Beauty is Only Skin Deep

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Yes, a beautiful fit OUTSIDE will attract attention. One can’t help but look at a man or woman who has, obviously, spent time working on building or maintaining a beautiful physique. However, it’s what on the INSIDE that people will remember most. It’s what’s on the INSIDE that will make a difference in someone else’s life. It’s what’s on the INSIDE that represent who we TRULY are.

Make time to work on both, the OUTSIDE and the INSIDE.

I’m Bossy

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Apparently, there is a campaign to ban the word, “bossy”, as it pertains to young girls. Female Hollywood stars and music icons are launching this campaign because they feel that labeling a girl bossy will discourage her from pursuing positions of leadership. I can see that. Words hurt.

We all long to be accepted. We truly do. We want to be appreciated for our strengths and not criticized for just being ourselves. I’ve dealt with that my entire life. From being teased because of physical strengths and body type to being criticized for not conforming to a certain type of mold or expectation due to a title attached to me, such as, “Pastor’s Wife”, knowing we are not accepted for who we are and how we are wired is tough at times.

My guideline is the Bible. I have been involved in or taught Bible studies on Proverbs 31. Some were so valuable and meaningful. Some were laughable. But, as women, we are constantly held to the standard of Proverbs 31. Let us not forget that this was a list of qualities that a mother shared with her sone to look for in a wife. Do you have a son? What does your list look like? As a mom, of course, I’ve formed a list of what I think would make an excellent wife. Oh, her son was a king with lots of money. But that’s beside the point.

But somehow, through the centuries, we have misinterpreted and miscommunicated this passage in such a way that there has actually been a backlash. A rebellion. And it has nothing to do with the scripture itself. If you read it, you realize quickly that this woman was a business woman, entrepreneur, manager of her home and servants (yeah, when do I get those?) kind to the needy, strong, hospitable, and just busy with making life happen. She took her role as wife and mother seriously and loved her God. When I review her in this light, I’m more than happy to look at her as an example to follow. With no, “cookie cutter” families, this will all look a little different. Our problem is when we think that, unless every marriage relationship and WOMAN looks the same, something is wrong.

Back to being bossy. Because I tried to fit into molds set for me by my own self and others, for years I struggled with the belief that there was something wrong with me. Honestly. I never felt like I measured up to God’s standard. Oh, I won’t go into all the details but my desire was to be all God said I should be. Funny thing is, I WAS being all God wanted me to be. I just thought I should be something, SOMEONE, else. I didn’t embrace my strengths. I saw them as weaknesses. Sure, I was less mature. I didn’t always handle situations with a lot of composure. But, as a pastor’s wife, when I was accused of, “being under the Spirit of Jezebel and leading the women in our church in rebellion against their husbands”, I was done. And I questioned God as to WHY He made me the way He made me.

Again, back to being bossy. What I have realized is that God made some women to be leaders. He just did. And guess what? In some situations that will mean leading men. Leadership is not gender specific. Now, I’m NOT going to get into what is and is not acceptable in church leadership. I’m just not. I’m simply talking about that God made some women leaders. It is our responsibility as women leaders to polish our leadership skills. Especially, communication.

My husband and I recently had the conversation that if he and I were standing side by side and gave the same instruction to, let’s say, to employees that work for us, he would be considered strong and I would be considered bossy. It’s just the way it is, ladies and gentlemen. And side note, THANK YOU, MIKE WILSON, for recognizing the leader in me and always pushing me forward to pursue what ever it is God puts in front of me! And my husband has recently ENCOURAGED a female leader who has been harshly criticized. He assured her that she doesn’t intimidate him. He’s been married to a strong woman for years! You GO, Mike!

I don’t think we need to ban the word, “bossy”. Yes, words can hurt. But I think an even greater disservice is to “coddle” girls. Life is tough. We need to prepare them to be tough but that they need to season their toughness with grace and kindness. I think of the movie, “Remember the Titans”. Coach Boone says to Coach Yost, and I paraphrase, that he is not doing any of the young black men a favor by babying them. He’s actually weakening them. I agree. The same goes for our girls.

