Maybe I lied, but I didn’t mean to… You see, this whole social media thing can be pretty tricky. Especially if you’re somewhat transparent like me. Ok, I’m a lot transparent, so anyway. My intentions are not to mislead, and somehow, life gets all complicated. I post photos and encouraging words quite frequently which include pics of me and the man. About 80% of the time, we look like, act like, and think like best friends. The other 20%, whew, let’s just say… It ain’t pretty. So if you saw a photo of me over the weekend, I may have appeared like I was having the time of my life. In fact, I did have a great time at a local water park with my family. What you didn’t see was the blow-up argument in our home a few days prior, the tears, the cold shoulder, the silent treatment, the “dance”, shall we say? (That’s what our counselor calls it anyway.) He and I have perfected our roles over a 16 years marriage. We cope. We adapt. We make-up. We try harder next time. And yes, there’s always a next time.
And get this, we are not done fighting… with each other or with the enemy who desires to steal, kill, and destroy! Praying for miracles in our home. Begging God for deliverance from many years of a “dance” that is out of step at times. Oh, and in the meantime I plan to stomp on the devil’s head, and praise Jesus for the 80%. See us smile. See us pose. See a real couple who struggles, but we struggle with Hope. And as for me and my household, we will serve The Lord.
I grew up in church. When I look back and think about it, really, the church half raised me. I loved to be there. It wan’t even something forced on my by my parents. I genuinely loved my church family, youth leaders, pastor, choir director, friends, you name it. I was content. I was challenged. I was fed spiritually. As I approached adulthood, I still was active in church. My hometown church played a huge role in who I have become today. But guess what? I’m 41 years old, been married for 15 years, and I don’t live in my hometown anymore. I don’t even live in my home state. We transplanted from AR to TN almost 10 years ago. Not sure I’ll ever quite feel like a Tennesseean, but I’m coming around. Somewhere along the way, I became disillusioned with “church”. After one year in TN, in 2004, we joined an incredible Bible preaching, growing, giving, active church. For many years following, you would never have convinced me that there was even another church on the planet. We taught the four year olds & later the fourth graders, attended small group studies, made deep friendships, had our babies dedicated, soaked in the truthful Bible teachings, graced the doors pretty much every time they were open. Then it happened. One decision was made. Then another. Oh & wait… one more. My church fitness class was cancelled by the leadership without consulting me. Ding. So-and-so had an affair, and I didn’t like the way the church handled the reprimand. Ding. Worship pastor left in a flurry of talk. Ding. Ding. The list goes on and on. The seeds of bitterness began to take root. Was the church to blame? The resounding answer “NO”. Was my heart a breeding ground for discontent, lies, and gossip? Yes. Would I ever admit that? No way. Well folk, maybe it’s something about my 40s, but for some reason, I’m in no mood to hide behind my childish grudges anymore. Truth is, that church family has been that for us. “Family.” We’ve celebrated babies, deaths, friendships, paintball tournaments, Sunday School parties, job gains, job losses, well…. LIFE, together. I’ve run away. I’ve moved. I’ve pouted. I’ve talked. I’ve cried. Recently, the pastor got news of a terminal, aggressive, cancer in his otherwise seemingly healthy, athletic body. I trepidly watched him take the stage a few weeks after diagnosis, and pour out his humble, human, faithful heart to his congregation. I tuned in via live-streaming. Safer that way, right? I mean, after all, we now live 15 whole miles from church! I’ve begun a little soul searching. Funny how terminal illness and the bravity of one man will spur that desire in a person! Oddly enough, I’d been battling my own demons concerning my fragile church attendance in the small town where we now reside. As I talked through these issues with my husband, he gently helped me (truly NO judgement from this man here) walk a path of self-discovery. One, I believe deep down in my heart, I knew had been brewing, yet was unwilling to face. You see, the “church” was not at fault here. Nor were they 4 years ago when I got a bee in my bonnet over this/that/or the other. No, the church is just doing leadership the best way they know how. With God’s guidance. Not mine! I’ve never struggled with opening my loud mouth, but for all my grievances, I pretty much kept them to