Where Do I Get My Truth? : Lent 2014

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Last week I tried to stay off of Facebook and other social media as much as possible in order to be more connected to those around me. It was harder than I thought. I never realized before how many times a day I “check in” to see what’s going on in the online world. It’s something I’d like to become more conscious of moving forward.

This week my focus is on where I get my truth. When I need an answer where are my primarily sources Too often it is easy to find our answers in news or entertainment media, even if those are really just distractions rather than answers. I’ll say right now that whether all TV watching falls under entertainment media, I don’t know. Not unlike what I did with limiting my Facebook interactions last week, I’m not going to give up all TV watching this week. My husband and I often watch something together in the evening, usually from Amazon Prime or the Roku channel on PBS. This is part of our joint downtime to cuddle on the couch and share something we enjoy. For that reason I’m not going to give that up necessarily. But I do plan to avoid any TV and news media during the day. So no talk radio when I’m driving in the car and no catching up on my TV shows on Hulu while the kids nap. That will be very hard for me.

I’m going to try and use that time to bring me back to my ultimate source of truth. I also want to give my self a chance to analyze how I feel emotionally when I remove myself from those influences. It’s possible it won’t affect me much at all. But then again, it just might. My husband, for example, periodically goes on news media fasts. He finds that his mental state and emotional well being are improved by doing this. I also avoid political things specifically if I find it makes me anxious. We try to find a balance between being well informed and being oversaturated.

In a culture where the latest news is available in an instant and within moments we can find 15 different opinions on a topic, it’s important to analyze where we get our truth. Not where we think we should get it, or say we get it, but where it really comes from. Because it’s easy to find someone who agrees with you out in the blogosphere, but that doesn’t make either of you right. So this week I want to focus on returning to the source of all truth, the word of God. I also want to focus on the godly relationships that I have built and remind myself that they are important resources for my spiritual growth. When I need an answer to a problem or struggle I need to look to scriptures or those important spirit-filled relationships to help me, not just throw a net out into web and see what I can drag up.

I challenge you this week to be conscious of how often you engage with news and entertainment media, and how they affect your attitudes and thoughts. Do those attitudes and thoughts line up with what the Bible has to say? Would we sooner read another blog opinion piece or speak to a spiritual mentor? These are the important questions I’ll be asking this week as I fast. Feel free to join me.

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014 Week 2

Choosing to Be Present In Real Life: Lent 2014 Week 3

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I Don’t Feel Mighty: Five Minute Friday

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Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is Mighty

Dead tried from merry-go-rounds of viruses and too little sleep interrupted by high fevers and children’s nightmares. I’m physically being pushed and dragged away from my computer as I try to write this. The spring that never seems to come. One cold, gray day after another. I don’t feel mighty. As I wade through another doctor’s appointment with the medical assistant I know doesn’t like me and everyone stares because my almost five year old as to be restrained just to look in her ears. As my two year old’s screams echo though the hallways I close my eyes and try not to cry myself. I pray for healing. I pray for strength. I pray for escape.

I don’t suddenly feel capable of leaping tall buildings. But somehow I find the strength to slog one more step. I feel my chest tightening and know that the illness that has plagued everyone else for almost a month may finally have tracked me down and I just want to lay down. But I know that there is still much to do, and I pray that I might be granted the strength for just one more hour. Because I am only mighty because He is.

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Fit2B Advancing Week 4: New Workouts and Some Discouragement

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Warm up: Mula Banda

A new workout, hurray!
Yoga and Pilates Loaded – This workout definitely added a nice weight component to what would have otherwise been a relatively easy but relaxing workout. I highly recommend a yoga mat for it though. While Bethany occasionally uses a soft rug, you almost never see her use a yoga mat. But if the workout has anything on your knees, I highly recommend it. I had trouble with the side lifts because my knees kept sliding across the floor and I found the gate pose painful without some support. Next time I’ll definitely pull my yoga mat out for

Basic aerobics III for a bit of quick cardio

 

Warm up – Chair Pilates
I haven’t done this workout since I tried it during Fit2B Beginning, but it was still nice. I recommend it if you are feeling overly tired, sick or recovering from pregnancy or injury. But it still provides a little bit of core work through sitting versions of teasers and similar movements.

Backside Burner
This was a good workout but for reason it didn’t really make my backside burn.
I also threw in a little Totally Transverse just for good measure.

