Sunday, December 18, 2016

All in Good Time

I love doing life with this guy. He makes me smile!
Patience isn't always a virtue I possess. That being said, Jesse has taught me that sometimes it is best to let people figure things out in their own time. Deep down I knew this, but times it is hard to sit back and let things happen.

I have always loved Jesse. I honestly think the first time I talked to him on the phone I knew there was something special there. It would be three months before we ever met in person, but I already knew I loved him. It didn't take me seeing him in real life to figure that out. The fact that he had a few pounds extra around his middle didn't phase me when it came to my love for him.

We both love food. For both of us a large part of our upbringing was centered around food, family and love. Jesse has always loved food, and loved it in large portions. How could he not? His mom loved to cook and bake, and she was AMAZING at it. I remember when we were dating and I visited him in Texas I kept liking one thing more than the other.

BUT, while we both loved food, over the years I grew to know how important staying healthy and exercising was to my overall well-being. Unless it was a holiday or something I tried to watch my portions and exercise regularly. On the other hand, Jesse does not like to exercise and usually had the theory, "Go big or go home," when it came to food.

Over our 10 + years of dating and marriage, the topic of Jesse's weight has come up on multiple occasions, and I know it was at times a source of tension. While I knew the decision to live a healthier lifestyle had to be on his own time, at times I was impatient. I wasn't sure if I was suppose to encourage him or leave it alone. I always prayed he knew I encouraged him not because I want a husband with a 6-pack, but because I wanted to inspire him to think about his quality of life in the years down the road.

The Decision
Needless to say, I was shocked when after Thanksgiving he took the plunge and joined Weight Watchers. I have a guess, but I'm not entirely sure what spurred that decision to be made. I wasn't going to complain! Needless to say I have been blown away by Jesse's dedication to the program. He has been diligent with entering all of his points, and he is doing an amazing job. I'm so happy for him, and SO PROUD to say that he has lost 18 pounds since Thanksgiving! Portion control...portion control...portion control...

I guess I haven't been all gushy about this at home or overwhelmed him with high-fives or gabbed about it endlessly for fear of jinxing it, but I wrote this blog so he knows that I'm bursting inside with pride, with joy and so much more! There are times it is rough for him. For instance, last week someone at work had a birthday, and he said no to a piece of cake because just one piece of cake was 23 Weight Watchers points. When he told me he turned that down I did a happy dance inside.

There are so many reasons I'm proud he is my husband and father to our children. If it is all possible, I'm now more proud of him than ever for choosing to take charge of his health. I'm proud of him because in him choosing this journey it has me looking at my eating habits as well and making appropriate changes. I'm proud because I know this is NOT easy for him.

Better Together
Jesse's change to improve his health has spread into other areas of life as well which are also having a positive impact on me. He started to do more goal setting and scheduling with things both in his personal and work life. Knowing that I need to make a change both at home and with my It Works business as well I'm ready to get 2017 off to a great start. Check back for a future blog on that topic as well!

It is crazy to say, but I honestly think that with these changes in our lives it is bringing us closer together. I think we are communicating better than ever, Not that we were ever down in the dumps or gave each other the silent treatment, but it seems like our overall moods have improved as well. There have been more laughs, more stories shared, more special moments, etc. I thank God for this, and so much more, every day.

Simply put...I'm excited. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

In One Fell Swoop

The counselor gently asks her, "Do you think you have a good relationship with your parents?"
The young girl sheepishly looks at her mom and quietly answers, "No, not really."

And in one fell swoop, the pieces of this mom's heart come tumbling do her tears.

The Unexpected Journey
When one dreams about being a parent, you know there will be challenges along the way. One would be naive if you thought parenthood would be a walk in the park. You throw out various scenarios to prep yourself, and in your mind you think, "I got this. WE got this." I mean, our parents survived, so we should be able to, correct? I always thought that if I could be just HALF the mom that my mom was to me, I'd be doing OK.

But then the unexpected happens. This young girl, my own daughter, who has always loved school comes home on the first day this fall in tears. Over the next few weeks and months those tears turn into emotional and physical outbursts of varying degree. She holds it in everywhere BUT at home. The thought of someone seeing her "exposed" and "real" terrifies her. The result is that home is her safe place to let her explosion of feelings emerge. The explosions leave remnants everywhere, whether emotional or physical in nature. Some days are good, but some days there are multiple episodes. Then the episodes end by her "crashing." In tears this young girl expresses her fear of not knowing where this behavior was coming from or why it was happening. Seeing my daughter at her weakest moments of despair has brought me to tears on multiple occasions.

We've often used the term "strong-willed" to describe her, and I don't think that has changed. In the beginning of this escalated behavior we reacted to this behavior with consequences and reactions that matched the behavior. Then the realization that this is more than a strong-willed child acting out becomes very apparent. A professional diagnosis is given and this mom (and dad) starts to see things in a new and very unexpected way. Our daughter is struggling internally with anxiety, anger, and fear. A mom watching her daughter try to cope with some mental health issues was not in the game plan for parenting. 

So, now each day brings the wonder of how it will unfold. Will there be a meltdown over a ponytail that doesn't look "just right?" Will our daughter writhe on the floor in anguish over which outfit to pick? Will there be shouts of frustration over a letter or number not being made perfectly? What if out of 10 assignments she gets only one question wrong, will that result in a night of fretting? Will every little look from her sister send her into a fit? What if our plans have to change....what reaction will there be? What if her candy cane breaks again? What if she gets redirected at school? What if a classmate says something she takes out of context? What if....what if....I feel like I'm walking on eggshells in my home. I have quickly realized that what is a molehill to me is in reality her MOUNTAIN. It is so...very....tiring. 

Bit by bit this mom's heart and inner strength starts to get chipped away. I try to hold strong. A mother's love continues through it all, even when my patience is holding on by the thinnest thread...when my mind can think of nothing else but how to help. It has become all-consuming.

The decision to get some help was made. So here we sat in a cozy office, feeling safe. I slowly felt myself coming unhinged listening to our daughter's thoughts. When the simple question mentioned above resulted in that answer, in one fell swoop this mom's heart most definitely caved in. Crushed. Smashed to smithereens.

At first I thought I was overreacting. Did she really know what she had been asked? Was she being serious with her answer? Moms know their children, their mannerisms, facial expressions, voice inflections, etc. and this was a time that I knew she was sincere. There have been many hurtful things said during these episodes, but this by far took the cake because it hit at the very core of parenting.

Suddenly flashbacks came rushing in, considering how reactions and things perceived all this time quite possibly looked to this young girl. When our impatience and frustration of not knowing what was happening could not be hidden in our voices. Did she think she wasn't loved? A parent's worst fear. I have feared this since the beginning, but now it has exploded ten-fold. These days I think about very little besides this.

The Comfort
There is help. I'm so very grateful we have found someone I trust wholeheartedly to walk us through this unexpected journey. I know it won't be easy, but we are looking forward to finding some trigger points and how we can help her cope.

Our faith....our hope...our comfort is in Him. What a comfort that my life and the life of my daughter was known since the beginning of time. That God knew that the best mom for this young girl would be the very one that stands by her now, loving her unconditionally. Loving her through the tantrums and fears, the writhing and foot stomping. Loving her through the anxious and fearful moments. Loving her and sharing with her that she has been forgiven.

