Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mama Bear

Last week my 3rd grade daughter was on the receiving end of an explicitly violent threat at school.  I've never reacted like a mama bear before but I sure did on Friday.  I didn't growl, stand on my hind legs, and try to eat people but my blood pressure went off the charts.  I couldn't even process what happened, it didn't even seem all.  She was petrified but mostly had hurt feelings.  This came from a kid my daughter calls friend.  Like me, my daughter is "friends" with everybody.  She mostly likes everyone and everyone likes  her.  So she was devastated at such words.   I have been pleased with how the school has resolved the situation and handed out punishment and counseling.  What a nightmare this was.  I was shaken up to say the least and felt unprepared for talking to my daughter in the days that followed.  My daughter didn't understand why I was so upset but let me tell you, she was glad I was and found comfort in her mama bear.  I assured her that teachers and the principal were going to make her safe at school.  I assured her that God would be with her no matter what.  

Have you ever had a mama bear response concerning your kids?  It's almost instinctual, primitive in a way.  Of course I know I love my daughter but I didn't know I had that kind of fire in me concerning her.  I haven't ever needed it I guess.  Bottom line?  It brought us closer because she knows that I've got her back and will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe.  

Besides learning this...I've pondered God's potential response if I were in a dangerous situation. Would he notice?  Definitely.  Would he rescue me?  If it was for my good he would.  I'd like to think he would no matter.  But I do know that he will never leave or forsake us and that he has compassion on us.  In my opinion, we've got to tell our kids that as the opportunities present themselves.  Life can be scary.  God is all powerful and loves us; that should give us some peace.  At least for today.  I might have to ask for some more tomorrow...

Be lifted!

Hebrews 13:5b-6
...because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  So we can say with confidence,  "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where's My Brain?

Today felt like a "Where's my brain?" kind of day. I dropped a vase and then cut my finger on the glass. Forgot to cover a casserole with aluminum foil (it specifically said to cover it!). Mixed up the kids socks. I have a website called "Losing Weight After Baby" and one mom I know joked that there should be another website called "Losing Your Mind After Baby."

Ever had one of those kinds of days when you can't quite get your head in the game? Here's my advice - just laugh and roll with the punches. Chances are, no one will permanently suffer from your absentmindness.

At the first opportunity, pray and ask God to give you clarity. As it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

When your brain feels fuzzy, it's easy to have a lazy attitude about your health. It's ironic because chances are if you ate some fruit and took a walk, you would feel a whole lot better. So even on those days when you feel like your brain is frozen, pray to Jesus, reach for a healthy snack and be active. You'll be thinking more clearly in no time!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Your Baby, Your Husband

Just because you have a darling 10-pound baby staring into your eyes almost 24 hours a day, don't forget about your other baby...your husband!

Remember those days when he was your baby, your sole focus at home, the recipient of all your attention? Your husband may be experiencing a little post-baby culture shock too. You're getting used to a busy life with baby, and he's getting used to taking care of himself a little more these days.

I want to encourage you to take a moment for your husband today. Write him a note. Tell him that you realize you haven't cooked a real meal in days. Ask for his opinion about something you're facing with your baby. Ask for his help with baby. Don't be the kind of mom who says "I'm the only one who knows how to change a diaper in this house." Let your husband share in the responsibilities, even if he doesn't do everything exactly like you do.

I have been blessed with a talkative, expressive husband who's not afraid to voice his needs (maybe it's because he's Italian and from New York?). He and I recently did a podcast together (a first for us!) called, "She Loses, He Loses" about how both of us needed to lose weight after baby . Isn't it true your husband probably gained a few "sympathy pounds" - ha! On the podcast, my husband James and I talk about what we did to drop the pregnancy pounds together. What does this have to do with loving your husband? Getting your body back is a great way to show you care for your man since physical appearance probably matters a great deal to him. My weekly podcast is called "Losing Weight After Baby" and I hope you'll check out the show.

So this weekend, think of your other baby - your husband - and tell him how much you love him.

Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:8

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Complaining hurts my ears!

From the time our children are born it seems they complain.  As newborns they cry  (which seems like complaining to an overwhelmed mother) as a way of communicating their essential needs.  They need food, sleep, and diapers.  More often than not, they are crying because they want to be comforted and held.  