I’ve been called a lot of things and I’ve been treated certain ways because of my personality style and leadership qualities. Some of it was self inflicted due to impulsiveness and rashness. I realize that. But I also know that I will no longer question God about WHY He made me the way He made me. He made me this way for and with a purpose. My strengths are not weaknesses. My job, now, is to continue to grow in the areas of grace and kindness and patience. And, as the mother of two girls, and soon to be grand mother of a baby girl, I will, hopefully, pass this along to the next generations.

So, ladies, if you are criticized, misunderstood, and called bossy, It’s okay. Don’t let it hold you back. Understand that this is life. Be confident in who God made you to be. Ask Him to help you grow in your gifts. A truly confident person doesn’t need to jump up and defend herself. She knows the truth. Be bold. Move forward. And be all God made you to be! And men, if strong women intimidate you, then I suggest you take a look inside yourself. Maybe you’re just a little insecure or prideful. Read again Proverbs 31 with new eyes and appreciate the strong women in your life.

Today

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So, listen! This is YOUR TIME! Let’s GOOO!

Moments Like These

We never know what God has in store in our future. For that reason I have learned to appreciate MOMENTS. On this Christmas Day, my heart is full as I glance over and see my 3 babies huddle together watching a video one of them made with her friend. It's moments like these I wish I could box up, like a favorite photo, so I can pull out again and again and relive this moment. But God reminds me that life will be full of precious moments that will become more and more beautiful as the years go by. I am a sentimental sap and cry at the drop of a hat these days as I transition from mommy of small children, to middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students, and now adults. The movie,"A Christmas Carol", has never been my favorite but this year I think of how I wish I had a ghost who would lead me back to moments in time, but just for a moment.

A couple years ago my daughter and I were in the stage play,"Our Town", at our local public theatre. Have you ever seen the play,"Our Town"? Talk about a powerful reminder of how fleeting life is and how we need to be aware that it can change drastically at any given moment. And I guess as I begin a new phase of life and grow older that I am more keenly aware of this fact.

A lifetime is made of moments. Are we going to try to rush towards our goals at blinding speed and at the risk of missing unexpected MOMENTS, or are we going to allow time for the moments that make our lives full and meaningful and blessed? It's a question I've had to ask myself recently as there have been a few twists and turns in my life that have forced me to decide what is really important.

And so, on this Christmas Day, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. My gift to you is a gentle reminder to slow down and find joy in the moments that make life full and rich. Moments like these.

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When Going Backward is Moving Forward

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I knew it was coming. As I slipped on a pair of comfy jeans I just knew they’d be a little more snug today. I just traveled cross country by car from California to Kentucky. Since the car was packed full with no room for a cooler to pre pack more healthy options, my daughter and I threw a few packaged things and water bottles in a sack and away we went. I made fairly healthy choices when we stopped for meals but I can’t deny there wasn’t a treat or two. She is pregnant and not feeling like eating much of anything and when she does it’s not the healthiest stuff. And as for me? My husband and I have been walking down a path of uncertainty with his job ending in January, unexpected financial demands that you either laugh at or cry over, life upheavals with moving this daughter back home, business questions with direction for my home business, all the while raising another 16 year old daughter and trying to remain sane, turning 50, and my son’s football career ended (wonderfully by the way), but in gut wrenching style, and we march towards his college graduation. So, my eating and nutrition has been very sound but I quit counting calories and macros (protein/fat/carb) ratio several weeks ago since my mind and heart has been occupied with other important things. So, as expected, I have gained a couple pounds.

In my defense, I gain body fat very easily. I have to micro manage my carbs because my body loves them! I have to fight my genetic code in order to get or stay lean. When I say LEAN I mean LEAN for ME. We’re all wired differently. It just so happened that I took this week off to rest my body from a strict 12 week/6 day a week work out program. I did gain some muscle which is what I was shooting for so I had gained a little more size to start with. Nothing that anyone might obviously notice but I saw a difference in my body composition. So what in the world does this have to do with going backward or moving forward. I’ll tell ya! Upon slipping on my slightly more snug jeans…I was okay. No freak out. No self loathing. No negative self talk or bashing. No tears or tantrums. I was fine. I AM fine. And this, my friends, is surprising. Shocking, really.

