Saturday, March 5, 2016

"Are we there yet?"

  Recently I was talking to a friend about waiting on God. Questions like Why, What's the point, and What does he want me to learn were being asked. Frustration was voiced as to why if he says he will give me the desires of my heart and I have been obedient and patiently waiting is he still not giving me what I want?? 
    My own story started six years ago when I was diagnosed with my 1st autoimmune disease. I prayed for healing and I asked my friends and family to pray as well. I prayed daily and guess what??? He didn't heal me and he has yet to. I have learned though that if God healed me right away liked I prayed for I never would have changed my ways. I would probably still be eating fast food lunches and I never would have started working out. Strangely enough I now say I am glad he didn't heal me because I have learned so much about myself, my relationship with food and how it fuels my body. I have also learned more about my husband and his ability to easily adjust to my dietary changes. All of this got me thinking of the phrase "Are we there yet?" 

    Imagine you tell your kids we are going on a trip and it will take about 10 hours to get there. You know that Disney in the destination and your kids will love everything about it! The food, the lights, the music, the characters, the hotel and the fireworks! Imagine also if you stopped the first time your kids got impatient and asked "Are we there yet?" Your end destination is now a small town with nowhere special to eat, no fireworks, and not fancy character filled hotels. Instead because you are the adult and you know the final picture you don't stop. You don't give into their complaints and you keep going all the while listening to them asking 3 million more times "Are we there yet!!??" You keep going not so you can torture your children, but because you know the final destination! This place you have spent months planning for is going to be amazing and so worth it! It will be far better than the first time they wanted to stop and far better than anything they ever could have imagined! 

  We are those kids in God's eyes. Ten hours or ten years is really all the same to him. If he stopped his plans the first time we prayed or asked what would we be settling for? What would we miss out on? He is the "adult" he knows so much more what the outcome will be! He knows that if we just wait a little longer it will all be so worth it! Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Be strong and patient while waiting on the Lord. He is working in your favor and it will be worth it. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Better together

