Friday, November 30, 2012

In The Flesh

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am not particularly a shy person.  I am by no means flamboyant, but I don’t mind real conversations.  My illness is another matter, though.  I have been very open about my medical condition, but I always try and keep it brief and positive...I mean let’s face it, nobody really wants to hear constant sob stories, and neither do I.  I am by nature a fighter- giving up is not in me to do.  But some things are just bigger than me.  I almost posted this once before, but it was just too personal and it has taken me time to work up to this.  In fact, I don’t think I am ready for for it now...but I may never be.

So I have decided I am going to share my story with you anyway.

Many of you know the story, but you may not know “my side” of it.  It all started after I gave birth to my third child, Natalie.  She was my first girl and she is absolutely perfect and is such a blessing to us.  I was breastfeeding her and less than 2 weeks after she was born I got mastitis, which is a relatively common breastfeeding infection.  The only difference was, I did not get it in the conventional way.  There are several ways you can treat this infection at home, and if it doesn’t go away you can take antibiotics- but I never had that chance.  I had 4 hours from the very first symptom of being sick till I was being rushed to the hospital.  It all happened very fast- the sudden fever, the chills, the shaking, losing coherency.  I was admitted to the hospital and spent 3 days there.  It took some time before they found a medication that worked and I was kept there an additional day so they could make sure the infection did not get into my bloodstream.  But my blood was clear and they found an antibiotic that started working, so I was discharged and continued taking the medication at home.

Ten days later my nightmare began.

I will skip over the horrible specifics, but I ended up in the office of an infectious disease specialist and was told I had gotten Stevens-Johnson Syndrome from the antibiotic.  My skin was burning, my eyes were burning, and I had to have continual monitoring to make sure my internal organs were not shutting down.  I had headaches every day, my body hurt, my eyes hurt, and I was bedridden many days.  It took 6 months for me to recover to what my new normal would be.  After seeing an eye doctor for a year, it is confirmed that my eye damage is permanent- I used to wear contacts every day and now my eyes cannot support them for more than a few hours.  I am sensitive to certain lighting and often my eyes just hurt.  I get raging headaches.  My body is often tired and achy.  Some days I am in constant pain.  Every couple of months I have a flare up and I just can’t function and am bedridden.  

It has been almost 4 years and nothing has helped.  I have tried dietary changes, exercise, massage therapy, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, muscle relaxers, acupuncture, etc., etc.  To tell someone who is by nature a fighter that it is out of their hands is excruciating.  It is almost unbearable.   

I still have not come to terms with it.  I try and be positive and I try and go about my life and only deal with it when it comes up, but the reality is I am not OK.  When I have a “flare up” and need to go to bed, Jeff has to take off of work to run the house and take care of the kids.  I cannot even articulate how that makes me feel.  To have to be in bed and not care for my kids.  To know the effect is has on our finances.  To feel the stress on Jeff’s shoulders with having to take care of home, kids, and a sick wife.  And to know that I am the cause of this.  

As if that is not enough, things have taken a turn for the worse the past 3 months.  What used to be a predictable occurrence every couple of months has become a daily condition.  I don’t know what happened or why this is happening, but my condition has worsened and for the past few months I am in pain every single day.  I am exhausted.  I try and bear the pain for as long as I can, but eventually I have to take something to deal with it.  The exception is when Jeff works late- I I won't take medication when I am alone with the kids.  I work very hard to put the pain and fatigue on the back burner until the kids are in bed and I can just lay down.

A couple weeks ago I thought I was getting better finally.  For about a week I started to feel better, and just when my mood was lifting and I was getting excited, it went right back down.  My doctor wants to see me again to start a grueling round of going to specialists.  A part of me wants to do this in hopes that someone, somewhere will have something that helps.  But the other part of me doesn’t want to take all that time and energy on something that may have little chance of success.

I feel like I have an understanding of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.”  I have something in my life that is a hinderance and there is nothing I can do about it.  No matter how hard I try I am at the mercy of my condition.  No amount of work, positive thinking, or sheer will is changing this.  I wish I could say that I am surrendering this to God and am trying to learn the lesson He has for me.  I’m just not there yet.  I spend much of my time fighting off depression and negative thoughts.  I blame myself for all the hardships it brings to my family.  I hate being weak and sickly.

I just didn’t think the battle would be like this.  There are a whole bunch of scenarios I had in my mind when I thought of serving God, but this was not one of them.  All of the other difficulties we are facing right now at least have some eternal bearing- I know my character is being built and I know a testimony is in the making. But this?  I just don’t see anything spiritual in this, which makes living through it even worse.  

Please don’t feel sorry for me.  Seriously.  Pray for me, but don’t feel sorry for me.  Pity is right up there with weakness, and I will have none of that.  God is not flippant, and this did not catch Him off guard.  I am not at the place where I have given this into His hands, but I need to get there.  Whether or not I see a reason for this does not change that He is sovereign and I need to find a way to serve Him and trust Him WITH my illness.  He was worthy before, and He is worthy now.

