Eight years ago this week, we moved from a tiny town in Oregon's lush green Willamette Valley to the desert city of Las Vegas. Last Sunday I realized this anniversary was a week away and I weighed only three pounds more than I did eight years ago. My weight has gone up and down a bit here, first when we discovered a bakery with Two Bite Scones, then when I had a child and quickly lost the baby weight and promptly had another child, and then when that baby weight was beginning to disappear I had a tough year and I ate a lot of baklava. Thanks to the Flat Belly Diet I lost most of the weight this spring, and I've maintained this summer, all the while eating fabulous food.
But last week I decided that it was ridiculous to be just three pounds from my goal, so I went into action. I cut my calories from 1400-1600 a day down to 1200 (by Friday I'd remembered that I cannot live on 1200 calories for more than four days in a row without becoming a grumpy mom), cut my caffeine down to one cup of coffee or two cups of tea a day, drank gallons of water, and walked.
It is, of course, August, so going for a long walk outside is not very comfortable in the desert unless one rises at 5 a.m. I don't. I walked indoors with my pedometer, watching Rick Steves travel dvds and Rosemary and Thyme mystery dvds. I walked a total of thirty-six miles last week.
I really like Rick Steves Best of Europe series. Last week I watched the Italy and France dvds. I learned something interesting in the Provence episode. Rick Steves was touring a vineyard, and the owner was telling him how wonderful Provence was for grape-growing. She said Provence had two wonderful things: sun and poor soil. "Poor soil?" he questioned. "Yes," she replied, "because the vine must suffer to bear fruit." I would have expected a vineyard to need rich soil, but according to this owner, the poor soil was actually a benefit.
I thought of our experience, moving to Vegas, away from our families and the landscape we loved and the rain we honestly enjoyed and the ocean...and surprisingly we love it here. Without many of the things that brought us such joy, we had to lean on God in new ways. Our family has grown and we've found ministries. Though I wouldn't call our experiences "suffering," I could identify with the idea that serving God ("bearing fruit") is more dependent on the Sun above than one's location.
Happy are the people who know the joyful shout;
Lord, they walk in the light of Your presence. (Psalm 90:14)
And I'm happy to report that I lost those three pounds.
(Note: my quote from the vineyard owner may not be verbatim; I don't take very good notes while I'm walking. I'd be happy to hear from vineyard owners to know if this information is true for other locations or just in Provence.)