Inspirational Sunday...

will return next Sunday.


It's Baaaack! Fitness Friday

So, it's the end of summer vacation. Time to leave the days of lazin around behind and get back to work.

Um, right. Like I had those kind of days. I worked this summer and I worked hard.

Which is why I'm so excited about next summer. God willing, I'll be a travelista next summer, traveling both in the US and out. I plan to work my @$$ off this school year so I can afford to chill next summer instead of I can, you know, actually vacation during my summer vacation.

This brings me to my plan I'd like to call my 50/50 challenge. What is the 50/50 challenge? I'm so glad you asked! :) Starting Sunday, I'm gonna attempt to lose 50lbs in 50 weeks (hence 50/50). This means, I'm trying to lose one pound per week. Can this be done? Sure it can! This is actually the safer way to lose weight - 1 to 2 lbs/week as opposed to say, like 20 lbs/month. Besides, earlier this year, for a blissful month and a half, I was successful at losing a pound a week. Then I hit a wall. I've been this weight for the last 4 months. I guess it's good cos I haven't gained any weight. *shrugs*

So, how will 50/50 work?

Of course there's making healthier eating choices. For me, this means eating more than once a day. The surprising thing is, it's easier for me to exercise than it is for me to eat 3 meals a day. Weird, right? I don't plan on totally eliminating certain things (junk food, pop, chips). Eliminating them never works for me...I only end up eating more after a while. So, instead of getting rid of my weaknesses, I plan on eating less, maybe even using them as rewards when I've had a good week. I'm all for rewards, you know.

Exercising isn't really a problem for me...unless it's on a day where I'm just too tired to do anything. Even then, I have a plethora of exercise DVDs or I'd just do DDR, which is a fun way of working out. My top choices of workouts: walking, Tae Bo, DDR, volleyball, and dancing. 5 days/week - 6 if I'm feeling ambitious - of cardio/strength training.

The last, and most important, component to the 50/50 challenge is God. Earlier this year, I'd asked God to take control of my weight-loss journey...and He did. He talked me out of many unhealthy decisions, especially when it came to Pepsi, which is my number one weakness. Seriously, I can do some damage with Pepsi - like at least a bottle/day. My mouth is watering now to feel the burn... Anyway, whenever I feel like piggin out on junk food, guzzling down an extra bottle of Pepsi, or skipping a workout, I'll have to remember to ask God for help. And you know what the cool thing is? HE'LL ACTUALLY HELP! I honestly don't know why I hadn't thought of asking God to take control of my weight-loss/get-in-shape journey in the first place. It's like, duh! I ask Him to help me in everything else, why not this, right?

I'm SO ready for this challenge! I even have a special journal, complete with a special pen (did I mention I'm obsessed with stationary stuff) to track my progress. I have my inspiration board up on my bedroom wall with pics of beaches, swimsuits I'd like to wear, words, etc. My main reason for this is NOT looks. Of course, I always like to look good, but I'm more concerned with my health. I'm not trying to have high blood pressure and have to take pills for the rest of my life. No thank you! And, not only do I work with kids, but I also have 2 VERY ACTIVE nephews that I'd like to run around and play with without, you know, feeling like I'm gonna die from extreme exertion. Also, I believe God is about to take me places and I need to be physically, as well as spiritually and mentally prepared.

Fitness Friday blog posts will be dedicated to keeping up with my progress. I figure, the more people know about this, the more accountable I'll be held. And you can join me, too, whether you want to lose more than, less than, or exactly 50 lbs. I'd love the company.

So, Rae's 50/50 challenge: from Sunday, August 30, 2009 - Saturday, August 14, 2010. Ready. Set. GO!


Random Thoughts Thursday

School. If you've visited my blog a few times, you'd probably notice that I am in school for my Doctor of Education (EdD). I was hoping to become Dr. Weakly by next year. Unfortunately, because of financial issues, I'm having to withdraw from school. The bad news is, this will delay me in getting my doctorate degree. I SO want this to be done and over with. The good news is, if I can come back within a year, I won't have to start all over. I can start where I left off. This is AWESOME news to me because, if I had to start over, I don't think I'd be able to do it. I mean, 3-4 more years of school? No thanks!

As I've said before, I've been in school since I was 2 years old (got in preschool early cos I knew how to count, say my abc's, was potty trained, etc). I took a 2 year break between Bachelors & Masters and another 2 year break between Masters & Doctorate. This means I've been in school for 27 years! When I tell you I'm just about sick of school... But, I get to take a short break then come back to finish this thing. Of course, I'd rather be done in 2010, but, it can't be helped...unless God performs a miracle (which I know He can). So, instead of becoming Dr. Weakly in 2010, I'll be Dr. Weakly in 2011, God-willing. I'm ok with this.

