The Place You Chose for Me…

I love when I can share a little bit about what’s going on in our lives. Sometimes, that level of honesty is terrifying. But, lately, I’ve heard from a lot of you that you can relate. So, I’m going to keep the trend moving.

Moving from NC to PA has been a challenge, but not the challenge that we expected.

See…we never expected Asheville to feel like home. We didn’t expect the longing we’d feel every day for that amazing little haven that we had in the mountains. We didn’t expect to miss the life we built and the independence that was a part of it.

All we saw was the small picture, the homecoming to PA.

And a homecoming it has certainly been. But, again, not the way we thought it’d be. You see, we changed in Asheville; we grew together and (literally) grew our family. We changed the way we looked at the world and at this life.

Here’s the thing; our friends and family back in PA grew too. Whether it was having more kids, changing life views or other – really exciting – things, it’s not quite the place we left. And that’s a GOOD thing. But, it’s a hard thing when you’re trying to make the pieces fit together.

Throughout it all, a song that has meant a lot to us is by Sidewalk Prophets, called “To Live is Christ.”

Here are a few of the lyrics:

If I rise, let me rise on you
Not on all of my successes, my esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus, the flesh is crucified

If I grow, let me grow in You
Wilt the seeds of wanting more
Rippin’ pride out by the roots
And if I’m still, let me hear You speak
Not the tone of my transgressions,
But the song of the Redeemed

My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place you chose for me
This is the place you chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time you gave to me
This is the time you gave to me

Lots of lines from the song stand out to me. But, the one that really hits home is that this is the place he chose for me. This is the time he gave to me.

Think about it. There have been thousands of years of human history. Thousands of time periods to live in. A million places to live…and we are here. In fact, our decision to return was bathed in COUNTLESS hours of prayer. We know that this is where God sent us, just like we knew Asheville was where he sent us back in 2014. These decisions weren’t made lightly or on our own accord, they were grounded in prayer and a whole lot of time in scripture and deep discussion.

So…what do we do with it? Where do we go when our expectations or comfort levels don’t quite match what we thought they’d be?

For me, the answer to that question lies in looking up. In reminding myself that this world? It’s temporary. I have this place, I have this time and I have the blessings that God has poured out on me to make the most of them.

If I sit around questioning everything, or longing for a place that I wasn’t meant to be in forever, I’m wasting the “right now” and the “right here.” I’m throwing away the potential for a lot of great things. A little perspective change goes a long way.

We were blessed to get to travel back to Asheville for the first time since October, last week. It was amazing and that place will always have a little bit of my heart. But, instead of longing for it so greatly that I miss what could happen here, I’m going to keep it tucked in that little place, saving it for when I get to go back. How lucky are we to get to call lots of places home?

Where are you at today? Are you longing for something that “was” or something that “could be” and overlooking the now? Let’s do this life together, and let’s do it well!

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Mission: Gratitude

What a ride 2017 has been. Thanks for your patience as I get myself together and get this blog that has seen various shapes and formats over time back on track!

Today, I had the chance to spend the day at Hersheypark with good friends of ours – guys, I’m talking do life together even when it’s gritty friends, the best!

Anyway, we got to talking. I’m not sure if it was before or after our kids (by our kids, I mean mine) lost their minds over the fact that they couldn’t have a soft pretzel because it wasn’t made yet – it was morning. I didn’t say no to the pretzel, it was just a physical impossibility at the minute. And thus it began.

We were talking about how hard it is to accept a lack of gratitude in our kids…that it is absolutely maddening to try to provide extras for them and to have it feel like it’s not enough. About how it’s a frustrating lesson to teach and how the lack of the emotion seems to rear its ugly little head time and time again.

So then…I started thinking.

Are we – as adults – any different? How often do we get frustrated when life doesn’t go the way we think it should, according to our plan? How often are we so focused on what we want, and might not have, that we forget about what we do have?

I’m not coming down on anyone here, not any harder than myself at least. This past year has been a struggle. We’ve tried hard to change and adapt to our lives here, but it has been hard. We get frustrated by long hours at work. We long for the life we left behind. We complain over a lack of sleep. We struggle to make it to dinner, let alone bed times some nights! I’m going to stop there because I think giving more than a few examples goes in EXACTLY the direction I’m attempting to avoid.

