Females and Faux Fitness

faux fitness pin.jpg

Even though it was crazy busy last week between so many activities AND Easter, I still managed to get out and exercise quite a bit!  The Lazy Ironman challenge has really inspired me!

running club

We took this picture after our run… and my kids smoked me by half a mile!

Not to pat myself on the back, but I swam about a quarter of a mile, and ran or hiked 9.5 miles mostly with my kids. And when I look at these numbers on the wall I feel pretty darn accomplished – specially knowing that I ran and hiked with my family so my children are reaping these fitness benefits too.

Can I be completely honest? I didn’t feel that accomplished when I got dressed for service Easter Sunday.  Do I really look THIS big? I can’t believe I weigh 211 lbs at the doctor’s office!  Ugh I’m not making any progress at all.  I think if we’re both honest, you could probably point out some season in your life when you are less than thrilled with your appearance or the number of the scale.

But why?

My husband is happy.  My kids are happy.  So what is it about the bathroom mirror that tears me down?

http://instagram.com/confessions1rst

I will share with you a lie I accidentally bought into: if I was truly fit, I would look fit.

But to understand how this is a lie, we first have to answer: What does it mean to look fit?

The reality is that we are so bombarded with images of thin women on social media, that our brains can’t help but play the comparison game.  I mean, I see this girl run 5 miles and look like she has just a sun-kissed glow of perfection – and all before breakfast… meanwhile I fall behind my children, barely running a mile and a half, bending over looking like a fish out of water, my face blotchy, my hair looking like a lollypop for a llama… and it’s definitely not #selfie worthy.

runfie

What exactly does it mean to look fit? Is it a size number? A distinct shape of the waist line?

And this is where – in the name of sanity I yell at myself and all of you who get caught in this trap – STOP!

What was your goal to begin with?

If your goal is to look like a sportswear model, then you need to eat and work out and be photoshopped like one. And there are very fit women who are NOT photoshopped, but I guarantee you they eat very strictly and train for hours (that’s right… more than 60 minutes!) every day.  Some of these women have made this lifestyle their job and their mission.  I’m not saying it’s not admirable, I’m asking: Is looking like a sportswear model your job and your mission?

If yes, disregard this blog post and move on.

But if not – because maybe like me, we’ve devoted our lives to something other than exercise and mason jar salads… then it shouldn’t matter whether we look like we sell sportswear or not, right?

Hear me out here: I have devoted my life to raising and homeschooling my children.  So while my husband goes to work and devotes to his vocation in the medical field, I spend an equal 8 hours at home educating, grading, planning, problem solving, cleaning and feeding three children (how I got here is a whole ‘nother story – check out my recent guest post!).  If you are a mom or a business woman or in ministry, nod your head if you can agree with me when I say, “I don’t have hours to devote myself to looking like a stranger on my screen.”

And maybe we can even go a little Spirit-filled and declare:

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Psalm 139:13-15

This isn’t a call to give up on being fit, but rather to trash our preconceived and erroneous notions of what that means!

alaskan hike

Getting my kids to these kinds of views is how I know I’m fit!

Give God some glory and thank Him for how wonderfully made you are! Use fitness and eating healthy as a way to glorify the Lord for making you a temple where He chooses to reside.  Remember that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being”!  What you need in order to exercise for 30 minutes (or more!) today He has already given you, and He didn’t short-change you when he put you together.

Do you need to do a little mental spring cleaning when it comes to your body image?  What are some lies you need to renounce today before you lace up your shoes?

Lifelines While On The Go

Confession: I don’t have a lot of time to blog this week. It’s been super busy!

Between doctors appointments and school activities, American Heritage Girls and homeschool cooperatives, I’m mentally and physically maxed out. But the climax of this week that has my undivided attention is Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!


Easter for our family has never had anything to do with bunnies or eggs. We don’t even give kids baskets or gifts to celebrate the day. But oh do we celebrate!  My children understand that through Jesus’ death and victory over the grave, we are now invited to the greatest party in the universe!

“When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:14-18‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I think some people see believers who turn to the Lord as lemmings who have signed up to a list of dos and donts. Certainly Jesus described those who would make excuses not to come. But entering a relationship with the most Holy God is not a bore! It’s a feast!

The Parable of the Great Banquet

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24

It’s an access with the King of Kings we did not have before that veil in the Temple was torn, one where we can delight in the presence of God and His fullness of joy. It’s being satisfied unlike anything in this world can do in us. 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬


So there is a lot of singing, a lot of worshipping, a lot of fellowship, some good food, and definitely some family time in the sunshine in store for us. 