ABDC. Finally, I agree with the judges decision! I'm glad Rhythm City didn't go home. They're one of the best groups. I'm still waiting on the groups to bring it, though. This season is missing the...umph, that other seasons had. My favorite groups? Rhythm City and We Are Heroes.


Tickle-Me Tuesday

In honor of the many teachers and kids starting school this week:

1. I was working with a small group of 4th grade students creating word lists for their writers’ notebooks. One list was titled “Scary October Words”. I asked a girl to give me a scary word to write on the list to which she replied, “report cards!”
2. I teach high school, but a good friend of mine is a kindergarten teacher. One day a little boy tattled on another, telling my friend the other student said the "B" word. Wondering exactly which "B" word, she called the boy over and asked him to repeat what he had said. He did not want to repeat it for the teacher, but after some prodding he finally admitted to saying "Bagina".
3. At Math time, I told the kids that we were going to talk about Even and Odd. One boy yelled out- "I know that story. It's in the Bible! " After I quit laughing, I said- "I think you mean Adam and Eve. "
4. I was a teacher in a tutoring center and at the end of every session, we would ask the students quiz questions for extra tokens. I asked, "What are the three primary colors?". One of my students said, " I know- black, white, and Mexican!!" I laughed so hard, I gave him 2 tokens.
5. One teacher I had for Biology had a special way to remember Kingdom Pylum Class Order Family Genus Species. Her way we found out was King Phillip Came Over For Really Great Spaghetti. But, she was a bit flustered that day and instead of saying King Phillip Came Over For Really Great Spaghetti, she said King Phillip Came Over For Really Great Sex.
6. A teacher friend of mine does a survey with her 8th graders on future jobs. One young man stated he wanted to be a garbage man because they only have to work on Thursdays.
Have an awesome school year!


Inspirational Sunday

Worship the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water.
Exodus 23:25

Rae's Thought: This verse can be taken in two ways:

1. Serve the LORD and only the LORD, and He will give you what you need. God wanted the Israelites to know that He and He alone was able to provide for them. Later on in this passage, He tells the Israelites about the other nations that He'd planned on driving away. God tells them that worshipping the other nations' gods will be a snare (trap) for them.

This message isn't only for the Israelites in ancient Bible days. It's for all of God's children in present day. The worship of other gods does not only pertain to the statue gods that others may worship. As soon as something becomes more important to you than God and your relationship with Him, it becomes your god. Something other than God filling your every thought? Then you've placed whatever it is higher than God. People today worship money, materials, jobs, status, and so much more. They even worship other people. God wants us to know that He and He alone can provide for us (our bread and water). Nothing and no one can give us what we need. Serve the LORD - and only the LORD - and He will bless your bread and water.

2. Worship the LORD always, and He will give you what you need. So many times, when we're going through difficulties, we completely forget to continue to worship the Lord. Our minds are so focused on what's happening and the pain we may be feeling, that the thought of worshipping and praising God never crosses our minds...or it does cross our mind, but we ignore it (I mean, come on! Worship/praise insinuates happiness and I'm so NOT happy right now!).

Worshipping the Lord takes our minds off our problems. Right now, as I write this, I'm experiencing financial difficulties, like so many other people. I don't know how I'm going to pay the upcoming bills and I'm living from paycheck to paycheck. I can choose to worry about what's going to happen or I can choose to worship the Lord and trust that He will give me what I need. I find that, nothing good comes out of worrying. I only end up overwhelmed, worrying myself sick, snapping at my family, complaining to God, or forgetting about God altogether. Oh, but when I'm worshipping God, my focus is taken off my problems and put on God. I'm given such a sense of peace when I worship Him. I close my eyes, lift my hands, and, with all that is within me, I worship. My favorite worship song is, How Great is Our God, by Chris Tomlin. Even now, I'm listening to and singing this song, tears (of joy) running down my face. 'Name above all names. You are worthy of all praise and my heart will sing how great is our God!' God is so awesome! I can sing it over and over, worshipping my Lord... Oh the peace! The joy! And, after all is said and done, I'll find that, just as He's promised, God has blessed my bread and water!

God provides for and takes care of His children. He always has and always will. What do you stand in need of? Worship the Lord, your God ALWAYS, and He will bless your bread and water.


Random Thoughts Thursday

America's Best Dance Crew. Yay! Another dance reality show that I'm addicted to! Although this season hasn't proven to be as good as the previous seasons, I'm determined to see it through. Now, it's only been on for two weeks, so, maybe it's too early to judge. A salsa/hip hop group, a group of gay men & a transgender, groups with "thick" women, group of country hip hoppers...this season definitely has the diversity it was looking for.

