Monday, January 31, 2011

"Which is better, this or this?" "How about now?" Number 1?" "Number 2?"

I hate decisions. I want to scream: "Just give me some glasses. You decide."

But that wouldn't be good.

I've just returned from ordering my new glasses. The question and answer game is over. I feel better now.

Vision is so important. In more ways than one.

Most important is what we see with our "spiritual eyes."

We tend to move toward what we see in our mind. Your life will follow what you "see" or expect.

Many times what you expect is what you get.

We need to raise our "spiritual eyes." Don't go around looking down. Look up. Rise to a new level.

This could be the day you "see" your miracle.

                                             Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground,
absorbed with the things right in front of you.
Look up, and be alert to what is going on 
around Christ--that's where the action is.
See things from his perspective.
                                                                             Colossians 3:2  Message


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
                                                                                               James 1:17

Ever get a gift and forget to say "Thank you"?

What about all those gifts from above?

Worship is one of  the best ways to thank Him.

According to Scripture, the primary reason for the exodus from Egypt was precisely so that Israel might freely worship God. God commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh, "Israel is my first-born son..".Let my son go that he may worship me" ( Exodus 4:22-23)

The exodus was not simply about delivering the people from political slavery. In the end, it was about worship.

Attending the Sunday assembly is not the only way to worship. But it's a good way and an important way.

And let us not neglect our meeting together,
as some people do, but encourage and warn each other...
                                                                                                    Hebrews 10:25
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..."

Don't forget to say "Thanks."


Friday, January 28, 2011

Transformational Steps to Financial and Family Well-Being
By Gary Klaben

OVERVIEW: Against the backdrop of today's many political and fiscal system dysfunctions, author and financial advisor Gary Klaben declares that America's future is still exceptionally bright. Figuring out how to unlock the needs of today's individuals and families defines the challenge of achieving a better future. Done right, the next great wave of business innovations, wealth creation and family well-being can soon be unleashed. Changing the Conversation--taking note of today's anxieties in the workplace, in communities and in homes--argues that a new kind of conversation is urgently needed. People require a new and profound support system involving mutual trust, long-term relationships, interdependence, intimate knowledge and practical consolidation to reduce complexity and live simpler, happier lives. Changing the Conversation outlines the journey from dependency to mastery, from self-discovery to multigenerational financial and family realization. It is filled with insightful, even startling conversations about what really matters and how to think, prioritize and act.

AUTHOR: Gary Klaben is president of Coyle Asset Management, a financial consulting and investment advisory services company. He also heads Protinus, an intellectual property firm that helps financial advisors deliver deep support to their clients. A 1979 West Point graduate and former infantry officer, Gary received his Chartered Financial Consultant designation in 1989 and Master of Science in Financial Services in 1995.

MY REVIEW: This is a good book⏤a very good book. And yet as I start to write this review about it, I feel a little sad. Sad because I wonder how many people will buy it, sit down and read⏤all of it. I just don't know. Maybe we can't know this about any book. But I wonder about this one. I guess I have become pessimistic concerning the average family's real concern about their financial and family well-being. Oh, I don't mean that there isn't a lot of concern about these matters. It just seems that many do not care enough to try and do anything about it. But that's my concern. Let's talk about the book. As I said, this is a good book and it is a needed book. I agree with Douglas Andrew, New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. He said: "Finally! A roadmap for securing personal and family prosperity over time." And I also agree with Joanne Day, Trumpet, Inc. Workflow Efficiency Advisor who said, "A thoroughly enjoyable read. Brew a pot of coffee, pull up a spending time with a close friend who happens to be a renowned financial advisor." I have a financial advisor but he doesn't have the time to sit down and talk to me about the things Klaben talks about in this book. Yes, this is a good book and one that needs to be read. I hope that it will be.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Many young people go around with back packs on.

I've never owned one.

But most of my life I have had some kind of daily burden on my back.

Our time here on earth is so short it's a shame that we burden ourselves when we don't have to.

I've made up my mind to do my best (which I never quite accomplish) every single day and to seek the joy of the day.

Oh, I make many mistakes and lots of things disappoint me but I refuse to carry them around with me.

Teach us to make the most of our
so that we may grow in wisdom.
                                                                                            Psalm 90:12

I have decided to not let anything steal my joy. Life if just too short for that!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some of my friends on face book post nothing but pain.

One day it's their back. The next day it's their butt.