What a comfort for this young girl that even though she worries about making sure things are "just right" with her world right now, that there is one who has made everything right. That while she may struggle for months, maybe years, and possibly a lifetime with some semblance of anxiety, her comfort and assurance comes from our Lord, the promise of salvation and the knowledge that our eternal home will have no fear.

So this mom starts on an unexpected journey. We will build up those pieces that have crumbled down. Step by step. Piece by piece. Hug by hug.

Simply daughter, you are loved.

I was contemplating various titles for this blog while I picked up some toys.  Jesse had constructed a rather tall Lego tower with the girls.
At the exact moment when "In One Fell Swoop" came into my mind, this tower came crashing down on one fell swoop. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Lifetime of Love and Laughter

Dearest Z,

As I write this you are sitting with your BFF (as you refer to her). You worked hard to earn a reward of going to the local coffee shop to get a cup of cocoa and a dessert. Before we left you told me you had SO many things to talk about. I couldn't help but wonder what 2nd graders really need to discuss at length, but I did smile knowing all the deep and heartfelt conversations with friends that will be in store for you someday. For today, you are content to play an intense card game while sipping on cocoas from your "adult" looking cups.

You probably already know this, but I often pray for you, and today I find myself praying that you always see the beauty and blessings of friendship. This year has been tough for of your best friends moved away, and your other best friend is in a different classroom this year. I know it is hard for your 2nd grade mind to comprehend life beyond today and your two BFFs. I'm so excited for you to walk through life and meet so many new people. Whether God blesses you with a few good friends or a whole crowd of them, I pray you treasure each and every one. If I had to rank my blessings, the friendships I hold so dear would be near the top.

Z, even though at times you bicker with your sister, in time you will grow to see how she really is one of your greatest friends. While other friends will come and go in life, sisters are your forever friends.

Z, different stages of life will bring different friends to you, and they will all mean a little something different to you. They will ALL be special, but each in their own way because those friends were there for you when you experienced hundreds of different things at different times in your life. I wouldn't trade them for the world. My high school college friends...friends I made during my first years out teaching that were almost more like family...former students...friends when I moved back to New club friends here in It Works and school friends....fellow parents, etc. The list could go on. It isn't meant to brag about how many friends I have, but to show you that your two BFFs now will multiply as the years go on. Blessings abound.

Here I am with my college friends at a reunion this summer.
It has been 16 plus years since we graduated, but it was like no time has passed.
We laughed, we cried, we ate, and then we laughed again.

Allow me to share a few more reasons why a true friend is such a blessing...

You know a true friend when it has been years since you've seen them, but once you are together it takes just a minute and it feels like you just saw them yesterday.

 A true friend loves you for who you are, even though you might be quite different from them.

When you are at your lowest, they know whether to just listen and be a shoulder to cry on or give advice.

They help you pick out clothes for a first date.

They pull long study sessions with you in college, and then go grab a bread bowl at Perkins.

They laugh with you.

A good friend swaps clothes with you.

They know all your quirks and find them endearing.

They do your makeup for you on your wedding day.

They support you.

They don't judge you when you wear your yoga pants again and your house is a mess.

They laugh with you.

In a bind they'll watch your kids for you.

They will surprise you with a coffee at work.

They encourage you to reach your goals.

You have secret stories or jokes that no one else will understand.

A good friend knows when you need a girls' night out.

Have I mentioned they laugh with you? A good laugh with a great friend is truly one of the best kinds of medicine in life. Laugh loud, laugh long, and laugh until you cry. 

I could go on and on about the blessings of friendship, but I think you understand the point I'm trying to make. So, go ahead and dive into this wonderful world full of endless opportunities to meet amazing people along the way. You will be amazed when you turn 40 (like I am now) and look back and see how all of these once upon a time strangers are now a vast array of friends that have a piece of you.

Simply put...laugh hard, love big, and be thankful for your blessings.


Monday, October 17, 2016

It's All TECH to Me

I try. I do. I really, REALLY do. But, try as I might I'll never be able to speak "tech." I will also not be able to understand it, explain it, or truthfully care about anything tech-like. When someone starts to talk technology, I feel myself falling into this abyss of confusion and lethargy. For someone inept in all things techy, the struggle is real.

...I'm the gal that was honestly stumped a week ago when someone asked me if I had an iPhone or an Android. Honestly...I have no clue. If you offered me $1,000 to tell you one difference between the two I would walk away with no money. To me a phone is a phone. Can I call, text and take pictures? Great, I'll take it.

...The Cloud. I just had Jesse explain it to me...again. As long as I know my files are safe, I'm good.

...BYTES. Honestly. What in the world. Jesse starts saying "bytes" and I think of food. Like how big of a bite of deep dish pizza can I take? As a visual he wrote out the differences between the different bytes, like megabyte vs. kilobyte, gigabyte vs. terabyte. This can be best represented to me in a visual. For instance, if I stacked Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on top of each other, and each cup represented one byte, which stack would be taller. Now that has me doing math....

I tried to actually use Reese's to understand bytes and their different sizes,
but Jesse then tuned me into the fact that if 1 peanut butter cup = 1 byte and there are
 approximately 35 cups in a bag, I'd need 30,000 bags for a megabyte.
Now THAT I can comprehend because that is something I can actually BITE into. 

Here is where I feel badly. Since Jesse works at an IT Company in town, technology is a big part of his life. It is something he is truly interested in it, and as his wife I'd love to be supportive and listen and show I care, but it is tough when I have NO clue what he is talking about. That, and to be frank, it bores me...very much like every science class I ever took.

So, welcome to some realistic scenes in the life of a wife married to an employee at an IT company.

Jesse walks into the door as I'm once again whipping up a domestic diva's dream supper of mac'n cheese.

Sarah: Welcome home, honey! How was your day?
Jesse: Well, today I had fun trying to identify the age of a PC with our RMM tool because it's a white box and only reports the serial number on the motherboard and the manufacturer is less than helpful. After that, I had to update the quoting templates for our server options because the processors on the Gen 9's switched from v3 to v4 and the speed has increased on the DDR4 Ram.

Cue my faraway look and random thoughts...
Sarah: Can he see the emptiness in my brain where all tech knowledge should be? If I respond with "Sorry about that," will he end this conversation thinking I understood what he said or will it make him keep talking? Maybe I hear the girls fighting and I should go break that up. Why does it matter if it is a white box? I think a teal one would look cool. Did he say something about a mother? I need to call my mom tomorrow. Wait, focus!! 

The girls are in bed and we are relaxing and catching up on some episodes of Longmire while he blogs or tinkers on his computer and I'm probably doing something for my It Works business. Suddenly, with a burst of enthusiasm Jesse pumps his fist in the air.

Jesse: Yes, I DID it! I installed three different OSs in VMs on the desktop of my laptop in an hour. Now I can run Ubuntu as my daily driver and use the VMs to test other operating symptoms.
Yup, I wrote nothing there because due to the time of day my faraway look is now just a completely blank stare. I'm also too tired at this point of the night to have the energy for random thoughts much less the effort to ask any questions. Instead, I give him the classic "I'm so sorry I'm unable to understand but honey I'm really proud of you" look.

