Friday, October 12, 2012

The Winds of Change

Dear Friends,

The winds of change have blown through our family yet again.

I tried to write about it earlier this morning, but all my words came out emotionally heavy, and that isn't really what I was aiming for.

Writing is so interesting. For myself, I find that when I start putting words to a screen, I see a little bit more what I really think and feel. I find enthusiasm, or sarcasm, or hurt... sometimes I see it first in the words I string together, before I've realized that they are in my heart.

Jesus was so accurate in his summation, "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." The words that come out of me, written or spoken, often reveal parts of my heart that I forget to attend to, or try to keep hidden.

So, in a season of change, I discovered: I am weary. I am a little bruised. I feel just a tiny bit fragile (even though I never cease to be amazed at God's ability to sustain me when I feel beyond my capacity). I also am excited. I feel the energy of a fresh start. I walk with the duality of thrill and loss, often referred to as bittersweet.

Many people already know of our coming changes.

Andy and I are not very good at pomp and circumstance. We tend to just tack things together as they come before us. A comment here, a plan there, and suddenly we have changed our course.

And this week, we are steering our ship toward the Northwest.

The Aichele's are moving home!

I have a lot to say about the move.

But I think it will come out over several attempts to get the words to actually communicate what I mean.

I am making the trek home with more experience, hopefully more perspective, an older face and no furniture.

I hope that from this last year and a half in the desert I have been shaped more into the woman God desires me to be. I see glimpses of more holiness in, but fully aware of hard parts that remain in my heart.

It remains to be seen what I have become. When I walk back into familiar rooms, established relationships and communities that have grown without me... when I have space to explore those words in my heart... then we will see what has happened over this desert season.

So, my Southwest friends, farewell. Thank you for the richness of this experience.

Northwest friends, I shall see you soon. Just in time for one trip to the pumpkin patch!

I have loved the tank tops, shorts, flip flops, swimsuits (lie, who loves swimsuits!?) and almost-tan of this toasty warm home. But we all know that my heart lies with the scarves and cinnamon of Western Washington.

Autumn, don't flutter away too soon! I'll be there in a week!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Good Clean Food

Andy and I have been participating in a six-week challenge at our gym.

Most CrossFitters have heard about the "paleo" diet. The two go hand in hand.

The first week Andy tried CrossFit he came home telling me he wanted to try a new way of eating. On the off-limit list would be: dairy, grains, sugar, legumes and soy.

My reaction was, anything that says you can't eat beans is not healthy.

So we tabled the idea.

Until I started working out too. And by that point we were pretty much goners to the culture of CrossFit.

Which just so happens to include this particular theory about food.

The bare bones of it is, you eat like a caveman. Anything that could have been killed or foraged way back in history is approved, anything that is a product of the agricultural revolution and forward, is not.

Perhaps, in another post I will talk about what is cool and what is weird and our travels into and out of and back again to the Caveman Diet, but for my story today all you need to know is that for the last three weeks Andy and I have been eating very "clean" food.

Single ingredients. Lots of grilled meats and raw or roasted veggies. Fruits. Seeds and Nuts. And that about sums it up.

Most CrossFit gyms host a quarterly "challenge" to encourage people to try out this food lifestyle. Usually you toss in a few dollars, take a crash course on the do and don't list and then flounder around for a few weeks, wondering what to eat. The winner (determined by weight/inches lost, performance improvement, and weekly food logs) takes home cash and has a sexy toned body to show for their hard work.

And I know I said I wouldn't buy into 
another "diet" scheme.
But this is pretty much our ideal in eating
anyway .
Prior to the challenge we had gotten pretty far from our goals
for what we consume.
Neither of us set out with the intention of losing weight or
even "winning" the challenge.
We just wanted some accountability for what we put on our plates.

There are varying degrees of extremeness within the diet and our gym takes the approach of being incredibly strict for six weeks and then introducing additional food items, like honey or bacon or sweet potatoes after the strict phase is over.