If there is ever a day they are content, they fail to post it.

Paul told Timothy that "...godliness with contentment is great gain."  1 Timothy 6:6

Paul also said, "I have learned how to be content in whatever state I am." Philippians 4:11

Attitude is so important!

Keep in mind that God will not allow a difficulty to come into your life, unless He has a purpose for it.

Know this: If you keep the right attitude God will turn that situation around in your favor.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All my adult life I have thought that I had to be in control.

It's only been in the last few years that I have come to realize that I am not in control--God is!

Oh, I have always proclaimed that God is in control. I have preached that loud and clear.

But on a practical level, I have lived like I was in control.

It's a miserable way to live.

And it's hard to admit that that's what you are doing--especially for a preacher.

But when you come to your senses and put God back on the throne--oh the joy and peace it brings to your soul.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend or your own understanding.
Seek his will in all your do, and he will direct your paths.
                                                                                                        Proverbs 3:5-6

Don't miss this, "...and he will direct your paths."

He has you exactly where He wants you.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

And we know that in all things God works for the good
of those who love him, who have been called according to his promise.
                                                                                                                      Romans 8:28

I have spent most of my Christian life with those who did not expect too much from God.

In their minds miracles were something for the Old and New Testaments---not today.

Oh occasionally they might allow that God might have intervened if it absolutely couldn't be explained in any other way.

I have always felt--why pray for healing, for the life of a loved one, for safe passage, for God's favor, if "whatever will be, will be"? Why? Why pray at all?

We can expect preferential treatment, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are.

It's not because we are better than anybody else. It is because our Father is the King of kings, and His glory and honor spill over onto us.

I call it grace. It's amazing!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

...make the most of every opportunity.   Colossians 4:5b

It all depends on how we look at our problems. A shoe salesman was sent to Africa into a territory previously unreached by this company. The eager salesman aggressively went about his work of trying to sell shoes. Three weeks later, however, he phoned the president and said, "Send me a plane ticket, I'm coming back. Didn't you realize that people over here don't wear shoes? This job is impossible."

The company sent him a return ticket but some months later hired a woman in his place. Three weeks later she phoned the company's president and said, "This place is amazing, the possibilities are endless. What an unbelievable opportunity! Do you realize that the people over here don't have shoes? This job is wonderful."

(From one on my favorite devotionals, Tim Hansel's Keep On Dancin'--Daily readings to Celebrate Life.)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Lord?

Why me Lord?

Why this?

Why now?

How could you let this happen?

"Far be it from you! Will not the judge of all the earth do right?" Genesis 18:25

Don't waste time and energy trying to figure out why things happen.

Trust God and know that there are some things that will have to go unanswered.


The fact that we don't understand what is happening doesn't mean that God doesn't understand it.

Trust Him and stop wasting time asking why.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I don't know who wrote this poem--but I like it:

Worry? Why worry? What can worry do?
It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you,
It gives you indigestion and sleepless hours at night
And fills with gloom the days, however fair and bright.

It puts a frown upon the face, and sharpness to the tone
We're unfit to live with others and unfit to live alone
Worry? Why worry? What can worry do?
It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you.

Pray? Why pray? What can praying do?
Praying really changes things, arranges life anew,
It's good for your digestion, gives peaceful sleep at night
And fills the grayest, gloomiest day--with rays of glowing light.

It puts a smile upon your face, the love note in your tone
Makes you fit to live with others, and fit to live alone.
Pray? Why pray? What can praying do?
It brings God down from heaven to live and work with you.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Today I am revisiting an excellent book, One Heartbeat Away--Your Journey Into Eternity by Mark Cahill.

My nephew, Mike Hodge wrote a guest review of this book for my blog, November 9, 2010. I encourage you to read that review here:

After reading Mike's review I was excited about reading the book but because of my obligation to read and review other books I have been prevented from reading it until now. 

I want you to read this excellent book because I want you to answer the question Mark Cahill asks.

You were born. You learned to walk and talk. You
went to kindergarten and then elementary school.
You learned to play sports. You went to junior high 
and high school. You were overly concerned about
your grade point average. You got your driver's license.
You went to college. You went to some concerts. You
got a job. You got married. You had some kids. You
cheered your favorite sports teams. You retired.

You died.

Now what?


