The Discipline of Surrender: Five Minute Friday

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I grow weary of being the linchpin, the load bearing wall and the rudder. Some of this is just part of being a parent. It is also something that comes with being married to someone who struggles with depression, and being involved in ministry. But it can be exhausting in the most soul crushing ways.

 

 

To wake up in the morning and know that until you get going, nothing will happen. To answer the same question multiple times by email and in person (sometimes to different people but often the same ones repeatedly). Delegating desperately while still knowing that in the end it will all fall on me.

 

 

On my good days, I can hand it to Jesus and just do the next thing. But on the bad ones . . . it’s not that easy. I have to resist the urge to hide in my screen or my work. To give the kids a screen day and lose myself in a good book, or knitting and a Netflix binge.

 

 

I know in my head that it doesn’t all depend on me, but in daily practice it feels like the opposite.  I’m entering a season where the primary discipline I’ll be working on is one of surrender. Handing over responsibilities whenever possible and learning not to feel guilty about it. Releasing things that I simply haven’t the strength for and trusting that things will be OK. Prioritizing moments of peace even as the work seems to pile up, so I can reconnect with the source of my strength and be renewed.   As they all depend on me, I must depend on him.

 

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“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

-Helen Howarth Lemmel  (1863-1961)

 

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Fit2B Kids: Week 1

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My kids were quite excited to workout with Mommy. They have done some of the kid workouts on the Fit2B site before, but usually they just sat and watched. This time I made it clear that I wanted them to try the workouts and let me know what they thought.

 

 

Wiggling Warriors

 

My son got quickly frustrated with which leg to straighten and which to bend and gave up. (Which is often his way of dealing with new challenges). My daughter lasted a bit longer but commented that it felt hard to her and that she doesn’t think her muscles are very strong. I thought it was a great workout and ideal for what my sons occupational therapist suggested to help with his unusually weak core strength. We will definitely revisit this one.

 

Bitty Bellies

 

My kids actually loved this workout. I think it really helped them become aware of their core muscles. Even the baby got in on the action and insisted that I unsnap his onesie so he could look at his belly too. It was also amazing to see how many movements come naturally to kids. The two year old could do three legged dogs and downward facing dog so easily without even being told.

 

 

Robot Yoga

 

My daughter initially claimed herself too mature for this workout, but ended up participating anyway. My son loved it. The less gentle movements seemed to appeal to him, plus he loves making robot noises. I don’t know if the gender of the kid matters, but I appreciate that Beth involves girls and boys in her various workouts. I think it made my son feel like Fit2B was for him too, even though usually he only he’s me and Beth Learn doing these.

 

 

Teen Yoga I

Beth does a great job in this workout of introducing some basic yoga poses. I like that she had boys and girls demonstrating. My five year old lost interest in this one quickly, but my eight year old daughter gave it her best effort. It was definitely difficult for her and I could tell she felt uncoordinated. But I was glad she attempted it and I’m hoping she’ll be willing to attempt it again.

 

Overall, I was pretty happy with how the first week went.  I felt like the kids were getting more comfortable with following along with the video and my daughter seems to prefer slower more controlled workouts like stretching and yoga.  My son seems to prefer workouts that give him more freedom to move in ways he doesn’t naturally rather than trying to conform to a particular pose. The toddler is just happy to be along for the ride. I’m excited to see how things develop as we move along.

 

 

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Don’t Get Caught in What You’re Not

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It can be so hard not to define ourselves by our weaknesses rather than our strengths. I have found this to be especially true as a mother. I struggle to acknowledge the areas where I actually do well. It feels arrogant somehow to say “Hey, I’m pretty good a frugal parenting. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars cloth diapering, switching to cloth napkins and lowering my paper towel use by substituting old rags.” It’s not a contest. I’m not saying that by doing that I’m better than anyone else. But it isn’t always an easy thing to do, and it was a goal of mine back when I first became a stay at home mom and our income was cut by a third. In that way, I have succeeded and I should be able to admit that victory.

 

 

But instead, I’m quick to bring up where I think I’m failing. That my home schooled third grader is behind on at least two essential subjects and my kids do almost no chores around the house. I rarely buy organic. we’ve never purchased farm fresh, free range meat, and the only reason my kids don’t eat more packaged snacks is that they are so ridiculously expensive that my budget doesn’t allow for them. I yell at my kids sometimes and I do not, in fact, enjoy every second of being with them. My kids usually get at least two hours of screen time in the late afternoon, sometimes even the two year old, which breaks just about every pediatrician recommendation and regularly causes me to question my fitness as a mother.

