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Laying the Foundation for a Strong Start

There is no child-training tool more powerful than the Word of God.  With it we are armed for the struggle that ensues on the battleground where the cosmic conflict unfolds before and around us.  And when we purposefully commit scripture to memory we can call on it no matter the circumstance.  Providing our children with this critical skill of memorization gives them the armor and ammunition to stand when the winds of strive threaten to take them down.

JenniferThorson ebook COVER

My precious friend Jenn, who you’ll find blogging at The Purposeful Mom, recently released an awesome tool for use with even the youngest of children.  It’s an eBook entitled God’s Word in My Heart: A Scripture Learning Guide with Memory Verses!  She offers it in four versions…KJV, NASD, ESV or a Variety and it is PACKED full of ideas and inspiration.  Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find tucked inside it’s pages:

  • Instructions for using God’s Word in My Heart
  • Ideas for Teaching Scripture to your children, from baby on up
  • List of songs and other go-alongs for learning scripture
  • Specific songs for verses from God’s Word in my Heart
  • Printable scripture memory verses from God’s Word in My Heart which include: ABC Memory Verses and Verses on our Sin and God’s Grace.

The eBook was designed primarily for toddler through elementary ages children, but it can be used with kids of any age.  The printable verses can easily be used for junior high and high school students to aid in their memory work.

I have children that range in age from 21 months up to 15 years and I can honestly say I can utilize this with every last one of them.  And it’s not full of fluff!  It offers ideas, inspiration, resources and an alphabetized index of verses.  Jenn has done the leg work and put together an AWESOME program that is beautifully laid out and user friendly!

I’m delighted to offer 3 copies of this eBook (winners choose their version) to 3 winners.  This month is all about helping each other along this journey to raise up Godly children and this is a most fitting addition to the treasury.  Simply click into the rafflecopter below to get entered.  The top selection is an easy entry…just click and you’re in!  The other option will take you to the Facebook page that Jenn operates…if you haven’t yet met her, you’re in for a treat!!!

Of course, if you just can’t wait to get your hands on a copy (I wouldn’t blame you a bit!) you can go here right now and grab a copy for only $3.99!!!

The Fine Print of Motherhood {the stuff they don’t want you to know}

Motherhood is exhausting.  Add to it the guilt we heap on ourselves for all our shortcomings and you’ve got a combination that could lay any of us out flat for a week.  We hear all sorts of mantras like Live in the moment or Cherish these times while they are little or Time flies by so fast…don’t wish a minute of it gone.  Likely I’ll utter some of these same types of encouragement to young mothers when my brood has been raised and I’m looking back with nostalgia.  But right now, in this moment…I sort of want to scream or pull my hair over my complete and utter failure to drink it all in!

A friend and mother of three little girls recently asked me if I truly enjoyed be a mom.  Her question came just minutes after a few tears were shed as we talked through a stressful situation she’d been going through with one of her daughters.  I knew in my heart that she wasn’t looking for a pat answer and that I needed to be truly transparent without looking to put my best parenting foot forward.  I responded with an abbreviated form of this:

  • I don’t enjoy sleepless nights with a new baby (or two).
  • I’ve never conquered my distaste for cleaning vomit out of carpet.
  • Art supplies spread across the table still scream MESS rather than artistic brilliance in progress.
  • Alone time?  What’s that and where can I buy some?
  • I’m not at all good at smiling through those trying times when a child is testing the boundaries.
  • I don’t yet see the beauty in hand prints all over freshly cleaned windows.
  • I still cringe at times when a child wants to “help” with a project I’d rather handle myself.
  • I break out in hives when my girls ask if they can bake me something “special” all by themselves.
  • I dislike giving haircuts yet I find myself with an endless stream of “customers”.
  • I detest laundry.  There I said it.
  • I’m not great at mornings.  OK, seriously, I’m not even good at mornings.
  • I’m extremely visual.  Couch pillows being askew rattle my senses.   Couch pillows on the floor make me want to throw an adult sized tantrum.
  • Standing in the checkout with a baby who has decided to express himself leaves me faint, hot, red and wishing for the moment to be gone in spite of whatever rule of motherhood I’m breaking!
  • Still trying to figure out how my Kindle Fire became a family gift.
  • I admit to feeling strangely stalked when I sneak away for a 5 minute shower and they find me.
  • I do believe my children are collecting evidence as they eavesdrop on every conversation I have.  If the CIA knocks on my door it will confirm my suspicion that I live with informants.
  • Searching everywhere and then finding my boots in the closet of my 8 year old.  Yea, still getting used to that.
  • Needing new unmentionables and not being able to get them because the cost of putting food on the table has gone through the roof.  Feeling sexy in panties that have seen you through a twin pregnancy takes creativity and strategic perception.

The bottom line is I love my kids.  I love being their very own “Mama”.  I’m just not always clear on how I got nominated for the task when I suffer from mild OCD which magnifies my flaws as a mother.  I’m grateful for His grace that covers my lack and for His love which has been made plentiful in the hearts of my children.

I don’t enjoy every moment and I doubt I ever will.  There are times I want to run and circumstances that make me want to hide.  But ultimately, there is nowhere I  want to go more than I want to be right here.  This is my own little oasis of crazy and I know I’m going to miss it when the last child has grown and gone.

Until then, I’ll smile through the parts that send a thrill to my heart and I’ll continue giving the rest to the Lord to equip me for the job!

Finding youself??

Finding yourself.  I’m going to be honest…this is a concept that completely drives me nuts!  What on earth is it even supposed to mean?  We daily make choices that determine who we become.  Yes, circumstances we can’t control often sneak in and steer us toward unpleasant waters, but how we respond to those circumstances is still our decision.  Very few of us learn early in life to get out of the drivers seat, so we really have nobody to blame except ourselves.  But all of the sudden we hit some invisible {imaginary} wall.  Our world goes dim and we decide we’re lost.  And then we decide we have to go seeking our lost self.

The problem is this…life doesn’t stop while we try to undo decisions from the past.  It doesn’t sit on pause as we grasp for another shot at our youth.  The people that love and care for us don’t have their hearts frozen for awhile as we run around looking for the shadows of what could have been.  It’s ridiculous, really!

“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s good.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 KJV

A friend that I have known for almost 25 years called me yesterday in complete and utter desolation.  Her world shattered when her husband of nearly a decade and a half decided that he’d never really had a chance to find himself.  So in the interest of no longer wandering the earth as a lost man, he left his family in hot pursuit of something, that in reality, he can’t escape.  He is himself.  Grab a mirror, old friend…there you are.  Don’t like what you see?  Yeah, I don’t a lot of times either.  But that doesn’t give us a free pass to turn tail and abandon our families.  Sorry.

We live in a world filled with the unthinkable.  Children laying loveless in a dirty crib with barely anything to keep them alive.  And people who don’t want them because they aren’t pretty and clean and cuddly.  Those children are lost.  Go find them.

Teens, without anyone to care, hit the streets and seek family within the walls of gang life.  They don’t find what they’re looking for and often end up dead.  But the bullet or knife that stops their breathing is not what really kills them.  It’s the heart broken from being left behind.  Forgotten.  Those kids are lost.  Seek them out.

