Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stronger. Together.

I finally did it.  I finally chose the header for our dry erase board in our entry hallway.  Granted, it was a REALLY simple task that should have taken two seconds.  However, me being who I am, I had to look at it from every different angle and thoroughly and completely pick it apart in my brain to decide what to write.  You can read about why and what I'm talking about HERE.

Stronger. Together.

Simple, yet powerful.  "Purpose" is on the side because it is important to us since that is our word for the year and what we are seeking to "filter" everything by.  Is what we are doing lining up with our purpose?  Does buying/doing/thinking/saying/believing/etc..  "that" line up with our purpose?  Purpose is extremely important to us. 

"Stronger. Together." is what I finally chose to be THE focus that we see each and every time we leave and come in.  This is also the theme of our amazing Christian radio station (WBGL).  We hear these words fairly often, but over the last few days they've said them quite often during share-a-thon.  I've loved hearing those two words together and it FINALLY hit me that THOSE are the words I want to see every day.

Stronger. Together.
  • as a couple---together we are strong.  Together we can't be defeated.  Together we have the strength to maintain our values despite a culture that seeks to divide.  Together we have the strength to grow.  Plus, simply put, we LOVE to be together.  Being together is what makes us thrive.  Together is what makes us both healthy and whole!  Put something between us creating division and we both end up weak.  It's simple.
  • as a family----we are stronger when we are together.  No doubt about it.  No room for discussion. Our family thrives on togetherness.  It's vital.  Together we live, grow, and find our paths.  Send us all in different directions with too many activities, we fall apart.  Together is the best place for us to be.  It isn't hiding out from the world----it's treasuring what we value most. 
  • together with Christ we are strong.  The moment we crowd Christ out of our lives, EVERYTHING falls apart.  When we are clinging to Him and constantly in communication, seeking more of Him and less of us....we are strong.  Together.
  • together with other women and moms that cherish my same values----I AM STRONG.  Without them, I fall apart.  No denying it.  The friendships that God has blessed me with are an absolute treasure.  Very few days go by that one of them doesn't literally pick me up off the ground by something they say or do.  They keep me accountable, encourage me, give me a shoulder to lean on, and just make me life RICH.
  • together with a body of believers----we are strong.  Though we have admitted to struggling with finding our place in our church and sometimes wonder if our "fit" is perfect, there is ZERO doubt that being with a body of believers is strengthening.  Worshiping God in solitude is vital, but corporate worship and learning is non-negotiable.  
The more I heard those words, the more I knew it was the PERFECT fit for our focal point.  It's about family.  It's about unity.  It's about picking someone up when they are weak (or picking me up when I'm weak which tends to happen SO much these days).  It's about knowing that we are never alone. 

Simple.....Stronger. Together.   Apart we are weak and broken.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review "Love Food & Live Well"

Disclaimer: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

Review of "Love Food & Live Well by Chantel Hobbs"

Having made the decision to put my self back on "the" list by taking care of my body be exercising and making better food choices, I was REALLY excited to get this book for review.  I had not read any of her previous books (Never Say Diet and The One-Day Way) so I didn't have any preconceived notions. 

I loved that the author spent a very large portion of the book explaining that the only true way to find happiness is not by looking at the scale.  It GREATLY depends on our relationship with Christ.  Could not agree more!  You can't begin to "fix" anything without first accepting the "deal that God offers us".  Otherwise, nothing we do for ourselves matter.  I LOVE that she focused so heavily on this truth. 

The books spends a great deal of time discussing food itself and most specifically calories, carbs, protein, and fat.  To be honest, I didn't find any "startling" news or break through moments while reading those chapters.  Let's face it, most of us KNOW the facts.....we just choose to not make decisions that fuel or bodies in the proper way. 

Her biggest concept is about LOVING what you eat and not denying yourself anything specific.  She lives by the 80:20 principle.  I like that theory.  Knowing that YOU CAN  have something that you truly love also makes it less appealing....there is no "forbidden fruit" dangling over your head tempting you every second of every day! 

What I did find disappointing was that she offered VERY few recipes or meal ideas.  I didn't really see any breakdowns of what she did on a day in day out basis.  I understand that she wants each of us to make decisions based on our likes/dislikes (within the 80:20 rule), but I would have liked to have seen more suggestions.