But even with all these things going on, I still need to train for a triathlon (and my family too)! And spend time in prayer and personal Bible study. And time with the kids. And time with the husband. The blogs with the book reviews, lessons learned, and fitness encouragement will have to wait until next week. 

I’d like to leave you with some lifelines I use to help me stay centered on the go:

  1. Perspective: journal on my phone. It helps me keep track of my priorities and rate the day based on how I centered I was to things that are important to me. This ADHD brain needs tools like this so I don’t get lost between vet appointments and frog dissections.
  2. Bible In One Year Audio Bible: I honestly don’t have time to read my Bible and I hate being so hectic. But I value this resource so much! I listen to the Bible and the commentary and it’s very edifying. It turns something mundane like making breakfast or folding laundry into a holy moment; while my hands are busy, my heart and my mind are engaged in God’s Word. 
  3. Nike Fitness Club: I’ve been able to enter what weights I could use and what supplies I have, and how often I can exercise this week. It builds customized workouts no more than thirty minutes and within my abilities. 
  4. Audio CDs: our van is old school and comes with a CD player. When we spend so much time in the van, we listen to stories as a family. It gives us something to look forward to and something to discuss as a family. It definitely beats everyone to their own electronic devices and the disconnect that can happen when you’re just running from one thing to the next. But if you have Bluetooth capabilities in your car, Audible is a great resource! Or check out Overdrive and see if your local library is on the app to borrow audio books directly to your phone, from your house!


These are all resources I use for free. If you choose to upgrade to a paid version I will not be compensated in any way. The only apps I found worth paying for are:

  • Fitstar Yoga: I desperately need to stretch my achy joints. I paid the fee to have workouts built for me as I improve. And I can play any music I want in the background, which usually is my worship play list so I can relax and release tension. 
  • Abide: This is a Christian meditation guide. It’s prayers based on scripture that you can hear in the mornings or at night. With background music and based on topics. It’s an active prayer and scripture meditation app in that you are prompted to think and pray about specific things in your life, and meditate on the significance of the Bible verses in your own life. 

Both these apps have free versions too, and if you choose to pay for their subscriptions I won’t be compensated in any way. This isn’t an affiliate post, it’s an honest mom blog post. 

It will be a wonderful week! Be blessed!

What are you doing this weekend?

Let’s Do An Ironman!

Pin Pic

Confession: I don’t really know what motivates someone to run for 26.2 miles, but I’ve always been fascinated by the Ironman competition.  I’ve put it on my bucket list to finish one, some day.  Although if I’m honest, it seems too unattainable for me.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is not very merciful and I’ve never really been an athlete to begin with.

runningThis is what draws me all the more!  There’s a deep desire within me that, just like David when he defeated Goliath, I could beat the odds, work really hard… and not die on such a race (hey I’m NOT that optimistic.  I don’t want to win it! I just want to do it!).  I think that’s something that calls to all of us in one way or another; we all aspire to DO that which feels a little out of reach – like buying a house, or building a successful blog legacy, or losing the pregnancy weight I’ve been carrying the past 7 years (did I say that outloud?).

Do I have your permission to get a little real here?

  • “Women’s Fitness” online is a JOKE.  The perception of what a “fit woman” looks like is based on the expensive “work out” attire they want to sell you and has nothing to do with what REAL WOMEN look like!  If I wait until I look like Kate Hudson or Carrie Underwood do start getting serious about my fitness… Well let’s just say don’t hold your breath.
  • BMI = Bolony of Mass Idignation.  By my BMI standards I’m obese… and apparently so is P!nk, who looks like she could squat a buick.  I know I need to lose weight for healthier joints, but I’m never going to see 140 lbs – I kissed that weight goodbye in Jr. High.
  • I’m not motivated enough to do this alone.  Who really wants to get up at 6am to exercise?  Who wants to go for a run instead of taking a glorious and much needed nap? Who says they enjoy lifting weights?!  Masochists, every single one of you!  Whether it’s laziness or RA-related fatigue, I’d rather be on a recliner, reading. (Ok, I’m not that bad.  I’m just not that commited!).biking with Caleb
  • I love to eat all kinds of foods.  I don’t go hangry, and I don’t diet.  I may cut CRAP out for periods at a time (Carbonated drinks, Refined Sugars, Artificial Flavors, and Processed foods). I will not lose weight by restrictive eating… and I don’t believe that’s healthy for you either.

