Body Image and Expectations

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It’s taken me a couple of weeks to write this post. I needed to make sure I was writing from my heart and not from a place of anger and frustration. Honestly, I have struggled with weight since I was in middle school. There are many factors that have played into this over the years. Some of it has been what others have said and/ or done, others have been my own choices, both positive and negative.

A few weeks back I had two encounters within a week that left me angry and in tears. The first happened in a local grocery store. A lady approached me and started to share about a weight loss program she had created and the new store she was opening on the north side of town. Sounds harmless; right? Wrong! In her spiel she told me how she lost 93 lbs on her program and she could help me “lose weight as well.” Y’all my 8 year old daughter was standing beside me through the whole thing. I was angry, embarrassed and wanted the aisle to open up and swallow me whole. Whether she intended to or not, she fat shamed me in front of my daughter and sent her the wrong message. Her words also went against the language we use as far as health and fitness go in our home. I will also say she lost a potential customer.

The second incident happened in a private, health FB page I belong to. In a post a lady bragged about how she judges people based on what’s in their buggies. She also openly admitted to judging those she passed in the grocery store, along with fighting the desire to have “honest” conversations with parents with “fat/ obese kids.” The thing that made my stomach churn more than it already was is that so many other women agreed with her. They felt she should speak up and if maybe they all spoke up, then they could in turn save the world from fat people. It was horrifying. It was a moment I couldn’t respond. I had many responses I could have typed, but I kept scrolling.

One incident was directed towards me and the other wasn’t, but both still reduced me to tear. Y’all, I am NOT a crier. It has to be bad for the tears to come. The tears partly came out of anger at their words, both spoken and typed. The other tears fell as a result of a huge wave of shame that rolled over me.

know what I need to do. I know what to eat. I know how much exercise I need. I have a minor in Human Performance. (In some colleges/ universities this is the same as Exercise Science). I also spent 9 years working in the recreation and fitness field before starting seminary. Oh yeah, the whole my body being a temple thing didn’t help any of this. Christians are experts at the whole guilt thing. Wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not.

Total transparency here. At my heaviest, while pregnant with my youngest, I was pushing 200. At my smallest, I was in the low to mid 120’s. Most of my adult life I have fluctuated between the 2 numbers. The cycle goes like this: Exercise, eat right, maintain for a few months to a year or so. Slowly start to let diet and exercise go. Throw diet and exercise out the window, eat all of the things and send the “skinny” clothes to Goodwill. Get frustrated and start over. I know I can’t be the only one who falls into this cycle.

There were times when I was at my heaviest I was good with being “the fat girl.” I know how to play this role. I know what’s expected. Then when I’ve lost the weight and can wear what I call “cute clothes” I love looking at pictures of myself and feel proud that I am no longer the “fat girl” in the group. It’s fun to be the “cute one.” It’s fun to have people comment on how wonderful you look.

This is what one of my seminary professors would call “stinkin’ thinkin’.” How much of what society says plays into this particular tape in our head? How many times do we pick up magazines and see what is expected of women? Most of the women’s, fitness and running magazines show women with 6 pack abs and cut arms. Their thighs don’t touch. They are considered beautiful.  There are so many diets, exercise routines, pills and shakes to choose from that should make this whole healthy and skinny thing easy. I’m here to tell you it’s anything but. All of our bodies are different. What works for one person may not work for another person. This fact can add to our frustration. As I look at all of the media around me and options and opinions it’s no wonder eating disorders are so rampant and starting earlier and earlier in our kids.

When I look at what it means to truly be healthy and comfortable in your own skin, it’s not about a number on a scale. It’s not about the number on the tag of your clothes. It’s about being able to go about your daily life and not being winded by tasks. It’s about being able to chase your kids around the backyard or the park and not feel like you’re going to need someone to hand you an oxygen mask. It’s about being able to sit through a sermon on your body being a temple without praying the Lord will look at all of the other good things in your life and letting this one thing slide. It’s being able to go out to eat with your husband or your friends and not worry others are judging you because of what you ordered. It’s about being confident to go buy new jeans or a dress without having a meltdown in the dressing room. (We all get a pass on swim suit shopping because that’s a whole other monster).  It’s about being able to look in the mirror and be content with who you are.