This past February my husband and I went away for the weekend for the first time ever! That may seem like a big deal until I tell you that we have been married for over 17 years!! My church has an annual couples retreat in Gatlinburg and thanks to some awesome friends of ours we were able to attend this year. Having now gone away together it is something we will for sure plan again!
    The speakers were Scott and Elizabeth Sheppard, and they were fantastic! I took a ton of notes which I will be referring to for this article. It was all about respect and love and I wanted to write a little about what I learned so you guys can have a more awesome relationship with your spouse.
The main lesson was that men need respect and women need love.  When the man doesn't feel respected by his wife he does not show love and when the wife doesn't feel loved she will act disrespectfully. See the problem? We create a vicious cycle that we can't escape. The only way to end cycle is for one of the adults to actually act like an adult and show love when they feel disrespected or show respect when they feel love. I will be real honest here and tell you that this is the exact problem my husband and I have had in our marriage. We haven't intentionally done these things, it just happens. I don't think you could find a couple more opposite than my husband and myself. Our love languages are very different and every other aspect of how we respond to life is different. The great thing is that we are in this together and we keep learning more about each other. We want to be better together.
    Here are some points we learned that weekend:
1. We love and react different not wrong just different.
2. We need to hear what is in each other's heart and not always what their words or actions are showing.
3.You cannot be disrespectful to motivate love, and you cannot be unloving to motivate respect.
4. The one who sees himself or herself as the most mature moves first. Regardless of who's responsible.
    Some of the mistakes couples make are thinking that he can be unloving and get respect and that she can be disrespectful to get love. A man's greatest need is to be respected by his wife and family. He needs it like he needs air. If she is putting him down and not letting him be the man of the house the vicious cycle starts. He won't in turn show the love his wife desperately needs and craves. Same is true in the opposite. If the husband is indifferent and unloving to his wife she will not desire to respect him. Again the vicious cycle starts.
   Here are a few tips from the other couples who attended the retreat on how to keep your marriage on the right track were:
1. Communicate-Don't be afraid to tell the truth.
2. Honesty-always be honest with each other.
3. Watch your body language. It can say so much.
4. Replace selfishness with selflessness
5. Always speak highly about each other in front of others.
6. Do not compare yourselves to others.
7. Celebrate wins and losses together.
8. Be intentional with your time.
    You are responsible for your own response. You cannot blame your emotions on someone else. When we are mad and feel unloved we lash out. It is our responsibility to keep our words in check and our emotions under control. Show respect regardless how what you are feeling. Is this easy? No way!! I still haven't mastered it completely! I do know though that fights are much shorter when you aren't both yelling and disrespecting each other. I want to make my relationship with my husband a goal for my children to strive for when they are married. I want them to also know how they should be loved and treated.
    Giving your all to your spouse is so hard. You are giving them your heart and they need to protect, honor, and not drop it. You are also not a mind reader so ask your husband what specifically makes them feel respected. Guys,  ask your ladies how do they feel loved. Do you know their love language? I highly recommend the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Husband's your job is to bring out the radiance of your wife. Wives when you are genuinely concerned about your husband they will become radiant. Remember respect is shown in our words and our actions.
    In order to stop the cycle someone has to be the "bigger person" and not react with an emotional response. You have to decide that this marriage is more important than this fight. One tip that was given was to have a time out that you can use during a fight. If you see that you are arguing and your point is not being heard or your spouse is completely misunderstanding you, then call a time out. Determine the time before hand and step away. For instance you decide upon 10 minutes so you walk away, during that time you think about the argument from the perspective of your spouse. This can give you each a chance to cool down and see from their point of view.
     Wives, you have to respect even when he does not deserve it. God never ask us if we are deserving of being loved or forgiven he simply does it. Who are we to not do the same thing?  Being submissive is a Godly strength. We are different, but equal and being submissive does not make you less than your husband. You will be judged on what you do not on what your spouse does. So if they are being unloving and you are being respectful through it all God will notice. He sees you attempts. He hears your cries. He knows the desires of your heart.
    Men, love your wives with every ounce of your being and wives respect those husbands every second of the day. It may take time, but your marriage will benefit from this.
Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

Dating your spouse

      Ask any professional athlete and they will tell you that in order to become the best in their field you have to put in years of hard work. That old saying of Practice makes perfect is true. Why is it then that when it comes to our marriages we have the tendency to do a mediocre job of it? Sure it usually starts out nicely while we are dating. We dress up, we put our best foot forward and we are always on our best behavior. The words we say to each other are thought out before we say them and we easily forgive. Some where along the way we let all that go. Between the kids, bills, and general responsibilities of life we forget that practice makes perfect. The word perfect is such a broad term in my opinion because it can mean something different to each of us. Marriage done right means compromise, communication, investing, and practice. To be an Olympic athlete we must invest years of hard work. To have a great marriage we must also invest years of hard work. Nothing worth earning comes easy so why do we just seem to quit when it comes to our marriages?
    One thing we forget to do is date each other. That's right the good ole fashion dating. We get some caught up in life that we forget who we were before we became mothers and fathers. We forget that we were once newlyweds and in love. We forget why we feel in love and we lose our sense of identity. I challenge you to start dating your spouse. At first you may find it awkward and will only talk about the weather and your job. Eventually you will find that you start talking about other stuff and you may start to get to know each other again. For my husband and I it was a struggle to hire a babysitter and be able to afford to go out and I am sure some of you are in the same boat. An idea that could be helpful is to find other  mothers out there that would like to start dating their spouses again and you two swap out child care. For example they watch your kids the first Friday of  the month and you watch theirs the second Saturday. Dating/investing in your marriage makes it easier when you come to the rough patches. If you have been staying connected then the rough patch will be just that patch and not a road block or dead end.
     I heard on the radio the other day that the Devil wants to divide marriages. He wants us to fight each other instead of the issues. Dating brings you back to the excitement of waiting for a kiss goodnight and the feel of holding  their hand. Dating requires us to connect as husband and wives and not as parents. Dating helps us to see each other in a new light and remind us of all the reasons  you fell in love with each other. Dating gives us something to look forward to amongst the hustle and bustle of life. Dating can help remind you that your spouse is hot and looks mighty fine dressed up! Dating gives you adult conversation and that for stay at home moms is crucial to keeping them sane!
    My husband and I have been married for 17 years and just started dating each other again a year ago. We had gotten complacent with life and each other and even though we were fine and we were still married we were not taking full advantage of all the great things a connected marriage has to offer. Dating my husband has brought back the excitement of seeing him come through the door after work. Dating my spouse has allowed me to see him as a much older, mature, caring, funny, husband and father. Not just the man who leaves his shoes, socks, etc. on the ground and quite surely has a book of 101 ways to aggravate the wife. Dating has brought back the joy that had been missing. I didn't want to be complacent in my marriage anymore I wanted to be passionate about my husband. I wanted to enjoy talking to him, miss him when he is gone, anxious to talk to him about our days, and anticipate his hugs when he walks in the door. Dating is the practice that my marriage needs to be my level of perfect. I encourage you to date your spouse and find your level. 