I'm sure there are others of you out there that can relate. I'm sure we all have a spouse, a family member or friend that has some talent or interest that you could really give two hoots about, but because we love them and care for them we listen to them. We rejoice in their victories (even if they have to explain them multiple times) and comfort them in their struggles.

The crazy thing with me is that while the topic of technology wants to make me take a nap, it is pretty crucial to our (and my) every day living. If you would take away my phone and my computer away for a bit I would struggle. I know I would survive and life would go on, but you have to admit technology has streamlined our lives. I depend on it for so many things from connecting with my family and friends to running my business. I'm blessed to have a husband that gets the tech stuff. I don't get it, but I'm glad he does.

I know there are several things I'm interested in and talk about that make Jesse zone out, but at the end of the day I know he cares about me and supports me in all I do. I just hope he sees that in return.

Simply put...the connection is processing. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Beautiful Exhaustion

The other night my 2nd grader was getting out of the bath, and in her overtired state insisted she was too tired to dry herself off. As she stood there with water dripping around her she pulled out the big guns and said,

"Mom, I think you, as a Mom, have no idea what it means to be truly tired."

I instantly had about a million sarcastic (but true) comments to this, but I kept silent, knowing that saying anything at this point would just make the situation of a temperamental overtired child even worse. Instead, allow me to share the hashtags I used when posting this latest zinger from my daughter on Facebook.

#whatdidyoujustsay   #youhavetobekiddingme   #ohmyword   #icanteven

This is the part of the quote that literally made me laugh out loud (ok, internally) the most. Of anything, or anybody, mothers everywhere know exactly what it means to be truly tired. Her statement still would have made me laugh, but the fact that she added the "as a Mom" part really got me going.

Before I have everyone up in arms about how they are tired too, I realize that. I don't deny that everyone, no matter what stage in life you are going through at this time, does get tired. My point, though, is motherhood takes it to a whole other level. This is written to be humorous, but everything said is the dead-honest truth. Ask your mom, or your wife, or your best friend or cousin that is a get the idea.

When she said I have no idea what it means to be TRULY (I also love that she added that for emphasis) tired I immediately thought about both physical and mental exhaustion. Let's start with the physical side.

From the moment you become a Mom you are physically exhausted. Having a human growing inside of you is no easy task. Even when your baby is still the size of a pea or a blueberry or whatever the piece of food they equate it to at that point in your pregnancy, you are tired. Talk about first trimester tired. The feeling of waking up but needing to go back to sleep, or taking multiple naps during the day then wanting to go to bed at 8 PM. OK, who am I kidding, 6 PM is a normal bedtime. From those early months just continues.

Physical exhaustion reigns supreme when:
- 2nd and 3rd trimester tiredness is compounded by swollen legs, migraines, aching backs and sleepless nights due to multiple bathroom stops.
- Labor turns into a 24 hour ordeal and you get NO sleep because back labor is so intense. 
- Those first months of multiple feedings and diaper changes every night become your normal. You are so tired you put the diaper on backwards. It does NOT help when your husband wakes up the next morning and says, "The baby slept pretty well last night." Really?!?!? What room were you in?
- When post pregnancy hormones get out of control and you have severe insomnia for 4 months. Never ever have I so detested the sound of cheerful chirping birds in the morning. I wanted to cry from utter exhaustion. But I couldn't cry because I was too tired.
- You are so tired you don't want to shower or clean the baby spit up off your yoga pants. But, when you are a working mom you have no choice. Having to be presentable for work saved me from falling into the abyss of hygienic despair.
- What about those sleepless nights with sick kids? Like when you share your bed with your allergy-induced asthmatic daughter to make sure she keeps breathing? Or when the other one tops out at 6 night terrors spreading over the course of the night resulting in 2 hours of sleep for you? Or when you are on puke clean-up/bed sheet change #4 of the night after they have projectile vomited 6 feet into the air and....then...wait for it....they vomit once all over you. You are so tired you peel off the icky clothes and just climb into bed. 
- Another doozy is when they get older and you are chasing your littles all over the house, or the park (or the store!).  Once they are in motion the exhaustion of up, down, here, there takes over. Added to that are the pleas to "Watch me, Mommy!" "Push me on the swing, Mommy!" "Pick me up, Mommy!" "Let's play tag, Mommy!"
- Through this all you still fold the laundry, do the dishes, grocery shop, etc. Life as you know it doesn't stop. Tired...tired....tired...

As they age things change and they start sleeping through the night and they are able to entertain themselves at the park so the physical exhaustion ebbs a bit. While that side ebbs, the emotional exhaustion that has been there since Day 1 just continues, and quite possibly intensifies.

- Moms are probably their own worst critic. "Am I doing this right? What does the best-selling book say about this? The internet? I've only checked on 74 websites."
- The emotional exhaustion of knowing "that part" of your life will not be making a resurgence anytime soon.
- Discipline. "Are we doing this right? Why are they behaving like that?"
- The internal comparison game with other moms. "Why can't I be like her? She makes motherhood and family life look so easy."
- "Do they know how much I love them?"
- "Does my husband know how much I still love him? It is hard to make time for us these days."
-  How do I balance it all?

I am well aware that the lists above could have LOTS of other bulleted items, and there would be a wide variety for all the different moms out there. I intended this to be a comical look into the life of a mom, but realize I probably came away sounding like I'm complaining. That was most certainly NOT my intent. In the end, I (and I think a large majority of moms) would do it all again. I know the tiredness we feel now is temporary. Our eternal heavenly home will be one with no pain, no stress, no tears, and lots of rest.

Someday the physical exhaustion will be gone. God-willing our girls will be grown up and out on their own, maybe raising their own kids. Jesse and I will be at our dream lake house. He will probably be fishing and I'll be sipping coffee and reading a good book. While I often dream for a quiet moment like that now, I know years from now I'll be wishing I was pushing them on the swings at the park, packing up everything to go to the pool, taking another bike ride, or picking them up in a big hug. The emotional exhaustion I'm assuming will have taken a slightly different role...constantly wondering and praying for them wherever they are in whatever stage of life they are in.

So what soothes this exhaustion? At the end of the day, when you hit your breaking point both mentally and physically, and your child gives you the biggest hug and kiss and says, "I love you, Mom." 

BOOM. And there it is. At those words my body and heart just melt. Then I get up and do it again tomorrow.

Simply put...this is a beautiful life. 

This quote was said on one of those physically and emotionally exhausting days.
She was 4 years old at the time, and I dearly loved her perspective. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Invisible Line

When you run a race, you know where the starting line is and you know where the finish line will be. Sometimes it is 3.1 miles away, sometimes 13.1, and for all those die-hard runners it could 26.2 miles away. You might not be able to physically see the finish line, but you know what must be done to get there.

Last week I ran a 5K, and the starting line and finish line were the same. I knew I had to get back to the big arch of purple and white balloons. That was the seventh 5K race I've done, and I'm by no means a professional runner, so for all of you awesome runners out there read this in relation to a much longer race. I just picked running up about 5 years ago and do these little races to challenge myself. During that race my thoughts turned towards completing goals, and this It Works journey I am on.

Last year I had set a PR in this race, and I was hoping to hit that mark again (or beat it). I knew it would be tough for me since I hadn't had the greatest sleep the last 2 nights. Here is how it progressed...

Mile One: I was ahead of my PR pace.

Mile Two: I was still ahead of my PR pace.

