Thursday, November 10, 2011
But eyes get bleary with worry. And worry capsizes faith and eventually I am drowning in my own self pity. And I come to realize that my worry centers around my stuff and how my stuff owns me and clutches my heart. And I don't want to be owned by anything or anyone. I want to be free. Free to be His. Fully. Free to serve and free to go. And I'd put the "FOR SALE" sign up right now on all this stuff if I could. Then I am struck with the reality that we need some of this stuff. I guess. We need food. Clothes. Shelter. How much though?
"...give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God." (Prov 30:8b-9)
A life grows weary carrying unnecessary burdens. And so much of what I carry feels self-imposed. Debt. The sin of wanting more than I need and more than God has provided. A heavy burden. Diet. The sin of wanting to be thinner, prettier, accepted. Combined with the sin of gluttony and using food as an idol. A poor substitute for sitting at Jesus' feet waiting to be filled. Selfishness. Always wanting what I want. Being focused on my own emptiness. Again...a sure sign of not waiting at the Savior's feet.
But, He beckons me. He reminds me... You are not unloved. Or unforgiven. And if Rahab was a prostitute, David a murderer, Peter denied Me, Jonah ran away, Noah a drunk, Elijah depressed, Jacob a liar, Gideon fearful, and Martha a worrier...then I am able to use you. And were their problems self-induced? Oh yes. Then why do I see God as less in my life than in theirs? Why is the Word of God so full of the broken and yet I do not have hope? Why is His story the story of redemption and yet I feel unworthy?
Lord, how do I live this life with all its necessary encumbrances...like food, clothing, and shelter and yet not steal from You? From the poor? From the widowed and orphaned? How do I own my things with a lightly held hand instead of a clinched fist? O Lord, move us out of this place of complacency and a clutched heart. Help us be courageous and do things that make no sense to the world. I have had my fill of the world and it leaves me painfully empty.
You are in this place. Lord, let me see.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I could recount those early days for you. They are a little blurry as far as order and such but some of them so clear. Like how he shared his candy bar with me at the campus movie. Or how I laughed at his flat tire story in Waffle House when no one else was laughing. Or how I wore ridiculously thin boots (totally fashionable but totally impractical) in the middle of winter and he held my feet in his lap to warm them. Or how he asked me to walk with him in the snow to Dunkin Donuts and he fell flat out on the ice. (I laughed. He did too.) Or how I kissed his cheek when he hugged me goodbye one night and I wanted to DIE because I totally did it without thinking. (We had yet to kiss and it took a couple weeks until we did.) The first kiss...at his parents' house. We were both dry mouthed and acted like silly kids. I blush just to think of it now! But he was sealed on my heart. I knew it straight from the Lord. Before we shared the first kiss or held each others' hands...I knew it. The Lord let me know this was the man and I just couldn't believe it. I mean, really Lord? I had just broken up with a two year relationship and I was set on letting men go for a while! Keith has just broken up with a long term girl also. And here was this redheaded soccer playing goofball, FOR ME? My ex boyfriend was a 6'2" dark hair football player. I guess God didn't know I had a "type!" HA! Actually, He knew just what my type was: godly. In love with ME! Devoted, loyal. Funny. And really HOT in a pair of jeans! Oh yeah. The jeans. I used to watch him walk back from class to his dorm LONG before he was my man. Oh, yes I did! :)
But, all of that to tell you...God gave me Keith. The best gift I never asked for. The man who walks with me in the darkest days and leads us on this amazing journey. Even the memories redeemed from the locusts...I thank God for those too. Because without the times where we fought for our marriage I don't think we'd know the depth to which we could sink or how badly we needed our Savior. And I think we'd still have our guard down. We'd not know how badly the devil wanted our marriage to fail. And if Satan wants something of yours you better know that thing is worth protecting.
Keith: I love you. Better today than yesterday. And even more tomorrow. (And I still love to walk behind you in your jeans. Oh. yes. I. do.) ~M.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I feel deeply. Black and white is so, well, black and white. And we live in a world turning grayer by the day. We all possess a paint brush and for some reason we'd rather paint in shades of gray than boldly paint what the Artist puts in our hearts to paint. I am only coming to realize this for myself. It seems impossible for me to paint in gray. I just can't do it. So I go silent. I lay the brush aside. I say nothing. I paint nothing. That flame I mentioned, the one that burns and injures, frightens and delights me. I have a bold heart but, I have a soft heart. I don't want to injure another heart. I recognize the struggle that every person is in on this earth. I know how hard it is. I have hurts and cracks that run deep. And when someone assumes the worst of me, I run my fingers over those cracks and I often choose silence. I have even been entertaining the thought that God wants me to be silent. But lately, I am confronted. It is my fear, not my God that keeps me silent most of the time. And while I do not want to offend someone else and I most assuredly do not want to make anyone's cracks run deeper, I do want God to use me...my words.
I keep looking at the lives of people who touch me deeply. People who make me run my fingers over the cracks in my life and contemplate whether I love the cracks too much or if I trust a Potter who mends broken vessels. I read on A Holy Experience this morning~
"You never break apart-you break open..."
Words! Life-giving. Full of momentum and potential. And she speaks of joy. Joy. An elusive benefit it seems. But she says~
"...you can't get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that's joy. The joy is in having the Beloved, not in loving what we have."