As our children grow, they continue to complain.  I could fill a book chapter with all the complaints my children have had this month.  Last night at dinner I about blew a gasket.  The baby complained about the chicken, my Kindergartner complained about the green beans, and my nine-year-old daughter fussed about the parmesan cheese on the noodle salad.  Not one person said thank you for anything.  It really makes my blood pressure soar when my kids complain about their dinner.  I am constantly aware of the World Vision children who we support who most likely had rice once on any given day.  That being said, I don't have much patience for their nit picking of the wonderful meals they are provided.  

I tend to focus on my chidren's complaining because I really want to change that behavior and the heart behind it.  Unfortunately, I see so much grumbling in adults as well.  Everywhere I look people are fussing and not happy with one thing or another.  That is why I find it to be such a pressing issue in my household.  I don't want these children to grow up to be unhappy, grumbling (hard to work with and hard to be around) adults.  

Philippians 2:14 says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe."  

So the Bible does point out that people who don't complain ARE different.  Oh to shine like a star!  What a great and powerful way for us to stand out as his children.  I challenge you to share this verse with your children.  A few years ago we had a big, yellow star with this verse on it on our fridge.   Meal time is typically our complaining hour.  I think I might make a new star today!  I also challenge you to watch for your own complaining.  God is good, isn't he?  We want for nothing.  I'm not sure I always act like it.  How about you?  

Be lifted!

Monday, April 21, 2008

"I"ll always be a First-Time Mom"

I was dropping my daughter off last week to babysit for a friend who has four children, one recently adopted from Liberia. I asked her how it was going with the new baby and how everyone was adjusting. As we chatted about the changes her family was undergoing, she said, "You know what? I'll always be a first-time mom, because of him." She pointed to her oldest and began to explain, "Everything he does, every age, every stage, I'm brand new at it. So I'll always be a first-time mom."

As I began to think about my friend's simple but profound statement, I knew it was true. My oldest is 16. It's my first time having a 16-year-old daughter. The older of my two boys is 13. So it's my first time having a 13-year-old son. Wow! You mean I'm always going to be new at this? I think so--even my 11-year-old son constantly presents me with new surprises and challenges that are unique to my being his mom.

Maybe it's important to remember, as well, that our children are "first-time kids." If you're the mother of an infant, think about how different the world outside the womb is compared to that cozy, watery world inside. No wonder that baby fusses! It's her first time! And as for teenagers, well, it's their first time growing up! Praise God that we don't have to repeat the process! It's really hard!

Fortunately, nothing is new for our Lord. He is unchanging, faithful, and everlasting. He is true to His Word and His character. And because Jesus has walked in our shoes, He understands our concerns and our confusion when it comes to parenting. It might be our first time, but not His! Trust Him today with your every need, knowing that He is never surprised, He never says, "Oops!" and He is never far away.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)


Friday, April 18, 2008

Power Up with Power Foods

Did you know that what you eat affects your mood? Load up on too many twinkies, and you might enjoy the indulgence but I promise you'll feel miserable after!

When you're facing challenges, from breastfeeding to fatigue, sickness to depression, reach for foods that will boost your mood and fill your body with good fuel. Have these foods on hand, ready to eat, so when you need to snack, they are very easy to grab and munch. They are actually proven to combat disease and help you lose weight:

  • Blueberries/Strawberries/Any berries
  • Whole grain bread
  • Apples
  • Watermelon
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Broccoli
  • Salmon
  • Peanut butter/nuts (small portions)

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and
the fruit tree....And God saw that it was good." - Genesis 1:11-12

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Don't give up

Galatians 6:9
Let's not get tired of doing good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.

Last night something bizarre happened between my daughter and me.  She is nine and I've never known her to be sensitive to others, it's just not in her far.  I haven't taken Child Psych for years so perhaps most nine year olds are still egocentric.  I have been telling her for years that it is crucial to treat others kindly and be supportive and gentle with people.  These are a few things I'll never back down on with my kiddos.  I've often wondered when I would  see any of that in my daughter.

Yesterday I found out that one of my best and oldest childhood friend's dad died.  I am closer to their family than most of my uncles, aunts, and cousins.  I was simply a wreck yesterday.  My little boys never noticed tears in my eyes.  But right before bedtime my daughter came up to me and asked me, "Are you stressed?  Has someone upset you?"  I about fell out of the chair I was in.  That may not sound like a big deal to you but for those of you reading this that know my daughter, that was huge!  I feel like she is finally getting some compassion for others.  