What I did LOVE about the book (besides it being based on your relationship with God as a priority) was the fitness section.  She did give some breakdowns on interval training that were interesting for those of that need specifics.  My favorite portion of this section of the book was the very detailed strength training section using a stability ball.  LOVED having pictures of each of the specific steps of the moves.  VERY helpful!

All in all, "Love Food & Live Well" is a good book.  I don't say it's great because it really wasn't any "new" information and it really lacked in the menu/food planning section.  I do say it is fantastic in regards to pushing that the greatest source of health comes from a healthy relationship with God.  

On a side note, most of us realize that we are fed lies about body image from the world.  It's crazy!  I was shocked to read that a study was made of high school girls and then presented in a congressional briefing.  The study showed that "girls said they were more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer or losing their parents."  It went on to say that "71 percent of adolescent girls want to be thinner despite only a small proportion of them exceeding a healthy weight.  By age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies and by age 17 that rises to 78 percent."  Unbelievable!   We really need to fight for our daughters by teaching them how beautiful they are because the world sure isn't teaching it!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Longing for Peach Nehi Days....

Woke up this morning feeling a heavy weight sitting on my chest.  At times the weight of grief literally has physical weight that feels like it crushes with every breath.  Fortunately, I don't have those days every day and when I do, it lifts within a few minutes and God provides peace and comfort in various different ways.  This morning the weight was heavy because I woke up with the realization that 15 weeks have gone by. 

Just about two hours ago the clock ticked past the exact moment that we pulled out of the driveway to make the fastest trip to TN that we could.  As more time passes, I am remembering more and more about those preceding days and the difficult ones that followed.  It was about this time right now that I got a text from a friend that just said "are you breathing yet?" After she and another friend has spent the morning helping us pack anything and everything we might need (and cutting hair and stocking the van with enough snacks to last a week!), she stopped to remind me to "BREATHE".  Believe it or not, I needed that reminder. 

I think I need that reminder more every day.  Sometimes it's just the day to day chaos that we find ourselves in and sometimes it's the HEAVY things of life that get in the way.  The last several days I have found myself in a very easily agitated mood.  Unsettled.  Pushing forward at fast speed at times and paralyzed and not able to move at others.  For someone that thrives on "peace", I'm finding it harder and harder to keep from derailing.  It hit me this morning that I'm forgetting to breathe. 

Just like that morning, the task at hand was overwhelming so dramatically that I don't remember much.  I just had to do what had to be done and I couldn't slow down and think about it.  How many times do we find ourselves in that same type of moment?  Granted, that morning was traumatic and not an every day situation but it has the same parallels.  Are we running through life so fast trying to accomplish so much that we aren't breathing.  Guilty.  I'm running towards GREAT things, but yet I'm still running.  Even though many things I'm caught up in doing right now are things that will simplify life in the long-run and make our lives better, I'm still running.  I'm not breathing.  I'm not stopping to soak in THIS moment. 

This isn't about resting or taking time for myself.  I've learned to do both of those things better than I ever have.  It's about breathing.  It's about focusing on one thing.  It's about just stopping and soaking in the moment and NOT worrying about a thousand other things at the same time.  There are many things that are on my mind and situations to deal with that are stressing me out beyond what is healthy.  I'm on emotional overload at the moment.  However, "that" text came back to mind today at just the right time.  BREATHE.  When we stop and TRULY breathe our focus becomes that ONE thing.   Just like when you are angry and about to blow your top, you're told to count to 10.  During labor or in painful situations, controlling your breathing becomes a way to make the pain somewhat tolerable.  It serves as a reminder to me today that I need to just focus on one thing.  As much as it seems impossible and doesn't even make sense and I don't have a CLUE how to do it...just ONE thing.  Maybe that one thing just needs to be focusing on doing NOTHING about any of it and letting God do it instead.  Hmm....what a novel idea!!! 

It seems like on this road of grief, I'm just beginning to feel some of it.  Having to focus so much on keeping everything together and everyone on track, DID numb some of the feelings at times.  Don't get me wrong, I've felt plenty each and every day.  It's just that as time goes along and other's emotions aren't running as freely on their sleeves, I'm being allowed to feel my own at it's fullest strength.  Some days I'm feeling stronger and more stable and other days I'm so emotionally overwhelmed that I don't know how I function and keep our lives on track.   Some days I'm just so incredibly stunned.   As much as I know he is gone, I still can't believe it and every reminder still stings.  I had fully accepted the outcome from the very first second I was told what was going on.  I knew it was grim.  I just wasn't expecting the battle to be so intense so quickly and end so abruptly.  That is the part that just doesn't sit well in my brain.  In my heart, I have ZERO doubt it was for the best, but my brain has yet to wrap around the timing. 