This truly is a test.  I said I would walk the valleys if it meant following Him.  But I guess I only meant the valleys that I saw as worth it.  I think that is why I love the story of Joseph so much...every hardship in his life seemed to have no purpose- and yet he was faithful.  His faithfulness to the Lord in every step of his seemingly futile journey led to one of the greatest moment’s in Israel’s history.  His faithfulness in his own walk set the stage for God’s faithfulness to an entire nation.  You are sleeping if you think that you can exclude any area of your life and still be following the Lord whole-heartedly.  So don’t give up.  Don’t assume that what you are facing has no bearing in the spiritual realm.  God can reach down and heal me at any moment.  But until He does, it's up to me to continue to love Him and trust Him.  If I have any shred of integrity in my walk, this is where it gets put to the test.  

And I sure as heck don’t plan on giving up now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TMTT- Toilets, Training, and Time Alone

We meet again. :)  Just want to say a big thank you to all of you who have been so supportive of my blog.  It has been so great getting feedback from you and to have you share your tips with me.  There is nothing better on this journey than learning from one another.

On that note, I hope you like to read about poo poo and pee pee!  hehe  Sorry, apparently I am a four year old at heart. 

  1. How do you potty train your kids?
I don’t!  Seriously, I don’t.  There are a few reasons why I do not potty train.  First of all, I don’t really have the time or the energy to spend any length of time focused solely on one of my kids’ elimination needs.  One time I tried the whole “set the timer and put the kid on the toilet every 20 minutes” thing, and after 2 hours I threw the timer in the toilet.  But the main reason I don’t do it is because I FIRMLY believe that a child has to be ready for it to be truly successful (as in the child has had a positive experience and be truly able to do it mentally, physically, and emotionally).  Yes, you can potty train a child when they are young, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready in all areas, and that can lead to frustrating moments for mom and child.  I don’t think learning to use the toilet should be something a child has to be anxious about, nor do I think it should be something he/she gets pushed to do.  Yes, it is nice to not have to change diapers, but it is even nicer to have a child use the toilet when they are mentally and physically ready without any yelling/stress/control issues going along with it.  Using the potty is not made into a big deal in my house until the child starts to do it themselves, then they get cheered on and given a little candy as a reward when they do go.  Four months ago, I had 2 kids in underwear.  Today, I have 4 kids in underwear...and I didn’t do a thing to make that happen. Of my 4 in underwear, 2 still use a diaper when they have to poop, and 3 need pull-ups at night (one of those being my 6 1/2 year old).  I just think it’s sad to make a big stressful deal out of something that WILL happen naturally when they are ready, even without your help.  I have never really done a thing (other than explain and let them know what to do), and when each child was ready they simply started doing it on their own. My daughter was fully trained for several weeks, and then suddenly decided she wanted back in diapers again.  Whether it was a control issue or an emotional one, it really doesn’t matter- she needed to be able to make that choice and feel secure, so I let her go back to diapers...and eventually when she was ready she went back to the potty.  I have had kids trained before they were 3 years old and kids that were not trained until they were almost 5.  But what I have never had are any tears shed or fights had over it.  This is sometimes more about the parent than the child- moms tend to feel like they have to hit a certain mark to be a “good parent”.  You may feel “pressure” to start training your child simply because they are a certain age.  If you can get over that -in all areas of your parenting- than you will be free to have a much more pleasant time raising your kids.  Raising kids is a marathon- don’t blow all your energy now on the small stuff, cause there are way more important things down the road. ;)   
  1. Do you co-sleep?  Do you use the cry-it-out method?
My parenting has changed over the years, and in my opinion, has gotten better the more I have learned and the more kids I have had.  I do NOT do the cry it out method, however I also do not do everything “on demand”.  When I have a baby, I immediately get them on a schedule, but I don’t do it “by force”.  I try and steer the feedings to happen every X amount of hours, and then I try and get it on the hours I want.  But if at any point the baby cries off schedule and will not be pacified any other way, then of course I will not let them cry or withhold the bottle.  Every one of my kids has slept through the night by the time they were about 10 weeks old- some earlier, but none much later.  I don’t deny them the bottle or let them cry until they pass out...but I do try other methods of appeasement before just giving them the bottle in the middle of the night.  After the first 2 months, sometimes just rocking them with a pacifier makes them fall back asleep.  Sometimes I will do that the first time or 2 that they wake up, and then if they continue to wake up I feed them.  But eventually their bodies adjust to not needing the bottle in the middle of the night, which is eventually the goal.  But also keep in mind that I cannot breastfeed, so this is based on bottle feeding.  But I do not let the baby cry- a little fussing here and there, yes, but when baby cries I am there.
I do not co-sleep with babies, I have them in a bassinet either in my room or in a room nearby.  As for when they get older, they do get put in their own room and bed, but I have a very flexible and open bed policy.  When I am still awake, kids must be in their own beds, but once I am asleep if kids wake up and want to come in my bed then I let them.  I love that when they wake up in the middle of the night they come right to day they won’t be little and won’t want to be in my bed, so I am going to take every opportunity I can to be with them.  I also want them to know that they can ALWAYS come to me if they are scared or just need some closeness.  

