Friday, June 28, 2013

Reason Enough


I sat down to write this blog with the full intention of writing about a particular topic.  Let me give you a hint- it wasn't going to be about how happy things are right now.

Jeff asked me if I get sick of writing the same type of stuff over and over. I know what he means, because let's face it, my writing doesn't really talk about flowers and sunshine a whole lot.  In a way this bothers me, because I like variety and every once in a while I feel like I should be a little more, um, happy sounding.  I don't walk around in a black cloud, nor am I always intense- I am actually quite silly and I laugh all the time.  This time in my life has just been so difficult and so dark that I find myself needed to sort it out on a regular basis.  Sometimes I vent, other times I need to make sure that you and I remember that we are going to make it.

But right now, I just want to give thanks.

I believe in the power of praise.  I believe that no matter what EVER happens in my life, I have something for which to give thanks.  It would be a real shame for me to go through the desert having never given thanks for all He has done for me.  I may be in darkness, but one sure way to shine some light- even if only for a moment- is to remember all the things I have worth fighting for.

I am so grateful for my husband and children.  I love them so much and am so grateful to have them in my life.  They are my family the reason I am able to keep going on certain days.  I am thankful for my new house which was everything I wanted and even some things I didn't realize I wanted.  I am thankful for being surrounded by people who truly love me and who are there for me- constantly supporting me and praying for me as I face this illness.  I am thankful that I can be a part of ministry and having a hand in reaching others with the Word of Jesus.  I am thankful for the ability to go to church and worship freely.  

We always have something to give. No matter how dark and desolate, or no matter how stripped everything seems to be from us, we always have something to give.  In my pain and in the worst moments of my illness, I am still able to give.  I am still able to use my voice to tell of the things He has done.  I am still able to count my blessings.  Many times I have thought that I simply have nothing left to give- but that is only when I stare my mountain in the face.  If I take my eyes off the looming mountain and look two feet in front of me, I can make out the stream, and the air, and the beauty of the haze. It may be small, but it is beautiful- and it will sustain me when I begin the climb.  

But that is not all I am thankful for.  All of those things can be taken away.  Maybe some of you have had some of those things taken away.  If I ever be left truly with nothing, I still would not be able to keep silent.  I have the one things that can never, ever be taken away.  Though the earth be consumed with fire, this I can never lose.

I met Jesus.

I was ten years old and was living in Florida at the time.  My parents sent me and my sister up to NY to visit with some family right after Christmas.  While we were visiting, one of my aunts took up to a Christmas play at a church.  It was nice, but I don't remember thing about it...all I remember was the end.  At the end of the play the pastor got up and began talking about Jesus.  I remember my heart nearly stopped.  Time just froze because as he talked I knew that this was it.  This is what my soul had been searching for.  That even at the tender age of ten I knew I was not reconciled to God and that was the very reason my soul was created.  I waited eagerly for him to lay it out for me- no more searching, no more wondering, no more uneasiness in my soul.  The second he finished I ran out form my seat, not even looking to see if my aunt, sister, or cousin was there...I ran to the altar.  I ran to Jesus.

That was the first day of my new life.  I have never been the same.  My life I live for something so much bigger and so much greater.  Though I lose my very life, I can never lose my soul because it is safely in His hands.  If that isn't reason enough to give Him all of my heart and soul, then there will never be a reason. I will serve Him until I take my very last breath, fully confident that I will see HIs face when all is said and done.  I need to make sure that my life mattered.  That His life was not lost for the vainness in mine.  

Yes, I have much to be grateful for and even if just for this one moment, it will sustain me.  I don't believe that this hard time will last forever,  In fact, I feel God moving as I have told you before.  But regret is a powerful thing and I not want to look back on this season and think of all the time I wasted. 

Time I could have been giving Him praise.  Because I have a reason to praise and if you know Him, then you do too.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let's Talk- Interview with a Personal Trainer

God morning!  I hope you like the new look here, it just felt like time for a change. I am very excited about today's blog because it is an interview and I LOVE interviews! Gaining knowledge is something I love because it makes me a better person and helps me to become the best possible person that I can be.  

Today I have decided to interview my father.  There are a lot of things I could interview him about because his life experience is vast, but I chose to hone in on a topic that seems to be of some interest to you all, and that is fitness.  My dad is more than qualified to discuss this topic, both because of his personal fitness level, and also because of his background in fitness and human anatomy.  I was very lucky to grow up learning from him- I always had the know-how when it came to physical fitness, and I realize that for those who do not have this knowledge, it makes the journey to fitness much more difficult.  So I am willing to share my dad with you, so that you can hopefully gain some understanding that will help you reach your goals!

My father's name is Sonny DeLeo, and I now proudly turn this interview over to him. Enjoy!