The crazy thing is I can give you the whole paragraph above, but I can’t tell you how to get there. I’d be a multimillionaire if I could. We all have different backgrounds. We all have different issues we’ve overcome or are working to overcome. Our hurts and hangups are different. I don’t have any of the answers. The only thing I can tell you is to be kind to others. Don’t judge their appearances because you have no idea what they may be walking. Watch what you say in the presence of your daughters, nieces and other special little girls in your life. Don’t teach them the same unhealthy thought patterns you have. Most of all be kind to yourself. Seek and ask for help when needed. Find an accountability partner if possible. While this will sound like the correct Christian thing to say, pray the Lord will help you in this area. We can’t do it in our own strength. While they are health issues the lead to issues with weight, many times it boils down to an issue in our own hearts. Only HE can deliver and redeem whatever that issue may be.

In the meantime, I’m here whether you need an ear to listen or an invitation to come join me in the gym. We can do this together.

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A New Chapter Begins

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This week is a huge week in my house. As of Friday, I will officially have 3 kiddos in elementary school. The phrase ” The years are short, but the days are long,” has been ringing in my head for a couple of weeks now. We walked a hard road of miscarriages and infertility before we had kids. Even with as long as that road was it seems like just yesterday we found out we were expecting our daughter. Then the boys came quickly after she did. Because our kids were literally stair steps, the first couple of years were a blur. Eventually we settled into a routine and then when my sweet peanut was 2 I had the privilege of coming home to be a part time stay at home. I loved having the schedule of kids in preschool/ MDO 2 days a week and then home for 3 days. It worked well for all of us. Munchkin eventually moved onto kindergarten and then last fall I sent blue eyes. Peanut is now following them.

My kids are excited to start school. School supplies, backpacks and lunch boxes have been purchased. Peanut is all about Spider Man. Just about everything he has been able to pick out has Spider Man on it. He even scored some Spider Man clothes at Gymboree over the weekend. Blues eyes is all  about Star Wars. Munchkin has chosen all things unicorns and rainbows. It’s been fun to watch their individual personalities come out with school shopping this fall.

We have open house today where we will go meet teachers and drop off supplies. The older 2 will start school full time tomorrow morning. Peanut has his phase in day on Friday and will start school full time on Monday. That means on Friday, I won’t get my time with peanut like I’ve had the past couple of years. It also means my house will be extremely quiet Monday through Friday.

As I look back to where we started and where we are now, it also makes me extremely grateful for teachers at church and school who taught and loved on my kids. Without these ladies, I don’t know where we would be. I’m afraid to start naming people for fear of leaving any out, but I do have a few people I would like to personally thank. The first come from HUM School were my kids attended for a combined total of 7 years. Both boys had Mrs. Denise for the 2s program and I’m pretty sure they never would have been potty trained if it weren’t for her.Not sure what she did, but both boys reached this milestone and grew so much in her class. The other teacher I need to thank is Mrs. Laura. We had a child in her class for 4 years. Munchkin had her 2 years in a row and then each of my boys had her. Our family walked through several transitions while the kids were in her class. She provided a sense of security and stability for my kids. My kids were allowed to be kids in her class and she allowed their personalities to shine through. Laura also made sure my kids learned needed skills and that they were ready to move onto kindergarten. It’s been a little hard to swallow we won’t have a child in her classroom this year.

At church, my kids have had so many wonderful leaders in their lives. Mrs. Bridget had all 3 kids when we first started attending The Glade. The kids will take off running to give her a hug. She holds a special place in all of our hearts. This year is the last year we will have a child in the preschool ministry. The transition from the baby hall to the preschool hall was a difficult transition and this transition has been difficult as well. Trying to not think about the fact that next year we will no longer have a kiddo downstairs with her. Then there is Mrs. Cassie. My blue eyed boy has a special connection with her. She has found his strengths and encouraged them. He loves to lead worship and she has nurtured that in him the past couple of years. I pray he continues to look to her. My daughter loves and adores Mrs. Amy. Munchkin has been a part of the dance ministry around 4 years now and looks forward to Wednesday nights. Amy has allowed my daughter to be 100% girly girl and fully herself, giggles and all. My daughter thinks the world of her. My 2 oldest are upstairs with Mrs. Rebecca. I am excited to watch munchkin continue to grow in her faith and looking forward to both of them coming to Christ when they’re ready.