 

Rockin Yoga and Pilates
Ok, so this one made my backside burn. The Pilates side leg series just about killed me. I had to keep stopping to wait for the burn to ease before I continued. This was great because it reminded me of my old Pilates workouts in the pre-diastasis days. (I still love those Ana Caban workouts and I’d love to go back to them if I feel like I can confidently modify movements without causing my diastasis to reoccur). This felt like a “real” Pilates workout. I felt a slight sweat and a subtle burn, which is something I’m used to feeling but not often since starting Fit2B Studio (with the exception of many of the weighted arm workouts). I hope this one starts working better on the Roku, it was down the day I tried and I had to use my laptop, because I’d definitely do it again. This could easily become a favorite of mine.

 

Wellness Day: 20-30 Minutes cardio plus Dumbells workout.

I chose Jump Change for my cardio workout. It is definitely a good cardio and high impact. I mean high impact in the positive way, as in help to improve and preserve bone density not the negative way as in you want to die afterwards. That being said I probably didn’t get the full benefit of the workout. During the first half my two year old spent the whole time saying “Belly!” and repeatedly uncovering and touching my stomach. During the planks he kept pulling up my shirt and blowing rasberries on my lower back and finally during the incline plane he sat on my abdomen and bounced up and down.
So I admit it, I didn’t really finish the Dumbells workout. I got interrupted by my kids and never really got back into it again.

This last week has been a real struggle for me. I just can’t seem to fit in solo exercise and my kids don’t make exercise a fun or pleasant prospect. I haven’t done any of the extra cardio days again.
So I’m officially bit discouraged. I keep telling myself that anything is better than nothing but I feel like I should be stronger and doing more by now. Only two weeks left to the challenge and then I have to decide how I want to move forward. Do I want to repeat the whole rotation and add back in cardio? I’ve started having the desire to run again; just not in the early morning, but there is only one day that I can do a late morning run without the kids nor any evenings when I can get out before dark, not sure how I’m going to pull that off. But for now I’m going to keep pushing through this challenge. Week 5, here I come.

Starting Slow: Fit2B Beginning Week 1

Building a Habit: Fit2B Beginning Week 2

I’m Finally Enjoying Myself: Fit2B Beginning Week 3

Diastatis Awareness and the Tummy Safe Path

Kicking It Up A Notch: Fit2B Beginning Week 4

Fit2B Beginning: Final Week, Longer and Stronger

Pressing On: Fit2B Advancing Week 1

Fit2B Advancing Week 2: Maintaining the Foundations

Fit2B Advancing Week 3: Lots of Upper Body
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Don’t forget you can use the coupon code laundryblog to save 30% off a Fit2B Studio yearly membership. That’s less than $7 a month.

I Am Both Bond Servant and Beloved Child

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I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about how I fit and how I matter. I know it sounds terribly self-indulgent, as most concentrated introspection is. But I’ve felt a real need lately to separate how much of what I’ve grown to believe in practice in my life is truly based on Biblical principles and which are really just creations of my culture.

I was born into a culture that places self first. It wasn’t always this way. But if I look now, objectively at the world around me I see many different kinds of people most of which have one major thing in common; everything they do is really about them. Even people of faith seem to buy this idea that it’s really about me. God loves me. Jesus died for me. All of those things are true. Yet I know that what Christians are called to isn’t really about what we can get out of it.

Yes, we matter. Madeline L’Engle said, in her book A Circle of Quiet, “I think I know why astrology has such tremendous appeal. The year and moth and day you are born matters. This gives people a sense of their own value as persons that the church hasn’t been giving them.” Yes. That. I agree whole heartedly. The problem is, it doesn’t stop there.

As a friend of mind said in a church a few Sunday’s ago, it’s not just about what we’ve been saving from but what we’ve been saved for. The western church, especially in the United States has done a pretty good job of highlighting that God cares about us each as individuals. We excel at promoting personal relationship with God. The problem is, we haven’t really talked about what comes next. Part of being totally transformed by the love of Christ is what comes after. We have things to do. It isn’t the same for each of us, and no two transformed lives look exactly alike; we each have unique callings. But we cannot be deceived. We haven’t signed up for fame, fortune and good times. We’ve just willingly become bond servants.

We’ve been saved from slavery, released from prison and the jail door stands open, but when we leave we are binding ourselves as servants to the one who saved us. It is a service of our own choosing and it won’t be easier than our old lives; but it will be better.

I’m realizing more and more that somehow the church has inadvertently bought into the cultural idol of self and the lie of self-esteem. We matter, because He says we do. Nothing I have or do in my life is because of me; it is all because of him. ‘But what about positive self-esteem and healthy self-confident?” The problem with those two things is that they have the word self in them. We are called to be confident, and to feel valued, but not because of who we are, but because of who He is and His great love for us.