But then as Mile Three began we suddenly turned into the wind and my tired body took over. I can pretty easily run a 5K (albeit not quickly), so for me to falter after 2 miles was unusual for me. My legs started dragging, but I kept pushing my body because I knew how much further I had to go. I continued to push on because I knew the mile markers were marking my journey and I could SEE the finish line. Off in the distance those purple and white balloons were blowing in the wind. My mind talked my body out of stopping...I just had a little more to go.

But...what if I hadn't been able to see the finish line? Would I have had the gumption to keep going? What about you...What if someone told you to go run a race, but you didn't know how long it would be or when you would ever see that finish line? You have a goal of finishing the race, but you just have no idea how long it will take. Would you have the endurance to keep going? Would you keep fighting for that goal?

This got me to thinking about my It Works journey. I am going to be very real and open here. I have had doubts lately because my 3 year anniversary is fast approaching and I am not close to where I thought I'd be. I contemplated throwing in the towel. As I ran it got me to analyze why I felt like I could throw in the towel on a business I have worked so hard for, but yet when my body wanted to collapse last week my mind was able to convince it to keep going. WHY!?!?

For me, it is because I could SEE the finish line. I knew if I pushed for 5 or 10 minutes more the END would be in sight. But, with It Works we are given no timeline for our goals. No one says, if you work hard for 3 months you'll hit Ruby (a promotional level in our company). Or, push hard for 10 months and you know at the end you'll be a Diamond. For that reason myself and others might lose motivation to reach our goal because we can't SEE it. There are no purple and white balloons (in our case they would be black and green) blowing in the distance to lead us to that goal.

So, how do you keep your endurance to reach your goals? For me, when I run a race I start right away by picking a person in front of me and then I chase them. When I pass them, then I pick another and chase them, and then another, and so on. Eventually I cross that finish line. With It Works my "runner" is one of the reasons I started this journey in the first place. I'm looking to help my family with our financial struggles. Shouldn't that keep me going? But, truth be told, it is hard to keep pushing. I KNOW it is great motivation, but the drive and motivation is harder to maintain when no finish line is given.

I have quickly realized that with anything in life be it business related or not, I can't lose sight of the finish line, even though I never have been given a set time to know when I'll cross it. I need to stay motivated (chase those runners) along the way to keep moving by setting incremental goals along the way. And, in the end, I have to remember that every little goal along the way (no matter the size of the runner you are chasing) is a successful journey.

But, unlike a race, my finish line will keep moving. Once I cross that Ruby finish line, my next finish line will be Emerald and so on.

I didn't make my PR last week. At first I was upset about it, but then I thought....No way, I still should be proud because I accomplished my goal. My race wasn't how I planned it, but I DID it. Will it take me 3 1/2 years to hit Ruby? 5? Only God knows that. I just need to keep setting one goal at a time and enjoy the journey along the way.

Simply put....

"The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race."
- Unknown - 

This summer, when I ran on the beach in Oregon I felt like I could run forever. There was no visual end in sight, much like setting goals that have no visual end or time constraint to them. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me!

There are times that you just have to shake your head in wonder. I have found in parenting (and working at a school) you tend to do that multiple times a day. Sometimes it might be a little shake, other times you feel like you head might snap off in disgust...or surprise....or joy.  Well, today it happened. Any working parent will be able to relate with the following scenario....

I'm a paraprofessional at the Middle School here in town. We had a LONG summer. A new high school was being constructed, and a lot of construction was also being done on the three other school buildings. All in all, our summer was almost 4 months long. Yes, 4 MONTHS LONG. That alone can make a person say, "Are you kidding me?" A long summer can be a great thing, but to a mom it can be rough. After two months your children are sick of all the trips to the park and the pool and all the other "fun" and "creative" ideas you tried to dream up. They start to turn on you (but it isn't my fault!) and each other.

Needless to say, there was much rejoicing when our first day of school rolled around. My girls don't go to the school I work at, so they started last week. Today was my glorious first day of school. My first day at work in 4 months. For 4 months I never had to fear them getting sick and me having to call in and request time off because I had 4 incredible months off of work! With that being said, I picked out an outfit to wear (yes, I'm 40), had my new lunchbox packed and I was ready to face the first day with a smile on my face.

It almost was not meant to be. In the past she is the one we have to drag out of bed, and she often struggles with a morning routine. We started the morning OK with my husband doing an excellent job of covering up the fact that the Tooth Fairy forgot (again) to come visit last night. But then she started complaining about a headache, and she does tend to get them. It quickly spiraled into not wanting to eat, being SO tired, etc. We were trying our best to get her ready and out the door, but it was not meant to be. Seven minutes before I was scheduled to leave for my first day of work she threw up multiple times in the living room. Instantly I knew that headache was one of her migraines that intensified to the stage of making her vomit.

But, I couldn't help thinking (and quite possibly stating out loud to my husband), "Seriously!?!? SERIOUSLY!?!? This is my first day back to work in 4 months and it is the first time our children have gotten sick in 4 months" Unreal.

It all worked out just fine. Jesse was able to stay home with her, but it just left me shaking my head once again. Call it cheesy but I would like to quote The Shirelles by saying, "Momma said there'll be days like this...."

In the end, this head shaking business worked out just fine just like it usually does. Hopefully, though, Day 2 will not be quite as eventful. I do work at a middle school, though, so anything is possible.  :)

Simply put....tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mom, I'm OK

There are few words that stir up such a mixed batch of emotions in me as does this one: PARENTING.

Before children I looked at the whole concept of "parenting" in probably a naive way. I grew up in a family of 5 children, and somehow my parents made parenting look quite easy. I'd like to say it was because we were all little angels, but I know that isn't true. My guess is that to some extent my parents went through the same gamut of emotions I feel as a parent. If not, I hope some other parent reading this is nodding their head so I know I'm not the only one.

From the first time your child grabs onto your finger, and then your hand, you want them to know you will never let go. You got this, right?? Right!?!? But then the first sleepless night happens or they start crying uncontrollably and you don't know what is wrong....then you start to think that there is much to learn. Parenting is challenging yet rewarding, complex but yet at times so simple, rewarding yet so frustrating, tiring yet so energizing...and the list could go on. And, just when I think I've mastered something, I'm taught something new. 

These past two days have twice taught me how resilient children can be, even your own. As a parent you know your children's personalities and what makes them tick. You prepare for each new adventure accordingly. You make sure all the landmines are avoided. You tread carefully. Then the unexpected happens and you are surprised.

Hold on, girls. I'm here...and I'm learning.
Scenario #1
Our older daughter has always been strong willed to the core. She is confident in most situations and likes to do things on her own. Case in point, when she started Kindergarten I walked her in the first day. The second day she didn't want me to get out of the car, and as she walked away she said, "I got this, Mom." Well, OK then....As most of the other moms walked their children inside I sat in my car and tried not to be offended that my child didn't need/want me there. I attempted to make myself feel better by saying a prayer of thanks that my daughter will have the confidence to face many things in life. 

From the time she started all-day preschool she has always enjoyed school. I think last year she maybe complained about a little bit of math homework, but she did it. So, needless to say I was surprised when I picked her up from the first day of 2nd grade yesterday with a sheepish look on her face. By the time we got home there were tears rolling down her face. It doesn't really matter why, it was more the fact that this was so unusual for her. Due to the nature of the tears, I was expecting this to hit her quite hard. 

