Another Trip Around the Sun

Today is my 48th birthday. I make no qualms about my age — some think I am old; others think I am young — but no matter the number, I will always be young at heart. Though I have not blogged lately, I continue on my journey of health and wholeness, and I am grateful that my body now allows me to do those things my heart has yearned for. I have not yet reached my weight loss goal, but I weigh 163 pounds less than I did on my 46th birthday (I also weigh less than I did when I graduated from high school 30 years ago!) and I am certainly much healthier in body, mind and spirit.

I have hit a plateau in my weight loss over the last several months. I think my body is just trying to catch up with all these changes! My medical team is pleased with my progress and I continue to go to the pool 5 days a week and box 2 – 3 times a week. Quite honestly, even if I don’t lose any more weight, it will be OK! Of course, I am not losing hope and continue to exercise and eat well (most of the time).

So today I am celebrating life — the abundant life that God has given me in the here and now as well as the expectation for life in the time to come made possible through Jesus Christ. I am very grateful for my family and friends and the many ways in which they encourage me to life into my fullest created potential. I am grateful for the call that God has placed on my life and my new found zest and freedom to fully live into it.

There are countless benefits on this journey, but one in particular that I celebrate today is that my best friend and I can now share clothes! My wardrobe is now greatly expanded! (See picture below). Thank you, Elizabeth!

And thank all of you for your love and support on this journey. Love you all!

Until next time, peace …

Sharing Clothes

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Enjoying the rides at the Wayne County Fair!

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Anniversary Reflections

Yesterday, February 1, marked the one-year anniversary of my weight loss surgery, and in that time I have shed 160 pounds.  It has been quite a journey! I have heard some say that surgery is the “easy way” to lose weight, but I am here to testify that there are no “easy” ways to lose weight. Believe me. I have tried them all. Weight loss is hard work. Very. Hard. Work. It requires tenacity, commitment, determination, planning and focus. A focus on the details of the present moment as well as the end result and longer-term goals. When I started this journey, I set a specific goal and I am now just 28 pounds away from it. Ideally, I should lose even more than that — and I will certainly continue my daily exercise and healthy eating plan once I hit that goal — but I will be content once that marker is reached.

On the first day of each month since my surgery, I’ve had my picture taken to create a side-by-side photo of my progress. Yesterday as I was putting the pictures together, I said to my best friend, “You know, I can see a difference in my face and neck, but it just doesn’t seem like that big a difference overall. Does it really look like I’ve lost 160 pounds?” She sighed, gave me a somewhat exasperated look, and said “yes” in a way that only those who love us and know us best can do. I really wasn’t looking for accolades or affirmation. Sometimes, in my mind, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Call me crazy, but that’s where my mind goes sometimes. Maybe it’s because somewhere in the recesses of my mind I didn’t think I could be successful. Maybe its because I don’t want people to treat the “fat” Robin differently than the “thinner” Robin. Maybe it’s the fear of admitting that there is a cultural bias toward larger people; that there is a perception that “fat” people are lazy and have no self-control. Maybe it’s because I want to defend, protect and love those who are cast aside and judged for their outward appearances instead of their inner beauty. Maybe it’s because I want people to believe that ALL human beings are beloved and created in the image of God. Fat people. Skinny people. People of every body type, age, color, orientation, nationality, creed — we are all beloved and created in the image of God.

In my rational mind, I do acknowledge the difference in my before and after pictures, and I am grateful for the gift of life I have been given.  But I am cognizant of the fact that this renewed vitality also brings a responsibility to live out God’s claim and call on my life to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:). May that be so for all of us.

Until next time, peace …1 year post-op 2-1-191 year post-op side, 2-1-19

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Home again, home again, jiggety jig

After shopping for chocolate at the Brussels airport, we left in the wee hours (4 am Eastern) and arrived in Newark shortly after Noon yesterday. We made it through customs with relative ease, collected our luggage, rechecked it, went through security and enjoyed a lovely meal together as a team before our departure for home. It had been over 30 hours since any of us really slept and we were quite punchy while we waited! Finally, after a gate change and a trek to the other end of the terminal, we boarded our final leg of the journey and landed in Cleveland around 7:00 last night.