So it’s not about a size on my pants, or a number on the scale, or finishing first in the “Why Not Tri” Triathlon I registered our family for in June.  At the end of the day, when my knees sound like I’m hiding a bag of Cheetos in there, and I can’t raise my arms above my head or hold a pencil because the swelling can get so bad…

… I just want to celebrate what my body CAN do! I want to look at myself in the mirror and say, “Yeah! This girl swims 30 minutes every week!  And she has ran up to 8 miles straight! And she can Zumba for hours!”

Isn’t it time we faced fitness as the godly women that we are?  With a foundation on Biblical truths and not the condemnation of failing to meet some photoshopped worldly standard?  With rejoicing in that we are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made”?

So this is why I’m saying: Let’s do an Ironman!

My small group leaders (who are very healthy both spiritually and physically) and I came up with this idea, having just completed another exercise challenge, of doing a Lazy Ironman.  It means we do an Ironman but spread out over two months (or more).

  • Swim 2.4 miles.
  • Bike 112 miles.
  • Run 26.2 miles.
  • If you do any other non-mileage related activity, you can credit a mile for every 15 minutes of exercise towards any of these activities.
  • Complete by July 1st, 2017.

after a swimWell I had so much fun creating my little spreadsheet to track my miles, that I decided to share it with you! I would love for you to join me in this challenge.  We even have a private Facebook group for motivation and support – just email me/private message me through Facebook and I’d be happy to add you!

Are you ready to do a Lazy Ironman with me? Click to download your tracking log and get started.

Just make sure you get the Doctor’s approval first, ok? Don’t go hurting yourself. I’m not a medical professional or a fitness professional.  I’m just a mom, standing in front of a mirror, trying to get into a pair of jeans without using all my yoga skills.  I’m going to move a little every day – at least 30 minutes – and I’m inviting you to move with me!

Can’t wait until we can look back and see all we were able to do in these very bodies.  Writing it down makes a world of difference.

What are some frustrations you face in trying to be fit?

 

Unanswered Prayers

sunset

Confession: My husband and I are fighting a battle against the Credit Bureu over our score and our history.  It has been a loooooong battle against years of unemployment/underemployment and identity theft.  And it feels uphill and unfair.

And by looong it means we have been living with our friends since last July, a family of five with a family of four in a three bedroom condo with three dogs and a bunny.  We have been paying a credit repair company AND a credit report monitoring company to help us fight this battle.

While I’m extremely thankful for our friends’ hospitality, it’s not something I want to abuse of.  It’s also not comfortable. I’ve been ready to move out since October 2016.  But our credit scores were still pretty bad and not climbing as fast as we hoped.

Then last month we were finally only 15 points away from the magic number!  We were so optimistic.  Things were just bound to turn a corner soon, right?

Wrong.

For reasons I still don’t understand as I’m writing this we lost 46 points.  It felt like a punch to the stomach while the referee called a time-out.  It’s like doing the cha-cha with someone who is actively trying to step on your already sore toes.

If I’m completely honest, at some point I was in the shower, asking God, “What kind of animal sacrifice do I need to offer You for me to get a little bit of favor?!  What more do You want from me?!?” And these are common reactions to unanswered prayers… Why? When?? How??? With a dash of bargaining and trying to bribe Him.

But then I chose to anchor myself on truths against a bombardment of lies from the enemy in response to these questions.  I said these truths to myself like a creed, over and over until my heart caught up to my brain:

Eklutna

  1. God has surrounded me in a team of prayer warriors that are supporting me.  The friends that opened their home for us did so because they believed in the work that God will do in our families when we are able to stop renting and can afford a stable home.  For the same reason, they have asked us to stay: because they want to see the Lord bring this to completion as much as we do.  Our realtors are covering us in prayer.  Our church is covering us in prayer.  I am not alone.

     hope

  2. God is FOR me.  I can look up and expect His help!  He doesn’t just mildly like me, and He’s not indifferent to these trials.  Just because He hasn’t released it to me in my timing, does not mean that His answer is “No.”  His heart is generous towards me and is more than able to provide!  So for all this time that He has not said “Yes”, I have to believe it’s because what He has in mind is better than what I am seeing right now. I will continue to look up and expect His help.
     Portage
  3. God is accomplishing something good in my heart through this trial.  It’s not a trial that will result in bitterness, or wedge distance between God and me.  This is a trial that has me fall onto the Rock of ages – and I will remember these times with fondness! I will recall how God held us, and sustained us, and did wonderful things in our family and all around us.  This may be a painful part of His plan, but it is still with the purpose of causing good in me and around me. So I will worship Him.

