Monday, June 28, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:38 AM 0 comments
For me, the main goals in eating (other than having the proper perspective) are to eat balanced and as natural as possible. As natural as possible is probably the biggest challenge in eating healthy. We have become accustomed to prepared and processed foods. They are convenient, quick, easy, and our taste buds have gotten used to the flavors in them.
I’ll be the first to admit that my pantry still has quite a few processed foods. Crackers, cereal, breads are all staples. However, we also have bowls of fresh fruit and a constant supply of fresh and frozen vegetables. They key is to not look in your pantry and throw out everything that’s in a box or bag. The key is to take it one step at a time and eliminate what you can, and add what you can.
One of the first thing we did in our house was make fresh fruits and vegetables a constant fixture. Study after study shows that Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables. There are a many products available now that tout being fruit and vegetable supplements (made with real fruit, two servings of veggies,) but the truth is, there’s no substitute for fresh, real live foods. If we start eating them and our children start eating them, we will begin to appreciate the flavors and textures that cannot be mimicked in man-made foods.
I have to add a caution here, though. Many fruits and vegetables sold in many markets (grocery stores) are the product of mass-produced items in which pesticides. There are many cautions out about limiting our intake of products with pesticides. The most recent study shows that there may be a link between pesticides and ADD. Whether that (or any of the other specific claims) turn out to be true, it would be wise to be cautious. There are many ways to avoid and limit exposure to pesticides. You can grow your own (although not everyone everywhere can grow everything,) you can buy from local farmers’ markets and stands (where you can ask), and you can buy organic. Don’t let your limited ability to do any one of these things scare you off of making this one important change, however. Fruits and vegetables (and a variety of them) are good for our bodies and provide many needed and desired nutrients.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Health is eating to live, not living to eat

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:37 AM 0 comments
While many of us focus on our weight and size, few of us focus on how we approach food. Food has become a cultural phenomena. It has become about how much you can get for how little. How things are pleasing to our taste buds for the moment regardless of the long-term impact on our bodies. How to make it cheaper, easier, and more fun. In other words, we have learned to live to eat. Instead, our focus in regards to food should be eating to live. Our main goal in eating should be to feed our bodies what they need to thrive. I’m not saying that we should ignore our taste buds. On the contrary, eating healthy can be fun, creative, and taste good.
This is a struggle that many of us have, including me. One of the reasons that I am not content with my weight and size right now are because I made some eating decisions that were not in the best interest of my body, but instead were catered to my taste buds. We are conditioned by commercials and lifestyles to eat for pleasure.
We also eat when we’re sad, eat to celebrate, eat for fellowship, and even eat when we’re bored. Why not? We’re asked. You deserve it. We’re told. In my book, what we really deserve is the opportunity to eat what’s best for our bodies. The answers to why not are almost too much to cover, but I’ll dabble a little in the reasons.
We are what we eat. Garbage in, garbage out. That may make us think that the garbage will come out, having no effect on us, but that simply is not true. The garbage out in the case of what we eat is how it affects us. The reasons not to eat simply for taste disregarding nutrients and health benefits (or detriments) include:
· The effect on our digestive system.
· The effect on our hearts and cardiovascular system.
· The effect on our hormones and endocrine system.
· The effect on our ability to sleep well and restfully.
· The effect on our energy level.
· The effect on our moods.
· The effect on our ability to focus and perform well.
As you can see, even this short list is fairly comprehensive, covering nearly ever aspect of our lives. So, with a multitude of information, much of it contradictory, how do we know how to eat? What diet do we follow? Who do we listen to?
First of all, I encourage you to do your own research. Check out the government’s health website. Look up the effects of preservatives and other chemical additives to our foods. Read and listen to balanced health professionals. Talk to your doctor. Like I said before, I don’t claim to be an expert or to know everything there is to know about health, but I have done a lot of research and can pass along what I’ve found.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Health is not a lack of disease

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:36 PM 0 comments
This is also an important part of understanding health. Many people think that they are healthy simply because they have not been diagnosed with something. Others think that their ability to be healthy is out of their control because they have been diagnosed with something. Neither of these is true.
Much of what I have learned about health (like many other areas) have come through trial and error. And education. Much of that education came after I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. I had been vowing to lose ten pounds (then fifteen, then twenty) for a long time. I wanted to be smaller, and I guess healthier, but I never really looked into what it would take to do so. When I was diagnosed, however, I was prompted to find out what I needed to do to get healthy. So, ironically, I became the healthiest I had ever been while I was managing gestational diabetes. This came in handy when I dealt with it again in my second and third pregnancies, and especially when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in between my third and fourth pregnancies. Because of this, I have learned that a diagnosis of a life-long disease does not mean that I have to give up on being healthy. On the contrary, for me it was the catalyst I needed to become healthier.
I know the same is true for many other women. I know many moms who cope with illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diagnoses who live very healthy lives. They manage their illness and do not allow it to define them or their overall health.
If health is not found solely in the numbers and is not a lack of disease, then what is it? That’s the crux of this chapter. I don’t claim to be a medical professional or an expert in any specific area of health, but I can share what I’ve learned through research, experience and talking with health professionals about what it takes to get and remain healthy.

Women's Conference Scholarship

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:25 AM 0 comments
Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:25 PM 0 comments
Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Health is not measured solely by numbers

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:35 AM 1 comments
The importance of this truth is one that we may need to work diligently to ingrain in our heads. The first number that comes to mind is the number on the scale. The main number that many of us become obsessed with. I, too, have had many struggles with those three little numbers. The second number must be discussed along with the first, because they generally go hand-in-hand. They are the numbers you find on your clothes. You know, the sizes. Just as we tend to obsess with the numbers on the scale (or ignore them because we don’t really want to know what they are) we also tend to obsess with the size of our clothes. As if once we hit that magic number, everything in our lives will fall perfectly into place. A few minutes of watching any of entertainment shows on the heartaches and troubles of size zero stars will verify that that is not true.
I also know from experience. I was one of those teenagers who seemed to have been able to eat anything and say a small size. I never thought, though, that I was skinny enough and was constantly hoping to lose ten more pounds, get one size smaller. Looking back, I know now that my energies and efforts were wasted. Not because they didn’t get me to my goal, but because I should have been content with the weight and size that I was.
As discontent as I was, I never did anything to become healthier. As a matter of fact, I eat much more healthily now that I’m a few sizes bigger and weigh a little more. I’m not content with where I am, but at least I now know what to do to get where I want. My health is not wrapped up in what size I am or what the scale says. What matters much more is that I eat a healthy, balanced diet. Not diet, mind you, in the sense that I’m on some strict regimen to help me lose weight, but diet in the sense of simply what it is that I’m eating. I eat more fruits and vegetables than I ever did when I was young and super skinny. And I eat a lot less junk.
I don’t want you to get me wrong, though. Weight does matter generally in our health. I would never encourage anyone to stay overweight in order to avoid getting caught up in the numbers trap. There’s a reason that there’s a healthy range for different body types. Enough research has been done to know that when you carry a certain amount of extra weight on your body, you’re putting extra strain on your body systems. The important thing is not to pick an arbitrary number that you’d like to be at, but to find a range within the numbers that you are comfortable and healthy at.
Beyond the numbers found on the scale and on our clothes are the numbers found in our bodies. These are the numbers in the numerous tests that doctors like to run these days. Many of these numbers are important indicators of health: cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamin D, sugar levels, etc. Tests have gotten really good and decades of research have helped us to know where these and a variety of other numbers should be for optimal health. However, we can sometimes get too wrapped up in these numbers. I am not saying that we should not pay attention to these numbers, or avoid knowing what they are. Ignorance does not lead to bliss in the area of health and indicators of health. They are not, though, the end all and be all of health.
Like I said before, when I was young and thin and all my numbers were in pretty good order, I was not as healthy as could be. I also know people who have perfect cholesterol, sugars, etc. and are not overweight, but are also not healthy. They don’t have good healthy habits, they suffer from a lack of energy due to poor diets, and sleep issues. So, while knowing the status of many of your health indicators, it’s important not to be lulled into complacency when all the numbers line up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:24 PM 0 comments
Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

