Sunday, October 18, 2009

Turning 39 For The First Time

A couple of weeks ago I turned 39...for the first time. I don't know what it is. I LOVED turning 30. I looked forward to it. I wrote about what a great day it was here. For some reason, now that my 30's are drawing to an end, I'm not getting quite the same excitement about turning 40 next year. I'm kinda thinking there's a lot to accomplish before then.

I went for a full physical last year and I'll never forget my conversation with the doctor.

Doctor: Well, your BMI is a little higher than it should be...
Me: Mmmm hmmm.
Doctor: But as you approach middle age that's a little more normal.
Me: I'm sorry...did you just call me middle aged?

Now, I have had a GREAT life so far. We have been so blessed. But now I'm looking forward and wondering what's ahead. I think that's a fairly normal part of being a stay-at-home mom whose kids will both be in school soon. What will I do then? I didn't consciously think about certain things I wanted to achieve before I turn 39 for the second time (some people call it 40 but whatever). But I do have a "bucket list". You know, things I'd like to do...well...one day. I thought I'd share it with you. It's not necessarily in order of importance and I'll go ahead and tell you it's not especially deep. Most of it's not serious, spiritual, character changing type stuff. Some of it is just stuff I'd like to do...just because.

See the Holy Land
Stay in an Irish cottage and visit lots of pubs
Eat something with black truffles
Memorize one book of the Bible
Gaze at the ceiling of the Sistine chapel
Give to someone in a way that changes their life
See the Great Wall of China in person
Drive Route 66
Fly on a trapeze
Learn Italian
Audition for something
Learn to salsa
Write a book
Sing karaoke solo
Be completely debt free including the house

Now, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be debt free including the house in the next year. I'm not even sure I'm going to be debt free except for the house next year. But I'd like to cross something off my list before I turn 39...again. Do you have an opinion? Suggestion? Favorite? Addition? Let me know. It's time for me to get going on this list.

I'd also like to leave you, young and middle-aged alike, with a few things I did in my 30's that I'd recommend for your bucket list if you have one.

Have a couple of babies.
Take a trip to the Grand Canyon on a train with a sleeper car.
Make a job change.
Move to a new city.
Go to St. Lucia and have Delbert plan a day excursion for you.
Throw a surprise party for someone you love.
Go to New York City at Christmastime.
Go to a high school reunion.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Problem With Christians

One of the biggest problems the world has with Christians is that they don't look very much like Christ. That bothers me. Not that the world thinks that of us...that it's true. But I have to ask myself...am I guilty of looking no different than the rest of the world? What does it look like to "look like" Christ? What is the most defining characteristic of Jesus? What would make us look most like Him?


What do you think of when you think of what it means to be Christlike? I think some Christians believe it means living by what they consider a "higher standard". Don't smoke, don't chew, don't go with girls who do. Tithe generously. Dress modestly. Attend church regularly. And, can I say it, vote the right way.


Recently I was at a women's event at our church and out of nowhere, and completely having nothing to do with the speaker, I heard the voice of God in my heart.

"You've been sliding by for a while now. You've been getting away with some things you know you need to repent of. I'll not allow it much longer. I love you too much. There are those who are watching to see what you will do and they will follow suit. So, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. One of your favorite verses is Daniel 10:12 'Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.' My dear daughter...you have set your mind to gain understanding...but you have not yet humbled yourself. It's up to you. You can humble yourself, or I will humble you."


Whoa. Seriously. I was a little scared. I could feel it coming. Something was brewing and I needed to take a good long look at my life. I had to ask myself, "What does it mean to humble yourself?" Here's the dictionary definition of the verb humble:

1. to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.
2. to destroy the independence, power, or will of
3. to make meek

I'll just say it...I like to be right. I like to get my way. I often feel very justified in my bitterness. And you might even agree with me if I explained in detail. I can be very convincing. But if I refuse to humble myself...will I be different? Is it Christlike? Am I making choices that would cause the nonbeliever to say, "How does she do that?" or "I want what she's got." I don't think so. I felt the loving conviction of knowing that God had His best in mind for me but I was often choosing something else, something less.