While my kids and our family are entering new phases of life, I am grateful for everyone who has walked alongside of them so far. I pray for a great year for my 3 kiddos and the other kids who are headed back to school this week. I pray for peace in the changes as well as for those who will be leading my kids this year.

A Lot Like Moses

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Hey y’all. It has been way too long since I put up a new post. Confession, I have been living in fear of just about everything. The fear has been so bad that I have not even been able to write. I love writing, but my fear prevented me from writing. The fear also sent me into hiding. I don’t mean I have refused to leave the safety of my house, but I have not reached out to friends and basically stopped doing some of the things I love like hitting the greenway and the gym. The Lord is slowly bringing me out on the other side of this, but it’s a process.

This is the last blog post I started back in March, but never finished and hit publish. I have edited part of it because some of the timelines have changed.

If you asked me who I most relate to in the Bible, I would answer with Jonah, Peter and the task driven Martha. Our church is currently reading through the F260 reading plan and back in March we finished up reading about the life of Moses. While I grew up hearing and reading stories about Moses, I never really made any connections to my personal life until now. Ok, well, maybe I haven’t killed and Egyptian solider, nor have I seen a burning bush, but there are several other ways in which I can relate to Moses.

After Moses killed the soldier he fled into the wilderness to basically start life over. He walked away from a life of prestige and comfort. What he didn’t realizing by running off to hide is that we can never hide from the LORD. We often think we can hide, but reality is that He knows where we are at all times. When the Lord decided to confront Moses, it was in a way Moses knew it was really the LORD. I can’t imagine staring at a burning bush and hearing the LORD saying “Take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). I can’t even begin to imagine what Moses was thinking as all of this is unfolding before him. I think most of us have had moments where the LORD made it clear as to what He was saying to us, maybe not like this, but still clear.

Then we hear Moses say “But God” for the first time. Y’all he says this multiple times throughout the remainder of his life. If I am honest, this past year has been a year of me saying the exact same thing. You see I know there is something specific the LORD has called me to, BUT I don’t feel qualified to do nor do I really think anyone else would want to hear what I have to say. I feel like it’s time for the dream He gave me in college to come true, but I am terrified to step out on faith and do it. For me, the LORD typically uses people as my “burning bush” moments. I have 3 people in my life who have encouraged me like crazy in the past year. Several months ago I was basically called out because there is something I typically do and this person noticed I hadn’t done it in a while. The next day a sweet note was written about me and the same area was addressed. I mean seriously, how many times does the LORD have to put people in my path to get the message across. Y’all, I am great at saying “But LORD.” I think like Moses, there is truly a feeling of inadequacy and fear involved. I don’t see it as a rebellious spirit and not wanting to obey, but more being afraid to take that step of faith.

Because Moses liked to say “But God” so frequently, Moses was reminded that he had Aaron. Every person needs at least one Aaron in their lives. I have a couple I would consider to be the Aarons in my life. Some of the people in the paragraph above fit into that category. An Aaron keeps us grounded and is by our side. In modern day terms, these people would be considered our “tribe.” My tribe is amazing and has walked through the mountain tops and valleys of my life. They have been there when I have admitted that I was having a “But LORD” moment. They’ve held my up my arms. They have prayed with me and over me. My tribe is small, but exactly what I need it to be. Even though they have not always been able to prevent me from having Moses moments, they have been there to help pick up the pieces or encourage me to follow the LORD’s leading in my life.

