What I think about Jillian Michaels and the 30 Day Shred, part 1

Well, after three babies, three months of severe back pain, and three weeks of chiropractic care, I have decided to take Jillian Michaels up on the shred again.  I have never completed thirty consecutive days of this workout, but strengthening my core will obviously help my back.  I had done the first seven weeks of P90X at the end of last year, and kudos to all my mommy-friends who are able to complete the whole ninety days.  For me, I found that while I enjoyed the exercise, it was challenging to sometimes have to listen to my baby crying for me while I completed such a long workout.  After P90X, I was sure that the shred would not do anything for me, but I know I need to try.  I started yesterday and have set goals for myself. 

1. I will do the 30 minute complete workout daily for thirty days.
2. I will walk to drop Lucas off and pick him up daily (2 mile (total) walk, 5 days a week)
3. I will drink 8-10 glasses of water a day
4. I will relax in the evenings with stretching or yoga
5. I will cut back on my dessert intake

Day 1 (4/15/11) Review:
The workout was more intense than I remembered, but I love the length.  It’s doable for a mommy of three.  I was super sore this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed … I had forgotten about my 30-minute workout from yesterday, and once I realized that’s why I was sore, I liked Jillian a little more.

Operation Nicholas Stay Asleep

He’s the most darling baby … easy going, happy, entertaining, sweet and cuddly.  From day one, he has been the easiest of my three, but after months of his asthmatic cough disrupting his sleep, he is no longer a good sleeper.  I am one exhausted momma and he is one precious 11 month old who needs a visit from the sleep doctor.

I have been pretty content with helping him ease into sleep at bedtime, but on auto-pilot in the middle of the night I end up nursing him and falling asleep and twice in one week I have awakened to him laying on the floor, crying beside my bed and it’s unacceptable.  My poor, sweet Nicholas.

Anyhow, tonight commences operation Nicholas stay asleep and it’s just me and him.  When we were out of town this weekend Matt told me how exhausted he is, and my initial thought was that Nick seemed to be trying to make sense of the new hotel surroundings by nursing throughout the night.  Tired … Matt.  You don’t know tired.  I probably burnt 600 calories feeding him in my sleep.  I am tired.  Tired we both are.  It just comes with the territory of having three very active kids ages five and under.

The kids sleep soundly in their beds and Matt has fallen asleep in his chair.  I sit in bed, prepared for the night ahead when I will begin the weaning process anew.  I have my Friends dvds to keep me awake and a sweet baby to readjust to the ways of early toddler-hood.  Before I drift off to sleep, I thought I’d write seven items of gratitude.  I do this now, because when I begin the day in the red tomorrow I may need a remembrance of thanks.

1. I have a wonderful husband who took us out of town this weekend.  Even with the kids tagging along, three days of not having to cook, clean or do laundry was a much welcomed break.

2. The outlet of this blog when the kids are playing or napping during the day, or my mind is wide awake while Matt’s has already retired for the evening.  It’s nice to have “someone” to talk to.

3. My children would rather sing worship songs than anything else.  I know they don’t always get what they are singing (as evidenced by Bethany’s medley that went something like “Hey, now you’re a rock star, get your game on … Holy Spirit come …”), but it does this mommy’s heart good to hear her children singing His praises.

4. The absolutely over-the-top delicious sour cream blueberry crepes I indulged in at Richard Walker’s this morning.

5. The sprouts that are emerging in my garden.  I love the reminder of the new life we have in Him when we bury our old selves.

6. That I will get to visit with friends over coffee in the morning.

7. We are about to celebrate the end of our sixth year as parents.  I can hardly believe my baby Lucas will be six on Sunday!  What a wonderful journey parenthood is.

Tuesday’s Update: Nicholas was up only one time last night, and I am not as tired as I thought I’d be.

Bethany across the Jordan

We called her Bethany Jordan.  

Friends, knowing how much name meanings matter to me, have asked what her name means.  Well, technically Bethany means “house of mourning” and Jordan means “descendant,” but that isn’t why this name belongs to her.  The first time I was pregnant, I had the most vivid dream I’ve ever had that we had a baby girl and her name was Bethany.  It was strange because I had never been a fan of the name, but figured there must be some significance.  A couple months later we found out our first was a boy and the whole idea left as we decided that his name would be Lucas Emanuel, because he would bear the light of our God with us.

