Friday, April 27, 2012

Bits and Pieces

I've shared 3 of the important lessons I learned on my weekend Walk to Emmaus experience.  Prejudice, priorities, God's nudges.  There are more little bits, little take aways that I want to keep with me so I need to write them down in order to remind myself from time to time.

- Make sure others know that you love them.  Taking the time to share how I feel, small gestures to demonstrate my affection are some majorly important ways to keep relationships strong.

- I got back in touch with my emotional side.  I realized a while ago that I was missing something.  It used to be that I would tear up over the smallest things.  Somewhere along the way, I got too busy and too stressed to be all mushy gushy.  Over the course of those 3 days, as I unlocked my heart, I found the well of tears that, for me, express sadness, joy, hope, fear, and those feelings that can't be described by words.

- Serving others is an amazing expression of love.  Allowing others to serve me is a way of allowing someone to love me.  I serve others out of love and should be willing to accept the love of others in that same way.

- I wrote a post after being moved by my pastor's sermon on Ohana- intentional family.  My weekend really reinforced how important it is to have that intentional family (blood related or not).  The days following my experienced continue to reinforce what I've known for a while- the people God puts in my path are blessings.

- I wish I would have journaled.  I wish I would have taken time each night to reflect on the events of the day behind me.  There are things that are already very fuzzy.  I'm blogging or otherwise journaling the big lessons but I want to hold on to the details as much as I can.

- I am eager for others to experience God in the way that I did this past weekend.  Everyone's experience is unique but I think the foundation is the same for most- -God's love is unconditional and never-ending.  We might have all experienced it in different ways or maybe some won't be able to realize that until later, but it's the main universal message.

- There are things that happened in my experience that I can't share on my blog.  There are things that I experienced that will always be personal and private for me.  And there are parts that I will be called to share in the future.

If there is anything I've written about or shared in this week or anything you know of me or that I've shared before that has you asking questions about my faith, about God, about Jesus, about being a follower of Christ, I sincerely invite you to contact me.  I'm going to keep blogging about my faith in my posts as I have in the past.  My faith is the foundation of my life so it is part of everything I do and it will continue to be part of my blogging.  I have no intention of using my blog as a conversion tool, I won't be preaching "at" you but will continue to share lessons in faith with you.  Just know that my proverbial door is always open.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Job

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I've been pretty stressed out for the past year.  Here's the Reader's Digest Condensed version:

I've worked in my current company, in this same department, for 12 years.  I started as an administrative assistant, have promoted up twice, and am now a Procurement Analyst- the next step up for me is becoming my boss (manager of my department) or working in an entirely different area.  1 year ago, my job changed significantly.  Responsibilities were added that increased my workload significantly.  I stopped taking lunch breaks, came in early when I could, stayed late, and was taking work home most nights and weekends.  I was ramping up my training to run my first ever half marathon and this work change derailed me (I completed the event but not as well as if I had been able to stay on my training schedule).  In addition to the increased workload, well, let's just say that there are always challenging personalities in any workplace and sometimes we have to work closely with those people.  I like the people I work with and I work hard but there is plenty that can easily become added stress in terms of styles and personalities when the workload is bearing down.

In the past month or so, there have been things going on in my workplace that have left me... feeling unsure.  Unsure about why I'm here, how long I can keep this going, and what the future holds for me.  Over the past 9 months, I've tried to find my way.  I've sought advice from friends, I've prayed a lot, I've found ways to set limits.  Improvements have been made but my heart was still heavy with the stress I was constantly carrying.  My Job was my number one stress day in and day out.  I would do great for a couple of days and then the same-old, same-old would bring me back to Stressville.  It was impacting my relationship with my kids, my husband, my friends.  I didn't feel like myself but I couldn't figure out how to get back to the Liz I had been.

As I was preparing for my weekend Walk to Emmaus, I just knew that I would be spending time focusing on what I need to do next to improve things.  I am not happy with how things are but I am terrified of what the next steps might be.  I knew that this focused time with God was going to bring me a lot of answers, advice, callings, whatever.  I was eager to seek that guidance.

God knows my heart and my prayers even before I do.  I've been praying about my job for a long time and have been trying my best to let go of the small things, to not bring it home with me, to do my best work and let it go.  But I apparently needed a big demonstration to really get the point.

I didn't think or pray or worry about work, my job, my boss, or my career the entire time I was there.  Even when someone asked me what I do for a living... the stress and anxiety about my work situation wasn't present.  I just answered and moved on.

I didn't even realize that I hadn't focused on my Number One Life Stress until the weekend was done and a friend, knowing of my stress, asked me if I'd gotten what I came for.  That's when it hit me.

I sure did!

In my head, my job has never been my number one priority.  God, husband, kids, self, intentional family, and so on are the items floating back and forth, up and down in that top 5 bracket.  But I was living my life as if my job was a top priority as well as keeping my heartfelt priorities at the top, too.  No wonder I was so stressed and worn out and frustrated and cranky!