Young mothers struggle everyday to provide the next morsel for the child they loved too much to abort.  Kicked out and cast off they face the harsh reality of a cruel world where pretty much everything seems hinged on the thickness of your wallet.  People pass them by.  They’re marked, it seems, like Cain.  Wearing that scarlet letter boldly on the child astride their hip, they sojourn.  Lost.  Alone.  Who will find them?

These realities are uncomfortable.  We’d rather not think about them too awful much, because it is so much more pleasant to think on things that bring peace and beauty to our homes and lives.  But we are called and commanded to look after “the least of these”.

>“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
James 1:27 KJV

My goal is not to be negative.  There is much beauty, by the grace of God, in this old world.  It comes in the form of a perfect flower, or a vast green mountainside, or a gorgeous sunset.  But the most breathtakingly beautiful reminders are the people who immerse themselves in God’s will.  They feed the hungry, befriend the friendless, and love the unlovable.  But there aren’t only a few select that are called to this purpose.  Every single believer is to put on the cloak of mercy and go out in this dark world to spread the love that sin has tried to shut down.

Seek His will.  Seek His people.  Seek His next assignment for you.  But please don’t waste your time “seeking” yourself.  He knows right where you are and exactly what you need to fulfill His purpose in your life.  Simply surrender!

8 Tips to Improve Your Quiet Time

Settled in that overstuffed chair with a soft blanket and your Bible, you’re ready to dig in.  Until the baby chooses that moment to scream.  Or, snuggled down for the night you close your eyes to have a few moments of silent prayer, only to find your mind drifting and your body giving in to sleep.

We’ve all been there.  Life is busy.  And exhausting!

But what if we had a better plan?  One that left us armed and ready for each new day!  Here are my top 8 ideas for guarding that precious time of refreshing:

  1. Set the alarm.  Simple, right?  Yet so many of us let the kids do the job of determining when we awaken.  Most homes have a fairly regular hour at which the house begins to stir.  Take note of what that is at your house and plan to rise earlier.  This simple change leads me to the next one…
  2. Turn in a little early.  The key to rising early is to get to bed at a reasonable time.  It does us no spiritual good over the long term to burn the candle at both ends.  Our bodies were designed to need the refreshing of sleep each night and it’s important that we get our fill.
  3. Have a plan.  I follow a Bible reading plan and use the SOAP method to study through the passages.  That way I’m not randomly reading a few verses and hoping to take something from it.  Instead, I plan to stick with my study until I take something from it.  “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”  Jer. 29:13
  4. Write down your thoughts.  Our minds tend to wander and Satan works especially hard to make sure of it when we’re seated before an open Bible.  He’ll likely leave you alone while you soak in the latest novel making it possible to breeze through the chapters taking it all in.  But he’s scared of the Word and he doesn’t want you to “get” it.  Keeping a pen handy and writing out passages and our thoughts on them is an effective way to wage war against his distraction tactics.
  5. Write out your prayers.  This seemed almost silly to me at first.  Whatever happened to having a good old-fashioned discussion with God, anyway?  I’ll tell you what happened…my life got busy and my mind began constantly running ahead of my body.  Don’t get me wrong, I still pray in the traditional sense.  But writing out some of those prayers keeps my thoughts grounded and my purpose clear.  Plus, I can go back and see how He moved in various situations as my memory is stirred by my journal.  I do pray once I’m settled in bed at night and often that is how I fall asleep.  But I’ve already taken the time to intentionally seek God in prayer and those moments just before sleep takes over are often when I “find” His voice.  And we all know prayer isn’t just about talking to Him…it’s about listening for Him.
  6. Keep a written list of people to be praying for.  So many times I’ll have the best of intentions for intercessory prayer only to find my brain temporarily maxed out of storage space.  To combat my forgetfulness, I write down a name with a few words about the need and it’s enough to keep my memory fresh.  I pray individually for each person as often as possible but when life threatens to keep from praying for them at all, I present the list as a whole to Him and rest in the fact that He already knows.
  7. Stay unplugged from the web.  For awhile I was letting Google direct my quiet time more than God.  I’d read a verse and then look up commentaries to expound on the meaning behind it.  Not a bad thing but I was missing out on the special message He had just for me.  Now I study for myself first and then I’ll sometimes take the time to read the things He’s revealed to others.
  8. Choose a spot that is quiet and cozy but not too comfortable.  I like to sit at the table because it helps me to stay focused.  It isn’t overly comfy, I’ll admit that.  But it gives me space for my Bible, notebook and prayer journal to be easily spread before me.  I’ve tried doing it on the couch but I get too “settled” and I much more easily drift off.

Those are some steps I take to get the most out of my quiet time with the Lord.  But let’s be real.  Our best laid plans don’t always pan out and things are going to come up.  Don’t get hung up on everything going just “right”.  It rarely did for Jesus.  He was constantly met with interruptions and distractions yet His determination to maintain that connection, in spite of circumstances, equipped Him with the power to live blameless before God.  Just don’t give up and don’t let go!

What are your best tips?

60-Day Reboot Update: Week One!

Here’s what the plan was for last week:

Week One (Sunday to Saturday)

  • Eliminate sugars, caffeine and trans-fats
  • Drink as close to a gallon of pure water as possible
  • A detox bath with Bentonite Clay (1 time)
  • Walk (not run!) at least 2 miles daily, preferably outdoors
  • 30 minutes of strength/stretch daily
  • 10 minutes on the trampoline daily to get the lymph system pumping

One week in and I’m actually starting to feel human again. The first week only involved the elimination of sugar, caffeine and trans-fats. I knew I’d have a headache but I wasn’t at all prepared for how my body actually reacted.

Aches. Chills. Migraine. Stiffness. Back pain. Restless legs. Ridiculous!!!!

The detox bath was pretty cool albeit slightly gross. What starts as clay ends up kind of slimy and icky. But I guess that means it did it’s job and pulled out some of those toxic metals.

As far as exercise goes, I might as well admit I wasn’t able to keep up with the plan. I felt like I had the flu and my head was literally pounding most days. Managing to stay out of bed and actually take care of my family was a feat that I was proud of! I got a few walking miles in but nothing much beyond that.

I did great with the water at the beginning of the week. I did start to slack off as the days passed, though, so I am determined to be faithful to it this week!

Now for the results after one week of misery determination:

  • Pounds lost: 5.6
  • Inches lost: 4 1/2
  • My hair, which has been very fragile and out of sorts, is showing marked improvement! I’m almost more excited about that then the pounds and inches!
  • My energy is coming back! And this time it is authentic rather than sugar/caffeine induced!
  • The aches are pretty much gone though I still feel a little stiff. More water should help that, though.

The plan for this week:

Week Two

  • Maintain the elimination of sugar, caffeine and trans-fats but now limit diet to fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and beans.
  • Drink as close to a gallon of pure water as possible
  • Walk at least 2 miles daily, preferably outdoors
  • 30 minutes of strength/stretch daily
  • 10 minutes on the trampoline daily

I’m actually not as intimidated by this week as I was at the initial start of the program. I’ve conquered caffeine…I can do anything through the strength He graciously imparts to me when I exert my will for good!

Mail Bag: On Modesty

So I mentioned the other day that I’ve only ever received one question on this topic. Well, this week I’ve received a few more! The one I’m addressing today is likely one that many have and I’m sure the answer to it will vary dramatically from person to person. But here is my response.