Last New Year I had wanted to prepare for a figure competition. I hired a trainer, temporarily, for nutrition and lifting guidance. I realized I was in no way ready to undertake a competition financially so I found another program on line that I worked for 6 months total. The result? I dropped body fat, gained muscle, and a much better grasp on clean eating. But what else did I Iearn? How to dig deep for one more rep. How to push myself when I wanted to give up. How to wrap my mind around the fact that when the scale goes up due to muscle gain it’s OK. That strong IS BEAUTIFUL. That I am more mentally strong than I ever dreamed. And that the weight on the scale doesn’t define me. I’m much more valuable than that. That was moving forward.

Now? Some would think that gaining a few pounds is moving backward. If it was affecting my health it certainly would be. Some would think tighter clothes is moving backward. Again, it CAN be if you’re eating with reckless abandon and are completely out of control. As for me? I’m going to the gym today to get back into my work outs. After the New Year I will start a new program that I’m purchasing this weekend. Forward. No freak out upon putting on tighter jeans. Forward. No self loathing or tears. Forward . Confidence in knowing I WILL trim down again. Forward. Knowing my value is not found in a number on the scale. FORWARD!

I have found, that backward is not really backward at all. It’s merely a pause in my movement forward.

The Greatest Gifts are Not Wrapped in Robbins and Bows

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As I shuffled through the kitchen to feed our little dog this morning I glanced the hundredth time at our Christmas tree. There’s just a couple present so far and my husband’s tennis shoes. That’s where they landed after he took them off last night upon returning from a 3 day business trip. But then I saw, again, my priceless and precious tree skirt. 

After moving to Ky I came across an DIY tree skirt idea. At the time I did some sewing so I sewed two pieces if muslin together, stopping half way to allow the skirt to spread open. Then I sewed a simple lace border around the skirt. Voila’! We them had the fun of dipping our children’s hands into fabric paint and making prints on the skirt. I then would write the year in gold, let it dry, and proudly place our work of art around our tree.

Year after year it has been the highlight of pulling out the Christmas decorations. You can see when our family expanded again with the addition of baby feet.  They still laugh and compare the hand sizes as they grew.

This year I asked my daughters if they ever thought they would want one of their own when thy start their own families. To my great pleasure, they said YES! 

This year we’ve had to scale back on our gift buying. That’s okay. Because it forces me to really refocus on the meaning and purpose and blessings of life. I’m usually not the type to get all caught up in the hype anyway, but it’s been so good to come back to the basics.
The greatest gifts are not wrapped in ribbons and bows but in flesh and bone.

Unexpected Gains in the Gym

Yeah. I’m one of those. With my first step into the gym I cop a major attitude. I’m determined to dominate my work out. It’s Me vs Me. I’m not there to chit chat, although I may say,”Hi”, or a few words in passing. But I’m there to work. So I put in my ear buds, turn my music to Classic Rock on Pandora, strap on my arm band, and stalk into the weight room.

Recently, however, I had a confrontation with a gym member. I’ve worked at and worked out at my gym for over 10 years and this was a first. It was mid morning and, honestly, I was pumped and kicking butt. I turned around to grab a needed set of dumbbells and they were sitting over by a bench press. I looked around and no one, I mean no one was using them. So I made my way over, picked them up and repped out a set of bicep curls, put them back down and continued on. I was in the zone and loving it!

I continued to work through my sets from one piece of equipment to the next when I needed that same pair of dumbbells. This time, the gym member who removed the pair in the first place was doing step ups on the bench press bench while the dumbbells sat beside the bench unused. I figured since they were just sitting there the guy surely wouldn’t mind if I repped out my second set as long as I put them right back for him to use. Boy, was I wrong. When I asked him if I could just use them real quick he stated that he was about to use them even though he was STILL stepping up on the bench. I assured him I’d be done very quickly and put them right back. I was and I did.

However, by the time I needed them for my third set he was using them for dead lifts so I went on to something else until they were available again. The next thing I know, the guy walks up to me and begins to tell me I was very rude for using the weights after he told me he would need them. I reminded him that at the moment I picked them up they were not in use and it was rude of him to not re rack the weights for others to use in between his sets. A few more words were exchanged and he stormed off telling me he was going to speak to the facility manager who just happened to be my boss and I knew he’d back me up. I went about my workout while I watched the guy tattle on me. I hopped on the elliptical to finish up some cardio when the guy walked over and apologized. I assured him it was okay and we all just need to work together when we have to share the weights.