I've let this work stress seep into so many aspects of my being that I carried all of this negativity with me no matter where I went and what I did.  And while some of my prayers to get me through a trying day were necessary, I was spending so much time praying about my job that I was still giving it more focus than it deserves.

My job is not my life. 

I have important interactions with a wide variety of people throughout my work day.  Living my life as a Follower of Christ is massively important to those interactions.  I have important responsibilities and expectations in my job.  Following God's law and His purpose for my life help me to be an employee with a solid work ethic.

But that's it.

I need to show up each day, do my best, and then go home.  It is not God's purpose for my life to be the best manager of international safety products my company has ever seen.  It is not God's purpose for my life to have the highest cost savings each month.  It is not God's purpose for my life to carry the weight of frustration because of a difficult personality that I must work with regularly.

The weight off of my shoulders when I realized all of that was almost indescribable.  I was so used to carrying this giant ball of stress everywhere I went that I didn't even immediately realize it was gone until it was pointed out to me!  I thought of the wonderful week I took off of work for Spring Break.  My kids were at Grandma's, I had time alone, I was totally de-stressed but when Monday came... I dreaded returning to the office and the same old politics and the same old micromanaging and the same old crazy demands.  I had to force myself to walk into the building from the parking lot, praying in my car for strength to face the day.  After my Emmaus weekend?  I was eager to get back to work.  I was excited to be connected to the people around me.  I was happy to do my work to the best of my ability and then go home at the end of the day, satisfied that I had done the best I could.

I'm only 4 days post-Emmaus.  Maybe my attitude is going to change in the next few weeks, days, months.  There are certainly stressful times ahead.  Nothing in my workplace has changed- but I have.  I've faced a few of the normal challenges this week without any glitches to my new understanding.  I'm keeping my priorities in the correct order- taking time for God throughout the day, focusing on my kids and their growth, my husband and our relationship, and my intentional family (friends, church).

Matthew 11:28

The Message (MSG)
 28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Earlier, I shared what was the first important step of my Walk to Emmaus experience- unlocking my heart in a way that I didn't anticipate or even realize I was keeping locked.  I have to give a special thank you to Cherie for pointing me to the message series from North Point Community Church / Andy Stanley.  I've listened to the first 2 parts of the series and it is answering so many questions and affirming so many beliefs and I really appreciate her sharing it with me.

I think learning all of that about myself was really an important foundation.  I think it was the main thing I needed to "get" before the rest of the weekend could happen.  I had to let go of my prejudices in order to be open to what was in store for me.

One of the biggest and most amazing lessons I learned this weekend was that if God gives me a nudge, I'd better listen.  Because the nudges will get more and more persistent.

I will share what I can about this experience.  I will tell you that some would say that this was just my subconscious, this was coincidence, this was kismet.  And if you prefer to define it that way, go right ahead.  I'm just going to share it as I experienced it and you are welcome to take from it what you'd like.

In a passing sort of way, another woman attending this event shared something personal with the group.  I'm going to call this woman Mary.  Mary shared simply that she needed to let go of anger at her father for hurting her.

Hours go by.  That night, I hear a clear call from God.  I need to talk to Mary.  I was broken as a child and fought long and hard to become healthy and whole and joyful and free.  Go talk to Mary.

My response?  Really? I don't even know what kind of hurt... but, OK, I will.  But not right now.  Everyone is going to bed.

The next morning.  Loud and clear.  Go talk to Mary.  My response? I will! Just not right this second- it's breakfast time and I really want this time with my friends.

Later in the day, I hear it loud and clear again.  I really need you to talk to Mary.  I have to admit that I was almost getting annoyed at this point.  My response?  I said I will and I will.  I'm just waiting for the time to be right.  (Because, you know, God always works on our timeframe.)

That afternoon, my friends and I had a break and decided to bundle up and take a walk.  We head upstairs to get our shoes and sweaters and jackets from the bedroom area.  I don't have a good spot to sit down so I say that I'm going out to the main room to put on my shoes.  This is a room with couches and you have to pass through this area to get to the dorm area.

I sit down and put on one shoe.  And there's that voice again.  I told you that I really need you to talk to Mary.  You have an important message for her.

My response?  I kinda sorta.. well... I selfishly wanted to go on my walk.  I wanted to talk to my friends about what we'd experienced so far that day.

I challenged God.

I really don't normally do this.  I really am usually good about listening to those nudges and doing what is asked- even when I don't have a clue why.  And sometimes I end up knowing the purpose and sometimes I don't and I'm totally fine with that.

I challenged Him by saying- Fine. You want me to talk to Mary?  Have her walk through that door right now.  Then I'll talk to her.

You know what comes next, right?

I hear the door open.  I'm still bent over my shoe at this point.  I shut my eyes and laughed in my head.  There's no possible way that the person walking through is going to be...



And she's alone.  And there is no one around.  Just me and her in this room and plenty of space on the couch next to me.

So I tell her that I need to talk to her, that I have a message from her.  And I tell her about the nudges and her walking through the door at that moment and... we begin to talk.

I can't share all the details because they aren't mine to share.  But this is what I will tell you... there was something in my words that was just for her.  We cried together, we hugged.