I see you

       Hey mom driving in the mini van yawning at 3pm. I see you. I see you struggling to get through the day without a nap. I see you making trips to Target with your crew right beside you. I see you herding your kids like cattle  to get in the store while holding their hands, pulling up purse straps, and carrying that infant seat. I have seen you at home cleaning the living room only to find the kids have made a mess in the just cleaned bathroom. I have seen you struggle to stay awake past 7pm and I have seen you up all night tending to sick ones. I have seen you feel alone, overwhelmed, and loved all on the same instant.
        I have seen you not because I am there, but  because I have been there. I have done the early mornings, late nights, diaper changes, spit up cleaner, dish, hair, and clothes washer, fixers of all things broken, mender of broken hearts, lover of all things possible, discipliner, best friend, worst enemy, story reader, prayer warrior, seamstress, chauffeur, chef, and  house cleaner. You are not alone momma. Those moments when you feel like you can't handle another day at home cleaning up poop and left over lunch, remember you are not alone. When you think you are the only one who just wants to sit quietly for 5 minutes in the bathroom or take an extra long stroll around the grocery store please remember you are not alone. Other moms have been in your shoes before and so many are in your shoes now! You are not alone little momma! Your job is worth it! So hard, but so worth it! I know it seems like you are doing the same thing over and over and with no end in sight. It may seem like those precious, beautiful, bratty, wonderful, perfect kids of yours aren't learning anything. Trust me they are! Every mess you clean up, meal you make, outfit you wash, and  problem you solve is appreciated and seen.
        God created each of us to raise these amazing little beings into self sufficient, God loving, contributors to society. As a mother myself so often I feel like I am failing at the biggest job God has given me. The days that I want to pull my hair out and quit I just have to remember to hand it over the Creator himself and let him take over. Raising children is a full time job and God did not intend for us to do it alone. Turn to your fellow mothers for help and turn to God for guidance.  You are not alone momma! I see you and I am praying for you!
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” – Isaiah 41:13And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2 years down