I was wrong. This girl is resilient. We chatted about the day, and after she had time to soak it in and get a little TV time to unwind she was back at it. By the time my husband got home she was having a dance party with her sister. She was ready to go back out there and tackle the world, and today she was ready to get back to school. 

Scenario #2
Our younger daughter is, in many ways, a polar opposite of her sister. She is much more of a free spirit and has always been more shy than our eldest. Cuddles and hugs are her thing, and she tends to stick close by my side in new environments. It takes her a bit to get acclimated to new people as well. She also went to an all-day preschool, and the first few days of that were not easy ones for her.

Knowing this, I thought the first day of Kindergarten might be a tough one for her. Not only is it a new room and a new teacher and new friends and new expectations, once I leave she wouldn't have my hand to hold onto.

Today was the big day. We found her room and her locker and got her things put away. She went into the classroom and signed in and picked her lunch option. No words were spoken, but she didn't need to because I could tell it all by the look on her face. It is a look she gets when she is taking it all in, and that look was very present today as well. Her teddy bear she was allowed to bring from home was in one hand, and with the other she made sure I was close by. Then it was time to say "goodbye."

Once again I was proven wrong. I knelt down to give her a hug goodbye. I told her I loved her and that I'd see her at the end of the day. She looked at me and I said, "Are you OK?" It was then that she spoke with a clear voice and said, "Mom, I'm OK." With that she walked off, found some new friends to play with and never looked back or called my name. I almost fell over.

I would be a fool to think that every day from here on out will be all peaches and cream for both of my girls, but this showed me that they are more than I maybe give them credit for. When those days come, I'll be here to pick them up and comfort and console them.

These children of mine that I thought I knew so well taught me these past few days the same thing. Our children are resilient. They grow. They mature. And they will surprise us when we least expect it. That is what I LOVE about parenting. 

Simply put...I'm learning. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sweet Success

Greetings and salutations friends! This is Sarah Simplified's simple husband here. I caught Sarah in a dazed and confused state and got her to agree to let me write a post here on her blog. If you'd be so kind as to indulge me, I would love the opportunity to regale you with the world's greatest explanation of success ever written (by me in my own little world).

Right about now you might be wondering why in the world I would want to ramble on about success on my wife's blog. Well, here's the scoop... My wife became an Independent Distributor for It Works! about three years ago. In true motherly fashion, she did this to help our family. Since I am the greatest husband she has ever had (and only one), I support her 100% and do everything and anything I can to help her succeed. 

To do this to the best of my abilities, I forced myself to figure out what success looks like so I would know when we reached it. I've heard rumors about this whole success thing, but never really knew if I had ever found it, or achieved it. Today is your lucky day. I figured it out and I'm going to share it with you...kinda-sorta. 

Family, friends and money. Three things that most of us want and/or need to survive our short lives on this rock called Earth. But which one makes you successful? 

Families are everything. Without family, you don't exist, but that's basic biology. No family means no parents. No parents means no you. It's not the fine technicalities of lineage that I'm talking about though. I'm referring to the love, joy, sadness and pain that come from being part of a family. Yes, all those things. If you never have the sadness and pain, you'll never truly appreciate the love and joy.

Friends are right up there with family. They bring you the same love, joy, sadness and pain that a family does - just on a slightly different plain. Some of your greatest friends may even hold an honorary title of being family.

Money has a way of being both a blessing and a curse. However you look at it though, it is a necessity in life. There's not a lot out there that's free. It's a fact of life that you need money to buy the things you need to survive. The money left over after doing that is gravy.

So you're probably wondering which one marks success. The short answer is all of them. The more complicated answer is that it's different for everyone and you have to decide that for yourself. 

The wrong combination of these three can make you miserable. Lots of money with no family or friends gets pretty lonely. A big family with no friends or money can also be quite miserable. Fine tuning the mix that works for you will determine what success looks like for you. 

We have a wonderful family and lots of amazing friends. My wife started her business to help add a little something the the financial side of the picture for us. She did this because she loves her family. She continues to do it because her fellow It Works! friends are now like family. She also happens to love the products and truly enjoys sharing healthy living with others (new friends). The fact that it adds a bit of income to help out on the financial side is a bonus. 

The fact that she is able to do all this while still managing to be an incredible, loving mom and wife is amazing. If that's not success, I don't know what is. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Start Somewhere

Low-Carb Diet...Weight Watchers...It Works...Jenny Craig...Nutrisystem...Grapefuit Diet...Isagenix...Detox Diets...Advocare...Flat Stomach Diet...Beachbody...Vegetarian..Plexus...Level...Beverly Hills Diet...Fit for Life Diet...

Is your head swimming? If I was someone embarking on a journey to better health I would look at all the options out there and probably give up before I ever started. I just went on Google and put in "weight loss options" and it shot out 28,400,000 choices. That, I believe, is the beauty and the curse of the internet. There is a flood of information at your fingertips, but an individual can easily become overwhelmed.

So, what is a person to do? Once again I'm no professional, but I honestly think that you have to do what works for YOU. Not what works for your friend, your favorite celebrity, or that cool fitness mom you are following on Instagram. Even with that being said, where does one start?

I consider myself lucky because I fell into the solution of what works for me before I even realized I needed a solution. Up until 3 years ago I considered myself to be a fairly healthy person. I had a fairly nutritious diet and I exercised multiple times a week. I knew I had about 10 pounds to go to get back to my pre-baby weight, but what I didn't realize, though, is how good I could actually feel. The only reason I realized that It Works! would be the solution for me was because a friend shared it with me. Just a few weeks in I knew this was the solution for me.

But what will work for you? I think a large part of figuring out where to start is analyzing not only the obstacles you have in reaching your health goals, but also your strengths and what will help you succeed. For instance, in a previous blog titled What's Your Obstacle? I listed my personal obstacles, and one of them was food in general. I LOVE food so I know I would never be able to do a diet that completely eliminated a food group or meals in general. Drinking shakes for every meal would not work for me. Balance is a word that often comes to mind when I think about my approach to nutrition.

By stumbling on a product called Greens I was able to combat several obstacles in one. Allow me to explain. Because it is packed with 34 fruits and veggies and 52 super foods in one serving, my body was finally getting what it needed. I was never able to afford all that nutrition on a budget before this. Now my body was alkalized and ph-balanced, so it cut my cravings (obstacle #1), increased my energy (obstacle #2) and decreased the severity of my headaches. The best part is it costs me only around $1.50 a day (obstacle #5). Does it replace a healthy diet and exercise? NO WAY!! It just greatly enhances my health journey. That is why this works for me.

Now in reference to strengths, while I LOVE food, I'm pretty good with portion control. I know that if I eat a lot I feel gross and lethargic. I didn't really need a plan to focus on portion control. Did I need something to cut the cravings of the food I did like? Yes, most definitely. Another strength is that I really enjoy exercising, and I know how it benefits me both physically and mentally. No one has to encourage me to get out there and do something.

In my unprofessional opinion you finally just need to start somewhere. I realize you are probably thinking that it is easy for me to say this because I sort of "fell" into what worked for me. Yet, with all things in life, you need to take that first step. I already mentioned taking note of your strengths and weaknesses, but think about WHY you want to change. Are you looking to lose weight? Gain energy? Need help bulking up? Looking for endurance help to run a long race? Do you just want to have a better quality of life? Everyone's goals differ, so in the same way not every plan will work for everyone.

