To Bubba and Sissy on their first day of school

Momma and I are so excited for you too; but our excitement is tempered by the sadness that all parents experience at these huge milestones. Continue reading


To My Wife (on the day of her retirement)

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her… Proverbs 31:11a

Us Vacation Va Beach - Version 2Amy,

Today is the day. Today is the day we finally get what we have wanted for four years. You get to go home!

When I met you all those years ago, I got to know you as a well-educated, able, devoted teacher. It was something that I was proud of and bragged about often. I still think you are a wonderful teacher! I think that being a wonderful teacher again is part of your future. But, today we close that chapter of your life to open a new one.

The teaching chapter had its shares of joy and tears. I am proud of you for the earner you have been while our family needed you to be. I won’t ever forget the two-income days and all the sacrifices you made to keep our little brood afloat. I won’t forget all the things that others never saw – the early mornings as you patiently dressed a tired, crying one-year-old or the little faces waving “goodbye” and blowing kisses every morning from behind a stranger’s window. I won’t forget the tears, mine and yours, shed as we drove away from the houses of all the babysitter’s that have helped us so greatly through these years. I won’t forget the long days at work and the short evenings at home – spending only a couple of hours with our most prized possessions until it was time for baths and “Alton” and bed.

IMG_0064Those days end today! I am confident that you will face this new chapter with all the expertise I have seen in previous chapters of your life. No more lesson plans. No more teacher meetings. No more parent drama. No more! From now, on, your attention can turn to skinned knees and hurt feelings. A clean house and dinner are your major projects for the day. Today, we close the chapter on “Mrs. Sabbage” and open a new one called simply, “Mom.”

Tomorrow, we will shed tears once again as we welcome Asher into our family. We have been blessed with a beautiful brood. If Asher is our last child, I am grateful that God answered our prayers all those years ago. I couldn’t have imagined back then how great our life would be!

Perhaps, what makes me happiest of all, is that for the first time, you are just going to be my wife, and friend and helper instead of my co-worker – part of the “Savage Package.” You are going to be a great stay-at-home mom. I have said that for years, but tomorrow is your first day in your new, awesome job. Congratulations! You’ve earned it!

Happy Retirement!

Lovingly your husband,

P.S. What’s for supper???

The Martin Manifesto (30 day challenge)

The following is a post from a friend of mine that saw unreal success last year. We both did weight watchers, but our results couldn’t be more different. I ate whatever I wanted as long as I stayed within my daily/weekly points. She made a few additions that I believe made a real difference for her. I want to try her methods for thirty days and see how I do. If it gets easier after the thirty days, as many say it does, maybe I can go longer. In addition to what is listed below, I am giving up refined sugar. That is what my thirty day challenge was supposed to be in the first place, but after talking to her, I wanted to do what she did. I know that corn and potatoes process as sugars in our body, but I am not getting crazy. Basically, if there is sugar (or corn syrup) added to something, I am not eating it. If I can choose whole wheat bread, pasta, or rice over their white cousins, I will. Want to try this with me? Make your pledge in the comments below! I started today. Ready, set, GO!!


photoI lost 101 pounds in 2012 via Weight Watchers.  I started January 1, 2012.  Several friends have joined me since then, but I was determined I would do this thing, even if I had to do it completely alone.

God has been so good to let me live following breast cancer five years ago (a year involving surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, the big three).  One thing that happened during that year was a big weight gain, due primarily to the steroids I took during chemotherapy.  I felt that, after surviving three years and regaining my strength, I needed to join the fight against excess weight.  After all, my health is one thing I can actively protect, though not, of course, with perfect knowledge.

I have been gathering my practical tips for weight loss, at the urging of friends.  Here are the ones I have so far.

As we say, YMMV (your mileage may vary).  Weight Watchers emphasizes that all of us who seek weight loss find our own way to do it, within their scientific rules that have been developed over about 50 years of research.

They like to ask, when someone hits a milestone at Weight Watchers, “What works for you?”  Here are a few things that work for me:

1) I don’t drink any calories.  Water and black coffee only.  Well, a skinny latte once a week, because rules are made to be broken, within reason.  I assume that I will never have a Coke again.  I used to drink a bottled Coke a day, sometimes two of them.  I can live without them.  It is a reasonable trade-off to me.

Lately the news has been abuzz with the newest research on high fructose corn syrup, a very cheap and very convenient sweetener that is in many store-bought sweets and even in commercial products like ketchup and salad dressing.  It seems that high fructose corn syrup may be addictive and may actually leave people feeling hungrier after partaking of it than they were before they ate!  High fructose corn syrup is about the principal ingredient in Coke, which would go a long way toward explaining why I could never stop after just one Coke . . .

2) I substitute olive oil for butter wherever possible.  Even in baked goods sometimes.  I just experiment to see whether it works.  Extra virgin olive oil (when uncooked) seems to be turning out to be a wonder substance for breast cancer survivors.  I use lots and lots of extra virgin olive oil uncooked and lots and lots of lower grade, cheaper olive oil for cooking.