This faith-based perspective is by all means it’s not of this world.  It’s definitely not in my nature.  It is His Spirit working in me, comforting me, and giving me a hope I could not manufacture on my own through ‘positive thinking’.  So if you are going through a trial, the best I can encourage you to do is to dig deep into God’s Word and prayer.  He can lift your countenance better than any motivational phrase can!  If He has this strength available for me, He can do this in you too!

If you like the Bible verse images, go ahead and save them! They make great smart phone wallpapers, and I own the rights to the photos. 🙂

What is God revealing to you about your season of trials?  How can I align myself with God’s will for you in prayer? Share below.

The Creative In The ADHD Brain

Anakin typing

Confession: I have been guilty (along with a list of teachers and coaches) of accusing my child of either being lazy or sabotaging his opportunities.  A lot more before I understood what it means that my oldest has ADHD, and thankfully a lot less now that I understand the balance between his attention and his distractibility.

I don’t think we give these children (and adults) enough credit.  Yes it’s hard for them to engage in some things at the same level as other “normal” children – either gazing out the window absent-mindedly or cutting off their peers every five minutes – but their brains don’t just stop there!  There is something amazing on the other side of this disability and it’s their God-given, creative genious!  When they reach that sweet spot, man can they take off!

DifferentI strongly recommend you pick up the book “Different” by Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson. [Disclaimer: This is not an affiliate link, it’s my honest mom’s recommendation.] Nathan was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and OCD – making him a very different child growing up.  Now he’s used his talents to create movies like “Confessions of a Prodigal Son” and he acted in “The Purge”.  His adult life now is the result of Sally Clarkson’s labor of love, and raising an ADHD child to reach his “sweet spot”.

I’ll share about my younger son in another post, but I wanted to highlight something amazing about my oldest, Anakin.  We’ve always struggled with writing assignments, although he’s advanced for his age, because of the work it took to get him to sit still and focus long enough to write a book report/essay/story that made sense.  And then something was unlocked in him that has him taking off, publishing e-books [Anakin does receive a percentage of the purchases from this link, so it’s as close to an affiliate link as I have], illustrating his own cartoons and writing like crazy; he found a passion for history.

Anakin and Caleb reading

He says history is his favorite subject and he wants to become a writer.  He says things like, “Now that I’ve read the book ‘Unbroken’ I’d like to see how Angelina Jolie directed the movie based on his life.”  His passion – at the young age of 10.5 – is to write fiction stories in historical context so you learn about history without the rote work of memorization.

Confession: History was MY WORST SUBJECT EVER.  And then came math.

Now I can’t make him just write a “paragraph” on anything, as you can see in his assignment on The Silk Road of the Middle East.  The instructions were to write a paragraph or short story on what it would be like to trade along The Silk Road. And here comes Anakin, 809 words later, he has created quite the plot – with developed charaters, dialogue, and within the historical context of the times.  One I’m happy to share with you (for free) because my son wants to know if it’s readable enough for younger children to stay captivated – in the hopes of developing it into a children’s book, complete with illustrations.  Y’all let me know!

The Life of a Silk Road Trader

 

Old Goku

Original Artwork by Anakin Hass, “What would Goku look like when he’s finally old?” based off the Dragonball Anime universe.

The point is, successful adults with disabilities are those that are able to major on their strengths.  The key to raising successful adults, then, is to be parents who let children major on their strengths! If you would’ve asked me last year if Anakin was a good writer I would’ve answered with a, “Eh…” and a half smile.  And I would’ve been wrong.  I missed his gift because he just had not found anything he was passionate enough to write.

 

I want to encourage you, from one mom to another – whether you homeschool or not – to give your children the space and time they need to pursue their passions.  Even if it doesn’t look like the things you are passionate about! We are raising world changers.  I believe, prophetically, that the battles to be won will be fought by those who stand their ground at the intersection of a Kingdom Need and a Heart-Filled Talent.  This intersection will be their posts as adults, and we need to shepherd them in that direction.

Have you ever been surprised by something you didn’t think you could do, but you did very well?  How did that experience impact your perspective on life?