A year after we had our little light bearer we learned that our second baby was on its way, and it did turn out to be a girl.  Her name was Rachel Katherine … for a couple months in utero.  One day I looked at  Matt and said, “I love the name Rachel, Matt, but my baby isn’t Rachel.  She’s Bethany.”  As we thought about middle names, I found that most often when I looked up Bethany, Bible verses would show up talking about Bethany beyond the Jordan River.  Thus her full name was birthed first in my heart and then she arrived, and there is absolutely no other name that could ever capture her  femininity, fervor for living, or her fantastically feisty personality.  She is Bethany. Beth. Bethy. Beth-beth. Bethanee-nee. B.

For me, her name reminds me of the town in the Bible.  Bethany beyond the Jordan was the place Jesus went after cleansing the temple, healing people and being called the son of David.  All of these good things were ignored by the chief priests who criticized Jesus for allowing the children to refer to him as the son of David (Matthew 21).  Bethany was a retreat.

Jesus’ good friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived in Bethany and hosted him several times (Luke 10, John 11).  Bethany was a place of fellowship.

Jesus is baptized prior to ministry in Bethany (Mark 1:9-11).  It was a place of preparation.

He is prepared for his death and burial through a woman’s sacrificial anointing of his body in Bethany (Matthew 26:6,7).  It was a place of purposeful adoration.

To me the name connotes a place Jesus felt welcome and comfort; a safe place.  When I say her whole name (which is most often when she is in trouble) it reminds me that even Jesus was sometimes weighted down by the worries of this life and needed to be ministered to … that he doesn’t expect me to be above neediness.

It has been a day inundated with redirection for my B.  Today, in my weariness, I am encouraged in my parenting to not make contention between Bethany and I the means or the end to these troublesome hours of discipline.  When I speak her name, I am reminded to minister to her; that what she needs isn’t scolding, but Mommy’s eyes, attention, redirection, yes, but more than that my heart.

And as I attempt to minister to her, I acknowledge the beauty of a God who doesn’t scold, but who loves me.  A king who left the safety of heaven, and traded it in for the ferocity of the cross.  A man who has grappled with sorrow.  A Savior who has become my safe place.

I didn’t understand why I was so convinced of the need of naming her Bethany when at the time it was not my favorite name, and yet as I look into the pools of shimmering mahogany that are her eyes, I realize that she is his child first and second, his reminder of his gift to me.  She is a handful for sure, but  so am I sometimes.

I am grateful that the Lord saw fit to bless me with a little girl … this little girl.  Someone who reflects the good parts of me and the parts that God is reforming in me, but more than that, I am grateful that the Father can use the heart of a child to lead me closer to his, by reminding me that his arms are outstretched to me, always welcoming me into my safe place.

Sometimes he holds me close and other times I imagine him taking my face between his hands as I just did with Bethany, and lovingly whispering to me that my present pain, self-centeredness, or attitude is not his best for me.  It is not why he came.  In these times he redirects my heart to his purposes for me, and as he trains and guides, he gently loves and encompasses me in the safety of his arms.  Sometimes he doesn’t change the situation, but with my eyes fixed on him he calms his child.

New Dreams

Dream job. PUSH! New Dream Job.

I took the challenge of this contest to write a very brief story.  I think this pretty much sums up the last six years of my life in six words.  This was a contest put on by She Reads, a division of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I am hoping to be a part of the She Speaks Conference this summer.  For more information, click the link below.
She Speaks

A Conundrum

In just over a day, we’ll be moving … our fifth move since we were married nearly seven years ago. This evening, Matt took me over to our new house, and as I walked through each room different emotions coursed through me. It was overwhelming.  Not just because, I felt like each room exudes Price-ness nor envisioning how my red appliances in the kitchen painted in “sanctuary” (a really crisp shade of blue/green) will have just the right amount of sass; not even knowing how Lucas and Bethany will make the middle room their play space on the first afternoon. No, it is definitely more than that. My tiny little house is an exact answer to prayer; evidence of a God who comes close to his daughter.

Lucas and Bethany in front of our new home, Easter, 2010

Over two years ago, I walked into that living room before serving in kids’ church one Sunday night. I’ve never experienced anything like it, but I just knew I could make that house home. The only problem was we were very happy in our townhouse on Maranatha’s campus and of course the fact that the house was being used for meetings, groups, kids’ church, etc. At first, I just pushed the thought out of my mind, knowing that it was just my love for old homes that was in this case misdirected. Then in August 2007, I really felt like I needed to pray for a housing miracle. We were moving out of the townhouse, our rent was now way too high, and I would often feel overwhelmed if any extra expense came up. I’ve always known that God provides for our needs, we had three years at Fuller paid for without loans, and the check registers to prove that we’ve never gone without, but it was a stress. I began to pray specifically for this little house.