I don't agree with who went home, though. The first week, Fr3sh ended up going home, but they were better than the other 2 groups who did battle with them (Beat Ya Feet Kings and Southern Movement). The ONLY reason why they went home, IMO, is because they didn't break it during the battle. Last Sunday, the groups did dances from Beyonce songs. The group that went home was Artistry in Motion. I think they had one of the harder tasks, but they did well with what they were given. All the members had to hold on to the chain throughout most of the routine...and they did it, while still dancing well. The group they did battle with, Afroborike, the salsa/hip hop group, had an easier task. They performed to Beyonce & Shakira's Beautiful Liar. Their task? The belly dance routine in the video. Come on! While I love salsa, I think they should've went home. Which group(s) do I like? I think I'd choose Rhythm City or We Are Heroes. Guess we'll see...

Dancing With The Stars. Seriously? Tom Delay? Shouldn't he like, be in jail or something? And where is the eye candy for women?

Michelle Obama's Shorts. So, I've heard little rumblings about our First Lady wearing shorts to a family trip to the Grand Canyon. WTH! Do we have nothing else newsworthy that we have to report (and whine) about the fact that she's showing her (awesome) legs? I swear, this country (that I LOVE so much)...My reaction to her wearing shorts? SO WHAT?!! So she's showing a little leg. Arizona is probably hot as hell right now. What do you expect her to wear, pants? This is just another reason why I love and admire Michelle Obama. She's not worried about y'all and your reaction to what she's wearing. She's fist-pounded her hubby, worn sleeveless dresses, and, now, she's wearing shorts. From the looks of it, what she has on is still tasteful. To anyone whining about what she's wearing (Oh, the scandal! She's showing skin!) I say: IT'S THE SUMMER PEOPLE! GET A LIFE! Now, if this 'outrage' is fake and just journalists attempt to report news, I say to those journalists: GET A LIFE!

Jordin Sparks' Nose Ring. It's amazing what you notice when you're really paying attention to a video. I'd always admired Jordin Sparks' nose ring. I thought it was cute and small...the kind of ring I'd want. Well, last year, while watching Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown's No Air my sister noticed that, on some of the scenes, Jordin's nose ring was on while it was gone in other scenes. Oh the horror! Her nose ring - the one I'd previously been admiring - was fake. *sigh* Oh well, it's still cute.


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Pics that have that 'aw' factor:


Inspirational Sunday

"I don't wanna box you in. You've been doing big things since the world began. Sometimes I just don't understand that you're big enough, but you're big enough, Jesus."
Ayiesha Woods

Rae's Thought: This week's inspiration comes from one of my favorite contemporary Christian songs, Big Enough by Ayiesha Woods.

Do you realize that it is impossible for us to truly understand the total Being that is God? Our small minds wouldn't be able to fully grasp just how big and awesome He really is. Our heads would probably explode if we tried to figure God out. It just can't happen. And you know what? I'm glad it can't. I'm convinced that when we try to grasp the total vastness of God, we end up putting Him in this neat little box in our minds, which puts a limit on Him and what He can do. I don't know about the god you serve, but my God is limitless; He's never ending. Like Ms. Woods said, I don't want to box God in.

Since we can't really grasp how big God really is, let's just imagine. He is the creator of all that was and is in existence: the heavens, our solar system, galaxies beyond ours, etc. What does this mean? It means that God is pretty big...huge...ginormous...bigger than we could ever imagine. And, truthfully, that's all I need to know.

This, my friends, gives me comfort. The problems I face, the trials I go through, the obstacles I come up against always seem big to me. The thing is, when I put them up against my Almighty Father...well, they seem like little ants next to Him. Even Satan is minuscule compared to God. This changes my perspective on situations that normally would cause me to worry and be afraid. Hello! I serve a God whose greatness can NOT be measured by human means. There is no person bigger than the God I serve. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING greater than Him. Nothing! When I think of it this way, life - and all the problems that come with it - doesn't seem so bad.


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Emailed to me. Too cute:

A doctor went to the country to deliver a baby. There was no electricity. When the doctor arrived, no one was home except for the laboring mother and her 5 year old. The doctor instructed the child to hold a lantern high so he could see while he helped the woman deliver the baby. The child did so, the mother pushed, and after a little while, the doctor lifted the newborn baby by the feet and spanked him on the bottom to get him to take his first breath. The doctor then asked the 5 yr-old what he thought of the baby. The boy said, "Spank him again. He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first place!"


Inspirational Sunday

"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:14

Rae's Thought: Have you ever tried to get an antsy or hyper child to stay still? Let me tell you, it's not an easy task. You may succeed for a few seconds, but then, they go right back to moving around. It's like they absolutely cannot stay still.

