Are you for real?

As I was reading a friend’s post recently, I was amazed at her honesty. She was being very transparent about a struggle that she was dealing with in her life. Of course, then I read well-meaning comments that if you didn’t know the people they could make you think they were trying to “condemn” her for thinking about making a particular choice. I believe her friends were trying to encourage her to hang in there….but “perceived condemnation” is one of my personal fears about opening up to others.I am a genuine person. If I like you, you know it. If I don’t, you should. LOL! BUT, I am also one of the “mask-wearers”. I put on my happy face sometimes when I need to be willing to talk to someone about something that is a very real struggle. I can smile and say I’m fine with the best of them. And honestly, most people believe it. You know why? Because they are doing the exact same thing! The bad thing is, I pretty much know WHY, but opening myself up to change is one of those things that seems too hard to do.

So, here’s a little self-reflecting. When I was a child, I had some men in my life that I wanted desperately to love me! My dad, 2 step-dads and a couple other men that meant a lot to me. I pretended to be this “perfect” child who was smart and funny and I loved performing to get positive attention. The problem is, I didn’t get enough attention. They were happy at the time, but then I felt neglected. {I will tell you now that if you have a little girl and you are a male role model in her life (dad, grandpa, uncle, friend, etc.) PLEASE show her love and affection!!! Girls seek the approval of those around them, but especially males. They need to know (from men who don’t expect anything more out of them) that they are beautiful, smart, funny and loved unconditionally.} I felt like anything I did got me a temporary response, but then it was over. I needed more.

Unfortunately, I had 2 step-fathers who not only gave up on my mom, they gave up on me. They would say they loved me as their own and they would keep in touch, but neither did! I spent many a day crying when they were there (because they were not good people) but also many days crying because they left.  I wanted their love even though they weren’t good for my mom or me. That affected me so much in that when I became a step-mom — I actually dislike even using that word. I call myself Mom and he is my son (or bonus son if someone doesn’t understand that I didn’t actually give birth to him) — I promised myself I would love him and treat him as my own. And I believe I have done that. I would sure hope he would say that. 🙂

Now, I became a Christian at 8 (right after my 1st step-dad left us) and I have always loved God, but trusting Him has been a process that I continue to work on. It is amazing how your life experiences can so invade your world as an adult. I have grown and become more dependent on the Lord for my approval. That is a positive! But, we are human. We all still want the approval of those around us.

So, I said all that to say this–baring my soul and telling people when I am struggling with something is not something that comes naturally to me. I have a genuine distrust for people. I don’t want to say something that is important to me and have it blasted all over to other people, nor do I want people to think that I am not able to deal with things with God’s help! I WANT to trust God to heal me and listen to me, but having others say things about me would really hurt. In most ways I don’t care what people say about me, but there is that little part in me who desires to be loved, accepted, wanted, etc. I just have learned that God is the person who has to fulfill me. He is the only person who can fill the void in my heart.

That’s about as real as I can be. I am honest when I say that I wear a mask sometimes. You would probably be honest by saying that too. If not, I applaud you! But, if you are like me, I leave you with this quote.  you-are-enough-e1384619767723

Rebecca

{Almost} Empty Nest

A baby bird takes 2 weeks to hatch from their egg and another 2 weeks to leave the nest. Wow! That is fast!

Humans typically get at least 18 years (and sometimes more) with their children. The first 9 months you are pregnant seem kind of slow, but when it’s over you feel as if it has flown by. I have come to the realization that the next 18-20 years flies as well. Mainly because I.Am.There.

I remember carrying my boys waiting on them to arrive, the late nights with sick boys when they were little, the teenage struggles when I got less sleep than I did when they were nursing every 2-3 hours, the tears I cried–both of joy & sadness…..Oh, how the time has flown. You are not alone sweet Mama (or Daddy)! Many have gone before you and many will go behind. Hang in there because being a Parent, although one of the hardest jobs you will ever have, is also one of the most rewarding.

