Behind the Curve for 2015

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A January sunset one busy evening as I prepped dinner.

A January sunset one busy evening as I prepped dinner.

I’m usually much more on top of my game than I was this year as the calendar turned afresh. I feel like all my friends were so ready for the new year with their posts about their goals for 2015, their word they are focusing on for the year, their prayers, their resolutions. I was unexpectedly treading water to keep my heart open and present in the midst of a continuous sea of activity, events, meetings and family.

At first it really bothered me, you know, when I woke up from la-la land. But as I tried to clear the clutter, wipe the lens to see what I had going on around me and what was in my heart, I was ok with how 2015 found me. You see I was found in the thick of it; in the thick of life. All around me babies are being born, marriages are struggling, people are dying and getting sick, cars are being totaled, relationships are being celebrated and conflicted. Big things like that and little things like my daughter fighting me on potty-training, my heart trying to figure out how to tell my boys how to guard and open their own hearts with their friends at school, what in the world is for dinner?

As my love says often, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”.

Truth be told, I sort of want to escape all alone to some rustic cabin on an island in the pacific northwest, where rain falls on the sea of perpetual green, where quiet reigns, so I can figure out and take stock of where my heart and mind and soul are right now. But, I am afraid I’m in the thick of life and it’s not time to pause just yet.

I’m learning to practice compassion to myself thanks to Brene Brown. So I’m thus learning to be ok with that. It’s alright for me to be in the thick of crazy; to be present with the people around me. How many of us have the luxury of just being available to respond to others?

So while I work and juggle, while I pray and abide, while I seek and retreat, persue and rest I’m met with the challenge of asking myself what’s up with me? What’s up with my heart? God, what are you doing in me? How will you lead us in this new year and help me focus in the midst of so much?

If you are feeling behind the curve for 2015, I just want to ask you to be compassionate to yourself too. It’s ok to be present and available to others in your life, to be in the thick of it. Keep on seeking, don’t check out. Invite God and others into your messy little picture.

Maybe all we need is to be willing to embrace the Mystery and wait and see what God will do?

To the King and to the mystery of what will be unveiled in 2015!

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from the Nevil Family!

Merry Christmas from the Nevil Family!

My family wishes you a very Merry Christmas! May you live full of hope in 2015. God is good; His faithful love endures forever.

The Little People

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This past week my husband and I went to an Acts 29 conference in Dallas, Texas. We were invited by our Pastor back in September. The time in between September and the approaching d-day flew by me and I became increasingly filled with anxiety over all the details leading up to the trip.

99% of what filled my heart and head was mom-centered; my MIL can attest to the 6-page document I left her. P.S. She ROCKED it in our absence. In fact she over-rocked it. My kids didn’t even miss us, which we all know is the highest form of flattery a parent can receive. But as we drove that 11 hour drive, I felt my heart unwind and try to tap into that 1% of free space. I started to pray that God would fill and encourage us on the trip and I slowly started to breathe again. The open plains and spaces of the Oklahoma landscape felt poetic to my heart and soul. And made me squeal to think Rae Drummond LIVES HERE! Will I run into her at a gas station?!!!! Then when we got to Dallas I might have prayed to run into Beth Moore…and hug her.

Here we are in the van for our 11-hour drive from St. Louis to Dallas. Just a couple a' little people in a big sea

Here we are in the van for our 11-hour drive from St. Louis to Dallas. Just a couple a’ little people in a big sea

I was completely unsure as to what I should expect once we got to the conference. I have walked with Jesus for 16 years, gone to Christmas conferences with Campus Crusade for Christ and leadership summits of the like, but this was a new thing for both my husband and I. Add that to our curiosity at why we’d been invited in the first place and you get two wide-eyed little people at a conference for Pastors/staff in a denomination with some messy stuff going on.

And yet, even from our vantage point, we left tremendously encouraged in our faith, in our role of ‘little people’ at our church and with a renewed faith in God’s sovereignty and interaction in the local church, His bride.

One of my best take-aways from the conference was from Pastor Steve Treichler up in Minnesoooooota  (you have to pronounce it like that…you know you do) at Hope Community Church. He referenced 2 Corinthians 4:13-18, but I loved vs 15b, “And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” He reminded us that all that we do should be to the glory of God, that the unseen things are eternal, and all that transpires in our lives is so that thanksgiving may increase in our hearts and be ascribed to Him. (AMEN!)