As I continued to read through the story of Moses, there are many times when I really feel like he rolled his eyes at the Israelites until his eyes hurt. The people he was leading were really ungrateful and complained a great deal of the time. They forgot he had led them away from slavery in Egypt, but because they were so ungrateful and disobedient, even after experiencing the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14: 15-31). While I have never led a group that large, we all have those people in our lives who rub us the wrong way. They are never happy. You can point out all of the positives the LORD has done for them and it’s just never good enough. Admit it, you have that person’s name at the forefront of your mind. I struggle to be around people who are like this. I can also imagine that sarcasm was a favorite form of conversation for Moses. I have often joked sarcasm is unappreciated spiritual gift and something more people should understand and appreciate, but I digress.

While my temper has definitely cooled over the years, I can see and relate to this trait in Moses. There are 3 times when I see that Moses really lost his cool. First, he killed the Egyptian soldier (Exodus 2:12). Second he broke the original stone tablets which held the 10 Commandments. (Exodus 32). Then, there are several more eye roll moments. Just before they are to finally head into the Promised Land, the LORD tells Moses to speak to the rock an water will appear, but Moses, being frustrated strikes the rock twice (Numbers 20: 1-13). While I believe there are healthy ways of letting out anger and frustration, going against the LORD is not something I recommend. Even when anger isn’t physically taken out on someone or something, it can still cause issues when done verbally. While I wish I was the quiet type, I’m not. Like the meme says “I always mean what I say, I just don’t always mean to say it out loud.” This is where my temper and my love of sarcasm can cause issues. There are also days where the greenway gets to feel my anger. Last summer I had an issue that brought my blood to beyond boiling point, so I laced up my running shoes and hit the greenway. During this run I knocked a full minute off of my mile. By the time I returned home I was drenched in sweat. Running or other physical activity is something I would highly encourage when you are angry and that way others around won’t feel the affects.

All throughout Moses’ story you can see how he has gained favor with the LORD. About the time you think the people are going to be destroyed Moses displays his faith and the people are saved. Several times throughout his story, you read about how his face “shone” because he had spent so much time in the LORD’s presence. This is a trait I would love to have. When I take my final breath on this earth and step into eternity with the LORD, this is what I want said about me.

I am grateful the LORD takes us good, bad and ugly. I’m grateful He sees through the mess, the doubts, the fears and the “But Lord” moments in our life. I’m grateful for a Savior who leads me and allows me to be used. I’m grateful He looks at me and calls me “Redeemed” and “Worthy.” I have grown to love the story of Moses because he a sarcastic hot mess and the LORD still used him to lead and the relationship Moses had with the LORD was sweet.

I have had many Moses moments in my life and will more than likely to continue to have them. If you haven’t read his story, you need to. I pray the Lord will continue to use me in spite of me. I also pray that I will find the courage to continue to write. If you are one who actually follows me on this blog, please feel free to say something if you notice it’s been a while since I’ve posted. My goal is to get back on track with my blog and my book. I’m as much a work in process as they are. It’s ok if you are as well.

For Better or For Worse

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Yesterday was Valentines Day. It’s a day we celebrate love. It’s day when social media is filled with lovey, mushy couples expressing their undying love for each other. We see pictures of engagement rings, anniversary rings, flowers and other extravagant gifts. We also see pictures of happy couples at expensive restaurants eating meals that cost more than some of their bills. Honestly, one of my  posts was exactly the same. I created a photo montage of me and my incredibly good looking husband together and then shared several of the reasons why I love him.

On some levels this is really isn’t all that bad. It’s nice to see couples who are actually happy to be with each other. It’s fun seeing young couples enter into engagements. It’s fun to see older couples still madly in love after 30 plus years of marriage. It is also a nice change to see happy posts on social media rather than the hateful, political and divisive posts that have become so prevalent over the past several months.

Truth be told I am still madly in love with my husband after almost 12 years of marriage. Can I be honest? Marriage is the easiest most difficult thing there is. There are days when you are cute and mushy. You call each other by pet names. You surprise the other person with something small you know they love. You stand side by side, holding hands in church worshiping together. There are times when you get into a car and before you know it you have driven 4 plus hours, but it feels like you have only been in the car a few minutes. In those intimate moments you feel like you are the most special person on the face of the earth. You know your spouse chose you and loves you more than anything. There are those moments when you and your spouse have all 3 kids together and it feels like scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting and you don’t think life could get any more perfect.