What is important to you and your family?  I challenge you to really think about it.  I've decided a lot of things don't matter at all any more.  The fact that my daughter wears shorts when it's 50 (remember we live in MN so that's  summer weather to some...) and my son loves to wear orange and red together...these things don't matter.  Do they look like they don't have a mother?  Some days yes.  But do they treat people well?  Do they love Jesus?  Are they  concerned for someone besides themselves?  These things matter to me.  And I hope when I look back on their lives I can say a resounding yes.  

Don't give up!  Everything you are teaching your little ones matters.  Everything.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

My post last week was about my friend Kim who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Although I wasn’t even at my church yesterday (I had accompanied my daughter to a church across town where she was serving as a guest worship leader), the pastor’s topic was on storing up treasure in Heaven. He showed a video clip of an acquaintance of his who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was a young man (probably late 30's) who is on the last leg of his journey with this illness. He had things he wanted to say before he went home to be with Jesus. When asked about his life’s regrets, he answered that he was sorry that he had spent so much time at work when he should have been at home. He’d worked long hours on things that could have waited. He had sacrificed evenings and weekends with his family for seemingly urgent deadlines--deadlines that mean absolutely nothing now.

When my children were little, I had a framed saying that I hung in a prominent place in my home that helped me keep things in perspective. It said:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ‘til tomorrow,
for children grow up, much to our sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs!
Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby,
and babies don’t keep!

I’m not suggesting anyone neglect being a good steward of her home! But I am saying, Let’s prioritize! Babies don’t stay little for long. Now’s the time to rock, play, laugh, dance, and sing with your baby! "Cleaning and scrubbing" may be taken literally here, or it could be that you have other “cleaning and scrubbing” in your life—such as a job that takes up too much of your time, or a hobby that has gotten out of hand, or a relationship that is stealing time and energy away from your family (which is your top priority under God).

Pray to find the balance between taking care of business, and the business of taking care of your baby! It's not easy. It can be a constant struggle. That baby of yours is so important! You are the steward of a life! Your relationship with your baby starts NOW! Take care of the big things first. The little things will fall into place. No one wants to have a life full of regrets, and when it comes to our kids, the time we have with them is so limited, because "Babies don't keep!"

When you look at your day, ask God to show you what's important to Him.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all
times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in
fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. (1 Peter 5:8 AMP)

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Comforter

Yesterday was shaping up to be a bad day. My kids woke up earlier than normal, I had cramps, plus the Chinese food I ate yesterday was not agreeing with me!

In the afternoon, I was recording my weekly podcast Losing Weight After Baby. I wasn’t feeling well when I did it, but pressed through only to find out I had the microphone facing the wrong way and had to do it all over again. At that point, I said, I need to pray! Guess what? When I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to empower me, He did! The podcast went much better the second time than the first time.

My pastor is doing a 3 part series on the Holy Spirit and it has really helped me to focus on the Holy Spirit and ask for His daily guidance, empowerment and comfort.

When you need comfort, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Depend on the Holy Spirit. Throw yourself in His able arms instead of a carton of ice cream or a piece of chocolate cake. I read a great quote by pastor and author Dr. David Jeremiah today,

Let me suggest to you that only a feeling of utter inadequacy and insufficiency
can ever prepare us to be God’s warriors.

Whatever battle you’re facing, big or small, call on the Comforter today. He will not disappoint!

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will
teach you all things. John 14:26


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pressed but not crushed

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

The last time I saw my counselor, I mean hopefully the LAST, she asked me to be ready for the next time the symptoms of depression might creep in.  Every once in a while I will have a few bad days which I know are related to hormones but I still absolutely freak out over it.  Those of you who have suffered with postpartum depression or any depression might know what I mean.  The first bad day might trigger another bad day, and before you know it you're taking meds and seeing doctors again.  So I'm always scared of that scenario playing out all over again.  The reality is...that probably WON'T happen.  Everyone has bad days-hormonal or otherwise-it's just that when you've been through a traumatic time related to depression, it's terrifying.

My counselor suggested I keep it simple, come up with one or two verses that really sustain me during tough times.  It had been nearly  four months since I had a bad day so I ignored her advice.  I always thought I'd get around to it but I never sat down with my Bible and made this activity a priority.  I had thought of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 but never delved into this idea of preparing for "next" time.  

So last Wednesday when I was having a bad day out of the blue, these verses from the New Testament became my sustaining verses.  And the next day down the road that is bad?  I'll use these as my strength.  Sometimes we just need a renewed perspective.  Nine times out of ten that's what scripture provides for me in tough times.  