  1. How do you get any time alone with your husband?
Considering how many kids I have and the crazy work schedule my hubby has, I have to say we spend a lot of time together.  We are very close anyway, so during the day we are always texting and calling one another.  And I may have mentioned this before, but I am very strict with night time.  My kids are in bed promptly by 7/7:15 every night.  Unless Jeff is working and I have a special date with my kiddos, bedtime is non-negotiable.  The kids know that once bedtime comes the night is over.  I am also pretty strict about not doing anything once the kids are in bed.  I don’t use it as a time to do laundry, dishes, or anything else.  I use my days for work and my nights for rest.  So once the kids go down it’s me and Jeff time until we fall asleep.  This is also something you have to be deliberate about...we are at a time in our lives where we are kind of cut off from the outside world.  Yes, I do hang out with friends once and a while, but for the most part we make sure we are both home at night.  We really protect the time we have together.  One day when the kids are older we may each start to do more things out of the house but for now, we pretty much are both home together whenever Jeff isn’t working.  The early years of child rearing can be very hard on your relationship if you are not careful.  You do not want to let life take over- it’s important to be keeping your marriage relationship strong.  It can be very easy to get sucked into the craziness of your life and not even realize that you are losing strength in your relationship.  It is easy to take for granted that your spouse will always feel loved and that your relationship will always be strong, but that doesn’t just happen on it’s own if you don’t feed into it deliberately.  It takes sacrifice, but it is more than worth it.

Next week is going to be a great post, so keep your eyes open for that one.  I have interviewed 3 friends of mine who were home-schooled growing up, and asked them a lot of questions regarding their experiences, what they liked about it, what they didn’t like, etc.  I am looking forward to this one because as a homeschooling mom,  I would love some tips to make it a better experience for my kids.  

Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Answered Prayer

Well I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I can’t tell you how mine was yet, because we are celebrating it tomorrow.  Jeff worked at the church all day yesterday, so we are doing a nice dinner with my family tomorrow.  But I’m sure you all had a nice time and I bet that you were reminded of all you have to be thankful for.

It’s not that I am not grateful for all that I have- because I am.  But one day filled with turkey and stuffing may bring nice thoughts, but it doesn’t suddenly mean that everything is going to be better.  I have not shied away at all from sharing with you that I am in a wilderness time in my life right now.  And with the desert comes some real hard core testing.

In spite of everything however, I found the thing I am most grateful for, and it goes beyond the things that can be taken away (family, health, freedom, etc.).  I have learned in this time that nothing is off limits to being tested.  With the exception of the health and happiness of my children (and that is no small thing), I have been put under the fire in every other area...and this is what I am most grateful for because it is what I have prayed for all my life.

No, I have no specifically prayed for life to be this hard.  However, 19 years ago when I gave my life to the Lord I committed from that day on that I would serve Him with all that I have.  And then I went a step further- the prayer of my heart and of my life since that day is to be so deep in Him that the only part of me that remains are sincere humility and the deepest of integrity.  There is only one road to that destination, and I am walking part of it right now.

I am not necessarily saying that the only way to be truly humble and of deep character is to go through suffering.  Well, actually maybe that is exactly what I am saying.  Yes, there are seasons of blessing and when they come I will embrace them...but if you truly submit your entire self to God then He is going to walk you down some dark roads- not because He is cruel, but because if you really want true integrity then quite a lot of yourself has to be stripped away.  I think that is why there is a general lack of depth in many people today...there is a reluctance to really walk the path that leads to depth.  I get it.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  And it takes a lot of sacrifice.  But then again, I cannot imagine living my life for Jesus yet not being willing to walk the depths of the valleys to be closer to Him.  I have met many people and read many books throughout my time in Bible college and in ministry, and the one thing that people of true depth and substance have in common is that they have all walked some dark roads.  They are so stripped away and so deep in Him that they don’t even realize how powerful their souls are.  And I think that is the beauty of it...when you finally achieve the goal, you don’t even know it.

I am not anything special nor have I arrived to any level of greatness.  But I want to.  I will not abandon this road that I am on just because it has gotten so hard.  I have always prayed for character and He is answering my prayer.  I will choose to embrace the challenges He deems me fit to face and I will always keep walking.  Maybe, just maybe, one day I will finish my race as the person He wants me to be.  

And for that chance I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just popping in to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  Here's a few pics to give you a laugh...hope you're enjoying your day and I will see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TMTT- Schedule and TV

So that you don't think I am insanely serious all the time, I promise to keep this post light!  I really wanted to get some other moms feedback on this one, but I did not get on that in time for this post.  So today I am going to answer the question of what my typical day looks like, and then another question about what my TV rules are.  Keep an eye out at the end of this post, because I have a question for you!