QI hate dresses. They make me look heavier and I don’t feel feminine at all in them. Skirts aren’t much better. My body proportions just don’t work well with either one and my husband doesn’t enjoy seeing me in them. How can I try to dress in modest clothing without hating to see myself in the mirror?

A-First of all, I am not a skirts/dresses only woman myself. I was at one point and I’m not saying I won’t find myself back there, but I personally believe there are other ways to maintain modesty. I don’t see a Biblical manadate to wear a dress or a skirt. And if we followed the trend of the time when the Books were written, we’d see our men walking around in long tunics. What I do find is a scriptural admonition to adorn ourselves with feminine grace.

1 Timothy 2:9-10
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

This doesn’t offer a model for dress so much as it does a standard. We are to dress as is fitting for a woman professing godliness. Due to the decline of moral society, adhering to this guide will likely be more exclusive than inclusive, but I do feel there is room for individual preference.

One thing I think is so important when selecting clothing is to consider this grave scripture that is directed at our very visual counterparts.

Matthew 5:28
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

That’s serious stuff! It’s natural to enjoy somebody “noticing” you, and nothing gives a girl a boost quite like a man admiring her beauty. But unless it’s beauty seeping out from the heart, it’s best if it isn’t put on display. {Except for your husband, of course!}

So my practical answer to your question is not so much what you should wear, but more how you should wear it. Choose clothing that fits you well and suits your body type. It’s perfectly fine to select items that flatter you in an understated way. Certain colors work with some skin tones better than others, so don’t discount the value in simply choosing your colors carefully. Pay attention to fabrics and resist the urge to buy anything that’s sheer, even if it’s pretty. Watch out for necklines and avoid those that plunge or are loose. Or layer those items with a shell underneath.

If you are choosing to wear slacks, be mindful of fit. Selecting pants that are “loose” around the bottom and hips doesn’t mean you have to sport the baggy look. And if you have pants in your closet that fit a little more snugly, pair them with a tunic or long sweater.

Most of all, be open to how the Lord leads. Don’t let this issue take front seat in your spiritual life…only He belongs there. Ask Him to guide you to choices He’ll be pleased with. And don’t forget the most beautiful curve on a woman’s body is that of her smile!

The discussion continues on Facebook…I’d love to have you join us there!

5 Clothing Choices that Draw the Eye Where it Doesn’t Belong

Modesty is a topic that evokes all sorts of emotions.  And it’s one in which opinions vary drastically from person to person and conversations get heated quickly.  But why all the fuss?  Probably because one person’s perception of “modesty” is seen by another as legalistic and unreasonable.  And vice versa, of course.

Every time we wait in the checkout at the grocery store we’re surrounded by tabloid images of “beauty” that are warped and misguided.  Painted, enhanced and naked are three fashion divas of the day.  Less-is-more and more-is-less have managed to merge and form a caustic potion that greets us at the clothing rack.

Here are 5 clothing items that inch us dangerously close to that unseemly trend…

  • Fitted clothing.  This goes without saying, but can’t not be said.  And yes, I’ve still got some tucked away in my closet.  I’m not posting on this topic because I have it all figured out, but rather because I don’t.  There is a line between well-fitting and fitted and it’s very easy to cross it.
  • Loose or plunging necklines.  Um, yeah.  Bend over and you have nothing left to hide. I’ve been that girl trying to wrangle little ones while my top engages in a game of peek-a-boo.  A carefully matched layering shell can totally remedy the issue.
  • Jeans with elaborate threading on the rear pockets.  Seriously lady, you’re going there?  Don’t you have a pair?  Why yes, now that you ask, I do.  And I purchased them because they made my backside look “nice”.  {Nice being relative here!}  But they also pull the eye straight to the derrierre.  I do still wear jeans but I nearly always {and more so all the time} pair them with a tunic or long top that covers the rear view.
  • Skirts with long slits.  Anybody who has worn an A-line jean skirt without that kick-slit knows how difficult it is to walk with a normal stride.  A few months ago, I acquired a second-hand jean skirt and threw it on just before running out the door.  It fit and I never even glanced in the mirror.  I then spent the next few hours at a church function with a slit more than halfway up the back of my bare legs.  I now choose fuller skirts, though well fitting, that allow free movement without the dreadful slit.
  • Push-up bras.  I know this is an underclothing choice, but I’m ducking from the punches already.  I totally get the whole concept of having to defy gravity.  I’ve had 7 kids and nursed them all for various lengths of time.  I get it!  And I’m all for a bra that supports and shapes that which life has left, well um, mis-shapened…but not so much for one that advertises goods I don’t have.  In my opinion, most push-up bras are just a non-surgical means to an increased cup-sized end.  And I can’t see any other reason for that than to draw attention to my chest, which is not something that seems wise to me.

I could keep going, but I decided to keep it to the 5 that really stick out in my mind.  I’ve gone full circle from a jeans-with-tight-top-teen to an all-skirts-and-loose-tops-mom back to a mom-wanting-to-ditch-the-frump to where I am now…at a place where I’m beginning to measure each piece of clothing against the Biblical standards I believe should guide me.

I realize more and more the impact clothing choices, especially of the young ladies around us, have on my own sons.  Yeah, that really brings it home for me.  It’s a man’s (or boy’s) responsibility to guard his eyes and heart, but we ladies can certainly help.  Not to mention, I have two daughters who are taking it all in and making unconscious decisions of how they will dress when given the freedom to choose for themselves.  I’m the model of modesty or immodesty they look up to, for better or for worse.

Join me here tomorrow for the Wednesday Link Party, then on Thursday for Mail Bag as I answer the only question I’ve received to date on the topic of modesty and then again on Friday as we discuss…

How to Reconcile Modesty with Workout Clothes {and those exercise DVDs}

If you missed it yesterday:  Modesty:  One girl’s view

What are your favorite clothing choices?  And what are some that you avoid?

Modesty: One girl’s view

Clothing sends a message.  One that speaks so loudly it often drowns out our words.  Would you like to know what it says?

The too-tight jeans…”Hey, there! Check out my backside.  Looking good, right?  I need you to notice me!!”

The too-low-cut top…”Every time I bend over I’ll be giving you a sneak peek of what’s beneath, so stay carefully tuned.  If you don’t have the patience, just feast your eyes on the parts that should be “beneath” that I’ve put on display for you!”

The too-sheer shirt…”No patience required.  Look all you like!”

The too-short skirt…”Nice legs, eh?  Why do I get the feeling your mind is wandering beyond my legs, though?”

The too-scant bathing suit…”All you can eat buffet for the eyes!  I want you to see much and like what you see!”

Hey, girls, I’m a girl!  I know how we work.  I know the insecurities that have us running for cover and those that make us want to show just a little of what we’ve got!  I’ve been the girl who packed on the pounds while growing a sweet babe and then shed the weight proudly.  And yeah, the temptation is there to dress for a little attention.  {I’ve given in to temptation on more than one occasion, so no darts here!}  It’s natural to want people to notice your good parts.  But is it healthy?

Here’s what one guy, inspired by God, had to say on the matter…

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
1 Timothy 2:9-10

I looked up the two key words in that text that really jumped out at me:  shamefacedness and sobriety.  If that’s how I’m to adorn myself, I figured I should probably know exactly what it means.