About me: First off this is what I’m not: I’m not a doctor, a theorist, an author, a scientist, a nutritionist, a celebrity spokesperson, a physiologist or host of my own reality weight loss program. I am however relaying to you over 30 years of in the field testing, training and actually working with people learning what works and what doesn’t. I spent 9 years in the US Navy, 5 of them as a navy diver where fitness meant the difference of life or death. It was not optional it was part of your duty to get and stay in top shape. I was a licensed massage therapist and personal trainer with certifications with: YMCA, ACSM, IDEA and a certified Nautilus fitness trainer expert. I trained housewives to pro athletes, military personnel to high school drop outs. Currently I am lic NY State Physical Therapist Assistant working in a nursing home helping seniors with a whole host of medical conditions and complications regain their strength and physical fitness within reason. I gave motivational and fitness lectures throughout S. Florida to audiences of hundreds. I speak simple, direct and straight forward. I personally have been on a roller coaster of weight ups and downs my whole life and understand every temptation and weakness. I tried almost every popular diet there is so I know what works and what doesn’t. I am a user of fitness supplements and although I believe in them and use them they aren’t necessary to achieve success, just one more tool to be managed if wanted. I am 54 years old so I understand aging and it’s affects on your body and ability to achieve your goals. I am a food addict so I understand the difficulty of eating clean which I still struggle with. I am Christian man and know the power of faith and prayer, both essential in my life if I’m to succeed in anything I set out to accomplish. I think I understand the new person’s struggles setting out to ‘get in shape’. But no matter what I say, do or teach it always comes down to personal responsibility, discipline, consistency and what motivates you. And that’s where the battle is won or lost: inside yourself. My sincere prayer is that you get something to inspire you and that helps you meet your goals from my Q and A here. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and knowledge with you all. God bless and may God give you the strength to succeed in all you set out to do that is righteous and of His will.

1. What can I do to get rid of my stomach area.

I will try and answer concisely, without technical buzz words and as honestly as I can. So here we go. You cannot spot reduce. Sorry. You can spot build, but cannot spot reduce, period. The rule of weight gain or loss which says "first on last off" is pretty darn true. You have to understand your body to understand how to make it work for you. The body is a survivalist. Body fat is survival food. Your body will store this survival food in its most secure areas first, but use it last. This placement of stored body fat hierarchy can vary from person to person. Your body will dictate where the body fat comes off and when. We all know what areas we tend to put weight on quickest and yet take forever to lose. Bottom line and no one wants to hear this is you have to keep working on losing body fat until you have reached your body fat % goal or desired weight. (Which are 2 different goals and not achieved in the same ways, but that’s another topic)One more thing about body fat cells, they don’t go away they only swell or shrink and they cannot turn into muscle or visa versa. How do we achieve fitness? This should actually be your goal and is a better question. You can achieve your goals of being healthier and fitter by having a ‘clean diet’, regular intervals of cardio exercises and strength training. Let’s use a triangle for illustration purposes. The triangle is one of the strongest geometrical shapes you can build upon, but take just one side away and it collapses. On our ‘fitness triangle we’ll break it down like this: the bottom (foundation) is your diet (what you eat on a regular basis). Then one side is cardio training the other side is strength training. Remove one of the 3 sides and ‘poof’ your fitness goals will crash. To take this one step further if you fill the space of the triangle you exponentially increase its strength. So what motivates you, what ever is the reason to get healthier needs to be what fills your ‘fitness triangle’. If your reason is vanity or doing it for someone else you will, statistically and by my experience, fail. If anything, you have weakened your ‘fitness triangle’. Fill it with solid reasons, have reasonable expectationsexpand your knowledge and be motivated by pure, good incentives and your chances of success also exponentially increases. In other words define why you want this. This is critical because it can’t be just be a goal you want to attain, but rather it should become a lifestyle you maintain and for that you need to know why you are doing all this.
The rest of the story you need to know is: your body takes a long time to respond to a change in diet, fitness and new activity. You need to remain determined, consistent, regular (dedicated) and willing to do the work. If it were easy we would all be fit, but it’s not and there are no short cuts, believe me I’ve tried almost every one! Too many people ‘give up’ who were probably within days of seeing a noticeable change in their body. Don’t give up! Giving up is why most attempts at changing your body for the better always seem to fail, people become impatient. They erroneously feel the sacrifices and hard work aren’t paying off quickly enough and they stop. Remember this: anything worth achieving is worth working hard for. A fit body is worth every drop of sweat and sacrifice needed. Pain is temporary regret is forever, just go for it! This time next year you’ll regret not starting now.