I have a 23 year old who gave my first Grandchild 7 months ago yesterday! That 7 months has flown. They live 12 hours away, so when I see pictures or Skype she looks like she has grown so fast!20140205-112241.jpg

This week, my 20 year old son interviewed for a job (ahem, a career) an hour and a half away from here. If he gets it, he will be moving out soon.

My 18 year old is graduating HS in May. Tonight we have a meeting for 1 of his scholarships for College.20140205-112321.jpg

Don’t get me wrong….I’m thrilled my boys are growing into fine, young men! I just pray I have given them everything they need to be responsible and dependable and productive in life.

Hear me Mamas & Daddys! TIME FLIES! All these struggles with hair, clothes, chores, homework, etc…..they will soon be gone. My encouragement to you parents of young children today is this:

1. This too shall pass–If you are having a hard day, be encouraged that you WILL survive it.

2. Take a little time for yourself each day to breathe! Whether you are a working outside the home Mom or a working inside the home mom life can be overwhelming some days. Moms who work outside the home don’t have a break because they are doing so. They need wind down time too and their job begins again even when they clock out at 5. Moms who work inside the home need time to be alone because they are also on the clock.

Here are two things I did that helped me when I was in both positions….when I worked inside the home I made my children have at least 1 nap time together. I had a baby and a 22 month old, so I started as soon as the baby got on a schedule to make that happen. During that time I did NOT clean or work for at least 30 min. I rested, watched tv, read a book, prayed, ate a meal without sharing a bite, used the bathroom by myself….I.needed.that. and you.do.too!

When I worked outside the home, I took 15 min when I got home to sit down, take off my shoes and just breathe. If I couldn’t be in peace in the living room, then I would go to my bedroom and shut the door. It didn’t take long for the boys to understand that Mommy needed a few minutes before she heard “What’s for dinner?” “He hit me.” or any other myriad of things.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed, put yourself in time out! It will help! I promise!

3. Take/make time with your spouse! Put the kids to bed at least half an hour before you go to bed….even if they are older and you give them half an hour to read a book. You need time to talk and connect. Even swap babysitting one night a month with friends who have kids. It’s free and if “all” you do is have dinner in and talk, then it’s worth it!

4. Enjoy this time with your kids! Let me repeat that….ENJOY THIS TIME WITH YOUR KIDS! It really will be over before you know it! They will be standing on the edge of the nest flapping their wings and when you least expect it they will jump!

Now, I just have to remind myself of this on the days I secretly wish they were out flying instead of sitting on my couch watching tv and eating all my food! Ha ha! 🙂 There will be days like that too!

Press on my friends! Take care of that “baby bird” until they are ready to fly–then watch them soar! 🙂

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Rebecca

 

Hope in the Struggle

HOPEToday I am reminded of so many people who are struggling–health concerns, jobs, finances, marriages, relationships, parenting, or a plethora of other issues that may be plaguing them.  Please take the time to pray with me today for these people and those you know.

You or someone you know may be weary, tired, struggling, or trying to just put one foot in front of the other. I have been there many times! Our Pastor said on Sunday that you are in 1 of 3 places: You are coming out of a storm, in the middle of a storm, or getting ready to go into a storm.  Praying is one of the hardest things to do when you are in the middle of the storm. I’m not really sure why this is, but it is true for me. I can pray for others, but not myself. So today, I’m dedicating my little corner of the Internet to pray for you. If you want to share a request, feel free. If you only want to share your name or the first name of someone who needs prayer, you can do that to. And if you don’t want to share at all, that is perfectly ok. God knows your need and if you have stumbled on my little blip of a blog, then He wants you to know that you are being prayed for today.

Here are some words from Sidewalk Prophets song “The Words I Would Say” that I love:

“from one simple life to another
I will say…come find peace in the Father”

May you find your Peace today and may your burden be lighter!