At the beginning of the challenge I decided to go ahead and give up coffee as well as everything else for the initial six weeks. Coffee, black, is allowed on the diet, but I don't really drink coffee for coffee's sake. I drink it to have a reason to consume vast quantities of cream and sugar. If people wouldn't look at me weird for drinking a cup of cream with several sugar packets dumped in, I probably would just skip to that.

So, since sugar and cream are both on the no-go list, I decided to just bite the bullet and go cold-turkey until the challenge concludes.

I confess, I have been grumpy.

And dream of the Starbuck's drive thru.


But it has been getting better. I definitely can make it through most days without the caffeine. A few times I have poured myself a cup and neglected it after the first sip or two.

Last night however, I went to sleep dreaming about how I could stay on track and still eventually go back to my sweet coffee indulgence.

Then a vision came to me.

This morning I assembled a few ingredients and ended up making a cold blended drink with coconut cream and date paste (just dates that I soaked overnight in water and then pureed) blended with ice and coffee. The result was heaven.

I mostly wanted to see if I COULD make something delicious. Once I had, I poured most of it for Andy and kept a precious few sips for myself.

It was with great delight and not a small bit of smugness that I carried my cup of morning dessert into the bathroom to enjoy while I got ready for church.

As I was pulling out the blow drier and my make-up bag I picked up my cup to move it to the edge of the counter and give me more space to work.

I set my mug down, and as I did, I gasped.

The universe was working on my behalf to remind me to wait three more weeks to drink my coffee.

Because when I moved it over, I un-thinkingly set it right next to our newly acquired automatic soap dispenser.

That is right.

Soap. Right in the coffee.

Somehow, I had set it down just perfectly to trigger the sensor and distribute a steady stream of orange antibacterial ooze right into my icy treasure.

The few sips I had got in before the catastrophe must have been enough for me. On another day (of my coffee-free challenge) I might have thrown a heroic fit. But today, I just laughed and laughed and laughed.

I think I truly am a more pleasant person to be around, with a little java in the morning (at least until my boys start sleeping past 5:30 in the morning). So, my sweet coffee discovery will remain a triumph, even if I didn't get enjoy it in it's fullness today.

In the interest of finishing what I've started, I most likely will continue to refrain from coffee on a daily basis. But... on those days that just need a little extra help in the morning, it's good to know I have options. As long as I keep it away from the soap!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Our family has become a road trip family, and I love it.

Every month we get away for five days or so with just our two boys. Some months we stay in town at a small house that is available to the house parents in our company. But more and more, we have been finding excuses to drive someplace new and get out of the familiar.

There is something about being far removed from what I do and see and hear every day, that helps me “check out.” My mind more easily turns off the business-chatter and switches into play and rest mode. In a small way, I feel released from our daily routine and free to let days fit our whims, rather than keep our routine ridged.

This month we decided to drive to Texas to visit Andy’s mom. She rented us a little bungalow with an adorable loft for the boys to sleep in and a perfect little club house with a pool and park for the boys to burn energy at. 

The trouble with vacations, is that so often they are a beautiful mix of “perfect” and “awful.” 

The freedom of being away from the familiar also translates to some inconveniences. 

It would be more than easy to construct a post about the sweet moments we have experienced, and there have been many (don’t worry, I will tell you about those too), but I’ve been suffering from a growing need to celebrate (catalogue? Share? Not sure of the right word here...) “real” life. 

The trouble with blogs, and don’t get me wrong, I am a blog junkie, is that it is so, so easy to make your life what you want it to be. Or at least give others the impression that your life is what they want theirs to be.

If my word diet is too full of happy-go-I’m-perfect posts and how-to’s about simplifying and beautifying and strongifying, I get out of balance. I start to think that everyone cleans their house with one perfect product and that every mom plays with her children endlessly and cheerfully all day long and that every crossfit woman’s goal is to make it to the games and it should be mine too.

I’ve gone back and forth in my mind for many months about blogging. When I first had Jack, blogging was an outlet for me. A chance to say what was on my mind, when it was sometimes hard to find faces to talk to. 

My enthusiasm for blogging has ebbed and flowed and sometimes I have had a lot to say, and sometimes not much. And sometimes I have had a lot to say and haven’t said it, because, well, some things just shouldn’t be available to everyone.

