My Fitness

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

tiara wearing first

My friend, Lissa, has inspired me with her hashtag #tiarawearingfirst It speaks to the royalty of children of God. If God is King, and I am his heir, then I am a princess. I wear a tiara. If I am a follower of Christ then I should desire to read God's Word and follow it. Lissa starts her day with Bible reading. For some reason, the quirkiness of "wearing a tiara" makes a daily devotion time more enjoyable. It helps me to see the privilege of being able to read God's Word. Instead of begrudgingly reading my Bible and fearing boredom, I read it gladly. Wearing a tiara, helps me rightly see that I should be excited about spending time with God just like wearing a tiara is exciting. It means I am special. I am the daughter of someone special. 

To help me align my heart and mind before diving into Scripture, I pray. Otherwise I get in the habit of speed reading just to get it over with. Obviously not the right attitude to go into the most important part of existence.

I wrote a prayer that I change every now and again but the same meaning is there. I change it so that the prayer doesn't become route memorization. I don't want to just be saying words. I want my heart to be speaking genuine desire. 

Here is my prayer:
Heavenly Father,

As I read Your Word, use it to cleanse me of impurities, convict me of sin, and encourage me in righteousness. 

Help me to focus on You. Help me to enjoy You. Help me to worship You. Help me to become more like You every day.

Here's an image of this morning tiara wearing first session. My daughter was coloring my written out prayer. She woke as I was starting. It's ok for tiara wearing to be sloppy looking. It's the heart that matters.

Monday, March 20, 2017

bragging on my son

Let me tell you about this amazing young man, Caleb. He's an inward thinker. He's really goofy. He likes being around other people but after a couple of hours he needs seclusion to recharge. He loves video games and does not really like school. But he's really good at schoolwork! Like, REALLY good.

He went to public school from August to December. Admittedly, his school was pretty bad, his teacher was pretty bad, and the rest of the faculty there was hit or miss. My son would bring home 50% on his mathwork. I knew that was not right for someone of his intelligence level. But the teacher couldn't be bothered - she did have 20 other students that needed her attention. Whenever he would get home we would spend another hour or two going over what they were supposed to have learned that day. I thought it was ridiculous that I had to teach him on top of sending him to school.

On the first day of Christmas break I started homeschooling him. We have been using the computer-based curriculum Time4Learning. When we started I was hoping that a computer based curriculum would be able to hold his attention better because he likes computers. And I was right. One time he got a 50% and I asked him why. He said he didn't know which one was the answer. I explained that you have to read the question, think of the answer, and then pick which option matches your answer. He says, "oh" and then got a 100%. Turns out that no one explained how multiple choice questions work to him before then. #PublicSchoolFail

Over the rest of the break he kept flourishing. His behavior was getting better and better. My other children loved having him back home. His grades were excellent. So we kept him home in the Spring Semester. I started him at the beginning of the school year at Christmas.

Get this:

He will be completely finished with first grade in the next day or so...depending on how much he drags his feet. (Those last couple assignments get tedious for a six year old.) It's March 20. He finished an entire grade in 3 months! #HomeSchoolSuccess

I am so pleased with him. He makes me so happy. He is such a hard worker. Even though something is hard and he doesn't like it, he still does it. I don't let him play video games until his school work is done for the day. He only has a little amount of time he's allowed to play and when the time is up, he can do the next day's assignment early if he so chooses...he's never done that, btw.

So since some of you reading this can't help being negative I'll address some of your responses before you write them.
You may be thinking "well, Time4Learning isn't very hard. The Public School has harder material." No. That's not true. Sure, think whatever you want. I saw the materials Caleb came home with. I couldn't believe how simple the materials were.

"Time4Learning is easy." Caleb thinks it is hard. It adequately challenges and teaches. He knows the material now which is the goal so I don't care how "easy" or "hard" a program is as long as my son knows the materials.