2. What is the best way to lose weight fast and healthily?

Short answer: exercise and reduce your carbohydrate (complex and simple sugars) sodium and sugar intake. Look at the nutritional content of almost everything you buy and eat most are loaded with carbs, sugars and sodium. Now there are good carbs and there are bad carbs. Most people don’t like or eat enough of where the good carbs come from (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans) but love everything that the bad carbs are filled of (the list is endless). Learn to cut out the bad carbs and eat moderate to low amounts of the good carbsBut most carbs we all too quickly consume are diet killers.  Another thing- starving yourself, trying to eat little or nothing will not work, will sabotage your efforts and you will not be able to accomplish your goals for any meaningful time length. And it’s just plain unhealthy, wrong and counterproductive. Learn what to eat and break down your meals into 4-5 throughout the day. Diet and nutrition is a science and I’m no expert I just know you need to make good, healthy, reasonable changes if you are going to make lasting changes in your health and fitness as well as change your body appearance for the better. Reduce carbs, sugars and sodium in your diet. Research good carbs vs bad carbs and experiment until you come up with a eating plan that works for you.

YOU CANNOT OUT TRAIN A BAD DIET. SUCCESS ON BEING FITTER, HEALTHIER AND LOOKING GREAT IS 75% DIET 25 % EXERCISING, BUT ALWAYS 100% DISCIPLINE.


3.  Should I lift weights? What will happen if I do (will I get bulky)?

I’ve heard this from 98% of every woman I ever trained (the other 2 % wanted to get that muscular) so this is as common a concern from woman as it gets. read my answer to the next question and you should have the answer to this worry.  


4. What is the best thing to do to tone my body up?

My answer is very simplistic and cliché,’ but you need to strength train, have a clean diet and moderate cardiovascular training. That’s right, break out the weights and lift them; over and over and over. Go heavier and heavier and heavier. Be consistent, be determined and be prepared to invest in some sweat equity to get back some amazing returns for your efforts. Now I hear the eyes rolling and I hear the ever present objection (from females I hope) and I trained a lot of woman and almost heard this protest from everyone of them: "But I don’t want to bulk up!" I’m trying not to smirk, but if it were that easy to bulk up then every woman pushing tons of weight in gyms across the world would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and guess what? They don’t. I always suggest this approach: try, train hard to get muscular and let’s see what happens along the way. I promise you you will not wake up one day uttering the words “I’ll be back” wrapped in a masculine, muscular frame that ‘The Rock’ would be envious of; but I do promise a lot of amazing, sexy, toning, tightening, reshaping will go on along the way.
For the over achievers or the all or nothing types (like myself) there are fitness programs popping up all over the world known such as: HITT (high intensity training), kick boxing, Boot Camp, and Cross- Fit Training which will burn more calories while strength training then any other conditioning classes out there. They combine cardio (aerobics) with strength training using weights, obstacles and body weight movements all while keeping your heart rate up/up/up! But they are not for the timid or half hearted and they’re expensive, but you’ll get your monies worth, again, if you do the work and show up for classes. Many have seen or heard of home exercise videos such as: Insanity, P90X or TapOut XT. All are excellent if you’re willing to do the work and are self-motivated (I am not). One more note almost every single workout tape or piece of fitness equipment sold preface their guaranteed results with this in small print: will produce result if used regularly combined with a healthy clean diet. DUH, anything fitness equipment will work if used regularly and with healthy positive changes in your diet!

5. What can I do if I hit a plateau?


Plateaus are times to shake things up! Change everything, mix it up. Try new fitness techniques. The idea is to out smart your survivalist body. Most successful training programs call this “muscle confusion”. Change the order of things, the amount of time on each part, add new moves and subtract some old moves. Shake things up! Learn to train outside your comfort zone and do what your body isn’t use to. That will break up most plateaus. Your workout should never be routine week after week after weekIf your not sweating, aching a little, sore, out of breath and tired you’re cheating yourself. (I never promised this was easy, but I do promise it’s worth it). There are literally dozens of different ways to exercise almost every part of the body effectively. Don’t get stale!  If nothing else works maybe it’s time to take a break. Take a week off, but not much longer and when you come back have a different routine ready to go. But don’t break your diet, have a reasonable eating cheat night once a week, but don’t go off your clean eating this is crucial. Your body is more forgiving laying off the exercising for a short time, but not so forgiving for going back to bad eating habits. So continue to eat clean, but take a short break from the exercising if all else fails.