1) What do you do all day?
Haha...usually this question is asked quite seriously.  In fact, I sometimes ask myself the very same question...and I usually can't answer it!  When I think back on my day I really can't say I actually did anything, yet I know that I am crazy tired by the end and that if I DIDN'T do whatever it is I did, then the house and kids would have fallen apart!  But an extension to this question is people actually wanting to see roughly what my day looks like, so I will give a breakdown of what our day looks like.  When I only had small kids, I used to have this HUGE board up in my dining room with a bunch of interchangeable times and activities and I would create the board for the day so that the kids and me would know what we would be doing and what time we would be doing it.  This was for my helped me pass the time and get everything done, while also keeping the kids from nagging or being aimless all day.  I do not do this now, mainly because now that I have older children the dynamic has changed.  With homeschool and having kids old enough to know the basic routine, we all basically know what is going on during the day.  So here is a basic sketch of what a typical day looks like:

7am- Get up (the kids are up earlier than this, but they just play with each other.  They know to come to  
         me at 7)
7:15am- Feed baby, start making breakfast
7:30am- Breakfast
8:15- Kids get dressed, clean rooms, make beds, clean house
8:45- Memory Verse time (I sit with the kids and go over Bible verses with them)
9-10- Kids play, I do chores (start laundry, do dishes, change bedsheets, etc.)
10am- Kids get piece of fruit and a dvd
           Anthony starts homeschool- sometimes he does his seat-work and sometimes we do lessons
11:15- Kids clean house
11:30- Lunch and then the younger kids take naps
12:30- Joey and Natalie play down in the family room (they don't nap but are in preschool 2 days a 
           week so don't homeschool yet).  This is when Anthony will do whatever we didn't do in the 
           morning, either seat-work or lessons
2:00- Outside play, I do more chores
3:00- Snack outside
3:30/4:00- Kid come in, watch dvd
4:45- Kids clean the house/do any chores I ask them to do
5:15- Dinner
6:00- Clean up, wash, get little ones dressed for bed
6:20- Family church- Jeff leads in worship, Bible story, prayer
6:45- Little ones to bed
7/7:30- Older boys to bed

This is a basic day, but we have a lot of variations- 2 kids go to preschool 2 mornings a week, Jeff works 3 nights a week, there is church Wednesday night, etc.  This is what a normal day looks like when Jeff doesn't work at night.  I found my days were much more difficult when I had less kids and they were younger...I used to get so bored!  And that was why I had such a detailed schedule, to keep myself sane.  Now I am very busy, but we have a flow to the day.  Hope this helps...I am a big proponent of daily schedules.  Sure, they are fluid, but at least they give you some kind of guide for the day.

2) How much TV do you let your kids watch?
I personally feel like this is one of the questions that most moms are not honest about.  Maybe they don't mean to, but I just think they either don't realize how much TV they watch , or they feel guilty so they down play it.  You all should know by now that I don't live by guilt.  I am not perfect by a long shot, but I don't apologize for the areas I need to work on..I just work on them as I can.  I am doing my best and will continue to do my best, and when I have an area that I need to work on, then I will be honest about it and work on it.  I encourage you to do the same! That being said, I let my kids watch a lot of DVDs.  Probably more than they should, and one day when our life stabilizes a bit I will work on it.  Last year when we were renting this great house and we had our own space, I was really good about how much they watched.  But this year with all the moving and me being sick, I just do what works.  There are days where they watch a couple hours and days where it's on and off nearly all day.  If I am really tired I will tell them they can put a DVD on in the morning.  I really love watching movies, so this is an area I personally indulge in too much anyway myself.  However, I will say this...and I am firm on this...I think you should be less concerned with how much tv they watch and be much more concerned with the CONTENT of what they watch.  We do not have cable.  The only tv they can watch are the dvds that I own.  And I don't care that my 6 1/2 year old son still watches Veggie Tales and Dora- it's that or nothing.  I will not allow them to watch anything that I don't want them mimicking or influencing their hearts.  Just because he is getting older does not mean I have to let the ratings we watch get older too...I still have little eyes and ears in the home, and I'm sorry but I just don't want my sons innocence to be taken away.  I do provide older dvds, and they are ones with good morals and values that I don't mind my kids being influenced by.  I let them watch Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, The Miracle Worker, The Waltons, 19 Kids and Counting, etc. You cannot ignore the fact that what you allow your kids to see and hear WILL influence their hearts and mind.  I am raising my kids to respect me and others, and to love the Lord...and I am diligent not to allow anything to undermine what I am teaching them.

Ok, so I told you that I had a question for you.  I am going to be doing a TMTT coming up on homeschooling...from the kids perspectives.  I have a few friends that were home-schooled as kids and are now all grown-up, so I am going to be interviewing some of them. all of you who are homeschooling or are just curious, I want to know what questions you might want to ask someone who actually was home-schooled themselves.  Maybe you want to know what they liked about it and what they didn't, or maybe you are curious about if they feel they socialized enough... I know I have a bunch of questions, but I want you to ask some as well.  SO if there is anything you have ever wanted to know, now is the time to ask!  You can submit your questions to my email at or facebook me your questions.  