And I have been creating my eucharisteo. My list of gratitude and joy amid imperfections. And I am waiting for God to bring the miracle. To change the hard rock in my chest to a heart that is pliable and His. I am so hard. So very hard. Life does that. It takes a little girl full of promise and tosses her headlong into painful circumstances and it makes her hard. But I am praying it is a hardness like that of a rock or a fruit that when chiseled with precise intent gives way to currents of water or nourishment. "You don't break apart, you break open..." Truth is, breaking open scares me more than breaking apart. I think. After all, what is open is laid bare. Gentle Savior...I am reminded.
May you be reminded today too. ~M.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
What brings this to mind? It occured to me as I sat in a group of Godly moms offering advice to (mostly) younger mothers. And inevitably the sentiment of, "Enjoy them now..." came up. And it stuck in my spirit as it always does. And not because I was in a hard place with my boys. Not at all actually. But because I could see in the eyes of so many moms there...that they are knee deep, grasping for hope and then....the poke in the eye. I don't know. Maybe they are encouraged by the advice and it is just my VERY practical brain that finds it painful. But the way I see it a young mom needs someone to tell her HOW to enjoy the days. I mean, really...how do you stinkin' enjoy them when your post partum hormones are raging out of control? Or how do you enjoy them when you have had so little or no sleep and yet the children wake up full of energy? Or when you feel alone? Inept? Like a failure? Ugly? Fat? Weary? Hurt? Depressed? What do you do when your homeschool kids aren't learning and are lazy? Or when your finances are strapped so tight they don't meet your budget? Or when your husband works the second shift and is barely there to help? Or when your engorged breasts are cracked and bleeding and the baby has colic and your two year old is teething?
It sounds preposterous doesn't it? But come on...these are NOT isolated days. These are days that come in succession or even all at once. Satan loves a mom piled high with burdens. And when you hold the all important task of rearing God's children can there be any other way but to feel heavily that yoke sometimes? Of course we should be laying the yoke on Jesus' shoulders but sometimes our spiritual eyes get out of focus. And does it really bring our eyes into focus for someone in that moment to say, "Enjoy it! It will go by so fast!" I mean...REALLY? All that mom can DREAM of is that it will go by fast! And then she beats herself up for feeling that way because SHE ALREADY KNOWS IT WILL GO BY TOO FAST. See, there it is. Every mom already knows this. She can see it before her eyes. That little newborn she brought home from the hospital is now walking and talking. Her toddler is now in kindergarten. She gets it. But she can't stop wanting the deep pain in her gut to end. To get to that time in parenting when she can see some fruit. Some reward. Some sleep! :)
So, what do you say to that bleary eyed mother of four who is cradling a precious newborn on her chest but her eyes are filled to the brim with tears? You give her practical help. Of course extending an arm of help is first. After all, love is hands and feet. People need food, shelter, rest before they need advice. But, in reality none of us can step into another mom's home and shelter her from the hard work that needs to be done. She must learn skills. And I am not talking about how to clean her home or pump a bottle of breastmilk. I mean, the skill of eucahristeo (giving thanks) as Ann Voskamp outlines in her book, "1000 Gifts". I cannot recommend more highly this book to young moms...and "old" moms. The skill of counting blessings. Of writing down or speaking out loud your gratitude. Gratitude for small things and big things and hard things and lovely things. Ann Voskamp puts it this way in her book:
"A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit."
"This pen [writing down what she is grateful for]; this is nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habit of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo."
"Some days, ones with laundry and kids and dishes in sink, it is hard to think that the insulting ordinariness of this [writing down your list of gratitude] truly teaches the full mystery of the all most important, eucharisteo. It's so frustratingly common-it's offensive. Driving nails into a life always is."
These quotes hit me hard. It really is that simple. When we begin replacing our thoughts of self-pity and self-loathing and anger with thoughts of gratitude and humble amazement at our God, we begin driving nails out of and into our lives. We change our thoughts. We change our outlook. We pronounce it loudly in the midst of selfish children and demanding deadlines. We shout out, "Thank You Lord for this mess. For these children. For this man who loves me." And suddenly we pound out the ugly nails and pound hard in the nails of gratitude. Voskamp reminds us that we can only experience one emotion at a time. Choose gratitude. Pound it in. Like the driving of a nail. There is not one thing a mom can change about how hard the days are when you rear children...young and old. We have no control over that. And asking a woman deep in the battle to enjoy it is like telling a new widow to hang in there because soon enough she will find a new man. POKE...straight to the eye. Perhaps the advice is true. But ill-timed advice is well, a poke in the eye...and the heart.
Hear me well. No advice is more true than the sentiment to seize the day at hand and live it with great joy. But in truth, there is no help in that sentiment. And help is what hurting moms need. Teach that mom how to find gratitude amidst her work and you may have just given her the best gift of her life!
Sunday, June 19, 2011
He is a good daddy. A daddy who loves them as much as I do. And for just that fact alone I don't know what I'd do without him. I mean, there is this precious thing that exists between a parent and a child. It cannot be replicated. Knowing he and I are always on the same page when it comes to how we love them makes life much easier. After all, as a man and a woman we are so seldom on the same page about anything...at least at the outset! :) I will never forget how the evening after Grant was born and the hospital room cleared out and there we were...the three of us. Together. Alone. For the first time. Ever. Keith and I cried our eyes out. Not out of love. Not out of joy. Nope. It was FEAR. YES. F.E.A.R! What in the world were we doing? We had not a clue. We loved that little baby but the events of the preceding labor were nothing short of life-altering. Not the pretty picture of giving birth I had imagined. Nothing about my body felt beautiful or "life-giving!" More like a train had run right up through...oh, never mind. You get the idea. The minute that life hit this world...our lives were changed. Shew. I am glad that man stood there with me and cried. I needed to know he was as scared as I was! The hormones settled down. A little rest settled on our weary bones and we adjusted. I never wanted to do that again. And I did it five more times. God is so funny that way! And that man of mine has stood there and laughed and cried and snuggled slimy babies the whole way.
