Ellie Marrandette: A Place to Belong

A very special thank you to my dear friend Carol Balawyder, who wrote this lovely review of my fourth novel, A Place to Belong. It is rare indeed for such a busy person to put her work aside to assist a fellow author.

Carol is an incredible writer in her own rite and I highly recommend her captivating novels as well. ❤

Carol Balawyder

Most of us at one point in our lives struggle to find our purpose in life. A Place to Belongis Katerine LeVay Cunningham’s (Kate) personal battle in search for her purpose in her life.

It is not enough that she is married to a wealthy movie producer who adores her and that her marriage is one full of romance and tenderness. Following her husband on his movie shoots does not satisfy her personal needs for fulfillment.

A Place to Belong is the third of a trilogy (although it can also standalone) and when we meet Kate she is in NYC with her loving British husband, Robert, who is directing a movie on the American Revolution. Throughout the novel the relationship between Kate and Robert is a romantic, tender one.

However, Kate is haunted by her past and until she puts to rest the secret, perfect crime which she has…

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How Do We Change Behaviors?

Remember the old saying, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got?”

Have you tried every diet plan under the sun and still haven’t kept your weight off? Others have but you keep hitting a brick wall or worse yet, a mudslide of weight returning your way. Why?

What’s the secret to those who lost weight and kept it off? How can they lose weight and not me? you ask.

One Answer: First change a mindset to change a behavior!

Are you stuck in your same behaviors? Restrictive diet plans?  Giving in to peer pressure? Exercise – Who has time to exercise???

If you look at the most successive healthy humans, like Tom Brady, Sabrina Williams, Cindy Crawford among others, they hold a disciplined, goal-oriented mindset. They like themselves too much to ever return to an unhealthy lifestyle even if they could. There would be no ‘up’ side. They like themselves healthier.

It’s simple really – their desire to be healthy is more desireable than that second donut. They enjoy walking more than sitting around watching the latest Judge Judy episode. They like the way they feel more than they liked feeling sluggish and unhealthy. 

All successful people have a goal that means more to them than anything else and they’ll work to reach it! How much did you want that healthier living? Did you give it your best?

“Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 3:13,14) NASB

I didn’t like myself much being overweight. When my mindset changed I ate for nutrients in all food groups. Why would I want to return to an unhealthy lifestyle? Food isn’t a god to me anymore. (Philippians 3:19.)

Once you become healthy, your desires change too.

Are you willing to change to a positive mindset to change your behaviors? Are you tired of the old you and crave a new lifestyle, energy level, appearance?

Accept a better you. Each of us are unique, having a different physiology and personality created by God. Our pH, blood type and activity level is different. Strive to be your best within that structure. 

Are you feeling worthless? Sometimes one has to reach bottom before they can crawl to the top.

Change your beliefs:

God gave us a bounty of nutrients on Earth so one shouldn’t suffer. He wanted us to eat for the pleasure of it. He didn’t want us to consume a “sticks and twigs” diet. Denying oneself an entire food group is not a healthy way to live. He created balance for our optimum biological function.

There are basically three food groups: fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Carbs aren’t the enemy. They break down to simple and complex. Complex are excellent sources of fiber which stabilize blood sugar (reducing hunger) move bad bacteria and dangerous chemicals out of your system. That in turn improves energy levels, attitudes and appearance.

Ensure you drink plenty of pure, clean water.  (Anytime we add ingredients to water, it takes longer for the body to break it down. Adding lemon or lime to water improves our good pH  so go at it!)

As a Believer, honor God with your body. Why would you mess it up by throwing unhealthy food onto the floor of your temple?  Start living an abundant and healthy lifestyle now. 

 

A Place to Belong (The Katherine LeVay Saga, Book 3)

I’m excited to announce the launch of my newest novel, A Place to Belong, available now at an affordable Kindle ebook price of $2.99.    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09JQC38LC

A Place to Belong (4) rezized cover book 3

Katherine LeVay Cunningham has risen from the ashes of her first marriage to become a confident, self-made woman. Then why risk everything by confessing the truth now?

Living an idyllic but nomadic lifestyle, she’s traveled the world but has no idea where she belongs. Kate now follows her second husband, Robert, from London to the States where he’s to produce a British Broadcasting Company series on the American Revolution. This time, their travels will take them throughout the East Coast: New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston.

