Friday, August 26, 2011

Follow Through Friday - Nashville Bound

Last week, I said I'd be doing good to get one hour done on my sampler since I officially started homeschooling Mary Grace this past week, and I've been getting ready for a trip to Nashville tomorrow. Well, that would have been really good, but it didn't happen.

I am going to take it with me, though. Long stretches of interstate and ample sunlight through the car windows are conducive to a little needlework. Again, I'll report next week if that happens.

This week wasn't completely unproductive, however. Mary Grace and I now know all the territories and provinces- plus capitals- of Canada. (If you'd like to hear my mnemonic device associated with that, just let me know). We have discussed the four major tissues in the human body and can spout off the cummutative and distributive properties of math.  Check.  I'm almost done packing...just need to pay a few bills, watch Lou pack the car, love on my kiddos a little bit, and we are ready to head out.

I am going to my home state.
sampler my mom made

I'm not going to where I grew up, Munford, Tennessee, but to Nashville, TN's capital and the capital of country music. We plan on listening to country music all the way there. Ok, not really, but I do love my country music. Lou and I will start our visit off right by hitting the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night.

 My current favorite country music song is Take a Back Road by Rodney Atkins. I smile every time I hear the lyric, "put a little gravel in my travel." We probably won't be doing that this trip, but the song takes me back to the many times I did that when I lived in the Volunteer state.

Lou will be in meetings during the day, brushing up on all things EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and I'll be brushing up on something I used to have - a southern accent.

Maybe I'll report a bit about things here on my blawg.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Perfect Meal Plan

When I was younger (below 40), and people explained their middle age spread away with the words slower metabolism, I inwardly scoffed, "Yeah right, you slug," and promptly took another bite of my 10 p.m. bowl of ice cream.

Pride goeth before a fall.

On the brink of 50, I now throw those same two words around and hastily show people my thyroid medicine to prove it. It's such an interesting phenomenon. I want to eat as much as I ever have, but find I can't. I get full more quickly, darn it.  So, you would think eating less would mean a person would lose weight. Nope. At least not this person - and it's all because of that pesky slower metabolism. More cheery news came out on this front in March, 2010, when the Journal of the American Medical Association released a study that said women in my age bracket needed to exercise an hour a day just to maintain their weight - and that's assuming they weren't overweight to begin with. I exercise and  enjoy exercising, but an hour a day? Good grief.

What's a middle-aged girl to do?

The help I needed has come from my doctor husband. He has attended a conference on the heart for many years in Kansas City. There he has heard cardiologist James O'Keefe speak on all issues related to heart health - our diet being a significant component. Dr. O'Keefe and his wife, Joan, a registered dietitian, have written what Lou considers the healthy lifestyle bible.

 He recommends it often in his practice. I have read most of it. Warning: It does have the following statement on page 26.

Also, never eat deep-fried foods or commercial baked goods.

Gulp. And that's not a deep-fried foods, or commercial baked goods gulp. But before that scares you away, remember that the book is also chock-full of the gazillion benefits to your body, your energy level, your mental alertness, when you eat like they recommend.

I remember quite a few principles from the book, but it was actually an article that Joan referred to on her twitter feed that has really helped me to practically eat a little better.  She refers to it as the perfect meal plan: It has no fancy title, just five words to guide your eating: Two colors and a protein.

For whatever reason, that has stuck with me. I don't do it all the time, for sure. But I find myself thinking that way before almost every meal - and actually following through a lot of the time. This summer, a typical breakfast for me, was an egg, a peach, and half an avocado (or banana, or tomato). So good. And I was full, but not in the overstuffed, I wish I hadn't eaten what I just ate way.

Yesterday at lunch, I had ham, some watermelon, and half an avocado. (Can you tell I like avocados?)
Obviously, I am not a food photographer, but this was yummy
 The great news in all this is, I have lost some of that middle age spread that's been creeping on. It may not be anything that noticeable to the world, but my clothes are fitting better. And, I feel better.

And oh, how I like to feel good. Have I sworn off the p. 26 prohibited foods mentioned above? Nope. I still love McDonald's french fries. I just love them fewer times than I used to in my younger years. I also have another confession to make. You know the healthy lunch pictured above? I certainly didn't follow it with a processed baked good -I knew this blog post was coming... but I did follow it with a homemade baked good (a horse of a different color altogether).
Homemade Peach Crisp

And you know what? Eating the perfect meal makes eating the perfect dessert pretty guilt free.

 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
                                                                                                    I Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Follow Through Friday - Joy in the First and Last

The 2011-2012 school year began this past Thursday here in Bolivar. There was lots of talk on Facebook and Twitter about the first day of school. Our high school principal tweeted

 David Geurin 

And my good friend, Sue Roweton, wrote a very sweet blog post about the first day of school. It's a big day. The beginning of something new. 

The first of something typically signals the end of something else. In this case, the something else is summer. So, I found myself thinking about the last days of summer. Our family has had a very busy, fun summer. It began with a family vacation in Hawaii.
Pearl Harbor
Then I flew to Aspen with Hannah for a couple of days to check out where she was going to work. I know. I am totally spoiled.

The end of June found the kids involved with various sports camps and Centrifuge before we headed to KAA in July for our week there.
Elizabeth & Mary Grace about to tackle treetops
Faith & her friend, Heide
Home from camp to celebrate some birthdays,
Jasmine and Sara were here to celebrate 2 months after Hannah's 20th 
Luke turned 22
and to watch more sports activities.

Not her usual good form, but cute

Then David headed to Kamp just as Luke and Hannah came home for a couple of weeks before they headed back to Razorback country.

He celebrated his 18th birthday at Kanakuk. We sent him lots of pictures of friends and family holding this sign

He received the 110% award
Fun! We have had so much fun. And I am thankful. However, with this much special activity occurring, routine has not been a word we have used much.