But in the last six months or so, as I have found beautiful blogs that distract me from my daily duties and that inspire me and make me feel like it is good to be alive, I have wondered if I would like to have a pretty blog. 

As I wrestle with wondering if I should or could or would ever have a “real” blog, I remember that whatever my answer. Real life has to be shared. Too much perfect makes everyone feel out of balance.

So, in the midst of our cheerful vacation, here are the places were I completely and utterly failed:

  • I scheduled events the entire day prior to and day of leaving, so that instead of getting out of town early we didn’t leave the city until 7:00pm.
  • I didn’t pack enough underwear for myself or enough pajamas for the boys.
  • I forgot to tell Jack’s teacher he wouldn’t be in class for a week (she probably hates me now and will take out her frustration on Jack, equating to an inferior preschool experience for him, leading to his dislike of school and more significant educational struggles down the road. This is ridiculous of course, but not to far from how I think sometimes.)
  • I was brutally grumpy to Andy the second day of driving, which happened to be his birthday, which I did nothing to celebrate, except to sit at a restaurant with our family (that Andy didn’t want to go to anyway) and storm out with both boys as the service took far too long to produce food and the boys, and I, melted down. (Probably the worst scene I have ever made)
  • I forgot the camera, which means that I won’t have pictures of Jack’s first big boy roller coaster ride, Joey’s adorable face painting at Sea World, the boys feeding ducks or riding a train, or playing in their loft beds, or any of the sweet moments that I want to remember the trip for. 

Sometimes I just plain mess up. Sometimes in spectacular fashion. Sometimes, in small annoying ways. Regardless of the magnitude of the mistakes, it happens. And that is my life. I will always have small disasters neighboring my triumphs. 

That’s the thing about blogging. Some people love to harp on their failures. Some share only their successes. I hope, that whether I blog a bunch, or keep this random pace, my life is always a celebration of... life... Wonderfully up and down life. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


I have been anticipating this day for three months.

Summers are tiring in a house full of 10 kids. There isn’t enough to do to keep everyone busy and out of trouble for months on end, and in a state that is kill-you-hot during the summer, that means a lot of long hours in the house...

Luckily we made it through the vacation months with fantastic kids and very little real drama. 

June and July had me looking forward to today, the first day of school. In my mind, school means hours and hours of free time during the day. And more than free... Quiet... Ahhh...

But school brings its own kind of work.

Let me run you through what the first day of school looks like in our unique family.

Wake everyone up
Direct traffic
Scrambled 16 eggs
Send two boys back to change (orange striped polo with blue plaid cargo shorts? Please try again)
Produce one ponytail
Pack 8 lunches (prepared the night before)
Take multiple “first day” photos
Hug, Kiss, Cheer

Andy walks six elementary schoolers, and one Joey in a wagon, to school

Two high schoolers walk out the door to their bus stop

Blend up a green smoothie (my new favorite thing) and wiggle into my gym  clothes

CrossFit with Andy - spent a lot of energy working on my push ups (in other words, I'm horrible at pushups and tried to not be so horrible at them), but showed off my awesome pistols (one-legged squats)

Chase down Joey, who has stripped himself naked while Andy and I were working out and is running wild in the parking lot (don’t worry - it is a closed parking lot and big kids were playing with him)

Blah, blah, blah

Lunch for Jack and Joey
Put dinner in the crockpot

Naps for everyone!

Andy walks back to school to fetch kids

Chaos ensues
Papers to sign. Oh the papers to sign.
Make snack (popcorn and chocolate/peanut butter/banana/kale smoothies with coconut milk!)
Handle THREE meltdowns over reading
Listen to Joey laugh hysterically as he played “school” with our 1st grader
Sympathize with tears over missed friends (five of our kids had to move to a new school this year)

Run to Target for additional school supplies needed
Wonder why I thought school would be easier than summer

Andy plays tee ball with Jack and the kids at home
Get kids started on showers

Dinner on the table
Remind everyone AGAIN about table manners

Noise, noise, noise
Almost scream a number of times

“Go brush your teeth!”
Hide in the bathroom for three minutes, until patience has been calmed and prepared for the last few minutes of the day

Bedtimes stories for all! 