I can write a book of the precious things he has done with our boys or the way he teaches them and nurtures them. Mostly, I am just so thankful he is here. Here to protect and provide and love us. If I had to be married to me...especially through six pregnancies and births...I'd have run. That stuff about the weaker sex...that's me. Totally. I am a hormonal, unpredictable, emotional mess. And he stays. And he loves me. Now he has teenagers who add even more of that to the mix...and he stays. And loves them. Thanks Sugar! You are my man! ~M.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
All in all, he has an amazing little bladder and some mornings he is completely dry all night. Like yesterday morning Iwalked in his room and he said, "I need to go potty." I put him on the potty and he peed and pooed immediately! Loved that. He could have chosen the easy route and taken care of business in his diaper before I came in but he obviously held it waiting for me. And it was quite funny when I had to take him to the potty twice at the pool (at his request) to pee. I mean, the kid is there in a washable swim diaper-soaking wet in knee deep water and totally could have let 'er go right there but didn't!
As for Sunday when I had to take him to church, this mother of six was a bit perplexed as to how to handle the whole thing. We go to a small church with only two child rooms. Grayson is in the baby nursery of course since he isn't PT yet. (that they know of) I knew that if the room was crowded or if it was staffed by younger ladies that it'd be a lot to ask to have them be in charge of his PT. And because our little church is in a strip mall the bathroom is not connected to the nursery. SO...I toted the potty seat in a bag with me! Yes I did. I had him wear a pull-up which I hated to do but felt I could not ask them to deal with messes he might make. Well, to make a long story short...I spent my 18th anniversary staying with the 2 year old myself! I didn't mind one bit. Seeing the crowded nursery and the younger workers I knew I had three choices: 1) I could just say, "Let him pee and poo in his pull-up" (which I honestly didn't know if he'd do that or not). and 2) Ask them to carefully watch him and ask him every so often to put him on the potty...in a crowded room full of curious kids OR 3) keep him with me and keep the PT on track. I chose the third of course and was so glad I did. He peed and pooed while we were there and none of my diligence was lost! In the past (at other, larger churches) I have been able to ask the workers to help me and they have. They have usually had pottys in the room and had enough help to do this. The boys also have done well while at church but I always pack extra clothes...shoes and all. I am not sure how this week will go. If he continues to have accident-free days then I may throw caution to the wind and send him in underwear and take his potty to put in the adjoining room or hall for them to use. I don't know. These are the hard choices when you have to leave them in someone else's care.
Anyway....there is the update. He is not naked anymore BTW. He can handle underwear and usually shorts too. Praying we get this thing fully handled soon but thrilled nonetheless to see how well he is doing! ~M.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Anyhoo...let's reminisce shall we? Approximately 12 years ago I had a 2 1/2 year old boy and a newborn. I knew I wanted to PT Grant soon after Garrett was born because HELLO? who wants to pay to diaper TWO children at once? No one. No one who has a choice anyway! Right after Garrett was born we had two trips to go on and when we returned I was intent to begin the PT process. I was armed with nothing more than a desire to NOT have two kids in diapers...no real knowledge or experience was on my side...just pure willpower! We returned from the second trip on a Sunday and Monday morning I thought, "I am not ready to tackle this just yet." But I gave Grant a bath and he was running around in the buff when he announced he needed a diaper on! Poor little guy didn't know he had played his hand! If he knew he needed to go potty then that meant he had control over those muscles and it meant he had an awareness it was coming. That was all I needed to know to proceed quickly! I grabbed the potty seat (BTW the SAME potty seat Grayson now abides on!) and quickly set him on it. Voila! The deed was done! Then he begged for a diaper to which I firmly said NO WAY! He refused big boy underwear. He was in no way motivated by the thought of being a big boy and he immediately caught on that this new found ability meant more work for him and he was not excited. Thus was born the main way I went on to PT all the other boys. I told Grant that he couldn't wear a diaper and that if he didn't want underwear on then he had to be naked. He chose the latter! And I am glad he did because it was the key to helping me PT the other boys!
SO....here is my advice in as concise a form as I can muster.
1. I watch for three signs they are ready.
~they know they HAVE peed or pooed. (exhibited by signs such as wanting their diaper changed or acknowledging it when you ask them if they have)
~they know when they ARE peeing or pooing. (exhibited by signs such as disappearing behind the chair or standing very still and working hard to make it happen. Also, this is a good time to acknowledge ANY chance you get when you see them doing this. When they pee in the tub...call it by name..."Oh look, you are peeing!" Or if you see them straining to poo then say so. When you change their diaper tell them..."You peed or pooed." Giving the action a name helps them in the future.)
~ And finally...the BIGGIE...they know when they ARE GETTING READY TO pee or poo. Now, you may not always get to see this one exhibited but if you do...don't turn back. (This has been exhibited just as I shared with you that Grant knew he needed to have his diaper on which told me he felt it coming and he knew how to stop it. This was also how Grayson began his PT by being naked after the pool and I saw him looking down at his penis as if he was waiting on the pee to come. I saw this and immediately said, "Do you need to pee?" He said uh-huh and I ran to get the seat and put him on it and now we are on the journey!)