Recently, I’ve been trying to change the trend in my own life. When I feel the need to grumble, I replace it with three things to be grateful for: kids to do laundry for. A home that meets the needs of our family. Friends and family that we can do life with every single day. The opportunity to travel and see this amazing world. When I struggle to come up with 3 things, I push myself for 5.

You see, I think a lack of gratitude has serious implications for the rest of our lives. It stops us from living out the calling placed on us, it stops us from sharing our lives with those around us because we’re so stuck in our own circle of selfishness that it’s physically impossible to reach out. It prevents us from noticing blessings that literally surround us at every given moment. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that MANY of our limitations and situations are self-imposed, partially from a lack of doing our best to be grateful.

Once again – I’m not here to condemn anyone. I’m the first to say I have some serious work to do. But, I can tell you, that even when things are hard (which they are…friends…this life is hard sometimes), I’m going to do my best to try to look a little harder at the blessings that abound everywhere. When I feel bogged down by work, by parenting frustrations or by any other thing that gives me a reason to complain, I’m going to slow down. I’m going to breathe in a little deeper and take an intentional look at the sunset, the little ones that give me reason to smile, the fact that I have a home to clean and food to eat and any other number of things I tend to take for granted…care to join?

Relying on Mountaintops

I wrote this piece awhile back, while we were in NC for a publication. Plans changed a bit, so I thought I’d still share here!

 

Where does your faith come from? How do you feel close to the Lord?

These questions rocked my world, brought me to my knees and changed my life for the better not all that long ago. I’m willing to bet they could shape you as well. But first, let me explain.

I grew up in a Christian home. While my relationship with God has been hot and cold, I’ve never doubted him, his power or his might. I’ve always seen evidence of his existence everywhere.

You see, I’ve been to the mountaintops that are so commonly discussed in Christian circles. I was blessed to be a part of an amazing youth group. We had regular retreats and national conferences where I was afforded the chance to worship with thousands of other teens, to listen to amazing speakers and to feel a fire for God in my heart. I felt the same during mission trips to third world countries when I saw his power in action. There’s no denying that feeling, that life-breathing feeling.

It was the time between the mountaintops that became problematic for me. I’d come home and become complacent. I’d even doubt if my salvation was “real” or truly authentic. I failed to grow.

It showed.

My whole life, I’d planned on attending a Christian college in New York. I was accepted during my junior year of high school and never wavered in that decision until one week before the acceptance deadline during my senior year. I panicked, didn’t want to miss out on college “fun,” and didn’t want to lose my boyfriend.

I applied to a state school and accepted their admissions offer without a single visit. Still, I felt I was okay. I went to Campus Crusade weekly, worshipped, felt God’s presence, then, went drinking with my friends. No big deal, right?

During college a lot changed. I could go into thousands of details, but here are the cliff notes. John put his trust in the Lord. We got engaged. We became youth leaders. We got married. We graduated and we started real life. From there, we continued to attend the church I’d grown up in.

I always thought I’d feel closer to God when the “real world” started and the party-happy environment of college ended. But then, I didn’t. I still believed, but there was no forward motion. I’d go to church weekly, have wonderful “mini-mountaintop” worship experiences surrounded by pillars of the Christian faith. But then, nothing would change. I’d get so frustrated with God! “Why do I still feel shaky in this relationship?” “Why don’t you pull me closer?”

My husband, John, and I had two kids with even more news came. His company wanted to move us from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, away from everything we knew, away from the life we were building.

I was terrified. You see, our relationship had been slipping away. Remember how I felt far from God? I felt the same toward my husband. A few months before our move, I distinctly remember sitting in our pastor’s office and explaining that I was indifferent about what happened to our marriage…right in front of John. I just didn’t care anymore.

With the move, I’d be moving away from the familiar life I lived with someone I wasn’t even sure I’d be spending my whole life with. It was terrifying. Still, we prayed. We talked. We felt it was best and that God’s hand was in it, so, we moved forward.