Can I make the case that the one thing Christians can do to most look like Christ would be to humble ourselves? Christ was the picture of love, of justice, of forgiveness, but think about how huge this one truth is...God, the sovereign GOD of the universe, the creator of all things, the one and only, all powerful, perfectly just, almighty God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (who owes us nothing but hell by the way) humbled himself and became a man of all things. And then he died in our place, taking on the full penalty for our sin against him, just so we could spend eternity in heaven. Does any other religion have a God that would do that for you?

Growing up, I often chose to learn things the hard way. And I sense he's giving me the choice again. "Humble yourself, or I will humble you." Today in church, he gave me a new verse that articulates it perfectly.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32


I'll be honest. God's given me some pretty specific direction regarding what this will look like in my life. And it isn't going to be easy. But it will bring Him glory. It will point to Him because it will look so unlike Tracy. I'll leave you with this.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Friday, September 4, 2009

Preakness 2009

So, here it is. My blog about The Preakness. Just in case you didn't know, The Preakness is the second leg in American horse racing's Triple Crown and usually attracts the Kentucky Derby winner. It's held in Baltimore, Maryland and for the past two years Jeff and I have been invited up for the weekend by his college roommate, Billy. The night before the race we went to a huge party at Sagamore Farms. It is a huge, beautiful farm owned by Billy's friend who basically created UnderArmour. We parked in a field and were taken up to the house by golf carts. When we arrived at the party, we were blown away. It was decadent. Because there was an UnderArmour connection, there were lots of sports figures there. Boomer Esiason, Rick Nueheisel (head football coach at UCLA) and if you look in the picture below, right under the sign, you can see Cal Ripken.


There was so much going on at the party. There were gambling tables (of course), a big movie screen set up in a field showing movies like Seabiscuit, and hot air balloon rides.

There were several tents that were all connected. They all had delicious food and in every tent there was a different kind of bar.






















There was a cake made by none other than the Ace of Cakes himself, Duff Goldman. We heard he was at the party but never saw him. Here is the cake.


In one tent there was a band playing and in the corner was a mechanical bull. Here's my husband thinking he can outdo everyone else.

I, of course, did not attempt the mechanical bull as I would surely hurt myself and the pervert running the bull made the bull shake and shimmy whenever a woman was taking a turn. Just use your imagination...no, wait...don't.
The day of the Preakness was a little rainy and cloudy but for the most part we stayed dry and the cloud cover insured that it wasn't blazing hot out. Here is the group we were with.

The tables were once again dressed beautifully.



Two of the girls we were with amazingly (and unfortunately) wore the same dress. From what I heard, one was designer and the other was a knock off. I didn't have the nerve to ask which was which.


One crazy thing happened that day. Spike and Kelsey from Top Chef and Next Food Network Star were there. They have an internet show on http://www.food2.com/ that they do for the Food Network.
I was approached and interviewed for their show and I just checked this morning and I made the cut! Nutty! Maybe I'll be the Next Food Network Star! Ha, ha, ha!


You can see it here.

One of the really fun things about being on the infield is all the special treats. There were ice cream carts everywhere that you could just open up and take what you wanted.


There was a place where you could get cigars. I'm not sure if those were free.



But there was an open candy tent with table full of candy bins. You just grabbed yourself a little fancy bowl and loaded up.



That's about it. A great time was had by all. Rachel Alexandra was the big winner of the day. We bet $5 for my stepdad on her and I think he got back $9. Woo hoo!

We are really making some budget cuts this year so I don't know if we'll make it for 2010, but I sure hope so.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Catching Up

Well, if you used to read my blog (like a million years ago) I know you're shocked that I've finally decided to start posting again. And if you've been here before you might notice that I've also got a new look. It was time. The other blog picture is two years old and about 15 lbs. lighter (hence the rest of my face being cut out) :) This picture is from this past spring at the Preakness which I'm going to do a post about next time. It was definitely a blog worthy experience so I'll have to go back and catch you up. But first a summary of the past few months. Easter was my last post so I'll take it from there. In May, my husband and I flew to Baltimore for the second year in a row to visit our friend Billy and attend the Preakness. And once again, we had a fabulous time!


