Duct Tape

Joey and I are sitting in a time-share condo in Branson, MO. Onyx coffee brewing. Pistachio shells in styrofoam cups.

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A kind couple from church offered this place to us as a retreat. Our Little Crazies are spending a fun weekend with my parents while we sleep in past 7:00am, read for pleasure, and rest our weary parenting muscles.

We ate at Grandma Ruth’s Cinnamon Rolls restaurant this morning, and a Roy Rogers doppelganger serenaded us with his cowboy tunes while we indulged in sticky toffee cinnamon rolls–our first breakfast post-Daniel fast. A true “break-fast.” Grandpa Milt would have loved every minute of it.

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My grandparents come from the era of “fixing it.” If something breaks or wears down, you don’t drive to Target for a new one. You fix it. Patch the jeans. Duct tape the broom. Get under the car yourself.

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Gram and Gramps playing Play Doh with Finn at Big Cedar over Christmas.

They are resourceful and enterprising; making whatever they have last. Their era was one of scarcity. WWII raged while they were just kids on the farm, the Great Depression had rattled the American Dream, and the men worked hard to put food on the table for their housewives and children. I respect and admire their industrious, conserving qualities. “Waste not, want not.”

I cannot, however, apply these principles to my spiritual life. The Kingdom of God is not one of scarcity; it boasts abundance. When I uncover ugly parts of me–embarrassing weaknesses, habitual sin–my tendency is to patch them up. Slap some duct tape on them and hope they don’t burst open.

Pastor Craig said something recently that stuck with me like super glue on my grandparents’ broken vase:

“Jesus did not come to make us better. He came to make us new.”

Whoa. There’s no patch large enough to cover my insecurity and sin. When it comes to our lives, betterment without the grace of Jesus is silly; futile.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24)

We get to trade in our old, scuffed-up self for a new self. A fresh start. Stop patching yourself up. Let Jesus make you new.

The Purple Girls

Wednesday, January  13th. Jenks West Elementary transitional pre-K program. Leaving the parking lot.

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“Hey Finn, how was school this morning?”

“Good.”

“What did you learn about?”

“Ms. Sarah put a feather on me and it was soft. Bricks are TOO hard. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. There were three pigs. They had a house made of BRICK (yelling) and STRAW and WOOD! And he puffed and huffed and blowed the house down!”

“Who were your friends?”

“Jackson and Tinsley and Sam and Ali and Claire…”

“What about Tripp?”

“No, not Tripp. He wasn’t there today. And the Purple Girls.”

“Who are the Purple Girls?”

“I forgot their names.”

“Was Mrs. Fox there today?”

“No, she went to the restaurant.”

“Restaurant?”

“Yeah, restroom.”

“Awesome, dude.” :)

 

Rooted

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

Sometimes I’m more like a dandelion than a tree. Shallow and fragile, coming apart at the slightest puff of wind.

I want to be an oak. Roots planted deep; grounded into Jesus. I know I have yet to reach His mysterious depths. Firm identity and foundation. Unshaken by my circumstances. Immune to the approval or disapproval of others. Adapting with life’s changing seasons. And the result, according to Col. 2:7, is an abundance of gratitude. I’m in.

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Rooted. My word for 2016.

http://www.life.church/

Fitness Tips From a Trainer 2016

I learned a lot about myself and my body in 2015. These tips originate from my own personal experience this time…not necessarily my clients’.

  1. Detox, Fast, or Restrict at least once a year. Joey and I did the Daniel Fast with Life.Church for the first time last January. We were amazed by how much better we felt, how much less stinky our toots were, and how our bodies changed. Joey lost 15 pounds in 3 weeks and I lost 2. I gained muscle and lost fat. This type of restriction is not recommended year-round, but it’s  important–every now and then–to stiff-arm those harmful, processed foods we can easily become addicted to. When I was hungry, I prayed. It was difficult but life-changing. We’re doing it again now. Daniel-Fast_Slider
  2. After the Daniel Fast, we continued a few of the healthy eating habits that made the most difference for us. Little to no dairy (we drink coconut milk). No processed bread, buns, or flour tortillas. Only quinoa and other hearty grains/seeds, whole grains and brown rice pastas.

    I'll never forget this first meal following our Daniel Fast last year. We felt so good!

