Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas vs. Xmas

My entire life I've seen and accepted the abbreviated version of Christmas marked "xmas". I never really thought much about it until I realized somewhere that the "x" was actually replacing the word "Christ". I don't know how I never realized it but someone somewhere told me it was so. I vowed never to do it again and if I felt I needed to abbreviate it I did so by replacing "mas" with the "x". Made more sense to me. I want to keep Christ in Christmas in more ways than one.

I've seen a lot of debate about the use of "xmas" lately. It seems to be a hot topic among Christians and non-Christians alike. And it's no wonder. In today's politically correct climate of saying the right thing so as not to offend, I think it is admirable that many of us want to make sure our Lord is not forgotten during this season. A fellow Christian recording artist I know has apparently been getting a bit of flack for using the term "xmas". I've seen him defend his position on twitter a couple of times. Something about "X" being some Greek letter for the first letter of "Christ". I don't know. Didn't really follow it. I just knew it sent a little shiver up my spine when I saw "xmas". Still, this man, whose walk with the Lord I greatly respect, didn't seem to have a problem with the abbreviation and apparently had good reasons why. It made me want to know more about his position.

After I tweeted something using the abbreviation "Christx", one of my followers (thx mumof3boyz) sent me a link to this article about the use of "x" for "Christ". Now I understood! I've heard of a Jewish custom that admonishes one to not say the name of God out of reverence (like "G_d" or even "I AM". This seems to be similar in thought. I've also recently heard of the "x" representing the cross that Jesus died on for our salvation.

What I've reconciled in my mind is that for some, xmas is simply tradition that many don't give a second thought to, for some it is out of reverence, for some it offends. Because I don't have the ability to divine people's motives, I dare not judge either way. I choose to walk out my convictions in love. Romans 14 puts it better than I can. Check it out in The Message here. Whether the dispute is about the right foods to eat, the right days to celebrate, or the right way to refer to "Christmas", let's not cause our Christian brothers to stumble by forcing our our convictions on disputable matters on each other. If you call Jesus "Lord", you are my brother. That is the issue of salvation. The rest of it that causes many to argue and fuss, we'll finally figure out in eternity.

For me, what is more important during this season is that I remember why I celebrate Christmas. I love the time with my family. I like giving and getting gifts. I look forward to watching "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Carol", and "Miracle on 34th Street" every year. I never tire of singing "Jingle Bells", "Deck the Halls", and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". But may I never ever forget that Christmas celebrates the birth of the most important person in my life. 

I love birthdays. I try to tell my family and friends how much they mean to me on their birthday. I give them gifts, but more importantly I make it a point to tell them the impact they have had on me. How I couldn't imagine my life without them in it. How I cherish the times we have spent together. In the end I want them to know that I am glad they were born.

How much more should I tell this to the man who saved my life? Who gave me purpose, hope, and joy? Who set me free (in more ways than one)! The man who came in a way that no one expected? He does that a lot doesn't He? People were looking for a man mighty in stature and wealth. He came in the form of a baby in a lowly manger. But shepherds, wise men, even animals recognized his deity. And so do I. Jesus Christ is Lord. I respect Him. I revere Him. I honor Him. I adore Him. And THAT is what Christmas means to me....but I'm still gonna say "Christx"!  It's tradition!

Happy birthday Jesus!
Merry Christmas all!


Friday, November 20, 2009

In a Pit

When I'm in my pit:
My phone doesn't work
I don't want to "tweet"
All I want to do is

Many of you are worried about me...and you don't know why.

Under normal circumstances I would just retreat to my pit and let no one know. But for some reason, this time, I had to open my big mouth and tell you.

Here's what happened...

Things had been going well. I discovered The Daily Plate, bought my Bodybugg, had my metabolism figured out, and ultimately lost a few pounds, breaking my several month plateau. I finally felt like I'd hit my stride. Surely now the weight would melt off like it had done many months ago. I was determined to reach my goal of 100lbs lost by the end of the year. To add to it, I was now counting calories so I KNEW I was eating my 1700 a day. I also had my Bodybugg so I KNEW I was burning 1000 more calories than I ate each day (with Tina, Zumba, and an additional workout every day). Every night I download the data onto my computer and it told me that I was d0ing everything right to lose 2lbs a week.

I was so excited to weigh that first week. I'd been exercising twice a day and had even renewed my passion to reach my goal of running a mile in 10 minutes. I'd never worked so hard in my life! So you can imagine my surprise when the scale told me I'd gained .8lbs! How did I GAIN a pound? I called Tina and she convinced me that we had worked so hard with heavy weights that week. Muscle weighs more than fat. Ok. I believed her.