Then there are those days when marriage is hard. It’s not that you don’t like each other, but life happens. The car breaks down. The kids get sick. An unexpected bill pops up and wipes out the savings account. There are issues with the in laws. Schedules get so busy you don’t know whether you are going or coming and you may see your spouse before you leave in the morning and then again when you collapse into bed that night. You look around the house and wonder when the bomb went off to leave it in such a sad state.

Marriage is a combination of all of this. Marriage is fun. Marriage is hard. There are days when you absolutely love each other. There are days when you are surprised you are still together. Marriage is celebrations of the big moments in life. Marriage is having the hard conversations and facing the hard moments. Marriage is dealing with work issues. Marriage is celebrating promotions. Marriage is getting creative to make ends meet while waiting for money to come in. Marriage is standing side by side while watching your children live out their dreams. Marriage is standing side by side at the casket of someone you love. Marriage is bringing home chocolate covered cashews or cannoli. Marriage is sacrificing your time to make sure your spouse and/ or your kids are taken care of.

Marriage is this beautiful kaleidoscope of all of life’s moments. As the wife of an entertainer I can tell you we have walked some incredible mountain tops and then waded through some of the deepest valleys. We live life in feast or famine. We put away during times of feast to survive the times of famine. We walked the road of miscarriage and infertility. When we were finally blessed with a full term pregnancy, we still walked through some scary and fearful moments. Marriage is being willing to allow the Lord lead you through the highs and lows of life and staying committed no matter the issue.

In June my husband and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary. The thing I love most about our wedding was that we have a covenant marriage. We didn’t say the traditional vows. My husband vowed to be the spiritual head of our house. I vowed to submit to his authority. Before anyone flips out I am not a doormat, but there are times when I have to step back and let him make the final decisions. I can tell you he leads well. He works hard for his family. He takes the commands given in scripture about how a man should treat/ provide for his wife and children seriously. It will would kill him to think he hasn’t lived up to what the Lord has called him to do. He makes it easy for me to love him. He makes it easy for me to want to serve him. I am grateful my kids have his example to follow. He has set the bar high for my daughter in terms of what she should expect in a husband. He also set the bar high for my boys in how they should treat their future wives.

I asked my husband what stands out to him about our marriage. His response; “Our ability to have fun.” To those of you who know me may not really believe that about me, but my goofy hubby brings out that side of me. We laugh at each other and laugh with each other. He jokes that if he ever went into stand up comedy as a career, I would be the source of many of his jokes. I give him plenty of material. When life gets too serious, he does what he can to make me laugh. We have numerous inside jokes and quote lines from Friends probably far more than we should, but it makes us, us.

My husband definitely loves me and our kids through the good times and bad. For example yesterday was rainy and crazy busy. I ran to put gas in my van and because it was pushing almost 3p and I’d not had lunch I ran through a drive through. Unfortunately, the driver’s side window decided it didn’t want to roll back up. When I got home my hubby couldn’t get it back up either. What did he do? He ran out to get plastic to cover the window until he could get to it. In him doing this, it put him behind for a balloon delivery and making it to his regular Tuesday night gig. Why did he do it? Because he loves me and tries to keep my van in working order. After work last night and then this morning he watched several You Tube videos to try and fix my window. When it didn’t work, he took it to the shop. We shuffled some things around, so I could still make it to work on time. I realize in the grand scheme of things the window issue was minor, but it happened at an inconvenient time. He took care of it anyway.

Marriage is all of this and so much more. I pray if you are engaged or newly weds you will take the time to build a strong foundation for your marriage. I highly recommend reading “The 5 Love Languages.” I still credit this study for saving our marriage and helping us make it past our first anniversary. Take the time to get to really know each other and what makes each other tick. Figure out what the little things are in life that make each other happy. Take the time to talk. I mean really talk. Date nights are important. Sometimes the budget may not allow a night out, but dates at home can be just as fun. I also encourage you to take time to worship together and pray together. If you aren’t praying together, you are missing out on an important aspect of your marriage. This allows you to invite the Lord to be a part of your marriage and He should be the foundation upon which everything else it built.