    I’ll never forget this first meal following our Daniel Fast last year. We felt so good!

  3. Work out harder, shorter. I have very little margin in my days. I work out when my clients cancel or before or after work. I make the 20 minutes I have count. Heart rate elevated, slow, concentrated reps. Burn, baby.FullSizeRender 35
  4. Muscle balance. Do single arms/legs. Work the front and back of your body equally. Find muscle imbalances and correct them because they lead to injury. Don’t just do your favorite exercises. The ones you hate–you probably need them the most. I need to do more of the things that are hard for me so that I can grow. Hire a trainer (come see me at Sky Fitness & Wellbeing!) or take a class to get out of your ruts.IMG_1657
  5. Get off the elliptical. I’m an elliptical hater…Sorry. Here’s why: a) It obeys you. When you slow down, it slows down without you even having to push a button. You need accountability and the elliptical doesn’t give it to you. b) Who moves like that in real life? I know it was intended for low-impact rehab purposes. But when you walk out those gym doors, you’ll have to step off a curb and walk to your car. Impact. So train in the gym for real life outside of the gym. c) It actually hurts my knees. d) My clients complain that their feet go numb. Unnatural movement pattern. e) I have to be on it for an hour to break a sweat…miserable.cardio-machines-ellipticals-vision-fitness-x20-traditional-elliptical-1979x2354
  6. Eat more protein. I fell in love with protein last year. Particularly Arbonne’s vanilla vegan protein powder. (Chocolate is good too.) If you have found a whey protein powder you love, stick with it. Whey (dairy) bothers my stomach/digestion so I switched to vegan a few years ago. 4290c9ec17ab26f30d62c617379488aaUnlike fat and carbs, the body does not store protein, therefore it has no back up supply when it runs out. Extra protein doesn’t make you healthier or stronger…you simply need enough. An active woman needs 1/2 a gram per pound a day (130 lb. woman needs 65 grams). And since Joey and I don’t eat much meat, and we removed dairy and processed/fortified cereals from our diet, we needed to add some to our daily intake. We drink a green smoothie/protein shake most mornings for breakfast and it keeps us feeling satisfied until lunch. I’ve found that adding chia seeds or extra fiber to our shakes helps us feel fuller even longer. Every time you eat, your body uses energy (calories) to process your food and absorb its nutrients. This is why eating more, smaller meals aids in metabolism. When you eat carbs or fat, the body uses up 5-15% of the calories toward the digestion process. Protein is harder to digest, and requires more like 20-30% of your body’s calories to digest. Be sure you’re getting your protein from good sources, however. An intake of protein from animal and plant sources is ideal and will ensure you get all nine essential amino acids. Your muscles are like sponges for about an hour after your workout. Feed them protein and glycogen (sugar/carbohydrates) within that 30-60 min. window and you’ll help rebuild and repair the muscles you broke down in your killer workout. Less soreness, more muscle definition. Score!
  7. Make it a habit. Our lives are a collection of habits. The things we eat, places we go, the way we handle stress, the people we surround ourselves with. Make it to the gym or work out at home even on your busiest days. 10 minutes of hard work is better than none…and just by driving to the gym or lacing up your sneakers, you’re reinforcing your habit.

    I love this pillow my client, Cassie, bought me for Christmas! Habit.

    I love this pillow my client, Cassie, bought me for Christmas! Habit.

  8. Find a partner or a team! Joey and I started going to the gym together every Friday morning last year. Sometimes he lets me train him and sometimes he wanders away from me toward the treadmill. ;) But we’re in it together. Find a way to be active with your spouse. It’s not only good for your body, but your relationship. My most successful clients are those who work out in small groups. The camaraderie and friendly competition they develop helps them continue to show up and work harder than they thought they could. IMG_0525
  9. Childcare rocks. If you’re a busy mom or dad, do yourself a HUGE favor and find a gym that offers childcare. It’s usually a reasonable fee (cheaper than the price of a babysitter) and we all need a break from each other every now and then. My kids love going to SkyKids! Linger a while in the locker room after your workout; hit up the steam room, or take a shower with eucalyptus shampoo and pretend you’re at the spa. FullSizeRender 36
  10. Set goals. “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Where would you like to be a year from now…and what needs to happen to get you there? Set out clearly defined, measurable goals. Easy tip: choose a pair of jeans you’d like to fit into again and try them on every 2 weeks or so. Jeans don’t lie. :) FullSizeRender 34

Here’s to a healthier, progressive, more confident 2016! 