My studly husband and I are just people in God’s church. We are not anyone important or noteworthy. And frankly, my church isn’t exactly doing things that are noticeable to an outsider. Is that what matters though? All week we were reminded that the reason we serve, interact, love and get up out of bed for Sunday morning is for the glory of God that THANKSGIVING may increase and glory may be ascribed to God! It was so freeing for me to hear that.

Matt Chandler, the president of Acts 29, had some encouraging reminders too about how each of us have been called by God to whatever we have going on in our own little corner of the world and lives. To honor who God has made us to be and how that fits together while remembering to abide in Jesus, paying attention to our thoughts and actions and the way they affect other people around us.

As we drove home and worked through all we had stirring within us (my love and I are both verbal processors), my encouragement that I wanted (and want to continue) to share to the friends and people around me is just that; to abide in Jesus SO THAT thanksgiving may increase to God in whatever thing He has called you to do in this life. Be whoever God has made you to be in the most holy and connected-to-Christ way you can be. Breathe and enjoy that freedom.

Here we are with our friends and fellow Fugees, Pastor Trey Herweck, Kids Refuge Leader Amy, & Elder Eric (the second). Good times with good friends!

Here we are with our friends and fellow Fugees, Pastor Trey Herweck, Kids Refuge Leader Amy, & Elder Eric (the second). Good times with good friends!

Acts 29 roadtrip November 2014-3 Acts 29 roadtrip November 2014-4

How I Got To A Healthier Me

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I am a child of the ’80s. Growing up my family ate: hamburger helper, chef boyardee, beenie weenies, tuna noodle casserole, vienna sausages, mac n cheese, ramen noodles, banquet tv dinners, spaghetti o’s, captain crunch, fruity pebbles, count chocula etc. cereals. Food came with some sort of sauce or from a box, basically. Turkey loaf…meat loaf, condensed cream of chicken/mushroom/golden mushroom/cheese/celery/tomato soup plus some rice of some sort to soak it up a bit. Fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with CREAM gravy. In fact, my MOST favorite meal was mashed potatoes with cream gravy, chicken fried steak (also with cream gravy-lots o’ pepper) and some fried okra or green beans.

That my friends, was a dream come true for me. My paternal-Grandmother would make GIGANTIC Sunday post-church meals for the family and they usually looked like fried chicken, baked beans, mac n cheese, fried okra or fried green tomatoes and maybe some pudding or some cottage cheese with pineapple slices/apricot halves over the top. Oh! And don’t forget the maraschino cherry!

I remember LOVING food and being so hungry when I was a kid. I was always bugging my Mom about what I could eat next. As a kid getting a snack after school, one of my most favorite things to eat was a slice of white bread with butter and a slice of cheese warmed up in the microwave just a scooch, until it was nice and gooey.

I wrestled with my weight beginning around the time I turned 11. Before that, I had always been a very thin child. From then on and especially into junior high and high school, I was a fat chick. I was more ahem “developed” than the majority of the girls I was classmates with and I was reminded and teased about it regularly. Sometime in high school, things began to smooth out a little bit. I think I was a junior in high school. I am not sure if I got taller, busier or what. I think it was about the time that all the other girls in the lunch room were eating at the salad bar for lunch.

However, I still had a picture of what I looked like in my head. Now, I LOVED food (and still do!) but I just couldn’t seem to figure things out back then. The best I could do was force myself to eat less. It worked for a while but was still a challenge for me.

I was never on any sports leagues. I never exercised unless my friends asked me to do it with them on a video or a class of some sort. I was ungraceful, uncoordinated and just felt fat and clumsy. So any attempt at exercise just made me cringe. I mean, people, my body jiggled all over! EW! I would get out of breath easily and I was not strong.

Fast forward to my early twenties. I got a bit older,snagged a guy (who thought I was beautiful??) and got married.

Before the wedding I was the “lowest” I’d ever weighed as an adult. But still, it was just reasonable and by the charts I was still considered “overweight”. After the wedding, we both ballooned up pretty quick. We were happy, we had time, we ate out often and we both loved to eat! I loved to cook but I didn’t really know how nor did I have a recipe repertoire other than what my own Mom had made for us growing up. (Which I liked and frankly, EVERYONE I knew grew up that way and ate that way. It was not some sick thing. That was totally normal!)

I think it was some time after my first child that I became truly miserable. We got one of those church directory pictures taken and I just wanted to die over how fat I was! But still, I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I didn’t want to eat salad the rest of my life! I am not a rabbit!