If you are struggling in your marriage, find a couple you trust or seek out a therapist. Take the time to figure out what the underlying issues are and work to address them. Make sure you are getting in your dates and getting your time together. Marriage can be extremely difficult, but you have to be committed to make it work. Again, if the issues are too large please seek out a therapist.

I pray that where ever you may be in your marriage you remember what it was that made you fall in love with your spouse. Thank the Lord for those traits. Pray the Lord would continue to strengthen all areas of your marriage.

Going Through the Motions

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My original plan for this post was to share my goals for the year and the steps I planned to use to meet those goals. As I have had a couple of conversations and then read a few posts and articles on social media, I decided honesty and vulnerability in a New Year’s post would be better than only showing my Type A, goal driven, anal retentive tendencies. You know what I mean, the “Here is the polished, I have it all together side” kind of post. This morning a friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook which states “We need more women who are willing to say, I’ve been there and I’m here. You can always talk to me without judgement.”

So here’s the hard truth. 2016 was a wretched year and I was thrilled to see the clock tick down to midnight and welcome in 2017. Last year the Lord took me through a breaking process and reality is He is still breaking several things in me. I am stubborn as a mule, so this process may take longer in me than in another person. Even though there were times I could see the Lord at work, I spent a great deal of last year simply going through the motions. Many things in my faith that I hold dear either went by the wayside, or I simply marked them off on my to-do list like the obedient, Type A personality I am. I put on a mask with a fake smile and simply did what was expected. There were times last year when I didn’t feel like praying and my Bible became a little dusty. I never stopped believing in the Lord, but many times had to rely on my logic and go with what I knew to be true verses what I felt.

I let a situation a friend had zero control over pretty well ruin that sweet friendship I came to value.I let frustration and jealousy build a wall between us. Truth is that I miss our almost daily conversations/ text messages and spent a good part of last fall feeling lonely. Because this is a friendship at church, it only added fuel to me going through the motions at church. I pray that I can make things right with this friend again and that she will find a way to forgive me.

Last fall when I knew the Lord was calling me to teach a ladies’ life group class on Sunday morning I didn’t understand, especially given where I had been spiritually. Leading a class “forced” me back into The Word. Funny how that works, right? My class is small, but I have come to appreciate spending time with those ladies every Sunday morning. I like having a “need” to be in The Word. Yes, I acknowledge that as a believer, we are called to be in The Word on a regular basis and the Lord speaks to us through our Bible readings, but this class put me back into regular study times.

Through out the course of the fall I was also having conversations with a younger lady in the church, as well as conversations with the person over our groups. Talking with both of them I argued with the Lord over what I was hearing. There was NO way I was going to lead a D-group. I would feel like a complete and total fraud. I appeared to have it all together, but inside my faith was room temperature at best. I knew our church was going to be going through the “Foundations” book and my Sunday morning group had already decided to follow the church’s lead and walk through it with our pastor and other groups.  I had been invited to be a part of another D-group, which would have put me sitting under a lady I have come to have a great deal of respect for and knew I would gain a great deal in that group, but there wasn’t room for me and the other young lady I had been talking with. I prayed the Lord would make it crystal clear as to what I was supposed to do and He did. Around the first part of December, the young lady I had been talking with walked up to me with two other ladies and before I knew it, I said “yes” to leading a D-group.

In our Bible reading for week 2, I came across a verse in a familiar passage that jumped out at me and I’m not sure I ever really paid any attention to it before. “So she named the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “Have I really seen here the One who sees me?” Genesis 16:13. Do you see what it says? “The One who SEES me.” Through all of the things that happened last year, the Lord saw me. Even when going though the motions and feeling invisible to those around me, He saw me and He still sees me. I’ll be honest and say tears came to my eyes. I sat with the verse for a while and it renewed a spark in me that has been missing for some time now. I don’t have everything worked out at this point in January, I do know the Lord is moving in my life and by December I am certain I will be able to see the Lord’s hand on many areas of my life. I see this as a year of change, I also see that this is going to be a year of renewal and restoration. I also feel like the Lord will be opening doors for me I never would have imagined possible. I’m still not sure what this looks like, but I’m ready. I know He sees me and sees what’s inside of me.