One thing that I know Mary shared with me was that I was the first survivor she'd met with a story similar to her own that was... normal.

One thing I know was that Mary needed to hear someone say that it's ok not to forgive and that forgiveness isn't something you just choose and move on.

And one other thing that I think was important was being able to say that you don't have to let go of the anger and the hurt all at once and you don't have to do it right now- it's when you're ready and you can do it in small pieces and chunks.

I told her that if she needed me any other time over the weekend, to please seek me out.  Even if it was just to get a hug from someone who "knows."

We didn't talk again.  On the final day as goodbyes were being said and final thoughts were being shared, we did have a beautiful and intense moment together that I will treasure for a long time- just as I treasure the talk we did have on that couch in that room when God opened that door.

We are staying in touch with each other.  I don't know what all God has in store for her and for me and what all we will learn from one another.  I don't know if there is a big future or if what needed to be done was done.  And I don't need to know.  I (eventually) did what I was called to do and I know it served a purpose.

What blew my mind and left me a bit numb was when I learned that our experience may have played a part in someone else's story.  I'm not part of that story in any way but there is circumstantial evidence of the ripple effect happening.

One of my big lessons in my Walk was this huge and powerful reminder to listen to the nudges.  If I tune them out, how can I possibly be the hands and feet of Christ?  Loving others and putting that love into action is far more than just making a list of good deeds to accomplish.  It's not a checklist of "OK, I donated to the food pantry so I fed the poor and I went on a mission trip so I cared for the world and I wrote a check to whatever organization so I was generous and I didn't flip off that bad driver so I showed mercy."  I had a huge wake up call a few years back to the importance of doing what is asked and not just doing what seems to be the "Christian thing" to do.  When I'm listening and doing what is asked, I get pushed way outside of my comfort zone 95% of the time.  When it's His plan and not mine, I often find myself shaking my head and wondering where this next step is going to take me.  When I am fulfilling what I know to be His call, I end up overwhelmed by His power and consumed with His love.

Trust and obey
for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus
than to trust and obey

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; 
   don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; 
   he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all. 

Proverbs 3:5-6


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fit City: Calendars

Come hang out with me at FitCity today!  


I have a friend who is very motivated by having a fitness calendar.  Having a set plan of what activity needs to be done that day gives her a plan and also a sense of satisfaction at having completed the workout.  She has given me some great resources for calendars to help with a walking plan, fitness plan, and more. 

Calendars have helped me on parts of my fitness journey.  Couch to 5K required following something of a calendar.  Training for a half marathon did as well. 

My schedule is busy and having a calendar should help me get my workouts in- at least a minimum amount of activty, right?

I’m going to try it.  I’m going to create a calendar with a workout goal for each day.  I’ve learned that I have to allow flexibility in my schedule or else I end up “punishing” myself if I don’t get that workout done- and I usually punish by pigging out.  Not a good plan.

But I do have some motivation.  I have some things on my calendar that are keeping me eager to move more and maintain and improve my fitness level.

Dirty Girl Mud Run - A 5K obstacle course that includes mud and water and climbing.  It’s not a timed event so the speed isn’t important- but having the strength and endurance to finish the event is what matters. Plus, I haven’t played in the mud since I was a little kid so I’m looking forward to getting dirty!  May 12, Klipsch Music Center, Noblesville

Girlfriend Ride – There are 3 different distances. My plan is to complete the 50K ride and I am very excited to be riding with a team this year!  Last year, it was me and 2 friends.  This year, it’s me and about 20 friends so far!  We are of varying fitness levels and won’t all do the same distance but I’m so excited to go on this ride for my second year and have so many others joining in!  June 16, Columbus, IN

Fishers Freedom Festival 5K – This was my first ever 5K jsut 3 years ago.  It runs in my neighborhood so I have never had a good excuse to not participate (but I sure did complain it blocking up the streets).  June 23, Holland Park, Fishers

What motivates you?  What’s on your calendar?  Have you set time to be active today?  Do you have a fitness goal on your calendar for this week or month?  Do you have an event that you are looking forward to completing?


Monday, April 23, 2012

My Guarded Heart

I am back.  The past 3 days can't be described as a retreat.  The best word I could use is "experience."  I write on this blog often but find that I struggle for the words that can bear the magnitude of the things I experienced in the past 3 days.

And I think that's exactly why so much of events like Walk to Emmaus are kept "secret."  With a secret, there are perceived potential negative consequences if the secret is told.  The "secrets" of the Walk aren't kept private because there could be a negative impact or consequence- it's because those who have been through this know that to share everything, to show the details would mean that you will lessen the experience for those who will go in the future.  And the experience was so indescribable that I wouldn't want to influence or detract in any way from someone else's journey.  There are things about my experience that I can't share simply because there aren't words for it.  There are things about this experience I wouldn't want to tell someone considering going because a key element is keeping yourself open to any and all possibilities.  If you are anticipating or expecting specific events, your focus isn't in the right place.

The things I share aren't going to be about the events of the Walk to Emmaus but, instead, about some things I experienced that have impacted my life in a way that I believe I will carry with me for a very long time.