When we returned, there were only a couple of weeks of school left. Big Sister played a beautiful flower in the end of the year program and even had a line.



The year ended with a semi-field day (because rain cancelled the actual field day) and the always exciting kindergarten tug-of-war.







Most of the summer was spent hanging out at our local pool for hours on end and having fun with friends. We spent several nights in the back yard around our fire pit making s'mores with our neighbors. Super fun!

Thanks to some friends who have box seats and no small children, we got to go see Thomas the Train. The girls LOVED it! Mom and Dad? Let's just say I'm glad we had box seats with food and drinks.
We had a great time vacationing with my sister, her husband, her daughter and the Russian boy they hosted for six weeks this summer, Vinya. He had a much longer name and some of the kids choose American names like "Scott" or "Mike" but he settled on a shortened version of his actual name. He was hilarious and sweet, poor thing, surrounded by all those girls. He is nine now and my sister can have him back every summer until he's seventeen which I think is SO cool.

I went on my annual girls' trip in July...













I know, the green dress was popular this summer but I love that dress!
Big Sister had a birthday at the end of the month. She wanted to have a pretend slumber party and she wanted it to be a surprise. This was not an easy thing to pull off let me tell you. She wanted to plan everything, she just didn't want us to tell her when it was. We invited a few of the neighborhood girls over (to keep it simple) and asked them to wear pajamas and bring their sleeping bags. We did manage to surprise her and she absolutely loved it. We played musical sleeping bags, hot potato with everyone's stuffed animals, and had sleeping bag relay races. They made jewelry, painted nails, and ate pizza. At 8:30pm, everyone went home (hence the "pretend" part). They had a great time and it was the best budgeted birthday party we've ever had. I highly recommend this idea.




Our system changed to a modified year-round schedule so it wasn't long before it was time for the first day of school. I can't believe Big Sister is a First Grader this year! She seems so big. You may also notice that she got a "big girl" haircut. This is code for Mama could no longer endure the crying while trying to comb out the knots. Little Sister is staying home with me this year. No Mother's Day Out for her this time around as we are trying to get serious about our budget and finances...but more about that later. Little Sister is still a nut as you can tell from all the pictures of her so far.
















Big Sister has a wonderful and creative teacher who just so happens to be an old neighbor of ours. The first two weeks of school they act like they are at camp. They brought their sleeping bags, there was a tent set up in the room, they wrote and received letters from home, and learned about all kinds of bugs. This is Big Sister wearing her camp hat on the first day.

And of course school starting means...yep, you guessed it...a new football season for Daddy.
Did I mention Taylor Swift filmed her video "You Belong To Me" at Daddy's school? He got to coach Lucas Till and after about 40 passes, he finally caught one. Our team was playing both sides and when he caught the ball, everyone got so excited that both teams rushed to congratulate him. Needless to say, not a very realistic scenario so they had to shoot again. All the players, fans, and people attending prom are our students. They had such a blast.
We've had two games so far. We won the first one in a nail biter and lost big in the second one. I pray it gets better from here. At the first game, Little Sister did this...


And Big Sister did this...


Although I can't say for sure that either was aware that there was actually a football game going on.

So that's where we are. Fall is in full swing and today is a beautiful cool fall day. I've missed writing for the blog though I have been writing. My writing these past few months has taken the form of a Bible study. I don't know if anything will ever come of it but I have definitely found a passion I never knew I had. Now that I am officially a football widow, you can expect to be updated here much more often now. Maybe I'll have something funny or interesting to say, I don't know. Chances are with Little Sister at home this year I'll have something funny to say now and then. I love hearing your comments if you feel so inclined and I look forward to sharing more with you about all that God has been doing. For now I will leave you with a great photo of Little Sister at the end of a long day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter 2009

Well, this will be short and sweet but we had a great spring break and Easter. My sister and niece flew into Nashville and hung out for the weekend. Then my sister and I and all the little girls headed to Florida to stay with my mom for the week. The Daddys met up with us later. As we headed down, Big Sister and her cousin both discovered that they had a loose tooth. Oddly, it was the SAME tooth...and on the SAME day...weird. My niece called two nights ago to let us know her daddy had pulled her tooth. Big Sister called her tonight to tell her that our daddy pulled her tooth. (Of course she also wanted to know just how much money the tooth fairy brought.) The girls loved seeing their cousin.We had some cool weather in the beginning but eventually it warmed up and we were able to get some good time on the beach. On Good Friday the girls went to an Easter egg hunt and had a great time.

