Fat Fridays: Still Broken, but Working on It

Happy Friday everyone. Hope you all are well. I was dragging my feet about writing today. Mostly because I cheated on my diet last night. And that does not motivate me to want to write about diet and health. But, a nice car ride this morning gave me some thinking time and perspective. So here I am, writing again. 

This is what happened. The past two weeks I got determined and stuck to a super strict diet. I lost three pounds. Yay. Then last night I snuck down after the kids were asleep and ate two bowls of chocolate cereal. Not yay. 

It’s a really tricky balance. On the one hand, I have to learn how to not beat myself up and say harsh, mean things to myself when I do things that aren’t in line with my diet or quest for health. On the other hand, I’ve got to be curious about why I self-sabotage. What is broken inside of me and how can I fix it? 

I feel like I’ve got a good handle on my food history. I can look back and see patterns and events that shaped the way I deal, unhealthily, with food. But, I haven’t figured out yet how to break free from those patterns and habitual thought processes. Two weeks seem to be my limit on sticking to a strict diet. A not-so-strict diet is easier to stick to, but the results come a lot slower. And I’m impatient. I had set a “wish” goal for this year when I started my journey in January. It’s now October and I am only ten pounds away from reaching my goal by the end of December. It’s so close I can feel it. So why am I eating chocolate cereal late at night? 

I am still waiting for a breakthrough in this area. The progress I’ve made is that I can tell you why I did it, all the history that led up to that decision. The progress I haven’t made is figuring out how to break that cycle.

In other news, I have started running three miles instead of two. I still have to take walk breaks, but I can now run an entire mile without a walk break, and I’m pretty sure that I could push myself to do at least a mile and half, maybe even two, without stopping, if I was motivated enough. My new goal is to try and run three miles in thirty minutes. I’m at thirty-seven minutes right now. Yeah. I’m a real speed demon. 🙂 But, I’m not trying to be fast. I would just like to be able to run a 5k and not be embarrassed about how long it takes me. Thirty minutes is decent for a middle-aged, still overweight, lady who has never been very athletic. So, that’s my goal. 

I would like to point out that I didn’t think I was able to run three miles until my trainer gave me a very ambitious, difficult workout that had me running for forty minutes. Doing the workout, finishing it and not giving up, that was what I needed to realize that I was capable of doing more than I thought I could. Being challenged to do something hard, taking up the challenge, and then succeeding: I’m learning that all those things are key to upping your game. 

Here are my takeaways. When you mess up, don’t beat yourself up, be curious instead as to why you did it. Try to figure out the root that is causing the behavior. And, let yourself be challenged, it’s the doorway to doing more and being more. 

See you all next week. 

A Little Perspective

Right now, as I sit in my room, on our first day of Fall Break I can hear my fifteen year old, four, and seven year old discussing rivers and lakes in the kitchen. The fifteen year old made them all some hot cocoa and they are all sitting together happily chatting about the world they live in. My other seven year old is playing outside on the rope swing with two other neighborhood girls. My middleschool boys wanted to play minecraft so, to earn their time, they cleaned the entire downstairs and washed the dishes. My seventeen year old has been researching job options. I sat in my chair and read Dr. Seuss to the three youngest, all of them squeezing onto my lap. We had an intense discussion later, trying to decide what kind of accent our dog would have if he could talk. Since he’s half Irish Setter, my vote is Irish. Other activities that have happened today are lego building, a playdough session, fortress building with blocks, and a lot of lolling around together being lazy. 

Last night I was sitting in my chair, feeling a bit depressed. My husband asked what I was doing and I said I was contemplating my life. Oh, don’t do that, he said. Why don’t you look at pictures on your phone instead, that always helps. And this morning, while I was waiting for my son while he got his vision check up, I started scrolling through pictures from this past year. All pictures of my kids. A handful of pictures of my husband. Hardly any of me. (I need to do something about that.) But, kids are so much more fun to take pictures of. They are so beautiful, cute and sweet. And wow, we have some really good memories from this year. 

And today, as I’ve taken a step back and just watched my kids, I wonder what had me so depressed last night. I can’t even remember. Probably thinking about all the repair work we need to do on our house, or projects that need to get done. Things that really aren’t that important. The important things, namely my family, they are all doing pretty good. 