2. When you see at least two of these signs, and hopefully all three, you should JUMP quickly. In fact, as I said, if you see that last sign clearly, as I have with a few of my boys...do it immediately if you can. Get the seat out, let them pee or poo, and consider yourself in the throes of PT! Seriously. Last night when Grayson peed on the potty (and did it so easily) I knew I had to keep going. If you hem and haw about it they will LET YOU flounder forever! They will ask for their diaper back and they will refuse you but they must see you resolute! Believe me, I was in no way mentally ready to tackle PT with a lot of my boys but as soon as I knew they were ready I knew I had to go for it. The amazing thing is with ALL SIX of my boys, they all were ready around 2 1/2. Like clockwork. Of all the ways my boys are so different, this was not one of them!
3. The best way I have found to remind my sons and myself that we are now potty training is to leave them naked. Grant's stubborn refusal to wear undies and my stubborn refusal to allow him to wear a diaper led to this great discovery for me. I have NEVER used Pull-Ups to PT....except at bedtime. And honestly, even underwear is a problem. If they are naked they know something is up. They are constantly reminded they are supposed to be thinking about something. They know if a puddle forms beneath them that UH OH...they forgot. And if you see your child half naked all day then you are reminded to remind them to get on the potty. I mean, teaching them how to pee and poo is one part of PT. But the other, equally as daunting task, is to teach them to REMEMBER to get to the potty. And for a child who has been freely peeing in their diaper for two years and a momma who has changed their diapers, it is hard to remember to have them sit on the potty...A LOT. And I know you think cleaning up puddles...or worse...sounds worse than cleaning undies out...you are mistaken! It is all awful! But, I'd rather mop a puddle or pull out my little carpet cleaner if necessary than clean out dirty britches. Plus, the point here is this...if they are naked you will hopefully have less of these messes to clean up because you will remember to have them sit on the potty...a lot...did I say that enough?
So that is really it. No tricks. No prizes. No gimmicks. TONS of praise and hugs and kisses. Tons of books read while they sit and sit and sit. And perhaps a ton of messes and mistakes. But, if you are lucky then maybe it won't be so bad after all. Once you see the readiness signs then strip them naked and go for it! There is no magic key except to make them sit on the potty a lot. Some of your kids will know how to work their muscles easily. Others will struggle. There is no way to help them than to have them sitting there on the potty and trying. If Icould just keep them on the potty then I knew eventually they'd go. And once they went I knew I had a precious 15 minutes or so before I needed to ask them to sit again! :) Honestly, it takes about one week for me to get my boys to the point of getting it. Grant and Grayson were/are star students. Grayson has complete control over it. I just have to teach him to remember. And honestly, I look over and he will be on the potty without me even telling him. He loves the whole thing. Amazing. (that's just luck by the way...) The thing about the readiness signs is that if you KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW your child is ready then you dont' have to feel badly about pushing them. At some point it is as much your will as theirs that is involved. Don't let them convince you that it is all about their will. Once you feel they are ready then assert your will as a parent and make it happen. (I fully acknowledge that some of you are saying..."But my child doesn't exhibit any of these signs and he is FOUR!" Or, "My child exhibits the signs but refuses to cooperate." I apologize that I can't help you there-except to say at some stinkin' point you are going to have to take charge. All six of my boys showed some readiness by the age of 2 1/2 and (nearly)all of them asserted their will against it...but momma won out. I don't have any children with limited capacities as far as physical or mental limitations so I would never presume to tell you how to PT your child if that is an issue for you.)
Overall I'd say, don't be scared. Be patient. Be ready to devote a week to being as focused as you can on PT. Obviously, if your child is naked then going outdoors is troublesome. If I needed to go somewhere with that child then I put them in a pull-up or underwear and I made them try to go once we got there. I tried avoiding that they'd go in their pull-up if at all possible. Then as soon as we were home I'd go back to naked land! Always have spare clothes and plastic bags and wipes on the ready. If your child is really reluctant then rewards and incentives may be good. I never found it necessary but do what you think is best. I haven't said everything I could say so feel free to ask questions and pick my brain! Good luck! ~M.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
But then came Gannon. :)
He is not like his brothers. At all. And what makes him precious and adorable and lively makes him hard to manage and a pain in the neck. He loves life. No worrying that this boy is not loving his life to the full. He LOVES people and he knows NO stranger. He speaks to store clerks and teachers and children of all sizes. I never know what he might say! A nurse asked him the other day how old he was and after he held up four fingers and said, "I am three" he then asked her how old she was! We burst out laughing but truly, that makes sense doesn't it? If people always ask you how old you are...then surely you should ask the same, right? He perks up and talks to anyone. And I kind of love it. None of my other boys would do this...even the teenagers will not speak unless someone speaks to them and even then it is hard to get them to answer clearly and with eye contact. And Gannon is stinkin cute too. At least I think so. He is a blondie with the sweetest little lips you have ever seen. I am telling you, if he weren't so rotten I'd eat him with a spoon....well, if I weren't spanking him with it first! :)
SO, what brings this up again? Cause this ain't the first time I have blogged about little Gannon. Well, it was prompted by the first EVER phone call I have received about one of my sons' behavior in a class! GASP! Our boys go to about a half a dozen FamilyLife staff meetings a year. While we are in the meeting, the boys are in classes. Well, it has been since October that Gannon was in class and for some reason the coordinator was just now getting to calling me because the first meeting of this year is tomorrow. The teacher of his class (who BTW is a young , childless woman) said he would not obey. He isn't mean. He just doesn't want to do what he doesn't want to do. And if you have never had a spirited child you are saying to yourself right now, "Well, duh, what child wants to do everything he's told? Spank him more!" Well, my friend...let me serve you a piece of my humble pie...not all kids are the same! Believe this momma of six. Five came out pretty much the same and one came out with spots! :) And believe me, he gets him some spankin'! In fact, almost every battle with Gannon comes to blows with a spanking. He just doesn't back down any other way. But, the Lord has settled in my spirit that dealing with him all the time with the rod is NOT the way to his heart. God made him different. And this momma is determined to work within Gannon's bent. "Train up a child in the way he should go..." is more accurately translated...."Train up a child according to his natural bent." See, we want to bend them our way. But twigs don't bend much before they snap. Some twigs give easily and their natural bent is towards us...but other twigs are bent in their own special direction. And while some days I'd like to give that little twig a good snap...I know this has no gain in his life or mine. SO I work with him. I try to foresee battles and issues of control and I try to head them off at the pass. I try to allow him lots of lead room to do things himself and make decisions where I can. He doesn't want to eat? Don't eat! He wants to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt when it is 80 degrees...go for it! He wants to wipe his own bottom, put on his own shoes (on the wrong feet), open his own wrapper, buckle his own car seat....GO BOY GO! But, of course he has to mind. And he has to control his screaming temper or he is going to feel some pain. And most every day involves some pain for this kid. But apparently it is worth it to him to have a say in his life.