     Exercise.  That word alone can bring on a wide range of emotions from dread to excitement. For me exercise started out as a means to an end. I wanted to run a 5K with my son and  I simply wanted to not be overweight anymore. I also wanted to my Wii fit lady to not get all short and squaty, frown, and tell me I was in the obese category. I wanted to wear cute clothes and not be the fat twin anymore. I wanted to be skinny. On June 18, 2012 I did my first day of Couch to 5k. Run for 60 seconds it says, sure no problem I got this!! Turns out I did not have this, not even by a little bit. Those 60 seconds were some of the most miserable moments of my life! Was I really this out of shape that 60 seconds was going to put me out?? Apparently I was because I feel like I barely survived that first day. There were some definite touch and go moments that first day. I surprisingly did survive and I went back two more times that week. I was so proud  that I basically was high fiving myself as I went down the sidewalk.
     My starting weight was 176. No bueno is all I can say about that. My goals that  week were to survive first and foremost then to stick with it and lose 40lbs. I had seen enough Biggest Loser seasons to know that by Christmas I should be slim and trim and at my 135 goal. I also knew to not get my hopes up since I wasn't actually on the Biggest Loser and my results would be no where near as astronomical as the contestants were. Week two I weigh myself and drum roll........ I weighed in at 176! What?? Nothing changed! How did that happen!? I worked out three days and I changed my eating habits! Ok no worries I got this! I continued to weigh myself and for 8 weeks that scale never budged. Thank God I wasn't a BL contestant because I would have been kicked off weeks ago!
After a month or so I realized that I was actually enjoying working out! Gasp! I know I was shocked as well when I had this little epiphany. I had a desire to go to the gym and I loved the feeling of accomplishment I felt when leaving that place.
      I had read a thing on pinterest that said "Six months from now will you regret not starting today?" That little quote was my motivation to give it a try. I mean what did I have to lose? Weight? Perfect! As I said before the weight didn't just come off and in fact it still hasn't. Today marks two years since my first day to of Couch to 5k. I have been working out faithfully for two solid years and I have only lost 14lbs. My body seems to be stuck at 162. I have gotten down to 157 for about 3 seconds, but I am consistently at 162. It is pretty common to gain weight during the winter season and I feel it is directly related to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the fact that we don't have to be seen in a swimsuit. Even though I was still working out it had slowed down to 1 or 2x's a week I gained about 10lbs. I should also point out that I stopped weighing myself. I did so because I was focusing more on what those stinking numbers said or in my case didn't say and not focusing on the positive changes I was making. 
     For me and so many others I have some health issues that have kept my body from working like a "normal" body. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease 5 years ago and my thyroid is non working. The thyroid is the brain of the body kind of and it is in control of basically every part of how your body works. Without it your body is driving with its eyes closed and eventually it will crash. Once it crashes it takes a lot of work to get it back up and running and unfortunately it is never as good as it was before. This past April I was diagnosed with another autoimmune disease that effects the skin. It was after this that I decided to cut out Gluten. All of the research I was doing kept pointing to the fact that my body was attacking itself and gluten was the culprit. After my diagnosis I started on a gluten free diet the next day. Lots of tough choices there, but that is a whole different post! I went back to the doctor after 40 days for a check up and low and behold I had lost 7lbs!! This had never happened that fast in the entire time I had worked out!! Bad news though is I was back and stuck at that 162 number that I just could not get rid of. 
     I post this blog book to mark my two year anniversary, but to also maybe encourage others who are working hard and not achieving those Biggest Loser results. So what have I learned in 2 years? I have learned that I really enjoying working out! I love that my kids see me and work out with me and I am creating good habits for them to continue when they have moved out. Once you start to workout your body craves it! My kids do and will continue to crave movement and exercise when they have flown the coop ( moved out for those non country people).  When you exercise and even more so since we have cut Gluten out of our diets you make better choices when it comes to eating.  I can not even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment that comes from feeding myself and my family healthy food! It is like non other! I have learned how to actually work out on my own! Thanks for the help of my friend Bethany who meet me at the gym and kicked my booty and Reggie Parker who did a boot camp they both taught me so much when it comes to working out and using my own body weight as the tools to get fit! I have found that I prefer to go to the local track and workout more than I do the gym. And yes my body has changed even though the scale has not moved much. I have lost over 10 inches in my waist and gone down two pants sizes! I can do a sit up now!! With three csections I didn't think this was ever going to be possible! I can feel and see muscles in my body. I went from doing one push up to being able to do at least 20 real pushups in a row. I am more confident in everything I do now because I know I am healthier. My goal is not just be skinny now, my goal is to be fit and teach my kids a life style that will  last them forever. I want to a be a mom with muscles, a mom who can run with her kids, swing at the park with them, play with them, ride bikes with them, and enjoy so many other activities I could not enjoy two years ago. 
     I know for so many people they say they simply do not have the time, but when there is a will there is a way. Pinterest and you trusty google  search option are great places for finding exercise you can do in the privacy of your own home. You do not need a pricey gym membership to get in shape. Find a group of like minded people and set up times to meet and do things! Sherry and I meet on Tuesday and Thursday at 7 people with an open invite to other families who want to be active. If you are local to us we would love for you to join us!! We bring our kids with us and we workout about an hour. I work three part time jobs and I  have three kids who are very active in sports so I very much understand busy schedules, but when you want it bad enough you make the time even if it is a doing walking lunges down your hall as you head to the bathroom. Here are a few before and after pictures to share to show that even though my scale didn't move much, but body did change. The black outfits are from Nov. 2013, Jan. 2014 and June 2014. The face pics are from May 2012, May 2013 and June 2014.  The green dress and black workout are June 2012 and June 2014. The workout picture is Bethany and myself after an awesome workout at the track.  The green dress picture is the one that made me decide I need to do something because I didn't like what I saw. Good luck on your health life style! Two years down and hopefully 50 more! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer is here!!

