On a Winter’s Day {Why I make them go outside}

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. ~ 3 John 1:4

We walk through snow and ice and sometimes we wear rubber boots. Three days a week, I tell them, just three times are you required to get out here and raise your heart rate a little.

There are complaints and pleas, there is sometimes a giving-in, but these minds need air and the cold just makes us walk faster.

forest

 

I am teacher-mom, and that means I have to be the whistle-and-gym-shorts kind, too. Or in our case, the layered-up goof with ear muffs and a camera around her neck.

I even bought umbrellas, because it’s Oregon and we are nearly aquatic. There’ll be no weather-related excuses.

So we walk and there are kids spread out for a quarter-mile in front and behind me, some of them trying to keep up and some of them trying to break free, I think. I annoy them with my camera and my pep-talks, with my smile and my Pollyanna-isms.

“Look at how the buds are coming on the trees!”

“Oh they put fresh gravel down!”

“If you are cold you could always run!”

I annoy them because I stop to take pictures, because I walk too fast, because I run circles around them sometimes in my goofy tights and neon yellow shirt.

I think they love me anyway.

eyes to see

I am freezing and there are at least 30 other things I could be doing at the moment but we walk. Out and back, the same route, and sometimes we talk or hold hands or race home.

Sometimes there are just 5 separate people, walking alone but in the same direction.

I think we’re making memories that will be stored up for one day, for a day when we can’t take walks together and make each other laugh with our cheesy jokes. I want them to see all the joy I see and be satisfied with the simple things like frost on branches and budding twigs.

So when we go for a walk and they complain, I press on because I know it’s the moments that are important and the years are only made up of so many. I press on because I know that seeing takes practice, and nothing is perfect so we take the imperfect and find God there.

I know that the exercise profits a little. I know that it’s cold and torturous and there are other things to do but this moment has to freeze and we have to seize it.

And I know that there is always a truth to see in walking. Not a Pollyanna, look-at-how-the-ice-forms-on-my-eyelashes attempt, but a true Truth that the seasons change, the ground freezes under you, but everywhere in every corner God is at work.

That’s the Truth I want my children to walk in.

rose bush in winter

 

The world will tell them otherwise, that the ground freezes and the leaves fall because there is no God at work. They will have people try to tell them to take the easy road, to stay warm and comfortable. To live in ease and find beauty only in the work of their own hands.

Not so, my children.

I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the whole truth of this created world and the God who made it and them.

See how the tree buds after a long winter.

See how the road is made firm for our walking.

See how far you can run.

 

 

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose #TellHisStory,  and Crystal at Thriving Thursdays

 

Book Review: 100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights

I fall on the side of those who make New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, I make them several times a year because every day is a new day and I like starting over.

And my goals are sometimes unrealistic, really. But it’s fun to dream.

This year, we wrote our goals as a family and put them in red ink, right in our Thankful Book. I’m not sure yet if this is the accountability I want, but I’m pretty sure it’s what I need and that my family will be gracious. If not, I can always point out their goals and hold them equally accountable.

Inevitably, there is always a weight loss goal on my list. This year I have committed to work on that goal without adding more running to my schedule. Something Jessica Heights said, in her book 100 Pound Loserhas changed my thinking a little:

Truth: It’s more important to live life and enjoy our families than to obsess over weight.

Yes. Truth. I can eat better and I can take my children for a walk or a “fun run” or play a game with them to burn those calories. I will still run, but I am not going to look at my body and think that running more will solve all my problems.

Jessica has written a short and sweet testimony of her weight loss journey. In it, she shares how she overcame mental and physical roadblocks to finally get back her body and her life, and how small steps helped her achieve her goals.

“You see, when I was struggling against the negative body image issues, I felt strongly convicted about what I had done. Not only had I abused the body which I was given to use and govern appropriately as a temple of the Holy Spirit {1 Corinthians 6:19 }, but I had also put my health at risk; which not only affected me, but also the people I love the most.”

There is nothing new or startling in her 30 page book (aside from the fact that she rises at 4:30 a.m. to exercise – let that be an encouragement, not a deterrent), no miracles or quick fixes. Instead, Jessica focuses on the little things you can do each day to make a difference in your body and tackle your weight loss, 2 pounds at a time. She shares with you how she got to where she was – 100 pounds heavier than she needed to be – and how, even while carrying four children and battling fibromyalgia, she was able to drop the weight and keep it off.