Unfortunately, all these cities remind her of her first husband, television news anchor, Richard Madison who nearly destroyed her through deceit and his womanizing. She thought she had put those remorseful days behind her. But the guilty secret Kate conceals, now threatens to erode her very soul and peaceful existence.

In reality, can anyone escape a nightmarish past?

Kate struggles with her indecision to confess to her perfect, untraceable crime. However, as she soon discovers, her loved ones harbor secrets of their own.

The saga of Katherine LeVay begins in 1957 with the coming-of-age, Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime. Followed by Casey’s Journey and Casey Conrad’s sequel Restoring Hope. If you enjoy tales of nostalgia and redemption, I trust you’ll enjoy my novels too.

Thank God for the Water Leak!

I frantically searched through every drawer and cabinet trying to locate my expensive paring knife. I knew I had used it last evening, so it had to be somewhere.

After 25 minutes, I opened the trash cabinet and viewed only yukky, disgusting garbage. I sighed but knew if I didn’t rummage thru it, I’d always wonder, did I mistakenly throw it away?          

 

So I took out another trash bag and began transferring coffee grounds, banana skins and other unsavory disposables. About half-way down, I exclaimed, “Eureka!” There among the garbage lay my cherished paring knife! 

My immediate thought was, thank God for last night’s rain! If it hadn’t rained last night, we would have walked up and discarded our garbage and my knife would have been gone forever.

Does it seem strange to you to thank God for the frustrations in life?

A pastor we knew, began his sermon by lamenting the fact that his family had a horrible week. It started with a water leak in the bathroom sink which resulted in totally destroying the drywall behind the cabinet. When he and his friend opened up the wall to replace the damage, he descovered a poisonous snake behind the wall. Thankfully, they were able to kill the snake and complete their renovation.

“Now,” I thought. “he’ll praise God for the water leak and this going to be a great biblical iullustration.” Sadly he didn’t. 

Why, you ask, would someone ever praise God for a water leak?

Well, this pastor had two small children. I can’t imagine what unthinkable tragedy could have occurred if the children had been in the room alone when the snake emerged.

Even in the midst of tribulating times, God protects! God doesn’t always have to perform miracles to protect his people. This probably happens to us on a daily basis, and yet we haven’t a clue.

Perhaps you’re running late for work and then get caught in an aggravating, annoying traffic jam? Praise God – the accident wasn’t yours for you turned back for your keys. What at first was an inconvenient experience, then became a unbeknownst blessing.

Now how does this pertain to healthy living? It does in all ways: mentally, physically and spiritually!

Mentallyknow God protects those he loves

“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord. thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Why do we fret and get upset over small things? God doesn’t purposely stress us out. We do that just fine on our own. There’s always a purpose. Knowing Scripture and trusting Him helps. God constantly watches over you and doesn’t want harm to come to you – even if it means an inconvenient delay. 

Physically – God WILL take care of you:

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! (Luke 12:24)

I used to advise my patients who worried constantly, “What could be the worst-case scenario?” We’d discuss outrageous plots until they realized the odds of that happening were remote at best. Aim for high godly standards in all of life’s aspects, but ultimately entrust control to the Lord.

Spiritually: It takes faith

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Trusting God even though we can’t see Him is called faith. Trusting that His ways are better than our stubborn ways. Our job isn’t to control every aspect of our life but to worship God.

I’ll continue to praise God for last night’s rain.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Pulling Those Pesky Weeds

I grew up on a farm which is the best place in the world to learn self-discipline. But I hated pulling weeds in our garden. Now it’s gardening season again and I find the best flowers I grow are pretty flowering weeds.

How easily sin can spread like flowering weeds throughout our lives. Pretty to look at but deadly to Spiritual growth. We’re aware that sin is destructive and shouldn’t flower in a Christ-filled life.

But how do we rid ourselves of them?

We must recognize that sin’s unhealthy habits drag us down, destroying our Christian testimony. I’m ashamed to say that when I went to college, someone asked me once, “If you’re a Christian why do you do such bad things?”  I had no answer except a flippant, “Well Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I don’t know why God is so patient with me but I’m grateful!

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11)  NLT

When it comes to sin we can’t be flippant by allowing a small amount to grow in our Spiritual garden. Avoid toxic people for “Bad company corrupts good character.”  (1 Corinthians 15:33) Yes it’s true that sometimes we can win others to the Lord by displaying good Christian character amidst challenging social situations. But more times then not, the character of “weedy friends” overpower us and we fall into sin, allowing our character to become compromised. Scripture urges us to flee youthful lusts, (2 Timothy 2:22) not dabble in it.