 

Rebecca

 

10 years ago Wednesday

It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago Wednesday (Jan 29th) we were sitting at a doctor’s appointment one minute and in an ambulance the next. We went from sharing a burger and a Dr. Pepper in the car to being admitted to Children’s Hospital. Our lives were changed that day when our then 8 year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

We spent 3 days in the hospital learning what to do to help him manage this disease. We had no idea that we would be going back to math class, learning how to read food labels, having to look up everything he ate, and going to nursing school in that short amount of time. Now, I’m not telling you that our life ended that day or how horrible it was and we have never recovered–just stating the facts.

WE were the LUCKY ones!!! Our son came home with disease that, although there is no cure for, there are things he can do to manage it and still live a long and happy life. It’s just bittersweet because it WAS life changing.

We learned things like BS-120/125=? (which is his blood sugar minus his target range divided by his insulin sensitivity). And how many units of insulin he needed to take per grams of carbs (45/15=3.0u).  How to read nutrition labels that looked Greek, how to look online for Nutritional Information for restaurants and how to look at a plate of homemade food and guesstimate how many carbs were in it in order to know how much insulin he should take.

We also learned that we were stronger than we thought–and so were our children. We all had to pitch in to keep an eye on him and remind him to check his sugar. School was the hardest for me. After the 3 days at the hospital, he picked up a virus and was a very sick boy for another few days. When I had to take him back to school–3rd grade–and leave him in the care of other people and work for 8 hours, I was so worried. I probably called them 3 times that day just to check on him. We were blessed to have wonderful and very understanding (& responsible) Teachers, Administrators, Staff & Nurses!

So, 10 years later, here we are. Hunter is going to graduate High School in May and then go on to pursue a Criminal Justice degree. There are several professions he would love to do, but he is unable due to restrictions on those professions. He just decided he would do something that he COULD do and that he also WANTED to do.

I have to tell you that 10 years has flown by. But, in all honesty, I feel like we have been doing this forever.

Permissible But Not Beneficial

Welcome to my Thursday Blog Hop for the Made to Crave online Bible Study!

The topic I chose for today was Permissible But Not Beneficial.

The verse that speaks of this in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 10:23.

The NIV version says this: “I have the right to do anything.” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything.” but not everything is constructive.

The HCSB version says this:  Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up.

The definition of permissible is — Permitted or allowed

The definition of beneficial is — Favorable or advantageous or resulting in good

The definition for constructive is — Serving a useful purpose or tending to build up.

So, how does this apply to me, or this study?

Well, when it comes to food, you can see that everything really is permissible. One thing that is hard when you are trying to eat healthy is overcoming tempting foods. Is it permissible for me to eat a candy bar? Of course, there are no laws against it (even though there probably should be–LOL)! Is it beneficial for me to eat a candy bar? No, not really. It doesn’t have the nutritional value that I need, it doesn’t give me a sense of fullness like a meal does and most importantly it doesn’t stop my craving to eat.

But, this verse isn’t just talking about food. I can relate it to that because it is something I struggle with, but it could be talking about inappropriate relationships, websites, conversations, movies, etc. What/Who could you be watching, listening to, talking about/to, that could be permissible, but not beneficial?

We must protect ourselves from things that aren’t good for us. Just as you would protect a child who was walking toward a busy highway, you must protect yourself. If food is your vice, you must do some things to help yourself be prepared. If surfing on the internet is a problem for you, you must install blockers on your computer. Anything that causes you a problem can very easily be taken care of by a little planning ahead before you are faced with that temptation.

Planning ahead is always a good idea.  Prayer is the BEST planning you can do, of course, but you can also set some practical guidelines that can help you when you are in a situation that can be difficult for you.