Send to bed
Tuck in Jack and Joey
Prayers and back scratches for the girls
Head scratches and more prayers for the boys

Find Andy for a brief hug and high-five
Quickly get the day on paper
Marvel at the sweet exhaustion of family life

Snap the laptop shut
Get out the ice cream
Watch the Olympics

Collapse in bed

Realize that I didn’t make lunches for tomorrow and decided, oh well, what’s one more thing to do tomorrow?
And that is it.

Tomorrow is another day. Another series of hours connected by joy, frustration, crazy and serene. Another day to love and make mistakes and do my very best to... do my best. 

And now, to my sweet dreams. Minus the remembering that I didn’t make lunches part. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

First Lunch Box

Yesterday was an exciting day. 
We got an email from Jack’s new preschool with the usual, “We can’t wait to meet you!” and list of what to bring on the first day.
My favorite thing on the list was a lunch box.
Ooooohhh! I get to pack a lunch for Jack!
In my mind, I am picturing one of those sweet, colorful and well-balanced bento-style lunches that will tell all of Jack’s teachers that his mom is creative, healthy and obviously is a great parent because she sends broccoli with her son to school, and he eats it!
No, Jack will not eat broccoli if I send it to school with him.
He probably won’t even eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
When he is excited Jack isn’t interested in pausing to eat. 
And boy, Jack is excited!
I read the letter to him and he thought it meant that we were going to school right then. For as many times as I told him there wasn’t anyone at the school yet, he told me that I was incorrect and that we should go check.
To help him get over having to wait (three more weeks!) we went to pick out a lunch box.
I really wanted him to have a trendy, artsy, inscribed box to carry his meals in. Preferably something with stripes in navy blue, orange and maybe some green or grey. Those are the colors cool moms send their boys to school with. 
In my deep, deep heart, I knew that we would come home with Spiderman. We don’t even watch Spiderman, yet he seems to win all the time in our house.
I even considered telling Jack we had to buy his lunch box from the computer and only showing him styles I liked.
Who am I kidding. I didn’t consider that - I did it!
I found a website with a variety of designs I approved of and used my “this is so awesome!” voice to describe each one as Jack and I looked at the pictures.
We settled on an option that Jack was really excited about, and I was willing to go for. It was aliens. But at least the aliens were navy blue, orange and green, with a little bit of grey thrown in.

AND, it came with a cool bento tupperware for all of my creative and healthy bites that would return home to me at the end of every school day.
In addition to a lunch box, it was also high on my list to get Jack some shoes, as he has spent most of the summer barefoot since we lost one of his Tom’s on a road trip to Colorado.
While at the mall hunting for (and finding!) the cutest shoes ever, we also walked past Pottery Barn Kids. Low and behold, right in their display window, were lunch boxes. We took a peek in and Jack fell in love.
His affection came to rest on a square (no thank you to the sack style, says Jack) canvas cooler. No aliens, not a stripe to be seen, not even a hint of navy blue... Just snakes.
After watching Jack clutch it and describe what he would eat from the magical snake box (broccoli was not on the list) I decided that it would be a good fit. While it was lacking in navy blue, it was heavy on the grey... And non-existent in the logo/spiderman department, which was a major plus.
We purchased it, and almost accidentally purchased an extremely overpriced water bottle to match. 
Luckily Andy was paying attention and saved us from that over-spend!
Shoes? Check.
Lunchbox? Check.
Adorable new tees and shorts? Yes indeed!
It is official. My first baby is ready for school!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Off to a good start!