Lots of details were arranged and during one of our first visits, we went to a church plant that fit our denomination. The people were so welcoming and it somehow felt right.

But, it couldn’t be…there were around 20 members. No worship. Just a sermon, serious prayer and a focus on missional living. I remember wondering how I could be “happy” there. See the pattern…how it was all about me?

Then, God’s truth hit me square on the heart.

On what was my faith based? How did I feel close to God? Was it only during the mountaintop moments where the environment led to an emotional feeling of faith? Was my relationship grounded in him or in my surroundings?

Most of all…did he know?

Yes, he did, and Psalm 44:21 made it real, “Would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?”

He knew. I knew. Everything changed.

After that visit, we pressed forward with the move. At our lowest point of homesickness after our arrival in North Carolina, we learned we were expecting twins (I know God has a sense of humor, but that is a story of its own!). We were forced to rely on God and on one-another. We continued to attend our bare-bones church plant where we were challenged in our walks with Christ like never before.

During all of this, God stripped away our reliance on other things, on the music, on the surrounding worshippers, on the passionate sermons and the traditional atmosphere. Along with this complete breaking down of what I thought I “needed,” God revealed many scriptural truths that changed my life. If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, if you wonder if your faith is “authentic,” or if you’re relying on mountaintops, they might change yours as well.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts,” (Psalm 139:23).

Let me tell you, I wrestled with God during this turmoil I felt inside. But, I submitted. I asked him to search my thoughts and examine my motivations.

It became clear that I was living from Sunday to Sunday, from mountaintop to mountaintop. My faith was shallow, based on others, not a fire burning in my heart. I was falling short…not God.

Let me step away for a second to make something clear: my home church is a fantastic place filled with lovers of Jesus. It’s where I plan to attend if we move back. It was my own shortcomings that were holding me back and the scriptures made this clear to me.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

If this doesn’t demonstrate the importance of scripture, I don’t know what does. Scripture teaches us. It molds us. It completes us.

I thought I was fine. I listened to scripture each week. I’d participated in Bible quizzing and can literally quote the book of James to you from start to finish. I thought that “knowing” it was enough.

Then, John and I were challenged to read the Bible daily for a year. We decided to jump in. Wow. At first, it was a chore. But then, it became real. I looked forward to it. I learned to grow from tangible expressions of God’s love and power. I grew to need it in my life. I started to feel complete in my relationship with God and grew nearer to him.

Spending time in the word is essential for closeness with the Lord. It removes insecurities, it molds us from the inside out. I saw it happen. I felt it happen.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10).

Once I started to feel the closeness I’d been longing for, I needed to ask God, every single day, for a clean heart.

I needed to pray that he would remove bitterness and barriers that had grown between myself and him, myself and my husband, and myself and others.

I needed to ask every day. And you know what? He did it. I asked him to change me, not to change for me. At the same time, my husband was growing in his own faith and behind changed and renewed. We were closer than we’d ever been before. God was working wonders right before our eyes because we started to simply rely on him.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this,” (Psalm 37:5)
“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them, he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him,” (Psalm 37:39-40).

Here it is. Truth straight from the Word.

Our faith, our reliance on God, doesn’t change because of him. He is steadfast. His biblical promises never waiver. He waits for us and works on our behalf whether we “feel” close to him or not. When we feel as though something is wrong, we need to search our own hearts, our actions and our motivations.

Then, we need to commit what we find, our shortcomings, our failures, our crises of faith, to the one who is waiting with arms wide open.

These truths opened my eyes. I was relying on external people, situations and feelings, rather than my heavenly father. I was relying on mountaintops that could not sustain me through valleys because they were inactive, they were passive; they weren’t alive, living in me.

Are you relying on mountaintops? Do you wonder why God feels far away? Are you frustrated?

God has changed my life. My reliance and my dependence are fully rooted in him. When this focus changes, life changes. My husband and I are now on the same track. We’re growing, we’re moving forward, we’re closer than we’ve ever been…ever. I see a passion in him that I’ve never seen before and he sees that same passion in me. Stripping away everything that we saw as essential made us rely solely on our father in heaven, and that is the greatest gift that we could have received.