The Israelites were a little like antsy kids, but in a slightly different sense. Their antsy-ness came in the form of worrying and complaining. During their exodus out of Egypt - actually, a little before they left - they complained constantly, forgetting about miracles God had just performed earlier. God succeeded in keeping them still for a little bit, but every time they came up against a major obstacle, what did they do? Worry and complain. They have just witnessed the 10 plagues and are set free after years of slavery. They're celebrating and praising God. Much to their chagrin, Pharaoh has changed his mind. He and his army go after the Israelites, ready to bring them back into slavery. They've got Pharaoh and his mighty army behind them, desert on both sides, and the Red Sea in front. A major obstacle, wouldn't you say? They can go towards Pharaoh and end up slaves again. They can go sideways and end up starving in the desert. They can go forward and end up drowning. What did they do? Complain. This is where Exodus 14:14 comes in.

Like an antsy child, it's difficult for humans to be still. We live in a time when everything is about movement...we're always on the go. We live very fast-paced lives and can't stand anything that slows us down or, worse, makes us stop. Even when some of us are faced with obstacles, we either try to figure things out ourselves or constantly worry and complain. Be still? Impossible! And yet, in Exodus 14:14, God tells us all we need to do is be still.

What happened when the Israelites stayed still and let God be God? He made a way for them by parting the Red Sea. They were able to walk across the sea floor - on dry ground - with the sea on both sides. It wasn't some small pond they was a sea: miles and miles long, thousands of feet deep. How awesome is that? And, as soon as Pharaoh's whole army was on ground, God allowed the waters to come crashing back.

My brother gave an illustration today that I thought was just awesome. He said one day, while walking, he looked by the bayou and saw white birds (maybe swans) standing near the water. Fish and tadpoles swam by them, but these birds did not move. What were they doing? Waiting til the food (fish and tadpoles) came to them. When the food came, they ate then went right back to standing. They weren't running around going after the food...they just stood there and waited.

Sometimes in life, we have to stand and wait, like those birds. When the birds stood still, the food came to them. What could have happened if they'd run off, worrying about how they'll eat? They could have ended up missing out on what God had in store for them. We have to be still, knowing that God will fight for us. Refusal to stay still could result in our missing the miracles God has in store. When an obstacle comes your way, don't be afraid or complain. Be still and get ready to receive your victory in Jesus Christ.


Random Thoughts Thursday

Success! Two weeks ago, I mentioned the controversy surrounding Justine Larbalestier's book, Liar. The controversy stemmed from the fact that, Micah,the main character in Liar, is an African American teen with short hair. The cover model was not. People complained. Publishers listened. They changed the book's cover.

Original Liar Cover
New Liar Cover
See what can happen when people join together against something that's not right?

Boohoo! So, if you've read my blog for a while (is anyone really paying attention to me?) you know that I've wanted to go to Puerto Rico since high school. My sis and I'd planned on going this past Spring Break, but money - or the lack thereof - kept us from going. We shook it off and planned on going in December over the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, the lack of funds is winning out once again. *sigh* I SO wanted to go. So, I'm thinking, I keep having to put my trip to PR off, which means, when I do get a chance to go...oh, you betta believe I'll have the time of my life. It'll only make my trip that much sweeter.

All's not lost, though. In December, we'll go to South Padre Island, a beautiful island (so we've heard) near Corpus Christi, Texas. Since SPI is about 6 hours away, we can drive, cutting out the high cost of airfare. So, here's a pic of SPI. Not bad, huh?

Spring break 2010, we're hoping to be in Hawaii. All we have to worry about is the flight there (have 4-days/3-nights free) , which helps us BIG TIME. Summer 2010 will see us worldly least on this side of the world. Our fam (immediate + extended) is taking a cruise with ports in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. My sis and I are working on plans to travel quite a bit during that time (first the cruise, then Miami & eventually PR). We're still working on it, so more to come later. I'm actually excited about next summer. One thing I know, I won't be working. I'm determined to save, save, save. Looking forward to it!

Research. In novel #2, Who's Got Tha Moves, the dance reality show that Treasure is participating in is filmed in Miami. Since I don't actually live in Miami, and I've only been there once, shouldn't I research it some more? Sure I do. So, what does that mean? FIELD TRIP! That is the reason we're going to Miami next summer...well, you know, besides the beautiful beaches, awesome scenery, and muy caliente men. I'm absolutely positive I'll be finished with draft #1 (and maybe @ least #2) by that time, but I can still research the city. It's quite possible I can be on final draft by then. So, yeah. I'm looking forward to "researching" Miami next summer.