It’s similar to obtaining a healthier lifestyle. Every sin has consequences. If you always consume fattening, chemically laden foods you’ll risk diabetes, strokes, heart disease and cancers. Risk? Do you feel “lucky?” I’d prefer not playing Russian Roulette with my life but rather trust God to keep me healthy because I want to honor that vibrant life gift He has given me.

Until one gets strong enough to withstand the temptation of donuts and sugary carbs, we shouldn’t go into a donut shop! Or attend a Buffet if you’re a curious person and consume a little of everything the tables offer. Nine times out of ten we will fall to the “Feast of The Eyes!”

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16) NLT

What about toxic relationships? Following a raucous, sinful crowd is being like a sheep who plunges to his death because he followed the leader over a cliff. Sheep are dumb animals! You shouldn’t be! As painful as it is to say goodbye to a close but unrepentant friend, if they are dragging you into a pit, for your own safety, let go and fervently pray for them.

And the best advice: don’t allow temptation to grow in the first place! If you prevent pesky weeds from growing, you won’t have to pull them later. Use the best Spiritual Weed Killer there is: Scripture! Cultivate appropriate Bible verses deep inside your mind and soul and it will absolutely act as weed preventer!

Developing Healthy Patience

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Sometimes as little children occasionally do, we’ll stomp our feet and declare, “But I want it now!”   Afterward when the regrets kick in, we ask ourselves, “Why did I think that was a great idea?”

Have you ever stopped to think that our Heavenly Father loves us so much, He will give us the desires of our heart even if those are bad for us?  It’s called “free will.” Naturally God hopes we’ll choose what’s best. But it’s our choice.

Have you ever debated if you should consume something even though you understand it’s going to create an illness? Then shake a fist at God and ask, “Why’d you do this to me?”

I know very few children who choose vegetables over candy, cake or even cheesy fries. After a few tummy aches however and children usually instinctively learn to choose better. Do we really think eating all that fattening, processed, chemically-laden packaged food is good for us? We need to conquer our food cravings and resist the tug of gluttony. We are not children anymore.

No food is bad (1 Corinthians 10:23) but our reaction to it sometimes is.  Who’s in control, you or are you lured by manipulation? Have you ever lost control, giving in to a decadent food only to become discouraged because you couldn’t stay on your health plan?

As God’s child we also need borders which will assure a healthier lifestyle. When young, our children need boundaries to keep them safe and healthy. Certainly you wouldn’t feed your child only candy? They need real food to grow and thrive. God laid out our diet plan in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3. Follow His plan and achieve a healthier lifestyle. So why can’t we resist temptation?

Unfortunately some never grow up. When presented with a menu of grilled fish or chicken or hamburgers and fries, they’ll still go for the fattier selection every time! THINK! Once in a while that’s fine but choosing an inappropriate choice every day and you’ll wind up with debilitating diseases and parasites, lovely.

Why do we fail to understand we answer to a Higher Authority? If I am out walking my pooch, I’m her authority. I want her to enjoy her journey but if she misbehaves and wants to chase squirrels across the road, I reign her in because I don’t want to see her run over! God provides boundaries for the same reason. He wants us to be safe! And because He is All Knowing, He realizes what will happen when we give in to temptation.

Emotional eating is not healthy. If you desire something unhealthy, work it off by exercising and you’ll remain in control.  If you’ve kept your food journal for two weeks as I encouraged, you might understand why you give in for reasons other than hunger. Continue to journal; asking yourself, what happened just before I gave in to my desires? A disturbing phone call, an argument? Are you lonely – food offers comfort. Bored? Eating is something to do. Angry? Crunching on food is a stress reliever. Sad? Chemicals in food release happy endorphins.

For example, chocolate contains  phenylethylamine which makes us feel loved. Since God created chocolate, it’s fine in moderation.  But if we’re motivated by a chocolate commercial on TV, losing control, we’ve become manipulated. Give in and you just made that food an idol before our Lord.

 “I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”  (Galatians 5:16)

Remaining in control and conquering addiction is a wonderful feeling. Conquer self and honor God.

Living Under Dietary Bondage

Worth repeating!

New Creations Ministries

The law is bondage. The law is restrictive and confining, so how can one live perfectly within it?  The answer is, we can’t. There is no one who lives perfectly except Christ  We all are guilty under the law.