myself, or told another church-going friend. That’s innocent, right? No harm done. Wrong. I wronged myself. I wronged my friends. I robbed my family of what could have been 4 more years of service, growth, and giving. As a 30-something, I’d have probably just kept all this garbage to myself. Definitely more at stake, especially as my own ministry/business has grown. But, I feel like I need to share. Someone reading this might possibly be getting their toes stepped on. Stomped on, maybe. Others may be just shaking their heads, wondering how God could use such a disillusioned blonde girl to lead a ministry, when she couldn’t even make peace internally with the local church. So here I am, transparent as I can be without telling all of my dirty little secrets. And church family, I’m coming home. I’ve missed you, and my heart is lighter knowing you don’t need me to solve all of your issues. Nope, we’ve got a higher Power for that. And pastor, I am genuinely praying for you. Every day. Our kids are, too. There’s no place like home…
Seriously, this has been a day! From the moment I woke up, seems like my head’s been a spinnin’. Started with drama, stress, work overload, hormonal melt down, and finally a friend to the rescue. A friend who drove an hour to have lunch with me, clean my kitchen, organize my to-do list, hold me accountable for creating a daily schedule (my rough draft is due Monday), and gave me a big old hug and reminder that “perfection is boring”! She had been gone maybe ten minutes, when I ran to pick up my kids from school. Checked my mail. Then directly backed into my mailbox… Knocking my side mirror smack off!!! What is any good redneck mother to do? Duct tape, of course. Sent kid to grab the silver miracle stuff, and quickly began to “fix” my mirror. What a joke! I drove straight through town (30mph) and ran my errands. All the while VERY aware of my jacked up van. This is surely a day to mark in the books. Surely a day where I’d rather cry than laugh. Curl up and quit instead of pressing on. Yet, the mirror incident made me laugh. Hard! The distress of the morning seems a little silly in light of the real problems people have in this world. The van, a simple reminder that no matter how we try to look right on the outside…tis not always true. Yeah, I’m pretty much a shiny mess. Kinda like that duct tape. Only ONE perfect. Good thing I serve Him. Tonight, I believe I’ll hug my kids tighter, thank my husband for working hard, relish my treasured friendships, and focus on what matters. Shiny boo boos and all.
“Calm down. Cheer up.” ~pastor Scott
We used to be inseparable. Somewhere along the way… Um, mid-nineties, perhaps, we began to drift. Law school for her, local university for me, boyfriends, marriages, work, LIFE in general. She’s liberal. I’m conservative. She’s a lawyer, wife, and mother. I’m a wife, mom, and business owner. I’ve probably seen Jennifer four times in the last 10 years. Until recently. Determined to get together for more than a blink of the eye, we planned a “girl’s night” for early this month. I drove from Nashville to Memphis to spend one night with her family. Another one of our dear friends joined us for dinner, and I was surrounded by my friends’ daughters ages 6-12. A dance competition ensued, and Ms. LaRae even got to run the music and be a part of the panel of judges. It was a tie, of course. Jennifer, Lisy, and I finished the show with our own dance party. No back handsprings or split jumps😛 though.
As life would have it, I ended up at Jennifer’s place this past weekend, with all four of my boys in tow. She assures me that her dear husband was totally fine with me coming back so soon. Our children hit it off immediately with a fierce game of hide and seek in the front yard. Jenn’s husband, Brian, insisted that our 90 pound dog, Lady, join us inside for the evening, and after a fabulous lasagna dinner, I soaked in a spa-like tub, while Brian played some sort of hoopla twister with the kids. Their shrieks of laughter barely penetrated my hour of solitude in my hostess-made spa…
We flipped through prom pictures, church camp photos, and giggled at our big hair and skinny legs. Saturday morning she made pancakes, bacon, and eggs while I did nothing more than sip on delectable coffee. The kids watched Spider-Man (much to her oldest daughter’s dismay), and then we headed to the most beautiful neighborhood park complete with lake, duckies, and perfect climbing trees. Brian took turns riding my boys in his 2006 red, racing, Porsche. I even got a turn to ride! Had to cover my eyes a few times, but man…what a thrill! Jenn put together a kite, and we watched with amusement as our little ones ran their legs off to keep Nemo in the air. Time approached to leave Memphis.