But more importantly, she reminds you who you are in Christ. More than an image in a mirror and more than the pounds that carry your soul around, Jessica reminds you that you have been given a stewardship and God is loving you no matter your size.

She inspires you with her testimony, gives you grace for your plateaus and your real life, and lists several resources that have helped her reach and maintain her goal weight.

Making changes requires encouragement and you’ll get that from this book. Being a mom requires flexibility and real-life solutions, and Jessica gives you that, too.

Jessica blogs at Muthering Heights and doesn’t want to be known as just “the shallow weight loss girl”. You will find encouragement and a good dose of humor in her writing. She is the co-founder of the Allume blog conference, a writer for Operation Christmas Child, and an opponent of fibromyalgia. You can pick up her book 100 Pound Loser from Amazon for $4.99.

{This concludes my first-ever book review with my first-ever affiliate link. If you purchase Jessica’s book through the links in this post, I’ll get some pocket change! Nevertheless, this is my honest review, no strings attached.}

 

How to Run Whole-Heartedly {Five Minute Friday:Race}

racing, running on the road, tortoise and hare

He’s always racing someone.

When he runs like that, I’m afraid of the pavement coming up fast in his face, afraid of the long shoe laces and the flailing arms.  He doesn’t look ahead.  He looks side to side and sometimes even backwards, to make sure no one is going to overtake him.

He races in flip-flops and cries when he loses.  He runs with his whole heart and sometimes his body follows suit.

If he were to ever focus ahead, stop looking around and stop wasting so much energy trying to win, he’d be a force to reckon with.

Whereas I don’t race anybody but myself.  I’ll run a race tomorrow that I’m not prepared for and my goal?  Finish faster than last year. Or just finish.

My son runs wholeheartedly but I lack enthusiasm.  I run passion-less and slow, but consistent.

So what does the tortoise learn from the hare? The moral is always in the hare’s favor – slow and steady wins the race.  But this steady one needs a dose of wild-abandon and eight year old fervor.

And life is that way, too.

 

This post is part of Five Minute Friday, where we write on the prompt given by Lisa-Jo and these are the only rules: set your timer for five minutes and no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.  It’s scary fun!

Today’s random prompt is RACE and I really do have one tomorrow, so I couldn’t help myself. I feel the same way I did here, all unprepared and breathless.


 

When You’re Not Ready to Run

IMG_20120820_192840

We could spend all our time preparing and never go anywhere.

We think there’s something more we need, something else or something better.  Really, what we need is more Breath and instead we hold it, prevent it from escaping and the Life stays stopped up inside us.

Breathe.

God exhaled Life into us and we gasp for more, but it’s really all there.  Everything we need for life and godliness, right down to the adrenaline, He breathed it into the dirt and we stand up to demand more.

Adrenaline is a wonder.

I skip days on the prescribed running plan and my preparation for this 10k is laughable.  I worry about not having enough breath and are there hills and can I really go the distance again, all unprepared as I am?

This is where I explain why I pay money to run.

Running is cheap exercise and it’s easy and there’s not much coordination or skill involved.  Buy some decent shoes and go.

But some days the go wants to not and what we all need is motivation.  So I send in my check a month before the race, sign the waiver on my excuses, and I commit.

When race day comes, I run because the adrenaline surges and I paid to be here and sometimes that is all the motivation I need, and there is breath enough.

I question the sanity of it all mid-race, but I put one foot in front of the other and finish.  I’m happy with my time and there are cookies at the end, a second-place ribbon, and a task accomplished.

You don’t need me to draw the parallel between running and our walk with Jesus.  But what you might need to hear, again, is that all-preparation and no-action will never get you anywhere.

Even if your preparation is lacking, there comes a time to act.  Ready, or not.  You can only hold your breath so long and then, just the way He designed it, your body will exhale.

We started school in full force yesterday, my 13th year of homeschooling and learning right along side the ones God has entrusted to me.

IMG_20120809_150145

I was not prepared and gasping a little.

It made my husband nervous, telling him that I wasn’t sure what I was doing and didn’t really know yet how it would all work out.  He’s the one that always says, “We’ll know more when it’s over,” and he’s right. We learn as we go, but we have to GO.