Sometimes I kind of lose sight of what I am doing. I get caught up in future dreams and goals. My own personal goals. The craziness of the world we are living in. And I forget that right now, my primary job is MOM. And it’s a worthy job. I’m not doing it perfectly, but I’m giving it my best effort. 

A couple weeks ago, a cousin of mine posted a very old picture of my great grandmother. It was a striking picture. She died in 1953 and while I had heard references to her a couple times, I knew nothing about her. I asked my cousin if she had any information and she sent me my great-grandmother’s Eulogy that my great grandfather had written. He talked about what a great wife, mother, friend, and Christian woman that she was. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to learn more about her interests and personality, family history etc. But, as I think about it more, the Eulogy covered the most important facts. It covered the legacy part of who she was, the things that were passed forward to the next generations. She raised healthy, well rounded children. Taught them to love the Lord, modeled Christian living and service. One of her sons became a missionary, two others became pastors, her daughter was a well-loved teacher. And those children passed the same values down to the next generation, and then it got passed down to me. And now, here I am, trying to pass the same thing down to my children. 

I wrote recently about struggling with being the parent of grown up children, the lack of guarantees.  I have no idea what each of my children will do with their lives in the future, that is up to them, but I still have to do my part well. What I’m doing right now is important. I remember when I got pregnant with my first child and my husband said, this is the most important thing we will ever do. And I agree. My eulogy will not have anything in it about how well fixed up my house was. It probably won’t mention the vacations I’ve gone on or fun adventures I’ve had. It might not even mention things I enjoy doing like playing piano or writing. But, it will talk about what kind of wife and mother I was. What kind of friend I was. What kind of Christian I was. And that means that today, hanging out with my kids, taking them to doctor appointments, fixing them a hot supper, reading books, having devotions together…these are the most important things I will ever do. 

Fat Fridays: Exercise, it’s All in the Mind

Today my trainer gave me the hardest workout I’ve had yet. 

30 seconds burpees

Run 4 mins

15 jump squats

Run 4 mins

30 seconds High Knees

Rest 1 minute

Repeat 5 times. 5!!! 

It took me 70 minutes to do the whole workout. I did it in my living room and outside my house on the sidewalk. Every time I ran 4 minutes I would go down two blocks and then come back to my house, go inside, do the next exercise, gasp for a minute or two and then walk back outside to run. It was a total of ten 4-min laps. By about lap six I was not going as far down the second block, by lap eight I had shortened that distance some more. And then, lap ten, I decided I was just going to walk and treat it as my cool down. According to my fitbit I burned 869 calories. I haven’t really noticed any effects today from such a long workout, except when I tried to go upstairs to put my kids to bed and suddenly, walking up the stairs, it felt like my legs had turned to lead. But, aside from stairs, I feel great. 

When I started this workout I was intimidated. I knew it was going to take a long time and I was sceptical that I would be able to push through and do the whole thing. I knew it was going to be a mental game. I found it interesting, therefore,  that the thoughts that came to my mind while I ran were about childbirth. For those who are just tuning in, I have eleven kids. I gave birth to ten of them. So, I’m running down the sidewalk and I have this thought, at least this isn’t as bad as childbirth! Multiple reasons why, but the main one is I could stop running if I wanted to. Just stop. I could make that decision at any time. Childbirth, there is no stopping that thing. No going back. No pause button. It has begun and there is no stepping off of that train. 

So this is how I comforted myself as I gasped and panted down the sidewalk. This does not feel as bad a labor contraction. In fact, this is a walk in the park in comparison. In fact, running feels pretty good if I was given the choice between the two. Aren’t I lucky to be running right now? Instead of giving birth to a baby?? The other thought process was, Hey, if I could give birth, then I can do this. If I could give birth TEN times then I definitely can run these ten laps. 

Other ways I motivate myself while I’m running: chant a mantra in my head like, This is the last lap, this is the last lap, this is the last lap (kind of reminiscent of that old kid’s movie “Ice Age” where the dodo birds are exclaiming over the Last Melon. And if you don’t get this reference, I’m sorry, I have a lot of kids, I have seen this movie countless times and I can probably recite it to you.) I also like to keep my eyes open for neighbors driving past or walking past. Having an audience makes you run a bit faster or at least try to keep going instead of giving up and just walking. 