"That much time on a computer is bad for kids. I read a story of a kid DYING because he did school on the computer." There's always that mom, isn't there? I'm sure I'll notice my son's failing health long before he dies. Technology is the path of the future, we'd be fools to not use a computer on a daily basis.

"What about penmanship?" Don't worry, we still use Spelling-You-See. Also, he's doing great with that. He is not almost done there because I forgot about it for TWO MONTHS! During that two month period I was having him write various things and it was when I thought, "Why don't have a curriculum doing this for me?" That I remembered my old purchase.

For science we had a subscription to Magic School Bus monthly mailers, but we only have one month left. Time4Learning does have a science curriculum  but it is really basic. Turns out that at this level all science curriculums are pretty basic. I guess I have high standards having majored in biology. I'm hoping to get a microscope and go through my own ideas. And also we have some science museums that we can becomes yearly members. Once the kids get a bit older then we can have some real science fun. I still have a bunch of my college science supplies.

"I would never let my kids have video games as a reward. Don't you know kids shouldn't be playing that much on screens?" I know! I am the worst! How dare I let my kid have fun in the way he chooses...Excuse my sarcasm. I don't want my kid turning out like your kid, so we're good. If God wanted you to parent my kid He would have given you my child, but he didn't. My son learned how to correctly read a map because of a video game. He learned budgeting, spacial awareness, strategy, and also gets reading practice and addition/subtraction practice. The best part is that he doesn't even realize that's what's going on. It's "real world" application of his schoolwork. I've seen his game playing ability increase as his schoolwork ability increases. He's reading and planning ahead based on concepts he learned in school.

So, if you have real questions and not any snarky attempts at masking your jealousy as you try to burst my bubble, feel free to ask. Every parent will have to find what works with their child. Every child is different. You have to figure out what style, setting, and curriculum works for both of you. Maybe Public is best for you. Good for you. It was terrible for us. Maybe you hate computers, well how are you reading this then? Keep your fake concern, send your genuine questions.

I don't have any arms!
Zoë helps!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

motherhood is more than a calling

I always discourage people from trying to discern God's will through their feelings. "What do you feel like God is saying to you?" Is not something I would say. I think our feelings are fickle and deceptive. So it's no surprise that for myself I don't "feel" called to motherhood.

Awhile back I was trying to figure out what my calling is and what it will be after my children no longer need me. I was trying to figure out how to use my gifts and talents for God and his glory. I didn't see that I was currently doing that and I wanted to start.

Being a dancer I was trying to think of different outreach avenues I could pursue when I thought of the clever idea of having a ballet pregnancy photoshoot and then auctioning the canvasses to support pro-life organizations or donating them to pro-life pregnancy centers. I contacted a couple of places and they loved the idea! I was excited to finally be of use to the Kingdom!

My husband was initially supportive but for some yet unknown reason has at least become temporarily unsupportive. (EDIT 3/19: turns out he was unsupportive because he thought it was going to cost us money. When he found out that it didn't cost us any money only time, he became supportive again. But now this makes me wonder about the sincerity of what he said next. Maybe he was just trying to say anything to get out of spending money.) And then he said the most shocking thing- he said that I already am using my gifts and talents for the Lord by being a mother and that I'm doing a good job.

This shocked me because he's never told me that he thought I was doing a good job. I had the distinct impression based on his number of criticisms and comments (he says are meant to be helpful. They are actually discouraging) that he thought I was a bad mother. Words are apparently not his gifting.

So this got me thinking about motherhood. On one hand I don't want to be a mother because it ruins my body and my health and takes my freedom. On the other hand, I am a mother and it is my calling so none of the negatives matter. It takes an extremely selfish person to use those reasons to escape motherhood or prevent motherhood. Besides, I do want to be a mother. I enjoy being a mother. I've always wanted to be a mother. I love my children.