She packed lunches for us. Ham sandwiches, chips, cookies. She gave me a friendship bracelet, and a “let go let God” reminder. She affirmed me as who I am, who I always was, and who God has created me to be…uniquely me. I hugged her quickly for fear the tears would come should I tarry.
I have made many friends in my adult years. Nobody knows me quite like my skating buddy of old. We differ in so many ways now (come to think of it, we always have), but never again will I take for granted the power of a best friend who knows you better than you know yourself. Thank you, Jennifer, for reminding me of the bonds which cannot be broken, the memories that still bring me great joy, and the blessing of old friendships. Old…like years ago, not like we’re old. 😉 Oh yeah, and thank you for helping me remember Housequake & Supersonic & Cool it Now…
At age forty, I am proud to say, I am a daddy’s girl. I’ve always known my dad loved me, but until the last few years, I didn’t have a very strong relationship with him. That’s different now. He is my nonjudgmental confidante, a consistent encourager despite my shortcomings, my business advisor, Grandaddy extraordinaire, teacher, jokester, best friend. He loves me no matter. He has a touch of compassion that I never knew, and I love to hear his heart, especially when he journeys from AR to hang out with us in TN: “Now, what is your friend’s name again?” “So thankful that big empty building is going to good use now. That worried me sick.” “Your boys have such unique personalities, I’m learning them one by one.” “Grandaddy loves you, too.” Oh, and to watch the kids hang on his every joke, climb into his lap just to be close to him, and cling to his neck when it’s time for him to go…
This daughter is eternally grateful for a unique, loving, uplifting, secure, relationship with her dad. My eyeballs are still burning from crying all afternoon after he left. There’s still his half empty COKE bottle in the fridge, an almost complete grocery list on the vanity (what was number 4 anyway, dad?!?! , and a quilt laying over the back of the couch where he slept. Come back soon, Dad, you are always welcome. In fact, it seems downright “off” without you here. So this is the love of the Father shown through the actions of one dad…
Love, your little yellow princess bunny wabbit
This journey of eating well is not for the faint at heart. I am now 5 months into a total nutritional overhaul, and I’ve never felt better. I’ve also notice my tolerance waining for those wishing to make changes, without the willpower to follow through. Granted, this is not an easy choice, but it is the right one. At some point for all of us, we must honestly assess our health, weight, activity levels, and get after it should we choose change! My moment just happened to come one month before my 40th birthday, and I’ve not looked back. 100% certain that Jesus has completely revolutionized my thought patterns and approach to what goes in my body. I am most grateful, and more eager to encourage others to stop talking about it and do it. I have been asked by many others what exactly I am eating day by day. So I am going to give you a snapshot of a typical day of nutrition in my world. Please keep in mind that not everything works for everybody. Sample Breakfast: coffee! I still have creamer, but very little. Protein Bar. I definitely have my favorites. Supreme Protein & Balance bars. Another option, eggs with no salt, low sodium bacon, Greek yogurt. Lunch: salad. I have eaten more salads in the last five months than I have in the last 40 years. I typically chose grilled chicken with fresh veggies, eggs, and ranch dressing. (the dressing is my treat. The serving is small). I have recently found a vinegarette dressing that I love, and that’s saying something, as I can’t stand the taste of vinegar. Three Cheese Vinagerette found at ALDI grocery. Thank you, friend Linda, for turning me onto that. Dinner: grilled meat of any kind. I did not drop red meat from my diet. I dropped sodium, sauces, dairy (mostly), wheat, and sugar… But meat, I eat it! I pair my dinner meat with grilled veggies like red and green peppers, steamed broccoli, carrots, squash, zucchini, and yet again… a small salad. If my