It turns out that I am a really great starter, but not much of a finisher. 
I’m disappointed to learn this. Especially since the lesson has been quiet expensive. 
I probably should have realized it sooner (since Andy has been hinting at it for a while - when I told him what I was writing about he laughed really hard and said, “that’s funny!”) but some truths about ourselves are hard to accept.
In the past, whenever I’ve had to acknowledge my lack of follow through I’ve chalked it up to either too little time or too many interruptions.  There is always something outside of me to blame for my lack of followthrough. 
But, I’m noticing that there are two more more accurate reasons, ones that have to do entirely with me, that I leave some ambitions unmet.
Recently, I made an expensive start and feeble finish because my sense of self is a few days/months/years behind. 
I just spent a pretty penny on a 24-day diet challenge. 
You know, vitamins, minerals, meal shakes... It was a three week program to cleanse, energize and drop weight.
I made it about two weeks in with only minor deviance (one fourth of a cookie, a scoop of ice cream and a pina colada to be exact) from the program and discovered no changes in my weight, measurements or energy level. It was then that I discovered that as far as my body goes, I’ve hit a “set point” that I’m comfortable with. To move to a different set point in my health is going to take major adjustments. It was also then that I stopped trying - in other words, I quit. 
Truth be told,
 with just a few days left,
 I’m making my way through
 a pint of Ben and Jerry’s
 “Everything But The” ice cream,
 which is most definitely
 not allowed on the plan. 
After two years of consistently making it into the gym 3-5 times a week and training with weights I am no longer a girl who “struggles with her weight.” My sense of my body’s needs is still somewhat based on who I was, not who I’ve become. 
I could probably cut down on my consumption of chocolate and peanut butter, but I work out hard and drink lots of water. I try to eat lots of fruits and veggies and I get creative with the food I feed my family. I’m not a competitive athlete, but I am a mom who can carry both her kids at once and can bust out 100 pull ups when a workout calls for it.
Yes, I actually have done 100 pull ups.
And I’m not afraid to tell you
 how awesome it makes me feel!
The best part about my expensive flop is that I gained a much more accurate sense of who I am NOW. So, when it comes to the next offer for a vitamin pack, or when I’m tempted to make major adjustments to my diet, I hope I remember that a world of good will come from simply eating an extra serving of veggies and getting an additional hour of sleep. 
The other reason I often don’t finish things is that once I start them I realize that the end result/goal is not as important as I thought it was. Or, that the effort that is required to see something all the way through will be more than the benefit I will receive from finishing.
To illustrate...
Imagine you decide it would be cost effective and incredibly cool to make your own coconut milk yogurt instead of paying close to $2 per serving at the health food store. 
Then, imagine that to undertake this task you purchase a yogurt maker.
Then you find some recipes.
Then you make some yogurt because everyone says it is so easy and the most delicious thing you will ever eat.
Then you taste your yogurt and it is neither delicious nor actually yogurt - it is more of a warm, white soup that turns into cold, white soup after you refrigerate it. 
So then you do some more research and make a second attempt.
Second verse, same as the first.
So, the yogurt maker goes in the garage, joining the collection of rejected small kitchen appliances. 
Because really, how many attempts should you make before you say, homemade yogurt is just not worth it?
I have a lot of unfinished business revolving around small kitchen gadgets. Other frequent visitors to my dusty shelves of “good ideas...but...” are heath food trends, craft projects, celebrations, and ambitious home organization (I get just far enough to make a huge mess, and then never get around to the final, clean and tidy part). 
Now that I’ve identified my tendency to pile up projects, I’ve been able to find some good in the midst of it. In all of my enthusiast starts and weak finishes I’ve discovered a few ways to NOT finish well.
Trust me on these, I’ve left a lot of things un-done.
Having a mountain of unfinished projects in the closet can be a little embarrassing. But the reality is, if they didn’t get finished, they probably aren’t life-changing. Let yourself be teased and acknowledge that yes, you actually don’t get everything done that you start.
Count the Cost
If you are like me, you love the idea of a package. 
I love things that come in a set, or that look pretty upon purchase. I’m a sucker for marketing and have a long list of key words that practically guarantee that I’ll whip out my wallet. 
To say that I’ve wasted money on good intentions is an understatement. However, while I know that most of us don’t WANT to waste money, I’ve found myself in a season of life that my budget isn’t terribly tight. For me that means that leaving projects unfinished isn’t going to break my bank account. 