He’s waiting for you too. Are you ready to step away from the mountain and into the everyday? I urge you to give it a try. A life that you cannot even fathom is right around the corner.

The World Needs Real Christianity…Today.

cross

The past week – or rather, the past year culminating in the past week – has felt like a whirlwind…sometimes more like a downward spiral where it feels harder and harder to catch my breath.

I’ve been watching the news, reading updates, taking in what my friends and those close to me have to say and trying to absorb it all…trying  to take it in and to figure out what exactly I should do with everything I’m taking in. I’ve tried to hold off on getting “too” political, or upsetting the wrong group and have honestly just struggled with keeping my head on straight.

I’m guessing this sounds pretty familiar to you. In fact, I’m guessing you’re feeling the same way.

I’ve seen hurtful things on both sides of the political spectrum. I’ve read mistruths coming from all sides concerning the “others.” I’ve seen insults hailed and lines firmly drawn in the sand.

I’ve watched Christians be accused – sometimes, unfortunately more often than not –  of being hypocrites. Of showing love only when it’s convenient for them. I’ve seen friends who grew up in the church do 180’s and turn away because of it. I’ve had friends told me they can’t pray anymore because what they’re seeing in action doesn’t match what they feel the church is supposed to be. I’ve seen people outside of Christianity share that it’s those of us who claim to be Christ-followers that are doing the most damage.

I’ve seen hurt. I’ve seen pain. I’ve seen terror…and it doesn’t really feel like there’s an end in sight right now.

I’ve also taken things personally. I’ve cried. I’ve held my family a little closer than normal and I’ve prayed for direction. I’ve prayed for a way to be a healer, someone who can listen to those who are hurting…those who are scared…those who feel lost or abandoned, and to be someone who makes a difference.

To stop the spinning…I’ve spent a lot of time in scripture and in prayer, begging for discernment and a path to move forward.

Then it started coming together.

It’s not an answer. It doesn’t replace the need for reaching out to politicians and making our voices heard. It doesn’t fix the very real pain and fear those around us are feeling. But…it’s a start.

Here’s the thing. The world back in Roman times was a pretty tumultuous place to live in. Laws changed daily, Christians were given power and respected then persecuted and nailed to crosses. No one knew who to trust, where to turn. It was easy to let fear being a controlling factor.

But…the church grew even during the worst times of persecution. Right now, it feels like the outrage, the fear is just as real…but so many are turning away.

What’s the difference?

The difference is authenticity. I’m not here to accuse anyone of being “fake,” but, I think it’s time that we all work together to try to right our path before it’s too late. It’s time we go back to New Testament-style Christianity.

It’s time to pull off the labels that turn people away, to stop using our words altogether…because right now, they’re just causing more hurt.

It’s time to stop saying we should “love” everyone while batting people away and keeping those who are “different” at arms length.

It’s time to practice being “pro-all-life,” not just “pro-birth.” To come alongside those who feel like they’re out of options, or who have made decisions they very well might be hurting from. To think before we slew hurt and to pray before we act.

It’s time to open our homes, our arms and our hearts. To listen to those who seem to be on the other side of whatever political spectrum we can claim to fall on. To support those who are afraid, who don’t know what their future looks like because of the craze that has seemed to overtake our country and our world.

It’s time to show our support. To show in real-life-ways that we believe in helping the less fortunate, the refugees, those who can’t stand for themselves.

It’s time to reach out to our lawmakers, to show our support and be a loud and booming voice. To donate to causes that HELP others. To become a political force that leads to action.

It’s time to pray for those in power instead of fixating on the helpless feeling we might have at the pit of our stomachs.

I’m not here to lecture you on the time you spend in prayer, the choices you’ve made in life or what path you may be walking. I am here to say it’s time to turn around…to stop speaking words without action. To stop being the reason that those who need Christ’s love the most are turned off and ready to jump on our words (sometimes because they deserve being jumped on).

If you are a Christian…you have to believe the whole story. You can’t pick and choose the applications that seem easiest for you, or easiest to swallow. I believe authentic Christianity is black and white…right now too many are falling into “gray” areas that do nothing but turn people off.