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SUN STAND STILL⏤What Happens When You Dare To Ask God For The Impossible
By Steven Furtick

OVERVIEW: Steven Furtick says this about his book: "This book is not a Snuggie. The words on these pages will not go down like Ambien. I'm not writing to calm or coddle you. With God's help, I intend to incite riot in your mind. Trip your breakers and turn out the lights in your favorite hiding places of insecurity and fear. Then flip the switch back on so that God's truth can illuminate the divine destiny that may have been lying dormant inside you for years. In short, I'm out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose and potential."

AUTHOR: Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, named by Outreach magazine as one of the top ten fastest growing churches in the nation. He and his wife, Holly, have two young sons and make their home in the Charlotte area.

MY REVIEW: This book is extra special and very inspiring! I say this because I truly believe it and also to say loud and clear how much I disagree with two other reviewers. One of them titled his review: Decent But Not Extra Special and the other reviewer's title was: Not Very Inspiring. I couldn't believe they were reviewing the same book I had just read. Well, I guess this just goes to show that we all have different opinions. Of course, theirs is just as good as mine and maybe even better. But since this is my review I have to state my opinions. So again, I want to say that I found this book to be extra special and very inspiring. In reading this book I was challenged in ways that I haven't been in a long time. I feel strongly that many others will feel the same way and I want to recommend this book to everybody. Andy Stanley, senior pastor at North Point Community Church said, "Steven Furtick challenges all of us⏤from the missionary in the third world to the family in the suburbsto believe God for the impossible and begin living a life of faith beyond the ordinary." Craig Groeschel, senior pastor,; author of Chazown and The Christian Atheist wrote: "Pastor Steven Furtick is not normal. The incredible move of God at Elevation Church is not normal. Unfortunately, audacious faith is also not normal. I don't know anyone better positioned to challenge you to rise above mundane living and embrace faith-filled audacity than Steven Furtick. Sun Stand Still is a call for us to live with such audacious faith that people like Pastor Steven and churches like Elevation become the norm rather than the exception."

(I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.) 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PAUSE FOR POWER⏤A 365-Day Journey Through The Scriptures
By Warren W. Wiersbe

OVERVIEW: Pause For Power is a revised version of Wiersbe's original devotional and includes three additional books of the Bible as well as updated reflections and prayers. This year-long study includes thoughtful examination of the Old Testament books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah, as well as the New Testament books of Romans, l and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, l Peter, and 1 John. Wiersbe's trademark voice remains the same throughout the book, and he continues to encourage readers to make personal application of God's Word to every situation of their lives.

AUTHOR: Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, former pastor of The Moody Church and general director of Back to the Bible, has traveled widely as a Bible teacher and conference speaker. Often referred to as the Pastor's Pastor, Wiersbe has offered great encouragement to those with whom he hs shared ministry. he has preached and taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Central and South America, and Europe. His published work includes the popular BE series of commentaries on every book of the Bible which has sold more than four million copies. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

MY REVIEW: This devotional book will help you discover spiritual insights through a simple yet informative approach to God's Word. I like the fact that Dr. Wiersbe's unique style while not overly academic it is theologically sound. He explains the deep truths of Scripture in a way that everyone can understand. I have been reading this splendid devotional every day since January 1. I just finished reading his thoughts for day 11 and it is excellent. The question he left for his readers to ponder is: "When were some times you could have avoided a lot  of trouble if you had obeyed God in the first place?" That's a good question for all of us to ponder. It is not too late to get started on this year long devotional and study guide of God's Word.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Is it really true that what goes up must come down?

I have always just accepted it as true without thinking about it.

This morning--I'm not so sure.

Regardless. Our Christmas decorations inside the house our coming "down" today.

I'm really in a questioning mood this morning. Are they really coming down. It seems like some of them are not coming down, but off.

Regardless. We are taking the decorations off the tree and taking it down and out. We are packing it away for another year.

We have been married 52 years and here it is January 10---the longest time after Christmas we have ever left our tree up.

I hope it's true that what goes on will come off--fat that is.

After we put the tree away we are heading for the gym.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Pepperdine University at Malibu, California, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. We were leaving our daughter there. Her brother would follow in two years. She, along with two other girls from our home congregation were enrolling there. One of them was going to be her roommate. She was happy to be there. We were happy for her.

I had the first panic attack of my life that night after we left them there. We were with our dearest friends who were also leaving a daughter there. Our friends had taken us to Malibu in their camper and we spent the night in it up the California coast from Malibu. We were in great spirits. We were going to get up the next morning and go to church together which was one of our favorite things to do.