If you are going to give up something essential to start a project you might not finish - don’t do it. The joy of unfinished projects is letting them stay unfinished without guilt - you can’t do that if you know bills didn’t get paid AND your good intentions didn’t bear fruit.
Keep Starting 
For all the things that I have begun, but not seen to the end, their are a handful of projects, hobbies and undertakings that I HAVE finished and they have become treasures to me.
If I thought of myself exclusively as someone who “fails” because I don’t finish, I would most likely miss out on many wonderful experiences. I might save some money or avoid some teasing, but my life would lack richness. 
There will be many, many, many more times that I start and don’t finish. But, if there are a few finishes that add beauty and character and charm to my life, then all of those starts are worth something.
My name is Emily, and I’m proud to be a starter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Two Years

I had a bit of a shock this morning as I walked past my front-room window. I was running back into the house for one last thing before driving off to my morning CrossFit class.

I did a double take as I neared the door.

Oh my gosh!

I'm wearing spandex.

Please understand, I knew what I was putting on this morning.

I knew because every night I look at the workout for the next day and decide what pieces of my workout wear will give me the best chance of success.

Today we did a lot of lifting our legs- so I couldn't wear shorts or a skirt. I hate thinking that someone can see more of me than I want them to!

But we were also doing a lot of jumping, so I couldn't wear pants because I trip on them while I jump.

Skintight capris it is!

But when I walked past the window, I was suddenly aware of how far I have come.

Prior to starting CrossFit I had only dabbled in fitness. I wasn't opposed to it, I just didn't really work hard to make it a part of my life.

But from the very first affirmation I got from my coach of, "good work today" to learning to do pull ups (yes I can do them!), I have thrived on the duality of feeling accomplished and also feeling like there is always more to learn.

I have been doing CrossFit now for two years.

I can do a pull up.

I can't do a push up.

I have hit major milestones every couple of months.

I have also groaned and held back tears on many occasions as I am all too aware of my limitations.

But through all the ups and downs, I have discovered wonderful things about what I can do.

Today, my spandex reminded me that I indeed am capable of so much. I dreaded the workout I saw posted today, but I did it any way, and did it well.

That is what I love about CrossFit.

That I do it.

I do it even when it is hard.

Even when I complain about it.

Even when it is inconvenient, I do it.

I haven't been writing much, because most of what I think about is making dinner and making it to the gym. It doesn't exactly seem like trilling blog talk, but today, I realized how much a part of me this has become.

I'm just going to say it.

I love CrossFit.

...I wonder if I will become a CrossFit blogger? A little too over the top and into the cult? Perhaps. But I'm already in - I might as well make the most of it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why "I think, therefore I am" is not an effective parenting philosophy

Next week I have an exciting adventure planned.

I will be boarding a plane and heading back to the homeland.

For me, that means the gorgeous and drizzly state of Washington.

Since moving to Arizona, we have been back a few different times. What makes this journey so thrilling is that I will be traveling alone.

My brave and capable husband is sending me off for some much needed rest and girly conversation.

I anticipate missing my men, but let me tell you, the prospect of seven days with not a single child needing anything from me sounds like bliss.

Most of our kids are on Spring Break
and that means that they
are home all day and hover around me
as if I am some delicious cookie
that they want to devour.
I constantly feel at risk of being consumed
by their eagerness and desire to be
close to me.
Especially in the kitchen.
Our kitchen is TINY.
But everyone loves it.
Andy has become a kitchen bouncer this break.
He walks in and when I am standing at the stove,
with four children flanking me,
he walks in and commands that everyone leaves.
Then there is a sigh of being able to move without
the potential of running into a child
with a hot pan or sharp knife.
Until they all drift back in.
As hard as it is to be so wanted,
it also reminds me of exactly why we do this job.
Just being able to hang out in the kitchen with "mom"
heals wounds and builds confidence
for the kids who live with me.
They need to be close.
They need to be close much more than I need space.
(Most of the time)
Andy always rescues me before my needs get the best of me
and I forget to be careful with my

Today a very dear friend of mine was texting me. We have been previewing the areas we are looking forward to catching up on and laying the groundwork for some long conversations.

We had been talking about making the gym part of our life... and she followed up a victory comment about successful childcare with a comment that so deeply resonated with me.

Her message said this:

"One of the things I need to talk to you about is that terrible insecurity and guilt that I'm not doing enough as a mother..."