Guys…we are called to love. We are called to share that love with others. Our words…they’re not going to be what brings others together or changes hearts and lives. Our actions…the way we reflect the love that we have been given without deserving it in the least…that’s where it’s got to start.

Who can you reach out to today? How can you use the gifts you’ve been given to make a difference? How can you help someone today?

The early church exploded because God’s love was so real. It wasn’t something the apostles and early believers spoke of then trampled on with the actions. It was real…it was authentic…it brought people together. Can we bring it back?

Take the time to examine your own heart, your own bias’s, your own motivations. I’ve been doing it a lot this week…and the things that have shown up haven’t always been pleasant. But, until we get on our knees and ask for a true soul-searching and revealing…then get up off our knees and take what we find to the world, we aren’t going to make the difference the world needs.

We can’t cower in corners, we can’t spend our time debating in forums that lead to hurt, not change. We have to start from square one…to act.

We’re called to love, to support those who are oppressed and to live according to REAL biblical standards. How are you measuring up? Let’s commit to being real, to taking the stereotypes that are out there and breaking through them, breaking through fear and negativity in the process.

It all starts now…it starts with us.

 

The Waiting Place

hourglassI don’t know how fresh your Dr. Seuss knowledge is, but in our family (much to my chagrin when I’m tired and have trouble putting normal words together, let alone tongue twisters), he’s a favorite. One of my kids’ favorites? The Places You’ll Go.

I love the metaphor for life; it’s no surprise that it’s a favorite graduation gift…it holds a lot of truths. Recently, one of them has really stood out to me: The Waiting Place.

I’ve had a lot of time lately to sit and chat with friends, to listen, to enjoy each other’s company and to just do life together. A topic that has been trending, in many different ways, is waiting.

So many of my dearest friends are experiencing times of just waiting: waiting for deployments to end, for pregnancies to begin, for adopted children to come home, for over-promising, under-delivering jobs and promotions to come to fruition, for children to get through challenging stages, for family members to find health and hundreds of other situations.

My family has also been in a waiting place of sorts. Since we began our journey to NC, we’ve wondered what the plan has been, what’s up ahead and what God has planned for our future. We see it one way, but there are many questions that have been left unanswered. Sometimes it feels like we’re on hold.

These conversations and our own situation have got me thinking about waiting…its role in our lives and what we’re to do during the wait – whether it’s 2 months or 50 years in length. I’ve come up with a few truths that have helped me during this time, that I hope will resonate with you too.

You’re Not Alone

Like I just shared. One thing that has amazed me during our own time of uncertainty is that I am so very far from alone. In fact, it seems like everyone I’ve gotten to spend time with lately is waiting for something or someone.

This is a common thread we all share and has been true throughout history. Abraham waited nearly 100 years for Isaac, Jacob waited 14 years to marry Rachel, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for a few hundred years, then took another 40 years to reach the promised land.

Those of us who wait share a rich heritage with others throughout history who have waited. Though the situation may feel hopeless and disheartening, you are not alone. We are all waiting, in one way or another.

That Doesn’t Mean it’s Not Hard

Before going any farther, I want to be sure that this in no way sounds like I’m minimizing the pain associated with waiting.

Waiting is hard. It hurts. It’s filled with questions that don’t always have answers. It’s frustrating. It goes against our natural tendencies and makes us act out (ask my husband. I am not good at waiting).

I get it and I want to affirm your feelings before diving any deeper. Please know that if you’re waiting, I understand and so do many others. Though our waits may be different, we are all in this journey together.

We Are Called to Support Each Other

We aren’t meant to do this life alone. That’s not how it’s supposed to happen. Instead, we’re called to be there for one another, to lift each other up, to carry each other’s burdens and to be a support.

This doesn’t mean we can feel each other’s pain…but it does mean that we can do more than blanket “I’ll pray for you’s” or “I understand.”

If a friend is waiting…listen. Make yourself available. Really find out what’s on their heart without interjecting your opinions or thoughts (this doesn’t mean don’t speak…if something is on your heart, by all means share it!). Digest what they have to share. Be present.

If you’re waiting, share with your friends. Be open, be honest and be transparent. Be open to what they have to say, their guidance might be coming from a higher place or could provide a perspective you hadn’t considered. It’s hard to share…but that is what this life is all about.