Those dreams you never start, they never fail.  They bring no heartache or disappointment,  but don’t we learn best from the processes we go through, rather than the ones we only daydream about?

The letter you don’t write because you’re not ready, the meal you don’t make because it might flop, the mission trip you reject because you don’t think you have anything to offer, and the friendship you don’t offer because you might be rejected…none of those things ever hurt or disappointed you, did they?

Yes, they did.

You have big dreams and you have everyday things that you want to do, need to do, and have Breath enough to do.

Exhale.  And begin.

We’ll all know more when it’s over.

{And if you want real motivation, tell someone your dream.  Accountability is a powerful thing.}

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

 It’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

BEYOND

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

 

GO

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I ask or even could think in my feeble, flitting mind.  And it must be true because I ask so little and receive so much.

I don’t believe the lie that everything I need is just beyond what I have now, but I do believe the truth that He is beyond all my imagination and dreamings, and that He wants me to live beyond where I am now.

I ask for so little because my faith is just.  that. small.

Forget-Me-Not

He shows up Big anyway, and befuddles my thinking and my small prayers.

Sometimes doesn’t He put Himself just out of reach, so that my faith stretches like last year’s jeans and once again, I can grasp just the hem of His garment?

I can barely catch up and never truly arrive, yet He promises arrival someday.  He is my pace-setter and it’s always got to be a little beyond where I’m comfortable.

That must be the ticket to prayer.  Yearning for what’s just out of reach, stretching my tight faith and making room for more, all because I know, I know, there is always room for more of Him.

STOP

When Sin Leads to Thanksgiving

Parenting is tough.

Parenting is day and night, 24/7, clinging-to-grace and praying-in-faith.  It’s discipleship of our children and it’s discipleship for us, because who can teach and not learn?

It’s rewarding and it’s exhausting and it makes you question your sanity, like I imagine a marathon would be.

My crazy husband and I ran a half-marathon.  I paid money to expend every ounce of energy I could muster over 13.1 miles, to get blistered and chaffed, to fight off the urge to quit at mile 10 and the need for a potty at miles 5 through 12.  For about the last 7 miles all I could think was, “I’m paying to do this?”.

At the end we got oranges and bananas, some gatorade, and a t-shirt.  Actually, we didn’t even get the shirt because that was more money.

So parenting is tough like running, but the rewards are greater.  Boxes full of drawings, paintings, macaroni necklaces, precious notes and baby teeth in sandwich bags.  Morning-breath kisses, sticky faces, Dr. Seuss by heart, billions of questions, thousands of I love you’s.  

The rewards of parenting aren’t always warm and fuzzy.  A house full of sinners brings tension, lots of correction and training, and really the greatest reward is seeing the gospel work itself out in your children.

Sometimes I stop nagging long enough to allow grace to lead to repentance.

Oh happy day, when my children confess sin without being guilted into confession.  When the Holy Spirit is unhindered and quietness brings conviction.

I have just an ounce of understanding of the joy of this verse:

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” - {Luke 15:7 NKJV}

Yes, we want to raise godly children.  We want them to love Jesus and love their neighbor and overcome evil by doing good.  But if we teach them the truths of scripture, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that Jesus came as a friend of sinners to seek and save the lost,

then every sin-moment is the perfect time and place for grace to pour in and for sinners to bring joy to their Savior.

And I give thanks for the repentance, not the sin.  But without the realization of the one, the other is never needed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

{Psa 103:1-5 NKJV}

Blessing the Lord for all this:

305. siblings that miss each other

306. my hard-working, sensitive and giving children

307. making my tired husband smile

308. The wonderful burning ball of warmth in the sky!

309. Shelby’s Super Nanny impression (crack. me. up!)

310. dancing wild in the living room to Sharri’s piano playing

311. inside jokes ;)

312. forgiveness

313. talented friends making beautiful music on our piano

314. long-lost friends

315. big words with Shyla!

316. standing in the rain with the boys, watching the lightning

317. barbecuing again

318. guitar music from the bedroom

319. swim lessons

320. repentant hearts

Linking up with

A Holy Experience

The Better Mom

Titus 2sdays

Scribing the Journey

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