinical studies showing how well their products work.

I exercise regularly (but not obsessively). I don’t over-eat, not often, anyway. However, over the past year, my weight has begun to creep back up. In January I finally admitted to myself that I had passed the not-to-exceed number I’ve set for myself by more than five pounds. It was time to change what I was doing.

Joy at Body PumpLast month, my supplement company launched a new healthy-diet program. Their Shaklee 180 Turnaround program is the product of extensive research into how the body gains and loses fat and muscle. They’ve discovered that extremely-low-calorie (and especially low-protein) diets actually cause people to gain more fat and become more unhealthy in the long run because all the weight they lose is water and muscle mass. Losing muscle slows your metabolism, so as soon as you return to your regular eating habits, your body packs the pounds back on… as fat. This is why the average American tries four diets a year and loses and gains the same pounds over and over. I lost all that weight two years ago too fast and the wrong way, and that’s why it has come back on.

Scott and I ordered the 180 Turnaround kit about six weeks ago. He has lost 8 pounds, and I’ve lost 4 pounds.

37 will be the best year yetThat may not sound like much, but this is a really big deal for me. I’ve been able to keep up my workouts, and even cheat a little. As I mentioned, last week was my birthday, so I cheated a little. A girl has to enjoy some birthday cake, ribeye steak, and Indian take-out! In spite of that, I still lost 4 pounds using the meal-replacement shakes and bars and escalating my workouts. See, that’s how I know I’m not losing muscle: I’m continuing to make progress, adding distance and speed to my runs, adding weights and reps to my resistance training, and adding flexibility to my stretches. I feel good, and my body recovers so much faster from workout than it used to.

Here’s a little teaser about the program:

Interested? Skeptical like me? Need more information? I thought you might say that. I’m hosting two separate online discussions this week, one on Wednesday evening at 7pm eastern and one on Saturday afternoon at 1pm eastern. You can learn more about the plan, the research behind it, and how you can get your Turnaround kit for free. I’ve only got 9 spaces in each, so slots are first come, first served. Email me to RSVP at joy at joyinthisjourney dot com. (If you can’t make it to either of these, contact me and I will find a way to get you the information.)

What’s your experience with weight gain and loss and stress?

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Life: unmasked buttonHave you taken your mask down and written about the real, the messy, the stuff we’d rather pretend isn’t going on? This is your link-up! We gather once a month to encourage being real in both online and in-person interactions by sharing posts and commenting on others’ posts. Add the direct link to your post in the list below, and then please visit at least two others and leave a comment to let them know you stopped by.



If Not “Sola Virginity,” What Do We Teach? Part 1 of 2

Many articles in the past few weeks have critiqued the damaging messages about sex and marriage passed on by conservative churches. They emphasize virginity alone so heavily it  a sixth “Sola” – Sola Virginibus or “by virginity alone.” [The Protestant Reformation rallied around what we call the “five solas:" “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).]

couple wearing sunglasses and hugging

Those of us who reject Sola Virginity are asking the million-dollar question: how do we teach what we believe to be God’s ideal for sex without passing along the shame, false expectations (the comments here include numerous examples of the way unmet expectations can hurt or embitter a person), and empty promises of the so-called “purity culture?”

As I’ve thought and read and talked and listened, I’ve concluded that in all the “Just Say No (to Sex)” and “True Love Waits” messaging about virginity, we’ve skipped over two important foundational steps: 1) define healthy human sexuality, and 2) define intimacy in marriage (spoiler alert: it’s more than sex). They are closely connected, but I’m going to start with the second one.

What is intimacy? [Read more...]