6. I don't have a lot of time to exercise, how much/long do I really need to do?


This is tough because a lot of fitness guru’s, authors of fitness books, and companies selling fitness tapes want you to believe you can exercise in just 5 minutes a day. I strongly agree and then disagree. You can workout 5 minutes a day just don’t expect results. You can however try breaking up your exercising into 2 shorter sessions each around 30 minutes. Maybe try cardio in the morning and strength training in the afternoon? Why? because if take approx 20 minutes for your body to breakdown and burn up the simplecarbs (sugars) in your body. After approx 20 minutes your body runs out of simple, ready to burn, sugars and starts breaking down body fat for energy.  And if you only do cardio you are also breaking down muscle tissues (proteins) for energy which is not good. Here’s where I recommend a protein shake. I suggest you buy a low carb, low sugar, low calorie protein powder and drink that right after each work out. You’ll preserve muscle tissue while your body metabolism that you fired up from your workout burns up fat tissue. Protein shakes also fill you up and feed your muscles.
I believe if you start doing something anything can happen. If you do this in the right spirit, learn all you can without being bogged down on too many details, think of it as a life style, challenge yourself, get excited about the fact you took a step toward feeling and looking better is an amazing uplifting experience than you will probably, on your own, expand your workouts, eat cleaner and see yourself becoming more confident, toner, sexier and motivated. Most fail because they give up. You will regret 6 months from now not starting today. Do it for yourself, do it for the love of your family, do it because God wants us to be at our best physically, spiritually and mentally. PRAY AND THEN JUST DO IT. See what happens.


I hope you enjoyed these tried and true words from my dad.  It is vital that you truly understand what is going on inside your body where diet and fitness is concerned, because that is how you will be able to make the proper changes needed to meet your fitness goals.  Thank you very much dad for doing this interview, and also or everything you have taught me growing up.  I love you!  

Stay tuned for more interviews from people of all different walks of life in my upcoming blogs.  Hope you have a great week, and I will see you Friday!






Friday, June 21, 2013

Choices


My firstborn turned 7 this week.  He got balloons and cake and presents, which he loved even thought he said he knew what we were getting him.  He is a charming boy and we are very close, mainly because we are so much alike.  He is always up for doing something, yet also likes to hibernate in the house and watch movies.  Sometimes when Jeff works late, I will let him come in my room when the other kids are asleep and we will talk or watch a movie.  He is a wonderful, sweet, smart, engaging boy who has a very keen mind and who loves learning.

He asks and says things sometimes that make me turn my head.  I don't know when he grew up so quickly, but he is not a little boy anymore.  He understands things and questions things.  He does things before being told.  He occasionally uses sarcasm.  

It really blows my mind.  He is slowly starting to face things that require more than simple obedience.  He is starting to think for himself and to question what is going on around him.  As a mom, this is both thrilling and scary.  I am thrilled that he is expanding and learning and maturing, yet I am terrified of all the ways that he could make mistakes or wrong choices.  My simple explanations and advice are slowly not enough any more- he needs to start understanding them in his own heart and then choose to apply them.

My life is not as simple as a child's, and I am assuming yours is not either.  Situations come up that are neither here nor there, and no blanket cliche' piece of advice is going to cut it.  There are things we need to work out in our own hearts as well.

I was talking with a friend recently, and as he shared a personal issue, I instinctively responded with a few cliches'…I wanted to chew my tongue out.  It's not that nice platitudes are not true, it's just sometimes they come in a package that is too neat and too tidy for the problem at hand.  Life is messy, and solutions are even messier…not because they themselves are messy, but because the process of learning them is often complicated.  

My son is leaning how this world works and good or bad, I have to help him learn it.    I will try and do my best to equip his character and prepare his heart, but ultimately the choice will be up to him as to whether or not he will do what he knows to be right.

The same way the choice is yours and mine.

Even in a sea of gray, I am able to tell the difference between black and white.  I may try and fool myself, but that is only because I don't want to do what's right, not because I do not know what is right.  Often times the hard part is not the problem itself, but rather what it will take to do the solution.

There is a quote from a movie that I really love (shocker, I know).  "You know the best thing about pain?  It lets you know you're not dead yet."   So true.  Yes, pain hurts but it also let's you know you're still in the game- that something inside you still wants to fight.  If you're in pain, or confused, or broken, or hurting- you're still alive.  You're still able to sift through it all and find what you know is the right thing to do.  

Find it.  Have the courage to stare truth in the face and then do whatever you need to do in order to walk in it.  Maybe it means stay, maybe it means go.  Maybe it means giving in, or maybe it means fighting it out.  The hardest part is not figuring out all the answers, but rather walking in the way that is right.  That is where you need to pray for courage.  Anybody can have the kind of courage that walks into a fight, but not everybody has the courage it takes to right a wrong.  

Growing up is not easy.  Integrity is not found in a day, but rather built over a lifetime.  This is what I am trying to teach my child...not to do what I tell him, but to learn how to stand on his own and make the right choices for his life.  This is what God is trying to teach us.