But then I began to really think about it. I’m very self motivated and passionate about my health and fitness. I would be considered a gym rat by some. I have my workouts planned each day and am completely confident in the weight room. If someone is using a machine or weight I need I’ll ask to work in with them or bounce to something else until it’s available. And I welcome others to do the same with me. But not everyone is that way. Some people are very systematic and don’t like their flow interrupted. Some haven’t belonged to a gym very long and don’t know common gym courtesies. Some lack confidence and if a confident person who “knows the ropes” wants to work in, and more or less steps in to use their designated weights, it can seem rude.

By the time I left the gym that morning I wasn’t angry anymore. I actually felt compassion for the guy and his own unique work out style. I also left with a little more understanding and patience for those that don’t know common courtesy even though it’s frustrating at times.

Today, weeks after that incident, I ran into the same guy. He was friendly and asked how I was. As we conversed he shared he had some major back issues that were a continual problem and had kept him from the gym. I was reminded that each person has a story and not to judge too harshly when they don’t operate in the gym like I think they should.

I’m still going to walk in to the gym with every intention of dominating my works outs. It’s still Me vs Me. And along with gains in my health and fitness, I’ve gained more patience and understanding.

In Praise of Age

One month from today I will turn 50 years old. I don’t feel a day over 30. Wait, isn’t 50 the new 30, anyway?

As of today, I’ve been married to my husband, Mike, for over 27 years. Mostly, happily ;) We have a son playing college football who has his Senior Day ceremony and game this Saturday. He is an athlete/actor and will be inducted into the Theatre Honor Society this month.

Our oldest daughter launched out on her own and moved to Hollywood, Ca., where she is pursuing her acting career. She just booked her first movie but I am sworn to secrecy about the details until her contract is signed and finalized.

And my youngest daughter is a Junior in high school and has all kinds of ideas of what she’d like to do with her future. But for now, she is my social butterfly working a part time job to support her Starbuck’s habit.

As I look back over my entire life, starting from the now, I stand in awe of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. There are stories that I could tell you that would make your jaw drop or reduce you to tears. There are stories I could tell you that would make you double over in laughter or shake your head in disbelief.

In it all and through it all, God has woven, and will continue to weave, a tapestry of my life. The colors and textures vary. Some of it is smooth and lush and some of it is rough and raw. But it is my own unique story that, as I look back, I thank God for. I am at an age that I have seen the faithfulness of the Master Weaver in my life and so I don’t need to worry about the future. I can trust His strong and skillful hands and the yarns, threads, and fabrics He chooses to use to continue to weave my story as it yet unfolds. Would I choose different patterns and designs. Probably. And the tapestry I would weave would probably be very dull and boring and would lack vibrancy and interest.

Each day, I am embracing turning 50 more and more. My future looks beautiful to me because I know who weaves it. 

The 12th Man

Photo: Are you familiar with The 12th Man? It's an actual term that describes the fans in the stadiums at NFL games. A football team plays 11 players and they consider the fans the 12th "player". </p>
<p>But there’s one place where the 12th Man rises above all others and that is The 12th Man of the Seattle Seahawks. From the kickoff until the last second ticks off the clock, The 12th Man stands in glorious roar for their team. The decibel level of their battle cry is more than that of a jet airplane at 100meters. They cause such a disruption for the other team that they have to create physical signs for the QB to use so he can communicate to his offense. They have been honored by the city of Seattle and beloved by the Seahawks players. Although, the 12th Man has never set one foot on the field, he is as much a part of the game as the players. </p>
<p>I wonder today, as I travel to my son’s football game in Mississippi, how you and I can be The 12th Man to those in our lives. You will absolutely see me paint up and holler until I have no voice in support of my son and his team. And they love it! But, it occurred to me, that there are those that I encounter day in and day out that need a cheerleader. And honestly, I’m the worst at that.</p>
<p>My mind is wired to always look for ways to improve this or that. Whether it’s my own kids at home, my husband, my job, or countless other places and people I come in contact with, my mind goes into auto pilot and starts restructuring everything and everyone. And with my coach-like mentality, I feel obligated to help them out! </p>
<p>What if I, what if WE, decided to be the biggest fans in the lives of those around us instead of analyzing, criticizing, and agonizing over their choices and decisions? I don’t know. Maybe this is only for me today.</p>
<p>But The 12th Man makes an incredible impact on the players and the outcome of the game.<br />
Just a little something to think about today.</p>
<p>Oh, and GOOO BLUE RAIDERS!!!” src=”<a href=https://scontent-b-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/p480x480/1382996_653081438058850_2125505190_n.jpg&#8221; />Are you familiar with The 12th Man? It’s an actual term that describes the fans in the stadiums at NFL games. A football team plays 11 players and they consider the fans the 12th “player”. 