One Thing I Learned from Mandy

finish well pin
Confession: I have been rocked by tragedies recently, although mostly peripheral to me.  I don’t know if my heart is just more sensitive today, or maybe it’s God trying to show me something…

I have been gutted by multiple instances of overnight fires, claiming multiple lives.  Even here in town.  I shared on my Facebook feed a news article as a prayer request in one incident because it felt horribly close to home, and my husband knew the couple involved.

But my phone wasn’t done blowing up with these types of notifications, as last week on Tuesday many of my blogger friends expressed grief that a fire took the lives of a mom, dad, and two children during the night. In sadness, I said a quick prayer for people involved but it didn’t really register at that moment.

How You Finish

Mandy Kelly was a wonderful Christian blogger at Worshipful Living, where she created a lot of brilliant resources for Moms/Homeschoolers/God-fearing women like me… One of these being the Good Morning Girls ministry, where she was the Leadership Coordinator.

I cannot even begin to share how the Good Morning Girls Facebook page influenced my life; I followed along their Bible studies, I was encouraged to dive into my Bible (even through seasons where I didn’t really feel spiritual), and I often used these studies in fellowship with other mom friends when we felt a little too busy or disconnected.

When I realized it was “that Mandy”, my heart sunk.  Even though I didn’t know her personally, she was who “I wanted to be when I grow up”.  I think every Christian mom-blogger does this chore of Pinterest and social media promotion with the hopes that they’ll be able to use their voice and influence others the way Mandy did.  I dream of having this humble beginning of a blog become a solace for all these godly warriors who are fiercely on the front lines of God’s Kingdom over their households.

As I prepare to participate in a link-up to honor Mandy, I have to think about ONE THING she taught me and I’m at a total loss for what to say.  She taught me to read and highlight in my Bible, and how to do the SOAP method.  She taught me that I can rekindle the joy in my homeschooling, and that having the faith of a harlot can be a remarkable thing.

But I think the main lesson I can walk away with is to finish well.

Her life and ministry was an example of how it doesn’t matter how you start as long as you do, and nothing on this earth is fatal or final; until you are before the very presence of God – where Mandy and her family found themselves last Wednesday morning – you can always be used by God.  You are never out of grace.  You are never beyond hope.  So finish this race, and finish well.


Even though it came as a surprise, I know she was welcomed into eternity as she heard Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Because in her earnest desire to finish well, that phrase describes who she was and what she inspired others to be.

Mandy’s church has opened a fund to help raise donations for the family. You can make donations here. When you visit the website, click on the green “Give” button and designate your donation for The Kelly Family.  The funeral for Scott, Mandy, Lizzie and Judah Kelly will be at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 27, 2017, at her church. Visitation will be held before the service from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. I ask that you please hold the surviving two children and extended family in prayers during the service (for Alaskan reference, this would be between 6:30am – 10:30am our time).

In Memory Of

This post will be a part of a link up of other bloggers choosing to honor Mandy, which goes live on March 29th. I encourage you to read more from other bloggers at that time.  And I can only pray that should I pass on to eternity unexpectedly, I would have made my mark on this world like Mandy did.

What are some ways you hope to finish well? How can I encourage you and pray with you through this?

The ADHD Friendly Church

winter church

Confession: I was THAT kid at church. Restless. Slightly disruptive no matter how interested. I had to keep busy. 

15 years later I come to church and I see my boys, among other kids, and I get it. We can have the most dynamic worship team and the funniest Pastor, it is very hard for us ADHDers to do nothing during the service.

What are you saying Maria?! You don’t sit at church and do nothing! You pray! You listen! You worship!

Fair enough, let me expand. Yes, we actively worship, and provided we can sing along at the top of our lungs you still have our attention. But sitting still and listening during a sermon is NOT our forte! Even with our best intentions, our minds wander. And we get restless. As in, grab another cup of coffee, go pee, and remember to send that email kind of restless.

True story: I either pray out loud or pray in writing. Bowing our heads and closing our eyes is how I take a power nap while out in public

My daughter asked if she could sing with Mommy and Daddy.

Which is why we seem to do better as a family in churches that are more ADHD friendly; a much more casual atmosphere, where we can laugh along with the distractions that inevitably happen without offense being taken. And where the sermons get to the point (sorry I had to be honest and say it).

What denomination is that?

I don’t know! I don’t think you’ll find it reading the church bylaws or ministry website. It’s an exclusively organic feel the congregation as a whole creates when they love your family and accept you- quirks and all. It’s a kid-friendly environment where they are not a distraction but the mission. It’s a place where you’re invited to plug in so you’re NOT asked to sit still for two hours week after week.