What is Healthy, Anyway?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:32 AM 0 comments
Like many of the topics you’ll find in this book, the topic of being healthy is one that there is no shortage of books on. It seems like every week there’s a new diet, study on health, exercise program, or magic bullet to get you into shape. If you simply let everything that comes out register in your brain that it’s out there, you can get overwhelmed. Much less if you actually try to digest and understand it all. This study contradicts that study. This diet contradicts that diet. This program is sooo much better than that program. It’s no wonder that so many people end up paralyzed, not doing anything except continuing to do what they’ve always done, whether it’s healthy or not.
To understand what it means to be healthy, the first thing is to understand what is not the definition of healthy. Only once we do away with myths and misconceptions about health, can we begin to understand what it means to be healthy.
But, before I tackle this chapter, I want to address the first question you may have: What does my health have to do with being a mom? More than you might think. One of the main goals of this book is for moms to learn to take care of themselves and be healthy and balanced in every area of life. Why? Because moms need to be able to function at their optimal levels in order to be the best mom they can be. If you’re house and life are not organized, if you’re not healthy, if your marriage isn’t solid, if you don’t use good parenting skills, if you haven’t healed from past hurts, you will not be able to parent with excellence. And, believe it or not, your health is as important as any of those other areas. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who’s grown up with a parent who’s been caught in the grips of depression, exhaustion, or general poor health.
You’ve heard the saying, ‘If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’ Well, the same is true for your health. If you’re not healthy, neither will your children be. Living at your optimum in health allows you to enjoy your children in a way that is impossible otherwise. Living out healthy lifestyles will model those behaviors that your children need to be healthy themselves. Knowing good health choices will help you teach them to your children. A mom’s ability to become and remain healthy is important not just for mom, but for the whole family.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what is not included in the definition of healthy? (to begin tomorrow...)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:23 PM 0 comments
Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Love is

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:28 AM 0 comments
What is love? Let me know what you think by finishing the sentence.

Love is...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:22 PM 0 comments
Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Spritual Richness

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:58 AM 0 comments
The difference between the spiritually rich and the spiritually poor is that the spiritually rich pray, read the Bible, and seek God first & spend what time they have left on everything else, while the spiritually poor spend their time on everything else and hope to have time to pray, read the Bible, and seek God. (adapted from financial formula in Today Matters by John C. Maxwell)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Italian Nachos

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:48 PM 0 comments
Great, quick recipe, courtousy of my hubby.

tortilla chips - top with leftover spaghetti sauce and shredded cheese.
Broil to heat through and melt cheese.
Top with salsa and sour cream.

Chow down!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Duggar Update

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:37 AM 0 comments
It's been over two months since I first read the Duggar's book "20 and Counting." I have since moved on to other reading and living life. But, I have not forgotten the lessons that resinated so much to me when I first read it. Haven't forgotten them, but have not fully and consistently implemented the helpful tips that they gave. There have been a few changes, but also sliding back into our normal routine, or lack there of.

If you haven't noticed, one thing I struggle with is being consistent. Not with discipline, I do pretty good at keeping that consistent, but normal every day stuff. No day around my house is the same, which maked consistent schedules and routines a challenge. I also prefer to tackle special projects on a regular basis than tackle the mundane, need to be done daily, weekly tasks, which also makes it a challenge.

We are still using the buddy system, somewhat. I don't use it fully and in every situation, but as I said before, my "big buddies" are only seven and five. But, we are all working together more to get things done and there isn't quite as much grumbling and complaining.

Also, we are still using our card system for morning and evening routines - sometimes. Like I said, I'm not good with daily tasks. But we have the cards, which helps remind the kids what they need to do. I simply have to be available to go behind them to check it out. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I'm wrapped up in other things (like cooking, cleaning, straightening myself.)

We moved to verses on self-control in April, but I did not exhibit the self-control necessary to study them consistently. So we kept them for May. I think I will pull them out again for June (even though we're not doing school) and review them a few more times before moving on. I obviously need to study them a little more.

So, all in all, I am still benfiting from the wisdom the Duggars shared in their book. Still, it is up to me to use what I think will be beneficial to my family in the way it will be beneficial. I am encouraged to continue to strive to lead my family in a way that will teach us all ways to live lives more effectively and passionately for God. And believe it or not, routines, rituals, organization, and a buddy system can help us to do so!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Water Babies

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:16 AM 0 comments










Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Amazing Mommy Daze

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:20 AM 0 comments
Whew! What a day! Sometimes it truly amazes me what a mommy can get done in a day.

First, it helped that everyone slept in this morning. Yesterday was our first official day out of school (we homeschool, if you didn't already know that) and I let the kids stay up a little later, with the ultimate goal (and it worked!!) of them sleeping in this morning. So, before they got up I: exercised, read the Bible, prayed, ate breakfast, cleaned out a drawer and got ready for the day.

After they got up I: fed them each breakfast, helped the girls straighten up their room some, cleaned out and vacuumed the vehicle, washed it, fed them lunch, read to the 3-year-old, crashed after being out in the heat for a couple hours, read my own book, fixed dinner with a baby on my hip, packed a bag for two to sleep over with Nana, put a baby to bed, weeded in the garden, bathed a tired 7-year-old, read with her, and cleaned up the kitchen from the whole day's mess. Now I'm relaxing with a cup of decaf and the computer. Are you tired?

I was thinking today, as I was vacuuming the car, all the jobs that moms really have to do. Have you ever seen the list that breaks down the jobs moms do and how much their worth? That's fine and dandy to say that I do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of "jobs" each year, but really (since the paycheck won't be coming in the mail any time soon) I'd most appreciate respect - something most moms are short on. Respect for what we do, that we work hard. And often, the lack of respect comes from each other.