Hope you enjoy your Tuesday and since I won’t see you until after, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

(This picture is really old, but you can kinda see the big schedule board we used to have behind Jeff!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Turning The Tide

Wow.  Ok, so this past Tuesday’s blog had more reads than any other blog since I started sharing.  I had over a hundred hits just in the first few hours of posting.  I was not really trying to get on a soapbox for that one, it just kind of came out because I am passionate about the subject.  I guess you are too.

I can’t help but expound a little bit on the topic.  I am not going to be talking about weight per se, but a much deeper root on the issue.

You may be getting a little tired of this, but I will say it again anyway- life is not complicated.  Situations can be complicated, but the tools we have are simple and versatile.  There are some basic life principles that, if you put into play, can really deal with anything.

In this case, I am talking about the principle of sowing and reaping.  It is no secret that what you sow you will reap.  There are a million examples I could give, but I think you know what I am saying.  And maybe you are wondering what this has to do with losing weight, but stay with me here.

I go through ebbs and flows in my life...sometimes, I spend my time baking, reading good books, praying, listening to worship music, having great conversations, serving at church.  Then there are times where I am tired, I watch junk on tv, I don’t open my Bible, I play in the internet and I just kind of go through my days.  Guess which times make me feel bad about my appearance?  Go figure.  What you reap is what you will sow.  If you put garbage in, then you will be looking through a dirty lens.  I don’t blame Hollywood at all...the only reason they continue to do it is because we are funding it.  Don’t say you hate the media’s pressure if you are the one seeing the movies, buying the magazines, and surfing their sites on the internet.  Nobody is forcing me to compare myself to them...I am doing that all by myself.

This makes me really, really mad.  Not just mad at myself, but mad at us women as a whole.  As a Christ-loving woman, I should look NOTHING like the world.  I should be at peace, not striving as if I have an inner void.  What many of you may not realize is that your internal feelings show on the outside.  There are ladies I see who are absolutely gorgeous...but yet their beauty is so fragile.  When you look at them, your eyes see beauty but your soul is not at peace with them.  A woman who is trying so hard to be noticed has the opposite effect than she wants.  Yes, she will get looked at...but she won’t truly be desired.  

Charm is very deceptive and as we all know, beauty does not last forever.  But a woman who gives her life in true devotion to the Lord- she is the one with true beauty and who is truly desired by those around her. (my version of Proverbs 31:30)  You need to have an honest conversation with yourself about what it is you want.  There are millions of women who play the game, and the ending is always the same.  For a while, she is at the top...envied, lusted after, complimented regularly.  But slowly over time, there will always emerge someone younger/thinner/prettier leaving her feeling desperate to compete.  She only feels value if she can keep her looks up.  But when all is said and done she is left a shell of a woman who never truly knew love or peace.

Sorry but us Christian ladies can be just as bad. We think that because we are married, go to church, and are not out clubbing then we are not the same.  Listen, the way it plays out may be different but the inner stuff is the same.  How often when we all hang out do we hear the following:  “Ugh, I hate my thighs”, or “Oh I really shouldn’t eat that”, or “I really need to lose weight”, or “Did you see so-and-so, she looks so good...I wish I looked that good after having kids!” and so on, and so on.  This is NOT what we were created for.

Listen, if you want to lose weight, then be my guest.  But do it as a side note, not as the main chapter of your life. This is more than losing is about your motive behind it.  I hear all the time “I just want to lose weight to be healthy.”  But most of the time that is not true; we really just want to lose weight to look good.  Why do I think that?  Because most of the things we try and do to lose weight are not healthy, nor are other areas of our lifestyles.  Vicki Iovine once said “If we could lose weight by eating candy and smoking cigarettes, then all the gyms would close overnight and be replaced by 7-11s.”  I think this is true.    

I read the following verses from Jeremiah last night and I want to share.  (This is God talking to the people):

“...even the prophets and priests all tell lies.  They tried to heal My            
                   people’s serious injuries as if they were small wounds.  They said 
                   ‘It’s all right, it’s all right.’  But really it is not all right.  They should 
                    be ashamed of the terrible way they act, but they are not ashamed 
                    at all.  They don’t even know how to blush about their sins...Stand 
                    where the roads cross and look.  Ask where the old way is, and 
                    walk on it.  If you do, you will find rest for yourselves.” (Jer. 6:13-16)

Listen, I am not particularly trying to be harsh, but while it seems like a light issue, it is actually very somber and serious.  This is not just the issue of’s an issue of where our hearts and minds lay.  I am speaking to myself as well...the things we are filling our minds with are appalling.  Most shows on tv today are filling with women dressed to kill, while the plot lines all revolve around having sex.  It is any wonder that we are bound to our looks when we fill our hearts and minds with such trash?  

And so I come to the reap what you sow.  Like this verse says- ask where the old way is.  Walk on the paths of honor and righteousness and you will find REST for yourself.  Become a woman who seeks hard after God and you will see other things fall into place.  We are hurting as a church and it is largely due to the fact that there are fewer and fewer uncompromised women in it.