I woke up abruptly sometime during the night! I was sweating and filled with anxiety. I felt like I would scream if I didn't get out of that camper---which I did as quickly as I could. We had pulled onto the back parking lot of the church where we planned to attend in the morning. I walked around on the parking lot in the dark trying to "collect" myself." Since we were on the coast it was chilly outside but I was hot and bothered!

The Psalmist asked, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?" He asked the identical question three times in Psalms 42 and 43. I asked myself that question many times that dark night on the California coast.

I've learned over the years that periods when we are "disquieted" and "cast down" are part of the natural rhythm of life. The tides rise and they fall, the tides go out and they come back. We have moments of exhilaration and moments of depression. No person lives on a perfectly even keel. The stress of having my first born leave home for the first time was taking its toll on my nerves.

The Psalmist advises, "Hope thou in God." When Jesus received word that John the Baptist had been murdered  Matthew 14:23 says, "...he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone."

I prayed a lot that dark night and "came to my senses." In the morning I went to church and "the tide came in."


Friday, January 07, 2011

The mind of sinful man is death, but
the mind controlled by the Spirit is life
and peace.
Romans 8:6

 A POWERFUL STEP TOWARD LIVING at your full potential is to discover the power of your thoughts and words. Many people are not reaching their full potential because their thinking patterns are defective. You cannot think negative thoughts and expect to live a positive life. You can't think thoughts of failure and expect to succeed.

You've got to quit dwelling on the negative. Don't magnify your problems. Magnify your God. The bigger we make God, the smaller our problems become. Quit dwelling on what's wrong in you life, and start dwelling on what's right in your life. Learn to focus on your possibilities, on what you can do, on your potential. Then go out each day expecting good things. Friend, if you are going to live your best life now, you must learn how to control your thought life.

(From Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Begins Each Morning--Devotions to Start Every Day of the Year)


Thursday, January 06, 2011

We will reluctantly put it all out by the curb in front of the house.

Some of it will not be there long as profit seekers with pickups scour the neighborhood.

We are pleased to see them. Our stuff deserves another home instead of the garbage dump.

What is left can be safely identified as junk.

The big city truck will come by making lots of noise and scrape up what is left and dump into loudly into the truck.

Mixed emotions. Glad to have it out of the way. Sad to see it go.

In my mind I will be thinking: "You know, I'm probably going to need some of that stuff someday."

Oh well. Good-bye old stuff. HELLO NEW STUFF!

Is this country great, or what?


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

HOW TO BE PERFECT ⏤ One Church's Audacious Experiment In Living the Old Testament Book of Leviticus
By Daniel M. Harrell 

OVERVIEW: Longtime pastor Daniel Harrell spent years teaching the New Testament and telling the story of Jesus over and over again. Yet he couldn't shake the feeling that he needed to preach more of the Old Testament, too After all, Jesus was Jewish, and He preached the Old Testament exclusively, since it was the only testament at the time. So Harrell decided to preach the book of Leviticus. "For Jews, and thus for Jesus, Leviticus is the pivotal book of the Hebrew Bible." Harrell explains, "It's impossible to fully comprehend such key New Testament terms as sacrifice, atonement, or blood without some understanding of Leviticus. to obey Jesus is to obey Leviticus." Harrell wanted to figure out what following Leviticus looked like⏤not just the well-known command to love your neighbor, but the parts about animal sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, and skin diseases, too. Rather than approaching Leviticus by downplaying it, he decided to try to obey it instead⏤as Jesus did. Harrell recruited eighteen church members to join him in a commitment to spend thirty days living Levitically. Holiness was their ultimate goal, but so was experiencing the overwhelming need for God's grace.


Daniel M. Harrell is senior minister of Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota. For 23 years he served as a minister at Park Street Church in downtown Boston. He is the author of Nature's Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith as well as numerous articles that have appeared in Leadership Journal, Christianity Today, The Christian Century, and Regeneration Quarterly. He holds a PhD in developmental psychology from Boston College and has lectured at Fuller Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Gordon College, and Boston University.