I'm not sure why my brain went to these places today, other than it wonders all on it's own accord. But I thought, a little reminder to recognize the hard work that we each do is never a bad thing. And also, if you don't get that recognition and respect for the WORK that you do, remember, God sees all and will reward you in ways that you could never imagine!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Choosing to Smile

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:48 AM 0 comments
I thought when I left adolescence behind, that I would also be leaving blemishes behind. Blemishes. You know, zits. I wasn't plagued greatly with them when I was a teenager, but I thought that they were isolated to that time in my life. Now that I'm in my mid-thirties I have decided to accept the fact that they are here to stay. I'm still not plagued greatly with them, but as far as I'm concerned, one is too many. I never thought God would use a silly little zit to reinforce a life lesson.

I have one of those pesky little critters right now and did my best to use coverup and foundation to, well, cover it up, for work yesterday. To my surprise, a volunteer came in and commented on how clear my skin was. "If only you knew," I thought. Also, she was on the other side when she walked in. But later I discovered why she might have missed what to me was a glaring imperfection on my face. I had smiled a greeting to her when she came in. Looking in a mirror a while later, I noticed that the offender was in a spot where it was hidden when I smiled. Which made me smile all the more. Oh, how our God is unique and wise and humorous!

The life lesson He reinforced is this: no matter what's going on, a smile can cover it up. That doesn't mean that we aren't real and we don't share our struggles and disappointments with others, but it means that we don't dwell on them. When things are exactly how we wish them to be, we can still choose to be positive, trust God, and focus on the good things. When we do so, the blemishes of life often disappear, or simply don't make as much of an impact on our lives.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Mommy Day

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:38 PM 0 comments
Have you every looked for a hole to crawl in? Or a close exit? And tried to take it as quickly as possible with four little kids and everything that comes with them? I did. Today. Tried, that is. Thought about it. Desperately looked for a way out.

We had a slow week - no where to be other than work for me on Monday. It was a wonderful feeling, so good I decided to venture out to the library. I literally can't remember the last time we went, and it's something that we used to enjoy on a regular basis (before I started working part time and we joined a homeschooling group.) Also, I had two books on hold (by John Maxwell, I HIGHLY recommend reading him) and my daughter had finished her last Nancy Drew book I had picked up a few weeks ago. So off we went.

Everything went well for the first half hour. My oldest was collecting Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and the ultimate: Super Mysteries with all the above. The three little ones were playing fairly well and I was getting to browse Today Matters. Then, my one-year-old fell off one chair into another and bonked her head. And she must have bonked it good, because she screamed bloody murder at the top of her lungs for 10 full minutes. In the library. Loudly. For ten minutes.

I would have loved to pick up and go, but my oldest was at the self-checkout with her books (after 5 minutes of coaxing her to ask the librarian for help so I wouldn't have to leave the others or drag them along.) She was in the middle of her 15 books and there was no option for an easy exit. I tried the pacifier. I tried the cup of milk. I tried distracting her by looking out the window, but everything made her more mad.

Finally, my oldest was finished and returned with her bag of books. I apologized to them and said, "Get your things, we've got to go." The reason was obvious. No one even questioned it. So, we got our stuff, I slung my purse on my free shoulder, and silence.

Really? I thought. "Wait a minute. She may be okay." Suck, suck, suck. The pacifier didn't seem so offensive any more. I put my purse on the floor. A wimper. I picked my purse back up. Silence. I stood motionless. The other kids waited. Finally, I breathed. "I think we're okay." And we were. We moved to the trains, we played, the baby got down and was a happy camper. I talked to a few other moms (didn't admit I was the parent of the screaming banshee from a few minutes before) and even met another homeschooling mom of three girls and one boy, all under 7. Overall it was a successful trip.

And the lesson that was reinforced, that I knew already, but seem to forget on a regular basis - if I can just hold out for a few minutes, it will pass. It really will!! And on the other side of the storm, sometimes there's a rainbow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:12 AM 0 comments
Page 2

The two best friends walked across the parking lot in a comfortable, light-hearted silence. They were quite a pair, being complete opposites in both looks and in personalities. Sarah’s long dark hair a complete contrast to Elysa’s short blond bob. Sarah was average height and carried an extra twenty pounds on her. Elysa stood two inches taller than her friend and very thin. Sarah was quiet and thoughtful, while Elysa tended to speak her mind. Sarah said their differences were what made them get along so well.
They were quickly seated. Once their waitress had taken their order, Sarah asked Elysa about her Christmas. She had carefully kept her hands in her lap, continuing to will her body and voice to remain calm. She was grateful that she was well practiced in patience.
“It was nice,” Elysa replied. “We had a quiet morning at home before all the family got together at my aunt and uncle’s. My parents got me some CD’s and a new laptop.”
“That is nice.”
“Yeah, the laptop will come in handy when I start working. My old one’s gotten too quirky. I think too many research papers did it in.”
Sarah laughed. Papers were her favorite part of college. She despised multiple choice tests. Elysa thrived on tests and hated the papers. They often joked about swapping out assignments, but were too honest to do so.
“How about you? Have a good Christmas?”
The smile on Sarah’s face expanded until her cheeks hurt. “I had the best Christmas ever.”
Elysa raised one eyebrow. “The best ever, huh?”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I went with Jakob to his parent’s house Christmas Eve.”
“You gave him the basketball tickets?”
“I did. And some Oakley’s.”
“And…” Elysa said, anticipating and dreading the answer at the same time. Sarah had seemed more exuberant than her normal calm and quiet self that afternoon. She was hoping that she was wrong about the reason.
“And,” Sarah said, pulling her left hand from under the table and holding it palm down for her friend to see. “He gave me my Christmas present.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mommy's Need to Have Fun, Too!

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:02 PM 0 comments
Have you had fun lately? Really had fun? Let loose, got down on the floor, let everything else go fun?

As moms, we feel the bulk of the pressure on what there is to get done: dishes, cooking, laundry, baths, mail, etc., etc., etc. There's always something to do. But, to stay in balance, and to make wonderful memories, we need to cut everything loose once in a while and let go.

I did so yesterday and it felt great! My husband and I used to wrestle all the time when we were dating. It was a challenge, to see if I could get loose of his grip on my wrists, and for him to see how much of a pretzel he could make me. We haven't done it in years, but last night, for some unknown reason, we did. Our 7-year-old was involved. That made it a ton of fun. And I had help, meaning that I wasn't made into a pretzel and even got a few good tickles in. We all were tired from laughing after about 10 minutes. That excellent deep down, fully-engaged kind of laughing.

It was a good reminder to have fun once in a while. I try to remember to get on the floor to play with my little ones, although it's not as easy with four (and homeschooling) as it was with one or two. I am more wrapped up in the daily tasks of being a mom than remembering to take time to be Mommy.

The dishes will still be there. The laundry will still be there. They will eat whatever. Those are not the things that will mean the most. They do not solidify and foster positive relationships - having fun together does. We can't neglect our duties and obligations all the time, that would lead to mass chaos, but it's good to let them go once in a while and simply have fun. It will keep us in balance and help us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Imperfectly In Him

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:55 AM 2 comments
This is how I signed an email recently. I was up early and trying to get a million things done before my precious (busy, needy) children woke up. I was sending out some emails, and since two of them were for the same thing, I reused the first email to do the second. Only, while I was in the midst of it I heard by baby (now 1, but still a baby) wake up and begin fussing for me. I thought, "Let me get this finished. Then, if she doesn't go back to sleep, at least I'll have it done." So I rushed through it and forgot to change something. Something that made it obvious that it was a copy. I realized it (with an audible groan) while I was nursing. Little one did go back to bed and back to sleep. I headed back to the computer and whipped up a new email.

