Sunday, February 28, 2010

Second chances

We were friends...  Then ministry co-leaders.  Then, not such great friends.

We didn't see eye-to-eye when we were leading our MOPS group of 100 women, including a leadership team of 14 women.  All those ideas and personalities...  Jennifer and I didn't really know how to do it together.  When the MOPS year ended, we cleaned up after our last meeting and said our goodbyes.  She'd moved to a different church campus by then, so suddenly we were only seeing each other in passing at a handful of events each year.  There was the occasional email, too.

Today, our relationship is completely healed and she is truly one of my greatest cheerleaders.  A dear friend.  Someone I know I can count on always.  I'm so glad that Jennifer and I didn't give up on our friendship just because things got messy there for a while.

When I see Jennifer, I can't help but hold her hand or squeeze her tightly and say, "I still can't believe we're friends!"  You see...  Before Jennifer, I'd never had a friend that I fought with, made up with, and then picked right back up where we left off.  I'm so blessed by this second chance with her.  Love you, Jen!  Thanks for letting me grow into a better friend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Our normal winter days usually look like this...



But this year...  This normal day only happened once!

Instead...  Our abnormal winter has looked a lot more like this!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hands-on fun

I love checking in with I Heart Faces every few days.  I can always find loads of beautiful pictures that I love to look at and dream of one day being able to produce.  Their photo challenge this week is Hands-on Fun -- which reminded me of this precious photo.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Healthier eating

I've changed a lot about my diet in the last several months and I get asked every now and again for some of my favorite recipes.  So...  I thought I'd share them here.

I try to eat salad for lunch several times a week.

Super-packed heart-healthy salad
Spring Mix Greens from a bag
Half of an apple - diced
Half of an avocado - diced
Handful of diced grilled chicken breast
Small handful of dried cranberries
Small handful of shredded mozzarella or colby jack cheese
Slivered almonds
Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette
Topped with crumbled whole wheat crackers

And just about every night I have a smoothie.

Low-fat fruit smoothie
Always 1 cup of frozen strawberries
Always 1 banana
Always 1 tablespoon of wheat germ
I like to add...  Frozen blueberries or raspberries, or canned pineapple, or a splash of orange juice.
After throwing in all of my fruit, I add desired amount of skim milk.
Occasionally I will add yogurt (if I have some that's going to go to waste) but I prefer it without.

And as a special treat, tonight I'm trying this new bread recipe!

Sugar-free banana carrot bread
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 cups flour (next time I'll try whole wheat!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 to 4 medium-sized, very (very) ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups mashed)
1/2 cup carrots (might double this next time)
Top with slivered almonds
(Next time I might add nuts throughout.)

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, blend the milk, oil, vanilla, bananas and carrots until well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand, being careful not to over-mix; a few lumps are okay.  Spread the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the top is browned and toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

My two greatest struggles are my sweet tooth and my craving for salty foods.  I try to reach for an apple (or a smoothie!) when I'm wanting dessert and a handful of almonds when I'm craving chips.  These are daily issues for me!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Celebrate good times

Feb. 9 - Kindergarten Valentine's Day Party.  Look who was able to make it!

The very next day - Zach lost his first tooth!

Feb. 12 - we took the boys  to see "Nate the Great" - their first ever live production.

Feb 14 - Our traditional Valentine's Day trek to Krispy Kreme.  Luke was still feeling puny but was easily able to channel his inner-goofball.

Feb. 17 - The 100th Day of Kindergarten Celebration.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the kids about community service, counting the non-perishable items the kindergartners collected for a local food bank, and helping them graph a portion of it.  (Bryan ran the 100 dollar bill station, but I don't have a picture.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reaching for running shoes

A few days ago I stumbled upon something someone had written about PCOS, a condition that I was diagnosed with a year and a half ago.  My doctor has totally treated it like it's really not that big of a deal, so I haven't thought much of it.  However, this woman (diagnosed with it years ago) said that (among other things) PCOS can cause weight gain, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Since having my last child, I have experienced all three of these things.  I had attributed it to aging and an utter lack of exercise, but now I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the PCOS. 

Either way...  It's clearly time to make some lifestyle changes.  Our diet improved months ago, but I still sit on the couch while watching TV.  So...  Last night, I decided to do sit-ups and push-ups while watching my DVR’d shows. Today I went into the basement and brought my 5 lb weights up to add to my morning "routine".  (WOW.  I have a routine?) And, on my drive home from carloop this afternoon, I was telling myself that I should run on nice days – especially since my husband is laid-off and can stay home with the kids while I get out!

I used to be a runner. And an avid aerobics girl. There was one problem though...  I exercised abusively to escape some unresolved issues… This – what started last night – is my first step towards using exercise in a healthy way. After nearly NINE YEARS of absolutely no exercise (for fear of relapsing into abusive exercise), I think I’m ready to give it another go.  The last time I said these words out loud (blogging does qualify as out loud, right?), I bawled. A lot.  It’s not so scary today.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stomach bug

Bryan received a rude awakening at 5:30 this morning - Luke threw up on him.  The next six hours were spent within inches of this "bucket".  Not fun.