We colored eggs and amazingly, Little Sister managed to stay clean for the most part. There was one scary moment where she leaned on the table. It tipped and all the cups full of dye started to slide her way. Daddy and I were able to make a good save.
We went to the sunrise service on the beach again and once again, it was beautiful. I wrote about my experience last year which you can read here. Here are three pictures I took in succession. One to the east, one in front of me and one looking to the west. It was cool to see the moon and sun and all the colors in between like that.


After the sunrise service we ate breakfast a the world famous Oasis. Thankfully we didn't have to sit at the bar like last year. After filling our tummies we headed for home. It was a long trip but a great one. Hope you had a wonderful Easter too!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nothin' But Drama

Wow, I didn't realize it had been over a month since my last blog post. I don't know why I haven't written except that I just didn't have anything to say. Not to mention that we've had a few warm days lately and I've wanted to be outside and running around and pretty much ignoring my computer completely. Maybe I just needed a break from technology.

But I've been lured back by the drama of life. Some people love the drama...want to get right in the middle of it, or if no drama is to be found...they create it. But many others hope to avoid the drama completely. I love a good story, a little drama...as long as it doesn't involve me. I'd prefer as little drama as possible in my own life.

With the little bit of drama I've been around lately, I've started to wonder...maybe sometimes a little drama is necessary. Let's face it, we have a dramatic God. You can't read the Bible and not come across story after story of romance, betrayal, murder, suspense, and most of all, a God who uses drama to show His glory, His love, and His absolute commitment to His people. What's the reason a writer might add a lot of drama to a story anyway? Isn't it to make a point? Isn't it to draw attention to a pivotal moment? A crucial decision? Doesn't drama in our own lives tend to do that at times?

So when we get a little complacent, stagnant, or ineffective, I think God sometimes uses a little drama in our lives to get our attention. He uses it to make it point. Dealing with drama propels us forward. It often requires us to finally make a decision. And in my case anyway, it usually causes me to run to Him.

Drama is especially effective at revealing character. My dad often uses an illustration in his sermons where he takes a glass of water and shakes it. As you would expect, water splashes out of the glass onto the floor. Then he asks the question, "Why did water come out of the glass?" And someone always says, "Because you shook it." But then he points out that the real reason water came out of the glass...is because there was water in the glass. If there had been jellybeans in the glass, would water have come out? If there had been no water in the glass, it wouldn't matter how much you shook it...water wouldn't come out. In Luke 6:45, Jesus puts it like this:
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.

So when you get shaken, when there's drama, what comes out in you? I'm sad to say that what comes out in me isn't always pretty...but it is revealing and for that I'm grateful.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Baby Phillip

Little Sister has a new favorite toy. She calls it her "baby". She holds it lovingly, takes it everywhere with her, and speaks to it in her sweet little mommy voice. Here they are.






Can you tell who her baby is? Not sure?








Yep...it's a bobble-head. A bobble-head of my brother-in-law Phillip Wellman to be exact. The umpire scolding, base throwing, grenade launching Phillip. Still not sure who I'm talking about?





Ain't he sweeeeeet?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

You Snooze...You Lose


Or so I hope anyway.

A while back I wrote a post called We're Breaking Up about my struggles with my weight. I have this...shall we say...bootylicious problem that I continue to struggle with. Anyway, this past Monday, The Today Show on NBC did a story on how your sleep habits affect your weight. I heard about it from a friend (I'm a Good Morning America gal) and had to check it out.