Besides, I was going on tour with Don Moen. No time to worry about that now. So the tour began and I daily KILLED myself in the gym. I'd never sweated so much in my life (and I can sweat)! Running on the treadmill, running on the beach, using weight machines, push-ups, crunches, squats. And the food? I passed up high-fat fast food and ate salads, lean proteins, fiber bars. I even discovered The Daily Plate app on my ipod touch, still ensuring I was withing my daily caloric intake. My Bodybugg even told me that I burned an average of 300 calories during my 45 minute show. I felt so good by the end of that week that when I looked in the mirror I could actually SEE a difference in my body. Surely I would see not only a 2lbs loss from this week but my body would probably make up for last week by giving me 2 more lbs shed!

I bounced out of bed Tuesday morning ready for Zumba, and ready for the scale. I can't describe the hurt I felt when the dreaded scale told me I had gained .4 more lbs!!! WHAT!?!?! I'M DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT HERE!!!

That's when I told myself that if I'm gonna gain weight I might as well enjoy it. What am I killing myself for?

Muscle weighs more than fat? BALONEY!
Water retension? WHATEVER!
Menstrual cycle? NOWHERE NEAR IT!

Forget Zumba. I went back to bed. Canceled Tina for the rest of the week. And ate!

I'm still very much in my pit. I usually don't tell you guys until I'm out of it. I know that all of my super spiritual brothers and sister out there may have lost respect for me because of a measly 1.2lbs. I think I've lost respect for myself. I'm sorry if I let you down. Sounds stupid, I know. I can't explain my frustration. I'm working so hard and feel like it's all in vain.

I know that I'll be flooded with people quoting me scriptures and maybe even some of my own song lyrics. I know. I can quote them myself. That doesn't change the way I feel right now.

I appreciate all of your concern and messages you sent me via twitter. I told you I would be honest with you. I let you guys in when I'm on top of the world. Might as well let you in when I'm in my pit.

Now I'm heading to my bus to Ewomen in WV. Don't feel like putting on a mask than grins and lies. Think I won't.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Discoveries On My Journey To Freedom & Fitness!

So many of you are with me on this journey to be healthy! I cannot tell you how connected it makes me feel to hear from you as you incorporate healthy changes into your life. I love hearing about the weight you have lost and the praise reports of how these changes have effected you. We're all in this together!!!

Well I've discovered a few things in the past month or so that I am so excited to tell you about!

1. Metabolism:
Those of us who struggle with weight probably hear this word a lot. But what is it really? In layman's terms, metabolism is the rate that your body burns calories. The metabolic rate for each person is different and depends on several factors. There are certain things that impact your metabolism which you have no control over. These include age, gender and heredity. BUT, you do have control over other things. I learned this the hard way. On October 8th I went to a nutritionist, Eileen Myers, who tested my metabolism. First she calculated what it should be (1704). Then I blew into this machine for about 10 minutes.
When it gave the results of what my metabolism rate actually was she suspected that the machine might be broken! It was so low! 920! Then I showed her my food diary chronicling everything I had eaten in the past week. "Aha", she said. Her next response to me blew my mind. I wasn't eating enough! Huh? Believe it or not, not getting the right amount of fuel will lower one's metabolism. This explained my 80lbs plateau (see my blog entry about that here)! Eileen encouraged me to eat approximately 1700 calories a day (based on my weight and height). I came back to her a month later and re-tested my metabolism. It had gone up to 1510! Woohoo! Did I also mention that I had lost weight? Double woohoo! For more information about metabolsim, including a calculator to determine yours as well as tips to boost it, click here.

2. The Daily Plate (
Omigosh! This website is AMAHHHHZING! Now, I am not one that likes to count calories. But after hearing that I wasn't eating enough I realized that I had no idea what 1700 calories looked like. This website made it so easy to see how much I was eating and opened my eyes to so much more! I learned that despite not putting table salt on food, my sodium intake was way too high (especially for someone who has high blood pressure run in her family). I also learned, and this really shocked me, that I was eating too much fiber! I didn't even know that was possible. But (and I'll try not to be graphic here), this explains my ummm...yeah, there's no way to say this with class. Just use your imagination. Moving on. Every day I quickly type in what I ate (and the more you do it, the more information that is saved so it gets quicker). I couldn't believe that things like "Hungry Girl Krispymallow treats" (from my cookbook) and "Dinner A'fare Finger Lickin' Chicken" (from the place that I make a lot of my meals) were there. I have been able to find every single food that I eat on this website. It also lets me track how many calories I've burned. Give it a try for a week and see if it works for you. Click here for more info. Did I mention that it's FREE!?!