I humbly apologized and explained what happened. In the end, 'sincerely' or 'thank you' or any other salutation didn't feel right. Suddenly (it must have been God-inspired) the phrase 'Imperfectly In Him' hit me. It was so true and the most appropriate thing I could have said. And what do you know? Out of the two emails I sent, this was the one I heard back from immediately - and it was positive (I am tentatively booked for 4 MOPS speaking engagments!)

What else I got out of it was the reinforcement of a lesson God is constantly teaching me: how imperfect I am. Not that I ever thought I was perfect, but I most definitely have not always seen myself through God's eyes.

I've been familiar with Romans 3:23 for a long time - "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - but sometimes I see only certain things as sin.I judge myself more by the worlds standards than by God's. However, as my vision of myself becomes clearer and clearer, I grasp not only that God made me "wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), but I am a sinner, dead in my sin, except for the grace poured out on my by God.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Looking for Speaking Opportunities

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:54 AM 2 comments
I did my first "official" talk in January of this year (I have "unofficially" talked A LOT in my life,) but am officially kicking off my speaking ministry this fall. I am looking for opportunies to speak to women, moms (yes, I know they're women, too), and writers. I'd love for you to browse my list of workshop topics and pass along any opportunities you may know of.

Thanks!

All Women Work – This workshop answers the question of whether women and moms should work outside the home. Taking a Biblical perspective, the argument is made that God calls us all to different situations and different jobs. The myth that we can have it all is busted, and reframed that we can have all that God calls us to have through making work decisions based on an intimate, personal relationship with Him, and not cultural ideas about working women, and encourages respect for and between all women.
The Balancing Act – This workshop overviews the importance of finding balance in life. Balance is crucial to not only surviving life and the responsibilities that come with it, but to thrive in life. Participants will walk away with practical tips and tools that they can begin to implement immediately. Women will leave the workshop empowered to live in the rewards of a life in balance and in pursuit of God’s plan for an abundant life.
Bible Study under the Blow Dryer – Finding time for God and Bible study does not just happen. In the midst of being a wife, taking care of a house, and raising children there’s barely time to think, much less read and study the Bible. However, it is possible to make spiritual growth a priority. By being intentional, and willing to study the Bible, even while drying your hair, you can grow closer to God and live under His blessing.
Fruitful Motherhood – Any mom knows that life is busy. Sometimes it seems that our schedules and demands placed on our children are running our lives. We live for our schedules instead of our schedules working for us. To top it off, we rarely feel like we’re actually getting anything done. This workshop presents the keys to taking control of our schedules and turning busyness into fruitfulness.
Guilt-free Motherhood – Mothers tend to hold on to guilt. Guilt about working. Guilt about not signing up for the right classes. Guilt about broken relationships. Guilt about parenting mistakes. As that guilt is held on to, it negatively affects our emotional, spiritual, and parental lives. Jesus came to offer us life under grace, not guilt. This workshop gives moms the tools to let go of guilt and step into graceful parenting.
Living Life Together – This workshop highlights the importance of women living life in mutual encouragement and benefit. Relationships are meant to be a blessing, but also take work. Participants will gain increased knowledge in how to foster relationships with other women in real ways and enjoy sharing life lived in healthy, positive girl-friendships.
Making Marriage Magical – Marriage is the most unique relationship we ever enter into. There is an intimacy that makes us vulnerable. It’s a relationship that puts us at risk of getting hurt, but also can offer the most rewarding relationship we can have. This workshop answers the question of what marriage is meant to be, what are the true rewards of marriage, and the rules that, when followed, increase the rewards of marriage.
Parenting For Success – Parenting is the most challenging and rewarding job we will ever take on. If it were easy or there was one key thing we could do to guarantee success, we wouldn’t need education and encouragement in our journey. This workshop provides Biblically-based, realistic parenting techniques that are invaluable to parents and easily implemented in any family.
Practicing Patience – Patience is a virtue that helps us live life more abundantly and have healthy relationships with others. It is essential as a mom. Patience is hard to get, as it takes patience to get it. This workshop shows how to pursue and take hold of patience in a way that makes it a reality and a lifestyle.
The Silky Life: The real stay-at-home mom – There are many ideas about women who don’t work outside of the home. While all women are different, moms who stay at home all have something in common. They all have rewards and challenges. This workshop provides tools effective to help moms overcome the challenges, thoroughly enjoy the rewards, and flourish as an individual and a mom.
Starting a Writing Career – There are many resources to help writers begin a writing career. This workshop focuses on the most essential tasks, tips, and tools for a writer to begin a writing career and be successful. Participants will walk away with steps they can implement immediately to begin or rejuvenate their creative work.
Starting a Writing Career on a Budget – Getting into the writing and publishing world provides countless opportunities. Many of these opportunities come with a price tag. However, there are practical things that a new writer can do on a small budget to delve into the world of writing and publishing. This workshop gets to the meat of what writers can do to launch their writing career without breaking the bank.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:27 AM 1 comments
Here's a glimpse at the first page of my first novel. Would you keep reading?

Chapter 1
It was a perfect day. The sun was shining. The air was crisp. It was one of those mild winter days that was fairly typical of eastern Virginia. Sarah basked in the warmth of the sun shining through her car window. With the air blocked, she was warm enough to want to shed her sweater. She kept it on, hoping she’d be getting out soon.
She willed herself to stay seated. She wanted to jump out of her car and race around the parking lot. If she gave way to the excitement she felt inside, she might even shout her news to every stranger she came across. Once again, goose bumps ran up her arms. Her stomach did a flip flop and her heart raced.
Sarah told herself that it wouldn’t be much longer and she remained in her seat. She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. She glanced in the rearview mirror, flipped her thick black hair from the left side to the right. She grabbed her lip gloss out of her purse and reapplied it. Her eyes scanned the parking lot as she replaced the tube into it’s spot. Still no sign of the little red car she was waiting on.
For once, just once, she wished her best friend could be on time. Sarah knew ahead of time that Elysa would be late, but she hoped the opposite anyway. She glanced at her watch. Eleven forty. Much longer and they’d have to contend with the business lunch crowd. For the moment, there were plenty of parking spaces and she was sure no wait for a table in their favorite restaurant.
Sarah beamed as her eyes moved from her watch. Something else had caught her eye and that something was the reason behind her anticipation.
“Hurry up, Elysa,” she whispered, a moment before a red car pulling into the parking lot caught her eye. In a split second she’d unbuckled the seat belt that’d been holding her down, hopped out of her car, and locked the door. She was standing beside her best friend’s car before she turned the engine off.
“Hey. I was beginning to wonder about you,” she said, keeping her voice even.
Elysa’s eyes sparkled as she stepped out of her car. “No, you weren’t. I’m only fifteen minutes late. That’s on time for me.”
“True. You hungry?”
Elysa looped her arm through Sarah’s. “Absolutely.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Outdoor Fun