Why is motherhood hard sometimes? One reason is because of how selfless I have to be. When I have to teach the same academic or life lesson over and over, it's tiring. It's frustrating. Then I remembered that this is a calling. To better understand this calling and better understand motherhood I had to think of my children as the talents in the Parable that Jesus told. To some he gave one, to some he gave two and others ten. What am I going to do with this investment? I can shirk it and run away in fear. Or I can humbly walk alongside my children in hopes to point them to Christ. When I see my calling as a change of focus from me to what does God need see to do, it helps me see myself better. It makes it easier for me to pour myself out completely.

I may never achieve my dreams if I pursue God's calling on my life. To me that means my desires were not in-line with God's desires. In that case, it is good that I never achieve my dreams. So now I am free to pursue God's dreams for me. I can wipe that nose, clean that mess, prepare that food, and love my children. Ultimately God's calling is not "motherhood" but "disciple maker". That puts everything into focus.


And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more 
with knowledge and all discernment -Philippians 1:9
It seems that here in the Bible Belt, at least, perhaps everywhere, it is very difficult to discern the difference between Scripture and what I coined "feel-goodery".

One example of lack of discernment comes out of Mississippi over a decade ago when madness over a natural soap took hold of my circle of friends. They said that because the maker of this soap prayed over the soap that it had mystic powers to cure cancer among other amazing miracles. Of course, none of this was verifiable. It was absurd. I had a young and well-meaning friend ask me, "Lauren, if they want to believe that it cures them, why not just let them believe it?" On the one hand, why was I so concerned over what blissful sheep believe? I didn't lose or gain anything by their belief in superstitions. On the other, these were my friends being duped. So what did it matter? By trusting in some watery goop to heal you instead of science, you're putting yourself in danger. You're putting your children in danger. And besides all the science, your giving glory to a substance instead of to God. It's idolatry. Like the science. Love God. Don't trust scammers. I mean, seriously. The maker was in jail for scams and these poor people were still falling for his scams. I don't understand the willfully blind.

Another example of lack of discernment comes out of Texas last year when madness over the presidential election reached a peak. I had written that I couldn't wait for Pastors to stop being so hysterical over it and a friend wrote, "We are grateful for a pastoral staff who is not afraid to stand up for biblically based truths and beliefs. I am particularly grateful that we are not a "seeker" church and do not have "feel good" sermons every Sunday." She failed to see how her pastor was tickling the ears of his congregants. It broke my heart to see my friend blinded by a man she trusted. The lack of discernment of the pastor, my friend, and the rest of the congregation is typical in the Bible Belt and especially Texas. Here, they confuse patriotism and Christianity. They think "Republican" is synonymous with Biblical. Her pastor actually said that the Republican platform was the Christian one. It breaks my heart to see such ignorance and stupidity being preached and my blind friends following it unquestioningly. Of course, anyone familiar with the Bible knows that to not be true. The platform of Christ rests on two sentences:
Jesus answeredThe most important is, ‘HearO IsraelThe Lord our Godthe Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:29-31
Neither of which are found in the Republican platform of over 40 pages. But that church has stopped preaching from the Bible and has decided to take refuge in political speeches. That church lacks discernment and has failed to teach discernment. Instead now the pastor tickles the ears of his very Republican congregation and shares what they like to hear. He even came back his next sermon saying, "most people liked what I said." As if that is any indicator of what God would want him to preach. So sad.

Quite contrary to Scripture, this pastor said he was afraid "for the babies". I can respect that sentiment except that the Bible clearly says that fear has no place in love and that anything done out of fear is sin. This pastor's personal assistant said blatantly "I am very afraid of the evil that will be unleashed if Hillary Clinton wins. " What place does fear have in the hearts of the Believers? This lack of faith and trust in God was preached and learned. If this PA had discernment she'd see her own hypocrisy once it was pointed out to her. And I'd like to do my "I told ya so" dance (probably not out of humility...I'd really enjoy to be proven wrong in the coming months) as I point out how abortion is still legal despite all the lying politicians clamoring for the hearts of the blind republicans hod the majority in the House, Senate, and the Presidency. I've said it so many times but it needs repeating- I don't care who the president is. I am very concerned for the hearts of my friends trusting in lying men and fearing hypothetical doomsday scenarios instead of trusting God. This breaks my heart.