"When what we want to do and what we ought to do are two different things, character is built in the choice we make." -Bill Bennett

Do what you ought to do.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Let's Talk- Milestones


Today's post will be my 100th post on this blog.  Some of the posts were written before I officially went public with this blog, and I enjoy looking back and reading the beginnings of how and why I started writing.  I originally started it to document my fast, but it has grown and changed into something that is a part of who I am.  I love expressing my soul, and I want to give my heartfelt thanks to so many of you for not only encouraging me to make this public, but for reading and supporting my writing.  

This blog is filled with changes, and to celebrate my 100th post, I will be answering some questions about it's past and it's future.

Why did you start this blog?

When I originally started this blog, I kept it private even though it was on the internet.  I never shared my web address and really just wanted a private space to document my 40 day fast.  I wrote very frequently during my fast, and am so glad I did because it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, but I know I would have forgotten a lot of my feelings during it if I did not write them down.  After the fast I only wrote a couple of times to occasionally update what was going on in my life.  Then about a year ago, I had several people suggest to me that I should start writing publicly.  I thought about it for a while, mainly worrying that I would not have anything substantial to say and that nobody would really care anyway.  But I eventually took the plunge, and decided to make it public and it became a place where I share my life, both the outer things and the inner.  I share the every day musings of a mother to many small children, and also the heavier stuff that I carry in my soul.  I am humbled by the response I have been given these past 9 months and am so very thankful that I was encouraged to begin to write.


Why did you choose that title for your blog?

I explained it in my first public post…I know it seems like it has nothing to do with what I write about sometimes, but it really has everything to do with who I am as a person.  Todd Beamer was a passenger on Flight 93 who helped organize a resistance to the hijackers that were on their plane on September 11th.  He and his fellow passengers made the ultimate stand and fought back, losing their lives in the process but saving countless more.  He was on the phone with a 911 operator and the last words he said before the fight was "Let's roll."  There is nothing more brave or more soul inspiring then fighting until your very last breath.  I am inspired daily by this and if nothing else, it serves as my reminder to not only never give up, but to take whatever I have inside me and charge forward…because at the very least, I want to go down fighting.  I have given my life to the Lord, and that means that not even death has a hold on me.


Any upcoming plans for the blog?

Well, my main goal is getting an actual website!  I don't want to just have a name on blogger.com, but I would like to have my own page that is organized, archived neatly and pretty.  I would like it to be more user friendly and have the ability to receive comments right under the posts whether you are a member or not.  I have no clue whatsoever how to do this, so getting started will take some time, but it is where I intend to go.  Until I do that, I will continue to write like I have been, except maybe to do more interviews which are always a hit.  I love talking to other people and sharing their lives and experiences with you.  But once I have the website, then that will open more doors to add things like recipes, links to other sites I like, interviews with pictures...fun stuff!  So I definitely have plans moving forward!  Oh, and of course more give-aways. :)


How is Chris Niles doing?

So my post about Chris really created a buzz, and I have been asked about him several times since that post.  Chris is the man I write about a couple months ago who had a tree fall down on him 2 years ago leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.  I wrote about him because he is worth writing about- a true testament to the power of perseverance and strength of character.  I have remained friends with Chris, and I almost wish I could write the post again because now that I now him better, it has only amplified the things I wrote about him.  He is so physically active it's insane, but even more amazing is who he is inside- I've just never known anyone whose personhood and character are so unmovable.  As for updates about him, I think I will leave that to a future interview (which Chris has agreed to do)!


Can I ask questions or give suggestions for topics for your blog?

Absolutely!!  That is how I get my questions and topics for Tuesdays, from the things people suggest to me and ask me!  I am on Facebook (Ashley DeLeo Tyler) so I can receive messages there, or you can e-mail me at worthitall04@yahoo.com.  I used to use another e-mail address, but this is my main one.  I would LOVE to hear comments, suggestions, questions…anything you think will make this blog better!


I'm getting a little misty eyed at thinking about this last year, but am also very excited for what's ahead.  Hope you have a wonderful week, and here's to the next 100 posts!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Voices In My Head



Sorry about Tuesday…my computer is actually still being repaired but I love you all so much that I rented a computer from Rent-A-Center for the week!  

I have had both a great week and a horrible week.  My family came up for the weekend and we had such a wonderful visit.  My son graduated preschool and I think he is finally ready to start homeschooling this year which I am very excited about.  My dad did a few handyman projects around my house and took care of some things that I really wanted done but don't have the time/energy/skill to do!  So in many ways it was a great week.  Physically however, it has been pretty rough.  I felt myself getting worse this week, and between that and the busyness of it all it was just too much.  The pain has taken over and I am immobile right now.  Jeff has taken off work and is giving me the next 2 days to lay in bed and hopefully that will be enough to regain some physical capabilities.  Thank you for always asking me how I am doing- I really hate to share when it's this bad, but it is also kind of an outlet for me…not to mention it's the truth so what else am I gonna write, lol.