Eventually we moved out to the west coast, to Washington State. I met my best friend, Crystal. We had children the same age and we were both frustrated with our weight (though she had just had 1/2 of her thyroid removed!). She began a dramatic weight loss journey (losing over 100 lbs!) and just through doing life together and hearing/seeing/experiencing what she was doing that was right, I decided I wanted to do that too and I tried to learn as much as I could from her experience.

I began slowly to change how I ate. I figured out that I needed to lay off the carbs, eat more veggies and fruits and I desperately needed to move my body. In that time I began to train for a number of races and started running. Things finally started to come together for me. I started getting it. And what a perfect place in the country to get it! Every where I looked fresh veggies and fruits were at my disposal.

I began using Spark People to try to track my calories and my exercise. I began experimenting with “healthy swaps” and trying to lower the calories in some of my favorite recipes. I practiced portion control. <gasp!>

My biggest struggle has always been that if you tell me I CAN’T have something, then that’s when I want it and I’ll obsess over it until I just give in. However, I figured out that I could still eat fun and exciting things if I worked for them. I learned the difference between quality calories vs empty calories. I learned to say no and to tell myself that this isn’t the last good meal I will eat on Earth. (I needed a reminder that I would eat again soon!)

Eventually I got pregnant again and I was determined to have a more healthy pregnancy than my first. I succeeded in that endeavor and even managed a successful VBAC as a result. I did better at shedding the lbs post baby too because I gained less in my pregnancy and I knew what to do afterwards to help shed the weight. I’m not saying it was easy! I’m just saying that for the first time, I knew what to do!

My progress continued on and after we moved back to the mid-west, I even had a third baby. It was my best pregnancy to date! I gained a healthy amount of weight and lost it in a decent amount of time. Again, it was NOT easy, but I knew what to do.

My weight is still something I am working on, however it’s more of an overall desire to be healthy and honor God with this body than it is an opportunity to be some thin and lovely woman (though that is a nice thing too). I want to be comfortable in my own skin and with what my body is capable of achieving. I want to be strong!

I now use My Fitness Pal to help me with my daily calorie intake. I also use Map My Run to help me track my fitness. The show The Biggest Loser has helped me so much actually to be inspired and encouraged to not just change how I eat, like some fad diet, but to change my whole life for the better. I’ve learned what a danger Type 2 Diabetes is and all the horrific things that come with the disease.

I’ve learned SO MUCH about food too. My cooking has radically changed. Don’t get me wrong, I love food and I love to eat. I love to prepare it and think creatively about it also – and that has revolutionized my life. Once I began to realize how much I was capable of doing with the food we eat in our family, it became a fun game and a competition against myself! I’m always trying to improve and educate myself and my family.

So today, my fitness goals look like this:

-move more. Go outside as much as possible! (this is big for me because I love to be outside)

-eat a plant-based diet as much as you possibly can. think creatively about how to get veggies and fruit at breakfast and at lunch!

-exchange unhealthy fats for healthy fats and go high protein

-look for ways to cut out processed and refined sugars

-drink more water than you drank yesterday, every day

I still eat chocolate, cupcakes, waffles and pancakes, cake and pie. I still go over my calorie allotment some days. I still eat out! But if my fitness goals are in the forefront of my mind, then I still see all the benefits.

I recently cleaned out my closet and got rid of so many clothes that don’t fit me. I actually tried stuff on so that I could SEE the difference. Wow. I was astonished. I am in single digit sized pants today. I NEVER thought I’d get there. It hasn’t been fast. It hasn’t been dramatic. But I’m happy with both the journey and where I know my goals are going to take me.

This is one of those journeys that only leads to good things! There are not very many journeys like that in this life. :-)

Conversations with my Kids

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I’ve gotten into the habit lately of unloading the dishwasher immediately after I wake up in the morning (and while I wait for my coffee to finish steeping). It’s a good and productive reason for me to stay in the kitchen while the kids are eating breakfast. No-I don’t eat breakfast with them because I need a little time to wake up before I eat. That’s a separate post someday…

This morning, while I was unloading the dishwasher, the kids witnessed me pulling out the whisk attachment for my Kitchen aid mixer. Cecelia said, “Mommy, what are you stirring?!” as I leaned over to put it away. I replied, “nothing sweetie, I’m just putting it away, I’m all done with it” to which Cooper responded, “um, yeah, it’s been a really long time since you’ve used that mom.” I smirked at his innuendo of some sweets to eat because Cooper has a sweet tooth like the Grand Canyon. “Sweet heart, I used the mixer yesterday. So no, it hasn’t been that long since I’ve used it.”