I find that completing a workout mostly has to do with what is going on in my mind rather than how my body feels. If I can stay distracted from the physical exertion of exercise and think about other things, I can keep going to the end. But if I focus on how tired I am, how much I don’t want to be doing this, etc, I am so much more likely to give up and not finish. 

All of this to say, I think I need to come up with a list of engaging things I can think about while I exercise. I’ve already covered childbirth, how about the most embarrassing moments of my life, I’m sure thinking about that would kick up my speed a bit. The possibilities are endless! 

Our Adult Children

This past week I’ve had converstaions with not one, not two, but three different people about Grown Up Children. About how we need a support group for parents in this stage of life. How our adult children need a support group as they recover from our poor parenting. About shifting our approach to our children and learning how to truly let them go to be adults. 

This is a touchy topic for me. I struggle with feeling a lot of guilt, shame, and bewilderment as I try to navigate this stage of life. The bewilderment comes as I realize that all those promises that people gave you… If you just homeschool, if you have daily devotions, if you eat all your meals together as a family, if you just stay connected…If you do A, B, and C, then you will produce a child who enters adulthood gracefully. They will be wise. They will make the best decision every single time. They will have a strong direction for their life and they will pursue it in a straight line, from the moment they graduate high school. They will teach Sunday School and be one of those people that others count as a Great Role Model. All you have to do is A, B, and C… All of these promises are empty. But I think they are empty because they are working off the wrong assumptions. 

I think, as young parents, we start off with unreasonable (wrong) expectations. Maybe, we remember how responsible and mature we were as young adults, and we presume that we are going to make carbon copies of ourselves. Or maybe, we had a rough start in life, and so we parent with the express purpose of making sure our kids don’t turn out like we did. Either way, we tend to forget that these children we are raising are their own person. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. They have their own free will. They have their own lives to chart out. We are called to train and equip our children. Teach them the difference between right and wrong. Teach them about God and all that his Word says about him. Teach them all the skills they need to succeed in our culture. But, what they do with all that information, that’s their choice. And it is not a reflection on us what they choose to do. 

I think we get really hung up on our own self-consequence when it comes to our grown up kids. We tie their behavior to our own self-worth. My grown up kid is doing things I don’t agree with. It must mean I was a horrible parent. My grown up kid is struggling. I have failed. My friends and family don’t agree with the lifestyle my grown up kid has chosen, they must all think I did something wrong. Woe is me. 

And this comes back to letting go of our grown up kids. Our grown up kids are now adults and the decisions they make are on them. Yes, we made parenting mistakes. Every single parent in the world has made and will make parenting mistakes. It is part of the curse of Adam. We are all sinners. We sin against our kids. But every person hits an age where they have to decide what they are going to do about it. They have to make the decision that yes, they have hit adulthood with some handicaps. They have wounds, poor training, perhaps trauma that they now have to work through so that they can get on with their lives. But, they are the only ones who can get on with their lives. Their parents can ask their forgiveness, go to therapy with them, make penance, but in the end, it’s still them who have to do the hard work of overcoming and moving on. 

As parents, it’s hard to accept that. I feel shame and guilt for all the ways I messed up. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I can give you a pretty concise list of all the things I wish I had done differently. I’ve been trying to make a point to express this to my grown up kids. Own my mistakes. I did this and this and I’m really sorry. Please forgive me. Some of those mistakes will have life-long effects on my kids. But, unfortunately, I am no longer in a position to get them the healing they need to recover from those wounds. They have to pursue that on their own. All I can do is keep loving them, keep being there, and pray like crazy. And be humble enough to accept the fact that God’s grace covers these sins too. 

I have two grown up kids right now. I think they are amazing. I am over-the-top proud of them. They’ve made their own choices and continue to do the hard work of just muddling through, trying to figure things out. Young adulthood is messy. There is no way I would want to go back and live that time of my life again. I am confident that God has his hand on their lives and I am proud to be their mom. 

But, I’d like to add, their progression through adulthood has not looked anything like I thought it would. And that’s not good or bad. It just is. Their story is just beginning, and I’m learning how to step down from Parent-in-Charge to the new role as Chief Cheerleader, Back-up Support, and Prayer Warrior. 