  • Shamefacedness:  reverence, honor
  • Sobriety:  soundness of mind, self-control

Hmmm.  It would be extremely hard to justify any of the above choices of clothing in light of those guidelines.  Which means there are probably a few items in my closet I’ve been clinging to “just in case”that I need to get rid of.  Or only wear, in the privacy of home, for my husband!  His eyes surely like to feast even when I feel more like yesterday’s leftovers than the lavishly spread table he seems to think I am!

Modesty is a matter of the heart.  It is not a “religion” and it doesn’t make you spiritual.  It should simply be the overflow of a desire to walk in His way.  But let’s leave all our legalistic, holier than thou attitudes behind.  Modest attire does not a Christian woman make!  And lack of modesty doesn’t mean God isn’t still after ones heart.  Life is a journey full of seasons and storms.  A heart that’s seeking His will surely find it’s way.

Check back tomorrow for:

5 Clothing Choices that Draw the Eye Where it Doesn’t Belong

Your thoughts on the matter?

Children: Prepared for what’s ahead

Parent reaching baby's hand

There is a frightening trend among Christian youth today that is literally shattering the hearts of the parents who raised them.  You don’t spend 18+ years of a child’s life, breathing your heart and soul into them and not  be crushed when they walk out your door and ditch everything you stand for.  It’s a problem of epidemic proportions with deadly consequences.

All I have to do is open my personal Facebook page and I see it everywhere.  So many of the precious children I’ve watched grow up posting photographic evidence of their “freedom”…and using language that makes even my eyes cringe.  How does this happen?  Why is the pull of the world so strong that these kids jump in with both feet?  The choices are theirs at that point but is there something we’re missing?

I’ll be honest, this sits so heavy on my heart that sometimes I’m in tears just thinking about it. There is no arrogance behind this post!  My oldest child turns 15 this month, so I can’t even speak from experience here and shares some incredible wisdom that I’ve learned along the way.  All I can do is offer you a glimpse of what I feel the Lord has been whispering into my troubled mind and how we’re convicted to proceed.

On occasion someone will teasingly ask my kids if they behave because they’re “afraid of Mom?”.  And always the answer is the same.  NO.  If questioned further, my two oldest boys have been known to answer that they “just love her and like keeping her happy!”.  Obviously, I’m not real scary but I guess that never was my goal anyway!  As nice as their answer sounds, however, I’ve gotten to thinking about it lately and it isn’t sitting quite as well.

You see, our relationship with God is all about loving Him and obeying as a result of that love.  It’s something we must cultivate, nurture and protect.  As parents, we stand in as the human authority under which our children are subject as that spiritual connection is formed.  But we must be very careful because there is a line and Satan desperately wants us to cross it.

As a child grows in stature and maturity, we must be willing to allow them to form their own set of morals.  They need to establish the value system, while in our homes, that they’ll be governed by when they’re no longer under our rule.  They need to have a voice, albeit a respectful one, and an audience for their concerns, questions and opposing views.  You’ve heard it said before…we aren’t raising children, but men and women for the Kingdom.  The approach has to be different and carefully orchestrated by the King.

We have two teenage sons who are an absolute joy to live with.  They bring sunshine and a party with them to pretty much every day and I am blessed to always be invited!  We get along great, communicate well and genuinely enjoy hanging out together.  But here’s the thing:  They don’t always agree with the house rules.  Sometimes they feel we’re too strict, other times they think we’re simply out of touch.  But pretty much always they swallow their opinions in the end in and attempt to live peaceably. A recent conversation with them made us rethink our system.

If they live in our house, governed only by our moral standards until they are released to the world, I fear we’ll end up with young men who may well abandon their faith and our beliefs!  I believe they need the freedom to explore their own value system.  They have to learn to make decisions, not because Mom or Dad says so, but because they’ve checked them against the Word of God.  So much freedom all at once, without the security of home base and the parents who love them, will just be overwhelming.  It would be sort of like deciding in the morning you’re leaving at noon for a cross country trip with no map, no money and no plan.  You might get there but the experience will not likely be a good one.

So long as you live in my house, you’ll abide by my rules!!!

Half my heart agrees with the above statement.  The other half is convinced that therein lies much of our problem.  My teens are still required to complete household chores, speak respectfully, show kindness to their siblings, and participate in family activities.  For a house to flow smoothly without crumbling into chaos there needs to be structure and predictable expectations.  Where we are beginning to do things differently is in the small judgement calls they are faced with and would normally have to answer according to our standard.

For instance, movies.  We don’t watch many because the selection that is easily accessible is generally of a poor quality.  The message and visuals are not often of the nature to enhance our spiritual walks.  There have been times when one of the boys have asked about watching a certain movie and we’ve denied the request based on our assessment of it.  Now, however, they must first ask themselves.  They have to determine if the movie is “good” or simply “not too bad”.  There is a huge difference and we want them to recognize it.  This might mean they pull out their Bibles and search for the answer.  It might mean they simply pay attention to the quiet voice that speaks in their mind.  God doesn’t always make us work for it.  Sometimes He puts the answer right out there if we are willing to listen.  However they come to their conclusion, if the desire gets past their own spiritual radar, they can then come and present their case to us.  If they have a valid case, they’re given the freedom to choose for themselves.

Interestingly, when we were having this conversation with them initially, our oldest said, “I don’t think I’ll be able to bring very many things to you for consideration that you don’t already allow me to do.  Most of the things you say no to, I won’t be able to convince myself are good.”.  I probably don’t have to tell you the joy I felt in hearing that, but still I wanted to be sure we weren’t holding them back.  So I asked him, “Well, would you rather have free reign to explore your choices and proceed as you wish?”.  He thought for only a moment before responding, “I’m not there yet, Mama.  I’m afraid I’d give into myself when I shouldn’t.  I like your idea better for now, but I’ll let you know when I feel ready for that.”.

And while when that time comes, I have no doubt I’ll struggle to give up the control I’ve had, I know my goal is much bigger than just living with “good” kids now.  I want to live with those same good kids for eternity!!  They need to know who they are and what they stand for before all the other life decisions and barrage of outside temptations overwhelm them!

It’s a wicked world we’re raising our kids in and it makes our job seem next to impossible sometimes.  But there is a God in Heaven who still sits on His throne.  He still makes a way for the sincere and contrite heart. Temptation doesn’t have to be the force we’ve allowed it to be.  We just need to learn how to tap into His strength to turn from it.  And the sooner we learn the better!!

“Out of the abundance of the heart…”

Praying hands

Prayer is the lifeline extending from our fallen planet to the Redeemer. It connects us to the ultimate source of power and our only true and lasting help.  We must make an appointment to meet with a successful businessman, and even then might only get half his attention.  But we can approach the Throne at any hour, with any matter, and have His full and undivided presence.

It’s a mystery I can’t even fathom.  It’s a gift I don’t deserve.

I’m not Catholic (though much of my family is) but I simply love reading about the life of Mother Teresa. I think I’m so drawn to her because she was a walking testimony.  Her very life was about serving Christ through serving others.  And prayer was the secret weapon that enabled  her to do things our human natures otherwise shrink back from.

“Love to pray.  Feel the need to pray often during the day.  Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself.  Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.” 