“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10

police car behind

It can either be scary or comforting to live under laws. On one hand we can be assured that if needed, police officers would be at our assistance, even risking their own safety for us.

However, have you ever driven down the street and all of a sudden found a police car following you? Innocent or guilty, what’s the first thing we do but check our speed limit, right? Were we driving above the law? Do we go through a quick mental check list and ask ourselves whether we came to a complete stop at that street corner or possibly driven through a red light?…

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Everyone Needs a Goal!

So are you still as determined to become weight-loss successful? I hope so!  However, you might be slightly discouraged, wondering if getting healthy is worth the sacrifice now, right? Dig deep and talk yourself into success!!  Getting healthy must come from your own inner desire to please God and in doing so, becoming a New Creation.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Becoming healthier is an independent journey. Your counselor can educate and encourage  but she can’t lose the weight for you. But don’t fret.That’s actually wonderful and encouraging because when you succeed, you’ll realize that you CAN keep it off for a lifetime due to educational processes and challenges you’ve overcome.

To become successful, it’s best to establish goals.

Recognize that accomplishments don’t happen overnight. If you were taking a 3,000 mile cross-country trip, the thought of it might seem overwhelming when you take out a map and stare at all the states in-between Virginia and California. “3,000 plus miles of interstate traffic, oh my!”

So revamp your thinking. Breaking up your travels into smaller, reachable day trips is a lot less intimidating. Say to yourself, “When I reach Ashville, NC, we’ll visit The Biltmore Estate. When I get to Memphis I’ll tour Graceland.  When I get to Arizona, we’ll see the Grand Canyon”  – all of a sudden you are looking forward to it because you’ve divided a burdensome task into smaller, accessible goals. Apply this same strategy to your weight-loss endeavors. Create smaller steps for exciting, reachable goals.

Don’t feel guilty about doing something for yourself if it’s God-honoring. It is not selfish to desire to be healthy for God!  In fact He commands it.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

God says in 1 Peter 1:16 commands, “for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” A Christian should always strive to be holy in all they do, That means not making idols out of food.

Everyone knows how to lose weight: eat smaller portions, exercise, slow down, drink water . . . so why don’t they? Don’t know? That’s where a counselor comes in. Ask yourself: what is more important than health in your life?

Every one has a different reason:

Sometimes a heavy girth is very forceful and intimidating. It creates a powerful tool they want to keep. I’ve also had patients who have been sexually attacked and feel it was their fault for having a seductive figure, so they put on poundage to avoid being a victim. (News flash: you’ll be looked at no matter what size you are.) Others have been beaten down in life when told consistently, “you’ll never amount to anything. I told you you’d fail!” So why should you attempt something that 80% of dieters fail at time and time again?

Some simply love food! “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19) The Word tells us not to make idols out of food. We should eat for nutrients! By striving to become the healthiest individual you can be, you demonstrate inner strengths to your children and your spouse that God creates determined, strong quality material! You!

Remember you are setting disciplined life-goals, not weight-loss goals. Don’t you want to feel this great for a lifetime, not just for an event like a class reunion or wedding?! Why go back to your old, unhealthy self after one goal is reached? That was your old, unhealthy, undisciplined self!

Everyone needs a goal. What’s yours?

“But I Haven’t Lost Weight!!!”

Could your mind be manipulating you into a false picture of truth?

One of my patients, after losing 65 pounds, turned to me and sighed, “But when I look in a mirror Ellie, I still see a huge woman and feel I haven’t accomplish anything!”

Unfortunately, that’s a common misperception. Our mind doesn’t always recognize our successes. “You haven’t changed, you are still fat and the same failure you always have been, so just give up!” is what Satan is whispering in our ear.

Don’t believe it! That’s stinkin’- thinkin’!

It takes several weeks for your mind to catch up with your body image. Allow yourself some patience. Positive thinking is a habit after all and changes take time before we are comfortable with them.

It’s important to create tangible evidence of your accomplishments. Sometimes like Doubting Thomas, we need to see progress with our very own eyes before we believe it.

Here’s a few helpful tips:

  1. Create a personal weekly weight loss graph to recognize how much weight you actually lose.
  2. Find an old belt to see how much smaller it closes around your waist.
  3. Try on a piece of old clothing and see how loose it is.
  4. Find an old picture from a year or two ago and compare it to a new photo. See the difference?

