Fat Fridays: Becoming More Like My Kids

I spent this evening being a sports mom. This is a new role for me. Our family has not done sports with our kids. We are not very sports oriented (at all) and the logistics of getting kids to practice and games when there are twelve people in the family made it feel impossible to try. So this year my twelve year old son started at a new school and they have a middle school basketball team, boys and girls. And they don’t do tryouts. You show up, practice, you are on the team. So, my kid who has never played basketball decided he would like to play basketball. Yay! Alright son, we’ll support you! He went to the first practice and I picked him up afterwards. 

How was it?

It was fine. Oh, by the way, I also joined the cheerleading team. I talked to the coaches and they said it was fine. I can cheer for the girls games and play for the boys games. 

Ummm. Ok. 

And that is how I became a sports mom. So this evening I worked the concessions stand and watched through the doorway as my son was allowed to play during the 3rd quarter. He really is a beginner. Very eager, but obviously just learning the game. I always feel grateful when the coach lets him get some time. And then I handed over concessions duty to another parent after the boys game and went and sat in the bleachers and watched my son cheer with the cheerleading squad for the girls game. Go team. 

How does all this relate to diet and exercise? Well, I was sitting here thinking about all this, and thinking about how important it is that I exercise and pursue health in front of my children as a role model to them. But as I sat here and thought about it, I am beginning to think that my kids have had more of an influence on me in this area than I have had on them. My kids take after their dad, they seem to have confidence oozing out of their pores. They are very comfortable in their own skin. They have interests that are different from their peers and it never occurs to them to not pursue those interests just because others might think they are weird. 

I, on the otherhand, tend to be very self-conscious. And I’ve got legitimate reasons for why I became that way, but it’s not something I need to hang onto. I feel really self conscious about exercising. I’m not an athletic person. I’m not particularly skilled. I’m overweight. I feel like, if people see me running, they are automatically going to look and see who’s chasing me, instead of thinking I’m out for exercise. So, it’s been a big stretch for me to go out in my neighborhood and run on a regular basis. But, I’m enjoying it. No, I will never be a marathon runner. No, I will never win any races. But am I having fun doing something I like? Yes. And the big bonus is that it’s also good for me. 

And so I find myself in a place where I can continue to encourage my kids to pursue what interests them and try new things, and they are encouraging me at the same time. It’s a good place to be. 

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. 

Fat Fridays: Angel or Devil?

I am late posting this today. I’m going to blame that on a really fuzzy brain. Last night I went to bed with the thought that I would write my blog first thing in the morning. Then this morning I puttered around the house aimlessly, not thinking about blogs at all. Then, when I set myself to a task, I suddenly remembered I hadn’t written. I will write as soon as I am done with this task! Except I forgot again. I’ve done this three times today. So, here I am at last. 🙂

Yesterday I saw this sappy meme that ended with this: “Focus on your own voice. It’s the only one that matters.” And I thought it was ironic that I was reading this because my thoughts this week have been how my inner-voice is one of my worst enemies. 

The kids are eating a dessert. My inner-voice says, Go ahead and have some! You deserve it! 

I think about whether I should stop and get some fast food after a long stressful day. My inner-voice reminds me that cooking a healthy meal is going to take a long time, and maybe I will have to wash some dishes first before I can even cook. And does healthy food really taste that good? Don’t we deserve a break? 

This past Wednesday I went to the park to jog. I was supposed to walk two minutes and then jog two minutes for a total of thirty minutes. I jogged the first two minutes. My inner-voice spoke up. Why are we doing this? 

I jogged the next two minutes. My inner voice got louder. This is not fun. You should just walk. Walking is still exercise.

I jogged the next two minutes. My inner voice was yelling by now. This hurts! You are tired today! You don’t have the energy to do this! Just walk. Noone cares if you walk. You should only run if you Really Really want to. And you don’t want to. 

Fortunately, I’ve got two voices in my head. And every day I have to decide which one I’m going to listen to. 