I was fortunate to attend this experience with other women from my church- some I already called friends and some I was eager to get to know better.  I come away from this time with them knowing they are more than friends- they are my sisters.

Some of those women had anxiety and fear going into this experience.  Concern about the family or other obligations going on at home without them, fear of the unknown of the experience itself.  I went in excited and eager.  I felt like I was open to whatever would come my way- as I often work to be most of the time.

But I was quickly shown that my heart wasn't nearly as open as I thought it was.

My friend Ashli, who knows my heart well, had given me a bit of advice about all of this as she had attended this Walk previously.  She told me to make sure I take time for me and my purpose in being there- that I don't spend my time caring for everyone else.  My purpose in attending this experience was to deepen MY personal relationship with Christ- not to attend to whatever was around me.  And she was right.

What I wasn't expecting was that the part of me that I needed to attend to on my spiritual journey was my guarded heart.  I've felt like I'm pretty open and loving and accepting, right?  I've demonstrated that in my life, in my writing, in how I relate to others.

But what I had to work through right away was that my guarded heart had already decided things about the other people attending this experience and working and running this experience.  I had already decided that, aside from those I did know well, these other Christians were obviously not nearly as open minded, loving, accepting, or tolerant as I am.  (Oh, hello, ego!)  My life experience and experiences shared with me by others had hardened my heart against people on my same path.  Yes, there are some who are bigoted, prejudiced, and have their own hearts hardened against others based on labels, the unknown, and ignorance.     I don't deny that.  But there are also more that are seeking to truly love all people based on God's love only. I just didn't realize that I was holding on to the first stereotype of Christianity.  I've realized that I do have some shame in being known as a follower of Christ because I don't want others to use that label to define what they think they know about me.  By saying "I am a Christian," my fear is that others will decide that means I am judgmental and self-righteous.  If I say, "I follow Christ's teachings," I want to follow it up with "But."  "But I'm different from all those other Christians..."  And when I encounter other Christians, I've been putting that judgement on them immediately instead of allowing time to see God's love in them and recognize that they, too, might be trying their best to love all of God's children.  I've not been recognizing that other Christians might be in different places on the journey to fully love, accept, tolerate others who are different from our own beliefs or definitions.

"We may not all believe alike, but we can all love alike."  - John Wesley

I was almost immediately presented with people that I know God specifically placed in my path to demonstrate to me that my heart was guarded.  I was immediately challenged because I encountered a couple of women who seemed to "fit the bill" of my concerns- even before I had identified that my heart was guarded in this way.

Then I came to understand a deep tension, a coil tightly wound in my gut, as a particular subject was briefly touched upon and identified for me clearly where my own prejudices were holding me back.

And I was able to let it go.  I was able to unlock those guards that I hadn't even realized I had put up.

There is no shame or apology in my faith.  Instead, I feel even more compelled and empowered to continue to live my faith authentically and naturally as I have been doing- but to be cautious that I am not passing judgment on others in my faith.  Again- I still recognize that there are those who use the word "Christianity" as their basis and reasoning for their hate, their prejudices, and their harmful choices.  I don't dismiss that in the slightest.  That is still a battle I will continue to fight with love, strength, and absolute resolve.  But when I first meet someone and they tell me they are a Christian... or when I listen to a sermon... or when I gather with a group of others in my faith... my heart will be open to who they are and where they are instead of assuming that I already know what they feel and believe and have been taught.

And once I unlocked my heart, some truly miraculous things began to happen.

There will be more to come, more I want to share.  I don't know when I will have processed all of it enough to be able to find the words. It might come quickly, it might take time.  And some things will never be shared, I suppose.  I learned so much about listening to God's nudges the first time, about the intentional family that God has placed in my life, about what I want for my children and my husband, and about the ongoing impact that something that feels like it's small and intimate can end up having on others (even beyond any scope we could have imagined).

Most of all, I am blessed to know that I have an even larger capacity to love others than I knew.  And I have been blessed to feel an undefinable amount of love.  Freeing my guarded heart was the first step to fully experiencing my Walk to Emmaus.  Looking back, it was such a small part of the weekend.  But if it hadn't happened, if I had stayed closed off in that way, then I wouldn't have been fully engaged in what the rest of the experience held for me.

Edited to add:

One of my friends, who attended the walk with me, contacted me after reading this post to share a poem with me.  She has this on her fridge at home and my post reminded her of it.  I'd not read it before so went and did some research on it when I realized how well it fit what I was saying here.  It is sometimes credited as "author unknown" and sometimes credited to Maya Angelou.  However, it turns out it was written by a woman named Carol Wimmer.

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost!
That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble -
needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed
and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache
which is why I seek His name

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority
I only know I’m loved

Copyright 1988 Carol Wimmer


Thursday, April 19, 2012


I am heading off to a retreat (Walk to Emmaus) and will be completely offline and disconnected from Thursday evening until Sunday evening.

It's kinda scary.

Being without my phone, my computer?  I can handle that.