There was more to the question, but I honed in on the feeling of guilt.

I told Andy over dinner, I don't expect that he will ever understand the role that guilt plays in my life. He just doesn't feel guilt the same way I do. And I'm pretty sure that is a normal man-woman difference.

But for my friend, I absolutely understand what she means.

It seems that every action as a mother not only has an opposite and equal reaction - but also a measure of guilt.

If we build strong parameters for our children, we feel guilty for being too ridged and fear stifling their creativity.

If we embrace the personality of our child and give them room to explore and express themselves, we feel guilty about not having more control over their behavior.

Guilt over food.

Guilt over television.

Guilt over discipline.

Guilt over leaving them with a babysitter. Or over not leaving them with anyone...

I have written about this feeling before.

This topic of mom-guilt is growing in my awareness.

Truth be told, I feel a bit like a doctor. I see a sickness that is running rampant and as of now has no known cure, but I am setting out to find one.

I don't want the women I love to live weighted down by insecurity and fear or by the heaviness of guilt that presses out the joy and strength and authority that we need to be successful as mothers.

So I'm pondering. I'm praying. I'm looking for a new way of living.

And what I realized tonight is that just because we FEEL guilty doesn't mean we ARE guilty.

For myself, I realize that I very easily mistake the two. The instant I feel like I've missed something or made a poor choice, guilt isn't just a sensation, it becomes a definition of who I am.

But that isn't how it works.

Guilt - we are talking in terms of mothering here. Not stealing or harming someone. This is the shapeless guilt that comes from being unsure where we rank and whether or not we are being the very best mom for the kids we love so much - this kind of guilt is a thought.

And we know from God's word that we can take every thought captive.

For example.

I really like ice cream.

I mean, I REALLY like ice cream.

If I ate ice cream every time I thought, "Oooohhh, ice cream sounds good," I would not be a healthy person.

I know that my fondness for ice cream is okay, as long as I keep my indulgence of it in check.

So now, imagine that many times a day I think, "I should have read another story to Joey."

"I should have not given in and let Jack eat marshmallows before lunch."

"I shouldn't have..." "I wish I was more..." "I'm not doing a good job at..."

These thoughts are going to come.

They are going to find a way into my mind.

But just because they are there doesn't mean I have to indulge them.

I am not guilty.

I am a mother.

Even if I perfected the art of mothering (which is impossible by the way) I imagine that I would still find something to worry over.

The reality is that mothering is a huge job with really significant implications.

Sometimes the significance of the implications overwhelm us and what starts as concern for our children grows wildly out of control to the point that it ends up controlling us.

To live as a guilty person sucks you dry. It drains the energy from your movements and makes any attempt at moving forward feel like pushing a stone up a hill.

If you are living guilty, the way out seems almost impossible because what you feel has become who you are.

But let me say it again, you are not guilty.

Guilt brings nothing of value to your mothering. It doesn't help your children or foster security and peace in your home.

What you wish for and aspire to as a mother will not come by feeling more guilt.

So stop.

Remember that when you think you are guilty, you have the power to lay that thought down and pick up a new one.

You are caring.

You are capable.

You are creative.

You are ... fill in the blank. What are you to your children? What are you as a woman?

Instead of mentally rehearsing all the things you are not as a mother, start reminding yourself of what you ARE.

You will not be everything.

But you will be enough.

Where in your mothering is guilt robbing you of your energy, joy and authority?

And more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

Just as it is sometimes hard to resist ice cream, there will be days that guilt gets the better of you. But don't go overboard. If it helps you to think in the terms of food - put yourself on a guilt diet.

Go for a few days without giving into guilt and see how light you feel!

The task is not easy, I know. Especially since in our culture guilt is sold as part of the package of becoming a mother. But return that part of the package and go pick out something prettier. Pick out some enthusiasm, some confidence, some rest or some security.

You are a mom, yes.

But there is no reason for you to be a guilty mom.

Remember, what you FEEL is not the same as who you ARE.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Panties... Again

Do you know that horrible sinking feeling when you rush to get ready for the day, and about eight hours later - when you eventually find yourself in front of a mirror, you discover that you have had the most awkward panty line ALL DAY...