Just start. Find your WHY. Write out your goals. Analyze your obstacles. Emphasize your strengths. Find a support system. Then just take your first step. You can do this.

Simply put...just start somewhere.

They are a big part of why my health is important to me. I want to have the energy and mental stamina to be there for them day in and day out. And, God-willing, someday be around to play with my grandchildren and take them on a bunch of fun adventures. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Please...Be Kind

When I think of an idyllic summer event, a parade is one thing that comes to mind. Whether it is for the 4th of July or some town's annual festival, there is usually a parade involved. Parades are often envisioned as a fun event for a community of families and friends that get together, smile at some fantastic floats and then proceed to get drowned by handfuls of candy until the children suffer from sugar shock.

This past weekend I was proven wrong. I won't be so dramatic as to say none of the above happened, but this was case in point where a few bad moments clouded out the positive. Ideally I know I should focus on the positive, but this is now the second year I've experienced it so I guess I've become a little sour to it.

This is the 5th time I've walked in this parade. My husband was one of the managers of a store in this small town, and for the first three years we walked with his co-workers. He since then has left that job, and the past two years I've walked with some of my It Works teammates and their families. We don't really even have a float...we just have a truck that we decorate. The adults hand out information and coupons about our products, and the children throw candy. 

Sounds fun, right? Unfortunately, no. I have been shocked at the amount of people that will laugh right at me, roll their eyes and say things like, "That is so ridiculous....Stuff like that never works...You have got to be kidding me...What a joke." I'd like to add they say it rather loudly so anyone in the surrounding viewing area can hear what they say. 

My reaction? Well, inside I'm boiling, but on the exterior I'm smiling and saying things like, "Thank you, have a great day!" Don't get me wrong, I KNOW this (It Works) isn't the answer for everyone (future blog topic). I'm not expecting everyone out there to jump at the chance to get some information and a coupon from me. That being said, I'm also not expecting people to be downright rude. Since when can we not keep our thoughts to ourselves? I kept thinking about the phrase, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." 

I don't want you to think this was everyone, or even the majority, but behavior like that can deflate a good mood faster than a pin to a balloon. I'm honestly not upset about the fact that they were bashing something I believe in, it was the matter in which they were doing it. One main reason why it bothers me? Take a wild guess who is listening to bet, the little kids sitting around them.

While I was enjoying the "banter" my daughter was experiencing behavior of a different kind. She was armed with a basket of generic Pixy Stix, and I had coached her on giving just one or two to each kid so there was plenty to go around. That apparently was easier said than done as multiple times older kids surrounded her and literally shouted, "Give me 4 of those!...I need more!...Give me a whole stack!" At one point the kids were almost 15 feet out into the street tracking her down. There were times when the look on her face was borderline fear and confusion. 

At that moment I was very sad for her. The idyllic summer parade of smiling families graciously catching candy and waving at floats melted away. I honestly wasn't having much fun at that point. 

Like I said before, that wasn't the majority. There were several adults that kindly asked for information or a coupon and then did say "Thank you." There were many that I know probably didn't want the information, but they still gave me a kind smile and took it. Nothing rude was said. Likewise, there were so many children that sat nicely on the curb waiting for the candy to come to them. They didn't chase anyone and gang up on them. When they did get candy they looked up at you with those adorable eyes and said, "Thank you." And, if they forgot to say it, a parent gently reminded them. 

I know I'm not saying anything new to any of you. More and more these days you hear or see something unkind being done. I work at a school, and the things I sometimes hear would make you cringe. Earlier this summer at our local wading pool I saw a brother and sister making faces, laughing and pointing at my girls. When my girls came out of the pool for a little break they told me the other children said that they came from a "stupid family." My older one seemed a bit offended, but my younger one seemed so oblivious to the fact that they were being rude because in her words, "They are so wrong, Mommy. We aren't stupid." 

As I get to the end of this blog I'm wondering if I even have a logical point to bring this all together. You might be wondering why I even wrote this. Well, one, I was too taken aback at the fact that somehow a parade was not a very enjoyable event for me, and I can't get the vision of my daughter's reaction out of my head. This, too, should have been fun for her. Also, this is one of those times when I just need to write to get things off my chest.

So, will I throw my hands up in frustration? I hope not. This will never go away, I know this. There will be more parades, more kids at the pool, classmates as they get older, etc. There is no denying the fact that there is sin in this world. I know I'm a sinner and I know my girls are as well. Events like this weekend remind me that there are always little ears listening and little eyes watching everything I say and do. When unkind words are said between my girls I remind them of how that makes them feel, and I remind them of the need to show love to each other. Most importantly, what are we as children of God directed to do? We are to love each other and build each other up, not tear one another down.

I pray I'm able to focus on the positive in all the kind people at the parade and the children that used their manners. When you focus on the negative it can wear you down like a load of bricks. Thinking positively, I will move forward.

Simply put....Please, be kind. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What's Your Obstacle?

Last night our daughter randomly woke up in the middle of the night and just couldn't fall back asleep. I tried my best to help her get back to sleep, but the next few hours until dawn were riddled with restless sleep. The result? When my alarm went off to go running.....I didn't. Therefore this blog idea was born.

To start this off, give an honest answer to complete the following sentence. Don't worry, you are not being graded, and you don't have to share your answer with anyone. 

My biggest obstacle to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is: ________________________

Your first response was quite possibly something along the lines of, "Seriously, how can I pick just one?" It is like when you are asked to pick your favorite movie, book or food. What an impossible question.

To be fair, I'll share the answers that crept (more like stampeded) into my mind.

1) FOOD: That probably seems like such an obvious answer, but I had to include it. Carbs, chocolate, and cheese. Those, along with many other things, can go down this hatch whenever.
2) ENERGY: If you wonder what I mean by this, go back and read paragraph one again. 
3) KNEES: I had two ACL surgeries on the same knee in my early 20s. Now at 40 sometimes that knee aches a bit.
4) TIME: I'm a wife, mom to two girls and I currently have two jobs.
5) BUDGET: Our limited budget doesn't always have room for the healthiest options.       
6) LIFE: No day, week, or month is ever the same. Not being able to adjust to what is around you can sometimes become an obstacle. 

Some of my obstacles I'm fighting to love of food,
not consistently exercising, and random sleep patterns. 

This got me would a professional trainer or nutritionist complete that sentence? No person is perfect, so I'm assuming even those that earn a living based on helping others with their health and fitness goals must at some time face some obstacles.

As an It Works distributor I end up talking with many people that are looking to help maintain some sort of health-related goal. Oftentimes they are overwhelmed by the amount or severity of obstacles that they are facing. One lady I met at a vendor show asked me, "Where do I even start?"

I always start by clarifying that I'm not a doctor or a professional trainer or nutritionist. As I stated in a previous post titled I'm No Jillian, I'm just an average mom looking to overcome some obstacles of my own. I honestly think a first step is just realizing what those obstacles are, and then making a game plan that fits you as an individual. What works for me might not necessarily work for you because your obstacles might be different.