Little things rip me apart and are usually the things that leave the crushing weight.  Just like a recent day that my son handed me a red jello to open for him.  It would have meant nothing to most people and I normally would have done so without a second thought.  However, that brings back a moment in my memory that literally nearly brought me to my knees.  Sunday morning before our mad dash on Wednesday and his death on Thursday, Dad showed his first signs of possible improvement from the devastating effects that the previous week's chemo had ravaged.  He ASKED for Cherry jell-o and Welch's grape juice.  He asked!  We knew that even if he couldn't get it down (his throat was RAW from the chemo and the cancer had already made swallowing extremely difficult), it was a HUGE victory that he had thought of something he wanted.   Kevin and I laughed as we drove the 15 minutes to town to the little tiny grocery store.  We both had such hope in us that morning because it was a morning of victory.  I knew that the battle was FAR from over and I knew that the end result was going to be the same, but it was the first moment we felt victorious from Round ONE.  As we pulled up to the only stoplight in town (told you it was a small town....we had a town celebration when it was installed!), we pulled up beside my Aunt and Uncle on their way to church.  I had just enough time to yell out the window what we were doing and EVERYONE was smiles and shared a round of thumbs up (which Dad had always been notorious for doing but it became his top way of communicating when talking became difficult).  We delivered Dad's request and left to come back to Illinois with a small taste of victory in our hearts.  It was hope.  Hope that he would improve greatly over those next few days and that he would be given a chance to enjoy himself and the things he loved once more before Round TWO would start.  He never got that chance.  So now, just the sight or reminder of jello or grape juice seem to suck my breath right out.  It's amazing what little memories can do to a person! 

As much as that memory stings, I find great peace and joy in the others that are sneaking back in.  Just last night, I had an overwhelming craving for a peach nehi!  I don't even know if they sell them around here and I've not had one in many years!  I do believe I will have to find out!  When I was still in elementary school, we would get so excited on the Sunday afternoons in the summer that Dad would agree to take us to the swimming hole at the creek.  It didn't happen often as we liked, so when he agreed to go it THRILLED us!  We also knew that most likely on the way home he would stop at the gas station and allow us to pick out a "coke" or a popsicle.  In those days, my choice was always either an orange push-up popsicle or a Peach Nehi.  We very seldom got those treats other times, so riding back home on the back of the pick-up with one of those in my hand reminded me that everything was just PERFECT in my world!  I crave the simplicity of those days.  Perhaps, I do need to go find me a bottle of peach nehi and just soak in the simplicity once more! Oh, how my heart longs for peach nehi days and grateful for such a beautiful memory of a time when life was simple.  The days when catching lightning bugs or watching church league softball were the highlight of the week!!!!!  Or the days when the flutter of excitement was too much to contain when the phone would ring on Friday afternoons and we would hope and pray that it was Dad telling Teresa to call in an order at Rebel Rouser that he would pick up when he got off the interstate on his way home from work.  What days!  With great longing....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review "Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God" by Joanna Weaver

In a couple of recent posts (can be found HERE and HERE), I mentioned Joanna Weaver's book "Lazarus Awakening".  Though this is a general review, those posts show how deeply the book touched me. 

First and foremost, the necessary disclaimer: "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.   With that said.....

This book, as you can tell from the previous posts, really touched my heart.  I highly recommend it!  I expected a great book because of how much I enjoyed her previous book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World".  It didn't disappoint!  This was one of those books that as I began to highlight things that touched me, I ended up with more highlighting than not.  As a matter of fact, I had to buy a new highlighter before I got to the end! 

Joanna has a way of saying very profound things in a very simple way.  Ways that can really reach the heart and "stick".  If you are struggling with believing that God TRULY, DEEPLY loves YOU....this book is a must read.  Sometimes it's easy for us to tell someone about how much God loves them, but then deep inside we don't feel like we are worth enough for that same love.  This book helps throw that garbage thinking out the door! 

Though I've not completed the 10-week Bible study at the end, I can only imagine what truths God will begin to speak and reveal by spending that time with Him with her guidance and encouragement.  EXCELLENT book for Women's Ministry!