     I love summer! I love the heat, sitting by the pool, shorts and tank tops,  and no alarm clocks that require getting kids out the door ready for school in approximately 17.5 minutes from the time they woke up. I love every little detail!
    Are you like me a lover of the season  or are you already counting down the days until summer is over?  Two months and some odd days until the first day of school in case you are counting. I wonder if it depends on what stage of life you are in that makes a difference with being ready or not  for summer. For my family, we do college ministry and so when the schools are off so are we! We get to rest and catch our breath and  take longer family moments together. For my sister who works as a Reading Assistant teacher she has the same schedule as her kids and together they get to enjoy every minute of those 2 1/2 months. I have several working mom friends  who find summers a challenge because it  brings the desire  to be home with their children, but still needing that paycheck. They start in the spring time looking for camps, child care, VBS,  and other activities their kids can do to keep busy. Stay at home moms have the same challenges in trying to find things to occupy their kids time and avoid the dreaded "Mom I am bored! What can we do!!" spill the kids give.  What about you? Do you love summer or find it a challenge? Maybe you are on the fence and have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. What do you do during this "free" time? How do you keep your self and your kids sane during the endless summer days?
   As a mother of 5 let me be the first to say that having a plan is essential to my sanity. Without one you will find me banging my head against a wall in the corner with a blank stare in my eyes. Here are some things we have planned  for  this summer. My husband found this water balloon kit for about $5 at Walmart. We bought two sets and plan on having a huge water balloon fight. Before we start the rules are as follows.........the baby wins :) And by baby I mean she is 5, but seeing that she is the last of the five kids, she will always be my baby. She is allowed to  throw water balloons at everyone, but they can't  hit her.  This may be a bad parenting tactic, but we will deal with that later and in another blog.
    Painting is a must, which of course will be fun for me because I love to paint, but having ways to keep it stress free make it easier no matter if you love to paint or not. We have an old sheet, coloring books, paper, different size paint brushes, old and new water color kits, and plastic cups for water, all  which are stored together in a plastic storage container. You could even add in some old shirts or paint aprons to keep with the gear. This makes is super convenient for kids to grab on their own and get started with out us having to spend hours hunting down those darn paint brushes. I don't even have to help with clean up because  my kids range in ages 16-5, but if you have younger kids, you can set the number of pages they do so they don't go crazy and paint one stripe on all 400 pages on that Giant coloring book you just bought. Also you  MUST use water colors because it wipes off easily and dries fast. Using coloring books give them another option besides crayons and added bonus if you  get a coloring book of letters  it is great summer practice for little ones and helps the bigger ones not forget everything they learned in school!
    Egg hunts is always fun to do and it doesn't have to be something that is only done during Easter. You can do some many things with them like hide money, candy, riddles, or even clues to a fun adventure you are having later that week. For example you can hide a letter in each egg and once they find them all they have to unscramble  the word to see where they are going. Maybe it is the pool, the park, a visit to the grandparents, or maybe even going to get ice cream.