Sadly, we are so far removed from Eden that not much in our spiritual lives comes naturally. We have to trainour minds to think on good things and shun the evil.  We must discipline our hands and feet to be employed with that which will draw us ever closer, rather than get caught up in the distractions of the world.  We have to avert our eyes from the darkness surrounding us and look toward the light.

And we must teach ourselves to pray.

We don’t need fancy words or formalities.  We simply need to cultivate a respect for His word and a desire to walk accordingly.  Romantic or sentimental love is all about feelings.  We’ve been brainwashed to believe that if the emotions aren’t validating the experience then it isn’t worth pursuing. Could the devil get any craftier?

Prayer notes

To be perfectly honest, when I first began to be intentional about approaching the Lord in prayer more often than at mealtimes and “worship”, I didn’t feel much of anything.  It was sort of like picking up a phone with no connection and talking to myself.  There were no earth shattering answers to my petitions.  There was no tangible evidence that He was even listening.  I only continued because I’d been making a habit of reading the Bible and His truth was penetrating my heart and reconditioning my mind.

“We want so much to pray properly and then we fail. We get discouraged and give up.  If you want to pray better, you must pray more.  God allows the failure but He does not want the discouragement.”

By force of habit, I continued to pray at meals and before and after I read scripture.  But then suddenly, a change began to take place.  At random times throughout the day, I’d find myself stealing a minute (not always easy in a bustling house) and seeking Him in prayer.  Other times I’d find myself breathing a prayer for patience or wisdom or energy or sanity! I’d notice one of my children struggling with something and rather than shrugging it off or worrying over it (aren’t we mothers sometimes all or nothing?!) I’d whisper a prayer on their behalf.

And while I don’t buy into all this magic and sorcery, what began happening in my life was even better! Those prayers began turning into love.  They were no longer forced words to a God I couldn’t see.  They freely flowed to a God I see with my heart and feel in the depths of my soul.

love begets love

My experience is far from complete!  I’ve only begun to truly see the walls coming down that have kept me from Him.  But every single day that I choose to approach Him, to lay my pitiful self before Him, another thin layer falls away.  Some days are busy and the “feelings” aren’t there.  Some days I still plow through the demands pressing in on me and remember that I left Him out of it only as I crawl into bed.  He isn’t keeping score.  He’s too concerned with wooing me…drawing me to Him till I can’t possibly forget Him for a moment.

But you want to hear the best part?  He’s wooing you, too!

The stuff Heaven is made of!

Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free

I’m pretty vigilant about keeping a tidy house, but even so, it gets messy at times.  Baking days are the worst as it always looks like one of the boys had sneaked in and detonated a flour bomb.  Nope, that’s just Mom scurrying frantically to prepare edible baked goods while also trying to tame the toddler chaos.  But when the baking is over and loaves line the counter cooling, I get to work putting my kitchen back in order.  If I left it even for the night, my work the next day would be twice as hard.

But life is about relationships, not cleaning, and messy relationships are even more important to put back in order.  There are times my friendships get a little sticky.  A misunderstanding or opposing view on a topic can cause strain and create a rift.  It isn’t necessary that we see eye to eye on everything, but it’s vital that we disagree with kindness.  At times I fail to extend Christian courtesy when a friend wrongs me, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  But as I draw nearer to the Lord, I find He shows me where my own pride is standing in the way, making the perceived ‘wrong’ much bigger than it needs to be.  And then He lovingly leads me to seek reconciliation and sometimes even forgiveness.

More crucial still, is maintaining that connection with our spouses.  Little hurts creep in our marriages, and if allowed to fester, turn into huge chasms that separate our hearts and hinder our spiritual lives.  Recently my husband and I faced an extremely difficult situation.  This world is full of sin and if our eyes aren’t wide open we can easily find ourselves walking straight into those murky waters by the choices we make…or don’t make.  My husband hurt me and he’s the first to admit it.  At that point I had two choices.  I could nurse my wounded heart, crying out against him for not guarding our relationship with more care.  Or I could look into the depths of his own hurting heart, see the pain and choose to set aside my foolish pride.  Because that is exactly what it is that keeps us clinging to our anger.  It’s what keeps us turning our backs rather then offering forgiveness.  And it’s what is often the fatal blow in far too many relationships.

A Haapy marriage of two good forgivers

I’m thankful to say I chose forgiveness.  And in taking that step of faith, God blessed the choosing.  After I swallowed hard and handed over my pain, He truly took it.  The hurt and anger raged within me up until that very moment.  I had prayed all day that God would take it from me.  That He’d restore what had been lost.  He didn’t.  Because the choice was mine.  But once I made it, He honored those prayers by freeing me of that burden far too great for my feeble spirit.

There will be more misunderstandings in the future, in my relationships and yours.  Times where the fallen creatures who make up the human entities of a marriage will inflict pain on each other.  Times where friendships will be tested and tried. We must be quick to seek Christ.  We must be willing to shrug out of the bondage of pride and “put on the new man” of forgiveness, longsuffering and mercy.  His grace is sufficient.

Because that’s the stuff Heaven is made of!

Just keep running

Holy Cross

The first few minutes of a run are a battle for me.  I nearly always want to quit before I ever really get started.  That initial quarter mile or so are entirely mental.  I have to just keep reminding myself why I’m out there and what I’m hoping to achieve.  And then I force myself to just keep running.

Being intentional about our spiritual life can feel very much the same.  Especially when yourer first forging that relationship.  Maybe you’ve just been introduced to God, or perhaps you’re back after some years of wandering, or possibly even you’ve realized that you have been riding the coattails of someone else’s experience.  Finding your spiritual legs can seem daunting.  But just keep running! (back to the Word)

When you approach the Lord in prayer and feel like you’re getting nowhere, remember it’s not about feelings.  Those prayers are ascending and He is hearing them, but His time simply isn’t ours.  Sometimes the most life-changing answers come when we’ve forgotten all about our “lost” petitions.  Just keep running! (to the altar of prayer)

That old devil works hard, we can’t argue that.  He labors tirelessly to ensure we’re more drawn to works of fiction and romance than we are to the Bible.  But take a closer look.  Within those fragile pages you’ll find murder, intrigue, mystery…even romance.  When you push aside the lure of worldly interests and choose a heavenly focus, you’ll find Him in the choosing.  Don’t be distracted, just keep running.  (toward a renewing of your mind)

When you find yourself drawn to music that boosts your energy even while it drains your spirit, be leery.  Don’t trust anything that draws your mind toward baser passions.  Much of the music of the day leads our minds to sex, drinking, partying~~and worst of all, self.  We can easily find ourselves wanting more.  Something different and far more exciting.  Turn and don’t look back.  Just keep running.  (after a pure heart)

Don’t get hung up on if you’re doing it right.  If you’re studying enough.  If you’re prayers come easily.  None of that matters.  Neither does feeling spiritual or not.  The reality is, the more you approach the throne of God the less worthy you’ll feel.  None of us are worthy.  Or good enough.  We never will be, so we need to stop trying.

On second thought, maybe we simply need to stop running.  Just be still and know He is God.  He’s done the searching.  He’s run after us our entire lives just as I chase down my busy toddlers no matter how hard they try to escape.

Take a load off.  He’s offered to carry it all along, anyway!