Fat Fridays: Progress and Setting New Goals

Happy Fat Friday, that wonderful time of the week when we ponder on all things weightloss and health. I’m sorry I missed last week. To be honest I thought about writing all day, but my brain was so dead I just couldn’t do it. We were finishing up our last days of quarantining and the stress was buildling up. The school had told me the kids could return that Friday, then on Thursday, after further consultation, they said, sorry, next Tuesday instead. And my heart faltered and I think I mostly just stared into space all day while kids careened around the house crazily and I counted down the hours before we could get back into a good routine again. 

So, kids are finally back in school and I finally got my house back in order and am feeling like I might have my life back in control again. Part of getting my life back in control this week was sorting through all the clothes in my closet. I gave away three garbage bags of clothes this week. All clothes that are now too big for me, or clothes my size that I had been saving, but now that I’m this size, I realize that these clothes simply aren’t flattering. They don’t make me happy. So they’re gone. Yay! My closet feels so much nicer now! And it’s pretty fun to get rid of clothes that are too big. 

I have to say, it was a step of faith to get rid of my summer clothes that I just wore this summer. The nagging thought of, What if you don’t lose weight between now and next summer?  You’ll wish you had these clothes! But I was firm. No. These clothes are NOT going to fit me next summer because I’m going to continue working hard and I’m going to continue to lose weight. No going backwards!! I ditched the clothes. 

I started this weight loss journey somewhere around January 20th of this year. I have now lost 50 pounds. And I had a goal to be a size 16 by my birthday and I’ve hit my goal. So, now it’s time to set some new goals. Small ones that I can reach quickly. I really want to lose another 13 pounds. I’d really love to have that off by Christmas. I’m not sure if I can do it or not, but it’s worth a try. I’d also like to plan to go on a big hike sometime soon. Work on increasing my stamina with my workouts so the hike will be fun instead of grueling. We’ll see. I think the main thing for me is looking forward, having something to hope for. I really need that. 

In the meantime, I will continue on this messy journey called life where nothing is ever perfect, things never quite match up the way you want it, and progress is a series of ups and downs. Talk to you all next week. 

No More Christianese, Please

Lately I have really been struggling with “Christianese” . These are the set platitudes that Christians murmur to each other all the time, catch phrases that we say without giving much thought to the meaning. “God has really blessed you!” “I’m believing God for a miracle!” “You just need to press in and pray!” 

I am “blessed” because my husband recovered quickly from Covid. What about those who lost their husbands to covid? Are they Not blessed? I am “believing God for a miracle”. And then the miracle doesn’t show up. Must be because you didn’t believe enough? I see that you are really struggling in this area, you just need to press in and pray! And if you continue to struggle in this area it means that you have a bad prayer life and you just really aren’t a very spiritual person. 

I have this image of tapestry in my mind. And, this is not an original image to me, I’ve read many illustrations about seeing life as a tapestry. But here we are staring at the bottom side of the tapestry and everything is backwards and messy looking. We can’t see the other side where the beautiful picture is being made. And I feel like we have everything backwards. 

What if someone being miraculously healed, saved from the brink of death, is actually not the great prize we see it as. Think about a Christian who knows they are going to one day be walking face to face with Jesus, living in paradise. They’re at death’s door, and they are miraculously saved. It almost seems like a big let down. Oh great. I was hoping that my work on earth was finished and I could finally go get my reward, but instead now I have to wait even longer and do even more work. 

We pray for people to be saved from trials, but scripture tells us over and over again that it is during trials and tribulations that our faith grows, our maturity grows. We are refined, the dross is burned away. We are sanctified. But, in our upside down view of things, we see those trials as lack of blessing, lack of prayer, lack of faith. 

Can I just say, “Christianese” can be really offensive. When I am bowed down to the ground with depression, barely able to move and someone suggests to me that I just need to get into the word and pray more…that is not helpful. How about, I see that you are really struggling and I imagine prayer and Bible reading are really difficult right now. I just want you to know that I am standing in the gap for you and lifting you up in prayer. Here, I’ve written out this Bible verse for you, I hope it comforts you. Is there anything in the physical realm I can do to help you? Do you need help getting hooked up with a counselor or a therapist? Can I check in with you regularly so you know you are not alone? 