 

 

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge our strengths rather than harp our weaknesses? I want to help to foster a culture of honor, in my church, in my MOPS group, on my blog and even in my home; where we can celebrate our successes without it allowing us to diminish those of others.

 

 

There is plenty of hardship in life to go around, we don’t have to keep emphasizing it. Failure is difficult enough we don’t need to elevate it. The theme set by MOPS International this year is Free Indeed. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we were free to fail and to revel in our successes because we know we are unconditionally loved?

 

 

What are you good at? Where do you feel you’ve succeeded? Sometimes the standards are your own and it isn’t a competition. Let us celebrate with you.

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Let the Kids Join In: Checking Out Fit2B Kids

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I’ve been a member of Fit2B Studio for five years. During that time I’ve explored the site for all it’s worth and Beth Learn and her team have been growing faster than I can keep up with. I love discovering new routines and returning to old favorites. But the one area I’ve barely made use of it the kids workouts! My children are 8, 5 and 2. My five year old just started occupational therapy and vision therapy and one of the therapists mentioned that he has very poor core strength. (Which makes complete sense given that he constantly falls out of chairs and has trouble sitting still). She suggested that they could add a little bit of yoga to his therapy to help promote better core strength and awareness. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to review the Fit2B Kids routines.

 

I’m trying to get in four routines a week with my kids. Sometimes we’ll target my 5 year old son, others time the focus will be on my 8 year old daughter. While they do get gym class at our homeschool co-op, I also like to think that doing this makes an additional dent in our phys-ed requirements.

 

To be honest, prior to this I was a little bit resistant to letting my kids do videos on Fit2B. Because mostly I’m a fan of outdoor exercise for kids. I want my kids to run around, climb trees and generally be kids. That being said, sometimes it rains, or snows or is too hot or cold to go out. (Or at least my kids think it is). I want my rambunctious five year old to learn what gentle and sustained movement lots like. I want to start helping my daughter learn how to control her limbs before her body begins to change and she feels completely out of control. I also want to set a good example for my kids. When they seem me working out, they want to do it too.

 

I want them to see that sometimes exercise can be a video on Fit2B, but other times it can be carrying baskets of laundry, or raking leaves. I may even track down some of the Beth in Real Life videos of her outside being active with her kids. Because that’s really what it’s all about, helping our kids be strong and healthy enough to do life the lives they want.

 

(This is also a great place to mention that soon you’ll be seeing info about the upcoming Fit2B Girls course! My daughter is on the younger end of the age spectrum it targets, but I’m still excited to go through it with her. )

 

 

Week 1

 

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How to Hate Your Life in 3 Easy Steps

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Here are three great ways to ruin your life.

 

1. Expect perfection of yourself and everyone else.

Make sure that you settle for nothing less than perfection. Make sure everyone knows this about you. Demand others follow you example.

 

 

2. When you don’t achieve perfection, be immediately disappointed and allow it to color even the good experiences in your life.

If some thing is nice, but not up to your standards, make sure you focus on the flaws and allow them to entirely overshadow any success you may have achieved. When looking back on past events, only focus on the things that didn’t go well and entirely forget any positive aspects.

 

 

3. Keep always looking forward to the next thing. Hang all of your hopes on what is to come and tell yourself “My life will be finally have meaning if I can just get to _____”

Never engage and live in the moment. Always stay one step ahead, planning for the next thing. If you have time to stop and enjoy yourself, you obviously have too much free time and need another project to tackle.

 

 

Yes, I meant this to be sarcastic. But I also wanted to highlight some things that I’ve struggled with. Having high standards isn’t inherently bad. But it can keep us from being able to see the success we’ve had, even within our failures. If we are always looking forward to the next thing it can cause us to miss out on where we are right now.

 

 

For a few years when my older two children were tiny I literally lived for the weekend. Each day was a count down to nap time and bed time. I realize that is pretty typical of stay at home parenting. But for me it was almost pathological. I would text my husband dozens of times throughout the day in desperation, wondering how I was going to cope. I didn’t think I was depressed but I knew I wasn’t happy. When my son was around 18 months old, he was finally a healthy weight and I was finally free of the nurse, pump, repeat cycle. Finally, I could just feed him and not obsess over how many calories were in every bite. But my husband commented that I didn’t seem very happy. I thought, well so what. Life isn’t about always being happy. But I wasn’t enjoying my life either.

