Monday, April 29, 2013

SexyBack

Good news!

I'm still alive!

Last week was a super-busy week for me. All I can say is this: props to all the working mommies out there!! I don't know how you do it and stay sane.

Last Friday, a friend of mine asked me--sweetly--if I had gained some weight.

I have to admit this: I wasn't okay with her question at first, even though I know she wasn't being mean. My mind was flooded with all sorts of questions: Do I look big? Is it that obvious I have gained a few pounds? And I'm wearing black, too!! Black supposed to make you look skinny! Where does she see this weight gain? Does my caboose look as big as I think it does?

At that very moment, my friend had just confirmed everything I was afraid of: I look bigger (i.e. worse) than I used to.

It didn't matter that everything else she said affirmed that she thought I looked good--better, even--than I used to. She said I have curves now that I didn't used to have. That's a good thing...right?

As I thought over our conversation a little more, I started to wonder how society has influenced the way I think when it comes to the fat vs. skinny debate. It seems like society at large believes that thin equals beautiful, and there is a dangerous trend toward being too thin. We are plagued by illnesses like anorexia and bulimia, and according to abcnews.com, weight-loss is a $20 billion-a-year industry (with 85% of those consumers being female-check out some of the statistics here).  And I've fallen into the same trap over and over again as I assess every detail of my own weight-loss attempts.


I've allowed myself to believe that thin equals pretty, so naturally, any comment about weight gain would catch me off-guard, while comments pertaining to weight loss would be accepted graciously and with a smile. Even if the latter comments were not compliments.  You see? We've been trained to believe that any comments about weight loss are good, but weight gain? Bad. Even if it's a healthy weight gain (I'm not speaking to unhealthy weight gain here, only to a healthy gain-combined with healthy diet and exercise-to a weight within a suggested weight/height range--check out http://www.weightwatchers.com for a suggested range) . Even when the weight gain makes you look better. Even when the weight gain brings out soft curves and a sexy rear.

I'm bringing sexy back... ;)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wandering Mind

I found this quote on Pinterest the other day, and kept it as a quote I wanted to remember (I, like my sister, am very judicial with what I pin on my boards, so it's got to be good if I save it). I pretty much forgot about it after I pinned it, since half of the stuff I pin I never actually look at again (hence the judicial pinning). I came across this quote today as I was looking through some pictures with a friend of mine, and as I reread it, it really made me stop and think. What do I think about when my mind wanders?  Here are just a few of the things I was thinking about today...

I wish I had a dog. I'm lonely sometimes, and I need a pet to keep me company...

I really wish J wouldn't play in the woods. Ticks, snakes, spiders...yuck...

I wish A would get her homework done so she could get some exercise outside. Why does she have so much homework in the first place?

I wish I had a dog. Wouldn't it be fun to get a puppy...they are so cute! What would I name a puppy if I had one...

I'm so glad I got in a good workout today! Whoo to the hoo! I wonder how many calories I burned...I'm hungry...should I eat? What should I eat? What is healthy that is low-calorie? I don't want to defeat the purpose of working out...but dang, I'm hungry...

What is she doing up there? Homework still? I'd better go check on her...

I think I need to cut peanut butter out of my diet, I eat way to much of it..16 grams of fat per serving...outrageous...

Deuteronomy 6:5 says that we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might, and Mark 12:28-30 describes this as the most important commandment of all. It describes having a passion for Him. Which I would say I do if someone ever asked.

And yet...

And yet my focus is on anything but the Lord...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's easy to touch up the outward appearance,
to look as if you have it all together.
 
Your attempts to look good can fool most people.
 
But He sees straight through you, into the depths of your being.
There is no place for pretense in your relationship with Him.
Rejoice in the relief of being
fully understood.
Talk with Him about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy.
Little by little, He will transform
your weakness into strengths.
Remember that your relationship with Him is
saturated in grace.
Therefore,
nothing that you do
or don't do
can separate you from His Presence.
 
{sarah young, jesus calling}

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Lighthouse

It's tough being a woman.

Can I get an Amen?

I went to the doctor for my physical on Monday. As you know, I've been working on loving my shape and not worrying so much about what I look like for like the past year and a half. However, all my confidence and I'm-beautiful-no-matter-what-my-weight-is went straight out the window when the nurse said those five little words women around the world dread:

Step on the scale, please.
 