family eats hamburgers, I eat only the burger. No bun. I cannot even stand the smell of wheat bread anymore, and I haven’t had a bowl of cereal since February. I do not eat sweets, except for my kids’ birthday cakes, and for special occasions in very small amounts. My very favorite “dessert” is key lime Greek yogurt with cool whip in the mix. Snacks: raw vegetables, fruit, unsalted nuts, roasted read pepper hummus & nut thins, and gluten free cheetos (sounds crazy I know, but helps me keep my sanity in this journey!) As you can see, my day is sprinkled with a little bit of sugar from sources other than fruit. (protein bars, coffee creamer, and yogurt). Makes me happy. I am a fairly picky eater by habit, so my days and meals are simple! This works for me. If God made it, I eat it. I cut out pastas, breads, most dairy, sugar, sodium, wheat flour, and I still have plenty of food to choose. Shop the outer aisles at the grocery. Really. I gag at the sight of so many boxes of processed stuff now. God has gotten ahold of my mind and heart concerning my health. Whew, I have so many other things to work on, but this nutrition thing… Transformed! Not going back. No more bloat. Way more energy. Innertube around my midsection is gone! When I checked my blood pressure over the weekend, it was 112 over 70. Heart rate 57. Can you do the same? Yes and yes. Is it an easy decision? It was for me. The 190 on the scale pretty much made up my mind for me. That HAD to change. My clothes are hanging on me. My dance is lighter and better. My God wants me to shine in all areas for Him. I’ll not eat in the dark, anymore. Shine, my friends. One choice at a time. Revolutionize your nutrition. I know this is a long post, but if you made it all the way to the end, I pray you were blessed, and that God may use my rambling words to inspire you.
A dear friend of mine recently asked me if I had plateaued on my weight loss, and then she reminded me that “it’s coming, ya know”! Quite honestly, her message really caught me off guard. I have given such little thought to the scale in the last month. My entire mindset and approach to eating has been transformed from the inside out. It never dawned on me that I may reach some sort of stagnant place. Know why? Because I won’t. What God has done in my heart by reworking my view of self, food, and fitness, cannot be a finished process. I’ve “dieted” before, goal in mind, number driven, and obsessed over the scale. I’ve been in denial, at the opposite end of the spectrum, tipping the scales at 190, and in complete refusal to see the reality in front of me. But NOW, I’m on my journey of wellness. One that will be a lifelong journey without a plateau…. You might judge my body or my waistline, but my heart will never be the same. Literally and metaphorically. I eat natural foods. I exercise. I praise the One who fearfully and wonderfully made me, and Who will guide and keep me each step along the way. Dance on, my brothers and sisters. Plateau…I think not.
Raise the Praise… a unique, two day, outdoor Christian festival that lives up
to its name. We danced hard. We gave our all for the One who gives us life, hope, joy, and freedom. Lord, use our efforts to glorify You alone. Thank You for allowing me to live out my passion. Oh yes, and signing my first autograph was pretty cool, too. Gotta work on my signature for next time. Smile.
One good choice at a time… Lately, I have had numerous others ask me what our children are snacking on, since I have changed my eating habits. Fruits, string cheese, an occasional raw vegetable, pretzels, gluten-free chips, Greek yogurt, and that about covers it. We have cleared our pantry of chips, chocolate, and junk cereals, for the most part. See those beautiful faces? They are counting on us to teach them well, and lead them in a path of whole health and wellness. They are already little Warriors for Christ, now they are conditioning their bodies, as well. Blessed to be the Mom. They have adapted extremely well to the plan we have implemented, and seem most grateful for the “food” education they are receiving. We are equipping our boys for the years to come, and for their very own legacy…and that, my friends, is time and energy well-spent.