Do it Anyway

I found this poem last week and my mind has been drawn back to the wise words within many times since.  It goes right along with my study of Paul’s letter to Colosse…
 

“Do it Anyway” 

by Mother Teresa


People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway

Living the fairytale!

Growing up, I was far more tomboy than girlie-girl.  I’d tussle with my brothers and run with the neighbor boys, always dirty and usually scraped up.  Even so, I had moments where I’d check in to the wonderful world of make-believe and imagine for a time that I was a mother or school teacher or even a princess.  Always, I had a husband who was tall, dark and handsome.  And totally in love with me!

Robbie kissing a child

My own husband is dark and awfully fun to look at, though ‘tall’ doesn’t accurately depict his height. {Two out of three ain’t bad, right?}   I never would have dreamed him up, however, because he’s totally not my type.  I wasn’t terribly fond of him the first few years after he moved to the area.  Arrogant, reserved, jaded and disillusioned about women aren’t exactly qualities that draw you to a man.  Unless, that is, you see them through fresh eyes the way I did the summer I noticed what was beneath his hard exterior.

What I found there was a literal diamond in the rough.  I caught glimpses of a heart so capable of loving, yet afraid to let anyone in.  I was able to see beyond the tough-guy facade directly to the soft places waiting to be noticed.  And suddenly, I had my prince.

I have the relationship film-makers attempt to depict in theaters.  The marriage countless authors try to weave throughout the pages of a novel.  I’ve got a man who looks at me adoringly, pampers me endlessly and patiently waits for me to be worthy.

I’m his princess.  This is our fairytale.

We share our castle with 7 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 17 chickens and a tank full of fish.  I don’t have a maid or a butler or a cook.  I don’t have fancy dresses and I never remember to bring my parasol on our treks through the woods.  I freckle and sweat in the sun.  He doesn’t seem to mind that I’m not the girl of his youthful dreams.  I’m his reality and I love him fiercely.

We squabble some.  Mostly because he’s stubborn!  Oh wait, maybe that’s me.  Either way, we don’t see eye to eye on much.  He’s tough to my soft, I’m random to his predictable.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, he keeps his safely tucked away.  I’m a people-pleaser, he’s just honest.  What you see is what you get.  And I like what I see more all the time!

Robbie riding a horse with the dog

My guy is more cowboy than knight in shining armor.  On our first “date” he rode up to my house on a horse, leading another for me to ride.  Not gonna lie, it did funny things to my heart.  He still shows up in his cowboy boots and cocky grin with flowers “just because”.  I pretend to be surprised but honestly I never am.  It’s all just become part of this fairytale I find myself at the center of.

I don’t deserve him.  I likely never will.  But do me a favor…

If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me!

When the “easy” child resists

The sullen look on his face says everything he’s too respectful to give voice to.  He sits there silent, though not rebellious.  He’s just not entirely sold on allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate the quiet walls of his heart.

Child's playI look at him, this child so like me, and my own heart breaks.  I force back tears as I breath a prayer for wisdom in how to proceed.

Looking into those eyes of a boy on the brink of manhood, I know I can no longer carry him.  He’s been my precious son for nearly 15 years and everything in me just wants to freeze time before his childhood has completely slipped past.  But that isn’t real life.  The clock keeps ticking, he keep outgrowing his sneakers, and his math assignments remain determined to progress much faster than my tired brain can keep up.

The time is fleeting.  The time is now.

The oldest of 7 children, he’s always been the one all his siblings looked up to.  And he set the bar high.  With a self-motivation that escaped most of the others, he thrives on doing the next thing.  When he gets out of bed in the morning, he makes it.  Perfectly.  When it’s his day for kitchen duty, I’m left with a sparkling kitchen.  School work is approached in the same way.  If he’s going to do it, he’ll simply do it well.  Great kid, right?  I certainly think so, but I’m not invested in this parenting thing to raise great kids.  I’m determined to raise disciples.

When you’ve gone through life applauded from every direction, you tend to struggle with the fear of failure.  The thought of being rejected just doesn’t sit well.  It’s much more pleasant to be patted on the back and showered in words of affirmation.  But that isn’t always real life, either.

And so I sit before my child and wait.  The moment doesn’t call for praise of things well done.  The time has come for this sweet boy to look deeper than himself.  To reach within and find the treasure the Lord has planted.

I’ve caught glimpses of the beauty buried there, but he’s unsure.  We talk casually about the big picture and what he most wants to accomplish in his life.  We discuss what an honest gauge for success is.  He surprises me with his answer, but not nearly so much as he shocks himself.  He has a better handle on what’s important than even he realized.

The conversation ends, but the prayers never do.  Because as I tend the garden the Lord has planted, He keeps watering it.  Some of the strings that have bound this child to me have been loosed.  He has to find his own spiritual feet now.  This man-child must be given the space to seek God for the strength he’s always sought from us.

My role is changing.  My love is not!

What’s my thing?

I have a friend who is gifted at balancing a hundred things while also seeing to the needs of her husband and four kids.  I have another who finds it relaxing to sit and cross-stitch or paint-by-numbers in the evening after a long day.  Yet another thinks nothing of organizing huge events for charitable organizations, while managing not to neglect her family.

I’ve got some pretty amazing friends!  But I’m not them.

Blue pillow on bed

I’ve tried cross-stitch and I’m actually pretty sure I’m allergic.  Stress-induced hives threaten to take over my body at the mere thought of tiny x’s.  Not my thing!

If somebody were to even approach me with the idea of organizing an event that people were actually going to pay money to attend, I’d either fall over laughing…or dead.  I don’t even plan family birthday parties.  Not my thing, either.

I don’t do well trying to squeeze much more than the necessities into my days.  I keep the kids fed, clothed, disciplined and happy and I love on my man.  The end.  I want to do more.  I hope to one day make a difference beyond my own front door.  But in this moment, those opportunities are rare.

I’m praying for God to open doors and asking for peace when He instead chooses to close them.  I’m asking Him to lead me to my mission field and He keeps pointing to my family.  But I want a talent.  A skill that gives meaning to my existence.

I want more.  Lord, when is it my turn?  When might you show me what my thing really is?  I feel ready now!

Silence.

He says nothing.  Not even the whispered hint of an answer and no real hope that one is ever coming.  Until the phone rang.

White telephone

The caller ID revealed the number of a long-time friend who got started on life almost two decades before me.   I snatched up the phone, eager to hear her voice.  But it wasn’t the sound of her gentle words that thrilled me…it was the message they held.

With no clue what I’d been battling in my heart, she had called to encourage me that I was right where I was supposed to be.

She reminded me that possessing compassion is a gift beyond measure.  And that while, in this season, it may most directly be played out in the home, it ultimately reaches well beyond.  Forgiveness is a “talent” that we’re entrusted with and should never attempt to bury.  Love is often the gift of choice and multiplies the more we choose it.

Right now, those are my things.  I can look for the good in a person or a situation.  I can forgive the bad.  And love is something I have in abundance.  My heart longs for more, but my God says this is enough for now.  I’m chomping at the bit to go and He’s gently asking me to wait.  To develop these character qualities He’s instilled in me.