 
Ugh.

You'd better believe I was shedding shoes, jacket, and emptying pockets before I stepped on that wretched scale. As I watched the digital scale quickly (too quickly if you ask me) rise, my confidence dropped like a penny falling from the top of the Empire State Building.

And to add insult to injury, the nurse rounded up.

In my opinion, six-tenths of a pound makes no difference on the chart. Round down, woman! But the 3rd grade math student within wouldn't allow her to directly defy a math rule, and since anything over 5 must be rounded up, we round up. No compassion.

None.

I was staring at my weight written in black and white like it was a snake getting ready to jump off the page and bite me.

How does one simple number have such a huge impact on me? Why do I allow that number affect my mood, my confidence and why do I allow it to define who I am?

Does it really define me?

Once again, I turn to Scripture so I can get my bearings about me. Without a lighthouse, ships can get lost during a storm, and I'm the same way. Scripture is my lighthouse, my safety net, my voice of truth. And when I'm swaying in the wind and my confidence is shaky, I need a firm foundation so I can stand strong once again.

Because beauty isn't just about being pretty. It's about being strong. Confident. Smart. Secure. Courageous.

Am I strong, confident, smart, secure and courageous enough to dismiss a lie and believe the truth?

 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
{hebrews 10:39}

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Not Fair

"It's not fair. I'm ____ years old. I should be able to _______.  Everybody else is doing it."

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

When I younger and much more naive, I was fairly certain that no child of mine would ever utter such a statement to me, and if they ever were so brash, I would have a much better comeback than this: If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?

Where is The Official Parenting Handbook: A Guide to Clever Comebacks That Will Leave Your Children Speechless (and Respectful) when I need it?

Sigh.

No. It's not fair. Life has a way of showing us this sad fact, sometimes from a very young age. As an adult, I still find myself saying (only on occasion, of course) this to God when I pray. It's not fair. It's not fair. IT'S NOT FAIR.

As I was contemplating this idea of what I think is fair and what I do not, it occurred to me that when I judge something and label it as NOT FAIR, it is generally because things are not going my way. When things are going my way, you will not very often find me praying over and over about how wonderfully fair things are. It's because I expect things to be fair, and when they aren't, I (just like my daughter) complain about it. A lot.

And I expect God to listen and act accordingly to what I have hailed as FAIR and UNFAIR.

He had a few things to say when Job said things weren't fair:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
{job 38:4-5}
 

Fortunately for the rest of the world, God does not take direction from me. After all, He is the Creator of the Entire Universe, so I think He knows what He is doing. And what is best for me, regardless of how fair or unfair I feel it may be.

Hopefully He gets a laugh out of the fact that I have appointed myself Empress and Ruler of All Things Fair--but I respectfully resign.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The World Needs Our Prayers

The world can be a scary place.

My eyes filled with tears this morning as I watched one piece of the excessive news coverage on the bombings in Boston. Tears for the people who lost a loved one, tears for those who were scared, tears for those who are young and don't understand. Tears for people filled with bitterness. Anger. Grief. Hate.

Wars. Genocide. Bombings. Murder. Violence. Social media. Bullying.

The list could go on and on, and I want to hide from it all, like a cat who thinks that because she is hidden behind one blade of grass you can't see her.

Today, I'm asking you to stop what you are doing for five small minutes and pray. Lift up your heart in prayer for our world, for those in Boston, for those who lost a loved one, for those who are scared, for those who are young and don't understand. Pray for Newtown, pray for Aurora, pray for Stuebenville, pray for all those small towns that don't make CNN Headline News.

And don't stop there. Ask your friends to pray, ask them to ask their friends to pray til we are all lifting up our voices as one.

The world needs our prayers.

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
{proverbs 29:25}

Friday, April 12, 2013

FIve Minute Friday: Here

I'm linking up again with Lisa Jo for my weekly dose of Five Minute Friday. I love the freedom Five Minute Friday provides: no pressure, no getting it just right, no over-thinking...just writing my thoughts for five quiet, uninterrupted minutes.


Here

I've often lived life in the "here-there" frame of mind: here is where I am, but there is where I want to be. I used to wait and wonder aloud When will I be done with this phase of life so I can start the next? I would sit through church services on the Promised Land and wonder when I would find my Promised Land. I would talk with friends about God's will for their lives, and I would wonder inside when God would reveal His plan for my life. I would sit through hours of holding a crying baby, or a disgruntled toddler, or an unhappy preschooler and wish they were just a little bit older so they could handle themselves better.