I felt silly.  I didn’t tell anyone how specifically I had been praying, it seemed presumptuous after all. There have been plenty of times in the past two years when I’ve been discouraged. Dealing with a diagnosis of hypothyroid seven months after the birth of our daughter just compounded all of that, but it also gave me hope. For months, maybe even years I had felt something was not quite right, that I just wasn’t me and finally it seemed as though “it” had been pinpointed. I’ve struggled with having to work for the same period of time, often battling envy, not a hateful kind, but more “why do they get to stay home with their kids … why can’t I, too?” There have also been great moments of joy when I’ve known beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God is for me.

lake country, England, June 2008

I can definitely say that there have been glimpses of God’s love for me in the past two years.   Hey, I’ve been on top of the world! There have also been months of debilitating pain; pain that led me to three months of a medical treatment that I believe helped, but also made life so difficult. I’ve questioned why so many times, it is ridiculous to recount. I think the first two and a half months of 2009 were some of my brightest. My relationship with Christ was great and thus my relationship with Matt, Lucas and Bethany were wonderful too, probably better than they had ever been. My job was great, church was wonderful, life group supportive and I was physically feeling so much better. To top that, I found out I was pregnant with our third child, a surprising miracle, my miracle in the midst of the worse symptoms of endometriosis I’d ever had. My God cared … heard my cry for another baby … answered.

It is easy to trust God when things are amazing. March 21, 2009 forever changed my life. Losing a child, even one you’ve never held, is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Miscarriage is a progression characterized by utter loneliness and understood completely only by those who have been there. Healing is a process, one that is not yet complete in me, and while I can say that I never lost my faith in God, my faith has been rocked; affected in such a way, that up until a few days ago I’ve known God is for others, that he provides and cares for others — I’d never doubt that, but to truly and completely in my heart know those things are true for me, that seemed to be gone. For this reason, I panicked about sending my kids to Texas and flying to Europe. I made sure our will was in order and cried knowing someone else would have the privilege of raising my sweet boy and girl. I endeavored to finish two quilts for each child before boarding the plane, so they would always think of me before going to sleep, since I would no longer get to be there to tuck them in at night. I wrote each of them a letter, not anything morbid, but I wanted them to know how they hold my heart! I came close to hyperventilating when I dropped them at the gateway. If I wasn’t enough to keep one baby here on earth, there was nothing that could convince me that God would really choose me to raise the other two. Certainly nobody could speak words adequate enough to flush out all my questions and doubts.

Me (2 months after miscarriage) with my group of students in the Czech Republic

So many friends spoke truth into my life in the days leading up to our departure for Germany, and each one of them without knowing it, used the same words … words from my favorite Psalm, in the version that my new Bible is in. I read the words my sister sent me over and over again on the first twelve hour flight. “The way you look after Luke and Beth is topped only by the way God looks after you and Matt and Bethany and Luke.” Wow! I know how much I love Lucas and Bethany and how much time, effort and energy goes into caring for them. This comparison was and is a comfort to me and yet again I am faced with a conundrum.

Matt and I after arriving safely in Berlin, Germany

Obviously our plane didn’t crash and I am thrilled to say that there were many moments on each of our four flights when I felt the loving arms of the Father hold me, calm me, bring me peace, soothe me to sleep with words of Psalms, prayers and songs circulating in my mind. He is faithful even when I question.

Me and my students on our way up to Neuschwanstein

Walking through our new house tonight is yet another reminder of a God who loves me, cares for me, protects me, right down to the exact house I imagined our family living in and carried in prayer for two years. A house isn’t a little thing. A house being the means for a mother to realize her dream of staying home with her children is amazing. Peace in the midst of a storm is by no means trivial. The redemption of a fouled relationship is miraculous. Doctors diagnosing and treating medical conditions … God’s hands on earth. Children are gift from God, and being entrusted with raising them right, a heavy privilege. The solid support of a man in the midst of surrendering the ability to tangibly express your love for your unborn child day after day, overwhelmingly an expression of Christ’s love for his broken children.

When I leave this apartment on Saturday, I leave behind rooms where I doubted, felt pain, places where I’m reminded of loss, but also rooms that will always signify for me God’s redeeming love; a love that is too great to disallow me to question. A love that is so amazing that it hears the details of my prayers. A love so concerned with my heart that a Savior died to capture it.