Yellow flower

One day, He whispers. One day I’ll give you wings to fly.  Right now, I want you to walk while you spread my love.  Start in your home, fill it to overflowing and let it seep out onto the world beyond.  Do things my way and you’ll find your way tucked inside.

And so I wait.  And laugh and love.  Because apparently that’s my thing!

Day Four: Variety on the Treadmill

Welcome to Day Four of the 5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning series. I am joining 21 other bloggers this week as we cover a range of topics including things such as Organizing Back to School, Organizing your Recipes and Organizing When You Don’t Feel Like It.  My topic is Organizing Your Fitness Routine.

Treadmill

I think if a poll were taken, the treadmill would likely be the most common piece of gym equipment found in homes today.  But, sadly, so many of them sit unused.  True, walking in place for any length of time is not exceptionally thrilling.  And running on the unforgiving surface of one can be extremely hard on the hips and joints.  But there are ways to spice up your treadmill workout to give you the calorie burn you’re after without the burnout!

  • Grab some hand weights and walk with an exaggerated arm pump.  This way you are working the legs, which are a large muscle group and really get the heart rate elevated, but you also sneak in an arm workout!  Once you’ve got a rhythm going, you can start alternating in some curls to hit your biceps.
  • Go Anaerobic.  You can squeeze in some interval training, giving yourself small goals that makes the time go faster.  Walk with your hand weights, or without but at an incline, and alternate 90 seconds of walking with 30 seconds to a minute of running.  When you are at a run, you can put your weights down and run at a zero incline.  This way you are giving yourself a chance to recover from the faster pace but still working as you let your heart rate come down some before the next burst.  You’ll get a huge calorie burn anytime you work anaerobically.
  • Hook up to iFit.com.  Many treadmills these days are compatible with iFit, allowing you to follow popular trails and routes without ever leaving your home.  This sure beats mindlessly walking or running in place!
  • Put on some music that inspires you and run/walk to it.  You can walk the verses and then pick up your pace for the chorus.  You’ll be surprised at just how quickly the length of a song (or a bunch of songs) passes this way!  This is one of my favorite treadmill workouts!!
I’m going to admit that I’m not a lover of my treadmill.  I would much rather be outdoors running or walking any day!  But it serves a purpose and keeps me moving when circumstances keep me from being able to leave the house.  There are times when the weather is rough or kids are sick and I just can’t get out.  Those are the days I turn to my trusty treadmill.  If I use it with caution, my joints don’t take the beating they used to when I’d jump on with abandon determined to kill the calories.
Tomorrow, I’ll wrap this series up as we take a quick look at a few non-traditional forms of exercise.  This one just might be my favorite!
Other posts in this series from Walking Redeemed:  Day One:  Let’s Get Fit!
                                                                            Day Two:  Running
                                                                            Day Three:  Fitness by Video
I’d love to have you connect with Walking Redeemed on Facebook!!
Don’t forget to stop by the other 21 blogs participating in this terrific series:  5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning….. (for some reason I can’t get the link to work below so click here to see the listing of all topics from the various blogs)
Series footer
There are several other giveaways for this series that you can enter by going HERE! (scroll down to the bottom of the page)  Among other items, there will be a variety of awesome eBooks and even a Lowe’s gift card!!
 
*Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Day Three: Fitness by Video

Welcome to Day Three of the 5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning series. I am joining 21 other bloggers this week as we cover a range of topics including things such as Organizing Back to School, Organizing your Recipes and Organizing When You Don’t Feel Like It.  My topic is Organizing Your Fitness Routine.

Fitness Routine

Do you have a stash of videos that sit on the shelf collecting dust?  If so, don’t feel bad.  You wouldn’t be the first person to snatch up a great deal on a workout DVD and hurry it home to do it only once or twice before casting it into an early retirement.  Let’s take a fresh look at your collection and consider breathing life back into your fitness regimen.

  • Evaluate.  Go through your DVD’s (or VHS tapes if you’re old school!) and determine which of them you can see yourself actually doing.  Choosing a workout video is serious business…you have to make selections you can get along with!  I have tried some that drive me crazy and it takes everything in me just to hit play.  I like an enthusiastic instructor but I don’t want to be chatted to death while I jump around my living room.  The music is also a factor for me.  Most of mine have music that I don’t love, but I eliminate anything with a rock or rap feel as I just can’t deal with 30 minutes to an hour of that madness.
  • Arrange.  Once you have decided which videos to rotate through, you’ll want to organize them according to category.  Sort them into cardio, weights, core, upper body, etc.  This step will help you make a weekly or monthly schedule incorporating all muscle groups.
  • Schedule.  A few years ago, I got nearly all my intentional exercise by way of my DVD collection.  To make the most of them, I alternated the videos systematically and mapped it all out on my calendar.  The bulk of my videos would fall under cardio, so that one is easy.  But you’ll find that many cardio workouts don’t hit your upper body too hard.  And for me, the results in my mid-section didn’t really come until I zoned in on my core.  So I continued slowly building my DVD stash until I could rotate through a week getting plenty of cardiovascular work, but also concentrating on the various muscle groups by day.  I got awesome results without spending much money or excessive time.
  • Grab a friend.  I can’t pay to go to a gym to workout, but I have enlisted exercise partners to join me for a video workout.  I’ve invited various friends and I’ve even talked my hubby and kids into joining me.  I push harder when I have company!  I suppose I’m cashing in on the human propensity to want to leave a good impression!
So don’t give up hope that those videos you’ve collected will bring you the results you were so hoping for when you shelled out the money to adopt them.  They can!  You just have to put them to work for you.
Next, we’ll cover a few ways to spice up a treadmill workout!
Other posts in this series from Walking Redeemed:  Day One:  Let’s Get Fit
                                                                              Day Two:  Running
I’d love to have you connect with Walking Redeemed on Facebook!!
Don’t forget to stop by the other 21 blogs participating in this terrific series:  5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning….. (for some reason I can’t get the link to work below so click here to see the listing of all topics from the various blogs)
There are several other giveaways for this series that you can enter by going HERE! (scroll down to the bottom of the page)  Among other items, there will be a variety of awesome eBooks and even a Lowe’s gift card!!
 
Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Day Two: Running

Welcome to Day Two of the 5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning series. I am joining 21 other bloggers this week as we cover a range of topics including things such as Organizing Back to School, Organizing your Recipes and Organizing When You Don’t Feel Like It.  My topic is Organizing Your Fitness Routine.

Tracking field

Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise, yet it carries with it a whole plethora of misconceptions.  Being ranked in the high-impact category, it often gets tossed aside as simply not do-able.  I’m no expert, but I wanted to offer a few tips for those of you who are interested but have always been too intimidated.