You can’t have both friends.  You cannot reap what you have not sown.  Let’s change the tide here.  Let’s stand up, call a spade a spade, and refuse to be captive any longer.  

We were meant to live for so much more.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TMTT- Diet and Exercise

So these are some questions I have gotten and I am more than happy to answer them.  I will continue to be honest in my answers and I hope that this post inspires some of you and helps you remember that you are amazing because you’re YOU.

  1. What do you do to lose weight after having a baby?
Being asked this question implies that I am thin, which I am not.  Now don’t misunderstand me- I am darn proud of my body and all that it has done and I have NOTHING to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.  I have lost weight between each pregnancy, and I am more than happy to share my experiences with you.  And as always, I will be honest...if you want to get all hung up about the numbers on my scale then be my guest, because I sure as heck won’t.  Before we started having babies, I was 21 and weighed about 135 lbs.  It is a great weight for my height and build, but I also was very young and had not really settled into my “womanly” body yet.  With all but one pregnancy, I ended up weighing about 200 lbs. by the time I delivered.  Some pregnancies I over-ate and some I did not, yet I still seem to gain quite a bit of weight.  This last pregnancy I was very, very determined to do better and I weighed 183 at my final weigh in.  And after each pregnancy, I have worked my way down to the 140’s (anywhere from 142-149).  This has become my comfortable weight, as I have now settled into my late 20’s and my body has defined itself.  I am currently in the high 140’s, but I really can’t say for sure because I broke up with my scale along time ago.  Occasionally I will weigh in to keep tabs (and even this I am thinking is pointless), but other than that I don’t ever look when at the doctor.  I feel great and my clothes are stating to fit again, so I’m happy.  Do I diet?  Well, yes and no.  When I diet, I do weight watchers.  This time around I did not, because it just wasn’t doing it for me.  As of now I am just very mindful of what I eat.  I do not eat a lot (despite all my jokes that I do) and what I do eat I make sure it is whole foods.  I am very, very deliberate about what I eat when I am trying to lose weight...I do not obsess or freak out if I want to eat something, but the key is to be deliberate.  If you are, then it won’t matter those few times you do want a treat.  And let me just say this: I want to (and do) enjoy life.  Losing weight takes work, but it is not permanent.  Maintaining your weight is much easier than losing it, so if you buckle down and put the work in now, once you reach your comfortable weight then you can enjoy food again, as long as you are mindful.  So just a recap, if you are not in a weight loss groove, I recommend Weight Watchers as it is very comprehensive, it works, and it really teaches you about eating right.  However, ANY diet will work as long as you are faithful to it.

Just a special side note to married women- the ONLY thing your husband will find unattractive about you is your poor self image.  He just wants to be with you wholly and completely...not with the lights off, or with you saying “don’t touch my tummy, it’s flabby", or wearing layers upon layers to hide yourself.  There is nothing more sexy than a woman who owns what she has.  Sexy is a state of the mind.

  1. Do you exercise?
Sometimes, but usually no.  I am an extreme person...I do not exercise here and there or just for fun...I do it for a purpose.  So if I need help losing weight, or if I want to tone up I find some intense program and kick it’s butt.  I am a P90X graduate.  I do it when I need to do it, and I don’t mess around.  However, I don’t always need to, want to, or am able to.  I intended to start Insanity this month, but my illness is preventing me from doing it.  Oh well, not gonna cry a river over it.  I am a busy, hard working woman and I don’t feel the least bit guilty that I don’t.  I have other ways to promote my health.  When I can and I want to, then I do.  Otherwise, keeping up with 6 kids is all the exercise I get. ;)

  1. How do you find the time to exercise with 6 kids and homeschooling?
Easy...I simply get up an hour earlier than everyone else every morning and work out...LOL JUST KIDDING!  When people say that I think “good for you, but soooo not for me!”  Right now I have a lot of young kids, and sleep is more valuable than gold!  Not to mention that my kids have some crazy mom radar, and the minute I am awake whether it’s 7am or 2am they seem to know it and wake up too.  So what do I do then?  When I do exercise, I treat it the same as dieting: I am deliberate about it.  I find a way to work it into my day.  Sometimes kids are napping and the other are playing outside and sometimes I have several kids climbing my legs while I do.  The point isn’t getting alone for it...the point is doing it consistently, no matter how it looks.  

I sound really confident, and for the most part I am...but I do struggle too. Maybe one day I will have the time and energy to get to where I want to be physically, but for now I need to be confident in who I am rather than what I look like.  There are times, especially after I have a baby or am pregnant, that I feel awful about myself and hate the way I look.  But that’s my problem...and like anything else, if you want to break it you need to be deliberate.  We need to guard our heart and minds and diligently watch what thoughts we allow to get in there.  The more you play on the internet, watch tv & movies, and scrutinize yourself, the more you will feel the need to measure up to perfection and when you don’t, you will forget your worth.  Don’t think it’s not related, because it is.  Instead, spend time with your family, listen to worship music, read the Word, serve at so busy with things that matter that you won’t have time for things that don’t.  Remove yourself from the things of the world and indulge in things of value and then you will remember who you are and who He has made you...which is priceless.