Apparently everyone (but me) knows that lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain and getting the right amount of sleep can actually help you lose weight. What?!?! So all I have to do is sleep MORE and I'll lose weight? Of the women who participated in the study, nearly all of them lost weight and one who lost no weight, still managed to lose inches! Over the course of 10 weeks they lost anywhere from 6 to 15 pounds! They made no other significant changes except to sleep at least 7 and 1/2 hours each night.

Okay, think about it. When you become a mom, it gets harder to keep your weight down...when you become a mom, you also get a lot less sleep. We live in an obese country...we live in a busy, sleep deprived country. I'm just putting two and two together people. The studies show that those who "sleep 5 hours or less a night are 30 percent more likely to gain 30+ pounds than those who got more rest". "The average woman gets 6 hours and 40 minutes." The healthy minimum is 7 hours 30 minutes! Go to the article here to read all the details. It's fascinating.

I'm a night owl. After the girls go to bed, that's MY time. Just me and Daddy. I like to savor it as long as possible so I always go to bed LATE. Unfortunately, the girls always wake up at 6:15 on the dot. I'm not missing the healthy requirement by a whole lot, but that 7.5 hours is a minimum! At this point, I have about 2 non-elastic waist pairs of pants that fit so I'm willing to try anything. And I do love to sleep.

So Monday night, my Bible Study was cancelled and I was in the bed by 8:30pm and asleep by about 9:30. That would be 9 hours of sleep...except...Little Sister was up at 4:30am. 7 hours! Just short by 1/2 an hour! I tried again Tuesday night and the SAME THING! I'm starting to think she likes me big and soft and these are her attempts to keep me that way. Finally, last night, I went to sleep at 10:00pm and the girls came downstairs at 6:15am. That's a little over 8 hours...and I feel thinner already.

So how much sleep do you get each night? And what do you think about this study?

Friday, February 6, 2009

If You're Happy And You Know It

Tonight, on the way home, we were singing songs in the car and we decided to sing "Jesus Loves Me". When we finished, Big Sister said in a choked up voice, "That kinda made me cry." It was so sweet. She couldn't speak for a minute. Oh how I pray that the thought of how much Jesus loves her will always produce such a stirring in her soul.

On a funny note, check out Little Sister's version of "If You're Happy And You Know It". Please excuse my singing. I was more interested in capturing the choreography. Especially when she gets to "then your face will surely show it." Here goes...

video

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blurb It Baby!

I might be the last one to know but I made an amazing discovery this weekend. You can turn your blog into a book! Check out www.blurb.com! It seems fairly affordable as well. Wouldn't it be cool to have a hard copy, pictures included, to look through in years to come. Wouldn't it be neat for your children to have something each year that chronicled your thoughts, struggles, interests, recipes, photos, etc.? I've heard it is time consuming but easy. I was at a SuperBowl party and a friend showed me a copy of a book done by one of her friends. The friend had spent a year in Italy and blogged about it. At the end of the year she had this beautiful book with all of her travels and pictures of all of the sights. It was AMAZING! So if you're like me and you're not good at journaling but you love blogging, check it out!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Aha!

Don't you love those "aha!" moments in life when something suddenly makes sense? In my last post (I know, it was like, ages ago) I said I'd share an "aha!" moment I had while practicing self-discipline.

First, an update. When the votes were tallied that Sunday night, the verdict was in and I could not spend any money for the entire week. It was really close (thanks Ashley, for voting for all three...I thought we were friends). Anyway, I was hoping you all would choose #3 - not spending money, because I figured it would be the easiest. (See why I lack self-discipline?) But as it turns out, it was quite difficult at times. On Tuesday morning, I got my weekly email from Southwest Airlines about their deals for the week. Trips to Seattle were featured and what do you know, my husband is going to Seattle on business soon. I thought, "What a great opportunity to get away!" I had already made sure my husband had his own room for the trip and made arrangements with my mother-in-law to keep the girls when it dawned on me...I can't buy a ticket to Seattle, I can't spend money! Of course, my sinful self tried to think of some loopholes around this rule. If I had my husband get online and purchase the ticket then technically I wouldn't be spending money...right?