Why do I share all of this? For one, I think too many times we feel guilty for pretending like everything is fine and going through the motions. Second, there tends to be shame when we hit this point in our walks with the Lord and lastly, we are pretty sure we are the only ones who feel this way. We let our pride get in the way and we are too afraid of admitting we feel this, which in turns keeps us from reaching out and allowing the Lord to use another person to be His arms. Guess what? You’re not alone. You’re not a failure as a Christian for walking through a faith valley. I am telling you I have been there and am slowly coming out on the other side. Please feel free to be honest with me. Don’t walk that road alone. Find a person you can be completely honest with and let them know where you are. Connection with other believers can renew your spark and put you back on the right track.

Entertainer’s Wife in December

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This post deviates a little from the things I typically write about. I have had this conversation several times in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would go ahead and make a blog post. If you are the wife of an entertainer, or a husband who is self-employed, or you may be self-employed then you may understand where this is headed. In our home, like so many others who walk this path, there are only 2 seasons in your home. They are feast or famine. After a while, you begin to see a pattern emerge and you know how to properly plan for those times of famine.

I have a love/hate relationship with the end of September to the start of December. I love that it’s my husband’s busiest time of year and we can afford a few extras and small splurges. It’s also a time where my husband is thinking about the fact that January and February are coming. While we try to save year round, this is where we throw what can into savings, so we are covered the first of the year. It’s also the time of year where the kids and I rarely see him. My husband works hard all year, but this is his marathon season.

While he is out working hard to provide for our family, what is my role in preparing for the first of the year? Stockpiling. No not crazy coupon lady, but slowly filling the pantry and hall closet. It also means that Christmas shopping starts in August for us.

When I look at our biggest monthly expenses on a personal front, what do we use the most? For us, that’s toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener and milk. We joke that our kids are milkohoclics because they go through 5-7 gallons of milk a week. While I can’t stockpile milk, I can toilet paper and our laundry stuff.

When looking at some of the smaller items like toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo, bar soap, deodorant and things like, those are things I can throw in the hall closet and they won’t go bad. I even think about things like hair bands for my daughter and may or may not pick up a pack or 2, if she needs them.

Other smaller things that I can start picking up in October are canned goods. Those typically have a great shelf life, so slowly buying a few cans here and few cans there are easy to do. The kids eat a fruit cup almost every single day with their lunches and Kroger often marks those 2 for $4. Their other snack packs can be bought at Wal-Mart for under $5. My kids also love Ritz and Graham Crackers. Wal-Mart sells the family size boxes of those cracker and I will make sure we have at least 2 full boxes by the end of the month. I will also make sure our brown and white rice containers are full and that we have several boxes of pasta noodle in the cupboard. You can make a whole range of dishes with rice and noodles.

With it being December, I am now working to stock our freezer. It’s not huge, so I can’t go crazy. I wait for Kroger to put their frozen vegetable on sale 10 for $10. Corn dogs and pizza snackers are sold in the freezer section and hot dogs freeze well. These are things my kids love. We also freeze our extra turkey bacon. I will have a full bag of chicken breasts, ground turkey and  types of sausage in our freezer. Because we enjoy wings during the National Title game, I will also make sure we have a full bag of wings in the freezer.

The ultimate goal is to only need to buy perishable items as the year starts. The fridge will be full come January 1st, but I can’t stock 2-3 months worth of perishables in there. We already have one Kroger gift card ready to go and I will probably purchase at least 2 more, in case of emergencies.

I shared earlier in the post that Christmas shopping starts in August for us. By that time of year, there are some things the kids have been asking for since the first of the year. It also helps that things are most likely to be fully stocked. This year, we did run into an issue with a gift for our daughter, but she will receive a special letter from Santa letting her know that the gift will arrive sometime in the spring once he has had a chance to restock the workshop. Thanks to my mom, my kids never go without at Christmas, even if things are tight on our end.