3. Gowearfit
Basically it's a Bodybugg. This lady can explain it better than I can:

I've seen the contestants on The Biggest Loser wear them and always wondered what exactly it did. A friend of mine got one and she loved it! I ordered mine from Amazon (cause I'm always searching for the best deal! And I did not get the optional display device to save $80). Well I've been wearing it for about a week now and am learning so much! I even wore it on stage at Women of Faith in Greensboro this weekend...and pardon me for a moment if you weren't there but I promised I'd tell them how many calories I burned during my 30 minute concert. Drumroll please...almost 250 calories! I TOLD Tina I was workin it on stage! I wore it during zumba today and could not believe how many calories I burned. In just over an hour I burned 810 calories! Not everyone will be able to afford this gadget, but if you can, I think it is a worthy investment to your health.

4. Skinny Cow
If you can't afford a lifestyle and calorie management system...just get some ice cream! If you know me at all, you know that I have a sweet tooth. Well these ice cream yummies are doin it for me! I had been eating the Weight Watchers ice cream treats for a month or so when I saw the Skinny Cow products next to them at Publix. Now to each her own, and the WW treats were good, but Skinny Cow has become a dear close friend of mine. One caveat: all things in moderation. But that being said: Yum!!! I recommend the Cookies N' Cream ice cream sandwiches but I just bought the Strawberry Shortcake ones today. Thought I'd shake it up a bit!

So how are you coming along on your journeys? Let me know if any of you try out some of this stuff. Any tips or products you've discovered that you want to share?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Union SC County Fair

In August my band and I accepted an invitation to sing at the Union County Fair in South Carolina. At that time, the information I received was that this was the fifth year for "Church night at the fair" and that it had been a great success previously. The promoter informed us that thousands had attended the years before and many had come to the Lord during the mandatory invitation (which they informed me someone would do at some point during my set). I was very happy about that and agreed.

However, the weekend before the fair I learned that Michael W Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman would also be in concert at the same time just one hour away at the SC State Fair! Gulp! Don't get me wrong. I adore Smitty and Chappy! But my insecurities began to rise at the thought of disappointing the promoters of the County Fair if no one showed up!

I found myself perusing online to find the fair website and was a bit taken aback to discover that right underneath the picture of my True Beauty album (with my name "Mandisa" as big as day) was the rousing introduction of......"mandEsa". Ugh. Let me pause here to explain that my entire life I have learned to deal with the mispronunciation as well as the misspelling of my name. With a name like Mandisa, you just have to expect some of that...I just wasn't expecting it on a website announcing an upcoming show. Things were not looking good.

On Tuesday October 20th, my band and I boarded our bus for the 7 hour ride to Union. Before we left I led us in prayer. I asked God to protect us on the road, I prayed for my road manager, Sully's health (he had pneumonia), and then I poured my heart out to the Father about my reservations. I confessed that I was not sure what we were in for. I even went so far as to tell God that I didn't know what His plan was, and that He was apparently the only one IN on this plan, but that I knew He had one. I half-heartedly expressed that I trusted Him.

Before we went to bed my friend and background vocalist (bgv), Kisha, showed us a video that put our perspective on the power of prayer. If you have a moment, it is SOOOO worth seeing!

Pray Hannah!

The next morning, before the show that night, another friend and bgv Laura, invited us to Meme's and Pops' (grandma and grandpa) house for a homecooked meal. Mmmmmm is all I have to say about that! Maybe this day wouldn't be so bad after all!...Then we rode to soundcheck. That's when I saw it. One of the night's sponsors, McDonald's, was advertising the show. How wonderful! Or so I thought...

Aghhh! There it was again! mandEsa! I was beginning to get that foreboding feeling again. Why had God brought me here? What in the world did He have planned that night?

On the bus I put on my makeup listening to the flawless sounds of Gold City through the windows. Wow! They were really SANGIN'!

Then Billy & Susan Scott with Checklist Ministries, one of the event's sponsors, came on the bus. As the Scotts told me the story of their son Will, I began to feel convicted about my attitude and humbled that God had called me to be a part of such an amazing vision. Will founded Checklist Ministries to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then at the age of 18, he went to be with the Savior he had told so many about.

I had completely lost sight of what was important. There I was complaining about the spelling of my name and the possible lack of attendance, while people were serving and praying their hearts out for the lost. My perspective completely changed. I realized that God had surrounded me with some of the kindest and most generous people at the Union County Fair. Everyone met me with a smile and was genuinely excited about what God would do that night.

After prayer with my band, we took the stage with excitement. You can imagine my surprise when I looked out into a sea of thousands of Black, White, and Yellow faces. They came! Not to see see Jesus!

About 40 minutes into our set, after "Not Guilty", I motioned to the man standing by the stage that now was the moment for the invitation. He took the mic and introduced a man named Shep Shepherd. It was then that this 6'2, 300+lbs, former NFL man-on-fire, shared his testimony.

My band and I stood on the edge of his every word, amazed at all that God had brought him out of, and all that He had brought him to! His story is so worth hearing! A brief paragraph is here but if you ever have the chance to hear him live, run, don't walk!