If you’re not local to Tulsa, OK and interested in online training with me, go to my online training site for more info! I’d love to help.

MORE TIPS: 2013   2014   2015

Santa Magic

I never believed in Santa as a kid.

I’m not really sure why, except that I tend to come by skepticism naturally. Also pretty certain my parents didn’t push it. One frigid Minnesota night when I was five, I stayed up and sat in the living room near the lit tree, hoping to hear reindeer hooves on our roof. Never happened. So I went back to bed, convinced it was a sham. No hard feelings.

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Fireside chats…

But the Santa we met today…he very well may have been the real thing; The Legend.

We have never taken Finn to sit on Santa’s lap before for several reasons:

  1. I am allergic to long lines. Hives. Hyperventilation.
  2. Shopping malls and/or crowded places used to terrify me with Finn wheeling around. So much staring and bumping into things and chasing. It’s exhausting, emotionally and physically.
  3. I don’t believe in Santa.

But all you people and your adorable Santa-sitting-photos made me wonder if I was depriving my kids of something. So this morning we waited an hour and 1/2 at Bass Pro Shop to meet and take a free photo with Jolly Ole’ St. Nick. It was surprisingly organized and the staff were friendly and warm. We received a Santa pass for an 11:30 photo reservation. We chased our kids, watched the striped bass in the tank and ate at Uncle Buck’s restaurant while we waited. Not too bad.

Here’s where the magic happened…

While in line, Finn was spinning around and stalling on his back wheels (our new fav trick), and Santa looked over between crying toddlers and waved at Finn. Finn smiled and waved back.

Then as we were nearing the North Pole entrance, Santa signaled “wait” to his helper elf and waved on a little girl from the side. She was beautiful in a sparkly white gown and appeared to have Down Syndrome. Santa held both her hands at once and spoke directly in her eyes. She probably told him what she wanted for Christmas and he listened intently, nodding. He was not in a hurry. They hugged and hugged.

Once it was our turn, Finn wheeled excitedly toward the throne and Santa said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come visit me ever since I first saw you!” He took Finn’s little face in his gloved hands and whispered, “You’re so handsome.” I was struck in my gut by His warmth and kindness.

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This is when he was talking to Finn…I wish Joey had gotten Finn in the shot too. Paisley was shy, but didn’t cry.

He called Paisley an angel and we snapped this adorable photo.

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As I was taking Finn off Santa’s lap, he said to me, “Before you go, I need to speak with Finn.” He asked Finn, “Now what would you like for Christmas?” (A miracle. Advancements in Neurological Science. No more shunt revisions. Strong, sturdy legs. Peace on Earth…) Nope. Finn stretched both arms into the air and with glee, he shouted, “Candy!” Spoken like the sugar-deprived son of a personal trainer. ;) Santa laughed, gave them each a candy cane, and told Finn how special he was and that he was so glad he and Sister came to visit him.

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I know this sounds cheesy, but today I imagined Santa was a little like our Savior. Waiting for us to come to Him, noticing us and yearning for our closeness all morning. And then He cups our face in His hands and asks us what we want, what we need. And it doesn’t really matter if he gives it to us or not. What matters is that He listens. He smiles warmly and loves us as we are and looks us in the eyes. He is not in a hurry.

December 19, 2015 was the day I first believed in Santa. 11:33am. Bass Pro Shop. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Thirty-two and a half years of age.

 

Give

This word has been hovering over my kitchen since Thanksgiving.

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Both families have agreed not to exchange gifts this year. They took away one of my love languages, and I’m not too happy about it. ;) So I’m learning to give in new ways–perhaps more important ways than with the swipe of my debit card.

I’m giving more of my time. Each breath is on loan from my Creator, so it’s really not my time anyway, but I’ve always been most selfish with my time. Meetings that go long drive me bonkers. Commercials, snaking grocery lines, doctor’s offices, verbose, showy prayers, and stoplight traffic all test my patience something fierce.