Here are a few of my strategies for planning ahead for eating at home:

  • Always eat before you go grocery shopping!
  • Try to stay in the perimeter of the store and make sure when you are in the checkout lane that you have something else to focus on.
  • Meal plan/Freezer cook–this helps on those nights when you are just too tired to think about food.
  • Don’t buy snacks for your family that you shouldn’t eat unless you buy something just for you–like potato chips. You have to find something that is similar, but better for you. If you don’t, you will be more likely to have your hand in the bag before you know it.
  • Always measure/count out your serving size. If I purchase a bag of healthy chips, I count out a serving size and place it in a Ziploc bag–and I do this for every serving in the bag. It makes packing my lunch easier and I don’t have to think about how many I should have.
  • Use a calorie log and keep track for at least 2 weeks. You will be amazed at how many calories you don’t even realize you are eating. Two popular ones are Lose It or My Fitness Pal.
  • Always measure yourself before you start a healthy eating plan! You don’t always see immediate results on the scale, but inches are just as important as pounds.

Here are a few of my strategies for eating out:

  • Plan ahead if you are having dinner out. If you know ahead of time, decide what you will eat when you get there.
  • Skip the sodas/teas–have water instead. If you feel you MUST have a soda/tea, then ask for a soda/tea AND water, then don’t allow them to re-fill it.
  • Learn to read menus & nutritional facts. Most menus now have the calorie count of the meal or you can look it up before you go. Be SMART! Even a salad at some restaurants can be over 800 calories! Check out the Restaurant Nutrition App.
  • Pick something you really love and split it with someone or ask for a to-go box when your meal comes and box half of it up before you take the first bite.
  • Skip the bread & the dessert

Now back to the Permissible but not beneficial–If you know you have a weakness for something specific, don’t use that as a reward. As a matter of fact, it’s best to not use food as a reward. One thing I do like to do is pick something I want/like — maybe something to make a project I’ve been wanting, maybe a scarf, etc.

Basically, if you have an issue that you know you have a hard time dealing with, then you need to keep yourself away from it. It’s easier to do this with accountability from a friend (or in the case of Made To Crave over 40,000 friends!). Start by being honest about what you have issues with and take it one step at a time. My goal in this is to #CraveGod more than I crave food!

Do you have suggestions that help you?

Any thoughts or comments?

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts! If you follow my blog I would be happy to list you as a blog I follow if you would like to get more traffic to your website. I would appreciate the same.

All In

Yesterday was our first sermon from our new Pastor. I enjoyed listening to him preach this message on being “All In” in our Christian life. At the end of the service my boys’ football coach and his family came down to join our church and I was reminded of a theme from Football Camp a couple years ago appropriately titled “All In”. Our team is called the Trojans and a sword is on their helmets. He explained that they needed to be “All In” in every aspect of their life and this would carry onto the football field.

So, I went home and found my “All In” t-shirt. I even took a picture and posted it on Social Media! Ha ha!

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What I thought of as I was working yesterday was this:

  • It’s easy to be “All In” when things are going well.
  • It’s easy to be “All In” when you first begin something.
  • It’s easy to be “All In” when you are excited.

But what about the times when things aren’t going well, or you have been doing the same thing for a while with not as many results as you thought, or when you aren’t excited anymore but tired?

I feel like Pastor Tony’s message was for me in more than just the spiritual aspect. I need to be “All In” in LIFE! In my relationship with God, my family, my friends, my health, my finances….EVERY aspect. I am trusting that when I start with being “All In” with my walk with the Lord that it will trickle down into the rest of my life, but I want to take it a step further. I want to APPLY it to all those areas instead of waiting on it to trickle down!

Are you “All In”? I know I am!

Hiking Mt. Leconte for our 20th anniversary

Brian suggested that we either hike or ride the motorcycle to spend the day before our anniversary together. He just wanted us to be able to spend all day together–no cell phones, no tv, no distractions. I was game for anything.