But I have had something on my mind lately and the timing is perfect.  When my illness gets this bad, I struggle a lot mentally.  I feel like a failure as a wife and mother and I feel like a burden to my husband.  I also can't shake the frustrating feeling of helplessness- I am not a side-lines kind of person.  If there is a problem, I like to meet it head on and bust right through it.  But there is nothing I can do with this- no amount of exercise or will power can fix this.  I need to slow down and rest...which in my head that gets translated to being benched.

Last week I talked about the woman in the Bible whose son died.  I talked about how important it is to know that hope is never dead- that it may sleep, but it will wake up.  There was another part of this story that I did not talk about but was just as important as the first.  In 2 Kings chapter 4, we remember that a woman's son has just died.  The woman believed that Elisha could do a miracle and immediately set out to find him.  As she was approaching him in the distance, he saw her and sent his servant ahead to ask her if everything was ok.  When the servant came to her, she said "It is well."  Her son is dead, but she tells him all is well.

Huh.

A little confusing.  Did she have such an abundant faith that she truly was not upset in the least?  I don't think so, because once she gets to Elisha the Bible says that Elisha notices that her spirit is vexed.  So why tell his servant that all is well?

Because she was protecting her heart.  Because the voices that you choose to listen to really matter.  Because not everyone, everywhere, at every time should have access to your inner thoughts and feelings.  We need to be careful who we expose our problems to, because the voices we listen to are the voices that get inside our heads- for better or for worse.

I listen to bad voices.  Not from people, but from myself and from the enemy of my soul.  I open my heart and my hurt to these voices and am met with feelings of doubt, indecision, and worthlessness- certainly not the voices of Truth.  You have to be very, very careful about what voices you listen to.  Sometimes you have to be on guard around people and even in your own mind.  Not everybody needs to have access to your weak spots because not everyone speaks in wisdom and in truth.

I think she withheld her soul from Elisha's servant because one discouraging word from him may have been her undoing.  Sometimes you are on the brink and the slightest thing would be enough to push you over the edge- that is when you need to pull your coat a little tighter around yourself in protection and wait until you are in the safety of a trusted friend or in your prayer closet.  "Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life."  Don't open the entry to your soul to just anybody.  Guard it fiercely.  Take your matters to prayer and to the Word.  Learn the difference between truth and viscous lies.  Pick up your sword and use it- even against yourself.

So here I am laying in bed unable to fight physically, yet surrendering mentally.  We need to remember that there are many ways to fight a battle and just because one side is down does not mean you raise your white flag.  You cannot control all of the situations in your life.  Things happen.  But your heart and your mind are worth protecting.  Jesus is always there in the still small voice speaking words of Truth, but you need to fight off the noise around you in order to hear Him.  

I'm gonna tell you again not to give up.  Don't give up- not now, not ever.  Find what you have left and fight for it.  You will be amazed at what you still have inside you.

************************************************************************

It drew me in, so subltey

with all it's sweetness and lure
I was fragmented and looking for something to make me whole.

It called be, beckoned me
My feet moved rhythmically, dancing to my pain
and into the aura of that sweet smell

My dance slowly became my pain
but I could not get my feet to stop
I wanted to move and whirl and feel the wind
No matter that I danced into chains

Keep moving…
Move fast enough on this short leash
and I can still feel the wind.
Faster, faster..don't stop

Twisted, tangled, broken.
I am not dancing any more.
I spin, I twirl, I feel the wind..
But I am not dancing.
I am fighting.

Stay my heart, lest I fall into despair. It's so dark
How did I get here?
How free I was before!  
I was unguarded and deafened to music that was already playing
and the sweet scent of where I was

My feet once moved freely, 
songs flowed from my heart
I want to move again and dance under the sun
If my feet but reach freedom, I will never again
dace to another tune. I will take heed to whom I run.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Let's Talk about this...

Ok, so we have a little problem...I broke a piece of my computer and its getting fixed, which means I'm sitting here trying to type on my phone! Phones are cool for texting, but my finger is already tired, lol. So I know this is lame, but I'm going to have to just call it a day on this post.  Sorry, I know that's no fun but I will try and make it up to you on Friday!

Hope you have a great week, and I leave you with this thought:

"It is not that we are abandoned. Christ has not abandoned us. It is not that we are alone. He will never leave us or forsake us. It is not even up to us. The battle is the Lord's"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's Not Dead...


So I mentioned in my last post that a few amazing things happened this week, and I’d like to share them with you.