So while I may not hold my third child in this life and my whys will not be answered in this life, and although I cannot always trace his hand, I can hold on to the knowledge that my God is for me; that even when I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death, his love casts out all fear (Psalm 23:4).  My God is a conundrum to me … his thoughts are higher than my thoughts, but he is undoubtedly worthy of my praise. I am confident that I have and will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and when I fear or question or when doubts begin to cloud my mind I will remind myself “The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord ‘My Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 27:13, NIV; Psalms 91:1,2, HCSB)

I wrote these thoughts nearly two years ago, about two months before we discovered our newest gift from God was on his way.  When I think about my life, it is often the times which seem darkest that I find my Lord drawing me closer to his side, calling me to a life of more complete trust in him.  I am entering this post for a scholarship opportunity to the She Speaks conference.  This event is designed to connect the hearts of daughters of the King more closely to His heart.  My heart continues to wonder how I might best serve him and his children, and any opportunity I have to better understand his heart for me and calling to me is such a gift.

Our newest gift, May 2010


 She Speaks Conference

Changing the world

Confession: For as long as I can remember I am always looking for the next thing I can do that will somehow make me memorable.  Perhaps this is the result of moving a lot as a child and feeling the need to be known or remembered once I had moved on to the next town.  Maybe it is because as a middle child, I always have lived in the shadow of my older sister who seemed to never do wrong and the wake of my younger, artsy/gutsy sister and my Midas-like brother whose talent is enviable.  It could just be my humanity, and my natural instinct to make a name for myself.  Whatever the case, as a kid and through college I was known for my need to be at the top of my class, to engage in meaningful Socratic dialogues, to be known by professors and the head of my department.  The problem with this kind of being known is that once there was no valedictorian status to attain to, no goal of summa cum laude, no one to discuss pastoral literature or the early roots of Nazism with, this overachiever felt lost and unknown.

When I was a teacher, the need was somewhat met by the experience of kids who changed their behavior and academic achievement for the better over the course of the year, the discovery of some new mnemonic device that really worked, a great annual review, and a new contract.  Since I became a stay-at-home mom, I haven’t really found anything that fulfills my innate desire to be seen.  Indeed, what I do each day (the interminable laundry and dishes, the budgeting and meal planning, the cooking and the cleaning, the child disciplining, organizing, picking up after three little ones and one not so small one) is draining.  As I’ve said previously, I am a perfectionist, an achiever, but nothing is ever perfect or complete on the home front and I fight against frustration constantly.  For some time, this frustration was unnamed and unnoticed as I tried to love what I’m doing, and don’t get me wrong — I do love it, but so often when the day ends and it feels like nothing has been accomplished, I lay in bed at night and guilt-fully long to do something worthy of the history books which I so long studied and taught from.

In the middle of a time with very little fellowship, much pain and sickness, greater frustration yet, Matt told me that I’m recluseing.  It’s true, you know.  I pretty much have a standing coffee date with an amazing group of friends, also daughters of the King, intentional and selfless wives, intuitive mothers, and in the midst of them is messed up me, and I’ve felt like I don’t belong.  I think time away from them, with my mind focusing on their strengths and everything about them that makes me grateful for their friendship, caused me to focus on all my shortcomings and desire to not be as well known.  I mean, I’ve wanted to be known as something great, but not living up to my own standards and expectations, my shadow mission of supermom, and living in raw community where it is obvious that I am not these things is so hard and yet so sweet.  I had forgotten about the sweetness; about the camaraderie that helps us enjoy the ups and downs of this journey together.

I’ve been thinking about this post for a week now.  I had been trying to withdraw from being known for who I really am.  (Hey, why not start friendships up when you have arrived?)  When I went to get groceries last Friday, I randomly selected an album on the ipod that I had purchased and never listened to.  It is amazing when the Holy Spirit knows what my heart is feeling and needs when even I cannot put my finger on it.  What I heard, I imagine is what my friends sometimes feel too, and so I just had to share.

You’re up all night with a screaming baby
You run all day at the speed of life
And every day you feel a little bit less
Like the beautiful woman you are

So you fall into bed when you run out of hours
And you wonder if anything worth doing got done
Oh, maybe you just don’t know
Or maybe you’ve forgotten

You, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

With every “I know you can do it”
Every tear that you kiss away
So many little things that seem to go unnoticed
They’re just like the drops of rain over time
They become a river

And you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

— Steven Curtis Chapman

So when I want to become a hermit because I am not who I want to be, yet, or when I’m just overwhelmed by the duties of the household, I am beginning to remember that it is about training their hearts; the merit of my daily doings will be in who they become.  We as mothers have been entrusted with the greatest responsibility, and though messy, the honor of the challenge to change the world cannot be taken lightly.

“She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
   but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:27-31