The other voice said, ignore that. You can do this. You are not a quitter. You only have to run two minutes at a time. You have given birth to ten children: You can run for two minutes. You are not a quitter. Keep going. It’s going to be done soon. You’ll feel really good if you don’t quit. 

And in the end I just started chanting in my head, I am not a quitter, I am not a quitter! And I finished the full thirty minutes. And I felt good about finishing. 

Remember those cartoons where the person has a mini-angel on one shoulder, and mini devil on the other? It’s a pretty accurate picture of our two voices that are constantly talking to us. 

When it comes to weight loss and exercise and lifestyle changes, that devil and angel voice get into some pretty fierce fights. It’s a daily battle to figure out which one I’m going to listen to. 

Fat Fridays: Cheerleaders

Today my exercise assignment from my trainer was to do some core exercises (crunches, planks etc) and then go and run/jog two miles. Already this week I have jog/walked twice, thirty minutes each time, but it was more walking than jogging and I didn’t have a distance I was aiming for, just a time frame. 

So, I did my core stuff and then headed for a nearby park that has a walking track loop. I have presumed that this loop is .25 miles. There aren’t any official signs that give you the exact distance, but it looks about the same size as other parks’ .25 mile walking tracks. 

Well, today I downloaded the “Map my Run” app and discovered that this loop is .27 miles. Not .25. And I just have to wonder…Why? Why would you do that? It would have been very simple to adjust the circle so it was only .25 miles! So, 8 laps around gave me a grand total of 2.1 miles, instead of 2. And when you are gasping for breath and flooding your brain with inspirational comments so that you will keep going, that .1 miles is a big deal! But I digress, back to my story…

So, I decided that I would run one lap, and then walk half a lap, then run a full lap, then walk half, etc, etc. This worked out pretty well for me as that half lap was just long enough to restore my breath and walk out some of the cramps in my legs. 

As I was gasping my way around the track, there was another woman walking in the opposite direction to me. She was an older black lady with brown circular glasses and a warm twinkle in her eye. The first time we passed, I nodded hello and smiled, she nodded back. The next time we passed, we made eye contact, but nothing else. Then the next time we passed we smiled again. (I live in the South. We interact with strangers. It’s kind of the expected thing to do.) We kept passing each other, and it didn’t take too long, I’m sure, for her to realize what a giant task this was for me to be jogging. The last time I passed her she grinned and said, “You’re doing great! Keep going!” I grinned and I felt my shoulders go back a bit and my legs got a bit stronger. It’s amazing what encouragement can do for a person. 

I was also encouraging myself the entire time. I had a little mantra going on in my head, in rhythm with my pounding feet and gasping breath, You can do it! You can do it! You can do it! Having a random stranger cheer me on was icing on the cake. 

I can’t imagine trying to do this weight loss journey without my cheering team. My family is my number one cheerleader. Of course, I kind of force them into it. Guess what! I lost 2 pounds!! Great mom! Good for you! I text my husband, Guess what! I just ran 2 miles! And then I expect him to say something positive and encouraging. I am shameless when it comes to eliciting positive comments from my family. But I need it, and they are willing to oblige. 

Any time we take on a hard task, it is significantly easier when there is a support team in the background, ready to cheer you and celebrate all your victories. I am thankful for all the encouragement that has come my way, and I hope that I can be an encouragement to others as they go on a weight loss journey too. So, just keep this in mind…You can do it! You’re doing great! I’m proud of you! 

The Road to Acceptance

Happy Palm Sunday everyone! It is a sunny, warm day, blue skies, light breeze. I’m sitting out on my deck. We had lunch out here today. Hot dogs and watermelon and a salad tray. Easy to make. Easy to clean up. Fun to eat. 