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:22 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 28, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 1

For me, the main goals in eating (other than having the proper perspective) are to eat balanced and as natural as possible. As natural as possible is probably the biggest challenge in eating healthy. We have become accustomed to prepared and processed foods. They are convenient, quick, easy, and our taste buds have gotten used to the flavors in them.
I’ll be the first to admit that my pantry still has quite a few processed foods. Crackers, cereal, breads are all staples. However, we also have bowls of fresh fruit and a constant supply of fresh and frozen vegetables. They key is to not look in your pantry and throw out everything that’s in a box or bag. The key is to take it one step at a time and eliminate what you can, and add what you can.
One of the first thing we did in our house was make fresh fruits and vegetables a constant fixture. Study after study shows that Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables. There are a many products available now that tout being fruit and vegetable supplements (made with real fruit, two servings of veggies,) but the truth is, there’s no substitute for fresh, real live foods. If we start eating them and our children start eating them, we will begin to appreciate the flavors and textures that cannot be mimicked in man-made foods.
I have to add a caution here, though. Many fruits and vegetables sold in many markets (grocery stores) are the product of mass-produced items in which pesticides. There are many cautions out about limiting our intake of products with pesticides. The most recent study shows that there may be a link between pesticides and ADD. Whether that (or any of the other specific claims) turn out to be true, it would be wise to be cautious. There are many ways to avoid and limit exposure to pesticides. You can grow your own (although not everyone everywhere can grow everything,) you can buy from local farmers’ markets and stands (where you can ask), and you can buy organic. Don’t let your limited ability to do any one of these things scare you off of making this one important change, however. Fruits and vegetables (and a variety of them) are good for our bodies and provide many needed and desired nutrients.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Health is eating to live, not living to eat

While many of us focus on our weight and size, few of us focus on how we approach food. Food has become a cultural phenomena. It has become about how much you can get for how little. How things are pleasing to our taste buds for the moment regardless of the long-term impact on our bodies. How to make it cheaper, easier, and more fun. In other words, we have learned to live to eat. Instead, our focus in regards to food should be eating to live. Our main goal in eating should be to feed our bodies what they need to thrive. I’m not saying that we should ignore our taste buds. On the contrary, eating healthy can be fun, creative, and taste good.
This is a struggle that many of us have, including me. One of the reasons that I am not content with my weight and size right now are because I made some eating decisions that were not in the best interest of my body, but instead were catered to my taste buds. We are conditioned by commercials and lifestyles to eat for pleasure.
We also eat when we’re sad, eat to celebrate, eat for fellowship, and even eat when we’re bored. Why not? We’re asked. You deserve it. We’re told. In my book, what we really deserve is the opportunity to eat what’s best for our bodies. The answers to why not are almost too much to cover, but I’ll dabble a little in the reasons.
We are what we eat. Garbage in, garbage out. That may make us think that the garbage will come out, having no effect on us, but that simply is not true. The garbage out in the case of what we eat is how it affects us. The reasons not to eat simply for taste disregarding nutrients and health benefits (or detriments) include:
· The effect on our digestive system.
· The effect on our hearts and cardiovascular system.
· The effect on our hormones and endocrine system.
· The effect on our ability to sleep well and restfully.
· The effect on our energy level.
· The effect on our moods.
· The effect on our ability to focus and perform well.
As you can see, even this short list is fairly comprehensive, covering nearly ever aspect of our lives. So, with a multitude of information, much of it contradictory, how do we know how to eat? What diet do we follow? Who do we listen to?
First of all, I encourage you to do your own research. Check out the government’s health website. Look up the effects of preservatives and other chemical additives to our foods. Read and listen to balanced health professionals. Talk to your doctor. Like I said before, I don’t claim to be an expert or to know everything there is to know about health, but I have done a lot of research and can pass along what I’ve found.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Health is not a lack of disease

This is also an important part of understanding health. Many people think that they are healthy simply because they have not been diagnosed with something. Others think that their ability to be healthy is out of their control because they have been diagnosed with something. Neither of these is true.
Much of what I have learned about health (like many other areas) have come through trial and error. And education. Much of that education came after I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. I had been vowing to lose ten pounds (then fifteen, then twenty) for a long time. I wanted to be smaller, and I guess healthier, but I never really looked into what it would take to do so. When I was diagnosed, however, I was prompted to find out what I needed to do to get healthy. So, ironically, I became the healthiest I had ever been while I was managing gestational diabetes. This came in handy when I dealt with it again in my second and third pregnancies, and especially when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in between my third and fourth pregnancies. Because of this, I have learned that a diagnosis of a life-long disease does not mean that I have to give up on being healthy. On the contrary, for me it was the catalyst I needed to become healthier.
I know the same is true for many other women. I know many moms who cope with illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diagnoses who live very healthy lives. They manage their illness and do not allow it to define them or their overall health.
If health is not found solely in the numbers and is not a lack of disease, then what is it? That’s the crux of this chapter. I don’t claim to be a medical professional or an expert in any specific area of health, but I can share what I’ve learned through research, experience and talking with health professionals about what it takes to get and remain healthy.

Women's Conference Scholarship

Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Health is not measured solely by numbers

The importance of this truth is one that we may need to work diligently to ingrain in our heads. The first number that comes to mind is the number on the scale. The main number that many of us become obsessed with. I, too, have had many struggles with those three little numbers. The second number must be discussed along with the first, because they generally go hand-in-hand. They are the numbers you find on your clothes. You know, the sizes. Just as we tend to obsess with the numbers on the scale (or ignore them because we don’t really want to know what they are) we also tend to obsess with the size of our clothes. As if once we hit that magic number, everything in our lives will fall perfectly into place. A few minutes of watching any of entertainment shows on the heartaches and troubles of size zero stars will verify that that is not true.
I also know from experience. I was one of those teenagers who seemed to have been able to eat anything and say a small size. I never thought, though, that I was skinny enough and was constantly hoping to lose ten more pounds, get one size smaller. Looking back, I know now that my energies and efforts were wasted. Not because they didn’t get me to my goal, but because I should have been content with the weight and size that I was.
As discontent as I was, I never did anything to become healthier. As a matter of fact, I eat much more healthily now that I’m a few sizes bigger and weigh a little more. I’m not content with where I am, but at least I now know what to do to get where I want. My health is not wrapped up in what size I am or what the scale says. What matters much more is that I eat a healthy, balanced diet. Not diet, mind you, in the sense that I’m on some strict regimen to help me lose weight, but diet in the sense of simply what it is that I’m eating. I eat more fruits and vegetables than I ever did when I was young and super skinny. And I eat a lot less junk.
I don’t want you to get me wrong, though. Weight does matter generally in our health. I would never encourage anyone to stay overweight in order to avoid getting caught up in the numbers trap. There’s a reason that there’s a healthy range for different body types. Enough research has been done to know that when you carry a certain amount of extra weight on your body, you’re putting extra strain on your body systems. The important thing is not to pick an arbitrary number that you’d like to be at, but to find a range within the numbers that you are comfortable and healthy at.
Beyond the numbers found on the scale and on our clothes are the numbers found in our bodies. These are the numbers in the numerous tests that doctors like to run these days. Many of these numbers are important indicators of health: cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamin D, sugar levels, etc. Tests have gotten really good and decades of research have helped us to know where these and a variety of other numbers should be for optimal health. However, we can sometimes get too wrapped up in these numbers. I am not saying that we should not pay attention to these numbers, or avoid knowing what they are. Ignorance does not lead to bliss in the area of health and indicators of health. They are not, though, the end all and be all of health.
Like I said before, when I was young and thin and all my numbers were in pretty good order, I was not as healthy as could be. I also know people who have perfect cholesterol, sugars, etc. and are not overweight, but are also not healthy. They don’t have good healthy habits, they suffer from a lack of energy due to poor diets, and sleep issues. So, while knowing the status of many of your health indicators, it’s important not to be lulled into complacency when all the numbers line up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