Being away from my husband? My kids?  I can handle that.  The hard part is that there is no contact between me and them.  I can't send a text message, make a phone call.  I can't ask about their day or send a picture or say goodnight and I love you.

I'm taking time today to record me reading some favorite good night books.  They will be stored on my computer so Jeff can access them.

I know it sounds odd to be attending something that requires me to completely disconnect from my life.  But as I understand it, that's kind of the point, too.  Disconnect from my life so I can fully connect to my relationship with God.

I have 2 sponsors- friends from my church that have attended this event before.  They are here to take care of anything that might hold me back from being fully focused on my experience.  I take great comfort in that.

Here on the blog- there will be nothing.

Contact with my kids and husband? Nothing.

Status update on Facebook? Nope. Nothing.

Tweets? Emails?  Nothing.

Running errands?  Gardening?  Housework?  Sushi?  Calling Christy?  Nothing.

And yet, somehow... the coming days hold everything.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I love my church- I'm pretty open about that.  I find my church to be a special place and I love my church family.

This past Sunday, our pastor gave yet another message that left me feeling like he's somehow digging around in my heart and in my brain.


It means family.  It is said to be a Hawaiian word.  But it means family in the extended sense of the term- not just blood relation but also adopted and intentional.

Intentional family.

I really like that.

I love my family- my parents, Jeff's parents, siblings, aunts uncles, and so on.  The love I have for my church family- my intentional family- is different.

Intentional.  On purpose.  Family on purpose.  Isn't there something wonderful about that?

One point of the sermon on Sunday was that "there's a difference between attending a church service and belonging to a church family."  That is so, so true.  And having that church family? That is one of the main reasons I sought out a church home.

I've never doubted the existence of God.  I've gotten angry with Him, I've doubted His wisdom, I've questioned my purpose... but my faith in God has always been steadfast.  When I left home for college, my relationship with my church needed serious redefining.  Going to college opened up this wiggling little question in my heart- Does God only love some people?  It's kind of what I had been taught and it was kind of terrifying to think of how broken I knew I was at that time and to think that God, by the things I'd been taught about sin and sinners, might not love me in the way I thought God was supposed to love.  So I turned away from church for a while.

It wasn't until I had a better personal definition of my relationship with God and had a more intimate understanding of my purpose that I suddenly realized that something was missing.  It took me a while to figure out that what I needed was a home.

I visited a couple of churches when I moved to Indiana but none were quite right.  I even joined one but mostly because a lot of my theatre friends were members there.  I started getting involved with the choir but then the theatre thing took off and I left church in the dust.  Life got crazy with new jobs and divorce and drama.  Life got good again and I started a half hearted search when a friend suggested I come visit his church.  I hemmed and hawed and eventually decided to go.  From the moment I walked in the door, it felt different than anywhere I'd been before.

And now, 8 years later, I am fully part of this community, this family- my ohana.

My ohana reaches well beyond Sunday morning.  These aren't people I just see on Sunday morning and then pretend to be excited to see again the next Sunday.  These are people that I want to spend time with, that I am eager to know more about, that I want to be connected with.

In the sermon, the 4 main points were that my church family helps me refocus, helps me face life's problems, fortifies my faith, and helps me find purpose and meaning in my life.  Check, check, check, and check.

Just like with any family- it isn't all sunshine and roses.  My church and my involvement in it isn't all sunshine and roses.  There are people that don't keep commitments or people who talk smack about others or people who get selfish or fights between friends.  The same thing happens in any family, doesn't it?  Someone says something that might hurt my feelings.  Someone makes a choice that doesn't fit my agenda.  There are people in my family that I don't get along with as well as others.  People I don't know as well as others.

Finding my church home and my ohana has proven to be an immensely important part of my faith journey.  Each person that I have interaction with, that I build a deeper relationship with, that I come to love and trust is an important part of my life.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WW: Week... Um...

Well, I haven't officially logged my food in weeks.  I am mindful of my eating and my choices, though.

I haven't weighed in since March.  Need to amend that today.

I haven't been consistently working out but have been making my best efforts to be active on some level many times a week.  It's been a challenge.

But I'm not upset about it.

I also haven't turned to junk food.  I haven't been chowing down on chips or burgers.  I'm not always making the very best choice but I'm also not making the very crappy choices.

It's not lack of motivation that is keeping me from being active.  There are times when the schedule just gets insane.  There are times when plans are made to get that workout in and then life or work or carpenter bees destroy those plans (that was yesterday's plan ruin-er- carpenter bees had gotten into the house).

This journey isn't about losing a certain amount of weight or fitting into a certain size.  This journey isn't about completing a set goal.  There is no end point.  This is everyday life.  Sometimes, I will be really on track with food and fitness.  Sometimes with food.  Sometimes with fitness.  Sometimes there will be challenges to face.

People like to say it's a marathon, not a sprint.  I get that and have said it myself many times.  But I kind of disagree with it, too.  Because even a marathon takes time to achieve.  Even a marathon does eventually have a finish line.  Healthy living as a true lifestyle means- for life.  My only finish line is that really final one and I'm hoping the choices I make now help me live a strong and vibrant life until then.