Let's take a second here to analyze the word obstacle. Some may say I should replace it with the word excuse. Obstacles are defined as things that can block or hinder someone's progress, while excuses are reasons put forward to defend the fault of someone. When I consider the individuals that I have talked to before about attaining health goals, I look at their struggles more as obstacles that prevented them from even starting in the first place. Personally I think an excuse is when you have the tools to do something, but you don't. For instance, if I had started this blog by saying I have had some great nights of sleep lately, but I didn't get up to exercise because my favorite TV show was on I don't think you would empathize with that as much. OK, that maybe wasn't the greatest example, but I think you know where I'm going with this.

This obstacle vs. excuse discussion makes me think of a quote I've seen floating around social media a lot lately.

"Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you don't know anything about."

Recently I was talking with someone that I have known for quite some time, and they shared with me some HUGE obstacles they are facing on their health journey. I was blown away. I had NO idea this was going on in their life. Their obstacles are not just physical, but mental and emotional as well. If anyone told this individual that they were excuses to them maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I truthfully would probably slap them.

So, if you are sitting there ready to take charge of your health goals, think back to those obstacles that popped into your head up top and start formulating a plan to help you overcome those obstacles. Maybe identify what your biggest struggle is and start there. If that seems too overwhelming start smaller and tackle those first. Once again, I think every individual is different, so what works for Joe doesn't necessarily work for Jane. In my next few blogs that are on the health-related spectrum I'll explain how I'm overcoming (or trying to) the obstacles that I listed above. 

Remember, you are NOT alone in this. The internet and social media can get some bad rap, but there are a lot of good parts of it as well. Not only is there a ton of information to be found, but Instagram and Facebook have so many groups that are there to support you in whatever your obstacle might be at this time. Want to find another average overtired working mom (or whatever your role is) out there that might be able to understand your struggle? Look no further....they are out there....or here. 

Staying fit and healthy is something that is important to me. It just is. I know how vital it is to how I feel, how my body functions and my overall mental state. Is it easy? No way. I have obstacles, but I just keep trying, day in and day out. 

Simply put...don't let your obstacle become your excuse.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

It's a Mom's Life...


I've seen the phrase before, and right now I can totally relate to it. If you are a woman, you can probably relate to this quote, and if you are a mom I'm guessing you have just nodded again in agreement. If you are a man, please don't stop reading, I'd love to hear your take on this when you are done reading. Within hours of posting this blog, my husband had his own response titled "Organizational Specialist."

For the generation that might still struggle with making the connection of "tabs" and one's brain, let me explain the technological reference. You know when you click to open a new site on the internet and it opens a new tab? That is what I'm referring to at the moment....when your mind keeps popping up things that need to get done and every time you remember something else a little bell goes off and presto another tab is open. THAT is what I'm talking about. I had contemplated calling this blog "Closing Out Some Tabs," but thought my parents might start to worry about what I've been doing in my free time and the places I've been frequenting. 

I like lists, and I think many people do. There is a certain satisfaction with being able to cross something off a list. On my walk this morning I started my new list. By the time I got home and was eating breakfast, this was the result.

I'd be willing to place large bets of money on the fact that many of you out there have a list something like this. I'm not going to lie, a slight panic attack started forming when I saw this. Granted, some of these tasks will take 2 minutes, and some more like hours or days, but most of them then lead into another task that will then lead to a new to-do list....WHOOPS! That just opened some new tabs.

But wait, look what is not on here...the basics of life like meal planning, cooking, doing dishes, laundry, cleaning the house, etc. Yep, I just did it again, tabs are popping up all over the place. But then as I think about the latest tabs it shoots into the fact that I'm remembering things such as:

- I still need to start my spring cleaning. Yes, I'm fully aware tomorrow is August. 
- Thank you notes from our trip need to be written. Wait, I never did thank you notes for our Christmas gifts!! True story...
- The girls' keepsakes from our trip should be scrapbooked. Another epic mom fail since I haven't scrapbooked since they were 1. 

By now the tabs are exploding exponentially until my brain crashes. Why start? Why begin that list? Then I remember that one tab I read once that said something to the effect, "Don't worry about the dirty dishes and loads of laundry because your kids will only be little once." While that is sweet and sentimental and I KNOW it to be true, there is a point where responsibility (and reality) kick in and you still just have to do the basics. 

As you can see, writing a blog was on my to-do list, but you may be questioning my judgment on picking this task versus other probably more pressing things. Well, I'm the type of person that feels better once I talk about what is on my mind or write about it, so I chose to do this. After I write about it, then I can move on. Have I solved the eruption of tabs opening? Nope, but now that I have spoken my mind I can move on and focus on the other tabs in my face. 

I hope you other woman and moms with tab explosions take comfort that you aren't alone. This blog wasn't written to give amazing solutions, but merely to laugh a bit about it, link arms and face those tabs with determination, strong will, and the feeling that just maybe one day we'll be caught up. Wishful thinking, I know...but let's smile about it. The fact that I have a big to-do list means I have been blessed over and over in countless ways. I don't say the following enough. "Thank you, Lord, for everything." 

Simply put....I'm closing a tab.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

His Plan....His Promises

You plan a trip, a trek to the grocery store, a lesson plan, a meeting agenda, etc. Often if you have planned well you are prepared for whatever comes your way. Obviously the world isn't perfect, so the occasional surprise pops up.

What about your life? Did you plan your life? Did you map out where you were going to live, what job you were going to have, how many kids you'd be blessed to have, where you'd retire and so on? I know some people that actually have, or wanted to at least. I'm not talking about the "dream" that people concoct but actually planning how life will go. 

I admit I had thoughts, but wouldn't go so far to say that I planned my future. I guess growing up rooted in the Word I knew that my times and days are in the hands of an all-knowing God. But, due to sin in the world I often got clouded to that fact. 

While I was enjoying a walk through beautiful New Ulm this morning, my mind went to the fact that this Thursday we'll be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. I was reflecting back to 10 years ago, and thinking about what my 30 year-old mind was imagining for our future. At the time I was working at MLC and making a nice salary, and Jesse was going to be moving up to New Ulm. We didn't worry too much about him finding a decent job. We were living in an MLC home, so our living costs were minimal. Life was comfortable. Life was good.

Life still IS good. Even with that fact, on my walk my mind wandered to the one main stress that has overtaken us since after Ziva was I know financial stress is one thing that most couples deal with, but it is the one thing I wasn't expecting to deal with too much. It was NOT something that I planned for in our marriage. We had been more than comfortable.

I'm going to spare you the details, but in a nutshell.....Life happened. One thing led to another until it all compounds and the bills start and soon the debt is multiplying until you feel like you are climbing up a hill of quicksand. You can't stay afloat. I don't tell you this to make a sob story, but to explain the beauty of the comfort we are given. 

This year I started the devotional/journal The 364 Days of Thanksgiving by Rev. Andrew Schroer. It has been such a blessing to me. It is actually going to be the topic of a future blog, but to sum it up you are challenged to write one thing you are grateful for each day of the year. It has revamped my perspective, and shown me how blessed we are every day.

That being said, this morning I struggled to find joy. It was not part of our plan 10 years ago that we would stress about this. That is why when I walked into church this morning and sang the first hymn I got choked up. I have always loved this hymn, but loved it even more on a day where I found myself doubting and struggling. These beautiful words of reassurance rang out. 