Our small group doesn’t just do church, we do some camping and hiking too 🙂

Before you find this blog post disappointing (seeing as I didn’t solve your problems or gave you solid answers) I’d like to share that there are things YOU can do to make church work better for your family regardless of how differently-abled your family is:

  1. Be honest and open about the disability. You’ll find most ministers are compassionate. The majority of church folk want to believe that your boy isn’t acting like hell on wheels because he’s rebellious. A lot of times, they’ve just never met anyone quite like y’all. So speak up (the Bible tells Christians we can’t be psychic)!
  2. Try to make church enjoyable for the kids: they deserve something to look forward to! Reward incentives work great. Allow them to wiggle a bit and make friends. Mainly, lighten up your attitude! Do you ever wonder why some adults only come to church for funerals and weddings? If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, and your kid can be himself, you’ll find everyone has a better time.
  3. Minimize the uncomfortableness: is it hard to sit still? Bring crayons and paper to draw during service. Or take a Rubik’s cube. Or a fidget cube. And don’t fear the electronics: an iPad with the youversion app open to write notes is ok! A bag of gold fishes has saved many moms with toddlers. Flags to wave during worship and tambourines for kids are great too (except at my church, my pastor friends kindly asked me to pass on tambourines).
  4. Have an “end goal” in mind: our family normally doesn’t eat out during the week so Sunday lunch is often looked forward to. Also, MY boys bring Pokémon cards to church (Sacrilege!). Provided the actively participate during service, they can trade with friends afterwards.
  5. Most importantly, make church about the people and the Lord, not the building. Our God is very relationship-minded and we should be too. Church for our family is the people we love! The quiet prayers, the worship music, and the listening is a daily part of our lives at home, so when it happens at church it’s no biggie! Instead, church is where we get to pray with our friends – and that’s what makes it even more special.

Have any tips to share with that Mom that doesn’t feel like she can relax at Church? What encouragement would you offer her?

The Special Needs, Battle-Worn Parent

Confession: This post may seem like a rant.  But it’s my heart’s goal that through THIS momma’s rant, you can be just slightly more aware (if you aren’t already) of what it’s like to walk a mile in these shoes.

Being the mom of a special needs child is hard.  I know MANY moms in different battles and my heart just goes out for them, because though I have it much easier than some… It’s still exhausting.

boys reading

I’m sure we all have moments where we yell at others but only inside our heads, because we’re still trying to keep what little appearance of sanity we have.  But it may sound something like this:

“Well your child is constantly interrupting others and can’t wait his turn to talk, but I don’t think that’s an ADHD symptom at all…”

So you’re assuming he’s just rude and sabotaging his friends on purpose?  This is TEXTBOOK impulsivity in a social setting, classic symptom of ADHD – and I know, because I read the books.  Would you like one?

“Your child’s behavior is not the greatest, so although the rest of his peers are advancing, I don’t think he is taking this as seriously as his classmates and we won’t be advancing him.”

He fractured his hand at the growth plate of his middle trying to impress you with the skill he was trying to accomplish because it mattered to him THAT much to earn your approval though… Just sayin’.

chess

“I would never try medication with MY kids! We’ve been able to manage little Tommy’s behavior just fine by cutting out his sugar and red dye number 40.  I’ve also read that more protein helps little boys with the same issues you struggle with.”

Would you tell a diabetic that he just needs to get his fat self to exercise and eat healthy and he wouldn’t need his insulin any more?!?  And would you not think that I have tried everything before this point?

“I just don’t see the big deal with behavioral issues.  After all, boys will be boys.”

I don’t think boys are supposed to struggle with insomnia, bed wetting, and poor appetites either.  And him talking out of turn in a class is not nearly as concerning to me as the migraines he gets two to four times a week from constantly trying to focus around non-stop distractions.  But I’m glad you feel he’s manageable.

swimming

“My mom just whooped me when I didn’t focus.”

Yeah, my mom whooped me too.  We now have lived 6000 miles apart for the past 8 years.  You were sayin’?

“Have you considered that maybe you just shouldn’t homeschool him?  At some point you need to see you may be doing things wrong and you should leave him to an expert.”

I don’t even want to dignify this with an answer.

Anakin and friends

I could keep going. But I can also go in the other direction; I have friends who have just loved on us and never said a word – which is helpful.  But if there’s one thing I’d like for all these people to know is that they are the icing on the chocolate cake of my problems and my battle as a parent of this child.  Which is why many, many moms in my situation just walk away and don’t bother saying a word.