Here is the thing though...when I hand him off to well-meaning teachers and sitters, they don't know all this. They need him to do as he is told. If all the kids are sitting on carpet squares with their hands folded nicely...he should too. If it is snack time and all the other kids are seated nicely around the table...he should too. And if a child takes his toy he should share. And he should speak softly. And he should lie on his mat at naptime. But for Gannon....he is NO respecter of authority. Again, gasp. He no more respects them as authority than he does his daddy and me. Seriously. He does what we tell him to do because of one of two reasons: 1) He wants to do what we have asked or 2) He fears the consequences if he doesn't. But, it is hard to get this spirited child to do what he doesn't want to do with someone who holds no consequence with him. UGH! This means I have to step in and wield consequences which is difficult when I am not there. And this means I have to ask some immature, inexperienced (typically) person to understand my child in a way that is different than the other 10 in the class. If he will sit in a chair quietly but not on the floor...then PLEASE let the boy sit in a chair. He just wants a choice. Who cares if he is the only one doing it or if some of the others want to sit in a chair also? If he can have a choice...please offer him one. I get it. There is not always a choice. All I am asking is see his heart...his natural bent and give him room to be him. That's a tall order. I get it. After all, he is my boy. I love him unlike anyone else besides his daddy. And that love spurs me to be patient and work with him.
Here is the bottom line. Being Gannon's mommy has taught me to stop judging other parents about how they handle their children. I have NO idea what is happening in their home and in their hearts. What appears to be a poorly disciplined child may actually be a leader in the making. I refuse to be ashamed of him or discipline him sternly so that others can "see" what a good parent I am. I wring my hands over this child every day. He is a HAND FULL! But oh how I love him! Can't wait to see who he is going to be! ~M.
Monday, March 7, 2011
- It's COLD here and gray. Oh curses on the gray cold days. And tomorrow is the boys last day of SEEK (science class at the 4H center) and rain is certain. Bummer because the last day is usually reserved for outdoor fun. Stink.
- Our entire family is sick. Well, Keith is not as sick as the rest and may escape but I doubt it. This is a NASTY cold virus. As in, I have not been THIS sick with a cold in a long time. I typically dodge the bullets but not this time. The coughing here is exhausting. You know the cough...the one that can't be touched with prescription or OTC meds. You have to combine them both and pray it helps and doesn't kill them. The sinus pressure is unbelieveable. Some have had fevers, others diarrhea. Lovely. SO we are holed up in here and miserable.
- Except for the reality that I have to teach Precept class tomorrow. Yeah. That's fun. I am so looking forward to it and yet praying so hard that God shows up big time to drown out my weakness. I feel like God has poured water on my offering just to show up even more powerfully. (see 1 kings 18:38...I love this Bible story) Keith has to stay home in the morning to keep the littles because they are too sick to take to childcare. Stink again.
- I am making homemade tomato soup and PWs rosemary rolls for dinner. Yum. Comfort food.
- I have been reading All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. It is fabulous. I hope I can get inspired to do my own square foot garden this summer. Seems so simple but you have to actually do it. Wish someone would come get it set up for me.
Well, that's all I guess. I am looking ahead to the weekend when temps in the high 60s/low 70s and sunshine return! Perhaps by then we will all be on the mend and I can return to church and life! Love you all! M.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Stream of consciousness...or a post in which I purge my mind of all the unposted FB statuses I have been harboring!
So, it's been a little over three weeks since I have posted. And to some degree I have been away from here...and Facebook. To some degree. I steered pretty clear for a week and then steadily drifted back to checking in on a few blogs. The nice thing about blogs...versus Facebook is that bloggers tend to post no more than once a day at the most (and most a lot less than that!) so once I have perused the list I am done. I still try to stay away and not go digging through old blogs and such. As for FB, I do periodically log in to accept friend requests that come to my email box or to deal with an issue I had not getting FB messages sent to my inbox. SO, if you "saw" me on there I assure you, it was a quick peek...okay and maybe a QUICK scroll down the screen...before I felt convicted and logged off! :) Honestly, I miss it. A bunch. I miss my friends...my real friends, not FB friends. I miss their status updates that say so-and-so is sick or well, or having a birthday. I miss photos of vacations and photos of cute, growing kids. But when I have done a quick scroll, I see that mainly the statuses are "status-quo" (haha) and I know, in reality I am not missing that much. In fact, I enjoyed a long phone conversation with my besty just because we couldn't connect in our usual manner. And as usual, it ended in tears. I think that is why we prefer FB...neither one of us want to blubber about how much we STILL miss each other and each others' family even after nearly 6 years. But it was good for my soul to hear her voice and chat it up for way too long!