MY REVIEW: How To Be Perfect is a fascinating book! At first glance I thought, "Oh yea, somebody's going to tell us how it can be done. And then I laughed. But I was intrigued and I wanted to find out what this silly preacher had to say. Daniel M. Harrell is a funny man⏤but he is not silly! Not by any means. I learned many things good things from this book and was challenged greatly. Harrell "knows his stuff" and he writes in an interesting way. If you are a student of the Word of God you will thoroughly enjoy this book. Will you agree with everything Harrell and his group says in the book? No! But you don't have to. I promise you that you will enjoy the approach they made to Leviticus and what they found out. I read through the book so I could give this review. Now I am going to go back and read it again, making notes and running references.

 ***Special thanks to Sarah Reck,Web Publicist, Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What, then shall we say in response
to this? If God is for us, who can be
against us? He who did not spare his
own Son, but gave him up for us all---
how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

GOD IS CONSTANTLY trying to plant new seeds in your heart. he's trying to fill you with so much hope and expectancy that the seed will grow and bring forth a tremendous harvest.

Never allow negative thinking to keep you from God's best. If you will get in agreement with God, this can be the greatest time of your life. With God on your side, you cannot possibly lose. He can make a way when it looks as though there is none. He can open doors that no one can shut He can cause you to be at the right place, at the right time. He can supernaturally turn your dreams into reality.

( From Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Begins Each Morning)


Monday, January 03, 2011

By Chantel Hobbs

MY REVIEW: Chantel Hobbs has a passion for people and it shines through when she communicates with them. When I first picked up her book I thought it was a book just for women. But it isn't. It is for everybody. I feel that I gained a lot from reading about her life, her struggles and her accomplishments. She has encouraged me to be the best I can be. When I started reading her book I was already going to the gym four days a week. But now when I go I feel like I have goals to reach and I am motivated. I recommend Chantel's book to everybody who loves food and wants to live well. I like Mike Huckabee's words, "Chantel Hobbs uses wit, wisdom, and poignant insights to open our eyes regarding our health and well-being. With helpful tips, exercises, recipes, and workout plans, Chantel has put together a perfect plan that anyone can follow. And she points out that allowing God to take control is the only way to live a life that will make everything else fall into place."

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Chantel Hobbs is a life coach, marathon runner, personal trainer, wife, and mother of four. Her amazing story of losing two hundred pounds and keeping the weight off has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Life Today with James Robison, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family Radio—and in People and First magazines. Hobbs hosts a weekly radio show and is the on-air fitness expert on the WAY-FM radio network. She is also a regular guest on the KLOVE radio network. Hobbs is a frequent speaker to women’s groups and makes personal appearances at fitness conventions. The developer of The One-Day Way Learning System and the author of four books, including Never Say Diet and The One-Day Way, Chantel lives with her family in south Florida.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307457842
ISBN-13: 978-0307457844


The Battle over Blue Jeans

People, Here Is My Deal!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved clothes and makeup. Even when I weighed close to 350 pounds, I experimented with trendy hairstyles while checking out the latest plus-size fashion catalogs.

When I was in elementary school, I would spend afternoons with my sister Christy, sitting on the floor of the closet in the decked-out pink bedroom we shared. This was a supersized closet where we would set up our Barbie dolls for fashion shows. Because I had blond hair and Christy was a brunette, it was only natural for me to pretend to be Barbie and her to be Skipper, Barbie’s little sister. At least that’s how I sold the idea to Christy. As we grew up and began to put our dolls away, I still enjoyed being prissy, often spending way too much time in front of a mirror.

Even as a young mother, I was a fashionista. I’ll never forget entering the hospital to have a scheduled cesarean to deliver my son Jake. I had spent the day before the delivery getting a pedicure and manicure and shopping for a matching nightgown set. Really, I did this! As I lay on the table in the operating room, the doctor arrived and started to chuckle. “Well, Chantel, I can see nothing about this is going to be a natural delivery.” All I could say was, “At least I left the false eyelashes at home.” I was only half kidding.

One reason I went overboard with my appearance was because I loved hearing friends and family comment on how together I looked. Even while having a baby, I wanted to look great. But today, in hindsight, I feel seriously sorry for the woman I used to be. She was always exhausted from trying to maintain her unreal image. Plus, I knew deep down that I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself. My weight problem wasn’t going to vanish underneath fancy clothing and attempts to camouflage my problem areas. I really did know that owning an all-black wardrobe wouldn’t keep my body issues a secret.

But back then I had convinced myself I needed to make a serious effort to look pretty from the neck up because I was too overweight for the rest of me to look decent. I rationalized that if I could highlight my best features, people would see my positive attributes and look past my greatest flaw: my obese body. At this point my life was one big head game.