But there’s one place where the 12th Man rises above all others and that is The 12th Man of the Seattle Seahawks. From the kickoff until the last second ticks off the clock, The 12th Man stands in glorious roar for their team. The decibel level of their battle cry is more than that of a jet airplane at 100meters. They cause such a disruption for the other team that they have to create physical signs for the QB to use so he can communicate to his offense. They have been honored by the city of Seattle and beloved by the Seahawks players. Although, the 12th Man has never set one foot on the field, he is as much a part of the game as the players. 

I wonder today, as I travel to my son’s football game in Mississippi, how you and I can be The 12th Man to those in our lives. You will absolutely see me paint up and holler until I have no voice in support of my son and his team. And they love it! But, it occurred to me, that there are those that I encounter day in and day out that need a cheerleader. And honestly, I’m the worst at that.

My mind is wired to always look for ways to improve this or that. Whether it’s my own kids at home, my husband, my job, or countless other places and people I come in contact with, my mind goes into auto pilot and starts restructuring everything and everyone. And with my coach-like mentality, I feel obligated to help them out! 

What if I, what if WE, decided to be the biggest fans in the lives of those around us instead of analyzing, criticizing, and agonizing over their choices and decisions? I don’t know. Maybe this is only for me today.

But The 12th Man makes an incredible impact on the players and the outcome of the game.
Just a little something to think about today.

Oh, and GOOO BLUE RAIDERS!!

A New Thought About Prayer

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I’m almost 50. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior when I was 14. From that time on I have attended church faithfully. When I was younger I attended a church that taught the Bible with excellence. Eventually, I got married and a couple years into our marriage my husband felt called into the ministry. He was a pastor for about 15 years. For the past 20 years he has worked for a non profit Christian radio station. I was always involved in Bible studies, classes, and conferences. I even lead a small prayer group for quite some time.

I share all this to say that I’ve heard my fair share of sermons on prayer. I’ve learned about men and women that are considered prayer warriors. I’ve heard and read stories about how God did miracles after a prayer. I pray. I pray for family, and friends, and needs, and situations. I thank God in prayer. And I confess my sins through prayer. But deep in the back of my mind I’ve always had this lingering thought,”I’ll pray, but God’s going to do what He is going to do anyway”. Now, this thought didn’t keep me from praying about anything. It was just there.

Recently, I joined a Writer’s Website so I can learn more about becoming a better writer. It’s a Christian based website and they had posted a talk by a woman named Luann Prater. Her talk was titled,”Preparing for the Battle Through Prayer”. Her basic point was that when we step up to be used by God through writing or speaking we will be attacked spiritually. I can’t remember what she specifically said when my mind really started to think,”Hold up! God certainly can accomplish His will without another human being. But, He gives us the chance to participate on His team. Kinda’ like football. He is the owner AND the coach. He is the center AND the quarterback. But He allows us to catch the ball and run while He blocks for us.” I love football, by the way.

This self talk in the form of a football word picture blew my mind! Yes, there are probably more reasons for prayer that prayer warriors much smarter than me can come up with. But this word picture was just for me. It gave me a new excitement and desire to pray. It made me feel more useful and important to God. I know, I know. The fact that Jesus died for me should make me feel important and you don’t even know how much this DOES mean to me. But I guess viewing prayer in this fresh way just added more importance to my purpose in life.

It may be old news to you. But it certainly was a new thought about prayer for me. PRAYER gives us the chance to PARTICIPATE on God’s team.

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