Yes, we are hard pressed but we are NOT crushed.  I don't know about you, but god has formed me into a pretty tough person, I can take hard pressing nowadays.  But God knows we can't take being crushed.  He wouldn't allow it.  We are perplexed but NOT in despair.  If you are struggling with depression, you might feel despair--I know I did.  But you aren't in despair.  There is a difference!  Being IN despair means you have no hope at all.  Your circumstances might seem hopeless but we can always feel hopeful in our God!  In Hebrews 6:19, the Bible says our hope in Christ is an anchor for our soul.  That's serious language.  How can we feel despair with such a strong anchor?  Easy, we're human.  But God's intent for us is to see him as our hope, not our circumstances as our demise.  Next, we are persecuted at times but we are NOT abandoned.  The world is a cruel, cruel place.  Men will persecute us for the sake of Christ.  People will hate it when we love him.  Christians might be annoyed with us if we don't follow all the man-written rules.  At times you may feel like you can't please anyone.  Galatians 1:10 has something to say about that--"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."  Although you are persecuted, Christ will be there with you.  And last, we are struck down but NOT destroyed.  How about you?  Is something striking you down right now?  Are you in a tough place?  I know of a family here in Minneapolis who just lost their 3 year old daughter to cancer.  I can't really think of a tougher place to be.  But God does not leave people. He wants us to live abundant lives. He doesn't want us to have crushed spirits, be in despair, abandoned, or  destroyed.  He wants us to come to him with our heavy burdens and he'll give us rest.  

My prayer for you is that you will meditate on 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 today.  Then ask God to help you get that message in your heart.  Someday you will have a bad day, a rough patch, a trauma, something.  I promise it's coming.  Parenting isn't easy.  Marriage isn't easy.  Life is full of rough stuff.  Are you ready?  

Here's to resting in him,

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Unthinkable

My heart is heavy today as I write this. It's a prayer request of the utmost importance. Kim, a young mom in my church (she has three children, five years old and under) has an inoperable brain tumor. She has been given six months to live.

I wept last night as I pleaded with the Lord to spare her life and bring healing. She is a Christian and not afraid of dying, but as any mother would be, she is afraid of what will happen to her children. How will they fare without a mom? Can her husband hold the family together? What will their lives be like without her?

And she is thinking of what she is going to miss. Birthdays. Smiles. Hugs. Mornings. Bedtimes. Baths. Giggles. Loose teeth. Ball games. Dance recitals. Slumber parties. Cookouts. Summer vacations. Christmas. Plays. Solos. Baptisms. Conversations. Driving. Weddings. Grandchildren.

For every mother, it is the unthinkable. To not live to raise the children you bore? To not see them grow up?

Please pray for Kim, her husband, and her children. Please pray that our church family would be the body of Christ that we are called to be: stepping up, reaching out, holding tight, and praying hard.

"Therefore, confess your sins to each another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).


Friday, April 4, 2008

Are You a Late Night Snacker?

Before you had your baby, you were probably up having a late night snack. Now that baby has arrived, you’re still up at 3 a.m., but now you’re feeding, changing and comforting baby!

When your stomach growls in the wee hours of the night, it’s probably not the best time to dive into that carton of ice cream. After all, you’re about to go to bed (even if it is only for a few short hours!). You’re not going to be burning off those calories while you’re snoozing. So here are a few ideas for snacks that will satiate your hunger without packing on extra pounds:

Celery sticks
Strawberries or other berries
Snap peas
Other raw veggies like broccoli
Popcorn without too much salt or butter
Rice cakes

Try not to indulge in treats late at night. You don’t want to build habits that will be hard to break long after your baby is sleeping through the night. After dark, every time you feel a craving for something sweet, mediate on the Lord instead of food. Think of Psalm 119:103, "How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"

When you crave sweet food, train your mind to instantly think of the sweetness of Christ. Make it a game. See how many things you can list to remind you of God’s grace in your life. Here’s what it might look like: It’s 2:30 in the morning. You’ve just put your baby back to bed. You’re thinking of the last piece of cake that’s in the fridge. Instead you focus on the Lord’s sweetness, “Lord thank you for your kindness in giving me a baby. Thank you for the strength to feed this little one. Thank you for our warm home.” Drink a glass of water and maybe eat a rice cake if you’re still hungry, then go to bed for some much deserved rest.

Focus on God’s Word to strengthen you instead of sugar and treats. You’ll not only lose weight after baby, you’ll grow stronger spiritually--even in the middle of the night!

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! - Psalm 119:103


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Interview with Lauren Hale

Please click here to view my recent interview with Lauren Hale.