My 3 months with Weight Watchers is about done.  And I think it did exactly what I was seeking- helped me get back on track, helped me regain my focus.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Dress Shopping

There are few things in life that leave me realizing how fat I still am than dress shopping.  In fact, it might prove to be a good strategy to make myself go try on dresses anytime I lose workout motivation.  There is great danger that it could backfire and I could go into an emotional tailspin where I come out on the other end of a dark eating binge... but there is also a good chance that realizing how shaky and jiggly and large everything is will encourage me to get myself to the gym.

We are going to a wedding in a few weeks.  It's been ages since we had reason to dress up.  I like dresses- when they are comfortable and flattering.  So I wanted something new, something fun, and something a little stylish.

I am not a shopper.  Not at all.  I don't like to shop.  I don't like trying on clothes.  I don't like going through racks and finding things to try on.  I don't like trying to create outfits.  It makes me tired.

So when I decided that Saturday was going to be The Day I Find A Dress, I wasn't going to fail.

I had no idea it would be such a dramatic experience.  Here's the bottom line.

I bought this dress.  It was outside of what I wanted to spend but I thought it was super great.

Until I got it home.  I didn't have the magic mirror or the sale ladies telling me how gorgeous I looked.  I still liked it- don't get me wrong.  But for the price of the dress ($90) and the belt ($50), I really needed to LOVE it.  There were some make up marks in the white area that mostly came clean in the store (they used clorox type disposable wipes) but for $90, it needed to be perfect.  So I decided to take it back.

Plus, there was this other outfit that I really loved there.  I wasn't going to get it.  It was CRAZY expensive and way outside of any clothing budget I might have set.  But I kind of felt like I bought the black and white one as a consolation prize for not getting the outfit I really loved.

That dress? $160. The shrug- $60. And the $50 belt.  Even if I went and found a shrug cheaper and a belt cheaper, I can't imagine spending $160 on a dress.  No matter how amazing I felt in it.

So I was home and frustrated.  I posted on Facebook that I really need to make a list of friends who like to shop so that I can have serious help in the future.  I also knew that if I didn't find a dress right away, it was going to really bother me and I would lose the interest in buying something new.

So Teagan and I headed to JCPenny.  And she helped me pick out and try on a few things.  Had a couple outfit options that I liked and then Teagan found The Dress.  I found a large black belt to go with it.  Dress- $40. Belt- $15.

Now trying to determine the Perfect Shoes is the next great challenge.  Opinion seems to be going with a deep red for accessories.  A friend loaned me a great bracelet and I think I have a necklace and earrings that would work well with it.  I'm thinking these shoes might be a good choice.

This girly thing is absolutely exhausting.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Bullying and Those Bad Parents

I'm angry.  I know it can be dangerous to write when angry.  I also know that some of my best thinking and doing starts when I write while angry.

I was listening to The Bert Show this week on my drive in to work- as I almost always do.  The discussion was on the documentary "Bully" that releases this weekend.  You know I am going to see this movie at some point.  Readers of my blog know that we have dealt with bullying in a way that most people aren't so open about, I suppose.  I've been very honest and open here on the blog about our experiences with our daughter being the bully.  (If you're new here- I suggest clicking that link and you will see all the posts where I have shared about our experiences with our child being a bully.)

Here's where I get angry.  The radio show was taking calls and they had some experts in the studio.  They were talking with kids who witness bullying or who are bullied.  Facebook blew up with comments and the conversation took the turn it always does- to blame the parents of the bully.  This morning, as a follow up to one of the more heart wrenching calls from the previous day, one of the hosts full on stated that bullies have bad home situations.  One of the hosts stated that he wants bullies to hear the call from the girl who was a tortured victim of bullying and he wants them to feel shame for what they've done if they are a bully in their own school.

First quick thought was- yes, they should feel something when hearing this little girl crying on the radio about how she's been bullied for 5 years.  Second quick thought was- but it shouldn't be shame that we focus on.  It should be that if you are a bully and you hear that call and on the inside, you are feeling bad for her and you are recognizing that the choices you make in your peer environment could be impacting someone in the same way, you are feeling something appropriate and should be encouraged to act on it.  Not encouraged to feel more shame.  Because one thing I do believe to be true is that the majority of bullies suffer low self esteem and are already feeling shame and beating themselves up.

Then the comment about the home life of bullies was made and I blew up in my car.

I tried to call in but they had moved on to another topic and it was suggested that I leave a comment on Facebook.  Which I did.  But having my blog as my platform is far more satisfying.  And I can say more.

I got to work and posted on Facebook my thoughts.  And then began to see the comments from other listeners and their opinions of the parents of kids who bully and I had that heart-sinking- punch in the gut feeling that I had when I first heard that my daughter was bullying other kids.  I wanted to message each of these people and tell them that my husband and I are GREAT PARENTS and we LOVE our kids like crazy and our home life is fun but also disciplined but not abusive or overly strict or cruel.  That my kids are the focus of our family and are not neglected or abused.