I’ll never forget the weekend I went on a business trip with my husband, Keith, to Bermuda. This was a dream coming true for someone who spent most days watching Barney and folding laundry. But when we started to pack, panic set in. Bermuda is one huge beach, and I knew I’d embarrass my husband if I wore a swimsuit in front of his bosses and work friends. On the other hand, this was Bermuda! It was a free trip and a chance to escape the zoo I called home!

After we boarded the plane, I found my seat and immediately put a jacket over my waist. This was a trick I had learned from previous travel experiences, and it almost always worked. If I could hide where the seat belt was supposed to be, the flight attendant wouldn’t notice that mine was unbuckled. The truth is, I did this because I couldn’t connect the seat belt. I was too big around. This time, however, my system failed. As the attendant stopped by our row, she asked me to buckle my seat belt. As I struggled to latch it, she stood impatiently with one hand on her hip. I whispered that I was having trouble making it fit.

So being the sensitive, tall, and freakishly thin woman she was, she shouted to her co-worker, “Could you look in one of the overhead compartments for a seat-belt extension?”

I was mortified. I closed my eyes and tried to pretend the attendant was talking about someone else. A few moments later she handed me the hated seat-belt extension, and I fastened the thing as quickly as I could. I promise you, I could feel the pity of strangers as they witnessed my hame. But instead of shedding tears, I did what I had rehearsed in previous situations. I took a deep breath and grabbed Keith’s hand, squeezing it for dear life as the aircraft took off. My vacation is off to a great start, I told myself. I can’t wait to see what other embarrassing moments lie ahead.

Surprisingly, our Bermuda trip ended up being the trip of a lifetime. The island was beautiful, the water was the clearest blue I had ever seen, and I felt beautiful for the entire week. Strangely, it was another young mother, the wife of one of Keith’s co-workers, who was mostly responsible.

Each day I would get dolled up and make my entrance into the meeting room for the company’s group breakfast. This girl went out of her way to say something sincere and extraordinary about the way I looked, morning after morning. She would also ask me for fashion advice. By her looks, she didn’t need any, certainly none from me. Yet she still inquired and never in a condescending way.

Best of all, she never breathed the dreaded words “You have such a pretty face.” The trip to Bermuda taught me the intense power we all have when we speak to someone, especially to a person who is feeling weak and vulnerable. Just by saying something simple and positive, we can brighten someone’s outlook, even if it’s only for a few seconds.

For most of my life I had become accustomed to backhanded compliments. When it came to my weight and all my failed attempts to lose it, I had heard everything. I’d try yet another diet, and two weeks into it over and over I would hear from those around me, “Now keep up the good work.” And I would always think, Are you kidding? I’m trying here. Just tell me “good job,”

and don’t worry about whether I lose another dad-gum pound. I get that you are letting me know I have a long way to go!

Yet Another New Start

Coming home from Bermuda, where I felt sincere acceptance, I had real hope. I felt different. I was relaxed, revived, and encouraged. I decided that I was ready to give weight loss another shot. As I set out to lose weight for the eighty-sixth time in my life, I felt prepared. I bought the latest diet book from Sam’s Club and a twelve-pack of muffins. I rationalized the muffin purchase by telling myself I needed to have one last hurrah.

On Monday my plan was to go for it. I would try with everything in me not to let anything stand in my way. Of course, I didn’t see any need to crack open the new book I’d bought until the weekend was over! What would a few more days of indulgence hurt?

Then Monday arrived, and I made my grand entrance at the gym. I even went back three days in a row. The only problem was that by the end of the week I was hanging out more than working out. I’d been trying to get David, the juice bar owner, to tell me his recipe for the yummy chocolate–peanut butter protein shake I was ordering every day. The first clue it wasn’t all that

healthy should have been the chocolate syrup he poured in. But I told myself, if it’s made on gym property, how bad could it be?

By the time the week ended, I had followed the plan in my recently purchased book and had my cheat day. Not surprisingly, I quickly indulged in an entire cheat weekend. However, I managed to get back to the gym the following Monday. The plan I was on was doable, and even with halfhearted efforts, I was slowly losing weight.