I’ve been practicing this faith of mine most of my years on this earth, at various levels of success. Yet over and over again I find myself to be only starting out. So as I find myself moving into this fourth decade of my life and the second decade of my marriage, five years into parenthood; I’m just beginning to realize how much and how easily our values can be and are skewed. I’m not interested in changing others; I want to change myself. When I look at someone like Mother Theresa of Calcutta and I see the world she changed one person at a time. Above and beyond all else I am called to; I am called to set aside my obsession with self and treat each person I encounter with love and respect, the same as I would like to be treated with. I need to stop worrying about looking out for me.

“But don’t be a door mat; take care of you or no one else will.” Last I checked the Bible doesn’t say any of those things. But it does say to turn the other cheek and that the Lord is my provider and my deliverer. What if we just stopped for a little while worrying about ourselves? What if we gave with generosity without worrying about if we would have enough for all the things we want? What if we gave our time and energy without thinking about how it will impact our “me time?” What if we saw ourselves as we are; servants of a loving God, called to love and serve others. It’s not usually glamorous; but it is what we signed up for; we just tend to forget.

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

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He Says

Anyone who has ever met my wife probably had the same instant reaction: “Wow, does she talk fast!” It’s true, she does. Luckily, although she married a quiet guy, I can follow her almost 100% of the time because of the way my brain works. We fit in that regard. But like most men and women, conversation could have been a big struggle for us, mainly because of me. I just don’t talk a lot—certainly not in comparison to her! So what we have done is, from the outset, recognize that this need of Bethany’s to communicate is important, and time must be made for it to happen. Not always successful, certainly harder since the children have arrived, but we still try to make time.

Some of the things we’ve learned over the years:

  • I am extremely thoughtful in my speech. I try to choose my words carefully, so I don’t always respond right away to something. In an argument, this can be even worse, because I really don’t want to say something I might regret. Even what is only a few seconds can seem like an eternity to Bethany. She has learned to wait for me, even if it’s killing her inside.
  • Bethany processes her thoughts verbally. She sometimes has to spend a while hour flipping out about something before she realizes the situation is not that bad. I’ve learned to wait it out, and try not to get “logical” with her. I know I have the same feelings and thoughts sometimes, they’re just in my head; she says them out loud. We’re the same, just different.
  • While Bethany certainly loves to share her own thoughts, she feels closer to me when I share things I am passionate about. That means that she has to hear about things she may not be all that interested in (the fantasy world of video games and novels I sometimes live in), but because she is interested in me, she listens. And I do the same for her.
  • Having things in common is important for conversation, as Harley suggests. We share a love of Science Fiction TV shows and movies, witty high-brow comedy, and of course our faith, so there is much to talk about. Also, although we individually write in very different genres, we love to talk about our works with each other, and help each other in the process.

In all, Bethany’s strong need for conversation is known, and for the most part, met. But it is an ongoing process of making sure it happens.

She Says

Every marriage needs conversation. It’s how we maintain the ties between us. Most couples will remember being able to talk about anything together when they were dating. But after marriage and especially after children this gets much harder.

Quality conversation is definitely one of my love languages, it’s considered kind of a dialect of Quality Time. I also process verbally so often when Rob and I are talking it’s actually helping me to figure out how and think and feel about a particular issue.

In the next chapter the author will begin talking about the importance of shared recreational activities and he begins to talk about it here under the guise of shared interests. He believes that for a couple to continue to have things to talk about and avoid growing apart they must have shared interests. I both agree and disagree with this. I do think it is important that couples take an interest in things they are each passionate about, but I don’t think good conversation necessarily requires mutual interest so much as mutual willingness.

My husband is a computer programmer. I am not very gifted in this area, and it takes a lot of concentration for me to understand what he’s talking about. But when he has a project he is passionate about I listen and participate in the conversation; sometimes asking questions, but mostly showing my interest. Not my interest in computers but my interest in him. He is my priority. Now, if it were important to him that I learn more about computers so that we could share that interest, I would. In fact in some ways I have. He has introduced me to some amazing computer games that I have grown to enjoy. But something I will talk more about next week, is the difference between introverts and extroverts and how they prefer to spend their leisure time. For now I’ll simply say that my husband and I talk about things that each other is passionate about, but we don’t necessarily participate in all of each other’s activities, and I think that this is OK.