 

The last time I wrote, I was simmering in anger, feeling like my head was going to explode. Today I am feeling calm. Hopeful. More accepting of where we are at. How did I get from point A to point B? I would say God definitely used my family and friends and community. A family member and an old friend both surprised me and took care of some physical needs we had. A kind lady from our church sent me a card and a gift. I had a good phone conversation with my mom. I took a walk through our neighborhood and waved and said Hi to LOTS of neighbors who were sitting out on their porches or in their yards. My kids all decided to hit the pause button on their bickering, and for the last several days have been playing happily outside in the sunshine. My teenagers have been laughing and joking together and acting like they’re best friends. Domestic Peace. 

 

I also took a Productivity Class with Brian Durfee of productivity-max.com who happens to be an old friend from our church. We did it via Zoom and it was quick and painless and left me with some good tools and tips to try and reign in some of the crazy in my life. It gave me a good dose of hope, that I too, might join the ranks of the organized. 

 

As I sit here, enjoying the breeze, watching my little kids ride their bikes around the yard, I am feeling very much like God gave me the gift of peace this weekend. 

 

This morning we had a little church service with our kids. We read about Jesus coming into Jerusalem on a donkey, people shouting Hosanna. We sang songs. We talked about prayer requests and prayed together. Then I turned on a video that our church’s children’s ministry made. The children’s pastors greeted the kids by name and they sang some songs and all the different Sunday School teachers sent in a video greeting to the kids. My kids were overjoyed! And their eyes got so big when they heard Mr. John calling them out by name. They enthusiastically joined into the song time, dancing all over the living room. And I felt myself getting teary-eyed. These kids have been in our house for a month now. I don’t take them on errands. They’ve just been here. And they miss their friends and church and school, and life seems a little scary to them right now. And hearing their teachers talking to them on the TV just lit up their faces. 

 

After the kids service was done, my husband and I and our teens sat and watched our own church service that our church put out. Worshipping together and hearing our pastors was encouraging. I am so thankful for our church family. 

 

One of the pastors exhorted us to continue to reach out and get together with each other using the technology we all have at our fingertips. I need to do that. I’m so frustrated at all my limitations, that it makes me not want to be creative to see how I can actually still make connections. 

I guess, what all of this is leading to is Acceptance. This is where we are at. I have no control over the situation except to live in my home, take care of my kids the best I can, and see what I can do to be helpful to the world around me…while maintaining a 6 foot distance. 

The Power of Being Real

I just finished reading a book called “The Elephant in the Room” by Tommy Tomlinson. It is an autobiography about a Southern man who is morbidly obese (446 pounds) and his journey to losing weight. It is a very honest book that explores how he got to this place and what kept him there. It also is a kind of yearlong journal as he struggles to walk on a different path. What I love about the book is that there is no quick fix. No amazing new diet that completely turns his life around. It is simply a slow, long, hard walk to start making small changes, one step at a time, and slowly change his direction. At the end of the year (SPOILER ALERT) he has only lost 25 pounds. But, after reading through the whole book, you are able to marvel at what a victory that is and have hope that he can continue on this slow crawl towards better health. After reading the book which was published in 2017, I looked online to see if there were any updates on his journey. I found an interview that was done in January of 2019 and as of that date, he was continuing the course. The weight was still slowly coming off. No major dramatic losses, just one pound at a time. 

 

There is something powerful about being real. About acknowledging that you are weak. You struggle. You have some major flaws that don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. There is something powerful about hearing about another person’s struggle with some besetting sin and finding out that the only way they have slowly conquered this sin is by very hard, very slow work. Two steps forward, one step back. 

 

I think what makes it so impactful, so powerful, is that when we are real, we help others to not feel alone. And not feeling alone gives us hope. It is so easy to have a weakness and feel like you are the only one who struggles in this area. We feel like the wimp, the frail link, the failure. Everyone else seems to get along just fine and here we are, all alone in the corner, unable to overcome this particular problem. We must be a freak. 

 

And then a friend whispers in your ear, I have that exact same problem! And suddenly your whole perspective changes. Oh, this is just another problem that is common to mankind. I’m not abnormal. 