“Yeah,” said Cooper with a very down-turned mouth, “but it has been a long time since you made cookies”.

Have I mentioned I have a foodie blog?

The Funny Girl

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One of the best parts of being a parent of small children is being able to recount the hilarity that comes with said territory (and not really embarrass them). I haven’t told perhaps any Cecelia stories here on my blog. Perhaps we are just now getting to the truly funny stuff though?

Cecelia is now two and a half. She melts our hearts on a regular basis with her friendliness, her warmth, her sing-song way of talking and walking and her general joyfulness. She loves her brothers SO much and they feel the same way about her. She and her eldest brother, Cooper, have a loving relationship probably typical of a really older brother (7 years her senior). He picks her up, holds her, dances with her in his arms; he loves to push her in the swings or help her ride her bike. He reads stories to her, helps her and is 100% on her side, loyal to her every whim. Chase on the other hand? He and she have a bit of a different relationship.

Chase is only 3 years older than Cecelia. While it’s a good amount of space between them, it’s also close enough that they enjoy playing with one another a lot more than she and Cooper (who are interested in totally opposite things). Chase will sometimes be the helpful, loving brother who gets something out of reach for Cecelia or plays make believe with her (especially house/kitchen etc). However, he GREATLY delights in lording things over her. There is a little too much joy in his face when he sees her doing something wrong/out of place. He will happily snatch something away from her, play keep-away with her most beloved blanket or baby doll, and generally tease/torment her according to how he’s feeling that day. And while she screams and fusses at him, he just smiles at her impishly.

I’m still surprised that she even wants to play with him or is happy to see him after the way he treats her. But each day it’s Chase she asks me about. It’s Chase she say’s goodbye to over and over and over when we drop him off for school. It’s Chase she can’t wait to see when we go to pick the boys up from school and it’s Chase she begs to play with her once the boys are home.

Lately though, she’s putting together much more complicated, full sentences. She’s able to express herself not just in action but also in word; and Chase is getting an earful. When we were in Iowa visiting our friends recently, we had spent a full morning playing at a splash park and having a picnic. A storm started to move in and it was getting late in the afternoon, so we decided to head back to the lake house. We changed the kids clothes and loaded them up in the car to head back. As we were driving Chase (who sits in the way back all by himself for many reasons), began making really annoying sounds with his mouth. They got pretty loud and obnoxious and just as I was about to tell him to stop the shenanigans, Cecelia, who had up to this point been quietly sucking her fingers and cuddling her blanket, pushed her hand out flat as if to show a sign for stop and exclaimed, “Stop! Stop it Chasey! I am so tired, I’m sleeping!”.

Jeremy and I stifled hysteric laughter. We looked back at Cecelia and she had again resumed her previous position. And Chase? He was actually quiet!

Our funny Cecelia in her most favorite jammies

Our funny Cecelia in her most favorite jammies with her friend, Nora

Impulsive

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I was a psych minor in college. One of the first things I was told by my instructors is how important it is to “know thyself”. I can honestly say that this has guided me through a lot of areas in life; both in my strengths and my weaknesses. When my family and I began attending our current church home three years ago, I was delighted to hear that there’s some Meyers-Briggs jargon in getting plugged in there. (Side Note: which really, how much different is that than your disc-test or your spiritual gifts test? We all categorize our chaos in different ways.)

I am an ENFJ. Finding this out about myself has helped me to love who I am, accept how I was made and it has helped me to stretch in areas I see (and those I don’t) are in need of growth. From a spiritual perspective, it has helped me to pray that I would have good balance both in my heart and in my actions. A friend laughed and told me recently that there is a prayer chart for each personality on the Myers Briggs. That idea was both funny and intriguing to me so I looked it up. Sure enough (here it is if you want to find yours), my prayer for my personality is right on: God help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?

I laughed so loud (which if you know me is pretty loud) when I read this prayer. What a riot! Today, I’m wrestling with my impulsiveness. How what I want to do is not what I should do or even what I have so much time to do. I have many things on the schedule over the next few days which are others-focused (not surprising given my personality) and those things are fun for me and make me feel alive and happy. But I REALLY want to do some other things all by my sweet little self. I might even need to if I want to recharge.

Just as my prayer tagline above is “do you mind putting that in writing?” I am in need of putting THIS in writing because I am almost guaranteed to see something shiny and move on in my fast-paced way to whatever my next project is…or just ignore the tug and keep trucking.

Is it wrong to have a list for your lists?

Today may I cling to Psalm 28:7 and accept the help so generously offered to me:

The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.