There were other challenges as well throughout the week. Ashley offered to pay for my parking when we took the girls to the Nashville Public Library. I had to plan meals strategically a couple of times so I wouldn't be tempted to stop and get something on the go. And we ate everything in the refrigerator and pantry which made for a couple of interesting meals. All in all, it made me realize how much I can live without.

This leads me to my "aha!" experience. What these exercises in self-discipline have taught me more than anything is to be mindful. I am reminded of a verse from Beth Moore's study on Daniel. It has always stuck with me. Daniel 10:12 says
Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since, the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them."
You have to "set your mind" on the right things. That's what these exercises are doing for me. As a mom of such little ones, there have been days where I'm on auto pilot and realize when I lie down at night that I haven't thought about God ONCE. (Except maybe, "Lord, help me!") But busyness is an excuse. Since the Garden of Eden, Satan's greatest trick has been to set our minds on something and someone else. For Eve, it was the forbidden fruit and what was in it for her if she ate it. For us it is a million things. Worry about our kids, the stresses of our jobs, what to make for dinner, our appearance, the big football game, all the mysteries of LOST :), and on and on and on. (Maybe that's just me) We are a culture, much like the Babylonian culture Daniel lived in actually, that fills our minds with so much...junk.

So how do we live a life of self-discipline? How do we live by the power of the Holy Spirit? How do we love God? We've got to "set our minds" first. On the right things. On the right One. Romans 8:5 has been a key verse for me.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Could it be more clear? Living by the sinful nature? Then I've got my mind set on what that nature desires. Living by the Spirit? Then you've got your mind set on what the Spirit desires. I also love 1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
I love that verse because it reminds me that while I must "set my mind" and "be self-controlled" that my hope is not in those things. My hope is not in me. My hope is set "fully on the grace to be given [me]". So while I practice self-discipline, while I set my mind in the right place, my hope is in Christ alone. Remembering that is the only way to keep these exercises from turning into the legalism I loathe. So as I continue to "set my mind to gain understanding and to humble [my]self before God," I am encouraged to know that my "words [will be] heard, and [He will] come in response to them." And may my "Aha" moments always lead me back to His amazing grace.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cream, Glorious Cream

I made it through the week of black coffee and have really been savoring drinking it the way I like it again. I hate to admit this but it really did require some self-discipline for me to drink it black. A couple of times I really thought, "This is stupid. Who cares about cream and sugar? This is a dumb exercise, I'm going to do something else." But that's what I always do. I'm very persuasive when I want to talk myself out of doing something I don't want to do.

My favorite thing about this exercise was that it started my day. First thing every morning I was reminded that I desire self-discipline. It made me think about how I need to rely on the Lord for everything in my day. I would wake up and before I ever got out of bed I would first think, "coffee" and then my next thought would be, "Lord, I need you." I'd spend a few minutes talking to God about my day and then roll out of bed to get my cup of hot dirt.

But it's not about the coffee. It's about developing self-discipline and I've had an "Aha!" moment that I'll share in my next post. The coffee was the specific challenge but I've been trying to exercise self-discipline in many areas. For now, I figure it's time to up the ante and do another, slightly more challenging, exercise. I've struggled to think of something good. I really want to do something this time that matters. Something that might stick or at least be a baby step in the right direction. Something that will get me what I really want in the long run. So I'm asking you to vote. I'm not sure if there are enough of you reading to make this work but I'm going to throw out three ideas and have you vote. Whichever exercise gets the most votes will be the one I tackle. So here it goes...

1. Leave at least one bite of anything I eat. (I'm a plate cleaner so this could be a real challenge)
2. Get up at 6:00am whether anyone else is up or not...and NO NAPS. (I'm a night owl)
3. Spend NO money for one week. (Not even $1 for coffee at the church's coffee stand)

Okay, so my parents are laughing right now. Which give me another good idea. As a second part to the challenge, I vow not to complain...at all...no matter what...at least not out loud...or at least not about the exercise anyway. Can you see why I need this self-discipline? Anyway, voting will end on Sunday night (in case I need to get up at 6:00am Monday) and then I'll get started. Thanks for your support. I love hearing your words and how you are being challenged. Hang in there!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The First Day...In One Word

Challenging.