We don’t want to begin to tell you how much we have to wrestle with our spouses over this.  Many spouses are in a sort of tug-o-war over their hopes for their special needs children and how to address it, and while we’re walking that tight rope we’re still fussing with the child (usually over the SAME thing, over, and over again… It’s like beating a dead horse until you get it to the edge of the water and then making it take a drink!).  And we still have to research for outside sources of help for our child.  While managing the rest of the family and other “normal” kids and not so “normal” kids.  And let’s not forget any semblance of self care…

family pic

So from all moms like me, I kindly ask moms like you: When you see us in the struggle at the school line or the grocery store, don’t be THAT mom – the judgy mom, the mom with all the answers (the one I used to be, when everything seemed in control).  Instead, be the mom that brings an extra cup of coffee or sends a funny meme.  Be the mom that teaches their kids about differently-abled brains and how to be friends with kids who process life differently than yours.  Be the mom that “moves towards the mess.” If you don’t know what to do, just lift three fingers and whistle the “Hunger Games” tune.  We get it.

put your love glasses on

For Richer or for Poor

Confession: My husband and I attended a wedding where the bride refused to say, “or for poor” at the end of her wedding vows.  The preacher tried to get her to repeat the whole phrase, “For richer or for poor” twice… she would drop the last half of the phrase every time!

for richer or poor

I’m thankful I’ve stuck with my husband on the “or for poor” parts of our lives, just as he has stuck with me on the “in sickness” part of our lives.  It would’ve been a lonely stretch if we skipped out on each other when times got tough.

For the record, we’ve been homeless more than once, tried to make ends meet in Oklahoma, Florida, and now Alaska. We’ve changed careers and jobs at least four times; from military, to Subway (making sandwiches), to the FAA, to selling cell phones, to now working in the medical field where he’s finally growing and doing great.


Can I share a deep revelation I received through this journey?

A godly man doesn’t need to be reminded about his responsibility to provide. It’s a constant, heavy burden over his shoulders. It’s his primary ministry and his God-given curse. 

“And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I didn’t learn this only from my husband, but also by having open conversations with other husbands when they shared how deeply work transitions and unemployment affected them.

It is excruciatingly painful for a godly man to be unable to provide for his family. I qualify this statement by emphasizing that this is how a godly man feels because any man who intentionally neglects his family is not in a relationship with his God and is spiritually blind.  Whether or not your husband loves God is really up to you to know!


So what do we do in these seasons? When we can’t make all the ends meet, and the husband is applying for jobs unsuccessfully, and the notices are piling up on the kitchen counter…

  • Pray for your husband AND don’t nag at him. There are some needs that are meant for GOD to provide. And since you don’t really need to remind your husband of what needs to be provided for anyways, seek God for these burdens instead.
  • Do NOT with-hold sex from your husband during difficult times. Contrary to pop culture bolony, sex is not just a physical need for your man; it heals his soul, and validates him deeply in a season where everything else is telling him “you’re not good enough.” And sex is not a reward tool, your husband is not a dog.
  • Encourage your husband and appreciate all he does for you. It’s quite foolish to get angry at a man who’s spending a lot of time at work… because he’s working! And deep in his heart it brings him peace to know he’s providing- even if this comes with overtime, travel, or deployment. So thank him for the hard work, or the part time jobs, or the traveling, or the applications he has put in. He needs to know that it matters to you in a dog-eat-dog world.
  • Live within your means! Don’t make the burden more difficult by desiring a lifestyle that is outside of his (or yours, if you both work) income. Learn the biblical key to contentment so he can truly find solace and rest at home.

I have learned to say, “I love going camping with you!” Instead of “I would love a Hawaiian vacation.”  And, as any godly man would, Paul actually took me to Hawaii kid-free for a four day honeymoon (debt free too!). I have learned to not mind used furniture if it means we’re not adding an extra bill. And I have specially learned to serve him in our budget by asking him, “What bills should we focus on with this paycheck? How much do you want me to spend on groceries?” I have the better memory for when bills are due, but he’s a better mathematician.


More than anything, my husband is my favorite person. I’m happy to eat ramen noodles or steak and lobster with him. And you should feel the same way about your husband!