3) Lots of herbs and spices flavor my foods.  Especially after chemotherapy for breast cancer five years ago, I love hot and spicy things.  I believe the chemo killed a few of my tastebuds!  Herbs and spices can do away with the need for added salt, and for much of the need for sugar in recipes.  I recently found heaven on earth when I rolled a ripe pear in cinnamon.  The best dessert God ever made!!!

4) I believe Weight Watchers when they make all fruit and most veggies zero points, and I live accordingly.  I eat them like they are going out of style.  And I continue to drop weight, even after doing things like eating a two-pound fresh fruit tray at work one morning.  I truly believe there is a huge difference between the natural sugars in fruit and processed sugar, which I try to minimize in my diet.  Except in cases like people with diabetes, most of us seem to do pretty well with lots and lots of fruit (and veggies).

5) No drivethroughs for me.  Only for my son, every once in a while.  If I get caught inside a fast food place with a group of people, I will have a salad or apple slices or a bottle of water.  The food is not worth the points I will have to spend to have it.  If I want a burger, I will save up points and get one at Red Robin or Five Guys.  Before Weight Watchers, I used to buy a McDonald’s Big Breakfast once or twice a week in the drivethrough before work, so you can see the difference that would have made in my weekly points/calories back then.

Fast food restaurants are America’s biggest source of processed foods.  Processing itself is not optimal (fresh foods are much better for us) and processing usually involves the introduction of lots of salt and processed sugar, as both of those are cheaper than the herbs and spices that can truly make our food an interesting and healthy experience!

Even most of America’s restaurant chains have moved to cooking their food in one central place and trucking it all over the U.S.  Very few chains use fresh ingredients for their food.  Even the salads are prepackaged elsewhere.  And the longer food is in transit to get to us, the more it has to be filled with preservatives before the trip.  Not to mention most fruits and vegetables never ripen naturally that way.

The restaurants that source local ingredients are usually not chains and therefore tend to be expensive.  We tend to eat out less than before, but to go to these restaurants where the food is locally sourced when we do.

I cook more at home nowadays, usually from scratch.  We hardly ever buy processed foods to make at home, although for years we would throw something like that in once or twice a week (we were big on Stouffer’s prepackaged lasagnes and other pastas, but have since found that they are packed full of salt for flavoring).

6) I choose to eat dessert once a month.  When I do, it is the biggest piece of mile high cheesecake that Virginia Beach has ever imported from the Carnegie Hall cheesecake place in New York City.  Go big or stay home!  This is just how I roll, and it is a constant source of joking/amusement at my Weight Watchers group.  Most others will adapt regular desserts into slimmer recipes, but I choose to only have one big, calorie-laden dessert a month.  This goes hand-in-hand with my desire to minimize my exposure to processed sugar.

Additionally, I do not use sugar substitutes.  I believe research has shown that we will eat more of products containing them because they don’t register in the brain the same way as sugar does.  Also, they are implicated in causing seizures in people who are seizure-prone (specifically, Aspartame has been suggested as related to seizures).  Our family has some interesting neurology and I don’t wish to use sugar substitutes in an experimental way on our brains!!!

This list is a work in progress.  I keep thinking of new things to add to it, or rather, of more helpful ways to summarize the experience I have had this past year.  After all, I have only been a lifetime Weight Watchers member for two weeks so far . . .

I want to emphasize that though I love lists, this list is only meant to reflect what has been helpful to me.  The minute I try to turn it into a rulebook for weight loss, it will trip someone up, probably me <smile>!!!

In fact, I totally agree with Weight Watchers when they never put a food off-limits to anyone.  They merely tell us to count the points and to make the necessary tradeoffs to have it.  The minute we say that we will never again have a cookie or a hamburger or an order of onion rings, we put ourselves in a very tenuous situation from which we can barely do anything but fail.

I have had about five hamburgers this year, one order of French fries and no onion rings as of yet <grin>.

I merely underline that there are some things that we know, via research, are not as helpful to us as other things are.  These unhelpful things are processed sugar, most of all high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods containing lots of salt for flavoring.  I don’t avoid these things altogether, but I do try to minimize exposure.  Conversely, I eat fresh fruits and veggies like they are going out of style.

And that is a weight control program I can do for the rest of my life!!!


Our Next Step

I want to go off topic today to let you in on some news in our lives. Over the last few days and weeks, I have shared the following announcement with the members of Tabernacle, as well as with our close friends from around the country. I am posting it here for my readers’ information.

I want to thank you for praying for us. It has now been four and a half years since Tabernacle called us to lead the music department in Virginia Beach; we have seen successes as well as challenges, and we believe that God is still at work, and will continue to build His church.

However, I believe that He has different plans for my family now. I will be stepping down from the work at Tabernacle at the end of December, and relocating. I have accepted the pastorate at Victory Baptist Church in Eden, NC.