 

This is probably why young mothers love to gather together and compare notes. My baby does this weird thing, have you ever heard of that before? OH YES! My kid did the same thing when he was that age! And the mom gives a sigh of relief and then they compare notes and try to help each other figure out how to deal with the problem. This spirit of camaraderie is so uplifting. So encouraging. 

 

We need to expand this Realness to other areas in our life. We need people in our lives that can tell us, I really struggle with eating more than I should. I have a hard time keeping away from the bad stuff on the internet. I really struggle with being kind to my spouse. I have an anger problem. I spend money that I don’t have because shopping cheers me up. I have a hard time not gossiping. I have a real problem with anxiety and depression…Things that we all struggle with, but we think we are struggling alone. 

 

When someone shares something that they are struggling with, it encourages me, but when someone gives off the persona of being Perfect, it alienates me. I feel like you must belong to a higher level of humanness than me. You are in some special club that I can never be a part of. And it makes me withdraw into myself. I feel like I need to hide my imperfections from you since you obviously wouldn’t understand them. 

 

I used to find people who gave off an “I’m perfect” persona were really irritating. Being around them just fueled my own insecurities. But, God has been showing me some things lately.

He’s been teaching me that there is no such thing as a perfect person. But, there are people who are so afraid of their imperfections and their unhealed wounds that they will do everything possible to keep them hidden. And they put on a show, an outward appearance of having everything together. It’s their own form of self-defense. And that’s ok. Facing your imperfections and your wounds is not easy and sometimes you are so busy surviving, you just don’t have any energy left over to try and tackle these deep issues. 

 

So, to my people who have mastered the art of being real, thank you. Your willingness to be open about your problems is such an encouragement to me. And to my perfect friends, thank you for putting up with me and all my messiness. I’m hoping that some of my messiness will rub off on you and maybe some of your perfect habits will rub off on me. It’s a good exchange.  

 

How do I Parent?

Recently I had my parenting questioned. It’s kind of hard when you feel like you have been judged and found lacking.  It always sends me reeling a bit. I have to really think about what was said. Is there merit? Is there truth? Am I wrong? Should I change things? 

And then, I have to just stop. 

 

The truth of the matter is I am merely human. I am not perfect, nor will I be any time soon. In fact, not on this side of eternity. I am a flawed human being trying to raise ten other flawed human beings. It’s a recipe for messiness. 

 

Then you have to consider all the different goals parents set for themselves. Am I trying to raise a child prodigy? Am I trying to raise an athlete? Am I trying to raise an activist? Every parent you talk to is going to have a different set of goals in their parenting. And that’s because each of us are different with different strengths and talents that we hope to pass down to our children. 

 

Even when we have what seems like the same goal, “I want to raise Godly children”, the way we envision that is very different. The way we hope to implement that is very different. 

 

For some people, raising Godly children means that they are going to keep their children from being exposed to ungodly things. For some it means that they are going to immerse their child in the scriptures until they can almost recite the entire Bible. For some it means getting their children very involved in a church community where they live, eat, and breathe church. For some it means awakening a heart for the lost, encouraging their children to pray for the nations and look for opportunities to reach out to the lost whenever possible. 

 

I can guarantee that whatever area you as parents decide to focus on, that is probably an area that is close to your heart and an area where God has done a lot of work in your life. We naturally want to pass on to our kids the things that we know and are learning. 

 

So, here is what God has been working on in my life. Grace. No Fear. Love your neighbor. 

 

Grace. It is imperative to me that my children know that God loves them, he has forgiven them, and he is the only one who can enable them to walk the Christian life. Their own will power will never be enough to keep them from turning in the wrong direction. Only God can save us and then change our hearts. 

 

No Fear. It is imperative that my children not be afraid. Not be afraid of losing God’s love. Not be afraid of losing my love. Not be afraid of being rejected. Not be afraid of people who don’t believe the same as them. Not be afraid of going out into the world and sharing love with whomever they meet. Not be afraid of making mistakes and not being perfect. Fear not. I believe that phrase is repeated a ridiculous number of times in the Bible. 