Today was my first day of really focusing on my "one word" for 2009...self-discipline. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm convinced that self-discipline is a muscle (a much atrophied muscle in my case) that needs to be built up over time. For my first wimpy workout, I gave myself a little, meaningless, yet attainable task, to begin to build my confidence. I decided to choose an exercise that didn't matter at all, but would be uncomfortable enough that I would actually have to be mindful and make a choice, the choice to follow through. What is my exercise this week?

Drinking my coffee black.

I know that sounds ridiculous. Who cares how you drink your coffee? It's not like it's a bad thing to use a little splenda. It's not like I can't count a few creamer calories into my diet. It's just that I don't really like it that way all that much but I can do it. My desire for caffeine is motivation enough. Or so I thought. I could drink no coffee. I could have a coke instead. But that's not the point. The point is to do something I prefer not to...just to prove I can.

Well, I did it. I drank two cups of coffee (again, my desire for caffeine is great) and no sweetener or creamer. It wasn't entirely terrible after a while although I know now why my husband hates coffee and refers to it as "hot dirt". It is better hot though. The temperature is much more important with black coffee. I'm a girl who likes splenda and flavored creamer and a starbucks peppermint mocha is my favorite...but I did it. And I will do it until Friday. After that, I will resume drinking coffee the way I like it. (It's not about the coffee in case I haven't made that clear) Starting next Friday, I will attempt something slightly more difficult. I have some ideas. I'm not looking forward to any of them. But as I begin to build confidence, as I begin to strengthen this muscle, I know it will feel waaaaay better than my life right now. I'm not doing this to torture myself, after all. I'm doing it because I know that in the end it will put me in the center of God's will for my life, it will bring me more peace, more joy, more faith, more hope...I will be stronger, smarter, more healthy, a better wife and mother, a better friend and family member, and more like Jesus.

That's what I'll think about while I'm drinking hot dirt in the morning. Gotta love it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My One Word 2009

In my last post, I wrote about the concept of ditching new year's resolutions and instead, choosing one word. So I've thought long and hard about my word this year. It was actually pretty easy to choose. What I need to work on is clear. My word for 2009 is self-discipline. Do hyphenated words count as one word? Anyway, every frustration I have with my life all boils down to one thing...a lack of self-discipline. My budget, my weight, my spiritual growth, my unfinished projects, my yet unreached goals...you name it.

I'm pretty sure I know how I got this way. I have such an aversion to legalism that I have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction. More on that later though.

When I looked up the word self-discipline at dictionary.com, here are some of the definitions I found:
-discipline and training of oneself, usually for improvement
-Training and control of oneself and one's conduct, usually for personal improvement.
-the trait of practicing self discipline
-the act of denying yourself; controlling your impulses
Compare that to the definition for self-control:
-Control of one's emotions, desires, or actions by one's own will
-the trait of resolutely controlling your own behavior
Seems to me, self-control is something people have...self-discipline is the training you need in order to develop self-control. And training means exercise. Speaking of exercise, many things I've read on self-discipline compare it to a muscle that needs to be built up little by little. I need to lift some small but challenging weights to build a little muscle in order to handle some heavier things over time. In other words, it wouldn't help me to set a goal of "run a marathon". It's impossible, I haven't trained to run a marathon. I already believe I can't do it. It makes more sense to set a goal like "run for 20 minutes 3 times a week". Start small...be specific...set attainable goals and meet them. I need to prove to myself that I can follow through on the little things and build on that.

Now, I have no desire whatsoever to run a marathon...EVER...but there are many things I would like to do...achievable things...things I don't have now because of my lack of self-discipline. I'm ready to start training. So many things have been written about self-discipline, I feel like I have some good ideas about how to get started. I'll keep you updated as I begin my training.

Meanwhile, my first exercise, and the real foundation of everything, will be to be mindful each morning of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." He has given me all I need. Now I must submit to his will. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will." I will definitely do some tangible, hopefully life-changing things along the way. But I won't do it alone.

I've come up with a pretty good first challenge starting Monday. Tune in to see how it goes and feel free to share your "one word" if you like. Happy New Year!