What is Healthy, Anyway?

Like many of the topics you’ll find in this book, the topic of being healthy is one that there is no shortage of books on. It seems like every week there’s a new diet, study on health, exercise program, or magic bullet to get you into shape. If you simply let everything that comes out register in your brain that it’s out there, you can get overwhelmed. Much less if you actually try to digest and understand it all. This study contradicts that study. This diet contradicts that diet. This program is sooo much better than that program. It’s no wonder that so many people end up paralyzed, not doing anything except continuing to do what they’ve always done, whether it’s healthy or not.
To understand what it means to be healthy, the first thing is to understand what is not the definition of healthy. Only once we do away with myths and misconceptions about health, can we begin to understand what it means to be healthy.
But, before I tackle this chapter, I want to address the first question you may have: What does my health have to do with being a mom? More than you might think. One of the main goals of this book is for moms to learn to take care of themselves and be healthy and balanced in every area of life. Why? Because moms need to be able to function at their optimal levels in order to be the best mom they can be. If you’re house and life are not organized, if you’re not healthy, if your marriage isn’t solid, if you don’t use good parenting skills, if you haven’t healed from past hurts, you will not be able to parent with excellence. And, believe it or not, your health is as important as any of those other areas. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who’s grown up with a parent who’s been caught in the grips of depression, exhaustion, or general poor health.
You’ve heard the saying, ‘If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’ Well, the same is true for your health. If you’re not healthy, neither will your children be. Living at your optimum in health allows you to enjoy your children in a way that is impossible otherwise. Living out healthy lifestyles will model those behaviors that your children need to be healthy themselves. Knowing good health choices will help you teach them to your children. A mom’s ability to become and remain healthy is important not just for mom, but for the whole family.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what is not included in the definition of healthy? (to begin tomorrow...)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Love is

What is love? Let me know what you think by finishing the sentence.

Love is...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Women's Conference Scholarship

Want to go to an awesome Women's conference, but don't have the $75 for registration? Scholarship applications are being accepted through July 1 - which is NEXT Thursday! Go to http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf for the brochure/registration.

Spritual Richness

The difference between the spiritually rich and the spiritually poor is that the spiritually rich pray, read the Bible, and seek God first & spend what time they have left on everything else, while the spiritually poor spend their time on everything else and hope to have time to pray, read the Bible, and seek God. (adapted from financial formula in Today Matters by John C. Maxwell)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Italian Nachos

Great, quick recipe, courtousy of my hubby.

tortilla chips - top with leftover spaghetti sauce and shredded cheese.
Broil to heat through and melt cheese.
Top with salsa and sour cream.

Chow down!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Duggar Update

It's been over two months since I first read the Duggar's book "20 and Counting." I have since moved on to other reading and living life. But, I have not forgotten the lessons that resinated so much to me when I first read it. Haven't forgotten them, but have not fully and consistently implemented the helpful tips that they gave. There have been a few changes, but also sliding back into our normal routine, or lack there of.

If you haven't noticed, one thing I struggle with is being consistent. Not with discipline, I do pretty good at keeping that consistent, but normal every day stuff. No day around my house is the same, which maked consistent schedules and routines a challenge. I also prefer to tackle special projects on a regular basis than tackle the mundane, need to be done daily, weekly tasks, which also makes it a challenge.

We are still using the buddy system, somewhat. I don't use it fully and in every situation, but as I said before, my "big buddies" are only seven and five. But, we are all working together more to get things done and there isn't quite as much grumbling and complaining.

Also, we are still using our card system for morning and evening routines - sometimes. Like I said, I'm not good with daily tasks. But we have the cards, which helps remind the kids what they need to do. I simply have to be available to go behind them to check it out. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I'm wrapped up in other things (like cooking, cleaning, straightening myself.)

We moved to verses on self-control in April, but I did not exhibit the self-control necessary to study them consistently. So we kept them for May. I think I will pull them out again for June (even though we're not doing school) and review them a few more times before moving on. I obviously need to study them a little more.

So, all in all, I am still benfiting from the wisdom the Duggars shared in their book. Still, it is up to me to use what I think will be beneficial to my family in the way it will be beneficial. I am encouraged to continue to strive to lead my family in a way that will teach us all ways to live lives more effectively and passionately for God. And believe it or not, routines, rituals, organization, and a buddy system can help us to do so!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Amazing Mommy Daze

Whew! What a day! Sometimes it truly amazes me what a mommy can get done in a day.

First, it helped that everyone slept in this morning. Yesterday was our first official day out of school (we homeschool, if you didn't already know that) and I let the kids stay up a little later, with the ultimate goal (and it worked!!) of them sleeping in this morning. So, before they got up I: exercised, read the Bible, prayed, ate breakfast, cleaned out a drawer and got ready for the day.

After they got up I: fed them each breakfast, helped the girls straighten up their room some, cleaned out and vacuumed the vehicle, washed it, fed them lunch, read to the 3-year-old, crashed after being out in the heat for a couple hours, read my own book, fixed dinner with a baby on my hip, packed a bag for two to sleep over with Nana, put a baby to bed, weeded in the garden, bathed a tired 7-year-old, read with her, and cleaned up the kitchen from the whole day's mess. Now I'm relaxing with a cup of decaf and the computer. Are you tired?

I was thinking today, as I was vacuuming the car, all the jobs that moms really have to do. Have you ever seen the list that breaks down the jobs moms do and how much their worth? That's fine and dandy to say that I do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of "jobs" each year, but really (since the paycheck won't be coming in the mail any time soon) I'd most appreciate respect - something most moms are short on. Respect for what we do, that we work hard. And often, the lack of respect comes from each other.