If you find when you come home from, oh, EVERYWHERE, after the gym and you take off your black gym pants to discover that there is a gaping hole in the backside and that your red, red, red panties have been displayed to the universe...

In case you didn't guess,
this happened.
Two weeks ago.
Horrible, horrible discovery!


When you thought you learned your lesson about talking about panties on a blog, but you continue to do it anyway...

Do you know that feeling?

that last one has nothing
to do with that same feeling.
I'm just pointing out the same fact
that you will all notice,
that I should have learned my
lesson already,
but haven't.

Well, I've had that same shivering, heavy, blushing feeling in my stomach for the last two days.

Except the sensation is coming from something much more significant than issues with undergarments.

I've been wearing something that doesn't fit.

Not clothing, but an idea.

When I picked up this idea, this way of thinking, it seemed like the right size.

But just like those pants with a hole in them, this belief has left me exposed.

Today, I discovered that I don't have the slightest idea who Jesus is.

I've loved God and given him a lot of significance in my life, for a very long time.

I am very good at being very Christian.

But today, I realized that while I love God, I have been loving and serving and surrendering to a very secular, and very wrong feeling about who God is.

Here is my problem. My panty line if you will.

I assume God has limited resources.

I put on this idea about God, and try and fit my life smoothly over it.

But the idea is too tight. It doesn't fit. The rest of my life looks bulky and bumpy and ugly, trying to rest over that understanding of God.

When I believe that God has limited resources, I don't ask him for much.

I, the generous and people-pleasing soul that I am, try and ease God's burden.

I think, "I won't ask for much, because God has to save his energy for people who REALLY need it."

I will work really hard, and be really good, so that God doesn't have to do much to keep my life going, after all, he is awfully busy.

The problem is, living that way doesn't require any faith.

It doesn't build relationship.

Or joy.

Or hope.

Or passion.

The idea that God is limited and that my job on this earth is to be one less person who requires something of him is not only ridiculous, it is WRONG.

There is nothing small about God.

There is nothing limited in him.

Quite the opposite.


What happens to my world if instead of trying to make God's load lighter, I begin to recognize his power and ability and DESIRE to pour out on me, and through me to the world?


The answer is that ANYTHING can happen.

If I begin to believe what the bible says about Jesus and his relationship to his father, and his good gift of the Holy Spirit, then suddenly I have to believe that when the bible says he is able to do more than we can ask or imagine... it really means he is able!

If I ask him to do more that I imagine, and I only imagine an average, uneventful life - sure, God can do more than that. I could have a pleasant and comfortable life.

But what if I asked God for something big?

Am I willing to believe that he could... WOULD... do even more than big?

I met an incredible man this weekend. He prayed joyfully and fearlessly for healing for people around me. Some people were healed, some were not. He said people always ask him, "What if you pray and nothing happens." When asked this question he responded energetically, "What if it DOES?!"

I've been walking around with my insecurities and fears bulging out of what I've thought about who God is. I have been prancing around, swinging my opinions, thinking everything fit, only to discover that my ideas and understanding are unflattering and ill-fitting, leaving me exposed.

Exposed to more fear, more insecurity, more foolishness.

So I'm changing my clothes.

I'm putting on something that fits.

God is not only good, he is able.

He has no lack.

And I am made in his image.

He has instructed me to ASK.

So from here out, I'm going to ask, and I'm going to ask big.

Ask for healing, ask for miracles, ask for favor and joy...

And in case you are getting worried,
I don't want to
"name it and claim it,"
and I don't really have a deep conviction
to have over-flowing bank accounts.

Those images
have probably
had something to do with
my retreat from believing
that God is abundant...
I don't want to be that
(greedy, self-promoting, entitled),
so I responded by
not asking for anything...

Stop for a moment.

Where have you been afraid to "bother" God?

What question have you wanted to ask, but haven't felt like it ranks on the list of REAL needs?

What would happen if you asked God TODAY to fulfill that desire in your heart?

You say, "But what if I ask and God doesn't answer?"

To which I respond to you dear friend,


Pray big.