These trials come to teach both husband and wife to rely on God and not only on themselves. Don’t despise the humble beginnings. Don’t fear the seasons of lack, because you both serve a God who knows all your needs. 
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-7‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

 

How can you encourage a struggling wife (or yourself) when finances are tight?

 

One Week of Idita-Reading

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Confession: My oldest son loves to read.  In fact, when he gets into a book we’re all normally annoyed by how he binge reads – and neglects everything and everyone else.  My daughter likes to read too…

… But when it comes to my youngest, asking him to sit down and read a book is like asking him to volunteer for wisdom tooth extraction.

Caleb at Iditarod Start

Here’s Caleb, freezing cold but happy to see the Iditarod Ceremonial Start in Anchorage!

Sit the youngest in front of the pediatrician and  he can read 4th grade level texts at age 7.  He knows a lot of “encyclopedic information” from books about animals and human anatomy.  But there’s something about sitting down with a book for a few minutes, specially a fiction book or a chapter book, that he was just not having it.

Enter IDEA, stage right! (Interior Distance Education of Alaska)

Anakin's Artwork

Original Artwork by Anakin Hass, done entirely by freehand 3/4/17

They are our homeschooling charter school.  I’m always very thankful of their educational support.  They have always stood behind me as a homeschooling parent – an experience I’ve heard is unique to charter schools in Alaska.

Our schools every year participate in the Iditaread, a race against mushers actively competing in IditarodThis race to Nome is a big deal for us Alaskans, as these Mushers access towns that are off the road system completely – only reachable by dog mushing or plane.

http://iditarod.com/photo/

Mats Pettersson lead dog jumps and is ready to continue to run after Mats checked in at the Kaltag checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2017.Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In the Iditaread, kids read on average a page per musher’s miles.  They log their miles and try to make it from Fairbanks (only this year) to Nome (979 miles) before their selected musher does.  Many homeschooling families do this challenge outside of the official Iditaread because it’s very fun for readers. (That’s the key… It’s a marathon of reading, usually all pages are done in two to three weeks!). 

http://iditarod.com/photo/

Jason Mackey runs on the Yukon River with many snowmachine tracks running alongside on the trail nearng the Kaltag checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2017.Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Obviously, this was daunting for my 7 year old.  But I have a couple of liberties recommended to me by the teachers and staff at IDEA:

  • Pick rookie mushers for emergent readers!  Caleb is racing against Roger Lee in his first Iditarod, all the way from England! It gives them a chance to learn about new mushers.  If your kid is a good speedster reader, he can tackle the more challenging mushers.  My son always races against Dallas Seavey – and that’s hard to beat! He’s won multiple times and finished last year in record time.
  • I get to “vet check” the books the way veterinarians check the dogs to make sure they’re healthy.  In that sense, I can offer Caleb 2 miles per page if the book is more 2nd-3rd grade level, as well as make sure with my oldest who has read the entire I Am Number Four series that the content isn’t entirely inappropriate for a 10 year old.
  • Keep track with maps and colors and progress book marks – provided entirely by IDEA, Caleb now has a visual so he doesn’t feel discouraged.  He can trace his finger along his map and see how far he’s come!

iditaread1

We started with a kick off party at the school where each kid did a cut out of their lead dog.  Then the staff can move their dogs along as the kids reach the check points along the way.  This captivated all three of my kids!

Then we added a twist: Mom and Dad are doing the Iditaread too!  We’re racing mushers as well (and falling tragically behind, but it’s the effort and attitude that counts!).  We’re leading by example.  The rules for us are a little different though:

  • I can’t count pages I read during Paul’s work hours, because that’s not fair!  So the pages I read have to be between 12-1pm (his lunch break) or after 5pm in the evening.
  • Pages of books we read aloud to the kids in the evening or during lunch count for the parent who reads and the children who sit still and actively listen.  Woo-hoo for the Read Aloud Revival led by Sarah McKenzie!

iditaread2

We’ve spent a lot of evenings just reading after dinner until bed time. The TV is collecting dust, and I kind of like it that way! However, we decided to take the weekend off, and our mushers didn’t, so now we’re pretty far behind them.  But there has to be a balance to everything – a big learning point when you have 1 confirmed and one awaiting diagnosis for ADHD.  So there is still school work, math, writing, chores, family board games, outings and church.

And for the record, Caleb read 300 pages this week.  Motivated himself to make it 400 pages starting tomorrow.  He’ll make it to Nome with his “lead dog Max” in no time!

caleb and max

How do you motivate children to love reading when they seem to prefer doing ANYTHING else?