Then I realized that my here is actually my there.

I don't have to sit and wait for the future to get better, because the present is what I live in and it's pretty darn good.

I'm here because I'm meant to be here. God is working in my life because I am actively searching for Him.  Now I'm here but not yearning to be there. I don't have to wait for the future to be happy, peaceful or content. I can be happy right here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Midweek Confessions


 


Wow. It's been a long time since I've linked up with Elizabeth over at E, Myself and I for a weekly dose of Midweek Confessions, so one might think that I have much to confess. Which I do. I just can't remember all the unfortunate moments I've had lately. There have been far too many.

However, last night I had a moment with my husband, and I must confess, I was feeling a bit, shall we say, testy? Anyhow, he was eating barbecue chips straight from the bag, and I was so grievously offended by his caveman-ish, uncivilized ways. The rustle of the bag annoyed me, the crunching of the chips annoyed me, and the fact that he was not following proper etiquette annoyed me (p.s. you will not find a confession anywhere on this page on the number of times I have eaten chips straight from the bag).

"Are you hungry?!?" I snap at him.

"Uh-huh." Head nods. Chips continue to crunch.

"Then why don't you get the leftover chicken from the refrigerator??"

Evil stare directed at me.

"I don't need your help." More crunching.

My most haughty, lofty tone of voice: "I think you do!"

A turn of the heel, a swish of the ponytail--oh, yes, he had been told. I'm sure this positive interaction will have an effect on future behavior involving cavemen and chips.

In other news, I am teaching aerobics to a small group of ladies at a local church. I've been doing this for several years, but we've recently added a few new classes to our schedule. We may or may not be doing some songs typically done in a zumba class. This is was I think I look like when I am dancing:

I'm pretty hot, no?
The truth is, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror during class today, and the bottom picture might actually be a more accurate representation of me (I would probably be more like the girl on the bottom right):


My last confession of the day is this: now that it is spring, sometimes the weather calls for shorts. I love warm weather but hate wearing shorts. Why? Because my mother, may she rest in peace, gave me the pastiest white skin known to man. My father tans beautifully. He's like a tan god to me. I don't know many people paler than I am. My skin could literally blind you in the sun. Kids at school used to tease me all the time about how pale I am, like "Why are you so pale? Do you spend all your time in the library? hahaha!" Ha. Ha. Ha. That's, like, really funny, dude. (And by the way, enjoying a good book at the library has zero to do with how pale I am, thank you very much).  I don't tan. AT ALL. So I use self-tanner. All season long. So, yeah, I smell like self-tanner all spring, summer and part of fall. Yeah, my elbows, knees, ankles and the palms of my hands might be a litter darker than the rest of me. And, yeah, I might look at little like an oopma loompa.

But at least I'm tan.

Well...Sort of.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Code Word

Funny Confession Ecard: I have no idea what you just said, so I'm just gonna smile and nod my head.I have an acquaintance that I don't get to see very often, but when I do, we instantly reconnect. Sometimes, though, when we get together, she speaks in code. Do you know anyone like that? That person in your life who talks to you like the conversation you were having 8 months ago never ended--except that you have no idea what that person is talking about? My friend is like that sometimes. She will say something in her code, give me that knowing look like I know you're picking up what I'm laying down, and the whole time she's talking, I'm racking my brain trying to figure out if A) she's told me something in the past that she expected me to remember and I didn't or B) she thinks she's told me something in the past that she expected me to remember and I'm clueless or C) she thinks her code is decipherable (but it's not).

Do you sometimes just smile and nod?

Sometimes that how I feel when I read the Bible. The passage may go something like this from 1 Samuel 14: 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.” ...

or this from 2 Corinthians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.[a] 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.


Did I miss something? Because sometimes I'm left wondering what in the world any of that even means.

I smile and nod, hope God blesses me mightily because I even read the Bible, and shut the door on the whole matter--and on any chance of understanding that I might have.

I wonder why God has to make it so darn complicated. I would get a whole lot more out of what I read if He were a little more plain-spoken and a lot less mysterious about the point He's trying to get across. Do I get a pass for at least trying?