SO, here are the things going on around here that probably would have been status updates had I been on FB these last three weeks!
- The weather is GORGEOUS. (abundant sunshine, lovely temps)
- The weather is AWFUL. (abundant clouds, nasty humidity)
- I felt my first EARTHQUAKE two nights ago. Did you know AR is on a fault line? Wacko. The bed was shaking and I was freaking out. Only Grant and Garrett were still awake and they thought each other had shaken their bed! (They sleep in a loft bed that is all one bed)
- Keith travelled for five LONG days to Hershey PA to serve with FL at a WTR event. We missed him but we did REALLY well.
- Praise God I felt great and ate well while K was gone. Except for sleep...I really hate sleeping without him.
- I love doing Precept studies. I am thoroughly enjoying Colossians.
- I am quaking in my boots (pun intended from earlier earthquake status:) about being asked to teach aformentioned Precept class next week while our leader is away. I have been trained to teach Precept and only someone trained can teach...but it has been over ten years since I have taught. Before she asked me to sub, God had reminded me that I have been so blessed to sit under wise, mature women as Precept leaders. So when she asked me to do this...I felt humbled. Not because I am wise and mature...not by a long shot...but because I tremble to think of filling those shoes...even for a day. Pray I don't get in God's way next week.
- I had to miss Precept this week because Grayson-boy is sick with fever. I just love to snuggle a sick baby....so why didn't he get sick some other day? :)
- Grayson-boy is sleeping his second nap of the day. He is so sweet. I am telling you...he is too precious for words. I could eat him up.
- Speaking of Grayson being too precious...his big brothers adore this child. I am telling you, if you wonder how it works having teenagers and toddlers...it is a sight straight from God. I love it. He loves them and hangs with them. They snatch him up and still, two years later, race to see who can get him up from his nap.
- Gannon is still my early riser and constant companion. He is too cute for words too. With nicer weather he and I hang out on the deck A LOT. He loves this. He isn't a cuddler but LOVES companionship. If I sit on the deck he entertains himself forever in the backyard.
- My hormones have been good to me this month. Thank You Lord.
- I am following a hypogycemic diet in an effort to curb my appetite, stop my heart palpitations, even out my hormones, and be a happier healthier person in general. This means no sugar, no fruit (for now), limited dairy (for now), no wheat (for now), limited grains, and no processed food. Sounds daunting doesn't it? But when I see how my health is affected...I press on. I FIRMLY believe sugar is killing us...literally. It is the cause behind obesity, heart disease, diabetes, early aging, candida, cravings, depression, anxiety..should I go on? I won't. I could. I won't. :)
- The Lord has been so good to me this past month...sheesh...this past LIFE...but you know what I mean. He has been so present and so patient. I give Him all the praise for giving me the knowledge to help myself with better nutrition. He has given His Word which has helped nourish my soul. He has blessed me with a mate who is so much more than I deserve. He has blessed me with sons that touch my heart in ways that make me ache with love for them. He knows me and He wants me to know Him even more.
Well, that is all for now. Gannon is PESTERING me to DEATH to go outside. Rough life for me! Love you all! Thank you all for the prayers and messages sent to me. You are so dear! M.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
But in hashing it out with my man (something that takes more courage than you can dream for me...I do not communicate verbally well at all and I loathe shedding tears even in front of Keith. I hate that. I do. And I don't know why I am like that.) I came to some conclusions. I am not in a good place and it is going to take some drastic changes to get me out of here.
The first step is I have to fast from my technology. At first I thought just Facebook. But it isn't just Facebook. It is blogs too. And websites. I mean, I am not looking at anything I shouldn't be. I am just using my computer as an escape from my life. And there is balance there. A stay at home, homeschooling mom of 6 boys needs a little escape. But, I am escaping to it way too much. And worse than that, I am escaping from God. Instead of getting in His Word and bathing my mind in truth, I get on Facebook and sink lower into my pit. Facebook is a challenge for me. It allows me to compare myself with other women and that is NOT a good thing.
And as much as God has allowed me to learn all this new stuff about nutrition and such I am spending way too much time reading up on all of that. And it depresses me too! I can only do so much. I can only afford so much. And I have bitten off PLENTY of that for now. I love what I have learned but it is enough for now.
And I am reading about 25 blogs more or less daily. Yes, daily. Doesn't take me long. They aren't long. They don't all post everyday. But come on...25 blogs. Enough. I don't even know all these blinkin' people! Some are nutrition blogs, some recipe blogs, some friends' blogs, some blogs I have gotten involved in because a friend says, "Pray for so and so" and I get hooked wanting to know how life is going for that stranger. It isn't that I shouldn't pray for them but for pete's sake...I DON'T KNOW THEM! I don't think I need to peek into their lives daily or more than a few times daily. And believe it or not...I have a sensitive spirit and if I learn of someone hurting, I hurt too. Then I am carrying around a hurt and that can be too much quite frankly. I mean, it is a great tool that we can, with a push of a button, send a prayer request out for millions of people to pray for but then again, it is too much. At least for me. There is so much hurt right here around me. And if I start carrying every burden put out on FB or blogs...well, let's just say...this girl can't.