After shedding about twenty pounds, I decided I needed some new clothes. This was kind of funny, especially since not one person had noticed that I had lost an ounce. As I said earlier, I’ve always loved fashion. But at this point, with my weight so high, I was stuck wearing mostly dresses and skirts. I just couldn’t face the prospect of trying to fit my behind into a pair of pants

at Lane Bryant. But now, since I was feeling pretty good about myself and getting results, I headed over to the Coral Square Mall. I was there to hunt down a pair of blue jeans. Even if I had to lie down to zip them and not breathe while I wore them, I was determined to come home with new jeans.

I picked up three pairs with plenty of stretch to take into the dressing room. Once the door was closed, though, no amount of sucking it in, squeezing hard, or holding my breath got the jeans up to my waist. I couldn’t make any of them fit. As I held the jeans up and looked in the mirror, I wondered how anyone could stand to look at me. I was a disgusting blob of pain and misery.

I had left home that day feeling good about my progress. I was finally losing some weight. But after a few minutes in a dressing room, I wanted to die. How had I let myself become this pathetic mess of a woman?

A few Cinnabons later I went home. Two weeks after my blue jean horror show, I found out I was expecting. A month into the pregnancy I miscarried due to a badly infected gallbladder, and I ended up having emergency surgery. I wondered if I would ever change my life or if I would die first. Death seemed like perhaps the only escape out of this prison.

About six months later I had an unforgettable encounter with God. I was alone in my car, driving home from a meeting. I had reached my lowest point ever, and I let God in. I had known Him for years, ever since I had been saved from an eternity separated from Him. As a little girl in Sunday school, I had asked Jesus into my heart to save me from my sins. What I needed now, as a desperate, hurting, damaged woman, was to be saved from myself. I was still trying to run my own life.

God had whispered my name through many embarrassing moments and hurtful situations; I just never answered. But that night, alone in my car, He finally got through to me. I experienced a supernatural intervention. And it compels me now to tell my friends, my clients, and my readers my Lazarus story.

An Incredible Second Chance

Remember the story of Lazarus in the Bible? When Jesus brought him back from the dead, and we’re talking dead as a doornail (he was four-days dead), I imagine all he wanted was to blow a trumpet and tell the world about his miracle. Today I feel a similar kind of zeal resulting from my own miracle. As I surrendered all the pain of my lifelong weight problem to God, my heart

began a major shift. God gave me a deep desire to go to work. For the first time, I took on the task of losing the weight with Him in charge. I was no longer alone as I had been in the past. By allowing God, who never breaks a promise, to give me the strength, self-control, and focus I needed, how could I fail?

Ten years later I am on the same course He set for my life that night. My life is still filled with unexpected moments, both tragedies and celebrations. But I have never looked back.

After going on to lose two hundred pounds, I designed my own fitness and weight-loss program and became a certified Spinning teacher, personal trainer, and marathon runner. I love feeling strong, being healthy, and knowing I’m not a slave to my former appetites. Often I run into people I haven’t seen in many years. They may have known me as the overweight girl with a

pretty face. And if I dare to attempt a reacquaintance, I am usually in for a good laugh.

I’ll never forget one woman from a church I attended years earlier. I ran into her at the grocery store and tried to convince her who I was. “You aren’t really Chantel from West Lauderdale Baptist,” she insisted. I tried to get her to believe it was me, just an improved version. I think she finally accepted the truth, but it took awhile.

I am proud of the woman I have worked to become. However, I am most thankful that God rescued me from a place where I had lost all hope. God’s care for me and His work in my life give me the strength to stay on course. Now, after writing four books and producing a learning system for weight loss and fitness, I can see that God continues to use me as a voice of real-life

experience. A big part of my message is this: let me help you stop sabotaging yourself and your life. I know, from hard experience, how to overcome self-defeat. Every day I get to hear the stories of people who were losing hope, as I was, and now are finding the life they had dreamed of. I receive e-mails from women who have heard me speak, read one of my books, or heard me on the radio and now are surrendering their failed attempts to God. They are learning the truth and power of surrender and then doing the hard work of changing their lives.

In my work of helping people reclaim their health, I never know what is coming next. Recently I got a call from my publicist. She was so excited she could hardly tell me the news. “While you are in New York later this week to do The Today Show and Fox and Friends, a major women’s magazine wants to set up a photo shoot.”

I screamed. I couldn’t help it. Not only would the exposure help sell my book, but doing a photo shoot in New York, as the author of fitness books, was an experience I never dreamed I’d have. When I weighed nearly 350 pounds, an opportunity like this never entered my mind.