My final example for now probably snags the majority of women I know. It's a combination of trendiness, Prosperity Gospel feel-goodery, empty positivity, and plain ol' ear tickling. I qualify the type of positivity to be clear that there are good forms of positivity and then there's the empty variety. Being positive for positivity sake is useless and leads to danger. Sometimes you don't "just keep swimming". If you can base your positivity on Christ, then your positivity is well-founded.

In particular, there was a post shared that read, "God knew what kind of mother our children would need long before they were even born." I don't want to embarrass anyone with this specific example of lack of discernment so I won't name names. Google it if you absolutely MUST know where this comes from. It does not come from the Bible. My friend shared this. But this implication that because God knew what would happen, then you're ok, is precisely the ego-stroke that narcissistic mothers love to hear so they don't have to change and be the women God wants them to be. Rather we should instead go with Biblical encouragement and Biblical positivity which reads like "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 This is comforting because it tells mothers not to "rest in who they are even if they're garbage mothers" but to try to do what God wants them to do according to Scripture (none of this "I can audibly hear the voice of God telling me to kill everyone" madness. I mean actual Scripture.) and even when we fail as mothers, which will happen, instead point our kids to Christ so that they can lean on Him and not us. Perhaps that was the original intent, unfortunately that was not what was written. I get being a poor writer. I'm a poor writer. But this is not my job. For a writer to be a bad writer and a self-proclaimed teacher to be a bad teacher, is grave "for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." (James 3:1)

It takes discernment to detect the difference between these two sentiments. It takes Scripture reading, Scripture studying, and Scripture meditating to see the lies in feel-goodery, empty positivity, prosperity gospel ear tickles. I get it - I'm a "Debby Downer" for not just letting people blissfully walk off cliffs. Maybe I'd have more friends if I didn't speak about foolishness. I like it when people point out where I'm wrong. I've had to learn humility to accept correction. I get corrected all the time. It's ok to be wrong, just change your stance to be in-line with Scripture. It's that easy. This post will only upset you if you are too prideful. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18) My husband and I were recently discussing how some people insist they are right even when proven wrong and instead of easily saying, "oops", they carry on and on about how they were actually right or how everyone else is wrong. It only makes her look more stupid. I've looked stupid on many occasions. In humility, I admit many mistakes. The easiest way to be mistake-free is to base all your decisions on Scripture. It might seem hypocritical of me. I don't trust anyone who denies their own hypocrisy. That person is a victim of their own lies and does not know Truth.

If you want to ask my opinion on pieces requiring discernment, then I'd point out that, still, you lack the very simple discernment that I am not an authority on discernment. Tricky, huh? I can point you to Scripture, hopefully, but anyone who points to themselves or anything other than Scripture is a deceiver. I'm trying to not be hypocritical. I'm trying to be humble. I am genuinely apologetic if my tone does not com across at humble. Discernment is a strength of mine and I do not mean to only compare my strengths to others' weaknesses. I hope that instead of accusing me of pride here that you will give me grace and instead accuse me of not writing eloquently. I try but I understand that I fail. Not everyone hears things, read things, the same way; or the way they're intended.

Any positivity post that is unbiblical is from the Father of Lies at worst and a blind teacher at best. Any preacher preaching any gospel other than that found in Scripture, let me echo Galatians 1 and say, "let him be accursed". Any product taking the place of prayer in your life, is an idol.

Monday, March 13, 2017

teaching grace

My five year old, Micah, is in the process of learning some tough lessons. It seems he can't remember to behave without constant reminders. I've told him that this is ok because he's just a little guy and the older he gets the easier it will be to remember. I've told him that when we're bad at something that means we have to practice - that includes behavior, video games, schoolwork, and anything else. I've tried to stop saying "that's bad" and replace it with "that needs practice".