As a woman, the main purpose of conversation is a way to share our lives, even when we can’t be together as much as we’d like. I tell Rob funny stories about things the kids have done during the day or ideas I have thought of. It is a time for us to reconnect and make sure everything is OK between us. If we find that we don’t have much to talk about, then we know we need to spend more time together. There was a period after our daughter was born when we hardly slept and spent almost no time alone. Our relationship was suffering on many levels. My husband was in school and working full time, but was unhappy at both and therefore didn’t want to talk about either one. Then he starting writing his first novel. As a writer myself, we now had something to talk about. Even though we write in totally different genres and have different styles to our writing; we had something to bond over. This helped us get through a difficult time in our lives.

Just like any of the other needs we’ve discussed so far, it comes down to priorities. If, as a man, you know that conversation is important to your wife then you will make it a priority. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask your wife. Ask questions about each other’s days that require more than yes or no answers. Give her details about the people, events and problems that you encounter. Let her feel like she matters to you by taking the time to tell her what is going on in your mind and heart and be willing to listen to her in return. It is a significant investment in time and effort, but it helps to create an emotional closeness that will help carry you through times when you can’t talk as often as you’d like.

He Says, She Says About His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: What Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

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Choosing to Be Present In Real Life: Lent 2014

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Last week, I focused on the way I use my words, especially when interacting with my children. It wasn’t easy and I know I still failed in many ways. But the biggest success was my newfound awareness. I’ve definitely become more conscious of how I speak to my children and the words I use in our interactions.

As I begin the third week of Lent my focus will be on fasting from personal communications media. Personal communications media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, texting, email, etc. is central to our culture. I fought being involved in it for a long time and I will say that I do find that I can better keep tabs on how my friends and family are doing through social media. That being said, while it is great for dispersing information, social media does not form or maintain relationships on its own; but it can be a tool. However, this week I am going to try and minimize my social media interactions. I will still be blogging and answering blog comments; but I will limit myself to one short period each day. My blog posts will still automatically be posted to Facebook but I will be trying to personally avoid logging in. I will do the same with email.

I’m going to try and divest myself of the feeling that if I step away from Facebook I’ll miss something important. Because I might; but that’s OK. Instead I’m going to try and devote more time to the real people in my life. Give more undivided and undistracted attention to my children and husband. Perhaps actually arrange to see a few friends rather than just trade online messages.

I want to reflect on how I allow technology to affect my relationship with my family.  It’s easy to use Facebook or my blog feed as a way of escaping from the difficulties in my daily life. When I go to social media looking for answers or significance I should be going to Jesus instead.

In many ways, I wish I could go totally cold turkey this week, but I have obligations that require me to at least keep a minor presence. But I am really going to make a concentrated effort to avoid letting my online work eek into my daily life, especially my family interactions.

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014 Week 2

Pursuing My Joy

 

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Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is: Joy

Joy was the original name we had planned for a daughter. We both really felt like we were going to have a girl first. But my sister, whose middle name is Joy, really wanted to save the name for her own. So we switched it to a middle name. Althea was my great grandmother’s name and became our choice for our first born. We decided to call her Thea for short. Althea is Greek and means healer or wholesome. Thea means goddess, though I don’t tell her that. Approaching five she already things she is almighty and the center of the universe. Joy seems like a natural extension. I always felt like her name was a blessing I was speaking over her, that she would be a joyful child who brought healing to others. I imagined she might be a doctor or pray for others and they would be healed.

But then she grew up a little and she was no longer the sweet baby and precocious toddler. She became a preschooler with a mind of her own and a strong will. Each day begins with anger and whining before she even emerges from her room. I blame myself, perhaps I unintentionally let her believe that she really was the center of the universe for far too long. It was never on purpose, but almost three years of being an only child, only niece and only grandchild to adoring parents, aunt and uncle and grandparents has a way of doing that.

It’s hard not to feel bitter some times as my friends describe the wonderful bonding with their daughters and how much they enjoy each moment of their days with them. We do have our moments, but mostly each day is more a wrestling match than a dance.

Some days I have trouble seeing the joy, I only see the goddess, mighty and wrathful. But I try to remember that we called her healer and wholesome first. Somewhere, underneath the whining and the screaming, the immoveable will and grandiose demands and threats, I know that the joy is there. The hardest part about parenting is trying to bring out the best in your child.

Today, I chose to pursue my Joy. I can’t make promises about tomorrow, next week or five years from now. Such grand goals of idealistic parenting don’t last long around here. But for this day, in this phase, I choose to see her has friend rather than foe; to love her for who I know she is inside, rather than what she behaves like. Honoring the strength of her will, even as I must bend and turn it in healthy directions. She is wholesome, she is joyful. She is my daughter.

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