I like routine. I feel like I'm more productive, more efficient when I'm in a rhythm, a daily flow. I love getting a lot done. But I also like the "lazy" days of summer - when our schedule varies from day to day. In summer, there's a freedom and mindset that you just don't experience in the middle of February. Do I need to prefer one over the other? Can I contentedly say, "last days of summer," or am I one who pleads, "Last, days of summer!"

Here's where I adopt the Deion Sander's "both, Coach" philosophy. All of one or the other all the time would be tiresome. We need both.  They both are good gifts from a good God who, in His great wisdom, gives us both on a daily basis - at least twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. Sunrise, sunset.

The wisdom of God, the goodness of God, in these two times of day boggles my mind sometimes. He knows we need routine, the rhythm of light and dark, work and rest. But He also knew that the same old same old everyday would eventually cease giving us joy and giving him glory. So, every morning and every night, right on schedule, He paints a new scene for us in the sky. And even that scene changes moment by moment. It's beauty captures our heart sometimes so much, that we call our friends and family, or tweet about it, or blog about it. We have to share it with someone. That increases our joy!

Joy daily - with the sunrise and the sunset - and at the beginning of this new school year, the end of a busy summer, There's joy in the routine. There's joy in the variety. There's joy in God who's showing Himself in both, Coach.

Faith and Elizabeth - 1st day of school, 2011
18 August 2001
1st day for this senior - a member of the 125th graduating class of Bolivar High School

Note: Posting this Follow Through Friday is a follow through of sorts. I am trying to get back in the routine of posting them every week, on Friday instead of Saturday, for crying out loud. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the sampler I am trying to finish, and I said I would continue to report on my progress here. I have one "thumbs up," and one "thumbs down. I worked on it one week, but not the next. I'll report how this next week goes.

Speaking of next week, I will be officially starting school with Mary Grace and trying to get ready for a trip to Nashville on Saturday with Lou, so an hour on my sampler work will be all I plan to accomplish over and above the joy of the routine of every day life. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

First Things First

There are all kinds of future blog posts running around in my head. Some that are pushing and jostling their way to the forefront right now have to do with my kids. I hope to, periodically, write a few posts with the titles, "Notes to My Daughters," and "Notes to My Sons." Don't all us moms out there have thoughts we want to make sure we've said to our children? Whether or not they're heard and taken to heart is another matter. But at least we've spoken our peace.

I'm not the first to do this. One of my spiritual mothers, Elisabeth Elliot, wrote Let Me Be a Woman for her daughter. And, the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote the book of Proverbs for his sons. Now please don't think I'm putting myself in the same category of wisdom that my two examples inhabit. A Venn diagram of our three lives would show the only common relation present between us is parent. I do, however, like it when I at least try to do what wise people have done. With that said, I want to say some things to and for my kids.

Obviously, I'm wanting to say some things that I think will help them in life. I've been trying to do that since they took their first breath. But guess what? They haven't always listened to me! I know that's shocking, but they don't just say, when corrected by me, "Why, thank you, Mom! Of course what you are suggesting is the wisest course of action. I will change how I am thinking and what I am doing right now!" They've actually said and done things that haven't pleased me.

One of the things that I wasn't prepared for as a parent, was the vast array of feelings I would experience and the intensity of those feelings. I had always heard about the selfless, loyal, "mama bear" kind of love. I expected that and I experience that - intensely. But I also experience some intense moments of displeasure, disappointment, anger and hurt. And the thoughts I have during those moments are, well, thoughts I didn't think any good, godly mother would ever have. I didn't feel very loving. Where was a mother's love in all that mess?

And then, the verse that set me free and convicted me, all at the same time.

I consider the following my watershed parenting verse - a verse that's basically repeated three times - in Matthew 3:17, Luke 3:22, and Mark 1:11 (quoted below).

And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

Do you see the order of things in this verse? God loves his son, and only after he affirms this love for his son does he talk about being pleased with him. Love first. Unconditional love - not based on anything done.

God used this verse to teach me about unconditional love for my children. I am to love them first - unconditionally. The pleasure or displeasure (which will happen) comes after the love, is second to the love, doesn't affect the love. Pleasure (or displeasure) is a feeling. Hard, un-motherly feelings during hard parenting times don't mean you don't love your child. They just mean you, like every other human, have feelings. Here's where I have to pray one of my lifeline prayers.

Lord, help me. I feel _____(here's where I spill my guts to Him). But please, help me know how to feel about this. Help me know how to think about this. Give me the wisdom I need in this.

So, where does that put love? Love -that word that the wisest of the wise have tried to define - is bigger than I can even begin to describe here. As I think about what it means to love my children, I would tell them that their mom:

-Is forever and always for you.
-Is on your team.
-Wants what's best for  you.
-Is praying for you.
-Believes in you.
-Thinks God did amazing     when He made you.
-Is thankful for you.
-Sees you as a gift.
-Hurts when you hurt.
-Celebrates when you    celebrate.
-Is cheering you on.
-Chooses you.

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR DON'T DO. Unconditionally. For the rest of my life. I would like to say this kind of unconditional love comes naturally to me. It doesn't. But here's where the Holy Spirit helps me in my weakness. He helps me fight for this kind of love. To press hard into it.

I need to make this unconditional love clear to my children before I attempt to write any of those potential notes that I introduced in the first paragraph. Those notes will be  largely about ways of thinking and ways of doing. And I'll be writing them because I think they will be helpful. I hope they are. But no matter whether or not my kids even read them, let alone take them to heart - no matter what my kids think, what they say, or what they do, I love them. I choose them. I'm for them.

And I want them to know that first.