There’s a Reward for Waiting Well

No one wants to hear that their wait could be long. That they could wonder what the next step is for a long time…again…I get it.

But, waiting is demanded of us; it’s also usually followed by a promise. Unsure of what I mean? Check out these examples:

  • Lamentations 3:25: The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
  • Isaiah 30:18: Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
  • Isaiah 49:23: Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
  • Psalm 25:3: Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame
  • Isaiah 40:31: But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

I could go on. And on. And on. Waiting is mentioned hundreds of time throughout scripture. But, one thing is clear. There are blessings in store for those who wait on God’s perfect timing. Blessings that are so abundant that we cannot even imagine them.

Which leads to the next point.

Waiting Doesn’t Always Result in Our Desired Outcome

We don’t like to hear that part, right? It’s a hard truth that we like to gloss over.

See…we have this plan for our lives. We see ourselves or our family moving in one direction. We’re taught from the time we are babies that if we work hard, we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. It’s what the American dream is based on; who doesn’t want to live in a world like that?

But…sometimes our plans don’t match God’s plan. Things happen that we don’t picture…things that don’t fit into OUR life plans…into our “work hard and go anywhere mindset.”

Injuries take place (a trampoline taught me this, ending my very real dream of playing college basketball). Pain and suffering enter the picture. Layoffs take place. Loved ones that we had plans with leave this side of Heaven too early leaving holes and questions in our future. Selfish ambitions and motivations step in front of our goals.

Put simply…things don’t go the way we plan them.

But…

Waiting ALWAYS Results in God’s Desired Outcome

Remember…we are not the author of our lives. Instead, someone much greater than us is in charge.

Yesterday a friend posted one of my favorite sermons online by Francis Chan…a man who speaks truth and love in an amazing way that has resonated with me since high school. My favorite quote? “The fact that we are spinning on a ball of water and fire at a thousand miles an hour and are rotating around the sun is not ‘lucky.'”

Let that sink in.

No, seriously. Step away, shut your eyes and think about that.

We use science to explain so much…to calm our fears and to provide rationale to an often irrational world. But, to me, there’s comfort in something bigger than ourselves, our own motivations, our own plans. It’s not luck…it’s a plan…even if that plan isn’t ours.

As the verses I referenced earlier mention, waiting serves a purpose. It ends in blessings (whether they’re the blessings that we planned or not), beyond what we can imagine.

I remember at a high school conference, one of the speakers referenced God’s role as a refiner. It’s mentioned many times in scripture, but I didn’t understand it until he gave this illustration.

Refining silver is a process called “testing,” (appropriate for what we’re talking about, right?). During the process, a silversmith heats silver to it’s melting point. When this happens, the imperfections float to the surface and they’re removed. Then the silver is cooled. Process finished? Right?

Nope. Once it cools, it happens again. And again. And again, as many times as it needs to be perfect. Do you know when the silversmith can tell that the silver is pure? When he can see his own reflection in it.

How perfect is that? We’re called to wait. During that time, we will literally be tested. But, during each test, an impurity that doesn’t belong will be removed. But, just because that impurity was removed doesn’t mean it won’t happen again…and again. But the end result? The reflection of our creator in our own lives. To me, a promise doesn’t get better than this.

I don’t know what your wait is. I don’t know how long you’ve been waiting. But, I know your heart may be heavy with unknowns, with what ifs and with plans for your future.

Take heart. There’s a plan for this time in your life. There’s still joy during this time (even if it sometimes carries a shadow). Give it up, rest in it and know that something bigger is in the works.

Let’s wait together and let’s wait well. Blessings to you during your wait!

Quick HIIT Workout!

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I had an exciting weekend with the family in Myrtle Beach representing Perfectly Posh at the Diva’s Half Marathon and 5K. It was an awesome time to connect with runners…encourage a lot of first timers and just to bask in a super positive atmosphere! (Seriously friends, if you have yet to try out a Diva’s race, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for…check out their site here: http://www.runlikeadiva.com/ )

But, it was a LONG weekend!