  • Get a good pair of running shoes that are suited to you This cannot be stressed enough.  If you just toss on any old pair of sneakers and take off running, you are very likely to find yourself in pain before long.  If you are able, go to a store where the employees have been trained to fit you according to your specific gait.  A good shoe will get you off to a great start.  A bad one will have you sidelined almost before you really get started.
  • Ease in.  Don’t lace up those new shoes, strap on your iPod and expect to sail through 10 miles before heading home to hit the shower.  It doesn’t work that way.  At least not for us normal people.  Give yourself time to ease in to this new adventure.  Short, slow runs are better than a long, fast run that kills your joints and has you hobbling around for days afterward.
  • Don’t expect to love it right away.  I think so many of us jump into running expecting it to become an instant passion.  It’s easy to romanticize the experience and picture yourself running like a gazelle down the road toward super-fitness.  The reality is you may look and sound more like an exhausted elephant (no reference to weight here, this is just what I felt like when I started!) staggering to a slow death.  And that’s before you hit your first hill!  Give yourself time.  Be patient.  Be realistic.  The elephant will give way to the gazelle if you are determined and keep at it slow and steady!
  • Give yourself rest days.  I, personally, am following a half-marathon training program just to give me some guidance.  According to this plan, I only run 4 times a week and all of them have a day off in between except one.  Those days off give my joints time to recover and my legs a chance to rest.  I do fit in cross-training types of exercises on the days I’m not running.  This way I’m not over-exerting myself but exercises all parts of my body in a given week.
  • Stay hydrated.  This really should be at the very top.  When you run, you will sweat.  That’s a good thing, but those fluids need to be replaced with fresh, clean water.  And lots of it.  You are less likely to cramp during your run when you’re well hydrated.  You are also less prone to muscle soreness when you’re supplying your body with ample water.
  • Run with a partner when possible.  It is not only safer, it’s more fun!  I drag my son (okay, okay it’s really more like he’s dragging me!!) or my husband and sometimes even my neighbor.  Running with somebody tends to make the time go by faster.  It also encourages you to push through hills at a (slow) run that you might otherwise tend to walk.
  • Speaking of walking, don’t be afraid of it.  There is no shame in alternating running with walking.  The first two weeks after I got started, I did a walking warm-up followed by alternating 3 minutes of running with two minutes of walking.  Then I started making goals for myself.  For example, I’d tell myself I’d run to the end of a certain road and then walk until a certain driveway where I’d begin running again.  I finally got to where I could run the whole time, even the hills!  I’m not gonna win any medals for my amazing speed, but I’m running!
  • Mix up your route.  I get bored running the same exact path every time.  My husband went with me for a drive and measured out different distances using varying routes.  This keeps me from getting bored, but it also throws off anybody who may be looking for a pattern to my running (aka the bad guys!).
  • Keep your perspective.  I think it’s really important to remember why you are doing something.  For me, I certainly wanted to lose the baby weight I’d being clinging to since the birth of my twins.  But even more than that, I wanted to feel better.  I don’t mind admitting that I’d prefer to look good for my husband.  But I also know it doesn’t take much for him to think I look good! 🙂  It’s key for me to remember that I am doing this for my health, not in an attempt to gain attention for my slowly evolving trimmer figure.
If you have any running tips or tricks of your own, I’d love to hear about them!  Tomorrow we’ll talk about exercise videos and how to make the most of them!
Other posts in this series from Walking Redeemed:  Let’s Get Fit!
I’d love to have you connect with Walking Redeemed on Facebook!!
Don’t forget to stop by the other 21 blogs participating in this terrific series:  5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning….. (for some reason I can’t get the link to work below so click here to see the listing of all topics from the various blogs)
There are several other giveaways for this series that you can enter by going HERE! (scroll down to the bottom of the page)  Among other items, there will be a variety of awesome eBooks and even a Lowe’s gift card!!
 
*Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Day One: Let’s get fit!!

Welcome to Day One of the 5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning series. I am joining 21 other bloggers and the topics will include things such as Organizing on the Cheap, Organizing your Kitchen and Organizing Kids Clothes.  My topic is Organizing Your Fitness Routine.

5 Days of organizing and cleaning 

Developing the habit of including fitness into our days takes determination and commitment.  And as busy wives and/or mothers, squeezing extra time out of already full schedules can be daunting.  But whether you have weight to lose or not, keeping the body active, fit and healthy should be a priority.

To get started, take a close look at your average day.  What time do the kids wake up?  Can you wiggle in thirty minutes of exercise after your morning worship time, leaving a few spare moments to grab a quick shower before everyone joins you?  For me, it works best to carve out that time in the morning.  I am NOT a morning person by any stretch, but getting up in enough time to meet with my Lord and get in some intentional exercise is so important.  And it all goes much more smoothly if I get it done before my family arises.  For some of you, it may work best to get your workout in midday while the little ones nap.  Others may find the sun setting before the opportunity presents itself.  There is no wrong way!  Figure out what works for you and schedule it!

Once you’ve got a plan for when you are going to exercise, you need to determine if you have the right gear.  My own fitness routine is fairly basic and I don’t need much beyond a good pair of running shoes, comfortable (breathable) clothing, a fitness mat, bands, a few favorite videos, and a TV / DVD player.  I researched running shoes, found what I wanted and then kept a close eye on eBay for a great deal on a brand new pair.  It is recommended, though, that you actually go to a store and be fitted by a professional.  The trained eye can determine your gait and fit you with the shoe that will give you the most comfort, support and benefit.

I’ll give you a quick peek at what a week of intentional fitness looks like for me.  This, by no means, is what you should do.  But it’ll give you an idea of how I keep motivated by mixing things up and how I squeak in time for “me” without taking away time from them!

Monday
Morning run – 6 am ~ Today was 5 miles and I took my 14 year old son and a can of pepper spray!
10 minute stretch – I rotate a few videos and get a good stretch when my muscles are warm
2 mile walk – I grab the kids and pop the twins in the stroller and head out to our little mountain post office.  The walk back has some killer hills and pushing the buggy almost seems harder than my morning run!

Tuesday
Low-impact video – To give my joints a break from the run, I choose a segment that works my muscles but doesn’t involve jumping or jarring movements. (6am)
Core work:  I have a few short videos that give me a great core workout  (6am)
Trampoline – Jumping around on the trampoline with my kids is awesome low-impact cardio and they LOVE it!!
2 mile walk–  Round up the kiddos again and head to the PO.

Wednesday 
Morning run – This Wednesday will be 5 miles again, though we’ll vary the route.
10 minute stretch (right after the run)
2 mile walk with the kids

Thursday     
A different low-impact video (6 am)
Core work (with video and bands) – (6am)
Swim– while the weather is still warm enough, we head to the lake with the kids.  We can take turns watching the kids, while the other gets in the 1/4 mile swim across the lake and back.

Friday
Morning run – I’m following a half-marathon training plan and this will again be 5 miles. (6am)
10 minute stretch (after my run)
2 mile walk with the kids

Weekend
Hiking:  We pick a trail (or two!), strap the twins in their Ergos and go for it.  The kids get great exercise, the babies love the ride, and Daddy and I love every minute of it!
Long Run:  This weekend will be 7 miles.  I’ll still get up early in the morning so I can get this in before the day really gets started.

That’s an average week for me these days.  Throw in housework and everything else a busy mom has to do and you’ve got some good calorie burn going on!  Come back each day this week as I walk you through some of the different fitness options.  I’ll share some routine ideas along with tips to avoid injury and burnout!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Don’t forget to stop by the other 21 blogs participating in this terrific series:  5 Days of Organizing and Cleaning….. (for some reason I can’t get the link to work below so click here to see the listing of all topics from the various blogs)

There are several other giveaways for this series that you can enter by going HERE! (scroll down to the bottom of the page)  Among other items, there will be a variety of awesome eBooks and even a Lowe’s gift card!!