And I thought about blurring out the names- but these folks posted on The Bert Show's Facebook page so it's easy to find their names anyway.

I get that there are situations where parents will disregard their child's mean choices.  I get it that there are homes where kids are being abused or are growing up with "rough" parents who teach them to be tough.

But I want the message loud and clear- that isn't the situation with every bully.  That isn't the home life of every mean child.

Yesterday, The Queen of Free and her husband celebrated the freedom from the last of their debt with a spot on The Dave Ramsey Show.  One thing that the King of Free stated and has really stayed with me is that "The death of communication is the birth of resentment."

If your child comes home and tells you that my child said terribly cruel things to her, please find a way to contact me.  Send me an email, contact the teacher, call me.  Please don't assume that my husband beats my daughter or that I am emotionally cruel to my child.  Please don't assume that my daughter is in a wretched home situation.  Please don't assume that she has parents who are disengaged or don't care about her.

Instead, please consider that she has parents at home who are aware of the problem but aren't aware that it has happened again.  Please consider reaching out so that we have the opportunity to correct the problem with our child.  If you are going to assume anything, please assume that my child has engage and passionate parents.  Maybe you've reached out to other parents with issues before and been disregarded or put down.  But please don't stop trying.  Because at some point you might find me at the other end or you might find another parent like me- one who is trying to work through this behavior problem on a consistent and ongoing basis.

And here's a shocking idea.  Let's say the school does know that the response from the parents won't help.  Or maybe you reach out and you do discover that the kid is in a difficult home situation.  Does that mean you just brush it off?  Does that mean you don't take action?  Holy crap!  If I know a kid who is in a tough home situation... who has parents making dumb, selfish choices or who has a parent who pushes them too hard... you know that situations where the kid feels out of control or the kid feels worthless... I can't imagine turning my back.  I know that not every situation can be turned over to the authorities and not every situation can be helped by school administration.  And if my kid is the one getting picked on, I know that I will be angry with that other child.  But I also know that if I am aware of a kid in a hurting place, I do what is within my power to do to show them that they are valuable and they are loved.  Even if it is as small as looking them in the eye with a smile and a hello, giving them a hug when appropriate, taking time to sit and talk, and maybe even being there for them to talk to when the moment presents itself.

I'm starting to get scattered with my thoughts.  It's a big subject.  And maybe it's something I should focus on and write about in more detail at some point.  But like I said- right now, I'm angry.  Right now, I want to defend myself.

My child has the capability to be a cruel bully, a true mean girl.  My child also has the capability to be incredibly thoughtful, empathetic, and compassionate.  My child is funny and charming and smart- and can also be manipulative and verbally slay other kids without being detected by adults.

My husband and I are parents who love our children.  We are focused on raising them to be compassionate, caring, generous individuals.  We believe that our kids have great things to do in this world.  Finding out that our child had the ability to be so cruel to others turned our world upside down- I cried and cried.  I questioned everything I had done to that point as a parent.  I wondered if I was too hard on her or if my expectations were too high or if I was too soft on her or if I was just plain doing everything wrong.  Eventually, we figured out that there were reasons for the things we were seeing.  Now, almost 2 years into our school experience, we know that this is an aspect of her personality that can be honed into something positive or, if left unattended, will run rampant and create a truly cruel teenager.

So we work on it.  We try our best.  We address is consistently every time it comes up.  All I ask is that if your child encounters a bully, please consider that the parents of the bully are more like you than you may want to admit.


Thursday, April 12, 2012














Γεια σας!

In an attempt to find a blog topic today, I started looking over my blog stats.  Come to think of it, the only time I check my stats is when I need a topic. Hm.  This time, the information about where my visitors are from was interesting to me.

Most of my readers come from the US.  Not a surprise.

But Germany and Russia hold the #2 spot.  And Canada comes in 3rd.

I was surprised to have so many visits from Syria, Bangladesh, India, Brazil, and Malaysia.  I know they might just be random hits based on specific search terms.  But it's interesting to me that visitors from all over the world could land on this little tiny piece of internet real estate.

Leaves me wondering what they take away from here, if anything.  And then I wonder about other sites people from around the world land on.  And then I worry a little.

So I wanted to put out a friendly greeting.  For anyone who might happen upon this little space of mine!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Awesome Kid

I am frustrated this week.  I am challenged to stay focused on the positive.

There's this Big Meeting happening in another city.  It's a meeting with Important People and it's a week long ultra examination of this business unit that was thrust upon me a year ago.  There are people from my department there.  And I should be there.  But I wasn't included.  I was invited to the meeting by those organizing it.  But the choice for me to not travel was made without me, without discussion with me, and without explanation.  Instead, I went on vacation and came back to discover that while I wasn't on this trip, I was expected to participate.  Which means being on a conference call for 8-9 hours each day.  Which means no lunch break because they take a catered in working lunch and I have assignments to get done before we regroup.  Which means barely finding time to make a trip to the bathroom or fill my water cup.  Which means no lunch hour workouts.  Which means falling even further behind on any work for other parts of my job.

