Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pinterest-worthy House Tour

So, about 2.5 months ago I posted on Facebook that I love hosting college girls at our house because they love how "Pinterest-worthy" our house is. Yes, it is definitely pin-spired, which makes it especially pinteresting. My friends immediately commented that they wanted pictures. ...and I have never provided them.

Last week, we hosted our Core Group from Marriage Encounter. With the house all cleaned up, I decided I should take some pictures. I am not showing you the entire house...I've got to keep some suspense up.

Here is our "formal" living room.

Next up - the guest room. (and sorry about the angle)

Master bedroom!
Again - sorry about the angle. My dad "built" this for us when they were visiting in May. It's a pallet, sprayed with a clear coat, and hooks added.

Eventually that "Love" quilt will be hanging on the left side of the bed/headboard. 
This was the mantle at Easter.

...and finally the Pool:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Transformation Tuesday: Weight Loss Journey

I have been on and off diets for 23 years – and I’m only 34. I’ve tried Weight Watchers, Herbalife, South Beach, LA Weight Loss – modifications of all…with success. But, as you can see, fall into the same cycle of loss and gain. A few years ago, I lost about 20 pounds, and maintained it pretty well for about 2.5 years – and then, I got married. J

In 3 years of marriage, I gained about 25 pounds.  In the past year, I had so little energy when I would get home at night; I was exhausted from sitting all day. I felt hopeless. I felt like I was a special case – exempt from being able to lose weight. It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried in those 3 years! One of my co-workers often said, “Jessica, you eat healthier than I do!” [which only made it more frustrating] I tried working out 2-3 times/week…but, still, the weight piled on.

Frustrated, I poured out my heart to my mom when they were visiting in mid-May. She suggested the program that she & my dad had great success with a couple of years ago. I was skeptical – after all, my body wouldn’t lose weight! But, I was also willing to check it out because something had to change – and fast!

On June 9, I started the program. My goal is to lose 40 pounds. After 5 weeks on program, I have lost 17 pounds and 19 inches – which means I am over 40% of the way there! [typical weight loss is 2-5 pounds/week] Most surprising, my energy has rebounded. I have energy consistently throughout the day and at night. One of the best aspects of this program is that I work with a personal health coach to encourage and support me along the journey - and beyond.
Results vary. Clients can expect to lose 2-5 lbs the first 2 weeks, and 1-2 lbs each week thereafter.
After two weeks on program, I decided that I want to help others achieve optimum health and freedom from the scale.  So, I am now a health coach! (and Dan is my first client – and yes, he entered willingly). [Dan has lost 11 pounds in 4 weeks.] I realize that weight loss is the first step – not the only step. I am really excited for what the future holds for our family as we work daily to be healthy and thrive, not just survive.

If you are interested in hearing more, please comment below and leave your email address so that I can contact you. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Parable of the Sower - Like I'd Never Heard It Before

The Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:1-23, is one of those parables I've heard so many times that I think I know what it means. Yesterday at Mass, Fr. Jacek Buda opened my eyes to a new understanding of this parable, in one of those 'light bulb moments' that shed so much light, you wonder at the new images before your eyes.

First, the parable:
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

It's widely understood that the soil is us. Father Jacek asked us, "What is the seed?" Then, he described a time when he and several other Dominican preachers were discussing this passage, and attempting to answer this very question.

My answer: Faith.

Their answers:; good;

The key, he said, was the mysteries of the Kingdom; what is the mystery of the Kingdom?
God's Love. [Now as I read Jesus' explanation to his disciples, I see "the word." Who is the Word? Jesus. ...and what does He represent? God's Love.] How do we know it's God's Love: because this parable describes a response to an action. Any action of love requisites a response.

The casting of the seed - describes the nature of God's Love. "A sower went out to sow;" God went out to love, and He cast His love everywhere, for all people - but people reacted differently. How did the people react to the love?
1) The path: those who take the love for granted - and thus, throw it away
2) The rocky soil: those who respond with great enthusiasm, but never were transformed, and thus never made a commitment (roots)
3) The thorns: those who respond out of duty - and thus, miss out on the joy
4) The fertile soil: those who respond in love - who give their whole self as a response to the gift of love. For that is what love is: a response by giving your total self to the other.

Love leads to life.  This is the crux of Catholic teaching; thus, it makes sense that the seed is love - and that an act of love would bear fruit - life.

In our Marriage Encounter Core meeting, Father Charlie presented us with another application:
Love listens. 

I could ask the question, "How do you love?" And we might say, "Oh, pretty good. Not perfect, but not that bad." Because "love" is very subjective (in 301, it's a "Level 4" word). But, how do we listen? How do we respond to others?

This is far easier to answer...and far more convicting. Am I listening for the problem? Am I listening to respond? Am I listening to defend? ...what would it look like to listen out of love? What would it look like to listen with love? Am I listening to my beloved?

Those who have ears, let them hear.

NOW: go read my friend's post and see if you can catch the connection between these 2 topics. Only love can grow exponentially and reap a harvest of 30-60-100 times greater than what was planted.

Mind. BLOWN.