As Shep ended by leading those who desired in a prayer of salvation and re-dedication, 17 new believers in Christ were born! Woohoo!!! My band and I finished the evening with a celebration that God had set people free that evening. I left the stage feeling honored to be a very small part in God's master plan to bring others into relationship with Him.

I re-learned a valuable lesson in Union SC last night. When you feel discouraged with what you see God doing (or NOT doing) in your life, trust in what our all-knowing Father declares in Isaiah 55:8-11 (MSG)

"I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work."
God's Decree.
"For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don't go back until they've watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They'll do the work I sent them to do,
they'll complete the assignment I gave them."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Birthday video contest winners!!!

Well you've asked for it. So here it is! There were many videos submitted for my birthday contest. If you are not familiar with the contest, basically I asked people to send me videos of them singing, dancing, and incorporating images to my songs. I got the idea because one of my favorite things to do is to get online and view such videos. I knew that it would be the perfect birthday gift for me!

Before I show you the winners, let me show you one honorable mention. I met these crazy girls at my show in Asheville, NC at Billy Graham's Training Center "The Cove" a few weeks ago. I enjoyed meeting them so much and this video will show you why. They're so funny! Here's Sprig of Joy:

Sprig of Joy Definition Dance from Sprig of Joy on Vimeo.

I wish I could have chosen each video that was submitted to be the winner. They were all so great. So much creativity. So many amazing voices. Such great dancing. It was soooooooo hard for me to narrow it down to 3. So hard in fact that I actually COULDN'T narrow it down to 3. I had a 3-way tie for 3rd place!

Here's the first 3rd place winner. I met Megan Carolin a couple of times. Sweet girl! And we have a lot in common. We are both walking through a very similar journey right now. I know where she is coming from with this video. That's why it meant so much to me:

The next 3rd place winner is Julia Colon. I was NOT expecting this voice to come out of this girl. Wow! Not only can she sing her face off, but she expressed the emotion of this song so beautifully. Keep singing Julia. God has gifted you!

Last but not least, the final 3rd place winner is my girl Brittany Brooks. I'd seen another video she created a while back when she sang "Not Guilty" and the girl can sang! But I was blown away by this video she created. She is so creative! And to make it even better, I got a dose of her beautiful voice too!

See what I mean when I said it was hard to narrow it down? And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

I actually just got off of the phone with the 2nd place winner, Blake Rackley. He is so funny and so gifted. I couldn't believe he was only 17! His video made me laugh and it put the biggest smile on my face. (And him thinking I was 27 helped a little bit too. LOL!):

Last but not least, 1st place went to the adorable Laura Smith. I could immediately tell that Laura was a big fan. I was so sad to hear about her missing me at Winter Jam. But guess what? As the winner of my birthday video contest, I'll get to meet her in a couple of weeks at a show I have at EWomen in Columbus, OH! I can't wait to hug her sweet little neck! It took a lot of bravery to sing "(Never Gonna) Steal My Joy" and despite what she says, I think she has a lovely voice!!!

(You'll probably need to turn up the volume on your speakers to hear this well...)

So there you have it! Congratulations to the winners. Keep an eye out for a box a swag coming your way (however, I get the sneaky feeling that most of you already have signed things from me. Hopefully we can stick some new stuff in there for you)!

Thanks to everyone who sent me a video. If you follow me on twitter, you know what a wonderful birthday I had. Honestly, the highlight of that day was sitting down and watching every last one of your videos! Please do not feel bad if your entry is not above. You all did such an amazing job that you made it too hard on me to choose! I love you so much! Be looking for my thank you card in the mail.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Biggest Winners!

It was my goal to get through an entire episode of "The Biggest Loser" without crying. I guess I'll try to reach that goal next week cuz I was a blubbering mess tonight!

I don't want to spoil the episode for those Tivo lovers like me who haven't watched yet, but I really can't say what I want to without giving away the elimination. Sooooooo...if you haven't watched tonight's show yet STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!!!
Ok. I assume everyone that is left has red eyes from watching tonight's episode, right? I won't even go into all of the details. I'm sure that so many of us have differing opinions about how it all went down. So let me get to the real reason I wanted to blog tonight. I was so moved my the response of Sean and Antoine. Say what you want, it was really big of them to sacrifice themselves for Shay. I think everyone watching knew that she needed to be there. Their words were filled with grace, humility, and self-sacrifice. I was so proud of them for how they handled themselves.

Of course I began rooting for Sean during the premiere episode when I thought that he looked familiar. That night, I paused my Tivo and googled him only to find that I had indeed met him over two years ago. If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is:

I also recognized him from those crazy videos tobyMac did with the release of "Portable Sounds":

Obviously that display of wit and humor was seen weekly on The Biggest Loser, which made me like Sean even more. But seeing his character tonight made him shine brighter than any star in the night sky. I'm so proud of how he carried himself in front of an audience of millions. I'm pleased to call him my brother in Christ. And I'm also so proud of him for continuing to take care of his temple (over 100lbs! You go!)