So, I am calling a halt. I will need to check e-mail and get online to place my Azure order and such...but I am going to have Keith help me figure out when and how long I can do that. I don't think it was a coincidence that I pulled the shrink wrap off of my new Colossians Precept study today and that it said this:
"As you begin this twelve-week course on the book of Colossians, stop and count the cost. If you don't do it now, you will not be prepared for Satan's subtle allurements, devices, distractions, deceptions, and discouragements (emphasis mine) which will slip in to keep you from completing this study. Are you prepared to say no to those activities and desires that would keep you from your homework or class attendance? Are you willing to forego some pleasures of this world for the treasures of His Word?(again, emphasis mine) To what degree do you want to obey God by studying to show yourself approved unto Him so that you won't be ashamed when you see Him face-to-face?"
Shew. Come on. God has spoken to me. Please hear me. I DO NOT think Facebook or blogs or websites are evil. I have just fallen prey to making them an idol. And I need to tell God...I am all His...He is all mine. And my boys need more of me. Ugh. More. I don't feel I have more to give... I just know they need more. So God is going to have to supply. I am thinking He has asked for 12 weeks. Yes. 12 weeks. Oh my. I don't know if I will blog here or not. Perhaps. But I cannot allow myself to read others' blogs right now. I will miss it but oh how I pray I miss Him less. Love you all! M. (your comments here will go to my email box!)
Friday, January 7, 2011
"I am considering low-carb more and more when I've watched health shows that are showing how strong sugar addiction can be." Then she asked me if I had any low-carb info. BOY DO I!
My low-carb education began when I was looking for a way to lose weight after I had my fourth son, Gage. I wasn't looking to change my life, the way I ate, or my attitude towards carbs. I was looking to shed some fat people! And I had heard lots of good things about The South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston. Namely, I could shed 10 pounds in two weeks! HELLO? Ten pounds in two weeks. SIGN ME UP! So, I ordered the book, devoured the info and dove right in. First of all, let me say it was eye-opening to say the least. This was the first time ever that I had heard a doctor say that belly fat was directly linked to consuming too many refined carbs and that by cutting out carbs, belly fat could be reduced. He also went on to say, among other things, that by cutting carbs his patients' cholesterol, blood sugar, and other numbers improved along with their weight. So if I was reading right...sugar and white flour were the culprits in elevating health risks and not FAT! I had simply never heard that. I dutifully endured my first two week phase of South Beach which says NO sugar, NO fruit, NO bread, NO pasta, NO nothin' that resembles a carb. And Dr. Agatston, being the good doctor he is, also said to stay low-fat. I ignored him (and you should too if you read South Beach). I didn't know how wise I was at that time...I just knew if I was skipping everything good I was NOT skipping the fat. I ate butter, bacon, full fat meats, higher fat milks and cheeses, eggs, and as many nuts as I wanted. And I lost the weight! But LOOK OUT...phase one ended and I could HARDLY wait to get my carbs back. I mean, I knew I was supposed to enter phase two and add in only healthy carbs like fruit and whole grains...but...um...I didn't. I headed straight back to sugar like a long lost friend. And I didn't necessarily gain back ALL the weight. It stayed lower. I must have held back somewhat. Or maybe I just got pregnant again. :) Yeah, that was probably it. I gave birth to three sons within four years. I was pregnant or nursing most of my time! Basically, I was on and off South Beach for a lot of those years in between pregnancies. It worked every time I did it as it was written...plus fats. Truth is, the more I did it the more I'd cheat here and there and/or quit early. But if I did it as written, it worked.
Here's the thing. I saw that way of eating as a diet. Nothing more. And in the back of my mind I saw it as temporary and even perhaps unhealthy. Not a way to live. I mean, who can live without sugar and flour? Not me thank you very much! But as I did the diet over and over I could easily see the difference in how I felt when I stopped eating carbs. I had more energy. I felt less "cloudy" in my thinking. I stopped craving sugar. And I stopped thinking about food all the time. I really did! That is what that two week phase one is designed to do...break habits and break addictions. And I am telling you...it works. Stop feeding the sugar monster and he will be quiet. Physically. Mentally he is still there telling you how yummy that sugary snack will be. You have to beat down the mental side but when the physical side leaves it is a much easier battle.
It wasn't until I began reading books like Nourishing Traditions, Eat Fat Lose Fat, The Makers Diet and What the Bible Says About Healthy Living that I started seeing a recurring theme. The theme that said we eat too many grains and FAR too much sugar. I knew about the sugar but grains? Aren't grains good for you? The whole kind? Turns out, yes...the whole grains are a MUCH healthier option but in general we are a people who eat too many grains. (Gee, we might have the food pyramid to thank for that!) When I was diagnosed with high cholesterol at the age of 31 or 32 I was given a big pamphlet detailing how I needed to omit fats and add in more grains. Trouble is, when I eat bread...I eat a lot of bread. I love bread. And when I am done eating bread I feel like a bloated whale. I feel awful. It evokes a craving and a desire to eat more than I should. It awakens my blood sugar BIG TIME. Pasta is the same way for me. I am NOT saying bread and pasta are evil...I am saying bread and pasta spark an eating frenzy for me. And when I overeat I gain weight around my middle. And belly fat is dangerous fat. It is visceral fat which is fat that is connected to your visceral organs and affects your health in awful ways.