By comparing her old self to her new self she recognized how far she had come. She wasn’t trapped at all! She had broken through the mental, spiritual and physical bonds that had previously ensnared her. Her mental image simply had to catch up.

As much as I want to get healthy for you, you must want it more than I want it for you. It is an individual decision to put discipline and training into action to be successful. You alone become a new creation, inside and out. No longer should your mind be trapped into thinking you failed.

It doesn’t please the Lord when you degrade yourself. Just as we accept salvation individually, through a growing faith, we must put positive decisions into real life practice in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit.  We don’t always see that fruit of the Spirit immediately. Sometimes it is a “two steps forward and one step back” process, but you are still going forward!

Have you ever had a day when you’ve said: “I want to be joyful but, man . . . I woke up in such a lousy mood . . . and that boss of mine is such a  . . . and the dishwasher’s broken again and the bills are due . . . ” Sometimes we just do not feel joyful, patient, kind or self-controlled. Everyone has “one of those days.” Forgive yourself; realize you are human, not perfect.

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Physiologically there is no quick, safe way to consistently lose 5-10 pounds per week! It is deceitful and dangerous for diet companies to imply one can safely do so. We would be losing water weight, muscle, brain and bone as well as a little fat.

Quit searching for quick fixes and instant gratification! Start educating yourself. By making small gradual changes, you’ll discover fortitude, patience and physiological truths long-term, which honors God.

 God made you special. You were meant for a purpose and you aren’t disposable because God doesn’t make junk!

10 Sensible Habits for Abundant Health!

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

We are commanded to honor God with our bodies and let’s face it, no one desires to fail on another “diet.” But every time we get exasperated, wanting to quit, the devil taunts: I said you couldn’t do it! You’ll never be successful.

Don’t believe it! The Lord knows you are more powerful than Satan so tap into God’s power! (1 John 4:4)

To ensure weight loss success, establish your defenses against the devil’s lies. Conquer that mountain top of discouragement! Here’s how:

1. Winners know who they are.  Accept your need for self acceptance. You are unique, revel in that. Build your worth around your love for God, others, your family and personality. Real beauty comes from within. (1 Samuel 16:7) Either rid your life of toxic relationships or be an encourager.

2. Become conscious of how you react to food. Are you really hungry or just provoked by a feeling? Do you eat healthy foods or do you bring tempting junk into your home? Do you eat quickly or dine leisurely with friends and family?  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your tummy is full, so relax and enjoy your food.

3.  Build a support system for accountability/encouragement. God declared, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”  Your friends and family care if you’re unhealthy. Don’t allow them to be enablers.

4. Successful people are committed to reaching goals. They don’t allow set-backs to deter them. Sometimes you’ll be ten steps forward and then four steps back, but remember, you’re still going forward! As a Christian, is there anything that would entice you to return to a decadent lifestyle? Hope not! Realize that God doesn’t expect perfection from you, only obedience –  so don’t expect it from yourself.

5Successful people develop strategies. They have created strategies to overcome temptations before they arise. Outside influences shouldn’t control them. They know honoring God is more important than  establishing a fattening, unhealthy food as their idol.

6. They find pleasure in other actions besides eating! Develop a hobby, write, paint, exercise, read a favorite novel, garden, learn a new skill. It’s not selfish to find satisfaction in a well-rounded lifestyle! Food then won’t be the highlight of your life.

7.  Motivated people use visualization skills.  Try visualizing yourself covered in lard or yellow fat. Visualize eating raw chicken skin, mmm . . . or bacon grease coursing throughout your veins.  Not very attractive. Think of your heart as a separate entity, faithfully working day and night to keep you alive. Your heart deserves better!

8Winners are confident people! Aren’t you drawn to confident leaders? Just think how mentally strong you become, because no one else can lose your weight but you!! If you can lose weight you can do anything, so walk like a winner!

9. Winners become educated. They understand why they eat and know where temptations are. They control their daily fat intake and rarely eat junk food – which like sugar, greatly ages the body. They exercise because it’s beneficial and FUN. They’ve learned physiology and what an intricate machine God created!

10. Feeling great is their everyday routine. Healthy people smile more, enjoying life! Being healthy improves one’s looks, energy level, longevity, self-esteem and is a testimony to how God gloriously rules in our lives.

Walk with God’s Strength, it’s something winners strive for.

 “For it is written, You must be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)