At home I savored each moment of a long hot shower and enjoyed another one (just because!) before church this morning. It was great to be back leading worship with my congregation today and I even solicited (with some gentle nudging) some hearty Liberian-style “Amens!”

I am surprisingly not too tired today, though I know that jet lag will surely hit on Wednesday when the high temperature here at home is to be -3 F! I guess I’ll just have to succumb to it that day and snuggle under the covers in the warmth of my house!

The temperature difference between here and Liberia is stark. Though I am not sure it was completely accurate, as we were riding to the Monrovia airport on Friday, the electronic temperature gauge in the car said the outside temp was 107! It was definitely hot there!

In the days ahead I will write more about my experiences, but for now, here are some more of my favorite pictures.

Until next time, peace …

Enjoying the moment with some of the junior high Girls of Promise from the public school

My buddy Charles who stole my heart and my lap on a regular basis!

Roselyn, the Girl of Promise sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship at my church

Blowing bubbles with the kids outside the guest house

More bubble fun!

Singing songs at recess with some of the children at St John’s UMC School

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Water Revisted

After a bumpy 3 hour ride that included a bridge that was out and a subsequent (and suspect!) detour through Firestone’s rubber plantation, we arrived at Roberts International Airport in Monrovia. When we boarded the plane, I headed right to the bathroom. Who can say they’ve smiled and said prayers of thanksgiving for airplane lavatories?! This girl! I was so very grateful for running water and a toilet that flushed! Water is such a precious commodity in most of the world, and many of us in the U.S. take this for granted and don’t think twice when we turn on the spigots or flush toilets in our homes. May I always be this grateful for the life-giving gift of water!

In the Brussels airport now and will be leaving for Newark in about 2 hours.

Until next time, peace …

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Leaving a piece of my heart in Liberia

Though I haven’t written updates in the last week, my heart has been full — full of love for the people I have met and full of care and concern for the many needs here. As we leave today, I’m still processing all of it and will write more reflections once I am home. I have been changed by this experience and am leaving a piece of my heart with the people in Harrisburg, Liberia. I don’t know when, but I will surely return. Here are a few pictures that share my heart.

Until next time, peace …

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Hole in One!

This morning as I went into the bathroom to wash up for the day, I was organizing my belongings. I lifted my arm to put my toothbrush on the shelf above the sink and lost my grip on it. The toothbrush hit the sink, flipped and landed head first into the toilet! I couldn’t have done that if I tried! Had I taken my phone to the bathroom with me, I would have captured the moment. My friends here suggested I re-enact the scene, but I’ll just allow you to picture it in your minds instead. That, my friends, is your chuckle for the day!

Until next time, peace …

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Water!

One of the team members has dubbed me as “the water girl” as it seems that I am the one who frequently retrieves the water from the back porch to fill bathing buckets and the water filtration system for our drinking water.

Water is a precious commodity here in Liberia. While free, our driver and guest house helpers travel 20 minutes by car to fill our large jugs of water. These jugs are kept on the back porch of the guest house and we use them to fill buckets for bathing and drinking. I cannot even begin to imagine living here and walking and carrying these water jugs!

Our accommodations here at the guest house are considered “luxury” by Liberian standards. We have electricity most of the time and bathrooms with American fixtures. While we don’t have running water, we have a toilet we flush manually with buckets, and a sink and a tub in which we can put buckets of water to wash ourselves. Each time I carry a bucket of water from the porch and when I dump a bucket of water over my head to wash my hair, I am reminded of how much water we waste in the U.S. While I am longing for a “real” shower and will gratefully enjoy that luxury when I get home next Saturday night, I pray that I will never take this precious commodity for granted, and that each time I turn on the spigot in my home, I will pray for my friends in Liberia.

Until next time, peace …

The water buckets that travel 20 minutes by car to be filled

The women’s bathroom at the guesthouse

The Berkey water filtration system giving us safe drinking water

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