There are many references to wisdom in the Bible--actually, 221 references came up when I typed in "wisdom" in the search box on biblegateway.com, and among them was this from Proverbs 3: Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding...

Huh. My next logical question is where does one actually find wisdom? Because I got no understanding of the one thing I'm trying to learn.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
{proverbs 4:7}

Okay...so the beginning of wisdom is...get wisdom?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
{proverbs 9:10}
 
Now I feel like I'm getting somewhere.

It looks like from several other verses in Proverbs that wisdom comes from someone who is humble and prudent, who is not striving to be rich and powerful but seeking the Lord, and the person who has wisdom should protect it as they would protect their money.

Alright. A good start. But my question still remains: how do I get it?

If any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask God,
who gives generously to all without reproach,
and it will be given him.
{james 1:5}
 
There is a great deal that I don't know. I'll never be famous for my smarts, for my IQ, or for making the newest advancements in technology. Right now, I want to understand what I'm reading when I read the Bible. And it looks like the first step to understanding is wisdom, and the first step to wisdom is to trust Him and ask for it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Winter Is Dead

"She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”  
{A.A. Milne}  
When We Were Very Young
 
 
It's the time of year when my mind, soul, and spirit breathes out in a collective ahhhhh, and my body can finally stretch from it's long winter slumber...the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the trees are blooming...spring is finally here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Missing Mama Part Two: My Story with God

It's been seven years since my mom passed away, and as I said in yesterday's post, I look back on those first couple of years with a mixture of sadness and remorse. I was so involved in how I was feeling, in what was happening with me, and so distant and cut off that I had a hard time connecting with people--including my family--emotionally. I went through the motions of being a wife and a mother, and hopefully I didn't totally stink at it, but I didn't enjoy it very much. That makes me sad, because there is so much joy in being a wife and a mother. Sometimes I think If only things had been different, if circumstances had not played out the way they did, if only..., but the real truth is that things weren't different. My mom died, and I didn't know how to handle the emptiness I felt when she was gone. And I think I missed out on some truly joyful, happy times in my own house because I wasn't emotionally present. I was there physically, but the shroud of depression weighed heavy on me, and it showed.

When I found out that Jesus was more than just a figure on a cross, I was stunned. I had grown up in church my entire life and had never figured out the difference between knowing about Him and a relationship with Him. I kept wondering, How can this be? How did I miss this? It was obvious from the way I lived that He was missing, but the strange thing is that I thought I had known Him all along.


The steps I have taken to know Him better have been small, and not without a few steps back after several forward. I had lived my life trying to fill the God-shaped hole in my heart with all sorts of things I thought would give me peace and happiness forever: money, make-up, the Junior League, cars, a house, kids, a husband, friends, alcohol, being thin...the list is long, and although some of those things do bring real joy, it's hard to appreciate them when the newness wears off or life gets hard.

Being in relationship with Christ has shown me that there is joy in life beyond what my circumstances are. His presence brings a peace that is so beautiful it is life-changing. His mercy brings a deep thankfulness. I had turned my face away from Him, said that other things were better at filling me up than Him, yet He still turned my life around. He brings a hope that no amount of money or position in society could ever match. I am a changed person because of His presence in my life, and while I have my fair share of doubts and have said I don't get you, God, I am so thankful that He found me. Everything has changed--everything--and it's changed for the better. I've changed for the better. His presence in my life has changed me. I can see beauty where there was only devastation, peace where there was only fear, hope where there was sorrow, light where there was darkness, joy where there were only tears, patience and love where there was bitterness and anger. In the words of John and Stasi Eldredge (from Isaiah 61):


For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you
where you have known only devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow.
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise
in exchange for your resignation and despair.


Some people say that God doesn't do miracles anymore, that He doesn't heal, that His presence isn't as obvious in the world we live in today.

The evidence of the process of His healing is my life.

The good news is that this isn't the end of the road for me, because I'm not completely there yet. I have a lifetime ahead of me to continue to learn, grow and mature. I'm learning that He will never forsake me, never leave me, and that He is just and good. I've had some major misgivings along the way, but in the words of Natalie Grant,

I have been the wayward child,
I have acted out,
I have questioned sovereignty,
and had my share of doubts...
Bitterness has plagued my heart
many times before...
 