 

 

So I went to counseling for a while, and my counselor and I concluded that I needed time to invest in something mentally stimulating that fed my creative side. For a while, that looked like regular nights at Panera to focus on my writing. During a very stressful week if all I did was read a good book (preferably fiction) that was Ok too.

 

 

Hubby walked in after work and I walked out, not to return until after the children were in bed. That was the key. At first it was difficult to concentrate. Some nights it seemed like more work to go than to just say home and deal with stuff that needed to be done. The key was that it be as regular as possible so it was something I could count on. But also have low expectations of the time. The goal was enjoyment not necessarily efficiency.

 

 

We are again approaching a season where I could use a regular night off. Not sure yet how I’m going to manage it, but I feel the bone weary, soul tired exhaustion that lets me know I need to find an outlet soon. I’m someone who generally has high standards, though I’m not usually a perfectionist. Yet I always tend to look at what could make something better. When looking forward, this allows me to continue learning and growing. But when looking back it can rob me of the ability to rejoice in my victories and leave me feeling perpetually inadequate.

 

 

Find a way to enjoy at least some things about your life as it is, even as you plan for a time when it will hopefully be better. Some struggles, like a baby who doesn’t sleep, will be temporary. Others may be long term difficulties, but even within those situations we must find a way to engage and be thankful. It’s Ok to look forward to the next big thing, but if we don’t learn to appreciate our lives now, we’ll always be chasing newer, better, different and wish away our lives.

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photos courtesy of Kaboompics

 

 

It Can Look Like Coffee: Five Minute Friday

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photo courtesy of Kaboompics

 

It had been a rough week, a rough month if I was being honest. I had been running on adrenaline, procrastination and survival mode for long enough and I was almost out of juice. I hit a wall. A wall that looked like PMS plus a two day headache and a daughter who decided to die on the hill of not doing her school work, while all I could think of was all the writing and blogging I needed to be doing.

 

I could feel myself sinking fast and I wanted to run and hide but there was no where to go. I felt pathetic reaching out to friends, especially when lately it seems most of the people in my life have even bigger problems than I do.  That day support looked like a friend stopping by with a vanilla latte, even though she wasn’t sure what kind of coffee I like and then chatting for an hour. It looked like another friend affirming my decision to quit something. (I firmly hate quitting things and doing so, ever, is a long term struggle of mine).

 

The problems are not gone, the impasses far from solved. But I don’t feel quite so alone anymore. That friend who brought the latte is recovering from PTSD, but she was having a good day. The other friend is currently without a job and scraping by on unemployment. Even when we are dealing with our own stuff, we can still support others. It doesn’t always have to be formal, sometimes it’s as a simple as saying “I know you feel alone, but you aren’t. I know it sucks right now, but it won’t always be this way.”

 

If you are having one of those days that is eating you alive, I wish I could bring you a cup of coffee and a brownie. But since I can’t I’ll just say this.

 

You aren’t alone in feeling the way you do. I know it’s hard right now, but it won’t always be like this. I know what it’s like to feel like you can barely keep your head above water. It can get better.

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How’s the Weather Where You Are?

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I recently texted a friend with these words in moment of desperation with a particular situation in my life.

“I feel like I’m watching a storm roll in. I can see it coming, I know there is nothing I can do to stop it, and I wonder if this will be the one that takes me out for good.”

 

Some of us are experiencing an emotional and spiritual hurricane season. (If you live in an area of LITERAL hurricane season you are in my prayers). We know the atmosphere and the weather patterns. We can feel a shift in the air even before we see the dark clouds. Then we see the swirling storm on the horizon and the feeling of powerlessness comes. There is nothing we can do to stop the storm except batten down the hatches and wait.

Sometimes it just all feels like too much and we wonder if we can weather another storm. There are two pieces of truth that I have been clinging to.

 

“And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:28

 

This is the theme verse for our church’s kids program this year, but every time I hear it, I’m reminded that it applies to me too. The storms will come. It is part of life. How we weather them is based on how strong our foundation is. If we build our lives on the rock, the rains and winds may come, but we will withstand it.

 

“The disciples went and woke him, saying,
‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.
‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another,
‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’  “
Luke 8: 24-25

 

I also need to remember that I serve the one who makes the wind and waves obey. I am, in fact, powerless, but He is all powerful. Sometimes in my fear and frustration, all I can see is the storm. But I forget that I am not standing alone in it.

 

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