So, we decided that it would be neat if we hiked Mt. Leconte since it is such a BIG hike! Of course, day hiking was adventurous to say the least, but it is definitely one you can do as a day hike. If you are in great shape, you can do it much easier! 🙂

Now, the day before this I ran my first ever 5K. No, I didn’t break any land speed records, but I had a great time and actually felt really good the next morning when I woke up around 6:30. So, we got up and got ready to hit the trail!

After fueling up the car and fueling up our bodies we made the drive to Alum Cave Bluff’s trail head. This is a VERY popular place and hike. I think even more so now that Chimney Tops Trail is closed due to landslides and fallen trees. We parked pretty easily, donned our backpacks (technically Brian had a back pack, all I had was a Camelbak and my camera) and headed off.

We began hiking around 9:30 – which is kind of a late start if you are going to day hike it, but it can be done. We were very excited when we started and hiked very well for a while. We knew the first place we would come to was Arch Rock which is about 1.5 miles into the 5.5 mi one-way hike. The trail up to that point is what I would consider easy-moderate depending on your hiking abilities. I typically upgrade whatever the websites or books say a trail is by putting it between what they say and the next level. I feel like they are speaking to very experienced and very in shape hikers. 🙂

Here is Arch Rock

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It is a huge rock with a path cut through it. The stairs are very steep, as you can see.

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This is a beautiful spot and at 1.5 miles in it is a great hike! You could hike here and have lunch and then hike back to the trail head. OR, you could keep going!

The hike from here gets a little more difficult with more roots, rocks and such on the trail and the elevation is continuing up, but at a manageable pace. There are plenty of places to take a rest if you need to and the views as you go up are plenty! There are little nooks where you can walk to the creek or look over the side and see the mountains.

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1 more mile from Arch rock is Alum Cave Bluffs. Like I said, the hike gets a little more difficult, but this is also a beautiful place to hike to and have a picnic. It will take you a little longer to walk that mile, but you can do it! Here are a couple pictures of the Bluffs.

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It’s pretty much the side of the mountain! It is steep to climb up (as you can tell by the angle), but once you’ve gotten there it’s really nice.

Now, for the fun part! We know several people who have hiked to Mt. Leconte, people who hike it all the time and really enjoy it. We thought this would be a neat accomplishment we could make for our 20th Anniversary! How neat would it to be able to tell people that you hiked to the highest point in Tennessee.  We have hiked a lot and I consider us to be in decent shape. Yes, we could still lose a few pounds, but we still felt like we could do this! We knew it would take all day and all day it did!

Now, from Alum Cave Bluffs, things drastically change! Almost ALL of the trail is narrow, covered by roots, rocks or snow and it is steep in a lot of places. You don’t think about these obstacles as much on the way up because they are much easier to navigate going up. But, when you are coming down you wonder in a few places how that’s going to turn out! HA HA!

Here are some examples of the steepness and some of the things we had to climb to get to the top!

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So, all the while going up we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. I was still pretty excited and VERY determined to make it! Brian, not so much! I think if I hadn’t kept going he would have been happy to just turn around at the Bluffs. (I can honestly say–the next day I wish we had! LOL!)

But, the reason we trudged over the obstacles and through the snow — with NO hiking sticks (we forgot them) and no snow cleats (we didn’t own any) — was because we wanted to accomplish something that some people never do.

As we continued to climb the mountain (& rest what seemed like a million times) we ran into people who started their climb in the dark to reach the bluffs by sunrise. Oh that sounded awesome – I just couldn’t imagine hiking it in the dark! We even ran into a lady who was just chatting in passing until we realized we knew her from our children’s elementary school. That gave us a much needed break to catch up a little, but it also made us feel VERY out of shape to realize this woman was a regular hiker of Mt. Leconte!

So, we trudged on! And eventually after all the craziness of about 5 stretches of snow & ice that took way too much time, we reached the sign that said Mt. Leconte Lodge! We were SO happy! We went to the dining room which is a very popular picture spot because they always have the date and elevation on the sign. So we had our picture made here to prove that the day before our 20th Anniversary we climbed Mt. Everest—I mean Mt. Leconte!!!