Have you seen the movie Despicable Me? (LOVE that movie) Whenever the main villain, Gru gets a good idea he says, "Light bulb!" Well, LIGHT BULB! I finally am getting it. Fat does not make me fat. Sugar and grains make me fat. Sure, moderation of grains would not make me fat...but I don't even know the word moderation when it comes to grains. Perhaps as I battle my sugar monster and eventually get down to my ideal weight...I will be able to control my grains, but for now...strictly controlled grains are all I can enjoy. I realize that YES I can lose weight by cutting carbs but mainly it is my health that is improved when I do. My blood sugar is better, my cholesterol is better (though I now see my higher cholesterol differently than modern medicine says I should see it...), my moods, my stamina, my outlook are all better. And my heart palpitations which were getting to be OFF THE CHARTS...are all but gone when I omit sugar. No medicine needed thank you. Just improved diet. So I am choosing to see a low-carb lifestyle as just that...a lifestyle...not a diet. I see restricting sugar as absolutely vital to my whole family. Sugar is evil. And God made so many natural choices for us that are awesome. We have to learn new ways. We have switched to whole grain bread here but I still limit myself...to none right now as I am still fasting from it...but to less for all of us. And I love the reward of getting on the scale and seeing the numbers go down but I am pressing hard to remind myself that my goal is lifestyle change. Ask me where I am with this next month...next year. I pray I can say that I am STILL pressing hard, with the Lord's help, to staying this course.
SO there you have it friend. This is why I feel it is REALLY important to fast from carbs. When you do you will see how your body changes. It is amazing. You may have to go back and forth like I did and bang your head on that proverbial rock...but God won't let you down...He will keep showing you the way. M.
( I should make a disclaimer here and say this...I DO NOT recommend The South Beach Diet. Because Dr. Agatston recommends low fat it is NOT a good choice. Our bodies need good fats and we should not be afraid of them. The other books I listed are great options. Start with Eat Fat, Lose Fat....it is lifechanging!)
I could line up excuses all day long but the Bible says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6:21) That's it. Period. And I treasure what God is teaching me about healthy food. And believe me, I never treasured it before. Truth is, I never knew of it before. I wasn't raised with it. AT ALL. But, for years I have wanted to do better. I mean, even when I had no idea what better was...I knew it existed. And God, in His time chose this season of my life. He could have chosen the season before I had kids (oh how I wish He had). He could have chosen the season AFTER I raised my kids. But He didn't. He chose the most tiring, most financially strapped time of our lives to teach me about healthy living. So, I don't offer up excuses. I have the same 24 hours you do. Sure, I have 6 kids. Sure, I have a missionary's salary. Sure, I homeschool. But none of that is on God's condition list for why I can or cannot be obedient. (bummer :)
SO that leads me to this. A lot of this nutritional mess we are in started with our grandmothers' generation. (Sorry Grams...but it's true.) My Grams was born in 1924. She survived the depression. She was poor as most everyone was at the time. And when things like white bread, processed foods, TV dinners, and homogenized milks hit the shelves...she was THA-RILLED! She never did like being in the kitchen. She could clean a house like nobody's business (I got her genes:) but cooking? Fuh-get about it. Her idea of eating happiness was first of all eating out. Since that wasn't always possible...her next best idea was a frozen meal. Frozen lasagna was a treat. And a frozen pie? You bet! I remember powdered milk, canned fruits and veggies, and boxed everything. And here is the thing...her generation loved being saved the time and money of meal prep but they did that under the misguided belief that all of those choices were as good as, if not BETTER THAN, homemade. The food industry assured them that white bread (which was soft, and delicious and lasted a long time on the shelf) was a healthy choice with all of its "enriched" vitamins. And so they felt great serving their families all of this ready made food. And it left her generation with time to pursue "more worthy" interests. Thus feminism takes a great hold of the home. Oh don't get me started on feminism...
Well, here we are today. And slowly..oh so stinkin' slowly... we are learning that white, processed, chemically laden foods are NOT in fact good for us. And we see the price we are paying for our choices...obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. I mean, the food industry wants you to believe that fats are to blame for all of this but ever since we began eating margarine and sugar by the pound and skimming our milk down to water we see more and more of these diseases taking hold. Think about it. And undoing bad choices is a whole lot more work than making the right ones to begin with. So here we are trying to undo the mess.
But here is the GREAT thing. We now live in a generation where we can make our own bread...but with an electric grinder and a heavy duty mixing machine. Sure, it is more time than buying a loaf at the store...but it is a lot less time than what our grandmothers had to take making their own by hand. I mean, who can blame our grandmothers for being relieved to not make bread when they were also doing everything else by hand. But ladies, we are NOT doing everything else by hand. We are doing nearly NOTHING by hand anymore. We don't wash by hand, we don't sew by hand, we don't bake by hand. Nothing. Unless we decide it is worth it. And there it is...we have to decide it is worth it. And to decide it is worth it we have to be educated. We have to understand what it is we feed our families. We have to decide if obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc are worth avoiding. Yeah, we can say there is no time but could you at least be more honest and say, "I don't care to make the time?"
Ladies, we are blessed. We see that God's original design for food is STILL the best plan. But now we have more tools, more options. We have electronic appliances, we have buying co-ops, we have local farmers, and lots of Internet support. We CAN return to doing more things by hand if we want to and we don't have to spend all day doing it. Yep...we have to change our habits. We have to change our taste buds. But, I feel it is worth it. I want you to feel it is too. But, please, if you don't feel it is worth it...at least don't tell me you don't have the time. I ain't buyin' it! I still love you....but I ain't buying it. M.