    A few other quick ideas are:
1. Turn off the electronics! Hold on mommas hear me out before you start running in circles screaming at the mere thought of taking away your "quiet time".  I have found time and time again that when I make my kids turn off the tv, ipod, or anything else that involves electricity they will start using their imagination!! Ok let me honest first they will probably fall to the floor and cry and maybe stomp their feet, but if you stick to your guns ( don't actually bring out the guns) they will see that you are not going to budge and they will find something to do!! At the very least they are giving their brains and eyes a break.
2. Find local parks and use them! We have at least 5 that are fairly close to our house and we will be going! I usually try to post on Facebook letting my friends know that we will be here at such and such time and have them join us! Pack a lunch and make a day of it!
3. Pool!! What fun would the summer be if you didn't get into some sort of water! We will be visiting our YMCA pool, but most areas have public pools that you can use and they only cost a small fee.
4. BMX- this is a great sport without a huge commitment. You can go when you can and if you can't no problem because there is not penalty. It runs all summer into November. Check your area to see if you have a track.
    We are also going to be doing some traveling this summer and our first challenge is always who sits where.  With  7 of us we take up every inch of space. If you have any suggestions to make this time in the car less stressful and "fair" for all involved so someone doesn't have to sit in the middle the whole way or next to someone that would be awesome. Prayers are always appreciated as we embark on a vogue with our slew of kids and keep our sanity intact!
    Melinda and I have 8 kids between the two of us so we would love to hear how you keep summer a fun time  and make awesome memories and avoid your children counting down the days till school starts simply to escape the boredom! Have a blessed and eventful summer!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Going Gluten free

      I am on day 39 of going gluten free. Thirty nine days saying no to the donuts at school and the delicious cup cakes parents bring. Thirty nine days of saying no to Starbucks and birthday cake and 39 days of saying no to Marco's pizza. Deciding to go gluten free was not an easy choice in fact I have done it twice before.......for about 13 seconds. Four years ago when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's ( an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid) I researched and found many studies informing me that taking gluten out of my diet was the way to go. I decided to do it then was immediately overwhelmed at all I had to take out and all I had to do.  This time was different though, this time I was going to do it!! 40 days ago I went in for a regular check up and was diagnosed with another autoimmune disease. I knew this was a possibility as it has been said that once you have one you are more susceptible to more. This one took me by surprise though because it involved a part of my body I use daily. As I did research on it I was again seeing that a gluten free diet could help. I decided then and there that if this can happen to something I use everyday imagine what may be happening to the inside of my body that I can't see. I didn't want to wait till it was to late to see the damage. I decided to be proactive and try to stop this attack my own body was fighting with it's self. 

Day 1- I am probably going to die of starvation. No worries about an autoimmune getting the best of me because starvation will be what does me in. 
Day 2- My sister and friend Tara both gave me awesome advice, they said to not focus on what I can't eat, but on what I CAN eat. Such a small little sentence, but so powerful to me! Instead of saying I can't eat bread, bagels, crackers, ice cream, Marcos, and so much more I needed to say I can eat all meats, all veggies, fruits, eggs, nuts, and salads!! My prognosis of starving to death is looking slimmer and slimmer.
Day 3- 39 I have become this person when I see someone eating something containing gluten.

      I don't want to be this crazed lady who slaps bagels out of strangers hands, but with all the research I have done it just makes sense!! I will spare you the sciencey ( made up word) stuff regarding gluten, but let me just say that there is so much information telling us how it is not good for us. 
Autoimmune, headaches, skin disorders, ADHD, Alzheimers, inflamation  and about a million other things are linked to a sensitivity to gluten. I highly recommend in my non medical license sort of way that everyone research gluten and decide for themselves if it is the right choice for them to remove it from their diets.