I saw a few of you send me messages on twitter saying that you were also moved by tonight's show. I figured that maybe some of you would like to send a message to Sean (and Antoine...and how cute are he and Alexandra?!). Go ahead and use the comment section below and I'll make sure Sean sees your messages. I'm sure he could use some encouragement and possibly some motivation as he continues to fight the good fight!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update on my Journey to lose 100 pounds

As many of you know, I have been on a health quest lately. My battle with my weight has been a very difficult and very public one. The difficulties began years ago when I was a child. But the public part began with that infamous barb "Do we have a bigger stage this year" by Simon Cowell on the 5th season premiere of American Idol. Ever since then, my weight has been scrutinized, scoffed at, and mocked. That is the down side. The up side to all of the attention on my weight is that I have been able to be the voice of so many people who struggle in this area.

When I began recording my third full-length album (after True Beauty and It's Christmas), I realized that so many of the songs I was writing and being drawn to were saying things like, "Lift your hands up in the air...I have been set free", "So I can walk through this valley with confidence, knowing You will deliver me", and "My Deliverer set me free from all that held me captive"! It was then that I knew that God was calling me to receive freedom from an area that has held me captive for most of my life. He wanted to set me free from a life-long addiction to food.

I hired a personal trainer (If you follow me on twitter, you are well acquainted with my rantings about Tina). I changed my eating habits. (I don't believe in diets because I've done them all. I believe that whatever you do to lose the weight is what you must do for the rest of your life to keep it off). I began seeing a Christian counselor that specializes in the area of eating disorders. And last but certainly not least, I let God in to this area that, for so long, I've kept hidden from Him (or so I thought).

Since I began doing these things I lost 80lbs. I set a goal to lose 100lbs by the time my album Freedom was released on March 24, 2009. I began filming short videos called "Journey to 100" that chronicled my journey to lose 100lbs. If you have not seen them, here you go!

Video 1: Introduction to my journey

Video 2: Meet my trainer Tina!

Video 3: More info on what I eat

And incase you haven't seen the new is number 4: ZUMBA!!!

As you can see, March 24th came and went (so did April 23rd for that matter)! Now, here is where I will be completely honest. The most difficult part of this journey for me has been dealing with my emotions. I've never done that before. I would always EAT my emotions. That is why working with my counselor is so important. I am learning tools to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. But back in June, I resorted to my old ways of avoiding my emotions with food. I fell into a pit that I felt like I could not claw my way out of! I was still working out. I was just eating anything and everything I desired. You see, my problem is that I binge. There will be periods of time (sometime several weeks) where I will eat nothing but McDonald's, Wendy's, ice-cream, donuts, pie, cake, cookies...basically anything sweet and anything fast food. And let me be clear...I'm not talking about 1 Krispy Kreme donut or 2 scoops of ice cream. It is not uncommon for me to go through an entire carton of ice cream or a dozen donuts in one day. I cringe to think of that and am embarrassed to reveal that publicly, but I want you to know that what I am dealing with is not a slight weight problem. I am a food addict. I would love to say that I will never binge again. But I am realistically saying that I did not today. I will say the same thing tomorrow. And as those days accumulate, I will be free! (And I would really appreciate your prayers in this area).

From that period of bingeing this summer I gained 12lbs! I have since lost those 12lbs and have at this point, lost 80lbs total. Some of my problem has been that I binge. But another problem is that I have hit a plateau. This naturally happens when you have been working out and eating healthy regularly. Your body gets to a certain point and you have to ramp it up to keep losing. In addition to zumba (as you just saw in the 4th video), when my schedule permits I am working out twice a day. Once with Tina or zumba, and once on my own with aerobic dvds or on my treadmill or elliptical.

I hear from many of you who are on this journey with me. Knowing that I am not doing this alone encourages me more than I can express. You understand my struggles. You rejoice with me in my victories. You pray for me during my trials. Please know that I do the same for you.

Many of you have asked, so here are a few tips that have helped me on my journey so far:

1. Don't do this alone! I have a couple of friends on this journey with me. We get together for "Fat Night" (as inspired by Ruby) regularly to talk about how we've been doing, how we've struggled, and to pray with each other.

2. Cardio AND weight training are a must! A few weeks ago there was a guy (trying to sell his book) all over the news spouting false information about cardio workouts not being effective. There has been so much debate on this issue so I will just quickly give my two cents. BOTH ARE IMPORTANT! Cardio does help you burn fat, and keeps your heart healthy. Weight training makes you tone and also helps you lose weight because muscle burns fat.