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Oh we’re all smiles here and look like we jogged up the mountain, but the funny part happened next!

We knew we had read that we needed to climb to Cliff Tops to see the summit and have the best views of the mountains, so we started that section. We only had to hike another .2 miles (2/10 of a mile can’t be that bad, right? WRONG!). The Cliff Tops trail was completely snow/ice covered and it is pretty straight up. We passed a couple of younger guys who told us we were all but there–after proceeding to tell us that they had been told that all day by people going down the mountain, but they were really still far away from their destination. I guessed after reaching the summit that at that point we were halfway, so we had .1 mi to go. HA! It’s pretty funny now, but then it wasn’t really that funny. 🙂

We had purchased a pair of the shoe covers to help in ice. Since we have similar sized feet, we got 1 pair (because we knew there were better made ones out there) and we each wore 1 for our outside foot going down the mountain. It helped a lot getting up this trail, but it was definitely still slick and steep. BUT, oh what a view!

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The closest thing I personally can relate this to is Pikes Peak, but I can tell you that I drove up that mountain in a vehicle and the Rocky’s are beautiful but I am extremely partial to our Smoky Mountains!

I took a few minutes to soak in the view and then it was time to head back down! There IS light at the end of this tunnel!

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The trip down didn’t take as long, but it was definitely still a rough trek. After you have climbed the steep terrain you must also go down the steep terrain. That is hard on your knees and feet. Like I said, we took fewer breaks coming down because it isn’t as exerting as climbing, so it took less time. When we got to the Bluffs we were happy to have a short rest, but ready to hit the trail again. We knew we were halfway there, so we wanted to keep going!

When we finally made it to Arch Rock, we knew we were on our way. Although both of our knees were killing us, we weren’t going to stop! We rested for a very short time and while I was rubbing my knee a man who only had 1 leg hopped across the foot bridge and used his hand crutches to walk down the trail. Now, I know he didn’t climb the mountain, but the man hiked 1.5 miles on 1 leg and hand crutches! Boy, did that light a fire under me! Who was I to complain?!

Brian & I had decided we would go to dinner, but once that last 1.5 miles was done, we were so tired and sore it wasn’t funny! We decided that we just wanted to go home! 🙂 But, when we sat down in the car we high fived each other and were so thrilled that we had done it.

Now, don’t ask me about the next few days! After the 5K and the hike my calves were tight as banjo strings!!! So, be prepared!

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

Will we do it again anytime soon? Probably not!

Now, while we were hiking I had this thought.  Hiking this mountain for our 20th Anniversary was SO fitting to me!

To me this hike was very symbolic of a marriage. When we started we were so excited and happy. The height or difficulty of the mountain made no difference because no one was going to tell us we couldn’t do it.

As we reached bumps in the road or rocks on the path early in the hike, we easily overcame those obstacles and still proceeded undeterred.

The higher we climbed the more obstacles we faced and the harder it became to overcome them, but we continued to press on.

We took small breaks along the way to stop and enjoy the view. We needed that little bit of time to gain strength to keep going and to reflect on how far we had come.

Even though there were times we felt like turning around and heading back, we didn’t stop! We continued to push forward and never gave up!

When we got to the top, the view was SO worth it! That’s why it’s so important to not give up during the hard spots–you could miss the best & most beautiful times of your life!

Coming down the mountain was easier, so we had a little more time enjoy the scenery. And the obstacles that we came across going down, well we had already overcome them once, so a second time was easier. We knew how best to approach them.

And the sense of accomplishment when we reached the car, even as tired as we were from the strain, length and time it took to hike this trail was enough to make us feel like we could overcome anything. AND it didn’t make us feel like we never wanted to hike again. 🙂

So, I hope you have enjoyed my funny take on our day! Really, we did enjoy it–even if it has taken a week for the soreness to go away. Just don’t ask Brian if he wants to go again anytime soon!