I'm not sure why my brain went to these places today, other than it wonders all on it's own accord. But I thought, a little reminder to recognize the hard work that we each do is never a bad thing. And also, if you don't get that recognition and respect for the WORK that you do, remember, God sees all and will reward you in ways that you could never imagine!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Choosing to Smile

I thought when I left adolescence behind, that I would also be leaving blemishes behind. Blemishes. You know, zits. I wasn't plagued greatly with them when I was a teenager, but I thought that they were isolated to that time in my life. Now that I'm in my mid-thirties I have decided to accept the fact that they are here to stay. I'm still not plagued greatly with them, but as far as I'm concerned, one is too many. I never thought God would use a silly little zit to reinforce a life lesson.

I have one of those pesky little critters right now and did my best to use coverup and foundation to, well, cover it up, for work yesterday. To my surprise, a volunteer came in and commented on how clear my skin was. "If only you knew," I thought. Also, she was on the other side when she walked in. But later I discovered why she might have missed what to me was a glaring imperfection on my face. I had smiled a greeting to her when she came in. Looking in a mirror a while later, I noticed that the offender was in a spot where it was hidden when I smiled. Which made me smile all the more. Oh, how our God is unique and wise and humorous!

The life lesson He reinforced is this: no matter what's going on, a smile can cover it up. That doesn't mean that we aren't real and we don't share our struggles and disappointments with others, but it means that we don't dwell on them. When things are exactly how we wish them to be, we can still choose to be positive, trust God, and focus on the good things. When we do so, the blemishes of life often disappear, or simply don't make as much of an impact on our lives.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Mommy Day

Have you every looked for a hole to crawl in? Or a close exit? And tried to take it as quickly as possible with four little kids and everything that comes with them? I did. Today. Tried, that is. Thought about it. Desperately looked for a way out.

We had a slow week - no where to be other than work for me on Monday. It was a wonderful feeling, so good I decided to venture out to the library. I literally can't remember the last time we went, and it's something that we used to enjoy on a regular basis (before I started working part time and we joined a homeschooling group.) Also, I had two books on hold (by John Maxwell, I HIGHLY recommend reading him) and my daughter had finished her last Nancy Drew book I had picked up a few weeks ago. So off we went.

Everything went well for the first half hour. My oldest was collecting Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and the ultimate: Super Mysteries with all the above. The three little ones were playing fairly well and I was getting to browse Today Matters. Then, my one-year-old fell off one chair into another and bonked her head. And she must have bonked it good, because she screamed bloody murder at the top of her lungs for 10 full minutes. In the library. Loudly. For ten minutes.

I would have loved to pick up and go, but my oldest was at the self-checkout with her books (after 5 minutes of coaxing her to ask the librarian for help so I wouldn't have to leave the others or drag them along.) She was in the middle of her 15 books and there was no option for an easy exit. I tried the pacifier. I tried the cup of milk. I tried distracting her by looking out the window, but everything made her more mad.

Finally, my oldest was finished and returned with her bag of books. I apologized to them and said, "Get your things, we've got to go." The reason was obvious. No one even questioned it. So, we got our stuff, I slung my purse on my free shoulder, and silence.

Really? I thought. "Wait a minute. She may be okay." Suck, suck, suck. The pacifier didn't seem so offensive any more. I put my purse on the floor. A wimper. I picked my purse back up. Silence. I stood motionless. The other kids waited. Finally, I breathed. "I think we're okay." And we were. We moved to the trains, we played, the baby got down and was a happy camper. I talked to a few other moms (didn't admit I was the parent of the screaming banshee from a few minutes before) and even met another homeschooling mom of three girls and one boy, all under 7. Overall it was a successful trip.

And the lesson that was reinforced, that I knew already, but seem to forget on a regular basis - if I can just hold out for a few minutes, it will pass. It really will!! And on the other side of the storm, sometimes there's a rainbow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

Page 2

The two best friends walked across the parking lot in a comfortable, light-hearted silence. They were quite a pair, being complete opposites in both looks and in personalities. Sarah’s long dark hair a complete contrast to Elysa’s short blond bob. Sarah was average height and carried an extra twenty pounds on her. Elysa stood two inches taller than her friend and very thin. Sarah was quiet and thoughtful, while Elysa tended to speak her mind. Sarah said their differences were what made them get along so well.
They were quickly seated. Once their waitress had taken their order, Sarah asked Elysa about her Christmas. She had carefully kept her hands in her lap, continuing to will her body and voice to remain calm. She was grateful that she was well practiced in patience.
“It was nice,” Elysa replied. “We had a quiet morning at home before all the family got together at my aunt and uncle’s. My parents got me some CD’s and a new laptop.”
“That is nice.”
“Yeah, the laptop will come in handy when I start working. My old one’s gotten too quirky. I think too many research papers did it in.”
Sarah laughed. Papers were her favorite part of college. She despised multiple choice tests. Elysa thrived on tests and hated the papers. They often joked about swapping out assignments, but were too honest to do so.
“How about you? Have a good Christmas?”
The smile on Sarah’s face expanded until her cheeks hurt. “I had the best Christmas ever.”
Elysa raised one eyebrow. “The best ever, huh?”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I went with Jakob to his parent’s house Christmas Eve.”
“You gave him the basketball tickets?”
“I did. And some Oakley’s.”
“And…” Elysa said, anticipating and dreading the answer at the same time. Sarah had seemed more exuberant than her normal calm and quiet self that afternoon. She was hoping that she was wrong about the reason.
“And,” Sarah said, pulling her left hand from under the table and holding it palm down for her friend to see. “He gave me my Christmas present.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mommy's Need to Have Fun, Too!

Have you had fun lately? Really had fun? Let loose, got down on the floor, let everything else go fun?

As moms, we feel the bulk of the pressure on what there is to get done: dishes, cooking, laundry, baths, mail, etc., etc., etc. There's always something to do. But, to stay in balance, and to make wonderful memories, we need to cut everything loose once in a while and let go.

I did so yesterday and it felt great! My husband and I used to wrestle all the time when we were dating. It was a challenge, to see if I could get loose of his grip on my wrists, and for him to see how much of a pretzel he could make me. We haven't done it in years, but last night, for some unknown reason, we did. Our 7-year-old was involved. That made it a ton of fun. And I had help, meaning that I wasn't made into a pretzel and even got a few good tickles in. We all were tired from laughing after about 10 minutes. That excellent deep down, fully-engaged kind of laughing.

It was a good reminder to have fun once in a while. I try to remember to get on the floor to play with my little ones, although it's not as easy with four (and homeschooling) as it was with one or two. I am more wrapped up in the daily tasks of being a mom than remembering to take time to be Mommy.

The dishes will still be there. The laundry will still be there. They will eat whatever. Those are not the things that will mean the most. They do not solidify and foster positive relationships - having fun together does. We can't neglect our duties and obligations all the time, that would lead to mass chaos, but it's good to let them go once in a while and simply have fun. It will keep us in balance and help us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Imperfectly In Him

This is how I signed an email recently. I was up early and trying to get a million things done before my precious (busy, needy) children woke up. I was sending out some emails, and since two of them were for the same thing, I reused the first email to do the second. Only, while I was in the midst of it I heard by baby (now 1, but still a baby) wake up and begin fussing for me. I thought, "Let me get this finished. Then, if she doesn't go back to sleep, at least I'll have it done." So I rushed through it and forgot to change something. Something that made it obvious that it was a copy. I realized it (with an audible groan) while I was nursing. Little one did go back to bed and back to sleep. I headed back to the computer and whipped up a new email.