3. A personal trainer is nice, but you don't NEED one. I love Tina. But not all of you can have a Tina. There are so many great workout videos you can do. Lots of people have exercise equipment collecting dust. Take your clothes off of it, kick in some good high energy music, and go for it. These exercise bands are great for resistance (weight) training. I'm a believer in finding something you enjoy doing because you'll be most likely to stick with it. But while you're looking, and when all else fails, walk around the block, do some squats, push ups, jumping jacks, etc.

4. You know my theory on diets. But in case you missed it, I'll just say this: whatever you do, make it something you can do for the rest of your life. Diets work. Until you hit your goal and stop. Then the second you eat a biscuit...BAM...all the weight comes right back (and usually then some)! I know you want to lose it quickly, but wouldn't it be better to lose it slowly and keep it off? Try incorporating more water, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat (chicken and fish) into your diet. And try to limit white products (white bread, white rice, white flour, sugar, etc.).

5. Learn to deal with the things that cause you to turn to unhealthy food. If you are able to work with a counselor, do! Changing your eating and exercise habits are important but you have to dig up the root if you want to experience true freedom.

6. Read things that will help you on your journey: I recommend Fat Chance by Julie Hadden (available December 1), Lose it for Life by Stephen Arterburn (there is a workbook, devotional, and more), and I talk a lot about my weight in Idoleyes - My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame. (And I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure Ruby Gettinger's Ruby's Diary - Reflections On All I've Lost and Gained is inspiring! Should get mine in the mail next week!)

7. When you fall (notice I said "when" not "if"), GET UP! It is a trick from the enemy to make you feel shame and defeat. Wallowing in that will only keep you down. I have been living on the scripture that happens to be the Women of Faith theme scripture this year: "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

Now is your chance to ask me questions. Nothing is off limits (except how much I weigh! Not quite ready to reveal that yet!) I'll compile your questions and post another blog soon with answers.

We can do this together y'all! The journey won't be easy, but it will be worth it!

Jesus came to set us free! See...
"God's Spirit is on Me; He's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent Me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"..."You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place." (Luke 4:18-21 MSG)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

iMac for sale!

August 25, 2008 I succumbed to pressure of all of my creative-type friends to purchase an iMac desktop computer. I already had a macbook laptop and my PC desktop was so old it was breaking down on me so I thought I'd take the plunge and go Mac all the way!

Here's what I have learned about myself. I'm a PC!!! Even after I added Microsoft Office to the iMac I still could not hang! I could probably learn to adapt to a Mac, I just don't want to! So after using it for 1 week, I bought a new PC and settled my brand new iMac into the corner of my office.

Well, it's been a year and I figured I should do something about it! So, if you are a Mac-lover (and you know who you are because you probably take every opportunity you can to make fun of PC users), and in need of a new computer, check out the specs below and let me know if you're interested.

20 inch
Memory: 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x1GB
Hard drive: 320GB Serial ATA Drive
Apple mighty mouse Apple keyboard
Apple remote
Microsoft Office added

Purchase total: $1648.59
My sale price: $1000.00 (free shipping and handling)

If interested, please email my management office. First come first serve!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Bell Shoals Baptist Church

This weekend was Women of Faith in Tampa FL. I had been looking forward to this particular event for quite some time. First of all, I have loved every show I've ever done in FL! There has always been something memorable that has happened every time I go there (and this was no exception). Secondly, I've been longing to get back to Tampa for a year because of the experience I had last time I was there.

My band and I were scheduled to do a show at Bell Shoals Baptist Church on June 8, 2008. The church was opening a new building and we were to be the first event held there. In the end, we were the second. Monday May 12 the senior pastor, Forrest Pollock and his 13 year old son Preston went missing. On May 13 it was announced that Pastor Pollock and Preston died in a tragic plane accident. The first event held in that new building was their "Celebration of Life" service.

When I received word of this tragic accident I immediately asked God what our role was in coming there just 2 short weeks after these events. I knew God was calling us to minister to the broken hearts of this church, I just felt ill-equipped for the task. This was way beyond me. But surely God had a plan.

Music pastor, Simeon Nix, wanted to speak with me about where the church was in their healing process. That phone call revealed a lot about how God seemed to be moving in the life of Bell Shoals. Simeon told me that Pastor Pollock's wife, Dawn (who still had 5 other children to care for) was instrumental in bringing me to Bell Shoals. He felt certain that God intended for me to be there. When I got off of the phone with Pastor Nix, I felt humbled. Why did God want ME there? What could I possibly say or sing to encourage and bring hope?

I prayed, I fasted, and I pleaded with God to let me in on His purposes. I believe He did. He showed me that it was not my ability but my availability that will make room for Him to work. This wasn't about me. It was about Him...and about them.