So I'm frustrated.  I'm trying my darndest to not give in to the angry side.  I'm trying to stay focused on the value I am able to add over the phone.

And by the end of the day, after lacking activity and good meals and water and being stressed out, I want to stuff my face.

It's a challenge.

Last night, I got the kids from Jeff (he had a class at church) and we stopped for dinner on the way home.  Deciding on dinner was frustrating.  Zach only wanted McDonald's or Steak N Shake.  Wasn't going to happen.

Teagan was being very understanding.  Teagan was watching out for me and wanting to take care of me.  Teagan was suggesting places that she knew would make me happy (and would make her happy).

We ended up at Qdoba and we all ended up having a nice bite to eat together.

We got home and she was cooperative and loving.

Given all the challenges we have faced with her, it is so nice to feel like we've turned a corner.  It's like being 7 has had some magical impact on her choices and her behavior and her ability to empathize.

Don't get me wrong- both of my kids are awesome.  I'm just finding that I'm enjoying an age for the first time in a few years.  5 and 6 were really difficult.  4 is proving to have a few minor annoyances for Zach.  Teagan hitting 7, finding this independent side, finding this confidence, finding this eagerness... it's a breath of fresh air.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Importance of Being Silly

Frustration level was high- complaining kid, fighting siblings.

Lunch was just going to be a chance to get food into our bellies.  Instead, it became a chance to be a little silly and let the frustration go.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Celebrating Easter

I love Easter.  On the church calendar, it is my favorite holiday.  Chances are that you know the basics of the Easter story- Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, died, was buried in a tomb, and rose from the dead on the 3rd day.  We celebrate that day as Easter Sunday.

It carries a lot of reasons to celebrate and be joyful!

However, there is a church service, a recognition that happens prior to Easter.  Holy Week is filled with recognition of things that happened in that last week of Christ's life.  Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

I haven't attended Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services in several years.  I don't have anything against them.

It's too emotional for me.

As a teen, when I really began to understand the events that lead up to and the crucifixion of Jesus, it became a very emotional story for me.  Learning about the whipping, the struggle of carrying the cross, the hatred of the people, the cruelty of crucifixion as a death sentence... the darkness of all of it has been hard for me to think about.

In 2004, I attended a Good Friday service at my church (The Promise United Methodist Church).  It was my first time visiting the church but I went because a friend was singing at the service and I wanted to support him.

5 days later, I miscarried my first pregnancy.

Somehow, all of the emotion of Good Friday tied in with that miscarriage experience and I have avoided Good Friday ever since.

Until this year.

Over the past year or so, I've been blessed to find myself in some leadership roles in my church.  I have given the sermon, I'm leading a ministry, I teach Sunday School, I'm helping to lead worship on our Praise Team, and more.  If there is something I really can't do, I say no.  Most of the time, I feel like a quick prayer lets me know if this is an important opportunity that God is bringing to me.

Early last week, our Associate Pastor (and my friend) called to ask if I would participate in the Scripture readings in the Good Friday Tenebrae service.  *gulp*

It's a beautiful service.  We sing "Were You There," our pastor gives a meditation/message, and then 4 of us read parts of Scripture that told the story of Good Friday.  There is a brief singing response after each reading as a candle on the alter is extinguished.

My last reading was the second to last passage to be read.  It is after Jesus has died and the soldiers come to break the legs of those hanging in order to speed up their death.  When it is discovered that he is already dead, they pierce his side.

I was nervous about reading this passage.  It's pretty emotional.  That's some crazy brutality, you know?  They aren't dying fast enough as they slowly suffocate on a cross where they are hanging by their hands and feet so let's break their legs so they die faster.  Oh- he's already dead so let's put a gash in his side so that he bleeds.

I stepped up to read.  And I cried as I read it.

When service was over, I left quickly.

I wasn't embarrassed.  But I wanted to be alone in that grief.  Selfishly, I wanted privacy in the pain I felt as I looked back on the incredible sacrifice made for me.

As I drove home, I contemplated my emotional display.  My hope is that the honesty of what I feel on Good Friday will come through to someone in a different way.  Perhaps they hadn't thought of the humanity of the story.  Perhaps it had always been just a story.

But what I took from it was that God called on me to do something outside of my comfort zone, to step outside of my self.  I know it seems like I'm great at talking in front of people, being confident, willing to do anything.  But the things I do for and with my church family are very serious to me.  This was a big step- to take something I've held as very intimate and personal, something that has been my own private mourning and grief- and share it with my church family.  I was nervous.  But there was a reason that I was asked and a reason why the emotion poured out.  I may not know the reason- maybe it was for me, maybe it was for someone else.

And Sunday?  When Jesus conquered death and returned to life?  My celebration, my joy was easy to share!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Family Fun

I haven't done Sundays in My City in such a long time!

We had so much family fun on Friday and Saturday- which always comes with moments of frustration, of course- that I just wanted to be able to save as many moments as possible.

We went to Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum on Friday (just me and the kids), met Daddy for lunch at McAlister's, and then spent Saturday at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

Unknown Mami