Giving God more of my time (sheesh…it’s so hard for me!) in prayer and reflection has helped me refocus this Christmas season. I love the book, Savor, by Shauna Niequist. December 8th’s devotion reads:

“The season that centers around the silent, holy night, the simple baby, and the star quickly becomes the season in which we over-everything–overspend, overeat, overindulge, overcommit.”

I’m learning to give less frazzled, hustling, distracted moments and more intentional ones to the people I love.

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Give Joey longer, more attentive kisses.

Put my phone down and listen…to whomever is speaking to me: the Target cashier, my kids, my husband, my friends, Pastor Craig…

Let Finn spell out E V E R Y single letter in The Sleepy Train book and forget about the long list of naptime-to-do’s I need to accomplish before sister wakes up.

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They loved the Christmas lights at Rhema!

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Sit on my bathroom floor with Paisley while she digs through my makeup bag. Discuss the importance of beauty on the inside…and my new-found appreciation for high quality mascara.

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Life Church BA’s lobby is a Christmas wonderland!

Allow my clients the opportunity for proper form and quality of movement even when I planned another set.

Blog about what God’s doing in my heart and how He’s teaching me that giving is a mindset. I can give to Him and to you every day in simple ways.

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Taylor created this beautiful print for my mantel.

Give. And give again. Because when you give, you’re most like God, I heard someone say.

An Amateur’s Guide to Painting Cabinets White

I swore I’d never do it again…but I did. I just love a white kitchen and I hate spending money on something I can do myself. So Joey and I spent the two weeks before Thanksgiving transforming our outdated oak cabinets into a beautiful, clean white kitchen that we LOVE. Here’s how (and the harmless marital arguments that arose as a result ;) ):

  1. Clean the nastiness off.
  2. Remove cabinet doors from their frames. We kept drawers in place. And we kept bottom doors on until the last minute because THIS little girl loves to empty a well-stocked cabinet.

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    She found our one pane-less french door within days of learning to walk. :)

  3. Sand all surfaces down using fine grit sandpaper. 150-220. Move sandpaper in same direction as the woodgrain. (Marriage Tiff #1) Cover your countertops/dishes/stovetop if you don’t want sand dust on them.
  4. Wipe dust off surfaces with a damp cloth.
  5. Use that blue tape to tape around borders, floors, and where the wood meets the countertops and walls.
  6. Prime all surfaces using a small-medium sized paint brush to get into all the cracks. Per the Lowe’s Paint Lady’s recommendation, we used PVA primer. IMG_2342
  7. We waited 3 days because it was raining. We didn’t want to spray-paint outdoors in the rain or humidity.
  8. Rain stopped.
  9. While Joey used his dad’s paint sprayer in our side yard and painted the cabinet doors–as well as everything behind and beside them: fence, rain-collection barrel, new A/C unit, bench, grass… (Tiff #2), I used Valspar Dove White semi-gloss paint as a first coat in the kitchen. (I love this color!)IMG_2377IMG_2378IMG_2383
  10. Most people would probably remove and replace all hinges/hardware, but we loved the quality of ours and didn’t mind that they were painted white.
  11. The paint sprayer didn’t work as well as we had hoped. The paint dripped and it was hard for Joey to keep bugs off the wet paint. It felt like the first, sprayed coat was a waste of time and fence. (Tiff #3) So he put the doors back on their frames to finish with a brush.
  12. Over the next two evenings and nap times, we painted the second and third coats. Joey’s idea of a “final coat” and mine were different. (Tiff #4)
  13. Use Trigger Point foam roller to work out all the kinks in your low back and shoulders. Ouch!
  14. We decided to keep one cabinet door off and open. Joey filled in the hinge holes with spackling putty. Then we sanded and painted over it.
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    BEFORE

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    AFTER

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  15. Light a candle, clean the floors, blend up a green protein shake and enjoy the finished product. FullSizeRender 29IMG_2384
  16.  Reminisce about what it used to look like!
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BEFORE: Joey’s dad put in a new backsplash (beveled white subway tile with light gray grout) for us when we moved in last December. We also changed the lighting.

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BEFORE

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AFTER: We don’t love the granite counter tops the previous owners chose, but they’re much more bearable now!

16. Go on a date. Apologize for being a jerk over paint. We enjoyed seeing Spectre (007) in the balcony at the Warren! Thanks, Aunt Melinda, for babysitting! FullSizeRender 31

17. Swear you’ll never paint cabinets white again…