Speak, O Lord by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty
Verse 3
We are blessed. We have a house that is dry and warm and keeps us safe. We have clothes to wear and food to eat. Our children are healthy. And, time and again the Lord has provided when we least expected it...sometimes in the most unusual ways. 

After we sang this hymn I thought again about the verses we picked to be the basis of our wedding sermon. I still find it slightly uncanny that we picked these because they aren't typical wedding verses. Do I need to remind you that bodily need was NOT what I was worried about? It wasn't in my plan. 
Matthew 6:25-34 
To you, the reader....I'm sure our financial stress could equate to some other equally stressful struggle in your life. I won't pretend to know about the loss of a child, an illness, the difficulty in conceiving...the list could go on. These are all things that are NOT planned for by anyone. What comfort in knowing that His plan, even though we might not understand it, far supersedes anything we might plan.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not in what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  
~ NIV 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ~

Keeping this in mind, I will continually strive to focus on the blessings we have rather than the stresses. "Life" will continue to happen. We will always be blessed AND stressed. It will be how I choose to deal with both that sets the mood for the next chapter of my life. The reminder of His plans and His promises will be to what I choose to cling.

Simply put, focus on the unseen.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I'm No Jillian...

I have a love/hate relationship with Jillian Michaels. If you have ever done one of her workouts you probably know what I mean. Her workouts are awesome, but often so intense I find myself yelling at the TV screen. If you don't know who she is, she is probably best known for being one of the coaches on the hit TV show The Biggest Loser. She is both a fitness and nutrition guru.

I'm no Jillian, but I'm about to venture into some of her territory. While you have been accustomed to reading about the possibly mundane aspects of my life ranging from slightly comical to a bit serious and downright sappy, I'm now going to add in some nutrition and exercise topics as well.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a tad nervous about this because those topics can tend to be delicate topics. Depending on your crowd you don't ever want to come off sounding judgmental, critical, condescending, arrogant, etc.

I'm also worried about people judging my qualifications due to me being an amateur of sorts. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? I'm not a nutritionist or a physical trainer. I haven't had any formal training in either field. I don't have six-pack abs or biceps to write home about.The longest race I've done is a 5K. I make my family mac'n cheese once a week. I don't like brussel sprouts....wait....does anyone like brussel sprouts...and is that even related? I digress.

So you many wonder, why would I write about health and wellness and why should you read it?

Why am I Writing About Health and Wellness?
First of all, staying fit and active has always been something important to me. I'm a different (and better) person when I exercise consistently and eat healthy. If you aren't currently exercising and eating relatively healthy I'm fairly confident I'm not the first person to encourage you to do so. My hope is that by writing about it, I may encourage someone to take that first step. I'm well aware that I won't be giving any advice to prep any of you for a marathon, or start a crazy diet that I know nothing about. I'm just here to encourage.

Also, as many of you know, I work for a health and wellness company (, so I firmly believe I should "practice what I preach" as well. How can I explain to customers that our products are a great complement (not a replacement) for a healthy diet and exercise when I don't do it myself?

Why Should You Read What This Amateur Says?
I'm your Average Jane kind of person. I'm a 40 year-old wife and mom of two kids. I love food. I have a busy schedule. Life gets in the way of exercise. I love food. We don't have lots of money to spend on a gym membership. That lack of funds also directly relates to the amount of healthy food that gets thrown in the cart. I still love food. I love food. Yes, I just said that twice in a row....because I LOVE it.

Can any of you relate to that previous paragraph? I think many of you do, and it is for you that I will write these posts. It is for you that I will encourage YOU to get up and take that first step, to write that first goal. If you are looking for serious advice from a professional dietitian, nutritionist or physical trainer, you will NOT want to read this. If you are an Average Jane kind of mom like me that wants to get started putting one foot in front of the other, my periodic posts on this topic might interest you.

Well, this should be an interesting new venture in this blogging adventure of mine. I'm curious myself what I'll churn out. Remember...

Simply put...I'm no Jillian.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Priceless Story

I love old things. I do. Some people look at it as junk, but I look at it as a story waiting to be told.

I find it so utterly fascinating that every old object, picture, letter, etc. has a story. Even if I have no personal connection to it, I still would love to know the backstory to it. The people, the places, the events that unfolded...I want to hear it all. When it does have a personal connection to me, then I'm really enthralled.

Last month we moved my parents out of their home they've lived in for the past 36 years. During the downsizing process my parents often asked one of us,"Does anyone want this?" Many times my first response was,"Did this come from someone in the family?" If so, my interest in that object instantly increased at least ten-fold not only because it was something old, but it was owned by someone in my family. Those objects were part of my history...from people that helped shape and mold generations before, and in turn, me in a way. There are two objects now in my possession that I absolutely love. 

The date on this appears to be June 7, 1925. 

The first one was my Grandpa Meyer's trunk. My Grandpa, Henry Meyer, was born in 1907. This trunk was used to ship all his things to college at then Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. I love this trunk because not only does it look cool, but it amazes me that he sent all his belongings in a trunk. Nowadays people load up Uhaul trucks to move into college dorms. Now that I live in New Ulm, it is like the trunk is "back home" in a way. 

This wasn't one of the two objects I was thinking about, but had to throw in this beauty while discussing packing for college. My dad also went to school in New Ulm during the 60s. Like some other students, he didn't have a place to get his laundry done, so he sent his laundry back home to get cleaned. Yes, he used this little suitcase to mail his dirty laundry home. We all wondered what he wore while he was waiting for it to come back. :)

The other treasured possession switches to my mom's side of the family, and it is my Grandma Scharf's charm bracelet. I have never thought of myself as a charm bracelet kind of person, but I very much wanted a piece from a woman that I so greatly admired. My Grandma, Irene Scharf, was a quiet, but very strong, devoted Christian woman. Her bracelet shows many aspects of her...all the love and care that she showed to those she loved whether it was at home or at work.

Engraved on the back of  the mustard seed charm, "If ye have faith as a mustard seed...
nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:20

There is no possible way for me to sum up in this blog the stories that I remember from my grandparents, or the ones that I'd love to know. I regret the times when I was younger that I didn't take time to listen longer or ask them more questions. While there will be stories left untold, I am confident in one thing that has been carried from generation to generation on both sides of my family...their love of our Savior and what He has done for us. Their foundation was their faith, and that is why I love that one of the charms on my Grandma's charm bracelet is a mustard seed. What my great-grandparents instilled in my grandparents was passed on to my parents, then to me. Out of all the stories I've been told, this is what I hold on to most dearly, and am making sure my children will hold dear to their hearts as well.

Possibly my favorite wedding present we received was a scrapbook my sisters made. It had messages, marriage advice and funny stories about marriage they had compiled from our friends and family. My Aunt Marie, who knows my love of family history added in wedding pictures from former generations. I love that present and will treasure it forever. When I was looking for pictures for this blog I reread what she had written to us. I thought it was so fitting I had to include it here.

What story are you passing on to those you know and love? While a cool trunk or charm bracelet are awesome heirlooms to hold onto now, nothing compares to the precious story we carry in hearts and the comfort of knowing that we will all be reunited someday in heaven. No antique dealer would ever be able to put a price on that.

Simply can't put a price tag on some things.

P.S. I added a few wedding pictures for any family reading that were interested. I can share more if you'd like...just let me know! They go back several generations...