When my loved one is at death’s door, please don’t tell me that you believe God is going to heal them. What if he doesn’t? Is God still good if my loved one dies? Am I still loved and cherished if they die? Does their death signal a lack of blessing or protection? How about, I am praying night and day that God’s will be done in your loved one’s life and in your life. I am praying that you both have fresh revelation of how loved you are and how secure you are in God’s hands. Can I read Psalm 139 aloud to you? So we can be reminded how deeply and intimately God cares about every detail of your life? I am praying strength and peace for you! What can I do physically to help you? Meals? Help to get to appointments? Financial assistance? 

When I am going through trials and tribulations please don’t act like I have somehow fallen out of favor with God because I am going through these things. “I just need to pray more so that God will forgive me for whatever I did wrong and put me back on the Nice and Easy path that I crave.” How about some encouragement along the lines of, God must have some really important plans for your life because I can see how he is strengthening your faith, maturing you and refining you into an even stronger person than you were before. I can see how you are growing through these trials. I am praying for supernatural strength for you and praying that God will use these things to draw you even closer to him. How can I help you physically? Is there anything tangible I can do to ease your burden and let you know that you aren’t alone while you go through this hard situation? 

I know that every platitude that has been told me has been done in love and good intentions. I’m not mad when people say things that were meant to be helpful, but just aren’t. I see their heart, I know they care about me. But, we can do better guys. Let’s really think about what we say before we say it. 

A Story Behind Every Cookie

I just made chocolate chip cookies with my eight year old. After the cookies went into the oven to bake, she ran off to play, and I was the one who carefully watched the timer and made sure the cookies came out at the exact right time, quickly sliding them off the cooking sheet onto a cooling rack so they wouldn’t overcook on the sheet. And it suddenly brought back memories. 

My friend Alyssa taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies. My mom was not a cookie maker. No one can beat my mom’s raisin cinnamon rolls or her brownies, but cookies were not her thing. So, I moved to Bethel, Alaska just before my 16th birthday without the great life skill of knowing how to make good cookies. 

Alyssa and I met pretty soon after I moved to Bethel, and our friendship quickly grew into Best-Friend-dom. We were in the same grade at school. Being a Christian was important to both of us. And that’s about all we had in common. Well, we both got good grades in school. She was on all the sports teams, President of the Student Body, involved in every single leadership thing there was and graduated Valedictorian. I practiced piano all the time, loved to read, had a quirky sense of humor, and did not hold any positions of leadership. I ended up being Class Secretary senior year because of her interference. She also would make crazy suggestions like, Let’s Go Running! What??? But, we adapted. I went running, she watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with me. I like to think that we were good for each other. 

But let’s get back to cookies. Alyssa’s family had the secret “Mrs Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe (which Alyssa copied into a recipe book and gave to me for a wedding present and which I have passed down to all my children). One time I checked, very carefully, and was able to see that yes, there were some slight variations from her recipe and the recipe that comes on the chocolate chip bag.. But, I honestly think that the Key to her amazing cookies was knowing the exact amount of time to cook them. It’s a science. It’s taken me many years to figure it out perfectly, but Alyssa, you will be glad to know, I am now a master too! 

Alyssa’s house was the perfect tundra-living house. It was two stories, but all the living areas and kitchen were on the 2nd story. That way, you had a breathtaking view of snow and lights, sky, stars, going on for miles and miles. I remember long winter evenings at her house. We would bake cookies while munching on chips and salsa (also something Alyssa introduced me to). We would make the perfect cookies, play games, talk. Sometimes I’d play their piano and we would all sing together. Or we would go out and play in the snow. Alyssa and her family introduced me to the “STEAM” which is a far-north tradition. Small wooden building full of hot steam, so hot that you end up walking outside in Alaska winter in your swimsuit and it doens’t affect you. Her family also introduced me to Lefse (Norwegian potato pancakes), snowmobiling, and all the thrills of having a Dad who worked for Fish and Wildlife and was a trapper on the side. 

I get up from writing and go in the kitchen to grab a cookie. They sure are good. It’s funny how layered our lives are. We bake some cookies, but oh, all the stories and history behind that simple cookie. It’s good to take the time to remember every once in a while. 