First...you may remember a few months ago me writing about having a meltdown in Walmart.  Things were really stressful, my health was declining, and while in the store I got a phone call with some potentially bad news about the house we were trying to buy.  Well it was just all too much, and I started crying hysterically while at the store trying to pick up a few things.  When I was at the register, the cashier was a very nice young man who talked to me and encouraged me and gave me a hug before I left.  It was one of those moments where somebody shows you compassion at just the right moment.  I felt in my spirit that this young man was a believer and I always wanted to find him to not only thank him, but to find out if my suspicions were correct.  WELL...

While at the store this past week I walked right by an employee who was stocking shelves.  I did not need to take a second look, because I could not forget the face of the person who extended himself when I needed someone to do just that.  I stopped in my tracks and walked right up to him...then I asked him if he remembers a few months ago talking to some crazy lady crying at his register!  His face lit up and he not only remembered me, but said he was quite touched that day.  I thanked him, hugged him, and then asked if he was a Christian- and he just started smiling and nodding!  It was an incredible moment, when you meet a brother in Christ.  We chatted for a while and this young man-  Anthony - will forever be in my heart and prayers.

I was very uplifted after that, but the real zinger came in church on Sunday.  What a quiet, difficult season these last few years have been for us.  But this Sunday marked exactly three years since our first service here in Amsterdam and there was just something stirring inside me before service even began.  

There was a guest speaker who came to preach, and he had an incredible testimony...but beyond that, he had an incredible word from the Lord.  He spoke from 2 Kings chapter 4, a story about a woman whose son died.  After her son died, she laid him in a bed and immediately went out looking Elisha, the man of God.  She knew if she could find him, that he would beseech God and she would see a miracle.  And find him she did.

When she found Elisha and pled her case, Elisha sent his servant up ahead to touch the boy with his staff.  But that was not enough.  When your hopes and dreams lay dead, you simply can not settle.  It is not enough to have the servant do the bidding...you need the One to show up.  She laid at Elisha’s feet and would not leave until he himself came.  

In her very home, there was death.  No life, no hope, not even the promise that it would change.  But she knew.  Oh, she knew.  It didn’t matter that the body was being prepared for burial.  It didn’t matter that every single person around her said that her son was dead.  It didn’t matter....because she knew.  She knew that he was just sleeping.  And though the sleep may be long and it may look like death- the sleeper will eventually wake.  

Her son woke up that day.  Her dreams, her hopes, her love, her faith- it woke up.  

The preacher looked out at the congregation with more than just conviction.  He looked out at us with a word from God and told us not to worry because it was just sleeping.  The things deep in our hearts were not dead- just sleeping.  And they are beginning to wake.

Maybe this was meant for other people there on Sunday...but I am sure it was meant for us.  I could barely contain myself when he made the altar call.  I knew we were supposed to go up, but I also knew I did not need prayer- I needed God to speak.
I prayed harder in the 5 minutes before the altar call then ever before.  I have been prayed for many times, and many times I thought how nice it would be if the person praying for me got a specific word from God instead of just a general prayer.  But this time it was crucial.  God has been painfully silent these past few years...my ears have ached to hear something, but the only thing I have heard is silence.  

Then the preacher came.  He laid his hands on our weeping heads.  He prayed.  It was a nice, deep, moving prayer.  I cried as he prayed over us, reminding us that our dreams and promises are just sleeping.  Prayer.  Weeping.  Hoping...

Then he suddenly stopped praying.  

When he stopped praying I began praising because I knew the moment had come.  Never has a voice sounded so sweet then when you hear it for the first time after a long silence.  The preacher stopped dead in his prayer and told me and my husband to look him in the eye.  

God spoke to us that day.

The preacher was overcome and looked at us with such an intensity as he struggled to get the depth of his message across.  He said words that I will never forget.  He spoke of the past three years of death and silence, and spoke of the things in our hearts that only God knows about.  He also spoke of things to come.

It’s not dead, it’s just sleeping.  It’s not moving, it’s not breathing, you’re losing, it’s failing...but it’s not dead.  When God speaks, His words are sure.  And when the time is right He breathes life all over that which appears to be dead.  So don’t you give up.  Don’t you prepare the body or dig the hole.  It’s not dead, it’s just sleeping.

And it will wake.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Let's Talk- Discipline, Deadlifts and Diets, Oh My


Hello again!  I had an amazing couple of things happen this week, but they are kind of deep so I am going to save writing about for Friday.  It has been a while since I have answered some questions, so I am going to do that today.  Some of these questions may be repeats from the past, but I get asked them frequently, so I guess I should answer again!  