May you have peace today just being you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

True North

Well it’s the Friday after election, so I am assuming you are hoping I have something to say about it.  Sorry to burst any bubbles, but I really don’t have much to say.  The truth is, nothing has really changed.

Yes, I am grieved at things I see happening.  And yes I am concerned about the things I foresee happening in the future. But if it’s one thing I have learned from my time in the desert it’s this: if you take your eyes off of True North, you’ll get lost.

I may be in a crazy, difficult time in my life but I am not lost.  This country may be going downhill, but I am not lost. Things may start spiraling out of control...but that doesn’t mean you have to be lost.  Look, I know the elections were intense...I was nervous the week before, and stayed up late watching as the results came in.  I had my moments of anger and sadness.  But now we move on.

When I say nothing has changed, I am referring to our mission in life.  I was called to serve Christ and reach the lost before the presidential election.  I am called to serve Christ and reach the lost after the election.  Take stock of where you are at...many people were quite active leading up to the election, but what about before?  What about after?  Have you gone back to your normal routine of just living your life?  

The big events usually draw a crowd, but it is the smaller daily events that really matter.  I know at our church we currently cannot even run our children’s programs adequately because we do not have enough teacher’s and helpers.  We can all rise up for a week to pray and demand that this country start honoring God, but can we rise up from our lives to pray, serve, and honor God daily?  

Yes, it would have been easier if we had a president in office that upheld Biblical standards.  But that doesn’t change your or my personal responsibility in our service to the Lord.  

I hear- and have said- many things politically and I wonder how much of what I have said is flowing from my brain rather than my heart.  Do you feel that this government give out too many handouts and people have an entitlement attitude?  Watch that you don’t have a bitter grudge against those very people that you are called to love and win for Christ.  Think that women shouldn’t be going around having sex and then demanding abortions?  Be careful that you don’t throw the first stone at the one that Jesus died for.  Think all illegal immigrants should be denied gov’t programs until they come over the right way?  Just don’t forget that the King gave you everything He had when you were still foreign to Him.

I am not saying you should not have opinions or that our country should not have standards...but I am cautioning you to remember that you are a servant of Christ before you are anything else.  And He gave His life for you, and for me, and so that all may be united to Him.  You want to fight back against the immorality in this world?  Then pray. Fast.  Serve. Love. Love your neighbor as yourself...all your neighbors, not just the ones who believe as you do- ESPECIALLY not just the ones who believe as you do. Don’t let your politics come before your Christianity.

Come on now, let’s get back to what it’s all about...we’ve got things to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TMTT- Election Day

Happy Election Day!!!  Today we celebrate the democratic process where every voice counts.  We are blessed to live in a free nation, and we must take the opportunity to exercise our right to vote!  There are people in other countries that have absolutely no say in who rules over them...we do.  So get out there and make your difference.

In light of the elections, I will answer some questions that are political in nature.  

  1. Who are you voting for?
I am going to share something I read on facebook yesterday which best answers this question:
“I will vote for the most pro-life candidate, because God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Prov.6:17).
I will vote for the most pro-Israel candidate, because God blesses those who blesses Israel & curses those who don't (Gen.12:3).
I will vote for the most pro-debt reduction candidate, because 
the borrower is servant to the lender (Prov.22:7).
...I will vote for the most pro-work candidate because God says if a man not work , let him not eat. (2Thess.3:10)
I will vote for the most pro-marriage candidate , because God is for marriage as defined in Genesis 2:24 .
I will vote for the candidate who most closely believes government's purpose is to reward the good & punish the evil (Romans 13).
I will vote based as close as I can on God's Word (2Tim.3:16). Knowing that whoever gets elected, God is the one who puts all men in authority (Dan.2:21)."
No, I am not purposely being evasive...I am not shy about answering personal questions.  But this truly is a wonderful answer to this question, and I will be voting for the man who best lines up with my Biblical beliefs.
  1. Do you talk to your kids about the elections?  What do you say about it?
Absolutely!  I answer any questions that come up and explain it to each child according to their interest/level of understanding.  I did not let them watch the debates, mainly because they were on late at night and I knew it was a bit above their understanding.  I talk very basically about it...I tell them that we are allowed to pick our president every 4 years and that we want to choose the man who best lines up with what the Bible says.  I also homeschool, so I spend time leading up to the election teaching my son what is going on. I will also be bringing some of my older children with me to see me vote.  I treat elections just as I do with any other topic (even difficult ones)- I make it all about the Lord.  It all comes down to teaching them that no matter what- in all circumstances- we are to follow the Lord and honor Him and know that ultimately, if we are walking in His path that He is in control.