P.S. My husband is back at work, mostly recovered from his covid, thank you for all your prayers!

Guarantees

Last Friday my husband texted me to say he was feeling sick, needed to come home and go to bed. 

Cue elevated heart rate. 

Ok. Come on home. Symptoms? Sore throat, headache, fever. Ok. It could be strep. We’ve had strep go through the house in the past month. Or…it could be covid. Ok, not going to go there till I have to. 

By the next day his sore throat wasn’t very bad but he was passed out with a fever. Ok. In strep, sore throat usually gets worse, not better. I went ahead and canceled everyone’s weekend plans and we started treating it like possible Covid. 

And I felt like I was back on the river in my canoe, rapids ahead. Get ready. Adrenaline pumping. High alert. 

I wasn’t able to get him tested till Monday, results came back positive. I’m starting to paddle fast now. Ok, we need to get groceries in, call all the schools, email them the test results, let’s get this laundry caught up. House needs to be clean. 

We need to be ready. Cause, I’m probably going to get sick too. And what if my teenagers get sick too? And what if my kids get sick and need to go to the doctor? And I’m looking at my husband passed out in bed, the sickest I’ve ever seen him, and I’m wondering how I’m going to keep taking care of my family while I am equally sick? Big rapids ahead. Get ready. 

In the middle of all this, my parents called, said, we’ve already had covid, we’re not going to get it again this soon, come to my house so we can help. 

It didn’t take very long to realize this was definitely the best option. Then we went into a full-blown quick retreat. Everyone pack! Take out the trash, wash up those dishes, clean up this mess, we’re heading to Grandmas. And I felt this urgency. I had a headache coming on and all I could think was, I’m going to be in bed sick very soon and I need to get my kids settled first. 

So, we all packed up in a very short amount of time and headed out the door. 

And I never got sick. And none of my kids got sick. But my adrenaline is still pumping as I watch my husband, still not sure how his recovery is going to play out. 

And I want guarantees. I want to know with certainty that all my loved ones will remain healthy and happy and cared for. I want to know that I’ll pray for healing, and healing will happen. I want to know that instead of going through the rapids, I can just say, let’s skip this part of the river, and I’ll be magically transported to another peaceful section of water where no giant rocks loom right under the surface, ready to upset my boat. 

But here I am. No guarantees. My boat is tipping all over the place. Actually,  I think I’ve already jumped out of the boat and am dragging it. 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I guess I do have a guarantee, that God is going to use every single thing that happens in my life to shape me into the person he wants me to be. 

But, I am looking forward to some calm waters, coming soon I hope. 

Fat Fridays: Moving Forward Inch by Inch

This past week I’ve been fighting a lot of my food addiction demons. Mindsets and thought processes that make me binge eat or just completely not care about diet, health, etc. It’s been a bit frustrating. I’ve done the heavy work of recognizing my unhealthy thought patterns, but how do you get rid of them? Sometimes, logic is not enough to break free from a sugar addiction. Or emotional eating. 

I’ll admit that my diet went out the window while I’ve been trying to figure this out. Then yesterday, I went to the store to get a pair of jeans. I live in the South. It’s still pretty hot around here, but I know that cool weather is on it’s way, and since my weight loss, I don’t have any pants my size. So, I went to the store and pulled about four pairs of pants to try on, all in the size I thought I was, and low and behold  none of them fit. They were all too big. What?? So I went back and got the next size down and that worked fine. I don’t know if men have this in their sizing but women have these W sizes which are cut a bit baggier in the butt and thighs. So, I am a solid 16W, down from a 22W. I was able to fit one pair of regular 16, but another style was too small. 

I decided then and there that I was going to just focus on losing the next ten pounds and maybe with that weight loss I’ll be a solid regular 16, not just 16W. I’m finding that looking at how far I have to go to get to my Dream Weight is overwhelming. So, I’m just going to focus on the next ten pounds. 

I think, in all of this, I keep having to remind myself that I am human. Not perfect. And perfection isn’t required of me. I’m on a journey towards health and sometimes the journey is going to be backtracking and side trails and mess ups and just standing in one place for a minute. But each day I get to decide to try again and see if I can move forward another couple inches. So, here’s to the next ten pounds!

See you all next week.