He was so tired, he couldn't hold his head up any longer.

And finally he fell asleep.  If you ask any of the three of us, we'd say this has been the best part of the day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The case of the loose tooth

As Zach's classroom Valentine's Day party (Tuesday) was winding down, Zachary bit into a piece of hard candy.  It hurt!  His tooth was getting looser and looser every day.  Bryan took Zach to the restroom to see if they could pull it, but it wasn't quite ready.

We spent the next four hours moving that tooth all around.  Occasionally trying to pull it...

Around 8 o'clock that night, Zach asked if he could go next door for a loose tooth consultation with Miss Melissa.  Melissa was happy to oblige.  She said he was getting very close, but it might be another 2-3 days before it would fall out.

Wednesday was spent much like Tuesday night was...  Moving that tooth all over the place!.

After the boys were tucked into bed that night, Zach called his dad back...  "This better be good..."  And it was!  Zach's tooth was sticking straight out, so he asked if he could get out of bed and try to pull it.


Zachary lost his first tooth!

He immediately asked if he could go next door to show Miss Melissa.  Again, she obliged.

Calls were made to NaNa, Aunt and Grandpa that night.  And an email was sent to Mrs. H.  (Yes, it was a way late bedtime by the time all was said and done!)

The tooth fairy came to visit overnight, and Grandpa came over in the morning to see Zach's toothless smile!

It's no longer the case of the very loose tooth.... but the tooth that fell out!

Being stuck indoors... Is not so bad.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Another new beginning

A new support group started on Thursday morning.  The group is very small - the smallest one yet.  I worried a little about that in the week leading up to our start.  I'd occasionally get the impulse to take matters into my own hands in an attempt to increase enrollment, but I know that placing women in this group is God's job.  These are the women He intended for this group, at this time.  We're not talking about numbers, but lives.  The lives of three women, three husbands, seven children, and countless extended family, friends, and others.

Another thing that concerned me a little is that this is the first time we've had our group at a time when other groups are meeting.  In the past, we've enjoyed a great deal of "privacy" - we could easily come and go without being seen.  That is not the case this semester.  I wanted to shield my small group from the thought that I knew would run through their minds...  "Everyone knows I'm here for the sexual abuse support group".  I'd wanted to give them a heads-up, prepare them for this entrance, but God kept quieting me; asking me to allow Him to be their shelter on their walk in.

I wasn't quite sure how our meeting was going to go on Thursday.  There were two obvious issues to address - fewer group members and 40 other women that will see us come and go every week.  What would I say?  How would our meeting run?  These questions remained unanswered when I arrived that morning.

As our small group settled into our room, I got up and closed the door.  As I was walking back to the table, I opened my mouth and I'm pretty sure God's words just started rushing out!  I confessed my own insecurities about "being found out", my own shame and embarrassment -- stuff I wrestled with as recently as two weeks ago!  We listened to God's truth.  We are not to blame.  We are not guilty.  Someone committed a crime against us.  We are not "damaged" or "unworthy".  We have nothing to be ashamed of.  We discussed the issue of this being a small group -- not having the luxury of hiding behind eight other group members when you don't feel like talking.  We talked through these "elephants in the room", and I think we're all on the same page and ready to move ahead with group life.  I hadn't planned to say any of these things...  God truly showed up in a huge way that morning, paving the way for honest discussion so that His comfort could descend upon our hearts.

Throughout the remainder of that day, I thought about our meeting and was overjoyed with how things went.  Just showing up, walking through the crowd of women, fighting through the impulse to shame and humiliate ourselves...those were HUGE steps towards recovery!  I am so proud of these women for taking those steps.

With each group I lead, I get many of those same feelings I did the first time I held each of my children.  There's an overwhelming love, care, compassion and relentless pursuit of the truth and righteousness for every one of these women.  I will go the distance to help them come to know and cling to the truth.  I am immeasurably proud of and inspired by them!  It takes such courage, faith and hope to walk this journey into recovery.  These women are amazing.  It is my honor to know them and play even the smallest part in guiding them toward the promises of our Heavenly Father.

As always, I invite you to pray for this group of women.  God has done amazing things through the women who have come through previous groups...and those women were carried through recovery by prayer!  I have no doubt that He is up to more miraculous healing change with this new group.  God is so are our friends who are faithful to pray for us.

"In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights."

Psalm 18:29-33

Thursday, February 4, 2010

He has a full heart

"Dear Lord, Thank you for this day and the fun time that we got to spend together.  Thank you that Daddy did good in Arkansas today.  Thank you that we got to go to church and play wiff all our friends.  It's good to play wiff all the trains!  In Jesus' name, Amen."

Luke is usually good for a quick line or two, but tonight he had a lot on his mind.  I love that he said, "Daddy did good in Arkansas" today.  Daddy did do good.  He doesn't care much for the unknown, and certainly looking for a job far from home, with guys he doesn't know well, and the potential to be away from his family for weeks at a time falls into that "unknown" category.  We are all proud of Daddy for leaving no stone unturned.  And... of course...  It's always good to play wiff trains!