He still beats himself up over making mistakes. If he runs and yells at a store and knocks things over, like he and his brother did yesterday at Ross, he feels terrible. I let him know that I still love him but I need him to practice remembering to listen to my instructions. He says he's just a bad guy.

I tell him that I mess up but that God still gives me grace. I share Bible verses like Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end
    they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I explain that we all need God's mercy and grace. And while we might be bad, God can make us good. It isn't always easy but we have to keep remembering and keep trying.

Perhaps instead of trying to remember to be good, I will teach him to remember God, which is better. By remembering God we can't help but be good. (I would argue that if someone is being bad they aren't remembering God properly.)

YESTERDAY, right after our trip to Ross, I was driving in Argyle, TX, on 377. Most of the road is 60 mph. So I was a bit surprised when I got pulled over. I don't speed. This isn't something that I do. It turns out that there is about a mile of the road that is 50 mph. Justice was served with me getting a citation. This is right and just. I received no grace and no mercy. I feel terrible. That's a $200 fine all because I didn't know the rules.

Today Micah saw me write a check to the Town of Argyle and asked what it was. I don't write checks ever so he's never seen one. I explained that I had to write a check that allowed Argyle to take money out of my bank or go to jail. He was very concerned at the idea of me going to jail and I said that paying the fine will keep me out of jail. I was able to explain that even though I didn't know what the rules were I had broken them and I had to pay the price. I was bad and needed to have justice done. I was sad and sorry and had to remember in the future to obey the rules. Micah hung his head and said, "yeah, sometimes I don't remember either."

I said, "But I still love you."

I started crying. I think it's a combination of being tired and being filled with pregnancy hormones. Micah asked why I was crying. I said it was because I was sad I was bad. And he hugged me. I said, "It's ok because God still loves me."

He seemed to respond very well to seeing me be bad, having to pay for it, being repentant, and still receiving God's love. Paying the fine was just. Receiving God's love is unjust. I was really mad yesterday that I received a ticket. I can blame anyone but it's only me who was at fault. I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in almost two decades (because, yes, I'm that old).

I was mad at God for letting me get a ticket and then having to pay such a great amount of money that could have been spent elsewhere. But I figured it's God's money to put wherever he wants and if he needs to hurt me with it to teach me humility, so be it. After all, am I really being hurt if I'm being disciplined and refined? No, just like pruning a tree to produce healthier branches isn't hurting the tree. It's such a small price to pay to be better conformed into the image of Christ.

Also, I was immediately convicted and remorseful that I'd get angry at God when I was the one at fault. I was immediately filled with awe that God would still love someone like me. Such a sin-filled heart. So much love and grace. Yesterday taught me, again, how much I need God and how much I do not deserve God.

Today, I was able to use my lessons of yesterday to teach my son by example. I don't recommend speeding as a means to teach your children Divine truths. But I am grateful that the opportunity presented itself in a timely manner that Micah was able to learn a spiritual lesson right alongside me.

I started a Beth Moore study and the questions were fitting. "When was the last time Christ amazed you? How did it come about? What did it change about your circumstances?" I very much like that my circumstances didn't change. I wish that I could have learned the lesson without losing money. But because nothing changed, there was nothing earned, there was no prosperity gospel sneaking into my story. I was repentant and nothing changed in the physical realm.

A few pages over, Beth Moore asks, " means that you can "see" and take part in the breathtaking work of Christ in your life. What glimpses have you seen of this already?" There's so much to write in this section. There's even more than what I've written above, but it deserves it's own post. It's interesting to see how thoughts of the past few weeks culminate at a point like this.

She then finished the day with a prayer. I'll give you a glimpse into the very personal prayer I wrote. I'm kinda hoping you can't read my handwriting.

For you will not delight in sacrificeor I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heartO Godyou will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17