Reunited and It Feels So Good

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This weekend our friends from “way back when” were in town. These are always my favorite kind of visits. Somebody from the old crew puts out an apb on the Facebook saying “We’re coming into town and we want to see you guys!”. We gather ourselves and our prodigy and hang out for a few precious hours filled with laughter and chaos, (remember the prodigy) and then it’s all over until next time. Summer seems to be a great time for these reunions too because this is the second of three that will be occurring before school starts.

These particular friends go back to those early years when we were all friends, we weren’t necessarily even dating yet. But in our arsenal of memories we have mission trips to Haiti and Mexico, high school hijinks, laser tag games in a huge church after hours, weddings, baby showers and lots of moves.

Last night with the Wagners, we all tried to figure out timelines by chopping up years in accordance with the event they occurred as we tried to figure out when this happened and where. We figured out that they actually became parents after we’d already moved out to Washington and they had moved to Houston. So we’d never actually KNOWN them as parents.

That makes a big difference.

See there is this hilarious phenomenon that occurs when you have your group of friends who’ve hung out since singleness and through the dating/marriage years. All the sudden these babies come on the scene and the people you knew change. (And you thought you knew them….) For a while there can be awkwardness as you adjust to the way they’ve chosen to parent their kiddos. In the worst case scenarios, you even come to the conclusion that maybe the distance should grow between some of those friendships because YIKES! (Oh stop! Don’t even say that’s mean or not how it should be; because it’s totally true!)

It’s one of those times now that’s really fun for me to watch as new parents navigate their style of parenting and then adjust, adjust and adjust. While it may sound like this horrible truth, I think it’s an excellent personal growth experience (as are most lessons related to children and parenting). It pushes you toward intentional parenting and I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing.

As we embraced our friends and left last night I told them, “I wish we had become parents together and were still doing life around you guys, because I like the way you guys do things!”. It was so fun and refreshing to see our friends as parents. It even highlighted how much we all enjoyed each other in years past.

Wagners and Svolopouli 2015 Wagners and Svolopouli 2015-2 Wagners and Svolopouli 2015-3 Wagners and Svolopouli 2015-4Until next time Wagners! We had so much fun with you guys!

Nevil Vacation 2015

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There’s nothing quite like vacation to teach you a few things about being a parent of small children.

1. The young kids smile and say cheese for photos, the big ones look miserable in every photo.

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2. If you just stopped to get gas and didn’t give everyone the chance to pee, you will be stopping 5 minutes after you get back on the highway.

3. 5 people in 300 sq feet of space makes you desperate to either sleep or get out. How do European/Asian people live in such tight quarters? (oh yeah…they only have one child…)

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Today is recovery day at Casa Nevil. We just got back from a six-day trip to the East Coast. The original reason for going was a cousin’s wedding, but we tacked on a few days and stopped all along the way for some fun. That equals vacation, right?

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I was deeply amused in our 13+ hour drive by how my husband and I have morphed into parents thanks to our three passengers. It’s hilarious to think back to the days when we would do road trips just the two of us; Cheetos, Pepsi (Coke for me!), M&M’s and lots of coffee. We would drive all night long to get to where we needed to be. We’d laugh and talk and turn the music up loud and just snack like crazy.

Things look much different now! Conversations revolve more around who pooped/needs to poop, who needs their screen charged/handed back, whose light is bothering who and what snacks won’t smell/make a mess. Only water is allowed. #wearethoseparents We listened to the Frozen soundtrack a dozen times to appease the tiny terrorist. I was concerned about our carb and sugar intake the entire trip, so I kept giving the kids cheese sticks and bananas.

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Despite the craziness of the trip, it really was fun. This wasn’t one of those, sit and relax sort of vacations-we were busy every minute. But we did a lot of fun things, saw great beauty and enjoyed our time together.

Still….there’s no place like home.

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A Time for All Things

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I suppose my last post was all about how behind I felt for 2015…well, that may be a trend this year! In all actuality, as I lean in to a lot of realizations about this season of my life, I am clinging to Ecclesiastes! “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 3:1

I have many things going on in my life all at once and I have always functioned that way. I like change and variety so much that I enjoy and intentionally create it. The trick for me I’ve found, is to recognize what I can truly take on, what I am realistically capable of doing well and what needs to wait. Thus the problem is the stuff I’m MOST excited about is often what needs to wait (or what I need to admit I can’t do well)!

Currently, the demands of being a wife and Mom, coordinating, encouraging and maintaining women’s ministry and helping with children’s ministry at my church, plus small group hosting and maintenance is all I’ve got time to do well. (It sounds like a lot I know, but I think of more all the time!) I love that and I hate it. I have a dreamers’ mind and I’m always thinking of some random thing I could do or really want to do. I’m grateful I’m married to another dreamer! We talk a big game together.

I say all that because I’m so encouraged lately not by the brevity of life, but the length of it. My birthday is next week and if I’ve done the math correctly, (communications major, remember?) then I’ll be 36. It’s way more fashionable to talk about how old I will be, but I am so young. My children are just babies! There is so much more to experience!

As I ponder the fact that one day my children will be gone from these walls, all I can think about is what in the world I will do with myself?! As someone who fills time as a sport, that is exciting to me. But more importantly, it helps me to hold on and to dive in to being present in what is before me right now. Time is more of a gift than I’ve realized and this season has a good place.

My more-seasoned female friends tell me how fast this time goes, how brief this period of my life will be and how tightly I should hold on to it. It’s easier for me to get excited about what’s next though! So I’m continually grabbing myself by the shirt and yanking my heart back to reality. Often I have to tell myself to come back, be present in what is before me now and ask for grace to fully enjoy and commit to memory the quiet rhythms of our life. What’s now is good. I am deeply grateful for this happy and mundane life. It is a gift from God and it is rare to get to enjoy it.

I want to tag and give a shout out to this woman, Kara Tippetts. If you aren’t reading her story yet, may this help you start. She is a young terminal cancer patient, wife and momma and she writes about what dying is like. I hope you’ll let that last sentence sink in…

She says, “I feel like I’m a little girl at a party whose dad’s asking her to leave early. And I’m throwing a fit. I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to go.”

I am so inspired by this woman and her public vulnerability as she walks towards what I think is the hardest thing; an untimely end. Reading her story has made me cry over and over again. It’s pulled me back and encouraged me to be present in what is happening in my life now and the lives of those around me right now.

So if you feel rushed in life, if you feel behind the curve, may it be a blessing to turn that around to being a time to enjoy where you are right now. May you be present in this whether it is a season of lament or joy!

 

 

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!

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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. :-)