That concert on June 8 was unlike anything I had ever experienced before (or since). I sang songs I had never sung before. I was in the middle of recording Freedom but had already written "You Wouldn't Cry (Andrew's Song)", a song of hope that we who are left here on Earth will one day see our loved ones that have gone on to be with the Lord. I had also already recorded "Broken Hallelujah", a song proclaiming that even in our darkest hours we will still lift up worship to our God whom we trust. I added songs my band and I had never done before; songs like "Alpha & Omega" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness". The Holy Spirit's presence was very tangible. My words fail me to describe what we felt that night. But it wasn't just about what we felt. It was what we knew. We knew that God was in control. We knew that He wept with us and hurt where we hurt. And we knew that in the end, He was faithful.

After the concert we went to The Cheesecake Factory (my favorite!) with Simeon Nix, his wife Beth, and their two children Bre'Ana and Sterling. Simeon went on and on about what God had done that evening. We both knew that God was pleased.

My band and I agreed that Bell Shoals would forever be etched in our minds. We felt connected to them in a way that can only be explained as the fellowship of believers.

Then on August 17 I received this message on myspace:
Dear Mandisa,
I am writing to you for 2 reasons. First, I wanted to thank you so very much for coming to Bell Shoals Baptist Church and ministering to our congregation following the death of our dearly beloved Pastor Forrest Pollock. We know he and his son Preston are in heaven but we still miss him so much. Your concert was wonderful and very inspiring. I am so very sad to relay that our dear and wonderful pastor of Worship and Song, Simeon Nix passed away this morning. I know Simeon was instrumental in getting you to come to Bell Shoals, and I thought you might want to know he passed away, leaving his wife Beth and two little children Bre'anna and Sterling. If you remember Simeon, he was our wonderful teddy bear like beautiful Christian leader. Please keep them in your prayers. Both you and Simeon have been richly blessed with amazing voices that you have used to glorify God, and because of that you bless others. Thank you so much, and if you can, please continue to hold our precious church in your heart and prayers. If its at all possible for you to come again, I know we would love to have you. Thank you again. You are a beautiful sister in Christ.
In Christ Alone,
Amanda C. Kaiser, Bell Shoals Baptist Church.

Surely not Lord! My heart was broken! The passing of Simeon Nix was sudden and unexpected. I prayed fervently for Beth, the kids, and the Bell Shoals family. That was an awful lot of tragedy to experience in 3 months time. I immediately made calls to be with them for Pastor Nix's Celebration of Life service but could not logistically work it out, so I prayed from afar. My heart was utterly broken and all I wanted to do was be with my friends at Bell Shoals.

Some months passed and in December I was doing a run of Christmas dates with Matthew West. We had a couple of shows in the south and I was feverishly trying to maneuver a way to get to Bell Shoals. Again, logistically we could not work it out. Months passed but I never stopped praying for them. I felt like Paul in Romans 1:9-13:

And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. . . Please don't misinterpret my failure to visit you, friends. You have no idea how many times I've made plans for Rome. . . But something has always come up and prevented it.

Finally, 2 months ago I realized that Women of Faith would be in Tampa August 14-15. Could it finally happen? I asked my manager to see if I could come and be with Bell Shoals on Sunday the 16th. You should have seen the smile that overtook my face when I received word that they would love to have me! They had a new pastor, Stephen Rummage, who was preaching a series on "Healing the Hidden Hurts". That was perfect because the song I wanted to sing was "He Is With You". It seemed like God was at work once again!

But that is only part of it. It wasn't until I spoke to Bell Shoals members, Yolanda & Phillip Moore, that it occurred to me that this weekend was the 1 year anniversary of Simeon Nix's home-going. I certainly hadn't plan it that way. There is no way Women of Faith could have known. "It just so happened" that the two weekends coincided, right? Wrong! GOD IS IN CONTROL!!!

It meant the world to me to be able to stand on that stage once again and proclaim God's presence to a body of believers who are simply missing their brothers in the Lord. I spoke to several members who, in addition to the corporate heartache, have also gone through individual pains. It struck me that even though we believe it in our heads, every now and then we just need to be reminded that God is with us no matter what we go through.

My lunch after church (at The Cheesecake Factory, where else?) was the perfect way to top off my weekend in Tampa. To spend time with Beth Nix, Sterling, and Bre'Ana warmed my heart.

This body of believers has experienced pain on an extraordinary level. And I'm sure that many of you reading now are facing situations that seem like they will take you out. I will say to you what I said to my friends at Bell Shoals Baptist Church: God will not put more on you than you can bear. No matter what you face, He is with you.

This morning I watched Beth Moore on Life Today. She is on every Wednesday and I was watching an older episode from July that I had saved on my Tivo. In the series "Wrestling With God" (from Genesis 32), she spoke of Jacob who wrestled with God and wouldn't let go until he was blessed. I wrote down a statement she made that had a penetrating effect on me. Beth said "If God has permitted something painful to come into your life experience, it HAS to have the possibility of ending in profound blessing or it gets a "NO"! You see, when we face circumstances that we don't understand and begin to question God's purposes, we should wrestle it out with Him. In the end, we gain intimacy God and effectiveness to be used Him.