  1. What are your thoughts on the current climate of our country?
I used to be so proud to be an American...and I still am, but it is definitly not as strong as it used to be.  We are headed downhill at such a fast rate.  I could go into specifics- and there are many- but I believe it all comes down to losing our morality.  As a country we have completely turned our backs on God and have approved things to happen that God finds abhorrent.  I know there are many people who are still God-honoring, but overall the leadership and the laws that have been passed over the years have only solidified our separation from God.  It is sad and distressing and only a matter of time before God, in His righteousness, removes His hand of blessing from us.  In fact, It think it has already begun and unless this nation repents and truly turns from its ways, I think we may see the end of this nation as we have always known it.  

  1. Do you engage in political debating?
Just take a look at my facebook activity and you will now the answer!  Yes, I do engage in many political debates...HOWEVER, I do NOT do it to be productive nor do think it accomplishes anything.  Unless somebody is actually looking for information or wants your opinion, then it is mainly done to try and defend your side when you feel it is being misrepresented, or just to vent/air your political frustrations.  I have a group of people who I regularly engage with, because although we do not agree, we keep it respectful.  Nothing wring with disagreeing and even being blunt, but I do have a problem with professed Christians acting in manner that does not bring honor to Christ and I will not continue/engage in debates that get vulgar or disrespectful or if I feel that I can no longer control myself.

Enjoy your voting!  See you Friday :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dig your well- then fill it

Is it really Friday again?  Time sure does fly.  It has been an interesting week to say the least with hurricane Sandy.  Thankfully, my family is all doing well, although still powerless and eating Dinty Moore.  Others were not so lucky.

Of course the storm got me thinking, and when I think I write.  Before the storm came, I did what most people probably did, and that was stock up on essentials.  I am typically a very prepared person anyway, but I made sure to recheck what I had and get some more things just in case.  It turns out I didn’t need any of it- we didn’t even lose power.  But I felt confident that if we had gotten hit, my family would have been fine.  

Preparation is a funny thing.  You never see it’s value until it’s too late to change it.  When something comes your way, whether expected or unexpected, the only resources you have to draw on is what you have previously prepared.  I think you know where I am going with this...

Being prepared physically is a good thing...being prepared spiritually is essential.  It takes years to grow roots.  It’s not something that can be done in a moment of crisis.  The things you do and the choices you make all contribute to the resources you have to draw on when a time of crisis comes.  It is so unbelievably easy to just go on cruise control, believing that you will tighten up when you need to.  The problem is, life is not like a hurricane and there are no weathermen.  The storms of life often come quickly and in the midst of clear blue skies.  

When we moved here over 2 years ago, I had absolutely no idea it would be this hard.  I thought we were coming into sunny days.  But the only reason we are still standing is because of the sowing we did years before.  The praying. The serving.  The worshipping.  The standards in our lives.  Living your life firmly for the Lord every single day will give you the strength you need before you even know when you will need it.  Don’t waste the time you have now.  Don’t sit in the calm of life and take a back seat to self-pleasure.  Because one day you are going to wake up and see the storm raging around you and you will have nothing to hold on to.

"The will to win is important.  The will to prepare is vital." -Joe Paterno

Redeem your time now.  Take care of your spirit now.  If you invest now, you will inherit later.  Fast, pray, read, serve,’s like I said last week; there are a handful of principles that can be used in all areas of your life...this is one of them.  There is no problem you will ever face that you will not be able to walk through if you’re centered on Him.  I would have fallen apart by now if the only thing I had to draw from was movies, tv, and other nonsense.  I am still standing because I invested in the eternal.  But you know what?  I could have done a lot better.  Jeff and I made some mistakes when we first got here...and we still struggle to hold it together.  I think back on all of the days and nights I wasted and I cringe.  Who knew there would soon be a time where life would shake so hard?  I guess that’s the don’t know.  So be ready.  

Prepare your homes as well...quick note to moms of young ones- I know it seems like you are drowning in diapers and bottles and you are doing everything you can just to make it to bedtime (and sometimes even bedtime is no guarantee that you’re done for the day!)  I know that some days it seems like it takes all of your mental resources just to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...but I encourage you to be deliberate in your parenting as well as your life.  Don’t just teach them, train them.  Don’t just discipline them, direct their hearts.  Don’t just feed their bodies, feed their souls.  They are going to face challenges in their lives as well and it’s your job to give them the best tools you can to face it.  Think about it- you can teach your child that every time you come home from the store he should come out and help you carry bags in...and he will do it because you told him to.  Or, you can train his heart to see the needs of others...and then he will help with that and more because his heart told him to.  

It’s about being deliberate.  It’s about making it count.  It’s about learning from the now so you are ready for the later.  Every season has it’s benefit.  Even the desert.  Just as the season before prepared me for this, so this season is preparation as well.  Sometimes pain is gain, you just have to see it.  I may be crawling along the desert floor, but I do not want to waste this time.  I want to take stock of every single grain of sand that scrapes across my knees as I crawl my way through this season.  I want to store every lesson I am learning right now deep in my heart, creating a well to draw from in the future.

I encourage you to do the same.  Whether sunny skies or raging winds- there is no climate that can keep you off your knees.  

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV