Monday, December 16, 2013

Lookin' at History

The stranger stared at me from inside the Chick-fil-A playground. His little boy was yelling to the top of his lungs and half the restaurant could hear him through the thick glass. Did I mention he also had his lips, nose and hands plastered on the see-through pane and was calling out for his mom? The man looked embarrassed and pained.

I hesitantly opened the door and let my youngest two loose. They are not exactly the quietest kids on the block. Plus, there was a history to our day and I did not feel like sharing it. Often, we as mommas, don't think about the history of someone's day and what got their sanity, kids and bodies to the point in the day where we so easily judge them. We think of our own day with details and extreme clarity and well, a whole dose of justification. But, when it comes to other women, we take stock of them in the present with little to no regard to what has led them to those few moments.

Everyone had taken a much needed nap that afternoon and well, it lasted longer than anticipated because of a serious lack of sleep this past week. It was 5:00 and we had to be at the piano recital at 6:30. Remember the days when you were single or childless and could just walk out the door with five minutes' notice. Yeah, me neither. Two teenage girls take at least an hour (at least...I'm screaming this people...hear me clearly...cause you will need this bit of information sooner than you think...AT LEAST an hour). Jett, well he's quick, but he also needs to be reminded every three minutes to get everything he needs. My fear was that he would forget his music, and well, he doesn't have it memorized. That would be an hour round trip back to our house, so I was going to make sure that did not happen. And do not for a moment think that there wasn't yelling and gnashing of teeth to get everyone to dress appropriately and do it in a timely fashion. There was plenty of that.

Then, there's Zeke and Elly, and I've frankly had enough criticism about skin and hair care to last a lifetime. So, I was careful to make sure that everyone was lathered in our favorite shea butter from head to toe. Just in case they played in the playground and their socks happen to fall off too. Then, there's Zeke's hair which requires a pick and a comb to get to the right height and evenness (the mohawk is not as simple as it looks). Oh and Elly's hair which demands the passing of an amendment to the Constitution in order to pass inspection. I divided it straight down the middle (oh, I cannot emphasize how important this is to her), applied the conditioner, brushed and brushed until my arm was on fire and properly prepared the pigtails. (The child is ADAMANTLY opposed to twists or braids or anything cute like that. Those hairstyles seem to ignite something in her that I don't want to wrangle right now). So, with two minutes to spare, everyone was ready to go.

We arrived at CFA and proceeded to find a place to fit seven people and check in with the piano instructor and get kids to wait for food and we seemed to be missing two people. JT strides through the door and has a determined look on his face. One kiddo is out in the car crying because she forgot her music. I think JT's words were something like, "You need to go take care of that because I'm not a counselor." Oh no! Let's just say that 30 minutes of therapy fixed the issue and all survived. Listen to music intermittently, feed kids, more music, don't eat off the floor, I'll stand while you eat, etc....and then off to the playground.

I caught the man's eye and he looked like he could use a listening ear. When I walked into the door, he immediately spoke up, "Are all those kids yours?" Pause. Now, is he asking about adoption, my occupation (am I babysitting? do I run a daycare? a teacher?), or is this just a general kill-the-silence question?

As it turns out, the kid was wearing him out that day, and his wife needed a break. Everyone was tired of the three year old, and he was an only child. What could've easily turned into a judgmental attitude on my part or his turned into several minutes of encouragement in the Lord. Because it is hard to be a matter how many kids you have or don't have...

And EVERYONE has a tendency to see others as having an "easier" life or a season that is so much more rewarding...yet, we forget that there is a history that can be painful or embarrassing or exhausting or difficult. We just see the immediate of others yet the whole history book on ourselves.

During this holiday season, let us pledge to think of the history of others and not to gauge everything by the moment. Parenting is a cumulative calling that affects us all and binds us together. Let us not wound one another with our judgments or assessments or self-help philosophies. Instead, let us run to the throne of the One who can show us how to love well and search the Word for wisdom that transcends earthly advice. Stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow parents and parents to be who are longing to lead their families to seek the glory of God. Shed the opinions for encouragement. Leave the judgments and choose blessings. Battle on.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The HARDEST number of kids to parent...a real formula to see if you measure up!

I want you to read this post VERY carefully. Every.Single.Word. Because I am about to make history. I can feel it in my bones. Or perhaps that’s one of my kids crawling up my leg again. Either way, I just know that I am about to shatter your dreams.

Officially, according to The World of Me (Sheryl Turner), I have discovered the hardest number of children you can have. Stay with me here because this may just change the world as you know it. I know that many of us have seen Nineteen Kids and Counting and wonder how does Michelle Duggar do it all? And, then we have friends with one kid who are struggling to take a shower each day. So, I set to work to discover what the TRUTH behind the number of kids and losing one’s sanity might be.

And, I found it. Yep, I did. You can send your thank you notes straight to my mailbox because well, I like to get mail. And my kids fight over who earns the privilege of retrieving the mail each day. They always think there’s something in there for them…I toss them a catalog and they are happy. And then there’s the college recruitment doo-higgies that I toss in the garbage because I want to live in denial that my 17 year old only has another year at home. But, I digress.

Let me preface this life altering information with this little bit of insight. I am a numbers person. Always have been. I “get” math and I don’t have to work at it. You can hate, and I don’t mind. When a boy was kidnapped and it garnered national attention (when I was like 8 or 9), I began to memorize the license plate numbers of cars parked on either side of us wherever we went. I know it’s quirky but it’s a habit. I don’t do it as much anymore mainly because I’m counting heads of my own kids and I think that’s more important. I can remember phone numbers and birthdays over names. I can also tell you how many times people mentioned a certain topic in their conversation (often the one they say that they don’t care about but if you mention it 22 times in a matter of thirteen minutes, then I think you do care about it). I have counted the tiles in many funeral parlors, churches and waiting rooms. I know the distance between places but can’t tell you how to get there. I can, however, tell you down to the minute, exactly how long it will take you to get there. And I can pick up a piece of luggage and guess the weight within a pound or two. So, maybe it’s a curse. Now that I read all of that about myself, I think I need counseling.

So, I’ve crunched all these numbers, and I have come up with a formula that has produced the HARDEST number of kids that you can have. Some of you might not want to know because perhaps you think you won’t measure up. Others have more kids and hope that you are the perfect number. SPOILER ALERT….THE HARDEST NUMBER OF KIDS TO HAVE IS….

(You have to keep scrolling because I don’t anyone to go further if they truly need to stop now)


Yep, that’s the hardest number of kids you can have. Do you have kids? Nope. Then, that’s the hardest number. With friends who have struggled with infertility, you long for the day that you will be a mommy. And your heart hurts when people post about morning sickness or complain about how their baby won’t stop crying. You want that…someone to call you Momma. Or maybe your child lives somewhere else right now, and your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest in anticipation of meeting him or her. You are in THE hardest place!

And if you have one child at home, guess what? That’s the HARDEST NUMBER of kids to have. Because you ARE the entertainment, the caregiver, the only one responsible for this little life. And, since you’ve never done this before, you are scared to death that you are gonna mess this child up. Try timing a shower or eating or reading anything (besides a shampoo bottle) while your first born sleeps is a guessing game sure to change at any given moment. You have it rough.

Or maybe you have two kids and you haven’t had a shower in a few days. You are scared to leave the room with a toddler who likes to play rough with the baby, and you bide your time waiting for your spouse to get home so you can go to the bathroom alone. Those days are tiring and you are eager for your kids to grow up…or at least wipe their own bottoms.

Three? You only have two hands and now, they outnumber the adults in the house. It’s a different ballgame, and you have to learn new plays. When one is crying and needs your attention, the other two are carving I Love You into the walls of the living room. You are tired…all the time…and you just need a nap.

Four or more…people wonder how you do it, and you want to scream “By the grace of God..that’s how!” You are not superwoman although you probably keep a cape or two handy at all times. Someone is constantly needing you and calling your name. You just want to cover your ears and change your name. It is HARD.

So there it is…the HARDEST number of kids to have. We all struggle. But, God’s mercies are NEW every morning, and I am so grateful. Without His strength and faithfulness, I would fail miserably every day. As I sit here now, one child is singing to the top of her lungs while her sister is busy finishing a school project. I hear three other sets of legs running in the hallways pretending to be the Avengers. And I’m grateful for the noise as it reminds me that He is good. And, He will provide exactly what I need to raise my kids to His ultimate glory. He will be here and be with me when I think that I can’t carry on.

To all of you mommas out there, march on. You are doing the most important thing…raising a human being (or two or seven or twenty three) who will learn how to praise Jesus from you. You are investing in a child who will grow up and worship the Almighty God of Heaven. You are critical in God’s plan. Thank you for how you will give Him the glory today in spite of the hard times. Thank you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Lifetime Struggle

My mind is racing with so many things to write but I can’t seem to focus on just one. There’s the post on the HARDEST number of kids to have (I have a formula, and I think it’s pretty snazzy), how to shop for Christmas without blowing the bank or your mind, the fact that our girls just beat the socks off us in a 1/2 marathon relay….there’s just so much. I think it’s the curse of being a female. My mind only stops to go to sleep. And even then, I wake up with a “to do” list a mile long.

So, let’s get back to the basics. I struggle with my weight and staying healthy. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone but in case it was, now you know. And knowing is far less than half the battle. It’s about 1% of it. I think that all people who have a hard time eating healthy and exercising KNOW the issues. It’s not the knowing that we need more of…it’s the DOING that we long for.

I am at a FAR better place than I was 2 years ago when I tipped the scales at well over 200 lbs. I think I allowed myself to get on the scale around 210 but had already lost some before I got there. When I look back at photos, I think 220-225 was probably more like it. And, on my frame, that doesn’t bode so well. Double/triple chins, belly rolls, size 18-20 pants and X-Large shirts please. And don’t forget to tune out anything and anyone who talks about eating well and getting healthy. They just don’t know.

In part, that’s true. People who don’t struggle in this area have a hard time understanding it just like I have a difficulty understanding other sins that are not a weakness for me (kidnapping, shoplifting, pornography, etc.). Everyone has a bent to sin…it’s called the flesh and our sin nature. Mine is sharply pointed at eating whatever is in sight with no regard for health and being lazy (meaning sitting down all day and avoiding activity if possible).

Two years ago this past month God broke our hearts and convicted us in the area of honoring Him with our bodies. It has been the hardest journey of my life. Because it is NOT over. I still struggle daily with making wise choices and exercising. I want to avoid it at all costs. I make excuses. I loathe that part of me.

What do I want? Honestly, I want it to be easy. I want to crave healthy foods and to jump out of bed ready to run. I want to enjoy it…for it to be fun. Flashback to me telling my kids “Not everything in life is fun. But, there are just some things you HAVE to do.” Uuggh. I need to take my own advice.

So, after my surgery, I have to recommit to healthy eating and exercise. I know that this is a lifetime struggle for me (and many of you too). It does NOT come naturally or easy. The best things in life usually don’t come that way. I have to be disciplined and self-controlled under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I must be strict because my body EASILY leans toward out of control and downward spirals.

I have already been back at Crossfit and slowly running. This fall I am taking the “mile a day” challenge as well. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, I will run at least a mile EVERY day…no off days, no excuses. Rain or snow (ha!) or cold or hot or sick…I will run. The plan is to continue to go to Crossfit three days a week, run a 5K two days a week, and a long run on Saturday. Now, I will run one mile on the Crossfit days and on Sunday…no days wasted. The idea is to instill discipline in my body and a craving for running daily.

A half marathon awaits in February, and honestly , I am scared stiff. It is hilly, and it is COOOOLD (I know that’s relative to my friends in the north, but lookah here…we Southerners can withstand 110º heat and 100% humidity dressed to the nines for a funeral outside for an hour…so there!). It’s the hills that frighten me most. I despise them because guess what? They are more work! Uuggh. See a pattern.

Join me in this fight as we battle on to honor the Lord in this area of our lives. I am in the trenches with you. You are not alone. We will not waver. We will not be defeated.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Press On Friends.

So there’s just something to this exercise thing. Since the beginning of the summer, my exercise regiment has been modified significantly. But, I still ate the same way (2 cheat meals per week). Okay, so that does NOT work. No cheat meals when you are not exercising full force.

Running was not happening. Moving my elbow behind me pretty much caused me to fall to my knees in pain. And Crossfit exercises had to be modified if they involved significant weight on my arm (including pull-ups, pushups, and any weight overhead). I still worked out 5 days a week but to a lesser extent.

And I am FULLY aware of all those people who can work out 3 days a week for 10 minutes a day and eat whatever they want whenever they want and never gain a pound. And I am FULLY aware that I am NOT one of those people.

Shoulder surgery has certainly improved my pain, and I am recovered to about 90%. I can’t do overhead squats or anything that involves my arms extended and moving backwards…YET. But, I will.

And so now, I am back on the wagon of regaining strength and working out 6 days a week…3 run days and 3 Crossfit days. Eating healthy. No cheat meals. Uuggh.

I can look at others all day long and see their choices and how much they can eat without even gaining a pound. I can watch friends try to gain weight (You will NEVER write that statement about me…ever). I can complain when I don’t get to eat what I want. None of that changes the fact that God has entrusted me with this body. He knows my struggles. His Word about honoring Him with my body applies to me. I cannot sugarcoat or explain that away. It is for me. It is for you. It is His command.

I will press on.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Running Free

The old mare ain't what she used to be...that's how I feel these days. Just a year ago, I was preparing to run my first half marathon. And it was scary. And awesome. All at the same time!

Since my shoulder injury and surgery, I haven't been able to run. Pushing my elbow backwards in any form (even the little bit required for box jumps) is excruciating. It pretty much took me to my knees pre-surgery. Now it's improving but still not where it needs to be. But, I can run again. And now I think I will.

We are signed up to run the half-marathon in a two person relay this time so I will only have to run 6.6 miles. I am NOWHERE near that right now. I got on the treadmill this morning...side story...JT wasn't home from Crossfit with Kaitlyn, and Madison is sick, so I did NOT want to leave the house without a lead dog. So, the treadmill was my option. I did open the exterior door which let in plenty of cooler air. Meanwhile, the paranoid side of me pulled out a marine cooler and placed it in front of said make sure no small rodents or snakes got it. And, in case the cat from next door or a deer or a bird was to come by and hop in, I closed the interior door to the house..make sense? Sure, it does. Now, moving on. I ran 2 minutes and walked one minute for 3.1 miles. I thought I might die. Several times. It was hard. But, I finished.

I like to run...WHEN IT'S OVER! The idea of running has always appealed to me, but my body doesn't understand that it should enjoy the fresh air, the freedom, the exercise. Nope. My body revolts. My feet hurt. Breathing is hard. But, it's my mind that fights the MOST. My brain starts thinking about quitting as soon as I start. Excuses overflow. I have to rely fully on the Holy Spirit to keep going. This, my friend, is a task not easily undertaken. I literally battle the flesh with every step I take.

My body needs to run for the exercise. I love Crossfit...LOVE. I love my morning crew. They challenge and encourage me. The exercises make me stronger and develop endurance. But, I have to run too. For my weight alone, my body needs to run.

With a 5K in December, in which both of my younger brothers are running, I seek NOT to embarrass myself. I would love to finish close to 30 (idealistically under 30) but this is slow going these days. Please help to hold me accountable for running. I need to run 2-3 times a week just to get back to normal again. And I need to run faster...a lot faster. I will seek to run every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. The weekly runs will be 3.1 while the Saturday run will be longer (beginning with 4 miles and increasing). PLEASE text me, message me or just ask me in person how the running is going. I NEED IT!

Thank you all for helping me to get back into running shape!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Good Am I?

What good am I? That’s the question that many stay at home moms, especially homeschoolers, ask frequently. The church lingo would say “What’s my purpose?” It’s the same. You know that feeling of a pit in your stomach or ache in your heart like you just aren't doing all that God has designed you for? Like you are somehow missing out? Or maybe that you don't belong?

In a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram world where people post their yummy meals, perfectly dressed children and immaculate-just-redone-with-one-million-pinterest-ideas rooms, I can get easily discouraged in the daily grind. You see, I rarely post pictures (with the exception of this month of focusing on thankfulness). Why? Number one - I don’t keep my cell phone on me at all times (I hear some of you gasping. Others are saying, “No wonder she hasn’t texted me back in five days.”). So I forget. Secondly, it’s just not a priority to share with everyone how grand my life is or how mundane or how hard. I forget. I think I should document a day in our lives to show you just how awkward those photos would be...another post for another day.

Life is hard. No matter how many children you have. No matter whether you work inside or outside of the home. No matter how you school your kids. No matter whether your husband leaves for work or works from the home office. Whether you live in the city or the country. There are only 24 hours, and we all have to live in them.

So, you might be like me and wonder, “How am I supposed to DO more than I’m already doing to serve the Lord?” Of course, I’m not suggesting that you have to DO anything to earn the favor of the Lord or His unmerited grace. Focusing on the love relationship with Him through daily time alone in His presence and prayer are essential. But, how do you minister to those around you and not feel like you are just adding another checklist item to your agenda?

For me, God has reminded me of simple things that I already do on a daily basis that can be a blessing to someone else.... If you are at home, could you send a note of encouragement to a few people each week? Offer to keep a young mom’s kids while she shops alone? Take an elderly widow to the grocery store? Cut grass for an older couple? Help a newly married man set up his family budget? Start a Bible study for women/men in your area? Bake cookies and take them to the local fire department? The list could go on and on.

And here’s the kicker. Each one of us is gifted differently with different personalities...why? So that we are drawn to the areas of ministry that others are not...and they are drawn to minister in ways that we are not. See how the Body works? Everyone doing a different job all for the expressed purpose of bringing God glory!

You have a purpose and you are loved by the King of kings. He wants to use you right where you are today. Whether it’s wiping a kid’s nose for the tenth time today or listening to your neighbor over tea...encouraging a co-worker in his marriage or taking a weary momma out to lunch. Serve the Lord with gladness and know that you are a child of the Most High. Even in the mundane, He will be glorified!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why Every Day's Not a Friday....

I will NEVER forget seeing the title of the book for the first time - Every Day a Friday. What? Friday is when the weekend begins and we can all kick off the responsibility of jobs for a few days and just relax. EVERYTHING is going to be okay! Maybe this author hasn't read the Biblical accounts of Paul, Job, Jeremiah or Jesus...And surely, he doesn't have children. You know, kids don't understand the concept of sleeping late or no responsibility or relaxing. I wanted to remove all the books from the shelves and stomp out the door. I don't know about you but I've seen a lot of suffering in the church and every day is CLEARLY not a Friday.

The sermon at church yesterday centered around God’s plan for suffering in our lives. It was a timely message as I had just been dwelling on why times are so tough for so many people. We have friends who are struggling in their marriages, dealing with devastating losses and fighting for their lives. It is not a season of suffering for us...but that is generally a reminder that we are about to enter into such a time.

As I reflected back on the suffering in our lives, most of it has come in the last twelve years...exactly the time since God called us to begin One Way Ministries...hmmmm. I began to think of the rocky roads in our lives and how God has used EACH one of them for His ultimate glory....

The death of JT’s grandfather who was the bedrock of our family (and showed me what a loving grandfather looked like)...God showed Himself as THE Comforter who gives eternal life to those who believe in Him.

The conviction and imprisonment of my own father to 25 years in a state penitentiary...This was the beginning of the road to knowing God’s amazing love for us as His children. He became the Father that I needed most.

The move away from Canton, Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama to begin the ministry (some of the loss we felt was a direct result of our own pride and arrogance)...God demonstrated His faithfulness time and time again through a job and a house and a new church home.

The death of JT’s grandmother who held the family together...God again showed Himself as the Healer who takes away sickness through His sovereign plan.

The death of JT’s father (the most devastating loss we had ever faced in life)...It took us a while to see God’s plan but now we know that God’s design was good and for His ultimate glory. He demonstrated His love for us and showed us what it was like to be without a Father (leading us to understand the plight of the orphan).

The destruction of our home and worldly goods by a fire in January of 2005...God allowed us to live through “The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

The two year adoption process of Jett and the year that followed (the darkest days for our family as we faced our own fears and misconceptions)...God’s name be praised for the faithfulness and steadfastness He displayed. We can now walk other families through similar circumstances knowing that God’s goodness is at work!

The adoption of Zeke and Elly and the great feelings of loss that it caused all of us. The grieving was so heavy at times and hard to bear... God reminded us of our need for Him and total reliance on Him alone!

The death of JT's mom unexpectedly just two years ago which left us feeling all alone and without any parental guidance or wisdom...God showed Himself as Sustainer and Provider and pointed us to His Word for all wisdom!

There are so many other circumstances I could list (and did on my worship guide this morning). Why God? Why the suffering? Oh, I KNOW the answer...I have lived it. It is for our good and His glory. It is His design to make us more like Him. Do I like it? NO! Do I need it? YES! Suffering makes my life look more like Him and encourages others in their life journey. My walk through difficult times should point others to Christ alone. Oh Lord, find me worthy to suffer for Your name’s sake!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Well, this has never happened before...

I uttered the words to the MRI technician...he sorta rolled his eyes. I assured him that I could handle the tight enclosure, and then, I couldn't. COULD.NOT.DO.IT.

I was just lying there as calm as ever when he explained the sounds I would hear, what it would feel like, and this gentle reminder, "It's really better if you close your eyes." My ears and brain interpreted that to mean, "If you are wimpy, close your eyes so you won't get scared. Otherwise, leave them open." I opted to have my eyes wide open. For all of 60 seconds.

First, it was the chill bumps. Then, my heart started racing. I imagined myself in a casket (for some strange reason). I was having a hard time breathing. I felt my blood pressure go up, and only in what I can describe as a moment of "this is clearly crazy but it sounds perfectly plausible to me," I thought that somehow I would swell up like the girl in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then get stuck in this MRI tunnel and perhaps die there. What was going on? I didn't have a clue. But, then my chest tightened, and I called out for the technician. "I don't think I can do this." He graciously responded, "I'm coming."

Glorious words. Everlasting really. Life changing. I could breathe again. He called it a panic attack. I have to agree. Never had one before and don't plan on having another...thank you for asking. We talked through the procedure and he assured me that the whole "close your eyes" thing was for real. And so I believed him and took his advice.

I went back in. For 30 whole minutes. I willed my eyes to stay closed. I prayed a lot. And that's when God reminded me of something I was missing...Him.

You see, when my eyes were on my circumstances and surroundings, my mortality and failure were very obvious. They were clear, and they were choking me. I couldn't accomplish the completion of the task because I was too focused on the situation itself. It was tight (not on my body but just so close), uncomfortable, restraining and unknown. Not unlike many of the circumstances we all find ourselves in daily.

Yet, when I closed my eyes and focused on the voice of the one who knew the machine, I knew that all was well. He had used this machine daily for over 13 years. He knew what he was doing. I did not. He could see the bigger picture and the end result. All I could see was being buried alive in a coffin (as a side note, watching CSI years ago did nothing to help said matter but only reaffirmed my feelings about such a death).

In much the same way, my attitude and behaviors cannot depend on my surroundings. I must incline my ear to God alone. For He knows me and He knows each situation. His truth remains truth no matter what the world whispers or shouts to me. My circumstances will not dictate or determine my actions. I will surrender to the voice of the One who made me and for Who I was made.

And I hope I never have to repeat that lesson.

Monday, September 16, 2013

An Irritating Injury

And I'm gonna get me one of these so the ice can stay on longer!

Since last summer I have had a nagging injury in my right shoulder. It began as a muscle pain on the back side of my shoulder right below my neck. A wonderful massage therapist helped me to feel better, and two weeks between visits was working. Computer work seemed to irritate it immensely so I tried to limit the time on emails. Then, the fall happened, and I had to return to a chiropractor as it began to get worse.

Over the course of the winter, spring and now summer, the pain has just progressively gotten worse...and worse..and worse. For the past month it has become so intense at times that I cannot sleep. It burns and aches and stabs and throbs. The pain seems most intense after a shower and changing clothes (due to raising it over my head repeatedly) as well as driving. Now, it is more irritating and frustrating than ever.

So, on Thursday the ortho doc looked at it, declared I had several bone spurs and gave me a cortisone shot. If it's not better by Monday, come back for an MRI he declared. So, guess what I am waiting to do today? Make an appointment for an MRI. Yuck! This is not fun...of course, life is not always fun so I'm not sure why I (or anyone else) says that. It is an annoyance that I do not have time for these days. But, it is here, and now I have to deal with it.

How do I take care of my family and handle this as well? I have NO idea. But I DO KNOW THIS: God is not surprised by this injury, and He has a plan. His plan is NEVER to hold us at arm's length but to always draw us closer. Thought I don't understand I will trust. I trust that He will be true to His promises and will show Himself faithful. I will rest in that today.

I will not try and figure this out or make a plan for how it should go. I will wait. I will wait. I will wait.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wilderness Living

I’m in a wilderness people. And some days are really good...I can see where I’m headed and yearn to get there. Then there are days that I don’t understand God’s plan and keep asking if I’m hearing him correctly. Ever been there? Of course you have!(Side note...the picture above is from our family vacation this summer...I can't find a wilderness one that fits...)

I packed up my computer at the end of the school year and took a break from blogging. I wanted this summer to be more about our family time and enjoying one another. By the end of it, my older girls were counting down the days until they would see their friends every Thursday.

We had an awesome summer...swimming in the pool, mission trips, playing with friends, more swimming in the pool, cookouts, sleeping in, pool, sleeping in some more, and swimming. I’m not sure if I am communicating how much time we spent in the pool, but suffice it to say, I have washed more beach towels and lathered more sunscreen on bodies than I ever imagined possible. And I loved it. It was good.

In the meantime I let eating habits slip more than I would care to admit. Crossfit was a daily routine (except on vacation) and running took a back seat. Since school began a few weeks ago, running has picked back up and eating habits are back on track. I have gained a few pounds, and well, they need to GO!

But back to the’s this pain in my shoulder you see. Many of you just made a huffy breath, so stick with me here. I’ve had a pain in my shoulder for over a year. I have gone to a massage therapist, and it was better. Working on the computer or some exercises made it hurt but it was manageable. At the beginning of the summer, the pain seemed more intense and I occasionally had to take pain relievers (those who know me well know that I do NOT take medicine...not because I’m opposed but just from a painful growing up experience). I have seen a chiropractor fairly often and recently saw my regular physician.

Now, the pain is taking a toll on my daily life. It hurts when I run. It hurts when I work out. It hurts when I’m sitting or standing. It just hurts all the time. I’m waking up 4-5 times a night. It is annoying and irritating and frustrating. I NEED to work out. And I need to do everyday tasks (wash clothes, shut doors, get dressed, brush my hair), but it hurts so badly.

I’m frustrated because I don’t have answers. Meanwhile, God keeps reminding me to spend MORE time in His Word. Even in pain He’s the One to run spend time KNOWING Him more than focusing on the pain. It feels like a wilderness but He is teaching me to be content in it. He will provide answers in His time.

Meanwhile, I’m back for now. We will see how long my arm can hold out. What’s bothering you today or hindering you? How can I pray for you friends? Please let me know...I love you all!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scheduling for nemesis.

A month has passed without the official school schedule that we follow August-early May. And it has been good. Very good.

Early morning exercise. Back to sleep (that’s the best part of my day). Leisurely breakfast. Pool time. Read some books. Laundry/housework (as needed). DISCLAIMER: I’ve begged everyone to either wear clothes for 4 days in a row or go buck naked so I don’t have 5 loads of laundry a day for the summer. Okay, back to reality. Lunch outside. Play some more. Read some more. Avoid housework/emails. Snack. Watch Wild Kratts. Play even more. Get in the pool again.

It’s been a good time had by all. But, then, I start to get this itch that reminds me that I need to do SOMETHING for school so that it doesn’t slap me in the face come August 1st. So, I try to do ONE thing per week that will make school go a little easier in the fall.

Last week I tackled the school room and cleaned it out and got rid of things we no longer needed. Old books put up, new curriculum on shelves. Make a list of all the things we needed (it was quite short this time).

This week we are tackling the dreaded schedule. WIth five kids learning at the same time, this Momma needs a schedule. Now keep in mind that this schedule can change at a moment’s notice and will likely have to be modified depending on how children are doing with each subject and how the time of day affects them.

Here’s how we do it around here.

1. Recruit one organized child to help (that would be Madison in this case).
2. Locate as many colored sticky notes as possible (we found six I think).
3. Use one color for all the kids names and put that at the top of our board/table (whatever is big enough to lay out the schedule on).
4. Use another color to lay out the time slots (we do increments of 20 minutes from 8:00 am - 12:40). Then, we have another block for the afternoon (since the older girls have extra work to do then).
5. Subjects are divided into three colors - ones that require Mom teaching, independent work, and subjects that someone else will teach (Kaitlyn teaches language to Jett and Madison teaches Bible to Zeke and Elly).
6. Each sticky note has the student’s name in the upper right hand corner just to verify that it’s in the right place. Then, we add the subject and how much time it will take. It only took us 5 times to rearrange the subjects into a format that we thought would work best.
7. Add the work to the computer and make sure it looks accurate (using different colors for #5).

There are several factors that I must consider:

- What are the kids’ hardest subjects?
- Is there a time of day that works better for a particular person with a specific subject?
- Not everyone can practice piano at the same time!
- Some students can work in the school room while others need to work at the table.
- Too much independent work (consecutively) for any student without Mom checking up on him/her can cause issues later...

So, here’s a look (just a screen shot) of our final product.

How do you do it? Plan for school for multiple kids? Would love to hear your ideas!!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm done for a while...

The end. Thank you all very much.

It's been a busy year for us around here, and we've made some significant progress with our youngest two children. Strides are being made all over the place. And..this Momma is T-I-R-E-D.

Elly has frequently come to the breakfast table lately quoting the one line from Duck Dynasty that she remembers: "My un-dees is wet and I'm TIRED!" I feel the same way...except not the wet underwear.

I need a break from the electronic world, and my kids need my undivided attention. We have arranged our schedule so that JT is only gone for 4 1/2 weeks this summer, and I am eternally grateful. What a blessing.

So, I will be signing off the blog for the summer unless something just outstanding happens...and there MAY be big news around that time anyway...we shall see. I'll update Facebook occasionally as I remember something funny or entertaining. But, I think I shall spend time cherishing these moments in my heart.

More one on one conversations and less Mommy on the computer. More questions and listening, less "uh-huh" and "go play outside until I'm finished." More snuggles and less housework. More time in God's Word and less mindless meetings and emails. More swimming in the pool with friends and less sitting at my desk. More dancing, less washing dishes. Just more, more, more. And, less of the stuff that doesn't matter.

More of this:

And this:

And yes, more of this too:

I love you all. My main ministry is right here, right now. And I will give it all I have.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Cried on Vacation

School is out and we decided to take the whole family to Atlanta for a homeschool convention...I can get our new curriculum, learn from some veterans and meet up with many friends. Plus a little mini vacation for us before the hectic summer begins. Win/win for everyone. Now some of you, okay, many of you do not homeschool..this is STILL for you. It involves my HUGE mistake as a parent in teaching my kids. I hope I am the only one who is in this boat, but I have a funny feeling that I am not.

One session caught my eye, “How to teach the highly distractible child.” Yes, please. After girls who sat so politely in their desks and did their work quickly and efficiently and correctly, it was a little surprise to see the difference in boys. And, I am not one who handled it well or with grace or mercy or kindness.....

In fact, I’ve struggled daily with teaching boys who seem to fall out of their chairs every five minutes, constantly move around, and can’t seem to be still for more than two minutes at a time (unless they are doing something they truly enjoy). So, this session opened with this statement, “If you have ever said to your kid, ‘Son, get down off the refrigerator and get back to work,’ then you are in the right place.” I knew I was going to learn something. And, I did.

More than anything else, I was convicted through the teaching that I have made one of my children feel stupid (please note that we don’t use that word in our house because children have a tendency not to use the word in the correct context and use it liberally to describe people). I have failed my child, my children. And I am the teacher. If one of my students doesn’t understand the lesson, the responsibility lies with me. So I need to change my approach.

I sat in the session and laughed and cried and came under conviction. Which was good. I needed to hear the wisdom of someone who has walked this road before. I was desperate to hear from the Lord in this area where I have failed time and time again. God’s discipline of my heart and mind was needed, and it was good.

I am thankful that He has set my heart in a new direction in this area of school. Please pray that God would continue to teach me and mold me into the teacher He desires!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Day After Mother's Day

It's the day after Mother's Day, and I have to admit that I didn't want to write this post. I wanted to describe this glorious weekend that my family planned...they literally kidnapped me and spoiled me rotten. It was amazing. They conspired, planned and implemented so many surprises...AND they kept it a secret from me for weeks. Five kids KEPT a secret? That alone is worthy of an Oscar. And, I am so proud.

But, if I was in your shoes, I might be a little mad at my husband or children...but there's no need. I've had 15 other Mother's Days that didn't always make me feel special or loved or appreciated. And, keep this part to was mainly MY fault...unrealistic expectations, a sense of entitlement, etc. But, is THAT the point of Mother's Day?

Mother's Day is one day out of 365 that is set aside to make us feel like we are doing a good job. Our kids are fed (albeit cereal or crackers sometimes), bathed (occasionally), dressed (most days) and alive (for now). Shouldn't we be elevated for at least 24 hours?

I don't know about you, but I often feel like a failure as a mom. If I read many blogs or look at Pinterest or Facebook for very long, I can pretty much confirm that I don't measure up. And, here's a little look into the real world at my house...

-There is NO glitter inside these walls. And, there will not be.
-Recently (at a kindergarten graduation practice), one of the moms announced, "And now it's time to do our craft!" Zeke looked me square in they eyes and said, "What's a craft?" I'm just not crafty people, and I cannot connect creativity to anything worthwhile around here.
-I do NOT do most of the cooking here. In fact, I usually only cook when JT is out of town. And, I am not a good cook at all. My girls outcook me any day. As does Jett.
-I get easily frustrated...E-A-S-I-L-Y! I find myself expecting way too much from others and little from myself.
-I get disappointed QUICKLY! And I great dislike that about myself.
-I am always looking for the NEXT thing instead of enjoying this moment. I wish I was like my friend Greta who truly lives in each second. She appreciates and loves life in a glorious way.
-I am jealous of others. I envy my friends...Angel's wisdom, Angelia's creativeness, Susie's sense of style, Carol's encouragement, Karen's compassion, Lora's easy going-ness, Susan's sweetness, Greta's patience, Becca's sacrificial heart, and so many more.
-I am self-centered.
-I yell at my kids.
-I dishonor my husband.
-I am lazy.

Uuuggh, there are just so many things that I can list that clearly show me as a less-than-stellar mom. BUT GOD...those are my favorite two words in the Bible (cf Genesis 15:20, Psalm 73:26, Acts 2:24, Romans 5:8)...BUT GOD

-has given me sufficient grace for each day
-provides new mercies every morning
-shows me my depravity and forgives my sins
-loves me and my children unconditionally
-gifts me days to start over and try again

And, I am one thankful momma. I mess up EVERY day. I fail the Lord, my husband, my children and my friends...often. But, He is faithful even when I am faithless. And, my heart overflows with love for the Father.

Happy Day after Mother's Day my's a new day to live in a way that brings Him great glory. Let's get started.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Journey to Holiness

Our final night in the Craving Him More study was bittersweet. I have grown to love these women as I have witnessed their struggles and victories first hand. I have seen myself in them over and over again. And, God has been faithful to teach us all along the way.

We began by talking about sacrifice. Sacrificing for a season is do-able but not fun. But, to sacrifice until we no longer desire what has been given up? Unheard of. Here's the deal...sacrifice is NECESSARY to make room for what God has in store for me in this journey. I must begin with what is CRUCIAL - seeing the connection between my daily disciplines with food and my desire to pursue holiness. Holiness doesn’t just deal with my spiritual life...but my physical life as well.

It is good for God’s people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. As adults, we are rarely in a situation where we feel desperate for God. When we are stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don’t recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on. Additionally, the more dependent we become on God’s strength, the less enamored we are with other choices.

To even get started we need to recognize that God alone can change our situation. We must be desperate for Him to act, and we must be willing to obey. From Made to Crave, we read Lysa Terkeurst's prayer which can be found here

Step two is making choices along the way. The very next choice I make is a crucial one because one wise choice leads to two and that can lead to a thousand and that can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline. Those choices are about gaining certain things and losing so much (pant sizes, waist inches, pounds, etc). What if this whole journey of getting healthy could be more about what we’re in the process of gaining that what we’re losing. Think of the discipline, the joy, the intimacy, the courage and the confidence you will find along the road to getting healthy! Of all the things lost and gained along this journey, the courage to repent might be the most significant to me.

To finish our study, we looked at the following verses which have become very meaningful in this process:

2 Corinthians 7:1 - we must cleanse ourselves from defilement...perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Thus, we must remove certain things to gain holiness! Remove those things that stand in the way of your body being honoring to God (for me, that's laziness, easy temptations and lack of planning)

Ephesians 4:22-24 - lay aside the old self (the one that makes food an idol and fills every need with food) and put on the new self which has been created in righteousness and holiness of THE TRUTH!!!

Romans 6:19 - the very next choice we make isn’t about food - it’s about whether or not we’re positioning ourselves to live the kind of God honoring lives in which, by God’s strength, sustained discipline is possible.

1 Corinthians 6:12 - some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not appropriate because they can control our lives and lead us away from God.

Revelation 2:7 - God will give us the right to eat in heaven. We started with Eve’s sin in the garden eating the forbidden fruit and end with victory in being able to partake of food in heaven!

What a journey this has been. And, this is just the beginning for many of you. It's an ongoing process for that I will live in until God calls me home. It is my lot in life, and it is designed to create an intimacy with God Almighty. Instead of offering excuses and looking at the life others lead, I will stay centered on my God appointed journey. And, I will make it count for Him!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Open Letter to My Teacher

There are so many...I can’t fathom where to start and my heart has so much to say. From Mrs. Smith who taught me how to write my letters in kindergarten to Mrs. Parten who allowed our class to belt out “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” every other week. Then, there was Mrs. Overstreet who taught me what it meant to recycle and how to write a paper. Mrs. Sims and Mrs. Adams who pushed me to excel when I thought I didn’t measure up.

But, when I think of teachers who impacted my formative years, one woman had an impact on me that I shall never forget. And this is an open letter to her:

Dear Mrs. Kimbrough,

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and if I had high school to live all over again, I would do it because of you. I would endure those awkward years of school and painful times in my family just to be back in your class.

Literature was never my greatest love, but it quickly rose to the first class status because of your love for the subject. You made books come alive for me for the first time in my life. I got lost in them because you expected me wanted me encouraged me passed your love along to me and my classmates.

More importantly, you saw me as a person and not just a teenager. I have no idea if you knew what my home life was like...with a mother who was in and out of mental institutions...but you always seemed to care. You showed me daily that I was important and I could do more. And, I believed you.

You made us write...a lot, as I recall. Book reviews, fictional pieces, essays, and even research papers. I never enjoyed writing until you gave me a reason to. It was the little notes on top of each paper that prodded me on...encouragement for what I did well and correction for what I could do better. I even recall my favorite, “You want to be a doctor? What a waste! The world will NEVER know how well you write. Please reconsider!” I read that note and floated on cloud nine for weeks. You believed in me. And I needed that.

Sure, it took you extra time to write on my papers, but you did it. Every time. You drew smiley faces and told me “Great Job” or “Well done” or “I can’t wait to read what you write next!” I remember EVERY SINGLE WORD. Because, you wrote them...TO ME. And, that made a difference in my life.

God used you in ways you may never know to rescue this young girl from a world of uncertainty and chaos. You gave me a safe place to express myself while teaching me how to harness that passion.

Mrs. Kimbrough, I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. You taught me well, and I am forever grateful. Job well done, Mrs. Kimbrough. Well done indeed.

Sheryl Graves Turner, Class of 1988

Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning always

We are all teachers from the time we take our first breath. You teach your parents that they are selfish and need to think of others, mainly you. You cry, they come. You are hungry, they feed you. Then, growth comes and you just seem to know it all...already. You are an expert...until you reach your mid to late 30’s. That’s when it happened to me. I had the realization that I was simply an idiot. It’s not easy to admit but it’s true.

I had lived my life going to high school..making good grades and excelling in academics. I went to college and loved studying. Then, grad school and another degree. I love to read and to gain academic thrills me, in fact. How did I go from being smart to dumb overnight? Well, having children was the beginning of my 20’s.

Most people do not tell you this, but your memory simply disappears from existence for approximately 1-2 years. And, here’s another bit of happens with adoption too...1-2 years, down the drain. It’s God’s way of protecting you so that you can focus on your child. No need to remember other things like appointments, meetings, etc. And insignificant things like where your keys are, why the milk is in the linen closet and where’s the matching shoe....lessons learned about not sweating the small stuff.

Somewhere along the way I became the teacher of my kids...what to eat, when to eat, how to add, how to flush a toilet, etc. Then, “real” school with math, Bible, history, science and all that academic stuff. It’s tiring, and it takes its toll on me daily. There are days I want to quit, throw in the towel and submit my resignation letter to God. Totally give up!

But, God has designed our lives in such a way that we are always learning and always teaching. That learner position is actually much requires humbleness and teachability...two qualities that I admire more than almost anything else! I can ALWAYS LEARN SOMETHING FROM EACH PERSON I MEET. Sometimes I might be learning how to cherish life from a child, ways to schedule multiple children from another mom, how to teach driving from an older dad, or even how NOT to do something from certain people. Always learning.

And, that’s where I am right now. Learning how to life live with temptation after temptation, party foods and to avoid those things with to say no...proper portions...exercise...pushing myself beyond the physical limits I have established for myself....learning, learning, learning.

What else do I need to learn? I want to hear it...comments welcomed and encouraged and wanted!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tough Times

With my back on the concrete floor and arms open wide, I stared at the fluorescent light overhead. The girls were finishing the last of their sit-ups and I was waiting my turn.

“All glory to our God and King,

Every crown thrown down in offering

Every knee shall bow and voice proclaim

You are God, You are King”

The words rang clearly in my ears as they drowned out my quickened heart beat. It was my turn to finish the sit-ups. I thanked the Lord that the end of the workout was closing in. Team workout days are my favorite but they are hard.

The light seemed to shine brighter, and I could hear the song even louder. And, I thought of my sweet Amy who shared the Gospel with her dying friend yesterday. I prayed that God would give her great wisdom and would show Himself faithful as she speaks the truth of His Word.

And the words screamed out at me...

“Oh praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him.”

The image of my friend Susan who has just returned home from over two weeks at the hospital bedside of one of her children...not to mention that she has only been home from Colombia for a little over two months with a newly adopted child. That’s a tough road to take.

“Oh praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him.”

God, you want me to praise you during sit-ups?

Yes, even now.

“Oh praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him."

Giving God thanks during physical pain isn’t near as hard as praising Him during trying times like my friends have faced these past few weeks. Praising God in the midst of pain and suffering is tough. So, how do you do it?

CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE of praising God daily. That’s the answer. And, it’s NOT easy. Consistent discipline in ANY area is attained by daily performing that task/duty/thought/behavior well over a sustained period of time.

Small things, like making the bed, brushing your teeth, and exercise are physical tasks that, when performed daily, become a habit or a discipline in your life. Larger items including daily Bible study, memorizing Scripture, quality time with your kids, eating healthy, and sharing the Gospel are developed OVER TIME when we consistently (daily) do them.

My husband used to teach people to rappel and rock climb when we were in college. Hanging off the side of a cliff 100 feet up in the air with only a rope around your waist will get you to thinkin’. And, then JT would say, “If you can attach a physical principle to a spiritual concept, you will never forget it.” As the person began to descend the mountain, they would hear about trusting in God and a great hope for the future. I can never read Isaiah without thinking about the true hope of the Lord and what it means to wait on Him!

Today, there are small things (and big ones) that you can do to develop those daily disciplines that will prepare your heart and mind for tough times to come. Will you be ready to face those days knowing that you have done everything He has required of you? What can you do today to get ready?

“Oh praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him, oh Praise Him.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Run, Forrest, Run!

Last night, we looked at the fact that 3500 calories equals one pound. A deficit of 3500 calories will be one pound loss and an additional 3500 calories will be a pound gained. No matter how you look at it, that’s the fact. But, what is really going on? Look behind the meals, food choices, exercises, etc to what really is lacking in your life.

Lysa told the background story on her childhood and how her father had left their family. What a hole that initiated in her, and all she could do was park her mind on the negatives of not having a dad. Then, she had a recollection of a time when her dad had gone out of his way to show love to her. It was years later that the memory came but it gave her something sweet to ponder.

For me, there have been so many negative memories of my mom. Just this week as I was reading the material again, I thought, "Now, why can't I think of one really good memory?" Don't you know that God provided one just ON HIS TIME! A lady who had been in my church when I was younger had called to ask me to speak at a women's event. Then, she began to tell me about a time when my mom had served her so well. A smile came to my face as I thought of how much God loves me to send that memory my way. It was perfect timing, as usual.

To park our mind on hard things constantly just deepens that emotional neediness and triggers the desire to fill it with something else.
We MUST deal with our triggers. We must identify our places of emotional emptiness and admit how futile it is to try and fill those places with food.

We looked at the rationalization that if no one sees you, the calories don’t count. The fact is most of us know that they do, but we think that what’s hidden will STAY hidden. It does not! For me, the issue was always just a secretive one will know. The enemy uses those little lies to keep us out of fellowship with the Father!

In our Bible study time, we focused on 1 Corinthians 10:12-14. We WILL be tempted. There's the first fact. No amount of wishing and desiring will take away those things that will tempt us. However, we KNOW that God will provide a way out...He even tells us what it is in verse 14...FLEE! Even when you are at a party and cupcakes are calling your name, step outside! Phone a friend...go to the your Bible...pull the fire alarm (okay, not that one). You are at a wedding and there's NOTHING healthy to eat, drink water and find someone to talk to..share the Gospel. You are at work and someone is offering doughnuts, RUN AWAY. I wanted to entitle this post, Run, Challis, Run, but you would have had to be in class last night to understand. It's a situation we all have been in...we just NEED to run away from the food. Picture yourself as Forrest Gump and keep running until you can run no more. FLEE from the temptation!!!

Join us in two weeks (next week is our faith family prayer gathering) to finish off our study in chapters 17-19. Can't wait to see you all!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Exception

I could hear the conversation very clearly...I tried not to listen but they were talking so loudly. And, here’s what they said:

Lady 1: Today was an exception. We had company last night and stayed up late. Doughnuts were the easiest things to get for a crowd.

Lady 2: How long have they been at your house?

Lady 1: Three days! So, I haven’t been able to eat right or exercise for THREE days!

Lady 2: What are you going to do now?

Lady 1: I would start tomorrow but Son 1 (don’t remember the name) has a ballgame, so that’s out too.

Lady 2: And this weekend is the tournament. You can always start next week.

Lady 1: Yeah. But, we have two parties next week too. Oh, there’s always the next week.

I wanted to scream, “Look here lady, EVERY day is NOT an exception!” But, I quickly remembered that I have been in that same boat. Every day was an exception to the rule or a special occasion or something out of the normal. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Let’s step back and look at ourselves. Take a good look in that mirror. When you look over the past few weeks of your life, how many days have been “an exception” to your healthy eating and exercise plan?

Does that reflect the consistency you desire? Are you faithful to the call God has given you to honor Him with your body? Are you making excuses? Do you refuse to call them excuses but reasons because they are really good? Are you rationalizing?

Now, look in that same mirror. Do you see the results you desire? Are you where God wants you to be? Why or why not?

If nothing else, let’s be honest with God, ourselves and each other. Let’s admit our failures and shortcomings, our sins and our struggles. Start there. Then, seek God’s wisdom in how to overcome excuses. Begin with taking every thought captive...eliminate the excuses and reasons for NOT doing the right things...replace those thoughts with God’s Word!

Now, let’s get started people. No Excuses!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

God IS my portion...

Last night, we started our time together asking the question, "How many of you have an 'I Have A Dream' section of your closet?" You know, that one piece of clothing or a whole wardrobe that you haven't fit into for years? You have a dream that one day you will, but it is NOT happening any time soon!

I had a pair of what I believed to be Old Navy denim capri pants in a size 10. They didn't fit for a long time as I was a tight 18 at best...I'm trying to erase the memories of buying a size 20 from my mind, but it is still there. I worked and cried and worked and succeeded in losing the weight. Time for a wardrobe change...and what did I discover? That one item I wanted to wear...a size 10 Old Navy SHORTS? Yes, they ended up being more like long shorts that hit me at the knees...why did I buy those in the first place? Never mind. I still put them on, and they were too big at that point. But, I had hit success. Or so I thought.

As Lysa Terkeurst says in Made to Crave, "If my happy is missing when I am larger, it will still be missing when I am smaller." So TRUE people. Sure, you can buy smaller sized clothing and not have a mental fall apart in the dressing room. But, your happy won't be found there. Momentary The books reminds us that tying my happiness to the wrong thing is partially what caused my weight gain in the first place, and attaching my happiness to food, skinny jeans, exercise, etc. sets me up for failure.

We all have a soul longing to be a vacuum. God instilled in us a longing to be filled to draw us into deep intimacy with Him!
If we fail to understand how to fill our souls with spiritual nourishment, we will forever be triggered to numb our longings with other temporary pleasures!

Then, we dove head first into God's good Word! We looked at Isaiah 55:8-12 which tells us to remain in God’s love so that we won’t tie our happiness to anything else! This is such a good word to memorize...God’s ways and thoughts are NOT like ours. He has a BETTER plan! Do you know what it is for your life? The Creator of the Universe made YOUR body, and He knows what foods and exercises and daily lifestyles will work best for you. Go to Him to seek wisdom on how you should proceed!

My favorite part of this passage is the knowledge that His WORD will NOT come back void. It is powerful. In times of need, speak it!!! Know that it WILL accomplish what God set it out to do. When you are hungry or sad or lonely or angry, speak His Word. But how can you speak it if you don’t know it? Let's look to Colossians 3:16 where we are encouraged to let the word of Christ RICHLY dwell in us. Not just a little bit but in depth. How much time do you spend on Facebook or sending emails or talking on the phone? How does that compare with time in His Word?

Exodus 16:2-4 shows us a process of portion control that God put into place intended to put the in the habit of dependence on God alone each day. God PROVIDED for His people! Not their wants but their needs. He is the CREATOR of PORTION control. Find out what the right portions of protein/carbs/fat are for your body type, weight and age. Then, stick to it!

Lamentations 3:22-24 is a reminder for us: rejoice that His mercies are NEW EVERY DAY! Sometimes all we need is to sleep!In fact, that is critical to getting healthy...plenty of sleep!

May He be our SATISFACTION! May He alone be our portion each day! Run to Him today...frequently. Sit at His feet. All else can wait..this is YOUR life, and He wants to use YOU for His kingdom. Repeat this mantra's for MY good and HIS great glory...for MY good and HIS great glory. Rewind. Repeat. Rewind. Repeat.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Nothing is going as planned. NOTHING.

Here was “our” plan for the day:

4:00 Wake and have quiet time
5:00 Leave for Crossfit
5:15 Crossfit
6:15 Shower and get dressed for day
6:45 Prep lunches and breakfast
7:15 Breakfast
8:00 Leave for tutorials at Brook Hills; JT home with Z and E
9:00 Tutorials for older girls; Jett to have school with Mom; JT to pick up supplies at Lowe’s for bathroom
12:00 Lunch for JT, Z and E; Drop Jett off for lunch at tutorials; Mom to take lunch to friend at Children’s Hospital
2:00 JT continue work on bathroom; Mom to have a class at the Apple Store
4:00 Pick up kids at tutorials. JT finish with framing
5:30 JT and Jett to soccer practice
6:00 Dinner at home, etc, etc, etc

There’s just simply no need to type any more as it makes me frustrated to see just how “off” our day was by the time it know because you’ve had THESE days too.

It went more like this:

6:00 Wake up. Missed exercise because of a late night with family (not planned well in advance but necessary)
6:45 Prep lunches and breakfast (yep, this is the only thing that went according to schedule)
7:20 Breakfast (everyone seems irritated already)
8:10 Leave for tutorials (one kid forgets her phone which is necessary with impending weather, we are running behind, Mom is not being kind)
8:35 Arrive at tutorials for morning prayer time (it might help to be in a good mood since I’m supervising the student prayer session)
9:00 Receive word that classes will dismiss at noon. Jett is not happy because he will not have class and misses seeing his friends. Mom and Jett in bad mood and irritable. Call JT who has to change plans to come pick up kids so Mom can go downtown to deliver lunch as scheduled
10:00 Bank calls - they need a new document in order to process our home equity loan. Document can only be obtained by going to the courthouse in Columbiana.
12:00 JT arrives and we learn that friend downtown is now scheduled for a CT scan and no need for lunch today. Change of plans. Everyone go to lunch and then divide to finish bathroom and go to courthouse
1:30 Arrive at courthouse. Go somewhere else to get documentation first.
1:40 Guy at new place demands a number from courthouse...could look it up online but does not and sends Mom back to courthouse.
1:50 Mom becoming friends with security guard at the courthouse. Enter again and get number. Return to other business. Receive has to be notarized. No notaries available. Convince guy to find a notary. Guy takes 20 minutes to get it notarized and then returns.
2:25 Back to courthouse and get paperwork as needed.
2:30 Head home and call friend on the way. Girls in the car fall asleep.
3:15 Arrive at bank to drop off paperwork.
3:45 Finally get home. Elly still asleep and gets tucked into our bed. JT working on bathroom. Boys playing. Storm rolling in.

No exercise. No quiet time. Schedule obliterated. Messy business. Frustration. Irritation.

And, how do I want to comfort myself? With chocolate! Lots of it. Here was the line of thinking:

1. I want chocolate. I deserve it after the day I’ve had.
2. Whoa..wait a minute. Pity party. That’s a sign that I am relying on me.
3. God help me. Post to FB to get some support. Spend time in His Word (should have done that first). Pray.
4. Drink water and a protein drink.
5. Hear the lies of the enemy...speak God’s Word to combat his evil schemes.
6. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Okay, the day hasn’t gone as planned. But, I rejoice in His victories today. He accomplished His good work in me, developing patience and reliance on Him. I will build an altar and remember this day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It is NOT fair!!!

It was time. Many of us had been making excuses. Some of us have fallen completely off the wagon. Others are barely hanging on by a thread. Yet, God's voice has never been clearer. Remember. Return. Rejoice.

Remember what I have taught you and what you have learned. Return to me and take comfort in me. Seek your satisfaction in me alone. Rejoice in the victories I have given you. Take joy in me...because I AM and not because you are anything. I AM ENOUGH!

He whispers the thoughts in my head and they are replaying like a movie in my mind. Teach them my ways. Show them your weaknesses. Lay your soul bare...hold nothing back. When you show your sin, your messiness and your ugly side, I am most glorified because then NOTHING is about you. My strength, grace and mercy are seen in your weaknesses.

Those are the lessons that the Lord has been teaching me lately, so I called for a "Come to Jesus" meeting last night in our Bible study time together. And, we all need it. Me first and foremost. I need to learn the lessons over and over and over again. I am a very slow learner apparently.

The biggest lie we dove into was the "It's NOT fair" argument that ALL of us as women have faced, shouted and promoted throughout our lives. Saying “it’s not fair” has cause many of us to toss aside what we know is right for the temporary thrill of whatever it is that does seem fair. In fact, it’s one of satan’s biggest temptations - it’s a special occasion, just one won’t hurt, you deserve this. But, once we taste the forbidden fruit, we crave it worse than we did before.

We looked at a clue that we are relying on our's called a "pity party." And, we are good at hosting parties. We decorate the room and make it look so appealing. We serve drinks and food to delight our guests. We are the center of attention because we are is is way harder than anyone else. Also known as "I'm drowning and I can't breathe. Somebody help me. The least I can do is to treat myself to something special since no one is helping me."

Satan's lie that life is not fair leads to the idea that special times deserve special exceptions to your usual parameter. Anything else is definitely not special and certainly not fair! Light bulb moment...stop and say “that feels good now, but how will it feel in the morning?”
weakness doesn’t mean is my opportunity to experience God’s power firsthand.

Okay, those are the problems. But, how do we tangibly face them and combat the enemy. There's only one way...God's Word. My opinion and my tips mean NOTHING. They are weak and lame. They have no power. But, His Word is powerful and can defeat the adversary. Let's jump in:
-2 Corinthians 2:9-10: weakness is HARD but it does NOT mean defeat. It can lead to defeat but it does NOT have to! Compromise leads to compromise which leads to failure. But resisting temptation leads to promise after promise being built up in our hearts as real. That leads us to the Holy Spirit’s power to resist and say no! God’s power working through my weaknesses!
-I cannot slide even for a second or a moment right now. That day WILL come but it is not now. I am not strong enough yet in Christ.
The reality is that we ALL have things in our lives that we need to surrender, back away from , say no is part of laying down our own agenda each day. I MUST decrease and He MUST increase! John 3:30
-James 1:3-4 Resisting temptation is a learning process of not relying on my own strength but on God’s strength...which leads to perseverance!
-Deuteronomy 2:3 - we have to determine that we will stay the course. We will not stray or look away. How? (1) by being honest before the Lord. Prayer honestly before the Lord admitting issues. (2) being still before the Lord - Romans 8:26 (3) Empty ourselves of the lies and replacing them with God’s truth.

Here are two lies that replay constantly in my mind and the truth that God has shown me:

(1) You can not do this. Look at are getting old and you have kids and this is just what you are stuck with. God, one of Your names is El Shaddai. You are the All Sovereign One and the God of More Than Enough!

(2) Why don’t you just give up now? What difference does it make? No one else will know. Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Psalms 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Life is not equal but it is fair. Why? Because the Creator of the Universe made the world and mankind, and He is a JUST and Holy God. Everything He does is perfect and is for our good and His glory. So, life is just. We deserve hell and death, so anything above that is WAY more than is good and gracious. Today, I will be thankful for that.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Do you ever wait in traffic for hours only to see a police car on the OPPOSITE side of the interstate and no one is even broken down on your side? You totally expect to see an outline of a body on the pavement or even tarps/sheets covering something you don't need to see... Or you watch Nascar just to see a massive multi car pileup? Are we really a people who desire to see destruction and despair?

Yes, I think we are. We somehow thrive on the failures of others. We expect and sometimes want others to fall. We even anticipate it. It makes us feel better or at least for a few moments.

At the same time we long for honesty and truthfulness. We have lived far too long in a society where adults were NEVER wrong, admission of wrongdoing is seen as weak and perfection is required. We, especially as women and mothers, have turned the tide. Racing to read the latest blog of a mom who messes up, feeds her kids cookies or chips for breakfast, barely gets clothes on her kids and admits to long stints of not seeking the Lord, we cuddle up to our computers longing to KNOW that other women are not measuring up. We YEARN for God to be our all in all and to not rely on ourselves.

In light of those facts, I admit this...If I title the blog with something that indicates my failure, more people read it...a LOT more people triple the usual numbers. Why?

At first I had the defeatist and negative attitude...why do people want to see me fail? But I have to realize that I do the same thing. While on the surface I may look for the negative, I truly want to KNOW that I am not alone in falling... I want to truly know that I can fall and mess up and then get back up. I need the encouragement to keep going.

This past Saturday we went out to dinner with some friends. I was wearing a baby doll type dress over leggings. When I went to the restroom, one of the employees came in and practically shouted, "Oh, you look SOOOO CUTE..." (insert one-half second of thankfulness for the compliment) "I wish I had looked like that when I was pregnant!" I smiled and went straight for the stall. My mind was reeling when I took a few moments to think through the situation. My dress is loose, but I do NOT look pregnant, for the first time in a LONG time. It was an innocent comment, and it rattled me. Why? Because my mind goes back to the image of what I was...

In light of the recent Easter holiday, I am reminded that God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). He turns life into death, and He is the One who has transformed my heart and body. I am overwhelmed with His grace and goodness, and I will continue to rely on Him.

I am at the end of myself...exactly where He desires for me to be. He is my all in all, and I desire nothing more. He is good, and He is more than enough!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Haggai is for me....

We jumped into last night's study with the stunning fact that not many women alive (or dead, for that matter) are satisfied with every part of their bodies. Now that you are shocked to your core, keep reading!

We are not supposed to get our satisfaction from the way our bodies look. True satisfaction only comes from obedience to the Lord. If I allow myself to get caught up on any part of my body (and my dissatisfaction with it), I am allowing the enemy to get a firm grip on me. He will slowly move in with the lie that all of my efforts are not worth it and ask that age-old question, "Does it REALLY matter""

The most frustrating part of exercise for most of us has been half-hearted efforts that led to only mediocre results. We are always looking for the least amount of work for the most results! Infomercials sell billions of dollars of exercise equipment and pills each year because we are looking for the easy way out.

I must rely on God’s strength which will replace my excuses step by step as I obey Him! Begin with an undivided heart. I can either be loyal to the Lord and taking care of my body in a way that honors Him or give in to cravings, desires, laziness and excuses!

Our time in Made to Crave led us straight to the book of Haggai. Have you spent much time there? I have NOT. But, Haggai was written not only for the Israelites who had come home but for you and me. There's a clear message to us.

Haggai was written to God's people to call them to accountability concerning their priorities. They were finally back in the Promised Land, and instead of focusing on rebuilding God's temple FIRST (as He told them to do), they built their own homes. Because the temple was not going to be glorious and spectacular like the one Solomon built, the people were disheartened and discouraged. They longed for the days of old but didn't even bother doing the work.

The prophet begged the people to turn from their wicked ways and trust in God's sovereignty. Verses 4-6 in chapter 1 tells us, "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.'"

Ouch!!! Even though this temple would not be as ornate as Solomon's, verse 9 of chapter says, "'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."
God was at work, and He desired the people to join Him!

How do you need to readjust your priorities today so that rebuilding your temple is shown as important? How can you change one thing in your life to honor God with your body? Confess your ways to Him and ask Him to show you what to do! Then, OBEY!!! And, obey ALL the way, RIGHT away, and with a CHEERFUL heart. Oh, I'm preaching to myself! I long to be a woman who relies on God more than food. I desire to battle the enemy when he says, "Quit!" and God's strength prods me onward.

Lord, I am weary of eating healthy and exercising daily. I want to sleep more, eat more and just be lazy. I admit my desire for things of this world and not for You. You alone are my strength, and I WILL trust in You. I love you more than I love doughnuts or chocolate or ice cream. I want to long for you every second of every day. Show me Your ways that I may walk in them. Guide me to honor You always.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Goodbye running...

Confession time...I haven’t run since the Disney 1/2 marathon back in February. At all. Tried once and it didn’t work out so well. I’ve even given the treadmill a whirl, and well, that was a nightmare. Running and I are parting ways...for a month.

The plan has been to begin Crossfit daily the week after my trip to Guatemala. I will go daily Monday-Friday. On Saturdays, I will run a 5K distance only. For one month I want to see how my body reacts to a daily Crossfit routine. Plus, I’m hoping it will improve my running.

For the past month, Ellyson Faith Turner, has hounded me to let her run a 5K. She’s five (technically 4 according to her highly accurate...insert sarcasm and skepticism...birth certificate). She has regularly asked me to take her running...and to buy her appropriate running clothes. The girl...she is persistent. And, she’s from the border of Uganda and Kenya, so who knows, I might have a Kenyan on my hands.

Off to Academy I go to buy some cheap running gear for a kid...I’ll invest in better stuff if she can prove her commitment. A bright yellow tech t and a pink running skirt...cute. Even cuter on the kid who ripped it out of my hands, ran upstairs and threw her new clothes on only to parade them around in front of the family. I just about had to take her down a notch based on her constant question, “How soon are we going to run?” Sounded a lot like “How much longer?” on an 18 hour road trip. I promise she doesn’t know the limits of questions. Once is enough.

With friends over, we couldn’t go at my preferred crack-of-dawn-no-one-else-is-awake-and-I-can-have-the-road-to-myself-4:00-am-run. Plan breakfast, say goodbye to friends, and then go to a local park. Good call for me. Patting myself on the back even now for the great weather and decision to go later.

The girl...she can run. She only ran 1 1/2 miles today, but it was a start. I think she could probably run an entire 5K in just a matter of weeks. And, I’ll be the one chasing her.

You know that saying, “Never chase a Kenyan?” How does that work when it’s your child, and she’s only 5?

No excuses today my’s time to get moving. Eat less. Move more. Don’t give in to the enemy’s lies. You are worth more. Now, prove it.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Healthy Recipes

Here are the healthy recipes that Beth O'Meara was talking about on Wednesday night - enjoy!

Rosemary Apple Chicken – (Paleo)

1 whole chicken (2 to 3 pounds)
¼ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon celtic sea salt
4 apples, cored and sliced (gala and pink lady are the best to use)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel and place in a 9x12 dish
2. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt
3. Arrange the apples around the chicken in the baking dish
4. Place the sprigs of rosemary under the chicken
5. Bake at 350 for 90 minutes, until browned on the outside
6. Serve

Homemade Spinach Salad Dressing

1 cup oil
½ cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced onion

1. Mix all ingredients together and shake well
2. Serve over Spinach, mushrooms and roma tomatoes

Fit For Life Green Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups green beans (I use two bags of Steam Fresh green beans)
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
ground pepper to taste
2 cups water
1 bullion cube
lemon juice

1. Heat oil, garlic and beans. Sauté and be careful not to burn. If using Steam Fresh bags, put both bags in microwave and cook for 7 minutes. Then add to skillet with garlic and oil.
2. Add thyme, salt and pepper
3. Add water and bullion cube
4. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes until tender
5. Add lemon juice and serve

Pecan Crusted Chicken

½ cup spicy brown mustard
2 TBS Raw organic honey
1 cup crushed pecans
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the mustard and honey.
2. Crush pecans in a food processor and set the pecan aside
3. Remove any excess moisture from the chicken with a paper towel
4. Roll each chicken breast in the mustard-honey mixture and coat on both sides
5. Now roll chicken into pecans on both sides
6. Place chicken into a greased glass baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt
7. Bake for 45 min

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

6 bacon strips
1 lb Brussels spouts
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBS dried thyme
Black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Dice bacon and cook in a skillet until crispy (I cook the bacon in the microwave and then cumble)
3 Steam Brussels sprouts for 4 minutes, cut off stem and quarter
4. Mix Brussels sprouts, bacon, bacon grease, garlic powder, thyme and pepper.
5. Spread in a glass baking dish for 30 min. Stir once half-way through

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not a checklist

With one week off for spring break, we kicked off our Craving Him More Bible study last night looking at God's Word, chapters 6 and 7 in Made to Crave and with our special guest speaker, Beth O'Meara. First, we reviewed last week where we learned that desperation breeds degradation. When what is lacking in life goes from being an annoyance to an anxiety we run the risk of compromising in ways we never thought we would. If we forget to be self-controlled and alert, we are prime targets for satan to usher us right away from the new standards we’ve set in life...that’s degradation.

Our Made To Crave reminders included the following:
-God cannot be reduced to a checklist and neither can our health plan
-We must intentionally position ourselves to experience God - lowest possible position with empty hands and eager hearts.
-How do you grow closer to God? “by making the choice to deny ourselves something that is permissible but not beneficial. And making this intentional sacrifice for the sole purpose of growing closer to God.”
-Learning to tell myself no and exhibiting self-control.
-We don’t like to deny ourselves.
-Food isn’t sinful. Its inappropriate consummation can be the enemy’s lure to draw our heart into a place of defeat!
-We long for His power to bring EVERYTHING under His control so that we willingly submit those things that consume us
-We often have a flawed perception of ourselves. My self worth is not based on numbers on a scale, how many friends I have on Facebook, whether people follow my blog, etc.
-God’s divine nature has given us EVERYTHING we need to experience victory in our struggles
through biblical promises that we find the courage to deny unhealthy desires
-Getting healthy involves choosing to be self-controlled and to persevere even when the journey gets hard!

Looking into God's Word, we looked at several verses:
-Luke 9:23 If we want to follow Christ, we must deny ourselves. How? Deny our own selfish desires for unhealthy food, too much food, food at the wrong time, personal preferences. Denial of self builds self-discipline that glorifies the Father. It begins to create a foundational truth that develops a cycle of submission to God!
-John 4:34 Jesus says his food is to do the will of the Father. How often do we really submit our will to His when we are hungry? Jesus knew the rightful place of food and did not allow it to overtake Him!
-Philippians 3:18-19 enemies of the cross are described as those whose “god is their stomach”; we don’t want to be RULED by our unhealthy desires and cravings. We long to be friends with God by submitting our daily choices to Him alone!
-2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension - we are the ones taking the initiation here. We must stop making excuses and arguing about what we need to do to honor Christ. Take every thought captive to MAKE it obedient to Christ. How do you do that? Recognize the thinking and acknowledge it. Replace it with truth in God’s Word! Keep repeating!

Finally, we ended our time with Beth O'Meara encouraging us in the area of exercise. Here are my personal notes and highlights from what she taught:
-80% of how we feel and look is based on what we eat. When we eat healthy, we will feel better! The other 20% is exercise!
-Beth grew up eating unhealthy foods (think mini doughnuts and Shasta) but learned to love exercise in graduate school
-God's Word is a priority and has been a useful tool in the gym to share the Gospel!
-Find an exercise that you enjoy and can sustain. Whether it's Zumba, Crossfit, running or walking, get moving!
-One of the most important parts of exercise is a support group. Get someone to work out with accountable!
-Spend time in God's Word first...
-Start slow and work your way up so you are not easily discouraged!

What a great night we had looking at God's good plan for us. Join us next week as we study Chapters 8-9 in Made to Crave and search God's Word for His great wisdom!