 

Love your neighbor. It is imperative to me that my children learn how to love their neighbor. Though this is an action that we need God’s grace for, I need them to keep asking God for grace and keep pressing in to this. Keep trying to understand the people around them. Keep seeing each person in their life as a highly valuable treasure that God loves. Keep on learning how to love. It’s the second greatest commandment. First, Love God, second, love your neighbor. 

 

How do you teach your children these things? Beats me. I’m not the parenting expert. Each day is me fumbling around in the darkness, trying to do my best on my good days, on my bad days, just trying to keep everyone alive. I have no idea how to raise Godly children. But, thank you Lord, God does know. He gives me just enough grace for one day at a time. And one day at a time I try to model a complete dependence on God. I try to model Grace. I try to model No Fear. I try to model loving my neighbor. That’s about all I can do. The rest is in God’s hands. 

 

May we have grace for each other as parents. Instead of getting caught up in the comparison game, let’s just encourage each other. 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 22 How To Encourage People in Their Weight Loss

Hey Everyone. How’s your week been? Mine was busy but it looks like we are finally slowing down. My kids had their last day of school today. I’ve got a thing at my house Saturday night and then my schedule is wide open. Now I just have to focus on keeping a house full of children busy all summer.

The past couple days I’ve been thinking about how encouraging my husband has been on my weight loss journey. It wasn’t always that way. At the beginning of our marriage I put on weight with my first pregnancy and he really didn’t know what to do. He made a lot of mistakes. But over the years we’ve talked a lot and he has evolved into this amazing man who makes me feel loved and beautiful no matter what weight I am. And I genuinely feel like he’s ready to support me in whatever efforts I make at improving my health.

I’ll give you some examples. I am not a super active person. In fact, that’s an understatement. I know I used to run around as a kid, but somewhere around puberty I discovered the joys of curling up on a couch with a good book, and that became my default activity. There is one thing I do enjoy though, which I’ve mentioned over the years to my husband. I love badminton. It is so fun! So satisfying when you can keep the birdie in the air. I also like ping pong. Something about smacking an object back and forth appeals to me. 🙂 So, over the years,  we have occasionally bought a little yard badminton set. Flimsy poles. Flimsy net. The kids destroy it within a couple weeks.

Well, this summer my husband went all out. He bought a professional net, set up a sturdy pole system, marked out a court with yellow rope, bought me some fancy rackets..We are all set for badminton. But even better, in the evenings when it’s cool, he comes and asks me if I want to play, and we go out and play badminton together. How cool is that? I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have a great passion for the game. But he has a passion for me. To see me happy, see me healthy.

We also figured out that I like canoeing. Our 20th anniversary is coming up in a couple months and he is currently building us a wood strip canoe for two so we can get out in nature together. He’s kind of handy that way.

He helps me keep on track with my diet too. We were at a party this past weekend. One of my kids ran up to me and handed me a cookie and then ran off. Well. I really wanted that cookie. It looked so good. I took a bite. Andy was watching me. (He wanted the cookie too.) Hey! That’s not on your diet! Give that to me! Now. let me make something clear. I hate being bossed around. He knows that. I handed him the cookie, because the truth is, I really did want to stick to my diet. Then he said, If you don’t want to stick to your diet, just let me know and I’ll leave you alone. And that’s what makes him great. Because I’ve done that before. I’ve said, listen, I’m sick of this diet, I just want an ice cream cone. And then he takes me out for ice cream.

I’m sure a lot of you have someone important in your life who is struggling with weight issues. I can tell you from experience that the best support for me has been my husband’s unconditional love for me. Knowing that he he is willing to take me like I am actually helps me feel empowered enough to want to make changes to become healthier.

Goals for this week: look into Chiropractic Neurology at the recommendation of my brother. Get out and play badminton. Write a meal plan for the next week, as our eating has gotten a little haphazard.

See you all next week!