I believe that the greater Tampa Bay area will be largely effected by the powerful ministry of Bell Shoals Baptist Church. I believe God will turn their misery into ministry. And I believe He will do the same for you.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Twitter's Thankful Thursday

I think many of you heard about this blog by following me on twitter. If not, and you have no idea what twitter is, then you don't know what you're missing! I invite you to join me on twitter. It is really great to keep in touch with people and meet new friends. You just send out short status updates of 140 characters or less. You can check it out here.

If however, you are already a twitter addict (like me), you have probably seen that I am trying to start a new trend called ThankfulThurs. Every Thursday I am focusing my tweets on things that I am thankful for. It all began July 23rd. During my time with the Lord I felt convicted that I had been complaining a lot about little things. I had lost sight of what was really important in life and began focusing on things that, in the long run, didn't matter. That day I decided that everything I would tweet would begin with "I am thankful..." I liked it so much that I decided to continue it all weekend.

I'll never forget that weekend at Women of Faith in Seattle. The event was great! We laughed. We cried. We had a blast! I believe that many lives were changed and God was glorified. What more can you ask for?

When the event was over, I had quite a commute back to Nashville from the other side of the country. I opted for a later flight Sunday afternoon as opposed to the 6AM flight so I could sleep in a bit. That weekend I had enjoyed tweeting thankful thoughts so much and felt like God was developing a more gracious heart within me. Even thinking back to that now, I can see God's hand in preparing my heart for the trip that awaited me. Flights were delayed, then canceled, I was all by myself and felt so lonely. To top it off, I was under a great cloud of temptation in the area of food. If it were not for my newly developed attitude of gratitude, I guarantee I would've run to the nearest restaurant and drowned myself in a pool of chocolate.

Don't get me wrong. My circumstances were horrible! But through it all I kept tweeting about the things I was thankful for: thankful that I knew I would eventually get home. Thankful for God's wisdom to call American Airlines right after my flight was canceled, ensuring me one of the few remaining seats on the last flight to Nashville. Thankful for great friends (Lisa Whelchel) that would come and spend time with me during my 3 hour delay. Thankful for the grace to resist temptation to eat things that were not good for me. You see, rather than focusing on the things that were going wrong, I fixed my gaze on Jesus and all of His blessings. By the time I did finally get home (at 2AM), I wore a big smile on my face and bubbled over with thankfulness for how God provided for me during that trip.

I learned a valuable lesson that weekend. I believe that thankfulness benefits us more than it does anyone else. It completely changes the way we see things and makes room for God to work in ways we would not see otherwise.

I figure that if we can suggest the latest tunes we love on #MusicMonday or recommend our favorite tweeters on #FollowFriday, why not pass on something that can change someone's life on #ThankfulThurs? Have you ever noticed that thankfulness is contagious? Will you join me in centering your tweets on things you are thankful for every Thursday? Tweet thankful thoughts often and be sure to put "#ThankfulThurs" at the end. Let's make this a trending topic so when people click on the trending topics list, they will see the fingerprints of God. And don't forget to retweet to all of your friends!

Let's start a thankfulness revolution!


"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." Colossians 3:15-16 NLT

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My new blog! Woohoo!

Well I've finally done it! After years of posting my blogs on myspace I finally decided to upgrade to the real deal! Welcome to my official blogspot!

Here's what you can expect on this blog: total honesty. It's one of my curses...oops, I mean best characteristics. I'm afraid I'm just not very good at hiding the truth. I've often been asked in interviews if it is difficult talking about certain things so publicly. I mean, let's face it. It's not too often that you'll hear a Christian recording artist confess to having questions about prayer, feeling lonely as a single woman, or fighting a 20-plus year food addiction. But here is what I have learned since being in the limelight: there are a lot of people on this journey with me. They have questions just like I do. I think there are enough people wearing masks and pretending they have it all together. As far as weight is concerned, the last thing I wanna see is some stick thin girl on Oprah telling me how great she feels now that she's lost the 15 lbs. and giving me the secret to her success. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't turn down in invitation to Oprah (call me girl!), but I have a whole lot more to lose than 15 lbs. And I figure that we can do it together. Are you with me?

I have to confess, I was partially inspired to create this blog after returning home a few hours ago from the movie theater where I saw "Julie & Julia". Excellent movie! Best I've seen in a long time! (I only deduct points for a handful of language including one F-bomb. There are also a couple of sensual innuendos but nowhere near what many movies tend to celebrate). And I am willing to go on record by saying that Meryl Streep is perhaps the best living actress in the world. I laughed. I cried. I left hungry.

So thanks for swinging by! I invite you to join in on the fun! I love hearing from you. Talk to you soon!