When we got home Sunday night, I wanted nothing more than to feed the kids, put them in bed and follow suit. But, I was encouraged by the weekend and excited about the goals I’ve been reaching post-babies…so I needed something fast, yet effective. HIIT workout it was…if you’re not sold on this format, or want to learn more, check out this piece on high intensity interval training!

Anyway…this took 30 minutes. Give it a try!

Warm Up:

  • 400 meter run
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks
  • 30 seconds butt kicks
  • 30 seconds high knees

Work Out:

  • Mountain climbers: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest (x8)
  • Planks: 30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest (x8)
  • Weighted Punches: 20 seconds on, 15 seconds rest (x8)
  • Squat Thrusts: 20 seconds on, 15 seconds rest (x8)
  • Russian Twists: 20 seconds on, 15 seconds rest (x8)

Rest for a minute between each movement!

It works out to about 4 minutes of each movement with rest in between!

Simple. Straightforward. Intense! Give it a try!

Dad of the Year

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You guys. I have been thinking about this a lot lately…so bear with me. But, I have to take a second to brag on my husband…then to break things down a bit.

As you know…our family expanded exponentially this year. Our twins were a big surprise and the work that it now takes to keep our four kids healthy and happy (and you know…fed, clean, etc) was an even bigger surprise (read: blessing!).

That multi baby wearing and holding dad up top stepped up to the plate in huge ways. On top of working 60 hour weeks and pursuing his MBA, he took fathering to a full-time level and is only continuing that trend.

The babies are five months old now. When John gets home from work he throws his things down (much to my clean freak chagrin) and takes a baby while wrestling the older two and putting his full focus into hearing about their days. While I make dinner, he entertains, then lets me take me time for a shower…often forgoing any time for himself.

The babies mostly sleep through the night these days. But when they don’t, he’s up…usually letting me sleep. He functions on little sleep, I do not, so it’s an easy equation. Seriously, he makes it all seem easy and I couldn’t be more grateful and couldn’t have found a better partner in this life.

But, I do want to step back and look at a few of the facts.

First, his fathering makes me a better mom and wife…more like the Proverbs 31 example I strive for! We both recognize this. Because I’m not worn ragged by the kids, and because I know I have support, I can handle my own responsibilities with more grace (I hope) and joy (I reminded myself of this while scrubbing questionable brown substances off the kids toilet this morning…ugh! 😉 ).

It also allows me to find myself. I run a writing/social media marketing business from home and have recently jumped into the independent sales ring with Perfectly Posh…with my husband’s complete and utter support. If that doesn’t instill confidence, which I can then pass on to my kids, I’m not sure what does.

Second, he’s setting an example for our kids, whether they know it or not. Raising kids, especially boys, is a huge responsibility. There are studies all over the place about what happens when Dads don’t step up to the plate. My kids see everyday what true fatherly love means, and how a dad should treat his wife. I want my boys to grow up to be men that are present, who put their families first. I want my daughter to know exactly what men who partner with their wives are and to never settle for anything less. These lessons are of the utmost importance and there’s no better way to learn than by example. My husband loves his family sacrificially and is a provider. What an example!

Lastly, he’s not alone. When talking with friends I realized I am far from alone…often to all of our surprise! I’m sharing all of this because this NEEDS to change, and women need to be catalysts to this change! Share what your husband is doing to support you…Let’s take away that feeling of surprise!

As I’ve already shared…we learn by example. If men think their role is to provide and to leave child rearing to their wives, it’s what they’ll do. This leads to emptiness, resentment and hurt.

But if men hear and read stories of other men stepping up to the plate (not in a Mr. Mom role necessarily) but in an “I’m here and I’m going to love my family with all I’ve got” sort of way…this “unusual” trend could become reality.

Ladies…you deserve your own man of the year so you can be exactly who you’re supposed to be, so you can pour all you’ve got into your kids and your marriage. Start small…share when your husband goes above and beyond. Look for ways to compliment him for stepping up. Thank him for the way he supports your family. So often we are negative and look for ways to break things down…Let’s start to build instead!

Who’s in? Who has their own Dad or husband of the year? Thank him, love him, appreciate him and share your story!