I don’t share any of this for sympathy, but to give a shout out to all of you are married to, or are someone who is self-employed. This is a reality and a way of life for many of us. There are times of the year when we are able to say “yes” because we can swing things financially. There are other times when we have to say “no.” It’s not anything personal, it’s just not going to fit in the budget at the moment.

I’m guessing several of you out there can 100% relate to this post. For others, I hope you see what it’s like for those of us who are self-employed or have contract positions. We have to look at and prepare for things in a different manner than those who have consistent salaried positions.

God, Friendship and the Election

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To state this election has been tumultuous would be an understatement. While the past couple of elections have been heated, they have nothing on the one we are currently experiencing. Hateful words have flown from both sides of the aisle. Insults have been hurled. Morals and values have been tossed out the window. Friendships have been damaged or destroyed. It’s an election where most of us feel we could use some healing and some breathing room to cope. It’s also left us wondering if God is anywhere near us?

When I look at our two major party candidates, I’m still a little shocked they were the last two standing. The prospect of one of them sitting in the Oval Office is enough to send chills up my spine and makes me wonder what it means for our kids and their futures. I have honestly felt a great deal of fear over the past several months. There seems to be so much riding on this election and so many decisions will be made based on who wins. It’s hard to know for certain what will happen.

One of the major phrases flying throughout this election has been “If you are a Christian, you can’t vote for ______.” People have turned this into an election of shaming others and demeaning them for choosing to stand by their candidate. I wonder how many believers walked away from the polls and wondering if the Lord could really love them or consider them His child because of how they voted? Is it theologically sound to question the salvation of another based on their vote? Is it correct for us to sit in the judgement seat based on a person’s vote? The answer is “no.” There is no vote that will cause the Lord to love you less or for you to lose your salvation. By the time you read this, the votes will be in and we will have to find a way  to move forward as a nation. This also means looking at those sitting on the opposite side of the aisle remembering the Lord loves them and many of them have a personal relationship with Christ.

My pastor has been in Ephesians for a couple of weeks now. As I read chapter 1, I couldn’t help but think about where we are as a nation. Yes, this may be seen as a stretch, but hold on with me for just a minute:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ;
4 for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love
5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,
6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him
10 for the administration) of the days of fulfillment-to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.
11 In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,
12 so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.
13 In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation-in Him when you believed-were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

The passage has a great deal of us and them in it, then as it nears the end it jumps to “our.” Technically, this passage is talking about the Jews and the gentiles and then the body as a whole. I think if we’re honest we have been throwing out us and them throughout this whole election, when in reality it is about “our.” Just as Christ died for ALL of us, our president sits in office for ALL of us. No, I am not making our current president or president-elect out to be the savior of our nation, but under our president we are one nation. I think the sooner we adopt the “our” mentality, the better off we will be.

This post is a little weird because I started it as Americans headed to the polls and am completing it the day after. It was a long night. Many of us rode the crazy roller coaster. We waited until the AP called it a little after 2AM and then waited another 15-20 mins until Fox had called it. For better or worse, Mr. Trump is our next president. As I have scrolled through social media today, my heart has been broken. This is not necessarily because of the outcome, but be because there really is a line in the sand between the left and the right. Insults are still flying and the division appears to be even greater. We have 2 choices. We can choose to repair broken relationships with those on the other side of the aisle, or we can allow the line to become the great divide. How awesome would it be to work together and then at the end of the next 4 years to look back and realize we came together in unity and put an end to the hatred?

My challenge to you is this, reach out. Talk to the person who has polar opposite views from you and really listen to what it is they have to say. I’m not saying you have to agree with them, but let them know they’ve been heard and you care. In the areas where you can, find a way to compromise. Create ways to extend the olive branch and build bridges. I think this will go a long to repair relationships broken through this process and create the nation of unity we all so much desire. I also encourage you to remember that God is The King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. Regardless of how the next 4 years play out, HE is still on HIS throne and we are still His children.