For a while I will be commuting so that I can be in Eden on Sundays and be here during the week. Amy will continue to teach through the month of January until she delivers our fourth child, Asher. (around Feb. 8)

I’m excited about the work God has ahead for my family as we assume leadership at VBC. I’m excited about their involvement in missions. I’m excited about their faithful, complementary leadership. I’m excited about their committed, sacrificial members. I’m excited about their stability (the last time they had a pastoral transition I was 13 years old!) and commitment to the Scriptures. I am thankful to take my place in a long line of pastors sent out by Tabernacle. I’m confident that the result of this move will be a net gain as the Lord works in both churches for His greater glory.

Please pray for us and for the church in Eden during the transition. And pray especially for Pastor Baker and the church in Virginia Beach, that God will guide in selecting individuals and/or couples to fill our former roles in the work.

During this time of transition, your prayers for my family, the work in Eden, and all others involved is greatly appreciated.

Weight Watchers – Week 8

At weigh in this morning, I showed a .8lb gain. This really wasn’t troubling to me as I was down 4 lbs last week and I am aware that I cannot keep that pace. I worked much harder in the gym this week, and stayed on point every day, but I ate all my APs (33) and all but 9 of my WPs. This week, I plan to work just as hard but try not to use WPs or APs. Maybe good results will follow. Fingers crossed. How did you do this week?

My Weight Watchers Experience – by Joye Gray

I never had a weight problem growing up. At twenty-four, I had my first baby, followed 19 months later by the birth of my second child. That’s where my weight problem began. I’ve dieted off and on for the past four years sometimes with great success, and at other times, not so much. But the end result had always been the same: my weight loss, no matter how great or insignificant, has always been followed by regaining all of the lost weight–plus some.
I’ve only done Weight Watchers Online for the past five weeks. But so far, I’ve lost right at twelve pounds. As I’m sure you can guess, I’m pretty stoked! The thing about WWO that has been such an encouragement to me is that absolutely nothing is off limits. Other diets I’ve tried are very restrictive, many times blocking out entire food groups. This is not so with Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers is training me for when the weight is off as well. Their system of weight loss trains you to make good decisions when meal times come around, and it also makes you very aware of what you put in your mouth.

One thing that I’ve been very impressed with about Weight Watchers is that I don’t feel as if I’m dieting. I just feel like I’m keeping track of what I eat–and losing weight, to boot!

I am currently 33 pounds away from my goal weight, and while that seems like a lot, I can already feel and see positive results from the weight I’ve lost.

Have you given Weight Watchers a try? What have your results been? How close are you to goal?

Weight Watchers – Week 4

I was down .8 pounds this week. This is after I manually reduced my points by three (the most that WW will allow). I used weekly points only one day this week and then I only used eight of them. I have tracked religiously. I would like to have seen more weight come off, but the expectation on WW is anywhere from .5 – 2 pounds per week, so .8 is on the lower end of that range. Maybe a big loss is coming, maybe not. I am still at an average of 1.5 per week. If I can do that consistently over twelve months, that would be an impressive amount of weight to lose. On the other hand, I took my measurements today as well; I am down three inches in my waste, and 1/2 inch in my neck. How did you do this week? Please share below.

Weight Watchers Epiphany

This was my 20th consecutive day on plan, so I am not cheating, but today, I gained valuable insights. My wife packed me a nine point lunch consisting of grilled chicken, green bean casserole, and wild rice. I ate it at about 11;45, my normal lunch time. At 12:15, I got a call and request to meet at McDonald’s. I did, and when I got there, I ate a 1/4 pounder with a large fry… I ate it all.

Now, before you go insane, don’t: I am still OP for today. I have 12 points remaining as well as all my weekly points, which start over tomorrow. As for the “valuable insights” you ask? They are two: I got a snapshot of how I used to eat. I was a glutton and I feel this afternoon like I did for 10 years of afternoons. Eating like I did today on a regular basis; no wonder I was always tired and felt bloated.

The second insight I grasped was this: if I give myself the opportunity and occaision to overeat, I will. I wasn’t hungry, I just wanted the food. It is a shameful experience to be dominated by cheap processed food, or any food for that matter. This epiphany doesn’t necessarily mean that I have forever learned my lesson; I will indulge again. But what it did was give me a physical feeling of lethargy and bloatedness to remember the next time I drive by McDonald’s and have a craving!

Have you ever learned a lesson the hard way like this? Would love to hear your story!

Weight Watchers – Week 2

Since I last wrote, several friends and family members have taken advantage of the free month of Weight Watchers. If you are interested in that, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY for this special! I will say that a community of people trying to lose weight together is very helpful for both the accountability and encouragement aspects.

I weighed in today and found that I was down another 4.4 pounds! Again, I used all my daily points (every day except Sunday) and all but 3 weekly points. This, so far, is not hard. I don’t even feel like I have changed my habits that much. Didn’t lose this week? Gained? Check this out!

How is your weight loss going? Let me know in the comments field below.