  1. How do you manage 6 kids all at home?
I think there is this idea that my house looks like a little nunnery, with everyone walking around smiling peacefully while doing their chores.  My house is very chaotic!  There is always activity and there are always toys and couch cushions scattering the floor.  I do however have certain expectations for my kids, and that is what really helps things run smoothly, which despite the chaos, we actually do very well.  
Schedules help- I am not saying it has to be down to the exact hour (although that is what I did to survive when the kids were very young and the days were long and boring!).  What I mean is that we have a general flow to each day- the kids know when certain things are going to happen, from getting dressed, to play time, to chore time, to lunch, etc.  The same things happen around the same times each day, so it’s not a shock or an issue when I say they cannot watch a movie, because they know they usually get to watch one after snack.  
Chores (which we call life skills) are another key to my sanity.  They each have a morning set and an evening set.  I have it set up so that before lunch and after dinner the house is completely clean, because I like to wake up to a clean house.  The little guys always do the same things, like clean the toys and couches, but the older ones have other things like serve breakfast (on cereal days), sweep the floor, vacuum, empty dishwasher, etc.  They are accustomed to helping around the house and keeping it clean, so I am not constantly picking up.  
Perspective is also huge- there are days when I literally run out of my house when Jeff gets home because I am so desperate for a break!  But mostly I see it for what it is- a chance to enjoy my kids while they are still at home, and a chance to love on them and teach them and instill in them the values and principles I want them to have.  I love my children so much and I want to make the absolute most of the precious time I have with them.

  1. How do you stay in shape?
I think people are trying to flatter me, because this question always throws me off- I am not particularly thin, nor am I the picture of “in shape”...I am about average I guess.  I do not keep a scale in the house, but the last time I went to the doctor a month ago I was just under 140 pounds.  I stand at 5ft 5in on a really good day, and I can easily grab two handfuls of my stomach area, so you can see what I mean when I say this question throws me off.  I do absolutely no cardio, mainly because I hate it and also because while I did give it a shot recently, I simply am not physically able to do it.  It uses a lot of energy, which really worked against my condition.  I have recently started lifting weights, which is what I truly enjoy.  There are a few things that really make me feel like me again, and dead lifting is one of them.  I am not very strong, since it’s been a billion years since I have lifted, but I love the feeling of power that comes with lifting.  I am able to bear it well, since it uses very little energy- lifting to build muscle is about doing low reps, so it takes very little time and you are really just using straight up muscle.  I am excited that so far my body is handle this, because I truly enjoy it so it not only benefits me physically, but mentally as well.  But other than several days of lifting (which only really takes a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes), I do nothing else- don’t have the time or the physical capability.  As far as eating, I do not diet- just not my style any more.  When I go out with friends or to any kind of special event, I enjoy myself- I just think that those special times are meant to be enjoyed and really, if you are health conscious normally then special occasions really won’t throw you off.  Normally, I eat whole, real food as often as I can with a concentration on low sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and higher protein which is hard for me because I hate meat.  If health were not an issue and triple chins were sexy, I’d seriously live solely on bread and candy.
But honestly, this is an area that generally gets me ticked off because women judge themselves by their appearance, and it’s such a sad shame.  I get the real issue of health, but with women it’s mainly the desire to “be thinner” and I just want to throttle some of you ladies who are missing the beauty of what’s inside you!!  Find a way to be at peace within, and then whatever you choose to do on the outside will simply be an extension of that.  Ok, rant over.  

  1. How do you homeschool with 6 kids?
I’m gonna have to wait a couple of years to answer this, because right now I only have my oldest homeschooling and he excelled very fast and it now using a computer curriculum with very little involvement from me.  In the next two years, I will have three of my kids homeschooling with the younger two mainly being taught by me, so I will have to let you know what that looks like when it comes!  I’m actually kind of curious myself...

  1. How do you get your kids to listen?
Again, my kids are not little robots or images from the 1800’s where the kids seemed to live to say “yes ma’am”.  My kids are extremely well behaved, but they are kids.  I recently spoke at a parenting seminar and when I was on the topic of discipline, I shared what I believe to be the biggest key to success with discipline: consistency.  If we go grocery shopping and one child gets 3 warnings, then no matter how sad they look at me they will not be getting the treat that everyone else is getting.  And that is because at the start of the trip, I explained clearly what my expectations were and what would happen if they got three warnings. To date, I have only had to deny a treat two times.  That is because when a child learns that you mean what you say, they will not push the limits very often.  My 3-2-1 count works 99% percent of the time...and that is because- without fail- if I get to the number three and the child has not responded, then they WILL get a consequence.  Is it exhausting?  YES!!  But trust me, lay the ground work on this because it will pay off.  Every once and a while you have to re-train, but overall it pays off.



Well that was fun!  Always fun to get a chance to respond to questions I get, and I hope this wasn’t too redundant.  I am very much looking forward to Friday, because as I mentioned, there were a few very special things that happened this week and I really want to share them.  Don’t get all crazy now, no I’m not pregnant!!  I am talking about some things that the Lord has done for Jeff and I this week.  So I hope you are all doing well and I look forward to chatting on Friday.