I humbly apologized and explained what happened. In the end, 'sincerely' or 'thank you' or any other salutation didn't feel right. Suddenly (it must have been God-inspired) the phrase 'Imperfectly In Him' hit me. It was so true and the most appropriate thing I could have said. And what do you know? Out of the two emails I sent, this was the one I heard back from immediately - and it was positive (I am tentatively booked for 4 MOPS speaking engagments!)

What else I got out of it was the reinforcement of a lesson God is constantly teaching me: how imperfect I am. Not that I ever thought I was perfect, but I most definitely have not always seen myself through God's eyes.

I've been familiar with Romans 3:23 for a long time - "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - but sometimes I see only certain things as sin.I judge myself more by the worlds standards than by God's. However, as my vision of myself becomes clearer and clearer, I grasp not only that God made me "wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), but I am a sinner, dead in my sin, except for the grace poured out on my by God.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Looking for Speaking Opportunities

I did my first "official" talk in January of this year (I have "unofficially" talked A LOT in my life,) but am officially kicking off my speaking ministry this fall. I am looking for opportunies to speak to women, moms (yes, I know they're women, too), and writers. I'd love for you to browse my list of workshop topics and pass along any opportunities you may know of.

Thanks!

All Women Work – This workshop answers the question of whether women and moms should work outside the home. Taking a Biblical perspective, the argument is made that God calls us all to different situations and different jobs. The myth that we can have it all is busted, and reframed that we can have all that God calls us to have through making work decisions based on an intimate, personal relationship with Him, and not cultural ideas about working women, and encourages respect for and between all women.
The Balancing Act – This workshop overviews the importance of finding balance in life. Balance is crucial to not only surviving life and the responsibilities that come with it, but to thrive in life. Participants will walk away with practical tips and tools that they can begin to implement immediately. Women will leave the workshop empowered to live in the rewards of a life in balance and in pursuit of God’s plan for an abundant life.
Bible Study under the Blow Dryer – Finding time for God and Bible study does not just happen. In the midst of being a wife, taking care of a house, and raising children there’s barely time to think, much less read and study the Bible. However, it is possible to make spiritual growth a priority. By being intentional, and willing to study the Bible, even while drying your hair, you can grow closer to God and live under His blessing.
Fruitful Motherhood – Any mom knows that life is busy. Sometimes it seems that our schedules and demands placed on our children are running our lives. We live for our schedules instead of our schedules working for us. To top it off, we rarely feel like we’re actually getting anything done. This workshop presents the keys to taking control of our schedules and turning busyness into fruitfulness.
Guilt-free Motherhood – Mothers tend to hold on to guilt. Guilt about working. Guilt about not signing up for the right classes. Guilt about broken relationships. Guilt about parenting mistakes. As that guilt is held on to, it negatively affects our emotional, spiritual, and parental lives. Jesus came to offer us life under grace, not guilt. This workshop gives moms the tools to let go of guilt and step into graceful parenting.
Living Life Together – This workshop highlights the importance of women living life in mutual encouragement and benefit. Relationships are meant to be a blessing, but also take work. Participants will gain increased knowledge in how to foster relationships with other women in real ways and enjoy sharing life lived in healthy, positive girl-friendships.
Making Marriage Magical – Marriage is the most unique relationship we ever enter into. There is an intimacy that makes us vulnerable. It’s a relationship that puts us at risk of getting hurt, but also can offer the most rewarding relationship we can have. This workshop answers the question of what marriage is meant to be, what are the true rewards of marriage, and the rules that, when followed, increase the rewards of marriage.
Parenting For Success – Parenting is the most challenging and rewarding job we will ever take on. If it were easy or there was one key thing we could do to guarantee success, we wouldn’t need education and encouragement in our journey. This workshop provides Biblically-based, realistic parenting techniques that are invaluable to parents and easily implemented in any family.
Practicing Patience – Patience is a virtue that helps us live life more abundantly and have healthy relationships with others. It is essential as a mom. Patience is hard to get, as it takes patience to get it. This workshop shows how to pursue and take hold of patience in a way that makes it a reality and a lifestyle.
The Silky Life: The real stay-at-home mom – There are many ideas about women who don’t work outside of the home. While all women are different, moms who stay at home all have something in common. They all have rewards and challenges. This workshop provides tools effective to help moms overcome the challenges, thoroughly enjoy the rewards, and flourish as an individual and a mom.
Starting a Writing Career – There are many resources to help writers begin a writing career. This workshop focuses on the most essential tasks, tips, and tools for a writer to begin a writing career and be successful. Participants will walk away with steps they can implement immediately to begin or rejuvenate their creative work.
Starting a Writing Career on a Budget – Getting into the writing and publishing world provides countless opportunities. Many of these opportunities come with a price tag. However, there are practical things that a new writer can do on a small budget to delve into the world of writing and publishing. This workshop gets to the meat of what writers can do to launch their writing career without breaking the bank.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

Here's a glimpse at the first page of my first novel. Would you keep reading?

Chapter 1
It was a perfect day. The sun was shining. The air was crisp. It was one of those mild winter days that was fairly typical of eastern Virginia. Sarah basked in the warmth of the sun shining through her car window. With the air blocked, she was warm enough to want to shed her sweater. She kept it on, hoping she’d be getting out soon.
She willed herself to stay seated. She wanted to jump out of her car and race around the parking lot. If she gave way to the excitement she felt inside, she might even shout her news to every stranger she came across. Once again, goose bumps ran up her arms. Her stomach did a flip flop and her heart raced.
Sarah told herself that it wouldn’t be much longer and she remained in her seat. She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. She glanced in the rearview mirror, flipped her thick black hair from the left side to the right. She grabbed her lip gloss out of her purse and reapplied it. Her eyes scanned the parking lot as she replaced the tube into it’s spot. Still no sign of the little red car she was waiting on.
For once, just once, she wished her best friend could be on time. Sarah knew ahead of time that Elysa would be late, but she hoped the opposite anyway. She glanced at her watch. Eleven forty. Much longer and they’d have to contend with the business lunch crowd. For the moment, there were plenty of parking spaces and she was sure no wait for a table in their favorite restaurant.
Sarah beamed as her eyes moved from her watch. Something else had caught her eye and that something was the reason behind her anticipation.
“Hurry up, Elysa,” she whispered, a moment before a red car pulling into the parking lot caught her eye. In a split second she’d unbuckled the seat belt that’d been holding her down, hopped out of her car, and locked the door. She was standing beside her best friend’s car before she turned the engine off.
“Hey. I was beginning to wonder about you,” she said, keeping her voice even.
Elysa’s eyes sparkled as she stepped out of her car. “No, you weren’t. I’m only fifteen minutes late. That’s on time for me.”
“True. You hungry?”
Elysa looped her arm through Sarah’s. “Absolutely.”
 

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