I will stumble,
I will fall down...
I will make mistakes,
I will face heartache,
but
I will not be moved...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Missing Mama Part One

I still remember exactly where I was standing on this day 7 years ago. I was in my kitchen, chatting happily with my sister and my husband. My kids were still babies. I had a bagel in my mouth when the phone rang. My dad was on the other line, urging me to come home right away. We all knew the call could come any day, but I didn't believe it when it actually happened. "Have Jon drive you over right now." I argued with him, telling him I could drive myself. Why not? The kids needed someone to watch them, and I was perfectly capable of driving. Stressed out and fed up with my arguing, my father minced no words:

"Your mother is dead. Have Jon drive you over right now."

I'd known it was coming. She had been battling for her life for months, but the cancer was taking over. Her small frame was nothing but skin and bones.

But dead?

My mind struggled to comprehend such a thing.

I'd always thought my mom would be around forever. She would know my kids, maybe even their kids. She would retire at 63 and a half and we would go shopping at Target and have lunch together. She would babysit, we would go on vacation together, she would give me advice.



Dead?

The next few days were a haze as we planned funeral services and memorials. The next few months were a blur as my family and I moved to a different house in a different neighborhood, my sister graduated from college, we went to the beach. I spent the next months, maybe even a year, trying to convince myself that she wasn't just on a long vacation. I would look for her face in a crowd, I would have dreams about her that felt so real. I couldn't believe that I'd never hear her voice again or that she would never write me another note. Sometimes it's the little things that mean so much, only you don't realize it until they're gone.

I wasn't sure I could carry on very well.
 

I slipped into depression, shrouded in numbness and fog. Medication became my friend, helping me forget the sadness I felt.

I stand here today, looking back on the last seven years with a certain kind of remorse. I needed time to heal. That was hard. I also needed to deal with how I felt. That was harder. All the disappointment, all the bitterness, all the anger, all the fear, all the pain...it was locked inside, and I hoped it would never come out.

But pain always has a way of seeping out, of poisoning life with it's bitter taste.

"Time heals all wounds."

There is truth to those words. Of course the pain gets easier to deal with, but the bitter aftertaste is where the danger really lies for me. I was becoming exactly who I didn't want to be: distant, sad, negative and fake. I didn't like the me I was becoming.

Then I discovered the difference between knowing who Jesus is, and a true relationship with Him. It was then that He saved me from myself.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
{2 corinthians 5:17}
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Food for Thought: Excerpt from Women Food and God 2

"The most challenging part of any system that addresses weight-related issues is that unless it also addresses the part of you that wants something you can't name--the heart of your heart, not the size of your thighs--it won't work.

We don't want to be thin because thinness is inherently life-affirming or lovable or healthy. If this were true, there would be no tribes in Africa in which women are fat and regal and long-lived. There would be no history of matriarchies in which women's fecundity and sheer physical abundance were worshipped.

We want to be thin because thinness is the purported currency of happiness and peace and contentment in our time. And although that currency is a lie--the tabloids are filled with miserable skinny celebrities--most systems of weight loss fail because they don't live up to their promise:

[W]eight loss does not make people happy. Or peaceful. Or content.

Being thin does not address the emptiness that has no shape or weight or name. Even a wildly successful diet is a colossal failure because inside the new body is the same sinking heart. Spiritual hunger can never be solved on the physical level." {geneen roth}

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good news!

I have just a few minutes in between dropping kids and picking them back up to let you know that I finally got the lash enhancer I was talking about in my post on Thursday--yay! And while I know this won't be so very interesting to some of you, others of you will be thrilled to hear that I am testing it out and showing the results here (or at least I would be thrilled if someone else did this, because I'd want to know if it really worked...). I took some pictures of my eyelashes (these are probably the most unflattering pictures I've ever posted! And that's saying a lot) before I started the enhancer:

Photo
As you can see, I have short and not so thick eyelashes.

Photo


 

I'm super excited to see what kind of results I get with this enhancer! I'm hoping to get fuller, longer lashes (but I know that this isn't a miracle product). :)

As excited as I am to try something new, it's probably important to remind myself that the first source of beauty comes from the inside, so no amount of lash enhancer will all of the sudden make me beautiful. While I feel certain it's ok to enhance what I've been given, it's important to work on the inside as much as I do the outside--if not more.

OK, so now you have Day One pictures of what my lashes looked like before I started this enhancer. I'll keep you updated on the progress at weeks four and eight, and with any luck, I'll have longer lashes to bat!