I couldn’t wait, but I had to. It was still a few weeks away. As New Year’s came and went, I was more careful than ever about fitting in all my workouts and eating clean. (Clean eating is the best way for me to think about food that delivers maximum energy with a reasonable calorie content.) When the day arrived, a driver came to our New York hotel to take Keith and me to the shoot. In the previous week, I had given my measurements to a stylist. She informed me she would be shopping for the clothes I would wear for the photo shoot. To use a term from my Southern-rooted parents, I was in hog heaven! I used to be the woman who was embarrassed to tell anyone her sizes, and now I had someone else buying me clothes based on them! The great part was the freedom in sharing what size I was. For the first time, I felt no shame.

When we arrived at the studio, I noticed that the loft where the photographer had scheduled the shoot was trendy and chic. It had sky-high ceilings complete with lots of lights and screened umbrellas to ensure perfect lighting. Taking up an entire wall was a buffet of food the magazine had catered for the event, my event! All of it was healthy fare with me in mind.

As I entered a dressing room, fun music filled the air. A makeup artist and hairstylist began their magic. I listened while they talked about their past work. One had done Heidi Klum’s makeup not long before, and the other spoke of doing the makeup for big names on a major movie set. I was a little overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. I felt like I was back to playing Barbie dolls with my sister.

After hair and makeup were underway, the stylist had me try on all the clothes she had bought. We settled on a great pair of designer jeans with a sleek white sweater and a trendy hot pink top. I put on the heels she had purchased—a perfect fit—and some fabulous jewelry. Then I was whisked away to the main part of the studio. In that moment I felt like a million bucks.

It was then the stylist asked me what I believed to be an insane question: “Where are your old blue jeans?” At first I couldn’t believe I had heard her right, but I knew what she was getting at. She said the creative director wanted me to hold up a supersized pair of pants in the photo to show the dramatic contrast represented by clothes I had worn in my previous life.

I understood the point of playing up the shock value. Shoppers standing in line at the supermarket checkout would be amazed by the pants I had once filled out. But the idea that I would have to display a symbol of the old life I had left behind made me feel sick, like I had never lost a pound. How could I hold up a pair of jeans that represented my old humiliation?

I explained to the stylist that not only had I not brought a pair of jeans but I didn’t feel comfortable doing this. As I held my breath, a few phone calls were made, and the shoot continued without the troubling reminder of my past. It turned out to be a great experience, and I was pleased with the photographs. However, I felt a little angry and upset with myself. Hadn’t I moved on past my old image? I could now fit two of me inside my old jeans, so why was this such a big deal? I also wondered if readers might have been helped by seeing me holding up the pants I used to wear. Why couldn’t I just smile into the camera with confidence even if I was standing behind a pair of my old jeans?

I Will Never Return

Back in my hotel room, I awoke in the middle of the night still thinking about the photo shoot. Finally I could see clearly what had offended me. Supersized blue jeans were a symbol of major pain in my life. Holding them up in front of me would not feel as if I was showcasing success. I was now on an exciting journey to share my life and my program to help other people. I had ditched the old jeans, just as I had ditched diets—and both of them for good! Sure, I will always be able to relate to the woman who desperately tries to zip up a pair of pants in a store’s dressing room. But I didn’t want to spend another special moment of my life sharing the spotlight with my former self. I had crossed the point of no return. I now knew without question that I would never go back.

I have a completely new deal, one that focuses on living my new life, the life that God led me to when I fell into my darkest moment. The old me had long wanted to leave behind the constant torment of being overweight and undisciplined. That life is now over. My new deal is much sweeter than I dreamed was possible.

You can have the same deal! You can start living a life of security and freedom. You can be released from the prison of defeat, failure, and negative self-image. And best of all, the new deal we’re going to explore is guaranteed to last.

I won’t ever return to being the person I started out as. There is no going back. And I’ll show you how to take full advantage of the same deal!


Saturday, January 01, 2011


 It's a new year alright. At least that's what Bill and Megyn told us when the ball dropped last night at 12:00  in New York City. And of course two hours later we had a new year here in Arizona too--2011.

We've got a brand new year but the same old Jesus. And aren't we glad!

"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know."

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" Hebrews 13:8

Since Jesus was able to see us through our troubles in 2010 we need to relax, trust Him and let go. 

"Don't worry over anything, whatever; whenever you pray tell God every detail of your needs in thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which surpasses human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6,7 Phillips)